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House Committee to Hear How States Manage Sage Grouse Habitat

The House Committee on Natural Resources is to hear from western state officials on Wednesday in an oversight hearing regarding management solutions for the greater sage grouse.

Those testifying at the hearing, according to the committee's website, are Scott Bedke, speaker of the Idaho House; Darin Bird, deputy director for the Utah Division of Natural Resources; John Tubbs, director of the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation; and J.J. Goicoechea, chairman of the Eureka County Commission in Nevada. Bedke and Goicoechea are Republicans.

"The hearing will examine the success of western state sage grouse management plans and will emphasize the need for continued local control over sage grouse management," the committee said. The hearing, "Empowering State Based Management Solutions for Greater Sage Grouse Recovery," begins at 10 a.m. at the Longworth House Office Building in Washington, DC.

The hearing comes on the heels of the Trump administration announcing earlier this month that it plans to reconsider protections for the sage grouse. Specifically, the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued notices stating it intends to reconsider land use plans from 2014 and 2015 designed to protect habitat; withdraw protections from 10 million acres of habitat on federal land; and cancel an associated environmental impact statement (EIS).

The withdrawal was prompted by a ruling in U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada last March, which ruled BLM violated the National Environmental Policy Act by failing to prepare a supplemental EIS for more than 2.8 million acres of sagebrush in Nevada and northeastern California.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke ordered a review of greater sage grouse protection plans last June, in part to determine whether any protections were interfering with energy development on public lands.

The greater sage grouse is found in California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

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