The Center for Biological Diversity is trying to get the FTHL, (also known as the Horned Toad) listed as a endangered species through the State Fish and Wildlife Commission.
The Federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) has provisions that will over ride some aspects of State Fish and Wildlife Endangered Species procedures.
The important aspect is the ESA allows for Incidental Take where as the State does not.
This Incidental Take is what will allow the Land managers to continue with some of their maintenance activities AND more importantly, this will allow the Land Managers to continue to issue Special Event Permits.
Please comments, updates and corrections to this post as necessary!
“In March, the Fish and Game Commission accepted a petition under review to list the Flat Tailed Horned Lizard (FTHL) as an endangered species. The FTHL occurs throughout the park. While the species is under review, which is a yearlong process, the species is afforded the same protections that an endangered species is granted. This has impacted our operations, for example we have stopped grading. Our staff is working with the Department of Fish and Wildlife to get what is called an Incidental Take Permit (ITP), which will allow for us to continue with our operations as normal. We may or may not be issued an ITP. If we are, we are hoping to include Special Events as part of our operations, although there may be restrictions in staging locations, size, etc. This process can take time and in the end we cannot be sure what we will end up with. This entire process is governed by the California Endangered Species Act and does not apply to federal lands. It may be recommendable to contact other locations, such as BLM, to ensure that you can move forward with your event planning and ensure that you can secure a location.
I do want you to know that we are very sensitive to our stake holders and are working hard behind the scenes to reach a conclusion that maintains our off-road recreational opportunities while complying with the laws set forth in the California Environmental Quality Act.”
Now, for the rest of the story...
Center for Biological Diversity did submit a petition to the California Fish and Game Commission requesting listing of the Flat Tail Horned Lizard as a California State Endangered Species. This action was taken after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have declined to list the FTHL as a federal endangered species numerous time over the past decade.
This listing is a one year listing giving time to complete a final study to determine if permanent listing is warranted. In discussions with OHMVR officials, they are meeting with California Department of Fish and Wildlife to obtain the Incidental Take Permit. OHMVR Deputy Director Chris Conlin felt confident that OWSVRA staff had sufficient study data showing a stable population of the FTHL within the SVRA. A final decision on the on-going study and ITP is not expected for several months.
To put the issue in perspective, all special use permits within the SVRA are on hold for a one year period. That time clock ends in April 2016, placing Operation Desert Fun and TDS Desert Safari in jeopardy of not being held due to lack of a special use permit.
State Parks OHMVR Division and Dept of Fish and Wildlife are meeting this week to resolve issues concerning recreation use permits.
California Four Wheel Drive Associaiton