Contact: Jennifer Howard, Director of Public Relations, 202-888-7472
(Washington, D.C., June 7, 2017) American Bird Conservancy (ABC) is concerned by today's order from Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) review the federal government's Greater Sage-Grouse conservation plans. Sec. Zinke emphasized that the review would focus on potential oil and gas development on public lands.
“Sage-Grouse have already paid a terrible price in terms of population and habitat losses from past habitat loss and oil and gas drilling,” said Steve Holmer, ABC's Vice President of Policy. “This review is not a good use of the Bureau's time or taxpayer dollars, but it is likely that the Sage-Grouse will be the biggest loser.”
The plans were finalized in 2015 after 5 years of collaborative effort by stakeholders across the West. Any weakening of the conservation standards laid out in the plans would likely result in further losses to a species on the brink of becoming endangered. Sage-Grouse remain at risk, with populations declining in several states.
The existing plans were designed to halt the loss of Sage-Grouse habitat, and to balance conservation with activities such as oil and gas drilling. They also include safeguards to justify the decision not to list Sage-Grouse under the Endangered Species Act.
“The Interior Department should not abandon this progress or ignore the stakeholders, including sportsmen, business owners, and conservationists, who invested years of work and countless resources into developing the existing plans,” said Holmer.
Western leaders including Gov. Matt Mead of Wyoming and Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado sent Sec. Zinke a letter in late May stating that the plans do not need significant changes. Western economies benefit from roughly $1 billion a year in economic output driven by outdoor recreation and tourism in Sage-Grouse habitat.
Many important grouse habitats have already been heavily fragmented by past oil and gas development. In Wyoming's Buffalo Planning Area, for example, 27,122 oil wells were drilled between 1999 and 2008, with more than 10,300 additional wells planned by 2028.
American Bird Conservancy is dedicated to conserving birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership, we take on the greatest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on rapid advancements in science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation.
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