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Ad Campaign Launched to Preserve Deal on Sage Grouse Habitat

Colorado was a leader in a decade-long effort to conserve sage-grouse habitat that also supports more than 350 other species. (BLM)
Colorado was a leader in a decade-long effort to conserve sage-grouse habitat that also supports more than 350 other species. (BLM)
March 8, 2018

DENVER — A new television and online campaign is calling on the U.S. Department of the Interior to honor a deal made by the federal government to preserve critical sage-grouse habitat that also supports mule deer, pronghorns, elk and hundreds of other species.

Suzanne O'Neill, executive director of the Colorado Wildlife Federation, said local and state leaders worked with ranchers, industry groups, hunters and other conservationists for almost a decade to find common ground.

"Both the state and the federal plans represent a hard-won agreement that offers practical solutions,” O’Neill said. “Coloradans really expect the years of work to be honored by Secretary Zinke and the Department of Interior."

Sage-grouse populations have declined by as much as 95 percent from their historic levels, and a plan was put together by a host of stakeholders to keep the bird off the endangered species list. Secretary Zinke pulled those plans for review after industry groups complained that they overestimated the impacts from energy production.

Walt Gasson, a lifelong hunter and conservationist, stars in the new ad. He said the best solutions to any problem come from working together, and noted the sage-grouse plan was a result of good old-fashioned kitchen-table problem solving.

Gasson said he hopes Zinke will stand by the deal that keeps the sagebrush sea open for multiple uses - including hunting, recreation, grazing and extraction.

"What I am against is decisions being made for one interest at the expense of all the other interests,” Gasson said. “And forty-plus years has convinced me that when one interest exerts dominance over all the others, my family loses."

The ad campaign, produced by the National Wildlife Federation, will run in Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Nevada and Washington, D.C.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO