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.
"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."
Senator 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."
Congressman 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."
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."