Moffat County Gets Good and Bad News About Sage Grouse

sage_grouse-300The Moffat County Commissioners have gotten good and bad news regarding sage grouse over the last week or so. The good news came from the State Land Board. The board has been ordered to put 10% of the three million acres it owns into a trust for further protection. There were three separate parcels in Moffat County nominated for that trust, with the intent of creating protection for Greater Sage Grouse. However, Commissioner Chuck Grobe and Natural Resources Director Jeff Comstock attended a Land Board meeting last week to explain that sage grouse don’t stick to a certain area. They explained that the bird may mate in one area, eat in another, and so on. Grobe said at yesterday’s Moffat County Commissioners meeting that he didn’t feel very optimistic that their presentation would be taken seriously, but when the vote came back, the board unanimously decided that the Moffat County parcels would be eliminated from the plan.
Meanwhile, the Bureau of Land Management has come out with their plan for keeping the Greater Sage Grouse off of the Endangered Species List, and the Moffat County Commissioners say it is clear the federal government is uninterested in the work of the cooperative state and local agencies providing input for the plan. They say no concerns of the county, or the any of the agencies for that matter, have been considered when drawing up the plan. The commissioners have written a letter to the state, declaring that the partnership was not working. The BLM’s latest plan designates certain areas of the county Priority Habitat, and other areas as General Habitat for sage grouse. The difference in what can be done with the land is identical. Both designations prevent activity such as energy exploration, home building, subdividing, and off road vehicle activity, among others. The designations cover about 75% of land in the county. With 20% of County land already designated wilderness or in monument status, that makes 95% of land in Moffat County that will be off limits to most activity. Grobe says to top it off, the Feds plan to allow the Power Line projects in the western portion of the county to continue, but will count it against the 3% disturbance cap afforded the county. The commissioners went to a meeting in Grand Junction yesterday to discuss the issue face to face with Governor Hickenlooper.  You can read the Commissioners’ letter in its entirety and view a map of the BLM’s plan, by clicking the link below.

Sage Grouse Letter

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