Utah plans sage-grouse management

Posted: Aug 28, 2012

Written by

BRANDON LOOMIS, Salt Lake Tribune
Sage grouse

Utah officials including Gov. Gary Herbert are mulling a draft plan to save sage grouse and keep them off the endangered species list.

A working group appointed by the governor spent the past several months developing draft recommendations that would protect 12 populations of the declining bird around the state, largely through a four-mile buffer or "avoidance zone" around breeding grounds and a limit of 5 percent surface-disturbing activities per 640-acre section. Now the administration is shopping it around to counties for comment and deciding whether to adopt or alter it.

Is it enough to thwart a threatened federal intervention that could shut down new mineral extraction and other developments on public lands? The reviews are mixed, but many observers consider the working group’s suggestions an important start.

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