By Elsa Partan
Laramie, Wyo. – A conservation group is protesting the lease of tens of thousands of acres of federal land, because they say drilling will harm sage grouse.
The Bureau of Land Management is planning an August 5th auction of oil and gas leases that are scattered across the state.
Eric Molvar is a biologist with the Laramie-based Biodiversity Conservation Alliance. Today his group asked the BLM to withdraw some of the leases. He argues that the current rules to keep sage grouse from being disturbed during nesting season, are not working.
"The BLM is admitting it, the state wildlife agencies are fully behind the idea that these don't work and something stronger is needed, yet these are exactly the stipulations that are being applied across tens of thousands of acres of prime sage grouse habitat," Molvar said.
A BLM spokeswoman says that each of the protests will be evaluated separately. She says the process can take a few months, so bidders will be told about the pending protests up front.