The Bureau of Land Management has amended its land-use plans for Greater Sage-Grouse habitat management in seven states, including Utah.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) made the announcement about the plans via a press release on March 15, and says its collaboration with the states addresses conservation without stifling local economies.
Acting Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt said months of close coordination and cooperation with state governments in Wyoming, Nevada, California, Idaho, Oregon, Utah and Colorado have gone into developing the plans.
The amended BLM plans retain the priority habitat designation for more than 29 million acres of BLM-administered sagebrush-steppe, where the management priority is to exclude (or avoid) disturbance to sage-grouse and their habitat.
Another 23 million surface acres range-wide retain identification as a general habitat, where avoidance and minimization are applied “flexibly,” the press release said. The plans covering BLM-managed lands in Utah do not designate any general habitat areas.
In Utah, amendments were made to 14 BLM plans. Altogether, there are 7.3-million acres of sage-grouse habitat mapped across the state.
“The plan amendments adopted today show that listening to and working with our neighbors at the state and local levels of government is the key to long-term conservation and to ensuring the viability of local communities across the West,” Bernhardt said in the press release on March 15.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said the new BLM plans improve the 2015 federal sage-grouse plan by incorporating “the best available science and aligning with the state’s 2019 Conservation Plan for Greater Sage-Grouse.”
“I support BLM’s ongoing efforts to work with the state, and other stakeholders, to conserve, enhance and restore sage-grouse habitats throughout Utah,” Herbert said.
Benchmarks, or “trigger” points, for local sage-grouse populations remain in place for BLM-managed habitat to indicate when adaptive management measures are needed to address population declines. The amended plans also outline procedures once it is determined that a decline has been stopped and reversed.
The press release said the changes to the plans reflect the BLM’s determination that greater flexibility was needed to manage habitat and respond to the particular needs of each state’s landscapes and communities. Documents about the plans will be available online at https://goo.gl/7wdKmM.