Pacific Southwest Region
California, Nevada and Klamath Basin

Draft Economic Analysis for Lane Mountain Milk Vetch Released

Nov 02, 2010

November 2, 2010

Contact: Lois Grunwald, 805/644-1766, ext 332 


Lane Mountain milk-vetch, a perennial herb in the pea family that grows only in the west Mojave Desert north of the city of Barstow, California, is the subject of a draft economic analysis that is available for public comment, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today. Follow the instructions for submitting comments on Docket No. FWS–R8–ES–2009–0078.

The draft economic analysis for the endangered plant accompanies a revised critical habitat proposal that was published in April of this year. The Service is also reopening the public comment period for 30 days on the critical habitat proposal. Comments on the draft analysis and critical habitat proposal will be accepted until December 3, 2010.

In April 2004, 29,522 acres had been proposed as critical habitat for Lane Mountain milk-vetch (Astragalus jaegerianus). In 2005, all of this acreage was excluded in a final rule due to the removal of military lands for national security reasons and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands that were included in the West Mojave Plan.

In 2007, the Service was sued on its 2005 critical habitat designation by the Center for Biological Diversity. In April 2010, the Service proposed 14,069 acres in a revised designation of critical habitat. The 2010 proposed critical habitat consists of 9,888 acres under BLM jurisdiction, 1,282 acres of Army lands, and 2,899 acres that are privately owned.

The economic analysis for the April 1 proposal estimates that no economic impacts are likely to result from the designation of critical habitat for the plant during the next 20 years. No economic impacts are expected because approximately 79 percent of the designated area is federal land that is either being managed for the conservation of the species by the BLM or the Department of Defense at National Training Center (NTC) Fort Irwin. The remaining 21 percent of private lands proposed for critical habitat occur in remote areas of the desert where access, development, and construction are limited, and therefore no economic impacts are likely.

When specifying an area as critical habitat, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) requires the Service to consider economic and other relevant impacts of the designation. If the benefits of excluding an area outweigh the benefits of including it, the Service may exclude an area from critical habitat, unless this would result in the extinction of a threatened or endangered species.

Comments on the draft economic analysis and proposed critical habitat may be submitted by one of the following methods:

Federal eRulemaking Portal: Follow the instructions for submitting comments on Docket No. FWS–R8–ES–2009–0078.

U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–R8–ES–2009–0078; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222, Arlington, VA 22203.

Activities that may alter habitat for the Lane Mountain milk-vetch include dry-wash mining, off-road vehicle use, and military maneuvers at Fort Irwin. The plant’s rate of reproduction varies greatly, and years of high reproduction are uncommon. This characteristic, coupled with the possibility of natural and human-caused random events, makes the species vulnerable to extinction.

Critical habitat is a term in the ESA that identifies specific geographic areas that are essential for the conservation of a threatened or endangered species and which may require special management considerations. However, a designation does not affect land ownership or establish a refuge, wilderness, reserve, preserve, or other special conservation area. It does not allow government or public access to private lands and does not close areas to all access or use.


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The notice of the reopening of the public comment period and availability of the draft economic analysis can be viewed or downloaded today at the Federal Register Public Inspection Desk at The notice will be published in the Federal Register November 3, 2010. The notice and other relevant documents will be available at the Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office web site at: