The impacts of the federal government’s partial shutdown have been felt nationwide, as restricted operations and furloughs delay or otherwise complicate governmental processes. As an example, E&E News reports that conservation organizations’ efforts to formally protest proposed revisions to greater sage grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) conservation plans have been thwarted by alleged problems with the Department of Interior’s website, which restricted access to certain documents due to the partial government shutdown.

The deadline for filing protests to the proposed revisions—which would govern millions of acres of sage grouse habitat—is also unclear. According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s website, the deadline to file a protest was January 7; the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) website indicates that the deadline is January 9.  Other press materials state that protests must be filed by January 8.  Stakeholder groups have been unable to get clarification regarding the deadline due to the partial government shutdown.

The proposed revisions would remove hundreds of thousands of acres of federally protected habitat in Utah, and would ease restrictions on energy development and other activities in Colorado, Idaho, and Wyoming. BLM has yet to clarify the protest deadline, or make a decision regarding whether it will extend the deadline due to certain documents being unavailable.  Please check back with us for further updates regarding both the sage grouse saga and the federal government’s partial shutdown.