BEND, OR -- Governor Kate Brown and Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell signed landmark agreements that will allow landowners in eight Oregon counties to conserve habitat for the sage grouse. The signing took place at the Deschutes National Forest Service Office Friday afternoon.
The bird is being considered for endangered species status, but a diverse group of interested parties, conservationalists, landowners, ranchers and others came together to sign agreements that will help them preserve the bird's habitat in an attempt to increase their numbers.
Governor Brown says it's about much more than a bird. "The Oregon way is how Oregonians roll up their sleeves and work together to get things done. We engage stakeholders to shared vision and empower them to bring it to life. Oregon is not only ensuring the future for a small bird that makes its home in the high desert of central Oregon, but also the people and communities who share that home."
Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell echoed the Governor's remarks. She believes Oregon is paving the way for other states to follow suit. "The sage grouse may be an umbrella species - The canary in the coal mine. But we all know its not about the canary, its about the quality of the air in the coal mine and about the habitat eco-system that makes up this part of the country."
These agreements also protect ranchers and other landowners from facing future regulation should the sage grouse be listed as endangered. The Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to make a decision on that listing at the end of September.