Federal Register: March 17, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 51)
DOCID: fr17mr10-23 FR Doc 2010-4656
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
Veterans Affairs Department
CFR Citation: 50 CFR Part 17
RIN ID: RIN 1018-AV90
MO ID: [MO 92210-0-0009-B4]
FWS ID: [FWS-R8-ES-2009-0089]
NOTICE: Part II
DOCUMENT ACTION: Final rule.
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Revised Designation of Critical Habitat for the California Red-Legged Frog
DATES: This rule becomes effective on April 16, 2010.
We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), designate revised critical habitat for the California redlegged frog (Rana draytonii) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). In total, approximately 1,636,609 acres (ac) (662,312 hectares (ha)) of critical habitat in 27 California counties fall within the boundaries of the final revised critical habitat designation.
Interior Department, Fish and Wildlife Service
It is our intent to discuss only those topics directly relevant to the designation of critical habitat for the California redlegged frog in this final rule. For more information on the California redlegged frog and threats affecting the species, refer to the final listing rule published in the Federal Register on May 23, 1996 (61 FR 25813) and the recovery plan for the species (Service 2002, pp. 1173).
Change in Nomenclature
When we made the draft economic analysis of the proposed revised critical habitat for the California redlegged frog available on April 28, 2009 (74 FR 19184), we proposed a nomenclature change to the California redlegged frog from Rana aurora draytonii to Rana draytonii and for that change to be published in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) when this rule became final. In this rule, we make that change and will now refer to the California redlegged frog by its accepted taxonomic name of Rana draytonii.
The California redlegged frog is the largest native frog in the western United States. It is endemic (native and restricted) to California and Baja California, Mexico, at elevations ranging from sea level to approximately 5,000 feet (ft) (1,500 meters (m)). Records of the California redlegged frog are known from Riverside County to Mendocino County along the Coast Range; from Calaveras County to Butte County in the Sierra Nevada; and in Baja California, Mexico (Grismer 2002, p. 79; Fidenci 2004, pp. 2729; Smith and Krofta 2005, pp. 4, 6; California Natural Diversity Database 2009 (CNDDB)). The California redlegged frog gains its name from the typically red or pink color of its posterior abdomen and hind legs. For a detailed description of the species, see the recovery plan for the California redlegged frog (Service 2002, pp. 1173), references identified in the recovery plan, and information in previous Federal Register notices (April 13, 2006, 71 FR 19244; March 13, 2001, 66 FR 14626; May 23, 1996, 61 FR 25813). Life History
During the breeding season, which typically runs from November through April, males call to females from the margins of ponds and slow streams (Jennings et al. 1992, p. 3). Mating most commonly occurs in February or March, but can vary depending on seasonal climatic patterns. The female lays a jellylike mass of 2,000 to 5,000 reddish brown eggs in the water attached to emergent vegetation, twigs, or other structure. The resulting tadpoles, which likely feed on algae (Dickman, 1968, pp. 11891190), typically require about 3 weeks to hatch, and another 11 to 20 weeks to metamorphose into juvenile frogs. Metamorphosis, therefore, typically occurs from July to September, although some tadpoles have been observed to delay metamorphosis until the following March or April (Bobzien et al. 2000, p. 13; Fellers et al. 2001, pp. 156157). Adults are predominantly nocturnal, while juveniles can be active at any time of day (Hayes and Tennant 1985, p. 604).
California redlegged frogs live in a Mediterranean climate, which brings about temporal and spatial changes in habitat quality. Almost the entire landscape, not just breeding ponds and streams, may become suitable habitat for the adults during periods of above average rainfall. Conversely, habitat that is suitable may be drastically reduced during periods of prolonged drought. Due to this variability, population sizes can vary widely from year to year. During years when aquatic habitat (ponds and streams) is abundant as a result of adequate rainfall, the California redlegged frog can produce large numbers of dispersing young, resulting in an increase in the number of occupied sites. In contrast, the California redlegged frog may temporarily disappear from an area during periods of extended drought. Therefore, it is essential to provide for sites that can be recolonized by [[Page 12817]]
dispersing individuals (Semlitsch 2000, pp. 623, 624).
Habitats used by the California redlegged frog typically change in extent and suitability in response to the dynamic nature of floodplain and fluvial processes (i.e., variable natural water flow and sedimentation regimes that create, modify, and eliminate deep pools, backwater areas, ponds, marshes, and other aquatic habitats). Rangewide, and even within local populations, the California redlegged frog uses a variety of areas, including aquatic, riparian, and upland habitats. They may complete their entire life cycle in a particular habitat (e.g., a pond is suitable for all life stages), or they may seek multiple habitat types depending on climatic conditions or distance between and availability of wetland and other suitably moist environments.
Despite the California redlegged frog's ability to utilize multiple habitat types, there are certain habitat features they require. Most important is a breeding pond, or slowflowing stream reach or deep pool within a stream with vegetation or other material to which egg masses may be attached. These areas must hold water long enough for tadpoles to complete their metamorphosis into juvenile frogs that can survive outside of water. Bobzien et al. (2000, p. 12) observed juveniles inhabiting a wide variety of habitats while adults primarily inhabited deep pools. They postulated that juveniles might segregate themselves away from adults to escape predation and competition (see Dispersal section below).
In northern California, many California redlegged frog populations occupy artificially created wetland environments. Historically, as natural wetlands and streams were converted for agriculture, flood control, and urban development, the California redlegged frog colonized small artificial impoundments, or stock ponds, created by cattle ranchers for the purpose of providing water for their cattle. Our understanding of the role of stock ponds in the conservation of the California redlegged frog has evolved since listing. Without these stock ponds, the range of the California redlegged frog would be more limited in this region.
