Reno Gazette-Journal Op-Ed: Don’t Toss Out Cooperation in the West’s Sage Country
by Dan Rohlf | December 12, 2017
This op-ed originally ran in the Reno Gazette-Journal.
During the holiday season, many people put significant effort into plans for getting along with one another at family gatherings. Seating plans are carefully strategized and touchy subjects avoided. We’ve learned that enjoying our shared holiday demands that we all compromise a little.
Plans for cooperation in managing the vast shrub-steppe plains of the American West – including thousands of acres in Nevada – are no different.
A few years ago, conflict there seemed inevitable. Environmental organizations asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list sage grouse – a bellwether for declining ecological conditions of the Intermountain West – as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. On the other hand, private landowners, industry groups and grazing permittees on federal land managed by the Bureau of Land Management worried that protections for the birds could eliminate their already-thin profit margins and independent way of life in a difficult rural landscape.
Amid these uncertainties, regional stakeholders launched an unprecedented effort to develop a plan – if not for outright harmony, at least toward a workable outline for coexistence. Western states, federal agencies, environmental organizations, landowners, sportsmen and women, and industry representatives worked together for many months to develop a management strategy to improve protections for sage grouse habitat while allowing our public lands to stay open for multiple uses. It was a truly cooperative and collaborative process.
Underlining the federal government’s commitment to the resulting
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