The Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted amended administrative rules for sage-grouse management in Oregon at its meeting in Salem.
The new rules require mitigation actions to offset impacts of large-scale and other developments such as aggregate mining, wind, solar, and geothermal energy plants.
Before today, ODFW mitigation rules were effectively only recommendations to permitting entities and not requirements for mitigating development impacts in designated core habitat for sage-grouse. Core habitats are areas which encompass about one-third of Oregon’s sage-grouse habitat but support more than 90 percent of the bird’s populations.
On July 24th, the Oregon Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC) adopted new rules that would allow limited development in core habitat after going through an avoidance test (meaning the project proposal shows other areas were considered but development is dependent on unique geographic features of the site, not feasible elsewhere, and necessary for infrastructure, economic opportunity or public health safety). The new LCDC rules also require developments to follow ODFW’s mitigation rules.
The administrative rules of ODFW and LCDC will work together to address one of the threats to sage-grouse identified by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS): the lack of regulatory certainty in protecting sage-grouse habitat. That protection is key in the upcoming USFWS decision whether or not to list sage-grouse as a threatened or endangered species. The USFWS is expected to make this decision by Sept. 30, 2015.
Both commissions also heard public input from several public meetings in southeast Oregon earlier in the summer.
The Commission is the policy-making body for fish and wildlife issues in the state. Its next meeting is Aug. 7 in Salem
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