WALDEN – The current level of protection for one of Colorado’s native birds is ruffling the feathers of conservationists.
Next year, the federal government is expected to decide whether to list the greater sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act. Several Colorado groups are working to prevent the listing and preserve the habitat.
Bill Midcap with the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union says it’s important Colorado joins neighboring states in creating a plan to protect the bird before the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service makes a decision on the listing.
“The listing of this bird would negatively impact Colorado farms and ranches,” Midcap says. “Delaying the decisions to find solutions for the grouse makes it more likely the bird will be listed.”
Meanwhile, the Western Energy Alliance, gas-and-oil trade advocacy group, is buying ad time claiming an Endangered Species Act listing for the grouse will cost jobs. Midcap has signed on to a letter asking the Western Energy Alliance to sit down at the table with farmers, ranchers, conservation, landowner and sportsmen groups to come up with ways to ensure the sage-grouse thrives.
“As Westerners, we know how to compromise, and we know how to hammer out innovative solutions to tough problems,” Midcap says. “We can do a lot better.”
Barbara Vasquez of Jackson County is a member of the Northwest Advisory Council to the Bureau of Land Management. She says with 42 percent of sage-grouse habitat falling in BLM territory, it’s up to the agency to help shape balanced policies.