• Pentagon Offers $2 Million Grant To Make Sure A Bird Doesn’t Disappear

    The Pentagon has taken an interest in the greater sage-grouse, so much so that it has allocated a $2 million grant to preserve 11,000 acres of the bird’s habitat.

    Ranchers and officials interested in improving the habitat will receive the grant, The Associated Press reports. Improvement includes things like removing trees, which would help eliminate prime hunting spots for predators like raptors that target sage-grouse eggs and chicks. The sage-grouse is a bird about the size of a chicken and has white feathers around its neck.

    Part of the reason for the grant is that sage-grouse numbers continue to dwindle, dropping to dangerously low levels. Matters have recently been made worse by a blaze in southwestern Idaho and eastern Oregon which took out a region known for sage-grouse habitat. The other reason is that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering listing the bird as an endangered species and will make a determination on that front Sept. 30.

    There used to be millions of the greater sage-grouse. Now, there are just a few hundred thousand left, spread out across 11 states. While the Bureau of Land Management has jurisdiction over most of that land, 13,000 square miles belong to the Naval Air Station Fallon, which is where the Pentagon comes into the picture.

    But so far, many members of Congress from Western states have opposed adding the sage-grouse to the Endangered Species Act, mostly because federal protections are extremely burdensome.

    The House’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act this year actually includes a provision to block the listing, which among other things, earned criticism from the White House and a veto threat.

    The Defense Department’s Military Services’ Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration Program approved the grant, said officials for the Nevada Department of Wildlife.

    “This unique partnership between the military and environmental partners is the first of its kind in Nevada,” Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval said in a statement, according to AP.

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