Garfield County assists BLM decision on sage-grouse

Resource management plan amendments protect species, multiple use

March, 19 2019

GARFIELD COUNTY, CO –The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has released an approved record of decision (ROD) on amendments to its northwest Colorado greater sage-grouse resource management plan that reflect contributions from Garfield County.

The Garfield County Board of County Commissioners, which has served primarily in a cooperating agency role, worked with the BLM in its multiple-use mission to evaluate the policies contained in the development of its 2015 resource management plan for the protection of the sage-grouse in northwest Colorado. The goal of the plan is to provide protections that ensure the species need not be listed under the Endangered Species Act by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

Garfield County worked closely with the BLM, as well as the office of former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, including Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), to preserve, protect and enhance habitat for the greater sage-grouse in northwest Colorado. Specifically, staff has partnered with the BLM to develop rules and policies that are “fit-for-purpose” in the county’s highly unique and variable landscape, rather than adopt a “one-size-fits-all” regulatory approach.

“We believe our contributions to the BLM’s effort will enhance the conservation of habitat for the betterment of the species, not only in Garfield County, but throughout the six populations found in northwest Colorado,” said Garfield County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky, who has long spearheaded the county’s efforts on the sage grouse plan.

In addition to improved land management policies, Garfield County, as a member of the Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado, led the way to partner with CPW to refine the habitat maps that improve conservation for the species, while maintaining the BLM’s multiple-use mission.

“It is precisely this type of coordination that was envisioned in a multitude of federal land management documents, such as the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA), which promote multiple use and conservation, as well as mandates working closely with local governments,” Jankovsky said. “We appreciate the leadership shown by the Department of Interior, BLM and Governor Hickenlooper’s office to include Garfield County in these plan amendments.”

Coordination on federal land management policies is critical to Garfield County, of which two-thirds of its lands are owned by the federal government.

Since 2012, Garfield County has worked through countless hours of meetings; read through and written voluminous responses; testified before Congress; and completed high-level scientific analyses to improve and protect habitat in Garfield County for the conservation and persistence of the greater sage-grouse. The ROD reflects the coordination and hard work that went into the creation of a refined and reasoned approach to species conservation in Garfield County’s unique landscape.

Board of County Commissioners