DOI Issues Guidance To Wyoming Office Regarding Sage Grouse

The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) has issued an instruction memo (IM) to the Wyoming Bureau of Land Management (WY BLM) regarding sage-grouse habitat management for proposed activities and resource management planning.

As a result, possible restrictions could be placed on the development of wind projects, and oil and gas drilling.

According to the DOI, the intent of the guidance is to provide consistency in management practices for the conservation of sage grouse and their habitats. The WY BLM will conduct an annual review of implementation measures contained in the IM and make changes if necessary.

The IM states that for ‘relatively small individual proposed actions’ that include wind project testing sites, sage-grouse habitat evaluation should extend a minimum of four miles. For larger actions that include wind projects, the distance is 11 miles.

Regional sage-grouse habitat models will be developed for nesting, early brood-rearing, and winter habitats. Draft models are expected to become available for use and testing during fiscal year 2010 and final models are predicted for completion in late 2011.

The national BLM will be finalizing the Sage-grouse Habitat Assessment Framework by this spring. When it is final, field offices will refer to it for methodologies to use when assessing or evaluating sage-grouse habitats at multiple scales.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of the Interior

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