January 15, Greater Sage Grouse Workshop

Greater Sage Grouse
Courtesy US FWS

Wednesday, January 15th from 7-8:30 pm
First Presbyterian Church Brunner Hall (200 West Center St, Logan. Enter from west side of building)
Meet with federal and state agency personnel who will discuss and invite citizen comments on new management plans to secure the future of the Greater Sage Grouse whose populations have been in rapid decline due to loss of critical habitat. Based on the identified threats to the greater sage-grouse by the US Fish & Wildlife Service, the BLM and Forest Service need to incorporate clear and specific objectives and adequate conservation measures into their plans by September 2014 in order to conserve greater sage-grouse and avoid a potential listing under the Endangered Species Act. This event is being sponsored by the Bridgerland Audubon Society, Bear River Watershed Council, and Intermountain Bioneers.

For further information, visit www.bridgerlandaudubon.org and http://www.blm.gov/ut/st/en/prog/planning/SG_RMP_rev.html

A Draft Land Use Plan Amendment (LUPA) and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) has been prepared by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and US Forest Service (FS) with input from 26 cooperating agencies for greater sage grouse habitat management. The Draft LUPA/EIS describes and analyzes five alternatives for managing Greater Sage-Grouse habitat on approximately 3.3 million acres of BLM-administered and National Forest System lands and approximately 0.7 million acres of BLM-administered subsurface federal mineral estate beneath non-federal surface ownership. The document considers amendments to 14 BLM and six Forest Service land use plans to address management of Greater Sage-Grouse habitat in Utah and portions of Wyoming. The alternatives present a range of management actions to achieve the goal of Greater Sage-Grouse conservation. Major planning issues addressed include energy and minerals, lands and realty (including rights-of-way), wildfire, vegetation management (including invasive species and conifer encroachment), livestock grazing, recreation and travel management, and socioeconomics.

Sage-grouse are the charismatic ambassador for the Sagebrush Sea, a little known but critically important western landscape that supports hundreds of fish and wildlife species. A classic umbrella species, sage-grouse need large expanses of healthy sagebrush grasslands and functioning hydrologic systems to survive and flourish. Conserving sage-grouse will benefit a host of other species in the Sagebrush Sea, pronghorn, elk, mule deer, native trout, and nearly 200 migratory and resident bird species.
In March 2010, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) published its listing decision for the greater sage-grouse as “Warranted but Precluded” as an Endangered Species. Inadequacy of regulatory mechanisms was identified as a major threat to the species in the USFWS finding on the petition to list the greater sage-grouse. The USFWS has identified the principal regulatory mechanisms for the BLM and Forest Service as conservation measures in Resource Management Plans (RMPs) and Land and Resource Management Plans (LRMPs), respectively.

Based on the identified threats to the greater sage-grouse and the USFWS timeline for making a listing decision on this species, the BLM and Forest Service need to incorporate clear and specific objectives and adequate conservation measures into RMPs and LRMPs by September 2014 in order to conserve greater sage-grouse and avoid a potential listing under the Endangered Species Act. The planning strategy will evaluate the adequacy of BLM RMPs and Forest Service LRMPs and address, as necessary, revisions and amendments throughout the range of the greater sage-grouse (with the exception of the bi-state population in California and Nevada and the Washington state population segment, which will be addressed through other planning efforts). For the Utah Sub-Region, that involves review of decisions in 14 BLM and 6 Forest Service land use plans that contain some greater sage-grouse habitat within the planning areas.

The proposed strategy is a major federal action which requires the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The BLM and Forest Service will continue to seek public and agency input to identify issues to address in the EISs and coordinate with other federal, state, and local government agencies in preparing the EISs. The BLM and Forest Service will conduct detailed environmental studies on the proposed and alternative policies, and analyze how implementation of the policies may affect the quality of the environment.

The BLM encourages interested parties to participate in the Draft LUPA/EIS by attending informational open houses, reading publication materials, and submitting comments. Comments that are most useful provide the BLM with feedback concerning the adequacy and accuracy of the proposed alternatives and the analysis. Comments should be as specific as possible and include suggested changes, sources, methodologies and references a section or page number. Comments containing only opinion or preferences will be considered and included as part of the decision-making process; however, they will not receive a formal response. To facilitate analysis of comments and information submitted, electronic comments are encouraged.

Before including an address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in any comments, be aware that the entire comment—including personal identifying information—may be made publicly available at any time. Requests to withhold personal identifying information from public review can be submitted, but the BLM cannot guarantee that it will be able to do so. The BLM will not consider anonymous comments. All submissions from organizations and businesses, and from individuals identifying themselves as representatives or officials of organizations or businesses, will be available for public inspection in their entirety.