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Trump Administration Cooperates with States on Amendments to Greater Sage Grouse Conservation Plans

April 1, 2019

On March 14 and 15, the Trump Administration finalized amendments to resource management plans covering the greater sage grouse habitat in seven states giving greater flexibility to state decisions regarding activities in some of the bird’s habitat.  The state plans fall under the Greater Sage Grouse Conservation Plan, finalized in 2015, which had previously set broad reaching land use policies/restrictions within the species’ territory. 

The greater sage grouse is not an endangered or threatened species and is not covered under the Endangered Species Act, a path which the Fish and Wildlife Service considered in 2010 and again in 2015—opting not to list the bird.  However, the federal government still went ahead with a set of comprehensive conservation plans in 2015.  Seven state and local governments challenged the plans in court; and seven of the 11 affected states opted to amend their state’s plan when the opportunity presented with the Trump Administration.  The March 2019 records of decisions (RODs) for the revised state plans are linked below.

Most governors in the affected states have released statements in favor of the amendments.  In addition to affording the states’ more authority related to land use decisions on approximately 9 million acres of the bird’s habitat, it gives states greater flexibility with mitigation.  The Greater Sage Grouse Conservation Plan covers about 60 million acres of habitat.

The success of the bird’s avoidance of an ESA listing resulted in large part to protections that the states, industry and other stakeholders voluntarily put in place well before the 2015 conservation plan.  These partnerships helped stabilize the bird’s population and have conserved millions of acres of habitat.  The diverse, proactive nature of that cooperation and its effectiveness demonstrates the commitment in those regions to protect the bird’s status.

Review the records of decisions for each of the amended plans covering the seven states below:

For more information, contact Melinda Tomaino at tomainom@agc.org.

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