U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service News Bulletin: Public Comment Period Offically Opens for Revised Northern Spotted Owl Critical Habitat Designation

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is requesting comments on a revised Northern Spotted Owl critical habitat designation. The proposed designation was published in the Federal Register on March 8, 2012. Comments are due on June 6, 2012. Click here to read the information in the Federal Register.

The proposed designation identifies the areas that the USFWS has initially determined meet the definition of critical habitat for the owl. Most of the lands identified are federal, but some state and private lands are also identified. Approximately 13,962,449 acres in California, Oregon, and Washington meet the revised definition of critical habitat and have been designated as such. In Washington State, 183,531 acres of private forest land in is proposed as critical habitat.

 Once final, the designations will not impose additional regulatory protection on non-federal lands unless proposed activities involve federal funding or permitting. In other words, the designation of private and other non-federal lands as critical habitat does not have a direct regulatory impact unless there is a federal connection.

Information on this proposal is available at www.fws.gov/oregonfwo; click on “Spotted Owl Main Information Site.” To view the maps of the proposed critical habitat, click on the “Maps” link on the left of the screen.

The USFWS encourages comments or information from other concerned government agencies, the scientific community, industry, private landowners, or any other interested party about these proposed revised critical habitat designations.

Comments on the critical habitat proposal can be provided through June 6, 2012 either of two ways:

• Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov

In the Keyword box, enter Docket No. FWS–R1–ES–2011–0112, which is the docket number for this rulemaking. Then, in the Search panel on the left side of the screen, under the Document Type heading, click on the Proposed Rules link to locate this document. You may submit a comment by clicking on “Send a Comment or Submission.

• By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand‐delivery to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–R1–ES–

2011–0112; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042–PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.

Hearings:  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service intends to hold at least three public information meetings on the critical habitat proposal; at least one in each of the three states within the spotted owl’s range (Washington, Oregon, and California). The USFWS will announce specific meeting locations and times through local news media outlets once they are arranged.