Sen. Bennet leads charge for sage-grouse conservation funding

The health of sage grouse populations is directly linked to that of the sagebrush landscape. More than 350 species rely on the sagebrush ecosystem including elk, mule deer and pronghorn’

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Can greater sage-grouse get some love from Congress?

Staff Report

FRISCO — In a bid to avoid an endangered species listing for greater sage-grouse, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennett led a group of fellow Democrats urging the Senate Appropriations Committee to fully fund an array of conservation measures by multiple federal land management agencies. Continue reading

Colorado steps up sage grouse conservation

Habitat exchange scheme eyed as key component in efforts to protect dwindling western birds

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Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is ordering state agencies to boost greater sage-grouse conservation efforts. Photo courtesy USFWS.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is calling for an all-out state effort to protect greater sage-grouse by stepping up coordination among state agencies, improving habitat on state-controlled lands, and boosting the role of the state’s oil and gas commission.

The new conservation push, announced in a May 15 executive order, also outlines a market-based habitat exchange program that would let ranchers and other landowners buy and sell conservation credits to developers, including the oil and gas industry with the goal of mitigating “residual impacts” to sage-grouse habitat. Continue reading

Environment: Feds tackle sage-steppe restoration

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The BLM is eying sagebrush restoration work.

Great Basin projects to bolster sage-grouse habitat

Staff Report

FRISCO — Federal land managers want to stem the loss of sagebrush habitat with a $4 million series of projects across the Great Basin.

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said the Bureau of Land Management projects will  reduce the threat of  more frequent and intense wildfires that are damaging sagebrush landscapes and productive rangelands. Continue reading

Conservation groups outlines flaws in new oil and gas drilling plan for Colorado’s Piceance Basin

Formal protest says BLM violated planning regulations

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Thousands of new fossil fuel wells could take a toll on wildlife in northwest Colorado.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Conservation and wildlife advocacy groups are protesting a new federal plan that covers oil and gas drilling and fracking in the northwestern Corner of Colorado.

The recently published resource management plan amendment for Bureau of Land Management’s White River Field Office failed to meet legal requirements because it didn’t consider special areas of environmental concern, the groups wrote in their formal April 27 protest letter. Continue reading

Greater sage-grouse the latest target in GOP’s war on the environment

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Greater sage-grouse face new political threat. Photo via USGS.

Senate measure would let miners, ranchers and drillers devastate sagebrush ecosystems

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — The battle lines over the fate of greater sage-grouse are being clearly drawn in the U.S. Senate this week, where freshman Republican Senator Cory Gardner is proudly touting the support of extractive industries for his misnamed Sage Grouse Protection and Conservation Act (S 1036).

Gardner’s measure is the latest in a series of political maneuverings to subvert and circumvent the Endangered Species Act. In the past few years, lawmakers have flouted science to try and remove protection for other species, including northern gray wolves. Continue reading

Piece-mealing greater sage-grouse toward extinction

Greater sage-grouse. Photo courtesy USFWS.

Greater sage-grouse. Photo courtesy USFWS.

Feds won’t protect Mono Basin sage-grouse under Endangered Species Act

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Efforts to preserve biologically important remnants of the vast western sagebrush sea were dealt another blow today, as as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced it won’t protect greater sage-grouse in California and Nevada under the Endangered Species Act.

The decision is another step in piece-mealing greater sage-grouse toward extinction, according to conservation advocates and biologists. The voluntary conservation measures touted by the federal agency won’t do much to protect the so-called bi-state greater sage-grouse population from threats like hardrock mining, exurban development and livestock grazing. Continue reading

Greater sage-grouse face serious global warming threat

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Greater sage-grouse may lose ground to global warming. Photo courtesy USGS.

Climate change to cut key nesting habitat in Wyoming

Staff Report

FRISCO — As if greater sage-grouse didn’t already have enough to worry about, a new study suggests that global warming may reduce nesting habitat for the dwindling birds by 12 percent in southwestern Wyoming by 2050.

“Historic disturbances of fire, development and invasive species have altered the sagebrush landscape, but climate change may represent the habitat’s greatest future risk,” said Collin Homer, the U.S. Geological Survey scientist who led the research.

“Warming temperatures, combined with less snow and rain, will favor species other than sagebrush, as well as increase sagebrush habitat’s vulnerability to fire, insects, disease and invasive species,” Homer said, explaining that the research helped show how vulnerable sagebrush landscapes are to climate change. Continue reading

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