Environmentalists claim win on bi-state sage-grouse ruling

A greater sage-grouse male struts for a female at a lek near Bridgeport, CA. The greater sage-grouse found in California and Nevada are considered part of the bi-state distinct population segment.

On Friday, Aug. 24, Judge Joseph Spero of the United States District Court of Northern California issued a remedy ruling on the listing of the bi-state population of the greater sage-grouse.

This was a follow-up action to a decision from mid-May of this year where the judge found in favor of the four environmental plaintiff groups—Center for Biological Diversity, Western Watersheds Project, Desert Survivors, and WildEarth Guardians—and granted summary judgement against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) regarding its withdrawal of its proposed listing of the bird as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Additionally, the judge ruled that the USFWS’ definition of “significant” in the “significant portion of its range” determination was illegally narrow.

“This is a hard-fought win to restore the true meaning of the Endangered Species Act,” said Erik Molvar, executive director of Western Watersheds Project, in the group’s announcement of the decision.

“Thanks to the bi-state sage-grouse, species around the nation will be eligible for listing if they are in danger of extinction across a significant portion of their range, instead of waiting until the entire species is on the brink of disappearing, which returns rare species conservation efforts to the original intent of the law.”

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