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Sep 5, 2013 1:12 AM by David Jay

House committee holds Sage Grouse hearing in Billings

BILLINGS - With the possibility of the Greater Sage Grouse getting listed under the Endangered Species Act...members of Congress hear how this could affect the economy and jobs in Montana and other states.
Six members of the House Natural Resources Committee held a field hearing at MSU-Billings after a similar hearing in Casper, Wyoming.
The committee heard from landowners, hunters, the oil industry and other groups on what works with the Endangered Species Act and what could be improved.
Congressman Steve Daines says the act is 40 years old and needs reform.
"The challenge we face with the endangered species act is fringe groups use it as a platform for litigation which stops responsible resource development in this state," Daines said. "And so we got some great testimony from Montanans today to help us reform that process back in Washington."
"Manage species in Montana and my state of Wyoming in a way that allows them to recover and thrive," said Rep. Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming. "But still allows us to have jobs and a strong economy, clean air, clean water and all the reasons that we live in places like Wyoming and Montana."
Chairman Doc Hastings said Democrats on the Natural Resources Committee chose not attend the hearing or send a representative to testify.
However, Ross Lane, the director of the Western Values Project in Bozeman, gave his thoughts after the hearing.
"A pretty wide swath of Montanans believe in conservation," said Lane. "They believe in setting aside public lands and i think we heard a lot of that from the committee members. What we didn't hear was diverse opinions from sportsman's groups. From other landowners from the small businesses and different sectors of the state."
If you want to comment...Chairman Hastings says you may look up the Natural Resources Committee on line for more information.

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