Utah Ecological Services
Mountain-Prairie Region
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December 9, 2013

PUBLIC NOTICE

Notice of Availability of the Programmatic Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances for the Least Chub 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service received an application from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources for an enhancement of survival permit under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended.  The permit application includes a proposed programmatic Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA) for the least chub, a fish endemic to the Bonneville Basin of Utah.  The conservation goals of the Programmatic CCAA are to reduce the threats to least chub and its habitat, as outlined in the 12-month finding, and increase the number of viable, stable, and secure least chub populations within the species’ historic range.  Under a CCAA, participating landowners voluntarily undertake management activities on their property to enhance, restore, or maintain habitat benefiting species that are proposed for listing or candidates for listing under the Endangered Species Act.  CCAAs encourage private and other non-Federal property owners to implement conservation efforts for species by assuring property owners that they will not be subjected to increased land use restrictions as a result of efforts to attract or increase the numbers or distribution of a listed species on their property, if that species becomes listed under the Act in the future.  The CCAA project area includes all non-Federal lands in the Bonneville Basin of Utah encompassed by the current and historic distribution of least chub.  We request public comment on the draft Programmatic CCAA.

 

The documents can be downloaded by clicking on the following links:

 

November 5, 2013

PUBLIC NOTICE

Notice of Availability of Final Low-Effect Habitat Conservation Plan for the Utah Prairie Dog in Iron County, Utah 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a permit to the Iron County Comission (Utah) for their Final Low-effect Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) for the Utah prairie dog in Iron County, Utah. The low-effect HCP and associated permit authorizes incidental take of the federally threatened Utah prairie dog from residential, commercial, and industrial developments in Iron County, Utah. The permit authorized the take of no more than 600 acres of occupied Utah prairie dog habitat over a maximum 3-year period.   Most of the take is limited to already developed areas or those areas projected for development in the near future.  These areas do not serve to support current or future metapopulations and objectives for recovery of the species in the wild.  Mitigation for the incidental take would include a combination of translocations of Utah prairie dogs to other sites or payment of a mitigation fee to a Utah prairie dog conservation fund.

The documents can be downloaded by clicking on the following links:

 

October 21, 2013

PUBLIC NOTICE

Notice of Availability of a Draft Low-Effect Habitat Conservation Plan for the Utah Prairie Dog in Garfield County, Utah 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has received a permit application from the Garfield County Commission (Utah) and is announcing the availability of a Draft Low-effect Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) for the Utah prairie dog in Garfield County, Utah, for a 30 day public comment period.  The low-effect habitat conservation plan (HCP) would authorize incidental take of the federally threatened Utah prairie dog from translocations and residential, commercial, and industrial developments from the vicinity of the town of Panguitch, Utah.  The HCP and our associated permit would authorize the take of prairie dogs and habitat on no more than 220 acres of habitat over a maximum 3-year period.   Most of the take is limited to already developed areas or those areas projected for development in the near future.  These areas do not serve to support current or future metapopulations and objectives for recovery of the species in the wild.  Mitigation for the incidental take would include a combination of translocations of Utah prairie dogs to other sites or payment of a mitigation fee to a Utah prairie dog conservation fund.  We request public comment on the draft low-effect HCP.

The documents can be downloaded by clicking on the following links:

September 3, 2013

PUBLIC NOTICE

Notice of Availability of a Draft Low-Effect Habitat Conservation Plan for the Utah Prairie Dog in Iron County, Utah 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has received a permit application from the Iron County Commission (Utah) and is announcing the availability of a Draft Low-effect Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) for the Utah prairie dog in Iron County, Utah, for a 30 day public comment period.  The low-effect habitat conservation plan (HCP) would authorize incidental take of the federally threatened Utah prairie dog from residential, commercial, and industrial developments in Iron County, Utah.  The HCP and our associated permit would authorize the take of no more than 600 acres of occupied Utah prairie dog habitat over a maximum 3-year period.   Most of the take is limited to already developed areas or those areas projected for development in the near future.  These areas do not serve to support current or future metapopulations and objectives for recovery of the species in the wild.  Mitigation for the incidental take would include a combination of translocations of Utah prairie dogs to other sites or payment of a mitigation fee to a Utah prairie dog conservation fund.  We request public comment on the draft low-effect HCP.

