December 03, 2004

Crapo: Sage Grouse Effort Working, Keep It Up

ESA subcommittee chairman calls for continued improvements

Washington, DC â?? Idahoans and others in Western states are successfully caring for sage grouse through existing conservation measures which appear to be working. Thatâ??s the assessment of Idaho Senator Mike Crapo, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works subcommittee with jurisdiction over the Endangered Species Act. Crapo is linking on-the-ground activities preserving sage grouse with todayâ??s announcement by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Director Steve Williams that field biologists and scientists have found no need for listing under the Endangered Species Act. â??Ranchers, conservationists, landowners, and others have been trying to increase the number of sage grouse for almost ten years. That teamwork, commitment, and on-the-ground action is the fastest way to restore species and it is working here,â?? Crapo said. â??Today we learned that ESA mandates are unlikely, but more work is needed to increase the size of this game bird population. That was our original goal and remains the point of our efforts.â?? Crapo added, â??Even without ESA the sage grouse remain a federal case because the bird is already a Special Status Species on Bureau of Land Management lands, and we need to be sure that the rules and regulations are promoting on-the-ground conservation that helps the bird and works for people. Many people have already agreed that sage grouse populations need to be higher. I believe they are on the right track and I plan to help them succeed. Ironically, the ESA can sometimes slow down the process rather than help it.â?? Crapo, in his role as Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife Subcommittee Chairman, has arranged to focus $5 million in federal habitat funding on the sage grouse through recently-passed appropriations measures. Crapo also held an oversight hearing to examine the partnership among state, federal, and private partners in sage grouse conservation efforts. During a Boise-based summit meeting on rangeland issues including sage grouse preservation this past summer, Crapo received an award from Director Williams at the Fish & Wildlife Service for his conservation reform ideas.