U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Pacific Region
News Release
April 30, 2001
 

Department of the Interior
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Sacramento Fish & Wildlife Office
2800 Cottage Way, Room W-2605
Sacramento CA 95825
Phone: 916/414-6600
Fax: 916/414-6714
01-61
Contact: Patricia Foulk - 916/414-6566, e-mail



 

CRITICAL HABITAT DESIGNATED FOR

THREATENED SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA BUTTERFLY

 

 

SACRAMENTO, Calif.– In response to a court order, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today designated 23,903 acres of critical habitat for the threatened bay checkerspot butterfly in California’s San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.

Under the Endangered Species Act, critical habitat refers to specific geographic areas that are essential for the conservation of a threatened or endangered species and may require special management considerations. A designation does not set up a preserve or refuge and only applies to situations where Federal funding or a Federal permit is involved. It has no impact on private landowners taking actions on their land that do not involve Federal funding or permits. The Act requires Federal agencies to consult with the Service before taking actions, issuing permits or providing funding for activities that might adversely modify critical habitat.

"Butterflies play an important role in California’s ecological systems," according to Michael J. Spear, the Service’s California-Nevada Operations Manager. "Their pollinating, feeding, and reproductive activities are critical to the survival of flowering plants and even food crops, and they are considered barometers of environmental quality."

"As a threatened species, bay checkerspot butterflies are protected under the Endangered Species Act wherever they occur," Spear explained. "With this critical habitat designation of areas we now know are essential to these butterflies, we will be able to underscore their importance in the survival and recovery of the species."

The bay checkerspot butterfly (Euphydras editha bayensis) is one of more than a dozen subspecies of checkerspot butterflies found in California. The colorful, medium-sized butterfly inhabits sunny, open grasslands in the San Francisco Bay Area of California. Historically, bay checkerspots occurred around San Francisco Bay, from Twin Peaks and San Bruno Mountain and Contra Costa County south through Santa Clara County. Before the introduction of invasive non-native grasses and other weeds in the 1700s, its distribution may have been even wider.

The wingspan of bay checkerspots is little more than 2 inches. Its forewings feature black bands along all the veins on the upper wing surface, contrasting sharply with the bright red and yellow spots. The black banding gives it a more checkered appearance than other subspecies, such as the small Quino checkerspot of southern California.

The bay checkerspot butterfly gained protection as a threatened species in September 1987.

Critical habitat for the bay checkerspot butterfly includes grasslands with stands of native plantain (Plantago erecta), as well as areas that provide corridors for the butterfly to travel between habitats. Serpentine soils, unusual soils high in magnesium and low in calcium, are a strong indicator of potential habitat value for the butterfly. Topographic diversity provides opportunities for early season warmth as well as cool north- and east-facing slopes that are a refuge for the species during droughts. Both adults and larvae (caterpillars) use warm exposures for basking, and adults find early season nectar plants on warm south- and west-facing slopes. Bay checkerspot larvae seek cover and shelter under surface rocks, rock outcrops and holes or cracks in the soil where they spend the hot, dry summer and fall.

In October 2000, the Service proposed designating 26,182 acres of critical habitat for the bay checkerspot butterfly. As a result of information provided by the public during a formal comment period, that included two public hearings, the Service reduced the total designation to 23,903 acres.

Moderate grazing is normally compatible with habitat for the bay checkerspot. Clean air is important for the butterfly, since excess nitrogen from polluted air enhances the growth of invasive non-native plants that choke out the butterfly’s native food plants.

Fifteen critical habitat units have been designated in the two Bay Area counties. Areas designated include:

San Mateo County – a total of 1,992 acres of public and private land in portions of San Bruno Mountain State and County Park, Edgewood Park, State Fish and Game Refuge lands and Stanford University’s Jasper Ridge Biological Reserve, and

Santa Clara County – a total of 21,911 acres in portions of Santa Teresa County Park, Calero County Park, Communications Hill, Tulare Hill as well as portions of the east and west foothills of the Santa Clara Valley.

