Robbie LeValley, Delta County administrator, gave an update on the Gunnison sage-grouse to the Crawford board of trustees at their work session on March 20.
"The Fish and Wildlife Service extended this initial comment period to April 2.
The comment period is on the threatened and endangered proposal," LeValley said.
The Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed that the Gunnison sage-grouse be listed as endangered, which is the highest level of protection under the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
"The definition of endangered is that it is on the brink of extinction. Now we can show data, science, history, everything — that 87 percent of the population of the Gunnison sage-grouse lives in the Gunnison Basin, and that population is on the increase," LeValley said.
The six satellite populations including the Crawford population have fluctuated, she said, but they have not done as well as the Gunnison population. That is part of the reasoning for seeking the endangered status.
But to counter the Fish and Wildlife Service position, LeValley said there has been much done to help the Gunnison sage-grouse in this area. That includes the ongoing work of the Gunnison sage-grouse Working Group, and money invested in easements and agreements. "There's been a tremendous amount of work done for the Gunnison sage-grouse in the Crawford area," LeValley said.
On March 20, a Memorandum of Understanding between Delta and Gunnison county governments was discussed to continue the work. Colorado Parks and Wildlife has contributed over $70 million since work began to save the Gunnison sage-grouse. Gunnison County has invested over $5 million. Habitat has been improved. The Gunnison sage-grouse Working Group in Crawford began in 1995.
LeValley asked the Town of Crawford to write a letter to U.S. Fish and Wildlife. Delta County does not want the Gunnison sage-grouse listed as endangered nor as threatened. The county's position is that those listings are not warranted, and that the working groups should be continued. LeValley stressed that the town would have to decide what its position is, but the county could help with data or a draft letter.
There is a second comment period in June. The county will provide data on the critical habitat of the Gunnison sage-grouse to the town and request a second letter.
"Have they taken into account that coyotes like them too?" asked Mayor Susie Steckel.
"I think we've done a lot to protect them, and I think we ought to spend our money elsewhere," trustee Hetty Todd said.
Trustee James Sorensen asked what the other impacts would be other than the cost involved. Robbie LeValley explained that if a property is approved for an NRCS project, for example, then the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would have to be consulted before there would be a release of federal dollars. Fish and Wildlife would only be consulted if federal dollars are involved. They would have no other control over private land.
Jackie Savage, town clerk, said she would write a letter.blog comments powered by Disqus