Monday, December 14, 2015

County, Sandoval want more communication on sage grouse issue

The fight over land use rules concerning the sage grouse continues, but local and state leaders hope for more communication on ways to preserve the bird’s habitat without harming industry. Elko County Commissioner Demar Dahl sent a letter to Gov. Brian Sandoval earlier in the week with his concerns. Sandoval’s spokeswoman Mari N. St. Martin said Sandoval has received the letter and the governor plans on replying. Dahl wrote in the letter that Sandoval’s negotiations with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell did not “solve critical harms that the (sage-grouse Land Use Plan Amendment) has created in Elko County and in other rural counties.” “Elko County has taken the brunt of the LUPA that BLM has done,” Dahl told the Free Press. “We have over 70 percent of our county in priority or general habitat and 20 percent in focal areas. Everything is just shut down there.” Dahl said the County appreciates Sandoval negotiating with Jewell, but the Secretary is “not addressing our issues.” “I wrote the letter not to criticize the governor, but to point out we’re not getting any help to deal with those issues,” Dahl said. He said he was glad the state and the Interior were able to solve problems concerning sage grouse habitat in other areas, such as Sparks, but “that doesn’t apply to us.” One of Dahl’s bigger concerns was the reduction of wildfire risks – the No. 1 threat to sage grouse habitat. “The Governor had good conversations with Secretary Jewell regarding wildfire, wild horses and the need to manage them since wildfire and wild horses have been responsible for so much of the degradation to the range,” said Martin. “He talked about the need to devote viable funding for both issues which will go a long way to help restore habitat and the range.” Dahl also said the mining industry has been impacted by the land use restrictions. A representative from Quantum Minerals told the County that the company has been exploring in the Jarbidge area and agency personnel told them they could not use any data from drilling that was collected after Sept. 24...more

There's good data available that would help the BLM make better land use decisions and BLM forbids the use of the data?  Think what that tells the county and the general public.  Will the BLM be conducting archaeological and T&E surveys after Sept. 24 and will that data be used?

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