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.


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.

American Burying Beetle Range Updated

The known range of the American burying beetle (ABB) in Oklahoma has been updated. The update is a result of positive survey findings in 2015 along the eastern and western edges of the species' range. This year’s update results in a slight range expansion to the west in Osage, Noble, Pawnee, and Lincoln Counties, totaling 410,898 acres, and smaller expansion in the east (currently identified as potential habitat in IPAC) of 11,875 acres in Craig, Delaware, and Mayes Counties. This update represents a 2.3% expansion of the ABB’s range. Last year, positive survey findings led to a 3.0% (576,738 acre) increase in known range. Since 2014, the known range in Oklahoma has been increased by 5.3 percent (999,511 acres).

The updated range has been uploaded into the Service’s Information Planning and Conservation (IPaC) system, which provides the most current information on threatened and endangered species ranges. A map of the range and description on how the range is designated can be found in the American Burying Beetle Impact Assessment for Project Reviews document on the ABB webpage. Updated geographic information system (GIS) shapefiles also are available on the ABB webpage.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Evaluating Status of the American Burying Beetle

As part of a substantial 90-day finding and species status assessment, the Service is requesting additional scientific and commercial data on the American burying beetle. We will accept public comments on the 90-day finding until May 16, 2016. Click here for the news release (3/16/2016)

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

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). Since approval of the ABB ICP, the Service has had significantly fewer than anticipated requests for permits and as a result, only a small fraction of the 32,234 acres of authorized “take” under the ABB ICP have been issued. In the interest of providing industry with greater certainty while continuing to ensure the conservation of the American burying beetle, the Service is proposing to amend the ABB ICP to extend it for three years (through May 20, 2019). Public comments will be accepted until April 7, 2016. The draft ABB ICP and related documents are available on our ABB ICP page.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Finalizes Critical Habitat for Two Freshwater Mussels, Neosho Mucket and Rabbitsfoot

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has finalized critical habitat designations for the endangered Neosho mucket and the threatened rabbitsfoot. Both species are freshwater mussels found in river systems in the eastern half of the United States. The Service also announces the availability of its final economic analysis, an environmental assessment, and other materials used in preparation of the final decisions. Service authority for designating critical habitat is provided under the Endangered Species Act.

The Federal Register designation is located here

The 38 critical habitat areas in 12 states include 4 areas in the Service's Southwest Region, all within the State of Oklahoma. These four areas total approximately 138 river-miles in length. For the Neosho mucket, the Oklahoma areas consist of the Illinois River upstream of its confluence with Baron Creek and the Elk River upstream of Buffalo Creek. For the rabbitsfoot, the Oklahoma areas consist of a segment of the Verdigris River between Oolagah Lake Dam and Oklahoma Highway 266, and the Little River downstream of its confluence with the Glover River. The four areas involve portions of Adair, Cherokee, Delaware, McCurtain, and Rogers counties.

A fact sheet on the two mussels can be found here
Answers to frequently asked questions about the mussels' critical habitat can be found here
A news release describing the critical habitat designation, and links to additional information, can be found here

Bison grazing at the Wichita Mountains NWR
Last updated: July 11, 2016
All images by FWS unless otherwise noted.