Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Green groups had late impact on grouse plans

An attorney representing Garfield County says federal records show a notable number of meetings and interactions between the Interior Department and conservation groups at the same time Interior was making significant last-minute changes before finalizing plans to protect greater sage-grouse. Kent Holsinger, an attorney retained by the county in connection with its open-records request of the government, said he wouldn’t say there are any laws against the communications that occurred. “But I think it paints a pretty telling picture that these same advocates are meeting and corresponding with (Interior officials) at the same time they’re making these changes,” he told Garfield commissioners Monday. Holsinger said the county received 138 documents in response to its request. Some reflected meetings and correspondence with groups including WildEarth Guardians, the National Wildlife Federation, Pew Charitable Trusts, the Wilderness Society and Advocates for the West, he said. Deputy Garfield County Manager Fred Jarman told commissioners the changes were made with input from conservation groups after the door had closed on the opportunity for local governments to further coordinate with the BLM under a role provided for under federal environmental law. “These very large changes came out at the end that you would think in a transparent and true process would be vetted with all of us,” he said...more

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