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USFWS seeks comments on critical habitat designation for Southwest Willow Flycatcher


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THIS IS AN EXCERPT. FULL NOTICE IS ATTACHED.

 

 

[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 134 (Thursday, July 12, 2012)]

[Proposed Rules]

[Pages 41147-41162]

From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.g

 

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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

 

Fish and Wildlife Service

 

50 CFR Part 17

 

[Docket No. FWS-R2-ES-2011-0053: 4500030114]

RIN 1018-AX43

 

 

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Designation of

Revised Critical Habitat for the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

 

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

 

ACTION: Proposed rule; reopening of comment period.

 

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SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the

reopening of the public comment period on the August 15, 2011, proposed

designation of revised critical habitat for the southwestern willow

flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus) (flycatcher) under the

Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). We are reopening the

comment period to allow all interested parties an opportunity to

comment on our amended required determinations and revisions to the

proposed revised designation, which include additional areas as

proposed critical habitat on two streams within the Santa Cruz

Management Unit, Arizona, and revisions to areas being considered for

exclusion under section 4(b)(2) of the Act. We are accepting comments

on the draft environmental assessment prepared in compliance with the

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the draft economic

analysis associated with the proposed rule. We are also providing

notice of a public informational session and hearing (see DATES and

ADDRESSES). Comments previously submitted need not be resubmitted, as

they will be fully considered in preparation of the final rule.

 

DATES: Written comments: We will consider comments received on or

before September 10, 2012. Comments submitted electronically using the

Federal eRulemaking Portal (see ADDRESSES section, below) must be

received by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the closing date.

Public informational session and public hearing: We will hold a

public hearing on August 16, 2012, in San Carlos, AZ (see ADDRESSES).

The hearing is open to all who wish to provide formal, oral comments

regarding the proposed rule, and will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00

p.m., with an informational session before the hearing from 3:00 p.m.

to 4:30 p.m. During the informational session, Service employees will

be available to provide information and answer questions.

 

ADDRESSES: Document availability: You may obtain copies of the proposed

rule, draft economic analysis, and draft environmental assessment on

the internet at http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-R2-ES-

2011-0053 or by mail from the Arizona Ecological Services Office (see

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

Written comments: You may submit written comments by one of the

following methods:

(1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Search for Docket No. FWS-R2-ES-2011-0053, which

is the docket number for this rulemaking.

(2) By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public

Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R2-ES-2011-0053; Division of Policy and

Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax

Drive, MS 2042-PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.

We request that you send comments only by the methods described

above. We will post all comments on http://www.regulations.gov. This

generally means that we will post any personal information you provide

us (see the Public Comments section below for more information).

Public informational session and public hearing: The public

informational session and hearing will be held at Apache Gold

Convention Center, Highway 70, 5 miles East of Globe, in San Carlos, AZ

85550. People needing reasonable accommodations in order to attend and

participate in the public hearing should contact Steve Spangle, Field Supervisor, Arizona Ecological Services Office, as soon

as possible (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Spangle, Field Supervisor,

Arizona Ecological Services Office, 2321 West Royal Palm Road, Suite

103, Phoenix, AZ, 85021; telephone 602-242-0201; facsimile 602-242-

0513. Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD)

may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800-877-8339.

 

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

 

Public Comments

 

We will accept written comments and information during this

reopened comment period on our proposed designation of revised

flycatcher critical habitat that was published in the Federal Register

on August 15, 2011 (76 FR 50542). We are accepting comments regarding

additional areas we are proposing as critical habitat in this document

and other areas that we are considering for exclusion under section

4(b)(2) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), as discussed in this

document. We are also accepting comments on the amended required

determinations section, the draft economic analysis, and the draft

environmental assessment prepared in compliance with NEPA (42 U.S.C.

