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NWF, State Affiliates Cheer Next Big Step in Sage-grouse Conservation

DENVER – The release today of guidelines to implement greater sage-grouse conservation plans is an important step in efforts to save the bird and the habitat that supports more than 350 other species.

The guidance will help land and wildlife managers carry out the plans developed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service, said Kate Zimmerman, the National Wildlife Federation’s public lands policy director.

The plans, written with state and local input, along with conservation work already underway by the states and private landowners led the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last year to decide the greater sage-grouse didn’t need to be placed on the endangered species list.

“The Instruction Memoranda released today provide important guidance to ensure that the habitat conservation goals set forth in the plans are being met and that greater sage-grouse retain a place amid a Western landscape of many uses. Let’s give those plans a chance to work,” said Zimmerman.

Greater sage-grouse once numbered as high as 16 million across the Western U.S. and parts of Canada, but best estimates place the current population at less than a half million across 11 Western states. Among the factors that have reduced and degraded the bird’s habitat are drought, wildfires, overgrazing, invasive species, energy development and urbanization.

Here are comments from the National Wildlife Federation’s state affiliates in the West:

“The Nevada Wildlife Federation looks forward to working with the public agencies and private landowners to make sure that sage grouse stay on the landscape and these lands continue as our nation’s legacy. These iconic birds represent the uniquely American values of freedom and adventure that are the envy of the world. There are no easy answers, but the value to the American people makes finding common-sense solutions worth the effort.” 
- Robert Gaudet, Nevada Wildlife Federation president

“In Idaho and across the West, sportsmen and women understand the habitat that sustains greater sage-grouse sustains a lot of other animals we care about, including mule deer, pronghorn and elk. Westerners across the political landscape have come together to save sage-grouse and the sagebrush steppe. We’re thankful the Bureau of Land Management has released guidance to move us forward with the conservation efforts. It’s time to get serious about taking care of the bird and the herds.” 
- Brian Brooks, Idaho Wildlife Federation executive director

"Colorado sportsmen, wildlife watchers and people who use public lands, which is the majority of Coloradans, have a stake in seeing sage-grouse conservation succeed. We're happy the BLM has released guidance to implement the conservation plans and encourage Congress to let the process work so we don't end up having to take drastic measures to save sage-grouse and their habitat." 
- Suzanne O’Neill, Colorado Wildlife Federation executive director

“Wyomingites are ready to move forward with what the state started several years ago and has led the way on: conserving greater sage-grouse and the public lands where more than 350 other species make their homes. We have the conservation plans, and we have the guidance for putting the plans into action. People in Washington and elsewhere need to stop wrangling over this because out here, we’re rolling up our sleeves and getting to work.”
- Joy Bannon, Wyoming Wildlife Federation field director and member of the Wyoming Sage Grouse Implementation Team

"These rules are a good, practical step toward much-needed reform of federal land management. People need to quit trying to 're-litigate' the plans and focus on getting them implemented. Working together - instead of scoring political points - is how we make multiple-use management succeed."
- Dave Chadwick, Montana Wildlife Federation executive director

Read more about the National Wildlife Federation’s work on greater sage-grouse conservation.

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