DENVER (AP) — U.S. officials plan to make a major announcement Tuesday on efforts to protect an imperiled bird that could have implications for the energy and ranching industries.
The Interior Department says governors of Colorado, Montana, Nevada and Wyoming are among those who plan to join Secretary Sally Jewell and other federal officials for the announcement about greater sage grouse at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge outside Denver.
The Interior Department says the greater sage grouse does not need federal protections across its 11-state Western range after some limits were put on energy development and other activities. Today's announcement signals that the Obama administration believes it has struck a balance to save the widespread, ground-dwelling birds from extinction without crippling the West's economy.
The government faces a Sept. 30 court-imposed deadline to decide whether it should list the chicken-sized birds as a threatened or endangered species.
Greater sage grouse range from California to the Dakotas. They've dwindled from millions to no more than 500,000 amid loss of their sagebrush habitat.
A listing could restrict oil and gas development and grazing across much of the West, though Congress has withheld funding to implement any such decision.