NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Colorado's Future Development Could Hinge On A Mouse

May 6, 1998

Chalking up a 2 percent rise in population last year, Colorado was among the five fastest growing states in the nation. That growth was concentrated north and south of Denver along the eastern base of the Rockies -- smack in the middle of the habitat of the Preble's meadow jumping mouse, which may soon be entered on the list of endangered species.

Observers say that if the mouse makes the list, say good-bye to future development.

  • The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to add the mouse to the endangered list in mid-May.
  • It would take that action at the behest of the Biodiversity Legal Foundation, whose lawsuit prompted the service to propose declaring the mouse endangered.
  • By law, the mouse must be treated as endangered from the moment the service proposes to list it -- which occurred in March 1997.
  • So far, a $35 million water pipeline project has been delayed and a gravel-mining company has been required to set aside 400 acres out of the 1,000 it had planned to mine.

Critics claim the Preble's meadow jumping mouse is only being used as an excuse to clamp down on development. And many Colorado residents might welcome the stoppage. Anti-growth sentiment is strong there, as it is in many western states, and a recent poll showed 80 percent support for listing the mouse as endangered. Since it hibernates for nine months of the year, studying it has been difficult. Experts admit that no one really knows how many there are.

Source: Anna Bray Duff, "Mice vs. Men: Slow-Growth Tale?" Investor's Business Daily, May 6, 1998.


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