PRINEVILLE, OR -- In direct opposition to the current plan in place to conserve the sage grouse's habitat across ten western states, new policies will now be adopted.
Dan Morse of the Oregon Natural Desert Association says two months ago, Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, announced plans to review the conservation policies already in place, and yesterday, his intentions to revamp those policies became official.
Morse thinks Secretary Zinke's plan will undermine all the work done in recent years to save the sage grouse. "On behalf of Oregon Natural Desert Association, I was the one who was mostly deeply involved in putting those plans together, so from the standpoint of our organization, I'm extremely disappointed they've chosen to go down this path - I think it's hugely counterproductive, and I think what the Trump Administration and Secretary Zinke have put in motion is very likely to put the sage grouse at further risk."
According to Morse, despite all the policies that have been working over the last several years to save the sage grouse habitats across ten western states, Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, has revamped the conservation plan, which Morse says, is a great blow to the sage grouse, and conservation plans in general. "The intent of this redo effort will be to roll back some of the most important conservation elements of these sage grouse plans and it can't be read any other way than an attempt to pare back strong conservation."
Morse says that conserving the sage grouse in Eastern Oregon preserves the area's ecology, and secretary Zinke's new plan will allow greater encroachment on sage grouse habitat, which leads to their being further threatened. "What sage grouse require are large areas of intact sage brush habitat, and any activity, whether it's mining or recreation, or otherwise has the potential to disturb sage grouse in their habitat and impact their populations. And you can certainly mitigate that, but it will never be zero. Anything more than about 3% disturbance across a large area of their habitat, and the science shows their numbers beginning to dwindle."
The sage grouse is not considered endangered, but Morse says conserving their territory is vital to maintaining their population.