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Economic Impacts of Critical Habitat Designation for Vernal Pool Species

CRA International

"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service conducted an economic analysis of the economic costs of critical habitat designation for 15 vernal pool species in 36 counties. The analysis estimates the conservation of 15 vernal pool species will cost $965 million over the next 20 years in ""lost development opportunities"" for homes that are not built on sites now inhabited by the vernal pool species – small freshwater shrimp and plants.

When specifying critical habitat, the Endangered Species Act requires the Service to consider economic and other relevant impacts of the designation. If the benefits of excluding an area outweigh the benefits of including it, the Interior Secretary may exclude an area from critical habitat, unless this would result in the extinction of a listed species.

In all of its public statements about critical habitat, the Service has said that ""in 30 years of implementing the Endangered Species Act, the Service 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."""

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