You may remember the Bush Administration's pathetic and reluctant listing of the polar bear as an endangered species. You may remember hearing sage-grouse called the polar bear of the west. This is because an ESA listing for sage-grouse could change the management of public lands across the West, much the way as we had hoped listing the polar bear would force consideration of climate impacts of any proposed action. (And it still might. Keep your fingers crossed.)
So, with that bit of background, you can understand why everyone is really excited about the new ruling in southwestern Idaho that reminds the BLM about it's obligation to sage-grouse in land management decisions.
[Judge Winwill] concluded that grazing is a key factor in the decline of species like the sage grouse, pygmy rabbit and slickspot peppergrass, and that the agency must give more consideration in the future to the impact grazing has on those species and their habitat.We certainly hope that is what the ruling will do. We could use some of the "change" Obama promised.
Western Watersheds attorney Laird Lucas cheered the ruling, saying it should force a wholesale shift in the way the agency manages grazing across the West.
"Science has been overlooked in the past," Lucas said. "It's true we did not get a complete halt to grazing like we had asked for in this area. But for the BLM to have to handle grazing differently and follow science, we think, is on the way to good policy."