U.S. Reps. Scott Tipton (CO-03) and Chris Stewart (UT-02) introduced the Sage Grouse and Mule Deer Habitat Conservation and Restoration Act (H.R. 3543), a bill that would streamline the approval process for vegetation management projects to protect or restore the habitat of the sage grouse and mule deer.
In recent years, the rapid encroachment of invasive piñon and juniper trees on sagebrush habitat has threatened sage-grouse and mule deer populations and created dangerous wildfire conditions. H.R. 3543 would allow the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to quickly engage in habitat restoration and proactive vegetation management projects to protect the species and improve ecological conditions.
"The current vegetation management process isn't allowing Western states to keep up with the rapid growth of invasive species in sagebrush habitat. To combat invasive species effectively, we must streamline the process through which BLM must go to protect and restore threatened habitats and address potential areas of concern. Our bill cuts through the unnecessary red tape that has prevented BLM from acting quickly in the past," said Tipton.
"In order to protect mule deer and sage grouse populations in Utah and across the West, we must protect their habitat. The review process for vegetation management has become too cumbersome and time consuming. This legislation removes bureaucratic red tape and gives land managers the tools needed to protect and preserve this precious habitat," said Stewart.
H.R. 3543 has drawn praise from conservation groups.
"The Sage Grouse and Mule Deer Habitat Conservation and Restoration Act will allow conservation partners to move quickly on landscape habitat restoration projects that are proving to have a tremendous impact for mule deer, sage-grouse and other species dependent on sagebrush rangelands. This is good for wildlife conservation as well as western big game hunters," noted Mule Deer Foundation President/CEO Miles Moretti. "The Mule Deer Foundation greatly appreciates Congressmen Tipton and Stewart for working together to introduce this important legislation in the House. With bills now in both chambers of Congress, we are optimistic about moving this issue forward in this Congress."
On Tuesday, Sept. 11, the Delta County Board of Commissioners called a special meeting to consider the board's response to the Bureau of Land Management's preliminary Environmental Assessment (EA) concerning the lease parcels proposed for the December BLM sale.
Several people from the North Fork were present to provide input.