While the larger controversy is far from over, for the California and Nevada populations of the greater sage grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus), the controversy does appear to be put to rest. In 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a proposed rule to list the bi-state population as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). In the proposed rule, the Service stated that the bi-state population was genetically distinct and geographically isolated from other greater sage grouse populations, and warranted protection under the ESA primarily because of impacts to habitat from a variety of sources, including urban and energy development. (For a further discussion of the listing proposal and controversy, see our prior posts on October 29, 2013 and January 9, 2014.) On April 21, 2015, the Service announced that it had withdrawn its proposal to list the bi-state population, citing a conservation plan developed by the Bi-State Local Area Working Group, which has secured approximately $45 million in funding, as a “key factor” in the decision. Along with the listing proposal, the Service withdrew its proposed section 4(d) rule and proposed designation of critical habitat.
As for the greater sage-grouse populations in other states, the announcement notes that a listing determination will likely be issued in September 30, 2015.