The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has determined that the Bi-State population of greater sage-grouse, found in Nevada and California, does not require the protection of the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Western Governors applauded the decision announced today by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell in Reno, Nev., where she was joined by Western Governors' Association Chairman and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, California Natural Resources Agency Secretary John Laird, and other partners.
"Our biologists have determined that this population no longer needs ESA protection,” said Jewell. “What’s more, the collaborative, science-based efforts in Nevada and California are proof that we can conserve sagebrush habitat across the West while we encourage sustainable economic development.”
"I applaud the local area working group, private citizens, Tribes, the Nevada Department of Wildlife and our federal partners for their tremendous efforts to develop conservation actions that preclude the need to list the species while still allowing for sustainable economic development," said Gov. Sandoval.
The Bi-State Distinct Population Segment (DPS) straddles the California-Nevada border, where between 2,500 and 9,000 of the ground-dwelling birds inhabit about 4.5 million acres of high-desert sagebrush. In October 2013, the FWS proposed listing the Bi-State DPS as threatened, but now it has withdrawn the proposal. Read stories by Scott Sonner of the Associated Press and Phil Taylor of E&E News (subscription required).
“California is committed to continue working with our public and private partners in implementing this strong, science-based conservation plan into the future,” said Secretary Laird. “This partnership between California and Nevada serves as a model for effective conservation of the Greater sage-grouse in other Western states.”
A key factor in the decision not to list the bird was the development of the Bi-State Action Plan, developed by partners in the Bi-State Local Area Working Group over the past 15 years and secured with $45 million in funding. This adds to nearly $30 million worth of conservation work the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) -- much of it through the Sage Grouse Initiative launched by the Natural Resources Conservation Service -- and other partners have completed.
Western Governors are leading a similar collaborative strategy to prevent a listing of the greater sage-grouse across its 11-state western range. The bird was listed as "warranted but precluded" under the ESA in 2010 by FWS, which has said it will make a "warranted' or "not warranted" decision by Sept. 30, 2015.
The governors just released the 2014 Sage-Grouse Inventory, highlighting the effective conservation work undertaken by public, private and non-governmental groups during the past year.
- Read: Joint announcement issued by Nevada, California, Department of the Interior
- Read: Federal Register Notice to withdraw the Proposed Rule To List the Bi-State Distinct Population Segment of Greater Sage-Grouse
- Read, Download WGA's 2014 Sage Grouse Inventory