The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission unanimously endorsed Senator John Walsh's sage grouse management proposal, making Walsh's bill the first proposal before Congress to receive support from the Montana commission.
During their monthly meeting last Thursday, the Commission passed a resolution endorsing the proposal, saying that Walsh's Sage Grouse Accountability and Private Conservation Act builds on Montana's local strategy to prevent listing the sage grouse on the Endangered Species list. It noted that the Walsh's proposal would help protect wildlife that shares land with the sage grouse, such as elk, mule deer, pronghorn, and the golden eagle.
"I look forward to working with the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission to implement a made-in-Montana solution to manage the sage grouse and protect economic growth," Walsh said. "This balanced approach must be led by the grassroots momentum my bill has in Montana - not a top down approach from Washington D.C."
Walsh's Sage Grouse Accountability and Conservation Act requires the Interior Department to make clearer the metrics it will use to determine whether the sage grouse will be listed on the Endangered Species list. It will add resources by increasing the federal portion invested for agricultural land easements from 50 percent to 75 percent for projects involving sage grouse habitat, and adds new criteria for ranking agricultural land easements to include maximizing the protection of sage grouse habitat.
The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission, made up of five Montanans from different regions around the state, advocates for the responsible stewardship of fish and wildlife management throughout the state.
The sage grouse's habitat includes 165 million acres across 11 states in the West.
Senators Jon Tester from Montana and Mark Udall from Colorado are cosponsors of Walsh's bill.