Riparian and upland habitats adjacent to aquatic areas used by the California redlegged frog are essential in maintaining frog populations, and for protecting the appropriate hydrological, physical, and water quality conditions of the aquatic areas. Riparian habitat includes vegetation that grows along banks and in the floodplains of streams and adjacent to ponds and that is dependent on the bordering water source for survival. Adjacent uplands are marked by vegetation that is not dependent on a nearby supply of surface water. The California redlegged frog uses both riparian and upland habitats for foraging, shelter, cover, and nondispersal movement (Service 2002, pp. 1415; Bulger et al. 2003, p. 87; Fellers and Kleeman 2007, p. 276). Bulger et al. (2003, pp. 8595) studied the California redlegged frog's terrestrial activity in coastal forest and grassland habitats and recommends at least a 328ft (100m) buffer zone for protection of adjacent aquatic and upland habitat, as well as seasonal restrictions for activities within this zone. In a recent study also specific to the California redlegged frog, Fellers and Kleeman (2007, pp. 278280) recommend establishing zones around breeding habitat, nonbreeding habitat, and migration corridors that are sufficient to protect function of the amphibian habitat. However, Fellers and Kleeman (2007, p. 279) discourage setting specific distances for these zones due to differences in biological or sitespecific requirements; they further state that any distances set for avoidance of upland habitat should be made on a casebycase basis, taking into account the need to protect breeding and nonbreeding habitat as well as any migration corridors. Without protecting and maintaining the upland areas surrounding breeding and nonbreeding habitats the quality of the water feature may deteriorate to such an extent as to not support the California red legged frog.
California redlegged frogs will disperse from their breeding habitat to forage and seek suitable upland and riparian habitat if aquatic habitat is not available. Tatarian (2004, p. 33) found the California redlegged frog inhabiting upland areas for 50 days at a distance of 302 ft (92 m) from aquatic habitat; Bulger et al. (2003, p. 8789) found that the species is capable of inhabiting upland habitats within 200 ft (60 m) of aquatic habitat for continuous durations exceeding 20 days; and Rathbun et al. (1993, p. 15) observed a California redlegged frog inhabiting upland riparian habitat at distances of up to 85 ft (26 m) for 65 days. These upland habitat areas used by the California redlegged frog include structure that provides shade, moisture, and cooler temperatures. This structure may be natural, such as the spaces under boulders or rocks and organic debris (e.g., downed trees or logs), or manmade, such as certain industrial debris and agricultural features (e.g., drains, watering troughs, abandoned sheds, or stacks of hay or other vegetation). The California redlegged frog will also use small mammal burrows and moist leaf litter as refugia (areas whose climate remains habitable when that of the surrounding areas has changed) (Rathbun et al. 1993, p. 15; Jennings and Hayes 1994, p. 64; Fellers and Kleeman 2005, p. 12). Metapopulation Dynamics
The life history and ecology of the California redlegged frog make it likely that this species has a metapopulation structure (Hanski and Gilpin 1991, pp. 316). A metapopulation is a set of breeding sites within an area, where typical migration from one local occurrence or breeding site to other areas containing suitable habitat is possible, but not routine. Within this rule we refer to these local occurrences as populations. The movement (i.e., dispersal) of frogs between areas containing suitable upland and aquatic habitats is restricted due to inhospitable conditions around and between areas of suitable habitats. Because many of the areas of suitable habitats may be small and support small numbers of frogs, local extinction of these small populations may be common. The persistence of a metapopulation depends on the combined dynamics of these local extinctions and the subsequent recolonization of these areas through dispersal (Hanski and Gilpin 1991, pp. 316; Hanski 1994, pp. 151162). Maintaining corridors for dispersal between breeding and nonbreeding habitat and between populations is essential in preserving the population structure of the California redlegged frog.
Adult California redlegged frogs may disperse from breeding sites
at any time of year depending on habitat availability and the
environmental conditions of the aquatic habitat. In addition, a few
frogs may disperse long distances in search of additional breeding or
nonbreeding habitat. Dispersing adult California redlegged frogs in
northern Santa Cruz County traveled distances of 0.25 mile (mi) (0.4
kilometers (km)) to more than 2.0 mi (3.2 km) without apparent regard
to topography, vegetation type, or riparian corridors (Bulger et al.
2003, p. 90). California redlegged frogs have also been tracked using
radio telemetry in East Las Virgenes Creek, Ventura County, which is
characterized by a welldefined creek and riparian zone with permanent
deep pools and highly variable rainfall (Smith 2005, p. 1). The maximum
distance moved in this study was 48 ft (15 m) (Smith 2005, p. 1). In contrast, California redlegged frog
movements in Santa Cruz County in similar habitat were found to be substantially less, with typical movements of 9 to 16 ft (3 to 5 m) from the water's edge. In a study in Marin County, 123 California red legged frogs were tracked using radio telemetry between 1997 and 2003 at 8 different sites within the Point Reyes National Seashore and Golden Gate National Recreation Area (Fellers and Kleeman 2007, p. 277). The habitat at the sites included permanent ponds, seasonal ponds, permanent marsh, and a seasonal seep. The majority of movement was small scale (less than 98 ft (30 m)) and considered nondispersal. Movements of greater than 98 ft (30 m) occurred mostly during winter rain events; however, some movements did occur when the ponded habitat was almost dry (Fellers and Kleeman 2007, p. 279). The majority of California redlegged frogs dispersed less than 1,640 ft (500 m) away from breeding habitat, and the maximum dispersal distance recorded was 1.7 mi (2.8 km) (Fellers and Kleeman 2007, pp. 279280). The study concluded that most California redlegged frogs move away from breeding sites, but only a few disperse farther than the nearest nonbreeding habitat, and that the distance moved is highly dependent on site conditions and local landscapes (Fellers and Kleeman 2007, p. 284). The study also concluded that, by establishing a generic dispersal distance for the species, we may select for sedentary frogs and thus lose those individuals that disperse farthest and reach other distant breeding sites. This selection may thereby decrease genetic exchange and diversity (Fellers and Kleeman 2007, p. 285). As a result the authors recommend that the average dispersal or migration distances identified in the study not be used; site conditions should dictate the area needed for the species.
Newly metamorphosed juveniles tend to disperse short distances initially from July through September, and then move farther away from the breeding habitat during warm rain events (Jennings 2000, p. 1). Additionally, and for reasons that are unclear, juveniles tend to disperse away from aquatic habitat occupied by adults. Juvenile dispersal is essential for recolonizing temporarily extirpated habitat and for preventing genetic isolation because juveniles disperse in more directions, and for longer distances, than do migrating adults (Wright 1999, p. 2; Bulger et al. 2003, p. 94). Dispersal habitat for juveniles can be any habitat that provides sheltering vegetation and scattered wetlands or streams, including forested areas, nonnative grasslands, croplands, and pastures. It is unlikely that juveniles disperse through urbanized or suburban areas, suburban developments, or areas separated from breeding habitat by impassible barriers. Juveniles dispersing along riparian corridors may have higher survivorship, as sheltering vegetation and suitable aquatic habitat are both more common in such corridors (Jennings 2000, p. 1). Finally, juvenile California red legged frogs appear to have less strict requirements for aquatic habitat than adults, and tend to segregate away from adults in water bodies that are shallower or faster moving than those typically used for breeding (Hayes and Jennings 1988, p. 147; Bobzien 2000, p. 1; M. Jennings 2000, p. 1).
