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The Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

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

 

April 11, 2006

Larry England 801-975-3330 ext 138
Diane Katzenberger 303-236-4578

 Service Reopens Comment Period Regarding the Proposal to List the Graham’s Beardtongue Under the Endangered Species Act and Designate Critical Habitat

Comment Period Extended Until May 19, 2006

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today reopened the comment period on its proposal to list the Graham’s beardtongue, an herbaceous perennial plant found in northwestern Colorado and northeastern Utah, as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). 

Reopening the comment period will also allow interested parties an additional opportunity to comment on the proposal to designate 3,503 acres as critical habitat in Rio Blanco County, Colorado, and Duchesne and Uintah Counties, Utah. 

Interested parties in Duchesne County, Utah requested a public hearing which will be held on Wednesday, April 26, 2006 in the Uintah  County Building, 147 East Main, Vernal, Utah.  This hearing will provide an opportunity for the public to comment on the two proposals.  The hearing will begin at 7:00 pm with a brief presentation followed by formal public testimonies until 9:00 pm.  Written comments will also be accepted at the hearing.  

Comments and data will be accepted until May 19, 2006 and should be sent to Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Utah Field Office, 2369 West Orton Circle, Suite 50, West Valley, Utah 84119 or via e-mail to fw6_penstemongrahamii@fws.gov or by faxsimile to 801-975-3331. 

The Service is particularly seeking information detailing definitive effects of oil shale operations and any demonstration of oil shale recovery technologies on Bureau of Land Management lands; success of ongoing oil shale or tar sands development projects, particularly in the Green River formation; and available economic and technological analyses. Comments are also being sought regarding the proposed critical habitat designation.  

A copy of the proposed rules and other information about the Graham’s beardtongue are available on the Internet at:  http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/species/plants/grahambeardtongue or by calling the Service’s Utah Field Office at 801-975-3330.

 

Today’s announcement concerning the reopening of the comment period and notice of the public hearing is scheduled for publication in the Federal Register on Thursday, April 13, 2006. 

The Graham’s beardtongue currently is known to exist in a series of small populations that extend in a narrow band from Raven Ridge west of the town of Rangely in Rio Blanco County, Colorado westward to the vicinity of Sand Wash near the point where Carbon, Duchesne, and Uintah Counties meet in Utah’s Uinta Basin. 

The Graham’s beardtongue is an herbaceous perennial plant within the sub-genus Cristai.  Each plant has one to three stems arising from a taproot.  These stems are 7-18 centimeters tall.  The plant has a cluster of flowers usually of 3 to 20 flowers, although occasionally just one or two flowers are present.  The color of the petals varies from light to dark lavender, or pinkish, with dark violet lines in the throat of the corolla tube. 

Threats to the plant may include loss of habitat due to oil and gas exploration, drilling and field development; and tar sand and oil shale mining.  Off-road vehicle use, overuse by domestic and wild animals, and overuse in the horticultural trade may also affect some populations.  These threats, in combination with small population sizes and the limited distribution of the plant, may make it vulnerable to natural and human-caused events. 

Native plants are important for their ecological, economic, and aesthetic values. Plants play an important role in development of crops that resist disease, insects, and drought. At least 25 percent of prescription drugs contain ingredients derived from plant compounds, including medicine to treat cancer, heart disease, juvenile leukemia, and malaria, and to assist in organ transplants. Plants are also used to develop natural pesticides.

 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, 64 fishery resources 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 and Native American tribal 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.

 - FWS -

 

 

 

 


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