Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Moab, UT

75.1 F

    BLM says its revised sage-grouse plans put western communities first

    Featured Stories

    Arches, Canyonlands to reopen May 29

    Arches and Canyonlands national parks will partially reopen to the public at the end of the month, according to a spokesperson for the parks, following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local public health authorities.

    The party is over at Imagination Station art supply store

    Cindy Sue Hunter serves a customer at her art supply store, Imagination Station, which has been reconfigured to allow shoppers to do what Hunter calls “door shopping."

    Lionsback Resort: City of Moab seeks help from Utah Supreme Court

    The City of Moab has appealed to the Utah Supreme Court a lower court’s finding that it should...
    Doug McMurdo
    Doug McMurdo
    Editor Doug McMurdo reports on news out of the Moab City Center, tourism, courts, change of government and more.

    National Audubon Society calls the effort ‘window dressing’

    The Bureau of Land Management hopes a federal judge will lift an injunction issued last October and accept six draft environmental impact statements regarding plans regarding the greater sage-grouse habitat, which the Trump administration wants to open to widespread oil and gas leasing and other industrial uses. Photo courtesy of BLM

    The Bureau of Land Management published six draft supplemental environmental impact statements on Friday, Feb. 21, for management of Greater Sage-Grouse habitat on public lands in seven western states, highlighting the process undergone in 2019 to develop plans that reflected the needs of western communities and Greater Sage Grouse habitat, according to a statement from the BLM.

    The draft SEISs address issues identified in an order issued by the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho, last October which placed a preliminary injunction on the implementation of 2019 BLM sage-grouse plans in Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Nevada/northeastern California and Oregon.

    Specifically, the federal court ruled that the BLM must halt its plans to expand leasing, drilling, and other industrial activities across millions of acres of habitat for the Greater Sage-Grouse.

    The National Audubon Society in a report published late last week called the draft impact statements “window dressing.”

    “This attempt by the administration to get around their loss in court last year is yet another egregious example of their concerted effort to undermine needed protections for sage-grouse, not a genuine commitment to remedy the significant flaws in their last attempt, despite a court giving them clear direction,” said Nada Culver, vice president for public lands and senior policy counsel with the National Audubon Society at

    They have repeatedly ignored science, and disregarded public input and common sense in their mission to upend a historic and popular multi-state, bi-partisan plan that was achieved more than four years ago.”

    Casey Hammond, the BLM’s assistant secretary for Lands and Minerals Management sees it differently.

    “In March of last year, the Greater Sage-Grouse conservation plans were adopted with strong bipartisan support by the western states, as the plans made important modifications that matched the input provided by the states and western communities,” said Hammond in a statement the BLM sent out. “The draft SEISs illustrate the hard look and robust analysis we performed in this collaborative process to balance our habitat conservation and enhancement goals in response to recent litigation.”

    The federal court, however, determined the BLM “likely violated” the National Environmental Policy Act, in part because it failed to account for how the changes it proposed don’t mesh with accepted science.

    “The irony of this move by the BLM is that they claim to be merely attempting to comply with NEPA, while the White House is gutting it and BLM is following suit,” said Brian Rutledge, director of the Sagebrush Ecosystem Initiative in the Audubon report.

    “BLM’s latest attempt at smoke and mirrors can’t obscure their true intent. They have repeatedly shown their commitment to removing vital protections for the sage-grouse in favor of a single-use of our public lands, as part of their energy dominance agenda. The federal administration continues to look at their own short-term political gains despite what is in the best interest of western communities.”

    The BLM said the judge’s ruling has affected sage-grouse protection plans in a number of western states because of outdated plans.”

    “2019 plans were adopted after months of close coordination and cooperation with state governments in the affected states. The goal was to better align BLM plans for managing habitat with state plans for conserving the species, including state plans for compensatory mitigation, while addressing the circumstances and needs of each individual state,” said the BLM in its statement, noting several western states governors supported the revisions in 2019.

    Share this!

    - Advertisement -

    Latest News

    Gas prices creep up as holiday dawns

    The national average price of gasoline has risen 2 cents per gallon in the last week, averaging $1.86 per gallon Monday.

    Nominees sought for Theodore Roosevelt Genius Prize Advisory Council

    It will focus on endangered species protection, invasive species management, poaching and wildlife trafficking prevention, and nonlethal solutions to human-wildlife conflicts, according to a press release from the department.

    School leaders say past months have taught ‘resilience,’ the power of relationships

    The Times-Independent interviewed Grand County High School Principal Steve Hren and Grand County School District Superintendent Taryn Kay on May 11 about their experience and thoughts about the two prior months, in which local campuses closed, and students were sent home to finish off their year doing distance education amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The class of 2020 will celebrate like none before

    With physical distancing and social togetherness the name of the game amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the class of 2020 from Grand County High School will join their peers around the state, country and world to celebrate their graduation in a manner that will be altogether unprecedented and unique but will — to the degree that it is safe — bring them together to celebrate on May 28.

    Grand County High School 2020 Senior Class

    The class of 2020, including a photo of some of the soon-to-be graduates from kindergarten.