Mike Pearson takes a look at the Greater Sage Grouse, native to sage grass areas, and how the bird is pitting the federal government against land owners and ranchers.

March 22, 2024

Mike Pearson tells listeners about the latest in the fight between the Bureau of Land Management and ranchers over the Greater Sage Grouse.

A new proposal is unlikely to stop the friction.

The federal government owns 27.4 percent of all the surface land-- that's 245 million acres and the BLM wants the last word on how the land should be managed.

Last week, a new draft proposal was announced to protect the Greater Sage Grouse. A ground bird that during mating season, the male can put on quite a show as the males strut around to attract a mate.

Officials at the Bureau of Land Management say at one time, millions of the Greater Sage Grouse were found in the 10-state range but now, counts only show 800,000 birds.

The decline in population, the BLM argues should make the birds eligible for endangered species though Congress has stopped that for the time being.

The BLM is considering six changes since the last guidance published in 2019.

Alternative 3: The BLM wants all Sage Grouse land into something called primary habitat management areas or PHMA. If a piece of land is determined to be PHMA then that land would be closed to all oil and gas leases, mining permits and closed to grazing.

BLM is pushing for Alternative 5. The plan they argue is offers protection for the Greater Sage Grouse while still using land by the public and other take holders.

The proposals are open for comment until Mid-May although some groups that's not nearly long enough to understand the impact of the proposals.

Livestock groups have confined their frustration with the new proposals despite only being given 60 days to look through the 600 page proposal last week.

Farm Progress America is a daily look at key issues in agriculture. It is produced and presented by Mike Pearson, farm broadcaster and host of This Week in Agribusiness.

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