For the past several years there has been talk of listing the sage grouse as an endangered species.  And since southern Idaho is one of the major areas where the sage grouse calls home, that has many people concerned, although the general public probably has no concept of what a listing could mean for southern Idaho and the Magic Valley.


A 16-member task force appointed by Gov. Butch Otter has been working on the problem and has been meeting regularly for the past several weeks to try to come up with a plan to keep the bird from being listed.  State Senator Bert Brackett of Rogerson tells the Times News that putting the sage grouse on the endangered species list would have similar effects as the listing of the spotted owl did to the Idaho timber industry.  the FWS listed wildfires and invasive species as sage grouse’s top threats. But a listing would have devastating effects on livestock grazing.  House Assistant Majority Leader Scott Bedke of Oakley, one of the local task force members, says grazing is one of the tools that could help alleviate some of the problems identified as causing the decrease in sage grouse.  Ken Cole with the Western Watersheds Project in Hailey, another task force member, disagrees.  He says livestock grazing is one of the major causes of the decline of the bird.  The Fish and Wildlife service has until 2015 to decide if the sage grouse should be listed as endangered. Meanwhile, the task force will be meeting to try to find a solution.  The next meeting is coming up next week in Pocatello.  The meetings are open to the public.