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The Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

May 18, 2000
Diane Katzenberger 303-236-7917 ext 408
Mary Jennings 307-772-2374
Mike Long 307-772-2374

FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE REOPENS COMMENT PERIOD
ON PROPOSAL TO LIST COLORADO BUTTERFLY PLANT AS THREATENED

The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service has reopened the comment period on the proposal to list the Colorado butterfly plant (Guara neomexicana ssp. coloradensis) as a threatened species pursuant to the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (Act), as amended. The comment period is being reopened until June 16, 2000 to accommodate the public notice requirement of the Act. In addition, the extended comment period will allow the Service to review and consider any new scientific information on the plant.

The Colorado butterfly plant was proposed for listing under the Act on March 24, 1998. The Service received comments on the proposal during a 60-day public comment period that closed on May 26, 1998. However, the Act requires that a summary of proposed species listings be published in a newspaper of general circulation in each area of the United States in which the species is believed to occur. Due to an oversight, this requirement was not met. Therefore, we are reopening the comment period and publishing the required notices in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle, Western Nebraska Observer, and the Ft. Collins Coloradoan.

The Colorado butterfly plant is a short-lived perennial herb found in moist areas of floodplains within a small area in southeastern Wyoming, western Nebraska, and north-central Colorado. It stands 2-3 feet tall with one or a few reddish, fuzzy stems and white flowers that turn pink or red with age.

The Colorado butterfly plant is currently known from 22 populations with a total of less than 26,000 individuals. Most populations are found on private land and are not considered secure at this time. Indiscriminate herbicide spraying, haying and mowing at certain times of the year, some water development, land conversion for cultivation, competition from exotic plants, and loss of habitat to urban growth are the main threats to the plant. The low numbers and limited distribution of this plant contribute to its vulnerability. The complete proposed rule to list the Colorado butterfly plant was published in the Federal Register on March 28, 1998.

The Endangered Species Act directs Federal agencies to protect and promote the recovery of listed species. Collection of listed plants on Federal lands is unlawful. In addition, proposed Federal projects and actions require review to ensure they will not jeopardize the survival of the species. For private and non-Federal landowners, consultations come into play only in cases where activities affecting listed species require Federal funding or permitting. The Act does not prohibit "take" of listed plants on private lands, but landowners must comply with any State laws protecting imperiled plants.

Native plants are important for their ecological, economic and aesthetic values. Plants play an important role in development of crops that resist disease, insects and drought. At least 25 percent of prescription drugs contain ingredients derived from plant compounds, including treatments for cancer, juvenile leukemia, heart disease and malaria, and medicines to assist in organ transplants. Plants are also being used to develop natural pesticides.

Comments and additional information regarding this proposal should be mailed to the Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4000 Airport Parkway, Cheyenne, Wyoming 82001.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish and wildlife and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 93-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System comprised of more than 500 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands, and other special management areas. It also operates 66 national fish hatcheries and 78 Ecological Services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.


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