About the Document:
Title: Proposed Designation of Critical Habitat for Astragalus ampullarioides (Shivwits milk vetch) and Astragalus holmgreniorum (Holmgren milk vetch) under the Endangered Species Act
Type of Review: Influential
Timeline of the Peer review:
Draft document disseminated: March 29 2006
Peer review initiated: April 28, 2006
Peer review to be completed by: May 29, 2006
Document to be finalized: December 7, 2006
About the Peer Review Process:
In accordance with our July 1, 1994 peer review policy (59 FR 34270), we solicited independent scientific reviews of the information contained in our March 29, 2006 proposal to designate critical habitat for Shivwits and Holmgren milk vetches (71 FR 15966). This review is occurring concurrently with the public comment period for the proposed action. This review will also satisfy the peer review requirements of the Office of Management and Budget’s Final Information Quality Bulletin for Peer Review.
The Service will solicit written comments from independent scientific reviewers. The Service has requested that State agencies, professional societies, universities, botanical institutions, and select non-profits (i.e., those involved in Shivwits and Holmgren milk vetch recovery) nominate potential peer reviewers. We requested that these groups consider the following criteria for any potential nomination.
Expertise: The reviewer should have knowledge, experience, and skills in one or more of the following areas: Astragalus holmgreniorum, A. ampullarioides, or similar species biology; conservation biology; small and declining population dynamics and extinction risk analysis; land development and use, invasive species, and other environmental pressures within the range of these species; land planning and management; modeling; and/or evaluation of biological plausibility.
Independence: The reviewer should not be employed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or other agencies within the Department of Interior. Academic and consulting scientists should have sufficient independence from the Service or Department if the government supports their work.
Objectivity: The reviewer should be recognized by his or her peers as being objective, open‑minded, and thoughtful. In addition, the reviewer should be comfortable sharing his or her knowledge and perspectives and openly identifying his or her knowledge gaps.
Advocacy: The reviewer should not be known or recognized for an affiliation with an advocacy position regarding the protection of these milk-vetches under the Endangered Species Act.
Conflict of Interest: The reviewer should not have any financial or other interest that conflicts that could impair his or her objectivity or create an unfair competitive advantage. If an otherwise qualified reviewer has an unavoidable conflict of interest, the Service may publicly disclose the conflict.
Nominations were requested by April 21, 2006. While expertise is the primary consideration, the Service will select peer reviewers (considering, but not limited to, these nominations) that add to a diversity of scientific perspectives relevant to the proposed designation of critical habitat. We anticipate sending the document to the peer reviewers no later than April 28, 2006. Responses will be requested by May 29, 2006. We will not be providing financial compensation to peer reviewers. We will solicit reviews from at least eight qualified experts.
The Service will provide each peer reviewer with information explaining their role and instructions for fulfilling that role, including Regional and Service guidance, the proposed rule, a full list of citations noting whether the source has been peer reviewed, and all citations (or in the case of some longer documents, the relevant pages of the document) in an electronic format, on a CD. The purpose of seeking independent peer review is to ensure use of the best scientific and commercial information available and to ensure and to maximize the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of the information upon which the proposed action is based, as well as to ensure that reviews by recognized experts are incorporated into the rulemaking process. Peer Reviewers will be advised that they are not to provide advice on policy. Rather, they should focus their review on identifying and characterizing scientific uncertainties. Specifically, peer reviewers will be asked to consider, but to not limit their comments, to the following questions and to provide any other relevant comments, criticisms, or thoughts:
1. Is our description and analysis of the biology, population, and distribution of Astragalus holmgreniorum and Astragalus ampullarioides accurate?
2. Are our assumptions and definition of suitable habitat logical and adequate?
3. Is our delineation and proposal of critical habitat for this species appropriate?
4. Are the conclusions we reach logical and supported by the evidence we provide?
5. Did we include all the necessary and pertinent literature to support our assumptions/arguments/conclusions?
Peer reviewers will provide individual, written responses to the Service. Peer reviewers will be advised that their reviews, including their names and affiliations, will (1) be included in the administrative record of our final determination regarding this proposal (i.e., a final rule or a withdrawal), and (2), once all are completed, will be available upon request. We will summarize and respond to the issues raised by the peer reviewers in a special section of the final rulemaking determination. Because this peer review process is running concurrently with public review of the proposed action, peer reviewers will not be provided public comments.
About Public Participation
The public may comment on the proposed critical habitat designation and the approach of this peer review through the normal comment process associated with the proposed rule. Public comments will be accepted until May 29, 2006.
1. You may submit written comments and information to Henry Maddux, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Utah Fish and Wildlife Office, 2369 West Orton Circle, Suite 50, West Valley City, Utah 84119.
2. You may hand-deliver written comments to our office, at the above address.
3. You may send comments by electronic mail (e mail) to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please see Public Comments Solicited section below for file format and other information about electronic filing.
4. You may fax your comments to 801-975-3331.
5. You may submit comments via the Federal E-Rulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov.
Comments and materials received, as well as supporting documentation used in the preparation of this proposed rule, will be available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Office in Salt Lake City, Utah at the above address.
For more information, contact Henry Maddux at 801-975-3330.