Sage-grouse comment period is extended

On Aug. 1 the U.S. Forest Service extended the public comment on a supplemental notice of intent in the Federal Register to prepare an environmental impact statement which would amend the Forest Service land management plans regarding greater sage-grouse. The comment period is extended by 14 days and will now end Aug. 15. The extension is in response to requests for additional time from various state agencies and partners because of an overlap of the Forest Service comment period with the comment period for the Bureau of Land Management’s draft environmental impact statements on sage-grouse management.

The Forest Service is proposing to amend, with ongoing input and collaboration from affected states, the land management plans that were amended in 2015 regarding greater sage-grouse conservation in the states of Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Wyoming and Utah. There is no proposal to alter plans in Montana.

The purpose of proposed changes is to improve the clarity, efficiency, and implementation of greater sage-grouse plans, including better alignment with BLM and state plans, in order to benefit greater sage-grouse conservation on the landscape scale, said a press release from the USFS. The agency will use lessons learned from new science, scoping and implementing during the last three years to make revised plans more efficient. Proposed actions are intended to improve sage-grouse conservation and although some management areas, such as sagebrush focal areas may change in name designation, limits to development and other protections will remain.

People who comment are encouraged to address the textual edits that are being considered. After reviewing comments to the corrected NOI, the Forest Service plans to continue the planning process for amending plans on units in Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Wyoming and Utah, with multi-regional draft and final environmental impact statements. Plan amendments should be finalized in the summer of 2019.

To read and comment on the supplemental NOI, visit:https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2018-08-01/pdf/2018-16556.pdf.