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Canada Lynx

Revised Critical Habitat for the Contiguous United States Distinct Population Segment of the Canada Lynx - Federal Register Notice

 

Go here for the complete Federal Register Notice (38-page PDF File: 971KB). Below is the Summary and Public Comments sections of the Notice.

 

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR: Fish and Wildlife Service, 50 CFR Part 17

[FWS–R6–ES–2008–0026] [92210–1117–0000-B4] RIN 1018–AV78

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Revised Critical Habitat for the Contiguous United States Distinct Population Segment of the Canada Lynx (Lynx canadensis)

 

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

 

ACTION: Proposed rule.

SUMMARY:

We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), propose to revise designated critical habitat for the contiguous United States distinct population segment of the Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) (lynx) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). In the contiguous United States, the lynx generally inhabits cold, moist boreal forests. Approximately 42,753 square miles (mi2) (110,727 square kilometers (km2)) fall within the boundaries of the proposed revised critical habitat designation. The proposed revised designation would add an additional 40,913 mi2 (105,959 km2) to the existing critical habitat designation of 1,841 mi2 (4,768 km2). The proposed revised critical habitat is located in Boundary County, Idaho; Aroostook, Franklin, Penobscot, Piscataquis, and Somerset Counties in Maine; Cook, Koochiching, Lake, and St. Louis Counties in Minnesota; Flathead, Glacier, Granite, Lake, Lewis and Clark, Lincoln, Missoula, Pondera, Powell, Teton, Gallatin, Park, Sweetgrass, Stillwater, and Carbon Counties in Montana; Chelan and Okanogan Counties in Washington; and Park, Teton, Fremont, Sublette, and Lincoln Counties in Wyoming.

DATES:

We will accept comments received or postmarked on or before April 28, 2008. We must receive requests for public hearings, in writing, at the address shown in the ADDRESSES section by April 14, 2008.

ADDRESSES:

You may submit comments by one of the following methods:

• Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

 

• U.S. mail or hand-delivery:

Public Comments Processing, Attn: [FWS–R6–ES–2008–0026];

Division of Policy and Directives Management;

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service;

4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222;

Arlington, VA 22203.

 

We will not accept e-mail or faxed comments. 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).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Mark Wilson, Field Supervisor,

Montana Ecological Services Office,

585 Shepard Way,

Helena, MT, 59601;
telephone 406–449–5225.

 

If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800–877–8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:
Public Comments

We intend that any final action resulting from this proposal will be as accurate and as effective as possible. Therefore, we request comments or suggestions on this proposed rule. We particularly seek comments concerning:

 

(1) The reasons why we should or should not designate specific habitat as ‘‘critical habitat’’ under section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).

 

(2) Specific information on:

• The amount and distribution of lynx habitat,

• What areas occupied at the time of listing and that contain features essential for the conservation of the species we should include in the designation and why that might be so, and

• What areas not occupied at the time of listing are essential to the conservation of the species and why that might be so.

 

(3) Comments or information that may assist us with identifying or clarifying the primary constituent element.

 

(4) Land use designations and current or planned activities in the areas proposed as critical habitat and their possible impacts on proposed revised critical habitat.

 

(5) Whether Tribal lands in the Northern Rockies, Maine, and Minnesota units need to be included as critical habitat pursuant to Secretarial Order Number 3206.

 

(6) Whether lands the Southern Rocky Mountains contain the physical and biological features that are essential for the conservation of the species and the basis for why that might be so

 

(7) Whether lands in any unoccupied areas, such as the ‘‘Kettle Range’’ in Ferry County, Washington, are essential to the conservation of lynx and the basis for why that might be so.

 

(8) How the proposed boundaries of the revised critical habitat could be refined to more closely circumscribe the boreal forest landscapes occupied by lynx. Refined maps that accurately depict the specific vegetation types on all land ownerships are not readily available. We are especially interested in this information for the Greater Yellowstone Area unit.

 

(9) Whether our proposed revised critical habitat for the lynx should be altered in any way to account for climate change.

 

(10) Whether the proposed revised critical habitat designation for the lynx should include private lands, or whether the proposed Federal lands are sufficient to conserve lynx.

 

(11) Whether U.S. Forest Service (USFS) lands that occur in the wildlandurban- interface (WUI) should be excluded from critical habitat under section 4(b)(2) of the Act so that fuelsreduction projects designed to protect human life and property from wildfire would not be impeded in any way in these areas.

 

(12) Whether the Greater Yellowstone Area is essential to the conservation of lynx. Lynx in this proposed unit occur at lower densities than in other proposed units, and the population is not connected to Canada, which is an important source of lynx in the United States.

 

(13) Any foreseeable economic, national security, or other potential impacts resulting from the proposed designation and, in particular, any impacts on small entities, and the benefits of including or excluding areas that exhibit these impacts.

