The Department of the Interior recently announced six new Records of Decision that amend Resource Management Plans for the Greater Sage-Grouse.
The Sage-Grouse, also known as a Sagehen, was a candidate for listing as an endangered species during the early portion of the decade. Interior did not list the bird due in significant part to the collaborative conservation efforts of the governments in the western states, the oil and gas industry, and private landowners. In 2015, then-Interior Secretary Sally Jewell issued Resource Management Plans, seeking to coordinate the national effort to preserve Sage-Grouse habitat.
Many states found the plans issued by the Department of the Interior to be overly burdensome, claiming that they lacked coordination with ongoing state conservation efforts. In 2016, the State of Utah filed suit against the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture, claiming the plans conflicted with existing federal policy and did not consider existing state conservation efforts. Utah, for example, achieved a 40% increase in Sage-Grouse population with its then-existing state plan.
The amendments arrive following a 2017 request from then-Interior Secretary Zinke to review the Resource Management Plans for the Sage-Grouse. The announced changes require that Interior seek more consistency and alignment with state conservation efforts. The amendments do not affect the existing plans in Montana or the Dakotas. The amended plans can be found by clicking on the appropriate state: