Pacific Southwest Region
California, Nevada and Klamath Basin

Service Identifies Essential Habitat for Coachella Valley Milk-Vetch Plant

Feb 13, 2013


Contact: Jane Hendron, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office - 760/431-9440 ext. 205
 jane_hendron@fws.gov
  
For Release: Feb. 13, 2013

Fish and Wildlife Service Identifies Essential Habitat for
Coachella Valley Milk-Vetch Plant

Carlsbad, CA -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced today it has designated approximately 9,603 acres of land in the Coachella Valley area of Riverside County, California, as critical habitat for the federally endangered Coachella Valley milk-vetch (Astragalus lentiginosus var. coachellae).

The Service initially identified about 25,704 acres as essential to the conservation of the plant in its August 25, 2011, proposed rule.

This revised final designation includes areas that support populations of the native desert plant and some areas that serve as transport corridors for sand – a key component of the plant’s habitat – to spread across the Coachella Valley floor.  

Most of the land included in the critical habitat designation is managed by the Federal Government.

Critical habitat does not affect proposed projects, unless a project occurs on federal land or requires federal funding or permits. In cases where there is a federal nexus, a consultation with the Service may be required so that measures to avoid, minimize or offset impacts to the plant’s essential habitat can identified as part of the project’s approval process.

Under the Endangered Species Act, some areas identified as essential to the conservation of a species may be excluded from being designated as critical habitat on the basis of potential economic, national security or other relevant impacts. More than 15,000 acres of conservation lands addressed by the Coachella Valley Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan are excluded from the designation as are about 890 acres of tribal lands of the Morongo Band of Mission Indians and Aqua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians.

Costs associated with critical habitat for the plant are estimated to range from $24,000 to $77,000 annually (using a 7 percent discount rate over the next 20 years). The final economic analysis concludes the designation will not significantly affect energy supplies, distribution or use, nor will it significantly affect a substantial number of small entities.

A copy of the final rule and other supporting information is available online at http://www.regulations.gov. In the search box, enter the docket number for this rule which is FWS–R8–ES–2011–0064. The final rule is also posted online at the Federal Register.

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.

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/

- FWS -