Interior Department Flips Sage Grouse Protectors the Bird

WASHINGTON – The Department of Interior took steps to invalidate key pieces of a locally-driven plan developed across 11 states to protect the greater sage grouse, an iconic bird surviving on just half of its historic Western range. U.S. Secretary Ryan Zinke announced recommendations that will make it easier for oil and gas development to chisel away at sage grouse habitat.

The following is a statement by Rebecca Riley, senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Land and Wildlife Program:

“Secretary Zinke may ride a horse and wear a cowboy hat, but his sage grouse order shows he’s not acting in the best interest of western states or the rest of America.  Secretary Zinke is selling out the sage grouse ­– and western states – to oil and gas developers.

“The sage grouse protection plan was developed by governors, land managers, energy executives, and conservationists across the political spectrum. It struck the right balance for the sage grouse and land use. Secretary Zinke’s decision to blow up this regionally-driven process is a mistake, and makes an Endangered Species Act listing for the sage grouse more likely.”


The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City; Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles; San Francisco; Chicago; Bozeman, Montana; and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

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