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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT NEWS RELEASE
 
Release Date: 07/17/14
Contacts: Shannon Borders, Public Affairs Specialist, (970) 240-5399    
  Courtney Whiteman, Public Affairs Specialist, (303) 239-3668    

BLM begins public scoping on Gunnison Sage-Grouse Environmental Impact Statement


DENVER – As part of a collaborative effort to protect wildlife and promote balanced development on public lands, the Bureau of Land Management is seeking public input to identify conservation measures to protect Gunnison Sage-Grouse within the bird’s habitat on federally-managed lands in Colorado and Utah.

Based on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s recommendation to adopt additional conservation measures, the BLM is initiating a public scoping process to incorporate these measures into up to 11 BLM Resource Management Plans through an Environmental Impact Statement and associated amendment. The EIS is slated for completion by July 2016.

“The BLM has already taken a number of steps to ensure balanced management of public lands in the species’ range,” said Ruth Welch, BLM Colorado State Director. “As we work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other federal, state and local partners to conserve important habitat for wildlife, this public process will be helpful in understanding, minimizing and addressing threats to the Gunnison Sage-Grouse. We look forward to hearing from the public as we seek to understand what additional conservation measures may be appropriate for the Bureau of Land Management to take.”

The range-wide amendment process will enable the BLM to examine issues across the range of species and consider conservation and mitigation measures on a landscape scale.  The EIS will amend RMPs within several BLM offices to address conservation measures and ensure adequate conservation of the Gunnison Sage-Grouse and its habitat on public lands.

Last month, the BLM issued an Instruction Memorandum guiding management of Gunnison Sage-Grouse as an interim measure until an amendment process can be completed. The IM only applies to proposed occupied critical Gunnison Sage-Grouse habitat on BLM-managed lands. The EIS, once completed, will consider both proposed occupied and unoccupied critical Gunnison Sage-Grouse habitat on BLM lands.

The IM builds on existing protections for Gunnison Sage-Grouse, which have been established through BLM policy as well as partnerships at the state, local, private and federal level. It also extends habitat management strategies established in a BLM Colorado IM in 2013 to include southeast Utah, outlining the BLM’s policy of deferring oil and gas leasing on proposed occupied critical habitat until associated land use plans have been amended or revised to avoid affecting future management decisions.

The public scoping process reflects the landscape-level approach emphasized under Interior Secretary Sally Jewell’s Secretarial Order 3330, which established a coordinated Department-wide strategy to strengthen mitigation practices. This approach shifts the focus from determining appropriate mitigation on a permit-by-permit basis to a strategic and landscape-level perspective where mitigation can be identified through regional strategies and land use planning. This strategy places primary focus on avoidance of resource conflicts because it is the most effective form of mitigation and because avoiding sensitive areas allows for a more efficient and predictable permitting process. Where resource conflicts cannot be avoided, meaningful minimization and mitigation of the impacts should be implemented, along with a monitoring program to evaluate the efficacy of these measures.

Gunnison Sage-Grouse can be found in southwest Colorado and southeast Utah.  About 5,000 breeding Gunnison Sage-Grouse occur among seven separate populations on more than 700,000 acres of BLM lands, including split estate.

Gunnison Sage-Grouse require a variety of habitats including large expanses of sagebrush with a diversity of grasses and forbs as well as healthy wetland and riparian ecosystems.  The birds also require sagebrush for cover and fall and winter food.

The public is invited to four public meetings to learn more about the project:

  • Monday August 4 at 6 p.m.
    Denver Marriott West, 1717 Denver West Blvd., Golden, CO 80401
  • Tuesday, August 5 at 6 p.m.
    Fred R. Field Western Heritage Center, Fairgrounds and Multi-Purpose Building, 275 Spruce St., Gunnison, CO 81230
  • Wednesday, August 6 at 6 p.m.
    Holiday Inn Express Montrose, 1391 S. Townsend Ave., Montrose, CO 81401
  • Thursday, August 7 at 6 p.m.
    Dove Creek Community Center, 403 W. 7th St., Dove Creek, CO 81324

Additional information is also available on the project website at http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/BLM_Programs/wildlife/sage-grouse.html.  Written comments should be submitted by August 22, via mail to BLM Colorado, Attn: Gunnison Sage-Grouse EIS, 2850 Youngfield Street, Lakewood, CO 80215-7093; via email to gusg_amend@blm.gov; or via fax to (303) 239-3699.
Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment—including your personal identifying information—may be made publicly available at any time.  While you may ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment—including your personal identifying information—may be made publicly available at any time.  While you may ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.



The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM's mission is to manage and conserve the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations under our mandate of multiple-use and sustained yield. In Fiscal Year 2013, the BLM generated $4.7 billion in receipts from public lands.
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Last updated: 07-17-2014