Sage grouse proposal not relevant to GarCo, commissioner testifies
Plans to save the habitat of greater sage grouse in western Colorado are patterned after starkly different topography in Wyoming, a Garfield County commissioner told Congress on Tuesday.
“The (Bureau of Land Management) is trying to institute a policy of one-size-fits-all,” Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said in testimony before an oversight hearing of the House Natural Resources Committee.
A bureau official said the map used by a federal team was supplied by the Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife and is based on the behavior of the birds in Colorado.
Questioned by U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton. R-Colo., Jankovsky said a report created with the bureau’s approach was built for the expansive sagebrush plains of Wyoming and not for the mesas of Garfield County.
“The BLM has failed to take into account plans produced in Garfield County as the agency has worked to tackle preservation of the greater sage grouse,” Jankovsky said. “Our primary concern is that the policies the BLM is attempting to put in place do not fit our unique topography and will fail, destroy our local economy and create the need for litigation,” Jankovsky said.
The BLM, however, has built an alternative for northwest Colorado that includes amendments to all the land-use plans for field offices in northwest Colorado, said Jim Cagney, Northwest Colorado District manager.
In drafting those plans, cooperating agencies and BLM officials consulted and came up with “what I think is a very Colorado-centric plan,” Cagney said.
The bureau will put out a draft document in August, he said.
Efforts to protect the bird should be driven by local planning, Tipton said in a statement.
“Unfortunately, many successful local efforts are all too often disrupted by heavy-handed federal attempts to implement Washington-knows-best plans that neglect local environmental and geographic factors, and create endless litigation that ties up resources that could be used for preservation,” Tipton said.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is to recommend in 2015 whether to identify the greater sage grouse as an endangered species.