WASHINGTON (CN) – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to protect approximately 274 miles of streams and 242,000 acres of lakes and reservoirs as critical habitat for two species of west coast sucker fish.
The Lost River sucker and the shortnose sucker have been protected under the Endangered Species Act since 1988. Critical habitat was proposed but not adopted in 1994.
The Oregon Natural Resources Council had sued the USFWS in 1991, for failure to prepare a recovery plan and designate critical habitat. Although the parties entered into a settlement agreement for the USFWS to complete a final recovery plan and determination on critical habitat in the 1990s, the environmental group (now known as Oregon Wild) had to contact the Department of Justice and agree to a new settlement with the USFWS to start the rulemaking process again for the critical habitat designation, which was proposed Dec. 7.
According to the agency, both populations have been endangered by the introduction of exotic species and habitat loss primarily due to construction of dams, water diversions, and draining of wetlands in Klamath and Lake Counties, Oregon and Modoc County, California.
The public may comment on the proposed designation until Feb. 6.