All About The Sage Grouse

Greater Sage-Grouse - U.S. Fish and Wildlife ServiceGovernment bureaucracy is butting heads with Western Sportsmen over the acreage set aside for the Greater Sage Grouse. The fight is not about the well being of a species but rather a clash of ideology, reduction of our rights, reduced land access and management of public lands by restriction. Too many times explanations about Greater Sage Grouse are clouded with graphs, charts, scientific explanations that the average person doesn’t understand to begin with when what is required is the straight talk defining the issue with Greater Sage Grouse. Several things need to be addressed which is part of the distraction from the envirolitigants, the left wingers and activists of the world that want to dictate how and where we live, how and what should be on the landscape and what constitutes their ideas of multi-use of our of public lands.

Are Greater Sage Grouse an Endangered Species?

Historic and Current Distribution of Sage GrouseForemost is that the Greater Sage Grouse (GSG) is NOT an Endangered Species. The movement has been made by the left, based on their “science” and ideas that the Greater Sage Grouse is endangered and needs federal protection by virtue of and Endangered Species Act listing stating declines due to gas and oil energy developments, residential building, agriculture and livestock grazing and of course hunting pressure. Fact of the matter is current breeding populations exceed more than 500,000 birds. Like most all species, numbers increase and decline for various reasons. The largest single factor now is predation but the Greater Sage Grouse population is stable, healthy and reproducing.

Habitat Restrictions For The Greater Sage Grouse

Greater Sage Grouse Range – Bureau of Land ManagementAlthough the habitat for the Greater Sage Grouse is most commonly grasslands, sagebrush and desert shrub ecosystems, eleven western states covering approximately 165 to167 million acres of Greater Sage Grouse habitat are now under the microscope of government agencies for these restrictions. The states that are current targets for habitat restrictions are Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming Utah and Colorado. Two states in the fight that don’t have current populations, only historic range, are Arizona and New Mexico. Both current and historic ranges move across our northern border into Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan.

What Happens If the Greater Sage Grouse are listed As Endangered?

In general terms if the Greater Sage Grouse were to be listed, the 165-167 million acres of habitat and public lands would be restricted.  The term restricted means “we’re off the landscape, no access and you can do nothing”. Consider it an eleven state 165 million plus acre national monument, locked gates, closed roads, no hiking hunting fishing or anything else, want to pick flowers, nope forget it!

What Is The Impact Of Government Policy On Public Lands?

Greater Sage GrouseIf the Greater Sage Grouse is listed, the Bureau of Land Management (BLW) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) regulations would impact seven military bases or reservations which serve as bombing, gunnery, testing and training ranges. Nellis-Nevada 13 + million acres, Mountain Home-Idaho 7+ million acres, UTTR-Utah 13.5+ millions acres, Fallon-Nevada 10.6+ million acres, Yakima-Washington 300+ hundred thousand acres, Ellsworth-Wyoming/South Dakota 3.8+ million acres, Malmstrom-Montana 8.8+ millions acres, over 57+ million acres of military base restrictions from February through May, no over flights, testing or training. These bases and ranges cannot be replicated anywhere else in the country.

Look earlier this year, the Department of the Navy solicited BLM to expand the Fallon range by some 300,000 acres, denied. Why? GSG in the expansion area. The same thing is happening at Nellis AFB.

How Is Government Taking Control of  Our Land?

Distribution of Federally owned land in the WestThe U.S. Government, BLM, USFS and USFWS, are being convinced of policy not yet proven through known science.  Because there are two avenues of this science (the activist scientists and the scientists of State Game & Fish departments), the voice of the left are heard more frequently by politicians than the sportsmen.  The idea of “Management by Restriction” became popular to soften the blow to the public.  In other words “don’t worry, you can still get on the land”.

This method is not limited to the Greater Sage Grouse. The Apex Predators have been reintroduced; the Gray or Timber wolves in the northern and western states, Red Wolf in the east and south and in AZ and New Mexico, the Mexican Gray Wolf. The reintroduction of Wolves, for the most part, was done without proper management plans that have decimated the elk, moose, deer and small game populations.

What is the battle over the Greater Sage Grouse?

The battle is about failed government policy and those that want to dictate our lifestyle and the future use of our natural resource.  The Equal Access to Justice Act has been used to shoot the public and sportsmen in the foot.  Although the EAJA is under investigation by the DOJ for monies paid to the envirolitigants, they continue to operate unabated.  The EPA has embarked on “Wetlands” mapping, the TRCP doing Sportsmen Value Mapping and the BLM 2.0 Planning Schemes target the same acreage.