BLM schedules open house on sage grouse plan
As part of a joint effort with the U.S. Forest Service to conserve the Greater Sage-Grouse (GRSG) and its habitat across 10 western states, the Bureau of Land Management Utah has issued a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for a 90-day public review and comment period.
The draft Utah Greater Sage-Grouse Land Use Plan Amendment/EIS would amend 14 BLM and six Forest Service land use plans.
The planning effort includes all GRSG mapped occupied habitat lands in Utah for which the BLM and Forest Service have authority to make management decisions.
In addition, the BLM has jurisdiction over federal minerals on National Forest System lands and in some areas where the surface is owned by a non-federal entity. The Utah draft EIS planning area also includes the portions of the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest and the Ashley National Forests that extend into Wyoming.
Approximately 3,313,800 acres of GRSG habitat are on BLM-administered and National Forest System surface lands, and another 694,880 acres of habitat have underlying federal mineral estate in the state of Utah. The proposed management direction in this LUP amendment applies only to BLM-administered public lands or National Forest System lands in the planning area. They do not apply to private land.
"Throughout this process, BLM Utah has collaborated with a number of partners including the state of Utah, Counties and the Fish and Wildlife Service," said Juan Palma, BLM-Utah State Director. "The range of alternatives being assessed in the draft EIS analyzes a broad array of options to consider as we move forward in developing the final plan for managing BLM and Forest Service lands to provide for the protection of Greater Sage-Grouse habitat in Utah."
An information open house will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Dec. 5
Carbon County Event Center
310 South Fairgrounds Road.
The draft EIS considers five management alternatives for maintaining and increasing habitat for Greater Sage-Grouse on BLM-administered public lands or National Forest System lands in the planning area.
Alternative A is the no-action alternative which would retain the management goals, objectives, and direction specified in the 20 existing land management plans;
Alternative B includes conservation measures and prescriptions outlined in the National Technical Team Report.
Alternative C includes conservation measures and prescriptions provided by various conservation groups during the scoping process, including the creation of new BLM Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACECs) and FS Greater Sage-Grouse Zoological Areas covering approximately 2,233,800 acres.
Alternative D includes conservation measures and prescriptions developed by the BLM Utah and FS Intermountain Region (Region 4), in coordination with the local USFWS.
Alternative E includes conservation measures and prescriptions based on the state of Utah's Conservation Plan for Greater Sage-Grouse in Utah and the state of Wyoming's Governor's Executive Order 2011-05 and 2013-3.
The BLM has identified Alternative D as the preferred alternative. Identification of this alternative does not represent the final agency decision; the final LUP amendment may include a mix of objectives and actions from any of the alternatives analyzed in the EIS.
The Draft Utah Greater Sage-Grouse LUP Amendment/EIS is available for review and comment on the BLM-Utah's website at: http://www.blm.gov/0fld.
Comments on the draft EIS will be accepted until Jan. 29, 2014. Please note that the most useful comments are those that contain new technical or scientific information relevant to the proposed action.
Comments should be as specific as possible. Comments which contain only opinions or preferences will not receive a formal response but may be considered in the BLM decision-making process.
Written comments may be submitted using any of the following methods:
Attn: BLM/FS Utah Greater Sage-Grouse EIS
440 West 200 South, Suite 500,
Salt Lake City, UT 84101-1345
For additional information about the draft EIS, contact Quincy Bahr at (801)539-4122 or Tyler Ashcroft at (801)539-4068. Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339 to leave a message.