Although 23,903 acres of critical habitat fall within the boundaries of these 15 units, developed areas such as shopping centers, roads and similar features do not contain specific habitat features that the butterfly needs. These types of man-made structures are included within the critical habitat boundaries because of the difficulty of mapping at a scale minute enough to exclude all such areas. They are not being designated, however, as critical habitat.

Development of grassland areas with native plantain for residential or commercial use, invasive non-native plants and air pollution threaten the bay checkerspot butterfly. The butterfly has continued in a long-term decline that leaves it with only about four core sites and an uncertain number of satellite populations. A well-known population at Stanford’s Jasper Ridge Biological Reserve is considered extinct by researchers, and the only core population in San Mateo County is severely reduced this year.

Of the approximately 700 species of butterflies found in North America, 225 are present in California. Fourteen California butterfly species are protected by the Endangered Species Act.

On August 30, 2000, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California (Southwest Center for Biological Diversity v. Bruce Babbitt, et al) ruled on the Service’s failure to designate critical habitat for a number of species, including the bay checkerspot. The court ordered the Service to propose critical habitat within 60 days of the ruling and to finalize the designation within 120 days of the proposed designation. The Service proposed critical habitat for the butterfly on October 16, 2000. A settlement agreement revised the deadline for finalization of the critical habitat determination to April 20, 2001.

A complete description of the Service’s critical habitat designation for the bay checkerspot butterfly, including maps, is published in today’s Federal Register. Copies of the designation are also available by contacting the Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, 2800 Cottage Way, W-2605, Sacramento, California 95825.

The designation goes into effect 30 days from the date of its Federal Register publication.

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 -

Click Here to view the Final Critical Habitat Designation for Bay Checkerspot Butterfly - 4/30/01 (pdf File 741 kb)

 

Bay Checkerspot Butterfly Critical Habitat Units

Unit 1: Edgewood Park/Triangle Unit. This unit comprises 535 acres and includes most of Edgewood Natural Preserve, a county park southeast of the junction of Edgewood Road and Interstate 280 (I-280), and watershed lands of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, Water Supply, and Treatment division, within the triangle formed by I-280, Edgewood Road and Canada Road, as well as a small additional area of serpentine soil on the west side of Canada Road. Much of this area also falls within the San Francisco State Fish and Game Refuge.

Unit 2: Jasper Ridge Unit. Occurring within San Mateo County, the unit covers 709 acres in Stanford University's Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve.

Unit 3: San Bruno Mountain Unit. This unit, 748 acres, also occurs in San Mateo County. This unit is mostly within San Bruno Mountain State and County Park, and is inside the boundaries of the San Bruno Mountain Area Habitat Conservation Plan area.

Unit 4: Bear Ranch Unit. The Bear Ranch unit, totaling 617 acres, lies west of Coyote Lake (Coyote Reservoir) in the eastern hills of the Santa Clara Valley in southern Santa Clara County. The unit is named for a ranching property that partly occurs in the unit. The ranch and lands, including and surrounding the unit, are now owned and managed by the Santa Clara County Parks and Recreation Department.

Unit 5: San Martin Unit. This unit includes 586 acres west of San Martin, in the western foothills of the Santa Clara Valley in southern Santa Clara County. The unit lies entirely on private lands in unincorporated Santa Clara County, about 4 miles west-southwest of the Bear Ranch unit and 7 miles south of the Kirby core area.

Unit 6: Communications Hill Unit. Communications Hill and adjacent hilltops in south-central San Jose are formed by outcroppings of serpentine rock, with grasslands capable of supporting the bay checkerspot. This unit occurs in Santa Clara County and covers 442 acres of mostly undeveloped land.

