News Release
Southeast Region
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Draft Economic Analysis of Impacts Associated with Proposed Critical Habitat for the Louisiana Black Bear Available for Public Comment

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 12, 2008

 

Contacts:
Jim Boggs, (337) 291-3100
Debbie Fuller, (337) 291-3124 Tom MacKenzie, (404) 679-7291

 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today released for public review a draft report analyzing the potential economic impacts that could result from the proposed designation of critical habitat for the threatened Louisiana black bear in Louisiana.

The Service proposed critical habitat on May 6, 2008, and is seeking public input on the draft economic analysis and the proposed critical habitat designation until December 12, 2008.

According to the draft economic analysis, additional costs resulting from the proposed critical habitat designation (incremental costs) are associated with oil and gas development and result from the potential modification or relocation of above-ground well sites in the area proposed as black bear critical habitat. The draft economic analysis estimates the post-designation incremental economic impacts for the next 20 years range from $1.5 million to $8.6 million, applying a three percent discount rate, or $1.1 million to $6.3 million applying a seven percent discount rate. The range in values of incremental costs is a result of the uncertainty in forecasting the number of new wells that are likely to be drilled in the next 20 years. However, it is unlikely that the energy industry will experience a significant adverse effect from a designation of critical habitat for the Louisiana black bear.

With the help of its partners, such as the Natural Resources Conservation Service and other federal agencies, state agencies in Louisiana and Mississippi, the Black Bear Conservation Committee, the Louisiana Forestry Association, and private citizens, the Service estimates that about 600,000 acres of land have been restored or protected in the bear’s range since it was listed in January 1992. This includes lands that have been purchased by state and federal agencies and public and private lands protected from development as well as privately owned lands where bear habitat has been restored. Bear numbers also appear to be increasing. In 1997, the statewide Louisiana black bear population was estimated to range from 200 to 400 bears. Studies to obtain reliable current population estimates are underway but it is generally believed that the current population numbers range from 400 to 700 bears.

Proposed critical habitat for the Louisiana black bear encompasses about 1,330,000 acres of forested and adjacent vegetated habitat in the Mississippi River Valley and coastal area in the following Louisiana parishes: Avoyelles, East Carroll, Catahoula, Concordia, Franklin, Iberia, Iberville, Madison, Pointe Coupee, Richland, St. Martin, St. Mary, Tensas, West Carroll, and West Feliciana.

Critical habitat refers to specific geographic areas that are essential for the conservation of a threatened or endangered species and that may require special management and protection. A critical habitat designation does not establish a preserve or refuge nor does it affect individual citizens, organizations, states, local governments, or other non-federal entities that do not require federal permits or funding.

The Endangered Species Act requires the Service to consider potential economic impacts of a critical habitat designation when determining whether or not to designate critical habitat. If the benefits of excluding an area outweigh the benefits of including it, the Service may exclude an area from critical habitat, unless the exclusion would result in the extinction of the species.

The comment period that was announced in the proposed rule, 50 CFR Part 17, has been reopened to allow a 30-day comment period on the draft economic analysis and the proposed rule. The Service will consider comments and information on the draft economic analysis and critical habitat proposal that are received or postmarked on or before December 12, 2008.

Please submit comments by one of the following methods:

(1) Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov and follow the instructions for submitting comments; or

(2) Via U.S. Mail or hand-delivery to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: [FWS- R4-ES-2008-0047; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203. The Service will not accept e-mail or faxes. All comments received will be posted at http://www.regulations.gov.

Copies of the draft economic analysis of critical habitat designation or the proposed designation of critical habitat are available at http://www.regulations.gov or http://www.fws.gov/policy/frsystem/default.cfm. They may also be obtained by visiting our website: http://www.fws.gov/lafayette or by contacting Debbie Fuller, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 646 Cajundome Blvd, Suite 400, Lafayette, LA 70506; phone 337-291-3124.

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. Visit the Service’s websites at http://www.fws.gov/southeast/ and 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. Atlanta, GA 30345, Phone: 404/679-7289 Fax: 404/679-7286. Our national home page is at: http://www.fws.gov/news/newsreleases/

 

2008 News Releases.

Last updated: November 12, 2008