The documents can be downloaded by clicking on the following links:

 

August 12, 2013

NEWS RELEASE

 Arizona-Utah Plant Receives Endangered Species Act Protection

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that the Gierisch mallow, a desert plant, will be protected as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and has identified areas important to the species’ recovery. The Service published its final rule in the Federal Register today. 

Gierisch mallow, found primarily on federal land in Utah and Arizona, is a perennial, orange-flowered plant that grows up to 3.4 feet tall.  Eighteen known populations of the plant – 17 on Bureau of Land Management and one on Arizona State Land Department administered land – are found in northern Mohave County, Arizona and southern Washington County, Utah. Primary threats to the mallow include gypsum mining, unauthorized off-road vehicle use and other recreational activities. In areas under federal jurisdiction, the ESA prohibits malicious damage or destruction of threatened or endangered plants. A total of 12,822 acres presently occupied by Gierisch mallow has been designated as critical habitat.  These areas provide the biological soil crusts within gypsum soils that are essential to the mallow. Critical habitat is a term in the ESA that identifies geographic areas containing features essential for the conservation of a threatened or endangered species. Federal agencies that undertake, fund or permit activities that may affect critical habitat must consult with the Service to ensure such actions are conducted in a manner that does not destroy designated critical habitat. Critical habitat designations have no effect on actions taking place on non-federal lands unless proposed activities involve federal funding or permitting.

An economic analysis of the effects of critical habitat designation projects $3,300 in annual costs – primarily from Federal administrative efforts that would be in addition to basic ESA consultation costs.  An area may be excluded from critical habitat if we determine that the benefits of excluding the area outweigh the benefits of including the area as critical habitat, provided such exclusion will not result in the extinction of the species. None of the initially proposed areas were excluded from the final designation.  The economic analysis and environmental assessment that helped inform that determination will be available shortly.

The Service initially proposed to protect the Gierisch mallow and sought public comment on Aug. 17, 2012, and again sought public input in March 2013. All comments received are posted at http://www.regulations.gov and are addressed in today’s final listing and critical habitat rules. The final rules, maps, and other details about the plant are available online at: http://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/arizona/ or by contacting the Service’s Arizona Ecological Service Office at (602) 242-0210.

Native plants are important for their ecological, economic, and aesthetic values. Plants play an important role in development of crops that resist disease, insects, and drought. Plants can also be used to develop natural pesticides.

 

August 5, 2013

NEWS RELEASE

 Service Proposes to List Two Rare Utah Plants as Threatened Species, Extend Critical Habitat Protections

 

Contacts: Larry Crist: 801.975.3330; Larry_Crist@fws.gov

                  Leith Edgar: 303.236.4588; Leith_Edgar@fws.gov

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is seeking input on a proposal to protect the Graham’s beardtongue (Penstemon grahamii) and White River beardtongue (Penstemon scariosus var. albifluvis) as threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  We also propose to designate critical habitat for these two species.  Both species are endemic to oil shale soils, which are at high risk of loss due to energy development.  

Graham’s beardtongue is a perennial plant known from the Uintah Basin in Utah and Colorado.  This species is susceptible to impacts from energy exploration and development, as well as the cumulative impacts of increased energy development, livestock grazing, invasive weeds, and climate change.  We are proposing to designate about 68,000 acres as critical habitat for Graham’s beardtongue in 5 units with 66 percent of the ownership Federal and the remaining split between state and private lands.  All of these units are occupied.

White River beardtongue is also found only in the Uintah basin in Utah and Colorado.  The species faces similar threats as Graham’s beardtongue but may be more vulnerable due to its even smaller population sizes. We are proposing to designate about 15,000 acres as critical habitat for White River beardtongue in 3 units, with 47 percent of the ownership private, 39 percent Federal, and the remaining state lands.  All of these units are occupied.

