ABOUT THE GUNNISON SAGE-GROUSE:
· About 5,000 breeding Gunnison Sage-Grouse occur among seven separate populations in southwest Colorado and southeast Utah.
· The largest population (of approximately 4,000 birds) inhabits the Gunnison Basin in Colorado.
· Individual populations in Colorado are known as the Pinon Mesa, Crawford, San Miguel Basin, Gunnison Basin, Poncha Pass, Cerro Summit-Cimarron-Sims Mesa, and Dove Creek.
· The Utah population is located near the town of Monticello and is typically identified in combination with Dove Creek as a single population.
· According to the FWS, the Gunnison Sage-Grouse currently occupies about seven percent of the species’ potential historic range.
· The Gunnison Sage-Grouse requires a variety of habitats, including large expanses of sagebrush with a diversity of grasses and forbs as well as healthy wetland and riparian ecosystems. Sagebrush provides the Sage-Grouse with cover and fall and winter food.
ABOUT ONGOING CONSERVATION EFFORTS:
· Although the BLM does not have authority to regulate wildlife, the agency is authorized to manage the resources that make up the Gunnison Sage-Grouse’s habitat.
· The EIS analysis area includes nearly 1.6 million acres of proposed critical habitat within federal, state, city, county, and private lands in Colorado and Utah. Over 600,000 acres of BLM-administered land within this area could be affected by the amendment.
· Up to eleven land use plans could be amended through the current effort in order to provide consistent management of Gunnison Sage-Grouse habitat across Colorado and Utah for all included BLM-administered lands.
· The amendment would identify and incorporate appropriate regulatory mechanisms to conserve, enhance, and restore Gunnison Sage-Grouse habitat. The mechanisms would be designed to eliminate, reduce, or minimize threats to Gunnison Sage-Grouse habitat on BLM lands in Colorado and Utah.
· The BLM continues to apply conservation measures to manage and conserve Gunnison Sage-Grouse and its habitat, and consider the FWS recommendations for minimizing or avoiding adverse effects to Gunnison Sage-Grouse or their proposed critical habitat.
· Current BLM policy is to manage Gunnison Sage-Grouse seasonal habitats and maintain habitat connectivity to support sustainable Gunnison Sage-Grouse populations and/or Gunnison Sage-Grouse population objectives as determined in coordination with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, and the FWS.
· In summer 2013, BLM Colorado signed a Candidate Conservation Agreement (CCA) for Gunnison Sage-Grouse on federally managed lands in the Gunnison Basin. Other signatories to the CCA include the FWS, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), and Gunnison and Saguache counties.
· The CCA is designed to complement the statewide Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances developed by CPW and FWS for use on private or state lands while promoting conservation of the Gunnison Sage-Grouse population by addressing key threats to habitat on state, private and federal public lands in the Gunnison Basin.