Jane Hendron, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office - 760/431-9440 ext. 205
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced today it is proposing to designate 802 acres of land in Riverside and San Diego Counties, California, as critical habitat for Ambrosia pumila (San Diego ambrosia). Areas proposed as critical habitat are identified in 7 units – 3 in Riverside County and 4 in San Diego County.
Area proposed as critical habitat contain sandy loam or clay soils that occur near a river, creek, or other drainage, or within the watershed of a vernal pool, or on an upper terrace; and are in grassland or ruderal habitat types, or openings within coastal sage scrub, that provide adequate sunlight, and airflow for wind pollination. All areas proposed as critical habitat support occurrences of San Diego ambrosia.
San Diego ambrosia has a branching root structure that spreads horizontally underground sprouting new stems each year. These stems generally grow 2 to 12 inches high and may produce yellowish to greenish-colored flowers that appear from May to October. The method by which the plant is pollinated is not well understood, but it is thought to rely on wind. The plant produces very few seeds, diminishing its ability to spread and colonize unoccupied areas.
Many aspects of San Diego ambrosia’s life history remain unknown. We are specifically requesting scientific information to help us more precisely define the physical and biological features essential to the conservation of the plant.
Approximately 263 acres of land in Riverside County are being proposed for exclusion from the final designation because the lands are covered by the Western Riverside County Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan. About 278 acres that are covered by either the City of San Diego’s Subarea Plan or the County of San Diego’s Subarea Plan under the Multiple Species Conservation Program are also being proposed for exclusion from the final designation.
Public comments and information about this proposal will be accepted until October 26, 2009. Written requests for a public hearing will be accepted until October 12, 2009. You may submit comments by one of the following methods:
- Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments to Docket No. FWS–R8–ES–2009–0054.
- U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–R8–ES–2009–0054; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203.
Please use the U.S. mail or hand-delivery address above to submit written requests for a public hearing.
San Diego ambrosia was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act in 2002, because of threats to the plant from development-related impacts. At the time of listing only 12 occurrences of the plant were known to exist. The Service did not designate critical habitat at the time of listing because of budgetary issues and higher priority actions. The Center for Biological Diversity subsequently filed a lawsuit challenging the Service’s failure to designate critical habitat. This proposed rule complies with the terms of a settlement agreement requiring us to determine if critical habitat is prudent for San Diego ambrosia and, if so, to submit a proposed rule to the Federal Register by August 20, 2009.
A copy of the proposed rule is available today at Public Inspection Documents, but this version does not contain maps of the areas proposed for designation as critical habitat.
The official copy of the proposed rule for San Diego ambrosia, including maps, will be available on August 27, 2009, at http://www.regulations.gov, at www.fws.gov/Carlsbad, or by contacting the Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office at 760-431-9440.
A draft economic analysis of the proposed rule will be made available for public review and comment at a later date.
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/
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