The ESA requires the Service to identify the location of habitat essential for the conservation of the species, which the ESA terms “critical habitat.”  This identification helps Federal agencies identify actions that may affect listed species or their habitat, and to work with the Service to avoid or minimize those impacts. Identifying this habitat also helps raise awareness of the habitat needs of imperiled species and focus the conservation efforts of other partners such as state and local governments, non-governmental organizations, and individual landowners.

Although non-federal lands have initially been included in these areas, activities on these lands are not affected now, and will not necessarily be affected if the species is protected under the ESA in the future. Only if an activity is authorized, funded or carried out by a federal agency will the agency need to work with the Service to help landowners avoid, reduce or mitigate potential impacts to listed species or their identified habitat.

The final decision to add the Grahams and White River beardtongues to the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants, as well as the final identification of areas containing habitat essential to the species, will be based on the best scientific information available. In addition, the Service will use an economic analysis to inform and refine its identification of this habitat. Only areas that contain habitat essential to the conservation of the species, and where the benefits of this habitat outweigh potential economic impacts, will be included in the final identification.

The Service will open a 60-day public comment period on August 6, 2013 to allow the public to review and comment on the proposal and provide additional information. The comment period for both rules closes on October 7, 2013. All relevant information received from the public, government agencies, the scientific community, industry, or any other interested parties will be considered and addressed in the agency’s final listing determination for the species and identification of habitat essential to its conservation.

A copy of the proposed listing rule, proposed critical habitat designation, and other information about Graham’s beardtongue and White River beardtongue are available on the internet at http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/plants/2utahbeardtongues/index.htm, or by contacting the Utah Ecological Services Field Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2369 West Orton Circle, Suite 50, West Valley City, UT 84119, phone 801-975-3330.  The proposed listing and proposed critical habitat designation is published in today’s Federal Register.  For general information on critical habitat please visit:  http://www.fws.gov/endangered/esa-library/pdf/critical_habitat.pdf.

The locational information for critical habitat can be downloaded by clicking on the following links:

Native plants are important for their ecological, economic, and aesthetic values.  Plants play an important role in development of crops that resist disease, insects, and drought.  At least 25 percent of prescription drugs contain ingredients derived from plant compounds, including medicine to treat cancer, heart disease, juvenile leukemia, and malaria, and to assist in organ transplants. Plants are also used to develop natural pesticides.

 

April 3, 2013

PUBLIC NOTICE

Finding of No Significant Impact for the Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment for the Richardson Flat Tailings Site, Park City, Utah

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) prepared a Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment (RP/EA) for the Richardson Flat Tailings Site, Park City, Utah.  The RP/EA was prepared as part of a Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration settlement between United Park City Mines, as the Responsible Party, and the Service, on behalf of the Department of the Interior, as the applicable Natural Resource Trustee.  We issued a scoping notice for public comment on November 6, 2012, and issued a draft RP/EA for 30-day public review on the web at http://www.fws.gov/utahfieldoffice/ and http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/.  We issued a final RP/EA on February 8, 2013.  The final RP/EA responds to the public comments we received on the draft.  The final RP/EA is available by request from the Utah Ecological Services Field Office by contacting Larry Crist, Utah Ecological Service Field Supervisor, by phone or fax at the numbers provided below. 

As determined by the RP/EA, we determined no additional response and restoration activities to be necessary at Richardson Flat Tailings Site – Operable Unit 1in Park City, Utah, to restore, rehabilitate, replace, and/or acquire the equivalent of natural resource injured from releases of hazardous substances.  The No Action proposal was selected over other considered alternatives because a habitat equivalency analysis conducted by the Service for the site determined that no additional restoration projects are necessary to restore the site to either baseline trust natural resource conditions or to compensate further for lost trust natural resource uses and services.  We anticipate that on-site resources will recover over time through enhanced habitat availability due to restoration projects already completed by the Responsible Party and through natural attenuation of residual environmental contamination.  Implementation of our proposal will have no significant environmental, social, and economic impacts since it is the No Action alternative. 

