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We followed a five-step process to identify specific areas eligible for critical habitat designation: (1) determination of the geographic area occupied by the species at the time of listing; (2) identification of physical or biological habitat characteristics essential for the conservation of the species; (3) delimitation of certain areas within the geographical area; which is occupied by the species on which the physical or biological characteristics are found, (4) determine whether the feature(s) may require special management considerations or protective measures in a given area, and (5) determine whether unproven areas are indispensable for conservation. Our assessments and arrangements are detailed in the draft biological report (NMFS 2019a) and summarized below. ESA does not specifically define physical or biological characteristics. Joint Court Decisions and NMFS and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (U.S. FWS) Rules at 50 CFR 424.02 (81 FR 7413; February 11, 2016) provide instructions on how physical or biological characteristics are expressed. Physical and biological characteristics meet the needs of the life history of species, including, but not limited to, water properties, soil type, geological features, sites, prey, vegetation, symbiotic species or other characteristics. A feature may be a unique habitat feature or a more complex combination of habitat features. Features may include habitat features that support ephemeral or dynamic habitat conditions. Characteristics can also be expressed with regard to the principles of conservation biology, such as.B.

Patch size, distribution distances, and connectivity. Depending on the information available, each of these factors may weigh either in favour of exclusion from the territory or in favour of the designation of the territory. We give a lot of weight to national security and defense missions (81 FR 7226; 11 February 2016). We weighed this information against the benefits of area designation, based on the assessment of conservation value for specific areas that overlap with the DOD area, as well as more specific information on the use of the DOD area by Southern Resident killer whales. As shown in esa`s draft report section 4(b)(2) (NMFS 2019b), based on the magnitude of military impact, the unique training in support of military readiness that occurs within the RRQ, and the potential delay in critical missions to perform adverse change analyses, the Wendiger found that the effects on national security tipped the scales and impact on conservation values in just over a quarter of the critical habitat identified. Zones 1 and 2 where these zones overlap with the QRS and a buffer of 10 km above. The We found that exclusion from this given area benefits the conservation benefit of the designation and that exclusion from the area would not result in the extinction of the species (DPS). We therefore propose to exclude the QRS and a 10 km buffer that surrounds it from the critical designation of the habitat. The total area proposed to exclude is 1,687.9 mi2 (4,371.5 km2), or 9.7% of the potential critical coastal population. Local impact and wider transferability – The project promotes an existing conservation plan or existing conservation strategy with clear measures for reception and integration by local managing authorities (where appropriate) and/or has the potential and plan to transfer the knowledge gained to other communities.

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