Greater Sage-Grouse are best known for their elaborate courtship displays. This year, as the sage-grouse begin their annual courtship rituals across the west, Congress is once again considering harmful language that would remove protections for their habitat as part of a deal to fund the federal government and keep it operating through the end of September.
This bird—an icon of America’s Western landscape—once numbered in the millions, but its numbers have declined precipitously due to widespread habitat destruction. In 2015, Audubon celebrated landmark conservation plans to protect 67 million acres of the Greater Sage-Grouse’s habitat. By sneaking bad language into a must-pass spending bill, some members of Congress are attempting to unravel these important protections.
Several times over the past few years, bird lovers like you have stood up to protect public lands and preserve this historic conservation agreement. But the same members of Congress have put the same language back on the table when they think no one is looking. Right now the House and Senate are negotiating the final federal funding package—and once again your members of Congress need to hear that you oppose any efforts to undermine protections for the Greater Sage-Grouse.
A wide range of stakeholders worked together over many years to develop the new conservation plans, which merge local knowledge and the latest science. The collaborative, bipartisan approach protects sage-grouse and supports economic activity and outdoor recreation that depend on a healthy sagebrush steppe. These conservation efforts were so successful that they helped prevent the need for an Endangered Species Act listing, in addition to protecting 350 other species including Golden Eagles and Brewer’s Sparrows. Now, these much-needed protections could be undone.