Governor Matt Mead has provided comments on the proposed Lander Resource Management Plan (RMP), which is being finalized by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Once finished, the RMP will guide the use of 2.4 million acres of public land and more than 2.8 million acres of federal mineral estate for approximately 20 years. Five Wyoming counties are within the planning area. Governor Mead supplied his comments to the proposed RMP and its accompanying Final Environmental Impact Statement by letter to Donald Simpson the State Director of the BLM.
"I appreciate that the BLM worked with Wyoming and the counties on this plan," Governor Mead said. "This RMP will guide management on a large expanse in Wyoming. Therefore, it needs to be the best document possible. Its impact will be felt for two decades in counties, towns, and cities within the planning area and in the state as a whole."
In creating and implementing a plan for sage-grouse core areas, Wyoming is the first state to have a conservation plan for the greater sage-grouse. Wyoming's goal is to make sure the species never needs to be put on the Endangered Species List. About 70% of the planning area for the Lander RMP is sage-grouse core area.
The Lander RMP is the first resource management plan in the country to outline the BLM's plan to manage greater sage-grouse habitat. It is particularly significant that the BLM has adopted Wyoming's core area strategy as the basis for its management plan. Although the proposed RMP is generally consistent with this strategy, Governor Mead's comments suggest ways to improve it so the state's innovative and award-winning approach is properly incorporated in the final RMP.
In his letter to the BLM, Governor Mead wrote: "Wyoming and its partners have expended considerable resources in developing a management plan that conserves greater sage-grouse, protects multiple-use and supports our economy and traditional way of life. These efforts have led other western states and the BLM to consider adapting this concept to broaden conservation efforts for the greater sage-grouse across its range."
Governor Mead's comments also focus on issues regarding state primacy. The Governor's comments urge the BLM in this RMP to recognize Wyoming's primacy related to air and water quality. "The BLM does not regulate air or water quality. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency delegated that responsibility to the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality. The State is prepared to continue its leadership in this area and I feel it was important to point that out to the BLM," Governor Mead said. "The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission is drafting regulations for baseline water testing and this is something the BLM should acknowledge in the Lander RMP."
The baseline water testing initiative is part of Governor Mead's energy strategy which will be released soon. Another part of that strategy is the establishment of corridors for CO2 pipelines. Governor Mead thanks the BLM for adopting a strategy for right-of-way corridors in the proposed RMP. "Establishing functional corridors across federally-managed lands in Wyoming is a high priority for the State," Governor Mead wrote in his letter to the BLM. The corridors outlined in the proposed RMP align with the State's strategy.