Andy Yuen, Jeff Newman, or Jane Hendron, 760/431-9440
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today it is designating 33,295 acres of land in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, California, as critical habitat for the endangered San Bernardino kangaroo rat (Dipodomys merriami parvus).
The Service published a proposal to designate 55,408 acres of land as critical habitat for the San Bernardino kangaroo rat in December 2000. A draft economic analysis of the proposal was completed and released for public review and comment in September 2001.
Based upon all comments and scientific and commercial information received, as well as refined mapping methods, more than 22,000 acres of land were removed from the final critical habitat designation.
"The final designation reflects a comprehensive review of all comments and additional information we received on our proposal," said Jim Bartel, Field Supervisor of the Service’s Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office. "The areas removed from the critical habitat designation are not essential to the long-term conservation of the San Bernardino kangaroo rat."
Among the areas removed are the majority of land on the Norton Air Force Base, a portion of Tribal Trust lands of the Soboba Indians, and about 5,000 acres of land along the edges of urbanized areas. The Service also removed lands in and around Reche Canyon and the Jurupa Hills, and a portion of San Timoteo Canyon in San Bernardino and northern Riverside counties, because information did not indicate that these areas are essential to the conservation of the species.
The draft economic analysis estimated impacts attributable to the proposed designation of critical habitat could range from $4.4 million to $28.2 million over the next 10 years. An addendum to the draft economic analysis was prepared that reflects comments and input from a variety of stakeholders. The addendum estimates that impacts associated with the proposed designation of critical habitat could range from $15.7 million to $130.7 million over the next 10 years. However, this is likely to be an overestimate because the addendum was based on the original proposal of 55,408 acres.
Critical habitat identifies geographic areas that are important for the conservation of a threatened or endangered species and which may require special management considerations. However, a designation does not affect land ownership or establish a refuge, wilderness, reserve, preserve, or other special conservation area. It does not allow government or public access to private lands and does not close areas to all access or use. Rather, its impact is that federal agencies must consult with the Service on activities they undertake, fund, or permit that may affect critical habitat.
The areas designated as critical habitat are identified in four separate units. The four units are within the geographical range of the San Bernardino kangaroo rat and support the habitats the species requires for foraging, sheltering, reproduction, rearing of young, dispersal, and genetic exchange. The areas designated as critical habitat are occupied by the San Bernardino kangaroo rat, with the exception of 815 acres of land in Riverside County that are not currently known to be occupied.
The San Bernardino kangaroo rat inhabits alluvial sage-scrub habitat found throughout San Bernardino and Riverside counties. Uniquely adapted to survive in the arid southwestern United States and Mexico, kangaroo rats dig small burrows in the loose sands and gravel where they live and breed, and are active only at night when temperatures are cool. The kangaroo rat gets its name because of its large hind legs and feet that enable it to jump. Much of the San Bernardino kangaroo rat’s habitat has been lost, degraded, or fragmented by urban and recreational development, sand and gravel mining, and flood control projects.
A complete description of the Service’s determination to designate critical habitat for the endangered San Bernardino kangaroo rat was published in today’s Federal Register. Critical habitat designation will take effect 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. The final rule contains a detailed discussion of the action and the status of this species. Requests for copies of the final rule should be submitted to Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2730 Loker Avenue West, Carlsbad, California 92008.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Services manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System which encompasses nearly 540 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 70 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.
For more information about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
visit our home page at http://www.fws.gov