October 27, 2017

Cortez Masto, Western Senators Urge Extension of Greater Sage-grouse Comment Period

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) joined Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and five other Western senators in sending a letter to Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke urging him to extend the comment period for changes to the Greater Sage-grouse conservation plans. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) also signed the letter. 

Earlier this month, the Trump administration published a Notice of Intent to amend Greater Sage-grouse conservation plans with a 45-day comment period closing on November 27, 2017. The existing conservation plans were developed over many years through a robust process with public comments and meetings. The senators wrote a letter to Secretary Zinke requesting he extend the comment period by at least 45 days. 

“Given the importance and complexity of the proposed rule, and the intersection with BLM’s resource management plans, it is essential that all stakeholders have sufficient opportunity to prepare and provide feedback,” the senators wrote.  

In the letter, the senators noted that any change to the land use plans will affect stakeholders across 11 Western states. They emphasized that in addition to keeping the Greater Sage-grouse off of the Endangered Species list, the original plans protected habitat for other species and provided certainty for landowners and producers.

“Westerners spent years working on state and federal plans to improve the management of public lands, to address the threat of wildland fire to sagebrush habitat, and to provide incentives for landowner and livestock producers to conserve sage grouse habitat,” the senators wrote. “Western governors continue to stress that a complete overhaul of the sage grouse conservation plans are not needed and have requested to be involved in any proposed changes.” 

A copy of the letter is available HERE