Monday, Aug. 24, 2015 | 8:43 p.m.
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval talked privately Monday with President Barack Obama about keeping the greater sage grouse off the endangered species list in 11 Western states.
The Republican governor met with the Democratic president after welcoming him at McCarran International Airport for a clean energy conference at the nearby Las Vegas Strip.
"Today we discussed several pressing issues facing the mountain west including conservation, economic development, and renewable energy. Most importantly, we discussed the critical need for efforts to protect populations of the greater sage-grouse to responsibly align with ongoing development efforts, which I firmly believe is achievable through a conservation plan based on cutting edge science, common sense best practices and collaborative decision-making," Sandoval said in a statement issued after the meeting.
"I am hopeful that our meeting today will serve as a stepping stone as we continue to navigate this important issue. Working together, I'm hopeful that we can preclude the need to list the greater sage-grouse just as we have done with the bi-state sage-grouse," the governor said.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service faces a court order to make a decision by Sept. 30 about listing the chicken-sized bird as endangered in rangeland in states from California to the Dakotas.
The decision carries big implications for oil and gas drilling, livestock grazing and a host of other uses of federal lands throughout the region.
Sandoval joined Interior Secretary Sally Jewell in Reno in April when Jewell announced she was reversing an earlier proposal to list the bistate sage grouse unique to California and Nevada as endangered.
Sandoval, past-president of the Western Governors Association, said at that time he also believes it's possible to keep the greater sage grouse off the endangered species list.