Eric Deering: Grouse concerns

To the editor:

Ever since the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the Gunnison Sage-Grouse as threatened last fall, I am increasingly concerned that a listing of the Greater Sage-Grouse might be next. An Endangered listing for the Greater Sage-Grouse would adversely impact the economies of the 11 western states that make up the bird’s habitat, including Colorado and more specifically here in Northwest Colorado.

As a hunter, backcountry skier and business owner in Routt County, I pay close attention to anything that affects outdoor recreational access and the businesses that depend on it. I manage and am part-owner of Steamboat Powdercats, and although we do not operate in Sage Grouse habitat, a federal listing would adversely impact recreation, local economies and energy development, just when we are seeing true signs of economic recovery.

As an avid hunter, I am keenly aware that a healthy sagebrush landscape provides habitat for not only sage grouse but also other species like mule deer, elk, and pronghorn. A recent poll by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) shows overwhelming support among Colorado sportsmen and women for conserving Greater Sage-Grouse habitat in the state and the balanced use of the bird’s habitat on public lands to ensure hunting and other recreation can continue for years to come. Nine out of 10 hunters surveyed believe it is important to take action to protect sage grouse habitat within their state. And, hunters generally link protection of sage grouse habitat with maintaining healthy populations of other wildlife species.

We need strong leadership from the State of Colorado and collaboration by all parties to promote the continued growth of our local economy in Routt County and beyond and protect this iconic bird that also makes its home in the American West.

Eric Deering

Routt County

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