Pacific Southwest Region
California, Nevada and Klamath Basin

Service Announces Revisions to Proposed Critical Habitat for Sonoma County Population of California Tiger Salamander

Jan 14, 2011

For Immediate Release
January 14, 2011

Contact: Sarah Swenty,  cell: (530) 665-3310
office: (916) 414-6571,  sarah_swenty@fws.gov

 

Service Announces Revisions to the Proposed Critical Habitat and Availability of the Draft Economic Analysis for the Sonoma County California Tiger Salamander

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is seeking public input on revisions to the proposed critical habitat designation for the California tiger salamander, Sonoma County Distinct Population Segment, and the associated draft economic analysis of the revised proposal.  A 30-day comment period begins January 18, 2011.  

This announcement is the result of the re-proposal of 74,223 acres (ac) of critical habitat that was originally proposed on August 2, 2005.  The final determination in 2005 resulted in the identification of 17,418 ac of critical habitat, which was then excluded in the final rule, resulting in no designation of critical habitat.  Based on a settlement agreement on the 2005 determination, we re-proposed the 74,223 acres on August 18, 2009.  In this notice of availability (NOA) we have revised the proposed critical habitat designation to include 50,855 ac, a reduction of 23,368 acres.  The Service will publish the final rule by July 1, 2011.

The Service is proposing this revision to critical habitat to align better with the Santa Rosa Plain Conservation Strategy.  Primary changes are to remove the following areas from within the proposed critical habitat boundary:  the urban centers, the bulk of the 100-year floodplain, and areas that either do not contain the physical or biological features essential to the species or are not considered essential for the species.

Salamanders are primarily terrestrial, spending most of their lives in upland areas, living in burrows made by other creatures. In winter they migrate to breed in natural and artificial pools, ponds, and other seasonal wetland features. In the pools and ponds salamanders lay eggs that grow into larvae and then metamorphose into terrestrial juveniles that migrate to burrows in uplands for the dry season. The Sonoma Distinct Population Segment of the California tiger salamander is listed as endangered under the ESA.  In addition, it is listed as threatened by the State of California.

Areas proposed for critical habitat contain primary elements needed by the salamanders – standing bodies of water for early life stages, upland habitat for the dry season, and accessible areas between occupied habitat so that they can disperse. The proposal does not cover developed areas such as buildings and pavement which are specifically excluded from critical habitat.

Links to the relevant documents, including a map of the revised area, can be found at http:// www.fws.gov/sacramento .

Comments on the revised proposed critical habitat designation and the draft economic analysis may be submitted simultaneously.  The deadline to submit written comments to be considered fully in the preparation of the final rule is February 17, 2010.   Individuals and entities who have submitted comments previously do not need to resubmit them as they have already been incorporated into the public record and will be fully considered in the final rule making process.

Comments 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. All comments will be posted on www.regulations.gov.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

# # #

Find us on Facebook at: USFWS_Pacific Southwest Region
Follow us on Twitter at: USFWSPacSWest
See our Flickr photostream at: www.flickr.com/photos/usfws_pacificsw