Walden asks BLM for extension

Posted on January 29th in News

Supports bill for conservation efforts

U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) announced Jan. 24, he has urged the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to extend their comment period for their draft proposal for sage grouse management.

“Many Oregonians have told me about the drastic impact this draft plan could have on rural communities throughout the west. They’ve also told me that complying with the deadline for comments is challenging due to the lack of availability of the document and complexity of the matter,” Walden wrote in a letter to BLM Deputy Director Neil Kornze.

“Extending the public comment period by 30 days would provide those wishing to provide comment the time they need to review the document and provide thorough comments. Local communities are most affected by the land management decisions, and residents deserve the opportunity to have their input incorporated into the final decisions,” Walden continued.

Community leaders supported Walden’s call for more input. “While it is absolutely necessary to complete the sage grouse DEIS/RMPA in a timely manner to prevent a listing, it is also an absolute that the public must have an adequate opportunity (and means) to review and comment on this massive document. Government today can and should be transparent. I applaud the congressman’s request to ensure good input to this process,” said Harney County Judge Steve Grasty.

The BLM has been holding public meetings on their Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for sage grouse in Eastern Oregon communities, including Prineville, Burns, Ontario, Baker City, Lakeview, Jordan Valley, and Durkee. Many Oregonians have told Walden that they have arrived at these public meetings to find that there were only a few printed copies of the draft proposal available for the hundreds of local residents who attended.

The draft proposal consists of three volumes, and adds up to 1,120 pages. The document discusses six different alternative management plans examining how those plans would impact habitat, vegetation, other wildlife, wildfire management, grazing, recreation and mining. Downloading it online can take hours.

Last week, Walden supported a bill passed by Congress that would boost conservation efforts in an effort to prevent listing of the sage grouse as an endangered species.

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