Westerners: Time to carry out sage-grouse conservation efforts

Sportsmen, women say collaboration on bird is good conservation model

As Western governors gather this week to explore how to improve the Endangered Species Act, residents of the region who care about wildlife point to the unprecedented state-federal collaboration to conserve greater sage-grouse and the sagebrush steppe as one example.

The Westerners featured in a new National Wildlife Federation brochure, “Voices of the Sage,”  say now is the time for private landowners, state and federal landowners to focus on fulfilling the on-the-ground conservation promised in the sage-grouse plans they unveiled late last year.

Last September, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was able to avoid placing the bird on the Endangered Species List because of the safeguards in state and federal conservation plans. The individualized plans build on work already under way by other public agencies and private landowners.

The Western Governors’ Association is meeting Wednesday and Thursday in Denver as part of an initiative promoting states’ roles in conserving fish and wildlife and seeking ways to better protect sensitive species.

“The sage-grouse decision illustrates what the Endangered Species Act is supposed to be about: inspiring collaborative efforts before a species is on the brink of extinction and more dire actions are required,” said Kate Zimmerman, the National Wildlife Federation’s public lands policy director. “The best result for the Act would be to never have to use it. The sage-grouse plans by the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service and the collaboration among state and federal agencies and private landowners are unprecedented in this country’s conservation efforts. Westerners are working now to see the plans succeed and see greater sage-grouse and the more than 350 species that depend on the sagebrush steppe thrive.”

Here are the Westerners featured in “Voices of the Sage”:

"I think sage-grouse will survive, but only if people want it to survive and take action to help it survive." ~ Jim Posewitz, longtime Montana, Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologist, sportsman and author

"The sage country is a big part of my life, growing up on the reservation there. The sage itself is central to our Shoshone people, our Shoshone culture." ~ Jason Baldes, a member of the Eastern Shoshone tribe on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming

"Sagebrush country is absolutely beautiful in full bloom. That's why I love it when it rains, as it washes away all the dust and makes it fresh and clean." ~ Robert Gaudet, sportsman and president of the Nevada Wildlife Federation board

"I'm here to tell you that those very same elk and mule deer that we value so much in the treed country and those very same trout that we value in the mountain ranges, they rely on these sage lands, too. We've got to get together as a people and quit fighting and find solutions." ~ Walt Gasson, Wyoming rancher and sportsman

"I spend most of my time in the sage in Wyoming, just thinking about what an amazing ecosystem it is and how many animals live there." ~ Janet Marschner, sportswoman and president of the Wyoming Wildlife Federation board

"We should protect this valuable ecology by continuing to provide habitat for the sage grouse and mule deer." ~ Doug Waggoner, Colorado sportsman

Related Resources

Read the brochure

Voices of the Sage
Read our Blog

Westerners Speak Out for Sage-grouse, Sagebrush Steppe

Get Involved

Where We Work

More than one-third of U.S. fish and wildlife species are at risk of extinction in the coming decades. We're on the ground in seven regions across the country, collaborating with 52 state and territory affiliates to reverse the crisis and ensure wildlife thrive.

Learn More
Regional Centers and Affiliates