Impassible barriers that impact dispersal of the California red legged frog include wide or fastflowing rivers and streams, lakes greater than 50 ac (20 ha), and heavily traveled roads (such as highways or freeways) without underpasses or culverts (Reh and Seitz 1990, pp. 247, 248; Fahrig et al. 1995, pp. 179181). Passable roadways that are heavily used by vehicles may also result in a high rate of mortality for California redlegged frog adults and juveniles, and other amphibians, thereby limiting dispersal capabilities (Glista et al. 2008, pp. 8182).
The longterm probability of the survival and recovery of the California redlegged frog is dependent upon the protection of existing breeding habitat and associated uplands (Fellers and Kleeman 2005, pp. 1, 1718), the movement of individuals between aquatic habitat patches, and the ability to recolonize newly created or vacated habitats. Recolonization of vacant habitat patches, which is vital to maintaining the California redlegged frog populations and the recovery of this species, is dependent upon landscape characteristics, including appropriate distances between suitable breeding and nonbreeding aquatic habitat, and limited fragmentation of interconnecting habitat (Vos and Chardon 1998, pp. 44, 5356). For this rule, we based our designation of critical habitat on areas of highquality habitat that we determined provide for persistence of California redlegged frog populations and allow for dispersal within, and in most cases between, populations. We did not designate areas subject to anthropogenic activities (e.g., urban development) or those that were fragmented or unlikely to be restorable (poor quality habitat) unless it was determined that these areas were unique for the species (for more information, see the Criteria Used to Identify Critical Habitat section below).
Previous Federal Action
On July 20, 2007, we announced that we would review the April 13, 2006, final rule (published at 71 FR 19243) designating critical habitat for the California redlegged frog under the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.)(Service 2007a, pp. 12), after questions were raised about the integrity of scientific information used and whether the decision made was consistent with the appropriate legal standards. Based on our review of the 2006 final critical habitat designation, we determined it was necessary to revise the critical habitat; however, no specific dates for completing such revision were established. Subsequently, the Center for Biological Diversity filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on December 12, 2007, challenging our designation of critical habitat for the California redlegged frog (Center for Biological Diversity v. Kempthorne, et al., Case No. C076404WHA). The court entered a consent decree on April 2, 2008, requiring a proposed revised critical habitat rule to be submitted to the Federal Register by August 29, 2008, and a final revised critical habitat designation to be submitted to the Federal Register by August 31, 2009. On September 16, 2008, we published in the Federal Register a proposed revised rule to designate critical habitat for the California redlegged frog (73 FR 53491).
We published a document in the Federal Register on April 28, 2009 (74 FR 19184): (1) Reopening the public comment period on the revised proposed rule to designate critical habitat for the California red legged frog (73 FR 53491); (2) announcing the availability of a draft economic analysis (DEA) of the proposed rule to revise critical habitat; (3) proposing boundary changes to Unit MEN1 to better reflect the occupied habitat for the species; and (4) proposing a change to the taxonomic nomenclature for the species. The public comment period closed on May 28, 2009.
The comments received on our DEA (IEc 2009a) during the April 28 to
May 28, 2009, public comment period led us to revise the DEA (IEc
2009b). To allow public comment on the revised DEA, an extension to the
publication deadline of the final determination of critical habitat was
required. On August 31, 2009, a consent decree was signed by the court
extending the deadline for the final revised designation of critical habitat for the California redlegged frog
to March 1, 2010. On October 8, 2009, we published a document in the Federal Register (74 FR 51825) announcing the availability of the revised DEA. We reopened the comment period for an additional 30 days to allow all interested parties an opportunity to comment
simultaneously on the proposed revision of critical habitat and the associated revised DEA. This rule represents our final revised designation of critical habitat in compliance with the court order. Summary of Comments and Recommendations
We requested written comments from the public and peer reviewers during three comment periods on the proposed rule to revise critical habitat for the California redlegged frog. The first comment period opened September 16, 2008 (73 FR 53491), and closed November 17, 2008. The second comment period opened April 28, 2009 (74 FR 19184), and closed May 28, 2009. The third comment period opened October 8, 2009 (74 FR 51825), and closed November 9, 2009. During these three comment periods, we contacted appropriate Federal, State, and local agencies; scientific organizations; and other interested parties and invited them to comment on the proposed rule to revise critical habitat for the California redlegged frog and the associated DEA. We did not receive any requests for public hearings during these comment periods. We did, however, receive a request to attend a public meeting in San Andreas, California held on October 30, 2008. During the public meeting, we provided information and answered questions regarding the designation and exclusion processes.
During the three comment periods we received a total of 113 public comments directly addressing the proposed revision of critical habitat. In addition we received four responses from peer reviewers we solicited to comment on the proposed revised designation. During the first comment period we received 80 comments directly addressing the proposed revision of critical habitat for the California redlegged frog. During the second comment period, we received 19 new comments directly addressing the proposed revision of critical habitat for the California redlegged frog and the DEA; and during the third comment period we received an additional 12 comments addressing the proposed revision of critical habitat for the California redlegged frog and the DEA. Peer Review
In accordance with our policy published in the Federal Register on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 34270), we solicited expert opinions from five knowledgeable individuals with scientific expertise that included familiarity with the California redlegged frog, the geographic region in which the species occurs, and conservation biology principles. We received responses from four of the peer reviewers.
We reviewed all comments received from the peer reviewers and the public for substantive issues and new information regarding critical habitat for the California redlegged frog. These comments are addressed below and incorporated into the final rule as appropriate. Peer Review Comments
Comment (1): One peer reviewer stated that the Service used a reasonable approach in determining the critical habitat boundaries for the California redlegged frog by looking at the core recovery areas as identified in the 2002 recovery plan. The reviewer also said the Service appropriately evaluated the metapopulation dynamics, unoccupied areas, dispersal, and connectivity of habitat for the California red legged frog. The peer reviewer concurred with our proposal to raise the California redlegged frog to full species level. However, the peer reviewer went on to say that the current designation represents only a relatively small proportion of the historic geographic range of the species and that it is unknown if the California redlegged frog can survive longterm in such a reduced range.
