A group of scientists sent a letter to members of Congress urging greater protections for the Greater Sage Grouse.

Here is a copy of what they sent...

The Honorable Harry Reid The Honorable Mitch McConnell

United States Senate United States Senate

Washington, DC 20510 Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable John Boehner The Honorable Nancy Pelosi

United States House of Representatives United States House of Representatives

Washington, DC 20515 Washington, DC 20515

Dear Senator Reid, Senator McConnell, Speaker Boehner and Representative Pelosi:

As scientists who have spent considerable time in our careers studying the life history and habitat relationships of wildlife, including the greater sage-grouse, we urge you not to approve any legislative restrictions on the ability of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to address greater sage-grouse conservation issues as you finalize Fiscal Year 2015 funding for the Department of the Interior. Over the past 50 years populations of greater sage-grouse have substantially declined largely due to habitat loss, deterioration, and fragmentation. The best available science indicates these problems continue so it is imperative that the situation be addressed without delay.

The Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, and western states, including California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming, along with many local partners and the FWS, have developed conservation plans for greater sage-grouse and are currently engaged in significant efforts to conserve this species. It is critically important that these science-based efforts are not suddenly brought to a halt given the precarious status of the bird.

The Interior Department needs adequate funds to assess scientific information and to produce final collaborative plans that are scientifically sound, provide adequate regulatory mechanisms, and achieve effective and consistent landscape-scale management across the bird’s range. Sound plans will help not only sage-grouse but many other sagebrush-dependent species such as mule deer, pronghorn, and pygmy rabbits. The federal government, western states, and private citizens are working collaboratively to devise solutions to reduce threats and recover populations. These collaborative efforts should be strongly encouraged. Should the urgency to implement sage-grouse conservation plans be removed, efforts to recover sage-grouse populations and habitat will be slowed or stopped, which likely will lead to reduced opportunities for long-term solutions.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Edward B. Arnett, Ph.D.

John W. Connelly, Ph.D.

Matthew J. Holloran, Ph.D.

Terry Z. Riley, Ph.D.

Brian A. Rutledge

cc: Senator Barbara Mikulski, Chairwoman, Committee on Appropriations; Senator Richard Shelby, Ranking

Member, Committee on Appropriations; Representative Hal Rogers, Chairman, Committee on Appropriations;

Representative Nita Lowey, Ranking Member, Committee on Appropriations