Reopening comment period for the Carolina madtom and the Neuse River waterdogJuly 29, 2020
Why is the Service opening a second comment period?
On May 22, 2019, the Service requested that all interested parties submit written comments on a proposal to list the Carolina madtom as an endangered species and the Neuse River waterdog as a threatened species. The proposal also included critical habitat designations for both species and a 4(d) rule for the Neuse River waterdog. Based on information we received during the public comment period which closed on July 22, 2019, we have proposed revisions to the critical habitat designation and 4(d) rule for the Neuse River waterdog.
Why is the Service revising the proposed critical habitat designation for the Neuse River waterdog?
During the public comment period, we received new data collected since the first version of the Species Status Assessment (SSA) Report, which was finalized in February 2017. The new data and information resulted in revisions to the proposed critical habitat for the species.
What is the difference between the proposed critical habitat designation for the Neuse River waterdog published on May 22, 2019 and the revision published on July 30, 2020?
The Service added length to four units and added two new units for a total of 18 units of proposed critical habitat. The change represents an increase of 41 miles for a total of 779 river miles.
Is private land included in the proposed critical habitat designation?
No. The revised proposed critical habitat designation for Neuse River waterdog consists of 779 river miles of occupied habitat, with 100 percent state ownership of the navigable waterways. No Department of Defense or tribal lands are included in the proposed designation.
Why is the Service revising the proposed 4(d) rule for the Neuse River waterdog?
The revised proposed 4(d) rule for the Neuse River waterdog would allow species and habitat restoration efforts as well as silviculture/forest management that complies with state approved Best Management Practices (BMPs). During the public comment period, the Service received comments from the public on several of the exceptions to the prohibitions in the 4(d) rule. Minor revisions include modifying the channel restoration exception to allow for surveys and relocations of waterdogs prior to restoration and adding the use of appropriate native vegetation for the bank stabilization exception. More substantial revisions were made to the silviculture and forest management activity exception, particularly clarification of the meaning of “highest standard” BMPs. The language has been revised to clarify those BMPs that will result in protection of the habitat features that provide for the breeding, feeding, sheltering, and dispersal needs of the Neuse River waterdog. Specifically concerning Streamside Management Zones (SMZs), the 4(d) rule provision has been modified to provide details for SMZ widths that will be most protective of the habitat for the species, similar to those more substantial BMPs considered for “special/sensitive” streams that are designated “trout waters” and already implemented by North Carolina state forestry programs. In addition, the 4(d) rule provisions have been modified to provide details on the use of access roads, skid trails, and crossings that will be most protective of the habitat by reducing sedimentation.