- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 22, 2015

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - Montana officials are relieved by the Interior Department’s decision not to recommend endangered species protections for the greater sage grouse, but they are critical of the new conservation plans meant to protect the bird’s habitat on federal lands.

The final amendments to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s land-use plans were released Tuesday along with the Interior Department’s announcement that more sweeping protections aren’t warranted.

The BLM plans call for restrictions on 67 million acres throughout the West. About 9 million acres of sage grouse habitat in Montana are in federally controlled lands.

Gov. Steve Bullock has criticized the BLM plans as being more restrictive than the state’s own sage grouse conservation plan. Bullock spokesman Mike Wessler says state officials will pressure the BLM to adjust its plans to make them more consistent with Montana’s.

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