Forest Services Announces Changes To Sage Grouse Management Plan

Aug 5, 2019

Credit Bob Wick, BLM

The Trump administration officially released its proposal on how to manage the greater sage grouse across the Mountain West region on August 2.

In 2015, a conservation plan was developed to protect the habitat of the iconic greater sage grouse. That plan was agreed upon by all stakeholders from local and state land managers to industry environmentalists.

The U. S. Forest Service says all restrictions still remain and that the proposed changes just clarify and simplify the rules. The Forest Service also announced a couple of proposed changes to allow for greater flexibility and control of the bird at the local level.

"We really boiled it down to knowing the local conditions and making sure we're not doing improper grazing and that way guarantee good landscape sage grouse as well," said John Shivik, the U.S. Forest Service's national sage grouse coordinator.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, a non-profit environmental group, isn't buying it. Bobby McEnaney, the senior deputy director of the Western Renewable Energy Project at the council, said this is all about oil and gas getting first dibs at public lands.

"What's interesting is that oil and gas is not necessarily asking for this. It's an ideological decision as much as an economic decision," he said.

An objection period of the proposal will be open for 60 days.