The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management released six new instructional guidelines this week that tell the BLM state and field offices how to implement significant changes to and essentially override guidance for implementing the sage-grouse conservation plans that were issued a year ago by the Obama Administration.
The plans are the largest collaborative conservation effort in U.S. history, created over a six-year timeframe with the input and cooperation of multiple federal agencies, state and federal legislators from both sides of the aisle, conservationists, ranchers, recreationists, scientists and the energy industry. And yet, the current administration has in a matter of six months rushed to dismantle the plans, leaving the stakeholders and the American public in the dark as much as the administration can possibly maneuver.
In response, The Wilderness Society issued the following statement from Senior Director of Agency Policy and Planning, Nada Culver:
“BLM’s new guidance essentially turns the intent of these plans upside down, removing direction that would protect habitat and instead emphasizing how to permit leasing and development, regardless of the importance of the habitat at risk.
“And issuing guidance that will be in effect for three years while ostensibly seeking input on whether and how to revise the governing plans and policies reinforces the message that the concerns of the public, scientists and other stakeholders with weakening these plans will be disregarded.”