Press Release: Hatch Reacts to Greater Sage Grouse Decision, Urges Interior to Respect Successful State Conservation Plan

Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, senior Republican in the United States Senate, issued the following statement following the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s announced decision to not extend special protections for the Greater Sage-Grouse under the Environmental Protection Act.

“I applaud the decision by the Fish and Wildlife Service to recognize that federal protections for the Greater Sage-Grouse are not warranted. The continued conservation and recovery of the species has come as a clear result of conservation plans adopted by Utah and other western states, which were developed at the request of former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.”  

Rather than allowing these states to continue managing Sage-Grouse recovery in a responsible manner, the Department is adopting federal land use plans to restrict development and access to nearly 3 million acres. This unnecessary action will damage our economy and cost Utah thousands of jobs.Utah is already managing Sage-Grouse to balance both conservation and development. A top-down, one-size-fits-all federal approach is not the answer.”

The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) recently released a study analyzing Sage-Grouse numbers from 1965-2015. This study documented a substantial increase in the number of males counted range wide and that state led conservation efforts have resulted in a positive trend in grouse populations.

BLM/USFS Land-use Plan Restrictions on Utah:

Sagebrush Focal Areas – 228,500 acres proposed for withdrawal of development eligibility

Priority Habitat – 2,763,100 acres with restricted access

General Habitat – 583,100 acres with restricted access

Over 3 million acres in Utah would be severely restricted from economic development and public access. These restrictions would devastate local economies across the state.