Final Critical Habitat Revision for Arroyo Toad Announced
Feb 08, 2011
Service Announces Final Critical Habitat Revisiion for Arroyo Toad
A small, buff-colored toad whose soft, high whistled trill is often mistaken for an insect’s call is the subject of a final revised critical habitat designation announced today by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service).
The Service has designated approximately 98,366 acres of critical habitat for the endangered arroyo toad (Anaxyrus californicus), based on the most recent scientific information. The acreage is located in 21 critical habitat units in Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange, and San Diego counties. The designation is an increase of about 86,671 acres from the 2005 designation of critical habitat for the arroyo toad.
The final rule includes about 72,596 acres of private lands, 21,982 acres under federal jurisdiction, 2,128 acres of state property, and 1,660 acres of locally-owned lands.
Areas designated as critical habitat contain the primary elements the arroyo toad needs to fulfill all of its life cycle stages, including rivers or streams; riparian and adjacent upland areas for foraging and breeding; and areas needed for dispersal. The Service listed the arroyo toad as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1994.
The ESA provides a critical safety net for America’s native fish, wildlife and plants. This landmark conservation law has prevented the extinction of hundreds of imperiled species across the nation and promoted the recovery of many others.
The Service is excluding 11,697 acres that had been considered for critical habitat. Approximately 3,727 acres that is already conserved and managed under the Western Riverside County Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP), the Orange County Central-Coastal Natural Community Conservation Plan/HCP, and the Orange County Southern Subregion HCP has been excluded.
About 330 acres owned by Newhall Land and Farming Company in Los Angeles County were also excluded because they are being actively managed for the toad. Additionally, about 3,000 acres of Tribal Reservation land is excluded based on current and future partnership considerations; however, about 1,046 acres of fee-owned land is being designated.
For lands owned or under the control of the Department of Defense, approximately 4,640 acres at Remote Training Site Warner Springs, and Camp Morena are excluded based on potential impacts to national security. A total of 19,706 acres of essential habitat on Fort Hunter Liggett Military Reservation, Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton, Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station, and Naval Weapons Station – Detachment Fallbrook, are exempt because the bases’ respective Integrated Natural Resource Management Plans provide conservation benefits to the species.
Based on a review of the proposed rule and information received during the public comment periods, the Service determined that about 2,733 acres included in the proposed rule do not support habitat for the toad and were removed from consideration as critical habitat.
A final economic analysis estimates impacts associated with the designation of critical habitat to be approximately $750 million over the next 25 years (using a 7 percent discount). Most of these impacts are associated with development, utility, and infrastructure projects. This may be an overestimate of impacts however, because the analysis is based on all areas proposed for designation and does not account for the acres excluded, removed, or exempt from designation.
The 2005 revised designation was one of several rulemakings that were determined by the Service to need re-examination based on allegations of possible scientific interference. Before the Service could publish a new proposal, the Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit challenging the 2005 designation. The Service entered into a settlement agreement to reconsider critical habitat for the arroyo toad, and to submit a final rule to the Federal Register by October 1, 2010. An extension was granted, allowing the FWS to deliver a final rule by January 21, 2011.
A copy of the final rule without the maps is on public view today at FR public view. When the rule is published on February 9, it can be accessed at www.regulations.gov. At the box that says “Enter Keyword or ID,” enter: FWS-R8-ES-2009-0069. At that time, for more information about the rule and to view the critical habitat maps, go to http://www.fws.gov/ventura/
The arroyo toad is two to three inches in length and has light olive green to light brown, warty skin with a prominent, white, “v-shaped” stripe that crosses the top of the head between the eyes. Arroyo toads prefer shallow pools and open, sandy stream terraces. They use adjacent upland habitat for feeding and shelter.
America’s fish, wildlife and plant resources belong to all of us, and ensuring the health of imperiled species is a shared responsibility. The Service is actively engaged with conservation partners and the public in the search for improved and innovative ways to conserve and recover imperiled species. To learn more about the Endangered Species program, go to http://www.fws.gov/endangered/.
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.