Greater Sage-Grouse - Photo copyright by Ron Stewart-2011.jpg

Tell Interior Secretary Zinke that you don't want to see the federal sage-grouse habitat protection plans rolled back!


Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is recommending potentially fundamental changes to Obama-era greater sage grouse conservation plans, including moving away from a framework of prioritizing habitat protection and allowing states to develop "appropriate population objectives" (based on population numbers that are notoriously cyclical)  for complying with the plans, rather than instituting the protective habitat measures contained in the plans.   Just a few highlights include providing additional waivers, modifications, and exceptions for oil and gas development activities in Sage-grouse Priority Habitat Management Areas, calling for removing hard triggers for conservation action based on crashing population numbers, and potentially increasing livestock grazing in grouse habitat.  

The recommendations, if adopted, would represent a stark departure from the Obama administration plans finalized by Interior in September 2015.  Those documents amended 98 BLM and Forest Service land-use plans to incorporate strong, state-by-state conservation measures covering nearly 70 million acres in 10 Western states. The plans focused on protecting grouse habitat, particularly the most important habitat, such as grouse breading grounds called leks.  In fact, these federal Land Use Plan revisions were strong enough to convince the Fish and Wildlife Service in 2015 that the bird did not warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act. Federal, state and local leaders across the West worked together with industry groups and environmentalists in a coordinated effort to avoid such an ESA listing. 

What you can do

  • Tweet to Deputy Interior Secretary David Bernhardt(@DOIDepSec) : "Dep Int Secr Bernhardt why roll back the sage-grouse public land use plan amendments that kept the grouse from ESA listing?! @DOIDepSec"  You can also retweet from our Tweet:
  • Send an email to Deputy Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, at  Try to craft a personal email, but in a nutshell, this might be the message to get across: "I am afraid that these new sage-grouse recommendations will circumvent and eliminate the protections promised for greater sage-grouse conservation under the 2015 Land Use Plan Amendments that apply to federally managed public lands across nine western states. Importantly, these new management recommendations will alter or undermine science-based habitat objectives, revise habitat boundaries according to states’ desires, and increase access for fluid mineral extraction within sage-grouse habitat.  None of the recommendations would strengthen or improve the status of sage-grouse or the large tracts of unspoiled habitats it needs to survive, thus putting the grouse at grave risk of further population declines.   Most importantly of all, the strength of the original Land Use Plan amendments was the reason the US Fish & Wildlife Service declined to list the sage-grouse as an Endangered Species in 2015.  Please do not undo the good work that this decision was based on, and open this species up to an ESA listing in the coming year!"
  • Post a comment on the Dept of Interior website comment page.  perhaps start with the suggested text in the above bullet.  Copy and paste into the comment box here and edit it as your own!