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News & Releases
Mountain-Prairie Region

News Release

Service Announces Six-Month Extension for Endangered Species Listing Determination and Designation of Critical Habitat for Gunnison Sage-Grouse

For Immediate Release

July 15, 2013


Photo of a Sage Grouse. Credit: USFWS

Public Comment Period Reopens for 45 days

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced a six-month extension for a final decision on a proposed rule to provide Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection for the Gunnison sage-grouse (Centrocercus minimus), and a proposed rule that would designate areas of southwestern Colorado and southeastern Utah as critical habitat for the bird under the ESA. The Service is taking this action in response to additional scientific information recently received and to public comments before making a final determination on these rules. Publication of this announcement will reopen the public comment period on the proposed rules for 45 days.

Both proposed rules had initial public comment periods that ended April 2, 2013, with a date for making final determinations set for September 30, 2013. The Service is now extending the timeline for the decisions by six months, until March 31, 2014. The reopened public comment period will end on September 3, 2013.

“We heard loud and clear from many people invested in Gunnison sage-grouse conservation that there is additional scientific information we should consider during our decision-making process,” said the Service’s Mountain-Prairie Regional Director Noreen Walsh. “In order to consider that information and make use of the best available science, we are extending the timeline on our final decision on how to best conserve this important sagebrush species.”

During the first public comment period, the Service received information indicating substantial disagreement regarding the interpretation of scientific literature, and literature that may not have been fully considered. This information includes Gunnison sage-grouse population trends, the scope of and effectiveness of Gunnison County’s regulatory mechanisms in addressing threats to Gunnison sage-grouse, projections about the extent of future residential development within the range of the species, and what constitutes historical habitat and important current habitat for the species.

Details regarding the information the Service is seeking are available in the notice announcing this extension, which publishes on July 19, 2013, in the Federal Register. You may obtain copies of this notice and the proposed rules on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-R6-ES-2012-0108 for the proposed endangered status for Gunnison sage-grouse; or Docket No. FWS-R6-ES-2011-0111 for the proposed designation of critical habitat for Gunnison sage-grouse. Copies of the extension notice and the proposed rules are also available here.

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The Service will accept written comments and information during this extended comment period and will consider information and recommendations from all interested parties. Anyone who previously submitted comments or information on the proposed rules should not resubmit them; they have already been incorporated into the public record, and the Service will fully consider them in the preparation of its final determinations.

Anyone wishing to submit comments may do so by one of the following methods:

(1) Electronically:

Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: www.regulations.gov. In the search box, enter the appropriate Docket No: Docket No. FWS-R6-ES-2012-0108 for the proposed endangered status for Gunnison sage-grouse; or Docket No. FWS-R6-ES-2011-0111 for the proposed designation of critical habitat for Gunnison sage-grouse. Then, in the Search panel on the left side of the screen, under the Document Type heading, check on the Proposed Rules link to locate the proposed rule. You may submit a comment by clicking on “Comment Now!”

(2) By hard copy:

For the proposed endangered status for Gunnison sage-grouse, submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to:

Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R6-ES-2012-0108; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203. For the proposed designation of critical habitat for Gunnison sage-grouse, submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R6-ES-2011-0111; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203.

The Service will post all comments on www.regulations.gov; this generally includes any personal information provided to the Service with the comments.

The Endangered Species Act provides an important safety net for America’s native fish, wildlife, and plants. This landmark conservation law has prevented the extinction of hundreds of imperiled species across the nation and promoted the recovery of many others. The Service is working to actively engage conservation partners and the public in the search for improved and innovative ways to conserve and recover imperiled species. To learn more about the Endangered Species Program, visit www.fws.gov/endangered.

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/mountain-prairie. Connect with our Facebook page, follow our tweets, watch our YouTube Channel, and download photos from our Flickr page.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Office of External Affairs

Mountain-Prairie Region

134 Union Blvd

Lakewood, CO 80228

303-236-7905

303-236-3815 FAX

www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/

Contacts

Robert Segin
(303) 236-4578
robert_segin@fws.gov




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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.
May 24, 2013
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