Idaho's congressional delegation is praising the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for its final designation of critical habitat for endangered woodland caribou in the Selkirk Mountains, which, instead of the original 375,552 acres, designates just 30,010 acres, only 6,029 of it in Idaho. That Idaho habitat is all on national forest land in Boundary County; no land in Bonner County was included.
"I am pleased that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service listened to the public outcry regarding the impacts this expanded critical habitat designation would have had upon people's livelihoods," said 1st District Rep. Raul Labrador. "This is an example of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service recognizing the need for improved species management and we applaud the efforts of the men and women on the ground in Idaho who made this decision."
Sen. Jim Risch called the final designation "more realistic than the initial proposal," and 2nd District Rep. Mike Simpson called it a "reasonable and fact-based decision." Click below for their full statements.
Meanwhile, the Idaho Conservation League noted that the number of caribou has dropped from 46 in 2009 to just 27 in 2012. Brad Smith, ICL conservation associate in Sandpoint, said of the new habitat designation: "Unfortunately, this represents that habitat used by an imperiled herd rather than a recovered herd. More habitat must be protected to have a growing herd and achieve recovery." He released a Q&A on the caribou habitat designation; you can read it here.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 27, 2012
IDAHO CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION STATEMENTS ON FINAL CRITICAL HABITAT DESIGNATION FOR THE SOUTHERN SELKIRK MOUNTAINS POPULATION OF WOODLAND CARIBOU
Washington, D.C. - Idaho's Congressional Delegation has released statements in response to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's final critical habitat designation for the southern Selkirk Mountains population of woodland caribou.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is designating 30,010 acres in Idaho's Boundary County and Washington's Pend Oreille County as critical habitat. This final designation modifies the 2011 proposed rule which proposed to designate 375,552 acres as critical habitat in Idaho's Boundary and Bonner Counties and Washington's Pend Oreille County. Under the final designation 6,029 acres - all on National Forest System lands in Boundary County - will be designated as critical habitat and there will be no critical habitat in Bonner County.
Congressman Raúl Labrador: "I am pleased that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service listened to the public outcry regarding the impacts this expanded critical habitat designation would have had upon people's livelihoods. While the Endangered Species Act is intended to ensure thriving populations of wildlife, the current statute is broken and should be modernized. This is an example of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service recognizing the need for improved species management and we applaud the efforts of the men and women on the ground in Idaho who made this decision."
Senator Mike Crapo: "Input from local residents, sportsmen and county leaders is critical in making a determination about critical habitat for the woodland caribou," said Idaho Senator Mike Crapo, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which oversees the U.S. Fish Wildlife Service and the Endangered Species Act. "It is appropriate for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to appropriately modify the critical habitat proposal to better balance the caribou's recovery needs with recreational and other human use of Idaho's landscape."
Congressman Mike Simpson: "Modifying the 2011 proposed 375,552 acre designation to 30,010 acres has been a challenging but necessary step in determining the final critical habitat designation for caribou," said Congressman Simpson, Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior. "It is clear that the Fish and Wildlife Service has done its work on this issue, resulting in a reasonable and fact-based decision. I would like to express my appreciation to the Idaho office of the Fish and Wildlife Service for their leadership in gathering vital information from all parties who were interested in and impacted by the 2011 proposal."
Senator James E. Risch: "I'm pleased to see the final designation of critical habitat for caribou in northern Idaho is more realistic than the initial proposal. The input by private citizens and elected officials from the region was very helpful, as was the attention paid to it by Brian Kelly and Ben Conard of the Fish and Wildlife Service. This new designation protects private property, allows continued access to public lands, and provides adequate range for recovery of woodland caribou that may come into Idaho."