Utah county adopts state's first sage grouse conservation plan

Posted: Apr 15, 2013

Written by

Brain Maffly, Salt Lake Tribune/GW
Sage grouse

The Box Elder County Commission on Tuesday endorsed a pilot program to poison ravens, remove pinyon and juniper, control noxious cheat grass and prevent fires in a formal bid to deter listing of the sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act.

Federal, state and local officials praised the commission for its plan, which barely mentions overgrazing, viewed by environmentalists as the top factor in the decline of sage grouse populations. Officials, however, promised the proposal will improve habitat and minimize threats, mainly wildfires and nest raiding by ravens.

Utah and numerous other Western states are composing sage grouse conservation plans with assistance from local groups and biologists. With its new pilot program, Box Elder is the first county to adopt Utah's grouse conservation approach, according to Kathleen Clarke, director of the state Public Lands Policy Coordination Office.

State officials have not released the plan, saying it will not be made public until federal wildlife officials approve it.

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