OFFICE OF GOVERNOR MATT MEAD
Cheyenne, WY 82002
Ph. (307) 777-7437
February 10, 2012
******FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE******
Gov. Mead and Gov. Hickenlooper to Co-Chair Sage-Grouse Task Force
CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Governor Matt Mead has announced that Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey will join him in co-chairing a sage-grouse task force. The task force will examine ways states can provide management tools and habitat protections for the sage-grouse.
The task force was created in December after Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and officials from 10 states with habitat for the greater sage-grouse met in Wyoming and agreed to collaboratively identify actions that could preclude the need to list the sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act.
“The goal of the Endangered Species Act is not to add to the list, but to protect the species so they never make it to the endangered species list,” Governor Mead said. “I appreciate Governor Hickenlooper, the nine other western governors and Director Abbey for their willingness to join us to create a state-led plan that will balance conservation of the sage-grouse with development and job creation.”
“We are pleased to join Gov. Mead in working with other Western states to find ways we can protect this majestic, iconic Western species,” Hickenlooper said. “This task force will work with federal agencies and existing groups to find strategies states can employ to keep this species vibrant and off the threatened and endangered species list. We have our work cut out for us, but we are optimistic we can make great strides with this effort.”
The greater sage-grouse is a large, rounded-winged, ground-dwelling bird, up to 30 inches long and 2 feet tall, weighing from 2 to 5 pounds. The birds are found at elevations ranging from 4,000 to more than 9,000 feet and are highly dependent on sagebrush for cover and food.
Currently, greater sage-grouse are found in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, eastern California, Nevada, Utah, western Colorado, South Dakota and Wyoming and the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan and occupy approximately 56 percent of their historical range.
After a thorough analysis of the best available scientific information, the Fish and Wildlife Service has concluded that the greater sage-grouse warrants protection under the Endangered Species Act. However, the Service has determined that proposing the species for protection is precluded by the need to take action on other species facing more immediate and severe extinction threats.
In 2009 Wyoming instituted a state-led effort for Sage-Grouse Core Area Protection. This put in place conservation actions and commitments to meaningfully address both the continued viability of the sage-grouse and the need of westerners to enjoy multiple uses of their land and have reasonable predictability regarding regulatory requirements. This task force will consider this management tool and those of other states.