February 25, 2016
Online Messenger #329
After years of advocacy– comments, protests, meetings, and reports– Western Watersheds Project and our allies had high hopes that the range-wide planning efforts that culminated with final decisions in September 2015 would significantly improve land management on nearly 70 million acres of sage-grouse habitat. By pressing for clear, science-based protections for sagebrush habitat, conservation groups did everything we could during that process to ensure the federal agencies would set consistent and meaningful limits to the land uses that imperil this iconic bird.
And yet, the final plans don’t go far enough to ensure the bird’s survival, and in some cases, don’t even follow the agencies’ own scientists’ recommendations. None of the plans adequately protect winter habitat, but sage-grouse need high-quality habitat all year long. None of the plans immediately implement changes to the livestock grazing management that is the most widespread land use across the sagebrush sea. Instead, the plans delay changes indefinitely, and fail to protect against the livestock trampling and disturbance that causes nest failure in the early spring. And too many of the plans include giant loopholes that allow massive infrastructure projects and energy development to occur right in the most important habitats for the species.
Today, we filed a lawsuit in order to let the courts weigh in on the plans’ sufficiency. We aren’t seeking to overturn the plans, but we want them to be improved in order to truly protect the sagebrush ecosystem well into the future.
Western Watersheds Project was joined by our co-plaintiffs, WildEarth Guardians, Center for Biological Diversity, and Prairie Hills Audubon Society in today’s complaint, filed in Federal District Court in Boise, Idaho.
Thanks to Advocates for the West for their legal representation in this lawsuit!
A copy of the complaint is available here.