Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Listing the Lesser
Prairie-Chicken as a Threatened Species
AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.
ACTION: Proposed rule.
SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, propose to list the
lesser prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus), a grassland bird
known from southeastern Colorado, western Kansas, eastern New Mexico,
western Oklahoma, and the Texas Panhandle, as a threatened species
under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). If we
finalize the rule as proposed, it would extend the Act's protection to
this species. We have determined that designation of critical habitat
for the lesser prairie-chicken under the Act is prudent but not
determinable at this time. We are seeking information and comments from
the public regarding the lesser prairie-chicken and this proposed rule.
DATES: We will accept comments received or postmarked on or before
March 11, 2013
. Comments submitted electronically using the Federal
eRulemaking Portal (see ADDRESSES section, below) must be received by
11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the closing date.
Public Hearings: We will hold four public hearings on this proposed
rule. The public hearings will be held in Woodward, Oklahoma, on
Tuesday, February 5; Garden City, Kansas, on Thursday, February 7;
Lubbock, Texas, on Monday, February 11; and Roswell, New Mexico, on
Tuesday, February 12. The public hearings will be held from 6:30 p.m.
to 8:30 p.m.
ADDRESSES: Document availability: You may obtain copies of the proposed
rule on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov
at Docket No. FWS-
R2-ES-2012-0071 or by mail from the Oklahoma Ecological Services Field
Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).
Written Comments: You may submit written comments by one of the
(1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov
. Search for Docket No. FWS-R2-ES-2012-0071. You may
submit a comment by clicking on ``Comment Now!''
(2) By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public
Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R2-ES-2012-0071; Division of Policy and
Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax
Drive, MS 2042-PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.
We request that you send comments only by the methods described
above. We will post all comments on http://www.regulations.gov
generally means that we will post any personal information you provide
us (see the Information Requested section below for more information).
Public hearings: The public hearings will be held at the following
(1) Woodward, Oklahoma: High Plains Technology Center Seminar
Center, 3921 34th Street, Woodward, OK 73801.
(2) Garden City, Kansas: Garden City Community College, 801 N.
Campus Drive, Garden City, KS 67846.
(3) Lubbock, Texas: Lubbock Civic Center, 1501 Mac Davis Lane,
Lubbock, TX 79401.
(4) Roswell, New Mexico: Eastern New Mexico University Fine Arts
Auditorium, 64 University Boulevard, Roswell, NM 88203.
People needing reasonable accommodations in order to attend and
participate in the public hearing should contact Dixie Porter, Field
Supervisor, Oklahoma Ecological Services Field Office, as soon as
possible (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT below).
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dixie Porter, Field Supervisor,
Oklahoma Ecological Services Field Office, 9014 East 21st Street,
Tulsa, OK 74129; by telephone 918-581-7458 or by facsimile 918-581-
7467. Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD)
may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800-877-8339.
This document consists of: (1) A proposed rule to list the lesser
prairie-chicken as a threatened species; and (2) a finding that
critical habitat is prudent but not determinable at this time.
Why we need to publish a rule. Under the Endangered Species Act, a
species may warrant protection through listing if it is an endangered
or threatened species throughout all or a significant portion of its
range. In this proposal, we are explaining why the lesser prairie-
chicken warrants protection under the Endangered Species Act. This rule
proposes to list the lesser prairie-chicken as a threatened species
throughout its range.
The Endangered Species Act provides the basis for our action. Under
the Endangered Species Act, we can determine that a species is an
endangered or threatened species based on any of five factors: (A) The
present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its
habitat or range; (B) overutilization for commercial, recreational,
scientific, or educational purposes; (C) disease or predation; (D) the
inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or (E) other natural or
manmade factors affecting its continued existence. The primary factors
supporting the proposed threatened status for lesser prairie-chicken
are the historical, ongoing, and probable future impacts of cumulative
habitat loss and fragmentation. These impacts are the result of:
conversion of grasslands to agricultural uses; encroachment by invasive
woody plants; wind energy development; petroleum production; and
presence of roads and manmade vertical structures including towers,
utility lines, fences, turbines, wells, and buildings.
We will request peer review of the methods used in our proposal. We
will specifically request that several knowledgeable individuals with
scientific expertise in this species or related fields review the
scientific information and methods that we used in developing this
We are seeking public comment on this proposed rule. Anyone is
welcome to comment on our proposal or provide additional information on
the proposal that we can use in making a final determination on the
status of this species. Please submit your comments and materials
concerning this proposed rule by one of the methods listed in the
ADDRESSES section. Within 1 year following the publication of this
proposal, we will publish in the Federal Register a final determination
concerning the listing of the species or withdraw the proposal if new
information is provided that supports that decision.
We intend that any final action resulting from this proposed rule
will be based on the best scientific and commercial data available and
be as accurate and as effective as possible. Therefore, we request
comments or information from other concerned governmental agencies,
Native American tribes, the scientific community, industry, general
public, or any other interested parties concerning
this proposed rule. We particularly seek comments regarding:
(1) The historical and current status and distribution of the
lesser prairie-chicken, its biology and ecology, specific threats (or
lack thereof) and regulations that may be addressing those threats and
ongoing conservation measures for the species and its habitat.
(2) Information relevant to the factors that are the basis for
making a listing determination for a species under section 4(a) of the
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act) (16 U.S.C. 1531 et
seq.), which are:
(a) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or
curtailment of the species' habitat or range;
(b) Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or
(c) Disease or predation;
(d) The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or
(e) Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued
existence and threats to the species or its habitat.
(3) Which areas would be appropriate as critical habitat for the
species and why areas should or should not be proposed for designation
as critical habitat, including whether there are threats to the species
from human activity that would be expected to increase due to the
designation and whether that increase in threat would outweigh the
benefit of designation such that the designation of critical habitat
may not be prudent.
(4) Specific information on:
The amount and distribution of habitat for the lesser
What may constitute ``physical or biological features
essential to the conservation of the species,'' within the geographical
range currently occupied by the species,
Where these features are currently found,
Whether any of these features may require special
management considerations or protection,
What areas, that were occupied at the time of listing (or
are currently occupied) and that contain features essential to the
conservation of the species, should be included in the designation and
What areas not occupied at the time of listing are
essential for the conservation of the species and why.
(5) Information on the projected and reasonably likely impacts of
climate change on the lesser prairie-chicken and its habitat.
(6) Information as to which prohibitions, and exceptions to those
prohibitions, are necessary and advisable to provide for the
conservation of the lesser prairie-chicken pursuant to section 4(d) of
Please note that submissions merely stating support for, or
opposition to, the action under consideration without providing
supporting information, although noted, will not be considered in
making a determination, as section 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act directs that
determinations as to whether any species is an endangered or threatened
species must be made ``solely on the basis of the best scientific and
commercial data available.''
You may submit your comments and materials concerning this proposed
rule by one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section.
If you submit a comment via http://www.regulations.gov
, your entire
submission--including any personal identifying information--will be
posted on the Web site. If your submission is made via a hardcopy that
includes personal identifying information, you may request at the top
of your document that we withhold this information from public review.
However, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. We will
post all hardcopy comments on http://www.regulations.gov
include sufficient information with your comments to allow us to verify
any scientific or commercial information you include.
Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting
documentation we used in preparing this proposed rule, will be
available for public inspection on http://www.regulations.gov
No. FWS-R2-ES-2012-0071, or by appointment during normal business hours
at the Oklahoma Ecological Services Field Office (see FOR FURTHER
INFORMATION CONTACT).To read the full notice ... http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-12-11/html/2012-29331.htm