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Interior move to pull back sage-grouse protections draws concern - KTVQ.com | Q2 | Continuous News Coverage | Billings, MT

Interior move to pull back sage-grouse protections draws concerns from Montana, Wyoming governors

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BILLINGS - An announcement from the U.S. Department of Interior that it's withdrawing protections for 10 million acres used by the threatened sage grouse has drawn mixed reactions from the governors of Montana and Wyoming. 

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, said Interior's approach to Sage Grouse fuels uncertainty. 

"I'm worried they are heading down a path that not only undermines years of bipartisan collaboration between private landowners, conservation groups, industry and state and federal partners, but also invites new risks of an endangered species act listing," he said in a statement released Thursday.

Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead, a Republican, encouraged the agency to better align with Wyoming’s state plan.

"There are positive changes that can be made to the federal plans, but we should be careful and thoughtful about how we do that," he said in a statement.

The proposed plan would allow mining and other development in areas where it is now prohibited across six western states including Montana.

A recent analysis by the Bureau of Land Management showed that mining or grazing would not pose a significant threat to the sage grouse.

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