Federal Restrictions on Sage Grouse Habitat Lifted

Billings, Montana—The federal government has finalized changes to land use plans for Colorado and 10 other western states to ease energy industry restrictions  in a way officials say will protect the Greater Sage Grouse.  Environmentalists say the changes will undermine protections for the ground-dwelling bird. Acting Bureau of Land Management Director Brian Steed says the changes better align federal and state management of grouse habitat.  The changes had the support of both Democrat and Republican governors in the affected states including former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper.   Garfield County has long been an outspoken opponent to the restrictions that were originally imposed by the Obama Administration. Garfield County officials say based on independent research, the federal government’s data from earlier studies was flawed and incomplete and failed to take into account other factors that impacted the grouse population including predation.