Conserving the Nature of America
Press Release
Service Revises Draft Analysis of Economic Costs for New California Red-legged Frog Critical Habitat
Comment Period Re-opens for Proposal to Designate 1.8 Million Acres

October 7, 2009


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

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) today revised an economic impact analysis of its 2008 proposal to designate 1.8 million acres of critical habitat for the threatened California red-legged frog (Rana aurora draytonii). Release of the analysis opens a new 30-day comment period on the entire critical habitat proposal and the economic assessment.

The revised economic analysis seeks to quantify the broad range of costs linked to the critical habitat designation. The present value incremental costs directly related to a critical habitat designation could range from $183 million to $566 million over a 20-year period, assuming a 7 percent discount rate, according to the analysis prepared for the Service under contract by Industrial Economics Inc. of Cambridge, MA. The new figure is about 25 percent less than its April estimate of costs up to $767 million in its first draft.

Ninety percent of the cost in the new analysis occurs in new development, according to the revised analysis, although development is projected to occur on just one-half of 1 percent (7,099 acres) of the privately owned 1.3 million acres in the proposed critical habitat. The analysis calculates that the largest impacts will occur in San Luis Obispo, Alameda, San Mateo, Contra Costa and Santa Clara counties.

The revised analysis reflects improved data and revised assumptions. It considers both economic efficiency and distributional effects of designating critical habitat. For example, in April the analysis assumed a significant cost due to compliance costs associated with the state’s California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) as a result of the federal critical habitat designation. In the new draft CEQA costs have virtually been eliminated.

Nearly all of the additional cost is projected to be due to additional time needed to complete consultations with the agencies, estimated to be nine months, plus two years to purchase additional land to offset development damage to the species. The land acquisition process has a significantly higher cost than the April analysis, based on a projection of more time to acquire and protect mitigation land. The new analysis explicitly encourages submission of new information on the actual time delays.

Impacts on agriculture were revised down significantly, from $169 million in April to $58 million. Most of the ag cost is due to anticipated impacts from on-going pesticide litigation.

The revised economic analysis is based on a 2008 Service proposal to designate critical habitat 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. The 2008 proposal would be a 400 percent increase in critical habitat from a 2006 rule designating 450,000 acres, but later determined to be scientifically weak.

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

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

Comments may be submitted for 30 days by any of the following methods: 1) Federal eRulemaking Portal:  and submitting comments to: Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2008-0089 or 2) U.S. mail or 3) hand-delivery both to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R8-ES-2008-0089; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203. Comments cannot be submitted by e-mail or faxes.

All comments will be posted 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. To 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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