Sage grouse: SGIT discusses progress at working group meeting
Gillette – The Sage Grouse Implementation Team (SGIT) is comprised of representatives from state and federal agencies, as well as industry and non-governmental organizations.
SGIT members, appointed by Gov. Mark Gordon, work collaboratively to protect the Greater sage grouse under the state of Wyoming’s Sage Grouse Executive Order (EO) and held a public meeting on Sept. 11 at the Pronghorn Center at Gillette College.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is in the process of reviewing and modifying its 2015 sage grouse management plans as ordered by a federal district court.
Additionally, SGIT has been updating the state of Wyoming’s sage grouse core area map and will present the map as part of the proposed Wyoming alternative for the BLM to consider in their modified sage grouse management plan.
“The mapping process is done, and SGIT has modified the draft sage grouse core area map after considering public comment,” stated SGIT Chair Bob Budd. “This is a nuts-and-bolts meeting, and we will walk through where we need to be. For those who want to sign up for a task, we have 11 days to deliver.”
The next scheduled SGIT public meeting is set for Sept. 22 in Lander, and if need be, a final meeting is set for Sept. 29 in Cheyenne.
Delivery of the final draft to Gov. Mark Gordon will take place mid-October.
Budd continued by reviewing the SGIT EO history and the reason for the 2023 updates, including nine key groups.
A few topics covered during the SGIT meeting, where teams and action plans were assigned, include predator management, invasives, reclamation and restoration.
Budd noted, “Another EO issue is to add additional public members, and additional members should come from weed and pest and the mineral industry.”
“All SGIT plans have been built on sound science and will continue to be built on science, building cohesive plans,” he added. “SGIT has done remarkable and commendable work, and I encourage landowners, industry stakeholders and the general public to provide public comment.”
SGIT will review comments, make a recommendation and submit the updated sage grouse EO and core area map as part of Wyoming’s alternative to the BLM’s plan.
In November, Consultant and Owner of ABNOVA Ecological Solutions Michael Curran, PhD was appointed to gather data on land restoration.
During the meeting, Curran reported back his findings, noting he is creating a database from various white paper key items including soil type, weed invasion, seeding processes and where there are knowledge gaps and clusters in Wyoming.
Budd and the team addressed multiple focus items and invited team members to generate a deep dive and report back to the team during the Riverton meeting.
Individual teams volunteered to review data, regulations and any new information which may have been gathered from 2019-23, and may affect the EO in focus areas including habitat, BLM grazing regulations, renewables and definition of rights-of-way, adaptive management and areas of concern including standard principles.
Budd concluded the meeting by fielding questions from the group and encouraged the public to comment, further reiteraating every agency involved is working collaboratively to protect sage grouse under the state’s EO.
Melissa Anderson is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to email@example.com.