Two public hearings on the endangered species listing for the White Bluffs bladderpod are scheduled for July 11 in Pasco.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is holding the meetings as part of the 60-day comment period it recently reopened after public outcry and legal threats over the lack of notice during a comment period last year.
The sessions are from 3 to 5 p.m. and from 6 to 8 p.m. at TRAC, 6600 Burden Blvd.
While most of the area that is being considered for critical habitat designation for the yellow-flowering bladderpod is part of the Hanford Reach National Monument, 419 acres is in privately owned land.
Brad Thompson, listing and recovery division manager for Fish and Wildlife's state office in Lacey, told Franklin County Commission Chairman Rick Miller in an email that the meeting must take place during the comment period, which closes July 22. The earliest it can be published in the Federal Register is June 25. The agency must then have a 15-day waiting period before the meeting.
"I appreciate your assistance in identifying a venue that is accessible to your constituents and can accommodate a large number of people," Thompson said.
While he would have liked to have seen the meeting sooner, MIller said there are advantages to having it later. To hold it during the week of the July 4 would conflict with cherry harvests and many people would be out of town for the holiday. The later date gives farmers more time to prepare their comments about why they are concerned over the bladderpod's impact on county land.
Fish and Wildlife is expected to have a separate hearing on Umtanum Desert Buckwheat, which grows on federal land across the Columbia River in Benton County, earlier on July 11 at a location to be announced in Kennewick.