Sage-Grouse Summit Looks At State Solutions For Threatened Birds

Feb 18, 2014

Utah sage-grouse species, such as the greater sage-grouse pictured above, range from not threatened to endangered. The Utah Sage-Grouse Summit is looking for ways to aid in the birds' conservation.

The preservation of sage-grouse species in Utah was the topic of discussion at the Utah Sage-Grouse Summit on Tuesday afternoon.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert spoke on the economic impact on Utah if certain sage-grouse populations came under the protection of the Endangered Species Act. He said $41.4 billion of economic development could be lost in the state's energy sector alone, which would impact more than 200,000 jobs.

"The threat of having the sage-grouse listed under the ESA is real," Herbert said. "I think the negative impacts are just not acceptable to me and they shouldn't be acceptable to anybody here."

Herbert said he wants a Utah solution for the problem. He said the states have a right to solve their own unique challenges, and that the federal government should be a partner in the effort rather than the leader.

"What is need is continued cooperation from all stake holders on best how to protect the sage-grouse, and I reject the idea of some kind of heavy-handed federal overreach into the state lands here as far as telling us how to do it," he said.

The Utah Sage-Grouse Summit runs Feb. 18-19 at the Utah Department of Natural Resources auditorium at 1594 W. North Temple in Salt Lake City.