September 22, 2015

Crapo, Risch Skeptical of Sage-Grouse Decision

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch issued comments reacting to news that the Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, has announced that placing the greater sage-grouse on the Endangered Species List is "not warranted". The Record of Decision for the Land Use Plan Amendments has already been signed.

"While a 'not warranted' decision is better than a listing determination under the Endangered Species Act, the Department of Interior's reliance on heavy-handed land-use management plans to arrive at this decision is unacceptable," said Crapo.  "The Department ignored much of what the Idaho Sage Grouse Task Force recommended and, instead, opted to move forward with top-down federal lands-use management plans.  While the agency cited collaboration as the basis for its decision, the move to abandon the state's planning process that adequately addressed true threats to the bird--namely the impact of wildfires and invasive species on sagebrush habitat--will ultimately lead to greater uncertainty for sage grouse populations in the future."

"While I am pleased Secretary Jewell has acknowledged the greater sage-grouse population is on the rebound, I am concerned the regulations generated by the Department of the Interior to reach this decision will do little to continue the recent population rebound in Idaho," said Risch.  "We had pressed DOI early on to rely on a locally-driven, collaborative process to conserve the sage-grouse, but this process changed when it came to Washington, D.C. The two main threats to the greater sage-grouse in Idaho are fire and invasive species. The Secretary adopts a plan that relies heavily on regulation of the mining, oil, and gas industries when it should focus more heavily on fire control. Today's announcement serves as political cover for another top-down mandate that will not be the best prescription for sage-grouse in Idaho."