In response to Senate Bill 261 and Executive Orders 10-2014 and 12-2015, many Department of Environmental Quality permits and approvals in sage grouse core, general, or connectivity habitat, received on or after January 1, 2016, must include a letter of comment from the Sage Grouse Habitat Conservation Program.
Key sage grouse habitats have been designated within some portion of the following counties: Beaverhead, Big Horn, Blaine, Broadwater, Carbon, Carter, Choteau, Custer, Dawson, Deer Lodge, Fallon, Fergus, Gallatin, Garfield, Golden Valley, Hill, Jefferson, Judith Basin, Liberty, McCone, Madison, Meagher, Musselshell, Park, Petroleum, Phillips, Powder River, Prairie, Roosevelt, Rosebud, Silver Bow, Stillwater, Sweet Grass, Treasure, Valley, Wheatland, Wibaux, and Yellowstone.
Maps are available here: Sage Grouse Map and GIS Map.
Projects in a designated sage grouse habitat, may initiate the consultation process with the Sage Grouse Habitat Conservation Program by visiting: https://sagegrouse.mt.gov/projects/ You will have the opportunity to provide a description of the project location, site plan, and the scope of the activity. You will receive an automated email to confirm your information was received. The Program will contact you to follow up and complete the consultation process.
The Sage Grouse Program will evaluate each project for location in relation to habitats designated as a core, general, or a connectivity area for sage grouse, the type and level of disturbance, and compliance with Executive Order 12-2015. The Program will provide you a letter with recommendations and if necessary, specific requirements for the mitigation of impacts to sage grouse habitat that can’t be avoided, minimized, or restored through onsite mitigation. The Program will strive to facilitate project design and completion in such a way as to not compromise economic feasibility while at the same time implementing the requirements of the Executive Order.
There is no fee associated with the sage grouse habitat evaluation. Please allow up to 45 to 60 days for large or complicated projects.
DEQ does have specific exceptions for Waste and Underground Tank Management Bureau for annual license renewals for Solid Waste Management Systems, Septic Tank Pumper, and Motor Vehicle Recycling and Disposal. DEQ also has specific exceptions for the Air Quality Program specific to routine maintenance, modification of state air quality permits and administrative amendments with no new surface disturbance, and Federal Clean Air Act Title V Permit Issuance and Renewal. Contact the Air Quality Bureau for additional details on specific exceptions for those programs.
A Sage Grouse Stewardship Fund Grant Program has been developed by the Department of Natural Resources & Conservation (DNRC) to maintain, enhance, restore, expand, or benefit habitat and populations.
We look forward to working with you to protect this valuable resource.