Pacific Southwest Region
California, Nevada and Klamath Basin

Service Releases Draft Economic Analysis on Revised Critical Habitat Proposal for Arroyo Toad

Jun 28, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 28, 2010 
Contact: Lois Grunwald, 805-644-1766 ext. 332 

Draft Economic Analysis on Revised Critical Habitat Proposal for Arroyo Toad Released
Public comment period is reopened on critical habitat proposal 

 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today released an economic impact analysis on a 2009 revised proposal of critical habitat for the federally-endangered arroyo toad (Anaxyrus californicus). Release of the analysis opens a new 30-day comment period on the revised critical habitat proposal and the economic assessment. 

The economic analysis estimates the costs of critical habitat for the arroyo toad to be $789 million over a 25-year period, assuming a 7 percent discount rate, according to the analysis prepared for the Service under contract by Economic & Planning Systems, Inc. of Berkeley, Calif.  Most of the costs are expected to occur in new development, with the greatest cost of $211 million expected in one of the proposed critical habitat units in San Diego County. 

Since critical habitat was re-proposed in October 2009, the Service identified additional areas that meet the definition of critical habitat in four critical habitat units in San Diego County. As a result, 3,655 acres have been added to the proposed critical habitat for the arroyo toad, bringing the total overall proposed acreage to 112,765 in Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange, and San Diego counties. 

In addition, based on comments received during the initial public comment period, the Service is considering the exclusion of portions of critical habitat in units in San Diego and Los Angeles counties under Section 4(b)(2) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Under the ESA, the Secretary may exclude an area from critical habitat if it is determined that the benefits of exclusion outweigh the benefits of specifying an area as part of critical habitat, unless the failure to designate an area will result in the extinction of the species.   

Much of the October 2009 proposed critical habitat is the same as proposed by the Service in a 2004 rule, and also reflects new information on the distribution of toads since the 2004 critical habitat was proposed and

then finalized in 2005. The Service agreed to re-propose critical habitat in the settlement of a lawsuit, and to submit the proposal to the Federal Register by October 1, 2009. 

The arroyo toad is a small, buff-colored toad that measures between two and three inches in length and has dark-spotted, warty skin. Its call is a soft, high, whistled trill that is commonly mistaken for the call of an insect. Arroyo toads prefer shallow pools and open, sandy stream terraces. They use adjacent upland habitat for feeding and shelter. 

Areas proposed for critical habitat contain the primary elements needed by arroyo toads: rivers or streams for all the life stages of the toads; riparian and adjacent upland areas for foraging and breeding, and accessible areas between occupied habitat so that the toads can disperse; and areas that flood periodically, leaving behind pools where toads breed, and terrace habitats that provide for their life functions. 

The Service designated the first critical habitat for the arroyo toad in February 2001, totaling 182,360 acres. The Service was then sued on the designation by the Building Industry Legal Defense Foundation and other groups. The Service re-proposed 138,713 acres of critical habitat in April 2004, and designated 11,695 acres of critical habitat in April 2005. The Center for Biological Diversity sued the Service over its 2005 designation of critical habitat, and the Service entered into a settlement agreement with the Center. 

Relevant documents are available at www.fws.gov/ventura  under “News and Publications.” The notice for the revised critical habitat proposal and the draft economic analysis was published in the Federal Register today. Comments may be submitted by July 29, 2010, by any of the following methods: 1) Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov and submitting comments to: Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2009-0069 or by mail to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R8-ES-2009-0069; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203. Comments cannot be submitted by e-mail or faxes. All comments will be posted on http://www.regulations.gov

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.