The new BLM guidance helps steer leasing and development away from areas containing priority and general Greater Sage-Grouse habitat while considering development factors and valid existing rights. Industry nominations of public lands for leasing, known as expressions of interest, that were postponed until the plans were finalized may now proceed if the lands are open to development.
Implementing the BLM’s Greater Sage-Grouse Plans
The Bureau of Land Management has finalized land use plans that will conserve key sagebrush habitat, address identified threats to the greater sage-grouse and promote sustainable economic development in the West. You can learn more about the details of the final plans in this Fact Sheet. The plans were a critical component that helped the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to conclude that the rangeland bird no longer warrants protection under the Endangered Species Act.
As part of an unprecedented and proactive partnership to conserve the uniquely American habitat that supports iconic wildlife, outdoor recreation, ranching and other traditional land uses, the BLM is continuing to work with its partners to ensure the conservation of the west’s sagebrush habitats. We’ve held a number of workshops throughout sage-grouse habitat to help familiarize people with the steps we are taking to turn the plans from huge paper documents into on-the-ground success stories.
In August 2016, the BLM issued seven implementation policies, known as Instruction Memorandums (IMs), detailing how these plans will be implemented. The IMs cover oil and gas leasing and development, grazing, and the collection and use of land management data.
The land use plans commit the BLM to prioritize the review of grazing permits that are located areas that were identified by a team of state and federal wildlife biologists as the highest quality habitat for breeding populations of sage-grouse. This policy directs that reviews will begin in Sagebrush Focal areas, followed by Priority Habitat Management Areas, identified in each plan.
Under its sage-grouse plans, the BLM will incorporate specific measurable indicators of land health, or thresholds, when grazing permits and leases are modified or renewed. This policy requires the agency to employ a suite of thresholds and responses that will allow adjustments to grazing based on the specific characteristics of the grazing allotments it manages.
Most plans contain specific thresholds developed with state wildlife agency experts that require the agency to take pre-defined management actions in response to changes in habitat or populations. This policy details how the BLM will determine if thresholds have changed and how the agency will work with the states if a plan threshold is exceeded.
The plans commit to tracking disturbance and reclamation of the bird’s sagebrush habitat. This policy guides the use of tracking tools to help ensure the consistent reporting of habitat disturbances across the bird’s range.
This policy explains how data gathered using the BLM’s Assessment, Inventory and Monitoring (AIM) strategy will be pooled to allow accurate assessments of habitat conditions at local, regional and range-wide scales.
Gathering information about the sage-grouse and the health of its habitat into a single report that allows managers to assess how well the plans are performing in reaching their goals will be done using Habitat Assessment Reports required under this policy. These reports will use the data gathered under the AIM strategy and disturbance monitoring policies and associated tracking efforts.
- You can access the Instruction Memorandum regarding habitat assessment framework here.
- View and download detailed questions and answers on the IMs here.
The BLM is committed to achieving this balance between consistent implementation across the range of the bird’s habitat and the flexibility needed to address specific local conditions through continued collaboration with our many partners and the American public. We will continue working with partners to implement the plans and adapt to changing conditions so that together we can protect the Greater sage-grouse and its sagebrush habitat.