Wildlife| Greater sage-grouse conservation
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Protecting unfragmented
habitats, minimizing habitat loss,
and maintaining, enhancing or
restoring conditions that meet
life-history needs


Keeping things connected  

The BLM grants rights-of-way (ROWs) for many different uses of public lands.  Many energy-related projects — wind power, solar energy, pipelines and power transmission lines — are accomplished using ROWs on BLM-managed lands.  ROWs usually consist of strips or corridors of land that may themselves be limited in size but which can nonetheless fragment the land through which they run. 

The BLM and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service have identified fragmentation as a primary threat to sage-grouse and their habitat.  So, current BLM policy addresses the authorization of ROWs in priority sage-grouse habitat.


:: Avoid   :: Minimize   :: Mitigate

When processing a ROW application, the BLM works with the applicant on a number of issues, including how best to avoid or minimize loss or fragmentation of sage-grouse habitat.  Reasonable possibilities for siting the project outside of priority habitat areas or within a designated ROW corridor are part of the NEPA analysis for the proposal. 

For ROWs less than 1 mile in length or which disturb less than 2 surface acres, the BLM develops mitigation measures in cooperation with the applicant and state wildlife managers that would cumulatively maintain or enhance sage-grouse habitat. 

For larger ROWs – those longer than 1 mile or which would disturb more than 2 surface acres – the BLM requires measures that minimize impacts to sage-grouse habitat.  In addition to this kind of onsite mitigation, the BLM will develop and consider offsite mitigation measures, in cooperation with the applicant and state wildlife managers.

wind turbine array

power transmission lines on truss-towers

male sage-grouse with tail fanned, in silhouette

Unless the BLM and state wildlife agency staff determine that a proposed ROW (1+ miles long or 2+ acres of disturbance) and associated mitigation measures would cumulatively maintain or enhance sage-grouse habitat, the decision on the proposed ROW is forwarded to a group composed of the appropriate BLM State Director, the Director of the relevant state wildlife agency and a representative of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

If this group cannot agree on appropriate mitigation for the proposed ROW, then the decision goes to the BLM sage-grouse National Policy Team for their review.  The Team may also involve the State wildlife agency Director, if appropriate. 

If this group cannot agree on appropriate mitigation, the Team will seek a final decision from the BLM Director in the absence of consensus.

Last updated: 08-01-2013