Commissioners to Hear Update on Sage Grouse Conservation Plans

Commissioners to Hear Update on Sage Grouse Conservation Plans

SWEETWATER COUNTY — The Sweetwater County Commissioners will hear three separate updates Tuesday from Sweetwater County Travel and Tourism, the Sweetwater County Conservation District, and the Wyoming Coalition of Local Governments.

The Sweetwater County Commission will meet Tuesday, February 15, at 8:30 a.m. at the Sweetwater County Courthouse in Green River.

Commissioner Mary Thoman will lead an update on the Wyoming Coalition of Local Governments in regards to federal land and natural resources. Her presentation will be made on behalf of the County Commissioner and Conservation Districts for Lincoln, Little Snake, Sweetwater, Uinta, and Sublette Counties.

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During her update, Thoman will be talking about the Coalition of Local Governments’ comments on the U.S. Bureau of Land Managment’s (BLM) Notice of Intent to Amend Land Use Plans Regarding the Greater Sage-Grouse Conservation and Prepare Associated Environmental Impact Statements (EIS).

According to a letter from Eric South, Chairman of the Wyoming Coalition of Local Governments, addressed to Patricia Deibert, National Sage-Grouse Coordinator for the U.S. BLM, the federal BLM is currently using the 2015 Greater Sage-Grouse Approved Resource Management Plan Amendment (ARMPA). This is due to Judge Winmill of the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho determining that the BLM in the 2019 ARMPA “failed to consider reasonable alternatives and address the cumulative impact of the state specific plans” in regards to sage-grouse conservation.

Therefore, the Coalition argues in the letter that the BLM must work in coordination with the states in the upcoming sage-grouse amendments. The letter was sent to the BLM on February 7, which was the final day for public comments.

In the letter, the Coalition has recommended that any planning process by the BLM proceed with the close cooperation and coordination of state and local governments. The letter stated:

“The states have led the way first with habitat and conservation management and second with research. In additional, any plan must address: 1) scientific controversies and revise assumptions based on science; 2) address role of precipitation and predators on sage grouse numbers; (3) revise wild horse management to protect sage grouse habitat; (4) revise livestock grazing management to reflect objective research and efficacy of rangeland health standards as opposed to new and untested criteria; and (5) limit scope of mitigation to the legal standard for mitigation rather than unlimited conservation measures.”

Commissioner Thoman will also discuss the Coalition’s comments on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule to revise the definition of “Waters of the United States.”

During the meeting, Sweetwater County Travel and Tourism will also present an annual report detailing how the 4 percent local option lodging tax was administered in 2021. Additionally, they will review the Sweetwater County Travel and Tourism master plan that was recently finalized.

The Sweetwater County Conservation District will present its 2021 annual report, and will also discuss its 2022 goals and conservation efforts.

To view the full meeting agenda, click here. To view the full meeting packet, click here.