By: Megan Mueller, Rocky Mountain Wild
May 4, 2018
Today the Department of the Interior released draft land management plans aimed at making changes to a 2015 greater sage-grouse conservation plan that protected habitat in Colorado and across the West. Here is Rocky Mountain Wild’s response to the release of the plans:
The lengthy previous sage-grouse planning process emphasized sound science and cooperation between ranchers, sportsmen, scientists, energy industry executives, and conservationists. As a result, the 2015 plans conserved habitat to keep the bird from needing Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection and benefitted more than 350 other species of wildlife that share the bird’s habitat and local communities that depend on public lands.
Secretary Zinke and Trump’s Department of the Interior have initiated an ill-conceived, rushed, and divisive process to undo the 2015 plans, and have largely ignored public input and focused on the wishes of their friends in the oil and gas industry.
“We know where the most important habitat for sage-grouse is, we know how to safeguard that habitat, and we know how to balance sage-grouse conservation with other important uses of public land, and the 2015 plan did just that,” said Megan Mueller, Senior Conservation Biologist with Rocky Mountain Wild. “Secretary Zinke should listen to scientists and the public and avoid making sweeping changes that undermine habitat conservation to hand over more public land for irresponsible oil and gas drilling.
“While we have concerns about some of the specific changes proposed in Colorado’s plan, we hope that Coloradoans and Governor Hickenlooper can continue to make a strong case that the hard work invested in creating the Colorado plan should not be undone. We remain very concerned that risky and unnecessary changes to plans in other states will undermine the habitat conservation essential to the recovery of the sage-grouse.”
The Bureau of Land Management is currently taking comments on the draft, now through August 2. Rocky Mountain Wild will be putting together talking points in the next few weeks and possibly comment writing parties to help people submit impactful comments. Please stay tuned.