Saturday, November 16, 2013

Sage Grouse At The Brink

In 2010, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)k determined the Greater Sage-Grouse warranted protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), but listing was precluded by the need to address other species first. One reason for the FWS determination was the “need for improved regulatory mechanisms” to ensure species conservation. The principal regulatory mechanisms for the BLM and the Forest Service are conservation measures in land use plans.

In 2011, the BLM and Forest Service joined forces to develop, analyze and incorporate coordinated, long term conservation measures and actions for sage grouse in their land use plans. These planning measures must be incorporated into land use plans by the end of 2014, to give FWS time to evaluate them before making a court-ordered final listing decision in 2015.

To date more than a dozen coordinated environmental documents have been developed by the various agencies and state advisory councils to provide a consistent approach to sustaining the species and its habitat across the West. Draft documents are being released for public comment as they are completed. Each draft is comprised of several alternatives that address sage grouse conservation issues using different management actions. For example, the Idaho and Southwest Montana Draft EIS includes six different alternatives ranging from no-action alternative to the Idaho Governor’s proposed plan.

For more information on what is happening in your areas of interest follow the links listed below:

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