ANCHORAGE (AP) -- The federal government wants to extend protection across a wide section of Alaska for the Steller's eider, a threatened sea duck.
The move comes after the settlement of a lawsuit by environmentalists and a Christian group.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed Monday that more than 25,000 square miles from the North Slope to Kodiak be designated as critical habitat for the eider. Critical habitat means an important conservation area for a threatened or endangered species that may require special management.
The proposal would require federal agencies to consult with Fish and Wildlife officials before funding or authorizing projects that might affect the species.
The agency has selected about 17,000 square miles of land and 8,440 square miles of marine waters as proposed critical habitat, much of it on the North Slope and the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.
''Critical habitat doesn't create a national park or a nature preserve or a wildlife refuge. It does not change or limit the rights of private landowners,'' said Richard Hannan, chief of fisheries and ecological services for Fish and Wildlife's Alaska office.
But landowners and businesses are worried anyway.
''It gives cause for pause because of the enormous amount of activity that occurs in this area,'' said Doug Donegan, vice president of Trident Seafoods.
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