BLM taking public comments on sage-grouse projects

RBC | The Bureau of Land Management is accepting comments on a plan to streamline the approval process for habitat improvement projects to benefit Greater Sage-Grouse and other wildlife in northwestern Colorado.
As BLM begins developing a programmatic environmental assessment that takes a broad look at possible projects in sagebrush and pinyon-juniper habitats on BLM-administered lands in northwest Colorado, it wants to hear any issues or concerns from the public.
Biologists have identified one of the greatest threats to Greater Sage-Grouse habitat in northwestern Colorado is pinyon and juniper trees gradually moving into sagebrush communities. This pinyon-juniper encroachment creates cover and perches for potential sage-grouse predators and eventually crowds the sagebrush out. Greater Sage-Grouse will avoid such areas.
“We are planning a number of projects to restore sagebrush habitat throughout northwestern Colorado in the coming years,” said Northwest District Manager Andrew Archuleta. “Rather than do a number of separate, redundant environmental assessments, we can do one larger programmatic assessment that will streamline the approval for most projects.”
The programmatic EA will analyze techniques to improve sagebrush habitat and battle encroaching pinyon-juniper, including hand-thinning, mechanical treatments such as mowing or roller-chopping, prescribed fire, seeding and erosion control.
These treatments will benefit sagebrush-dependent species like Greater Sage-Grouse, as well as stimulate plant growth that will increase forage for a variety of wildlife including deer and elk.
This broad evaluation will provide a comprehensive document for individual projects to reference, which will eliminate the need for a separate analysis for each project. Site-specific surveys and clearances for special status wildlife, plants and cultural resources would be required for each project plan area prior to implementing treatments.
The programmatic EA will cover the Northwest District plus the Grand Junction Field Office. 
Comments will be most helpful if received by Jan. 19, 2016. Information about how to comment and the, the proposal are available online: bit.ly/2hS1WZC.
Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other identifying information, you should be aware that your entire comment—including your personal identifying information—may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.