Comment period on 'critical habitat' reopened until July 5Public meetings

Two information sessions will be held on June 29 -- 1--3 p.m. and 6--8 p.m. -- at the Finley Community Center, located at 2060 W. College Ave. in Santa Rosa.

Comment

Comments may be submitted online at the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments to Docket No. Docket No. FWS–R8–ES–2009–0044.

Comments may alternatively be submitted by mail or hand-delivery to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: Docket No. FWS–R8–ES–2009–0044, Division of Policy and Directives Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 N. Fairfax Dr., Ste. 222, Arlington, VA 22203.

[caption id="attachment_28672" align="alignleft" width="313" caption="A California tiger salamander (John Clecker, USFWS, photo)"][/caption]

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service today said it will be considering 4,945 acres more acres to be included in potential "critical habitat" for the California tiger salamander in central Sonoma County, now possibly totaling 55,800 acres from Cotati to Windsor.

The wildlife service was under court order to issue its final rule on critical habitat for the amphibian by July 1. However, a peer reviewer recommended expanding the proposed habitat to include the area around Roblar Road west of Santa Rosa, according to the statement.

"This area was not previously included in the proposal," the wildlife service said. "The peer reviewer commented that records for the salamander have been documented from the area and that the area likely consists of a meta-population with multiple known breeding sites."

The court deadline for the final rule was extended until Sept. 1, at which time the wildlife service will have to determine how much or little is designated as "critical habitat," a legal term under the Endangered Species Act for an area in which projects will need closer review if they have a federal nexus, such as wetlands or waterways.

Comment on the proposed expansion and the rest of the proposed habitat will end July 5.