The Mexican spotted
owl (Strix occidentalis lucida) (owl) inhabits canyon and montane forest
habitats across a range that extends from southern Utah and Colorado, through Arizona, New
Mexico, and west Texas, to the mountains of central Mexico. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service listed the owl on March 16,
1993 (58 FR 14248) without critical habitat. A final rule designating critical habitat for
the owl was published on June 6, 1995 (60 FR 29914). As a result of several court
rulings, the Service removed critical habitat designation for the owl on March 25, 1998
(63 FR 14378). On March 13, 2000, the Service was again ordered to propose critical
habitat within 4 months of the court order and to complete a final designation by January
15, 2001. Thus, the Service has now designated approximately 4.6 million acres of
critical habitat for the owl in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah, on Federal Lands.
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 considerations. A critical habitat designation does not set up a preserve or
refuge and only applies to situations where Federal funding, authorization or permits are
involved. Since no private, state or tribal lands are being designated, the designation
will only affect activities on Federal lands.
Additionally, not all the areas within the mapped boundaries
have habitat elements important to the owl. The Service will require consultations only on
the activities that affect those areas that contain the primary constituent elements
(physical and biological features necessary for the species survival). Private
inholdings may appear in the mapped areas but are not included in the designation.
The primary constituent elements identified in the rule were based on information within
Spotted Owl Recovery Plan.
Mexican Spotted Owl Critical Habitat: Proposed rule; reopening of public comment period, notice of availability of draft economic analysis and draft environmental assessment, and notice of a public meeting.