Unit 7: Kalana Hills Unit. The Kalana Hills unit in Santa Clara County comprises 244 acres on the southwest side of the Santa Clara Valley between Laguna and San Bruno avenues. Approximately 348 aces of land have been removed from the unit as first proposed, based on specific information providing during the comment period.

Unit 8: Kirby Unit. The Kirby critical habitat unit includes 6,912 acres along the southern portion of Coyote Ridge in Santa Clara County. The unit includes lands within the limits of the City of San Jose, private lands in unincorporated Santa Clara County and small areas in the City of Morgan Hill. Public lands in this unit include the Santa Clara County Field Sports Park and portions of Santa Clara County Motorcycle Park, Anderson Lake County Park, Coyote Creek Park and lands of the Santa Clara Valley Water District. A 250-acre reserve, leased by Waste Management Inc. on behalf of the Kirby Conservation Trust to further conservation of the bay checkerspot, also falls within the unit.

Unit 9: Morgan Hill Unit. The Morgan Hill unit in Santa Clara County includes 724 acres northwest of the City of Morgan Hill in Santa Clara County. It lies less than 2 miles southwest of the Coyote Ridge unit and about 2 miles southeast of the Kalana Hills unit. The unit is partly within the limits of the City of Morgan Hill and partly on private lands in unincorporated Santa Clara County. Murphy Springs Park, a small city park, is within the unit

Unit 10: Metcalf Unit. This unit includes 3,351 acres in Santa Clara County, east of Highway 101, south of Silver Creek Valley Road, north of Metcalf Canyon and west of Silver Creek. The Metcalf unit lies in the City of San Jose and on private lands in unincorporated Santa Clara County. Portions of Santa Clara County Motorcycle Park, Coyote Creek Park and lands of Santa Clara Valley Water District fall within the unit. Approximately 643 acres, mostly commercial and residential development, have been removed from the original proposal for this unit.

Unit 11: San Felipe Unit. This unit includes 998 acres in Santa Clara County, southwest of San Felipe Road and north of Metcalf Road primarily on private lands in unincorporated county lands, but also within San Jose city limits.

Unit 12: Silver Creek Unit. The Silver Creek unit comprises 787 acres, primarily within the limits of the City of San Jose, but with some area on private lands in unincorporated Santa Clara County. This unit is surrounded by Highway 101 and Coyote Creek on the west, Yerba Buena Road on the north, Silver Creek on the east and northeast and Silver Creek Valley Road on the south. Approximately 943 acres of developed areas and graded lands permitted for development have been removed from the unit as it was proposed. Included in the final designation for this unit is a roughly 400-acre nature preserve owned by William Lyon Homes (former Presley Homes) and managed by the non-profit Silver Creek Preserve.

Unit 13: San Vicente-Calero Unit. The San Vicente-Calero unit contains 1,875 acres within and to the west of Calero County Park, Santa Clara County. The unit is south of McKean Road and east of the town of New Almaden, Almaden Road and Alamitos Creek. It lies about 1 mile south of the Santa Teresa unit and about 2 miles west of the Kalana Hills unit. Portions of the unit outside the county park are within the limits of the City of San Jose.

Unit 14: Santa Teresa Hills Unit. The Santa Teresa Hills unit includes 4,500 acres in Santa Clara County. The unit lies north of Bailey Avenue, McKean Road and Almaden Road, south of developed areas of the City of Santa Clara, and west of Santa Teresa Boulevard. The unit abuts the Tulare Hill Corridor unit.

Unit 15: Tulare Hill Corridor Unit. The Tulare Hill Corridor unit, 876 acres in Santa Clara County, connects the Coyote Ridge (Kirby and Metcalf, and through them, San Felipe and Silver Creek) and Santa Teresa units. Tulare Hill is a prominent serpentine hill that rises from the middle of the Santa Clara Valley in southern San Jose, west of the crossing of Metcalf Road and Highway 101. Public lands within the designated unit include parts of Coyote Creek Park, Metcalf Park and Santa Teresa County Park. Roughly half of Tulare Hill itself is within the limits of the City of San Jose, the remainder on private lands in unincorporated Santa Clara County.

