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Forest Service & BLM Release Revised DEIS for the Bi-State Sage-Grouse

July 3, 2014

SPARKS, NevadaHumboldt-Toiyabe National Forest Supervisor, Bill Dunkelberger, today released the Revised Draft Environmental Impact Statement (Revised DEIS) for the Greater Sage-grouse Bi-State Distinct Population Segment (Bi-state sage-grouse) Forest Plan Amendment.  This Bi-state sage-grouse population occurs in portions of Lyon, Mineral, Esmeralda, and Douglas counties in Nevada, and in portions of Alpine, Inyo, and Mono counties in California.

The Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest proposes to amend the Toiyabe National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) proposes to amend the Carson City District and Tonopah Field Office Resource Management Plans to conserve, enhance, and/or restore habitats to provide for the long-term viability of the Bi-state sage-grouse.

The management plan amendments will specifically enhance management direction for the Bi-state sage-grouse habitat. The amendments would add additional goals, objectives, standards, and guidelines to the existing management plans to address the key threats identified by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) in its October 28, 2013, proposal to list the Bi-state sage-grouse as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

“The need for the USFS and BLM plan amendments stems from the publication of a ‘warranted, but precluded’ Endangered Species Act listing petition decision for the Bi-state Distinct Population Segment of the Greater sage-grouse in March of 2010 by the USFWS,” explained Dunkelberger.  In the USFWS finding, a lack of specific mechanisms was identified as one of the threats to the Bi-state sage-grouse.

The Revised DEIS was developed to address public comments received on the August 2013 DEIS and to incorporate emerging science that will help guide restoration and habitat improvement projects. “This additional time allows us to better address some of the comments we received from the public regarding our original DEIS in 2013,” said Dunkelberger.  “We were also able to add an alternative to the Proposed Action, which includes more conservation-oriented standards and guidelines,” he added.

The Forest Service and BLM decided to prepare a Revised DEIS in April of 2014, after the USFWS announced the extension of the comment period for the proposed rule and has now delayed the listing decision to April of 2015.

The Revised DEIS displays the effects of the Proposed Action, an alternative to the Proposed Action, and the No Action alternative. It also identifies the preferred alternative. 

The Revised DEIS will be available for public review and comment for 90 days following publication of the Notice of Availability in the Federal Register.  

The agencies are encouraging interested parties to review the Revised DEIS and provide input. After the 90-day comment period, the agencies will consider the comments provided, update the analysis, and issue a Final EIS.  Based on the analysis in the Final EIS, the BLM and the Forest Service will issue separate Records of Decisions amending their respective management plans.

The Revised DEIS is available at http://www.fs.fed.us/nepa/fs-usda-pop.php/?project=40683, or a hard copy may be requested from the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest by contacting Susan Joyce at 775-355-5313.