FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 22, 2015
Dave Parker, Communications Director, 444.9844
Mike Wessler, Deputy Communications Director, 444.9725
Denver, CO.— Governor Steve Bullock today joined Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and other western governors to announce that the US Department of Interior has decided the Greater Sage-grouse does not warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act. The decision ensures that states will continue to oversee management of the bird.
“Today’s announcement is good for our state, our economy, and this iconic bird. Montana’s Sage-grouse management plan is the right path forward in a state where 60 percent of the bird's habitat is privately owned,” Bullock said. “This decision shows that when Montanans from diverse viewpoints put aside their differences, and focus on addressing a challenge, we can accomplish great things for our state.”
The announcement comes in large part as a result of intense work by Bullock and the Montanans he worked with to improve state management of the bird. In the first weeks of his term, Bullock issued an executive order to establish the Greater Sage-grouse Advisory Council, which he tasked to create a statewide management plan for the bird. Through the council, Bullock brought together diverse stakeholders on this issue including representatives from conservation, sportsmen, energy development, agriculture and ranching, tribes, local governments and the legislature.
He subsequently worked with a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers in the 2015 legislative session to secure funding for the management plan crafted by the Council. The US Fish and Wildlife Service used this plan to consider whether federal protection of the bird would be necessary.
“This is truly a historic effort - one that represents extraordinary collaboration across Montana and the American West,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. “The leadership of Montana Governor Bullock has been critical in our efforts to demonstrate that the Endangered Species Act can be a vital catalyst for conservation – ensuring that future generations can enjoy the diversity of wildlife that we do today. The epic conservation effort will benefit westerners and hundreds of species that call this iconic landscape home, while giving states, businesses and communities the certainty they need to plan for sustainable economic development.”
Montanans heralded today’s decision and Bullock’s leadership:
“This decision respects private property rights, and ensures that Montana ranchers, farmers, and landowners will continue to have a voice in the management of this bird,” said Errol Rice, Executive Vice President of the Montana Stockgrowers Association. “I want to commend Governor Bullock for his efforts in securing this decision, and ensuring that all stakeholders were heard in developing Montana’s management plan.”
“Today’s announcement is confirmation that Montana’s Sage-grouse conservation program is on the right track. Using a science-based approach, the state will now act to conserve sage-grouse habitat in an effort to bolster this bird’s populations across Montana,” said Janet Ellis, Senior Director of Policy for Montana Audubon. “I thank Governor Bullock for stepping up to the plate to bring diverse viewpoints to the table to focus on a solution that is in the best interest of Montana and this iconic bird.”
“We appreciate the efforts and leadership from Governor Bullock to ensure that management of the Sage-grouse remains in state hands,” said Dave Galt, Executive Director of the Montana Petroleum Association. “The decision today recognizes the strength of Montana’s efforts to protect Sage-grouse and is a victory for Montana’s private landowners as well as our economic opportunities and quality of life.”
"Over the last few years, Montanans from all walks of life have worked together to protect sage-grouse habitat on public and private land,” said Dave Chadwick, Executive Director of the Montana Wildlife Federation. “Today's decision demonstrates that when we roll up our sleeves and put aside politics, we can preserve both Montana's wildlife and our working farms and ranches. Now we need to dedicate ourselves to fully implementing these protections and recovering this important species for future generations."