The bistate sage grouse was proposed for listing under the Endangered Species Act on Friday.
Starting Monday, a 60-day comment period begins on the listing.
“One year from Monday, we decide whether to finalize this rule under the act,” said Ted Koch, Nevada state supervisor for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
Koch said the bistate sage grouse habitat extends south along the Nevada-California border, and is a distinct population of about 5,000 birds.
“It has nothing to do with the greater sage grouse,” he said. “As far as the act is concerned they are ants and elephants.”
He said the bistate sage grouse has been an isolated species for 10,000 years.
“For our process, this is night and day,” he said of the connection. “They are both grouse, but there is no relationship or implication under the act.”
The proposal includes a special rule to allow for increased flexibility in land management practices to benefit the grouse.
The proposal would designate about 1.86 million acres of habitat in Douglas, Lyon, Mineral, Esmeralda, Alpine, Mono and Inyo counties as well as Carson City.
Over the next 60 days the agency will seek peer review from scientists as well as public comment. Two public meetings have been set to discuss the listing, 1-3 p.m. Nov. 6 at the Smith Valley Community Center in Wellington, and 4-6 p.m. Nov. 5 in Bishop, Calif.
Public comment may be sent by mail to Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–R8–ES–2013–0042 and FWS-R8-ES-2013-0072; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042–PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.
To comment electronically, go to www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter FWS–R8–ES–2013–0042 and FWS-R8-ES-2013-0072, which are the docket numbers for these rulemakings. In the search panel on the left side of the screen, under the document type heading, click on the Proposed Rules link to locate this document. You may submit a comment by clicking on “Comment Now!”