This is a pretty good overview of the concerns and election-year politics behind the sage grouse preservation issue . . .
An obscure, chicken-sized bird best known for its mating dance could help determine whether Democrats or Republicans control the U.S. Senate in November.
The federal government is considering listing the greater sage grouse as an endangered species next year. Doing so could limit development, energy exploration, hunting and ranching on the 165 million acres of the bird’s habitat across 11 Western states.
Apart from the potential economic disruption, which some officials in Western states discuss in tones usually reserved for natural disasters, the specter of the bird’s listing is reviving the centuries-old debates about local vs. federal control and whether to develop or conserve the region’s vast expanses of land.