Service to hold public information meeting on proposed Critical Habitat for the yellowcheek darter
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announces a public information meeting to share information and answer questions about a proposal to designate critical habitat for the endangered yellowcheek darter.
The public information meeting will be held at the Petit Jean Electric Cooperative, 270 Quality Drive, in Clinton, Arkansas on February 22, 2012, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Biologists will be available during the informational meeting to discuss the August 9, 2011, listing action taken last August and the critical habitat proposal released in October.
The Service is committed to providing access to this meeting for all participants. Persons needing reasonable accommodations in order to attend and participate in this meeting should contact Jim Boggs at 501-513-4475 or firstname.lastname@example.org, as soon as possible. In order to allow sufficient time to process requests, please call or e-mail no later than close of business on February 16, 2012.
The proposed critical habitat rule that published in the _Federal Register_ includes maps showing the proposed critical habitat units. The proposed rule is available on the internet at
http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-10-12/pdf/2011-25655.pdf or http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=FWS-R4-ES-2011-0074-0001.
Although the public comment period has closed for the proposed critical habitat rule, the Service will continue to accept public comments through the end of the public comment period for the draft economic analysis. A draft economic analysis is being prepared for the proposed designation of critical habitat and will be available for public review and comment this spring. Comments previously submitted during the first comment period do not need to be resubmitted. A final decision on the designation of critical habitat for the yellowcheek darter will consider all comments and information received by the close of the comment period for the draft economic analysis.
The yellowcheek darter is found in the upper Little Red River basin in Arkansas. The yellowcheek darter inhabits high-gradient headwater streams within moderate to strong riffles with gravel, cobble, and boulder substrates. Portions of the four streams in the upper Little Red River where the darter occurs are the Middle, South, Archey and Turkey/Beech/Devil’s forks.
The Service listed the yellowcheek darter as endangered on August 9, 2011. At the time of listing, the Service assessed whether critical habitat would be prudent for the yellowcheek darter, and found that it was. Therefore, the Service is proposing critical habitat, as required by the ESA. The four proposed critical habitat units for the yellowcheek darter are located in Cleburne, Searcy, Stone, and Van Buren counties, Arkansas. Approximately 98 river miles in Arkansas are proposed as critical habitat for the yellowcheek darter.
These units include a total of approximately 92 river miles in private ownership and six river miles in public ownership.
Critical habitat is a term defined in the Endangered Species Act. It refers to specific geographic areas that are essential to the conservation of a threatened or endangered species and which may require special management considerations or protection. The designation of critical habitat will help ensure federal agencies and the public are aware of the habitat needs for the yellowcheek darter and that proper consultation is conducted by federal agencies when required by law.
A critical habitat designation does not set up a preserve or refuge and only applies to situations where federal funding or a federal permit is involved. It does not allow government or public access to private land. Federal agencies that undertake, fund or permit activities that may affect critical habitat are required to consult with the Service to ensure such actions do not adversely modify or destroy designated critical habitat. Since the yellowcheek darter is listed under the Endangered Species Act, it is already protected wherever it occurs. Federal agencies are required to consult on any action taken that might affect the species, whether or not critical habitat is designated.
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