Electric Co-ops: FWS Makes the Right Call on Sage Grouse Protection

(ARLINGTON, VA.) – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced today that listing the greater sage grouse as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act is “not warranted.” The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) greeted the announcement with relief. Much of the bird’s habitat lies within the service territory of rural electric cooperatives; co-ops have been actively engaged in state initiatives to develop conservation plans that would make a federal listing unnecessary.

“Sixty rural electric co-ops have sage grouse habitat within their service territory. We believe the Fish and Wildlife Service made the right call by leaving the sage grouse off the list of threatened species,” said Kirk Johnson, senior vice president of governmental affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA). “This decision is a win for partnership, pragmatism and plumage.”

“Electric co-ops played a key role in developing state plans that are appropriate, flexible and workable, and we will continue to play an active role in conservation efforts for protecting this unique native species.

“NRECA interprets the FWS decision as an endorsement of the pro-active, collaborative approach to protecting the sage grouse spearheaded by the Western Governors Association. NRECA commends the WGA for its efforts to develop strong state management plans that will help protect the sage grouse and allow responsible economic activity, including power line development and maintenance, to continue.”

Eleven western states have sage grouse habitat: California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is the national service organization that represents the nation’s more than 900 private, not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives, which provide service to 42 million people in 47 states.