Trump administration bows to fossil fuel industry and abandons collaborative plan to save the sage grouse

Bob Wick/BLM

The U.S. Forest Service has officially gutted the landmark conservation plan meant to save the iconic sage grouse, whose numbers and habitat have been dwindling across the American West. Called the "largest wildlife conservation effort in the U.S." at the time of its passing in 2015, the plan took years to carefully craft and included input from 10 Western states, ranchers, conservationists, and federal officials. It protected millions of acres of fragile sagebrush habitat, upon which 350 other wildlife species, like elk and golden eagles, also depend. But no more: The department’s replacement instead prioritizes the oil and gas interests that are hungry to develop the region. Meanwhile, the sage grouse is far from recovered. Some 16 million of these birds once roamed an area stretching from Alberta, Canada to Arizona. Today, only 400,000 remain. With this rollback in place, the species' chances are slim.

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