Jane Hendron 760/431-9440 ext. 205
Carlsbad, Calif.-The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced a revised critical habitat designation for the endangered San Bernardino kangaroo rat. Approximately 7,779 acres of federal, local, and privately owned land in portions of Riverside and San Bernardino counties, California are included in the revised designation.
The official rule, including maps, was published in today's Federal Register.
Areas designated as critical habitat support the habitat features essential to the conservation and recovery of the species. Three of the largest core populations of the kangaroo rat are found within the designated critical habitat areas. The revised designation includes portions of the Santa Ana River, Lytle, Cable and Cajon Creek washes in San Bernardino County; and Bautista Creek and the San Jacinto River wash in Riverside County.
Over the next 23 years, economic impacts attributable to the designation are estimated at $164 million (7 percent discount rate).
The San Bernardino kangaroo rat occurs in scattered, isolated patches of alluvial (loose, soft sand) sage-scrub habitat. Much of the species? historic habitat has been fragmented and degraded by development; sand and gravel mining; off-road vehicle use; and alterations of natural hydrological processes necessary to maintain its habitat.
The Service excluded 2,917 acres from the revised final designation because those areas have existing management plans in place to benefit the species. Management Plans have been developed for the Woolly-Star Preserve Area, the Former Norton Air Force Base, Cajon Creek Conservation Bank, and lands covered by the Western Riverside County Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan.
Approximately 39 acres of land in the San Jacinto River Wash were excluded because the lands are the subject of a water rights settlement agreement among the Department of the Interior, Eastern Municipal Water District, and the Soboba Band of Mission Indians, and the benefits of excluding these lands outweigh the benefits of including them in designated critical habitat.
The kangaroo rat gets its name from large hind legs and feet that aid the tiny mammal when it jumps. The San Bernardino kangaroo rat is one of several subspecies of Merriam?s kangaroo rat, but it is considerably darker and smaller than other members of the subspecies. Kangaroo rats are only found in desert regions of the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico.
As a result of a lawsuit, the Service designated critical habitat for the San Bernardino kangaroo rat in 2002. Approximately 33,295 acres of land in Riverside and San Bernardino counties were designated as critical habitat for the species.
The revised final designation announced today reflects new information about the San Bernardino kangaroo rat and its habitat obtained since 2002, and a focus placed on identifying the specific habitat areas and core populations of the subspecies that are essential to its conservation and recovery.
Copies of the revised final designation and other information about the San Bernardino kangaroo rat will be available on October 17, 2008, at http://www.regulations.gov, at http://www.fws.gov/Carlsbad, or by contacting the Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office at 760-431-9440.
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-