· I would first like to thank the Chairman for the opportunity to hold a hearing on local conservation efforts for sage grouse.
· I would also like to welcome the panelists and take a moment to especially thank two witnesses who have traveled from Nevada: 1) Terry Crawforth, Director of the Nevada Department of Wildlife and 2) Gary Back of the Northeastern Nevada Stewardship Group.
· With several conservation groups, like Mr. Back’s Stewardship Group, working together to avoid harm to our local economies while at the same time advancing the conservation of the sage grouse, I am proud Nevada has evolved as a leader in this fight.
· Together with Chairman Crapo, I have advocated using the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002(Farm Bill) conservation programs to help local communities like Elko, Nevada, engage in voluntary conservation efforts for species like sage grouse.
· In fact, the Farm Bill’s Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) encourages private and public agencies to develop wildlife habitat on their properties, and specifically has directed funds to enhance habitats for sage grouse.
· I know more can be done, and I am committed to improving local conservation efforts. I look forward to hearing suggestions from our witnesses.