The Fish and Wildlife Service (“Service”) announced this week that it has opened a 30-day comment period on revisions to the proposed critical habitat designation for the Sonoma County Distinct Population Segment of the California tiger salamander, and the associated draft economic analysis of the revised proposal. The Service previously revised the proposed critical habitat designation in August 2009 – after originally proposing the designation in August 2005 – based on a settlement agreement on the August 2005 proposal. In this week’s notice of availability (PDF), the Service has revised the proposed critical habitat designation to include 50,855 acres, a reduction of 23,368 acres from that proposed in 2009. Areas proposed for critical habitat contain primary constituent elements needed by the salamanders, such as standing bodies of water for early life stages, upland habitat for the dry season, and accessible areas between occupied habitat so that the species can disperse. The Service explains that primary changes to the proposed critical habitat area include removing urban centers, most of the 100-year floodplain, and areas non-essential to the species from the proposed critical habitat boundary. The revised proposal is intended to align better with the Service’s Santa Rosa Plain Conservation Strategy.
Links to the relevant documents, including a map of the revised area, can be found on the Service’s website. The deadline to submit written comments is February 17, 2010. They may be submitted on-line at the Federal eRulemaking Portal: www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments to Docket No. FWS–R8–ES–2009–0044. Comments may alternatively be submitted by mail or hand-delivery to: Public Comments Processing, Attn:( FWS–R8–ES–2009–0044)Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203. Faxes or email are not accepted. Comments submitted previously do not need to be resubmitted.
The Service will publish the final rule by July 1, 2011.