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
  • Popular vacation house, furnished, 2 bed/1 bath, yard, dog-friendly. Lee at [email protected] or 520-791-9246.
  • Crested Butte Land Trust seeks a development director to lead its fundraising efforts. Remote and unspoiled, Crested Butte is located in one of the Rockies...
  • 5-Acre Home Site, Great Views with Spectacular Sunsets From a South Facing Home Site. Excellent for Passive Solar Design. Covenants, No HOA. Keller Williams Co....
  • 3 bed/2 bath, detached strawbale building. 11.7 acres, barn, corrals, fenced. Wells, solar panels, greenhouses. Paved access. 575-535-2568.
  • WildEarth Guardians seeks two public interest-focused staff attorneys with a minimum of 5 years experience to join our legal team. Experience with at least some...
  • The New Mexico Wildlife Federation is seeking an Executive Director, a visionary leader who is passionate about public lands, dedicated to executing an innovative strategic...
  • HIGH COUNTRY NEWS Customer Service Specialist I General Statement of Duties: Works closely with the customer service manager performing high-volume routine computer database work. Also...
  • We are hiring a Finance Associate Full time, competitive pay and benefits, based in Bozeman,MT Visit www.greateryellowstone.org/careers for details GYC is an equal opportunity employer
  • The Aravaipa Land Steward coordinates preserve stewardship work and general operations including maintenance and general preserve management. Implements preserve management plans, which may include species...
  • seeks a talented and dynamic development professional, with a passion for protecting our natural environment, to lead our development and fundraising team.
  • The Native American Fish and Wildlife Society seeks an Executive Director in Denver, CO to serve as the Chief Administrator of the national Native American...
  • NewTowncarShare News seeks a development assistant to assist with fundraising campaigns. HCN is an award-winning, national news magazine. Strong candidates will have experience administering...
  • Energiekontor US seeks experienced local candidate, must reside in western South Dakota. Send resume and cover letter to: [email protected]
  • Needed: instructor with 5 years *documented* instruction experience, current qualifications, M-410 or equivalent, and able to work as-needed for NM non-profit working with at-risk youth.
  • Seeking passionate full-time Executive to lead the oldest non-profit organization in Idaho. Must have knowledge of environmental issues, excellent organizational, verbal presentation and written skills,...
  • Carbondale based public lands advocate, Wilderness Workshop, seeks a Conservation Director to help direct and shape the future of public land conservation on the West...
  • The Bighorn River Basin Project Manager identifies and implements projects to improve streamflows, restore stream and riparian habitat, improve fish passage and rehabilitate or replace...
  • The San Juan Mountains Association in Durango, CO is seeking a Director of Visitor Services & Bookstore Operations to lead our visitor information program &...
  • Dream of owning your own business, being your own boss, working from home ... this is the one. 928-380-6570, www.testshop.com. More info at https://bit.ly/2Kgi340.
  • 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...