Thursday, December 29, 2011

Conservation groups critical of BLM's new sage grouse plan

Conservation groups across the West expressed disappointment Wednesday in a federal document that will guide the management of sage grouse habitat over the next several years. The Bureau of Land Management's new Instruction Memorandum, released Tuesday, recommends policies needed to mitigate the threats to sage-grouse habitat until long-term protection measures are developed. But conservationists and biologists on Wednesday called the interim plan flawed, saying that while it encourages stronger protections, it fails to establish the policies needed to safeguard grouse from the threats the bird faces across its range. "In cases where BLM officials want to ignore the welfare of sage grouse and ram through projects that are detrimental, there will be little in the new policy to stop them," said Erik Molvar, a wildlife biologist with the Biodiversity Conservation Alliance. "The interim policy is written with such loose language that BLM officials will have the latitude to do anything they want — or nothing at all — to protect the grouse."...more

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