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Feds review bull trout habitat  

Meeting planned Wednesday on critical habitat designation 
By LEE JUILLERAT Herald and News 1/31/10


     CHILOQUIN — The designation of 22,680 miles of streams and nearly 533,500 acres of lakes and reservoirs — including areas of the Klamath Basin — as critical habitat for bull trout will be the topic of a public meeting Wednesday in Chiloquin.


   The meeting starts at 6 p.m. in the Chiloquin Community Center.


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


   A draft economic analysis estimates the potential costs of the proposal at $5 million to $7 million a year for 20 years, with other costs of $2.5 million to $4.1 million a year.


   Bull trout in t he Upper Klamath Basin are considered genetically unique and are likely the most threatened population of bull trout in the U.S., according to Fish and Wildlife spokesman Matt Baun.  


   In the Klamath Basin, Baun said, bull trout numbers and their distribution have declined due to habitat fragmentation, loss of migratory corridors, poor water quality   and the introduction of non-native species.


   Bull trout occupy 60 miles of habitat in the headwaters of three habitat sub-units.  The sub -units are Upper Klamath Lake, Sycan River and Upper Sprague River.


   Bull trout only occur in 21 percent of their historic Klamath River Basin range, Baun said.


   “Bull trout are excellent indicators of water quality because they thrive only in cold, clean water,” he said. “Success with restoring habitat for bull trout in the Upper Klamath Basin will help in the recovery of the species, but it will also mean improvements to overall watershed and ecosystem health, which has direct benefits to both human and environmental health.”


   Historic habitat


   Once plentiful bull trout are now found in less than half their historic range in Oregon, Idaho, Washing ton, Montana and Nevada. In Oregon, the proposed designation covers 3,100 stream miles and 29,139 acres of lakes and reservoirs. Idaho has the most proposed habitat: 9,671 stream miles and 197,915 acres of lakes and reservoirs.


   Of the proposed habitat, more than half is on federal land, 36 on private land and 2 percent each on state and tribal lands. Critical habitat designations   provide extra regulatory protection that may require special management considerations.


   Baun said the critical habitat designation does not affect land ownership or establish a refuge, wilderness, reserve or preserve, and it doesn’t allow government or public access to nonfederal lands.  

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