A state advisory council and the BLM are seeking public input to form a sage grouse habitat conservation plan that will prevent the bird's being listed as an endangered species.
The governor-appointed Greater Sage-grouse Habitat Conservation Advisory Council will host seven public meetings to examine a draft sage grouse habitat conservation strategy.
The meeting in Glasgow is Wednesday, Nov. 20, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Cottonwood Inn. The Malta meeting is Thursday, Nov. 21, from 12 to 2 p.m. at First State Bank.
The draft strategy was developed over the past six months by the citizen-based advisory council. It details a state-led effort to address threats to the species as identified by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and to preclude the need for listing the sage-grouse as a federally threatened or endangered species.
The strategy recommends the development of a conservation fund to support land stewardship practices beneficial to sage-grouse and a set of stipulations for state agencies to adhere to when permitting development and other activities in sage-grouse habitat. The strategy also includes recommended management practices for enhancing sage-grouse habitat.
The public meetings will be aimed at discussing and examining the strategy and taking comment on the council's recommendations.
Council members and FWP will be on hand to discuss the strategy and the information displayed. Written comment can be submitted at each public meeting.
Copies of the draft strategy and comment forms will be available online at fwp.mt.gov. Click "Sage-grouse Habitat Conservation Strategy." Public comment on the draft strategy will be accepted through 5 p.m. Dec. 4.
The council will provide its final recommendations to Gov. Steve Bullock in January. For more information, call 406-444-2612, or visit the FWP website at fwp.mt.gov.
The BLM Lewistown Field Office announces the Lewistown Greater Sage-Grouse Draft Resource Management Plan (RMP) Amendment and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) can be accessed at blm.gov/f9kd.
The draft EIS considers and analyzes four alternatives that address future management of approximately 345,560 acres of BLM-administered surface and 639,927 acres of federal mineral estate in central Montana, administered by the Lewistown Field Office. This draft EIS addresses conservation measures for the greater sage-grouse within the planning area.
The public is invited to review and comment on the draft EIS. The public review period will end on Feb. 5, 2014.
In March 2010, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service determined that listing the greater sage-grouse as a threatened or endangered species was "warranted, but precluded" and determined that current and potential threats to greater sage-grouse habitat and inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms pose "a significant threat to the greater sage-grouse now and in the foreseeable future."
The Lewistown Greater Sage-Grouse Draft EIS is one of 15 separate EIS's that are being conducted as part of the BLM's National Greater Sage-Grouse Planning Effort, to provide additional measures into RMPs to maintain and increase greater sage-grouse habitat on public lands.
The key issues that threaten the greater sage-grouse in the Lewistown area are:
• Agricultural conversion.
• Drought and climate change.
• Energy and mineral development.
• Fire and fuels management.FIsh and wildlife.
• Realty and infrastructure.
• Recreation and travel management.
• Special management areas.
• Social and economic concerns.
• Vegetation management.