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Idaho Delegation praises recognition of Western sage grouse conservation programs

Washington, DC - Members of Idaho's Congressional Delegation are applauding today's U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announcement of $27,021 to fund Idaho sage grouse habitat protection efforts. The funds are part of $5 million the USDA will make available in Idaho, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming for special projects to help protect sage grouse habitat. State and local partnerships will provide technical and additional financial assistance for the projects. Idaho received its entire requested amount."Private landowners, state wildlife managers, and other partners in Idaho and across the West are making special efforts to manage the sage grouse," said Crapo. "The partnership of the federal government is welcome, and I appreciate this latest in a series of helpful moves. Recent statistics show that populations of this game bird have shrunk but now appear to be stable. Idaho will use this help to bring numbers back up." "Since conservation efforts began, stakeholders at the state and local level have worked collaboratively with the federal government to improve Sage Grouse numbers," said Simpson. "This funding will help to ensure that strong partnership will continue.""I'm more and more encouraged by the Bush administration's efforts to empower states, communities and even individual landowners to participate in species protection in a collaborative and reasonable manner. This funding represents another step in that process of moving authority and responsibility back home, where it belongs," Otter said. The Delegation members say Idaho has been a leader in sage grouse recovery efforts. Starting with a management plan in 1997, Idaho now has Local Working Groups and a statewide task force to advise Idaho Department of Fish and Game and the Governor's Office of Species Conservation on coordinated endangered or threatened species activities across Idaho. This effort - led by many landowners -- has begun producing identifiable results such as the reseeding of sage brush that is key to sage grouse survival. This effort has been coordinated across state lines in partnership with Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Nevada. The funds come from the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP). This is a voluntary program that encourages creation of high quality wildlife habitats that support wildlife populations of National, State, Tribal, and local significance. Through WHIP, technical and financial assistance is provided to landowners and others to develop upland, wetland, riparian, and aquatic habitat areas on their property. # # #