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Originally published Friday, February 1, 2013 at 2:22 PM

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Oregon deal would stave off sage grouse listing

Ranchers in Eastern Oregon hope to keep sage grouse from the endangered species list, which could mean more restrictions and fewer cows on federal range.

AP Environmental Writer

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GRANTS PASS, Ore. —

Ranchers in Eastern Oregon hope to keep sage grouse from the endangered species list, which could mean more restrictions and fewer cows on federal range.

So they're working on a first-in-the nation deal to lay out voluntary steps they can take to reduce the harm to sage grouse on 10 million acres of federal grazing lands.

Warner Valley rancher John O'Keefe has been working on the agreement with the Bureau of Land Management and the Fish and Wildlife Service.

He says ranchers want to control their own destiny.

The cattlemen were supposed to sign the conservation agreement this week, but backed out when some members wanted to go over details. BLM spokesman Jeff Clark says they hope to have it finished in two or three weeks.

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