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Feds: Sage Grouse Does Not Need Endangered Listing

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

  The U.S. Interior Department says the greater sage grouse does not need federal protections across its 11-state Western range, which includes Nevada. Many say the agency has struck a balance in protecting the bird without hindering economic development, but not all Nevada officials agree. Reno Public Radio’s Julia Ritchey reports.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell says an unprecedented conservation effort protecting more than 67 million acres of land will greatly reduce threats to the greater sage-grouse and its breeding habitats. 

"This is the largest, most complex land conservation effort ever in the history of the United States of America, perhaps the world," she says.

Jewell made the announcement at a press conference in Colorado, flanked by the governors of four western states, including Gov. Brian Sandoval who had pushed against having the bird listed as endangered. 

She says the new plan will not only help save the threatened bird...

"But more importantly it means certainty for states, for communities, for ranchers, for developers, who want to know where they can develop without compromising the health of the amazing sagebrush landscape."

The Interior Secretary acknowledged the campaign would likely face critics from both sides.

Nevada Senator Dean Heller is one of those critics, calling the plans a "major threat” since it will limit Nevadan’s access to millions of acres of land equivalent to the size of West Virginia.

Gov. Brian Sandoval says he is “cautiously optimistic” about the plan, but will be closely monitoring its implementation.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will re-evaluate the bird’s status in five years. 

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