(SC) 01-105 Contact: Andy Yuen, Karen Evans, or Jane Hendron - 760/431-9440
Public Hearings Scheduled
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has released a draft analysis of the economic impacts associated with its proposal to designate critical habitat for the San Bernardino kangaroo rat (Dipodomys merriami parvus) on approximately 55,408 acres of land in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, California.
The draft analysis estimates that the economic impacts of designating critical habitat for the kangaroo rat could range from $4.4 million to $28.2 million over the next 10 years. Additional costs ranging from $10.4 million to $46.3 million over the next 10 years are attributed to the listing the kangaroo rat under the Act.
Today's release of the draft economic analysis coincides with the reopening of a public comment period during which the Service will accept comments and information about the proposed designation of critical habitat and the draft economic analysis. The Service has also scheduled public hearings to provide the public with an opportunity to give oral testimony on the proposal and the draft economic analysis. Hearings will take place, as follows:
Thursday, September 20, 2001, from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. and from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Radisson Hotel San Bernardino, 295 North E Street, San Bernardino, California.
If critical habitat is designated for a species listed as threatened or endangered, under the Endangered Species Act, an analysis of the economic impacts associated with the designation must be completed. An economic analysis identifies costs attributed to the designation of land as critical habitat that are above impacts resulting from the listing of a species under the Act. Impacts can include costs associated with conducting consultations with the Service, conducting surveys, costs to the Service for providing technical assistance to other Federal, state, and local agencies and private landowners, and possible modifications to projects.
The San Bernardino kangaroo rat is a small, native mammal that has a body length of approximately 4 inches. Its coat is a pale yellow color with a heavy overwash of dusky brown and it has medium to dark brown tail stripes. The kangaroo rat lives on flat or gently sloping areas of loose rock, gravel, and sand that are deposited by wind or stream as it flows into a valley; kangaroo rats also inhabit flood plains and washes. Upland areas that contain sage scrub are also important to the kangaroo rat because these areas offer refuge during times of flooding.
Historically, the San Bernardino kangaroo rat ranged from the San Bernardino Valley in San Bernardino County to the Menifee Valley in Riverside County. Much of the kangaroo rat's natural habitat has been lost or severely fragmented as a result of urban, industrial, and agricultural development, and construction of flood control channels which have altered the natural hydrological processes of streams and creeks. In the 1960s, the species was known from more than 25 locations; today, only six scattered populations remain.
We listed the San Bernardino kangaroo as endangered, under the emergency listing provision of the Act, on January 27, 1998. Emergency protection for the species was necessary because of the small number of kangaroo rats remaining, and the immediacy and severity of threats to its continued existence. The listing was finalized on September 24, 1998. At the time the species was listed, we did not designate critical habitat.
In 1999, the Center for Biological Diversity and Christians Caring for Creation filed a lawsuit against the Service, challenging our decision not to designate critical habitat. We entered into a settlement agreement with the plaintiffs on November 3, 1999. Under terms of the agreement we reviewed our earlier decision not to designate critical habitat for the San Bernardino kangaroo rat and determined that critical habitat was, in fact, prudent. Our proposal to designate critical habitat was published in the Federal Register on December 8, 2000.
A Notice of Availability of the Draft Economic Analysis was published in today's Federal Register. Copies of the draft analysis are available through the internet at http://carlsbad.fws.gov. Written comments on our proposal to designate critical habitat for the kangaroo rat and the draft economic analysis should be submitted to Field Supervisor, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, 2730 Loker Avenue West, Carlsbad, California 92008. Comments received by 5:00 p.m. on October 4, 2001 will be considered in any final determination.
You may also submit comments by electronic mail to email@example.com. Please submit electronic comments in ACSII file format and avoid the use of special characters or encryption. Please include "Attn: RIN 1018-AH07" and your name and return address in your e-mail message. If you do not receive a confirmation from the system that the Service has received your message, please contact the Carlsbad Office directly at phone number 760/431-9440.
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 94-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System which encompasses more than 535 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.
- FWS - For more information about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,visit our home page at www.fws.gov
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