The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes to increase the land designated as critical habitat for the Pacific Coast population of the western snowy plover, a threatened species protected under the Endangered Species Act. The snowy plover loves wild, undeveloped beaches, estuaries and river bars in our region. Like many of us, the plover frequents the same coastal locations that we enjoy too, but is easily stressed by too much disturbance. There is enough room for us all, but there are a few special places that really need to be protected for the plover. EPIC supports maximum protection for plovers throughout their range and is especially concerned about habitat in Humboldt, Del Norte and Mendocino counties.The proposed rule, including detailed maps, can be found at: fws.gov/arcata
Please support the snowy plover by submitting comments to the FWS by Monday, May 23, 2011. Comments and information can be submitted electronically to the Fish and Wildlife Service. EPIC encourages individuals to make the following points in comments:
The FWS should remove “disturbance” or “undisturbed areas” from the primary constituent elements defining critical habitat. Instead, “disturbance” should be part of the discussion relating to special management considerations and specifically included as an “activity’ that destroys or adversely modifies critical habitat.
The FWS should extend Unit CA-1 (Lake Earl) to include the entire beach north to the Smith River, including the river mouth and gravel bars. Off-road vehicle disturbance in this area is a significant concern
The FWS should maximize designations in Units CA-2 (Gold Bluffs Beach), CA-3 (Humboldt Lagoons), CA-4 (Clam Beach/Little River), CA-5 (Humboldt Bay, South Spit / Eel River, South Spit & Beach), CA-6 (Eel River Gravel Bars), CA-7 (MacKerricher Beach), and CA-8 (Manchester Beach).
The FWS should include habitat buffers within the designation around both occupied and unoccupied habitat.