From The Fairplay Flume (Danny Ramey):
The High Creek Fen is made up of 1,147 acres of wetland in western Park County, about 8.5 miles south of Fairplay. It is primarily owned by The Nature Conservancy and the Colorado State Land Board, as well as private landowners, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
An EPA document tied to the petition states that the Susan’s purse-making caddisfly is a small, hairy, brown caddisfly in the family Hydroptilidae. and adult forewings are 2 millimeters, or 0.08 inches, in length.
The rarity of the Susan’s purse-making caddisfly was one of the main factors motivating the petition, said Scott Hoffman Black, the executive director of the Xerces Society. “When you’re an animal that lives in only two places, if one of those places is destroyed, you’re in trouble,” he said. The petition also cited threats such as grazing animals, logging, roadbuilding, fires, water use, and camping and hiking as dangerous to the caddisfly and its habitat, said Gelatt. Along with its rarity, the Susan’s purse-making caddisfly should be put on the list because of its importance to its ecosystem, said Black. It is not only a vital part of the food chain but also a good indicator of how the ecosystem is doing. “When you see that they [the caddisflies] are declining, the ecosystem isn’t doing well,” said Black.
With the petition approved, the process will now move into the status review phase. During this phase, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will begin examining whether or not the Susan’s purse-making caddisfly requires protection under the Endangered Species Act. A 60-day public comment period began on July 8, to receive feedback from both scientific experts and normal citizens. The period will end on Sept. 7, said Gelatt.
Once the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has researched the threats to the caddisfly, it will receive one of three designations, said Diane Katzenberger, a spokesperson for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The first is that the threats to the caddisfly do not warrant a place on the list, which would end the process. It could also be found that the threats warrant a place on the list for the caddisfly. At that point, work on a proposal would begin. Finally, it could also be found that while a place on the list is warranted, it could be “precluded by listing actions of higher priority,” said Katzenberger. If that happened, the caddisfly would be put on a candidate list.
Black is confident that the caddisfly will find its way onto the endangered species list. “We sure feel that if any animal deserves it, it’s this one,” he said.
More Coyote Gulch coverage here.