Date of this Version
Published by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (2005) 36 pages.
The purpose of this Environmental Assessment (EA) is to satisfy the National Environmental Policy Act requirements for a proposed action to implement an umbrella Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA) with the Colorado Division of Wildlife (CDOW). The purpose of the CCAA is to promote conservation of Gunnison sage-grouse (Centrocercus minimus), a declining endemic of the sage-steppe community in Colorado and Utah. Two other alternatives are compared to the proposed action to assess whether the action can be implemented without significant effects to environmental resources in the area. About one-half of the Gunnison sage-grouse range occurs on non-Federal lands in Colorado. The survival and recovery of the species is therefore closely associated with the current and future land uses occurring on the non-Federal lands. Therefore, there is an obvious need to secure the cooperation of those non-Federal landowners in Colorado who reside within the range of the species to promote the implementation of land uses that would be beneficial to the grouse. The umbrella CCAA would describe specific land-use activities and conservation practices that would be beneficial to the species on the non-Federal lands. In exchange for volunteering to implement beneficial practices for Gunnison sage-grouse, the participating landowners would be granted authorization to incidentally ‘take’ Gunnison sage-grouse under an Enhancement of Survival Permit (Permit) issued pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(A) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and by receiving assurances that they will not incur additional land-use restrictions if the species is listed under the ESA. The Permit would become effective if the grouse was subsequently federally listed, and would then authorize a level of unintentional ‘take’ for each enrolled landowner. Consequently, the greater public benefit is served by having an operational conservation program that will improve the species status, and the participating non-Federal landowners benefit by receiving an incidental take permit and assurances that they can continue agreed upon land uses.