The Big Dry Arm Spring Storm in the Great Basin Red Cliffs Desert Tortoise Reserve March Morning on the Platte River After a Spring Storm in the Great Basin Hunting Upland Birds at Kingsbury Lake Waterfowl Production Area Sandhill Migration on the Platte River Badlands Sunrise The Green River at Ouray NWR North Park Lupines Moab Sunset
Utah Ecological Services - News
Mountain-Prairie Region
Graphic button showing the 8 state mountain prairie region

NEWS

 

April 27, 2020: Baby Birds!

It's that time of year again when many of us find adorable baby birds in the backyard, ponds, or other unexpected places without Momma Bird. If you, the good Samaritan, are feeling compelled to save the day but don't know how, you may want to consult this helpful article provided by Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR).


April 2, 2020: Attention Partners, Agencies, and Consultants

Due to the spread of COVID-19, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Utah Field Office is currently working remotely and we are no longer present in our office building. Our mail is being held and therefore any information or projects sent through the U.S. Postal Service or other mail delivery services will not be viewed in a timely manner.

Nevertheless, we will be continuing to provide technical assistance, project support, consultations, and any other needed services as efficiently as possible.

Below is a summary of our planned operations:

  • For all project submissions, please send the information to this email: utahfieldoffice_esa@fws.gov
  • For direct communications to our office and staff, email is the optimal method. Email addresses for individual staff are located at: https://www.fws.gov/utahfieldoffice/staff.php
  • If you prefer to call, please leave a message in the general office voicemail (801-975-3330) or in individual staff voicemails. Voicemails will be checked daily.
  • You may also contact the following staff directly:
    • Laura Romin (Acting Field Supervisor) 801-554-7660
    • Paul Abate (Acting Deputy Field Supervisor) 385-285-7907
  • For any planned in-person meetings (for the time being), they will either be a conference call (or another remote method) or they will be cancelled.
  • We are not performing any field work or on-site visits at this time.

Thank you for your understanding and patience as we navigate this transition and continue to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats.


September 20, 2018: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Works with Partners to Restore the Jordan River Floodplain

Through administration of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Utah Ecological Services Field Office is partnering with West Jordan City, the Utah Reclamation Mitigation and Conservation Commission, the State of Utah, and over 30 other stakeholder groups to create a 68 acre nature park on the Jordan River in the middle of the Salt Lake Valley. The site, named “The Big Bend” after a prominent curve in the river, is adjacent to the Jordan River Trail. It will feature a four acre urban fishing pond and a network of trails and viewing platforms on about half of the property. The other half of the site will be limited access and protect habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife. It will be separated from the park by a reach of the Jordan River that will have a broad floodplain through restoration efforts that are being implemented as part of the project. Besides providing opportunities for fishing, canoeing, and enjoyment of natural open spaces, the park will also serve as an outdoor laboratory for education and citizen science. For more information, contact Chris Cline at chris_cline@fws.gov or 385-285-7910.


April 12, 2018: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Releases Plan to Protect Utah Prairie Dogs and Benefit Economic Productivity

DENVER — Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) in consultation with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) and affected counties released a 10-year general conservation plan (GCP) that will aid the conservation of threatened Utah prairie dogs while benefiting economic productivity in the region and reducing undue regulatory burdens.

Utah prairie dogs are protected from harmful impacts that constitute "take" under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), including incidental take that may result from activities such as residential, commercial and industrial development. However, the Service can issue permits that would authorize incidental take of Utah prairie dogs as long as there is a conservation plan in place that minimizes and/or mitigates impacts to the species. The GCP applies to all communities across the range of the Utah prairie dog including Iron, Garfield, Beaver, Wayne, Piute, Sevier, and Kane counties in Utah.

