WYOMING – The Bureau of Land Management just released its final environmental impact statement Thursday that proposes to “increase flexibility and access in sage-grouse plans … on public land in Wyoming.”
The proposed sage-grouse actions would “better align” BLM regional resource management plans with state plans to protect sage-grouse populations, find a regulatory balance and build more trust among western states, according to Wyoming BLM spokesman Emmet Pruss.
The final EIS is expected to be published in the Federal Register on Friday, Dec. 7, opening a 30-day protest period that would end on Jan. 9, 2019. The record of decision would be signed and released after protests are resolved.
“Having better alignment between state and federal management for the bird is important to the species and the people of Wyoming,” Gov. Matt Mead said in Thursday’s announcement. He has 60 days to review the proposed amendments to ensure they follow local and state laws and regulations.
The final EIS also aligns federal mitigation requirements with those of the state, according to Pruss, who said the BLM is required to work with states on this. Its approval would mean the agency amends its resource management plans in Pinedale, Rawlins, Green River, Buffalo, Casper, Cody, Lander, Newcastle and Worland field offices.
The proposed amendments for Wyoming BLM adopt the state’s compensatory mitigation framework, clarify habitat objectives where livestock grazing is permitted and removes the sagebrush focal area designation from 1.9 million BLM acres from sage-grouse habitat mapping.
It also “increase(s) flexibility to grant waivers, exceptions or modifications in energy leasing.”
Wyoming BLM Director Mary Jo Rugwell said, “In Wyoming, we have the privilege of working with a variety of concerned stakeholders and communities living close to the land in managing some of the country’s largest intact sagebrush ecosystems. We designed the proposed plan amendment to address the remaining concerns of our agency partners and the public. Our shared goals are the successful conservation of greater sage-grouse habitat and ensuring multiple-use access to every American.”
The Final EIS is available at https://goo. gl/22jKE2.
Anyone who participated in the Wyoming EIS process and has an interest that could be “adversely affected” can file a protest. All written protests must be mailed or emailed to the BLM’s ePlanning site to be considered. Instructions for filing a protest are at https:// www.blm.gov/programs/planning-and-nepa/ public-participation/filing-a-plan-protest. To submit a protest electronically, go to the ePlanning project site at https://goo.gl/22jKE2 and follow instructions on the home page. n