House Passes Dangerous Sage-Grouse Rider in Defense Bill

State and federal progress to keep iconic Western gamebird off endangered species list could be undone by Congress

Male Greater-Sage Grouse Photo Jeremy R. Roberts
Male Greater-Sage Grouse Photo Jeremy R. Roberts
Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership
Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership

Washington, DC -(AmmoLand.com)- On May 18, 2016, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

Contained in this ‘must-pass’ legislation that funds America’s military readiness was language that would force the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to abandon successful sage-grouse conservation plans. These federal plans resulted from years of collaboration and millions of taxpayer dollars that successfully kept the sage-grouse off the Endangered Species Act list.

“Sportsmen across the country are very disappointed with the House’s action to play politics with our national defense by inserting unrelated and detrimental language about sage-grouse conservation into the bill,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership“If language contained in the House bill were to become law, it would throw into question decades of statutory precedent, scores of environmental laws, and the subsequent legal decisions around those laws. This legislation is a Trojan horse for transferring public lands to the states and stands to have lasting repercussions beyond curtailing conservation efforts in sagebrush country.”

Opponents of the 2015 conservation victory would rather see state-developed plans implemented instead. The shift in management, elimination of judicial review, and long-term delay of any future listing decision erodes the implementation of bedrock conservation statutes—such as the National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act, and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act. While many of the 11 western state plans are good, some do not fully address threats to sage-grouse and need to be complimented by federal plans.

“Success for the greater sage-grouse was achieved in 2015 through the combination of strong conservation plans on federal public lands, coupled with state conservation plans and voluntary efforts from private landowners,” said Steve Williams, President of the Wildlife Management Institute. “Future success depends heavily on immediate and consistent implementation of all these combined efforts. Congressional efforts to eliminate federal plans would negate effectiveness of all efforts and result in a waste of both state and federal funds expended to date.”

“We are disappointed to see this effort by the House to snatch defeat from the jaws of a victory that has already been achieved,” said Howard Vincent, president and CEO of Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever. “The eleven western states, federal agencies, and private landowners must continue with their unprecedented efforts to conserve and manage sage-grouse. Congress simply needs to fund implementation of these combined efforts, especially private landowner efforts to conserve sage-grouse and 350 other sagebrush-dependent species.”

Sportsmen organizations continue to communicate to lawmakers that the best thing they can do for sage-grouse is ensure that adequate funding goes toward implementation of federal plans, that necessary resources go to the states, and that private lands conservation continues. If implemented, these plans would be a windfall for habitat of species like mule deer and pronghorns, not to mention a boon to sportsmen. Undoing those conservation plans might be the best way to ensure a listing—bad news for just about everyone.

The Senate is expected to consider their version of the NDAA – which currently does not include the detrimental sage-grouse provisions – sometime next week.

“This issue has no link to military readiness and it’s simply playing politics to suggest otherwise,” continued Fosburgh. “Our community looks forward to working with the Senate to ensure that these provisions to undermine sage-grouse conservation are kept out of their version of the legislation.”

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Inspired by the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt, the TRCP is a coalition of organizations and grassroots partners working together to preserve the traditions of hunting and fishing. Ensuring sportsmen’s access to quality fish and wildlife habitat safeguards the $646-billion contribution that sportsmen make to the American economy.

About Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership:

Inspired by the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt, the TRCP is a coalition of organizations and grassroots partners working together to preserve the traditions of hunting and fishing. Ensuring sportsmen’s access to quality fish and wildlife habitat safeguards the $646-billion contribution that sportsmen make to the American economy.

For more information on the TRCP, please visit our website at www.TRCP.org.

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Wild Bill
Wild Bill
4 years ago

Why would anyone or any politician want to “…to abandon successful sage-grouse conservation plans…that successfully kept the sage-grouse off the Endangered Species Act list.”? Do the authors of that rider want the sage-grouse on the endangered species act list? Why would they want the sage-grouse on the endangered species last?

Tionico
Tionico
4 years ago

I agree that such “business” has no business getting tangled up with national defense funding legislation. On that basis along, this rider need be stripped from the NDAA. As to FedGov being the solution to all such problems, absolutely not. When one considers the actions, tyranny, pressuring, illegal activities, selective enforcement, trampling on our rights and liberties, and playing nazi stormtroopers throughout the Western States, anything that continues or increases FedGov control within the borders of states MUST be stopped. The Constitution gives NO PLACE for any agency of FedGov to own, control, manage, pontificate over, ANY lands other than… Read more »

peewee henson
peewee henson
4 years ago

FOR ANYONE TO THINK, BELIEVE AND TRUST THAT THE FEDERAL GOVT IS THE BEST AT SOLVING ALL ISSUES, CONCERNS, MISTAKES AND ERRORS ARE FOOLS. THE FEDERAL GOVT KNOWS THIS AND FULLY ABUSES THAT TO GAIN ULTIMATE CONTROL. CONTROL THE RESOURCES—-CONTROL THE PEOPLE

Jerry Mullen
Jerry Mullen
4 years ago

I spent ten years as moderator of our town meeting and school meeting. Under Vermont law, unrelated amendments are illegal. Any such BS as this, attached to a warned item on the agenda, would have been ruled out of order as being “un germane” to the item. Maybe it’s about time for Congress to adopt some civilized rules like this. Who got this attached to the defense bill? Find out who, follow the money. Vote the SOB out of office next election.

Walt
Walt
4 years ago

The Endangered Species Act is a weaponized, job killing, property rights killing machine. It is used by USFWS to drive business and private landowners out of vast areas the western states. You urban dwellers may think that this is great, but out of control government WILL come knock on your door. They just haven’t worked their way down to you yet. The article states; “force the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to abandon successful sage-grouse conservation plans” I say that the “plans” are not so sweet and nice as this propaganda would have you believe.

CountryBoy
CountryBoy
4 years ago

Given BLM’s recent transgressions over the past 7+ years, along with all of the Other Federal Government’s ROUGE agencies, I for one would like to see a lot of the control shifted back to the States where it belongs…..

ANY Federal Government oversight should be dedicated to ASSISTING and GUIDING the States to achieve the end result and not being a para-military Enforcement agency….. the Enforcement should be done by the States or by the FBI….. that way, these agencies would have to PROVE that any policing activity is warranted ….. instead of going rouge….