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Governor, House Speaker respond to Judge Winmill’s sage-grouse ruling

Governor Brad Little and House Speaker Scott Bedke issued statements Thursday in response to federal Judge B. Lynn Winmill’s ruling striking down Idaho’s Sage Grouse Plan Wednesday, in favor of litigious environmental groups.

Governor Little said: ” I am obviously disappointed with the decision. With the stroke of a pen, the court undercut years of hard work on a collaborative, science-based plan that worked for Idaho. Idaho’s Sage Grouse plan was not concocted from one point of view. Rather, it was developed by a broad group of stakeholders committed to balancing conservation and multiple use. I hope this decision will not have a chilling effect on Idaho’s culture and approach to collaborative conservation. ”

Speaker Bedke said: ” As a member of the Sage Grouse Task Force, Judge Winmill’s decision is extremely discouraging. The task force worked tirelessly to develop a management regime that conserved sage grouse and maintained working rural communities that depend on our public lands. The Idaho Legislature then followed through with significant financial investments aimed at restoring and improving sage grouse habitat across the state. This decision only serves to hinder the positive momentum we worked hard to harness over the last decade. ”

In August, Governor Brad Little, the Attorney General’s Office, and the Idaho Legislature argued in federal district court in support of Idaho’s Sage Grouse Plan.

The plan was developed by a task force that included conservation interests, county commissioners, industry groups, and state legislators.

In 2015, the Obama Administration jettisoned Idaho’s plan in favor of a top down, one-size-fits all management plan for sage grouse in Idaho. Unlike the Idaho Plan, the last-minute changes in 2015 were not based on the best available science.

Earlier this year, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) adopted amendments that realigned the 2015 Plan with the state’s collaborative management plan developed in 2012.

This realignment maintained the robust conservation measures aimed at combatting the primary threats to sage grouse: wildfire and invasive plants like cheatgrass.

Despite broad support for Idaho’s recently-adopted plan, including from members of the conservation community, litigious environmental groups sued. Judge Winmill ruled in their favor on Wednesday.

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