Members of Utah’s Congressional delegation are asking the federal government for more time before it designates the Gunnison sage grouse an endangered species.
The Gunnison sage grouse is a smaller cousin of the grouse that lives all over the west. In Utah, it lives only in San Juan County, mostly on private land near Monticello. There are only about a hundred of them left.
The U-S Fish and Wildlife Service announced a plan in January to list the Gunnison sage grouse as endangered. That included a 60-day public comment period, but Senator Mike Lee and other members of the Utah delegation want to stretch that out for another 60 days.
Jim Caitlin with the Wild Utah Project says this action shouldn’t have surprised anybody.
“There’s been 12 years of opportunity to work on this, and some landowners have. I know of several down there who’ve taken positive steps to improve the habitat and to help sage grouse," said Catlin.
Many San Juan County residents expressed strong opposition to the plan at a public meeting held last month in Monticello. Senator Lee is co-sponsor of a bill in the Senate that would give local residents and state governments more of a say in settlement agreements under the Endangered Species Act.