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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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"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 proposes endangered listing for dune sagebrush lizard | Main| ESA caselaw from the District Courts: panthers, whales, and ribbon seals. »

FWS designates revised critical habitat for Preble’s meadow jumping mouse and Santa Ana sucker, reopens comment period on Mississippi gopher frog

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75 Fed. Reg. 78430 (Wednesday, December 15, 2010) / Rules and Regulations
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service
50 CFR Part 17 / Docket No. FWS–R6–ES–2009–0013; MO 92210–0–0009 / RIN 1018–AW45
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Revised Critical Habitat for the Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse in Colorado
AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.
ACTION: Final rule.

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), designate revised critical habitat for the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse (Zapus hudsonius preblei) (PMJM) 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). In total, approximately 411 miles (mi) (662 kilometers (km)) of rivers and streams and 34,935 acres (ac) (14,138 hectares (ha)) fall within the boundaries of revised critical habitat in Boulder, Broomfield, Douglas, El Paso, Jefferson, Larimer, and Teller Counties. DATES: This rule becomes effective on January 14, 2011.

PrebleMeadowMouseInHandFWS.jpg
Preble's Meadow Jumping Mouse is one of twelve subspecies of meadow jumping mice found throughout North America.  Typical habitat for Preble's is comprised of well-developed plains riparian vegetation with adjacent, relatively undisturbed grassland communities and a nearby water source. These riparian areas include a relatively dense combination of grasses, forbs, and shrubs. Preble's are know to regularly range outward into adjacent uplands to feed and hibernate.  Image from USFWS

EXCERPT: For the southwestern region of the United States, which includes Colorado, warming is occurring more rapidly than elsewhere in the country. In Colorado, Statewide temperatures have increased 2 °F (3.6 °C) over the past 30 years, but high variability in annual precipitation precludes the detection of long-term trends. While there is uncertainty about the exact nature and severity of climate change-related impacts anticipated within the Colorado range of the PMJM, a trend of climate change in the mountains of western North America is expected to decrease snowpack, hasten spring runoff, and reduce summer flows. This could impact the PMJM habitat in a variety of direct and indirect ways. With increases in temperature, species’ ranges are likely to move higher in elevation and northward. Changes could cause a greater PMJM dependence on higher elevation, cooler, and potentially moister areas for survival in Colorado. The highest elevation at which the PMJM has been documented in Colorado is approximately 7,600 ft (2,317 m). The preponderance of lands near to or higher than this elevation in the Colorado Front Range are in Federal ownership and are likely subject to fewer threats from human development than non-Federal lands. These Federal lands may serve as an important refuge should PMJM populations shift higher into the mountains.

***

75 Fed. Reg. 77962 (Tuesday, December 14, 2010) / Rules and Regulations
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service
50 CFR Part 17 / Docket No. FWS–R8–ES–2009–0072; 92210–1117–0000–B4 / RIN 1018–AW23
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Revised Critical Habitat for Santa Ana Sucker
AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.
ACTION: Final rule

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), designate critical habitat for Santa Ana sucker (Catostomus santaanae) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. In total, approximately 9,331 acres (3,776 hectares) of habitat in the Santa Ana River in San Bernardino, Riverside, and Orange Counties and the San Gabriel River and Big Tujunga Creek in Los Angeles County in southern California fall within the boundaries of the critical habitat designation. This final revised designation constitutes an overall increase of approximately 1,026 acres (415 hectares) from the 2005 designation of critical habitat for Santa Ana sucker. DATES: This rule becomes effective on January 13, 2011.

SantaAnaSuckerFWS.jpg
Santa Ana sucker requires various substrate types throughout different stages of its life. The presence  of coarse substrates, including gravel, cobble, and a mixture of gravel or cobble with sand, and a combination of shallow riffle areas and deeper runs and pools provide optimal stream conditions. Photo of Santa Ana sucker group taken underwater in the San Gabriel River, CA, on 06/27/2007 by Manna Warburton, available online (with many more) at University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources

EXCERPT: the Primary Constituent Elements (PCEs) essential to the conservation of Santa Ana sucker are the following:
   1. A functioning hydrological system within the historical geographic range of Santa Ana sucker that experiences peaks and ebbs in the water volume (either naturally or regulated) that encompasses areas that provide or contain sources of water and coarse sediment necessary to maintain all life stages of the species, including adults, juveniles, larvae, and eggs, in the riverine environment;
   2. Stream channel substrate consisting of a mosaic of loose sand, gravel, cobble, and boulder substrates in a series of riffles, runs, pools, and shallow sandy stream margins necessary to maintain various life stages of the species, including adults, juveniles, larvae, and eggs, in the riverine environment;
   3. Water depths greater than 1.2 in (3 cm) and bottom water velocities greater than 0.01 ft per second (0.03 m per second);
   4. Clear or only occasionally turbid water;
   5. Water temperatures less than 86 °F (30 °C);
   6. Instream habitat that includes food sources (such as zooplankton, phytoplankton, and aquatic invertebrates), and associated vegetation such as aquatic emergent vegetation and adjacent riparian vegetation to provide: (a) Shading to reduce water temperature when ambient temperatures are high, (b) shelter during periods of high water velocity, and (c) protective cover from predators; and
   7. Areas within perennial stream courses that may be periodically dewatered, but that serve as connective corridors between occupied or seasonally occupied habitat and through which the species may move when the habitat is wetted.

***

75 Fed. Reg. 77817 (Tuesday, December 14, 2010) / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR / Fish and Wildlife Service
50 CFR Part 17 / Docket No. FWS–R4–ES–2010–0024; MO 92210–0–0009–B4 / RIN 1018–AW89
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Designation of Critical Habitat for Mississippi Gopher Frog
AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.
ACTION: Proposed rule; reopening of comment period, availability of draft economic analysis, and amended required determinations.

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the availability of the draft economic analysis (DEA) for the June 3, 2010, proposed designation of critical habitat for the Mississippi gopher frog (Rana sevosa) = Rana capito sevosa under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). We also announce the reopening of the comment period and an amended required determinations section of the proposal. We are  reopening the comment period for an additional 30 days to allow all interested parties an opportunity to comment simultaneously on the proposed critical habitat designation, the associated DEA, and the amended required determinations section. Comments previously submitted need not be resubmitted and will be fully considered in preparation of the final rule.

MissGopherFrogFWSAdultThumb.jpg
The single breeding pond used by the frogs, located in Mississippi's DeSoto National Forest, also occurs in close proximity to a proposed 4,600-acre residential development. This development and the anticipated future urban and commercial development it will bring to the area, including several highways, could damage the frog's only remaining habitat.  Because of the small number of remaining Mississippi gopher frogs, the species is extremely vulnerable to natural processes such as drought and floods, and to the loss, damage and fragmentation of its habitat. These threats, singly or combined, could bring about the frog's extinction.

KEITHINKING: The ESA produces strange economics sometimes. According to the draft economic analysis, the incremental impacts of conservation activities for the Mississippi gopher frog to be $102,000 over the next 20 years ($9,610 annually) to address adverse modification of critical habitat during section 7 consultations.  In other words, the Federal Government's expenditures on the generation of the economic analysis, and the future implementation of the ESA, constitutes nearly the entirety of the actual economic impacts.