The agriculture and conservation communities spent recent years working together on management plans that successfully prevented a non-listing of the Greater Sage Grouse, while providing grazing management flexibility for livestock producers and land managers.
While we recognize opportunities for improvement in certain areas of the plans, we can best move forward by refining the existing plans instead of starting over with new regulations. Throwing out the current plans and starting over will lead to years of uncertainty for both producers and land managers. Instead of continuing work to improve habitat, ranchers, conservationists, and agencies will be forced to spend additional time and money on rulemaking. All invested stakeholders will be best served if work remains focused on improving the current plans and putting practices in place on the ground to advance the ultimate goal of "what's good for the herd is good for the bird".
Ranchers and land managers can work with agencies to improve implementation of the current plans by:
- Conduct training for Bureau of Land Management (BLM) personnel, livestock producers, and conservation groups to ensure consistent and effective implementation of the plans. Training will focus on how to make clear and consistent management decisions for habitat and ranching. Successful implementation will provide flexibility within the guidelines to develop site-specific, science-based management on the ground to improve overall habitat management.
- Create a process for conflict resolution. Habitat and sage grouse range are dynamic and decisions will often involve an adaptive strategy. Understanding how to talk through differences will lead to better long-term strategies for birds, people, and livestock.
- Continue outreach on how the plans are intended to work in cooperation with livestock and livestock grazing - especially around Sage-brush Focus Areas (SFAs) which were designed to identify key sage grouse habitats while not impacting the working landscape.
It has been a long road to get to this point. In 2020, the US Fish and Wildlife Service will reevaluate the species’ threatened or endangered status. In addition to the sage grouse, other wildlife species in the West will be at risk of being listed. To avoid a listing and string of new regulations, efforts must remain focused on the ground and continuing the work and successes at the local level rather than starting another round of meetings and rulemaking.
National Farmers Union has been working since 1902 to protect and enhance the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers, ranchers and rural communities through advocating grassroots-driven policy positions adopted by its membership.
Established in March 2007, USCA is committed to enhancing and expanding the cattle industry’s voice on Capitol Hill. USCA has a full-time presence in Washington, giving cattle producers across the country a strong influence on policy development.