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BLM Notices Availability of RMPs for Greater Sage Grouse

Posted By Mark Ellis, Friday, May 4, 2018

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) today announced the opening of the comment period on draft Resource Management Plans (RMP) and draft Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) for Greater Sage Grouse in six RMPs covering Colorado, Nevada and Northern California, Oregon, Idaho, Utah and Wyoming.  Since 2015 the BLM, in discussions with partners, recognized that several refinements and policy updates could help strengthen conservation efforts, while providing increased economic opportunity to local communities.  Comments on the draft RMPs and draft EISs must be submitted on or before August 2, 2018, or 15 days after the last public meeting is held, whichever is later.

 

To reach the national project website, please click here.  From this portal page you can select each of the six geographic areas covered by a specific draft RMP with its own draft EIS.  Once on the geographic area of interest, the specific draft RMP and draft EIS can be accessed through the Documents & Reports link in the left-hand margin.

 

IMA-NA will file comments in these rulemakings.


Tags:  BLM  Bureau of Land Management  EIS  Environmental Impact Study  Greater Sage Grouse  Resource Management Plan  RMP 

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Moratorium on Sagebrush Focal Areas To Expire Sunday

Posted By RJ Alpers, Thursday, October 5, 2017

This Sunday, the Interior Department’s two-year moratorium will end and reopen millions of acres of Sage Grouse habitat to new mining claims. Secretary Ryan Zinke is not expected to issue a new moratorium order protecting the 10 million acres of "sagebrush focal areas," or SFAs. The SFAs were included in the Obama-era grouse plans finalized two years ago, intending to protect the Sage Grouse and possibly even label it as an endangered species. While the moratorium ends Sunday, the Bureau of Land Management is currently conducting an environmental impact statement to assess whether all, parts or none of the 10 million acres should be withdrawn from new mining claims for the next 20 years (or more) in the name of protecting the sage grouse and its habitat.

The BLM is not expected to complete their final environmental impact statement until at least the end of the year. Therefore, this Sunday, the moratorium’s expiration will open up the opportunity for mining claims. IMA-NA has been focused on this as a key issue area as federal regulation has overstepped and infringed on each state’s right to regulate their own environmental and conservation efforts. For example in Nevada, Sage Grouse is a legally hunted bird, yet in other parts of the western United States, it falls under SFAs. Furthermore, since the early 2000s state and local agencies in California and Nevada along with federal agencies, landowners and businesses have created and enacted successful conservation plans. The 11 western states with populations of Greater Sage-Grouse have all been working diligently to create conservation plans tailored to balance protection of the birds with each states’ needs. This demonstrates both the importance of role state and local conservation plans that can and should be in efforts to protect wildlife.

Secretary Zinke has already issued a memorandum directing BLM to take steps to implement the sage grouse review team's recommendations changing the federal plans. IMA-NA will continue to follow this situation closely and update membership as the situation develops.

Tags:  Endangered Species  Greater Sage Grouse  mining  sage grouse 

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Endangered Species Coalition Lists Greater Sage Grouse as a Priority Species for Trump Administration

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Thursday, December 22, 2016

On Wednesday, the Endangered Species Coalition (Coalition) released it's "Top Ten” list of species in need of strong conservation measures. The report is targeted at the incoming Trump Administration as a way to influence the conservation agenda of the new President.  Despite the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's (Fish and Wildlife) decision in 2015 to remove the Greater Sage-Grouse from the Endangered species candidate list, the Coalition flagged Greater Sage-Grouse as a species in need of increased conservation efforts. Fish and Wildlife withdrew the Sage Grouse from consideration following the successful implementation of conservation efforts on the state level. The decision was made following the  "unprecedented conservation partnership across the western United States that [...] significantly reduced threats to the greater sage-grouse across 90 percent of the species’ breeding habitat."  The Coalition's report demonstrates a renewed interest from the environmental and conservation groups to elevate the listing of the Sage Grouse with the hope of taking millions of acres offline for development of any kind. While it is unlikely the Trump Administration would reopen the recent decision on the Sage Grouse it is important to note the species is still on the radar of conservation groups. 

To read the full report click here

Tags:  administration  conservation  Endangered Species  Fish and Wildlife  FWS  Greater Sage Grouse  regulations  sage grouse 

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Representative Ryan Zinke Tapped to be Secretary of Interior

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Friday, December 16, 2016

On Thursday, President Elect Trump announced his nomination of Representative Ryan Zinke (R-MT) for the position of Secretary of Interior in his Cabinet. The choice of the single term Representative from Montana demonstrated President Elect Trump's willingness to appoint Cabinet positions to unexpected choices.Previously, meetings with Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) seemed to indicate she would be the President Elect's nominee for the Department of Interior.

