Americans came together to save the sage grouse—now Trump wants to gut the effort for a quick buck
Ten western states, along with ranchers, conservationists, and federal officials, reached a comprehensive, bipartisan deal in 2015 to save the greater sage grouse, dubbed the “largest wildlife conservation effort in the U.S.” Today the Trump administration proposed gutting these protections for the imperiled bird and, by proxy, the hundreds of other species that depend on healthy sagebrush habitat. Around 16 million of these iconic, spiny-feathered birds once ranged from Alberta, Canada, to Arizona, but thanks to habitat fragmentation, invasive weeds, and wildfires, only about 400,000 remain. The U.S. Department of the Interior just released land management documents that show its intentions to ramp up leasing and waivers for extractive industries—mining and oil and gas drilling—in sage grouse habitat. The proposal eliminates the strongest level of protections for the imperiled bird on a staggering 8.9 million acres. Conservationists warn that the move could push the sage grouse onto the Endangered Species List, something that would upset many of the ranchers who have already worked hard to conserve the species on their properties.