Clait E. Braun, Ph.D., John W. (“Jack”) Connelly, Ph.D., and nine other leading sage-grouse scientists sent a letter March 12, 2015 to Secretaries Jewell and Vilsack noting that current sage-grouse conservation measures in the draft agency conservation plans inconsistently apply the best available scientific information on greater sage-grouse, and will not adequately protect greater sage-grouse from further decline.

These scientists expressed concern that the Departments of Interior and Agriculture are "abandoning science-based conservation measures . . . in favor of more elastic, subjective measures.” In particular, the scientists warned that the agencies' conservation measures regarding mining and minerals management, livestock grazing, vegetation treatments, prescribed fires, and the calculation of the overall disturbance footprint were inadequate to protect sage-grouse populations and habitat.

The scientists concluded, “[w]e support the federal planning process and are prepared to assist your Departments in developing measures to conserve and recover greater sage-grouse, but federal planners must commit to science-based planning to achieve this goal.”

The letter was signed by William L. Baker, Ph.D. (Laramie, Wyoming), Jeffrey L. Beck, Ph.D. (Laramie, Wyoming), Clait E. Braun, Ph.D. (Tucson, Arizona), John W. Connelly, Ph.D. (Blackfoot, Idaho), Lester D. Flake, Ph.D. (Springville, Utah), Edward O. Garton, Ph.D. (Moscow, Idaho), Robert Gibson, Ph.D. (Lincoln, Nebraska), Matt Holloran, Ph.D. (Fort Collins, Colorado), Kent C. Jensen, Ph.D. (Volga, South Dakota), Kerry P. Reese, Ph.D. (Moscow, Idaho), and E. Thomas Rinkes (Boise, Idaho).