The Obama Administration has just released its final environmental reviews for land-use plans to protect sage grouse habitats in 10 Western states. Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced at a press conference in Wyoming that the Agency had released the final 14 environmental impact statements today. The 10 states covered include: California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming. This will allow BLM and the US Forest Service to amend land-use management plans to incorporate sage grouse protection measures. The plans will vary by state, but will have the same 3 objectives: 1) minimize surface disturbance activity to avoid fragmentation of grouse habitat; 2) Improve existing grouse habitat conditions; 3) reduce the threat of wildfires in grouse habitat. It is expected that the Fish and Wildlife Service will make a final decision on whether or not to list the Sage Grouse by the latter part of the summer prior to the October 1 deadline.
While the individual state plans "honor all valid, existing rights, including those for oil and gas development, renewable energy, rights-of-way, locatable minerals, and other permitted projects”, it does appear that restrictions will be put in place for new permits in many of the impacted areas.
For more information please see the press release from the Department of Interior, here
Each state plan is available, here
IMA-NA staff will review the Interior’s plans in greater detail, and provide further updates in the coming days.