Gov. Jack Dalrymple, Sens. John Hoeven and Heidi Heitkamp, and Congressman Kevin Cramer today sent a joint letter to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Daniel Ashe, requesting a 30-day extension of the public comment period regarding two proposed rules recently published by the agency.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to list the Dakota skipper as a threatened species and the Poweshiek skipperling as an endangered species under authority of the Endangered Species Act. The agency is also proposing to designate critical habitat for both of the North American butterflies. If implemented, the rules could affect local economies and the state's leading industries.
Both rules were published with the Federal Register on Oct. 24, opening a 60-day public comment period that is currently scheduled to close on Dec. 23. The Governor and members of the state's Congressional Delegation requested that the agency extend the deadline to Jan. 23, 2014, allowing all interested parties sufficient time to research the issues and formulate constructive feedback.
"We believe granting this extension to the comment period would help ensure that public input is maximized and the effects of this proposal are fully understood," the Governor, Senators and Congressman wrote. "The listings provided for under these rules, as well as the critical habitat affected should the rules be implemented, would impact a significant amount of private, state, and federal lands. If these critical habitat designations are put into place, they could have a negative impact on local economies by hampering such activities as farming, ranching and energy development."
The two rules published by the agency include, "Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Threatened Status for Dakota Skipper and Endangered Status for Poweshiek Skipperling" and "Designation of Critical Habitat for Dakota Skipper and Poweshiek Skipperling."