Forest Service on the bandwagon to unprotect sage grouse

Time is running out to comment on the notice that initiated “the scoping process to solicit public comments on greater sage-grouse land management issues that could warrant land management plan amendments” on 15 national forests and grasslands.  (Comments are due Friday.)  The majority of sage grouse habitat is found on BLM lands (I think the Forest Service has 8%) and the Forest Service is following behind the Department of Interior’s lead to “consider” rolling back restrictions, especially those that interfere with oil and gas drilling.  Those restrictions were added to Forest Service and BLM plans in amendments that were adopted in 2015 pursuant to the 1982 planning regulations for species viability, and have been credited with avoiding the need to list sage grouse as threatened or endangered.  The Forest Service concedes that amendments it would propose would be likely to be “directly related” to, and therefore subject to, the new diversity and viability requirements of the 2012 Planning Rule.  More background from the Forest Service here.

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