4321 et seq.). We will consider information and recommendations from

all interested parties. We are particularly interested in comments

concerning:

(1) The reasons why we should or should not designate habitat as

``critical habitat'' under section 4 of the Act, including whether

there are threats to the species from human activity, the degree of

which can be expected to increase due to the designation, and whether

that increase in threat outweighs the benefit of designation such that

the designation of critical habitat is not prudent.

(2) Specific information on:

(a) The distribution of the flycatcher;

(b) The amount and distribution of flycatcher habitat;

© What areas that were occupied at the time of listing that

contain features essential to the conservation of the species should be

included in the designation and why;

(d) What areas not occupied at the time of listing that meet our

criteria as being essential for the conservation of the species should

be included in the designation and why;

(e) Special management considerations or protection that may be

needed for the physical or biological features essential to the

conservation of the species in the critical habitat areas we are

proposing, including managing for the potential effects of climate

change;

(f) Stream segments, many of which are highlighted in the

Southwestern Willow Flycatcher Recovery Plan (Recovery Plan) (Service

2002) and included in this proposed rule, that are not now known to

have flycatcher nesting territories or known to only have few nesting

flycatchers that may be capable of being improved for flycatcher

recovery purposes. We specifically seek information about streams

within the Amargosa, Salton, Mohave, Powell, San Juan, Santa Cruz, and

Hassayampa and Agua Fria Management Units. Please provide information

on flycatcher distribution and abundance, habitat quality, habitat

locations, habitat improvement projects, management actions needed to

improve habitat, habitat quality limitations, habitat recovery

potential, and any other flycatcher or flycatcher-habitat-specific

information, and;

(g) Flycatcher habitat suitability for recovery in areas within the

Santa Ana and San Diego Management Units in southern California,

specifically in the following areas: (1) Entirety of Temescal Wash

including Alberhill Creek in Riverside County; (2) entirety of Murrieta

Creek in Riverside County; (3) Potrero Creek near the city of Beaumont

in Riverside County; (4) Cajon Creek from Lone Pine Canyon to

California State Highway 138 in San Bernardino County; and (5) Tijuana

River from Dairy Mart Road to the Tijuana River Estuary in San Diego

County.

(3) Land use designations and current or planned activities in the

subject areas and their possible impacts on proposed critical habitat.

(4) Information on the projected and reasonably likely impacts of

climate change on the flycatcher, the features essential to its

conservation, and the areas proposed as revised critical habitat.

(5) Any probable economic, national security, environmental,

cultural, or other relevant impacts of designating any area that may be

included in the final designation; in particular, we seek information

concerning any impacts on small entities, and the benefits of including

or excluding areas that exhibit these impacts.

(6) Whether any specific areas we are proposing for critical

habitat designation should be considered for exclusion under section

4(b)(2) of the Act, and whether the benefits of potentially excluding

any specific area outweigh the benefits of including that area under

section 4(b)(2) of the Act, in particular:

(a) For specific lands that we should consider for exclusion under

section 4(b)(2) of the Act, please provide us management plans,

conservation easements, agreements, habitat conservation plans (HCPs),

or other appropriate information, which describe the commitment and

assurances of protection of the physical or biological features of

flycatcher critical habitat; property boundaries; flycatcher status,

distribution, and abundance; and management actions to protect the

physical or biological features of flycatcher habitat;

(b) For lands we evaluated and excluded from critical habitat under

section 4(b)(2) of the Act in our 2005 flycatcher critical habitat

designation (70 FR 60886, October 19, 2005) and lands to be newly

considered for exclusion in this revision to designated critical

habitat, please resubmit your request. In addition to your request,

please include any updated information that pertains to the commitment

and assurances of protection of flycatcher habitat; the physical or

biological features of flycatcher critical habitat; property

boundaries; flycatcher status, distribution, and abundance; and

management actions to protect the physical or biological features of

flycatcher habitat. Include the specific results of implementing these

management plans since our 2005 flycatcher critical habitat

designation; and

© Information concerning the benefits of excluding or retaining

lands we identify in the proposed critical habitat rule and revisions

herein under consideration for exclusion under section 4(b)(2) of the

Act. We specifically seek information about the possible exclusion of

Elephant Butte Reservoir; areas within the operating pool of the

reservoir may be subject to exclusion under 4(b)(2) of the Act if we

determine that the benefits of excluding the area due to potential

impacts to water operations outweigh the benefits to the subspecies of

including the area as critical habitat.