Response: In this current revised designation, we acknowledge that we did not include all areas where the California redlegged frog occurs and that areas outside the designation either: (1) Do not contain essential habitat features, or (2) are not essential to the conservation of the species. We believe it is important, however, to note that critical habitat designation is a different process than development of a longterm management plan such as a recovery plan. A critical habitat designation is a specific regulatory action that defines particular areas as critical habitat in accordance with the statutory definition. Our revised methodology incorporates new information to best identify areas that meet the definition of critical habitat. As a result, the final revised critical habitat designation does not include, for example, all areas that the 2002 recovery plan identified as necessary for the conservation of the California red legged frog. Therefore, we believe this final revised critical habitat designation more precisely maps the essential physical and biological features that occur within the geographical area occupied by the California redlegged frog at the time of listing, and includes those areas containing the most suitable habitat for use by the frog.
Comment (2): One peer reviewer stated that, although the review of dispersal capabilities of the frog were well discussed, it should be noted that the studies of dispersal capabilities rely on relatively few individuals and likely miss the relatively rare longrange distance dispersers. The peer reviewer also mentioned that the Service did not discuss whether dispersal events actually result in geneflow between metapopulations.
Response: We believe we have reviewed the most recent scientific information on frog dispersal capabilities of the California redlegged frog and have used this information appropriately in our designation of critical habitat. We acknowledge that the California redlegged frog may disperse beyond the dispersal distance of 1 mi (1.6 km) identified in the designation (Bulger et al. 1999, p. 11; Fellers and Kleeman 2007, pp. 279280). However, as stated by the peer reviewer, these long distance movements are rare and represent the exception to dispersal events for the species. In addition, the designation is not based solely on the 1mi (1.6km) dispersal distance but is based on habitat features and watershed boundaries that we have determined are connected to those areas where the California redlegged frog occurs. We have, therefore, included areas in this designation beyond the strict 1mi (1.6km) distance. We are currently unaware of any completed genetic studies regarding the genetic exchange between frog populations and at what distance this genetic exchange is considered to be limited and not important for the species. Our methodology to include the habitat areas surrounding known populations, as well as to connect adjacent populations together into discernable units, most likely allows for such genetic exchange.
Comment (3): One peer reviewer applauded our decision to reevaluate
the 2006 designation, but stated that the Service should incorporate
the 2001 designation into our analysis and remove areas identified in
the 2001 designation only if the Service has justifiable scientific
information or if it can be shown that the 2001 designation [[Page 12820]]
was inaccurate. The same peer reviewer mentioned that the Service should review the units within Sonoma County to ensure that they include all uplands within 1 mi (1.6 km). The peer reviewer also stated that the entire Sonoma Mountain area from Annadel State Park to Sears Point/Highway 37 area should be designated as this area has more than 15 records of the California redlegged frog, most of which are breeding sites. The peer reviewer went on to mention that Unit SON3 should be connected to Unit MRN2 in Marin County to provide connectivity between units based on habitat availability and recent documentation of new California redlegged frog records within the area.
Response: We agree with the peer reviewer that habitat connectivity is important to allow for movement between California redlegged frog populations and to maintain genetic variation. We are aware of the extensive amount of scientific evidence illustrating the importance of habitat connectivity, and we considered this information during the development of this critical habitat designation. We acknowledge that areas potentially providing connectivity between units were included in the 2001 critical habitat designation; however, based on our reevaluation of the data available at the time of the 2001 designation, data obtained since, and our revised methodology for delineating critical habitat, we find that those areas do not meet the definition of critical habitat because the available data do not identify specific areas between these units that contain the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the California redlegged frog. The 2001 designation was based on largescale watershed boundaries and not the local watershed boundaries in this designation. We believe the use of the local watershed boundaries is more appropriate based on dispersal capabilities of the species and the information known on occupancy. The area surrounding the Sonoma and Marin County units includes developed areas, dairies, and ranchland. We evaluated the areas within the 1mi (1.6km) distance from the Sonoma and Marin County occurrence records and potential breeding habitats and determined that for the most part these areas, although likely used by the frog, do not meet our criteria established for this designation. We focused our designation to encompass areas that support viable (self sustaining or increasing) populations, areas that represent portions of the geographic extent of the species within the core areas identified in the 2002 recovery plan, and any other unique habitats. We did not include all the areas occupied by the California redlegged frog. For more information on our criteria for designating critical habitat for the California redlegged frog see the Criteria Used To Identify Critical Habitat section below.
Comment (4): One peer reviewer commented on Unit MEN1 (as identified in the September 2008 proposed revised designation), saying that it includes northern redlegged frogs (Rana aurora) or hybrids between the northern redlegged frog and the California redlegged frog. The peer reviewer stated that hybrids between the two species occur as far south as Manchester State Beach, but that the exact zone of hybridization and its importance to either species is unknown.
Response: As stated in our April 28, 2009, Federal Register publication announcing the availability of the draft economic analysis (74 FR 19184), we revised Unit MEN1 to better reflect new species occurrence data within the area and the habitat surrounding those records. On further review of the unit, we further adjusted the boundaries to include only known California redlegged frog records and not hybrid northern redlegged frog records. The unit currently includes the habitat from Manchester State Beach south to Riverside Road. Unit MEN1 represents the northern extent of the California red legged frog within the North Coast of California and likely represents a unique genetic component of the species.
Comment (5): One peer reviewer concluded that it is unclear whether the Service considered climate change in the current designation and what effects climate change may have on the California redlegged frog's habitat in the future.
Response: We acknowledge that climate change may alter the suitability of the California redlegged frog's habitat in the future. However, we are required to designate critical habitat based upon the best available scientific data at the time that we finalize the designation. For species like the California redlegged frog, we conclude relatively higher elevation and moister habitat is likely to become increasingly important in the face of climate changes. The designated critical habitat units include areas distributed across the species range from southern California to Butte and Mendocino County in northern California and vary from coastal sealevel locations to interior Coast Range areas and higher elevation locations in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The variability of environmental conditions at locations across the range of the species would likely become more important to the extent that California redlegged frog distribution and habitat may shift upward in elevation and northward in distribution as temperatures increase and precipitation becomes more variable due to climate change. However, at this point in time, reliable projections of future climatic conditions and how those conditions may affect the California redlegged frog's distribution and habitat in California are not available. Consequently, we find it appropriate to designate critical habitat for the California redlegged frog in areas occupied by the species that currently contain the physical and biological features or the areas essential to the conservation of the California redlegged. Revisions to the critical habitat designation may be necessary in the future to accommodate shifts in the occupied range of the California redlegged frog.
