U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp today issued the following statement after the U.S. Interior Department issued a new report on the sage grouse and directed changes to how the bird is protected.
“As I review this new report, we need to enable our state to have the flexibility it needs to support farmers, ranchers, energy workers, and businesses so they can do their jobs and boost our state’s economy, while also effectively making sure the sage grouse is safeguarded in our state and region,” said Heitkamp. “Farmers and ranchers are the first conservations on this land. We can support sage grouse habitat while also supporting jobs and the economy, and North Dakotans know best how to make those two goals work together. Conservation and job creation can go hand in hand by making sure North Dakota works in partnership with the federal government.”
In 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined that the voluntary conservation efforts of the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the land management plans of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) were sufficient to avoid listing the sage grouse as an endangered species. Eleven western states with the most sage grouse habitat collaborated with federal officials to preserve the bird and its habitat, both of which are vital to maintaining western economies and ecosystems. Sagebrush ecosystems support more than 350 species, and are critical to the outdoor recreation industry’s $1 billion in economic output.
Heitkamp has long been a champion for wildlife and the outdoors, as well as for expanding opportunities for North Dakotans to enjoy outdoor recreation for years to come.
In March, she reintroduced bipartisan legislation to expand access to public lands for hunting, fishing, and recreational activities in North Dakota and throughout the country. The bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act contains several legislative provisions important to North Dakota’s outdoorsmen, which would improve access to public lands, create more shooting ranges, and provide for input from sportsmen on federal policies.