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The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) developed this service to standardize its Endangered Species Act (ESA) critical habitat spatial data.
The spatial data represent critical habitat locations; however, the complete description and official boundaries of critical habitat proposed or designated by NMFS are provided in proposed rules, final rules, and the Code of Federal Regulations (50 CFR 226). Official critical habitat boundaries may include regulatory text that modifies or clarifies maps and spatial data. Proposed rules, final rules, and the CFR also describe any areas that are excluded from critical habitat or otherwise not part of critical habitat (e.g., ineligible areas), some of which have not been clipped out of the spatial data.
Layers are organized by ESA listed entities. A listed entity can be a species, subspecies, distinct population segment (DPS), or evolutionarily significant unit (ESU). NMFS and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service share jurisdiction of some listed entities; this service only contains spatial data for NMFS critical habitat. Critical habitat has not been designated for all listed entities.
Generally, each listed entity has one layer. However, a listed entity may have critical habitat locations represented by both lines and polygons. In these instances, "_poly" and "_line" are appended to the layer names to differentiate between the spatial data types. Lines represent rivers, streams, or beaches and polygons represent waterbodies, marine areas, estuaries, marshes, or watersheds. The 8 digit date (YYYYMMDD) in each layer name is the publication date of the proposed or final rule in the Federal Register.
Both proposed and designated critical habitat are included in this service. To differentiate between these categories, all proposed critical habitat layers begin with "Proposed_". Proposed critical habitat will be replaced by final designations soon after a final rule is published in the Federal Register. This service version may not include spatial data for recently proposed, modified, or designated critical habitat. Additionally, spatial data are not available for the designated critical habitat of the Southern Oregon/Northern California Coast coho salmon ESU and the Snake River spring/summer-run Chinook salmon ESU. NMFS will add these spatial data when they become available. In the meantime, please consult the final rules or CFR. NMFS may periodically update existing lines or polygons if better information becomes available, such as higher resolution bathymetric surveys.
The "All_critical_habitat" layer group includes merged line and polygon feature classes that contain all available spatial data for critical habitat proposed or designated by NMFS; therefore, these layers contain overlapping features. The "All_critical_habitat_line_YYYYMMDD" and "All_critical_habitat_poly_YYYYMMDD" layers should be used together to represent all available spatial data. The date appended to the layer names is the date the geoprocessing (merge) occured.
Features in this service were compiled from previously developed spatial data. The methods and sources used to create these spatial data are NOT standardized. Coastlines, bathymetric contours, and river lines, for example, were all derived from a variety of sources, using many different geoprocessing techniques, over the span of decades. If information was available on source data and/or processing steps, it was documented in the metadata lineage. Metadata descriptions and the "Notes" field describe line and boundary definitions. Line and boundary definitions are specific to each proposed or designated critical habitat dataset. For example, depending on the listed entity, a coastline could represent the Mean Higher High Water (MHHW) line in one designation and the Mean Lower Low Water (MLLW) line in another designation.
Metadata for each layer is a combination of standardized and unique content and can be viewed at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/inport/item/65207. Standardized content includes the field and value definitions, spatial reference, and metadata style (ISO 19139). All other metadata content is unique to each layer.
eCFR official NMFS critical habitat designations
NMFS maps and GIS data directory
NMFS ESA threatened and endangered species directory
These data represent the critical habitat for staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) as designated by 73 FR 72210, November 26, 2008, Rules and Regulations.