BLM seeking public comment on sage grouse habitat improvement projects | CraigDailyPress.com

BLM seeking public comment on sage grouse habitat improvement projects

Craig Daily Press Staff Report

A group of sage grouse forage for food in rural Moffat County.

— The Bureau of Land Management is accepting comments from the public regarding greater sage grouse habitat improvement projects in Northwest Colorado. Comments are most helpful if received by Thursday.

Rather than doing individual analyses for each project, the BLM is developing a programmatic environmental assessment to guide a variety of projects on a variety of sites, according to a press release.

One of the greatest threats to sage grouse populations in Northwest Colorado is the gradual encroachment of pinyon and juniper trees into sagebrush habitat. As pinyon-juniper trees take over, they create cover and perches for potential predators, such as crows, ravens, hawks, eagles, coyotes and badgers. Sage grouse instinctively tend to avoid such areas.

Methods that could be employed to improve and restore sagebrush habitat include hand-thinning, mechanical treatments such as mowing or roller-chopping, prescribed fire, seeding, and erosion control, according to the release.

In addition to benefiting sage grouse and other sagebrush-dependent species, these treatments will stimulate plant growth and increase forage for a variety of wildlife including deer and elk.

The programmatic EA will analyze these techniques for projects to take place on BLM-administered lands in the Northwest District and the Grand Junction Field Office. Site-specific surveys will still be required for each project prior to implementation, as well as clearances for special-status wildlife, plants and natural resources.

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The BLM welcomes comments stating any issues or concerns the public may have. Comments as well as personal identifying information may be made publicly available at any time, and the BLM cannot guarantee it will be able to honor requests to withhold personal identifying information.

Comments may be submitted online, by email at blm_co_nwdist_public_comments@blm.gov, or by mail to:

BLM Programmatic Vegetation Treatment EA

2815 H Road,

Grand Junction, CO 81506