The U-S Fish and Wildlife Service has published a draft environmental assessment on its proposal to designate critical habitat for the Gunnison Sage Grouse in Utah and Colorado. The Gunnison grouse is a smaller and rarer cousin of the greater sage grouse that lives in most of the states of the Mountain West.
The proposal would designate about 1.7 million acres in the two states as critical habitat, including about 300-thousand acres of private land in Utah’s San Juan County. That’s a worry for local officials such as County Planner Nick Sandberg.
"The concern is that if critical habitat is designated, that will allow, or require more federal, federal control or federal effect on the use of private lands,” Sandberg told KUER.
The draft assessment says there would actually be very little effect on the use of private land. A companion document estimates the economic impact in Utah at about 150-thousand dollars.The Fish and Wildlife Service will be taking public comment on the plan through October 16th.