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Saving the Sagebrush Sea: An Imperiled Western Legacy

Nearly 350 plant and animal species depend on sagebrush habitat for their survival.
 


 

Western Public Lands

Bureau of Land Management

NWF, Affiliates: Sage-Grouse Order Could Jeopardize Conservation Plans

Date: 
Wed, 06/07/2017

A secretarial order on greater sage-grouse conservation plans could derail years of work. Image: FWS/Tom Koerner

By Judith Kohler

WASHINGTON  – The order by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review and perhaps significantly alter the greater sage-grouse conservation plans runs the risk of derailing a years-long effort to save the bird and a landscape that supports 350 other species, the National Wildlife Federation said.

The 60-day review by an Interior Department team could upend plans that are based on science, conditions in individual Western states, and the overall threats to sage grouse, including the loss and degradation of its habitat, while allowing for responsible energy development.

“The Secretarial Order to review and perhaps alter the collaborative conservation plans could unnecessarily derail this multi-state effort and jeopardize not only an iconic species, but the sagebrush steppe that supports more than 350 wildlife species, including mule deer and pronghorn, provides countless opportunities for hunters, anglers, and outdoor enthusiasts, and supports more than $1 billion in annual economic benefits for local communities," said Collin O’Mara, the National Wildlife Federation’s president and CEO. 

Sportsmen: BLM Right on Track with Plan for CO's South Park

Date: 
Thu, 03/09/2017

Sportsmen have joined a diverse group of stakeholders to comment on a new management plan for Colorado's South Park. Image: Bill Dvorak

By Judith Kohler

DENVER  – Colorado sportsmen say the release of preliminary management proposals for public lands in South Park and surrounding areas shows that the Bureau of Land Management intends to keep the public informed and involved in decisions affecting one of the region’s premier hunting, fishing and recreation spots.

The BLM’s Royal Gorge Field Office on Wednesday released preliminary management scenarios that include a proposed master leasing plan for oil and gas development in South Park. A master leasing plan, or MLP, is a planning tool available to BLM intended to better balance uses of public lands. Park County and local elected officials as well as landowners and sportsmen and women asked the BLM to write an MLP for South Park because of its important fish, wildlife and water resources.

"The Bureau of Land Management is on the right track in South Park. Park County, along with numerous other cooperating agencies, have worked effectively with BLM on the draft alternatives for the plan and we, too, will continue working with the county, diverse stakeholders and BLM to gain a balanced future for these public lands."  ~ Suzanne O’Neill, executive director of the Colorado Wildlife Federation

Win for Wildlife: Master leasing plan proposed in southwest Colorado

Date: 
Thu, 10/06/2016

Colorado BLM has proposed a master leasing plan for parts of southwest Colorado. Image: Flickr-PDK Outdoor

DOLORES, Colo. -- After hearing from hunters, anglers, area residents and outdoor enthusiasts, the Colorado Bureau of Land Management has decided to pursue development of a master leasing plan for new oil and gas development on public lands in southwest Colorado.

The master leasing plan, or MLP, has been proposed in Montezuma and La Plata counties and includes the gateway area to Mesa Verde National Park and archeological sites.

“The Tres Rios area has valuable wildlife habitat that includes important migratory routes, winter range as well as calving and lambing areas. It deserves the additional management protections for these areas that an MLP can provide,” said Bill Dvorak, the National Wildlife Federation’s public lands organizer in Colorado.

 

Interior launches needed review of federal coal program

Date: 
Mon, 05/30/2016

The Black Thunder coal mine in Wyoming's Powder River Basin. Image: EcoFlight

CASPER, Wyo. -- The National Wildlife Federation and its state affiliates have joined other sportsmen's and conservation organizations in urging the Interior Department to modernize its federal coal program for the good of wildlife, conservation and the public.

Federal officials are reviewing the program to ensure a fair return to U.S. taxpayers, require that mined land is reclaimed before more public land is leased, improve reclamation standards and provide funding to restore wildlife habitat.

The Bureau of Land Management held public meetings across the country as part of the assessment of the federal coal program in what would be the first update of regulations in more than 30 years.

“As more coal companies declare bankruptcy and struggle to cover costs, American taxpayers face the risk of getting stuck with the bill to reclaim the growing backlog of disturbed land, much of it in the heart of important wildlife habitat. Now more than ever, it is time for coal leasing reform on our public lands: our fish and wildlife depend on it; our workers depend on it; and our way of life depends on it." ~ Brenda Lindlief Hall, NWF coal program coordinator.

 

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