In response to concerns expressed by the Forest Landowners Association (FLA) and other stakeholders, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced last week a six-month extension on the final determination to list the Louisiana Pinesnake under the Endangered Species Act. The Service noted that the extension will provide more time to resolve questions about survey data and scientific uncertainty that arose during the initial comment period.
For more than two years, FLA has worked closely with USFWS leadership to ensure that all at-risk species determinations take into consideration the implementation by private landowners of Best Management Practices and other forest management tools that protect at-risk species.
“We commend the Service for providing this extension to ensure the most relevant data is taken into consideration,” FLA CEO Scott Jones said. “The Southern U.S. is the largest wood fiber producing region in the country, and we are hopeful for a favorable determination that allows for conservation of the snake as well as the recognition of ongoing forest management practices as beneficial to native plants and wildlife.”
During the extension, the Service will seek to address the differences regarding the interpretation of the data used to determine the snake’s status and trends. FLA will continue to encourage a final rule that allows for healthy ecosystems to sustain the Louisiana pinesnake, without unduly burdening impacted landowners that provide for the habitat of the species.
Public comment on the proposed listing will be accepted until November 6, 2017. The Service is expected to submit a final listing determination to the Federal Register on or before April 6, 2018. To learn more about submitting comments, click here or send them via U.S. mail or hand delivery to:
Public Comments Processing
Attn: Docket No. FWS–R4–ES–2016–0121; 4500030113
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MS: BPHC
5275 Leesburg Pike
Falls Church, VA 22041–3803