Montana Audubon

Montana Audubon works at the local, state and national policy levels to protect our natural heritage.

A Win for Sage-Grouse

A Win for Sage-Grouse – A Win for Montana!

Greater Sage-Grouse Photo by Bob Martinka

Montanans know what’s best for Montana, and we want a balance between natural resource conservation and responsible development.

In this spirit, many people came to the table to develop the Bureau of Land Management’s 2015 Sage-Grouse plan, which resulted from a historic effort based on consensus, sound science, and common sense, and protected critical Greater Sage-Grouse habitat on public lands. A diversity of representatives formulated the plan, including conservationists, sportsmen, government officials, ranchers, and energy industry leaders.

We had a deal. A good deal forged by local communities.

But then, in December, 2017, the Trump administration reversed the plan’s Sage-Grouse protections by allowing millions of acres of oil and gas leasing in sensitive Sage-Grouse habitat.

So, action was necessary.

Montana Audubon has a long-established interest in the conservation of Sage-Grouse and sagebrush habitat, which is one of the most imperiled ecosystem types in the West. We were at the table 5 years ago to help develop the Sage-Grouse conservation plans. We believed so strongly in the results, we joined forces with like-minded organizations, as one of five plaintiffs, to fight for the Sage-Grouse protections agreed upon by Montanans. A lawsuit against this administration’s policies was filed by Earthjustice on behalf of Montana Audubon, National Audubon Society, Montana Wildlife Federation, National Wildlife Federation, and The Wilderness Society.

On Friday, the U.S. District Court in Great Falls nullified 440 oil and gas leases, covering approximately 525 square miles, thereby restoring the original deal, protection of sensitive Sage-Grouse habitat on public lands.

Executive Director, Larry Berrin, said, “For more than 40 years, Montana Audubon has been protecting birds and vital habitats in our state, and though we never had done it through litigation, this was one case we just couldn’t ignore. Joining forces on this effort was our way of saying ‘we had a deal and the federal government cannot just bulldoze their way through years of hard work and consensus building by the people who know these lands the best.’ We hope this win for Montana today sets precedence and is therefore a win for the West tomorrow.”

Click here for the Associated Press article on the ruling: https://apnews.com/caec0705148c3a9c2299f99c01fea1c4

For information on the iconic Greater Sage-Grouse, click here: https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/greater-sage-grouse

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