Nevada panel weighs in on sage grouse option


Sandra Chereb
Associated Press


Carson City, NV - February 05, 2014

A state panel appointed by Gov. Brian Sandoval to try to head off protections for sage grouse asserts that a course of action preferred by two federal agencies contradicts mandates to manage public lands for multiple use.

The Sagebrush Ecosystem Council, in a Jan. 24 response to the federal government, also says a draft environmental impact statement should address beneficial aspects of livestock grazing and predator control.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is under court mandate to decide by 2015 whether greater sage grouse found in 11 western states warrants protection under the Endangered Species Act. In Nevada, a listing could curtail activities across 17 million acres of public land.

States including Nevada have been working on their own plans to protect the bird and avoid a listing that officials fear would hinder renewable energy development, mining, recreational activities and threaten rural livelihoods. The biggest threat to sage grouse is loss of sagebrush habitat.

The council’s remarks were a response to the thousands of pages of alternatives contained in a draft environmental impact statement released by the Fish and Wildlife Service late last year. The public comment period ended Jan. 29.