Comments from Department of Defense
Comment (6): The Department of The Army, the National Guard Bureau, and the California Army National Guard commented that we should exclude Camp San Luis Obispo (CSLO) from critical habitat designation for the California redlegged frog under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, for reasons including national security and economic impacts.
Response: The Secretary has determined to exercise his discretion under section 4(b)(2) of the Act to exclude lands at CSLO from this final designation due to potential impacts on national security (see Application of Section 4(b)(2) Impacts to National Security section).
Comment (7): The Department of the Air Force commented that we should exclude Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB) from critical habitat designation for the California redlegged frog under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, for reasons including impacts on national security, and under section 4(a)(3)(B)(i) of the Act, for operating under a draft Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan (INRMP).
Response: The Secretary has determined to exercise his discretion
under section 4(b)(2) of the Act to exclude lands at VAFB from this
final designation due to potential impacts on national security (see
Application of Section 4(b)(2) Impacts to National Security section). [[Page 12821]]
Comments Related to SiteSpecific Areas or Issues
Comment (8): Four commenters opposed designation of parts or all of proposed Unit CAL1 because they believe that the majority of the area constitutes poor habitat for the California redlegged frog. Six commenters stated that most of the area is too dry for the California redlegged frog to occur, and that most ponds and streams are dry for 4 to 5 months of the year. Two commenters noted that perennial ponds and streams support populations of predatory fish and bullfrogs and would not support California redlegged frogs.
Response: We consider Unit CAL1 to contain highquality habitat because it contains the physical and biological features essential to the conservation of the species and has not been subject to fragmentation due to development. The habitat within the unit includes areas of aquatic breeding habitat that hold water for a minimum of 20 weeks in all but the driest years, areas of nonbreeding aquatic habitat, and areas of upland and dispersal habitat within 1 mi (1.6 km) of aquatic habitat. The California redlegged frog is adapted to dry environments. The drying of watercourses and ponds is beneficial in that it precludes the use of these habitats by bullfrogs and predatory fish. While water bodies free of bullfrogs and predatory fish would be optimal, the California redlegged frog can persist in the presence of both of these predators under specific conditions such as occur within Unit CAL1. In aquatic systems subject to seasonal drying, it may be difficult for bullfrogs to become established. As discussed in the background section of the proposed revised critical habitat rule, Doubledee et al. (2003, pp. 424438) studied the relationship between bullfrogs and California redlegged frog persistence. That study showed that bullfrogs and California redlegged frogs can coexist and persist under certain natural and managed regimes. Additionally, periodic drying may prevent nonnative warm water fish from becoming established as well. Alvarez et al. (2003, pp. 912) presented evidence that nonnative predatory fish can have a significant effect on juvenile California redlegged frog survival in ponds where they cooccur. Of 90 ponds surveyed in the Los Vaqueros watershed in Contra Costa County, 7 were found to have nonnative fish. Over 3 years, one or more ponds with nonnative fish were repeatedly drained, and all fish were exhaustively removed. Compared to surveys conducted before fish removal, surveys conducted after fish removal and pond recharge showed juvenile and adult California redlegged frog abundance increased dramatically. This suggests a strong link between nonnative fish presence and decreased California redlegged frog survival. The California redlegged frog is adapted to the drying of its aquatic habitat. Moreover, this drying assists the frog by eliminating potential predators and competition for resources.
Comment (9): Nine commenters stated that the data on the California redlegged frog population in Unit CAL1 are not sufficient to justify critical habitat designation throughout the unit. Five of these claimed there is no information to indicate the population still exists, while others noted they had never seen such frogs within the unit despite long residence and experience with catching bullfrogs in the area. One commenter questioned the validity of California redlegged frog occurrence as being natural and suggested that the California red legged frog was potentially introduced to the area. One commenter asked why the unit extends 2.2 mi (3.5 km) from the frog population despite our PCEs, which restrict the extent of upland and dispersal habitat. Another commenter specifically noted the importance of the California redlegged frog population at Unit CAL1 on the grounds that it is one of only six remaining in the Sierra foothills.
Response: We consider this population to be important to the conservation of the California redlegged frog because it is one of six remaining populations in the Sierra Nevada foothills, which is a historical portion of the species' range (Service 2002, p. 5). Such peripheral populations may also have unusual genetic characteristics that could prove useful in maintaining the genetic variability of the species (Gilpin and Soule 1986, p. 32). Species that are able to maintain their genetic variability can more easily adapt to environmental changes and therefore be less prone to extirpation or extinction. The California Natural Diversity Database (2009) indicates the California redlegged frog population was seen relatively recently, and we have no evidence to suggest it is no longer extant. Information available to the Service confirms the species' presence as recently as October 2008. We consider repeated and comprehensive surveys by trained personnel to be necessary to conclude a population has been extirpated. Based on the information available on the sighting and circumstances surrounding the discovery of California redlegged frogs, we have no reason to question the validity of the record as being a natural occurrence. Also, regardless of whether the population of California redlegged frogs was introduced to the area, it is still considered a listed species under the Act and still receives the protections of a listed entity.
The size of Unit CAL1 reflects our methodology and criteria for mapping the critical habitat units. We based the proposed boundaries of the unit on the local watershed boundaries where California redlegged frogs have been sighted. However, in response to public comments and site visits by Service staff, we revised the boundaries of the unit to better reflect the available habitat within the area and the locations used by the California redlegged frog. As a result, we revised the extent of the unit and removed those areas that we determined do not contain the physical and biological features essential for conservation of the California redlegged frog.
Comment (10): Two commenters noted that Unit CAL1 is outside the core recovery area identified by the recovery plan (Service 2002, p. 132). One additional commenter asked if surveys had established local salinity or temperature levels, or if a habitat suitability index had been established for the area.
