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Environmental group appeals massive juniper removal in Idaho

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 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.

The appeal filed by the group takes aim at the BLM’s scientific review and approval of the Bruneau-Owyhee Sage-Grouse Habitat Project released earlier this year.

The agency plans to remove juniper trees from about 1,100 square miles within a 2,600-square-mile area in Owyhee County over about 15 years.

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