Wyoming Sage-Grouse Working Groups - Lessons Learned
By: Thomas J. Christiansen, Lorien R. Belton
The greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) has been the subject of multiple status reviews under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Wyoming accounts for approximately 38% of the range-wide population. Since 2000, 2 statewide and 8 local citizen working groups have been established in Wyoming to developed conservation plans and advise state policy. The first statewide plan for the conservation of sage-grouse was formally adopted in 2003. The statewide plan established local sage-grouse working groups charged with developing and facilitating implementation of local conservation plans. Those 8 plans were completed in 2007 and 2008, and updated in 2014. From 2005-2017, the local working groups allocated nearly $7 million in legislatively appropriated funds to support conservation projects. In 2007, then Wyoming governor Dave Freudenthal appointed a statewide Sage-grouse Implementation Team. The team was statutorily sanctioned by the Wyoming legislature in 2015 and advises the current governor on all matters related to the Wyoming Greater Sage-Grouse Core Area Protection Policy. The Core Area Policy was established by Executive Order and provides mechanisms for limiting human disturbance in the most important sage-grouse habitats. Federal land management agencies have incorporated most aspects of the Core Area Policy into their land use planning decisions. Effectiveness of local and state-wide collaborative conservation has been evaluated through assessments of local working group accomplishments, research on policy effectiveness, sage-grouse population monitoring, and ESA status reviews.
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