Idaho Gov. Butch Otter said the federal government shouldn't change the goals in the middle of collaborative efforts to protect endangered species at a workshop in Boise Tuesday he hosted for the Western Governors Association.
Otter who says he will soon file a lawsuit challenging changes to Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service management plans to help sage grouse, said he didn’t used to support collaborative efforts like the one the Interior Department developed with the states to keep sage grouse off the federal Endangered Species list. But now he agrees its the best way to find common ground between most of the industry, environmental and recreation groups involved with the states and the federal government on endangered species issues.
He pointed to successes in expanding habitat and water for endangered salmon and steelhead in the Lemhi River led by local ranchers and efforts to help species like Caribou and Kootenai River sturgeon by a local group led by Boundary County commissioners.
“Being part of the process, being part of the solution, and being seriously considered with our ideas is what matters and will continue to matter,” Otter said.
But he also gave the workshop a laundry list of challenges including the 17 years it took to get a Bull Trout Recovery Plan after its 1998 listing, changing numeric goals for delisting of grizzlies bears in and around Yellowstone and the sage grouse plans he said went beyond the collaborative plan he developed together with the agencies.
“They not only moved the goal posts, the moved the whole field,” Otter said of the federal land management agencies.