Audubon Wyoming protests BLM mineral lease sales
Says agency violates Federal law and fails to consider impacts to sage-grouse core areas
by Audubon Wyoming media release
May 18, 2009
(Laramie, WY) - Audubon Wyoming and the National Audubon Society filed a protest today (Monday, May 18, 2009) of 29 parcels comprising 26,091 acres of public lands within identified Sage-grouse core population areas ("core areas.") The parcels are scattered on prime Sage-grouse habitat throughout the state, including areas administered by BLM offices in Buffalo, Casper, Cody, Kemmerer, Pinedale, Rawlins, Rock Springs and Worland.
"We have never heard that Sage-grouse hide their heads in the sand, but some of those responsible for their future do," states Mr. Brian A. Rutledge, Executive Director of Audubon Wyoming.
Among the concerns raised in the protest (attached) are the following:
• Violation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
• Violation of the Federal Land Policy Management Act
• Conflict with Governor Freudenthal’s Executive Order on Sage-grouse Conservation
• Violation of President Bush’s Executive Order 13443 regarding impacts to hunting
"The BLM should be taken to task for not protecting the Greater Sage-grouse, this icon of the American West," says Rutledge. "Given the scale and intensity of impacts occurring across the grouse’s range, this may be BLM’s last chance to ‘get it right.’ Getting it right to Audubon would mean not offering the contested parcels for lease, applying No Surface Occupancy (NSO) to the parcels in question, or at least leasing with stipulations that have been scientifically proven to be effective at protecting viable populations of Sage-grouse and Sage-grouse habitat."
The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the State of Wyoming have all concluded that existing stipulations used by the BLM are ineffective when it comes to protecting the Greater Sage-grouse. According to WAFWA, the standard ¼ mile NSO stipulation as applied to leases with strutting grounds is woefully inadequate, resulting in a 96% lek loss. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s stipulations recommend no more than one well pad per 640 acres and No Surface Occupancy within .6 mile of the perimeter of occupied sage grouse leks.
Says Rutledge, "BLM should take a long hard look at what it is proposing for the Sage-grouse in the State of Wyoming. If they are serious about true multiple use of our public lands, they should consider the actions and strategies as recommended by the State’s Sage-grouse Implementation Team and as outlined in Governor Freudenthal’s Executive Order. To date, their actions do not engender a great deal of confidence that they have the best interests of the bird at heart, or the interests of the people of Wyoming who use these lands for hunting, recreation and ranching."
For more information contact: Brian Rutledge, (307) 262-1061; email@example.com