For immediate release: March 9, 2022
Greta Anderson, Western Watersheds Project (520)623-1878; firstname.lastname@example.org
Steve Holmer, American Bird Conservancy (202)744-6549; email@example.com
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Greater sage grouse conservation suffered another blow today when the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022 included language to block full federal protection for the species. Once again, the budget bill included a rider that prevents any funding from being used to protect the species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), despite the iconic bird’s downward population trends and disappearing habitat.
“Today’s bill is a disappointment because it continues a very harmful exemption to the Endangered Species Act,” said Steve Holmer, Vice President of Policy of American Bird Conservancy. “The Greater Sage-Grouse, which government studies show is in severe decline, cannot be protected by the Endangered Species Act. This harmful policy rider in place since 2014 has contributed to the grouse’s decline by allowing for a free-for-all of development in priority sagebrush habitat.”
For example, the reversal of conservation measures for sagebrush habitat in federal management lands, 14,000 miles of new rights of way being permitted, and over one million acres of priority sagebrush habitat being leased for oil and gas drilling has all occurred since 2015. Endangered Species Act protection would have precluded such irreversible destruction.
The Bureau of Land Management has pledged to revisit the greater sage-grouse land use plans from 2015 that have proven insufficient to protect the bird across its range. The Forest Service has not yet announced its intentions for improving the deficient plans.
“Now, the only realistic chance of saving the sage grouse rests with land management agencies who we hope will see the importance of protecting this and the 350 other species that inhabit the sagebrush sea,” said Greta Anderson, deputy director of Western Watersheds Project. “We certainly hope that the Bureau and Forest Service will step up where Congress has failed.”