BRC Action Alert - Sage Grouse Comments Due By March 23

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March 08, 2012 2:34 PM

Important issue affecting tens of millions of acres of public lands. Comments due by close of business - march 23, 2012 Dear BRC members and supporters, Last January, BRC updated you on a huge issue that will affect the management of tens of millions of acres of public lands managed by the US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management - The Endangered Sage Grouse. BRC has a dedicated webpage on the issue.  The BLM and USFS are conducting a planning process to evaluate greater sage-grouse conservation measures in land use plans in 10 Western states. The agencies will propose amendments that will affect everything from travel management to

BRC ACTION ALERT
IMMEDIATE ACTION REQUESTED

Important issue affecting tens of millions of acres of public lands.
Comments due by close of business - march 23, 2012

Dear BRC members and supporters,

Last January, BRC updated you on a huge issue that will affect the management of tens of millions of acres of public lands managed by the US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management - The Endangered Sage Grouse. BRC has a dedicated webpage on the issue. 

The BLM and USFS are conducting a planning process to evaluate greater sage-grouse conservation measures in land use plans in 10 Western states. The agencies will propose amendments that will affect everything from travel management to energy production to livestock grazing.

This BLM/USFS Sage Grouse Initiative is taking place on a battlefield in a larger war over public use of federal lands. Naturally, the radical environmentalists are hoping the issue will drastically reduce or eliminate public use and access.  Your comments are needed to help prevent responsible OHV recreation from becoming collateral damage in this fight.

Below are some comment suggestions, and instructions on how to make them. Thank you in advance for your help.

Don Amador
BRC Western Representative

PS: For further information, or to have your name added to the mailing list, contact: Johanna Munson, Rocky Mountain Region Project Manager, (307) 775-6329; mailing address 5353 Yellowstone Road, Cheyenne, WY 82009; email jmunson@blm.gov;  or Lauren Mermejo, Great Basin Region Project Manager; (775) 861-861-6400; mailing address 1340 Financial Boulevard, Reno, NV 89520; email lmermejo@blm.gov.

BLM/USFS Greater Sage Grouse Action Alert
BRC'S THREE-STEP ACTION ITEM

STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO SEND YOUR COMMENTS:

NOTE: Please be polite and, if possible, make your comment letter as personal as you can.

STEP 1: Click here, this will take you to a How To Comment webpage. Written comments may be submitted by email, Fax or snail-mail. http://www.sharetrails.org/uploads/how-to-comment.htm

STEP 2: Use the comments suggestions below as a guideline for your own comments. Cut and paste is okay, but try to make your comment letter as personal as possible.

STEP 3: Take just a minute to add a bit about where you live, how you recreate, where you go, how often you go, how long you have been recreating in the area and/or how important the area is to you.

To ensure that comments and information are fully considered during the preparation of the EISs/SEISs, the BLM must receive them by close of business on March 23, 2012. All comments and submissions will be considered in the environmental analysis process.

 SAMPLE LETTER / TALKING POINTS

Western Region Project Manager
BLM Nevada State Office
1340 Financial Blvd.
Reno, NV  89502
FAX: 775.861.6747
Email: sagewest@blm.gov
 
Eastern Region Project Manager
BLM Wyoming State Office
5353 Yellowstone
Cheyenne, WY 82009
FAX: 307.775.6042
Email: sageeast@blm.gov

Re: Sage Grouse Planning Strategy

Dear Sage Grouse Planning Strategy Team:

Please accept this letter as my scoping comments regarding the proposed 2010 Sage Grouse Planning Strategy ("2010 Conservation Measures").

According to available literature and studies there is little information related to the effects of motorized recreation on the Grouse. Based on current science it appears that motorized recreation in, any of its forms, does not have an significant impact on the Grouse.

I strongly oppose components of the 2010 Conservation Measures that lack the flexibility to adapt to local management issues. The plan amendments should avoid inflexible management standards. Rather than impose a inflexible, broad-brush management prescription for the Grouse, I suggest the BLM adopts a "landscape specific" approach to minimize the impacts on both the Grouse and the recreating public.

For example, I oppose the provision mandating that any "anthropogenic disturbances" cover less than 3% of the total sage grouse habitat. Without any flexibility, the implementation of this standard on the ground will be extremely difficult. Indeed, the agencies may be forced to restrict activities that have been found to have little to no impact on the grouse.

Regarding recreation, the plan amendments should direct local land managers to cooperate and coordinate  with local governments and affected stakeholders to establish achievable goals for protection of the Grouse (lek /nest disturbance, wintering areas and sage habitat degradation) and to mitigate potential affects upon recreation through closure of existing, inventoried and managed routes.

The amendments should recognize that local agency recreation planners and managers are the best suited to work with motorized stakeholders to establish a manageable, designated, user and nature friendly route network for motorized access.  This includes access roadways away from paved highways; high clearance routes for pickups, jeeps and other 4WD vehicles; that can be shared under mixed-use by other OHV categories such as trail bikes, ATV/UTV and/or OSV in the winter.  Just as important to the motorized community are rural 2 track routes, ATV width trails, and trail bike single-track width routes. 

Any plan amendment should include adequate site-specific analysis on anticipated impacts of motorized and non-motorized recreational activities, which often have little to no impact on wildlife. The impacts of motorized and mountain bike routes that are primarily used for recreation should not be "lumped in" with highways and other high-speed access roads.

The analysis should also disclose impacts of the hunting of the Grouse, which is still allowed in at least 8 of the 11 states where it is found. Importantly, Sage Grouse conservation efforts such as seasonal restrictions and bag limits have been quite successful in maintaining healthy populations. The same has been shown for motorized access and use. For example, Grouse leks are concise, well-established, historic areas that can last for decades.  Add to this that leks are mostly in use for strutting/mating during crepuscular hours and that motorized recreation is generally NOT undertaken during those hours...the two can be successfully separated.

The analysis should include the fact that the BLM, Forest Service, state, county, local and tribal land management agencies are moving towards a "limited to designated route" paradigm. This process should prioritize areas where such planning has not yet occurred. I strongly believe that the goals, objectives and new paradigm can be met without severely limiting or restricting responsible, managed motorized recreation uses within the planning area.

Thank you for this chance to comment, and I look forward to assisting in the NEPA planning process as it moves forward.

Sincerely yours,

 

 

 

The BlueRibbon Coalition is a national recreation group that champions responsible recreation, and encourages individual environmental stewardship. With members in all 50 states, BRC is focused on building enthusiast involvement with organizational efforts through membership, outreach, education, and collaboration among recreationists. 1-800-BlueRib - www.sharetrails.org
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