Sen. Mike Lee blasts the federal government for choosing to impose a heavy-handed, top-down approach to the management of sage grouse habitat in Western states, despite the proven success of state and local plans to protect the bird.
Utah has done an extraordinary job of finding ways to balance the need to protect sage grouse and allow for economic activity, said. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah.
“I’m worried that Utah’s federal partners have been showing a pronounced propensity to ignore suggestions made by the state,” eroding trust and making it more difficult to achieve common goals, he said.
Utah submitted substantial comments and suggestions on how best to manage sage grouse in Utah and not one was followed by the federal agencies in the new land-use plans, he said.
“This is incredibly frustrating. I’d like to think my state has earned a seat at the table, not only because it’s affected by this … but also because my state has spent upwards of $50 million trying to figure out how to protect the sage grouse,” he said.
That’s a lot of money for a small, not terribly wealthy state, and the state’s efforts have had a good effect with a better than 50 percent increase in the sage grouse population since 2013, he said.
“To have every single one of Utah’s land-use plans suggestions categorically rejected and not incorporated makes your agencies appear aloof and unresponsive, unconcerned about the dynamic of the state/federal partnership,” which state officials describe as a dictatorial relationship, he said.