A Little Birdie Told Me… The Danger of Sage-grouse in Nevada

At this point, it’s been the topic of several news articles, commentaries and has become a point of contention between Governor Sandoval and Attorney General Adam Laxalt. What, you may ask, could cause so much fuss? Just a little bird known as the Greater Sage-grouse. If you aren’t familiar with the bird and it’s relation to Nevada, I suggest you get up to speed quickly as this small avian is wreaking havoc in the Silver State.

Most recently, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced it wasn’t going to list the Greater Sage-grouse on the endangered species list. There were substantial concerns over listing the sage-grouse with many objecting to the level of government intervention and control that would be necessary to maintain sage-grouse habitats.

However, it appears that we have traded one type of control for another as the federal government still has a plan for the sage-grouse, specifically a land-use plan that restricts access to public lands for recreation or business, including mining and ranching. These restrictions would be detrimental to the economic development of our state and is confining to our communities. The restrictions are being placed by lawmakers on the other side of the country who are clueless as to the needs of Nevada.

Congressman Mark Amodei has said of the Fed’s plan, “For 150 years, Nevadans have lived with decisions made from thousands of miles away in Washington, D. C. Nobody else does it this way – not at the local and state levels and not at the federal level for much of the nation. The sage hen resource management plans are based on political maneuvers where the last consideration seems to be multiple use in the West. The result is a nearly three million acre exclusion zone because the Interior officials in D.C. do not have to live with their rulings the way Northern Nevadans do. When the Department of Interior completely ignores input from Nevada’s Environmental Impact Statement, I believe no tool should be left in the shed, and one of those tools is litigation.”

To that end, nine of Nevada’s counties, among others, filed a suit against the federal government to stop it from implementing this harmful plan and allow for Nevadan’s to determine the best use for Nevada land. After due consideration, Attorney General Adam Laxalt joined the suit on behalf of the State of Nevada, announcing the move in late-October.

Laxalt said, “The federal government’s one-size-fits-all sage-grouse plan will greatly hinder Nevada’s growth and success, and have an adverse impact on Nevada’s economy, affecting ranchers, mining exploration, new energy source development, recreation and everyone who works in these industries.” He went on to add that, “my office, after careful legal analysis, has concluded that this suit is necessary to fully protect the interest of the state.”

The governor’s office almost immediately responded declaring that they wouldn’t support Nevada’s role in the litigation and that Laxalt was acting in his personal capacity. If you think you’re missing something, you’re not alone. Claiming that Laxalt doesn’t have the best interests of Nevada at heart as he works to liberate the state from federal control and allow us to manage our own land is confusing, at the very least; calling it a personal mission for Laxalt makes even less sense. Of course it’s personal, Laxalt loves this state and wants to protect it; it’s also his job as our attorney general. My question is, why doesn’t Governor Sandoval feel the same? He should be partnering not hindering Laxalt in this mission.

And, hindered Laxalt certainly is. As of this writing, US District Judge Miranda Du has ordered that only the original plaintiffs in the case would be permitted to present arguments – effectively leaving the attorney general, seven other counties, a mining firm and ranch out in the cold.

Call to Action: Get involved! Reach out to the governor declaring your support for Nevada lands to remain in Nevada control.

2 Chronicles 7:14 (KJV) “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”



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