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Greater sage-grouse escapes congressional funding assaults

National Wildlife Federation: Funding deal spares sage-grouse conservation

The National Wildlife Federation said Wednesday that an agreement on a $1.15 trillion federal spending bill is good news for greater sage-grouse conservation because of what it doesn’t contain – provisions that would have derailed work to save the signature Western species and the habitat that supports more than 350 species.

 Federal lawmakers’ rejection of amendments to the proposed omnibus spending bill that could have blocked implementation of federal sage-grouse conservation plans is a boost to saving some of our country’s irreplaceable landscapes, said Aaron Kindle, the National Wildlife Federation’s Western sportsmen’s campaign manager. He noted that a 2014 NWF poll found nine out of 10 Western sportsmen support conserving sage grouse, whose numbers have been declining for decades.

 “Sportsmen and women and other Westerners across the region have come together to support conserving greater sage-grouse and the sagebrush steppe, which is home to mule deer, pronghorn, elk, golden eagles and many other species,” Kindle added. “It’s time to carry on the hard work of bringing the bird back from the brink of no return and ensuring public lands that sustain hunting, angling, recreation and local economies remain healthy.”

 The federal funding agreement is also a boon for the Gunnison sage grouse, said Kate Zimmerman, the National Wildlife Federation’s public lands policy director. Last year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated the bird found in southwest Colorado and eastern Utah as threatened rather than endangered because of on-the-ground, collaborative conservation work that has been done.

 “The conservation of Gunnison sage grouse will fare better under the proposed spending bill, thanks to removal of a provision that constrained federal agencies and private landowners from coming up with flexible management plans. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has said that ranchers and others who manage private lands with the bird in mind won’t face additional restrictions. The new funding bill will allow the agency to pursue those collaborative agreements,” Zimmerman added.

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