Critical habitat primarily forces federal agencies to consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service.
"We have determined that the designation of critical habitat for the Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep will not ... affect the economy in a material way," the agency's draft analysis states.
Nonetheless, officials still could modify the sheep's critical habitat based on public reaction. Two years ago, for instance, the Bush administration cut critical habitat for the California red-legged frog by 39 percent over concerns about the possible economic impact.
The administration subsequently was forced to reconsider the red-legged frog critical habitat reductions over allegations that the original decision was tainted by politics.
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On the Net:
The new bighorn sheep study is available at www.fws.gov/nevada.
Bee Washington Bureau reporter Michael Doyle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-383-0006.