Feds to help keep sage grouse off threatened list

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Updated: 6/20 9:25 am

RENO, Nev. (AP) — The Obama administration is launching an effort to accelerate protection of sage grouse along the California-Nevada line with $31 million in spending commitments through 2024 to help ranchers and others improve grouse habitat.

A top official in the Agriculture Department told The Associated Press that Friday's announcement may represent the best, last chance to keep the bistate population of the bird off the list of threatened species.

Jason Weller, chief of the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service, says that while the multiagency effort targets California and Nevada, it ultimately will benefit the overall habitat of the greater sage grouse in 11 western states.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack calls it a "groundbreaking commitment." His agencies are pledging $25.5 million and the Bureau of Land Management $6.5 million over the next five to 10 years.

©2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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