DEADLINE TO COMMENT:
JANUARY 3, 2019
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Sage-grouse Amendment Comment
USDA Forest Service Intermountain Region
324 25th Street
Ogden, UT 84401
The current administration plans to roll back protections for sage grouse habitat that were developed with extensive input from stakeholders back in 2015. Revisions to the land management plan would adversely affect more than a million acres of habitat. The sage grouse population would be decimated by these changes.
- Sage grouse need a habitat management model covering its entire range, not a patchwork of population objectives for individual states.
- Western Governors say that population management ignores the scientific view that habitat is critical to the sage grouse’s long term survival.
- Changes to the plan could risk and derail the 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.
- Removing sagebrush focal areas (SFAs) and replacing with priority habitat management areas in the “preferred alternative” puts 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 plan could impede what western states want – growing, healthy sage-grouse populations 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.