The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the US Forest Service (USFS) are implementing a national strategy to aid in the conservation of the greater sage-grouse and to provide that conservation measures are included in each respective Resource Management Plan (RMP) (or Land MP in certain USFS instances) across the western United States. This action could significantly impact OHV access in addition to other current land uses.
The planning process will be coordinated under two regions: a Rocky Mountain Region and a Great Basin Region. The Rocky Mountain Region includes BLM RMPs in the States of Colorado, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, and portions of Utah and Montana. The Great Basin Region includes BLM RMPs in California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, and portions of Utah and Montana. For each of these regions, the USFS will include those areas that were identified by the Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) as high priority areas for greater sage-grouse within its respective land units.
In April 2010, the FWS published its listing decision for the greater sage-grouse indicating that an Endangered Species Act (ESA) listing was “Warranted but Precluded” due to higher listing priorities. The purported inadequacy of regulatory mechanisms to conserve the greater sage-grouse and its habitat was identified as a significant threat in the FWS finding on the petition to list the greater sage-grouse as a threatened or endangered species. The FWS has identified conservation measures to be included in BLM’s and USFS’s RMPs as the principal mechanisms to implement further regulatory protection of the greater sage-grouse and its habitat on public lands. In view of FWS’s actions, BLM and USFS propose to incorporate consistent objectives and conservation measures for the greater sage-grouse and its habitat into relevant RMPs by September 2014 in order to avoid a potential listing under the Endangered Species Act. BLM and USFS expect to prepare Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) to analyze proposed changes to some RMPs that are not currently undergoing amendment or revision. For plans already undergoing amendment or revision, BLM and USFS will consider incorporating measures either through the ongoing amendment or revision processes or through supplemental environmental analyses. BLM and USFS currently expect to evaluate sage-grouse conservation measures in 68 and 9 planning areas, respectively.
Notice of Intent
To initiate this regulatory process, BLM and USFS published a Notice of Intent (NOI) in the Federal Register on December 9, 2011, announcing the beginning of a scoping period to solicit public comments and identify issues.
UPDATE: Comment period has been extended until March 23, 2012.
RMP/EIS Process Schedule
December 2011 – Notice of Intent Published in the Federal Register
December 2011 to February 2012 – 60-day Scoping Period
November 2012 to January 2013 – 90-day Draft EISs Public Comment Period
October 2013 – Publish Final EISs and Proposed RMP Amendments
May 2014 – Issue Records of Decision and Approved RMP Amendments
For Further Information
Great Basin Region: Brian Amme, Great Basin Region Project Manager: (775) 861-6645; firstname.lastname@example.org; 1340 Financial Boulevard, Reno, Nevada 89520
Rocky Mountain Region: Chuck Otto, Rocky Mountain Region Project Manager: (307) 775-6062; email@example.com; 5353 Yellowstone Road, Cheyenne, Wyoming 82009