Wyden, Merkley Urge Extension of Greater Sage-Grouse Comment Period

Washington, D.C. – Oregon Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today urged  Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to extend the comment period by 45 days for changes to the Greater Sage-grouse conservation plans.

The letter from Wyden and Merkley as well as five other Western senators responds to the Trump administration publishing a Notice of Intent earlier this month to amend Greater Sage-grouse conservation plans with only a 45-day comment period closing on November 27, 2017.

The existing conservation plans were developed over many years through a robust process with public comments and meetings, and the seven senators urged an extension of the Nov. 27 deadline by 45 days. 

Given the importance and complexity of the proposed rule, and the intersection with BLM’s resource management plans, it is essential that all stakeholders have sufficient opportunity to prepare and provide feedback,” the senators wrote

In the letter, the senators noted that any change to the land use plans will affect stakeholders across 11 Western states. They emphasized that in addition to keeping the Greater Sage-grouse off of the Endangered Species list, the original plans protected habitat for other species and provided certainty for landowners and producers.

Westerners spent years working on state and federal plans to improve the management of public lands, to address the threat of wildland fire to sagebrush habitat, and to provide incentives for landowner and livestock producers to conserve sage grouse habitat,” the senators wrote. “Western governors continue to stress that a complete overhaul of the sage grouse conservation plans are not needed and have requested to be involved in any proposed changes.”

Also signing the letter were Senators Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Patty Murray, D-Wash., Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and Catherine Cortez-Masto, D-Nev.

A copy of the letter is available here.