50 CFR 424.12 - Criteria for designating critical habitat.
(a) Critical habitat shall be specified to the maximum extent prudent and determinable at the time a species is proposed for listing. If designation of critical habitat is not prudent or if critical habitat is not determinable, the reasons for not designating critical habitat will be stated in the publication of proposed and final rules listing a species. A final designation of critical habitat shall be made on the basis of the best scientific data available, after taking into consideration the probable economic and other impacts of making such a designation in accordance with § 424.19.
(1) A designation of critical habitat is not prudent when one or both of the following situations exist:
(i) The species is threatened by taking or other human activity, and identification of critical habitat can be expected to increase the degree of such threat to the species, or
(ii) Such designation of critical habitat would not be beneficial to the species.
(2) Critical habitat is not determinable when one or both of the following situations exist:
(i) Information sufficient to perform required analyses of the impacts of the designation is lacking, or
(ii) The biological needs of the species are not sufficiently well known to permit identification of an area as critical habitat.
(b) In determining what areas are critical habitat, the Secretary shall consider those physical and biological features that are essential to the conservation of a given species and that may require special management considerations or protection. Such requirements include, but are not limited to the following:
(1) Space for individual and population growth, and for normal behavior;
(2) Food, water, air, light, minerals, or other nutritional or physiological requirements;
(3) Cover or shelter;
(4) Sites for breeding, reproduction, rearing of offspring, germination, or seed dispersal; and generally;
(5) Habitats that are protected from disturbance or are representative of the historic geographical and ecological distributions of a species.
(c) Each critical habitat area will be shown on a map, with more-detailed information discussed in the preamble of the rulemaking documents published in the Federal Register and made available from the lead field office of the Service responsible for such designation. Textual information may be included for purposes of clarifying or refining the location and boundaries of each area or to explain the exclusion of sites (e.g., paved roads, buildings) within the mapped area. Each area will be referenced to the State(s), county(ies), or other local government units within which all or part of the critical habitat is located. Unless otherwise indicated within the critical habitat descriptions, the names of the State(s) and county(ies) are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute the boundaries of the area. Ephemeral reference points (e.g., trees, sand bars) shall not be used in any textual description used to clarify or refine the boundaries of critical habitat.
(d) When several habitats, each satisfying the requirements for designation as critical habitat, are located in proximity to one another, an inclusive area may be designated as critical habitat.
(e) The Secretary shall designate as critical habitat areas outside the geographical area presently occupied by a species only when a designation limited to its present range would be inadequate to ensure the conservation of the species.
(f) Critical habitat may be designated for those species listed as threatened or endangered but for which no critical habitat has been previously designated.
(g) Existing critical habitat may be revised according to procedures in this section as new data become available to the Secretary.
(h) Critical habitat shall not be designated within foreign countries or in other areas outside of United States jurisdiction.