Forest Service plans to roll back sage grouse protections

Updated June 23, 2018 - 8:23 pm

BOISE, Idaho — The U.S. Forest Service proposed changes Wednesday to sage grouse protections in six Western states that call for eliminating special designations for crucial habitat as well as keeping areas open for mining.

The agency also said restrictions on water development for livestock will be removed as will other requirements that could limit some livestock grazing.

The plan, detailed in documents, covers 9,500 square miles of greater sage grouse habitat in Idaho, Colorado, Nevada, Wyoming, Utah and Montana.

“The objective of what we’re doing right now is to be, on the whole, neutral to positive for the grouse,” said Forest Service spokesman John Shivik.

The Obama administration in 2015 opted not to list the chicken-sized, ground-dwelling bird as needing federal protections under the Endangered Species Act and instead imposed land-use restrictions leading to multiple lawsuits from industry and environmentalists.

In one of those lawsuits, a U.S. court agreed with mining companies that the Forest Service created some safeguards in Nevada after failing to give the public enough information to participate in a meaningful way. In response, the Forest Service said those same safeguards exist in other states, so it decided to review plans outside of Nevada as well.

Greta Anderson of Western Watersheds Project, an environmental group, blasted the Forest Service proposals.

“What it’s doing is making it easier for industry to work around the conservation measures that were intended in the 2015 plans,” she said. “The greater sage grouse continues to decline in the West. These revisions aren’t changing that trajectory.”

Population decline

Between 200,000 and 500,000 sage grouse remain in 11 Western states, down from a peak population of about 16 million. Experts generally attribute the decline to road construction, development and oil and gas leasing.

Researchers say sage grouse once occupied about 463,000 square miles, but that’s now down to about 260,000 square miles.

The males are known for performing an elaborate ritual that includes making balloon-like sounds with two air sacks on their necks.

Sage grouse didn’t receive federal protection in 2015, but officials are expected to review that decision in 2020.

A key component of the 2015 plan included establishing key sage grouse habitat called focal areas that restricted development. The move is considered part of the reason sage grouse didn’t receive federal protections.

Under the Forest Service’s latest proposal, focal areas would be eliminated.

Shivik said the elimination of the areas doesn’t mean protections for sage grouse will be removed. He said the land will still be designated priority sage grouse habitat with restrictions on surface development.

BLM reviewing plans

The Forest Service only has jurisdiction over about 8 percent of sage grouse habitat, with most of the rest on U.S. Bureau of Land Management property. The Forest Service has been working with the BLM, which also is reviewing its plans for the struggling bird following an order by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

John Freemuth, a Boise State University environmental policy professor and public lands expert, said there’s significant pessimism among conservationists on how the Trump administration ultimately handles sage grouse.

“The seeming promotion of oil and gas over every other value — there are reasons for people to be concerned about this,” he said. “But in defense of the administration, let’s just see how it all plays out.”

The revision process started in November with the Forest Service seeking public comments. Those remarks — some 55,000 — led to the current proposals, with new comments being taken through July 20. The agency will use the comments to create an Environmental Impact Statement for sage grouse habitat.

