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The Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

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

August 20, 2002
Contacts: Sharon Rose 303-236-7917, x415
                Peter Plage 303-275-2370
                Mary Jennings 307-772-2374, x32

UPCOMING PUBLIC MEETINGS TO BE HELD IN COLORADO AND WYOMING
ON PROPOSED CRITICAL HABITAT FOR THE
PREBLE’S MEADOW JUMPING MOUSE

As part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposal to designate habitat critical for the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse, a threatened species, it will hold public meetings in Colorado and Wyoming. Provided at each meeting will be a short presentation to describe the critical habitat that is being proposed, followed by an opportunity for the public to ask questions and a formal hearing to record comments and official statements. All meetings will start at 5:00 p.m. and end at 9:00 p.m. Exact locations include:

1. August 27, 2002: Laramie County Community College, Centennial Room, 1400 E. College Drive, Cheyenne, Wyoming.

2. August 28, 2002: Platte County Library, 904 Ninth Street, Wheatland, Wyoming.

3. August 28, 2002: Douglas County Philip Miller Building, 100 Third Street, Castle Rock, Colorado.

4. August 29, 2002: Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, Board/Hearing Room (lower level-east entrance), 1250 North Wilson Avenue (west side of town-Highway 34/Eisenhower and Wilson), Loveland, Colorado.

Comments may also be mailed by September 16, 2002, to the Service’s Ecological Service office at 755 Parfet Street, Suite 361, Lakewood, Colorado 80215. Comments may also be electronically submitted to fw6_pmjm@fws.gov by the same date.

"The designation of critical habitat for the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse will help focus federal, state, and private management efforts in areas that are important to the

conservation of this mouse," said Ralph Morgenweck, the Service’s Director of the Mountain-Prairie Region. "The Service will make a final decision on the proposed designations only after considering the economic impacts and receiving input from the public," Morgenweck added.

The proposed designation includes 19 habitat units in four counties in Wyoming and seven counties in Colorado. In Wyoming, approximately 240 miles of stream (20,000 acres) are proposed as critical habitat in the counties of Albany, Converse, Laramie and Platte of which 22 percent is on state or federal lands. In Colorado, 450 miles of stream (40,000 acres) in Boulder, Douglas, El Paso, Jefferson, Larimer, Teller, and Weld counties are being proposed. Approximately 48 percent of Colorado’s proposed critical habitat is on state and federal land.

The Preble’s meadow jumping mouse is closely associated with riparian ecosystems, which are those narrow areas of land that are adjacent to streams, creeks or rivers.

As a listed species under the Endangered Species Act, the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse is already protected wherever it occurs and federal agencies are required to consult on any action they take that might affect the species. While designation of critical habitat for the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse adds little or no additional protection, it does contribute to its conservation by helping federal agencies determine when and where they must consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service before undertaking actions that may destroy or adversely modify the species’ habitat.

The Preble’s meadow jumping mouse was listed as a threatened species in 1998. By law, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is required to designate critical habitat for a species when it is listed as threatened or endangered unless it is not prudent or not determinable. As a result of a court settlement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was required to propose critical habitat by June 4, 2002, and designate it by June 4, 2003.

"Critical habitat" refers to specific geographic areas that contain habitat features essential for the conservation of a threatened or endangered species and that require special management considerations. Critical habitat only applies to situations where federal funding or a federal permit is involved. Designation of critical habitat does not affect private landowners undertaking a project on private land that does not involve a federal action, funding or require a federal permit or authorization.

Additional information on the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse can be found on the website at http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/preble.

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