BLM hosting open houses about sage grouse habitat

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The Bureau of Land Management has announced it will be holding eight public open houses throughout the West in February to gather input on the agency’s proposal to withdraw a subset of lands that are sage-grouse strongholds from future mining claims. This is the next step in a process that started in September 2015 with successful efforts of the BLM and its state and federal partners to prevent the Greater Sage-Grouse from being listed under the Endangered Species Act.

The meeting in Idaho will be February 24, 5-7 p.m., at Best Western Vista Inn, 2645 W. Airport Way, Boise.

The draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) analyzes five alternatives, ranging from no action to the withdrawal of approximately 10 million acres of federal locatable minerals in certain areas that are particularly crucial to the Greater Sage-Grouse in six states: Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming.

Neither the segregation, nor any subsequent withdrawal, would prohibit ongoing or future mining exploration or extraction operations on valid pre-existing claims.

To develop the proposal and its alternatives, BLM held public meetings in November 2015 in the six states to gather information and comments on whether to withdraw these areas from the location of new mining claims for up to 20 years. The BLM also incorporated a mineral resource assessment prepared by the U.S. Geological Survey to help develop a reasonably foreseeable development scenario for the draft EIS.

The proposal was published in the Federal Register on December 30, 2016, and carries a 90-day public comment period that will end March 30, 2017.

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