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(Salt Lake City-AP) -- Utah's fifth straight year of drought is having a drastic impact on sagebrush in some parts of the state.
Kevin Conway is director of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. He spoke to lawmakers yesterday about the dry weather. He says it's a big problem that 95 percent of the sagebrush in parts of the Uinta Basin is dead. The area west of Price is likewise afflicted.
Mule deer depend on sagebrush for winter food. And wildlife officials say Utah's deer herd is still more than 100-thousand animals short of where it should be.
The pygmy rabbit and the sage grouse -- both candidates for a spot on the endangered list -- also rely on sagebrush.
Snowpack is way below normal. One wildlife officer told the lawmakers that he was able to drive up to nine-thousand, five hundred feet in elevation in the Uinta Mountains yesterday. Normally, he wouldn't be able to do that until the end of June.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)