After seeking a week's delay, the Fish and Wildlife Service has announced that the greater sage grouse warrants protection under the Endangered Species Act, but listing is currently precluded by higher priority species. The Service is placing the greater sage grouse on the candidate list for future action. Until then, the species would not receive any protection under the ESA.
In its finding (PDF), the Service stated there are several factors contributing to the destruction or modification of the greater sage grouse's habitat, including the increasing degradation and fragmentation of sagebrush habitats due to conversion for agriculture, urbanization, infrastructure, grazing, and nonrenewable and renewable energy development. If current trends persist, many local populations may disappear in the next several decades, with the remaining fragmented population vulnerable to extinction. The Service plans "to continue to work cooperatively with private landowners to conserve the candidates species. This includes financial and technical assistance, and the ability to develop conservation agreements that provide regulatory assurances to landowners who take actions to benefit the species."
- BLM will re-route proposed transmission projects to avoid priority habitat;
- For new oil shale lease applications, BLM may impose lease stipulations and project conditions of approval that designate avoidance areas;
- New right-of-way applications for wind and solar energy development may be denied or terms and conditions may be imposed on the right-of-way grant to protect priority habitat as supported by analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act.
BLM has also issued a FAQ.
Robert Thornton specializes in advising state and regional infrastructure authorities on environmental issues regarding large infrastructure projects. He has successfully defended more than $12 billion in regional ...
Nossaman’s Endangered Species Law & Policy blog focuses on news, events, and policies affecting endangered species issues in California and throughout the United States. Topics include listing and critical habitat decisions, conservation and recovery planning, inter-agency consultation, and related developments in law, policy, and science. We also inform readers about regulatory and legislative developments, as well as key court decisions.
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