Casper, WY - April 30, 2014
The federal government paid $236 million to landowners in 11 states — including $35.6 million in Nevada — to preserve sage-grouse habitat amid a debate over whether the bird should be listed as an endangered species — potentially hindering energy development and ranching.
The Casper Star-Tribune reported Wednesday that the money was paid for conservation efforts on nearly 6,000 square miles, mostly in the West, over a four-year period.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture provided the numbers at the request of the Western Governors Association. That group argues the figures show that state and private efforts are more effective at preserving sage-grouse than an endangered species designation would be.
“Western Governors believe that providing economic incentives for landowners to voluntarily participate in greater sage-grouse conservation efforts … is likely to achieve more efficient and cost-effective results, as well as more rapid conservation,” the group said on its website.
The governors association said participation in the program fell off steeply in California and Nevada after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service formally proposed listing a segment of the sage grouse population as endangered.