Not only is the recent Washington Post story titled “Why sage grouse could become the next spotted owl” a frightening forecast of things to come, but it magnified the defective thinking that has delivered the west into this mess.
Catching up with news that The Peak reported weeks ago about the recent explosion in grouse numbers, the Post continued to mourn the half-million and growing population as near extinction.
Oh sure, a 60 percent increase is great, they concede, but what about the bird’s habitat? There are 165 million acres of sagebrush that needs our protection from, gasp, trees.
Across the states where bushy sagebrush grows, public officials, helped by conservation groups such as the Nature Conservancy, have cut trees that invaded the once-treeless brush so that hawks and other birds that prey on the sage grouse can’t perch on branches, eyeballing hens and chicks for a potential meal. Workers are replanting brush that was ripped out by development and removing brush that allows wildfire to decimate bird habitat.
To recap; trees are bad, brush in the way of houses and energy development is good, but brush in the path of fire is bad. Got it.
And, the Post informs, the sagebrush is needed to protect elk, deer, and songbirds, because God knows there’s just not enough of those critters around these parts.
But here’s the real slap in the face of every westerner whose $200 million in tax dollars has been spent to successfully propagate the species and prevent its listing as an endangered species. Environmentalists now argue that the successful explosion in species numbers is proof positive the grouse should be listed as endangered.
Let’s hope that for once, the federal government can side with mathematics, and against their environmentalist cronies.
We’ll know the answer on Sept. 30.