Conserving the Nature of America
Press Release
Service Releases Study of Economic Costs for Revised California Red-legged Frog Critical Habitat

April 28, 2009


Division of Public Affairs
External Affairs
Telephone: 703-358-2220

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) today re-opened the comment period on a proposal made last September to designate 1.8 million acres as critical habitat for the threatened California red-legged frog (Rana aurora draytonii). The new 30-day comment period coincides with the release of an estimate of possible economic impacts from designating critical habitat.

The economic analysis looks at the range of incremental costs linked to the critical habitat designation. The direct incremental impacts include up to $44.8 million through 2030 to protect the frogs and their habitat in new developments. Delays due to further consultations with the Service could cost up to $126 million through 2030, according to the analysis prepared for the Service under contract by Industrial Economics Inc. of Cambridge, MA. The study estimates that consultations will average nine months, although Service regulations require their completion in 135 days. The study notes that development is expected to occur on less than 1 per cent (7,099 acres) of the privately owned land (1.3 million acres) in the proposed critical habitat.

The economic analysis finds there would be no cost to ranchers from designating critical habitat because the proposal would maintain a so-called 4(d) rule for compatible ranching operations. The exclusion gives ranchers, on whose land many of the frogs occur, protection from violating the ESA if they continue routine ranching operations.

But the economic analysis also says that impacts to non-ranching agriculture could be greater if the critical habitat led to additional impacts from a 2006 settlement of a suit relating to pesticide consultations. The 2006 settlement applied specifically to the 2006 designated critical habitat and 564 other sections (mile squares) in California.

The economic analysis looks at a wide range of possible baseline costs for conserving the species, as required by Federal regulations, but which may not be considered in designating critical habitat. Baseline costs for protecting the species unrelated to the designation of critical habitat could be up to $1.83 billion. The analysis also projects possible consultation costs up to $425 million due to longer delays (two years) if the California Endangered Species Act (CEQA) is involved, although the frog is not protected under state law.

Release of the economic analysis provides a new opportunity for members of the public to comment on both the economic study and on all aspects of the proposed critical habitat rule.

The 2008 Service proposal calls for a 400 per cent increase in critical habitat from the 2006 rule, which designated 450,000 acres, but later was determined to be scientifically weak. The 2008 proposal was developed by Service biologists “without using the previous final designation as a base from which to make changes due to the involvement of Department of Interior personnel which may have inappropriately influenced the extent and locations of critical habitat” (73 FR 53500).

The current proposal calls for 1.8-million acres of critical habitat, in 49 units in 28 California counties: Alameda, Butte, Calaveras, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, Marin, Mendocino, Merced, Monterey, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Riverside, San Benito, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Ventura and Yuba.

In today’s notice the Service also revised the proposed critical habitat in Mendocino County, adding 2,900 acres to better reflect frog locations.

The study and proposed rule, including maps and specific areas where the Service is seeking information, are available at or at

Comments may be submitted through May 28, 2009 by any of the following methods: Federal eRulemaking Portal: U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: RIN 1018–AV90; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203. We will not accept e-mail or faxes. We will post all comments on

For further information contact: Susan Moore, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, 2800 Cottage Way, Room W-2605, Sacramento, CA 95825; telephone 916–414–6600; facsimile 916–414–6712. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800–877–8339.

Information contained in older news items may be outdated. These materials are made available as historical archival information only. Individual contacts have been replaced with general External Affairs office information. No other updates have been made to the information and we do not guarantee current accuracy or completeness.

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