We would like to know what you think about the Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI).  The FONSI is available for public review and comment.  All comments received within 30 days following April 4, 2013, the date of this notice, will be considered. 

The RP/EA can be reviewed by clicking the hyperlink above or by contacting the Utah Ecological Services Field Office at 801-975-3330.  Comments on the FONSI may be sent to Larry Crist by mail at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2369 W. Orton Circle, Suite 50, West Valley City, UT 84119, or by fax to 801-975-3331.

 

February 12, 2013

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Utah Field Office Announces 2013 Threatened and Endangered Speices Training Opportunities

In coordination with the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, and Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, we will be offering four threatened and endangered species survey trainings this year.  These trainings are mandatory for those who plan to conduct surveys in Utah in 2013 for listed plant species, Mexican spotted owls, Utah prairie dogs, or southwestern willow flycatchers.  We may receive more requests to enroll in the training courses than can be accommodated in the classroom and in the field.  If this is the case, we will consider a number of factors in approving applicants to attend, including: 1) if you have previously completed similar training; 2) if you are enrolled in a survey course in another State; and 3) your survey plans for the species in Utah. Please visit the Surveyor Information web page for more information.

 

October 26, 2012

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Provides Notice of Availability for Richardson Flat Tailings Site Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has prepared a Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment (RP/EA) for the Richardson Flat Tailings Site, Park City, Utah.  The RP/EA was prepared as part of a Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration (NRDAR) settlement between United Park City Mines, as the Responsible Party, and the Service, on behalf of the Department of the Interior (DOI), as the applicable Natural Resource Trustee.

The RP/EA combines the elements of a restoration plan and integrates National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Environmental Assessment requirements by describing the affected environment, describing the purpose and need for action, identifying alternative actions, assessing their applicability and environmental consequences and summarizing opportunities for public participation.

United Park City Mines Company (United Park) is the owner of the Richardson Flat Tailings Site (Site) located near Park City, Utah.  United Park has completed certain activities to restore natural resources that may have been injured as a result of the discharge of hazardous substances at or from the Site.  United Park undertook the restoration activities simultaneous with other activities approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to remove and remediate hazardous materials at the Site. 

The DOI is now considering whether natural resource restoration required by NRDAR has been met, or whether additional restoration is necessary to supplement previously completed restoration projects.

The Service would like to know what you think about the restoration plan.  The RP/EA is available for public review and comment.  All comments received within 30 days following November 6, 2012, the date of this notice, will be considered in finalizing the RP/EA. 

The RP/EA can be reviewed by clicking the hyperlink above or by contacting the Utah Ecological Services Field Office at 801-975-3330.  Comments may be sent to Larry Crist, Utah Ecological Services Field Supervisor by mail at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2369 W. Orton Circle, Suite 50, West Valley City, UT 84119, or by fax to 801-975-3331.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/. Connect with our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/USFWSMountainPrairie, follow our tweets at http://twitter.com/USFWSMtnPrairie, watch our YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/usfws and download photos from our Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwsmtnprairie/

 

August 31, 2011

Utah Field Office's Guidelines for Conducting and Reporting Botanical Inventories and Monitoring of Federally Listed, Proposed, and Candidate Plants

In addition to offering training focused on rare plants in the Uinta Basin, our office developed Guidelines for Conducting and Reporting Botanical Inventories and Monitoring of Federally Listed, Proposed, and Candidate Plants.  These guidelines were developed to provide you with up-front guidance regarding our minimum standards for botanical surveys of sensitive (federally listed, proposed and candidate) plant species throughout the state of Utah.  The guidelines are available by clicking the hyperlink above. 

These guidelines are intended to strengthen the quality of information we use in assessing the status, trends, and vulnerability of target plant species to a wide array of factors and known threats.  We hope that you will find these guidelines helpful in the planning and implementation of botanical inventory and monitoring work evaluating federally listed, proposed, and candidate plant species throughout the state of Utah.


Last updated: December 9, 2013