The state Bureau of Land Management held its first public meeting Monday, November 6, to discuss current sage grouse management plans and potential changes to them.
This “scoping” meeting was held as an open house at the Little America Hotel in Cheyenne. Posters were spread throughout a conference room discussing adaptive management, livestock grazing, resource management plans and more. Specialists were also on hand at each station to help answer any questions.
The BLM explains the purpose of the scoping meeting on their website:
“The public is encouraged to help identify any issues, management questions, or concerns that should be addressed in the potential plan amendment(s) to help improve Greater Sage-grouse conservation, and to strengthen communication and collaboration between the states and the federal government. The public scoping meeting provides the public an opportunity to talk to resource specialists and to submit written comments in person."
Dave Roberts is a local in Cheyenne who used to work for the BLM, but hasn’t kept up with sage grouse issues. He said he went to the meeting to be updated on current management practices and how they might change.
“It’ll be interesting to see what this new administration intends to do, or not to do, whatever they’re going to do… or not do,” he said with a laugh.
Another attendee was Christine Johnson who drove all the way down from Casper for the event. She works for a gold mining exploration company that can’t work on certain lands due to sage grouse conservation plans. Johnson said in a particular area of the rattlesnake hills there just aren’t sage grouse there anyway.
“We would like to see more flexibility work in the areas where there aren’t sage grouse,” she said.
The U.S. Department of Interior began a 45-day comment period last month when they announced impending changes to the plan, which many say loosen species’ protections in favor of the oil and gas industry.
A BLM official at the meeting said once comments are submitted, the agency will see if any can be used in a plan amendment change. She added the BLM is open to large, small or no changes to the sage grouse plans. The next public meeting will be held at the Pinedale BLM office this Wednesday the 8.
Those who can’t make it to a public meeting can submit their comments online by emailing them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Those must be submitted by November 27.