(7) Whether we could improve or modify our approach to designating

critical habitat in any way to provide for greater public participation

and understanding, or to better accommodate public concerns and

comments.

(8) Information on the extent to which the description of economic

impacts in the draft environmental analysis is complete and accurate.

(9) The likelihood of adverse social reactions to the designation

of critical habitat, as discussed in the draft environmental assessment, and

how the consequences of such reactions, if likely to occur, would relate to

the conservation and regulatory benefits of the proposed revised

critical habitat designation.

(10) Information on the extent to which the description and

evaluation of the proposal included in the draft environmental

assessment is complete and accurate.

If you submitted comments or information on the proposed revised

rule (76 FR 50542) from August 15, 2011, to October 14, 2011, or since

the initial comment period ended, please do not resubmit them. We will

incorporate them into the public record as part of this comment period,

and we will fully consider them in the preparation of our final

determination. Our final determination concerning revised critical

habitat will take into consideration all written comments, oral

comments received during the public hearing, and any additional

information we receive during both comment periods and the time between

each comment period.

You may submit your comments and materials concerning the proposed

revised rule, draft economic analysis, or draft environmental

assessment by one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. We

request that you send comments only by the methods described in the

ADDRESSES section.

If you submit a comment via http://www.regulations.gov, your entire

comment--including any personal identifying information--will be posted

on the Web site. We will post all hardcopy comments on http://www.regulations.gov as well. If you submit a hardcopy comment that

includes personal identifying information, you may request at the top

of your document that we withhold this information from public review.

However, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting

documentation we used in preparing the proposed rule, draft economic

analysis, and draft environmental assessment, will be available for

public inspection on http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-R2-

ES-2011-0053, or by appointment, during normal business hours, at the

Arizona Ecological Services Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION

CONTACT). You may obtain copies of the proposed rule, draft economic

analysis, and draft environmental assessment on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-R2-ES-2011-0053, or by mail from

the Arizona Ecological Services Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION

CONTACT section).

 

Background

 

It is our intent to discuss only those topics directly relevant to

the designation of revised critical habitat for the flycatcher in this

document. For more information on previous Federal actions concerning

the flycatcher, refer to the proposed designation of revised critical

habitat published in the Federal Register on August 15, 2011 (76 FR

50542). Background information on the flycatcher can be found in the

2005 final flycatcher critical habitat rule published in the Federal

Register on October 19, 2005 (70 FR 60886); our October 12, 2004,

proposed critical habitat rule (69 FR 60706); the Recovery Plan; our

first flycatcher critical habitat designation, published July 22, 1997

(62 FR 39129), and corrected on August 20, 1997 (62 FR 44228); the

final flycatcher listing rule (60 FR 10694, February 27, 1995); and

other documents described and cited in the August 15, 2011, flycatcher

critical habitat proposal (76 FR 50542). Other reports can be retrieved

from the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) flycatcher site at http://sbsc.wr.usgs.gov/cprs/research/projects/swwf. No new literature is

being cited within this document. The current 2005 critical habitat

rule remains in effect while this rulemaking process proceeds. For more

information on this revised flycatcher critical habitat proposal,

please go online to http://www.regulations.gov (at Docket No. FWS-R2-

ES-2011-0053) or http://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/arizona/. All

references cited in the August 15, 2011, flycatcher critical habitat

revision proposal (76 FR 50542) can be retrieved from these Web sites.

You can also contact the Arizona Ecological Services Office (see FOR

FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

SWFL.pdf

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