Critical Habitat on the West Coast

Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act requires that Federal agencies must ensure that any activities they authorize, fund or carry out are not likely to destroy or adversely modify the designated critical habitat of a listed species.

Critical habitat is defined as: (1) specific areas within the geographical area occupied by the species at the time of listing, if they contain physical or biological features essential to conservation, and those features may require special management considerations or protection; and (2) specific areas outside the geographical area occupied by the species if the agency determines that the area itself is essential for conservation.

NOAA Fisheries designates critical habitat by determining the conservation value of particular areas and balancing the benefits of designation against its impacts (e.g., economic, national security). The proposed designation then goes through a period of public comment before the final rule is published and critical habitat is designated. Learn More...

Species with Critical Habitat

Critical Habitat Maps & GIS Data

Federal Register Notices