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PNS Daily Newscast - November 14, 2018. 


Hate Crimes on the rise in the United States. Also on the Wednesday rundown: a big hearing in Denver on a proposed rollback of methane limits; plus find out about "Give to the Max Day."

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Decision Nears on Sage Grouse Conservation Plans

The sage grouse, with its unusual mating dance, is considered an iconic species in the sagebrush sea that stretches from the California/Nevada border across 10 states to Montana.(twildlife/iStockphotos)
The sage grouse, with its unusual mating dance, is considered an iconic species in the sagebrush sea that stretches from the California/Nevada border across 10 states to Montana.(twildlife/iStockphotos)
January 17, 2018

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The Interior Department is expected to release changes to the sage grouse management plans soon – and conservation groups say they're hoping the plans will take the science into account.

The chicken-like bird has lost 95 percent of its historical population – so states, ranchers, the oil and gas industry and environmental groups reached a hard-won agreement in 2015 to protect much of its habitat, which stretches from northeastern California to Montana.

Sage grouse researcher Matt Holloran is one of 16 scientists who sent a letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, arguing that the Obama-era plans should be given a chance to work.

"Looking to change them without those plans actually being implemented and information amassing as a result of the implementation and then making informed changes to the plans?” he states. “I think things are being done backwards."

In a press release last June, Zinke said the 98 conservation plans need to take into account local economic opportunities and the need for the U.S. to achieve energy independence.

He recommended the plans be "adjusted or rescinded based on the potential for energy and other development on public lands."

Wildlife biologist Jack Connelly spent decades with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. He says the science shows that widespread mining and drilling would further endanger the sage grouse.

He stresses the Trump administration needs to listen more closely to scientists and habitat managers.

"We were simply trying to underscore the importance of building natural resource policy on sound science,” he states. “IOf we don't do that, then we're simply building policy as we would build a house of cards, and it just won't stand."

The sage grouse is considered a sentinel species, whose fate is linked with that of 350 other species including the pronghorn antelope, elk and golden eagle.

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


Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - CA