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The Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

May 24, 1999
Diane Katzenberger (303) 236-7917 ext 408
Jim Lutey (303) 236-8155 ext 240
Steve Anschutz (308) 382-6468

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Clarifies ESA Requirements for Critical Habitat Designation for the Whooping Crane

In response to concerns by Nebraskans First claiming that legal procedures were not followed in the designation of critical habitat for the whooping crane on the Platte River, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today offered the following response.

The Endangered Species Act has been amended several times since the critical habitat designation for the endangered whooping crane became finalized, including an amendment requiring notification to individual counties. When this requirement became effective, the critical habitat designation for the whooping crane was already finalized and in effect. The Service followed proper procedures as specified in the Endangered Species Act of 1973. At that time, the Act made no requirement for the Service to notify counties. However, as evidenced by the summary of comments received in the final rule making, numerous comments were received including those from state agencies, city governments, natural resource districts, environmental organizations, congressional representatives, the governor, and private citizens in Nebraska. Proper and widespread notification regarding the proposed critical habitat determination was made including publication in the Federal Register.

Chronology:

December 16, 1975: The Service proposed the determination of critical habitat for the endangered whooping crane.

May 15, 1978: After review of public comments, the Service finalized a rule which determined critical habitat for the whooping crane in the States of Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.

The rule became effective on June 14, 1978.

November 10, 1978: ESA amended requiring notification to local governments.

The Platte River Cooperative Agreement provides the opportunity for all affected entities to cooperatively develop a recovery program for the four target species -- whopping crane, least tern, piping plover, and pallid sturgeon -- as well as to provide for continued water development in the basin. The purpose of the Cooperative Agreement is to resolve endangered species issues through a collaborative process with all affected parties working together. The designation of critical habitat for the whooping crane is not directly connected to the Cooperative Agreement effort and will not influence the outcome of the Cooperative Agreement effort.


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