Gunnison sage grouse recovery plan stops lawsuit

U.S. Fish and Wildlife has 30 months to submit a draft plan to recover the threatened species.

 

The Gunnison sage grouse will gain greater protections in the coming years, thanks to a recovery plan that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has agreed to draft over the next 30 months. The bird has been considered a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act since 2014 due to habitat loss and fragmentation. 

, came after four conservation groups had previously announced a lawsuit against the agency that argued the Gunnison sage grouse merited an endangered status. Instead, a compromise was reached between the groups and the Fish and Wildlife Service that a lawsuit would not be pursued if a recovery plan was created by the agency.

With approximately 4,000 of the birds left in southwestern Colorado and southeastern Utah, divided into seven isolated populations — six of which are in decline — the plan has been welcomed as a productive way to aid the dwindling species. “A robust recovery plan is a good first step toward preventing the grouse’s extinction,” Ryan Shannon, a staff attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the plaintiffs, said in a news release. 

Gunnison sage grouse will get a recovery plan to help their numbers, heading off a lawsuit from conservationists.

During the next two-and-a-half years, the agency will draft a plan, adhering to several stipulations outlined by the conservation groups. The first requires that the agency create a Species Status Assessment. This is a scientific assessment that the Fish and Wildlife Service started using toward the end of the Obama administration. It was implemented as a way to fully capture the best scientific information available for a species in order to ensure sound policy decisions are being made. Part of the assessment stage includes looking at what a species needs to survive, examining what in their current environment is impeding their survival and evaluating ways the species’ resiliency will play out in the future.

Based on this framework, the agency will be required to identify the factors that are contributing to the Gunnison sage grouse’s decline as well as identifying “possible ways to reach recovery,” the agreement states. Some of those strategies include examining all agency-related actions that can minimize threats, identifying monitoring needs to ensure progress in recovering the species is being made and establishing population targets.

Furthermore, the plan requires that the agency is collaborative in its process, working with recognized experts and stakeholders throughout the planning stages. According to a news release, the public also will have the opportunity to weigh in on the draft plan when it is released by the Fish and Wildlife Service. “Past and current conservation efforts have failed this magnificent bird,” said Bethany Cotton, wildlife program director at WildEarth Guardians, also a plaintiff in the case. “We are hopeful a robust, science-based recovery plan will finally get Gunnison sage grouse on the road to recovery.”

While environmentalists were able to reach an agreement in this case, lawsuits have been filed in Idaho and Montana over protections for the greater sage grouse, a bird found in 11 Western states related to the Gunnison sage grouse. , state that the recent sale of oil and gas leases in Montana, Wyoming, Utah and Nevada ignore plans that were created during the Obama administration to prevent the bird from becoming listed as an endangered species.

Jessica Kutz is an editorial intern at NewTowncarShare News.

NewTowncarShare News Classifieds
  • Manage, develop and implement all stewardship and land management plans and activities on both private and public lands. Guide and direct comprehensive planning efforts, provide...
  • Based in the state capitol, Boise State Public Radio is the premier NPR affiliate in Idaho. With 18 transmitters and translators, it reaches 2/3rds of...
  • Dream of owning your own business, being your own boss, working from home ... this is the one.
  • Organization Background: The Mojave Desert Land Trust (MDLT) is a non-profit 501(3)(c) organization, founded in 2006. Our mission is to protect the ecosystems of the...
  • If you are deeply committed to public service and would like to become part of our high performing, passionate and diverse team, NCAT is looking...
  • Create a base in the center of Southern Utah's Grand Circle of National Parks. Multiple residential property with three established rental units and zoning latitude...
  • with home on one beautiful acre in Pocatello, ID. Blackrock Forge - retiring after 43 years! Fully equipped 5,500 sf shop including office, gallery and...
  • Certified organic fruit/berry/veggie/flower farm. Home, barns, garage, separate apt, more. Just under 2 ac, edge of town. Famously pure air and water. Skiing, mountaineering, bike,...
  • Become a force for nature and a healthy planet by joining the Arizona Chapter as Forest Stewardship Project Director. You will play a key role...
  • Ranchers Stewardship Alliance is accepting applications for an Executive Director. This position will provide leadership to RSA, develop a fund raising plan, and effectively communicate...
  • The Equity in the Outdoors Coordinator will lead community engagement, program implementation and development, and data collection for the Eagle Valley Outdoor Movement (EVOM). EVOM...
  • The Idaho Conservation League is seeking a personable individual who is passionate about conservation to join our Sandpoint Field Office. The Community Engagement Assistant will...
  • 4 standard or custom lengths. Rugged protection for backpacking. Affordable pricing.
  • Actively introduce students to Experiential Education, Outdoor Recreation, and Sustainability while engaging and challenging them to learn and participate in these diverse opportunities. Room, board,...
  • In-depth investigations of polluters, lobbyists, regulators, elected officials and others focused on environmentally damaging projects in the U.S. and internationally. We specialize in mining projects,...
  • in beautiful Montezuma County.
  • Class A & B drivers, pass all DOT requirements and clean driving record
  • - Thriving Indie bookstore in the heart of Durango, Colorado. General bookstore with 34-year history as a community hub for Southwest region of CO. 1800...
  • will develop and execute Wild Utah Projects fundraising plan. Call, email or check full description of job online for more details:
  • on ten acres. Full view of the Grand Teton. 35 miles to Yellowstone and 20 minutes to Grand Targhee Ski Area.