The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has released an analysis that estimates costs related to the conservation of the Willamette daisy, Kincaid's lupine, and Fender's blue butterfly and their proposed critical habitat at $25 to $53 million over the next 20 years.
The agency also opened an additional 15-day public comment period on all aspects of the proposed critical habitat and economic analysis. It will accept comments until June 30, 2006.
Approximately 35 percent of the total future cost is estimated to be loss of land values borne by existing landowners. Another 30 percent is expected to be costs of land management. Potential costs of modifications to future road construction -- primarily the planned West Eugene Parkway but also a street in Dallas -- represent another 30 percent of the total estimated costs.
The Dallas site, about three acres off SW Oakdale Ave., is a pocket habitat for Kincaid's lupine and will remain protected under an agreement between the city and the USFWS (see story in the Aug. 17, 2005, Itemizer-Observer, available in the archive section of www.itemizerobserver.com).
The Fender's blue butterfly and the Willamette daisy are listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act, while the Kincaid's lupine is listed as a threatened species. On November 2, 2005, the USFWS released its proposal to designate approximately 3,089 acres of critical habitat for the Fender's blue butterfly, 724 acres for Kincaid's lupine, and 718 acres for Willamette daisy.
Since much of the proposed critical habitat for the three species overlaps, the total area proposed as critical habitat amounts to 3,901 acres.
Critical habitat is a term in the Endangered Species Act identifying geographic areas that contain features essential for the conservation of a threatened or endangered species. Such habitat often requires special management considerations or protections, although the designation as critical habitat does not affect land ownership or establish a refuge, wilderness, reserve, preserve, or other conservation area. It does not allow government or public access to private lands.
The majority of critical habitat units are located in Polk, Benton, Yamhill, Lane, Marion, Linn, and Douglas counties in Oregon, and Lewis County in Washington.
The draft economic analysis considers the economic effects of protective measures taken as a result of federal, state and local laws that aid habitat conservation for the Willamette daisy, Kincaid's lupine and Fender's blue butterfly. The economic study analyzes whether a particular group or economic sector bears an undue proportion of the impacts.
The study concluded that no one group or economic sector would bear an undue proportion of the impacts.
The three species inhabit wet and upland prairies and oak/savanna habitats, mostly in Oregon's populous Willamette Valley. These prairie habitats, considered to be among the rarest in Western Oregon, are threatened by fragmentation, agricultural practices, and urban growth.
In 30 years of implementing the Endangered Species Act, the USFWS has found that designation of critical habitat provides little additional protection for most listed species, while preventing the agency from using scarce conservation resources for activities with greater conservation benefits.
In almost all cases, recovery of listed species will come through voluntary cooperative state and private group partnerships, not regulatory measures such as critical habitat.
Comments on the critical habitat proposal and/or the draft economic analysis may be submitted by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, by fax to 503-231-6195, or by mail to Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2600 SE 98th Ave., Suite 100, Portland, OR 97266.