Utah Multiple-Use Coalition Promotes More Effective State Sage Grouse Conservation Plans

January 27, 2014
  • Coalition highlights problems with top-down federal approach

  • State, local conservation efforts more effective to address on-the-ground conditions

  • Calls for conservation based on objective, peer-reviewed science

(DENVER) – The Utah Public Lands Multiple Use Coalition warned of fundamental flaws in federal land-use policies aimed at protecting the Greater Sage-Grouse in Utah and parts of Wyoming. A group of 21 organizations, including Western Energy Alliance, sent a letter to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) urging them to rely on conservation plans crafted at the state level as the agencies finalize their Utah Greater Sage Grouse Land Use Plan Amendments.

The coalition urged BLM and USFS to address the current proposal’s failure to balance multiple uses on public lands with conservation, which is putting job creation and economic growth at risk. The one-size-fits-all federal approach to protecting sage grouse ignores local conditions and discourages more effective local and state conservation efforts.

The coalition also cited an over-reliance on the BLM National Technical Team (NTT) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Conservation Objective Team (COT) reports that have been documented to fail basic standards of scientific integrity and objective peer-review. The agencies are using poor quality science to justify overly broad restrictions on productive activities, even in areas without quality habitat.

The signatories represent a spectrum of organizations, including counties, farming, ranching, recreation, mining and energy.

“Millions of dollars have been invested by the state and local communities to develop and implement robust conservation plans from the bottom-up with input from diverse stakeholders,” said Lowell Braxton, Utah representative for Western Energy Alliance. “Unfortunately, this federal proposal does not balance conservation with continued economic activity in the region.  The agencies’ plan is not backed by sound science and will ultimately prevent multiple uses of the land.”

The letter sent to Utah’s BLM director Juan Palma and the USFS’s regional forester Dan Jiron is available on the Western Energy Alliance’s website along with the analysis of BLM’s NTT report and Fish and Wildlife Service’s COT Report.

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Editor’s Note:  A downloadable image of the Greater Sage-Grouse is available at http://www.westernenergyalliance.org/file/greater-sage-grouse