NCBA, PLC Outline Priorities for 2015 Land Use Plan Amendments to BLM
WASHINGTON (Nov. 30, 2017) – Today the Public Lands Council and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association submitted official comments to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in response to the BLM’s Notice of Intent to Amend the 2015 Land Use Plan Amendments for the Greater-Sage Grouse. The comments outline key PLC and NCBA priorities for modifications to the 2015 Plan Amendments, which include restoring the ability of states to manage their unique habitats and removing scientifically unsupported restrictions on livestock grazing.
“The 2015 Land Use Plan Amendments disregarded successful, ongoing state management and imposed one-size-fits-all standards that are proving to be as detrimental to the bird as they are to local economies,” said Ethan Lane, executive director of the Public Lands Council and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association federal lands. “We are encouraged by the possibility that this process will ensure that conservation efforts are focused on the real threats, like fire, invasive weeds, and development, instead of beneficial grazing operations. Ranchers have an important role to play as environmental stewards, and we look forward to working with the Department of Interior to address the deficiencies in the 2015 Land Use Plan Amendments.”
On October 11, 2017, the BLM published the notice to amend the 2015 Land Use Plan Amendments for the Greater Sage Grouse. The full response from PLC and NCBA can be found here. Highlights from the comments are listed below.
On the need to respect state conservation plans:
“Western States’ sage grouse management plans have been the primary driver of improvements to the species range-wide. These affected states have attempted to avoid a restrictive and economically damaging federal sage grouse management plan and address the different management concerns unique to each state.”
On arbitrary restrictions to livestock grazing:
“Top threats to the [Greater-Sage Grouse] include rangeland wildfire, invasive weeds, and development pressure, not livestock grazing. Livestock grazing is not even in the top-ten list of threats. Yet, despite this, BLM and the Forest Service have improperly implemented landscape-wide regulatory changes on the grazing livestock industry.”
On grazing and sage grouse conservation compatibility:
“[Livestock grazing] has been found to be compatible with sage-grouse conservation by reducing fuels, helping to control the spread of invasive species, providing a food source for young chicks, and maintaining rangeland health. The agencies should more explicitly recognize that livestock grazing practices complement sage-grouse conservation and have improved habitat by sustaining a diversity of plants that are important to the greater sage-grouse and by reducing the risk of wildfire that destroys the habitat.”