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Full EpisodeThe Sagebrush Sea

It’s been called The Big Empty – an immense sea of sagebrush that once stretched 500,000 square miles across North America, exasperating thousands of westward-bound travelers as an endless place through which they had to pass to reach their destinations. Yet it’s far from empty, as those who look closely will discover. In this ecosystem anchored by the sage, eagles and antelope, badgers and lizards, rabbits, wrens, owls, prairie dogs, songbirds, hawks and migrating birds of all description make their homes.

In 2015, a cooperative agreement among western state, federal, and local partners protected 10 million acres of habitat to ensure survival of the Greater Sage-Grouse.

In December 2018, the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management revealed a plan to remove more than 8 million of these acres from protection, leaving the future of the species in the hands of state governments.