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April 22, 2015 05:37 PM UTC

Senator Gardner’s flip-flop on state control raises questions about his conservation credentials

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  • by: western_values

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado Senator Cory Gardner’s first month in the Senate was marked by some encouraging decisions for Westerners who value a balanced approach to natural resource management, including his opposition to extreme plans to transfer control of national public lands to the states.

However, Sen. Gardner’s plan to delay decisive action on the Greater sage-grouse listing for six years is the same kind of power grab as Sen. Murkowski’s land grab bill.

Judging by the industry groups who have lined up to support this bill, Sen. Gardner seems to be saying his position on transferring control to the states depends on who’s asking, and he certainly didn’t consult with the folks on the ground who have been working on this issue for years.

A male Greater sage-grouse.
A male Greater sage-grouse.

Sen. Gardner must have forgotten he represents the people and the business of Colorado, not just special interests. A recent Pew poll found that 80% of Coloradans believe it is important to protect the sage-grouse, and 72% percent of Coloradans support strong plans from BLM. Additionally, a report done by the Western Values Project found that over $76,700,000 is contributed to Colorado’s economy through outdoor recreation that takes place on sage-grouse land. Unfortunately, this legislation makes it seem as if Sen. Gardner is more concerned with pleasing special interests than the Coloradans he represents.

Sen. Gardner’s plan doesn’t recognize that the state-specific management he’s touting is already being done successfully through unprecedented collaborative efforts by stakeholders from all stripes in the 11 western states containing Greater sage-grouse.

The Department of Interior just announced a plan to keep sage grouse off the endangered species list, right now.  Not in six years.  That¹s the kind of action folks in Colorado and throughout the West would like to see from their leaders in Washington.

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