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 More Public Comment Sought on Critical Habitat for Bull Trout
                       In the Columbia and Klamath River Basins

PRESS RELEASE: Fish and Wildlife Service
May 25, 2005

      The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is providing the public with
another opportunity to comment on its proposed and final critical habitat
designations for bull trout in the Columbia and Klamath river basins.

      Comments, scientific and economic data and all other relevant
information will be accepted until June 24, 2005. The public may comment
simultaneously on the Service’s November 29, 2002, critical habitat
proposal and on its October 6, 2004, final critical habitat designation.

      The Service intends to use the information in a re-evaluation of
critical habitat for the Columbia River Basin and Klamath River Basin
populations of bull trout, which are listed as threatened under the federal
Endangered Species Act.

      On November 29, 2002, the Service proposed to designate a total of
18,471 miles of streams and 532,721 acres of lakes and reservoirs in
Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana as critical habitat for bull trout.
On October 6, 2004 – following seven months of public comment and after
considering an economic analysis and areas of adequate conservation
management – the Service issued a final critical habitat designation of
approximately 1,748 miles of streams and 61,235 acres of lakes and
reservoirs in Oregon, Washington and Idaho.

      On December 14, 2004, the Alliance for the Wild Rockies filed a legal
complaint challenging the adequacy of the final designation and the
exclusions that were made.

      The ESA allows the Secretary of the Interior to exclude any area from
critical habitat if she determines that the benefits of excluding it
outweigh the benefits of including it, unless the exclusion would result in
the extinction of the species. Economic impacts and existing species
protection plans are among the factors considered when making exclusions.

      The 2004 economic analysis estimated the potential economic effects
of the proposed critical habitat designation would range from $200 million
to $260 million over 10 years.

      During its re-evaluation of critical habitat for bull trout in the
Columbia and Klamath river basins, the Service will not conduct another
economic analysis, but the agency is seeking information on whether the
2004 economic analysis identified all state and local economic costs and
economic benefits attributable to the critical habitat designation.

      The Service also is seeking specific information on the amount and
distribution of bull trout habitat and why those particular amounts and
distributions are essential to the conservation of the species; the
benefits of including areas that were excluded; the benefits of excluding
areas that were included; any previously unidentified impacts of the
critical habitat designation; whether military lands with resource
protection plans that benefit bull trout should be excluded; and whether
our approach to designating critical habitat could be improved or modified
to provide for greater public participation and understanding.

      The full range of information the Service is seeking in detailed in
today’s Federal Register notice announcing the opening of a 30-day public
comment period.

      Comments may be mailed to John Young, Bull Trout Coordinator, U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service, Ecological Services, 911 NE 11th Avenue,
Portland, Oregon 97232, or faxed to 503-231-6243, or emailed to

      The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency
responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and
plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American
people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge
System, which encompasses 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small
wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national
fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices and 81 ecological services
field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the
Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores
nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat
such as wetlands, and helps foreign and Native American tribal governments
with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance
program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes
on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.






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