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The Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

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

January 28, 2003

Contacts: Pete Plage (CO) 303-275-2370
Mary Jennings (WY) 307-774-2374, x32 (available 1/29/03)
Sharon Rose 303-237-7917, x415

             ECONOMIC ANALYSIS AND ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT REPORTS NOW
                                    AVAILABLE ON PROPOSED CRITICAL HABITAT FOR
                        THE PREBLE’S MEADOW JUMPING MOUSE; PUBLIC COMMENT
                                                                    PERIOD EXTENDED

Two new reports, an economic analysis and environmental assessment on the proposed critical habitat for the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse, appears on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s website of http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/preble To allow time to review these documents and to encourage comments, the Service is extending the public comment period on the proposed critical habitat for the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse 30 days from the date Federal Register notification is published. Comments may be mailed to Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse Comments, Colorado Ecological Services Field Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 755 Parfet Street, Suite 361, Lakewood, CO 80215 or faxed to 303-275-2371 or electronically mailed to <fw6_pmjm@fws.gov>.

"We are particularly interested in receiving public comments on the recently released draft economic analysis and environmental assessment, but we also welcome comments on the proposed rule to designate critical habitat that was published in July," said Ralph Morgenweck, director of the Service’s Mountain-Prairie Region.

The Fish and Wildlife Service proposes to designate habitat critical to the Preble’s 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 Preble’s mouse occurs in seven counties in Colorado, which include Boulder, Douglas, El Paso, Jefferson, Larimer, Teller, and Weld. Approximately 48 percent of Colorado’s proposed critical habitat is on state and federal land. In Wyoming, the counties of Albany, Converse, Laramie and Platte have Preble’s, and 22 percent of the proposed habitat is on state or federal land. Section 4 of the Endangered Species Act requires that the Service consider economic and other relevant impacts prior to making a final decision on what areas to designate as critical habitat.

Critical habitat identifies specific areas 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 Preble’s 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 Preble’s 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.

According to a court settlement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is required to finalize the designation of critical habitat for the Preble’s mouse by June 4, 2003.

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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