Governor Matt Mead has received a letter from the US Fish and Wildlife Service commending him and the Sage-Grouse Implementation Team for their commitment to conserving sage-grouse in Wyoming.
Governor Mead signed the Sage-Grouse Core Area Protection Executive Order on June 2nd. It updated an earlier Order, providing more flexibility. Governor Mead said, "There is an active effort to have the sage-grouse listed, but this Order reflects a state effort to develop a compromise acceptable to all sides. We need more of these state-led efforts to have a voice in protection of species and I appreciate the federal government's acknowledgement of our efforts and support of this strategy."
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service previously determined that listing the greater sage-grouse as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act is warranted, but precluded. That means there are higher priority species in need of the federal government's resources. In the letter to Governor Mead the USFWS wrote, "The Service believes the Executive Order can result in the long-term conservation of the Greater sage-grouse and thus reduce the need to list the species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). If fully implemented, we believe the Executive Order can provide the conservation program necessary to achieve your goal of precluding listing of the Greater sage-grouse in Wyoming."
Governor Mead, who is heading to the Western Governors' Association meeting this week, said he plans to discuss sage-grouse at that meeting. "I plan to offer support to other western states interested in what we have done. I believe this is a way to show the federal government how states can lead when it comes to species management and do so in a very responsive and proactive way."