Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, March 22, 2018

Contact: Michael Saul, (303) 915-8308,

Trump Administration Puts Prime Sage Grouse Habitat on Fracking Auction Block

CHEYENNE, Wyo.— Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke put another 173,660 acres of public land and minerals on the auction block in Wyoming this week, almost 80 percent of it in prime habitat for the imperiled greater sage grouse. The two-day oil and gas lease auction concludes today.

Under land-use plans adopted in 2015, the Interior Department is obligated to focus fracking and drilling leases outside of sage-grouse habitat. But Zinke issued a policy in December that reneges on the agency’s commitment.

“Zinke is violating his obligation and putting the imperiled sage grouse on the road to extinction,” said Michael Saul, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “His indiscriminate auctioning off of the bird’s last habitat is a betrayal of his responsibility to protect our public lands and wildlife on behalf of the people. This is an absolutely unacceptable sacrifice of the common good to private profit.”

This Wyoming sage-grouse habitat is also home to more than 350 species, including pronghorn, elk, golden eagle, native trout and nearly 200 other bird species. Over the past 200 years, agriculture, oil and gas drilling, livestock grazing and development have reduced sage-grouse range by nearly half, and the bird’s population has steadily declined.

In 2011 the agency assembled a panel of sage-grouse experts to recommend land-management strategies that would allow the grouse to survive, and those experts recommended closing priority habitats entirely to oil and gas leasing. The final federal sage-grouse plans fell short of scientists’ recommendations, but committed to prioritizing oil and gas leasing and drilling outside important habitat for the birds. Zinke has announced plans to revise those sage-grouse management plans.

The Bureau of Land Management’s decision to auction these lands denied protests by the Center, Western Watersheds Project, the Upper Green River Network and other groups.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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