Forest Service wants to trim habitat for sage grouse

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The U.S. Forest Service wants to reduce designated habitat in Wyoming and Nevada for a ground-dwelling bird.

The agency said Friday its plan would target 200 square miles (800 square kilometers) now set aside for sage grouse in Wyoming and Nevada, with nearly all of the reduction in Wyoming.

A Wyoming official says the proposed changes simply align Forest Service plans with Wyoming’s map of state-designated sage grouse habitat.

More than 8,000 square miles (21,000 square kilometers) of national forest land has been set aside as protected habitat for the birds in Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming.

The Natural Resources Defense Council says the proposed reduction “unravels” a 2015 Forest Service conservation plan.

The agency said then the birds would not be listed as threatened or endangered because state and federal agencies had come up with plans to conserve its habitat.