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Trump now wants Putin to visit the White House this fall; Also on the Friday rundown: health insurance rates to rise by almost 9 percent in California; and as the climate crises reaches “Zero Hour” young people take a stand.

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South Dakota a Leader in Sage-Grouse Habitat?

April 14, 2010

PIERRE, S.D. - A pair of federal agencies, the National Resources Conservation Service and the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, have signed an agreement to promote, protect and preserve greater sage-grouse habitat and ecosystems to help populations of the bird across much of its 11-state range.

Chris Hesla with the South Dakota Wildlife Federation says South Dakota has the right environment for rebuilding sage-grouse numbers.

"We still have a lot of open lands out in northwestern South Dakota; if we can keep the habitat, the animals and the sage grouse will thrive in it."

The federal agencies will work with private land owners and states to restore and develop sage-brush areas. The U.S. Department of Agriculture will provide $16 million to livestock producers to reduce such threats to the birds as disease and invasive species.

Hesla says the partnership is important to prevent the conversion of more acres from sage-grouse habitat to farm fields.

"We're losing more and more to the push for wheat and soybeans and everything, and the drought tolerance is allowing land that has been grass for years, and sage, you know, natural habitat, to be plowed under and planted."

The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department has allowed only two-day hunting seasons for sage grouse in the past few years, with an average of 18 birds being harvested. Western South Dakota is considered the eastern end of the sage-grouse range.

Jerry Oster, Public News Service - SD