Read the entire press release here: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Releases Plan to Protect Utah Prairie Dogs and Benefit Economic Productivity


November 14, 2017: California Condor

California Condor Recovery Program in the Southwest Fourth 5-Year Review


November 7, 2017:California Condor

The reintroduction program for California condors began in 1996. Approximately 200 birds have been released to the wild in southern Arizona and northern Utah since that time. Threats to the population remain persistent, including lead poisoning, shooting, collisions, and predation. However, egg-laying and hatching rates have increased over time. On Public Land's Day, September 30, 2017, three condors were released to the wild at Vermillion Cliffs, AZ. These condors were 1-3 years old and had not reached reproductive maturity. These condors have successfully integrated into the existing wild flock. Approximately 500 people were present to witness the release of the magnificent scavengers. On November 3, 2017, an additional four condors were released to the wild, which makes the current population of condors in the Utah and Arizona population 82 birds.


May 4, 2016: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Seeks Comment on Utah Cacti Draft Recovery Plany

LAKEWOOD, Colo. – Both the Winkler and San Rafael cacti are small, yellow to peachy-pink flowering plants, which are found only in Utah. Amazingly, these cacti retract entirely into the ground during the winter and dry seasons.

Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is releasing a Draft Recovery Plan aimed at reducing the threats to these plants. The goal is to restore the Winker and San Rafael cacti to secure, and self-sustaining populations, so they can be removed from the list of threatened and endangered species.

The Winkler and San Rafael cacti, respectively, have been listed as threatened and endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for nearly 20-30 years. Major threats include livestock grazing, drought, off-highway vehicle traffic, illegal collection, and inadequate protections against these threats. The recovery plan describes site-specific actions, and establishes objective, measurable criteria necessary to conserve the cacti.

Part of the challenge is the Winkler cactus grows only in certain fine-textured soil, where most dinosaur fossils are discovered, on rocky hill tops and barren, gentle slopes at 4,900-7,000 feet elevation. They grow among salt desert shrubs in Sevier, and Wayne counties in south-central Utah. The San Rafael cactus grows at similar elevations, but in a wider range of soil types, yet is only found in Emery County, Utah. The Service believes there are still enough thriving plants today to restore both species through the recovery plan.

To help refine the recovery plan, the Service is seeking review and comment by the public, other federal and state agencies, and independent scientists. Comments are requested by July 5, 2016, which is 60-days after publication of the Notice of Availability of the Draft Revised Recovery Plan on May 5, 2016, in the Federal Register. You can submit written comments via U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Utah Ecological Services Field Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Field Supervisor, 2369 West Orton Circle, Suite 50, West Valley City, UT  84119.

Please remember that the Service will include any personally identifiable information that is provided. To view the complete Federal Register notice, visithttps://federalregister.gov/a/2016-10517. The Draft Revised Recovery Plan is available online http://www.fws.gov/endangered/species/recovery-plans.html.

The ESA is an essential tool for conserving the nation’s most at-risk fish, wildlife, and plants, as well as the land and water on which they depend for habitat. The ESA has saved more than 99 percent of the species listed from the brink of extinction, and has served as the critical safety net for wildlife that Congress intended, when it passed the law 40 years ago. The Obama Administration has delisted more species due to recovery than any prior administration, including the Oregon Chub, Virginia northern flying squirrel, and brown pelican. 

 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, visithttp://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/. Connect with our Facebook page athttp://www.facebook.com/USFWSMountainPrairie, follow our tweets athttp://twitter.com/USFWSMtnPrairie, watch our YouTube Channel athttp://www.youtube.com/usfws and download photos from our Flickr page athttp://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwsmtnprairie/.


March 15, 2016: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Mountain-Prairie Region Evaluating the Status of Two Species

LAKEWOOD, Colo. – The western bumble bee, like all bumble bees, is a yellow and black bee that is an important pollinator of a wide variety of flowering plants and agricultural crops in western North America. This bee has a wide geographic range that stretches down the west coast from Alaska to California and reaches as far east as Nebraska and the Dakotas. 

This native bumble bee was once widespread and very common, but during the last several decades populations have declined range-wide, particularly in the western, coastal portions of the range. 

