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Gunnison Sage-Grouse


On July 18, 2014, the BLM issued a notice in the Federal Register announcing the agency's intention to incorporate clear and consistent 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 range of the species. The land use planning process is the key tool by which the BLM, in collaboration with interested public partners, protects resources and designates uses on BLM-administered public lands.  The BLM has the potential to affect the conservation status of a species through the agency’s multiple use and sustained yield management practices.

The range-wide planning area consists of more than 600,000 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.  Approximately 40 percent of currently occupied Gunnison Sage-Grouse habitat is on public lands administered by the BLM.  Because the predominance of Gunnison Sage-Grouse habitat is in Colorado, BLM Colorado is leading 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.


The Gunnison Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus minimus) is a ground-dwelling bird species that requires large expanses of sagebrush, a diversity of grasses and forbs, and healthy wetland and riparian ecosystems for its survival. The current range of the Gunnison Sage-Grouse is limited to seven scattered populations in southwest Colorado and southeast Utah—a small fraction of their presumed historical range in southwest Colorado, southeast Utah, northeast Arizona, and northern New Mexico.  The Gunnison Sage-Grouse Rangewide Steering Committee and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have identified the primary threat to, and principal cause of past decline of, the Gunnison Sage-Grouse population as the loss, degradation, and fragmentation of habitat.  The Gunnison Sage-Grouse is designated as a sensitive species by the State of Utah, labeled a species of special concern by the State of Colorado, and listed as a sensitive species by BLM Colorado.


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 (ESA), as well as a notice proposing to designate critical habitat for the species. The BLM provided comments on the proposed listing and habitat designation during the public comment period and implemented interim measures in 2013 and 2014 to protect critical habitat until consistent conservation measures could be officially adopted through a range-wide plan amendment.  On November 20, 2014, the FWS published their final determination to list the Gunnison Sage-Grouse as a threatened species and to designate critical habitat for the bird.  The BLM is required to consult with the FWS to identify mitigation measures necessary to avoid or minimize impacts to the species and is working with the FWS to prioritize consultation where necessary.


The BLM determined that the proposed conservation measures and plan amendment constitute a major federal action requiring the preparation of an EIS and associated resource management plan (RMP) amendment in accordance with NEPA. During a public scoping period, the BLM sought public and agency input to identify issues to address in the EIS and is coordinating 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 BLM will ensure that relevant science on Gunnison Sage-Grouse conservation is considered, reasonably interpreted, and accurately presented.  The action will be structured to incorporate adaptive management processes necessary to achieve habitat conservation, restoration, and enhancement goals that help in the recovery of the species so that ESA protections are no longer required.  BLM RMPs potentially affected by this planning effort include:

Colorado Plans

  • Gunnison RMP (1993)
  • San Juan/San Miguel RMP (1985) (currently under revision in the Uncompahgre RMP)
  • Grand Junction RMP (2015)
  • Tres Rios RMP (2015)
  • Uncompahgre Basin RMP (1989) (currently under revision in the Dominguez-Escalante NCA RMP and Uncompahgre RMP)
  • Dominguez-Escalante NCA RMP (currently in draft)
  • Gunnison Gorge NCA RMP (2004)
  • McInnis Canyons NCA RMP (2004)
  • Canyons of the Ancients National Monument RMP (2010)
  • Tres Rios FO Areas of Critical Environmental Concern RMP Amendment (currently in scoping)

Utah Plans

  • Moab RMP (2008)
  • Monticello RMP (2008)


For the latest project information, documents, and opportunities for public participation



Gunnison Sage-Grouse ePlanning



Gunnison Sage-Grouse RMP Amendment Decision Area (June 2016)

Decision Area

June 2016




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

Scoping Report




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



The BLM anticipates a timeframe of approximately 48 months from project initiation to the issuance of an Approved RMP Amendment/Record of Decision. The planning effort involves multiple steps, including the preparation of a Draft RMP Amendment/Draft EIS, Draft and Final Biological Assessments, a Proposed RMP Amendment/Final EIS, and the Approved RMP Amendment/Record of Decision. As such, public review timeframes will be brief.  The Draft RMP Amendment/Draft EIS is expected to be available for review and comment in August 2016 and the Approved RMP Amendment/Record of Decision is currently projected to be issued during Fall 2017. 


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 the Gunnison Sage-Grouse ePlanning site, via the Federal Register, and through press releases. 



·        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. There is also designated critical habitat in Grand County as is part of the Pinon Mesa population

·        According to the FWS, the Gunnison Sage-Grouse currently occupies about 7-10 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.


·        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 more than 1.7 million acres of proposed critical habitat within federal, state, city, county, and private lands in Colorado and Utah.  More than 638,000 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:



Bridget Clayton, BLM Colorado Sage Grouse Coordinator

(970) 244-3045

Roger Sayre, Planning and Environmental Coordinator

(303) 239-3709

Courtney Whiteman, BLM Colorado Public Affairs Specialist

(303) 239-3668

Shannon Borders, BLM Southwest District Public Affairs Specialist

(970) 240-5399


For the latest project information, documents, and opportunities for public participation



Gunnison Sage-Grouse ePlanning