State completes its sage grouse protection plan
Gov. Gary R. Herbert has announced the completion of a conservation plan to preserve greater sage grouse in Utah.
He said the plan will protect more than 90 percent of Utah's greater sage grouse through incentive-based provisions on private and school trust lands, and through reasonable regulation by federal agencies that manage land in Utah.
"Many diverse interests have come together to address the challenges sage grouse face in Utah," said the Governor. "The direction the plan provides will maintain or increase the number of sage grouse in Utah while allowing economic development to continue."
In early 2012, the Governor assembled a sage-grouse working group, which included county commissioners, federal land managing agencies, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Utah Departments of Natural Resources and Agriculture and Food, the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration, representatives from energy and recreational industries, and the conservation community.
The working group met throughout 2012 in open public meetings and received substantial public input. When finished, the working group provided a series of conservation recommendations to the governor.
Director of the Public Lands Policy Coordination Office, Kathleen Clarke led the planning effort and said conserving sage grouse will require a concerted effort by state, local and federal agencies, as well as participation from willing private landowners.
"State representatives and the Natural Resources Conservation Service are ready to work with private landowners who wish to conserve sage grouse in a way that benefits the landowners and the birds," said Clarke.
"As with most complex issues, not everyone agrees with everything in the recommendations," said Alan Clark, sage grouse coordinator for the Department of Natural Resources. "Despite their differences, though, the group developed a sound and balanced approach to conservation of the greater sage grouse."
Objectives of the plan include:
Protecting 10,000 acres of the best sage grouse habitat annually
Enhancing 25,000 acres of existing sage grouse habitat annually
Increasing the total amount of sage grouse habitat by 50,000 acres annually
The plan with maps, as well as a question and answer sheet, is available at http://go.usa.gov/TX93.