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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT NEWS RELEASE
 
Release Date: 10/31/13
Contacts: Jessica Gardetto (208) 373-4060    

BLM Releases Draft Idaho and Southwestern Montana Sub-Regional Greater Sage-Grouse Land Use Plan Amendment and Environmental Impact Statement


BOISE, ID – As part of a joint effort with the USDA Forest Service to conserve the Greater Sage-Grouse and its habitat across ten Western states, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will issue a draft land use plan (LUP) amendment and draft environmental impact statement (EIS) November 1, 2013 that would amend BLM and Forest Service land management plans covering Idaho and Southwestern Montana. The document will then be open for a 90-day public comment period.

The Draft Idaho and Southwest Montana Sub-Regional Greater Sage-Grouse LUP Amendment/EIS would amend 21 BLM resource management plans and eight Forest Service land management plans covering BLM  and National Forest lands in Idaho and Southwestern Montana.   

Within the decision area, the BLM and the Forest Service administer approximately 30.1 million acres in Idaho and Montana; about 12.7 million acres managed by the BLM and 17.4 million acres of National Forest System Land managed by the Forest Service, providing approximately 9.3 and 1.9 million acres of Greater Sage-Grouse habitat, respectively. The decisions in this LUP Amendment apply only to BLM- and Forest Service-administered lands in Idaho and Southwestern Montana, not to private land.

“The BLM and the Forest Service are stewards of more than half of all Greater Sage-Grouse habitat in the United States,” said BLM Idaho Acting State Director Tim Murphy.  “This is an opportunity to conserve an important species and in turn conserve other sagebrush-dependent wildlife.”

In 2010, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) determined the Greater Sage-Grouse warranted protection under the Endangered Species Act, but listing the species was precluded by the need to address other species first.  One reason for the FWS determination was the need for “improved regulatory mechanisms” to ensure species conservation.  The principal regulatory mechanisms for the BLM and the Forest Service are conservation measures in land use plans. 

In 2011, the BLM and the Forest Service joined forces to develop, analyze and incorporate coordinated, long-term conservation measures and actions for the Greater Sage-Grouse in their land use plans.  These planning measures must be incorporated into land use plans by the end of 2014, to give the FWS time to evaluate them before making a court-ordered, final listing decision in 2015.  

The Draft EIS is one of more than a dozen coordinated environmental documents developed to provide a consistent approach to sustaining the species and its habitat across the West.  Draft documents are being released for public comment as they are completed.  Each draft is comprised of several alternatives that address Greater Sage-Grouse conservation issues using different management actions. The Idaho and Southwest Montana Draft EIS includes six different alternatives, ranging from a no-action alternative to the Idaho Governor’s proposed alternative.

The BLM and the Forest Service have identified Alternatives D (Idaho and Southwest Montana sub-regional alternative) and E (Idaho Governor’s Alternative) as co-Preferred Alternatives for the purposes of public comment and review.  BLM and Forest Service officials agree that portions of the management guidance described within each of these two alternatives respond best to Greater Sage-Grouse habitat threats within the Idaho and Southwestern Montana sub-region. 

The Draft Idaho and Southwestern Montana Sub-Regional Greater Sage-Grouse LUP Amendment/EIS will be available at http://www.blm.gov/id/st/en/prog/nepa_register/sage-grouse_rmp_revision.html. For additional information about Greater Sage-Grouse conservation, visit http://www.blm.gov/sagegrouse



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: 10-31-2013