February 04, 2005

Sage Grouse Hearing Spotlights State Efforts

Crapo to chair Senate hearing reviewing local conservation plans

Washington, DC â?? The efforts of states and private partners to increase huntable populations of sage grouse will be the topic of a Senate subcommittee hearing Friday chaired by Idaho Senator Mike Crapo. Smaller bag limits and declining numbers of the sage grouse in 11 Western states have prompted renewed efforts in conservation and a proposal to protect the bird under the Endangered Species Act. Crapo, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Fisheries, Wildlife, and Water Subcommittee, noted that sustainable and harvestable populations of deer, elk, and other game species today are the result of a dramatic comeback. "Many common wildlife species of today were dangerously scarce 100 years ago. Just as a cooperative state-federal program turned that problem around in the 1940s and 50s, so we can resolve concerns about sage grouse today." Although one-half of the sagebrush habitat sage grouse favor is on federal land administered by the Bureau of Land Management, Crapo noted that habitat and population efforts must be coordinated in federal, state, and private partnerships to ultimately succeed. He said those efforts would be studied during Fridayâ??s hearing. â??Western States that include portions of the current range of sage grouse are upgrading their conservation plans to address issues such as habitat loss, fragmentation, degradation, and predation, and to identify opportunities for habitat restoration and enhancement,â?? Crapo said. â??The goal is to find and implement local solutions for sage grouse conservation.â?? Crapo noted the strong partnership efforts underway involving federal funding for state management efforts and added tribal programs are also being reviewed in states like Wyoming. Among those set to testify at the hearing are Chad Calvert, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Range and Minerals at the Department of Interior, Director Bruce Knight of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and representatives from the National Wildlife Federation and the National Cattlemenâ??s Beef Association. # # #