Montana enacts a sage grouse conservation plan without waiting for the feds . . .
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock has ordered state agencies to enact a program to conserve greater sage grouse populations by the start of next year as federal officials consider whether more sweeping protections are needed.
The order issued Tuesday follows on a 2014 grouse conservation plan that places some restrictions on oil and gas drilling and other activities blamed for driving down sage grouse numbers.
Critics of the state plan say it has too many loopholes allowing companies to get around the restrictions.