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BLM IDs wilderness characteristics, grouse habitat

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 GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) -- A federal land inventory has identified 386,000
acres on the Hi-Line as having wilderness characteristics and 1.6 million acres of
 sage grouse habitat.
   The U.S. Bureau of Land Management analysis of 2.4 million acres in Hill, Blaine,
 Phillips, Valley and part of Liberty County is the first such inventory of
the area since the early 1980s.
   The Great Falls Tribune reports the BLM is not recommending any wilderness
study areas or protected wilderness designations.
   BLM planning and environmental coordinator Brian Hockett says management of
the newly inventoried land will be up for debate when a draft management plan is
released in January.
   The plan also will address sage grouse, as BLM officials hope to preserve the
 birds' habitat now to prevent their being protected under the Endangered Species Act.
   AP-WF-11-15-12 1420GMT

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