CHEYENNE (AP) - The U.S. Department of Agriculture is providing $22 million to encourage ranchers and farmers to conserve habitat for sage grouse in Wyoming. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the new funding Thursday.
The funding will be provided through the USDA's Natural Resources and Conservation Service Sage Grouse Initiative. Over two years the program has allocated $112 million to protect sage grouse habitat in 11 western states: California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, the Dakotas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
Sage grouse are chicken-sized birds that have suffered severe habitat loss. Wyoming has more remaining sage grouse habitat than any other state.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced last year that sage grouse deserved federal protection but said other species in greater peril are higher priorities to protect as threatened or endangered.