Tipton: Locally-Driven Plan Vital for Preservation of Greater Sage Grouse

WASHINGTON – During a House Natural Resources Committee hearing today, Rep. Scott Tipton (R-CO) stressed that localized preservation efforts, that take into account the unique topography and ecology of the regions in which a species lives, are far more effective than federal efforts that implement blanket approaches with disregard for local conditions and tie up needed recovery resources with endless litigation. Garfield County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky testified during the oversight hearing on Defining Species Conservation Success: Tribal, State and Local Stewardship vs. Federal Courtroom Battles and Sue-and-Settle Practices.

“As we heard in today’s hearing, the most effective species preservation efforts are occurring at state, tribal and local levels. The success of these efforts stems from locally-tailored plans that take into account the unique geography and environment of the region in order to best preserve the species that call it home. Unfortunately, many successful local efforts are all too often disrupted by heavy-handed federal attempts to implement Washington-knows-best plans that neglect local environmental and geographic factors, and create endless litigation that ties up resources that could be used for preservation,” Tipton said. “States, tribes and local communities that are succeeding in species preservation should be allowed to continue without federal interference.  Such is the case with the Greater Sage Grouse in my district where, as Commissioner Jankovsky testified today, plans are in place and efforts are underway to effectively protect and preserve the species. Rather than designating the Greater Sage Grouse as an endangered species, I urge Interior Secretary Jewell to provide our state and local officials with measurable expectations for species recovery so that we can ensure those goals are being met at the local level.”

During the hearing, Commissioner Jankovsky testified that the Bureau of Land Management has failed to take local species preservation plans for the Greater Sage Grouse into account:

“Garfield County worked with the BLM on the NW Colorado Greater Sage Grouse Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) as a cooperating agency as one of nine counties that have Sage Grouse habitat managed by five local plans.

“In these cooperating agency meetings we realized local plans were not being considered. Because we have a local plan, we engaged the BLM in the Coordination process. Congress set forth the coordination process through the Federal Land Policy Management Act (FLPMA) whereby the Secretary of the Interior shall: keep apprised of local plans; give consideration to those plans; meaningfully involve local governments; resolve inconsistencies; and, make Federal plans consistent with local plans.

“Our first two Coordination meetings covered the Coordination process and significant differences between our local plan and the policies being directed through the BLM’s National Technical Team (NTT) Report. Our primary concern is that the policies the BLM is attempting to put in place do not fit our unique topography and will fail, destroy our local economy and create the need for litigation.”

Read Jankovsky’s testimony here.