I didn't say this at the time
, but the agreement announced last month
giving landowners an incentive to protect sage grouse and keeping it off the endangered species list seemed like a pretty good agreement to me. Some conservationists have complained that if listing "is warranted but precluded by the need to address higher priority species first", as Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar says
, and they have a point. If the sage grouse is in danger of extinction in all or part of its range,1
then it does satisfy the criteria that warrant listing and protection under the Endangered Species Act.
As I tell my conservation biology class, however, the Endangered Species Act is more than a list of species in danger of extinction. When a species is listed, the federal government is also obligated to take action to prevent its extinction and to enhance its populations enough that it can be removed from the list, like the bald eagle. Taking action requires commitments of time, people, and resources. Salazar has made the decision that although the sage grouse is in danger of extinction, there are other species in even greater need of attention. That's not an unreasonable extinction.
I mention all of this now because the other Kent Holsinger (a lawyer based in Denver) is quoted in the Washington Times
, and other places as being disappointed in the decision. On the off chance that readers of this blog happened to see those quotes and not realize that there are two of us, I thought I should set the record straight.