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Omnibus Spending Bill Could Delay Sage Grouse Listing

Phil Douglass / Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
The greater sage grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus)

 Congress is facing a midnight deadline to pass a huge spending bill.  One of its provisions would put a possible endangered species listing for the sage grouse on hold. 

The US Fish and Wildlife Service is facing a deadline based on a court settlement with environmental groups.  It has until September next year to make a decision on whether to put the greater sage grouse on the list of endangered or threatened species.

Republicans in the House included language to put off a decision for another year in their version of the funding bill.  Utah Congressman Rob Bishop says that would allow Utah and other Western states to implement their own plans for protecting the birds and their sagebrush habitat.

“What the state is proposing is a far more complex and a far more rational approach to it, which is one of the reasons why we want them to do it and then give them the time to actually implement it,” Bishop says.

Allison Jones with the Wild Utah Project says the potential endangered species listing is the main reason the states have developed their plans.

Jones tells KUER, “Having the feet put to the fire, if you would, these last couple of years, with everyone looking forward to the September 2015 deadline, has made a lot of good things happen.”

Ranchers and energy company officials both say an endangered species listing for the greater sage grouse could have a negative impact on Utah’s long-term economic development.

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