A series of executive orders and memoradums announced today by the White House included a plan to preserve and restore 30 percent of the country’s lands and waters by 2030. The plan will be vital to the restoration of the sagebrush steppe, the iconic landscape of the west and home to 350 species of wildlife and flora. In recent years, the management of our public properties has been driven by short-term gains, putting the legacy of future generations at risk. The habitat for sage grouse, mule deer, elk, pronghorn and burrowing owl has been negatively affected by invasive species, forest fires, and federal measures that elevate oil and gas development above all other uses. Despite the importance of the area to wildlife and the Western economy, historically it has not received enough funding to adequately address these growing pressures. These areas need to be managed sustainably to ensure that they can continue to serve the needs of western communities and the wildlife that depend on them. President Biden’s 30×30 plan can be the roadmap to conserve and restore the sagebrush ecosystem, forests, coastal areas and wetlands while creating tens of thousands of good jobs.
“The cities, tribes, ranchers, anglers and bird watchers of the sagebrush steppe live on a common goal – to get out of the landscape better than we found it,” said Brian Rutledge, director of the Sagebrush Ecosystem Initiative for the National Audubon Society. “This new engagement is an opportunity to bring us together to show how our land can not only benefit birds and wildlife, but also help support families and communities and help combat the effects of climate change. To achieve this goal, we need to listen to one another, consider what is best for the future, and learn how to restore the land and cultivate the land at the same time. “
Greater Sage-Grouse, Copyright John C Carlson, from the Surfbirds Galleries
“Americans love wildlife. At a time when a third of our wildlife is critically endangered, and especially sage populations have declined, this bold plan will preserve and restore the habitat of critical wildlife while creating jobs and stimulating the rural economy, “said Tracy Stone – Manning, vice president of public land for the National Wildlife Federation. “We welcome this new direction for our valued public lands and the wildlife and communities that depend on their long-term health.”
“This executive order is great news for the sage. By suspending the oil and gas lease, the Home Office has time to ensure the habitat of this iconic bird is protected, ”said Aaron Weiss, deputy director of the Center on Western Priorities. “The unprecedented 2015 deal to prevent the listing of endangered species should be the starting point – but we need scientists to tell us how much damage the Trump years did to habitat management in the west. Secretary-designate Haaland and the Biden administration must work quickly to save the sage. “
“We embrace this plan to address our nation’s wildlife crisis. It will be important that different interests in states like Colorado work together to determine how the sagebrush steppe, migration corridors, and other vital habitats can be preserved and restored in a mosaic of owners, said Suzanne O’Neill, executive director of the Colorado Wildlife Federation.
“We are pleased that the Biden government has taken this important step to preserve our critical mugwort ecosystem here in Nevada. Much of our state relies on healthy mugwort habitat to support a number of species including mule deer, antelopes and the endangered sage, ”said Russell Kuhlman, executive director of the Nevada Wildlife Federation. “Protecting these landscapes from oil and gas development and restoring them from threats from invasive species and forest fires is a necessary step in ensuring these areas are available to future generations.”
“The iconic and endangered western sage grouse is a key species in the sagebrush sea, and the last four years of mismanagement and industrial development have deteriorated much of the critical habitat for the bird and the other 350+ species that make it home.” said Jayson O’Neill, project manager for Western Values. “The Biden government’s 30×30 plan is the way to restore and protect critical sage habitats by rebuilding and expanding the $ 1 billion outdoor economy and good jobs that support them in the rural west. “