WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congressman Mark Amodei (NV-2) Thursday took issue with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) decision to reduce the size of an upcoming oil and gas lease in deference to the local sage grouse population in the Elko and Ely areas.
BLM cut the total acreage involved nearly in half from 133,000 down to 72,000. This follows a recent BLM decision to delay the China Mountain wind energy project pending revision of a sage grouse management plan.
“The sage grouse are not threatened by energy projects or mining operations, which comprise less than one percent of Nevada’s land area,” Amodei said. “Such delays needlessly halt conventional and renewable energy projects that can create jobs and power the growth of Nevada’s economy.”
The BLM announced Thursday to put off an upcoming oil and gas lease sale of Nevada parcels in sage grouse habit. Instead of offering 75 parcels, only 42 will be offered. All are in the Elko and Ely areas. Total acreage fell from 72,000 to 133,000.
The sale will be held Tuesday at the BLM office in Reno.
The 33 parcels, originally part of the offering, were been withdrawn to comply with the agency’s interim policies for sage grouse management. The bird is a candidate for listing under the Endangered Species Act.
The BLM actions in anticipation of the sage grouse’s potential designation as an endangered species ignores the true threat to its habitat, the congressman said. He called it “catastrophic to wildlife.
“By undermining multi-use energy development instead of focusing on the wildfire threat, BLM could do serious damage to economic development efforts across the Silver State,” he said.
Monday, Nevada Wildlife director Ken Mayer said he was disappointed in the decision of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife to petition for listing for greater sage grouse, which would place greater the western bird on on the list of “candidate species” across its range in the 11 western states and two provinces. It also announced that the Bi-State population of greater safe grouse meets the criteria for designation as a Distinct Population Segment, with a listing priority of number of three, which means that the species could be listed with three to five years.
Many groups have worked diligently to identify problems to find solutions to improve conditions for the bird but “it is hard to ignore the fact that 55 percent of greater sage grouse exist on federal lands,” Mayer said.
The idea to list sage grouse as an endangered species for years in order to protect the bird from further decline. Residential building and other man-made disturbance has caused the sage grouse to decline from 16 million a hundred years ago to 200,000 today.
Sage grouse are notable for their elaborate courtship rituals. Males congregate in lecks and perform a “strutting display”-type dance to attract the “chicks” each spring.