Greater Sage Grouse: groups send letters to Gov. Hickenlooper and to Sen. Gardner

May 14, 2015

On May 13, 2015 NWF, CWF and 5 other groups sent a letter to Governor Hickenlooper and to Senator Gardner.  We expressed strong support for conservation of greater sage grouse habitat.  In the letter to the Governor we urged that his forthcoming executive order provide strong safeguards for the grouse and its habitat, so that a potential listing can be avoided. In the letter to the Senator, we expressed disappointment that the bill he has introduced would prohibit the US Fish and Wildlife Service for 6 years from making any decision whether to list the bird.

Below is the text of each of the two letters:  

 May 13, 2015

The Honorable John Hickenlooper Governor of Colorado
136 State Capitol
Denver, CO 80203-1792

CC: Senator Michael Bennet Senator Cory Gardner

Representative Scott Tipton
RE: Greater Sage-grouse conservation
Delivered via electronic mail and postal mail Dear Governor Hickenlooper:

We, the undersigned sportsmen in Colorado, are writing to express our support for your issuance of an Executive Order to promote conservation of the Greater Sage-grouse here in our state. Sportsmen and women consistently support conservation of sage-grouse habitat, recognizing that “what’s good for the bird is good for the herd." Colorado's healthy sagebrush habitats are home to over 350 species of plants and animals including big game like elk, mule deer and pronghorn. A strong Executive Order and subsequent management plan will allow Colorado to continue its role as an energy leader while ensuring our state’s abundant wildlife, outdoor economy and way of life are protected. To this end, we believe an Executive Order should include provisions giving the State of Colorado legal authority to require and enforce conservation measures needed to recover populations of the bird and remove the necessity for any listing under the Endangered Species Act.

Colorado's outdoor economy is essential to our economic diversity and maintaining state management of the Greater sage-grouse will help ensure that industry's vitality. According to a 2011 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service survey, hunting-related expenditures alone in Colorado total over $460 million dollars each year, a figure that depends on healthy sagebrush lands providing opportunities for sportsmen.

A November 2014 poll by National Wildlife Federation of Colorado hunters and anglers indicated that roughly 86 percent of Coloradans surveyed believe action should be taken to protect Greater Sage-grouse habitat. Furthermore, in the July 2014 bipartisan poll conducted by Benson Strategy Group and Public Opinion Strategies, well over three-fourths of voters in the American West say it is important to protect sage-grouse habitat. Support crossed party lines, with rural voters and outdoorsmen (defined as those who hunt, fish, or go off-roading) providing particularly strong backing of conservation efforts. In Colorado, 71% of voters responded in favor of stronger action by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to protect sage-grouse and its habitat.

In 2015, the Colorado College Conservation in the West poll results continue to show that western voters, by a wide margin, support protections for Greater Sage-grouse and its habitat. Similar to the 2014 poll, 70% of Coloradans support BLM plans that incorporate some limits on energy development, livestock grazing, and off-road vehicle use in certain areas.

Colorado is a prime destination for hunters and anglers across the country and the world. We encourage the State of Colorado to support the efforts of the diverse stakeholders and federal, state and local agencies to develop and implement strong conservation plans that will not only protect the Greater Sage-grouse but our western values, economy and irreplaceable wildlife habitat.

Sincerely,
National Wildlife Federation
Colorado Wildlife Federation
Bull Moose Sportsmen’s Alliance
Colorado Backcountry Hunters and Anglers Colorado Pheasants Forever
Colorado Trout Unlimited
Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership 

 

May 13, 2015

Senator Cory Gardner
Senate Dirksen Office Building SD-B40B Washington, D.C. 20510

CC: Governor John Hickenlooper

Senator Michael Bennet

Representative Scott Tipton
RE: Greater Sage-grouse conservation
Delivered via electronic mail and postal mail Dear Senator Gardner:

We, the undersigned sportsmen and women organizations of Colorado, are writing to express our deep concerns regarding the Sage-Grouse Protection and Conservation Act that you introduced last month.

Any measures that delay a September 2015 deadline will effectively take the wind out of the sails of the efforts currently underway to protect the bird and the sagebrush ecosystem, the benefits of which will extend to other iconic wildlife. Further delay sends the wrong message to Colorado and other states working towards maintaining state management.

The sagebrush ecosystem, upon which sage-grouse are dependent, is also home to over 350 species of plants and animals including big game like elk, mule deer and pronghorn. Unprecedented and substantial efforts are under way throughout the West—at local, state and federal levels—to put robust and meaningful on-the-ground conservation measures in place to protect this iconic bird and its habitat. Many governors have issued Executive Orders memorializing efforts to conserve sage-grouse habitat on both public and private land that already are underway. The states and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) are crafting plans with input from diverse stakeholders.

Arbitrary delays may result in more time for the bird to decline in the absence of some sense of urgency to get conservation measures in place and with some regulatory assurances. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has not requested a delay and, thus, there is no evidence that one is required to allow state plans to manifest. We strongly believe another delay will only lead to diminution of efforts to protect the Greater sage-grouse and our western way of life.

As sportsmen and women, we recognize that “what’s good for the bird is good for the herd." In Colorado, an important part of our identity is the open, healthy landscapes that surround our communities and provide high quality recreational opportunities for so many. Colorado's hunting and angling community supports strong management plans that include

common sense conservation measures to ensure continued state management of sage- grouse.

We are not alone in this support. A November 2014 poll by National Wildlife Federation indicated that roughly nine out of ten hunters in the 11 western states with Greater sage- grouse populations believe it is important to take action to conserve habitat within their state.

Furthermore, in the July 2014 bipartisan poll conducted by Benson Strategy Group and Public Opinion Strategies, well over three-fourths of voters in the American West say it is important to protect the sage-grouse habitat. Support crossed party lines, with rural voters and outdoorsmen (defined as those who hunt, fish, or go off-roading) providing particularly strong backing of conservation efforts. In Colorado, 71% of voters responded in favor of stronger action by the BLM to protect sage-grouse and its habitat.

We believe that now is the time to get behind efforts to implement strong conservation plans without legislative intervention. Sportsmen from around Colorado support putting conservation measures in place now to protect not only the bird but also our western values, local economies and irreplaceable wildlife habitat.

Sincerely,
National Wildlife Federation
Colorado Wildlife Federation
Bull Moose Sportsmen’s Alliance
Colorado Backcountry Hunters and Anglers Colorado Pheasants Forever
Colorado Trout Unlimited

Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership  

 

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