|The Mountain-Prairie Region|
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228
November 7, 2002
Kathleen Linder (303)275-2370
Jodi Bush (307)772-2374, x 31
Mike Long (307)772-2374, x34 (available 11/7)
Sharon Rose (303)236-7917, x415
U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE REOPENS PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD
FOR PROPOSED CRITICAL HABITAT FOR THE PREBLES
MEADOW JUMPING MOUSE IN COLORADO AND WYOMING
A public meeting in Golden, Colorado, on Thursday, November 21, provides the public with an additional opportunity to learn about critical habitat proposed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the Prebles meadow jumping mouse, a threatened species that exists only along the front range in Colorado and Wyoming. The meeting, which begins with a 1-hour presentation on the proposed habitat and a question and answer session followed by a more formal hearing setting, will begin at 1 p.m. and end at 4 p.m. in the first floor hearing room at the Jefferson County Courts and Administrative Building. A similar second meeting will be held from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. on the same day at the same location.
Comments on the Services proposed critical habitat should be mailed within 60 days to Prebles Mouse Comments, Colorado Ecological Services Field Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 755 Parfet St., Suite 361, Lakewood, CO 80215. They may also be mailed electronically to <firstname.lastname@example.org> or faxed to 303-275-2371. Comments that have already been submitted on the proposed critical habitat do not need to be sent again.
The Fish and Wildlife Service proposes to designate habitat critical to the Prebles meadow jumping mouse according to requirements of the Endangered Species Act. The proposed designation includes 19 habitat units totaling approximately 57,446 acres found along approximately 660 miles of rivers and streams in the states of Colorado (420 miles) and Wyoming (240 miles). The Prebles mouse occurs in seven counties in Colorado, which include Boulder, Douglas, El Paso, Jefferson, Larimer, Teller, and Weld. Approximately 48 percent of Colorados proposed critical habitat is on state and federal land. In Wyoming, the counties of Albany, Converse, Laramie and Platte have Prebles and 22 percent of the proposed habitat is on state or federal land.
Critical habitat identifies specific areas, both occupied and unoccupied by the mouse, that are essential to its conservation and that may require special management considerations or protection. 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.
The Prebles meadow jumping mouse, a small rodent listed as a threatened species in 1998, is known to occur only in eastern Colorado and southeastern Wyoming. It is closely associated with riparian ecosystems, which include narrow areas of land that are adjacent to streams, creeks or rivers. Changes in habitat, including degradation, and loss due to urban development, flood control, water development, agriculture and other human uses negatively impact the survival of this mouse. The Prebles mouse has a distinct dark, broad stripe on its back that runs from head to tail and is bordered on either side by gray to orange-brown fur.
A draft economic analysis will be completed and made available for public review and comment before the critical habitat designation is finalized. At the same time, the Service will make available a draft environmental assessment of this proposed designation. According to a court settlement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is required to finalize the designation of critical habitat for the Prebles mouse by June 4, 2003. Similar other public meetings on the critical habitat proposed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Colorado and Wyoming took place earlier this year.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System which encompasses nearly 540 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 70 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices 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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