Half-million acres sought for endangered cuckoo habitat

More than half a million acres in nine Western states is being sought as habitat for the western distinct population segment of the yellow-billed cuckoo.

A portion of the bird’s habitat runs along the Nevada-California border in addition to parts of Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is reopening the public comment period for 60 days for the proposal to designate 546,335 acres of critical habitat for the bird.

An initial 60-day comment period on the proposal closed Oct. 14. The public comment period is being reopened for an additional 60 days to ensure the public has adequate opportunity to submit comments and to ensure that any final decision reflects all of the best science and information available.

The Service is also planning to hold a public hearing on the proposal and will announce the date and location when it is finalized.

Fish and Wildlife is seeking information concerning the western yellow-billed cuckoo’s biology and habitat, principal habitat elements and biological features of critical habitat, selection criteria for critical habitat units, and justification for exclusions from critical habitat. The Service is also asking for information on the incremental economic effects of the proposed critical habitat designation. To access the proposed rules and a specific outline of information requested, go to www.fws.gov/sacramento/outreach/Public-Advisories/WesternYellow-BilledCuckoo/outreach_PA_Western-Yellow-Billed-Cuckoo.htm.

Comments on the proposed critical habitat rule will be accepted through Jan. 12, 2015. Comments may be submitted online at the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov.

The docket number for the proposed rule is FWS–R8–ES–2013-0011.

Comments may also be sent by U.S. Mail or hand:

Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–ES–R8–2013–0011; Division of Policy and Directives Management;

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; U.S. Fish & Wildlife Headquarters, MS: BPHC, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803.

Members of the public who have already submitted comments during the first 60-day comment period do not need to resubmit their comments. Comments and information provided online or by mail to the service during the first 60-day comment period are still valid.

The western yellow-billed cuckoo was designated a threatened species on Oct. 3 and the rule went into effect on Nov. 3. A final rule to designate critical habitat is expected in 2015.


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