2002 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 16 Oct 2002 20:13:04 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Critical habitat proposed
Thursday, October 17, 2002

Critical habitat proposed
24,800 acres may be set aside for endangered species
By Brenda Sommer
Pacific Daily News

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service yesterday released a proposal that
would designate 24,800 acres of Guam land as critical habitat for three
endangered species.
The land, in two parcels in northern and southern Guam, would be
designated as critical habitat for the Marianas fruit bat, the Marianas
crow and the Guam Micronesian kingfisher.

Critical habitat designation does not set up a refuge or preserve, but
does require landowners to consult Fish and Wildlife before starting
activities that "could destroy or adversely modify critical habitat,"
according to a Fish and Wildlife press release. The release said that in
most cases, projects are allowed to proceed "with minor modifications
designed to minimize impacts to designated critical habitat."


Government of Guam officials, including the governor, have opposed the
designation of critical habitat, saying it could jeopardize the return
of excess federal land and restrict access to land.

In addition, landowners' groups have loudly and frequently protested the
actions of two environmental groups, as well as the designation of
northern land at Ritidian as a wildlife refuge operated by Fish and

Protesters, who include family members of the land's original owners,
want their property returned or compensation for the loss.

The designation generally does not affect farming, grazing, logging or
hunting, the release said.

A study on the economic impact of the designation is under way, and
based on those conclusions, some land could be excluded from the
designation if the harm outweighs the benefit, the release said.

The two groups opposed by landowners, the Marianas Audubon Society and
the Center for Biological Diversity, sued in 2000, challenging a 1994
Fish and Wildlife decision to withdraw its proposal to designate
critical habitat for six endangered species.


Those animals were the Marianas fruit bat; the little Marianas fruit
bat; the Marianas crow; the Guam Micronesian kingfisher; the Guam
broadbill; and the Guam bridled white-eye. Yesterday's proposal did not
designate critical habitat for three of those species -- the little
Marianas fruit bat, the Guam broadbill and the Guam bridled white-eye --
because they are believed to be extinct.

Fish and Wildlife in 1994 determined that it was not "prudent" to create
critical habitat for the six animals, but several federal court
decisions since then have modified the standards for declaring critical

U.S. District Judge John Unpingco on April 16 gave final approval to a
settlement between Fish and Wildlife and the Secretary of the Interior
and the two environmental groups that sued them.

John Ryan, communications director at the office of Gov. Carl Gutierrez,
said the governor would have no comment until the office has had time to
review the proposal.

Designated land

Members of the Ritidian Families Association and Ancestral Lands
Commission officials could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The bulk of the Guam land to be designated is at Andersen Air Force Base
and in Naval Magazine areas around Fena Lake in southern Guam. Andersen
Air Force Base public relations personnel did not return a request for
comment on the proposal.

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