The Department of the Interior wants to overturn vital habitat protections for Greater Sage-Grouse, Burrowing Owls, and other wildlife that depend on America’s sagebrush ecosystem.
Once numbering in the millions, the Greater Sage-Grouse has declined precipitously due to widespread habitat destruction. To help prevent this iconic bird from becoming endangered, many stakeholders—states, ranchers, conservationists, industry, scientists, and federal agencies—collaboratively developed a balanced conservation plan to protect 67 million acres of habitat for the sage-grouse and 350 other species. These landmark plans also ensure economic growth opportunities for communities across the West. Now, the Department of the Interior is trying to overhaul these smart plans, which will weaken or eliminate their vital habitat protections.
The Department of the Interior is accepting public comments on this misguided effort. We’ve made it quick and easy to voice your support for sage-grouse, Burrowing Owls, and all of the wildlife that depend on America’s sagebrush ecosystem.
From court challenges to backdoor attempts to put harmful language in must-pass Congressional bills, anti-conservation interests have been working to tear apart the conservation plans since they were adopted. Each time, Audubon members have raised their voices and succeeded in defending this historic conservation effort.
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This new announcement raises concerns that habitat protections could be weakened or eliminated by exploring “creative approaches” that are alternatives to protecting habitat, such as captive breeding and setting population targets state by state. Neither approach is supported by applicable science nor experts in the field. Secretary Zinke has emphasized eliminating burdens on energy development on public lands, even if it comes at the expense of sage-grouse conservation—or long-term predictability for industry interests. However, recent studies have shown that very few of the protected areas overlap with high-potential places for oil and gas or other forms of development.
Birds and People Stand to Lose if the White House Slashes Our Public Lands
Abolishing protections for America’s great outdoors would be a shameful and sad legacy for any president. Our public lands benefit millions of people and countless birds all across the United States, and Americans overwhelmingly support preserving these special places for future generations,” said David O’Neill, Audubon’s chief conservation officer, yesterday in response to recommendations from the Department of the Interior to the White House to strip protections from public lands.
Each president since Teddy Roosevelt has protected America’s parks and monuments, and until this administration no White House has initiated such a broad assault on more than 100 years of proud, bipartisan conservation tradition.
Read Audubon's Full: Media Statement Here