Bennet, Udall Welcome FWS Extension for Feedback on Lesser Prairie-Chicken

Senators Requested Extension of Comment Period to Allow More Coloradans to Participate in Crafting Multistate Plan

Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and Mark Udall welcomed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) extension of the comment period on the final listing decision of the lesser prairie-chicken under the Endangered Species Act. The senators joined a bipartisan coalition to request the extension earlier this month.

FWS announced today it will extend the final listing determination through March 30, 2014.

In a letter to Daniel Ashe, director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, the senators wrote, “With an influx of significant new public input from the reopened comment period, and with the submission of the five-state conservation proposal, we encourage you to consider a six-month extension… Such an extension is permissible under both the law and the settlement agreement and would provide additional time to assess the benefits of the proposed plan and whether conservation efforts have been established to the point that a listing is not warranted.”

Since FWS proposed a “threatened” listing of the lesser prairie-chicken last fall, state wildlife managers have worked together to prepare a recently-proposed five-state plan to protect the species. Given the comprehensive nature of the proposal, the senators want participants to have the necessary time to adopt the programs and demonstrate their effectiveness.

In addition to Bennet and Udall, Senators Tom Udall (D-NM), James Inhofe (R-OK), John Cornyn (R-TX), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), and Pat Roberts (R-KS) signed the request.