Gunnison sage grouse hearing dates set

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has settled on new dates for public hearings on its proposal to list the Gunnison sage grouse as a federally endangered species after being forced to push back the events because of the government shutdown.

It also has added a third hearing, in Montrose, to the two others it previously had scheduled.

In addition, it has established a revised public comment deadline of Dec. 2 in connection with the listing proposal and an associated proposal to designate 1.7 million acres of critical habitat to protect the species.

Public information sessions and hearings now will be:

■ Nov. 19, in Gunnison, at Western State Colorado University, University Center, 600 N. Adams St. 

■ Nov. 20, in Montrose, at the Holiday Inn Express, 1391 S. Townsend Ave. 

■ Nov. 21, in Monticello, Utah, at the Monticello High School Auditorium, 164 S. 200 West.

The sessions run from 4 to 5 p.m., following by hearings from 6 to 9 p.m.

The Fish and Wildlife Service continues to face a March 31 court-ordered deadline to make final determinations on the Gunnison sage grouse.

About 5,000 breeding Gunnison sage grouse survive, largely in the Gunnison Basin, where conservation efforts have resulted in a relatively stable population over the last 12 years.

Small populations also exist elsewhere in western Colorado, including in the Piñon Mesa area of Mesa County and in southeastern Utah.

The Fish and Wildlife Service says the bird now occupies about 7 percent of its former range, which once also included northeastern Arizona and northwestern New Mexico.


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