(Photo credit: MT BLM)
Today, Colorado Senator Cory Gardner introduced legislation to prevent the federal government from working on efforts to recover sage grouse. The legislation would also block federal agencies from considering whether to list the greater sage grouse as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. His bill would give Western states at least six more years to revive grouse populations on their own.
"When it comes to the environment in our own backyard, we understand it far better than anybody in Washington D.C. This would give us the ability to manage our most important resources at the local level," Gardner said.
Sounds great, right? Unfortunately, Gardner is a little late to the game. His bill actually undercuts the ongoing collaborative stakeholder efforts in 11 Western states where citizens, advocates, and industry are already working (and have been for years) to proactively address the conservation of this imperiled, iconic bird.
Gardner's bill would flush years of good, cooperative effort down the toilet about a month before the long-awaited state conservation plans are to be released.
Western states have an opportunity to step up to the plate and get things right in terms of sage grouse conservation to avoid a federal listing. They should invest their time and energy into developing strong, effective state plans. As Gardner said, "... Let's put Westerners in charge of the West." They are working on it, Senator Gardner. Please don't get in their way.