BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Federal officials are considering creating a fuel break system in southwest Idaho, southeast Oregon and northern Nevada to limit the size of destructive rangeland wildfires and protect habitat for sage grouse.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management announced Tuesday the 5,600-square-mile Tri-State Fuel Break Project proposed to create gaps in combustible vegetation along existing roads on public lands in the three states. Officials say the area contains one of the largest intact strongholds for greater sage grouse in the northern Great Basin but faces wildfire threats from invasive annual grasses, notably fire-prone cheatgrass.

Sage grouse are ground-dwelling, chicken-sized birds found in 11 Western states, where between 200,000 to 500,000 remain, down from a peak population of about 16 million. Comments on the plan are being taken through Feb. 3.

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