The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has released a new report detailing what it will take to conserve the imperiled Greater Sage-Grouse. The report maps out the most important areas for the conservation of the declining species, which in 2015 may be added to the list of threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.
“This new U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report provides an important roadmap for land managers that we urge the agencies to follow. It represents a good-faith effort at using the best available science to protect the species,” said Steve Holmer, senior policy advisor for American Bird Conservancy, one of the nation’s leading bird conservation organizations. “So it is disappointing that we are seeing Bureau of Land Management resource management plans already created without the benefit of this guidance. Those plans appear to fall short of what’s needed to conserve the species.”
The new Conservation Objectives Report is intended to guide a major regional planning effort now underway to conserve the Greater Sage-Grouse. Following the completion of seven state-based Environmental Impact Statements, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S.D.A. Forest Service will then amend more than 100 individual management plans across a vast amount (57 million acres) of federal lands.
However, the BLM has already released the final Lander Resource Management plan in Wyoming as well as a draft plan for the Miles City management area in Montana. These plans will determine how sage grouse habitat will be managed and whether protected areas will be established.
“Several BLM management plans are being completed without the benefit of the new Conservation Objectives Report and need strengthening,” said Mr. Holmer. “For example, the Lander Resource Management plan did not designate any significant protected areas for the Greater Sage-Grouse. Conserving the grouse will require improving management and protecting sufficient habitat.”
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Conservation Objectives Report is available here.