FWS Extends Comment Period on Sage-Grouse Proposal, Will Hold Public Hearings Following Lawmakers' Request

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) notified Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet and other lawmakers that it will grant a three-week extension of the comment period on its Gunnison sage-grouse proposal. FWS also committed to holding public hearings during a subsequent comment period for the economic analysis of the proposal.

The extension comes after a bipartisan group of lawmakers, led by Bennet, from Colorado and Utah urged FWS to grant a 60-day extension of the comment period and hold formal hearings on the matter.

“While the extension is not as long as we had hoped, I am pleased the Fish and Wildlife Service is working with us to ensure Coloradans have a chance to make their voices heard,” Bennet said. “This is an important issue in western Colorado, and we need to consider all of the implications before a final rule is determined. I encourage anyone who has input on the proposal to submit their feedback or attend a public hearing.”

FWS has proposed two rules that would list the Gunnison sage-grouse as an endangered species and would designate over 1.7 million acres of critical habitat in Western Colorado and Eastern Utah.

The initial public comment period, originally scheduled for March 12, 2013 will now close on April 2, 2013. There will be a second opportunity to comment for the economic analysis for the proposed critical habitat, which is expected to occur in May. FWS will accept comments on all aspects of both rules during the second comment period. Public hearings are also planned with times and locations to be determined.