WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court has decided to let stand a Bush administration designation of 8.6 million acres in four Western states as critical habitat for an endangered owl.

The justices on Tuesday rejected an appeal from cattle ranchers that challenged the designation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and lower court rulings that upheld it.

The designation covers land in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah that is critical habitat for the Mexican spotted owl. The designation is aimed at protecting the habitat from activities that remove forest cover, including logging, cattle grazing, urban sprawl or power lines.

The case is Arizona Cattle Growers' Association v. Salazar, 10-454.

Copyright 2011 The AP.

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