Pacific Southwest Region
California, Nevada and Klamath Basin

Revised Critical Habitat Proposed for Lost River and Shortnose Suckers

Dec 06, 2011

For Immediate Release  
Date: December 6, 2011                                                                                      

Contact: Laurie Sada, 
(541) 885-8481 

Revised Critical Habitat Proposed for Lost River and Shortnose Suckers 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) today proposed to revise the critical habitat designation for the Lost River sucker (Deltistes luxatus) and the shortnose sucker (Chasmistes brevirostris), two endangered species protected under the Endangered Species Act.  The proposal includes two critical habitat units totaling 241,438 acres and 274 stream miles in southern Oregon and northern California. 

“Today’s action will support the Recovery Plan that was released last month by identifying important habitat that is critical to the recovery of these species,” said Laurie Sada, field supervisor for the Service’s Klamath Falls Fish and Wildlife Office.

On December 1, 1994, the Service published proposed critical habitat for Lost River sucker and shortnose sucker.  The Service is only proposing to designate area where the species is present and is not proposing any new areas not already identified in 1994. 

The current critical habitat rule proposes to designate 27 percent of the area identified in the previous proposed designation.  This significant reduction in proposed habitat is mostly due to improved mapping tools, limiting the designation to water body boundaries, and updated information that indicates some occupied areas are not necessary for the conservation of the species. 

A summary table of the differences for Lost River sucker (LRS) and shortnose sucker (SNS) is below:

                              1994 Proposal                                                2011 Proposal

Total:                    880,000 acres (6 units)                        241,438 acres, 274 miles (2 units)

LRS:                      424,000 acres                                     117,848 acres, 146 miles

SNS:                      456,000 acres                                     123,590 acres, 128 miles 

Critical habitat is a term in the Endangered Species Act that identifies geographic areas containing features essential for the conservation of a threatened or endangered species, and which may require special management considerations or protection. Designation of critical habitat does not affect land ownership, establish a refuge or preserve and has no impact on private landowners taking actions on their land that do not require federal funding or permits. 

Designating critical habitat is a tool to identify areas that are important to the recovery of a listed species.  It is also a tool used to notify other federal agencies of areas that must be given special consideration when they are planning, implementing, or funding activities. 

The Lost River sucker and the shortnose sucker occur naturally only in the Upper Klamath Basin, including the Lost River sub-basin, and are part of a very small group of species known as the “lake suckers,” which occur only in the western United States. 

Despite the many efforts to recover these species, habitat loss, including restricted access to spawning and rearing habitat, severely impaired water quality, and loss of fish in water management structures continue to threaten these species.  Spawning populations of both species continue to dwindle in numbers each year.  Juvenile fish are being produced, but are not surviving to become reproductive adults.  Data indicate that it has been more than 10 years since a significant number of young fish have survived to adulthood. 

Today’s announcement opens a 60-day public comment period. The Service is seeking comments and information on all aspects of this proposed rule and will accept comments and information until February 6, 2012.

Comments and information can be submitted electronically to www.regulations.gov. Enter the docket number for this finding: FWS–R8–ES-2011–0097, then follow the directions to submit a comment. Please ensure that you have found the correct rulemaking before submitting your comment.

If submitting comments by hard copy or hand delivery, please send them to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: Docket No. FWS–R8–ES-2011–0097, Division of Policy and Directives Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222, Arlington, VA 22203.

A public meeting will be held on January 19, 2012, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Service’s Klamath Falls Office, 1936 California Ave., Klamath Falls, Oregon.  The purpose of this meeting is to provide an overview of the proposed critical habitat and to address any questions or concerns from the public. 

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 national and promoted the recovery of many others.  Our priority is to make implementation of the ESA less complex, less contentious and more effective.

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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.cno. Connect with our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/usfwspacificsouthwest, follow our tweets at http://twitter.com/USFWSPacSWest, watch our YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/usfws and download photos from our Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfws_pacificsw/