August 24, 2010
Georgia Parham 812-334-4261 x 1203
Oklahoma Grass Pink Orchid May Warrant Protection Under the Endangered Species Act
The Oklahoma grass pink orchid may warrant federal protection as a threatened or endangered species, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today, following an initial review of a petition seeking to protect the plant under the Endangered Species Act.
The Service will undertake a more thorough status review of the Oklahoma grass pink orchid to determine whether to propose adding the species to the federal lists of endangered and threatened wildlife and plants. On May 28, 2008, the Service received a petition from Dr. Douglas Goldman of the Harvard University Herbaria requesting that the orchid be listed as endangered or threatened under the ESA.
Today’s announcement, known as a 90-day finding, is based on scientific information about the species provided in the petition. The 90-day finding does not mean that the Service has decided it is appropriate to give the Oklahoma grass pink orchid federal protection under the ESA. Rather, this finding triggers a more thorough, 12-month status review of all the biological information available.
To ensure this status review is comprehensive, the Service is soliciting information from state and federal natural resource agencies and all interested parties regarding the Oklahoma grass pink orchid and its habitat.
Based on the results of the status review, the Service will make a 12-month finding with one of three possible determinations:
1) Listing is not warranted, in which case no further action will be taken.
2) Listing as threatened or endangered is warranted. In this case, the Service will publish a proposal to list, solicit independent scientific peer review of the proposal, seek input from the public, and consider the input before a final decision about listing the species is made. In general, there is a one-year period between the time a species is proposed and the final decision.
3) Listing is warranted but precluded by other, higher priority activities. This means the species is added to the federal list of candidate species, and the proposal to list is deferred while the Service works on listing proposals for other species that are at greater risk. A warranted but precluded finding requires subsequent annual reviews of the finding until such time as either a listing proposal is published, or a not warranted finding is made based on new information.
The Endangered Species Act requires all federal agencies to minimize the impact of their activities on listed species, and directs the Service to work with federal agencies and other partners to develop and carry out recovery efforts for those species. Listing also focuses attention on the needs of the species, encouraging conservation efforts by other agencies (federal, state and local), conservation groups and other organizations and individuals.
The Oklahoma grass pink orchid occupies moist, loamy prairies, savannas, and sandy woodlands from central Minnesota southward to Texas, including the states of Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Florida, with a few scattered populations further east in South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama.
The Service is seeking information about the status of the Oklahoma grass pink orchid and its habitat. You may submit information by one of the following methods:
· Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. In the box that reads “Enter Keyword or ID,” enter the docket number for this finding, which is FWS-R3-ES-2010-0034. Check the box that reads “Open for Comment/Submission,” and then click the Search button. You should then see an icon that reads “Submit a Comment.” Please ensure that you have found the correct rulemaking before submitting your comment.
· U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R3-ES-2010-0034; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203.
Comments must be received by October 25, 2010.
The complete 90-day finding appears in the August 24, 2010, Federal Register. For more information, please visit the Service’s web site at www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered
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