In 2011, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced that it will consider listing the sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 2015. This pending deadline prompted federal agencies to initiate the National Greater Sage-Grouse Planning Strategy, an effort to update land-use plans with new measures to conserve sage-grouse and potentially preclude the need to list the species. Unfortunately, the planning process has gone off course.
Defenders of Wildlife evaluated each of the 15 draft sage-grouse conservation plans included in the National Greater Sage-Grouse Planning Strategy. We specifically analyzed whether or not the plans adopted key, science-based, enforceable conservation measures vital to sage-grouse recovery, and found that many of the conservation measures they propose are scientifically or legally inadequate to conserve and restore sage-grouse. The planning strategy has veered off course. Without a significant course correction, BLM will miss an extraordinary opportunity to not only conserve greater sage-grouse, but also to establish a new management paradigm that avoids conflicts between resource use and conservation values on public lands.