Most Coloradans have probably never come across the tiny orange-brown mouse that inhabits the bushy areas along streams from southern Wyoming to Colorado Springs. Though Preble's meadow jumping mice have large feet for leaping, they're nocturnal. Besides, they hibernate from early fall to May.
Now, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will designate 411 miles of rivers and streams and 54 total square miles as critical habitat for the mouse, a 40 percent increase, making it harder for developers to move into protected areas, according to Montana's Gazette News Service, in a report filed from Denver. Josh Pollock of the Center for Native Ecosystems in Denver applauds the addition of lands, but landowners and businesses have been critical of the idea, pointing to government estimates that the designation could cost up to $5.98 million per year in effects related to development projects, writes 11 News in Colorado Springs, which notes that the protected areas include Boulder, Broomfield, Douglas, El Paso, Jefferson, Larimer, and Teller counties. The ruling is the result of a challenge to a 2003 designation in a lawsuit filed against Fish and Wildlife by the city of Greeley (via the Tribune).