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SOURCE:  Fish & Wildlife Service, Sacramento Office, December 21,  2000.


Comment period also reopened for proposed critical habitat; Information meetings scheduled for Dublin & San Luis Obispo

SACRAMENTO, California--A draft economic analysis of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's
proposed critical habitat designation for the California red-legged frog is now available for public
review and comment through January 22, 2001
. During this time frame, the Service will also accept
comments on its proposal to designate 5.4 million acres in 31 California counties as critical habitat for
the threatened amphibian. The affected counties are: Alameda, Butte, Calaveras, Contra Costa, El
Dorado, Fresno, Kern, Los Angeles, Mariposa, Marin, Merced, Monterey, Napa, Plumas, Riverside,
San Benito, San Diego, San Joaquin, San Mateo, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Santa
Cruz, Sierra, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Tehama, Tuolumne, Ventura and Yuba.

In addition, the Service will hold information meetings in San Luis Obispo on January 3 and in Dublin
on January 5 to provide an opportunity for anyone interested in learning more about the draft economic
analysis and draft critical habitat proposal. The January 3 meeting will be held from 1-4 p.m. at the
San Luis Obispo Embassy Suites, 333 Madonna Road in San Luis Obispo. On January 5 the meeting
will take place from 1-4 p.m. at the Best Western Monarch Hotel, 6680 Regional Street in Dublin.

"We encourage everyone interested in this proposed designation to review the economic analysis as
well as the full proposal and provide their comments to us," said Wayne White, Field Supervisor for the
Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office.

Required under the Endangered Species Act, the economic analysis identifies and analyzes the
potential economic impacts derived from the proposed critical habitat for the frog. The analysis
identifies possible incremental economic impacts and benefits from the proposed critical habitat above
and beyond the impacts already resulting from the listing of the grasshopper.

Critical habitat refers to specific geographic areas that are essential for the conservation of a
threatened or endangered species and which may require special management considerations. These
areas do not necessarily have to be occupied by the species at the time of designation. A designation
does not set up a preserve or refuge and only applies to situations where Federal funding or a Federal
permit is involved. It has no impact on landowners taking actions on their land that do not involve
Federal funding or permits. Federal agencies must consult with the Service before taking actions,
issuing permits or providing funding for activities that might adversely modify critical habitat.

Under terms of a court settlement, the Service proposed critical habitat for the California red-legged
frog under the Endangered Species Act on September 11, 2000. The original comment period closed
on October 11; however, the Service reopened the comment period until November 19 to allow
additional time for review. A final designation must occur before March 1, 2001.

The largest native frog in the western United States, the California red-legged frog ranges from 1.5 to
5 inches in length. An adult frog is distinguished by its unique coloring: an olive, brown, gray or reddish
back marked by small black flecks and larger dark blotches and a rusty-red hue to its belly and the
undersides of its hind legs. The species breeds in aquatic habitats such as streams, ponds, marshes and
stock ponds. During wet weather, frogs may move through upland habitats.

The historic range of the California red-legged frog extended coastally from the vicinity of Point
Reyes National Seashore, Marin County, California, and inland from the vicinity of Redding, Shasta
County, California, south to northwestern Baja California, Mexico. The frog has sustained a 70
percent reduction in its geographic range in California as a result of habitat loss and alteration,
overexploitation, and introduction of exotic predators.

Copies of the economic analysis as well as the critical habitat proposal are available from the
Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office by calling 916/414-6600. Written comments should be sent to the
Field Supervisor, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, 2800 Cottage Way, Suite W-2605, Sacramento,
California 95825. Both documents also may be downloaded at the following website:

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