The US Fish and Wildlife Service recently announced its intention to revisit its 2005 critical habitat designation for bull trout, a species listed under the Endangered Spcies Act since 1999.
The new proposal would increase by 19,000 stream miles the amount of habitat listed as critical for the bull trout. The Forest Service revisted its previous decision after the Inspector General found that former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and PArks, Julie Macdonald (a name which shall live in infamy) interfered with the designation of critical habitat for bull trout. She instructed agency biologists to abandon the best available science, to exclude all federal lands and exclude all lands that had any “plan” governing land use whether that plan was adequate or specific to bull trout.
From the Inspector General’s report: “We determined that MacDonald was heavily involved with excluding large amounts of areas from the bull trout CHD; she accomplished this goal by making several policy decisions. Many FWS staff whom we interviewed believed MacDonald’s ad hoc policy decisions resulted in a final CHD rule that was not based upon the best available science and was harmful to the recovery of the species.”
The newest propsal identifies 32 habitat units in five western states including 3100 miles of habitat in Oregon. The agency will be accepting public comment on the draft proposal until March 15. You can see Fish and Wildlife’s bull trout homepage here for more information. A Critical Habitat map can be found here.–KM