News Releases

Date: 2/8/2018

Title: Cattlemen: Senator Merkley Sage Grouse Statements "Regrettable" and "Out of Touch"

WASHINGTON (February 7, 2018) - Today Ethan Lane, Executive Director of the Public Lands Council and NCBA Federal Lands, issued the following statement in response to Senator Jeff Merkley’s statements on the 2015 Land Use Plan Amendments for the Greater-Sage Grouse :

“Today’s statements from Senator Merkley are a regrettable example of an elected official wildly out of touch with his constituents. If Senator Merkley had bothered to read the letter written by the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association just weeks ago, he would have known that ranchers and local land managers in his state have spoken out against the flawed 2015 Land Use Plan Amendments for the Greater-Sage Grouse. Real environmental stewards oppose a one-size-fits-all approach that neglects local knowledge and runs roughshod over the efforts of state governments. On behalf of his constituents, Mr. Merkley should welcome the Department of Interior’s review and work with the ranching community to chart a path forward that protects both the bird and local economies.”

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Background

  • Today Senator Merkley released a letter signed by him and other Senate Democrats criticizing the Administration’s decision to modify the 2015 Land Use Plan Amendments for the Greater-Sage Grouse. In a Senate Environment and Public Works hearing, Senator Merkley also gave the following quote when referencing a rancher he supposedly spoke with recently:
    • “He also talked to me about his concern with sage grouse. We have a voluntary program where ranchers can essentially adopt a certain number of measures and then they are protected from any rules the Endangered Species Act may evoke in the future by having been upfront and helping. We have hundreds of  ranchers sign up for this in Oregon.  I’m not really asking a question but noting that they are very concerned about the partnership they put together to try and avoid a listing might fall apart under some of the pressures from the current administration.”

 

  • In an official letter on January 10, 2018, the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) urged the Department of Interior to change the 2015 Oregon Greater-Sage Grouse Management Plan. OCA Executive Director Jerome Rosa was quoted as saying: “There is some confusion in Washington, D.C., that Oregon is the only western state that is not supportive of amendments to the sage grouse plan, which is tremendously worrisome.”

 

  • In October, Nevada rancher J.J. Goicoechea testified about the flawed 2015 Plan in Congress. He said:
    • “Why don’t we listen to state and local officials and implement plans that were developed at the ground level? The top down approach has continued to squeeze public land industries all while continuing to lose sensitive habitats and imperil wildlife species. If the true goal is conservation, put it back in the hands of those closest to the land. If the goal instead is to remove economic drivers from rural communities with no desire to protect habitats, then continue on the path we are on.” 



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