Critical Habitat Designation and Final Economic Analysis (pdf File 756 kb)
Arroyo Toad Final Maps (Zip File 5.43 megabyte)
SERVICE ANNOUNCES FINAL CRITICAL HABITAT FOR ENDANGERED ARROYO TOAD
Final Economic Analysis also Released
In response to a court order, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is designating about 182,360 acres as critical habitat for the endangered arroyo toad (Bufo californicus). These lands encompass portions of Monterey, Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Orange, Riverside and San Diego counties in California.. The Service also released its final economic analysis of the designation, which concludes that designating critical habitat will not have significant economic impacts beyond those incurred as a result of the toad's listing as an endangered species in 1994.
"The Service designated only those lands that we determined are essential to the species' conservation, based on the best scientific information currently available," said Michael J. Spear, the Service's California/Nevada Operations manager. "We will continue working cooperatively with landowners to conserve this rare amphibian and its habitat."
About 76,030 acres designated as critical habitat for protection are managed by federal, state or local agencies, and about 102,070 acres are privately owned. An additional 4,260 acres are on trust lands of six Native American Tribes. A significant percentage of the stream, riparian, and upland habitats for the arroyo toad are on lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service and the Department of the Army. Some of the areas designated as critical habitat for the arroyo toad overlap areas of critical habitat for other federally listed species, such as the coastal California gnatcatcher.
With today's announcement, the Service has excluded a total of about 296,040 acres originally proposed as critical habitat in July 2000: About 39,000 acres on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton were excluded; another 55,000 acres in other areas were not considered essential to the conservation of the toad, and the Service was able to remove 202,040 acres because of revised mapping.
While the more precise mapping made it possible to exclude many significant urban or developed areas within the critical habitat boundaries, we were not able to remove all developed areas due to mapping limitations. Federal agencies will not be required to consult with the Service in these developed areas where there are none of the specific habitat elements needed by the arroyo toad.
Critical habitat identifies specific geographic areas that are essential for the conservation of a threatened or endangered species and which may require special management considerations. However, a designation does not affect land ownership or establish a refuge, wilderness, reserve, preserve, or other special conservation area. It does not allow government or public access to private lands and does not close areas to all access or use.
With one exception, critical habitat is not being designated in areas that are covered by an approved Habitat Conservation Plan authorizing the "take" of arroyo toads. Critical habitat has been designated on a portion of the Sweetwater River, which lies within the San Diego Multi-Species Conservation Plan (MSCP) boundary, because this area is affected by water transfer activities outside the authority of the approved San Diego MSCP.
We have designated critical habitat within areas where HCPs have been proposed, but have not yet been completed and implemented. If a draft HCP that addresses the arroyo toad as a covered species is ultimately approved, the Service will reassess the critical habitat boundaries in light of the HCP, but funding constraints may influence the timing of such a review.
The Endangered Species Act directs federal agencies to protect and promote the recovery for federally listed species; consequently, federal lands provide the greatest protection for endangered and threatened species. Where a listed species occurs on federal lands, consultation with the Service is required when projects or activities may affect the species. For private and non-federal landowners, however, consultations are required only in cases where activities that may affect the arroyo toad or its critical habitat require federal funding, licensing or permitting.
At the time the Service listed the arroyo toad in 1994, we concluded that designation of critical habitat was not prudent because such designation would not benefit the species, and could make it more vulnerable to increased acts of habitat vandalism, destruction, or unauthorized collection.
In a lawsuit filed against the Service by the Center for Biological Diversity, the plaintiffs contended the Service was in violation of section 4 of the Act, which requires a determination of critical habitat at the time a species is listed. Today's announcement is the result of a settlement agreement.
The arroyo toad is a small, buff-colored toad that measures between two and three inches in length and has dark-spotted, warty skin. Its call is a soft, high, whistled trill that is commonly mistaken for the call of an insect. Arroyo toads prefer shallow pools and open, sandy stream terraces. They use adjacent upland habitat for feeding and shelter in the nonbreeding seasons.
The arroyo toad historically occurred in isolated coastal and desert stream areas west of the Mojave Desert, from Monterey County south to the northwestern portion of Baja California, Mexico. About 75 percent of the toad's historical habitat has been eliminated as a result of urban development, dam construction, water diversions, agriculture, and recreational activities. Other factors in the arroyo toad's decline include encroachment of non-native plants in its preferred habitat and the introduction of non-native species such as bass, sunfish, and bullfrogs that prey on arroyo toads. The arroyo toad currently occurs in streams in Monterey, Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange, and San Diego counties.
A complete description of the Service's decision to designate critical habitat for the arroyo toad was published February 7, 2001, in the Federal Register. Copies of the rule and final economic analysis can be downloaded from the Service's Region 1 web site at: www.r1.fws.gov. Requests for copies of the final rule and economic analysis should be submitted to Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2493 Portola Road, Ventura, CA 93003, or by calling 805/644-1766. Copies can also be obtained from the Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, 2730 Loker Ave. West; Carlsbad, CA 92008, or by calling 760/431-9440.
