Feds Fail To Meet Obligations Set In 2015 Sage Grouse Plan

Jul 30, 2019

A sage grouse mating ground, called a lek, outside Walden, Colorado. The area is near a booming oilfield.
Credit Flickr Creative Commons/Julio Molero

The greater sage grouse narrowly escaped listing as an endangered species because of a 2015 federal plan that kept oil and gas drilling out of its core habitat in the eight Western states where it still exists. But a new report released Monday by the National Audubon Society, The Wilderness Society and The National Wildlife Federation, and authored by Western Ecosystem Technologies, says those obligations haven't been met under the Trump administration.

The report shows that under the Trump Administration, in the bird's primary habitat the number of acres leased per month has increased tenfold and the number of drilling leases approved each month is seven times higher.

The National Wildlife Foundation's Tracy Stone-Manning says it's great that Wyoming is adding language to its sage grouse protection effort to increase the bird's population but, "we need these plans and the federal government's approach to work West-wide and Wyoming's in a whole host of trouble if bird populations begin to plummet around them."

Sage grouse researcher Matt Holloran says states are only able to address individual leasing decisions, not landscape-wide ones that are needed to ensure the species' survival.

"From a scientific standpoint, that's the concern, is that we're losing the broader scale perspective.

Last year, several groups sued the Interior Department over the issue in Montana.