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A greater sage-grouse male struts for a female at a lek (dancing or mating ground) near Bridgeport, CA. Jeannie Safford/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Letter: Work on greater sage grouse protection shows what makes Montana special

As a fifth-generation Montana rancher and steward of the land, I am proud to be a Montanan. Recently, we had our own hearings to finalize sage grouse rules and regulations. If approved, they will help ensure that Big Sky Country's natural beauty and wildlife and way of life are preserved for our future.

Gov. Steve Bullock and the Montana Legislature have shown steadfast commitment to protecting an icon of the American West, the greater sage grouse. Our "Made in Montana" solutions were a major factor in protecting its listing as an endangered species.

The current rule-making process is the next step to implementing the commitments that have been made. This Montana-based solution commits to working with all stakeholders to finalize tools necessary for measuring habitat value. It provides the basis for mitigation programs that prioritize innovative, market-based habitat exchanges with neighboring ranchers who are prepared to conserve and restore habitat. Ultimately, it creates transparent mitigation mechanisms that provide landowners new opportunities to earn revenue while protecting wildlife.

I support policies that sustain agricultural- and natural-resource-based economies and natural landscapes for tourism and outdoor recreation. Now is Montana's time to lead as a steward of the land. By engaging in deliberative dialogue and constructively collaborating with federal and state partners, we can implement innovative approaches that make conservation efforts effective and efficient.

We all share our obligation to protect what makes Montana such a special place to live, work and raise a family.