BLM begins rollback of sage grouse areas | RecordCourier.com

BLM begins rollback of sage grouse areas

Staff Reports

Given a finding by the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada that the Bureau of Land Management's designation of sagebrush focal areas in its 2015 greater sage-grouse plan amendment for Nevada was illegal, the Bureau today offered the public an opportunity to comment and share issues for its consideration as it explores potential amendments to greater sage grouse land-use plans, to help improve sage-grouse conservation, and to strengthen communication and collaboration between states and the federal government.

The plans, which were adopted in 2014 and 2015, provide guidance and direction about the management of public lands in 10 Western states: California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Montana.

The BLM also announced it was cancelling its Sagebrush Focal Area withdrawal application and the Department's proposed withdrawal of 10 million acres of federal lands from location and entry under the mining law in greater sage-grouse habitat in Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming. . The BLM also terminated the associated environmental analysis process.

Based on a recent analysis and review of data available that showed that future mining is not a significant threat to sage grouse habitat, the Bureau of Land Management has canceled

"The BLM is committed to being a good neighbor and cooperating with its partners at all levels of government, including states, as well as tribal leaders, industry and conservation groups, ranchers, and other stakeholders throughout the amendment process," said BLM Acting Director Mike Nedd. "During this process, we are particularly interested in hearing from the many governors whose states put hard work and time into collaborative efforts to develop the existing plans. We welcome their input."

Designations in Douglas County are for the bi-state sage grouse, which inhabits the area along the California-Nevada border and is considered a distinct species from the greater sage grouse.

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The U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada ruled in March 2017 that the BLM failed to adequately evaluate the designation of Sagebrush Focal Areas in its 2015 greater sage grouse plan amendment for Nevada. In order to comply with the court's order and to address issues raised by various interested parties, and to consider recommendations in the August 4, 2017 report prepared by the Department of the Interior's Greater Sage-Grouse Review Team in Response to Secretary's Order 3353 (SO 3353), the BLM intends to consider amending these plans.

The BLM will soon publish a Notice of Intent in the Federal Register to announce the beginning of a scoping process to solicit public comments on greater sage-grouse land management issues that could warrant land use plan amendments. The BLM also wants to receive input on whether that planning effort should occur through state-by-state amendment processes, and in particular looks forward to receiving comments from the Governors of each state. The notice has been sent to the Federal Register and is awaiting publication. Publication of the notice initiates a process that could eventually result in some changes, significant changes or no changes at all. The notice can be read on the BLM website: https://on.doi.gov/2fNuFPt.

"The federal agencies and states involved in developing the Report in Response to Secretarial Order 3353 remain committed to an approach that balances durable, long-term conservation of the Greater Sage-Grouse without adversely affecting economic development in local communities across the West," added Nedd."

The Notice of Intent is posted on the BLM website here and is awaiting publication. The public can provide comments for 45 days from the date the notice appears in the Federal Register using this webpage: http://bit.ly/GRSGplanning. The BLM will announce any public meetings it plans to hold through local media in each state.