Rehabilitation of Highway 62 West, Crater Lake National Park, Klamath County, Oregon
THREATENED AND ENDANGERED SPECIES AND SPECIES OF CONCERN
This section describes the threatened and endangered species (including species of concern and designated critical habitat) that may be affected by the proposed action to rehabilitate Highway 62 West in Crater Lake National Park.
Under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended, an endangered species is defined as any species in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range. A threatened species is defined as any species likely to become an endangered species in the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has provided a current list of threatened and endangered species, species of concern, and designated critical habitats that may be affected by the proposed action to rehabilitate Highway 62 West in Crater Lake National Park (appendix 4) (USFWS 2002a). The National Park Service uses this list, along with relevant biological studies, literature reviews, views of species experts, and site inspections to determine if the proposed project may affect listed or proposed species, or proposed or designated critical habitat. In addition to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service list that contains eight species, Crater Lake National Park routinely addresses additional rare species, including those listed by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Department. A table of endangered and threatened species, as well as species of concern identified by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Department, is provided in appendix 4.
According to the Oregon Natural Heritage Program, there are no occurrence records (e.g., electronic records of species, sub-species, varieties, hybrids, and/or natural communities) of federal or Oregon endangered, threatened, sensitive, or rare wildlife and plant species in the vicinity of Highway 62 West (T31S R5E Sections 11, 12, 13, 14) (Murray pers. comm. 2002a).
Following analysis of potential habitat and species present in the park, the northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina) is the wildlife species state and/or federally listed as threatened that is discussed in more detail below and assessed for impacts related to Highway 62 West rehabilitation. In addition, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stated that critical habitat for the northern spotted owl may occur on Crater Lake National Park (USFWS 2002a).
Northern spotted owls in Oregon were reported to number 1,977 pairs during an early 1990s survey (Thomas et al. 1993 in NatureServe 2002j). Potential suitable habitat is found in patches within Crater Lake National Park, with a higher density of patches (including some of large size) southwest of a diagonal line running from the northwest corner to the southeast corner of the park (Tuss 1998). Ten years of northern spotted owl survey records have documented presence and resulted in recordation of 18 nesting and activity centers within the park (Crater Lake National Park 2002a).
The Highway 62 West corridor passes through northern spotted owl habitat; the nearest activity center is located approximately 900 meters north (slightly over 0.5 mile) of the western project terminus (Crater Lake National Park 2002b). This location would place the activity center north of Castle Creek and well-screened from the corridor in dense mountain hemlock forest habitat. This location is known as the Castle Creek site and its associated activity center is located north of Castle Creek and is well-screened from the Highway 62 West corridor in dense mountain hemlock forest habitat.
The Castle Creek site supports one pair of northern spotted owls and the site has been occupied from 1992–95 and 2001–02, at a minimum (NPS, CRLA 2002b). Northern spotted owls have nested at this site and produced juveniles in 1994 and in 2002. Both adults have been banded, the female in 2001 and the male in 2002. One juvenile owl was observed at the Castle Creek site as late as 1 July 2002; however, by 15 July 2002, the juvenile and adult female owl could not be detected. Both a female goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) and a barred owl (Strix varia), potential predators, were observed/heard in the vicinity of the nest tree (NPS, CRLA 2002b). The adult male was observed during August 2002, approximately 125 meters north of Highway 62 West and approximately 1 kilometer south of the nest tree. It would not accept a mouse offered by biologists, indicating that it was likely not feeding a juvenile owl.