Sage-grouse are on the verge of being listed under the Endangered Species Act. In fact, in 2010, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined that the species warranted protection under the Act but that listing is precluded by the need to address higher priority listings. Idaho is taking proactive steps to recover this species before a listing is required. The management plan, which is a partnership with private landowners, is an attempt to be wise stewards of the nation’s wildlife without being compelled to do so by law. In the past I have worked with other members of the Idaho congressional delegation to ensure that Congress provided funding for the wide-ranging, collaborative on-the-ground efforts that have improved habitat for the sage grouse.
In 1996, the State of Idaho became one of the first states in the country to develop a comprehensive plan for conserving the sage-grouse and its habitat. It amended the plan in 2006, and that has led to the prioritization and implementation of numerous conservation actions for the benefit of the species. I believe it is because of these efforts that the Department of the Interior issued a “warranted but precluded” ruling regarding protections for sage-grouse rather that listing the species.
This is an extremely important issue in Idaho. If sage-grouse are listed on the endangered species list, it would have huge ramifications across our state, devastating a number of industries. Proper management of this species is critical to prevent a listing. As a member of the Interior and Environment Appropriations Committee, which oversees funding for both the Bureau of Land Management and the Fish and Wildlife Service, I will continue working with these agencies as they cooperate with the State of Idaho in an effort to prevent a listing.