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New BLM Projects To Help Sage Grouse

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Federal officials have announced more than $4 million in projects in four states as part of a wildfire-fighting strategy to protect a wide swath of intermountain West sagebrush country that supports cattle ranching and is home to a struggling bird species.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said Wednesday that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management will use the money in Idaho, Utah, Nevada and Oregon to counter wildfire threats, invasive grasses and juniper trees encroaching in sagebrush habitat.

The projects follow Jewell's order in January calling for a strategy that safeguards the greater sage grouse bird while contending with fires that have been especially destructive in the Great Basin region.

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Sage grouse are under consideration for federal protection, and another giant habitat-consuming fire could factor into the decision.