Response: We recognize this designation is different than what is
outlined as essential habitat in the 2002 recovery plan (which largely
adopted the boundary delineated in the 2001 critical habitat
designation (66 FR 14625; March 13, 2001)). While we believe the 2001
designation and the 2002 recovery plan are important for determining
the extent of habitat use by the California redlegged frog, we have
significantly more data available today than when we finalized 2001
critical habitat designation and the 2002 Recovery Plan. We have
utilized the currently available data to more precisely identify areas
meeting the definition of critical habitat, in particular, areas
related to connectivity. We include such areas in this designation
where the data support the determination that such areas contain the
physical and biological features essential to the conservation of the
species. We believe it is important to note that critical habitat
designation is a different process than development of a recovery plan.
A critical habitat designation is a specific regulatory action that
defines specific areas as critical habitat in accordance with the
statutory definition. A recovery plan is a guidance document, developed
in cooperation with partners, that provides a roadmap with detailed sitespecific
management actions to help conserve listed species and their ecosystems. The term ``essential,'' as used in the recovery plan, is not necessarily used in the same manner as it is used in the definition of critical habitat (section 3(5) of the Act). The recovery plan provides important information about the species and the actions that are needed to bring about its recovery, while critical habitat identifies specific areas that are essential for the species' conservation. In addition, although Unit CAL1 is outside the core recovery area established for Calaveras County by the recovery plan, that plan was completed in 2002, and could not account for the discovery of the California redlegged frog population in 2003.
We have not conducted water quality surveys or developed habitat suitability index models for proposed critical habitat units. The extent of the designation would make these efforts impractical. We have determined that specific water salinity or other water monitoring aspects are not necessary because the California redlegged frog is recently confirmed to be occupying the area and the landowner maintains suitable habitat as a result of agreements with the Service. Based on the best scientific information available to us at this time, we believe that the area within Unit CAL1 that we are designating as critical habitat for the California redlegged frog is appropriate and necessary.
Comment (11): Five commenters indicated we could do more for California redlegged frog conservation by pursuing conservation agreements with landowners in the vicinity of Unit CAL1, rather than by designating the unit. Thirtyfive signatories of a form letter indicated they would be less likely to participate in conservation partnership projects with us in the future if we designate this unit.
Response: Although we are aware that the establishment of partnerships with private landowners is essential to the conservation of many species including the California redlegged frog, we are not able to forego the designation of critical habitat based on the possibility of establishing conservation partnerships in the future. We must adequately weigh the benefits, pursuant to section 4(b)(2) of the Act, for conserving the California redlegged frog and its habitat from the partnerships and resulting conservation programs and plans relative to the regulatory benefits of designating the specific areas as critical habitat. Despite our exclusion of this unit in our 2006 final critical habitat designation (71 FR 19243), landowners wishing to build partnerships have not approached us despite our efforts to establish such willing partnerships with landowners. It was not until after we published our proposed revised designation on September 16, 2008 (73 FR 53491), that landowners within Unit CAL1 contacted us regarding developing potential partnerships. On October 30, 2008, we attended a public meeting in San Andreas, California, to provide information on the proposed revised designation, and we were subsequently approached by several landowners interested in forming partnerships and working with the Service on conservation measures for the California redlegged frog on their private property. However, due to the short courtordered timeframe of this action, we have not been able to finalize any agreements or management plans for the frog or its habitat with these landowners. We have, however, been able to meet with these landowners during site visits to discuss potential habitat restoration activities or other conservation measures for the California redlegged frog on their properties. We will continue to work with local landowners and seek new partnerships regarding the frog in the future.
Comment (12): Ten commenters, and an additional 35 signatories of a
form letter, requested exclusion of Unit CAL1 under section 4(b)(2) of
the Act. They stated that the benefits of such exclusion would outweigh the benefits of designation for the following reasons:
(1) Routine grazing practices benefit the California redlegged frog, and designation would increase the liabilities on such practices; (2) Designation would trigger review of Farm Bill conservation grant projects under section 7 of the Act, thereby decreasing the incentive to apply for such grants;
(3) Designation negatively impacts landowners but provides little benefit to the species;
(4) Much of the land in the unit is already protected by incentives under the Williamson Act to keep the land in agricultural uses; (5) Designation could impact water deliveries to farmers and interfere with road repair, the clearing of logjams from streams, and other infrastructure maintenance;
(6) Designation would limit development and the planting of crops; and
(7) Designation would lower property values.
Response: We finalized a special rule under section 4(d) of the Act for the California redlegged frog in 2006 (71 FR 19243; April 13, 2006) that exempts routine ranching operations from the take prohibitions of the Act. We recognize livestock ranching as a dynamic process, which requires the ability to adapt to changing environmental and economic conditions. However, many of the activities essential to successful ranching are considered routine, and are undertaken at various times and places throughout the year as need dictates. Although the 4(d) special rule is not intended to provide a comprehensive list of those ranching activities considered routine, some examples include: maintenance of stock ponds; fence construction for grazing management; planting, harvest, and rotation of unirrigated forage crops; maintenance and construction of corrals, ranch buildings, and roads; discing of field sections for fire prevention management; control of noxious weeds by prescribed fire or by herbicides; placement of mineral supplements; and rodent control. The final version of the 4(d) special rule includes an expanded definition of routine ranching practices and incorporates additional activities we believe are consistent with the conservation of the California redlegged frog. These activities are those that may provide conservation benefits to the California red legged frog. The ranching activities listed in the 2006 final critical habitat designation (71 FR 19243; April 13, 2006) are examples of practices that we understand are routine to managing an active ranching operation. Our intention is not to limit activities that may be necessary to the operation of a ranch. As a result of implementing the 4(d) special rule, we are unaware of any increased liabilities associated with ranching operations having a higher liability than those areas not dedicated to ranching.
