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The Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

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

 

March 17, 2004                             

Contacts: Vernon Tabor (KS, NE, SD, IA, MN, MO) 785-539-3474 ext 110                    Diane Katzenberger (KS, NE, SD) 303-236-4578
                  Georgia Parham (IA, MN, MO) 812-334-4261 ext 203

 Draft Economic Analysis and Draft Environmental Assessment Regarding the Topeka Shiner Critical Habitat Proposal Available for Public Comment

Comment Period for Proposal to Designate Critical Habitat Reopened

 The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service is today reopening the comment period for the proposal to designate critical habitat for the Topeka shiner, an endangered Midwestern minnow, to reconsider whether certain lands in Missouri and on the Fort Riley Military Installation in Kansas should be excluded from critical habitat consideration.  The Service is also proposing 20 additional stream miles in South Dakota.

 A draft environmental assessment and draft economic analysis of the potential impacts of designating critical habitat for the Topeka shiner are also available for public comment.  To give the public an opportunity to comment on these documents as well as the critical habitat proposal, the Service is reopening the public comment period until April 15, 2004.

 An economic report analyzing the potential impacts of designating critical habitat is required whenever critical habitat is proposed.  Under the Endangered Species Act, the Fish and Wildlife Service may exclude areas from a critical habitat designation if the benefits of excluding them are greater than the benefits of including them, unless the exclusion would result in the extinction of the protected species. 

The economic analysis estimates the cost of the proposed critical habitat designation for private landowners, and federal, state, and local agencies to be $52.19 million over the next 10 years. The cost estimate includes probable consultations, project modifications, the development of biological assessments and environmental impact reports, and technical assistance and administrative tasks.

On August 21, 2002, the Service published a proposal to designate a total of 2,340 miles of stream as critical habitat for the Topeka shiner in the States of Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, and South Dakota.  We also proposed to exclude from critical habitat designation Topeka shiner habitat in the State of Missouri and on the Fort Riley Military Installation.

Critical habitats are those areas believed to be essential to the conservation of a listed species and that may require special management considerations or protection.  Because the State of Missouri and Fort Riley already have management plans that provide for the conservation of Topeka shiner, those lands were excluded from the Topeka shiner critical habitat proposal.  However, a recent court opinion disagreeing with the Service’s interpretation of a special management plan for another species has prompted the Service to reconsider the previous exclusions of certain Topeka shiner habitats. 

 The Service is reconsidering the designation of 92 miles of stream in the State of Missouri, and 24 miles of stream on the Fort Riley Military Installation.  For each of these areas, the economic report analyzes whether the benefits of including these areas outweighs the benefits of excluding them.

 In our original August 21, 2002 proposal to designate critical habitat for the Topeka shiner, the Service proposed to designate 40 stream segments in South Dakota totaling 917 miles of stream channel.  Since that time, we have received additional information indicating that habitat within Stray Horse Creek, Hamlin County, South Dakota is essential to the conservation of Topeka shiner. The Service, therefore, is now adding one additional stream reach of approximately 20 miles in that area as critical habitat. 

 The State of South Dakota has recently completed a management plan for the Topeka shiner.  The Service will evaluate that plan and may consider excluding critical habitat in South Dakota if the plan provides adequate conservation measures for the Topeka shiner.

 The Service is also considering exempting the State of Kansas from critical habitat designation as the Topeka shiner is a State-listed threatened species with State-designated critical habitat.  The Service will evaluate whether a Federal critical habitat designation would appreciably benefit the Topeka shiner beyond the protection already afforded the species under the Endangered Species Act and State laws and regulations. 

The public is invited to comment on the proposal to designate critical habitat for the Topeka shiner as well as the draft environmental assessment and draft economic analysis.  While all comments regarding these documents are welcome, we are specifically seeking comments regarding:  the reasons any area in Missouri or Fort Riley, Kansas should or should not be designated as critical habitat; current or planned land use activities in the subject areas in Missouri or Fort Riley and their possible impacts on proposed critical habitat; any foreseeable economic or other impacts resulting from designation of critical habitat in Missouri or Fort Riley; and economic and other values associated with designating critical habitat for the Topeka shiner in Missouri or Fort Riley.

 Written comments should be submitted to Topeka Shiner Critical Habitat Comments, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Kansas Ecological Services Field Office, 315 Houston Street, Suite E, Manhattan, Kansas 66502 of by facsimile to 785-539-8567.  Comments must be received by April 15, 2004.  Comments previously submitted regarding the critical habitat proposal need not be resubmitted as they have been incorporated into the public record and will be fully considered in preparation of the final rule.

A notice of availability of the draft economic analysis and draft environmental assessment was published today in the Federal Register.  Because the Service has been disconnected from the Internet for an undetermined period of time, these documents will not be available on our web site; however; these documents and the proposal to designate critical habitat for the Topeka shiner are available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the above address.  Requests for copies can also be made by calling 785-539-3474 or by facsimile to 785-539-8567.

The Topeka shiner is found in small-to-mid-size prairie streams of the central prairie regions of the United States with relatively high water quality and cool‑to‑moderate temperatures.  Many of these streams exhibit perennial flow, although some become intermittent during summer or periods of prolonged drought.  The Topeka shiner=s historic range includes portions of Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, and South Dakota.  The species continues to exist in these States, but in most areas its range is greatly reduced.

The Service published a final rule on December 15, 1998, designating the Topeka shiner as an endangered species but did not designate critical habitat for the species at that time.  A draft recovery plan is currently under review within the Service.

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 544 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 63 Fish and Wildlife Management offices and 81 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 Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

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