Responding to a request from Supervisor Bill Reid, representatives from the BLM visited the Board Chambers to discuss the ongoing status review of the Mono Basin Area Sage Grouse.
In 2001, the US Fish and Wildlife Service received a petition requesting the species be listed as endangered. The USFWS found a listing was not warranted, and received another petition in 2005 and again found the listing was not warranted, but that decision was challenged and now the USFWS is conducting an in-depth status review of the species status.
The USFWS has been soliciting input from interested parties that will help them in the upcoming decision. BLM representatives brought the matter to Supervisor Reid’s attention at a recent meeting of the Collaborative Planning Team, and Reid asked them to come before the board to discuss the issue.
When asked what the repercussions to the County might be, BLM’s Steve Nelson responded that it is not the County, but land management agencies like the BLM that will shoulder the regulatory burden should the species get listed. It would increase their administrative overhead, expose them to litigation, and generally make their jobs more difficult.
Considering the majority of lands within the county are managed by the BLM and the USFS, and the agencies issue permits for a great many activities on those lands, increased regulation could theoretically hit Mono County’s bottom line.
Nelson believes it is “extremely important” that the County’s sage grouse population continue to thrive, but said the BLM does not have an official position on whether a listing is warranted.
The discussion revolved around what the County could and should contribute to the status review. Nelson suggested the County could write the USFWS and let them know what current County practices are being implemented that mitigate effects to the sage grouse.