Feds’ land intentions worry Tipton

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell’s proposal for a “landscape-scale mitigation” approach to environmental issues on federal land in the West has yet to take shape, and that could undermine its merits, U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., said Thursday.

Tipton, in a meeting with municipal and county leaders from northwest Colorado, asked whether they had been consulted by Interior Department officials about the management of the public lands that surround them.

No hands went up among the 20 or more members of the Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado meeting in the Mesa County Workforce Center.

His office also wasn’t consulted on Jewell’s plan to visit Moffat County in February to learn about federal, state, local and private efforts to conserve the greater sage-grouse.

“We only found out about it three days in advance,” Tipton said of Jewell’s visit to his congressional district.

The Interior Department has yet to elaborate on what Jewell wants to see with her proposal for “landscape-scale mitigation,” Tipton said later in an interview.

His preference is that federal officials “focus on what works and where it works,” Tipton said.

The lack of detail about the plan is troubling, Tipton said.

“Ambiguity raises a heck of a lot of anxiety,” he said.

The greater sage-grouse is mentioned in Jewell’s plan and a Bureau of Land Management spokesman said the plan would institutionalize programs such as the one Jewell viewed.

The bureau is studying management plans for lands in 11 Western states in the hopes of making changes that would forestall listing of the bird by the Fish and Wildlife Service under the Endangered Species Act.

The BLM and Fish and Wildlife Service both are agencies within the Department of Interior.


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