Sage grouse legislation would mean big things for Moffat County

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Scott Tipton

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Chuck Grobe

Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., partnered with four Western congressmen to introduce a piece of legislation, the Sage Grouse Protection and Conservation Act, on May 22 that would prevent sage grouse from being listed as threatened or endangered for 10 years.

This marks the second time this session that members of Congress have proposed legislation as an effort to press agencies to rethink their approach to listing sage grouse species.

“We’re going to not have your policies go into effect for 10 years to demonstrate that local policies and state policies do work,” Tipton said about how the legislation would work. “It specifically will address one of my great concerns: that the secretary of Interior wants to put us into a 11-state block.”

That means that the species’ population would be evaluated across the whole West, instead of on a state by state basis.

“It can’t be a one-size-fits-all (solution) because everybody’s ecology and everything is a little bit different,” Moffat County Commissioner Chuck Grobe said. “Everybody has a little different climate, little (different) situations in their area.”

It would incorporate more local and state data into the discussion, Grobe said.

“Anything like that would be positive and help get more science into the discussion,” he said. “Because that’s really what’s missing on the whole thing. I think everything has been moving so fast.”

This bill would help Colorado ranches, private landowners and the energy industry while protecting the bird, Tipton said. The Sage Grouse Protection and Conservation Act would mandate that conservation efforts be developed at a state and local level. It’s important to challenge the federal government’s approach to listing endangered species, he said.

“The threats are very real to Craig to all of our communities: Moffat County and the Western Slope of Colorado,” he said. “We don’t need one more burden to deal with when we have a good solution at the local and state level.”

While he expects the legislation to do well in the House, Tipton said he doesn’t expect it to make it through the Senate.

“I’m confident we’re going to move this legislation through the House,” he said. But there are 217 bills waiting in the Senate for action. “There’s nothing we can do but pass a bill out of here.”

The Bureau of Land Management will make its recommendation for whether sage grouse should be listed as threatened or endangered in September.

Contact Erin Fenner at 970-875-1794 or efenner@CraigDailyPress.com.

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