DENVER – Western hunters, ranchers and wildlife advocates are running television and online ads throughout the West that ask Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to honor the deal the federal government made to conserve greater sage-grouse and its habitat.
The bird, found only in Western sagebrush lands, was headed toward a listing under the Endangered Species Act when plans developed by state and federal agencies, sportsmen and women, ranchers, local elected officials and oil and gas industry representatives convinced the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that a listing wouldn’t be necessary. The plans, which address state-specific concerns, include commonsense protections for sage-grouse while keeping public lands open to hunting, recreation, grazing, drilling and other activities.
However, changes being sought by the Trump administration threaten to unravel the compromise and one of the country’s largest-ever conservation efforts. The administration wants to remove reasonable safeguards for the bird and habitat that support more than 350 other species.
“In Wyoming, the best solutions to any problem come from working together. We did that with the sage-grouse issue. It was good old-fashioned kitchen-table problem solving,” said Walt Gasson, a lifelong hunter featured in the TV ad. “We came up with a deal that was good for sage-grouse and good for Wyoming. We invite those in D.C. to get down off their high horses, come to the table and join us to honor the deal.”
TV ads, radio ads and digital ads are running in outlets across the West to highlight the collaborative effort to protect the Western way of life.
“In Montana, we believe in tackling problems by sitting down with people on different sides of an issue and coming up with workable solutions that most can accept. We did that with sage-grouse,” said Dave Chadwick, Montana Wildlife Federation executive director. “The sage-grouse plans are a compromise aimed at saving the bird and keeping public lands open to multiple uses. The BLM’s attempt to unravel a made-in-the-West approach with a top-down scheme will undermine this collaborative effort and could discourage future efforts.”
The ad campaign will run in Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Nevada and Washington, D.C., encouraging Washington decision-makers honor the deal with Western hunters, ranchers and local governments.
View the ad here.
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