Stay connected with us
around the nation »

Critical Habitat

Critical habitat is defined as specific areas:

Critical Habitat Maps

NOTE: The critical habitat maps provided here are for illustrative purposes only. Textual descriptions of critical habitats, which are provided in the associated Federal Register notices (see links below), are the definitive sources for determining critical habitat boundaries. Map and Federal Register notice links are PDF files. 

GIS Files

GIS files for critical habitat (shape files and XML metadata) are also available (see links below).

Marine Mammals

Map Year Federal Register GIS files

Main Hawaiian Islands insular false killer whale

- Proposed critical habitat maps

2017 82 FR 51186 (comments close 1/02/18)
Beluga Whale 2011 76 FR 20180 Go to Data
Hawaiian Monk Seal 1988,
53 FR 18988,
51 FR 16047,
80 FR 50925
Go to Data [zip]
(excluded areas - [zip])
(ineligible areas - [zip])

Killer Whale (Southern Resident)

2006 71 FR 69054

Go To Data [zip]
North Atlantic Right Whale 1994,
59 FR 28805,
81 FR 4837
Go to Data

Go to Data
North Pacific Right Whale 2008,
73 FR 19000,
71 FR 38277
Go to Data
Proposed Ringed Seal 2014 79 FR 73010 Go to Data
Steller Sea Lion 1993 58 FR 45269 Go to Data [zip]

Go to Data [zip]
(West Coast)

Sea Turtles*

Map Year Federal Register GIS files
Green Turtle 1998 63 FR 46693 Go to Data
Hawksbill Turtle 1998 63 FR 46693 Go to Data
Leatherback Turtle (U.S. Virgin Islands) 1979 44 FR 17710 Go to Data
Leatherback Turtle (U.S. West Coast)
» Biological Report
» Economic Report
2012 77 FR 4170 Go to Data [zip]
Loggerhead Turtle (Northwest Atlantic) 2014 Go to Data [zip]

*Petition accepted to revise leatherback sea turtle critical habitat off the coast of Puerto Rico (76 FR 25660, May 5, 2011)

Marine and Anadromous Fishes

Map Year Federal Register GIS files
Atlantic Salmon 2009 74 FR 29300 Go to Data [zip]
Atlantic Sturgeon
(multiple DPSs**)
2017 82 FR 39160 Go to Data
Bocaccio (Puget Sound/ Georgia Basin DPS) 2014 79 FR 68041 Go to Data [zip]
Chinook Salmon
(multiple ESUs**)
various Go to Data
Chum Salmon
(multiple ESUs**)
2005 70 FR 52630 Go to Data
Coho Salmon
(multiple ESUs**)
64 FR 24049
73 FR 7816
Go to Data
Coho Salmon (Lower Columbia River ESU) 2016 81 FR 9251 Go to Data
(Southern DPS**)
2011 76 FR 65324 Go to Data [zip]
Green Sturgeon
(Southern DPS**)
2009 74 FR 52300 Go to Data [zip]
Gulf Sturgeon 2003 68 FR 13370 Go to Data
Sockeye Salmon
(multiple ESUs**)
58 FR 68543
70 FR 52630
Go to Data
Smalltooth Sawfish 2009 74 FR 45353 Go to Data
Steelhead Trout
(multiple DPSs**)
2005 70 FR 52488
70 FR 52630
Go to Data
Steelhead Trout (Puget Sound DPS) 2016 81 FR 9251 Go to Data
Yelloweye Rockfish (Puget Sound/ Georgia Basin DPS) 2014 79 FR 68041 Go to Data [zip]

**Under the ESA, "species" includes subspecies, or, for vertebrates only, "distinct population segments (DPSs)". Pacific salmon are listed as "evolutionarily significant units (ESUs)", which are essentially equivalent to DPSs for the purpose of the ESA.

Marine Plants & Invertebrates

Map Year Federal Register GIS files
Black Abalone 2011 76 FR 66806 Go to Data [zip]
Elkhorn Coral 2008 73 FR 72210 Go to Data
Staghorn Coral 2008 73 FR 72210 Go to Data
Johnson's seagrass 2000 65 FR 17786 Go to Data

Critical Habitat Designations

Critical habitat designations must be based on the best scientific information available, in an open public process, within specific timeframes.

A critical habitat designation does not set up a preserve or refuge; it applies only when Federal funding, permits, or projects are involved. Under Section 7 of the ESA, all Federal agencies must ensure that any actions they authorize, fund, or carry out are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of a listed species, or destroy or adversely modify its designated critical habitat.

Critical habitat requirements do not apply to citizens engaged in activities on private land that do not involve a Federal agency.

Before designating critical habitat, careful consideration must be given to the economic impacts, impacts on national security, and other relevant impacts. The Secretary of Commerce may exclude an area from critical habitat if the benefits of exclusion outweigh the benefits of designation, unless excluding the area will result in the extinction of the species concerned.

More Information

Updated: November 27, 2017