Prior to winning the Montana At-Large congressional seat in 2014, Rep. Zinke had an illustrious and long career as a Navy Seal. Rep. Zinke served the country for 22 years (1986-2008) in various capacities within the Navy Seal program. Upon leaving the Navy Rep. Zinke stepped into the state political arena, where he served as a state Senator from 2009-2011. In his time as Montana's At-Large Representative, Zinke served on the House Committee of Natural Resources and the Committee on Armed Services. In his relatively short political career, Rep. Zinke has styled himself as a Teddy Roosevelt Republican who aims to balance conservation with reasonable federal land use. As an avid hunter and outdoorsman, Zinke supports responsible stewardship of our public lands. He was a vocal opponent of the designating the Greater Sage Grouse as an endangered species, a move that would have severely undercut land usage out west. 

Based on his record in the 114th Congress, Rep. Zinke appears to be a champion for balancing business, community, economic, and conservation needs across the United States. IMA-NA is looking forward to welcoming Rep. Zinke as the Secretary of Interior following his confirmation.

Tags:  administration  appointee  department of interior  Greater Sage Grouse  nominee  president  sage grouse  Secretary of Interior  transition team  Trump  Zinke 

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IMA-NA Files Formal Protests in Response to Sage Grouse Plans

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Thursday, July 2, 2015
On June 29th, IMA-NA partnered with National Mining Association (NMA), American Exploration and Mining Association (AEMA) and the Utah Mining Association to formally protest the BLM/FS land use management plans in Nevada/Eastern California, Idaho/Southwestern Montana and Utah. These were the only draft land use management plans that were open for public comment when IMA-NA decided to file comments regarding the Greater Sage Grouse. Using the attachments you can access and read all three filings. The outcome of the listing decision for the Greater Sage Grouse will continue to impact and inform the use of land out west for the foreseeable future. IMA-NA will continue to take opportunities to voice the concerns of our industry regarding the land use management plans.



Download File (PDF)

 Attached Files:

Tags:  Greater Sage Grouse  Regulations  sage grouse 

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Bi-State Sage Grouse Removed from the Endangered Species List

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Thursday, April 23, 2015

Secretary of Interior, Sally Jewell, has announced the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) decision to remove the Bi-State Greater Sage-Grouse from the Endangered Species List. The announcement comes in the midst of the ongoing FWS deliberation on whether the Greater Sage-Grouse should be listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Secretary Jewell’s announcement signals the success of the multiyear state lead collaborative conservation efforts in the Bi-State area. The Bi-State population of Greater Sage-Grouse inhabits approximately 4.5 million acres of land on the Nevada and California border and was designated as a Distinct Population Segment (DPS) in 2010.  The DPS classification recognizes that the Bi-State population of Greater Sage-Grouse is significantly genetically different from the rest of the population in the western United States, due to thousands of years of relative separation. 

Since the early 2000s state and local agencies in California and Nevada along with federal agencies, landowners and businesses created and enacted successful conservation plans for the Bi-State Greater Sage Grouse.  FWS’s decision to remove the Bi-State Greater Sage-Grouse from the Endangered Species list is a demonstration of the powerful role state and local conservation plans can be in efforts to protect wildlife. The 11 western states with populations of Greater Sage-Grouse have all been working diligently to create conservation plans tailored to balance protection of the birds with each states’ needs.  The success of the Bi-State Plan is an encouraging sign that FWS may not need to take close to 100 million acres of land in the west offline completely in order to protect this species. IMA-NA is hopeful this development will encourage FWS to approach the listing of the Greater Sage-Grouse in a more realistic way.

Relatedly, Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) introduced the “Sage-Grouse Protection and Conservation Act” (S.1036) on April 22. The legislation would allow states six years to create and implement state specific conservation plans before the Department of Interior could make its decision to list the Greater Sage-Grouse as threatened or endangered.  Representative Chris Stewart (R-UT), is expected to introduced the House companion bill by the end of the week. 

 

To read the Department of Interior’s press release click here.

To read Senator Gardner’s press release click here .

Tags:  department of interior  ESA  Greater Sage Grouse  industrial minerals industry  legislation  Regulations  sage grouse  Secretary Jewell 

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IMA-NA Comments on New U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Proposals

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Last week IMA-NA, in conjunction with several other associations, submitted comments to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service (Services) on two rulemakings and one policy proposal regarding the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The comments are a continuation of IMA-NA’s engagement with the Services related to the increased ESA activity.  The newest rulemakings address the designation of critical habitat for threatened or endangered species and the definition of destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat.  Additionally, the proposed policy covers implementation of Section 4(b)(2) of the ESA, which addresses how the Services will determine exclusions of areas from designation as critical habitat.

These additional proposed rulemakings and policy exemplify a vast and unnecessary expansion of federal jurisdiction of land use under ESA. The expansion of Service authority to designate critical habitats and land usage also reinforces regulatory uncertainty for the business community. The potential impact on land usage in the Western states should the Services finalize the proposals is largely negative. IMA-NA and our coalition of ally associations will continue to be engaged with the Services as these proposals go through the process.

In related news, the Services announced in August a re-opening of the comment period on the decision to designate the Greater Sage Grouse as a threatened species under ESA or not.  The Services are now anticipating making a final determination by April 28, 2015. To view the Federal Register announcement click here.

To read the comments please click here.

Download File (PDF)

Tags:  comments  ESA  Greater Sage Grouse  Regulations 

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