Latest News, Siskiyou

Critical Habitat Designation for the Pacific Marten

Pacific marten coastal DPS (coastal distinct population segment) consists of approximately 1,156,312 acres in Coos, Curry, Douglas, and Josephine Counties in Oregon and Del Norte, Humboldt, and Siskiyou Counties in California.

46616 Federal Register / Vol. 89, No. 104 / Wednesday, May 29, 2024 / Rules and Regulations

The Pacific marten, and specifically the coastal distinct population segment (DPS), has experienced significant population declines and range contractions over the past century. Historical trapping, habitat loss and fragmentation due to logging, urbanization, and other land use changes have all contributed to the marten’s decline.

In 2010, the coastal marten was petitioned for listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). After a review of the marten’s status, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) determined in 2015 that the coastal DPS warranted listing as a threatened species. In 2018, the coastal marten was listed as endangered under the California Endangered Species Act.

In October 2020, the USFWS officially listed the coastal marten DPS as threatened under the federal ESA. As part of the listing process, the ESA requires the USFWS to designate critical habitat for threatened and endangered species when prudent and determinable.

Critical habitat is defined as geographic areas that contain features essential to the conservation of a threatened or endangered species and that may require special management considerations or protection. Critical habitat designations affect only federal agency actions or federally funded or permitted activities. The designation does not affect land ownership or establish a refuge, reserve, preserve or other conservation area.

For the coastal marten, the critical habitat designation aims to provide protection for areas deemed essential for the conservation and recovery of the species. This includes areas occupied by martens that contain important habitat elements like dense shrub cover, large downed logs, and high canopy cover in late-successional forests. The designation also considered the need for habitat connectivity between populations.

In summary, the need for critical habitat designation arose from the coastal marten’s listing as a threatened species and the requirement under the ESA to provide protections deemed necessary for the species’ conservation and recovery.

Unit 5: A Cornerstone of Coastal Marten Critical Habitat

Unit 5 stands out as the largest and potentially most vital component within the critical habitat designated for the coastal marten. Encompassing a vast expanse, this unit plays a crucial role in the species’ conservation.

Key Characteristics:

  • Size and Ownership: Unit 5 constitutes the majority of the total critical habitat. While 97% is under federal ownership, a significant portion also includes state lands and properties held by private entities or local governments.
  • Management: The U.S. Forest Service oversees most of the federal lands within the unit, with contributions from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the National Park Service (Redwood National Park). Notably, almost half of the federally owned land is designated as Late-Successional Reserves, providing crucial old-growth habitat for martens.
  • Geographical Significance: Unit 5 marks the southernmost extent of the coastal marten’s critical habitat. It encompasses a large portion of confirmed marten sightings and serves as a vital connection for the species to move both north-south along their range and between inland and coastal regions.
  • Exclusions: Despite its size, certain areas within Unit 5 were excluded from the final critical habitat designation.These include lands belonging to Green Diamond Resource Company, the Yurok Tribe, and the Karuk Tribe.

Conservation Implications:

The inclusion of Unit 5 in the critical habitat designation underscores its significance in the recovery and long-term survival of the coastal marten. By providing essential habitat and connectivity, this unit contributes significantly to the conservation goals for the species. Ongoing management and collaboration between federal agencies, state entities, and private landowners will be essential to ensure the effectiveness of this crucial habitat area.

visit for the PDF from the Federal Register Publishing Office

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *