by Larry MacDonnell
In December 1998 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published a proposed “4(d)” rule to govern activities potentially harming the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse while the state’s collaborative process to produce a regional habitat conservation plan moves forward. The rule proposes creation of “mouse protection areas” and “potential mouse protection areas.” MPAs would extend a mile up- and downstream from a mouse capture site and 300 feet on either side of the stream. PMPAs would include stream reaches with suitable mouse habitat but not known to contain mice.
Certain activities within these areas would be exempted from regulation. Included are rodent control within 10 feet of an existing structure, ongoing agricultural activities, maintenance of existing landscaping, and existing water uses. Other activities would be allowed to modify up to four percent of a MPA, provided governmental entities with regulatory authority agree to ensure that the activity will not inhibit Preble’s movement along the stream and that lost habitat values will be fully restored or replaced in another location.
If a survey of land within a PMPA determines that Preble’s are not present, activities would not be subject to regulation under the proposed rule.
The Fish and Wildlife Service solicited public comment on the proposed rule has been extended until May 1, 1999. Based on comments, it will modify and issue the final rule sometime later this year.
Meanwhile, the State-sponsored public planning process continues. In December 1998 the steering committee asked each of the sub-area groups to put together a “core” group to work on developing specific conservation strategies for their area. The Boulder sub-area group, consisting of representatives from irrigation interests, homebuilders, the gravel mining industry, and local governments, has been meeting monthly. The City of Longmont and the St. Vrain Lefthand Water Conservancy District sponsored a half-day workshop on February 3rd to inform those interested in St. Vrain Creek of the Preble’s mouse process. FWS has identified both MPAs and PMPAs along St. Vrain and Left Hand creeks in Boulder County.
If you have questions, call CRA’s representative in the process, Larry MacDonnell, at 303-545-6467 .