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Report: Sage-grouse recovery in Colorado and Utah to cost millions and take years

At sunrise, a single male Gunnison sage grouse framed by a rancher's barbed wire fence displays during a mating ritual on a lek on the sagebrush covered plains outside of Gunnison, Colorado. The species is severely threatened as its range has been greatly reduced. (Photo: iStock)

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — A federal agency says rebuilding a sage-grouse population found only in Colorado and Utah could take more than 50 years and cost nearly $561 million.

The Daily Sentinel reported Saturday that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has released a draft recovery plan for the Gunnison sage-grouse, which is listed as a threatened species.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife estimates the bird’s population at more than 3,000, primarily in Colorado’s Gunnison Basin.

Officials say the bird is found only in eight western Colorado counties and one eastern Utah county.

Planned recovery actions include invasive weed treatment and improved livestock grazing practices.

The largest proposed expense is nearly $309 million to acquire conservation easements or purchase private lands.

The plan was developed by federal, state and nongovernment organizations with local input.

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