Congressman Paul Gosar
          
 

For Immediate Release

Date: November 27, 2018

Contact: Emilio Navarrete

Emilio.Navarrete@mail.house.gov



 Western Caucus Applauds Efforts to Unwind Obama Admin's Sage Grouse Land Grab

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, members of the Congressional Western Caucus released statements after the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released an Environmental Impact Statement and related plan amendments that incorporate greater state and local input related to sage grouse conservation efforts:

Chairman Paul Gosar (AZ-04): "Environmental stewardship is not stewardship without the input of state and local communities. The BLM’s Environmental Impact Statement and related plan amendments recently released are another step towards unwinding one of the largest land grabs in our nation’s history. President Reagan once said that, 'The federal government did not create the states; the states created the federal government.' Sadly, this fundamental principle was ignored by the previous Administration in relation to the Greater Sage Grouse - to the detriment of landowners, states, local communities, species and even the federal government. As a result of the strong leadership of President Trump and Secretary Zinke, we are more closely aligning with the vision of our Founding Fathers and preventing further encroachment on private lands by the federal government. Hopefully, the Forest Service will catch up and follow DOI and BLM’s efforts."

Chairman Rob Bishop (UT-01): "The Environmental Impact Statement signals a positive step promoting locally developed state recovery plans for the Sage Grouse. This is a stark transition from the heavy-handed ‘one size fits all’ federal approach of the Obama administration. While much remains to be done, state and local authorities recognize their voices are being heard by the Trump administration. We are one step closer to making federal micromanagement and fears of frivolous litigation by the environmental activist industry a thing of the past."

Chief Rules Officer Dan Newhouse (WA-04): "States and local communities are best equipped to effectively steward the greater sage grouse. I support the Bureau of Land Management’s proposal to increase flexibility when working with various states and stakeholders to manage habitat in a way that balances development and conservation."

Rep. Doug LaMalfa (CA-01): "The population of the Greater Sage-Grouse has been in good shape for years, and at this point does not warrant listing under the Endangered Species Act. These amendments build on successful population rehabilitation efforts while simultaneously streamlining federal and state mitigation requirements and increasing coordination between state wildlife agencies, the Fish and Wildlife Service, and private landowners. I appreciate Secretary Zinke’s commitment to giving states a greater role in maximizing our land use in Northern California while also continuing to preserve the Sage-Grouse habitat."

 
Rep. Paul Cook (CA-08): "This proposal returns power to manage sage grouse to state and local governments where it belongs. Local land management decisions are best made by local leaders, not by Washington bureaucrats."

Background:

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found in 2015 that a listing of the Sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) was not warranted.

However, the Obama Administration implemented a de facto listing through overly restrictive Resource Management Plan (RMPs) Amendments and Land and Resource Management Plan (LRMPs) Amendments in order to limit grazing, prevent responsible energy production and discourage other activities. These new regulatory burdens imposed by the previous Administration are significant as the bird’s habitat covers roughly 165 million acres in 11 Western states. 

Courtesy of the Bureau of Land Management
In keeping with Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s commitment to work closely with states to enhance conservation, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced the availability of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and proposed plan amendments addressing Greater Sage-Grouse conservation on public lands throughout the western United States. 

The proposed plan amendments aim to better align BLM resource management plans with state plans for conserving sage-grouse populations, strike a regulatory balance and build greater trust among neighboring interests in Western communities.  The proposed amendments and final EIS also addresses the issues remanded to the agency by a March 31, 2017, order by the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada, which determined that the BLM had violated the National Environmental Policy Act when it finalized the 2015 Nevada plan. 

The proposed changes refine the previous management plans adopted in 2015.  Under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA), the BLM is required by law to work cooperatively with states on land-use plans and amendments.
 

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