Idaho Governor Plans Appeal Of Federal Lawsuit Over Sage Grouse Conservation

Feb 8, 2017

Idaho Gov. "C.L" Butch Otter says he plans to appeal the dismissal of a lawsuit brought against the Interior Department in 2015. The dismissed lawsuit alleges the department violated federal environmental rules when it withdrew almost four million acres of land in Idaho for conservation of the greater sage grouse.

Otter told reporters Tuesday that federal officials in the Obama administration focused too much on habitat where sage grouse don’t live, instead of spending resources on conserving current habitat.

“Their new interpretation is not only where the Endangered Species is, but where it may want to go," says Otter. "And so that goes far beyond the initial intent of critical habitat.”

The sage grouse was not listed under the Endangered Species Act, in exchange for strict land use plans across Idaho and other western states where the bird is native. The governor’s suit was rejected in January by a federal judge who said the state had not proven injury, and therefore did not have standing in the case.

A spokesman with Otter’s office did not immediately respond with a timeline for the appeal.

Update Jan. 8: Gov. Otter's spokesman Jon Hanian says the state plans to file an appeal by the 60-day deadline on March 27th. 

Find reporter Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill

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