Friday, August 12, 2016

BLM releases draft Gunnison sage-grouse plan

A draft proposal for managing Bureau of Land Management lands in western Colorado and eastern Utah to better protect the Gunnison sage-grouse would take different approaches for the bird’s main population in the Gunnison Basin and smaller populations in places including Mesa County. The BLM released its draft environmental impact statement Thursday. It is proposing amending up to 11 resource management plans in the two states. In 2014, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined the Gunnison sage-grouse requires listing as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. “The inadequacy of regulatory mechanisms in land use plans was identified as a major threat (to the bird) in the FWS listing decision,” the BLM says in its draft EIS. The BLM is examining the adequacy of current conservation measures and considering additional, landscape-scale measures. “We are considering a wide range of alternatives designed to ensure consistent conservation of important sagebrush habitat on BLM-managed lands in order to facilitate the de-listing of Gunnison sage-grouse as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act,” Colorado state BLM director Ruth Welch said in a news release Thursday. Officials say about 5,000 breeding Gunnison sage-grouse live in the two states. Some 4,000 live in the Gunnison Basin, and the others in six satellite populations in Colorado and a seventh in Utah. One group of the birds lives in the PiƱon Mesa area of Mesa County...more

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