The Preble's meadow jumping mouse, first identified in 1895, inhabits wet meadows and riparian habitats along the eastern edge of the Colorado Front Range below 7,400 feet in elevation and similar habitats in southeastern Wyoming. Surveys conducted during the past five years have found very few individuals of this species in Wyoming and failed to find it at many historical locations in Colorado. Currently, Preble's is known to live in Jefferson, Boulder, Douglas and El Paso counties in Colorado, and Albany and Laramie counties in Wyoming. Four of the areas where Preble's is found are Federal facilities, including the Air Force Academy and Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site in Colorado, and Warren Air Force Base and the Medicine Bow National Forest in Wyoming.
A memorandum of agreement was signed in late 1995 by Colorado Governor Roy Romer and Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt, laying the foundation for a cooperative approach to conserving and managing species at risk in Colorado.
Under this agreement, the Fish and Wildlife Service is working with the Department of Natural Resources, the Colorado Division of Wildlife and other partners to implement voluntary conservation efforts on both public and private lands to address identified threats and begin recovery of the Preble's meadow jumping mouse and other species experiencing declines in population.
"This Memorandum of Agreement provides affected publics an opportunity to be involved in conserving and protecting wildlife at risk and finding solutions that will work for each community," said Ralph Morgenweck, Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service's Mountain-Prairie Region.
Using recent administrative changes to the Endangered Species Act, the Fish and Wildlife Service will use this cooperative effort to work with interested parties in establishing voluntary conservation agreements that will not only protect the mouse, but will benefit the many other species in the area dependent on riparian habitat. This kind of voluntary recovery effort is underway at the Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site.
"Cooperative efforts that come from agreements such as this one not only work toward recovery of a single species, such as the Preble's meadow jumping mouse, but by way of improved habitat and awareness in the community, they also benefit adjacent communities and the wildlife that uses these areas," Morgenweck added.
Growth within the Front Range urban corridor from Colorado Springs to Cheyenne, Wyoming has contributed to tremendous increases in residential, commercial, industrial and recreational development. Specific activities such as overgrazing, water depletions, stream channelization, sand and gravel mining, and development of recreational trails have also modified or destroyed riparian habitat and wet meadows, essential to the existence of Preble's meadow jumping mouse and several other species dependent on this kind of habitat.
Fish and Wildlife Service biologists have been reviewing the status of the Preble's meadow jumping mouse since 1991 when the Service funded a status survey that was completed in 1993. This study showed that Preble's was declining significantly. In August 1994 the Service received a petition from the Biodiversity Legal Foundation to list Preble's as an endangered species. In the 90-day finding document, the Service found that the petition had sufficient information to consider listing the species. During the time the Service was considering adding the species to the Federal list of endangered species, a nationwide moratorium on listing species was imposed and funding for these activities was suspended; a final decision on Preble's meadow jumping mouse was not made. On February 9, 1996 the Biodiversity Legal Defense Foundation filed a lawsuit against the Service for failure to list the mouse; that lawsuit is pending.
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