The final economic analysis (EA) prepared for this designation
calculates the impact of critical habitat on agricultural land values
by measuring its effect on the likelihood and profitability of
residential and commercial development. One comment stated that farm
subsidies may trigger a consultation under section 7 of the Act and
that these costs should be included in the final EA. This linkage is
speculative, and there is no instance of a farm subsidy being used as
the basis for a consultation with the Service. Further, activities
including discing, plowing, irrigation, chemical application,
harvesting, and others that are part of normal agricultural operations
are also unlikely to trigger a section 7 consultation. Incremental [[Page 12823]]
costs to farming operations may result from construction of stream crossings, water diversion, and sediment and debris removal; these costs are discussed in the final economic analysis. Existing regulatory mechanisms such as the California Land Conservation Act of 1965 (commonly referred to as the Williamson Act) may afford some regulatory protection to the California redlegged frog. However, the protection afforded by these regulations does not sufficiently protect the species to such an extent that it would warrant consideration for exclusion under section 4(b)(2) of the Act. The Williamson Act is a voluntary contract between participating landowners and cities or counties to voluntarily restrict land use to agricultural or openspace uses. The term of the contracts is a minimum of 10 years, and the landowner may petition to cancel the contract. Also the conditions of the contracts vary by city or county or even landowner and would not specifically identify conservation measures for the frog. Therefore, as a result of implementing the 4(d) special rule, our review of the Williamson Act conditions, and review of the economic costs associated with Unit CAL 1, we have determined that the measures identified by the commenters do not warrant further consideration for our exclusion of the unit under section 4(b)(2) of the Act.
Comment (13): Five commenters asked us to exclude agricultural land
in Marin County under section 4(b)(2) of the Act. They stated that the
benefits of such exclusion would outweigh the benefits of designation for the following reasons:
(1) Routine grazing practices benefit the frog, and designation would increase the liabilities on such practices;
(2) Designation would trigger review of Farm Bill conservation grant projects under section 7 of the Act, thereby decreasing the incentive to apply for such grants;
(3) Designation negatively impacts landowners economically but provides little benefit to the species;
(4) Designation could impact water deliveries to farmers and interfere with road repair, the clearing of logjams from streams, and other infrastructure maintenance; and
(5) Designation would lower property values.
Response: See our response to Comment (12) above.
Comment (14): One commenter noted that we provided incorrect area estimates for Federal and private lands in proposed unit ELD1. The commenter also stated that designation of private lands within the proposed unit would be inconsistent with the El Dorado County General Plan.
Response: We have revised the land ownership for Unit ELD1 to correctly reflect the landownership within the unit. When designating critical habitat, we base our designation on the essential habitat features required by the species. When exercising our discretion to exclude areas from critical habitat under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we must weigh the benefits of designating against the benefits of not designating critical habitat. Such exclusions are usually based on finalized management plans, habitat conservation plans, or other documents and not on local general plans unless there is a high degree of certainty that conservation measures will take place for a particular species and that those measures are more beneficial than the designation of critical habitat. We have reviewed El Dorado County's general plan and found no measures specific to the conservation of the California redlegged frog or its habitat. The County identifies numerous goals in the Conservation and Open Space Element within its general plan; however, no specific measures with respect to the conservation of the primary constituent elements for the California redlegged frog are mentioned. While we value El Dorado County's voluntary agreement in the interagency protection of Spivey Pond, based on the general plan, we have not exercised our discretion to exclude El Dorado County in its entirety from designated critical habitat. We have, however, exercised our discretion to exclude those areas managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) at Spivey Pond in El Dorado County based on an interagency land use management plan (see Application of Section 4(b)(2) of the Act section below).
Comment (15): One commenter stated that we should include downstream portions of Weber Creek in proposed unit ELD1, as that area contains habitat elements essential to the conservation of the species.
Response: We used the best scientific information available in determining those areas that contain the physical and biological features essential for the California redlegged frog and that we therefore proposed as critical habitat. During our determination process, we considered several criteria in the selection of areas that contain the features essential for the conservation of the California redlegged frog. We did not include all available habitat or all areas where frogs are located within the designation. Although the Weber Creek area may contain some primary constituent elements, we believe the arrangement and quantity of those features may not be adequate. For more information, please see the Criteria Used to Identify Critical Habitat section below.
Comment (16): One commenter asked us to remove a specific property from SOL2 on the basis that some of it is too dry to constitute good habitat, while the rest is not within 1 mi (1.6 km) of a known occurrence, nor is it uplands connecting several occurrences. The commenter also requested exclusion from the critical habitat designation on economic grounds, arguing that designation would prevent conversion of over 900 ac (364 ha) of land suitable for winegrowing, resulting in a cost of $3.5 million in gross revenue. Another commenter stated that we appropriately designated land within Units SOL1, SOL2, and SOL3 in that designation of this land will assist in conserving the California redlegged frog and its habitat. The commenter suggested that additional areas adjacent to Unit SOL1 be part of the designation including areas along Highway 680 and adjacent to Suisun Marsh in Solano County. The commenter also stated that the Service should ensure that ``these critical habitat designations not be overridden by presumed `public' benefits'' for other uses such as wind energy or electrical transmission lines.
Response: We based this final revised critical habitat designation
on California redlegged frog occurrence records, habitat surrounding
those localities, and local watershed boundaries. The occurrence
records within Unit SOL2 are associated with the drainages in the
Jameson Canyon area. Our determination of the unit boundaries focused
on incorporating not only the occurrence records but also any adjacent
habitat up to the local watershed boundary as long as we could
determine that the habitat within the watershed was reasonably
connected. In some cases where the records were isolated and habitat
not extensive, we used the 1mi (1.6km) dispersal distance to
determine the extent of the designation. In other cases where the
habitat was similar or included adjacent water courses within the
dispersal distance of the California redlegged frog, we looked at the
habitat and watershed boundaries to guide our designation (see Criteria
Used To Identify Critical Habitat section below). In regards to the
areas adjacent to Unit SOL1 along Highway 680, we believe we have
properly designated the specific areas where those physical or
biological features essential to the conservation of the species are found. Extending the unit to these adjacent
areas would require, as the commenter points out, the species to cross under the multilane highway through a culvert. Our review of the use of the area by the California redlegged frog shows the species in upland grassland habitats with no records into the Suisun Marsh area. Although the species may be able to access and use the Suisun Marsh area, we believe the species is more likely to use the upland grassland habitats and not the brackish marsh habitats associated with the Suisun Marsh. As a result of our examining the available habitat within the area and use of our mapping criteria, we believe we have used the best scientific information available on determining the critical habitat boundaries including those for Units SOL1 and SOL2.
The final economic analysis prepared for this designation calculates potential impacts to agricultural crop farming activities. According to the final economic analysis, the relative incremental costs associated with the designation within Unit SOL2 is less than 1 percent of the total incremental costs of the designation and only 3 percent of the total incremental costs associated with agricultural crop farming activities. Based on these results, we do not consider the estimated costs associated with the designation of critical habitat within Unit SOL2 to be disproportionate and have not exercised our discretion to exclude any area within Unit SOL2 under section 4(b)(2) of the Act. See ``Exclusions Under Section 4(b)(2) of the Act Economic Exclusions'' section below for more information regarding exclusions.
