Bureau of Land Management Reviewing Options to Conserve Greater Sage-Grouse Habitat
In compliance with a court order and consistent with its announcement in May, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) today indicated that it is reinitiating consideration of whether a proposed withdrawal of federal land from location and entry under the mining law to conserve priority greater sage-grouse habitat is necessary. In a Federal Register notice expected this week, the BLM will confirm it plans to issue a new draft environmental impact statement and begin a comment period to receive input regarding the potential withdrawal. A February 2021 court order vacated the previous administration’s cancellation of the proposed withdrawal and directed the BLM to restart consideration of the proposed withdrawal.
In September 2015, the Department of the Interior initiated consideration of a proposed mining law withdrawal of lands administered by the BLM and the U.S. Forest Service in Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming. An amended proposal and draft environmental impact statement were published in December 2016. In October 2017, the BLM terminated consideration of the proposed withdrawal, but that termination was vacated by a U.S. District Court in February 2021.
“The BLM is restarting this process to fully consider one of the management actions that may be necessary to allow sage-grouse to thrive on our public lands,” said Nada Wolff Culver, BLM Deputy Director for Policy and Programs. “As part of these efforts, and in accordance with a recent court order, the BLM will revise its environmental analysis of the need for proposed withdrawals using the best-available science and continued engagement with our many stakeholders.”
The resumption of the process that initially began in 2015 is designed to inform the Secretary’s consideration of whether or not to withdraw any of the approximately 10 million acres of Sagebrush Focal Areas from location and entry under the mining laws. The lands analyzed will remain open to location and entry under the mining laws while the review takes place.
In revising the previous environmental analysis, the agency will consider new scientific information, including the effects of climate change on greater sage-grouse habitat. In coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, Natural Resource Conservation Service, U.S. Forest Service, states, Tribes, and stakeholders, the agency is also beginning a review of the 2015 plans to assess what further actions may be needed to support sagebrush habitat conservation and restoration.
“We will again rely on science and work closely with all partners in the cooperative fashion that has served us well for more than a decade,” said Culver. “Our goal continues to be balanced, sustainable management of sagebrush ecosystems, which benefits hundreds of other species in addition to sage-grouse as well as public land users and local communities across the West.”
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.