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PNS Daily Newscast - July 18, 2018 


Trump now says he misspoke as he stood side-by-side with Putin. Also on the Wednesday rundown: A Senate committee looks at the latest attempt to weaken the Endangered Species Act; and public input is being sought on Great Lakes restoration.

Daily Newscasts

Silt, Craig to Host BLM Open Houses on Changes to Sage Grouse Plan

Of the Bureau of Land Managementís upcoming and newly offered oil and gas leasing on public lands, 76 percent are located inside protected sage grouse habitat across Colorado, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. (BLM)
Of the Bureau of Land Managementís upcoming and newly offered oil and gas leasing on public lands, 76 percent are located inside protected sage grouse habitat across Colorado, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. (BLM)
June 26, 2018

SILT, Co. – The Bureau of Land Management holds open-house meetings in Colorado this week on its proposed changes to the Greater Sage-Grouse Management Plan. The plan was created by a host of stakeholders over several years to keep the bird off the endangered species list after its populations have declined by as much as 95 percent from historic levels.

Suzanne O'Neill, the executive director of the Colorado Wildlife Federation, thinks the agency's proposal to allow oil and gas production inside the bird's most sensitive habitat areas would be a big step backward.

"Now that BLM proposes to amend the plan, Coloradans really need to ensure that the changes do not imperil the health of the greater sage grouse, and also the many other species that depend upon healthy sagebrush habitat," she says.

New maps suggest the Trump administration is making good on its promise to prioritize fossil fuel development. Over 75 percent of the BLM's recent and upcoming oil and gas leases on public lands are located inside protected habitat across Colorado, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. The administration claims removing environmental regulations is necessary to achieve what it calls energy dominance and create jobs.

Tracy Stone-Manning, the associate vice president for public lands for the National Wildlife Federation, argues that the original plan includes meeting the needs of oil and gas companies and ranchers, while protecting mule deer, elk, and pronghorn that also depend on the sagebrush sea. She says it's important for the BLM to give the plan time to work, and to keep public lands open for multiple uses.

"There are thousands of leases that have not been drilled because the market is not demanding it," Stone-Manning notes. "There's no cause to put all of our chips on one thing called energy dominance."

Tuesday's open house kicks off at five o'clock at the BLM's Field Office in Silt. And on Wednesday, representatives will be at the Moffat County Fairgrounds in Craig, also at 5 P.M. Public comments on the proposed changes are also being accepted through August 2.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO