KAJX

Garfield County commissioners cheer sage grouse decision

Sep 22, 2015

A male greater sage grouse struts for female birds on a lek, or breeding area, outside of Walden, Colorado.
Credit KATHLEEN TADVICK/COLORADO PARKS AND WILDLIFE

A Garfield County elected official is cheering Tuesday's (9/22) federal decision to keep the greater sage grouse off the endangered species list. 

Garfield County has 220,000 acres of greater sage grouse habitat. About half is on private land owned mostly by mineral companies and large ranches. Garfield County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky led the charge on this issue. His opinion reflects the board’s feelings. He says had the bird been listed, landowners would have faced onerous federal regulations.

"It’s a good day for Garfield County and the Western United States. I think it’s a good day for ranchers, conservationists, local governments and citizens of the counties that are affected."

The county has its own conservation plan. Jankovsky says it prohibits disturbance on all or part of the surface of an oil and gas lease area that’s on federal land in grouse habitat. And, private landowners are required to disturb as little habitat as possible. The county’s next task is to tackle concerns it has with a BLM plan for sage grouse conservation.