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Critical Habitat

Critical habitat is defined as specific areas:

Critical Habitat Maps

(All links below are PDF files.)

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.

GIS Files

GIS files for critical habitat (shape files and XML metadata) are also available on our website.

Marine Mammals

Map Year Federal Register
Beluga Whale 2011 76 FR 20180
Hawaiian Monk Seal 1988,
53 FR 18988,
51 FR 16047
Proposed Hawaiian Monk Seal 2011 76 FR 32026

Killer Whale (Southern Resident)

2006 71 FR 69054
North Atlantic Right Whale 1994 59 FR 28805
Proposed North Atlantic Right Whale 2015 80 FR 9314
North Pacific Right Whale 2008,
73 FR 19000,
71 FR 38277
Proposed Ringed Seal 2014 79 FR 73010
Steller Sea Lion 1993 58 FR 45269

Sea Turtles*

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

*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
Atlantic Salmon 2009 74 FR 29300
Bocaccio (Puget Sound/ Georgia Basin DPS) 2014 79 FR 68041
Canary Rockfish (Puget Sound/ Georgia Basin DPS) 2014 79 FR 68041
Chinook Salmon
(multiple ESUs**)
Chum Salmon
(multiple ESUs**)
2005 70 FR 52630
Coho Salmon
(multiple ESUs**)
64 FR 24049
73 FR 7816
Proposed Coho Salmon (Lower Columbia River) 2013 78 FR 2725
(Southern DPS**)
2011 76 FR 65324
Green Sturgeon
(Southern DPS**)
2009 74 FR 52300
Gulf Sturgeon 2003 68 FR 13370
Sockeye Salmon
(multiple ESUs**)
Smalltooth Sawfish 2009 74 FR 45353
Steelhead Trout
(multiple DPSs**)
2005 70 FR 52630
Proposed Steelhead (Puget Sound) 2013 78 FR 2725
Yelloweye Rockfish (Puget Sound/ Georgia Basin DPS) 2014 79 FR 68041

**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
Black Abalone 2011 76 FR 66806
Elkhorn Coral 2008 73 FR 72210
Staghorn Coral 2008 73 FR 72210
Johnson's seagrass 2000 65 FR 17786

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: February 23, 2015