[Federal Register: January 28, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 18)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 4160-4161]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AI46

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Proposed 
Designation of Critical Habitat for the Preble's Meadow Jumping Mouse

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule; extension of public comment period and notice of 
availability of draft economic analysis and draft environmental 


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
availability of the draft economic analysis and draft environmental 
assessment for the proposal to designate critical habitat for the 
Preble's meadow jumping mouse (Zapus hudsonius preblei) under the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. We also are providing 
notice of the final planned extension of the public comment period for 
the proposal to designate critical habitat for this species to allow 
all interested parties to comment on and request changes to the 
proposed critical habitat designation, as well as the associated draft 
economic analysis and environmental assessment. Over a 10-year time 
period, the total section 7-related direct costs associated with the 
Preble's meadow jumping mouse listing and critical habitat are 
estimated at $74 million to $172 million. Comments previously submitted 
need not be resubmitted as they have been incorporated into the public 
record as part of this extended comment period and will be fully 
considered in preparation of the final rule.

DATES: We will consider all comments that we receive on or before 
February 27, 2003. Any comments that we receive after the closing date 
may not be considered in the final decision on this proposal.

ADDRESSES: You may submit written comments and information to Preble's 
Meadow Jumping Mouse Comments, Colorado Ecological Services Field 
Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 755 Parfet Street, Suite 361, 
Lakewood, CO 80215, or by facsimile to 303-275-2371. You may hand 
deliver written comments to our Colorado Ecological Services Field 
Office at the address given above. You may send comments by electronic 
mail (e-mail) to fw6_pmjm@fws.gov. See the ``Public Comments 
Solicited'' section below for file format and other information on 
electronic filing.
    You may obtain copies of the draft economic analysis and draft 
environmental assessment, review comments and materials received, and 
review supporting documentation used in preparation of this proposed 
rule, by appointment, during normal business hours, at the U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service's Colorado Field Office. The documents also are 
available on the Internet at http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/preble.

Supervisor, at the above address or telephone 303-275-2370.



    The Preble's meadow jumping mouse (Preble's), a small rodent in the 
family Zapodidae, is known to occur only in eastern Colorado and 
southeastern Wyoming. It lives primarily in heavily vegetated riparian 
habitats and immediately adjacent upland habitats. Habitat loss and 
degradation caused by agricultural, residential, commercial, and 
industrial development resulted in the Preble's being listed as a 
threatened species throughout its range on May 13, 1998 (62 FR 26517).
    On July 17, 2002 (67 FR 47153), we proposed to designate critical 
habitat for the Preble's meadow jumping mouse pursuant to the 
Endangered Species Act (Act) of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et 
seq.). The proposed designation includes 19 habitat units totaling 
approximately 23,248 hectares (57,446 acres) found along 1,058.1 
kilometers (657.5 miles) of rivers and streams in the States of 
Colorado and Wyoming.
    Critical habitat identifies specific areas, both occupied and 
unoccupied, that are essential to the conservation of a listed species 
and that may require special management considerations or protection. 
If the proposed rule is made final, section 7 of the Act will prohibit 
destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat by any activity 
funded, authorized, or carried out by any Federal agency, and Federal 

[[Page 4161]]

proposing actions affecting areas designated as critical habitat must 
consult with us on the effects of their proposed actions, pursuant to 
section 7(a)(2) of the Act.
    Section 4 of the Act requires that we consider economic and other 
relevant impacts prior to making a final decision on what areas to 
designate as critical habitat. We have developed a draft economic 
analysis and environmental assessment for the proposal to designate 
certain areas as critical habitat for the Preble's meadow jumping 
mouse. We solicit data and comments from the public on these draft 
documents, as well as on all aspects of the proposal. We may revise the 
proposal, or its supporting documents, to incorporate or address new 
information received during the comment period. In particular, we may 
exclude an area 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.

Public Comments Solicited

    We intend any final action resulting from this proposal to be as 
accurate and as effective as possible. Therefore, we solicit comments 
or suggestions from the public, other concerned governmental agencies, 
the scientific community, industry, or any other interested party 
concerning this proposed rule. We do not anticipate extending or 
reopening the comment period on the proposed rule after the comment 
period extension provided in this document ends (see DATES). We 
particularly seek comments concerning:
    (1) The likely economic and other impacts on farming and ranching 
in Wyoming and Colorado;
    (2) Costs of developing and implementing Habitat Conservation Plans 
for the Preble's meadow jumping mouse;
    (3) Are data available to better model residential growth patterns 
in Boulder, Douglas, El Paso, Jefferson, Larimer, and Weld Counties, 
    (4) Are data available to better model the characteristics of 
future developments?
    (5) Are data available to better model administrative and project 
modification costs to developers and private landowners?
    (6) Are data available to develop more accurate estimates of the 
number of future consultations, project modifications, and the costs 
for the following activities:
    (i) Farm Service Agency (FSA) funding for agriculture operational 
    (ii) Natural Resource Conservation Service/FSA funding for 
voluntary conservation programs;
    (iii) Grazing leases on Bureau of Land Management lands;
    (iv) Utility projects, such as projects requiring a Clean Water Act 
section 404 permit from the Army Corps of Engineers and Federal Energy 
Regulatory Commission licensing of natural gas pipelines;
    (v) Bank stabilization projects;
    (vi) Development and implementation of Habitat Conservation Plans;
    (vii) Dam/reservoir projects; and
    (viii) Gravel mining projects?
    (7) Specific information on additional land use practices, and 
current or planned activities in proposed critical habitat areas, as 
well as the anticipated impact of the proposed critical habitat 
designation on these activities.
    We are also continuing to accept comments on the proposed critical 
habitat designation. If you wish to comment, you may submit your 
comments and materials concerning this proposal by any one of several 
methods (see ADDRESSES). If you would like to submit comments by 
electronic format, please submit them in ASCII file format and avoid 
the use of special characters and encryption. Please include your name 
and return e-mail address in your e-mail message.
    Comments previously submitted need not be resubmitted as they have 
already been incorporated into the public record and will be fully 
considered in the final rule. Comments submitted during this comment 
period also will be incorporated into the public record and will be 
fully considered in the final rule. In order to comply with the terms 
of a settlement agreement, we are required to complete the final 
designation of critical habitat for the Preble's meadow jumping mouse 
by June 4, 2003 (Civil Action Number 00-D-1180). To meet this date, all 
comments or proposed revisions to the proposed rule, associated draft 
economic analysis, and environmental assessment need to be submitted to 
us during the comment period reopened by this document (see DATES).
    Our practice is to make comments, including names and home 
addresses of respondents, available for public review during regular 
business hours. Individual respondents may request that we withhold 
their home address, which we will honor to the extent allowable by law. 
If you wish us to withhold your name or address, you must state this 
request prominently at the beginning of your comments. 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 address.
    Comments and materials received, as well as supporting 
documentation used in preparation of the proposal to designate critical 
habitat, will be available for public inspection, by appointment, 
during normal business hours at the Colorado Field Office (see 


    The primary author of this notice is the Colorado Field Office 
staff (see ADDRESSES).


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

    Dated: January 22, 2003.
Craig Manson,
Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
[FR Doc. 03-1803 Filed 1-27-03; 8:45 am]