Energy & Environment

Biden administration begins review of bird habitat Trump opened for mining


The Biden administration has begun its review of a bird habit previously opened for mining under the Trump administration, the Bureau of Land Management announced Tuesday.

The bureau previously announced the review in May following a court order. The land in question included federal lands in Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming that are home to the greater sage grouse.

The Obama Interior Department announced in 2015 that it would consider withdrawing mining regulations pertaining the region, but the bureau terminated the proposal in October 2017. A federal district court vacated the Trump-era cancellation in February.

“The BLM is restarting this process to fully consider one of the management actions that may be necessary to allow sage-grouse to thrive on our public lands,” Nada Wolff Culver, BLM deputy director for Policy and Programs, said in a statement. “As part of these efforts, and in accordance with a recent court order, the BLM will revise its environmental analysis of the need for proposed withdrawals using the best-available science and continued engagement with our many stakeholders.” 

“We will again rely on science and work closely with all partners in the cooperative fashion that has served us well for more than a decade,” she added. “Our goal continues to be balanced, sustainable management of sagebrush ecosystems, which benefits hundreds of other species in addition to sage-grouse as well as public land users and local communities across the West.”

In his February decision, Judge Lynn Winmill ruled the Trump administration did not adequately justify removing protections to the 10 million-acre area in question.

“The new data showed that the impacts from locatable mining was more significant than the previous data showed,” wrote Winmill, a Clinton appointee. “The new data does not, therefore, provide a reasoned explanation for the BLM’s change in position regarding the withdrawal. If anything, this new data indicated a greater need for the withdrawal from locatable mining than the previous data.”


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