 

(14) 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.

 

The size of the individual Indian reservation lands in the Northern Rockies, Maine, and Minnesota units is relatively small. As a result, we believe conservation of the lynx can be achieved by limiting the designation to the other lands in the proposal without including Tribal lands (see ‘‘Relationship of Critical Habitat to Tribal Lands’’ below).

 

The southern Rocky Mountains in Colorado, Utah, and southern Wyoming are disjunct from other lynx habitats in the United States and Canada. The nearest lynx population occurs in the Greater Yellowstone Area (GYA), which is a small, low density population also disjunct from other lynx populations and is unlikely to regularly supply dispersing lynx to the Southern Rockies. Native lynx were functionally extirpated from their historic range in Colorado and southern Wyoming by the time the lynx was listed as a threatened species under the Act in 2000. In 1999, the State of Colorado began an intensive effort to reintroduce lynx. Although it is too early to determine whether the introduction will result in a selfsustaining population, the reintroduced lynx have produced kittens and now are distributed throughout the lynx habitat in Colorado and southern Wyoming.
These animals are not designated as an experimental population under section 10(j) of the Act. Although Colorado’s reintroduction effort is an important step toward the recovery of lynx, we are not proposing revised critical habitat in the Southern Rockies because of the current uncertainty that a self-sustaining lynx population will become established.

 

The Kettle Range in Washington historically supported lynx populations (Stinson 2001). However, although boreal forest habitat within the Kettle Range appears of high quality for lynx, there is no evidence that the Kettle Range is currently occupied by a lynx population nor has there been evidence of reproducing lynx in the Kettle Range in the past two decades (Koehler 2008).

 

Fuels-reduction projects in the WUI may degrade lynx habitat by reducing its ability to support snowshoe hares. For this reason, if WUI areas were designated as revised critical habitat, fuels-reduction projects may be impaired or delayed as a result of requirements under section 7(a)(2) of the Act, which could lead to reduced effectiveness of the fuels-reduction, and increased risk to human life and property. Mapped WUI areas can be viewed on the Internet at: ftp:// ftp2.fs.fed.us/incoming/r1/FWS/wui_1mile_buffer_oct06.pdf.

 

In addition to public comments received on this proposed rule, between the proposed and final rules, the Service will analyze the following for its relevance in revising critical habitat for lynx: (1) Comments received in response to our initiation of a 5-year review for lynx; (2) a new study addressing effects of snowmobile trails on coyote movements within lynx home ranges (Kolbe et al. 2007, pp. 1409– 1418); (3) a study on lynx prey selection (Squires and Ruggiero 2007, pp. 310–315); (4) new reports we have received on the numbers and distribution of lynx in some locations; (5) a newly released study on the effects of climate change on snowpack in western mountains and how that may affect lynx, snowshoe hares, and their habitats (Gonzalez et al. 2007); and (6) additional new studies (e.g., Knowles et al. 2006 and Danby and Hick 2007) that may provide insight on changes to lynx habitat. If necessary and appropriate, revisions to this proposed rule will be made to address this information. We will also be revising the economic analysis and environmental assessment prepared for the previous designation and providing drafts of the new economic analysis and environmental assessment to the public before finalizing this proposal.

 

On the basis of public comment, during the development of the revised final rule we may find, among other things, that areas proposed are not essential to the conservation of the species, are appropriate for exclusion under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, or are not appropriate for exclusion. In all of these cases, this information will be incorporated into the revised final designation. Further, we may find as a result of public comments that areas not proposed should also be designated as critical habitat. Final management plans that address the conservation of the lynx must be submitted to us during the public comment period so that we can take them into consideration when making our final critical habitat determination.

 

You may submit your comments and materials concerning this proposed rule by one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. We will not accept comments sent by e-mail or fax or to an address not listed in the ADDRESSES section. We will not accept anonymous comments; your comment must include your first and last name, city, State, country, and postal (zip) code. Finally, we will not consider hand-delivered comments that we do not receive, or mailed comments that are not postmarked, by the date specified in the DATES section.

 

We will post your entire comment— including your personal identifying information—on http:// www.regulations.gov. If you provide personal identifying information in addition to the required items specified in the previous paragraph, such as your street address, phone number, or e-mail address, 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 this revised proposed rule, will be available for public inspection on http:// www.regulations.gov, or by appointment, during normal business hours, at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Montana Ecological Services Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Maps of the proposed revised critical habitat are also available on the Internet at http://mountain-prairie. fws.gov/species/mammals/lynx/.

 

Above are the Summary and Public Comments sections of the Federal Register Notice. Go here for the complete Federal Register Notice (38-page PDF File: 971KB).

 

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Last updated: January 3, 2013