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ESAblawg is an educational effort by Keith W. Rizzardi. Correspondence with this site does not create a lawyer-client relationship. Photos or links may be copyrighted (but used with permission, or as fair use). ESA blawg is published with a Creative Commons License.

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florida gators... never threatened!

If you ain't a Gator, you should be! Alligators (and endangered crocs) are important indicator species atop their food chains, with sensitivity to pollution and pesticides akin to humans. See ESA blawg. Gator blood could be our pharmaceutical future, too. See ESA musing.

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Follow the truth.

"This institution will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind. For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it." -- Thomas Jefferson to William Roscoe, December 27, 1820.

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Thanks, Kevin.

KEVIN S. PETTITT helped found this blawg. A D.C.-based IT consultant specializing in Lotus Notes & Domino, he also maintains Lotus Guru blog.

« FWS lists slickspot peppergrass as threatened species | Main| ESA news: dollars, cents, and undoing past nonsense »

FWS proposes or finalizes critical habitat rules for Arroyo Toad, Red Legged Frog, Northern Sea Otter, and Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse

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74 Fed. Reg. 52612 / Vol. 74, No. 196 / Tuesday, October 13, 2009 / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR / Fish and Wildlife Service / 50 CFR Part 17
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Revised Critical Habitat for the Arroyo Toad (Anaxyrus californicus)
ACTION: Proposed rule.

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), propose to revise designated critical habitat for the arroyo toad (Anaxyrus californicus), pursuant to the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). The previous final rule designated 11,695 acres (ac) (4,733 hectares (ha)) of critical habitat and was published in the Federal Register (FR) on April 13, 2005. We now propose to designate approximately 109,110 ac (44,155 ha) of lands located in Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange, and San Diego Counties, California, which, if finalized as proposed, would result in an increase of approximately 97,415 ac (39,422 ha) of critical habitat.

KEITHINKING: In seeking public comment, one of the questions repeatedly posed by FWS is whether the potential exclusion from final revised critical habitat is or is not appropriate and why, for tribal lands, Department of Defense lands, and other non-Federal lands covered by various habitat conservation plans.  For more information, visit Center for Biological Diversity and The Press-Enterprise (covering Riverside County)

EXCERPT: the PCEs specific to the arroyo toad include rivers or streams with hydrologic regimes that supply water to provide space, food, and cover needed to sustain eggs, tadpoles, metamorphosing juveniles, and adult breeding toads. Breeding pools must persist a minimum of 2 months for the completion of larval development…  less than 12 in (30 cm) deep; with areas of flowing water with current velocities less  than 1.3 ft per second (40 cm per second).


ArroyoToad2.jpg
Arroyo toads (pictured above from Canyon Land Conservation Fund) have been extirpated from approximately 75 percent of the habitat they originally occupied.  At present, arroyo toads are limited to isolated populations primarily in the headwaters of coastal streams, extending from Monterey County southward to San Diego County, and extending eastward into the riparian environments of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties.  California red-legged frogs, (pictured below, from Wikipedia) inhabit dense, shrubby or emergent riparian vegetation and still or slow-moving perennial and ephemeral water bodies, has disappeared from 70% of its range, and is now only found in about 238 streams or drainages in 23 counties of California.  Ironically, the species is an important food source for the endangered San Francisco Garter Snake.
CaliforniaRedLeggedFrogWiki.jpg


74 Fed. Reg. 51825 / Vol. 74, No. 194 / Thursday, October 8, 2009 / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR / Fish and Wildlife Service / 50 CFR Part 17
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Revised Designation of Critical Habitat for the California Red-Legged Frog (Rana aurora draytonii)
ACTION: Proposed rule; reopening of comment period, availability of revised draft economic analysis, and amended required determinations.

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the reopening of the comment period on our September 16, 2008, and April 28, 2009, proposal to revise the designation of critical habitat for the California redlegged frog under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). We also announce the availability of a revised draft economic analysis (DEA). We are reopening the comment period to allow all interested parties an opportunity to comment simultaneously on the proposed revision of critical habitat and the associated revised DEA. Comments previously submitted on this rulemaking do not need to be resubmitted. These comments have already been incorporated into the public record and will be fully considered in preparation of the final rule.

FOR MORE INFO: visit Central Valley Business Times

***

74 Fed. Reg. 51988 / Vol. 74, No. 194 / Thursday, October 8, 2009 / Rules and Regulations
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service 50 CFR Part 17
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Designation of Critical Habitat for the Southwest Alaska Distinct Population Segment of the Northern Sea Otter
ACTION: Final rule.

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), are designating critical habitat for the southwest Alaska Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of the northern sea otter (Enhydra lutris kenyoni) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). In total, approximately 15,164 square kilometers (km2) (5,855 square miles (mi2)) fall within the boundaries of the critical habitat designation. All the critical habitat is located in Alaska. DATES: This rule becomes effective on November 9, 2009.

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The value of sea otter foraging habitat is inversely proportional to water depth. For example, research in southeast  Alaska shows that 84 percent of foraging occurs in depths between 2 and 30m.  NOAA applied the 20-m (65.6-ft) depth contour, and the areas designated as critical habitat include the intertidal zone, as well as adjacent shallow waters where otters may feed while being relatively protected from marine predators.  Sea otter photo from WikiMedia.

KEITHINKING: NOAA repeatedly refused to exercise its discretion to exclude areas from critical habitat, finding that the inhabited communities in southwest Alaska, U.S. Navy, and State of Alaska would bear  insignificant costs as a result of the designation of critical habitat.  For more information, visit AP wire or Center for Biological Diversity

***

74 Fed. Reg. 52066 / Vol. 74, No. 194 / Thursday, October 8, 2009 / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR / Fish and Wildlife Service / 50 CFR Part 17
Endangered and Threatened Wildlifeand Plants; Revised Critical Habitat for the Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse (Zapus hudsonius preblei) in Colorado
ACTION: Proposed rule.
SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), propose to revise designated critical habitat for the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse (Zapus hudsonius preblei) in Colorado, where it is listed as threatened in a significant portion of the range (SPR) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). The proposed revised critical habitat is located in Boulder, Broomfield, Douglas, El Paso, Jefferson, Larimer and Teller Counties in Colorado. Approximately 418 miles (mi) (674 kilometers (km)) of rivers and streams and 39,142 acres (ac) (15,840 hectares (ha)) fall within the boundaries of the proposed revised designation. The proposed revised designation would therefore add 184 mi (298 km) of rivers and streams and 18,462 ac (7,472 ha) to the existing critical habitat designation of 234 mi (376 km) and 20,680 ac (8,368 ha).
DATES: To ensure that we are able to consider your comments and information, we request that you provide them to us by December 7, 2009.

preblesmouse.jpg
The Preble's meadow jumping mouse (photo, and related article from NRDC's onearth) constructs day nests composed of grasses, forbs, sedges, rushes, and other available plant material. They may be globular in shape or simply raised mats of litter and are most commonly above ground but also can be below ground. They are typically found under debris at the base of shrubs and trees or in open grasslands. An individual mouse can have multiple day nests in both riparian and grassland communities  and may abandon a nest after approximately a week of use .  Apparent hibernation nests of the PMJM have been located both within and outside of the 100-year floodplain of streams

KEITHINKING:  The Obama Administration is reopening numerous past decisions of the Bush Administration for further public review.  The Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse is just one example.  See story in the Salt Lake Tribune.   This particular proposal would double the critical habitat for the mouse, and responds to allegations of past political interference with sound science.  See also, MSNBC and Denver Post.  Critics of the designation fear its potential effects upon regional growth in Colorado.  See Colorado Springs based Gazette.com