The great American West, which I proudly call home, is known for its beautiful scenery and its diverse wildlife. More to the point, we have diverse wildlife living in the beautiful scenery.
An example of said wildlife would be the sage grouse. It is a small, rather odd looking bird that lives the majority of its life in the sage brush, hence the moniker. Sage grouse found in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming are best known for their mating ritual which occurs in the spring. They gather at their mating sites, known as leks, and the males puff up air sacs in their chests and repeatedly collide with one another to impress their potential mates; which proves that the males of any species are willing to do dumb things to impress the females. But that is another column for another time. I am also told by those people who are familiar with the species that they are not the brightest birds to which God ever gave breath and often wander into roadways in front of vehicles, and subsequently into the that Great Lek in the Sky.
What is germane to this discussion is a past decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that the sage grouse is “warranted but precluded” from membership in that not-so-exclusive-anymore list of Endangered Species. This “warranted but precluded” status is naturally of great concern to anyone who hates hunting, camping, ATVs, OHV roads, oil and gas development, legitimate elections, and anything that does not come from the Whole Earth Catalog, or the mind of Wavy Gravy. (Kids, ask your grandparents about him.)
In order to figure out whether or not the bird should be listed under as Endangered the Department of the Interior created the “Report on National Greater Sage-Grouse
Conservation Measures” which was produced by the Sage-grouse National Technical Team. You can read all 74 glorious pages by clicking here. During that time, western states, very aware that listing the bird as Endangered would put a stick in the spokes of multiple-use of public lands, have been working to create their own sage grouse management plans in the hope of avoiding what would in all likelihood be some pretty stringent rules by the federal government.
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