For immediate release
January 12, 2021
Erik Molvar, Western Watersheds Project (307) 399-7910; firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Saul, Center for Biological Diversity (303) 915-8308; email@example.com
Sarah Stellberg, Advocates for the West (208)342-7024 x 209; firstname.lastname@example.org
BOISE, Idaho – The Bureau of Land Management (“Bureau”) announced yesterday that it is standing by its 2019 Greater sage-grouse land use plans for seven western states, making no changes to the plans after reanalyzing them in six Supplemental Environmental Impact Statements (SEISs).
In 2019, a federal judge found the plans to be deficient in numerous ways and they’ve been enjoined ever since. The Bureau launched this supplemental review process in 2020 in an attempt to remedy deficiencies the court identified and lift the injunction, but yesterday’s announcement fails to acknowledge the fact that the 2015 Obama-era grouse plans remain in effect.
“Rather than actually address the problems of the flawed decisions, the Trump administration is doubling down on its 2019 plans, allowing state politics to dictate federal sage grouse conservation,” said Erik Molvar, executive director of Western Watersheds Project. “In the guise of collaborating with states, the Trump plans unjustifiably gutted sage-grouse protections, gave away public land resources to Big Oil and Big Ag, and ignored the long-term consequences. State plans advocate protection levels much too weak to sustain sage grouse populations, let alone recover them to healthy levels, which is why a federal backstop became essential to achieve sage grouse conservation in the first place.”
To lift the injunction and implement the 2019 Trump plans, the agency would have to go back to the U.S. District Court in Idaho and persuade the judge that its supplemental analyses justify the original decisions. It’s unlikely that the federal government could re-implement the Trump administration’s 2019 gutting of sage-grouse protections before Trump leaves office.
“This is a gratuitous, spiteful parting shot at the much-abused greater sage-grouse from the most anti-conservation administration in history,” said Michael Saul, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The bright side is there’s no legal effect of this new action.”
The Bureau characterized the decisions as a “determination not to amend” the 2019 amendments.