The greater sage-grouse is not on the Endangered Species Act list. Nevertheless, the government is using the bird to illegally restrict mining in ten states and has recommended banning mining on more than ten million acres of land in the West.
The greater sage-grouse is the largest grouse species in North America with a range that stretches across 165 million acres in eleven western states: California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. The sage-grouse are dependent on contiguous sagebrush habitat during all seasons for breeding, nesting, brood-rearing, and wintering. Greater sage-grouse population numbers are difficult to measure because of their large-scale, camouflaged habitat.
In March of 2010, the FWS published “12-Month Finding for Petitions to List the Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) as Threatened or Endangered.” The FWS found that listing of the greater sage-grouse was “warranted, but precluded” by higher listing priorities.
This finding prompted unprecedented state-led conservation efforts, especially in Wyoming. These efforts were successful, because on September 22, 2015, citing the success of collaborative conservation efforts, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced that listing of greater sage-grouse was no longer warranted and would be withdrawn from the candidate species list.
The Obama administration nonetheless declared that it will withdraw highly mineralized lands from public use.
The federal government may not cave to special interest groups and put an area the size of Massachusetts and New Hampshire in the Rocky Mountains off limits to highly regulated mining activity that provides much needed jobs and mineral resources.