|The Mountain-Prairie Region|
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228
JOINT NEWS RELEASE
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE DENNIS REHBERG
U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE
December 20, 2005
Contacts: Diane Katzenberger, FWS, 303-236-4578 Brad Keena, Rep. Rehberg, 202-225-2490
U.S. Representative Dennis
Rehberg and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Announce Public Hearing and
Meetings Regarding the Proposed Critical Habitat Designation for Canada
Kalispell, Helena, and Great Falls Locations
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will host a public hearing on Tuesday, January 10, 2006 at the Westcoast Kalispell Center, 20 North Main Street, Kalispell, Montana to provide an opportunity for the public to comment on a proposal by the Service to designate critical habitat for Canada lynx in northwestern Montana and other parts of the species’ range in the lower 48 states. The hearing will begin at 6:00 pm with a brief informal presentation and discussion followed by formal public testimonies until 8:00 pm. Written comments will also be accepted at the hearing.
In addition to the public hearing, the Service has also scheduled public meetings on January 4, 2006 at the Lewis and Clark Public Library, 120 South Last Chance Gulch, Helena, Montana and January 5, 2006 at the Townhouse Inn, 1411 10th Avenue South, Great Falls, Montana. These meetings will be informational open houses with a presentation followed by a question-and-answer session and will run from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. The public can provide written comments at these meetings.
These additional informational meetings were scheduled in response to a request from U.S. Representative Dennis Rehberg (Montana – At Large) on behalf of Montanans interested in the proposed critical habitat and conservation status of Canada lynx.
"Montanans deserve a fair chance to actively participate in the discussion. I appreciate the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service realizing the importance of public involvement by providing more opportunities for Montanans to participate” said Representative Rehberg. Considering the large number of Montana counties affected by this proposal, it is important that Montanans have adequate opportunity to obtain additional information on this issue."
“The Service believes that the proposed critical habitat designation for Canada lynx is an appropriate approach that acknowledges conservation activities currently underway on Federally-managed lands throughout the lynx’s range,” said Mitch King, Acting Regional Director of the Service’s Mountain-Prairie Region. “We appreciate Congressman Rehberg’s interest in the conservation of Canada lynx and his efforts to help ensure Montanans are fully informed about the proposed critical habitat designation for this species,” King said.
The Service proposed critical habitat for the Canada lynx on November 9 in compliance with a court order. The proposal encompasses approximately 26,935 square miles of land in portions of northern Maine, northeastern Minnesota, the northern Rocky Mountains (northwestern Montana and a small portion of northern Idaho), and the Okanogan area of the northern Cascades in north-central Washington.
The area in Montana under consideration includes approximately 10,760 square miles in portions of Flathead, Glacier, Lake, Lewis and Clark, Lincoln, Missoula, Pondera, Powell, and Teton Counties. This value reflects National Forest lands that have not been proposed for designation.
The Canada lynx was listed in 2000 as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) throughout its range in the contiguous United States. The lynx currently lives in boreal forests in five geographic regions: the Northeast, the Great Lakes, the Northern Rocky Mountains, the Southern Rocky Mountains, and the Cascade Mountains. The Service is proposing to designate areas in four of these regions as critical habitat.
Areas proposed as critical habitat for the Canada lynx include boreal forest landscapes that provide beneficial habitat elements for the lynx, including snowshoe hares for prey and sufficient woody debris for use as den sites. All proposed areas have recent verified records of lynx occurrence and reproduction and thus are considered occupied.
Public comments on the proposed rule will be accepted until February 7, 2006. Written comments can be submitted via e-mail to FW6_lynx@fws.gov or mailed to Montana Field Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 100 N. Park Avenue, Suite 320, Helena, Montana 59601.
A copy of the proposed rule and other information about the Canada lynx is available on the Internet at http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/species/mammals/lynx or by calling the Service’s Montana Field Office at 406-449-5225.
The Service is preparing a draft economic analysis of the proposed critical habitat that will be released for public review and comment at a later date.
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 545 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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