Defenders of Wildlife petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) to list the bee as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. The petition claims western bumble bees are at risk from several factors including habitat loss, disease, pesticide use, inadequate protective laws, and climate change. 

In addition, the Western Area Power Administration has petitioned the Service to remove federal protections for the Deseret milkvetch, which is currently federally-listed as threatened. It is a small perennial herb in the bean family. 

The Service recognizes that potential threats from residential development, highway expansion, and livestock grazing have not materialized since it was listed.  Surveys also show a higher number, and wider range of plants, than initially thought. 

In response to these petitions, the Service is publishing substantial 90-day findings, which is the first step in determining whether species require federal protection, or in the case of Deseret milkvetch, whether federal protections should be removed. A substantial finding triggers a closer look at these species’ status, also known as a 12-month finding to determine whether federal protections, or the removal of such, are warranted. We are asking our partners and the public to send us any information they may have so that we can ensure we make an informed decision on the status of these species.

Other species in this batch found in the Mountain-Prairie Region with substantial 90-day findings include: the American burying beetle (delist), Rio Grande chub (fish), Rio Grande sucker, southwestern willow flycatcher (delist), and the yellow banded bumble bee.  

The petition for the Arizona wetsalts tiger beetle was found to be not substantial, and will not receive further study.

The Service is seeking additional scientific and commercial data available on the substantial 90-day findings in this batch. Information is requested by May 16, 2016, and can be submitted electronically at http://www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter Docket Number FWS–R6–ES–2016–0023 for the western bumble bee, FWS–R6–ES–2016–0013 for Desert milkvetch, FWS–R2–ES–2016–0011 for American burying beetle (delist), FWS–R2–ES–2016–0019 for Rio Grande chub, FWS–R2–ES–2016–0020 for Rio Grande sucker, FWS-R2-ES-2016-0039 for southwestern willow flycatcher (delist), and FWS–R5–ES–2016–0024 for the yellow banded bumble bee. Then click on the “Comment Now!” button.

Comments can also be submitted via U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: Docket No. [Insert appropriate docket number], U.S. Fish and Wildlife, MS: BPHC, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803. Please note that submissions merely supporting or opposing a potential listing, without supporting documentation, will not be considered in making a determination.

The Service will post all information received on http://www.regulations.gov. This generally means that the Service will post any personal information that is provided.

For more information on the Service’s current analysis of each of these species, please visithttp://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/es/feb-90day-batch.php.

To view the complete Federal Register notice that publishes March 15, 2016, visithttps://www.federalregister.gov/public-inspection. Click on the 2016 Notices link under Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants.

For further details on the 90-day finding process, visithttp://www.fws.gov/endangered/what-we-do/listing-petition-process.html.

For more information on other Mountain-Prairie species, visithttp://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/es/endangered.php.

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, visithttp://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/. Connect with our Facebook page athttp://www.facebook.com/USFWSMountainPrairie, follow our tweets athttp://twitter.com/USFWSMtnPrairie, watch our YouTube Channel athttp://www.youtube.com/usfws and download photos from our Flickr page athttp://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwsmtnprairie/.


October 7, 2015: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Determines Goose Creek Milkvetch Does Not Warrant Protection under the Endangered Species Act

News Release: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced today that the Goose Creek milkvetch (Astragalus anserinus), a rare perennial forb found only in the Goose Creek drainage in Utah, Idaho and Nevada, is stable and no longer warrants protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  

In 2009, the Service designated Goose Creek milkvetch a candidate species under the ESA because of the risk of wildfire, fire management activities, competition from invasive plants, livestock use and a lack of regulatory protections, among other factors.  The “candidate” designation meant that protection under ESA was warranted but precluded by higher priorities.

New scientific information analyzed by the Service this year indicates the population of Goose Creek milkvetch is stable, resilient and is occupying its historic range despite wildfires, the presence of invasive plant competitors and human activities such as Off-Highway Vehicle use. The new analysis indicates impacts from these activities are not as significant as previously determined and, therefore, are no longer threatening the species.

