By Matthew Anderson
Published on October 18, 2017

Each September, my dad and I travel to southwest Wyoming to camp in the Wind River Range, fish in remote streams, and – above all – hunt sage grouse across an endless sea of sagebrush. For us, sage grouse hunting is about much more than the pursuit of this elusive bird – it connects us to our family history and Western heritage.

Almost 170 years ago, my pioneer ancestors left Illinois in search of religious freedom and the American dream. Their arduous journey took them through the very areas my dad and I hunt each year. Their journals recount stories of hunting sage grouse to stave off hunger and sustain them on their way to the Salt Lake Valley. Today, my dad and I continue that tradition – reminding us of the trek made by our pioneer ancestors and bringing to life some of their experiences.

As sage grouse conservation efforts continue to make the news, policymakers should recognize the role Western states and their people have in protecting the bird and its habitat. Despite what some may preach, conservation and local control are not mutually exclusive. No one has a more vested interest in preserving and protecting sage grouse populations than local people and others whose histories are tied to this bird and our public lands. Sage grouse populations thrive when those closest to the bird and its habitat guide its future.

To learn more about how federal cooperation with Western states can protect sage grouse populations, check out this research project and its accompanying summary produced by our friends at Strata Policy.

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Matt Anderson is director of Sutherland Institute’s Coalition for Self-Government in the West. He has been featured in local, national and international media, including BBC, NPR, C-SPAN, Buzzfeed, the Washington Examiner and a variety of Associated Press articles. Matt is a regular contributor to The Hill and Deseret News. Matt graduated from Utah State University in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in political science and is pursuing a master’s of political science with an emphasis in public lands policy. He is an active member of his community – volunteering on political campaigns, serving as a state delegate and precinct chair – and he is involved with a number of conservation organizations. When Matt isn’t working on public policy, you are likely to find him in Utah’s Bear River Mountain Range fly-fishing, hunting or ATV riding.

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