Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Determination of Threatened Status for the California Tiger Salamander; and Special Rule Exemption for Existing Routine Ranching Activities
Vol. 69, No. 149, United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), 50 CFR Part 17, RIN 1018-A168, 69 FR 68568
Action FINAL RULE
The FWS through this rule has designated a critical habitat in Santa Barbara County, California for the California Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma califoniese) (CTS) pursuant to the Endangered Species Act of 1973. This rule fulfills the final requirements of the settlement agreement reached in Center for Biological Diversity v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The reason for the designation of critical habitat for the CTS is the net loss in CTS grazing land over a 10 – 12 year period due to extensive farming, regardless of the efforts made to increase the amount of suitable grazing land. As a result of the designation of land as critical habitat for the CTS, federal agencies will have to consult with the FWS prior to undertaking or authorizing activities that may impact the habitat.
Critical habitat - (i) 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 (I) essential to the conservation of the species, and (II) that may require special management considerations or protection; and, (ii) 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.
- On April 18, 1994, the FWS published a finding that a listing of the CTS as endangered was warranted, but was postponed due to a higher need for protection of other species. (59 FR 18353).
- On September 21, 2000, the FWS published a final rule listing the CTS as endangered.(65 FR 57242).
- On August 7, 2003, the Central California District Court ordered the FWS to publish a proposed rule to designate a critical habitat for the Santa Barbara Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of the CTS.
- The FWS published the notice of proposed rulemaking pursuant to the court order on January 10, 2004. (69 FR 3064).
- On August 4, 2004, the FWS published a rule downgrading the CTS listing from endangered to threatened throughout its entire range. (69 FR 47212).
Critical Habitat Designated Area Acreage
1. Western Santa Maria/Orcutt 4,135
2. Eastern Santa Maria 2,909
3. Western Los Alamos/Careaga 1,451
4. Eastern Los Alamos 90
5. Purisima Hills 1,957
6. Santa Rita Valley 638
These 6 critical habitat designations are located in the Santa Barbara DPS ordered under the settlement agreement to be designated as critical habitat for the CTS.