Senate OKs sagebrush habitat bill
Mule Deer Foundation thanks Hatch, Heinrich
Sep 13, 2018 | 381 views | 0 0 comments | 28 28 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The U.S. Senate passed Sen. Orrin Hatch and Sen. Martin Heinrich’s Sage-Grouse and Mule Deer Habitat Conservation and Restoration Act by unanimous consent Sept. 6. The legislation, S. 1417, will help expedite important habitat restoration projects across the West that benefit mule deer and sage-grouse populations while also improving opportunities for hunters, the national Mule Deer Foundation stated.

MDF worked closely with the Senate co-sponsors to craft the bill and strongly supports the legislation.

“This bill will allow conservation partners to move quickly to implement habitat restoration projects across the West and yesterday’s passage in the Senate is a critical step forward,” said MDF President/CEO Miles Moretti in a Sept. 7 statement. “These types of habitat projects, which the Mule Deer Foundation and our partners have been actively engaged on, are proving to have a tremendous positive impact on mule deer, sage-grouse and other species dependent on sagebrush rangelands. This is good for wildlife conservation as well as western big game hunters.”

The act directs the Bureau of Land Management to develop a categorical exclusion, in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act, for vegetation management projects on federal public lands that protect, restore, or improve greater sage grouse or mule deer habitat. Projects must meet the objectives of Secretarial Order 3336 on rangeland fire prevention, management and restoration, and they must also conform to applicable land use plans. The goal of the legislation is to expedite projects such as conifer removal, native vegetation restoration after natural disturbance, and management of invasive species. “These types of projects have been highly effective in restoring habitat that mule deer and other wildlife species depend on,” the MDF statement said. Projects must have a 20-year monitoring and maintenance plan to ensure that the restoration work continues to be effective.

“Enactment of this bill will mean we can move more quickly after natural disasters or in other habitat restoration efforts providing even greater benefits for these important landscapes,” Moretti continued. “We now call on the U.S. House of Representatives to pass their companion legislation, H.R. 3543, and we will work with co-sponsors Congressmen Scott Tipton and Chris Stewart and members of the House, along with our Senate champions to get this legislation signed into law this Congress.”

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