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ICA's Statement on Sage Grouse Listing Decision

Sage Grouse Decisions Bring Good and Bad News


This week, the federal government made two important announcements relating to sage grouse conservation and management. First, a landmark decision was made that listing of greater sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is not warranted. Immediately following this announcement, however, came the release of the federal land management agencies’ plans to manage sage grouse habitat.  While one is a welcome and deserved decision based on meaningful collaboration, the other is clouded in unnecessary restrictions that all but extinguish the good work of those collaborative efforts. 

The “not warranted” listing determination is the direct result of local and state collaborative efforts to conserve sage grouse while also protecting wise and sustainable land use. The Idaho Cattle Association (ICA) appreciates Department of Interior (DOI) Secretary Sally Jewell’s recognition and acknowledgment of these facts in reaching her decision. This level of collaboration was made possible through the concerted efforts of Idaho’s ranchers who, for the past two decades, have worked diligently to promote and expand our continued commitment to long-term conservation of the species. Ranchers have been the leaders in this effort. Our industry has been the first at the table to engage in meaningful dialogue with state and federal officials, other land use groups, and conservationists to plan and implement on-the-ground conservation efforts. History has proven that it is these types of efforts that can result in real, meaningful conservation for species, not burdensome, heavy-handed federal laws and regulations.

It is most unfortunate that the release of the management plans has forced us to temper our satisfaction with the listing decision, but we must now face the reality of the federal government’s future sage grouse efforts. ICA is dismayed that the finalized plan for Idaho’s federal lands departs significantly from the state plan developed by a cross-section of Idaho’s public, including ranchers, sportsmen, conservationists, energy representatives, and officials from state and federal agencies. Our original plan had been acknowledged by the federal government to be adequate to conserve the species. Clearly, the plan was sufficient as developed and the eleventh-hour additions made in Washington, D.C., away from the light of our proven collaboration and cooperation, are both unnecessary and overreaching. 

 The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has never considered livestock grazing as a primary threat to sage grouse. Rather, grazing was delineated as a secondary threat, and only that if done improperly. Chief among our concerns with the new plan is that it now departs from the established science and elevates livestock grazing to be treated as a primary threat, in spite of the listing decision, by imposing additional regulatory burdens on federal lands grazing permittees through unnecessary management objectives.

 For these reasons, we stand behind Governor Otter in his efforts to appeal the federal government’s land management plan for Idaho. It was disingenuous for the Department of Interior to encourage and foster Idaho’s careful and detailed development of a locally driven state management plan and then in a direct betrayal, to take it and dramatically alter its intent without the benefit of input from the state and its collaborators. Not only is the plan problematic for multiple-use, but also for conservation across all lands.  The new plans severely disrupt the careful balance we had reached to enable greater sage grouse conservation on state and private lands. 

 In the face of these concerns, ICA will continue to work tirelessly to promote, protect and preserve Idaho’s natural resources and wildlife species through responsible management practices. With our proven history of commitment to this issue, we will continue to be engaged in maintaining an environment where cattle and sage grouse can co-exist.


ICA's Statement on the Soda Fire

The Soda fire is devastating to many ranching families in the area and our thoughts and prayers are with them.  These fires are largely a result of the federal government’s  management framework.  We will never be able to stop all wildfires, but we can curb catastrophic fires in the future by grazing.  In times of drought, ranchers are asked to reduce grazing herds, but that flexibility does not exist when a wet spring creates late summer fuels.  In those circumstances ranchers are not asked to increase grazing herds to utilize those fuels.  We can reduce wildfires and protect sage grouse habitat, but only if we open those areas to healthy grazing options.  In the words of Jack Connelly, “I can raise a sage grouse where there’s Herefords, I can’t raise sage grouse  where there’s fire."


Livestock Indemity Program

The 2014 Farm Bill included a program to compensate landowners for  attacks by animals reintroduced into the wild by the Federal Government or protected by Federal law, including wolves and avian predators as eligible losses under the Livestock Indemnity Program.  An LIP factsheet is available here on our website, and a new LIP handbook has been posted online.  Detail about administering this new provision begins on page 85, including information on payment limits where state indemnity programs already exist. The main section on animals killed by wolves/grizzlies is page 99. 


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Official 2015 ICA Press Releases

Zoetis Announces Idaho Save the Range Initiative

Public Invited to Boise Bolo Tie Blowout

ICA Celebrates 100 Years with Centennial Cattle Drive

Idaho Cattle Association Celebrates 100 Years

Kemin Industries Gives Back to Idaho

Brackett Awarded Technical Innovation Award

Mann Recognized for Environmental Stewardship

Cattle Industry Hails Sage Grouse Conservation Efforts

Idaho Cattle Association Sets Priority Issues

Idaho Cattle Association Supports GMO Science

Agriculture Keeps Idaho Economy Strong


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