Stewart Secures Major Win for Utah
Washington, D.C. – Today, Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) released the following statement after his legislation, the Sage-Grouse and Mule Deer Conservation and Restoration Act, was included in the final text and passage of the Farm Bill.
“The passage of this legislation is something conservationists and sportsmen can both celebrate. In order to protect mule deer and sage-grouse populations in Utah and across the West, we must protect and enhance their habitat. The review process for vegetation management has become too cumbersome and time consuming. This legislation removes bureaucratic red tape and gives land managers the tools needed to protect and preserve this precious habitat.”– Rep. Chris Stewart
According to the Fish and Wildlife Service, Piñon and Juniper forests have been encroaching on key sagebrush habitat at a rapid rate. This invasion erodes and fragments sagebrush habitat and provides artificial roosting and nesting sites for sage-grouse predators. Tree removal also carries widespread ecological benefits, such as reduction of catastrophic wildfire risk. Wildlife managers in the West have long worked to convert Piñon and Juniper stands to sagebrush because doing so increases forage and soil water availability, which improves wildlife carrying capacity and benefits big game populations, particularly mule deer.
Although tree expansion is a natural process normally controlled by naturally-occurring wildfire, fire suppression efforts over the years have allowed expansion to go unchecked. As a result, trees have spread to areas they have not historically occupied, increasing the risk of large-scale, uncontrollable wildfires. Fortunately, federal restoration projects have been successful in removing these trees without threatening the natural habitat, and this legislation helps build on these successes.
This legislation makes it easier for land managers and wildlife organizations to work together on vegetation management projects that benefit the environment, and it gives the Bureau of Land Management the tools it needs to better preserve precious habitats for both sage-grouse and mule deer.
For the original press release of the Sage-Grouse and Mule Deer Habitat Conservation and Restoration Act, click here.