By: Megan Mueller, Senior Conservation Biologist
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is hosting three meetings on the Gunnison Sage-grouse Resource Management Plan Amendment and Draft Environmental Impact Statement, starting tonight!
The meetings are scheduled from 6 pm – 8 pm each evening:
- October 17, at the Gunnison County Fairgrounds, 275 Spruce St, Gunnison
- October 18, at Dolores High School, 1301 Central Ave, Dolores
- October 19, at the Bill Heddles Recreation Center, 530 Gunnison River Dr, Delta
The open houses will provide an opportunity to ask questions and to provide comments.
We have put together some talking points for the open house should you wish to use them, which are attached here or listed down below.
Can’t make it but still want to make some comments?
Documents related to the BLM draft plan may be found at https://goo.gl/MftqFy. Comments may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org, faxed to 303-239-3699, or mailed to Gunnison Sage-grouse EIS, Colorado State Office, 2850 Youngfield St., Lakewood, CO 80215.
Thank you for taking the time to #StandWithGunny!
All remaining habitat for the six small Gunnison sage-grouse populations outside of the Gunnison Basin is essential to the survival of these populations. The following safeguards should be put in place to protect these vulnerable populations:
- Fully protect occupied Gunnison sage-grouse habitat from large scale disturbances (e.g. transmission lines, oil and gas wells, graded roads, etc.).
- Close occupied habitat to oil and gas leasing.
- Don’t allow construction or upgrade of new transmission lines in occupied habitat.
- We support the current proposal in the plan to allow new road construction in occupied habitat only if new roads would consolidate existing roads resulting in fewer roads in occupied habitat.
- Do not allow construction of new tall structures within 4 miles of leks (breeding grounds)
- For existing oil and gas leases and other existing rights:
- Limit surface disturbance (e.g. from roads, well pads etc.) to 1% of occupied habitat for each population.
- Don’t allow structures to be placed within occupied habitat (by prohibiting surface occupancy). If this is not possible, don’t allow structures to be placed within 2 miles of leks, limit structures to 1 structure per 640 acres, and place development as far as possible from leks.
- Designate the Dry Creek Basin and Northdale nominated Areas of Critical Environmental Concern to protect habitat essential for the survival of the Miguel Basin and Dove Creek Gunnison sage-grouse populations (these ACECs were nominated through the Tres Rios ACEC Amendment Process). Consider designating additional ACECs.
- Pursue all available tools to increase the amount of habitat protected from mining, including mineral withdrawal, fluid mineral lease retirements, mineral claim buyouts, and coal unsuitability findings.
- When grazing permits are voluntarily retired, reduce grazing pressure by: closing the allotment to grazing, merging with an existing allotment and retiring the AUMs (which will reduce the number of animals grazing), or converting the allotment to a reserve allotment (which will allow grazing only on a temporary basis to benefit Gusg habitat).
- Reduce existing infrastructure in and adjacent to occupied habitat.
- We support the current proposal to evaluate options to reduce route densities through travel management planning.
- Bury existing transmission lines or re-route them outside of occupied habitat
- Retain all Gunnison sage-grouse habitat (including isolated parcels) in public ownership (including making isolated parcels ineligible for conveyance to the state land board) and take advantage of National Landscape Conservation system funding available to purchase land or pay for private land conservation easements to benefit Gunnison sage-grouse in areas adjacent to designated ACECs.
In the Gunnison Basin, due to the relatively large size of the population and actions that have been taken by the Gunnison Bureau of Land Management and others, fewer new safeguards are required. We suggest that BLM identify a few areas of unfragmented, high quality habitat within Tier 1 habitat in the Gunnison Basin, and consider implementing the safeguards described above in these areas.