Office of External Affairs
Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

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

For Immediate Release

October 1, 2012

Contact: Leith Edgar, (303) 236-4588; leith_edgar@fws.gov


Service Proposes to Protect Coral Pink Sand Dunes Tiger Beetle Under the Endangered Species Act

Agency Seeks Information from the Public, Scientific Community Before Making Final Decision

 

Coral Pink Sand Dune Tiger Beetle. Credit: Mark Capone / USFWS
Coral Pink Sand Dune Tiger Beetle. Credit: Mark Capone / USFWS.

Current evidence suggests that the Coral Pink Sand Dunes tiger beetle (Cicindela albissima) may become threatened with extinction in the foreseeable future, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced today. As a result, the Service has proposed to protect the species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and is seeking new information from the public and the scientific community that will assist the agency in making a final determination.

The Coral Pink Sand Dunes tiger beetle is a species of insect that occupies the Coral Pink Sand Dunes geologic feature in Kane County, Utah. The Coral Pink Sand Dunes tiger beetle has one of the smallest geographical ranges of any known insect.  Currently, known populations are restricted to two small areas within the Coral Pink Sand Dunes geological feature on Bureau of Land Management and Utah State Park lands.

The Service first identified the Coral Pink Sand Dunes tiger beetle as a candidate for ESA protection in 1984, due to the threat posed by off-road vehicle use. The species continues to experience habitat loss due to off-road vehicle use, and it is also threatened by the effects of drought and climate change.

Service biologists have identified 2,276 acres in Kane County, Utah that contain sand dune habitat essential to the conservation of the species. Of the total acreage identified, 767 acres are located within Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, and 1,508 acres are located on land managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

The ESA requires the Service to identify the location of habitat essential for the conservation of the species, which the Act terms “critical habitat.” This identification helps Federal agencies identify actions that may affect listed species or their habitat, and to work with the Service to avoid or minimize those impacts. Identifying this habitat also helps raise awareness of the habitat needs of imperiled species and focus the conservation efforts of other partners such as state and local governments, non-governmental organizations, and individual landowners.

Although non-federal lands have initially been included in these areas, activities on these lands are not affected now, and will not necessarily be affected if the species is protected under the ESA in the future. Only if an activity is authorized, funded or carried out by a federal agency will the agency need to work with the Service to help landowners avoid, reduce or mitigate potential impacts to listed species or their identified habitat.

Today’s proposal is part of the Service’s efforts to implement a court-approved work plan that resolves a series of lawsuits concerning the agency’s ESA Listing Program. The intent of the agreement is to significantly reduce litigation-driven workloads and allow the agency to focus its resources on the species most in need of the ESA’s protections over the next five years.

The final decision to add the Coral Pink Sand Dunes tiger beetle to the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants, as well as the final identification of areas containing habitat essential to the species, will be based on the best scientific information available. In addition, the Service will utilize an economic analysis to inform and refine its identification of this habitat. Only areas that contain habitat essential to the conservation of the species, and where the benefits of this habitat outweigh potential economic impacts, will be included in the final identification.

The Service will open a 60-day public comment period on October 2nd to allow the public to review and comment on the proposal and provide additional information. All relevant information received from the public, government agencies, the scientific community, industry, or any other interested parties will be considered and addressed in the agency’s final listing determination for the species and identification of habitat essential to its conservation.

Comments and information may be submitted to the Federal Register online through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov (follow the instructions for submitting comments and use Docket No. FWS–R6-ES-2012-0053) or via U.S. mail or hand delivery to Utah Ecological Services Field Office at 2369 West Orton Circle, Suite 50, West Valley, Utah 84119 (telephone 801-975-3330; facsimile 801-975-3331). Comments must be received or on or before December 26, 2012.

More information is available online at http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/endspp/invertebrates.html.

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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.

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