The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has issued two instructional memorandums (IMs) that it says will help guide both immediate and longer-term conservation actions aimed at conserving the greater sage grouse and its sagebrush habitat in 10 Western states – an action that will affect land-use restrictions and the environmental impact statement (EIS) process for energy development in the region.
The Interim Management IM provides immediate direction for the management of greater-sage-grouse habitat while the agency works on updating multiple land-use plans. The measures in this IM represent a starting point that will help the agency determine whether to authorize or continue certain activities in greater-sage-grouse habitat while it works on updating multiple land-use plans, known as resource management plans (RMPs).
The Planning Direction IM establishes consistent protection measures for the species and its habitat to be incorporated into one or more alternatives for analysis in the EIS that will be used to amend the BLM's RMPs.
The guidance in these documents applies to BLM activities in California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming. Greater sage grouse currently use up to 47 million acres of land managed by the BLM.
The BLM announcement builds on a series of federal and state initiatives under way to protect the species while ensuring that energy production, recreational access and other uses of federal lands continue. These programs include Wyoming's Sage Grouse Initiative, the BLM's National Greater Sage-Grouse Planning Strategy, and the ongoing implementation of the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Comprehensive Strategy.