Farm Bureau Applauds Sage Grouse Action

The Utah Farm Bureau Federation supports the state’s legal action against the United States related to land-use restrictions being imposed when the Greater Sage Grouse did not warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act.

According to Utah Farm Bureau President Ron Gibson, “Utah has a long history of protecting the sage grouse. Farm Bureau members and landowners across the state have for decades monitored, researched and implemented on the ground conservation measures teaming up with state and federal agencies to benefit the birds.”

Utah Department of Natural Resources data on the bird underscores the value of the private, state and federal partnership to conserve the grouse. These efforts have met with great success in ensuring the future of the Greater Sage Grouse in Utah.

“The state of Utah, private land owners and federal partners have spent more than $45 million and enhanced nearly 500 thousand acres of habitat directly benefitting the grouse,” Gibson said. “The proof is in the numbers. The latest Utah population numbers for the ground-dwelling bird show the investment and the Utah plan has paid off with a 40% increase the past year.”

Farm Bureau is troubled that the federal government determined that the Greater Sage Grouse does not warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), but simultaneously announced dramatic grouse related land use restrictions on private and public lands. These ramped-up federal regulatory actions are contradictory to the results of the Utah plan, jeopardize a successful private-public partnership, and are unnecessary.

As Utah’s largest farm and ranch organization, Farm Bureau county leaders have been involved in sage grouse local working groups for decades. Farm Bureau was a member of the Governor’s Working Group that established the State Conservation Plan for the Greater Sage Grouse. It should not be missed that healthy, growing populations of Greater Sage Grouse intersects with farming and livestock ranching.

This rigid, federal regulatory approach ignores the diverse grouse habitats located across the western United States. This “top-down” federal approach on both private and public lands imposes unyielding land use restrictions that will undermine private property rights, adversely impact farmers, ranchers, recreation, energy development and ultimately disrupt reasonable economic growth in rural Utah. All for a bird that was officially determined “not warranted for listing” under the ESA!

“It is disingenuous of the federal government to enlist Utah’s help in conserving the bird at the invitation of then Interior Secretary Ken Salazar; have our plan praised by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and ultimately dismiss the successful Utah plan for this “one-size-fits-all federal approach,” Gibson said. “We applaud the Governor and Attorney General for their commitment to federalism and sovereignty.”