Kurt Hildebrand

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December 19, 2013
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Douglas may oppose bistate sage grouse listing

Douglas County could oppose the listing of the bistate sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act at the county commissioners meeting in Stateline today.

Two letters detail the county’s position on listing the sub species of grouse that lives along the Nevada-California line from Douglas County south to Esmeralda County.

One letter, written to Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell points out that parts of two critical habitat units are partially located in Douglas County.

According to the letter the Pine Nut Unit consists of 300,836 acres and extends from the Carson River south to the West Fork of the Walker River. The north Mono Lake unit consists of 853,726 acres and extends from Smith Valley to Mono Lake, with the northwest portion extending into Douglas’ portion of Antelope Valley.

“Although Douglas County has one of the smallest bistate DPS populations, the service has proposed designating a large portion of Douglas County as critical habitat,” the letter said. “Moreover, sizeable portions of the proposed critical habitat in Douglas County are not occupied (by the grouse).”

The county is also seeking a 90-day extension of the public comment period.

According to its letter, the county does support an exception under the listing, which would allow conservation efforts that were developed by or in coordination with a state agency.

“For more than a decade, private, local, state, federal and nonprofit partners have worked together to develop and implement the BiState Action Plan,” according to the letter. “In recent years, the result has been to protect and enhance thousands of acres of bistate sage grouse habitat.”

Another letter is addressed to the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest commenting on the revision of the U.S. Forest Service plan amendment dealing with the sage grouse.

The county is opposing any closure of roads or trails based on habitat designation alone.

“Douglas County requests that any road and trail restrictions be implemented only as to roads or trails that actually pass through active bistate (grouse) leks, and that such restrictions be limited and seasonal only.”

Douglas County commissioners are scheduled to discuss drafts of the three letters at their regular meeting 1:30 p.m. Thursday at the Tahoe Transportation Center in Stateline.

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The Record Courier Updated Dec 19, 2013 08:08AM Published Dec 19, 2013 08:08AM Copyright 2013 The Record Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.