Large swaths of sage and grassland desert in the West are the focal point of a contentious debate over protections for the sage grouse, a large bird that some enviros have taken to calling the “spotted owl of the desert.” The American Lands Alliance and other enviro groups are preparing to petition the feds to give Endangered Species Act protections to the Gunnison sage grouse, which lives in Colorado and Utah, and the Northern sage grouse, which lives in deserts across most other Western states. An ESA listing for the grouse could lead to restrictions on ranching, mining, fire suppression, and urban sprawl.