Statement on Bureau of Land Management’s new sage-grouse plan

Mar 14, 2024

DENVER—The Bureau of Land Management today released its draft Sage-grouse Resource Management Plan, nearing completion of a nearly decade-long process that started with the Obama administration’s 2015 sage-grouse plan, which was gutted by the Trump administration. The Trump administration’s attempts to remove protections for the imperiled bird were rejected by the courts in a legal battle that continued into 2023. Today’s announcement aims to provide certainty and stability for land managers, states, and industry, while stopping the long-term decline in sage-grouse populations across the West.

The Center for Western Priorities released the following statement from Deputy Director Aaron Weiss:

“This plan represents the last best hope to save the sage-grouse and avoid a listing under the Endangered Species Act. It’s unfortunate that the 2015 grouse plan never had a chance to get off the ground. This new plan represents the best of that original plan, enhanced by another nine years of science, with more flexibility for governors and local stakeholders.

“The sage-grouse is not just an iconic bird across the West—it’s a barometer for the health of the entire sagebrush sea. Saving this ecosystem will take hard work by federal, state, and local governments, working alongside private landowners and conservation groups. This plan provides the blueprint for success.”

With tomorrow’s publication of the draft environmental impact statement, BLM will begin a public comment process on the sage-grouse plan, which will close on June 13th.

Since 1965, sage-grouse populations have declined by over 80 percent across the West, reflecting the stresses of habitat loss and oil and gas development. Sage-grouse habitat is now half of its original size. After the back-and-forth of the Trump administration, the Biden administration started work on a new sage-grouse plan in 2021, integrating the best practices and latest scientific research into how land managers can help the sage-grouse thrive and restore degraded landscapes.

Featured image: Greater sage-grouse, Tom Koerner, USFWS