KUSA - A mouse could delay some flood repair projects along the Front Range - according to some Colorado House Republicans.
The Preble's meadow jumping mouse, listed as endangered, lives along stream beds from Colorado Springs to Wyoming, where many flood repair projects are underway. The projects include repairing bridges, which will help communities get back to living normal lives.
Republican U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner represents Colorado's 4th District, which was affected by the September 2013 floods.
"Thousands of people had their lives completely turned upside down and now a mouse is going to hold up their recovery," Gardner said. "You could spend millions of dollars trying to mitigate to the habitat. But it's going to hold up the construction of projects.that were wiped out."
"We're hoping that there's not a significant delay at all and we don't anticipate it," said Ed Conley, external affairs officer for FEMA. "If we see a project that we're funding that's in those areas - then we have a responsibility, not only for us, but to protect the local community too [and] to make sure that that gets reviewed by Fish and Wildlife."
Conley said it's possible some projects could require extra dirt or other materials to be added along the creeks and streams to help protect the mice. He said it's too soon to attach a dollar amount to what that would cost.
"We're going to do whatever it takes to continue to move the recovery forward, expediting our reimbursement as communities begin their rebuilding of their critical infrastructure," Conley said. "And we're going to work with everyone involved to make sure that we have a good process that streamlines the review, keeps the dollars flowing and keeps the recovery going forward."
Gardner said some republicans are asking the Secretary of the Interior for a waiver.
"We're considering legislation that would basically allow exemptions to be made in cases like this - in egregious cases where you have a need to replace the bridge that just got wiped out," Gardner said. "So that [communities] wouldn't have to worry that a mouse is going to stop things from getting back to normal."
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