Jane Hendron, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office - 760/431-9440 ext. 205
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will publish in the August 26, 2008, edition of the Federal Register, a notice announcing the availability of a draft economic analysis of its proposed revisions to critical habitat for the Peninsular bighorn sheep. The Service is also proposing to add approximately 36,240 acres to the area included in the October 2007 proposed rule, and removing approximately 163 acres that do not meet the criteria for critical habitat.
Public review and comment on the proposed revisions and draft economic analysis will be accepted for 60 days from date of publication in the Federal Register.
Written comments should be sent to Public Comments Processing, Attn: RIN 1018-AV09; Division of Policy and Directives Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222, Arlington, VA 22203. Comments may also be submitted electronically to www.regulations.gov.
Public hearings on the proposed rule and economic analysis are scheduled for September 10, 2008, at The Living Desert, 47-900 Portola Avenue, Palm Desert, California. Hearings will take place from 1:00pm to 3:00pm and from 6:00pm to 8:00pm.
Based on public comments received, the Service reevaluated and revised criteria to identify critical habitat, incorporating additional occupancy data from 1988 to 1998. As a result, approximately 36,240 additional acres of land meet the criteria of critical habitat. These additional lands include sections of the eastern edge of the Santa Rosa Mountains, the San Ysidro, Pinyon, and Vallecito Mountains, and the Jacumba Mountains.
The draft economic analysis estimates that Peninsular bighorn sheep conservation efforts will cost up to $92.5 million over the next 20 years (at a three percent discount rate) in areas proposed as critical habitat. Of this amount, impacts attributable to critical habitat designation are estimated to be $411,000 based on the same timeframe discount rate.
Of the 420,487 acres of land that are considered essential to the conservation of the bighorn sheep, the Service is proposing to exclude 4,790 acres of land within the plan area of the draft HCP for the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians (HCP), and evaluating and considering the possibility of excluding 18,801 acres of land within the boundaries of the draft Coachella Valley Multiple Species HCP from final critical habitat designation.
The 814,972 acres of land currently designated as critical habitat for the bighorn sheep will remain in place until the Service completes a new revised final designation.
A copy of the notice of availability, proposed rule and other information about the Peninsular bighorn sheep will be available on August 26, 2008, at http://www.regulations.gov">, at 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/
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