Montana Administrative Register Notice 14-8 No. 19   10/06/2023    
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In the matter of the amendment of ARM 14.6.103 pertaining to Sage Grouse Habitat Quantification Tool Designation







TO: All Concerned Persons


1. On November 7, 2023, at 10:00 a.m., the Sage Grouse Habitat Conservation Program will hold a public hearing in the Montana Room, First Floor, located at 1539 Eleventh Avenue, Helena, Montana, to consider the proposed amendment of the above-stated rule. Details about remote participation via the ZOOM meeting platform will be available prior to the hearing at https://sagegrouse.mt.gov/Team.


2. The Governor's Office will make reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities who wish to participate in this rulemaking process or need an alternative accessible format of this notice. If you require an accommodation, contact the Governor's Office no later than 5:00 p.m. on October 20, 2023, to advise us of the nature of the accommodation that you need. Please contact Mark Bostrom, Montana Sage Grouse Oversight Team, c/o Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, P.O. Box 201601, Helena, Montana, 59620-1601; (406) 444-9708; or e-mail mbostrom2@mt.gov.


3. The rule as proposed to be amended provides as follows, new matter underlined, deleted matter interlined:



(1) through (6) remain the same.


AUTH: 76-22-104, MCA

IMP: 76-22-105, 76-22-109, 76-22-110, 76-22-111, 76-22-112, 76-22-113, 76-22-114, 76-22-118, MCA


REASON: The Montana Sage Grouse Habitat Conservation Program detected a technical error in the Habitat Quantification Tool (HQT) Technical Manual that affects the technical process for updating the Habitat Quantification Tool Basemap.  The Basemap currently in use (v1.0 2018) was developed based on a thorough stakeholder process undertaken during 2017 and pre-dates the Technical Manual, which was published in October 2019.  The technical error concerns the mathematical incorporation of the Unsuitable Lands designations within the Basemap.  The stakeholder process and subsequent 2018 Basemap incorporates Unsuitable Lands using multiplication, however, the Technical Manual incorporates Unsuitable Lands using averaging.  This has major implications on the assessment of impacts for proposed projects within designated sage-grouse habitat.  The Sage Grouse Program is proposing this correction now in order to provide an updated and accurate Basemap for Montana citizens.  By implementing this correction, the Sage Grouse Program would 1) provide a consistent approach for updating the Basemap, 2) follow the recommendations provided by the original stakeholder process, and 3) to avoid the perpetuation of errors.  The correction of this technical error is considered a major change and thus requires rulemaking.  The Sage Grouse Program is also taking the opportunity to rectify grammatical errors and typos (considered minor changes) found within the HQT Technical Manual found at https://sagegrouse.mt.gov/Team.


            4. Concerned persons may submit their data, views, or arguments either orally or in writing at the hearing. Written data, views, or arguments may also be submitted to: Mark Bostrom, Montana Sage Grouse Oversight Team, c/o Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, P.O. Box 201601, Helena, Montana, 59620-1601; telephone (406) 444-9708; or e-mail mbostrom2@mt.gov and must be received no later than 5:00 p.m. on November 7, 2023.


5. Mark Bostrom, Montana Sage Grouse Oversight Team, has been designated to preside over and conduct this hearing.


6. The Sage Grouse Program maintains a list of interested persons who wish to receive notices of rulemaking actions proposed by this agency. Persons who wish to be added to the list can go to https://sagegrouse.mt.gov/About and join the mailing list by entering their e-mail address. Notices will be sent by e-mail.


7. An electronic copy of this proposal notice is available through the Secretary of State's web site at http://sosmt.gov/ARM/Register


8. The bill sponsor contact requirements of 2-4-302, MCA, do not apply.


9. With regard to the requirements of 2-4-111, MCA, the department has determined that the amendment of the above-referenced rule will not significantly and directly impact small businesses.


/s/ Anita Milanovich                                    /s/ Michael Freeman                                 

Anita Milanovich                                         Michael Freeman

Rule Reviewer                                            Natural Resource Policy Advisor

                                                                    Governor's Office


Certified to the Secretary of State September 26, 2023.


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