Endangered Species Watch | Oct 25, 2019
Photo Credit: McEwan
Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon has expressed his disappointment with the ruling by an Idaho judge last week to halt a new Bureau of Land Management (BLM) sage grouse plan. The injunction temporarily blocks BLM from implementing its 2019 conservation plans for the greater sage grouse in key western states.
“I am disappointed in Judge Winmill’s decision,” Gordon said. “Wyoming and the Sage Grouse Implementation Team have worked diligently for more than a decade to develop a balanced approach to sage grouse management. We worked with numerous stakeholders to produce a plan that provides that balance and offers protection of the bird while maintaining responsible development.”
In his decision, Clinton-appointee Judge B. Lynn Winmill sided with activist groups who challenged the Trump administration’s revisions. Judge Winmill said that the amended plans resulted in “substantial reductions” in greater sage grouse protections. The judge also agreed with activist claims that the agency’s environmental impact analyses did not comply with the National Environmental Policy Act requirements to consider reasonable alternatives or analyze cumulative impacts.
However, Gov. Gordon disagreed with Judge Winmill’s assessment that the amendment did much to change protections for the species.
“The 2019 Plan Amendment did not substantively change greater sage grouse protections; it better aligned the BLM with what Wyoming has had in place,” Gordon said. “Lawsuits like this only prevent Wyoming from continuing the collaborative work that we have already been doing. They do not afford the bird any more benefits and only act as a roadblock. Wyoming’s Core Area Protection Strategy continues to stay its course.”
With this judge’s decision, the 2015 Sage Grouse Management Plan goes back into effect, affecting lands in Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Oregon, and part of California. The injunction will remain in place until a court decides the plaintiffs challenge of the 2019 amendments based on its merits.