Click Here to View the Final Critical Habitat Unit Maps for Bay Checkerspot Butterfly

 

Photos of the Bay Checkerspot Butterfly and its habitat. (Photo Editors: Please credit U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Bay Checkerspot Butterfly

Bay Checkerspot Butterfly

Host and Nectar Plants Orthocarpus Densiflorus, Plantago Erecta, Lasthenia, Chrysostoma

Serpentine Rock and Neetar Plant, Layia Platyglosse

Facts and Q&A About the Critical Habitat Designation

for the Bay Checkerspot Butterfly

The bay checkerspot butterfly (Euphydras editha bayensis) is one of more than a dozen subspecies of checkerspot butterflies found in California. This colorful, medium-sized butterfly inhabits sunny, open grasslands on serpentine soils in the San Francisco Bay Area of California. Historically, bay checkerspots occurred around San Francisco Bay, from Twin Peaks and San Bruno Mountain and Contra Costa County south through Santa Clara County. Before the introduction of invasive non-native grasses and other weeds in the 1700s, its distribution may have been even wider.

The wingspan of bay checkerspots is little more than 2 inches. Its forewings feature black bands along all the veins on the upper wing surface, contrasting sharply with the bright red and yellow spots. The black banding gives a more checkered appearance than in other subspecies, such as the small Quino checkerspot of southern California

The bay checkerspot’s life cycle is closely tied to the biology of its host plant, native plantain (Plantago erecta). Host plants germinate anytime from early October to late December, and dry up and die from early April to mid-May. Most of the active parts of the bay checkerspot

life cycle also occur during this period. Adults emerge from pupae (a transitional stage between caterpillar and adult butterfly) in early spring, and feed on nectar from a variety of flowers such as the desert parsley, California goldfields and tidy-tips. They mate and lay eggs during a flight season that typically lasts for 4 to 6 weeks between late February and early May. Females lay egg masses around the bases of the primary host plant, native plantain. Eggs hatch into tiny caterpillars (larvae) in about 2 weeks, and the larvae feed for about 3 weeks. Often the native plantain dries up before a caterpillar is ready to move onto the next stage in its metamorphosis and in order to survive it must then seek out secondary host plants–purple’s owl clover or exserted paintbrush.

During this period of rapid growth, the caterpillar will shed its skin several times before it enters a period of summer dormancy (diapause). This dormancy usually ends with the onset of the next rainy season and the germination of plantain; the caterpillars finally molt into pupae (a cocoon-like state) where they will remain until they emerge as adult butterflies and mate. The adults live only 1-2 weeks. There is increasing evidence that, in some years, a few caterpillars may remain dormant for more than a year or enter a second dormancy and complete their development in a subsequent spring.

The most suitable habitat for the bay checkerspot is one with densities of both the primary and secondary host plant species and nectar plants for adults.

Currently, with its range much reduced, and its distribution patchy, the bay checkerspot is largely restricted to areas of serpentine soil, which are resistant to invasion by non-native plants. The demise (extirpation) of several bay checkerspot colonies has been documented, and the butterfly is now limited to San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. At least one colony faces imminent extinction due to low population size, and other populations have exhibited dramatic declines in recent years.

Why is the bay checkerspot butterfly in trouble?

The bay checkerspot butterfly has experienced serious declines in its populations since the mid-1980s. Identifiable threats include urban and suburban sprawl and its attendant habitat destruction and fragmentation, invasion of non-native plants, inappropriate management of grazing and fire, and extreme weather.

What is being done to save the bay checkerspot butterfly?

