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Walden backs 10-year ban on sage grouse ‘endangered’ listing


The House Armed Services Committee has approved a provision in the annual defense authorization bill that would prohibit the Obama Administration from declaring the sage grouse an endangered species for 10 years.

Rep. Greg Walden (R-Hood River) is a strong supporter of the provision, and urged the committee to include it in its final draft.

“A federal listing of the sage grouse could shut down countless ranches and rural communities throughout eastern Oregon,” Walden said Tuesday.

“The impacts on our economy could make the spotted owl look like child’s play. And it could also severely harm our military readiness and national security,” Walden said.

“I was proud to work with the House Armed Services Committee to include this common-sense provision in the annual defense bill. A listing delay of 10 years would give states like Oregon time to implement locally-driven management plans without heavy-handed federal mandates.”

The sage grouse provision was included in the defense bill because an endangered species listing could impact the military’s ability to train on key lands throughout the United States, potentially harming military readiness and national security, the congressman said.

“Efforts to protect the greater sage grouse under the federal Endangered Species Act could hurt training operations at numerous U.S. military facilities in the West, according to a new report by the Army… It found that protecting the birds would restrict the availability of training lands; limit the size of training lands and ranges; restrict the use of firing points; and impose restrictions on future development and construction,” The Associated Press reported last week.

Ranchers in Eastern Oregon praised the bill and Walden’s efforts on it.

“A 10-year delay of a listing decision would be fantastic news for ranchers and rural communities in eastern Oregon,” said rancher Bob Skinner, secretary/treasurer for the National Public Lands Council and past president of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association.

“Listing the sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act would cause tremendous harm to our industry and communities across the West and impede the local conservation efforts that are underway,” Skinner said. “I thank Rep. Walden for his work to get this provision into legislation and look forward to it moving through the process,”

John O’Keeffe, president-elect of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, said, “Ranchers and other stakeholders are working tirelessly on the local level to implement conservation strategies that benefit both the sage grouse and local ranchers and landowners.

“A 10-year delay of a listing decision would provide much needed time and a tremendous opportunity for these efforts to continue. I appreciate Rep. Walden’s continued efforts to give these local solutions an opportunity to succeed,” ‘O’Keeffe added.

An effort by Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-Mass.) to strip the sage grouse amendment failed in the committee by a vote of 26-36. The final version of the defense bill was approved by the Armed Services Committee by a bipartisan vote of 60-2. The full House is expected to vote on the bill later this month.

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