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Ranchers may receive assurances in exchange for sage-grouse conservation

The US Fish and Wildlife Service has announced a new plan that would give farmers and ranchers certain legal protections, if they undertake sage-grouse conservation efforts. 

The plan is called the Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances, or CCAA. It encourages farmers and ranchers to protect the sage-grouse on their property by shifting cattle away from nesting areas and taking other conservation measures. In return, they would get a commitment that they won’t have to do anything more should the bird become officially endangered.

Tyler Abbott is deputy field supervisor of the US Fish and Wildlife Service. He says that reassurance is only fair.

“We’re confident that if private landowners are willing to implement the conservations measures that we have developed under the CCAA, we believe that that’s as much as they can possibly do, in terms of their part, to conserve the species and to keep it from being listed,” says Abbott.

Abbott says the program would be a first of its kind in Wyoming and one of perhaps 30 nationwide. He says the plan could become a template for other states and entities.

“Energy development companies, oil and gas companies, for example, have expressed an interest to work with the Fish and Wildlife Service to develop a CCAA specific to that particular type of impact,” says Abbott, “and we are interested in doing that, but it made more sense to start with an issue that doesn’t rise to the level of conservation concern that some of these others do.

A public comment period for the plan is open until March 7th.

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