Anne Cossitt, Cossitt Consulting, introduced herself and team member, Barb Beck. The team of Cossitt, Beck, and Susan Bury has been hired by the Sage Grouse Working Group to convene and assist local working groups in three locations, Dillon, Miles City, and Glasgow. The purpose of the local working groups is to discuss and determine what actions can be taken to benefit sage grouse and sagebrush habitat. The meeting participants then introduced themselves.
Barb Beck explained that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has received a number of petitions asking them to list the Sage Grouse as either a threatened or endangered species. She explained the listing process and the fact that a 90-day finding on whether there is enough information in the petition to consider listing is due out from the FWS in January. Beck went on to explain that because of habitat losses and declines in sage grouse populations, 11 western states, the Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service, and the Fish and Wildlife Service had entered into an agreement to prepare plans for each state. She familiarized the group with the contents of the Management Plan and Conservation Strategies for Sage Grouse in Montana.
Copies of the local working group charter were passed out. Cossitt went over the charter explaining the goals of the groups, timeframes, products, roles, and expectations. She asked the participants to consider making a commitment to attend as many meetings as possible so that the group is as productive as possible.
The meeting was opened up to comments and participants were asked to express concerns and observations. The following comments were offered:
Anne thanked all of those who attended the meeting recognizing how valuable their time is. She informed the participants that the meeting summary from this and future meetings would be e-mailed to those who have provided e-mail addresses and also posted on the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks website. The group selected Wednesday, March 3, 2004, at 3 p.m. for their next meeting. A news release will be put out closer to the date to remind people. Dates and locations of meetings will also be posted on the FWP website.