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December 10, 2010

USDA raises funding to protect sage grouse population and habitat

USDA funds sage grouse protection

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service said it has increased funding to protect sage grouse populations and habitat in California and 10 other western states.

The NRCS will provide up to $30 million in the 11 states where sage grouse are found. Producers in these states can apply for financial assistance to improve sage grouse habitat or to reduce threats, such as habitat fragmentation, to the birds.

California will get $6.6 million for the initiative. Sage grouse are ground-dwelling birds native to the sagebrush steppe ecosystem of the American West. The birds, found at elevations ranging from 4,000 to more than 9,000 feet, depend on sagebrush for cover and food. For several decades, sage grouse populations and habitat have been declining.

Interested agricultural producers can find contact information for their local NRCS office by visiting www.ca.nrcs.usda.gov.

-- Carol Reiter

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