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BLM Expands Sage-Grouse Planning Area, Extends Public Comment Period

Date
February 10, 2012
Contact
Mark Salvo (503) 757-4221
In This Release
Climate + Energy, Wildlife

Friday, February 10, 2012
BLM Expands Sage-Grouse Planning Area, Extends Public Comment Period

Court Ruling Halting Grazing Allotments Underscores Need for Management Changes
Contact: Mark Salvo (503) 757-4221

Additional Contact:

Brian Ertz, WesternWatersheds Project 208-830-2120

The federalgovernment’s landmark planning effort to conserve Greater Sage-grouse populationsand habitat will be expanded to include more habitat for the imperiled species.The planning process, led by the Bureau of Land Management, will now include 11more national forests in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. TheForest Service had already included nine national forests and grasslands to theprocess. In response to strong public interest and the expanded planning area,public comments will now be accepted until March 23.

“Conserving sage-grouseis about conserving some of the last wide-open spaces in the West,” said SteveHolmer, senior policy advisor for American Bird Conservancy. “The Bureau ofLand Management and Forest Service are taking the right approach and doing agood job of engaging the public but the process should be expanded further toinclude all sage-grouse habitat on federal lands.”

Sage-grouse occur onapproximately 70 million acres of federal land in eleven states administered byas many as seven federal departments and agencies. Conservation organizationshave repeatedly advised that the sage-grouse planning process include andprescribe the same management prescriptions for all federal lands managed bythe BLM and Forest Service, as well as the National Park Service, U.S. Fish andWildlife Service, Bureau of Reclamation, and the departments of Energy andDefense.

“Different agenciesacting independently will manage sage-grouse differently, likely to thedetriment of the species,” said Mark Salvo, Director of the Sagebrush SeaCampaign for WildEarth Guardians. “Developing a single plan to managesage-grouse the same way throughout its range just makes sense.”

Sage-grouse areaffected by myriad land uses, including livestock grazing. Earlier this week, afederal court reversed approval of five grazing areas covering over 300,000acres of public lands managed by the BLM in Idaho. The court found that theagency had not assessed the cumulative impacts of its grazing decisions onpopulations and habitat for the Greater Sage-Grouse.

BLM’s proposedmeasures to protect sage-grouse, including increased grazing and reducingstandards for grazing, were also determined to be harmful to sage-grousepopulations. The court also stated that BLM is required to prioritizeconserving sage-grouse habitat above livestock grazing where conservation andgrazing conflict. Western Watershed Project, the plaintiff in the caserepresented by Advocates for the West, will now seek remedies to ensuresage-grouse populations and habitat are protected.

“Conserving GreaterSage-Grouse will require changes in how federal agencies manage the land andcarry out grazing and energy development,” said Brian Ertz of WesternWatersheds Project. “The court’s ruling offers the BLM and Forest Service someimportant guidance on how to address grazing practices that should beincorporated into the planning process.”

Other Contact
Brian Ertz, Western Watersheds Project 208-830-2120
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