DEADLINE TO COMMENT:
FEBUARY 7, 2022
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The Bureau of Land Management is considering new rules that would undo the previous administration’s move to roll back protections for sage-grouse habitat. Those protections were originally developed with extensive input from stakeholders back in 2015.
- Sage-grouse need a habitat management model covering its entire range, not a patchwork of population objectives for individual states.
- Western Governors say that the previous administration’s population management plan ignored the scientific view that habitat is critical to the sage-grouse’s long term survival.
- The 2015 plan was a years-long effort by a diverse group of stakeholders across the west to save the bird and a landscape that supports 350 other species, including the golden eagle, elk, pronghorn and mule deer.
- The previous administration changed the sagebrush focal areas (SFAs) and replaced them with priority habitat management areas in the “preferred alternative,” putting in peril the habitat critical to the bird’s survival.
- The U.S. Forest Service’s amended plans should protect sage-grouse habitat across the west, including keeping key commitments to protect the most important habitat, prioritizing oil and gas leasing and development away from sage-grouse habitat and listening to the stakeholders that created these historic plans in 2015.
- The plan should reflect views of original stakeholders who spent years debating, finding compromises and working to create a plan that was good for sage-grouse.
- Any review or changes to the plan should be made with the original goal in mind – avoiding further declines in the sage-grouse populations to the point where drastic measures like an Endangered Species Listing will be required to save it.
- This review of the plan and draft EIS is delaying and undermining the restoration of the sagebrush steppe landscape and sage-grouse, as well as wasting agency personnel time and taxpayer dollars.
- The goal of the proposed changes should reflect what western states want – a growing, healthy sage-grouse population and the conservation of an iconic landscape.
- The USFS should follow its own mandate (from the 2015 plan) and protect the bird under its own laws and regulations.