Changes Coming To Sage Grouse Management

The Trump administration is expected to publish a notice of intent soon that would overhaul Obama-era sage grouse protection plans. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke ordered a review of Obama’s sage grouse plans earlier this year, in an effort to see if they were limiting energy production. A sage grouse task force issued recommendations last month, which focused on giving states more flexibility. The report recommended the Interior Department work with states to determine appropriate levels for the bird populations, as opposed to focusing on maintaining a certain amount of habitat for the bird. It also recommended the Interior Department clarify the process for how states can acquire waivers and exceptions in priority habitat areas. As part of those recommendations, the department is expected to publish a formal notice of intent to amend 98 sage grouse habitat management plans across the 10 affected states. After the notice is published, there will be a 45-day comment period during which the public can propose changes to the plans. While energy producers and some local governments are in support of amending recent sage grouse protections, environmental groups criticized the news of the protection overhaul, saying Zinke is turning his back on bi-partisan efforts to protect Greater Sage Grouse habitat in the US.

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