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Critical Habitat Summary for riverside fairy shrimp

Krista M. Cotter

Animal Legal & Historical Center
Publish Date:
Place of Publication: Michigan State University College of Law
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Critical Habitat Summary for riverside fairy shrimp


Vol. 70, No. 069, United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), 50 CFR Part 17, RIN 1018-AT45, 70 FR 19154


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Designation of Critical Habitat For the Riverside Fairy Shrimp (Streptocephauls woottoni)



Effective:  05/12/05



FWS has designated critical habitat pursuant to section 3 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for the federally endangered riverside fairy shrimp that encompasses 306 miles within Ventura, Orange, and San Diego Counties in California.  The riverside fairy shrimp is a freshwater crustacean that is found in vernal pools (a shallow depression that fills with rainwater and does not drain into the lower drainage section) in the coastal California area.  The shrimp is the second most primitive living crustacean and is the most recently discovered crustacean in California. 



-         1985 – the riverside fairy shrimp was first identified as a unique species

-         1993 – riverside fairy shrimp listed as endangered (58 FR 41384)

-         4/27/2004 – the proposed rule was published  seeking to designate critical habitat of the riverside fairy shrimp (69 FR 23024)


Why Designate Critical Habitat?

-         the riverside fairy shrimp is at the first consumer level of the food chain and as a result is a cornerstone of the food web

-         it is completely dependent on the vernal pools for survival

-         flood control efforts, urbanization, water development, highway projects, trash dumping, introduction of non-native plant species, fire, fire suppression and agriculture have depleted, degraded and eliminated the vernal pool environment and have caused the shrimp to be endangered

-         through critical habitat designations, the FWS asserts that the species will continue to survive and eventually recover through the prevention of adverse modification of the listed species’ critical habitat.


Critical Habitat

-         According to Section 3 of the ESA, critical habitat is –

o       The specific areas within the geographic area occupied by a species, at the time it is listed in accordance with the Act, on which are found those physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the species and that may require special management considerations or protection; and specific areas outside the geographic area occupied by a species at the time it is listed, upon a determination that such areas are essential for the conservation of the species

-         According to Section 7 of the ESA, the protection granted to a designated critical habitat –

o       Prohibition against destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat with regard to actions carried out, funded, or authorized by a Federal agency.

o       Requirement of FWS consultation on Federal actions likely to result in the destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat.

-         To be designated as critical habitat, the area must be essential to the conservation of the species

-         Designations of critical habitat are based on the best scientific data available

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