Local
Valentine's Day Brings Wet Weather To Las Vegas
Parts of the Las Vegas Valley received more than an inch of rain by 1 p.m. Thursday, triggering numerous vehicle accidents, sparking flooding and prompting at least two swift-water rescues in flood channels. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Artist sends love from the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign
Artist Chris O'Rourke has a giant heart mounted in the back of pickup positioned for photos at the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign on the Las Vegas Strip on Valentine's Day 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rain doesn't dampen weddings on Valentine's Day
Charolette Richards, owner of A Little White Wedding Chapel who has been performing weddings for 60 years, started Valentine’s Day 2019 by performing a wdding for Las Vegas couple David and Elaine Cook at the chapel’s Tunnel of Love drive-thru. Richards has over 100 weddings booked for Valentine’s Day. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Swift-water rescue in Las Vegas
The Clark County Fire Department rescued one person from the flooded Durango Wash in Las Vegas on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
It is a rainy Valentine's Day in Las Vegas - Video
These scenes come from the Las Vegas Stadium LiveCam (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rainy and soggy on Valentine's Day
Valentine's Day across the Las Vegas Valley will be soggy and wet. A flood advisory has been issued for Clark County. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Early morning rainfall in Las Vegas
The Las Vegas valley was hit with rainfall early Thursday morning. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Janelle Veith, Quest Academy principal, talks about her school success
Janelle Veith, Quest Academy principal, talks about her school success. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Learning how to create your own comic book
Jean Munson talks about the class she teaches at the Maximum Comics in Henderson on creating and publishing your own comic book.
Top Ladies of Distinction unveils second Las Vegas chapter
Officers Clair Hart and Rose Coker discuss the service organization’s work and mission.
The Animal Foundation Opens New Wing
On Tuesday, The Animal Foundation opened the doors to its new Engelstad Foundation Adoption center. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
North Las Vegas firefighter skates from ice to fire
Darcy Loewen, a former pro hockey player, finds a new career as a North Las Vegas firefighter. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Carnival AirShip floats over Las Vegas
Carnival Cruise flew a blimp over the LAs Vegas Valley on Thursday in a promotion for its new Carnival Panorama ship. (Mat luschek/Review-Journal)
Pedestrian dies after crash at Decatur and Alta
Las Vegas police investigate a fatal crash that killed a pedestrian at Decatur Boulevard and Alta Driver about 6 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. (Jessica Terrones/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Star Wars Cosplayers Visit Sick Kids At Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center
Members of Coruscant Base, a Star Wars cosplay group, visit kids at Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Hail and wet snow in Las Vegas
The western edges of Las Vegas saw some hail and wet snow on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Developer Jim Rhodes lists his mansion for $30 million
Jim Rhodes, a developer, has listed his mansion in Spanish Hills community for $30 million. The mansion is situated on 2 acres of land and features 19,345 square feet of living space. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Court ruling brings hope to local Vietnam veteran
Blue Water Navy Veteran Michael Yates talks about possible medical benefits he could receive after a federal court ruling this week. Yates claims he was exposed to Agent Orange and attributes that to his health problems, which include cancer.
Las Vegas charter school excels in areas of greatest need
Mater Academy Mountain Vista charter school students excel despite the fact that half the students are English language learners and all qualify for free or reduced-price lunches. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
37th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade in downtown Las Vegas
The 37th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade, themed "Living the Dream: One People, One Nation, One Dream," took place in downtown Las Vegas Monday, Jan. 21, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
People in Mesquite deal with a massive power outage
People in Mesquite respond to a major power outage in the area on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New MLK freeway onramps
How to navigate the trio of new freeway onramps from Martin Luther King Boulevard. (Mick Akers/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Campus Village next to UNLV gets demolished
Demolition of Campus Village shopping center, on Maryland Parkway across from UNLV, begins to make way for new development.
Extreme weather closes Scenic Loop in Red Rock Canyon
High winds and flooding closed the Scenic Loop in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation area Thursday. Minor flooding across Highway 159 caused drivers to slow, but didn't close the road. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Learning live-saving techniques in Stop the Bleed class
Leslie Shaffer, an AMR paramedic, shows how to control bleeding during a Stop the Bleed course at the Summerlin Library. The class is designed to teach anyone how to control and stop life-threatening bleeding. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Mount Charleston Gets Heavy Snow, Fog
Mount Charleston saw heavy snow today, and fog in lower elevations as a cold front swept across the Las Vegas Valley. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tourists enjoy rain in downtown Las Vegas
Tourists break out the umbrellas. But Brian Herting of Lincoln, Nebraska, dons shorts and a T-shirt, as he makes his way through downtown Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Thick fog blanketed Las Vegas Valley on Tuesday
Thick fog blanketed Las Vegas Valley on Tuesday. The National Weather Service.forecast called for a 50 percent chance of rain. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Time lapse video of fog covering the Strip
The Las Vegas Strip is shrouded in fog Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Tony Spilotro's Las Vegas home for sale — VIDEO
The former Las Vegas home of Chicago mob enforcer, Tony Spilotro, is now for sale. Spilotro, who was portrayed by Joe Pesci in the film Casino, is the original owner of the home at 4675 Balfour Drive, built in 1974. (Samia DeCubas/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Buffalo Drive And Mountains Edge Parkway Fatal
Las Vegas police and the Nevada Highway Patrol are investigating a fatal crash in the southwest valley on Saturday afternoon. (Richard Brian/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tony Sanchez wraps up the UNLV season
UNLV football coach Tony Sanchez wraps up the season. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
ad-high_impact_4
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like