New Developments in Wyoming Sage-Grouse Habitat Protections

7th of Dec 2020

The state of Wyoming recently released the framework for a system proposing that developers “offset” destroyed sage-grouse habitat if they cannot avoid disturbing the landscape. This plan effectively paves the way for the state to auction off oil and gas leases within sage-grouse habitat, so long as the developers commit to contributing to a slush fund for other Wyoming public lands.

Wyoming’s proposal comes on the heels of the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) proposal to cut sage-grouse protections on millions of acres of public lands across the West, including 17 million acres in Wyoming. This latest BLM plan would also ease restrictions on industrial development by leaving mitigation plans up to individual states, among other regulatory shifts.

In February of this year, Advocates for the West won a significant victory when the court overturned a Trump Administration policy which curtailed public participation in oil and gas leasing decisions. The court also granted our request to void lease sales covering nearly 1 million acres of public lands in Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming — roughly a quarter of all acres leased by the Trump Administration in the lower 48 — because the BLM failed to allow public participation required by law.

Advocates for the West is prepared to fight this last gasp effort by the Trump BLM to turn public lands decision-making authority over to the states ahead of the incoming Biden Administration.