Saturday, July 2, 2022


The U.S. Supreme Court strips the EPA's power to curb pollution, California takes a big step toward universal health care, and a Florida judge will temporarily block the state's 15-week abortion ban.


SCOTUS significantly limits the Clean Air Act and rules against the "Stay in Mexico" policy, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is sworn in to office, and President Biden endorses a filibuster carveout for abortion rights.


From flying saucers to bologna: America's summer festivals kick off, rural hospitals warn they do not have the necessities to respond in the post-Roe scramble, advocates work to counter voter suppression, and campaigns encourage midterm voting in Indian Country.

Decision Expected Soon on Fate of Sage Grouse Plan


Wednesday, January 17, 2018   

PORTLAND, Ore. – The Interior Department is expected to announce its decision soon on the fate of the sage grouse conservation plan, which spans Oregon and 10 other western states.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke says his agency is re-examining the plan to see if it hinders energy development, meaning sage grouse habitat could be opened up to more drilling and mining.

Jack Connelly is a former wildlife biologist who worked for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game for nearly three decades. He and 16 other scientists sent a letter to Zinke in October expressing concern that the voices of scientists and wildlife managers weren't being heard on this decision.

"If policymakers and agency leadership want to seriously address sage grouse conservation, they have got to embrace the science, and the scientists and the habitat managers and so forth, and bring them in and listen to their advice,” he stresses. “And that's simply not being done."

Connelly says researchers know more about sage grouse than almost any other species in the West. He says the birds need large areas to thrive, and breaking up the land for development threatens their ability to survive.

U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley of Oregon have been critical of the proposed changes and say the original plan is the result of negotiations among ranchers, sportsmen, conservationists and states.

The plan was finalized in 2015 under the Obama administration.

As an indicator species, sage grouse conservation also helps protect more than 350 other species.

Matt Holloran is a leading sage grouse researcher who headed the group of scientists that sent the letter to Zinke. He says science supports the current approach to management and conservation.

"We actually have information to say, 'Okay, that is a good idea,' or, 'That is not such a good idea,' with sage grouse in particular – a ton of research on that species,” he points out. “The management decisions that were forwarded in those plans are based on the information that we have and therefore, have a pretty high likelihood of succeeding."

Holloran adds the sage grouse already has lost half its habitat and 95 percent of its historic population.

Its range is part of an iconic landscape that stretches across 50 million acres in 11 Western states.

Support for this reporting was provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts.

get more stories like this via email

While most classrooms are empty right now, lingering concerns from the previous school year, such as the pandemic's effect on students and staff, are being dissected ahead of next year. (Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

Research is emerging about the secondary trauma school staff members face after helping students during the pandemic. As summer moves forward…

Health and Wellness

A Florida judge plans to put a hold on the state's new, 15-week abortion ban, set to take effect today. He said it is unconstitutional and will issue …


The Environmental Protection Agency now has fewer tools to fight climate change, after the U.S. Supreme Court stripped the agency of its authority to …

The only memorial to Anne Frank is located in Boise. (Kencf0618/Wikimedia Commons)

Social Issues

Three projects in Idaho have been selected to receive grants from the AARP Community Challenge. Among them is the Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial in …


Montanans get a sense of what soil health is like on farms and ranches across the state with Northern Plains Resource Council's soil crawls. The …

Medicare fraud costs taxpayers an estimated $60 billion each year. (Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

A new tool aims to help older adults in Arkansas and beyond who receive Medicare track what happens at their doctor appointments. It also can help …

Social Issues

A campaign in Maine is gathering signatures to replace the state's investor-owned energy grid with a consumer-owned utility. Central Maine Power (…

Social Issues

Another important U.S. Supreme Court ruling this month has been overshadowed by the controversy about overturning abortion rights. Legal experts say …


Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member- and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021