Pacific Southwest Region
California, Nevada and Klamath Basin

Service Reopens Comment Period for Coachella Valley Milk-Vetch Critical Habitat Proposal

May 15, 2012

May 15, 2012

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

Fish and Wildlife Service Reopens Comment Period for Coachella Valley Milk-Vetch Critical Habitat Proposal

Public Hearings Scheduled

Carlsbad, CA -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced today the reopening of a comment period on the proposed rule to designate critical habitat for the federally endangered Coachella Valley milk-vetch (Astragalus lentiginosus var. coachellae). A draft economic analysis of the proposal is also available for review and comment.

Public hearings are scheduled for May 31, 2012, at the Palm Springs City Hall Council Chamber, 3200 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs, CA 92263. The hearings will take place from 1-3pm and from 6-8pm.

On August 25, 2011, the Service proposed to designate approximately 25,704 acres of land in Riverside County, California, as critical habitat for the endangered plant. About 18,446 acres are being considered for exclusion from critical habitat because they are addressed by the Coachella Valley Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan. An additional 1,788 acres in the City of Desert Hot Springs and 896 acres of tribal lands are also being considered for exclusion.

The draft economic analysis estimates costs specifically associated with the proposed designation of 25,704 acres of critical habitat could range from $220,000 to $820,000 over the next 20 years. The upper end of the range reflects potential costs associated with conservation efforts to address impacts from residential, commercial and industrial development on essential, unoccupied habitat in proposed critical habitat Unit 3 (City of Desert Hot Springs).

The proposed rule, draft economic analysis and other supporting information will be available May 16, 2012, at http://www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter: FWS-R8-ES-2011-0064 and follow the instructions. Comments on the proposed rule and draft economic analysis will be accepted until June 15, 2012.  

Written comments should be sent to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R8-2011-0064; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042-PDM; Arlington, VA, 22203.

The May 31 public hearings offer an opportunity for the public to provide oral comments on the proposed rule and draft economic analysis.

Coachella Valley milk-vetch is found primarily on loose, wind or water transported sands that are located on dunes or flats, and along disturbed margins of sandy washes. The plant is found only in the Coachella Valley. A photo of the plant is viewable on Flickr.

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

 - FWS -

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/