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Gunnison Sage-Grouse

CONSERVATION MEASURES

 

On July 18, 2014, the BLM issued a notice in the Federal Register announcing the agency's intention to incorporate conservation measures into BLM land use plans and prepare an associated Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in order to protect Gunnison Sage-Grouse habitat across the species' range.  The EIS is slated for completion by July 2016.

 

Male Gunnison sage-grouse displaying on lek

  

The range-wide planning area will consist of more than 625,000 acres of BLM surface estate in Chaffee, Delta, Dolores, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Mesa, Montrose, Ouray, Saguache, and San Miguel counties in Colorado and Grand and San Juan counties in Utah.  BLM Colorado will lead the effort to evaluate existing and potential measures for protecting occupied and potential Gunnison Sage-Grouse critical habitat on behalf of BLM Colorado and BLM Utah.  These conservation measures will be incorporated into applicable BLM land use plans.

 

BACKGROUND

The Gunnison Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus minimus) is a ground-dwelling bird requiring large expanses of sagebrush, along with a diversity of grasses and forbs, and healthy wetland and riparian ecosystems.  In January 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) published a notice in the Federal Register proposing to list the Gunnison Sage-Grouse as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, as well as a notice proposing to designate critical habitat for the species.  In its preliminary finding, the FWS cited the inadequacy of regulatory mechanisms for conserving the Gunnison Sage-Grouse and its habitat as a significant threat to the species’ survival and further recommended that the BLM incorporate additional conservation measures into applicable BLM resource management plans.


ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT

The BLM has determined that the proposed conservation measures and plan amendment constitute a major federal action requiring the preparation of an EIS and associated amendment in accordance with NEPA. The BLM will seek public and agency input to identify issues to address in the EIS and will coordinate with local, state, and other federal government agencies in preparing the EIS. The plan amendment will address proposed and alternative policies and analyze how implementation of the policies might affect the quality of the environment.

 

The EIS is slated for completion by July 2016. The BLM will ensure that relevant science on Gunnison Sage-Grouse conservation is considered, reasonably interpreted, and accurately presented.

 

BLM resource management plans potentially affected by this planning effort include:

Colorado Plans

· San Luis RMP (1991)

· Gunnison RMP (1993)

· San Juan/San Miguel RMP (1985) (currently under revision in the Tres Rios and Uncompahgre RMPs)

· Uncompahgre Basin RMP (1989) (currently under revision in the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area RMP and Uncompahgre RMP)

· Grand Junction RMP (1987) (Currently under revision in the Grand Junction RMP and the Dominguez-Escalante RMP)

· Gunnison Gorge NCA RMP (2004)

· Canyons of the Ancients National Monument RMP (2010)

Utah Plans

· Moab RMP (2008)

· Monticello RMP (2008)

 

TIMEFRAME

The BLM anticipates a timeframe of approximately 24 months from project initiation to the issuance of a Final Plan Amendment/Record of Decision. The planning effort will involve multiple steps, including the preparation of a Draft Plan Amendment/EIS, Draft and Final Biological Assessments, a Draft Biological Opinion, a Proposed Plan Amendment/Final EIS, and the Final Plan Amendment/Record of Decision. As such, review timeframes will be brief.

 

PUBLIC PARTICIPATION

The BLM anticipates that a variety of interested individuals and partners, including cooperating agencies, stakeholders, and BLM Resource Advisory Councils (RAC) in Colorado and Utah, will be involved throughout the planning effort. Because BLM decisions regarding public lands can have a tremendous effect on neighboring communities, your involvement can help to ensure that such decisions are sound and incorporate appropriate and effective landscape level considerations and measures. The BLM will announce opportunities for public participation on this webpage, via the Federal Register, and through press releases.


 

PUBLIC SCOPING

CLOSED AUGUST 22

 

Federal Register Notice of Intent

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DOCUMENTS & RESOURCES

 

Cover of GUSG RMPA Scoping Report - links to reduced-size PDF

Scoping Report

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ePlanning - Check this site frequently for opportunities to comment

BLM Washington Office IM 2014-100 - Interim Measures

Fish and Wildlife Service Gunnison Sage-Grouse Info

Gunnison Basin Candidate Conservation Agreement
Critical Habitat Acreage Table

Gunnison Sage-grouse Range Map

Gunnison Sage-Grouse Range Map BLM 7/2014

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BLM PUBLIC SCOPNG

BLM GUSG Plan Amendment Scoping Presentation

Scoping Presentation 8/2014

BLM GUSG Plan Amendment Scoping Maps

Scoping Population Maps 8/2014

GUSG Scoping Oil Gas Map

Scoping Oil, Gas & Geothermal Leases Map 8/2014

GUSG Scoping Map

Scoping Roads & Trails Map 8/2014


 

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.

To learn more about the Gunnison Sage-Grouse, and for specific details

regarding the FWS listing process and history, visit the FWS online at:

http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/birds/gunnisonsagegrouse/

 

  

Leigh D. Espy, Project Manager

(303) 239-3801

Courtney Whiteman, Public Affairs Specialist

(303) 239-3668

Shannon Borders, Public Affairs Specialist

(970) 240-5399