Pacific Southwest Region
California, Nevada and Klamath Basin

Service Proposes New Revision of Critical Habitat for the Riverside Fairy Shrimp

May 31, 2011

For Release: May 31, 2011

Contact: Jane Hendron, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office
             Phone: 760/431-9440 ext. 205
             Email:  Jane_Hendron@fws.gov


  
Service Proposes New Revision of Critical Habitat for the Riverside Fairy Shrimp

CARLSBAD, CA -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced today a new proposed rule to revise critical habitat for the federally endangered Riverside fairy shrimp (Streptocephalus woottoni). Approximately 2,984 acres are proposed for designation in areas of Ventura, Orange, Riverside, and San Diego counties, California.

This proposal is the result of a lawsuit filed against the Service by the Center for Biological Diversity challenging the 2005 critical habitat designation for the species. A new revised final designation must be submitted to the Federal Register by November 15, 2012.

The Riverside fairy shrimp measures less than an inch long and is found only in vernal pools, ponds, and other ephemeral pool-like bodies of water. During dry periods, cysts of the species lay dormant in the soil and hatch when adequate rainfall fills the ponds and pools.

Areas included in this proposed revision of critical habitat provide the appropriate water depth and chemistry, soils, and surrounding watersheds for the Riverside fairy shrimp to complete its lifecycle and are essential to the conservation of the species.

Five geographic units, divided into subunits, are included as proposed critical habitat. Most of the land proposed for critical habitat designation is privately owned.

Designation of critical habitat does not affect land ownership or establish a refuge or preserve.  In general, a critical habitat designation has no impact on private landowners taking actions on their land that do not require federal funding or permits.

We are considering excluding some land owned by or under the jurisdiction of the permittees of the Orange County Central–Coastal Natural Community Conservation Plan/Habitat Conservation Plan, the Western Riverside County Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP), the Orange County Southern Subregion HCP, and the Carlsbad Habitat Management Plan, from critical habitat designation.

As part of designating critical habitat, the Service takes into account potential economic, national security, and other relevant impacts, of specifying any particular area as critical habitat. The Service may exclude any area from critical habitat if it is determined the benefits of excluding the area outweigh the benefits of including the area in critical habitat, unless failure to designate the area as critical habitat will result in the extinction of the species.

Approximately 1,988 acres of essential habitat are exempt from this proposal because they are managed by the Department of Defense and covered by Integrated Natural Resource Management Plans that benefit the species.

The Service is asking for comments and information on all aspects of this proposal. An advanced copy of the proposed revision of critical habitat is available online today at Federal Register Public Inspection.

Comments and information on the proposed revision can be submitted beginning on June 1, 2011, by e-mail at www.regulations.gov. At the box that says “Enter Keyword or ID,” enter: FWS-R8-ES-2011-0013 and follow the instructions for submitting comments.

You may also submit written comments to:

Public Comments Processing
Attn: FWS-R8-ES-2011-0013
Division of Policy and Directives Management
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
4401 N. Fairfax Dr., Suite 222
Arlington, VA  22203

Comments must be received by August 2, 2011, and requests for a public hearing must be submitted in writing to the Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office by July 15, 2011.

A draft economic analysis of this proposal is in preparation and will be released for public review and comment at a later date.

The Endangered Species Act 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 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. Connect with our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/usfws, follow our tweets at www.twitter.com/usfwshq, watch our YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/usfws and download photos from our Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwshq

-- FWS --