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UFWDA Community Forum  |  Regional Focus - News and Local Events  |  Southwest  |  Topic: Revised Designation of Critical Habitat Western Snowy Plover « previous next »
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Peter Vahry
UFWDA International Vice-President
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« on: June 19, 2012, 02:34:55 am »

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Revised
Designation of Critical Habitat for the Pacific Coast Population of the
Western Snowy Plover

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 Pacific Coast distinct population
segment (DPS) (Pacific Coast WSP) of the western snowy plover
(Charadrius nivosus nivosus, formerly C. alexandrinus nivosus) under
the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). In total,
approximately 24,527 acres (9,926 hectares) of critical habitat for the
Pacific Coast WSP in Washington, Oregon, and California, fall within
the boundaries of the critical habitat designation. This revised final
designation constitutes an increase of approximately 12,377 ac (5,009
ha) from the 2005 designation of critical habitat for the Pacific Coast
WSP. A taxonomic name change has occurred and been accepted for the
snowy plover. Throughout the remainder of this document, we will use
the currently recognized name for the subspecies, Charadrius nivosus
nivosus, to which the listed entity (Pacific Coast WSP) belongs for
references to the Pacific Coast WSP.

DATES: This rule becomes effective on July 19, 2012.

ADDRESSES: This final rule, final economic analysis, and maps of
critical habitat will be available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2010-0070, and at http://www.fws.gov/arcata/. Comments and materials received, as well as
supporting documentation used in preparing this final rule, are
available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal business
hours, at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Arcata Fish and Wildlife
Office, 1655 Heindon Road, Arcata, CA 95521; telephone 707-822-7201;
facsimile 707-822-8411.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Nancy Finley, Field Supervisor, or Jim
Watkins, Fish and Wildlife Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
Arcata Fish and Wildlife Office, 1655 Heindon Road, Arcata, CA 95521;
telephone 707-822-7201; facsimile 707-822-8411. Persons who use a
telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal
Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Executive Summary

    Why we need to publish a rule. This is a final rule to revise the
designation of critical habitat for the threatened Pacific Coast
population of the western snowy plover under the Act. Under the Act,
any species that is determined to be endangered or threatened requires
designated critical habitat. We must issue a rule to designate critical
habitat. In total, approximately 24,527 acres (9,926 hectares) of
critical habitat for the Pacific Coast WSP in Washington, Oregon, and
California, fall within the boundaries of the critical habitat
designation.
    We designated critical habitat for this species in 1999 and again
in 2005. As part of a settlement agreement, we agreed to reconsider the
designations. A proposed revised critical habitat was published in the
Federal Register on March 22, 2011 (76 FR 16046). This constitutes our
final revised designation for the Pacific Coast WSP.
    We are making the following changes to the critical habitat
designation. See Table 2 for details.

(Comments on Oceano Dunes..)

 (14) Comment: The California Department of Parks and Recreation
(CDPR) provided site information throughout California and pointed out
errors in the unit descriptions. CDPR believes some sites proposed for
designation are inappropriate, due to disturbance, proximity to
campgrounds, recreational off-road vehicle use, and presence of
lifeguard facilities.
    Regarding Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA), CDPR
acknowledged that the critical habitat designation would have little
effect on day-to-day operations of Oceano Dunes SVRA and would not
affect management activities for the Pacific Coast WSP. However, CDPR
also stated that a critical habitat designation would increase
administrative costs and implied that a critical habitat designation
would require restoration of degraded habitat in Oceano Dunes SVRA.
    CDPR stated that designation of the ``riding area'' of Oceano Dunes
SVRA as critical habitat would be inappropriate because the riding area
is degraded, used for recreation, and unoccupied by the western snowy
plover. CDPR requested that the riding and camping areas be excluded
from the critical habitat designation under section 4(b)(2) of the Act,
because those areas (1) do not contain the physical or biological
features essential for the western snowy plover, and (2) are covered by
a management plan that provides conservation value greater than what
would be provided by a critical habitat designation.
    Our Response: The general comments from CDPR on the unit
description errors were noted and incorporated into this revised final
rule.
    We agree with CDPR that a critical habitat designation should have
little, if any, effect on day-to-day operations at Oceano Dunes SVRA
and should not affect management activities for the Pacific Coast WSP
unless a future project in Oceano Dunes SVRA would be authorized,
funded, permitted, or carried out by a Federal agency.
    We agree that portions of Oceano Dunes SVRA are degraded by
recreation activities; however, habitat degradation does not preclude
us from designating an area as critical habitat if the area contains
physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the
species and otherwise meets the definition of critical habitat. Also,
annual surveys by CDPR and other groups have documented the species (in
relatively large numbers) using Oceano Dunes SVRA in both breeding and
wintering seasons. The use of areas for recreational activities does
not preclude the use of the area by the Pacific Coast WSP
. For example,
the Silver Strand State Beach area identified as critical habitat (Unit
CA 55B), as well as other high recreational use areas, plays an
important role in Pacific Coast WSP conservation. We have determined
that these areas are essential because they provide adequate space for
high-tide roosting and foraging opportunities, especially during low
human-use periods and during the winter. These areas may provide an
even greater conservation value as habitat conditions shift and
adaptive management strategies are implemented.
    The DEA accompanying the proposed critical habitat rule determined
that Oceano Dunes SVRA would incur some increase in administrative cost
as a result of being included in critical habitat. These costs would be
associated with coordination with a Federal agency during consultation
under section 7 of the Act, additional analysis under California
Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), or critical habitat analysis in the
Oceano Dunes SVRA HCP. However, the DEA did not identify any
disproportionate costs to the Oceano Dunes SVRA likely to result from a
critical habitat designation.

For the entire notice .... http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-06-19/html/2012-13886.htm
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