Critical Habitat Designated for the Coqui Guajón
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today published a final rule designating approximately 260.6 acres of land in Puerto Rico as critical habitat for the coqui guajón, a tropical frog federally listed as threatened. Areas identified as critical habitat for the guajón include 17 units within the municipalities of Humacao, Juncos, Las Piedras, Maunabo, Patillas, San Lorenzo, and Yabucoa. All 17 sites are part of the historical range of the species and support suitable habitat for the species’ conservation.
Critical habitat is a term in the Endangered Species Act. It identifies geographic areas that contain features essential for the conservation of a threatened or endangered species and that may require additional management considerations or protection. 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. Federal agencies that undertake, fund or permit activities that may affect critical habitat are required to consult with the Service to ensure such actions do not adversely modify or destroy designated critical habitat. Structures such as roads, buildings and paved areas and the land on which they are located are not included in critical habitat.
Federal agencies that undertake, fund, or permit activities that may affect critical habitat are required to consult with the Service to ensure such actions do not adversely modify or destroy designated critical habitat.
The potential future costs associated with this designation are estimated at $4.34 million over a 20-year period. Annual costs are estimated to be between $288,000 and $399,000. Most of the future costs are due to the expected costs of guajón conservation efforts during road construction, specifically the extension of Puerto Rico Highway 53, and will be borne by the Commonwealth.
The Service held two comment periods to provide the public with opportunities to participate in the process of designating critical habitat for this frog, the Service held two comment periods. On October 5, 2006, the Service released a proposal and, after careful consideration of all the comments received, it was deemed appropriate to add five more units to the original proposed designation. On June 19, 2007 the Service opened a second comment period announcing the additional units and releasing a draft economic analysis.
The guajón is endemic to Puerto Rico and is restricted to the
southeastern part of the island. For many years the guajón was
thought to be limited in distribution by the presence of “guajonales,” which
are caves and grottoes made of plutonic, granitic or sedimentary rocks.
The native name guajón is derived from these rock formations.
However, the species also inhabits rocky stream banks covered with moss,
ferns and other vegetation.
The guajón is one of sixteen species of frog from the genus Eleutherodactylus, commonly known as “coquíes” that inhabit Puerto Rico, and is the second largest “coquí.” This species was named after the habitat (“guajonales”) where it was originally found. The “guajonales” are large boulders of granite rock that form crevices and grottoes. Guajón females are larger than males, have solid brown coloration on the dorsal area, are uniformly white on the ventral area; with white-rimmed eyes, and large, truncate disks on its feet. Males have yellow coloration on the ventral area extending from the throat to the abdomen and flanks. The voice of the guajón is low and melodious.
This final rule was prepared pursuant to a settlement agreement after a lawsuit was filed against the Service and the Department of the Interior by the Center for Biological Diversity on June 10, 2003.
A complete description of the final critical habitat designation for the coqui guajón has been published in the Federal Register (insert reference). To request a copy please contact Lilibeth Serrano, Boqueron, Puerto Rico Ecological Services Field Office, at 787-851-7297 ext 239.
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 548 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 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. Visit the Service’s website at http://www.fws.gov.
NOTE: You can view our releases or subscribe to receive them -- via e-mail -- at the Service's Southeast Regional home page at http://www.fws.gov/southeast/news. Our national home page is at: http://www.fws.gov/news/newsreleases/. Atlanta, GA 30345, Phone: 404/679-7289 Fax: 404/679-7286