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SCOTUS rules for Trump on ballot issue; CA high school students earn Google Career Certificates in high-demand fields; NY faith leaders help people address ecological grief; and a group offers abortion travel benefits for Mississippi women.

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The SCOTUS rules no state can remove a federal candidate from an election ballot saying that power rests with Congress, Super Tuesday primaries are today in sixteen states and a Colorado Court rules in the killing of Elijah McClain in police custody.

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Hard times could be ahead for rural school districts that spent federal pandemic money on teacher salaries, a former Oregon lumber community drafts a climate-action plan and West Virginians may soon buy raw milk from squeaky-clean cows.

There’s Money in the Sagebrush, but MT Needs Cooperation

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Monday, December 15, 2014   

WOLF POINT, Mont. - There's cash in Montana's sagebrush that is quite lucrative for rural communities.

Bureau of Land Management sagebrush landscapes in Montana and other Western states were connected to more than $1 billion in recreation and tourism spending last year, according to an economic report from the Western Values Project.

State Rep. Bridget Smith, D-Wolf Point, said that puts new perspective on sagebrush conservation, and the potential Endangered Species Act listing for the Greater sage-grouse is right in front of our noses, with a solid plan needed to avert a listing.

"We all need to work together," she said, "and that's everybody - oil companies, farmers, ranchers and tourists. We also need industry and we need jobs, so we have to plan ahead."

Gov. Steve Bullock issued an executive order on sage grouse and proposed $10 million in his budget for voluntary state stewardship projects.

Smith said oil and gas industry representatives also have indicated there's urgency in taking action. She added that there are many ways landowners, farmers and ranchers can be involved, such as enrolling land in the Conservation Stewardship Program or Environmental Quality Incentives Program through the Natural Resource Conservation Service.

Smith said the dream conservation plan would be one that protects existing rights, allows for new development, grows the tourism and recreation industry and commits to habitat conservation.

"The states need to work together also - Montana, Wyoming," she said. "We have to look at that, the whole picture - and I think that's teamwork."

Another player on the team is the BLM, and Smith said there have been promising signs, but thinks the agency needs to be more focused on habitat conservation.

The economic study is online at westernvaluesproject.org and Bullock's executive order is at governor.mt.gov.


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