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UFWDA Community Forum  |  Regional Focus - News and Local Events  |  South Central  |  Topic: Threatened Status for Gunnison Sage-Grouse « previous next »
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Author Topic: Threatened Status for Gunnison Sage-Grouse  (Read 20 times)
Peter Vahry
UFWDA International Vice-President

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« on: November 20, 2014, 04:34:40 am »

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Threatened Status
for Gunnison Sage-Grouse

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Final rule.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), determine
threatened species status under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as
amended (Act), for the Gunnison sage-grouse (Centrocercus minimus), a
bird species from southwestern Colorado and southeastern Utah. The
effect of this regulation will be to add the Gunnison sage-grouse to
the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife.

DATES: This rule is effective December 22, 2014.

ADDRESSES: This final rule is available on the internet at http://www.regulations.gov and http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/birds/gunnisonsagegrouse. Comments and materials we received, as well
as supporting documentation we used in preparing this rule, are
available for public inspection at http://www.regulations.gov. All of
the comments, materials, and documentation that we considered in this
rulemaking are available by appointment, during normal business hours
at: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Western Colorado Field Office, 445
West Gunnison Avenue, Suite 240, Grand Junction, CO 81501-5720;
telephone 970-243-2778.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Susan Linner, Field Supervisor, U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service, Colorado Ecological Services Office, 134
Union Blvd., Suite 670, P.O. Box 25486 DFC, Denver, CO 80225; telephone
303-236-4774. Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf
(TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800-877-


Executive Summary

    Why we need to publish a rule. Under the Endangered Species Act a
species may warrant protection through listing if it is endangered or
threatened as those terms are defined in the Act. Listing a species as
an endangered or threatened species can only be completed by issuing a
rule. In this case, we are required by a judicially approved settlement
agreement to make a final determination regarding the Gunnison sage-
grouse by no later than November 12, 2014. Elsewhere in today's Federal
Register we finalize the designation of critical habitat for the
    This rule will finalize the listing of the Gunnison sage-grouse
(Centrocercus minimus) as a threatened species.
    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.
    As described in detail below, we have determined that the most
substantial threats to Gunnison sage-grouse currently and in the future
include habitat decline due to human disturbance (Factor A), small
population size and structure (Factor E), drought (Factor E), climate
change (Factor A), and disease (Factor C). Other threats that are
impacting Gunnison sage-grouse to a lesser degree or in localized areas
include grazing practices inconsistent with local ecological
conditions, fences, invasive plants, fire, mineral development,
pi[ntilde]on-juniper encroachment, large-scale water development
(Factor A); predation (Factor C), primarily in association with
anthropogenic disturbance and habitat decline due to human disturbance
(Factor A); and recreation (Factor E). As described in Factor D below,
some existing regulatory mechanisms are in place to conserve Gunnison
sage-grouse, but individually or collectively they do not fully address
the substantial threats faced by the species, particularly habitat
decline, small population size and structure, drought, climate change,
and disease. The threats listed above are also acting cumulatively,
contributing to the challenges faced by Gunnison sage-grouse now and
into the future.
    Multiple partners, including private citizens, nongovernmental
organizations, and Tribal, State, and Federal agencies, are engaged in
conservation efforts across the range of Gunnison sage-grouse. Numerous
conservation actions have been implemented or are planned for Gunnison
sage-grouse, and these efforts have provided and will continue to
provide conservation benefit to the species. The Candidate Conservation
Agreement with Assurances for Gunnison sage-grouse (CCAA), Gunnison
Basin Candidate Conservation Agreement (CCA), conservation plans,
multi-county commitments, habitat improvement projects, and similar
non-regulatory conservation actions that address habitat-related
impacts and issues are described and evaluated under Factor A in this
rule. Federal, State, and local laws and regulations, conservation
easements, and other regulatory mechanisms are evaluated under Factor
D. Scientific research activities are described under Factor B and
throughout this rule where applicable. Also, conservation efforts are
described and evaluated as appropriate under relevant threat sections
throughout this rule.
    Peer review and public comment. We sought comments on the proposed
rule from independent and qualified specialists to ensure that our
determination is based on scientifically sound data, assumptions, and
analyses. We invited these peer reviewers to comment on our listing
proposal. We also considered all comments and information received
during each public comment period.

Read the full notice at; http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-11-20/html/2014-27109.htm

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