Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Small bird, big stakes: With sage grouse being considered for protected status, some wonder what economic fallout could be for Nevada

Protecting a chicken-sized bird with an uncertain future could come with a cost to Nevada as big as the state’s sea of sagebrush.

With a deadline nearing for the federal government to decide whether the sage grouse should be listed under the Endangered Species Act, officials from state and federal agencies, ranchers and energy developers are mobilizing in an effort to keep that from happening. Environmentalists who petitioned to list the bird are watching closely, with everyone involved acknowledging a legal battle is likely whatever is ultimately decided.

At risk could be Nevada’s ranching, mining and agricultural industries as well as long-touted goals to attract renewable energy development — and the jobs that come with it — to the Silver State.

Some say the stakes couldn’t be higher.

“If it’s listed, it will be the next spotted owl,” J.J. Goicoechea, a Eureka rancher and president of the Nevada Cattlemen’s Association, said in comparing the sage grouse to the bird that had a widespread impact on the economy of the Pacific Northwest after its listing in 1990.

Continued: http://www.rgj.com/article/20120701/NEWS/307010052?nclick_check=1

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