Comment (17): The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (Commission) wrote in support of the two units proposed on portions of its property. Those units are SNM1 and ALA2 in San Mateo and Alameda Counties. The commenter added that the Commission has enacted additional protections for the frog, and that it is also preparing habitat conservation plans (HCPs) with the Service to protect endangered and threatened species and enhance their habitats within those areas.
Response: We appreciate the support and look forward to working with the commenter in the future on continued conservation efforts for the California redlegged frog. We do not expect the HCPs to be completed by the time this designation is made effective (see the DATES section).
Comment (18): Three commenters stated that they were not properly notified of the proposed rule, despite being landowners in designated areas or having submitted comments in the past.
Response: We published the proposed critical habitat designation in the Federal Register on September 16, 2008 (73 FR 53491), and we accepted comments from all interested parties for 60 days, ending November 17, 2008. We then extended the public comment period for an additional 30 days (74 FR 19184; April 28, 2009). We later reopened the public comment period again for another 30 days (74 FR 51825; October 8, 2009). For each publication, the Service wrote press releases that resulted in newspaper articles throughout California and specifically noticed the proposed designation in pertinent newspapers in the range of the California redlegged frog. We held a public meeting where we discussed opportunities for the public to comment and provide input and information. Thus, although we did not specifically notify individual landowners within the designation, we believe we provided adequate opportunity for individuals to review and provide comment on the proposed revised rule. It is our practice to include on our mailing lists those individuals who have made comments in the past regarding a specific issue. We apologize for having inadvertently failed to notify certain people of the proposed action and have updated our records accordingly.
Comment (19): A commenter requested exclusion of approximately 3,000 ac (1,214 ha) of private land proposed within unit MNT3 because there is an existing conservation easement that protects habitat in this area.
Response: Our review of the easement indicates that: (1) It primarily is intended to protect viewshed resources; (2) it covers only a portion of the area requested for exclusion; and (3) it allows a variety of uses that could adversely affect the physical and biological features essential to the California redlegged frog, including new utilities and highway improvements, clearing of vegetation for fire management, and changes in water use. We have therefore determined not to exercise our discretion to exclude these areas under section 4(b)(2) of the Act.
Comment (20): A commenter requested designation of an additional critical habitat unit encompassing the Moss Beach, Sawmill Gulch, Seal Rock Creek, Fan Shell, and Carmel Bay watersheds on the Monterey Peninsula in Monterey County.
Response: Our approach to designating critical habitat includes designating areas with a high density of California redlegged frog occurrences and avoiding developed and fragmented areas. Our review of the information provided by the commenter and information available in our files indicates that the area requested for designation is highly fragmented by recreational and residential development. The California redlegged frog has been observed in the area, with a small number of frogs observed at two localities. Although the California redlegged frogs occur in watersheds of the Monterey Peninsula, the best available information indicates these watersheds are occupied at low densities within fragmented habitat. We have therefore determined that the requested addition is not appropriate. For more information, please see the Criteria Used to Identify Critical Habitat section below.
Comment (21): One commenter supported the expansion of critical habitat to include the Little Sur River, North and South forks of La Brea Creek, the North fork and Upper North fork of Matillija Creek, Santa Paula Creek and its tributaries, and Agua Caliente Creek. The commenter indicated that these areas are important to the survival and recovery of the California redlegged frog.
Response: We contacted the commenter because we were unable to locate Agua Caliente Creek on a map. The commenter stated that the correct name was Agua Blanca Creek. In our proposed designation of revised critical habitat for the California redlegged frog, we determined that all occupied habitat did not need to be designated as revised critical habitat, nor did we believe it necessary to designate unoccupied habitat, based on our determination that enough occupied areas representing the distribution of the frog across its range had already been determined and that these areas would provide for the conservation of the species. Because we have no records of the California redlegged frog occupying the Little Sur River, North and South forks of La Brea Creek, the North Fork and Upper North Fork of Matillija Creek, Santa Paula Creek and its tributaries, or Agua Blanca Creek, we consider these areas unoccupied and have not included them in this final rule. For more information on our criteria for designating critical habitat, please see the Criteria Used to Identify Critical Habitat section below.
Comment (22): One commenter supported the expansion of critical
habitat to include the Cuyama River and its tributaries, Branch Creek
and Alamo Creek, the tributaries feeding Lake Cachuma, a portion of Sespe Creek, Birabent Canyon, a portion of the
Sisquoc River, the Arroyo Seco River and its tributaries, and San Carpoforo Creek. The commenter indicated that these areas are important to the survival and recovery of the California redlegged frog.
Response: Our designation of revised critical habitat for the
California redlegged frog does not include all occupied areas. As
described in the proposed rule, when determining which occupied areas
are essential to the conservation of the species and meet the definition of critical habitat, we considered theories of
metapopulation persistence, ontheground survey data, and California redlegged frog longevity. We focused on areas of high California red legged frog abundance, areas needed to maintain connectivity between aquatic breeding habitat, and areas of unique ecological significance. We selected areas t
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT
For information on the revised designation in general and information about the revised designation in Alameda, Butte, Calaveras, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Kern, Kings, Marin, southern Mendocino, Merced, Napa, Nevada, Placer, San Joaquin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, and Yuba Counties, contact Susan Moore, Field Supervisor or Arnold Roessler, Fish and Wildlife Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, 2800 Cottage Way, Room W2605, Sacramento, CA 95825; telephone 9164146600; or facsimile 9164146712. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 8008778339.
For information about the revised designation in Los Angeles, Monterey, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, and Ventura Counties, contact Diane Noda, Field Supervisor, Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2394 Portola Road, Suite B, Ventura, CA 93003; telephone 8056441766; facsimile 805644 3958.
For information about the exclusion of critical habitat in Riverside County, contact Jim Bartel, Field Supervisor, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 6010 Hidden Valley Road, Suite 101, Carlsbad, CA 92011; telephone 7604319440; facsimile 7604319624.
For information about the revised designation in northern Mendocino County, contact Randy Brown, Acting Field Supervisor, Arcata Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1655 Heindon Road, Arcata, CA 95521; telephone 7078227201; facsimile 7078228411.