Pacific Southwest Region
California, Nevada and Klamath Basin

Service Proposes Revision of Critical Habitat for Threatened Santa Ana Sucker

Dec 08, 2009

FOR IMMEDATE RELEASE     Contact: Jane Hendron, 760/431-9440 ext. 205
December 8, 2009            Jane_hendron@fws.gov

 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes Revision of Critical Habitat For Threatened Santa Ana Sucker

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced today a proposal to revise its 2005 critical habitat designation for the Santa Ana sucker (Catostomus santaannae). Approximately 9,605 acres of habitat in portions of Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties are included in the revised proposal.

The 2005 revised designation was one of several rulemakings that were determined by the Service to need re-examination based on allegations of scientific interference. Today’s action is the result of a lawsuit filed against the Service challenging the 2005 critical habitat designation. The Service entered into a settlement agreement to reconsider critical habitat for the Santa Ana sucker, and to submit a proposed revision to the Federal Register on or before December 1, 2009.

Santa Ana suckers are generally less than 6 inches in length and feed primarily on invertebrates, algae, and organic matter. Historically, they were found in upper watershed areas of the San Gabriel and San Bernardino Mountains down to the Pacific Ocean. Habitat for the Santa Ana sucker has been degraded by water diversion, dam construction, and urban development.

Areas proposed as critical habitat are identified in six separate units/subunits – Upper Santa Ana River (subunit 1A); Santa Ana River from near Tippecanoe Avenue up to the Prado Dam (subunit 1B); Lower Santa Ana River from below Prado dam downstream to State Route 90 (subunit 1C); San Gabriel River upstream of the San Gabriel Reservoir (unit 2); Big Tujunga Creek between Big Tujunga Dam and Hansen Dam, including a portion of Haines Creek (subunit 3A); and portions of three tributaries to Big Tujunga Creek - Gold Canyon, Delta Canyon, and Stone Canyon Creeks (subunit 3B).

Proposed subunit 1A (Upper Santa Ana River) is not currently known to be occupied, but was known to be occupied in the 1980s. Proposed subunit 3B is not known to be occupied, but it is essential for the conservation of the species because the creeks transport sediment and convey stream flows necessary to maintain downstream habitat; and portions of the creeks at their confluence with Big Tujunga Creek provide a refuge for juvenile fish during periods of high water flows, high temperatures, and shelter from predators.

The Service is considering excluding all of proposed subunits 1B and 1C from the revised final designation because these areas are addressed through the Santa Ana Sucker Conservation Program, a multi-agency program that conducts research and habitat restoration for the Santa Ana sucker.

In this proposed rule we reaffirm our initial determination not to list the Santa Clara population of suckers under the Endangered Species Act. Information about the status of the population as native or nonnative is lacking, and we do not know how possible hybridization with other sucker species in the Santa Clara River may be affecting this population.

An advanced copy of the proposed revision of critical habitat is available online through the Federal Register at Federal Register Public Inspection. However, this copy does not include maps. The official copy, including maps, will be published in the Federal Register on Dec. 9, 2009.

Comments on the proposed revision can be submitted through www.regulations.gov, or in writing to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R8-ES-2009-0038; 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 February 8, 2010, and requests for a public hearing on the proposed rule must be submitted in writing by January 25, 2010. 

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/  

- FWS -