For Immediate Release: November 16, 2022
Josh Osher, Western Watersheds Project, 406-830-3099, firstname.lastname@example.org
Patrick Kelly, Western Watersheds Project, 208-576-4314, email@example.com
BOISE, Ida. – The Bureau of Land Management’s newly-released Instruction Memorandum (IM) offers new support for agency planning to incorporate wildlife habitat values and habitat connectivity. By affirming the agency’s mandate to manage public lands “[I]n a manner that will… provide food and habitat for fish and wildlife…,” the new policy directs Bureau offices to incorporate areas of habitat connectivity in land use planning and resource management decisions.
“It’s absolutely imperative that land managers stop conducting planning in a vacuum and start restoring degraded migration routes and stopover habitats, as this new IM clarifies,” said Josh Osher, Western Watersheds Project. “For species like the greater sage-grouse, it’s critical that the Bureau consider dispersal, connectivity, and the influences of climate change on the population’s distribution and genetic diversity. The new policy is a step forward for wildlife on public lands .”
In addition to the direction provided by this IM, the BLM will be updating its operational manuals with explicit direction stating that the agency, “will manage existing fish and wildlife habitat with the goal of maintaining, improving, and/or conserving habitat connectivity and restoring degraded fish and wildlife habitat to provide for increased habitat connectivity.”
“We want to be sure that habitat isn’t also being fragmented by forage scarcity due to livestock overgrazing,” said Patrick Kelly, Idaho Director at Western Watersheds Project. “In addition to removing barrier fences, the agency needs to ensure continuous food and hiding cover to facilitate wildlife movement, and this new policy provides the tools needed to do so.”
“It is now up to agency managers in state and district offices to meaningfully act on this guidance and make sure that connectivity is protected and restored on Bureau lands,” said Kelly. “Pressure from livestock grazing, drought, fire, and climate change continue to put the squeeze on wildlife throughout Idaho. Now is the time for bold action, and this policy provides Bureau managers the opportunity to take it.”