930, 910, 912, COS & FOS





November 16, 2004


In Reply Refer To:

6500 (WO-230) P



Instruction Memorandum No. 20054-024

Expires:  09/30/20065


To:                  AFO and WO Officials


From:              Director


Subject:            National Sage-Grouse Habitat Conservation Strategy


Program Areas:  Multiple programs


Purposes:  Issuance of Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) National Sage-grouse Habitat Conservation Strategy (National Sage-grouse Strategy) and required action items: (1) guidance for addressing sagebrush habitat conservation in land-use plans under action item 1.3.1 in the National Sage-grouse Strategy, and (2) guidance for the management of sagebrush plant communities for sage-grouse conservation under action item 1.4.1 in the National Sage-grouse Strategy.


Policy/Action:  Issuance of BLM’s National Sage-grouse Strategy.  As part of BLM’s ongoing commitment to support cooperative conservation of sage-grouse and sagebrush habitats on public lands under our administration, we have completed and are issuing for immediate use, a comprehensive national strategy.  BLM State Directors and associated Field Offices will immediately implement the National Sage-grouse Strategy and actions described in this memorandum according to the specified time frame.  The National Sage-grouse Strategy is consistent with cooperative sage-grouse conservation planning efforts led by the S states through their respective state wildlife management agencies and fully recognizes state leadership and responsibility in managing resident wildlife species. 


Background:  The BLM manages more sage-grouse habitat than any other entity and as a result has a key role in the conservation of the species and its habitat.  Approximately half of all remaining sage-grouse habitat is under BLM administration.  It is critical we continue with our ongoing conservation efforts.  The BLM must also continue to implement new actions to reduce the risk to sage-grouse populations and to conserve sage-grouse habitat.  One of BLM’s highest priorities is to implement the National Sage-



grouse Strategy on BLM-managed lands andas well as related conservation actions in a consistent and effective manner.  All State Directors and Field Managers will note their areas of responsibility in the National Sage-grouse Strategy, and take appropriate actions to ensure immediate implementation.

National Sage-grouse Strategy: The National Sage-grouse Strategy is the framework to address the conservation of sage-grouse and risk to sagebrush habitats on lands and activitiesons administered by the BLM.  The document identifies the resources and actions to be included in necessary for individual BBLM State Office State-level strategies and/or plans and .  The National Sage-grouse Strategy also outlines methods to address the risk to sage-grouse and sagebrush habitats at various scales.     The StrategyIt provides for a comprehensive national approach, while providing for local solutions to address the range-wide variability and complexity and variability of managing sage-grouse and sagebrush habitatementover the range-widegeographic area The National Sage-grouse Strategy also addresses the essential need toof working with state wildlife agencies, state governments, and local interests, while achieving national level conservation goals.   BLM’s National Sage-grouse Strategy is designed to deliver a substantial Federal contribution to cooperative conservation efforts that are being led by state wildlife agencies throughout the range of greater sage-grouse in the West. 


The vision of the BLM’s National Sage-grouse Strategy is to manage public lands to maintain, enhance, and restore sage-grouse habitats while providing for other appropriate uses multiple-usesof BLM-administered public lands.


The following four-goals guide BLM’s implementation of the National Sage-grouse Strategy:


1)      improve the effectiveness of the management framework for addressing conservation needs of sage-grouse on lands administered by the BLM;

2)      increase knowledge and understanding of resource conditions and priorities for habitat maintenance and restoration;

3)      expand partnerships, available research, and information that support effective management of sage-grouse habitat, and;

4)      ensure leadership and resources are adequate to implement national and state- level sage-grouse habitat conservation strategies and/or plans.


Guidance for Addressing Sagebrush Habitat Conservation in Land Use Plans:  This document is action 1.3.1 under the National Sage-grouse Strategy and is mandatory guidance to BLM planning teams.  It requires that impacts to sagebrush habitat and sagebrush-dependent wildlife species (including sage-grouse) be analyzed and considered in BLM land use planning efforts for the public lands with sage-grouse/sagebrush habitats located within the planning area.  Planning teams will use this guidance in planning areas with sage-grouse habitat for land use planning efforts in progress (to the



fullest extent practicable), new planning starts, and plan amendments.  This land use plan guidance may be supplemented, as appropriate, with additional information from completed state or local-level sage-grouse strategies or plans. 


Guidance for the Management of Sagebrush Plant Communities for Sage-grouse Conservation:  This document is action 1.4.1 under the National Sage-grouse Strategy and serves as guidance on managing, restoring and enhancing sagebrush habitat on BLM-administered public lands.  It also describes management practices (Best Management Practices and Suggested Management Practices) designed to support and promote the range-wide conservation of sagebrush habitats for sage-grouse and other sagebrush-dependent wildlife species on public lands administered by the BLM.  BLM State Officess and associated Field Offices are to use this guidance until the Bureau and its partners (1) finalize and adopt the the BLM SStatetateOffice-level strategies and/or state wildlife agency-led sage-grouse conservation plans; and/or (2) incorporate specific sage-grouse habitat objectives and conservation measures, developed collaboratively with local Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) groups, into appropriate BLM planning documents.  This guidance may be modified through the collaborative process in each state to best fit local and regional conditions and to reflect ongoing efforts to complete state-level strategies. 




1.      In cooperation with State Wildlife Agencies, review all existing lLand Uuse Pplans to determine the adequacy in addressing the threats to sage-grouse and sagebrush habitat as identified in the WAFWA Conservation Assessment.  This will include land use allocations, land health and condition objectives, and mitigations for all program activities.


2.      Identify and prioritize llanduuse pplan amendments or land use plan revisions based upon the outcome of action item number 1 and the level of threats to sage-grouse.  A report outlining which BLM plans and programs within the state(s) need updating, and which plans are adequate must be submitted to the Director by February 1, 20054.   Each State Director must, by April 1, 2005, develop a process and schedule to update deficient land use plans to adequately address sage-grouse and sagebrush conservation needs. Schedules developed Priorities submitted by the State Directors will be incorporated into the BLM 10-year planning schedule by the end of April 2005 in order to emphasize and accelerate these plans as a Bureau-wide priority.      


3.      Issues and alternatives evaluated in the NEPA process for land use plan updates, amendments or revisions must analyze threats identified in the WAFWA Conservation Assessment (see the attached Planning Guidance 1.3.1).  The goal iswill be to have all plans updated by 2015.



4.      Initiate collaborative discussions and dialogue with the local WAFWA working groups and other partners to develop objectives, management actions, and mitigation specific to the high priority planning area(s) in your state(s).  Include the best available science (e.g. Miller and Eddleman, Connelly guidelines, Birds of the Sagebrush Sea, etc.), BBest Management Practices, locally available data, and other guidelines and information appropriate to sage-grouse and its habitat.


5.      An annual report detailing actions taken to implement the BLM National Sage-grouse Strategy shall be submitted to the Assistant Director (WO-200) by September 1 of 2005, 2006 and 2007.  Most importantly, we want to know how the specific actions you are taking are improving sage-grouse habitat and/or sage-grouse populations.


Time Frame:  This IM is in effect upon issuance.


Budget Impact:  There will be a budget impact to most BLM programs because of increased emphasis on the analysis of sage-grouse and sagebrush habitat conservation in land use plans, on-the-ground conservation initiated through plan implementation, and higher priority project planning and implementation actions.  Budget development issues for the budget out-years will be assessed and developed. 


Manual/Handbook Sections Affected:  None

Coordination:  This IM reflects the input of individuals in different resource groups at all levels of the Bureau.  The Fish, Wildlife and Botany Group (WO-230) has the lead for the effort.

Contact:  E. Dwight Fielder, Group Manager, WO-230, at (202) 452-7761, Cal McCluskey, Wildlife Biologist, at (208) 373-4042, Eric Lawton, Wildlife Biologist, at (202) 452-7760, or Scott Florence, Senior Planner (for planning guidance only) at (202) 452-5151.


Signed by:                                                                    Authenticated by:

Kathleen Clarke                                                  Barbara J. Brown

Director                                                                        Policy & Records Group, WO-560





3 Attachments

     1 - BLM National Sage-grouse Habitat Conservation Strategy (25 pp)

     2 - Guidance for Addressing Sagebrush Habitat Conservation in Land Use Plans (10 pp)

     3 - Guidance for the Management of Sagebrush Plant Communities for Sage-                           grouse Conservation (33 pp)