A governor's council recommends restricting new development in sage grouse habitat in Montana to avoid federal protections that would lead to tighter rules.
Lee Newspapers of Montana reports the Greater Sage Grouse Advisory Council is recommending a "no surface occupancy" zone within one mile of active sage grouse breeding grounds and a quarter-mile buffer zone in less critical habitat. The group also recommended the state help fund conservation efforts.
Council member Glenn Marx of Helena says the state must show it's taking the proper steps so the federal government doesn't step in.
Gov. Steve Bullock says the group's recommendations will be included in a sage grouse protection proposal the state plans to submit to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which must decide by 2015 whether the ground-dwelling bird should be listed as endangered.