Environment: Wyoming version of new sage-grouse conservation plan seen as ‘weak link’

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Lack of science-based measures will put more pressure on birds

Staff Report

FRISCO — Conservation advocates say the Wyoming version of a new regional sage-grouse conservation plan fails to meet basic science standards and will open the door to more harmful mining, grazing and fracking.

Wyoming’s version is in stark contrast to the plans for Colorado and Nevada, for example, which require that federal agencies shift industrial use outside of priority habitats for sage grouse. Continue reading

Public lands: Feds release sage grouse plans

Last, best hope for endangered birds?

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Staff Report

FRISCO — If plans, press releases and political mud-slinging could help greater sage-grouse, the majestic western bird would be well on the way to recovery. But the only thing that will really help the imperiled species is on-the-ground action — protecting and restoring the habitat the birds need to survive.

A series of proposed land-use plans released by the federal government this week aims to do just that, by minimizing and avoiding new disturbance to habitat, restoring habitat when possible and reducing threats like wildfires and invasive species. Here’s a fact sheet. Continue reading

Sen. Bennet leads charge for sage-grouse conservation funding

The health of sage grouse populations is directly linked to that of the sagebrush landscape. More than 350 species rely on the sagebrush ecosystem including elk, mule deer and pronghorn’

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Can greater sage-grouse get some love from Congress?

Staff Report

FRISCO — In a bid to avoid an endangered species listing for greater sage-grouse, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennett led a group of fellow Democrats urging the Senate Appropriations Committee to fully fund an array of conservation measures by multiple federal land management agencies. Continue reading

Colorado steps up sage grouse conservation

Habitat exchange scheme eyed as key component in efforts to protect dwindling western birds

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Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is ordering state agencies to boost greater sage-grouse conservation efforts. Photo courtesy USFWS.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is calling for an all-out state effort to protect greater sage-grouse by stepping up coordination among state agencies, improving habitat on state-controlled lands, and boosting the role of the state’s oil and gas commission.

The new conservation push, announced in a May 15 executive order, also outlines a market-based habitat exchange program that would let ranchers and other landowners buy and sell conservation credits to developers, including the oil and gas industry with the goal of mitigating “residual impacts” to sage-grouse habitat. Continue reading

Environment: Feds tackle sage-steppe restoration

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The BLM is eying sagebrush restoration work.

Great Basin projects to bolster sage-grouse habitat

Staff Report

FRISCO — Federal land managers want to stem the loss of sagebrush habitat with a $4 million series of projects across the Great Basin.

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said the Bureau of Land Management projects will  reduce the threat of  more frequent and intense wildfires that are damaging sagebrush landscapes and productive rangelands. Continue reading

Conservation groups outlines flaws in new oil and gas drilling plan for Colorado’s Piceance Basin

Formal protest says BLM violated planning regulations

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Thousands of new fossil fuel wells could take a toll on wildlife in northwest Colorado.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Conservation and wildlife advocacy groups are protesting a new federal plan that covers oil and gas drilling and fracking in the northwestern Corner of Colorado.

The recently published resource management plan amendment for Bureau of Land Management’s White River Field Office failed to meet legal requirements because it didn’t consider special areas of environmental concern, the groups wrote in their formal April 27 protest letter. Continue reading

Greater sage-grouse the latest target in GOP’s war on the environment

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Greater sage-grouse face new political threat. Photo via USGS.

Senate measure would let miners, ranchers and drillers devastate sagebrush ecosystems

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — The battle lines over the fate of greater sage-grouse are being clearly drawn in the U.S. Senate this week, where freshman Republican Senator Cory Gardner is proudly touting the support of extractive industries for his misnamed Sage Grouse Protection and Conservation Act (S 1036).

Gardner’s measure is the latest in a series of political maneuverings to subvert and circumvent the Endangered Species Act. In the past few years, lawmakers have flouted science to try and remove protection for other species, including northern gray wolves. Continue reading

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