Jim Nickles, 916/414-6572
For specific areas, please contact:
Jan Hendron (Southern
Amedee Brickey (Northern
Phil Carroll (Oregon/Washington), 503/231-6179
Doug Zimmer (
A listing and maps of the proposed critical habitat units, a link to the Federal Register, questions & answers, and other information is available on our Web site at http://sacramento.fws.gov/ea/news_releases/2004%20News%20Releases/Western_snowy_plover_Proposed_Critical_Habitat_NR.htm
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today proposed 35 critical-habitat units along the coast of
Of the proposed units, 26 are in
The Service will receive public comment on this proposed designation for 60 days, until on
Under the Endangered Species Act, critical habitat identifies geographic areas that contain features essential for the conservation of a threatened or endangered species and may require special management considerations. The designation of critical habitat does not affect land ownership or establish a refuge, wilderness, reserve, preserve or other conservation area. It does not allow government or public access to private lands.
The Service initially designated critical habitat for the
This critical habitat proposal was completed in response to a lawsuit filed by the Coos County Board of
Critical habitat has no regulatory impact on private landowners taking actions on their land, unless they are doing something that involves Federal funding or permits. The 1993 listing of the plover as "threatened" under the provisions of the Endangered Species Act provides broad protection for the species without regard to habitat. Under the ESA, no one may harm or injure this species in any way.
Since the species was listed as threatened, many local groups have voluntarily worked to protect plovers and their breeding areas, and to help educate the beach-using public about the bird's needs. In many areas, beach users have cooperated with local interests to improve the breeding situation for plovers.
"This is not a final decision, so we would hope that people carefully review this proposed critical-habitat designation and provide comments and suggestions," said Steve Thompson, manager of the Service's California-Nevada Operations Office. "We need the public's help to ensure that our final decision is as accurate and scientifically sound as possible, so we can continue to recover this sensitive species."
The western snowy plover is a small shorebird with pale brown to gray upper parts, gray to black legs and bill, and dark patches on the forehead, behind the eyes, and on either side of the upper breast.
The Pacific coast population of the western snowy plover is defined as those individuals nesting adjacent to tidal waters of the
Biologists estimate that no more than 2,600 snowy plovers breed along the
In 30 years of implementing the Endangered Species Act, the Service has found that the designation of critical habitat provides little additional protection to most listed species, while preventing the Service from using scarce conservation resources for activities with greater conservation benefits.
In almost all cases, recovery of listed species will come through voluntary cooperative partnerships, not regulatory measures such as critical habitat. Habitat is also protected through cooperative measures under the Endangered Species Act including Habitat Conservation Plans, Safe Harbor Agreements, Candidate Conservation Agreements and state programs. In addition, voluntary partnership programs such as the Service's Private Stewardship Grants and Partners for Fish and Wildlife program also restore habitat. Habitat for endangered species is provided on many national wildlife refuges, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and state wildlife management areas.
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 Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System which encompasses 544 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 63 fishery resource offices and 81 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