Tester Demands Public Comment Extension on Sage-Grouse Plan

Senator to BLM: Don’t Discard Made-in-Montana Sage-Grouse Plan in Favor of One-Size-Fits-All Washington Bureaucracy

(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester is defending Montana against federal government overreach and demanding the BLM extend the public comment period on its sage-grouse plan review.

Tester is urging Acting BLM Director Michael Nedd not to discard the collaborative sage-grouse management plans that have kept the bird off the Endangered Species List and warned him not to force a one-size-fits-all Washington plan on Montanans.

In a letter to Nedd, Tester is demanding that Montanans have a voice during the agency’s review of the sage-grouse management plans by extending the public comment period from 45 to 90 days.

“I urge you not to discard a chance to collaborate with the same people who helped put these plans together for the lands they work and recreate on,” Tester wrote. “It’s my sincere hope that you will listen to the folks on the ground, ensure a public and transparent process, and build on the work of those who spent years communicating and collaborating.”

Conservation of the greater sage-grouse is a range-wide issue. After years of working together, Montanans proposed a sage-grouse management plan to the U.S. Interior Department in 2015 that was supported by sportsmen, conservationists, farmers and ranchers, and energy developers. The Forest Service and BLM also consulted with rangeland stakeholders, and the state of Montana as well as the federal agencies drafted their plans. This collaboration kept the sage-grouse off the Endangered Species List and protected jobs in eastern Montana.

The Trump Administration earlier this month announced the BLM will reconsider and potentially revise the federal plans, and is only giving Montanans 45 days to comment on how the public lands they work and recreate on are managed and affect Montana plans.

Tester emphasized to Nedd that it took years to construct the sage-grouse management plans, and a 45-day public comment period is far too short for such a critical issue. In his letter, Tester underscored that sage-grouse management efforts were broad, bipartisan, and historic.

“From ranchers to local government representatives to extractive industries and conservation groups, people from all walks of life worked together to provide sage-grouse with a real shot at recovery, and to avoid a listing under the Endangered Species Act,” Tester added.

Tester’s letter to Nedd is available HERE.

Montanans interested in commenting on the agency’s review of the sage-grouse management plan can find more information HERE.