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The Mountain-Prairie Region


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


January 26, 2007

Contacts:  Larry England 801-975-3330
                     Diane Katzenberger 303-236-4578 

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to Consider Delisting the Deseret Milkvetch 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking comments from the public regarding its intention to remove the Deseret milkvetch from the list of Endangered and Threatened Plants.  This Advance Notice of Rulemaking was published in yesterday’s Federal Register

The Service intends to propose delisting the Deseret milkvetch (Astragalus desereticus) based on current information indicating the species’ habitat remains intact and little changed from the early1990s when monitoring activities were first initiated; the population has remained stable since listing; and impacts are not as significant as anticipated at the time of listing and are managed such that the plant is not likely to become in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range in the foreseeable future.   

This Advance Notice of Rulemaking process is intended to seek public comments regarding the possible delisting of the Deseret milkvetch.  Specifically, the Service is seeking information regarding (1) the plant’s biology, including but not limited to population trends, distribution, abundance, demographics, genetics, and taxonomy; (2) habit conditions, including but not limited to amount, distribution, and suitability; (3) conservation measures that have been implemented that benefit the plant; (4) impacts and trends; and (5) other new information or data. 

The Deseret milkvetch is a perennial, herbaceous plant in the legume family and is found in the Thistle Creek watershed immediately east of Birdseye, Utah.  It was listed as a threatened species in October 1999 due to its small population size, restricted distribution, development, cattle grazing and impacts to pollinator habitat.   

At the time of listing, the Service did not propose to designate critical habitat since such designation would provide little benefit to the species.  In July 2005, the Center for Native Ecosystems, Forest Guardians, and the Utah Native Plant Society filed a complaint challenging the Service’s critical habitat determination.  In a settlement agreement, the Service agreed to submit a new critical habitat determination by January 19, 2007.   

If delisted, the plant will be managed according to a Conservation Agreement developed by the Service, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR), Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT), and Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA).   

The Conservation Agreement formalizes a successful program of conservation measures implemented by UDWR to address potential impacts and maintain the plant’s specialized habitat.  The Agreement also includes an annual monitoring program and provides a mechanism to evaluate the feasibility of acquiring private lands to benefit the species.   

Based on our evaluation, the Service believes the Conservation Agreement is sufficient to address potential future impacts to the Deseret milkvetch on State of Utah lands and provide long-term protection.  The state agencies and the Service will strive to work with adjacent landowners to provide conservation measures and easements to benefit the plant.  However, long-term conservation can be achieved solely on State of Utah lands since they provide the core of the plant’s population as well as the seed source for reproduction and maintenance of the seed bank. 

Of the approximately 345 acres of Deseret milkvetch habitat in the Thistle Creek watershed, approximately 230 acres are owned by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, 25 acres are owned by the Utah Department of Transportation, and 90 acres are on private lands owned by several landowners.   

Comments and information must be submitted by March 26, 2007 and should be mailed or hand delivered to Field Supervisor, Utah Ecological Services Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2369 West Orton Circle, Suite 50, West Valley City, Utah 84119.  Comments may also be submitted via email to or faxed to 801‑975‑3331.  For further information, please call the Utah Field Office at 801‑975‑3330. 

The Advance Notice of Rulemaking is available on the Service’s web site at 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign and Native American tribal governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.



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