September 28, 2017

Wyden Statement on Reports of Interior Department’s Intent to Reopen Sage Grouse Plans

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., issued the following statement in response to press reports that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke intends to reopen federal land management plans for the Greater Sage-grouse to potentially allow more oil and gas development. 

Farmers, ranchers, environmentalists, and industry stakeholders spent years developing the current federal sage grouse habitat management plans to prevent an Endangered Species Act (ESA) listing of the Greater Sage-grouse. Opening up this land to oil and gas development will almost certainly lead to an ESA listing of this species. A listing would do irrevocable harm to ranchers, conservationists, sportsmen and industry stakeholders in Oregon and the West by creating both uncertainty and potential regulatory actions over the management of local public lands.

“The Secretary of the Interior has repeatedly stated his willingness to listen to local communities, but when it comes to decision time, he will side with the oil and gas industry,” Wyden said. “By reopening these locally developed land management plans, Secretary Zinke is unraveling the years of hard, collaborative work that ranchers and farmers in Oregon and across the West spent developing them.”

“The sage grouse plans Zinke seeks to undo have successfully staved off an ESA listing and protected both the habitat of hundreds of species and the way of life for rural communities that depend on our public lands. This decision lurches us backward and is the wrong move.”

In a May letter, Wyden pressed the Interior Department to uphold the current sage grouse plans and stressed the collaborative process and broad local engagement involved in creating the plans that successfully prevented listing the species under the ESA.