CASPER, Wyo. — Wyoming has spent $7.9 million on sage grouse conservation since 2005. That was the finding of a new report by the Western Governors Association, which inventoried the efforts of 11 western states to protect the bird and its habitat.
The report comes in advance of an expected 2015 ruling by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over whether to add the species to the endangered species list. The sage grouse's listing could curtail energy development throughout the West.
Many states have voluntarily adopted strategies to avoid a listing, the Western Governors wrote in a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.
"These steps preclude the need to include the greater sage-grouse on the federal endangered species list," the governors wrote.
The association is a nonpartisan organization representing governors in 22 western states.
In Wyoming, the state spent $7.9 million to create the Game and Fish sage grouse program, support local sage grouse working group projects like habitat treatment, enhanced population monitoring and applied research, the report said.
Utah, by comparison, spent $8.8 million on improvements to sage grouse habitat in 2013 alone.
The report noted that Wyoming has established eight local sage grouse working groups between 2007 and 2008. The groups have focused on implementing conservation plans since.