Wyoming exempt from federal sage grouse plan

Dec 28, 2011

Wyoming is exempt from new Bureau of Land Management policies regarding sage grouse.

The policies require local BLM offices to ensure that new oil and gas leases come with measures that prevent loss of sage grouse habitat. BLM officials will have to assess how sage grouse would be affected by proposed roads and power lines in sage grouse territory.

The BLM’s National Technical Team had recommended even more stringent sage grouse conservation measures, such as flat-out banning new oil and gas leases in core sage grouse areas.

Mitch Snow, a spokesman for the BLM, says Wyoming is exempt from the new policies because it has its own sage grouse conservation initiative.

“Wyoming’s plan pretty much covers everything that’s covered in the instructional memorandums, so Wyoming already is well in advance of the rest of the states in the area.”

Some conservationists say Wyoming’s sage grouse plan isn’t tough enough, though, and would like to see federal rules applied here.

Erik Molvar of the Biodiversity Conservation Alliance says that’s not good enough.

“If a local manager wants to implement really strong sage grouse protections, they can do that under the national policy. And if the local manager wants to do almost nothing and go ahead and railroad through industrial projects in the heart of sage grouse habitat, they can do that too.”

The new policies will only be in place until 2015, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will decide whether to list sage grouse as endangered species.