The schedule for completion of the HiLine RMP has been revised to allow for the time needed to incorporate into the RMP several new BLM policies and management actions in response to concerns raised by the BLM and other federal agencies, as well as state and local governments, businesses and organizations, and individuals. Our timeline has slipped as we have addressed important issues concerning the BLM’s management of natural and cultural resources. Developing uniform oil and gas lease stipulations to enhance consistency, updating guidance for conducting wilderness characteristic inventories, and addressing how we strengthen the conservation of Greater sage-grouse habitat are the major items we have addressed.
- Standard Oil and Gas Lease Stipulations: The Montana/Dakotas BLM has developed uniform language for all oil and gas lease stipulations in order to provide more consistency in the leasing process. The uniform language will be incorporated in the oil and gas least stipulations for the HiLine RMP/EIS.
- Inventory of Public Lands: The HiLine District recently updated its inventory of lands with wilderness characteristics. Managing the wilderness resource is part of the BLM‘s multiple use mission. Section 201 of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act requires the BLM to maintain on a continuing basis an inventory of all public lands and their resources and other values, which includes wilderness characteristics. Regardless of past inventory, the BLM must maintain, and update as necessary, its inventory of wilderness resources on public lands. The HiLine RMP/EIS planning process is an appropriate time to update the inventory of wilderness characteristics for the HiLine District. The Fall 2012 newsletter provides more specific information on the inventory process.
- Conservation of Greater Sage-Grouse Habitat: In March 2010, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) published its petition decision for the Greater Sage-Grouse as “Warranted but Precluded” for listing as a threatened or endangered species. The FWS determined that “the present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of habitat or range” of the Greater sage-grouse, and the “inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms” posed “a significant threat to the species, now and in the foreseeable future.”
Maintaining and restoring sagebrush landscapes on public lands is the BLM’s primary means of conserving sage-grouse populations and one of its most important current programs. As part of the BLM’s National Sage-Grouse Planning Strategy and in response to the Sage-Grouse National Technical Team’s recommendations, the HiLine District DRMP will propose specific mitigation measures and conservation actions for Greater Sage-Grouse across nearly 1.6 million acres of BLM-administered habitat.
The proposed schedule has been revised to the following timeline:
- Winter 2013 – Distribute Draft RMP/EIS to the public; publish Notice of Availability in Federal Register, which begins 90-day public comment period; hold open houses at various locations across the planning area to provide the public opportunities to meet with resource management specialists.
- Winter/Spring 2013 – Review public comments on Draft RMP/EIS; refine alternatives and effects based upon review and analysis of public comments.
- Spring-Fall 2013 – Incorporate public comments into Proposed RMP/Final EIS (PRMP/FEIS); review and revise PRMP/FEIS and prepare for publication.
- January 2014 – Distribute PRMP/FEIS to the public; publish Notice of Availability in Federal Register; begin Governor’s Consistency Review and 30-day protest period; review and prepare response to protests.
- April 2014 – Prepare Record of Decision/Approved Plan and distribute to the public; publish Notice of Availability in Federal Register.
Last Updated on 10/31/2012