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The Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

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

September 5, 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 DESERT YELLOWHEAD AS THREATENED

The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service has reopened the comment period on the proposal to list the desert yellowhead (Yermo xanthocephalus) as a threatened species pursuant to the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (Act), as amended. The comment period is being reopened until October 5, 2000 to accommodate the public notice requirement of the Act. In addition, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has asked the Service to consider a draft conservation agreement, dated March 2000 prior to making the final listing decision. The reopened comment period will allow further opportunity for all interested parties to submit comments on the proposal, as well as the draft conservation agreement for the desert yellowhead as it affects the Service’s listing decision.

The desert yellowhead was proposed for listing under the Act on December 22, 1998. The Service received comments on the proposal during a 60-day public comment period that closed on February 22, 1999. 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 Casper Star Tribune, Lander Journal, and Riverton Ranger.

The desert yellowhead is a tap-rooted, hairless, perennial herb with leafy stems up to 12 inches high. The species is restricted to an area of less than 5 acres of BLM land in Fremont County, Wyoming.

Surveys conducted since 1990 have failed to identify additional populations. The plant is easily recognized during its summer flowering season, so it seems likely that surveys would have found additional populations if they exist. Therefore, the species is vulnerable to extinction from even small-scale habitat degradation due to its small population size and limited geographic range. The complete proposed rule to list the desert yellowhead was published in the Federal Register on December 22, 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. Copies of the draft conservation agreement and proposed rule may be obtained from the same office or viewed at the Service’s web site at http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/endspp/plants - scroll down to Desert Yellowhead.

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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