The big reveal: Stakeholders react to sage grouse decision |

The big reveal: Stakeholders react to sage grouse decision

Lauren Blair
A male greater sage grouse struts early in the morning at a lek
Lauren Blair

— Tuesday’s news that the greater sage grouse wouldn’t be listed under the Endangered Species Act elicited responses from hundreds of stakeholders. Sentiments range from happy to unhappy, funny to sincere, all in response to one of the most monumental conservation decisions of the century.

Gov. John Hickenlooper, speaking at the press conference held Tuesday morning near Denver:

“We’ve seen what the results can be when we work together, and that should only inspire us to work harder in future. It’s a very popular thing right now to take punches at our federal government, especially in the West, but when we have an opportunity where they have helped bring everyone together and create something that really is meaningful, then we should celebrate what good partners they can be and hopefully inspire them to continue to be great partners.”

Brian Rutledge, Audubon Society via press release:

“During this process we have learned to not allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good, and we have arrived at a good plan for both people and wildlife.”

Erik Molvar, wildlife biologist with WildEarth Guardians via press release:

“The sage grouse faces huge problems from industrial development and livestock grazing across the West, and now the Interior Department seems to be squandering a major opportunity to put science before politics and solve these problems. Like other politicians before her, today Secretary Jewell declared victory before the battle is actually won. The government’s plans fall far short of ensuring this iconic, imperiled bird is protected from the serious threats posed by fossil fuel extraction, grazing and development.”

Land Tawney, executive director of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers via a press release from the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership

“What is good for the grouse is good for the grandeur — the large landscapes being conserved will help sustain backcountry hunting opportunities and big game populations. That’s positive for sportsmen and the local communities that depend on proceeds from outdoor recreation-based businesses.”

Duane Coombs, Nevada cattle rancher speaking at Tuesday’s press conference:

“What a fragile opportunity we have to continue to get this right… The path now set before is to move past these generations of mistrust and misunderstanding in the West. The private landowners and producers in the West have shown their willingness to work with government… Good government responds to the need of the governed and I think that’s one of the things we’re seeing here today. Good government uses regulation as a last resort.”

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colorado, via press release:

“While the ‘not warranted’ decision is welcome, the implementation of equally oppressive land use plans, which do nothing to improve on the work already being done locally to preserve the grouse, still leaves Colorado and other Western communities in a worrisome situation.”

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colorado, via press release:

“Colorado farmers, ranchers, local governments, conservationists and community members have worked for years to find innovative ways to protect sage grouse habitat. This decision ends the uncertainty hanging over the heads of families, farms, and businesses on the Western Slope.”

Tim Corrigan, Routt County commissioner, via phone interview:

“I measure the success of this non-listing decision by the fact that it looks like both the environmental community and development community may yet turn around and sue the federal government, so I think the fact that they’ve irritated everybody on both sides means they may have found the sweet spot.”

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