Oklahoma Ecological Services Field Office
Southwest Region

Welcome!

This is the web site of the Oklahoma Ecological Services Field Office. Use the links to the left or at the bottom to browse the sections of this and related sites. Below are some news and updates regarding the activities of this office.


American Burying Beetle Proposed Downlisting to Threatened is Available for Public Comment!

May 1, 2019 - The American burying beetle, one of nature’s most unique creatures, appears to be more plentiful, thanks in part to the efforts of a wide array of partners across its range. Following the beetle’s listing in 1989 as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and stakeholders implemented conservation and recovery efforts, and now the Service is proposing to downlist it from endangered to threatened. The Service is requesting comments or information from the public, other concerned governmental agencies, the scientific community, industry, or any other interested parties concerning the proposed downlisting and 4(d) rule. Comments must be received within 60 days, on or before July 2, 2019. You may submit comments by one of the following methods:

  • Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=FWS-R2-ES-2018-0029-0001 You may submit a comment by clicking on “Comment Now!”
  • By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to:

    Public Comments Processing
    Attn: FWS–R2–ES–2018–0029
    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
    MS: BPHC
    5275 Leesburg Pike
    Falls Church, VA 22041-3803.

We request that you send comments only by the methods described above. We will post all comments on http://www.regulations.gov This generally means that we will post any personal information you provide us.

The following related documents are available for review: For more information, check our Additional Information page: https://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/oklahoma/ABB_Add_Info.htm

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes Second Amendment to the Industry Conservation Plan for the American Burying Beetle

March 14, 2019 - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announces the availability of a proposed amendment to the American Burying Beetle Industry Conservation Plan (ABB ICP). Originally approved in 2014, the ABB ICP provides the oil and gas industry in Oklahoma a streamlined Endangered Species Act permitting process for activities that may impact the American burying beetle (ABB). The ABB ICP authorizes take of 32,234 acres of potential ABB habitat. However, since its approval in 2014 the amount of take issued has been substantially lower (5,100 acres) than anticipated. Therefore, the Service is proposing to amend the ABB ICP by extending applications for five years (through May 20, 2024) so that industry can continue to utilize the ABB ICP while conserving the American burying beetle and its habitat. The amendment does not change the amount of take authorized under the 2014 ABB ICP and no additional acreage will be impacted as a result. For more information, visit the ICP webpage: https://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/oklahoma/ABBICP.htm

During the 30-day public comment period, the Service is encouraging the public, industry and the scientific community to review and comment on the proposed amendment to the ABB ICP. To ensure consideration, we must receive written comments on or before close of business on April 15, 2019. You may obtain copies of the proposed ABB ICP amendment and related documents at the ICP webpage. For further information on how to obtain or review copies of these documents, or how to provide comments, see the Federal Register notice at http://www.fws.gov/southwest/index.html.

Service Announces Availability of the final Environmental Impact Statement for Issuance of an Incidental Take Permit Related to American Electric Power Conservation Plan for the American Burying Beetle

The USFWS has completed the final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) regarding issuance of an Incidental Take Permit for the ABB to AEP in Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Texas. The final EIS addresses comments received during the public comment period of the draft EIS. The final EIS is available for public review in two parts, Volume I (Chapters 1-7) and Volume II (Appendices).

A Notice of Availability (NOA) was published in the Federal Register on October 19, 2018. Our decision is to issue a 30-year Incidental Take Permit (ITP) for implementation of the HCP, which authorizes incidental take of the American burying beetle under the Endangered Species Act. The ITP and Record of Decision will be finalized no sooner than 30 days from the publication date in the Federal Register. Further information can be found here. The draft Record of Decision can be found here.

American Electric Power's American Burying Beetle Habitat Conservation Plan can be found here.


Conservation Efforts Lead to Recovery, Proposed Delisting of Oklahoma, Texas Songbird

Almost extinct in the 1980s, the black-capped vireo’s dramatic recovery is a result of ESA-driven partnerships and conservation. Public comments on the proposed rule are due on or before February 13, 2017. For more information see https://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/ArlingtonTexas/bcvi.htm

Latest Documentation for the American Burying Beetle

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has received an Application for an Incidental Take Permit under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended, for the American Burying Beetle, from American Electric Power, and Availability of Proposed Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) in Hughes, Okfuskee, and Seminole Counties, Oklahoma. The Supporting Documentation referenced in the Federal Register are listed below.

Industry Conservation Plan for the American Burying Beetle Amended

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has approved an amendment to the American Burying Beetle Industry Conservation Plan (ABB ICP). The plan, originally approved in 2014, provides the oil and gas industry in Oklahoma a streamlined Endangered Species Act (ESA) permitting process for activities that may impact the American burying beetle (ABB).

In the interest of providing industry with greater certainty while continuing to ensure the conservation of the American burying beetle, the Service amended the ABB ICP to extend it for three years (through May 20, 2019). In addition to extending the ABB ICP timeframe, the amendment: extends the construction period for permitted projects until May 20, 2025; extends operations and maintenance coverage for activities including maintenance of right-of-ways and repairing pipelines until May 20, 2039; and removes requirements that all projects must be completely located within the planning area. The amendment does not change the amount of take authorized under the 2014 ABB ICP and no additional acreage will be impacted. For more information, visit the ICP webpage.

Bison grazing at the Wichita Mountains NWR
Last updated: May 3, 2019
All images by FWS unless otherwise noted.