Thursday, April 21, 2016

Leaked BLM sage grouse draft memos spark fears

Phil Taylor, E&E reporter

In early March at a hotel in downtown Denver, delegates for Western governors were handed paper copies of a Bureau of Land Management draft instruction memo on how to ensure cattle grazing does not harm habitat for the greater sage grouse.

The draft document caused a stir for some members of the state-federal Sage-Grouse Task Force, who are working closely with the Obama administration to ensure that the bird, which narrowly avoided an Endangered Species Act listing, can thrive alongside public lands users, including thousands of ranchers.

The memo and an attachment described how BLM might respond if domestic cattle were found to gobble up too much of the grass that grouse need to hide their nests from predators. BLM might consider delaying or shortening grazing seasons or allowing fewer cows to roam the range, it said.
"We have concerns over how they are written and what they could mean for ranchers in Idaho," said Dustin Miller, a top natural resources aide to Idaho Gov. Butch Otter (R), whose administration is challenging BLM's sage grouse plans in a federal district court in Washington, D.C.

The memo, which Greenwire obtained from a separate source, is one of several guidance documents BLM is developing that will clarify how it implements new sage grouse land-use plans governing grazing, oil and gas drilling, mining, renewable energy and other activities across roughly 50 million acres in 10 states.

As reaction to the draft grazing memo suggests, there will be some discord along the way. BLM is hosting several internal and external meetings this month and gathering feedback from task force members to try to smooth out concerns.

No comments: