What Does the Draft Environmental Impact Statement Say About Sage-Grouse?

The DEIS provides a detailed evaluation of the potential effects of the Lava Ridge Project on the greater sage-grouse in the project area. The Lava Ridge Project is outside of important sage-grouse habitat.

The areas identified as habitat and the known lek (breeding) locations were essential factors used to help guide project siting and minimization measures. Three-mile buffers from lek locations were implemented throughout the design of turbine locations, roads, and other project components.

All public land projects in this region are subject to the same standards, which involve creating a net positive gain for sage-grouse habitat. Disturbance of the low-quality habitat in the project area will be mitigated by preserving and enhancing high-quality sage-grouse habitat in other areas with much greater ecological value.

The State of Idaho and the Bureau of Land Management will work together to determine the level of mitigation that ensures the actions result in an overall positive effect on the species. High-quality habitats that are preserved and enhanced are monitored to ensure their value is maintained for the long term.

Each alternative analyzed in the DEIS has a different habitat disturbance level, which in turn creates different levels of habitat preservation and enhancement dependent on the decision of the BLM.

It’s important to note that any impacts on sage-grouse are not considered irreversible. Habitat impacts would be offset through mitigation required by the BLM and would not result in a trend toward listing under the Endangered Species Act or a loss of population viability.

What Steps Will MVE Take to Protect Sage-Grouse?

To provide further protection for sage-grouse, MVE has taken into consideration the location of all project components and the design of corridors to help minimize and mitigate the potential impact on sage-grouse.

Extra precautions include:

  • buffers from leks
  • using only certain types of fencing
  • minimizing new roads
  • minimizing noise disturbances
  • collocating linear features (e.g., power lines and pipelines)
  • pausing work in certain seasons so as to not disturb sage-grouse seasonal use areas

With the committed minimization and mitigation measures, the project will result in a net positive impact on the sage-grouse and their habitat, contributing to the future growth of the sage-grouse population.