Letter: Drake and others have agenda when it comes to sage grouse

This is in reference to the column “Drake’s Take” by Kerry Drake published in the Uinta County Herald on Sept. 1. The column was so convoluted, it is hard to grasp his objective except that I gathered Mr. Drake is unhappy with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and his thoughts on sage grouse habitat restoration.

It appears Drake is advocating sage grouse endangered listing once more. Drake’s implication that locals do not know what’s best for their area is just another example of the type of thwarted thinking we have to deal with and try to overcome.

We should start with this bit of insight originated from Henri Poincare: “Science is constructed of facts as a house is of stones, but a collection of facts is no more a science than a heap of stones is a house.”

A pile of stones is what the BLM and others have been using to justify their nonsensical projects supposedly attempting sage grouse restoration. Drake is only bringing back the threats of listing the sage grouse and trying to justify it, only they are using crumbling sand stones.

Drake states it only took six months for the Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to slam the brakes on a plan to protect the sage grouse. If he is talking about ending slashing juniper to hypothetically increase sagebrush, good on Ryan Zinke.

Drake and his ilk want to blame everyone including the oil industry, the cattle industry, the public or anything or anyone else, but reality for the sage grouse decrease.

Unfortunately, he is listening to the BLM box checkers who are only lemmings and do not have an individual thought process so they only listen to those above them and agree to anything; they are willing to check the box as long as their paychecks keeps rolling in.

The box checkers state, “Don’t rock the boat,” and then at the same time they threaten, “If you don’t comply, the grouse could be listed; you act like you want the sage grouse to be on the endangered species list.”

Drake talks about the need for compromise; compromise for what purpose? Irrational actions? We all know what comes out of committees. 

One of the actions of compromise has been to cut juniper trees to “increase sagebrush” and hence sage grouse habitat. The end narrative becomes, “Cut a tree to save a sage grouse.”

Do you buy into this concept? I don’t either. Somehow in their compromises they forgot that the objective is sage grouse restoration, not juniper annihilation.

I just read a 2008 study by Duke University that shows the so-called juniper encroachment into the sagebrush steppe and says it’s because the juniper is more drought tolerant than sagebrush and advances in water starved areas.

The way I see it is that unless we can create more water, we are helpless to stop it. This is not what they have been telling us, (they being the lemmings) say the cedar tree sucks up so much moisture nothing can grow around it but if you will notice almost all Juniper grows on steep rocky areas where not much else can grow.

Let’s get to the crux of the matter. It wasn’t the oil industry, it wasn’t the cattle industry and it wasn’t citizens recreating on the land that caused the decrease of the grouse.

Also guess what? It wasn’t the lack of sagebrush. If you buy into the lack of sagebrush idea I have a parcel of land in Houston just for you.

If you care to listen, I will attempt to tell you the cause of the grouse decrease.

It started in the 1950s and 60s at almost the same time throughout the intermountain west. Is it a coincidence the decrease happened almost simultaneously throughout the West? What could have happened to cause such a magical event?

The answer is that at that time we stopped having consistent and dependable spring moisture and weather that was conducive for the forbes and small grasses to grow when the chicks needed them. Unfortunately, a lot of the meadows and seeps are now permanently dry so there are also fewer bugs and insects they feed on. I do not believe in man-caused climate change but the facts are the facts and most of you who are old enough and have paid any attention know it.

There are years, some times consecutive years, when the spring times are sufficient and on time, which causes an increase in grouse numbers, then credit is taken for the wonderful “habitat improvement” being accomplished. But in the off years, the blame goes to the GOP, Trump, oil producers, cattle grazers, hunters and anyone else they can think of that might utilize the ground.

Let me give you my take before I give Drake any more credit: We need not be divided on the sage grouse issue, let’s just look at history and use common sense instead of more threats to list the sage grouse as an endangered species.

Drake mentions the sage grouse could be the canary in the coalmine, but if he will just be observant he will conclude all species are in the mine with the canary. Before the threat of the sage grouse listing I believe everyone was in agreement that the grouse had declined. 

When the threat of listing came, everyone started quaking in their boots and were willing to concede to anything, even if it meant grandma could no longer picnic in her favorite spot.

Is the real motive by the lemmings to list the grouse? Is this why such unbelievable, nonsensical actions are happening? Is spending millions of dollars on these mastication projects the answer? I don’t think so.

We have to look no farther than the original restoration act from 1937. The Pittman and Robertson Act calls for restoration. Let’s locate the dried up seeps and springs, drill a small shallow well and by using a small solar panel, we can once again give life to the area and hope for the future of the sage grouse. True restoration.

Masticating junipers or restricting land use will never lead to a permanent increase in sage grouse. The lemmings’ obvious manipulation is only an attempt to list the grouse and give more land control to those who shouldn’t have it (the feds, who have too much already).

They are not trying for real restoration. Their motives are obvious; they are trying to justify the future listing of sage grouse while they put blame on any and all land users.

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