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 93-million acre National Wildlife Refuge System comprised of 531 refuges, thousands of small wetlands, and other special management areas. It also operates 66 national fish hatcheries, 64 fish and wildlife management assistance offices and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the ESA, 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 wildlife agencies.
Critical Habitat Units
Unit 1 San Antonio River, Monterey County: the river and adjacent uplands from above Mission Creek to the San Antonio Reservoir, including portions of Mission Creek. This unit is the northernmost known occurrence of arroyo toads. All of this unit is on the Fort Hunter Liggett Military Reservation.
Unit 2 Sisquoc River, Santa Barbara County: the river and adjacent uplands from Sycamore Campground downstream to just below the confluence with La Brea Creek.
Unit 3: Upper Santa Ynez River Basin, Santa Barbara County: areas upstream of Gibraltar Reservoir, including portions of the upper Santa Ynez River, Indian Creek, Mono Creek and adjacent uplands.
Unit 4 Sespe Creek, Ventura County: Sespe Creek and adjacent uplands, from the lower end of Sespe Gorge downstream to the confluence with Alder Creek.
Unit 5 Piru Creek, Ventura and Los Angeles counties: Piru Creek and adjacent uplands from the confluence of Lockwood Creek downstream to Pyramid Reservoir, and from Pyramid Dam downstream to Lake Piru; includes Agua Blanca Creek from Devil's Gateway downstream to the confluence with Piru Creek.
Unit 6 Upper Santa Clara River Basin, Los Angeles County: portions of Castaic Creek, San Francisquito Creek and adjacent uplands; Castaic Creek from Bear Canyon downstream to Castaic Lake and Fish Creek from Cienaga Spring to the confluence with Castaic Creek; Castaic Creek below Castaic Lake to the confluence with the Santa Clara River; and a portion of San Francisquito Creek, from Bee Canyon to just north of the Copper Hill Road bridge site.
Unit 7 Upper Los Angeles River Basin, Los Angeles County: portions of Big Tujunga, Mill, Alder and Arroyo Seco creeks and adjacent uplands.
Unit 8 Santiago Creek, Orange County: acreage is centered around the confluence of Santiago, Black Star, and Baker creeks, just above Irvine Lake, and includes portions of each creek and the adjacent uplands.
Unit 9 San Jacinto River and Bautista Creek, Riverside County: portions of the San Jacinto River, Bautista Creek, Indian Creek and adjacent uplands, several miles east of the town of Hemet.
Unit 10 San Juan and Trabuco Creeks, Orange and Riverside counties: portions of San Juan Creek, Bell Canyon, Trabuco Creek, and adjacent uplands. Portions of this unit are in Caspers Wilderness Park and O'Neill Regional Park in Orange County.
Unit 11 San Mateo Basin, San Diego and Orange counties: portions of San Mateo, Cristianitos, Talega, Gabino, and La Paz creeks, and adjacent uplands. About half of this unit is in San Onofre State Park.
Unit 12 Lower Santa Margarita River, San Diego County: Santa Margarita River and adjacent uplands from the lower end of Temecula Canyon to the boundary of Camp Pendleton. It also includes De Luz Creek from the town of De Luz to the boundary of Camp Pendleton.
Unit 13 Upper Santa Margarita River Basin, Riverside and San Diego counties: above Vail Lake, includes portions of Temecula, Wilson, and Arroyo Seco creeks and adjacent uplands.
Unit 14 Lower and Middle San Luis Rey River Basin, San Diego County: portions of the San Luis Rey River below Lake Henshaw and adjacent uplands and includes portions of Keys and Pala creeks.
Unit 15 Upper San Luis Rey Basin, San Diego County: upper San Luis Rey River above Lake Henshaw, two of its headwater tributaries and adjacent uplands.
Unit 16 Santa Ysabel Creek, San Diego County: portions of Santa Ysabel Creek and adjacent uplands, and includes portions of Santa Maria, Guejito, and Temescal creeks.
Unit 17 San Diego River/San Vicente Creek, San Diego County: portions of the San Diego River and San Vicente Creek and adjacent uplands.
Unit 18 Sweetwater River Basin, San Diego County: portions of the Sweetwater River, Peterson Canyon, Viejas Creek and adjacent uplands.
Unit 19 Cottonwood Creek Basin, San Diego County: portions of Cottonwood Creek, adjacent uplands, and portions of the following tributaries: Potrero Creek, Pine Valley Creek, Scove Canyon, Morena Creek, La Posta Creek, and Kitchen Creek.
Unit 20 Little Rock Creek, Los Angeles County: Little Rock Creek and adjacent uplands from the South Fork confluence downstream to Little Rock Reservoir, and about a mile of Santiago Creek and adjacent uplands upstream of the confluence with Little Rock Creek.
Unit 21 Upper Mojave River Basin, San Bernardino County: portions of the Mojave River, the West Fork of the Mojave River, Horsethief and Little Horsethief creeks, Deep Creek and adjacent uplands.
Unit 22 Whitewater River, Riverside County: portions of the Whitewater River and adjacent uplands, from near Red Dome downstream to where the California River Aqueduct crosses the river.