However, leafy spurge, an invasive species, remains a potential future threat to Goose Creek milkvetch based upon its anticipated spread in the habitat.  To insure that the plant is protected, a long-term conservation agreement between the Bureau of Land Management and the Service was implemented in 2015.  The agreement will protect 93 percent of the total known Goose Creek milkvetch habitat.

As the species no longer faces any significant threats and the potential future threat of leafy spurge is adequately addressed by the 2015 conservation agreement with the BLM, the Service determined that Goose Creek milkvetch no longer meets the criteria for endangered species protection and it has been removed from the candidate species list.

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


August 6, 2014: Conservation Agreement Allows U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to Withdraw Proposed Rule to List Graham's and White River beardtongues

News Release: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced today that it is withdrawing a proposed rule to protect Graham’s beardtongue and White River beardtongue under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The decision was made after the Service worked with county, state, and federal partners to finalize a conservation agreement, which will reduce threats and provide landscape-level protections to both plant species across their ranges in the Uintah Basin in Utah and Colorado.

The conservation agreement, signed by the Service, Uintah County, Utah, Rio Blanco County, Colorado, Utah School Institutional Trust Lands Administration, Utah Governor’s Public Lands Policy Coordination Office, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, and the Bureau of Land Management in Utah and Colorado, comprehensively addresses the threats to both species to the point that they no longer meet the definition of a threatened or endangered species under the ESA.

“I want to thank the many partners who have contributed to this agreement and worked so hard to find common ground and work collaboratively when addressing the needs of imperiled species.  I believe that’s what we accomplished together with the signing of a range-wide conservation agreement for both beardtongues,” said Noreen Walsh, Mountain-Prairie regional director. “We are confident that the conservation agreement will assist the Service and its conservation partners in protecting these rare beardtongues in both Utah and Colorado.”

Graham’s and White River beardtongues are endemic plants with showy flowers.  Their ranges overlap along the Utah-Colorado border.  Graham’s beardtongue occurs mostly in the exposed oil shale strata of the Parachute Creek Member and other unclassified members of the Green River geologic formation.  White River beardtongue occurs on low-elevation oil shale barrens near the White River.  Twenty-four populations of Graham’s Beardtongue are known to exist, which contain 40,333 plants.  Eight populations of White River beardtongue are known to exist, which contain 12,215 plants.  The Service proposed to protect both species as threatened under the ESA on August, 6, 2013, due to the threats of energy exploration and development and the cumulative effects of increased energy development, livestock grazing, invasive weeds, small population sizes, and climate change. 

The conservation agreement was formalized on July 22, and establishes designated conservation areas to ensure redundancy, resiliency, and representation of both species across their ranges.  Conservation areas were selected to encompass large populations to ensure species viability, and smaller populations to provide connectivity and represent the range of the species.  The conservation areas and other conservation measures in the agreement were designed to minimize impacts associated with energy development through the use of spatial buffers and maximum surface disturbance caps.  Additional conservation measures implemented throughout the range of both species will eliminate or reduce threats to the species by protecting occupied and suitable habitat from the effects of energy development, livestock grazing, invasive weeds, small population size, and climate change.  The conservation agreement protects 64 and 76 percent of the known populations of Graham’s and White River beardtongues, respectively.  Of this amount, 16.2 and 14.3 percent of Graham’s and White River beardtongues populations, respectively, will be protected on private lands.  Protections afforded to both species on state and private lands would not otherwise occur under the ESA unless there was a federal nexus.

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


May 6, 2014: Service Announces Draft Economic Analysis, Draft Environmental Assessment and Draft Conservation Agreement for Graham's Beardtongue and White River Beardtongue

News Release: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today the availability of a draft economic analysis and draft environmental assessment on a proposal to designate critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for Graham’s beardtongue and White River beardtongue, two endemic plants found on oil shale soils in Uintah and Duchesne Counties, Utah, and Rio Blanco County, Colorado. The Service also announced the availability of a draft conservation agreement for the two species.

