USDA Releases Proposed Amendments to Sage Grouse Management Plans

The Department of Agriculture Thursday proposed changes to how it manages greater sage grouse in Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Wyoming, and Utah. The changes, according to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, “strive to improve the clarity, efficiency, and implementation of the current sage grouse plans.” The proposal is the result of stakeholder input. Key changes include allowing for greater flexibility and local control of conservation and management actions related to sage grouse. The plan also seeks to align state and federal conservation standards, so ranchers and land users have one set of standards instead of dealing with multiple, complex layers of restrictions. The plan would also maintain the goal of preventing any net-loss to critical sage grouse habitat, but no longer require the unreasonable standard that every action increase conservation, according to USDA. Secretary Perdue says the 2019 plans have been adapted to consider site-specific conditions to ensure ranchers, permittees, and industry can adapt to their local conditions rather than be forced to conform to a one-size-fits-all, national approach.