By Montana Grant

Posted: June 30, 2018

The US Forest Service is proposing changes to sage grouse protections. Mining, development, roadways, and habitat destruction are reducing sage grouse populations. There are only one half of a million birds left in 11 western states, which is well less than a once high of 16 million birds.

Sage Grouse are chicken sized, ground dwelling game birds. Males are known for their elaborate mating dance. Our highways are littered with road killed sage grouse. Overgrazing from livestock destroys valuable habitat.

Communication, education, and intelligent support are needed to protect these amazing gamebirds. The Obama administration did nothing to protect these birds. They opted to not add them to the Endangered Species Act. This has led to several land use lawsuits.

Change is needed NOW! The populations continue to decline. Establishing key sage grouse habitat areas was a priority. These areas tend to restrict development. The current plan is to eliminate these “focal areas”. These areas will still have surface development restrictions.

The Forest Service only impacts 8% of sage grouse habitat. Their remaining habitat is managed by the US Bureau of Land Management. Both agencies are working together.

Public comments are welcomed.

Montana Grant

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