Initiative 8 - Conserving Wildlife and Developing Oil and Gas on Public Land

Text from the Recreational Hunting and Wildlife Conservation Plan, 2008, Page 41

image of hunter taking aim, Credit: David Bohrer/AP

Background

The increased volatility of energy prices has emphasized the need for greater security for the nation through expansion of domestic production of oil and gas, renewable, and alternative energy sources. Federal and state agencies should work cooperatively with private industry, sportsmen, and private landowners to provide certainty to the exploration and development processes, while balancing the conservation of wildlife habitat with the socioeconomic benefits of energy production.

The following recommendations focus on oil and gas development in the western United States as a pivotal example of opportunities for better coordination between all parties to improve decision making through the development of research protocols that result in the collection of baseline data that produces statistically valid results that can be used to guide management decisions. These recommendations are designed to provide a valid, fact-based system for making conservation and energy exploration decisions within the multiple-use mandates of the federal
land management agencies.

Fast-paced changes on the western landscape from energy development activities and urban sprawl have raised concerns in the conservation community about maintaining wildlife habitat and avoiding its fragmentation. The federal government has acknowledged a need for landscape-scale planning by proposing programs like the 2007 U.S. Department of the Interior Healthy Lands Initiative (HLI). If landscape-scale habitat initiatives like HLI are implemented, they will be most effective if analysis is based on data that produce statistically sound results. With peer reviewed, data-based analysis consistent with the requirements of the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) Data Quality Act guidelines, a meaningful balance between energy development and conservation can be achieved.

This landscape-level, collaborative approach is suitable for other forms of energy production, climate change, transportation, and other land use development.

SCC White Paper Goals and Recommendations

  • Create landscape-level assessment standards and protocols for measuring energy development impacts to wildlife.
  • Adopt directives for formal collaboration among state and federal land management agencies, conservation groups, and the regulated community.
  • Educate the public on the opportunities for public participation in the leasing process.
  • Establish scientific, data-based wildlife monitoring protocols for state and federal land management agencies to use to inform adaptive management decisions.
  • Identify and develop new sources of dedicated funding to support capacity.
  • Collaborate with state and tribal governments to establish specific game/wildlife population and habitat goals and objectives for inclusion in land management plans governing energy development.
  • ƒƒ Re-emphasize the discretionary authority of state BLM directors to temporarily defer leasing of specific tracts of land with active land use planning, per BLM Instruction Memorandum No. 2004-110.
  • Ensure that wildlife and conservation considerations are incorporated prior to issuing new leases on any BLM lands.
  • Complete BLM comprehensive strategic landscape level plans ensuring conservation of wildlife and related values before issuing new leases.

Actions for Initiative 8 - Conserving Wildlife and Developing Oil and Gas on Public Land

Supporting documentation and findings

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