BLM Finalizes Lander Resource Management Plan
The United States Bureau of Land Management issued this press release today…
Cheyenne, Wyo. – Director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Neil Kornze and Wyoming Governor Matt Mead today announced the final approval of a comprehensive management plan for public lands in central Wyoming. The Lander Resource Management Plan updates a nearly 30-year old document based on best available science, landscape-level planning and public comment.
It is the first of the BLM’s resource management plans to address management of important greater sage-grouse habitat. In addition, the Lander plan protects congressionally designated scenic and historic trails, and establishes BLM’s first master leasing plan to balance development of energy resources while protecting biologically important lands and natural areas.
“When you take a place as rich with history, culture, beauty and natural resources as the Lander region, it’s absolutely critical that we manage these public lands in a way that makes sense for Wyoming now and far into the future,” said BLM Director Neil Kornze. “We appreciate the close cooperation of the State of Wyoming and other partners in developing this balanced plan that provides opportunities for energy and minerals development, as well as protection for wildlife, cultural properties, and special areas.”
The approved plan, last revised in 1987, provides direction for managing about 2.4 million acres of BLM-administered surface land and 2.8 million acres of BLM-administered sub-surface mineral estate, primarily in Fremont County, Wyoming.
“This is a reasoned plan that recognizes multiple-use for these public lands. The plan strikes a balance between energy production, livestock grazing, recreation and conservation. It incorporates Wyoming’s plan for protecting greater sage-grouse,” said Wyoming Governor Matt Mead. “The BLM has worked closely with Wyoming for the best use of public land. The Lander RMP represents another step forward in a productive relationship between the BLM, the state and the public interest.”
The region provides important habitat for wildlife, including the greater sage-grouse. Ninety-nine percent of the Lander area is habitat for the iconic species and 70 percent of the planning area is identified as priority habitat warranting special protection.
As part of the joint effort by the federal government and western states to develop and implement a landscape-level conservation plan for the greater sage-grouse, the Lander plan proactively adopts policies and measures that are designed to minimize disturbance in key habitat. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has until the fall of 2015 to determine whether to propose the greater sage-grouse for protection under the Endangered Species Act.
“This region is home to pronghorn antelope, mule deer, sage grouse and other wildlife that are central to the Wyoming economy and way of life, so preserving the integrity of key wildlife habitat has to be a part of the big picture,” said BLM Wyoming State Director Don Simpson. “We applaud the State of Wyoming for a taking an early leadership role to not only identify and protect important habitat, but also to implement a strong border-to-border regulatory program that is a critical tool when it comes to conserving the greater sage-grouse and other iconic species.”
The Lander plan also includes the BLM’s first-ever master leasing plan, designed to promote smart planning up front with the help of a wide range of stakeholders. The Beaver Rim MLP balances development of oil and gas minerals with protection for important natural and cultural resources, such as habitat for elk and mule deer and important archeological sites.
As part of the resource management plan’s landscape-level approach, three resource-rich areas are designated for intensive mineral development, including the Gas Hills Uranium District where the BLM recently approved a plan of operations for a new uranium mine. The other two areas, Beaver Creek and Lysite, contain moderate to high potential for oil and gas development. All three areas are outside of core greater sage-grouse habitat.
“By prioritizing development outside of core habitat, we can reduce conflicts between resource extraction and wildlife conservation and benefit both,” said Simpson.
The plan closes the Dubois area to leasing, consistent with the community’s vision and wilderness management of adjoining U.S. Forest Service and tribal management.
The resource management plan also adopts a National Trails Management Corridor to protect the setting, nature and purpose of the congressionally designated trails found within the planning area, including segments of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail and four National Historic Trails (California, Mormon Pioneer, Oregon, and Pony Express).