Nevada’s Heller, Laxalt join Sandoval in supporting sage grouse decision |

Nevada’s Heller, Laxalt join Sandoval in supporting sage grouse decision

Staff Report

Sen. Dean Heller and Attorney General Adam Laxalt have now joined Gov. Brian Sandoval in applauding the BLM decision to cancel withdrawal of federal lands in six western states.

The original plan was to withdraw 10 million acres of land — a third of that total in Nevada — to protect the sage grouse. The rules would have severely limited mining and energy development in those areas.

But Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke signed an order last week canceling that withdrawal and giving states more flexibility to manage the grouse population. Sandoval immediately issued a statement supporting the decision.

Heller this week joined in supporting that move saying findings indicate mineral exploration and other activities have no effect on the sage grouse population.

BLM recently issued a statement saying the Obama administration proposal to withdraw the lands was unreasonable since data shows mining affected less than a tenth of a percent of grouse range. He also praised the fact the order signed by Zinke returns more control over the issue to Nevada and its local governments.

Laxalt said the 2015 plan was harmful and ill-considered.

“I am gratified that the BLM has accepted our basic argument, which is that we can balance conservation of the sage grouse without injuring the economic lifeblood of Nevada’s local communities,” he said in a statement.

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