The Bureau of Land Management has announced plans to lease more than 250,000 acres of public lands in Wyoming for oil and gas development in the beginning of 2023. Sage-grouse habitat is impacted on nearly every acre of the proposed lease sale. 

Greater sage-grouse have declined across their range by 80% since 1965, and habitat loss is a significant driver in those declines. We are losing sagebrush habitat at a rate of 1.3 million acres a year throughout the West, but Wyoming is a bright spot, retaining more intact sagebrush habitat than any other state in the union. Wyoming has a valuable role to play in preserving sage-grouse populations and the sagebrush ecosystem by shoring up our remaining stretches of healthy habitat. 


We at the Wyoming Outdoor Council believe the BLM should, at minimum, remove all parcels encompassing “priority” or “core” sage-grouse habitat from this sale — although offering any parcels within “general” sage-grouse habitat is also ill-advised. The development that we allow in Wyoming has far-reaching implications for the persistence of sage-grouse nationally, and staving off an Endangered Species Act listing depends on providing these birds the space they need on the landscape. Given the downward trajectory of sage-grouse numbers, we should not be offering up sage-grouse habitat for industrial development. 

The BLM is accepting public scoping comments until Nov. 7 to identify issues that should be addressed in the agency’s environmental review. If you have a moment, send a brief, personal message to the BLM asking that sage-grouse core areas be removed from the sale. Sharing your concerns with the sale, and your personal connection to the wildlife and landscapes that will be affected, can help influence the agency to take conservation values into account. 

In your comments, you may want to highlight that:

  • The vast majority of the proposed lease sale falls in sage-grouse habitat (205 out of 209 parcels). The BLM has made previous commitments to avoid new surface disturbance in high priority habitat, yet 70 of the parcels lie within this core sage-grouse habitat. 
  • Across the West, we are losing 1.3 million acres of sagebrush habitat annually and the primary threat to sagebrush in Wyoming is development. Protecting core, healthy tracts of sagebrush habitat from disturbance is crucial to the ecosystem and benefits numerous other species of wildlife that depend on sagebrush.
  • More than 8 million acres of public lands in Wyoming are already leased to oil and gas companies, with 4.2 million acres sitting idle and undeveloped. Companies have ample opportunity for drilling without the BLM leasing additional parcels. 

Thank you for taking the time to be a champion for our wild species and wild places. If you have questions, please reach out to Meghan Riley, the Outdoor Council’s public lands and wildlife advocate. 




Wildlife Program Manager