Wyoming U.S. Senator John Barrasso is advising the Department of Interior to focus on Wyoming as a prime example for sage grouse management. He wrote a letter to the department’s secretary, Ryan Zinke, writing that Wyoming is a leader in sage grouse management.
The senator said Wyoming showcases the best management of sage grouse by exploring novel and creative approaches.
“We have over 40 million acres of sagebrush habitat and it is home to so many of these birds in Wyoming,” Barrasso said. “So Governor Mead, and Governor Freudenthal before him, and experts in Wyoming have successfully managed the sage grouse for a long, long time. They know how to get the job done.”
But Senator Barrasso stressed the need of consistency across the 11-state range for proposed changes.
“The Interior Department needs to provide both consistency, as well as flexibility,” Barrasso said. “ Future management must be able to adapt to what’s actually happening on the ground in order to avoid having sage grouse put on the Endangered Species list.”
He urged caution on using population targets as a management tool since it’s scientifically disproven. The Interior Department opened up management plans concerning the chicken-like bird earlier this year. The department announced impending changes to the plan, which many see as favoring the oil and gas industry over the species’ protections.
Public comment on changes to the Forest Service’s version of the federal plan is January 5.