November 4, 2016
Carson City, NV – Today, Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt moved to intervene in a lawsuit on behalf of the State of Nevada over conservation efforts of the Bi-State sage-grouse, a species of sage-grouse that lives along the Nevada-California border. In April 2015, the U.S Fish & Wildlife Service determined that the bird did not warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act. This finding was made partially in deference to an unprecedented conservation alliance between Nevada, California and the United States government. Environmental activist groups now challenge that determination. Nevada, which has managed and protected the bird for many years, is seeking to participate in the case to ensure that Nevada's conservation efforts are not displaced by the Endangered Species Act.
"I continue to be committed to defending Nevada’s central role in protecting habitat in our State, including using litigation as a tool when necessary,” said Attorney General Adam Laxalt. “Nevada has always made an effort to preserve, protect, manage and restore its diverse wildlife, and the State has moved to intervene in this suit to ensure the concerns and interests unique to Nevada are heard. I am proud to work with Governor Sandoval to protect Nevada’s conservation efforts.”
Governor Brian Sandoval added, “In April, 2015, federal, state, and local representatives came together following multistate, bipartisan efforts spanning more than 15 years to announce a successful partnership which resulted in keeping the bi-state sage-grouse off the endangered species list. I joined United States Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell as she announced that the bi-stage sage-grouse population did not warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act protection ‘due to science-based efforts’ and ‘epic collaboration’. I am frustrated to see fringe groups threaten our unprecedented efforts and asked Attorney General Laxalt to act in the best interest of Nevada and intervene in the lawsuit which challenges the Department of Interior’s decision.”
In 2002, Nevada created a group that initiated a multi-year effort to produce a lasting, effective conservation plan for sage-grouse. By 2011, Nevada and California, along with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service and U.S. Geological Survey formed an oversight committee in an effort to conserve the species. This culminated in the 2012 Bi-State Action Plan.
“My stance on this matter has not changed: Nevada knows best how to manage its wildlife,” stated United States Senator Dean Heller. “As evidenced by the prevention of the bi-state sage-grouse from being listed as a threatened species, Nevada’s own forward-thinking conservation efforts are yielding positive results. This remains a very important issue for our state. I applaud Attorney General Laxalt’s action to support and protect the conservation efforts put forth by stakeholders on the federal and local level.”
Congressman Mark Amodei emphasized, “For 152 years, Nevadans have lived with decisions made by Washington bureaucrats 3,000 miles away--even when local management has proven to be more effective. This holds true in Nevada where locally driven conservation plans, efforts praised by USFWS Director Dan Ashe and DOI Secretary Sally Jewell, have effectively kept sage hen off the endangered species list. I commend Attorney General Laxalt on taking necessary action to ensure Nevada has a seat at the table to overcome the ‘Washington knows best’ mentality that routinely ignores the best interests of local stakeholders.”
"The Nevada Association of Counties firmly believes the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service did the right thing to utilize the State of Nevada’s Bi-State Action Plan and to work with the State and local communities to effectively achieve the Endangered Species Act's goal to conserve species so that there is no need to list them,” said Jeff Fontaine, Executive Director of the Nevada Association of Counties. “This demonstrates that counties and their citizens can make a difference and continue to thrive alongside the species and land they cherish. NACO applauds the State for intervening alongside the FWS and is also doing the same on behalf of the five Nevada counties that would be impacted by this lawsuit."
Nevada’s filed motion is attached.