Protest Period Extended For Proposed Sage Grouse Rule Revisions

Jan 11, 2019

BLM eplanning text recounting the deadline change
Credit Bureau of Land Management

The public is getting extra time to voice opposition for proposed changes to an Obama-era sage grouse rule. The Bureau of Land Management is extending the deadline after some technical mishaps related to the partial government shutdown.

Proposed revisions to Obama-era sage grouse rules - which protect the bird's habitat - would make it easier to lease public land for energy development across the west. Western Watersheds Project's Greta Anderson said a decision like that requires input from the public.

"But then when the web pages and the documents were not available and there was nobody at the agency to ask clarifying questions of," said Anderson, " it really makes it unfair to the public to maintain the strict deadlines."

With no public announcement, the Bureau of Land Management extended the deadline for filing protests about a week in five of the affected regions, and until the end of January in Wyoming. The state is home to over a third of the sage grouse population.

Anderson found out about the extensions through a colleague that noticed the date change online. She said there was never any public announcement from the BLM.

"You shouldn't have to check the website multiple times a day to figure out when the deadline actually is," Anderson said.

In an e-mail, the BLM confirmed the date changes. It also put incorrect new deadline dates on five regions, which have since been corrected. Comments can be made here.