Massive project proposed to remove juniper trees in Idaho

BOISE - Federal officials are proposing one of the largest ever projects to remove juniper trees to protect habitat for imperiled sage grouse.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management announced Monday that it's taking public comments through Jan. 3 on the plan to eliminate trees from 940 square miles in southwest Idaho.

Experts say juniper trees have expanded to displace sage brush needed by the bird in many places in the West due to fire suppression efforts and other human activities.

Experts say the Idaho project could offer insights into how to deal with juniper forests that have sprung up in Western states in the last century.

The ground-dwelling, chicken-sized sage grouse are found in 11 Western states, where between 200,000 to 500,000 remain, down from a peak population of about 16 million.

Copyright 2016 KTVB


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