GREEN RIVER -- Bureau of Land Management officials have scheduled a three-day meeting in Cheyenne to draft alternatives for their management plan amendments aimed at better protecting Wyoming's sage grouse.

The sessions will run from Nov. 30 to Dec. 2 and will be held at the BLM's Wyoming State Office. Meetings begin at 10 a.m. each day.

Gov. Dave Freudenthal created a task force in 2007 that was charged with trying to keep the sage grouse from being listed for federal protections.

The team identified core areas where conservation efforts would have the most effect.

The next year, Freudenthal signed an executive order that required state agencies to focus on maintaining and enhancing sagebrush habitat within those core areas.

At the same, the BLM said it would toughen its standards for protecting sage grouse.

In January, the agency issued new guidelines to the BLM's field offices in Wyoming that are similar to the state's development guidelines.

The agency wants to take a more uniform approach by amending existing resource management plans in six of the field offices. The move should allow the agency to more consistently apply the new policy throughout Wyoming.

The BLM held two open house meetings to kick off the process in July in Casper and Rock Springs.

BLM spokeswoman Cindy Wertz said the alternatives to be drafted will form the basis for options regarding sage grouse habitat management and conservation across 15 million acres in the Newcastle, Casper, Rawlins, Rock Springs, Kemmerer and Pinedale field offices.

She said the BLM has determined changes in sage grouse habitat management are necessary in order to prevent the listing of the bird as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

Wertz said the meeting will be open to the public for observation. The group will discuss information and options regarding possible management policies.

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