Gov. Steve Bullock has signed into law a plan to pay for and enact Montana’s strategy to preserve a struggling bird species.
Bullock signed Senate Bill 261, the Sage Grouse Stewardship Act, during a small ceremony in his office Thursday.
The measure will provide millions of dollars for the state to conserve habitat for the chicken-sized birds. Part of the money will be used by the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation to hire at least five new employees to manage the program.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must decide by September 30 whether sage grouse should be added to the list of threatened and endangered species. Before then, Montana and other states want to demonstrate that sweeping federal protections aren’t needed.