The greater sage grouse thrives in the sagebrush landscape of the West. U.S. Department of Agriculture-Natural Resources Conservation Service photo. (Public domain.)
The greater sage grouse thrives in the sagebrush landscape of the West.

States need more authority to protect greater sage grouse

Nevada rancher testifies at House hearing and called on Congress to recognize work states are doing to protect wildlife.

On Wednesday, Dr. J.J. Goicoechea testified before the House Committee on Natural Resources on behalf of the Public Lands Council, National Cattlemen’s Beef Assn. and Eureka County Nevada advocating for federal sage grouse policy to conform to ongoing state management plans. The oversight hearing was held following the recent review ordered by the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) of 2015 federal sage grouse plan amendments and an open comment period.

The veterinarian and fourth-generation cattle rancher said DOI "greatly overlooked the fact that no two states are exactly alike; no two states have the exact same threats and impacts. Even within states, the threats vary among geographical location, elevation and land management agencies.”

Nevada’s sage grouse management plan currently allocates approximately $1.3 million per year to protect the species. The plan has a major focus on mitigating wildfire risk through livestock grazing. Goicoechea stressed Nevada’s commitment to the long-term management of sagebrush ecosystems and the greater sage grouse population and called on the committee to recognize state efforts.

“Why don’t we listen to state and local officials and implement plans that were developed at the ground level? The top-down approach has continued to squeeze public land industries, all while continuing to lose sensitive habitats and imperil wildlife species. If the true goal is conservation, put it back in the hands of those closest to the land. If the goal instead is to remove economic drivers from rural communities with no desire to protect habitats, then continue on the path we are on.”

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