Washington, D.C. – Idaho Senators Jim Risch and Mike Crapo today joined Senator Dean Heller (R-Nevada) to introduce an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget that would mandate increased cooperation between federal agencies, states and local groups concerning the recovery of sage grouse populations. The U.S. Department of Interior, through the Bureau of Land Management, has indicated it will reduce existing grazing allotments related to sage grouse recovery. The Senators say such actions disregard state efforts led by Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter to put in place a collaborative plan to save the sage grouse while maintaining public safety and multiple uses on public lands.
“If the federal government is truly concerned about the recovery of a species that inhabit a patchwork of private, state and federal land, it must work together with all stakeholders if they want to be successful,” said Risch. “Both Senator Crapo and I have had success with collaboration, and this effort is no different.”
“We need to insert common sense into the federal discussions about sage grouse protection,” said Crapo. “Language in the Owyhee Initiative, now part of federal law, makes it clear that the economic benefits of grazing must be taken into account by federal agencies. Yet, federal agencies seem to be arbitrarily moving to reduce grazing on federal lands without the science to back up those decisions.”
“The federal government should take every precaution and work with states to ensure a sustainable sage-grouse population, while also protecting western states’ economic opportunities and way of life,” said Senator Dean Heller.
Amendment 293 to S. Con. Res. 8, the fiscal year budget outline, establishes a deficit-neutral reserve fund to ensure the Bureau of Land Management collaborates with Western states to prevent the listing of the sage grouse. It calls on the agency to ensure future management plans both prevent an ESA listing for the bird and provide for multiple uses on federal lands. The Senators also noted that the State of Idaho and Owyhee County also were working on an agreement on the route of the proposed Gateway West power line and felt federal agency officials also appeared to walk away from that process.
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