Sage Grouse Won’t Be Listed Under the Endangered Species Act; Politicians Celebrate

Today, the US Department of the Interior decided to not pursue listing the Greater Sage Grouse under the Endangered Species Act. This species has declined more than 98% since 1988, from already reduced levels. Here are some reactions from Oregon politicians, who seem to celebrate the ruling — and we’re including some commentary of our own.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown
“Oregonians have reason to be very proud of the work done by partners supporting healthy Oregon ecosystems, rural communities, and economies. The work of the SageCon partnership and our action plan helps our wildlife and its habitat while also addressing threats to the vitality of our farms and ranches, outdoor recreation, energy development, and other sectors.”

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.
“I am thrilled by today’s announcement that the greater sage grouse does not require protection under the Endangered Species Act. I applaud the efforts of ranchers, conservationists, governors and others who have come to the table, signed agreements and worked hard on the ground to fight for rural Oregon jobs and communities. This victory just goes to show how collaboration between private stakeholders and local, state and federal leaders can lead to balanced, sustainable solutions for the management of wildlife and our public lands.”

Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.
“Today’s news is a victory for conservation and a huge relief for so many of our rural Oregon communities. A sage grouse listing could have been devastating for many Oregon ranchers, and for the economic vitality of Eastern Oregon. I applaud everyone who worked together and engaged in this unprecedented collaborative effort so that we could protect our local economies and our natural heritage at the same time.”

Kathleen Sgamma, Western Energy Alliance
“We applaud Secretary Jewell’s decision that a listing of the Greater Sage-Grouse is not warranted. States, counties, federal agencies, industries, ranchers, private landowners and conservation groups have come together to successfully protect the sage grouse and its habitat. The Fish and Wildlife Service has correctly recognized that those efforts are more effective than a federal listing under the Endangered Species Act.

DGR Commentary

As we can see from these comments, Oregon politicians are operating squarely within the framework of capitalism and an extraction-based economy. The needs of natural communities like the Sage grouse must conform, in their vision, to the needs of business. To say that Sage grouse populations are “healthy” is absurd. Efforts to avoid listing the Sage grouse have done some good for the species by protecting important areas, but this plan continues to sacrifice more and more of the habitat to oil and gas, the wind industry, ranchers, mining, and other industrial uses. To truly protect the Sage grouse in the intermountain west, the economy that threatens them must be stopped.

Quotes from the Oregonian

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