On December 6, the Bureau of Land Management released a proposal to rewrite conservation plans that were intended to conserve the greater sage-grouse. Dave Chadwick, Executive Director of the Montana Wildlife Federation, said the following:
“The 2015 sage-grouse conservation plans were the product of years of hard work by wildlife managers, conservationists, hunters, ranchers, local government and the energy industry. It wasn’t easy, but we worked together to find a way to protect sage-grouse habitat, prevent the species from becoming endangered, and maintain all the different ways people use our public lands.
“In Montana, a deal is a deal. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to hold true in Washington, DC. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has decided to walk away from the bargain that the federal government made with Montanans – and all Westerners. By throwing out local input and multiple-use management in the name of ‘energy dominance’, the federal government is putting the sage-grouse back on the road to extinction, endangering hundreds of other species, and threatening public access to public land.
“The federal government’s reckless move has emboldened some Montana legislators to call for backing out of the sage-grouse conservation at the state-level as well. More than a dozen bills have been unveiled that would repeal hard-negotiated habitat protections at the state level. The ‘not warranted’ decision was predicated largely on the strength of state plans. If we roll those back, on top of the rollbacks we’re seeing from Washington, we leave it up to a judge to decide the fate of not only the sage-grouse, but all Westerners who live, work and recreate on our public lands.”