U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Sacramento Fish & Wildlife OfficeServing the people, conserving the fish, wildlife, and plants of California

A Unit Of The Pacific Southwest Region

News Release

Final Revised Critical Habitat for Tidewater Goby Identified

February 5, 2013

Media Contacts:
Steve Henry, Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office-805-644-1766, ext. 307
Jane Hendron, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office-760-431-9440, ext. 205
Robert Moler, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office-916-414-6606

Matt Baun, Yreka Fish and Wildlife Office-530-841-3119

Flycatcher Glendale AZ

Photo: Sarah Swenty USFWS

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced today the final revised designation of critical habitat for the federally endangered tidewater goby.  In total, approximately 12,156 acres in Del Norte, Humboldt, Mendocino, Sonoma, Marin, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego counties, California, fall within the boundaries of the critical habitat designation.

The final rule is available for viewing today at the Federal Register’s public inspection page here. 

The tidewater goby is a small, grey-brown fish rarely exceeding two inches in length.  Tidewater gobies are nearly transparent with a mottled brownish upper surface, and have a short life cycle, living for about 1 year.  Along the west coast of California, the species occurs in lagoons, estuaries, marshes, and occasionally in freshwater streams that are tributary to brackish habitats.

In January 2008, the Service designated 10,003 acres of critical habitat for the tidewater goby. The designation was challenged by the Natural Resources Defense Council. A 2009 settlement agreement required the Service to revise critical habitat.  

The revised designation is based on the best available scientific information, including information in the 2005 Recovery Plan for the species. The designation identifies essential habitat areas across the range of the species, including areas that are currently unoccupied, and areas essential for the species to adapt to projected sea level rise.

The Endangered Species Act defines areas identified as essential to conserving the tidewater goby as critical habitat. These specific areas may be subject to a consultation with the Service if a proposed project carried out, permitted, or funded by a federal agency may affect essential habitat for the tidewater goby. The purpose of the consultation is to ensure such projects will not destroy or adversely modify the habitat such that it can no longer support the biological needs of the species.

Areas identified as critical habitat do not become refuges or preserves, nor does critical habitat impact private landowners taking actions on their land that do not require federal funding or permits.

As part of identifying critical habitat, the Service takes into account potential economic, national security, or other relevant impacts.

The economic analysis did not identify any areas with disproportionate costs associated with the designation, and no areas were excluded from the final designation based on economic reasons.  In total, the incremental impacts to all economic activities are estimated to be $558,000 over the 20-year timeframe, or $49,300 on an annualized basis (assuming a 7 percent discount rate). 

Approximately 53 percent of the final revised critical habitat is on state lands.  Of the remaining lands designated as critical habitat, 24 percent are privately held, 10 percent are federally managed, and 12 percent are administered by local agencies. Essential habitat on Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton and Vandenberg Air Force Base is exempt from critical habitat because these bases have completed Integrated Natural Resource Management Plans that provide conservation benefits to the tidewater goby.

Copies of the final rule and supporting information will be available online at www.regulations.gov, beginning on Feb. 6, 2013. For more information about the tidewater goby and its designated critical habitat contact:  Michael McCrary, Listing and Recovery Coordinator, Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office, 2493 Portola Road, Suite B, Ventura, CA 93003, or by calling 805-644-1766.

The Endangered Species Act provides a critical safety net for America’s native fish, wildlife and plants. This landmark conservation law has prevented the extinction of hundreds of imperiled species across the nation and promoted the recovery of many others.

Last updated: December 4, 2017