On Nov. 22, 2021, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) published a notice in the Federal Register announcing the beginning of the scoping process to solicit public comments to address management of the greater sage-grouse and sagebrush habitat on BLM-managed lands in California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming through a land use planning initiative. This initiative will address amendments to the 2019 Sage-Grouse Plan that may be inconsistent with new science and rapid changes affecting public lands, including the effects of climate change. The BLM will prepare an environmental impact statement in support of the planning initiative to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
The first scoping period will provide an opportunity for the public to comment on the BLM’s preliminary purpose and need for action related to and relevant data in support of the planning initiative. The comment period is open through Feb. 7, 2022. More detailed scoping information, and an opportunity to submit public comments, are available on the BLM’s 2021 Greater Sage-grouse Land Use Plan Amendments site at: https://eplanning.blm.gov/eplanning-ui/project/2016719/510.
The greater sage-grouse is an iconic American West bird noted for its unusual spiky plumage and mating ritual swagger that once roamed the West and Canada in abundance. Conservation efforts began with a temporary ban on mining and other types of development on approximately 10 million acres in Idaho, Nevada, Montana, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming under the Obama administration.
In 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined that threats to the species had been lessened by conservation efforts, and the listing was not warranted. The Trump administration in 2017 lifted the ban prior to the completion of an environmental impact statement.
In February 2021, U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill vacated the Trump administration’s action but stopped short of re-instating a ban on mining. The BLM’s May action means it will begin reviewing updates to 2015 land management plans in coordination with the USGS, Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Indian tribes, and other state and local governments.