BLM Announces Strategy to Conserve Greater Sage-Grouse | Environment
A new range-wide conservation strategy is being developed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for the Greater Sage-Grouse that is native to land through out Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Canada, Washington and more. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's profile of the bird shows that the historic Greater Sage-Grouse range spread through out the southeast portion of Washington State. Now it's current range is limited to two small portions of central Washington. They only occupy 56% of their historical range. BLM has recognized that their current management is failing to conserve the Greater Sage-Ground on public land and that their plan is long overdue.
The new BLM strategy emphasizes a cooperative approach and provides a framework to advance efforts to implement timely conservation measures for sage-grouse and its habitat. Their goal is to provide long-term sage-grouse conservation, habitat protection and species improvement that would make adding the species to the Endangered Species Act unnecessary in the upcoming years.
“The greater sage-grouse and its habitat transcend traditional jurisdictional boundaries,” BLM Director Robert Abbey said. “This strategy reflects our commitment to working with all of our partners to improve sage-grouse habitat and increase sage-grouse numbers range-wide.”
Requests by conservation organizations, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and state directors for fish and wildlife agencies have urged BLM to develop a new and improved system to conserve and restore sage-grouse and sagebrush habitat. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found BLM's current resource management plans lacking when the Greater Sage-Grouse was declared a candidate species for the Endangered Species Act listing in March 2010. Conservation organizations say that BLM's new plan must involve all relevant federal agencies and cover all federal public lands, not just BLM land. The Greater Sage-Grouse was not added to the list then due to higher-priority species.
“BLM must involve other agencies in its planning process, and it cannot ignore science indicating that oil and gas drilling, wind energy development, grazing, roads, and utility corridors are hazardous to sage-grouse,” said Steve Holmer, Senior Policy Adviser for American Bird Conservancy. “Other bird species of conservation concern such as Sage Thrasher, and Brewer’s and Sage Sparrows should also be considered.”
Greater Sage-Grouse were first described by Lewis and Clark in 1805. 19th century travelers and settlers reported huge flocks of sage-grouse that darkened the sky as they lifted from valley floors. The bird's population has declined since the 1900s by almost half.