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
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.