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Volunteers Needed for Sage Grouse Working Group

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is seeking partners to participate in the North Magic Valley Sage-Grouse Local Working Group.

The goal of the group will be to develop a locally appropriate conservation plan for sage grouse populations and their habitats in the North Magic Valley area. The proposed geographic focus of the group will include portions of Camas, Elmore, Lincoln, Blaine, Minidoka, Gooding, Power, Butte, Jerome and Cassia counties.

All are invited to the first meeting from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. March 8, at Fish and Game's Magic Valley regional offices, at 319 South 417 East, about 2.5 mile north of the Flying J on Highway 93.

Representatives from a variety of state and federal agencies will introduce the role and specific tasks of a sage-grouse local working group.

"Local working groups are the heart of Idaho's conservation efforts," said Mark Fleming, Fish and Game regional habitat manager. "Local working groups are composed of a diverse group of local interests including sportsmen, conservationists, recreational users, ranchers, farmers, representatives of industry and interested citizens.

"In addition, state and federal biologists and range specialists provide technical support to each of the local working groups," he said. "Local working groups are tasked with the collaborative development of locally appropriate conservation plans that benefit sage grouse and their habitats in each of Idaho's sage grouse planning areas."

In response to a number of petitions to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list greater sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act, Idaho and its neighboring states are working to develop and adopt conservation plans for sage grouse and their habitats.

Fish and Game developed the first statewide sage grouse conservation plan in 1997. This plan called for the development of sage-grouse local working groups in 13 distinct geographic sage grouse planning areas.

In July 2006, through a collaborative process, Idaho completed a major revision of the statewide conservation plan. The resulting conservation plan for the greater sage grouse in Idaho reaffirms Idaho's overarching commitment to a locally-driven, collaborative approach to sage grouse conservation.

Local working groups in seven of Idaho's sage grouse planning areas have been meeting for some time and have completed, or are in various stages of completing, their local conservation plans. The Department is developing new local working groups in the remaining sage grouse planning areas.

For more information about this public meeting, or Idaho's local working groups, please contact: Mark Fleming, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Magic Valley Region at 208-324-4359, or Alison Squier, North Magic Valley Local Working Group facilitator at 208-367-9366 or email at alison@softridge.net.

Individuals with disabilities may request meeting accommodations by contacting the Idaho Department of Fish and Game at 208-324-4359 or through the Idaho Relay Service at 1-800-377-2529 (TDD).