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New Approaches
Nothing to Grouse About

The New York Times this week documented an interesting policy battle taking place in Washington D.C.: whether or not to allow the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to place the Sage Grouse on the Endangered Species list.

The battle lines are familiar and predictable. The Republicans oppose protection for the Sage Grouse because it would render hundreds of thousands of acres of grazing land, farmland, and oilfields in the West economically impotent if they happen to overlap Sage Grouse habitat. The Democrats, on the other hand, are putting a higher premium on conservation than on economic growth in this case, and support the USFWS placing the Sage Grouse under the protection of the Endangered Species Act. The Grouse population has declined by half since 2007, in part because of habitat loss. Wind farms, ranches, and oilfields all impinge upon its habitat, the open Western prairies. Protecting the Grouse would entail restricting the expansion of these industries out West.

There is a third way. As Mario Loyola outlined in an article for us back in our November-December 2013 issue, a market-based conservation policy that makes room for both economic growth and habitat protection is within reach, and is being experimented with in Texas. Instead of utilizing regulatory power to strike fear into the hearts of landowners, Mario suggests, the Texas model incentivizes landowners to protect and rejuvenate habitats, and brings a variety of stakeholders together to determine the best solutions to maintain healthy habitats. In a nutshell, it seems to encourage both economic growth and conservation.

And indeed, in reality Congress doesn’t face so stark a choice between the Grouse’s extinction and economic ruin for the Western states. Government officials from Utah have insisted that the Western states are more than capable of managing their Grouse populations without federal interference, while scientists from Montana claim that there is more attention being paid to Grouse conservation from local communities and businesses than at any time before.

A bottom-up, market-based approach to conservation may well be a better way to protect the Sage Grouse than simply placing it on the Endangered Species list. As we move forward in the 21st century, thinking well outside the box on issues such as this will be necessary to solve the myriad problems we face as a society.


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  • Fat_Man

    The grouse is just another spotted owl. The spotted owl was used as the stalking horse (creature?) to shut down the lumber industry in the 1990s. The shut down utterly failed to save the spotted owl which is being hunted and hybridized out of existence by a related species the barred owl. Having put their foot on the necks of the lumber jacks, environmentalists will never let them up, so logging has left the Pacific Northwest and moved to Southeast Asia where men live in close harmony with nature and logging creates no ecological damage.

    In 2010, An “enviromentalist” wrote an op-ed published in the NYTimes that confessed the failure to save the spotted owl, but declared the shut down of the logging industry to have been the true goal of the action and gloried in its success.

    The endangered species act is an instrument of class warfare. It is used by the elite mandarins to destroy the native born middle class. The issue is never the critters. It is always the class enemies.

    We will not have peace or progress in this country until the last “environmentalist” is strangled with the entrails of the last lawyer.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    If the grouse was being farmed like chickens, there would be billions of them, as there is of every species that has managed to get its nose under the tent of the Human ecosystem. Tens of thousands of species are now in no danger of extinction because they are being used by mankind. If it was legal to farm Tigers or Rhinos or any of the dozens of other endangered species, the potential for extinction would end overnight.

    • Ofer Imanuel

      Correction: If it was useful to farm tigers etc. Only then we have to worry about legality.

    • Fat_Man

      I think the grouse is basically a kind of wild chicken.

  • Proud Skeptic

    One of the flaws of the environmentalist’s view of the world is that they believe that everything should stay the way it was when they were children…that the list of species is to remain static…and that Man isn’t a part of the natural order of things but an intruder.
    That said, it looks like Texas might be a decent model.

  • Josephbleau

    I sense that we are reaching a maturity in the enviro movement. The EPA is looking to find total power by claiming that if each activity affects the environment then the EPA is in charge of all activities. The constitution is thus void because the 14th amendment always wins. Who is fighting for the other amendments? Why do courts get to pick and choose? When the founders planned to make tyranny impossible they failed. Justice Marshall went too far.

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