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Health, Science & Environment

BLM's Sage Grouse Plan Angers Utah's Congressional Delegation

Photo of sage grouse.
Photo by Phil Douglass, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources</i>
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The Greater Sage Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus)

A newly proposed Bureau of Land Management plan on conserving greater sage-grouse habitat is not going over very well with Utah’s congressional delegation.

Utah Congressman Rob Bishop is not at all happy with the BLM’s solution to the Sage Grouse issue.

“It’s wrong, and it’s not going to work,” he says.

The BLM’s plan is aimed at protecting Sage Grouse and their habitat across 10 western states. If given final approval, it would essentially end new development of roads or oil and gas drills on or near sage grouse habitat. The plan would also put in place practices that would fight the spread of cheatgrass and place more resources to battle wildfires in protected areas. BLM officials say the plan is the result of a collaborative effort between the federal government and the states, but Bishop disagrees.

“The state of Utah has spent a lot of time and money and has come up with a very good plan, all of which would be circumvented by what the Department of the Interior wishes to do now,” he says.

And Bishop isn’t alone in criticizing the new plan. Governor Herbert and every single member of Utah’s congressional delegation has released a statement expressing their disappointment with the BLM’s plan, specifically pointing out how they’ve undercut the work Utah’s already done.

Bishop says the next step is making sure the BLM’s plan doesn’t get implemented.

“There are ways congress can push back and we’re going to make sure that congress does try to push back on this because it’s simply the wrong approach, it’s the wrong plan, and it does nothing to help the bird.”

Research shows that the greater sage-grouse habitat has declined by more than 50%. It’s estimated that there are only between 200 and 500 thousand Sage Grouse left in the West. 

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