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the bay checkerspot butterfly under the Federal Endangered Species Act in 1987. In Santa Clara County part of the butterfly's habitat is on property leased by a landfill corporation near Kirby Canyon. An agreement worked out among the owner, the City of San Jose, and conservation advocates has resulted in the protection and management of much of this habitat in exchange for permitted development of a portion of it. In addition, the landowner has provided funding for the establishment of a butterfly preserve and for research toward successful management of the bay checkerspot butterfly. In the Silver Creek Hills, a development corporation is preserving and managing more than 450 acres of habitat for the butterfly. Santa Clara County Parks include several significant habitat areas of the bay checkerspot butterfly.

What is critical habitat?

Critical habitat is defined as specific areas that have been found to be essential to the conservation of a federally listed species, and which may require special management considerations or protections. Critical habitat is determined using the best scientific and commercial information about the physical and biological needs of the species. These needs include: space for individual and population growth, and for normal behavior; food, water, light, air, minerals or other nutritional or physiological needs; cover or shelter sites for breeding, reproduction and rearing of offspring, and habitat that is protected from disturbance or is representative of the historical and ecological distribution of a species.

How do you determine what areas to designate as critical habitat?

Biologists consider physical and biological habitat features needed for life and successful reproduction of the species. For the bay checkerspot butterfly these "primary constituent elements" are those habitat components that are essential for the primary biological needs of foraging, sheltering, breeding, maturation and dispersal.

What are the primary constituent elements for the bay checkerspot butterfly?

Identified primary constituent elements of habitat for the bay checkerspot are one or more of the following: stands of Plantago erecta, Castilleja exserta, or Castilleja densiflora, spring flowers providing nectar, pollinators of the bay checkerspot's food and nectar plants, soils derived from serpentinic rock and space for dispersal between habitable areas. In addition, the following are each primary constituent elements to be conserved when present in combination with one or more of the primary constituent elements above: areas of open grassland, topography with varied slopes and aspects, stable holes or cracks in the soil and surface rocks or rock outcrops and wetlands providing moisture during times of spring drought.

Are all 23,903 acres critical habitat?

While we are designating 23,903 acres of critical habitat for the bay checkerspot butterfly, not all the areas within these broad boundaries contain the specific habitat features required by bay checkerspots and therefore not all areas will require Federal agencies to consult with us. We would require consultations only in those areas that contain the physical and biological features necessary to the species’ survival (the primary constituent elements). For example, existing houses, shopping centers and similar development do not provide specific habitat for the butterfly, but are in some places included in the designation because of limitations in our ability to map the boundaries at a finer scale.

What lands are included in this designation?

This designation includes non-Federal public lands including California Department of Parks and Recreation lands, regional and local park lands, and water district lands as well as privately-owned lands. Publicly owned lands constitute 3,563 acres, while private lands make up the remaining 20,340 acres of the total 23,903 acres in the final designation.

Does the designation of critical habitat create preserves?

No. 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 and will not result in closure of the area to all access or use.

Do listed species in critical habitat areas receive more protection?

An area designated as critical habitat is not a refuge or special conservation area. Listed species and their habitats are protected by the Endangered Species Act whether or not they are in an area designated as critical habitat.

How does a listed species benefit from the designation of critical habitat?

Critical habitat designation may raise public awareness of the importance of particular areas to the conservation of a federally listed species. The designation of critical habitat requires Federal agencies to consult with the Service regarding any action that could affect critical habitat, and to ensure that the action will not destroy or adversely modify critical habitat. Adverse modification of critical habitat is defined as any direct or indirect alteration that appreciably diminishes the value of the habitat for both the survival and recovery of the species.

Regardless of any critical habitat designation, Federally listed wildlife species are protected from "take." As defined under the Endangered Species Act, "take" means to harass, harm or kill listed wildlife, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct. Such actions can also include habitat destruction that may affect a federally listed species by disrupting normal breeding, feeding or sheltering activities.

What protection does the bay checkerspot butterfly currently receive as a listed species?

