Environews: Sage grouse in trouble

By Amy Brunvand

The September 2017 BLM oil and gas lease auction includes priority habitat for sage grouse in Utah’s Sheeprock Mountains. The Wild Utah Project calls sage grouse “canaries in a coal mine” since their presence indicates a healthy sage brush ecosystem. The Sheeprock sage grouse population has dropped by nearly 40% over the past four years, and in 2016 the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources transplanted 40 sage grouse to the area from Box Elder County.

“It’s a waste of money trucking in new sage grouse and then putting their habitat on the auction block,” points out Western Watersheds Project energy campaign coordinator Kelly Fuller.

The BLM says more than 340 species depend on sagebrush ecosystems for survival, but Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) says sagebrush ecosystems have no value and should be open for “multiple uses”
Wild Utah Project wildutahproject.org/sage-grouse

This article was originally published on June 1, 2017.