RENO, Nev. (AP) — The governor of gold-rich Nevada is pressing the Obama administration to alter its sage grouse protection plan to free up thousands of mining claims by shrinking the restricted area in exchange for making other unprotected areas off limits.

Gov. Brian Sandoval also argues that restoring burned out rangeland and reining in wild horse herds is a much more effective way to protect the chicken-sized bird. Sandoval maintains in documents obtained by The Associated Press his alternative would exclude only about 6 percent of the federal land the government has temporarily withdrawn from future mineral development in Nevada.

Under the government's current plan, previously unverified mining claims are effectively frozen across 4,200 square miles of the Silver State. That's an area nearly as large as the state of Connecticut.