The Endangered Species Act forbids the import, export or interstate or foreign sale of protected animals and plants without a special permit. It also makes "take" illegal--forbidding the killing, harming, harassing, possessing or removing of protected animals from the wild. Federal agencies must consult with the Service to ensure that projects they authorize, fund or carry out are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered or threatened species, or result in the destruction or adverse modification of designated critical habitat.

Permits may be issued by the Service for activities that are otherwise prohibited under the Act, if these activities are for scientific purposes or to enhance the propagation or survival of the affected species, or for "take" that is incidental to otherwise lawful activities.

In addition, the Endangered Species Act requires that Federal agencies not only take action to prevent further loss of a species, but also pursue actions to recover species to the point where they no longer require protection and can be delisted.

What were the findings of the economic analysis completed as part of the critical habitat designation process?

Economic effects caused by listing the bay checkerspot as a federally protected threatened species, and by other statutes, are the baseline against which the effects of critical habitat designation are evaluated. An analysis of the economic effects of the proposed bay checkerspot critical habitat designation was prepared (Industrial Economics, Incorporated, 2001) and made available for public review (February 9, 2001; 66 FR 9683). The final analysis, which reviewed and incorporated public comments, concluded that no significant economic impacts are expected from critical habitat designation above and beyond that already imposed by listing the bay checkerspot.

How will this designation of critical habitat affect Federal agencies that undertake, permit or fund projects?

Section 7 of the Act requires Federal agencies to consult with the Service on actions they authorize, fund or carry out that may affect critical habitat. Through this consultation process, the Service can ensure that permitted actions don’t change (adversely modify) critical habitat in such a way that it no longer can meet the physical and biological needs of the species. We also analyze actions to determine if they may adversely affect or jeopardize a listed species. The requirement to consult with the Service applies to all lands that have been identified as critical habitat where Federal agencies, permits or funding are involved.

What happens if my private property is designated critical habitat for the bay checkerspot butterfly?

The designation of critical habitat on privately-owned land does not mean the government wants to acquire or control the land. Activities on private lands that do not require Federal permits or funding are not affected by a critical habitat designation. Critical habitat does not require landowners to carry out any special management actions or restrict the use of their land. However, the Act prohibits any individual from engaging in unauthorized activities that will actually harm listed wildlife.

If a landowner needs a Federal permit or receives Federal funding for a specific activity, the agency responsible for issuing the permit or providing the funds would consult with us to determine how the action may affect the bay checkerspot butterfly or its designated critical habitat. The Service will work with the Federal agency and the private landowner to modify the project to minimize the impacts.

If you would like to find out if your property is included in the critical habitat designation, please contact the Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, 2800 Cottage Way, Rm W-2605, Sacramento CA 95825 or phone (916) 414-6600.

What about lands where Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs) are being developed or will be developed in the future?

The designation of critical habitat shouldn’t impede ongoing or future HCP efforts. The long-term conservation of the bay checkerspot butterfly will be addressed as these plans are being developed.

How will the final designation of critical habitat affect activities for which a party has already consulted with the Service under section 7 of the Act?

Federal regulations require agencies to reinitiate consultation with the Service on previously reviewed actions if critical habitat is designated after the initial consultation, and if those actions may adversely affect critical habitat. This applies only if those agencies have retained some type of involvement or control over the action, or if such involvement is authorized by law. Federal agencies may request to reinitiate consultation with us if a project is likely to affect or adversely modify proposed critical habitat.

What happens if a project is reviewed as part of a reinitiation of consultation and the Service determines it will adversely modify critical habitat?

It is highly unlikely that any activity reviewed and permitted by the Service under section 7 of the Act, prior to the designation of critical habitat will be changed because critical habitat is now proposed for the area. When reviewing projects under section 7, we must determine if the proposed action will "jeopardize the continued existence" of a species by asking the question: "Will the project significantly reduce the likelihood of the species’ survival and recovery?" A project that will "destroy or adversely modify" critical habitat is one that will significantly reduce the value of critical habitat for the survival and recovery of the species. Regardless of whether critical habitat has been designated, we must still consider the effect a project may have on the continued existence or recovery of a listed species.

