U.S. government examines bull trout protections

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to revise its 2005 designation of critical habitat for the bull trout, a threatened species protected under the Endangered Species Act.

The service has proposed designating approximately 22,679 miles of streams and 533,426 acres of lakes and reservoirs in Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Montana and Nevada as critical habitat.

The proposal includes 5,233 stream miles, 82,610 acres of lakes or reservoirs and 985 miles of marine shoreline in Washington.

Bull trout are now found in less than half their historic range. They were listed in 1999 as threatened throughout their range in the lower United States.

A draft economic analysis estimates the potential incremental cost of the proposed revised critical habitat at approximately $5 million to $7 million a year over the next 20 years, said a news release.

State-by-state descriptions of the critical habitat units, maps, photographs, general biological information and other materials relating to the announcement can be found at www.fws.gov/pacific/bulltrout.

Comments on the proposed critical habitat revision and the draft economic analysis will be accepted until March 15. Written comments can be submitted:

Online: www.regulations.gov. In the box that reads “Enter Keyword or ID,” enter the docket number for this proposed rule, which is FWS-R1-ES-2009-0085. Check the box that reads “Open for Comment/Submission,” and then click the Search button.

Mail: Public Comments Processing, Attn: RIN 1018-AW88; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203.