Utah hatches plan to protect sage grouse

** FILE ** This April 2007 file photo provided by the Nevada Department of Wildlife shows a male and female sage grouse in the mountains near Reno, Nev. (AP Photo/Nevada Department of Wildlife, Kim Toulouse)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – Utah has come up with its own plan to protect the sage grouse.

The state’s plan, released Wednesday, aims to invite those birds back by restoring sage brush burned up by wildfires and overtaken by juniper.

The plan comes as federal officials are considering naming the birds an endangered species.

But Utah Public Lands Director Kathleen Clarke says the “endangered” label would impose a costly and burdensome slew of regulations on Utah.

Others contend it would disrupt the state’s oil, gas, and mining industries, among others.

Biologists say the bird has lost 90 percent of its historic habitat.

Wildfires, invasive plants and humans have driven the birds from their canyon homes in a number of western states.

The birds sport singular features resembling a white shawl and black spikey plumes.

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