Was the public given an opportunity to comment on proposed critical habitat for the bay checkerspot butterfly?

In the October 16, 2000 proposed rule, all interested parties were requested to submit comments on the specifics of the proposal including information, policy, treatment of HCPs and proposed critical habitat boundaries as provided in the proposed rule. The first comment period closed on December 15, 2000. The comment period was reopened from February 9, 2001, to March 12, 2001 to allow for additional comments on the proposed rule and comments on the draft economic analysis of the proposed critical habitat. We accepted the 1,037 comments received from October 16, 2000 to March 12, 2001 and entered them into the administrative record for rule.

We contacted all appropriate State and Federal agencies, Tribes, county governments, elected officials and other interested parties and invited them to comment. In addition, we invited public comment through the publication of notices and display ads to announce the public hearing in the following newspapers in California: the San Mateo County Times and the Palo Alto Weekly. These announcements were published on October 20 and October 25, respectively. In these notices and the proposed rule, we announced the date and time of one public hearing that was held on the proposed rule. This hearing was in Newark on October 30, 2000. When the comment period was reopened, we sent out notices of the reopening to all parties on a mailing list for the bay checkerspot butterfly. Additionally, we held one informational meeting on February 22, 2001 in San Jose, California.

Was the proposed critical habitat designation reviewed by scientists outside the Fish and Wildlife Service?

Yes. The proposal was peer reviewed. We requested four professional ecologists, who have familiarity with bay checkerspot butterflies and/or butterfly metapopulation dynamics, to peer review the proposed critical habitat designation. Three of the peer reviewers provided reviews of the proposed critical habitat designation and one did not respond.

What types of activities might impact critical habitat for the bay checkerspot butterfly?

Activities that, when carried out, funded, or authorized by a Federal agency, may affect critical habitat and require that a section 7 consultation be conducted include, but are not limited to:

(1) Ground disturbance, including but not limited to, grading, discing, ripping and tilling;

(2) Removing, destroying or altering vegetation (e.g., including altering grazing practices and seeding);

(3) Water contracts, transfers, diversion, impoundment, application, or conveyance, groundwater pumping, irrigation or other activity that wets or inundates habitat, creates barriers or deterrents to dispersal or results in habitat being converted to lower values for the butterfly (e.g., conversion to urban development, vineyards, landscaping, etc.);

(4) Sale, exchange or lease of critical habitat that is likely to result in the habitat being destroyed or degraded;

(5) Recreational activities that significantly deter the use of critical habitat by bay checkerspots or alter habitat through associated maintenance activities (e.g., off-road

vehicle parks, golf courses, trail construction or maintenance);

6) Construction activities that destroy or degrade critical habitat (e.g., urban and suburban development, building of recreational facilities such as off-road vehicle parks and golf courses, road building, drilling, mining, quarrying and associated reclamation activities); and

(7) Application of pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers or other chemicals or biological agents.

Any of the above activities that appreciably diminish the value of critical habitat to the degree that they affect the survival and recovery of the bay checkerspot may be considered an adverse modification of critical habitat. We note that such activities may also jeopardize the continued existence of the species.

If you have questions on specific activities that may or may not constitute destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat resulting from a Federal action, please contact us at the address below.

Other questions?

We have attempted to cover the more frequently asked questions about critical habitat in this fact sheet. However, we recognize that your situation may be unique and we are ready to work with you in every way we can so that together we can conserve this special Bay Area native animal for future generations.

Please call (916/414-6600) or write to us at:

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office
Attn: Endangered Species Division
2800 Cottage Way, Room W-2605
Sacramento, CA 95825

 

 


NOTE: This news release and others can be viewed on either the Services Pacific Regional home page on the internet at http://pacific.fws.gov or the national home page at http://news.fws.gov/newsreleases.html

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