In response to dwindling greater sage grouse populations in the western United States, the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has announced an initiative across ten states to increase numbers of the species.
This follows the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2010 classification of the sage grouse as eligible for the endangered species list. In November 2013, the Oregon arm of the BLM released a state-specific plan for managing the species. Though the draft offers several possible alternative plans for bolstering sage grouse populations, the Oregon BLM’s preferred option would reappoint 118,000 acres of public grazing land for sage grouse habitation.
While many conservation groups are pleased with the BLM’s initiative, cattle ranchers who make use of public grazing lands are less enthused. Groups like the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association argue that, while only a very small number of ranchers will be affected by the changes, those that use the lands will be devastated.
The Oregon BLM is holding meetings throughout Oregon to assess public opinion on the plans. The public comment period will end on February 20th.
Are you a rancher who grazes on public land? How would the BLM’s plan affect you or other ranchers you know?