Office of External Affairs
Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Mountain-Prairie Region
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

December 1, 2008

Contacts:  Mike Blenden 719-589-4021, x1001
                Barb Perkins 303-236-4588                          

 

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Provides Analysis Concerning Gunnison’s Prairie Dog on the Baca National Wildlife Refuge in Southern Colorado

After considering additional information regarding the Gunnison’s prairie dog, the Service has determined the original Finding of No Significant Impact for the final environment assessment of the “Planned Oil and Gas Exploration on Baca National Wildlife Refuge, in Saguache County, Colorado,” issued last month remains unchanged.

Detailed analysis of the effects of this project on the Gunnison’s prairie dog was inadvertently omitted from the Finding of No Significant Impact.  The Gunnison’s prairie dog had no special status at the time the draft environmental assessment was issued in January 2008.  Although the final environmental assessment acknowledges that the Service was preparing its 12-month finding, it did not recognize that the Gunnison’s prairie dog, in the montane portion of its range, was found warranted for listing under the Endangered Species Act.

Although gas and oil exploration activities on the Refuge that follow the existing protection measures included in the final environmental assessment will not likely affect the Gunnison’s prairie dog colony, it will be a priority for environmental monitoring to determine if the Service needs to implement additional, emergency protective measures allowed in the assessment.

Copies of the final Environmental Assessment and the supplement regarding the Gunnison’s Prairie Dog are available for viewing or downloading on the Service’s website at: http://www.fws.gov/alamosa/BacaNWR.html .  Those without internet access may request copies by calling the San Luis Valley National Wildlife Refuge Complex at 719-589-4021.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

-fws-