Win-win declared for grouse, ranchers
RENO — Bi-state sage grouse escaped an endangered list designation, a boon for Nevadans and Californians, Gov. Brian Sandoval and Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell declared Tuesday.
The announcement culminated 15 years of both controversy and collaboration, which the governor, the federal secretary and others said provides a model to find similar common ground for the greater sage grouse in various western states. Ranchers, Native Americans, public officials and others who worked to preserve the sage grouse and its habitat were on hand for the celebratory announcement outside the Nevada Department of Wildlife.
“We came together because we care, and we care about these lands and these landscapes,” said Jewell, pointing out the bipartisan effort to save grouse habitat not only helps the birds but means much to those living today and future generations. “Because of your work,” she added, “this amazing species no longer faces the threat of extinction.”
A court-ordered decision on whether the chicken-sized bird deserves listing as a threatened or endangered species, or whether no such listing is warranted, is due by the end of the month.
Such listing of the bi-state sage grouse on the endangered or threatened species list would have had a financial impact on mining, energy development, ranching and other agriculture, which also is true more widely in western states if the greater sage grouse makes the list. Sandoval thanked Jewell and voiced similar cooperative efforts among stakeholders can lead to similar results involving the greater sage grouse. The Tuesday action may signal to 11 western states grouse habitat isn’t lost to other uses so the birds can be preserved, according to those attending the announcement.
“I’d like to particularly thank Secretary Jewell,” said Sandoval, crediting her with listening and helping find solutions when other officials may not follow that path. “I’m telling you,” he said, “it doesn’t always happen.”
Jewell, meanwhile, said preserving the bi-state sage grouse via collaborative work takes its place along with nation managing to save the bald eagle and alligator and joined in the chorus calling for more successful preservation efforts on behalf of the greater sage grouse.
Robert Bonnie, Department of Agriculture undersecretary for natural resources and environment, praised cooperation that led to reviving bi-state sage grouse chances achieving “it in a way that helps our working ranchers as well.”
John Laird, secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency, said the Sandoval administration and the one led by Gov. Jerry Brown just to the west lean different ways politically, but “we have learned how to lean together” to get things like this done.
Also on hand was Bryan Masini of the Sweetwater ranch, a Nevada landowner, who said both the sage hen and Silver State ranchers are treasures.
“They both, at this time, needed saving,” he said, alluding to the drought and other difficult straits for ranchers. He said Tuesday’s announcement and actions over 15 years that led to it “gives us a road map for the future.”
The outdoor news conference here began with Native American prayer and was moderated by Tony Wasley, director at the state Department of Wildlife. Along with others, he pointed out the success in preserving the bi-state sage grouse was science-based and can “serve as a model” for future actions.