Feds to change protections for at-risk bird in 5 states

The U.S. Forest Service says it’s changing sage grouse protection plans in five Western states to conserve habitat for the at-risk bird while allowing ranchers to maintain their livelihoods.

The federal agency made the announcement Thursday, but details of the plans involving Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming and Colorado aren’t being made public until Friday.

The Forest Service says the plan allows for greater flexibility and local control.

Environmental groups blasted it based on the Forest Service’s three-bullet-point summary of the final environmental impact statement, which are typically long and complex documents.

Western Watersheds Project says the plan guts protections for sage grouse created under the Obama administration in 2015.

Sage grouse are chicken-sized, ground-dwelling birds considered an indicator species for the health of vast sagebrush landscapes in the U.S. West.

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