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S. 1417 (115th): Sage-Grouse and Mule Deer Habitat Conservation and Restoration Act of 2018

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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Jun 22, 2017.

Sage-Grouse and Mule Deer Habitat Conservation and Restoration Act of 2017

This bill directs the Department of Interior to categorically exclude vegetative management activities that establish or improve habitat for greater sage-grouse and mule deer from environmental review requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). Examples of vegetative management activities include restoring native vegetation following a natural disturbance or preventing the expansion of nonnative or invasive vegetation into such habitat.

A categorical exclusion under NEPA is a category of actions which do not have a significant effect on the human environment and for which neither an Environmental Assessment nor an Environmental Impact Statement is required. The bill prohibits the categorical exclusion from including: (1) activity conducted in a wilderness area or wilderness study area, or (2) activity for the construction of a permanent road or trail.

Before commencing a vegetative management activity that is covered by a categorical exclusion, Interior must develop a long-term monitoring and maintenance plan, covering at least 20 years, to ensure that management of the treated area does not degrade the habitat gains secured by the vegetative management activity.

Vegetative material resulting from vegetative management activity may be: (1) used for fuel wood or other products; or (2) piled or burned, or both.

Native vegetative cover must be reestablished on a temporary road constructed in connection with a categorically excluded vegetative management activity in order to minimize soil erosion from areas disturbed by the temporary road.