BLM seeks comments on wildlife habitat improvement projects
SILT, Colorado – The Bureau of Land Management is developing a wildlife mitigation plan to streamline the approval process for wildlife habitat improvement projects designed to offset potential impacts to wildlife from oil and gas development.
BLM’s Colorado River Valley Field Office is developing a programmatic environmental assessment that takes a broad look at possible habitat projects in sagebrush, mountain shrub and pinyon-juniper habitats.
It is calling on the public to raise issues or concerns about habitat improvements as part of the environmental assessment.
Habitat improvements typically involve creating a mosaic of openings to increase forage for wildlife, particularly big game. This work is done either mechanically, such as by mowing or roller-chopping, or manually using hand tools.
“These mechanical or manual treatments in this area are essentially mimicking the same type of disturbance a small, natural wildfire might create,” said BLM Colorado River Valley Wildlife Biologist Sylvia Ringer.
“These treatments, which have been very successful in this area, are often the most practical for improving wildlife habitat. We anticipate that the number of these projects in this field office will increase in the coming years.”
As a condition of approval for oil and gas development, the BLM may require oil and gas operators to conduct these kinds of treatments to help mitigate impacts to wildlife. Typical projects range from 25 to 200 acres.
In 2011, five projects totaling approximately 300 acres were completed within the field office area. This year, BLM anticipates more than 800 acres could be treated.
This broad evaluation will provide a comprehensive document for companies to use as a reference for planning habitat projects, eliminating the need for a separate, redundant analysis for each project.
Site-specific surveys and clearances for special status wildlife, plants, and cultural resources would still be required for each project plan area prior to implementing treatments.
Comments are requested by Feb. 24 The proposal and map of the potential project area are available on-line: http://on.doi.gov/yO8lA2.
Written comments and questions should be directed to Colorado River Valley Field Office at 2300 River Frontage Road, Silt, CO 81652.
Email comments may be submitted to BLM_CO_SI_CRVFO_Webmail@blm.gov.
Be aware that your entire comment – including your personal identifying information – may be made publicly available at any time.
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Colorado State Patrol will send extra troopers to Independence Pass but tools such as one-way, directional travel through the Narrows are not being considered.