[Federal Register: July 9, 2004 (Volume 69, Number 131)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 41445-41446]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



50 CFR Part 17

Fish and Wildlife Service

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 90-Day Finding for 
Petitions To List the Greater Sage-Grouse as Threatened or Endangered

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Reopening of comment period.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
reopening of the public comment period for submitting information that 
is pertinent to our status review of the greater sage-grouse 
(Centrocercus urophasianus). This status review is to be completed by 
December 29, 2004, and will provide the basis for a decision on whether 
the greater sage-grouse should be proposed for listing as a threatened 
or endangered species and, if so, whether such a proposed listing would 
be precluded by higher priorities. We initiated the status review on 
April 21, 2004, based on our finding regarding three petitions to list 
the species as threatened or endangered, under the Endangered Species 
Act of 1973, as amended (Act). As a result of that finding, we 
initiated a status review and solicited information from the public 
concerning the status of the species and threats to it. We are 
reopening the comment period to allow all interested parties additional 
time to submit information. Comments previously submitted need not be 
resubmitted, because they will be incorporated in the public record as 
part of this reopened comment period and will be fully considered in 
our status review.

DATES: You may submit new information concerning this species for our 
consideration until July 30, 2004.

ADDRESSES: Data, information, comments, or questions concerning this 
finding should be submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4000 
Airport Parkway, Cheyenne, Wyoming 82001. The petitions, finding, and 
supporting information are available for public inspection, by 
appointment, during normal business hours, at the above address. Submit 
new information, materials, comments, or questions concerning this 
species to the Service at the above address.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. Pat Deibert, at the address given 
in the ADDRESSES section (telephone (307) 772-2374; facsimile (307) 

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On July 2, 2002, we received a petition from 
Craig C. Dremann to list the greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus 
urophasianus) as endangered across its entire range. Mr. Dremann's 7-
page petition summarizes several threats to the species' habitat, based 
on the author's review of the Oregon Bureau of Land Management's 
management guidelines for the greater sage-grouse (Barett et al. 2000). 
A second petition requesting the same action was received from the 
Institute for Wildlife Protection on March 24, 2003. On December 29, 
2003, we received a third petition from the American Lands Alliance and 
20 additional conservation organizations to list the greater sage-
grouse as threatened or endangered rangewide. On April 21,

[[Page 41446]]

2004, we published in the Federal Register (69 FR 21484) a finding that 
these petitions and additional information available in our files 
presented substantial information that listing the species may be 
warranted. We requested in that finding that commenters submit any new 
information concerning the species to us by June 21, 2004. To ensure 
that all interested parties have adequate opportunity to provide us 
with information, we are formally reopening the comment period until 
July 30, 2004.
    Section 4(b)(3)(B) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as 
amended (Act) (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), requires that, for any petition 
to revise the List of Threatened and Endangered Species that contains 
substantial information that listing may be warranted, we make a 
finding within 12 months of the date of the receipt of the petition on 
whether the petitioned action is: (a) Not warranted, or (b) warranted, 
or (c) warranted but that the immediate proposal of a regulation 
implementing the petitioned action is precluded by other pending 
proposals to determine whether any species is threatened or endangered, 
and expeditious progress is being made to add or remove qualified 
species from the List of Threatened and Endangered Species. We are to 
base this finding on the best scientific and commercial information 
available to us at the time we make the finding. Because of the volume 
and complexity of the information that must be reviewed and considered 
in time to meet the statutory deadline for the 12 month petition 
finding, we do not anticipate being able to fully consider any 
substantive information received after July 30, 2004, and we have 
structured the public comment period accordingly.
    The sage-grouse is the largest North American grouse species. Sage-
grouse depend on a variety of shrub-steppe habitats throughout their 
life cycle, and are particularly tied to several species of sagebrush 
(Wyoming big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata wyomingensis), mountain 
big sagebrush (A. t. vaseyana), and basin big sagebrush (A. t. 
tridentata)). Because of the dependence of sage-grouse on sagebrush, 
they are rarely found outside of this habitat type (typically limited 
to periods of migration).

Public Information Solicited

    We are conducting a review of the status of the species after 
making a 90-day finding that the petitions provided substantial 
information indicating that listing the sage-grouse may be warranted. 
We are requesting information primarily concerning the species' 
population status and trends, potential threats to the species, and 
ongoing management measures that may be important with regard to the 
conservation of the greater sage-grouse throughout the contiguous 
United States.
    Previously submitted comments for this status review need not be 
resubmitted. If you wish to comment, you may submit your comments and 
materials concerning this finding to the Field Supervisor (see 
ADDRESSES section). Our practice is to make comments, including names 
and home addresses of respondents, available for public review during 
regular business hours. Respondents may request that we withhold a 
respondent's identity, as allowable by law. If you wish us to withhold 
your name or address, you must state this request prominently at the 
beginning of your comment. However, we will not consider anonymous 
comments. To the extent consistent with applicable law, we will make 
all submissions from organizations or businesses, and from individuals 
identifying themselves as representatives or officials of organizations 
or businesses, available for public inspection in their entirety. 
Comments and materials received will be available for public 
inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the above 
    Comments and materials received, as well as supporting 
documentation used in preparation of the 90-day finding and the status 
review of the sage-grouse, will be available for inspection, by 
appointment, during normal business hours, in our Wyoming Fish and 
Wildlife Office at the above address.

    Authority: The authority for this action is the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).

    Dated: July 2, 2004.
Steve Williams,
Director, Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 04-15588 Filed 7-8-04; 8:45 am]