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Jewell: West sagebrush defense program will endure

Goal is to protest sage grouse habitat

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Interior Secretary Sally Jewell says a new wildfire-fighting plan to protect a wide swath of sagebrush country in the West that supports cattle ranching and is home to an imperiled bird will likely continue after the Obama administration ends.

Jewell spoke Tuesday after getting her last update at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, where managers oversee the nation's firefighting resources.

Jewell's 2015 secretarial order to protect sagebrush steppe is considered by public lands experts, outdoor enthusiasts and scientists as one of the most significant federal land policy changes since 1934.

It directed federal resources for the first time to fight blazes in open sagebrush steppe that supports cattle ranching, recreation and some 350 species of wildlife, including sage grouse.

Western Republican governors have supported the effort.


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