News Release

Habitat Conservation Plan Proposed for Tulare Highway-Interchange Improvement Project

Plan to Help Offset Impacts to Threatened and Endangered Species

December 14, 2012

Media Contacts:
Robert Moler, robert_moler@fws.gov, (916) 414-6606

Sacramento - The U. S. Fish and Wildlife (Service) today has released the City of Tulare’s proposed habitat conservation plan (HCP) for a project to improve the existing State Route 99/ Cartmill-Avenue interchange in Tulare, California. The HCP outlines strategies to avoid, minimize, and offset impacts to the federally endangered San Joaquin kit fox, and the federally threatened vernal pool fairy shrimp.
 
With the proposed HCP, the City of Tulare seeks a permit for the project’s temporary impacts to 12 acres and the permanent loss of 36 acres of kit fox breeding, foraging, and movement habitat. The project would also result in the permanent loss of a 0.071 acre seasonal pond suitable for vernal pool fairy shrimp.

To offset the project’s impacts to these species, the City of Tulare has proposed a series of on-site avoidance and minimization measures and would purchase credits at approved conservation-banks to permanently protect nearly 59 acres of high-quality San Joaquin kit fox breeding, foraging, and movement habitat and 0.213 acres of high-quality vernal pool fairy shrimp habitat.

This announcement opens a 30-day comment period on the City of Tulare’s proposed HCP that will close January 14, 2013. The Federal Register notice, the draft HCP, and our environmental action statement are available at http://www.fws.gov/sacramento/.  

The Service is requesting public comments on the City’s permit application and our preliminary determination that the plan qualifies as a “low-effect” habitat conservation plan. Comments concerning the proposed HCP can be sent by U.S. Mail or facsimile to:

Nina Bicknese, Conservation Planning Branch
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office
2800 Cottage Way, Room W-2605
Sacramento, California 95825
Fax: (916) 414-6713

The San Joaquin kit fox (Vulpes macrotis mutica) is found only in the southern portion of the California Central Valley. It is the smallest fox in North America. They are lightly built, with long legs and large ears. Their coat ranges from tan to buffy gray in the summer to silvery gray in the winter. Their belly is whitish and their tail is black-tipped.

The vernal pool fairy shrimp (Branchinecta lynchi) is a small, aquatic crustacean about ½ to one inch long that live in seasonal pools in California and southern Oregon. Fairy shrimp have large compound eyes, 11 pairs of legs, and swim upside down.

Habitat loss by agricultural and urban development is a continuing threat to both species.

America’s fish, wildlife, and plant resources belong to all of us, and ensuring the health of imperiled species a shared responsibility. We’re working to actively engage conservation partners and the public in the search for improved and innovative ways to conserve and recover imperiled species.