Federal Plans Draw Negative Response

sage_grouse-300Lawmakers and others are speaking out against the plans submitted by the U.S. Forest Service and BLM that are intended to keep the Greater Sage Grouse off of the Endangered Species List. Congressman Scott Tipton, Senator Cory Gardner, and Western Energy Alliance all issued statements regarding the plans yesterday afternoon. Tipton says the plans are heavy-handed and interfere with successful state and local sage grouse management. In his statement, Tipton said “These federal plans take steps away from successful local preservation efforts and toward a less effective ESA listing, and may even jeopardize voluntary local efforts from moving forward because of the prospects of increased federal interference that are now virtually guaranteed.” Western Energy Alliance Executive Kathleen Sgamma agreed that the goal of preserving the Sage Grouse “is best achieved at the state level, not with a one-size-fits-all federal approach.” The group says they will protest any federal plan that fails to conform with state plans, and that they will continue to support actions by Congress to delay the plans. That would likely include legislation introduced by Senator Cory Gardner that would empower states to lead the way in preservation efforts. The plans would create two separate habitat designations covering about 75% of the county, according to a map of the plan. That land would be virtually untouchable for activities such as recreation, energy exploration, and home building. With 20% of Moffat County land already locked up in Monument or Wilderness status, that leaves about 95% of the county off limits for such activities. The Moffat County Commissioners say it gets even more complicated when you consider that much of the mineral rights on private land in the county, belongs to the federal government.

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