In reversal, Pentagon now says it backs GOP measure against protecting Western birds

FILE – In this April 22, 2015, file photo, a male sage grouse struts in the early morning hours outside Baggs, Wyo. An environmental group is challenging one of the largest-ever projects to remove juniper trees that federal officials say will protect habitat for imperiled sage grouse and also benefit cattle ranchers in southwestern Idaho. Western Watersheds Project in an administrative appeal filed Thursday, June 28, 2018, contends the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s project benefits mainly cattle and sheep grazing at the expense of sage grouse habitat that will be harmed by an influx of invasive weeds. (Dan Cepeda /The Casper Star-Tribune via AP, File) WYCAS501 WYCAS501

The sage grouse and lesser prairie chicken have become flashpoints in an ongoing battle over whether they warrant federal protection that could affect mining, development and military facilities from Kansas to California — including Washington state.

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