Las Vegas Sun

February 26, 2015

Currently: 58° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

Governor out of state this week

Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons is in Washington, D.C., all this week, planning on meetings with Interior Secretary Dick Kempthorne and other Interior Department officials, a spokesman said Monday.

Ben Kieckhefer said the governor wanted to discuss issues including public lands and sage grouse habitat with the Interior officials. He didn't have specifics on the planned discussions.

Gibbons' Washington, D.C., trip follows recent release of a study by an environmental group that wants the sage grouse listed as a threatened or endangered species. The report says much of the game bird's habitat is adversely affected by either livestock grazing, natural gas and oil development or invasive weeds.

The report by WildEarth Guardians singled out livestock grazing _ permitted on 91 percent of the bird's range _ as "the most ubiquitous use of sage grouse habitat on federal public land."

Critics of the report, including the head of the Nevada Department of Wildlife and others who oppose federal listing of the bird, said the study places too much emphasis on grazing and drilling while ignoring other threats to the species such as drought and West Nile virus.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rejected a petition in 2005 to add the bird to the list of threatened or endangered species. But a judge in Idaho overturned the decision last December amid allegations Interior Department managers interfered with the science used in assessing the sage grouse and dozens of other endangered species.

State and federal wildlife officials have been assessing the status of the bird the past six months and USFWS is scheduled to issue a new listing decision in December.

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Previous Discussion: comments so far…

Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy. Additionally, we now display comments from trusted commenters by default. Those wishing to become a trusted commenter need to verify their identity or sign in with Facebook Connect to tie their Facebook account to their Las Vegas Sun account. For more on this change, read our story about how it works and why we did it.

Only trusted comments are displayed on this page. Untrusted comments have expired from this story.

No trusted comments have been posted.