Lance: proactive approach to prevent listings continues
Casper – Deputy Chief of staff for the Governor’s Office Ryan Lance explained Wyoming’s position and planned approach for dealing with the Endangered Species Act during the closing general session of the WSGA/WWGA joint winter convention in early December.
“The reality of our circumstance is that even in favorable climates and circumstances our ability to move the ESA reform wasn’t very successful. That handicaps where we are today with the current players and doesn’t cast a positive light. We are thinking about creative ways to address ESA at the state level,” he told the audience.
The issue began when states were asked to make a list of species to study and develop recovery plans. Wyoming Game and Fish put about 270 species on the list. Of those, roughly 250 were listed simply to find out more about the species.
“A couple years ago we got a pot of about $1.5 million to go out and do our own research and determine what is really going on,” Lance explained. This proactive approach uses the research findings to prove listing a species is unwarranted.
The state has currently spent over $100,000 conducting such research on the Black Hills snail. They found the snail to be pervasive across the entire West and received a not warranted ruling from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service when it was petitioned for listing.
“We are now studying the narrow-footed diving beetle,” said Lance. The beetle is found in the Powder River Basin and, if listed, could prove detrimental to the area’s industry.
“Doing this over and over and over for the 250 species found on the sensitive species list is the ultimate goal,” said Lance, adding finite resources also make it a matter of choice. “We need to determine which species we will waste millions of dollars on and which we won’t.”
Compensation is also made to landowners for working with the state to conduct research. These deals can be complicated at times, but they’re a logical facet to utilize for research. Lance explained that conducting research with the state usually involves minimal management practice changes, as ranchers are already doing the best job at preservation.
Possible listing of the sage grouse is a top concern for Wyoming. “We are paying the price for the rest of the West not doing a good job on weed control. We have 52 percent of the bird population, yet still face listing, which is ridiclous, but it’s what we have to deal with.”
The state is prepared to fight should a listing occur. “Our concern is that with a listing comes the potential to open up a resource management plan for point of grazing. We have a liaison with the BLM to work on conservation ideas.” Lance pointed out that many of them would already in practice, prociding rest-rotation grazing as an example.
Candidate Conservation Agreements (CCA’s) don’t prevent listings, but do protect the ability to continue ongoing practices in the event of a listing.
Lance also assured his audience, “We will continue to move forward. The state is working hard to prevent future misrepresentation by the ESA of Western plant and animal species. “That fact that we have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to protect our livelihood is ridiculous, but it’s something we have to do today.”
Heather Hamilton is assistant editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.