Salt Lake City, Utah: The U.S. Senate passed Senator Orrin Hatch and Senator Martin Heinrich’s Sage-Grouse and Mule Deer Habitat Conservation and Restoration Act by unanimous consent yesterday. The legislation, S. 1417, will help expedite important habitat restoration projects across the West that benefit mule deer and sage-grouse populations while also improving opportunities for hunters. MDF worked closely with the Senate co-sponsors to craft the bill and strongly supports the legislation.
“This bill will allow conservation partners to move quickly to implement habitat restoration projects across the West and yesterday’s passage in the Senate is a critical step forward,” said MDF President/CEO Miles Moretti. “These types of habitat projects, which the Mule Deer Foundation and our partners have been actively engaged on, are proving to have a tremendous positive impact on mule deer, sage-grouse and other species dependent on sagebrush rangelands. This is good for wildlife conservation as well as western big game hunters.”
The Sage-Grouse and Mule Deer Habitat Conservation and Restoration Act, S. 1417, directs the Bureau of Land Management to develop a categorical exclusion, in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act, for vegetation management projects on federal public lands that protect, restore, or improve greater sage-grouse or mule deer habitat. Projects must meet the objectives of Secretarial Order 3336 on rangeland fire prevention, management and restoration, and they must also conform to applicable land use plans. The goal of the legislation is to expedite projects such as conifer removal, native vegetation restoration after natural disturbance and management of invasive species. These types of projects have been highly effective in restoring habitat that mule deer and other wildlife species depend on. Projects must have a 20-year monitoring and maintenance plan to ensure that the restoration work continues to be effective.
“Enactment of this bill will mean we can move more quickly after natural disasters or in other habitat restoration efforts providing even greater benefits for these important landscapes,” Moretti continued. “We now call on the U.S. House of Representatives to pass their companion legislation, H.R. 3543, and we will work with co-sponsors Congressmen Scott Tipton and Chris Stewart and members of the House, along with our Senate champions to get this legislation signed into law this Congress.”
The Mule Deer Foundation is the only conservation group in North America dedicated to restoring, improving and protecting mule deer and black-tailed deer and their habitat, with a focus on science and program efficiency. MDF is a strong voice for hunters in access, wildlife management and conservation policy issues. MDF acknowledges regulated hunting as a viable management component and is committed to recruitment and retention of youth into the shooting sports and conservation. Get involved in your state or become a member at www.muledeer.org or call 1-888-375-3337.