Interior secretary to visit Craig, view sage-grouse efforts

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service director Dan Ashe will be joining Gov. John Hickenlooper Tuesday in a tour of a Craig ranch that is taking innovative measures to protect the greater sage-grouse.

The visit comes as Fish and Wildlife is considering whether to list the bird for protection under the Endangered Species Act, and the Bureau of Land Management is considering land-management measures aimed at keeping it from needing to be listed. Both Fish and Wildlife and the BLM are Interior agencies.

Jewell and Ashe will be visiting the Bord Gulch Ranch to view measures being undertaken by ranch manager Ray Owens, the governor’s office said in a news release today. Owens was one of two 2013 recipients of Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Wildlife Landowner of the Year honor.

Neil Kornze, principal deputy director of the BLM, also is scheduled to attend. Area Colorado counties and Hickenlooper fear measures being considered by the BLM could significantly impact oil and gas development, recreation, ranching and other activities.

The governor’s office said Jewell and Hickenlooper will be highlighting the importance of partnerships between the federal government, states, landowners and others in implementing conservation strategies for the greater sage-grouse.

Moffat County Commissioner John Kinkaid said this morning, “We’re very appreciative that the governor extended the invitation tour and that (Jewell) accepted it and that she’s going to see sage-grouse country firsthand and give us an opportunity to work out a win-win solution for the bird and our economy.

“… It will give us an opportunity to share with her our efforts that we’ve put forth to keep the bird from being listed as endangered. I’m looking forward to her listening to a Colorado alternative for our part of the country. We’re excited and we are cautiously optimistic about the outcome.”

He said he didn’t think there were plans to raise other issues during the visit.

“We’re going to stay focused on sage-grouse,” he said.


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