BLM sage-grouse plan doesn’t include focal areas | NevadaAppeal.com

BLM sage-grouse plan doesn’t include focal areas

Nevada Appeal staff report

The Interior Department intends to open more public lands to leasing and allow waivers for drilling to encroach into the habitat of greater sage grouse.

RENO — The Bureau of Land Management released its final plan for sage-grouse protection and again the plan doesn't include sagebrush focal areas which originally set aside 10 million acres of federal lands across six states for sage-grouse habitat.

The BLM on Thursday announced the availability of the final environmental impact statement (EIS) and proposed plan amendments addressing greater sage-grouse conservation on public land in Nevada. Originally, the BLM had set aside 10 million acres of sagebrush focal areas to protect the sage-grouse, but the BLM withdrew its plan for sagebrush focal areas in 2017 due to legal challenges.

The BLM developed the changes in collaboration with Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, state wildlife managers in Nevada and California, and other concerned organizations and individuals, largely through the Western Governors Association's Sage-Grouse Task Force.

"The state of Nevada is pleased the final EIS is finished," Sandoval said. "We appreciate the opportunity to have worked closely with the Department of the Interior on our concerns, and thank them for incorporating our input into the final plan amendments."

In Nevada and northeastern California, the proposed amendments remove the sagebrush focal area designations originally in the 2015 plan.

The proposed changes for lands in designated habitat in Nevada would allow land disposal actions (i.e., sales) if they meet goals set by Congress in specific legislation, such as the Lincoln County Land Act of 2000 and the White Pine County Conservation, Recreation, and Development Act of 2006. The amendment process also offered an opportunity for the BLM to align its mitigation requirements under FLPMA with those established under Nevada law.

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Publication of the final EIS and proposed amendments initiates a 30-day protest period, which will run through Jan. 8. The Nevada governor also has 60 days to review the proposed amendments for consistency with state and local laws and regulations. The process will conclude with a record of decision (ROD) following resolution of any protests received during the 30-day review period.

Approval of the final EIS proposed plan amendments would require amendments to eight current BLM resource management plans covering public lands in Nevada: Black Rock Desert-High Rock Canyon NCA, Carson City Consolidated, Shoshone-Eureka, Elko, Ely, Tonopah, Wells and Winnemucca.

Anyone who participated in the process for the Nevada and northeastern California EIS and who has an interest that is or may be adversely affected by the proposed land use plan amendments in the final EIS will have the opportunity to protest the proposed plan amendments.

The final EIS is now available online at https://goo.gl/uz89cT. Instructions for filing a protest with the director of the BLM regarding the proposed RMPA/Final EIS are found online at https://www.blm.gov/programs/planning-and-nepa/public-participation/filing-a-plan-protest. All protests must be in writing and mailed to the appropriate address or submitted electronically through the BLM ePlanning project website. To submit a protest electronically, go to the ePlanning project webpage https://goo.gl/uz89cT and follow the instructions at the top of the home page.

If submitting a protest in hard copy, it must be mailed to one of the following addresses:

U.S. Postal Service Mail: BLM Director (210), Attention: Protest Coordinator, WO-210, P.O Box 71383, Washington, D.C. 20024-1383

Overnight Delivery: BLM Director (210), Attention: Protest Coordinator, WO-210,

20 M Street SE, Room 2134LM, Washington, D.C. 20003

Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personally identifiable information in your comment, you should be aware your entire comment — including your personally identifiable information — may be made publicly available at any time.