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Letter: Sage-grouse plan doesn't go far enough
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Re "BLM's sage-grouse plan is good compromise," (Our View, Nov. 2): The Tribune Editorial Board was spot-on in identifying the state's plan for amending federal land use plans to better protect sage-grouse habitat as a no-win alternative for sage grouse.

But, if the Tribune did a more thorough review of the 2,000-page Draft Environmental Impact Statement released by the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service last week, it may not be so quick to endorse the agencies' preferred management alternative.

The agencies tout their 4-mile buffer that will exclude new oil and gas developments around occupied sage-grouse leks (breeding grounds) within "priority habitat." But the key word here is "new." The fact is that for existing leases, new wells can be drilled within 4 miles of leks even in priority habitat. The 4-mile buffer on new leases only applies in priority habitats and the vast majority of the Uinta Basin will not enjoy this habitat designation under the agency alternative. And, most of the Uinta Basin is already leased.

This "green-washing" that claims that the agencies' preferred alternative offers great protections to sage grouse is disingenuous. For oil and gas development, the developers will be able to sink wells almost wherever they want.

Allison Jones and James Catlin

Wild Utah Project

Salt Lake City

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