USDA announces changes on Forest Service land |

USDA announces changes on Forest Service land

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today announced how the U.S. Forest Service proposes to change how the agency manages greater sage grouse in Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Wyoming and Utah.

“The Forest Service continues to promote our multiple use mission while ensuring conservation of greater sage grouse habitat,” Perdue said in a news release. “We are sharing the stewardship of the lands with western state governors – their extensive participation throughout this process was the key to landscape-scale conservation that aligns our policies and practices across local, state, and federal jurisdictions.”

The Forest Service published the final environmental impact statement in the Federal Register, and the objection period will last 60 days from the date of the publication of the notice of availability.

After considering objections, the Forest Service intends to continue the planning process by issuing a final decision document regarding the revised plan amendments in the fall of 2019.

Perdue said the changes:

▪ Revise grazing guidelines “to shift from rigid, prescriptive standards to common sense, locally-driven strategies.”

▪ Align state and federal conservation standards, so ranchers and other land users have one set of standards instead of dealing with multiple, complex layers of restrictions. The new changes also align mitigation options with state-based systems so mitigation strategies on how to ensure no net-loss of habitat are locally supported, not a one-size-fits-all standard.

▪ Maintain the goal of preventing any net-loss to critical sage grouse habitat, “but no longer require the unreasonable standard that every action increase conservation.”

–The Hagstrom Report

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