An amicus brief was filed on Tuesday by The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), the Public Lands Council (PLC), along with support from the Idaho Cattle Association, the American Farm Bureau, and the Idaho Farm Bureau regarding restrictive land management plans from theBureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service.
The land management plans, specifically the sub-regional Greater Sage Grouse Land Use Plan Amendment for Idaho and Southwestern Montana, came as a back door alternative to not listing the Sage Grouse under the Endangered Species Act.
The associations are chiefly concerned these plans will undermine conservation efforts already underway by ranchers, and believes that imposing regulatory change on the grazing livestock industry without any scientific basis is unwarranted. The groups stressed that conservation efforts and land-use decisions are best made as close to the ground as possible.
“It is critical for the livestock industry’s voice to be heard in this case, particularly because these plans have such a damaging impact to ranchers operating on or near public lands throughout the West,” said Brenda Richards, PLC president and federal lands rancher. “The agencies made the right decision to not list the grouse, but these plans are detrimental to the conservation efforts already in place that have allowed the bird to thrive.”
A report released in February showed that private landowners have worked with USDA and its partners through the Sage Grouse Initiative to restore 4.4 million acres of habitat for Sage Grouse since 2010, while maintaining working landscapes across the West.
“Ongoing state management has led to a 63 percent increase in Sage Grouse population in the past two years alone, further illustrating that these Range Management Plans and the Land-Use Plan Amendment are unnecessary,” said Tracy Brunner, NCBA president. “As these new standards are implemented, they will have a negative economic impact on ranchers and rural communities without any corresponding benefit to the grouse habitat.”