EFSC Initiates Rulemaking to Incorporate ODFW Sage-grouse Rules

At its meeting on November 3-4, the Energy Facility Siting Council (EFSC), which oversees the siting and implementation of energy facilities in our state, authorized the initiation of permanent rulemaking to incorporate the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife’s (ODFW) specific rules governing the protection of sage-grouse habitat. This rulemaking will ensure our energy facility siting rules are compatible with ODFW and Oregon Department of Land Conservation & Development (DLCD) rules, and will ensure application requirements are consistent with EFSC siting standards.

Learn more about this rulemaking and read the proposed rules on our website: www.oregon.gov/energy/Get-Involved/Pages/Energy-Facility-Siting-Council-Rulemaking.aspx

To comment on this proposed rulemaking, you may submit written comments by December 16, 2016 to EFSC.rulemaking@oregon.gov or by U.S. mail, hand delivery, or fax to:

EFSC Rules Coordinator
550 Capitol St. NE
Salem, OR 97301
Fax: 503-373-7806

Oral comments can be provided in person or via telephone during a rulemaking hearing scheduled on December 16, 2016:

EFSC Meeting & Rulemaking Hearing
December 16, 2016, 9:00 am
Oregon Department of Energy
550 Capitol St. NE (new office location!)
Meitner Conference Room
Salem, OR 97301

The call-in number for the meeting is 877-873-8017, access code 799345.

NOTE: Comments made as a reply to this blog post are not considered official comments on the proposed rulemaking action, and will not be entered into the official comment record. All comments on the proposed rulemaking action must be received orally or in writing as described above.

Greater Sage-grouse Background

The greater sage-grouse, a unique-looking bird with long spiky tail feathers, calls many sagebrush-filled areas of Oregon home. The species has faced a decline in numbers in some areas of North America because of lost habitat.

ODFW is the lead agency for the state management of sage-grouse. In 2005, The Greater Sage-grouse Conservation Assessment and Strategy for Oregon was developed to help manage sage-grouse populations in Oregon. It was updated and adopted by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission (OFWC) in April 2011, and updated again in 2015.

In March 2010, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) determined that protection of the greater sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) was warranted. However, listing was precluded at the time by the need to address other listings facing greater risk of extinction.

In 2012, the Oregon Governor’s Office responded to the USFWS determination by convening the Oregon Sage-grouse Conservation Partnership (SageCon) to evaluate existing and new strategies for protecting the species in our state. SageCon included federal, state, local, and private representatives.

SageCon’s work continued by some of its members serving on a Rulemaking Advisory Committee that provided input on the 2015 OFWC rulemaking that amended existing ODFW sage-grouse rules and on the 2015 Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC) rulemaking that adopted a new sage-grouse rule for DLCD. Both of these rulemakings provided additional regulatory protection for greater sage-grouse habitat.

After the OFWC and LCDC rulemakings, Governor Kate Brown issued The Oregon Sage-Grouse Action Plan through Executive Order (EO 15-18). That executive order requires applicable state agencies, including ODOE and EFSC, to carry out the actions described in the Action Plan to the full extent of their authorities and funding. This includes a requirement for agencies to update any of their applicable rules related to sage-grouse habitat to ensure compliance and consistency with ODFW rules OAR 635-140-0000 through -0025 and DLCD rule OAR 660-023-0115.

Due in no small part to the work by Oregon and other Western states to provide increased regulatory protection for sage-grouse habitat, on September 22, 2015, the USFWS announced that a status review found that greater sage-grouse remain relatively abundant and well-distributed across the species’ 173-million acre range, and do not face the risk of extinction. The USFWS determined that protection for greater sage-grouse under the ESA is no longer warranted, and is withdrawing the species from the candidate species list.

For the most complete repository of information on the protection of the greater sage-grouse in Oregon, please see the ODFW website at http://www.dfw.state.or.us/wildlife/sagegrouse/.

 

Sage-grouse photo courtesy of USFWS Pacific Southwest Region, under Creative Commons.

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