NATIONAL – Ask BLM to Amend Greater Sage-Grouse Land Use Plans

FB-BLM-GSR-Planning-10.11.17

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is considering preparing Resource Management Plan (RMP) amendment(s) for all or some BLM land use plans that were amended or revised in 2015 regarding Greater Sage-Grouse conservation in the states of California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Montana (“2015 Sage-Grouse Plans”). BLM is doing this in response to a March 31, 2017, Order from the U.S. District of Nevada, which found certain aspects of decisions made in Nevada by the 2015 Sage-Grouse Plans to violate NEPA.

On October 11, 2017, the Notice of Intent (NOI) was published in the Federal Register initiating the public scoping process to solicit public comments and identify sage grouse management issues warranting land use plan decisions.

The BLM wants to receive input on whether it should amend some, all, or none of the 2015 Sage-Grouse Plans. The NOI mentions specific topics upon which BLM seeks comment, including Sagebrush Focal Area designation, mitigation standards, lek buffers in all habitat management types, disturbance and density caps, habitat boundaries to reflect new information, and reversing adaptive management responses when BLM determines they are no longer warranted by resource conditions. BLM also seeks comment on State-specific issues, focusing on those raised by State, tribal and local governments.

This is an important opportunity and a key focus for BRC for nearly a decade.  We strongly encourage you to submit comments. You should stress issues/areas in the specific locations that you ride, and review or consult with the issues raised by the affected State, tribal and local governments. We recommend making the following comments that improperly create adverse effects to recreation in the 2015 Sage-Grouse Plans:

  •  OHV and recreational access are tertiary threats, never tied to meaningful harm of grouse or habitat
  •  Travel and recreation restrictions must be based on site-specific and activity-specific science
  •  Recreational routes such as dirt two-tracks or single-track can’t be treated the same as a highway
  •  Current iterations of lek buffers for OHV routes, e.g. 4 miles, are unreasonable and lack scientific basis
  •  Current seasonal restrictions on OHV riding within lek buffers, e.g. March 1-June 30, are irrational
  •  There is no rational basis for 3% disturbance cap
  •  Whatever disturbance cap(s) are created must specify, and justify, inclusion of any recreation activities
  •  A “no net loss” requirement for future projects is unwarranted and unworkable

You should emphasize that the OHV community has long expressed a willingness to partner in reasonable and effective sage-grouse conservation, including reasonable restrictions on human access, such as limiting travel to existing routes, and restricting travel/noise near leks during crepuscular (dawn/dusk) hours. These efforts will be most effective through the existing and extensive State and local efforts, including noteworthy input by experienced biologists and conservation community leaders.

Comments may be submitted in writing until November 27, 2017. The date(s) and location(s) of any scoping meetings will be announced at least 15 days in advance through local news media, newspapers and the BLM Web site at: http://bit.ly/GRSGplanning. In order to be included in the analysis, all comments must be received prior to the close of the 45-day scoping period or 15 days after the last public meeting, whichever is later.

The following is a list of BLM contacts and the BLM offices where documents may be examined:

California: Jeremiah Karuzas; telephone: 916-978-4644; email: jkaruzas@blm.gov; 2800 Cottage Way Sacramento, CA 95825

Colorado: Bridget Clayton; telephone: 970-244-3045; email: bclayton@blm.gov; 2815 H Road, Grand Junction, CO 81506

Idaho: Ammon Wilhelm; telephone: 208-373-3834; email: awilhelm@blm.gov; 1387 S Vinnell Way, Boise, ID 83709

Nevada: Matt Magaletti; telephone: 775-861-6472; email: mmagalet@blm.gov; 1340 Financial Blvd., Reno, NV 89502

Montana/Dakotas: John Carlson; telephone: 406-896-5024; email: jccarlso@blm.gov; 5001 Southgate Drive, Billings, MT 59101

Oregon: Molly Anthony; telephone: 503-808-6052; email: manthony@blm.gov; 1220 South West 3rd Avenue, Portland, OR 97204

Utah: Quincy Bahr; telephone: 801-539-4122; email: qfbahr@blm.gov; 440 West 200 South Suite 500, Salt Lake City, UT 84101

Wyoming: Erica Husse; telephone: 307-775-6318; email: ehusse@blm.gov; 5353 Yellowstone Road, Cheyenne, WY 82009

Please see the NOI for more information. Comments or questions can be directed to the following address: blm_sagegrouseplanning@blm.gov.

Thanks in advance and, as always, if you have any questions or concerns, please contact BRC.

Ric Foster
Public Lands Department Manager
BlueRibbon Coalition
208-237-1008 ext. 2