March 11, 2010
Washington, DC – Nevada Senator Harry Reid today announced that the Department of Agriculture will provide $16 million to farmers and ranchers in Nevada and other states for projects this year that will help improve sage grouse habitat and bolster sage grouse populations. The funds will be made available through the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, both administered by the Department of Agriculture. Last week, Reid wrote a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack requesting that new monies be made available for sage grouse work in an effort to protect key Nevada industries, including renewable energy development, ranching and mining.
The Department of Interior announced on Friday that the sage grouse is “warranted but precluded” from listing under the Endangered Species Act, meaning other species are currently a higher priority for being listed. A “warranted but precluded” determination does not mean that the sage grouse will necessarily end up as a listed species under the Endangered Species Act. The Fish and Wildlife Service must complete a fresh review of the sage grouse each year. If habitat conditions and population numbers rebound sufficiently in the time since the last review, it is possible for the species to return to normal status.
The new funding made available by the Department of Agriculture will provide grants to Nevada’s farmers and ranchers on a voluntary basis. That money will be used for projects like new fencing for grazing rotation, reflectors that keep the sage grouse from flying into fences, and predator control. Nevada producers must apply to receive the funding. Work completed through these programs will help improve sage grouse habitat and protect existing leks.
“This funding will go a long way towards voluntary programs that can help us keep the sage grouse off of the endangered species list,” Reid said. “Protecting this bird species is the right thing to do. By working together we can improve sage grouse numbers while also protecting Nevada’s renewable energy and electricity transmission projects, as well as grazing, ranching, and mining in rural areas of our state. I look forward to working with stakeholders throughout Nevada to meet this challenge head-on.”
RenoBruce R. Thompson
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