[Federal Register: February 26, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 38)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 10218-10219]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[FWS-R6-ES-2008-0022; 1111 FY07 MO-B2]

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Initiation of 
Status Review for the Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) 
as Threatened or Endangered

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice; initiation of status review and solicitation of new 


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
initiation of a status review for the greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus 
urophasianus). Through this action, we encourage all interested parties 
to provide us information regarding the status of, and any potential 
threats to, the greater sage-grouse.

DATES: To be considered in our determination whether listing is 
warranted, data, comments, and information should be submitted to us on 
or before May 27, 2008.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by one of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
     U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, 
Attn: FWS-R6-ES-2008-0022; Division of Policy and Directives 
Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, 
Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203.
    We will not accept e-mail or faxes. We will post all comments on 
http://www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we will post any 
personal information you provide us (see the Public Comments section 
below for more information).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's 
Wyoming Ecological Services Field Office, 5353 Yellowstone Road, Suite 
308A, Cheyenne, Wyoming 82009; telephone 307-772-2374. People who use a 
telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal 
Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800-877-8339.


Public Information Solicited

    To ensure that the status review is complete and based on the best 
available scientific and commercial information, we are soliciting 
information concerning the status of the greater sage-grouse. We 
request any additional information, comments, and suggestions from the 
public, other concerned governmental agencies, Native American Tribes, 
the scientific community, industry, or any other interested parties on 
the status of the greater sage-grouse throughout its range, including:
    (1) Information regarding the species' historical and current 
population status, distribution, and trends; its biology and ecology; 
and habitat selection;
    (2) Information on the effects of potential threat factors that are 
the basis for a listing determination under section 4(a) of the Act, 
which are:
    (a) present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment 
of the species' habitat or range;
    (b) overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes;
    (c) disease or predation;
    (d) the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or
    (e) other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued 

[[Page 10219]]

    (3) Information on management programs for the conservation of the 
greater sage-grouse.
    Please note that comments merely stating support or opposition to 
the action under consideration without providing supporting 
information, although noted, will not be considered in making a 
determination, because section 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et 
seq.) directs that determinations as to whether any species is a 
threatened or endangered species must be made ``solely on the basis of 
the best scientific and commercial data available.'' At the conclusion 
of the status review, we will determine whether listing is warranted, 
not warranted, or warranted but precluded.
    You may submit your comments and materials concerning this finding 
by one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. We will not 
accept comments you send by e-mail or fax.
    Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or 
other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be 
aware that we will post your entire comment--including your personal 
identifying information--on http://www.regulations.gov. While you can 
ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying 
information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be 
able to do so.
    Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting 
documentation we used in preparing this finding, will be available for 
public inspection on http://www.regulations.gov, or by appointment, 
during normal business hours, at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's 
Wyoming Ecological Services Field Office, 5353 Yellowstone Road, Suite 
308A, Cheyenne, Wyoming 82009; telephone 307-772-2374.


    On July 2, 2002, we received a petition from Craig C. Dremann 
requesting that we list the greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus 
urophasianus) as endangered across its entire range. We received a 
second petition from the Institute for Wildlife Protection on March 24, 
2003 (Webb 2002), requesting that the greater sage-grouse be listed 
rangewide. On December 29, 2003, we received a third petition from the 
American Lands Alliance and 20 additional conservation organizations 
(American Lands Alliance et al.) to list the greater sage-grouse as 
threatened or endangered rangewide. On April 21, 2004, we announced our 
90-day petition finding in the Federal Register (69 FR 21484) that 
these petitions taken collectively, as well as information in our 
files, presented substantial information indicating that the petitioned 
actions may be warranted.
    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 Lists of Threatened and Endangered Wildlife and Plants 
that contains substantial scientific or commercial information that the 
action 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, (b) warranted, or (c) warranted but precluded by other 
pending proposals. Such 12-month findings are to be published promptly 
in the Federal Register. On January 12, 2005, we announced our 12-month 
finding (70 FR 2244) that after reviewing the best available scientific 
and commercial information, we found that listing the greater sage-
grouse was not warranted.
    Western Watersheds Project filed a complaint on July 14, 2006, 
alleging that our finding was arbitrary and capricious under the 
Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. 701 et seq.). On December 4, 
2007, the U.S. District Court, District of Idaho, ruled that our 12-
month petition finding was in error and remanded the case to the 
Service for further consideration. Legal action is still pending and 
the Court has not yet set a date for completion of the remand.
    Subject to any new court order, the Service has determined that it 
is appropriate to initiate a new status review to address information 
that has become available since our 2005 petition finding. That finding 
relied, in part, on information in the ``Conservation Assessment of 
Greater Sage-Grouse and Sagebrush Habitats'' published in 2004 by the 
Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. Since the 
publication in 2004 of the Conservation Assessment, a significant 
amount of new research has been completed and new information has 
become available regarding threats, conservation measures, and 
population and habitat status of the greater sage-grouse.
    Unless the court requires an earlier completion date for a remanded 
12-month finding, it is our intention to complete this new status 
review and make a new determination at that time as to whether listing 
is warranted.
    At this time, we are soliciting new information on the status of 
and potential threats to the greater sage-grouse. Information submitted 
prior to January 12, 2005, will be considered and need not be 
resubmitted. We will base our new determination as to whether listing 
is warranted on a review of the best scientific and commercial 
information available, including all such information received as a 
result of this notice. For more information on the biology, habitat, 
and range of the sage-grouse, please refer to our previous 12-month 
finding published in the Federal Register on January 12, 2005 (70 FR 


    The primary author of this notice is the staff of the Wyoming Fish 

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

    Dated: February 15, 2008.
Dale Hall,
Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. E8-3374 Filed 2-25-08; 8:45 am]