The Service will reopen the public comment period until July 7, 2014, on the August 6, 2013, proposed listing rule and proposed designation of critical habitat for both species; a draft environmental assessment; and additional data on species occurrences obtained since the proposed rule.

The Service will host a public hearing on May 28 on the proposals at the following location:

Uintah County Public Library
204 East 100 North,
Vernal, UT 84078
(435) 789-0091

An information session is scheduled from 4:30 to 6 pm, followed by the public hearing from 6:30 to 8:30 pm.

“In order to better inform our decision-making on Graham’s and White River beardtongue, we want to hear from people who may have valuable information about the two species and threats to their habitat,” said Noreen Walsh, Mountain-Prairie Regional Director.

The draft economic analysis estimates the economic impacts, including costs and benefits, of the proposed rule to designate 67,959 acres of critical habitat for Graham’s beardtongue in Duchesne and Uintah Counties, Utah and Rio Blanco County, Colorado; and 14,940 acres for White River beardtongue in Uintah County, Utah and Rio Blanco County, Colorado. The analysis concluded that critical habitat designations for Graham’s and White River beardtongues are unlikely to generate costs exceeding $100 million per year. This estimate was based on the anticipated costs of consultations under section 7 of the ESA and associated conservation measures. The Service will use the draft environmental assessment under the National Environmental Policy Act to analyze the effects of the proposed critical habitat on the physical and human environment.

Working with federal and non-federal partners, the Service has developed a draft conservation agreement for the long-term conservation of Graham’s and White River beardtongues. The agreement identifies conservation measures for use throughout the range of each species to address threats identified in the proposed rule, including energy development (traditional oil and gas, oil shale and tar sands) and the cumulative effect of increased energy development, livestock grazing, invasive weeds, small population sizes and climate change. The Service is currently assessing the ability of the draft agreement to ameliorate the threats and conserve these species.

The proposed designation of critical habitat includes areas essential to Graham’s and White River beardtongues, based on the best scientific information available. The Service will utilize the economic analysis to inform identification of these habitats. Areas that contain habitats essential to the conservation of these species and where the benefits of these habitats outweigh potential economic impacts will be considered for critical habitat designation.

Critical habitat is a term defined in the ESA and identifies geographic areas containing features essential to the conservation of a threatened or endangered species and that may require special management considerations or protection. The designation of critical habitat does not affect land ownership or establish a refuge, and has no impact on private landowners taking actions on their land that do not require federal funding or permits.
Both Graham’s and White River beardtongue are associated with sparse, but diverse desert shrub and piñon-juniper plant communities that include other endemic plants. Twenty-four populations of Graham’s Beardtongue are known to exist and contain 40,333 plants. Eight populations of White River beardtongue are known to exist and contain approximately 12,215 plants. Under the ESA, plants do not receive protection on private lands unless there is a federal nexus. Therefore, the Service is engaging private landowners in voluntary efforts for these two species. This is especially important for the White River beardtongue since almost half of its distribution occurs on private lands.

 
The Service will open a 60-day public comment period until July 7, 2014, to allow review and comment. 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 and identification of habitat essential to the species’ conservation.  A copy of the proposals and other information about the beardtongues is available online at http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/es/species/plants/2utahbeardtongues/index.htm

Comments and information may be submitted to the Federal Register online through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov (follow the instructions for submitting comments and use Docket No. FWS–R6–ES–2013–0081 for the proposed listing rule or FWS–R6–ES–2013–0082 for the critical habitat rule), or via U.S. mail or hand delivery to Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–R6–ES–2013–0081 or FWS–R6–ES–2013–0082); Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042–PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.

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


December 9, 2013: Notice of Availability of the Programmatic Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances for the Least Chub

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

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

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

Public Notice: 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: Arizona-Utah Plant Receives Endangered Species Act Protection

News Release: 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: 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

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

Public Notice: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: .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.

 

 

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.
Last modified: April 27, 2020
All Images Credit to and Courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Unless Specified Otherwise.
flickr youtube