Why a Colorado Statewide Plan?
Three separate petitions for listing the greater sage-grouse rangewide as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act were submitted between July of 2002 and December of 2003. The 12-month finding on these petitions by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) was negative. However, the USFWS emphasized in its’ findings that conservation activities on behalf of the species must continue. The States having greater sage-grouse within their borders are charged with securing the bird’s future.
Colorado chose a ‘bottom up’ approach of developing local conservation work groups and plans prior to the development of a statewide plan. There are 5 local work groups in Colorado; two of which had completed plans (North Park and Middle Park) prior to this fiscal year. The Eagle-South Routt plan was completed and signed in September of 2004 and the Northwest Colorado working group made significant progress towards completion of their plan. In addition, a new work group has recently been formed and covers the population of grouse in the Parachute/Piceance/Roan Creek area (Rio Blanco and Garfield counties). This group is working towards completing a local plan by the end of 2007.
With all these local plans, why is a Statewide Plan important?
The Statewide Plan is necessary to provide a statewide perspective to help ensure the long-term survival of greater sage-grouse. It is meant to supplement, and not replace local plans and the locally driven process that created them. It will take a broad view of the entire range that greater sage-grouse have occupied in Colorado, whereas local plans are specific to individual populations and sites. It will be designed as an umbrella plan — consolidating existing information supplemented with the newest and latest ideas on how we can help the species. The Plan will provide the best available science for assessing target population goals and genetic diversity, habitat requirements, and connection of existing populations, as well as potential habitat expansion.