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Environmentalists Get To Join Fight Over Sage Grouse Rules

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Federal judges in Washington D.C. and Nevada have agreed to give environmental lawyers a seat at the table in separate legal battles between the government and opponents of new U.S. protections for the greater sage grouse.

The Wilderness Society, National Wildlife Federation and mining watchdog group Earthworks all recently won formal intervenor status in lawsuits several Nevada counties filed in Reno and Idaho's governor filed in Washington last fall.

The environmentalists say they back the Obama administration's new land use planning amendments that protect thousands of square miles of grouse habitat across the West. But they say they have their own interests that can't be adequately represented by the government's lawyers at the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management.