BLM releases long-awaited sage grouse protections

By Scott Streater | 03/14/2024 01:43 PM EDT

The Bureau of Land Management’s compromise proposal incorporates aspects of previous plans by both the Biden and Trump administrations.

A male greater sage grouse

A male greater sage grouse. Doug Dance/Fish and Wildlife Service-Pacific Region/Flickr

The Biden administration released its proposal Thursday to protect the greater sage grouse across the West, incorporating tough restrictions on oil and gas drilling and other land uses near the bird’s habitat.

But the Bureau of Land Management’s “preferred alternative” also includes “flexibilities” that would allow exemptions on some measures, particularly renewable energy development, near sage grouse habitat.

How to protect the imperiled bird, which lives on the sagebrush found across many Western states, for decades has been one of the most difficult problems for the BLM and states. The population of sage grouse has plummeted in many states for much of the past decade, with conservationists urging the federal government to take dramatic action.


Collaborative efforts produced plans under both the Obama and Trump administrations that ended up challenged in the federal courts, leading the BLM to start again in 2021.