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Colorado Jumping Mouse Gets Bigger Habitat

WASHINGTON (CN) - Newly released draft environmental assessment and economic impact analysis reports on the Preble's meadow jumping mouse are available for public comment, after George W. Bush administration Interior Department appointee Julie MacDonald was accused of inappropriate influence on excluding certain counties from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's critical habitat designation.

The agency's proposed revision of the designation would add an additional 184 miles of rivers and streams and 18,000 acres of adjacent habitat to the existing critical habitat designation in Colorado. The proposed revised critical habitat is in Boulder, Broomfield, Douglas, El Paso, Jefferson, Larimer and Teller Counties. In total, the wildlife agency is proposing to designate approximately 400 miles of rivers and streams and 39,000 acres of adjacent habitat.

The Preble's meadow jumping mouse was listed as a threatened species in May 1998, with critical habitat designated June 2003. The agency is re-examining the critical habitat designation due to concerns that Julie MacDonald, a political appointee of then President George W. Bush, who handled endangered species for the Interior Department, inappropriately influenced the outcome, resulting in the exclusion of lands in Boulder, Douglas, and El Paso Counties.

The decline in the extent and quality of Preble's meadow jumping mouse habitat is considered the main factor threatening the subspecies. Habitat alteration, degradation, loss, and fragmentation resulting from urban development, flood control, water development, agriculture, and other human land uses have adversely impacted Preble's meadow jumping mouse populations.

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