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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Jim Risch questioned Interior Secretary Sally Jewell’s commitment to a state-led collaborative effort to recover sage grouse during a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing today.  During Jewell’s confirmation process Risch had placed a hold on her nomination until she agreed to work out issues regarding the Bureau of Land Management’s participation in the state-led process.

“Are you still in agreement that this is the best way to pursue how we do what all of us want to do, and that is preserve, protect and rehabilitate the greater sage grouse?  Are we still singing off the same sheet of music?” asked Risch.

In response, Secretary Jewell reaffirmed her department’s commitment to the process.

“I see great collaboration between states, private landowners, the Bureau of Land Management, Indian tribes, all in working together to say how can we preserve and protect this important habitat. The challenging issue(s are) with invasive species and wildland fire, as you know, but these are things that we want to work on together.  There are some great examples out there for us to learn from, and we certainly are learning from that, so I’m very committed to an ongoing collaborative effort as you described,” Jewell said. 

Risch responded that he was pleased the Department of Interior was committed to the state-led process.

“We know that in past years all of this has been driven top-down from the federal government and I think we’ve learned that this new approach of doing it from the state-up seems to work a lot better and actually gets results, so I’m delighted to hear you remain committed to that,” Risch said.

Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter has established a Sage Grouse Task Force to provide recommendations on policies and activities that address the threats to sage grouse.  There are 11 Local Working Groups around the state that coordinate, fund and implement sage grouse conservation projects.