Associated Press
Greater sage grouse perform their annual mating ritual near a blind south of the North Park community of Walden, Colo.

SALT LAKE CITY — A series of public meetings has been scheduled across the state to tap public comment about management of the greater sage grouse population in Utah.

The meetings, hosted by the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service, are the result of an Interior Department directive for the agencies to incorporate conservation strategies for the bird in land-management plans.

In support of that, a draft environmental impact statement must be prepared, in part drawing on feedback from the public regarding protections that should be afforded to species, which has seen critical challenges to its habitat because of wildfires, urban encroachment and invasive species.

The meetings, held in an open-house format from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., are as follows:

Price, today at Carbon County Event Center, 310 S. Fairgrounds Road

Vernal, Wednesday at Western Park Convention Center, 300 E. 200 South

Salt Lake City, Thursday at Hampton Inn & Suites-SLC Airport, 307 N. Admiral Byrd Road

Randolph, Monday at Randolph Senior Center, 5 N. Main

Snowville, Jan. 24 at Snowville Town Hall, 20 W. Main

Richfield, Jan. 30 at Sevier County Clerk's Office, Room B46, 250 N. Main

Kanab, Jan. 31 at Kanab City Library, 374 N. Main

Cedar City, Feb. 1 at Heritage Center-Festival Hall, 105 N. 100 East

Both agencies say they plan to have protective measures incorporated into land-use plans by September 2014.

The public has until Feb. 7 of this year to provide comment on a conservation strategy that will impact 10 Western states, including Utah.

Comments can be emailed to [email protected] or faxed to 775-861-6747. They may also be mailed to Western Region Project Manager, BLM Nevada State Office, 1340 Financial Blvd., Reno, NV 89502.

Native to Utah, the greater sage grouse population once thrived, but has been diminished to nearly 50 percent of what it was during pioneer times. The Utah Division of Wildlife Services lists the species as sensitive.

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