[Federal Register: November 17, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 221)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 62641-62644]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 90-Day Finding for 
a Petition To List the Santa Monica Mountains Hairstreak as Endangered 
With Critical Habitat

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

[[Page 62642]]

ACTION: Notice of 90-day petition finding.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 
90-day finding for a petition to emergency list the Santa Monica 
Mountains hairstreak (Satyrium auretorum fumosum) under the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). This butterfly only occurs in 
southern California. We find that the petition did not present 
substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that 
listing this subspecies may be warranted.

DATES: The finding announced in this notice was made on November 5, 

ADDRESSES: Data, information, comments, or questions concerning this 
petition should be sent to the Field Supervisor, Ventura Fish and 
Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2493 Portola Road, 
Suite B, Ventura, California 93003. The petition, finding and 
supporting data are available for public inspection, by appointment, 
during normal business hours at the above address.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Carl Benz, Assistant Field Supervisor, 
Listing and Recovery, at the address above (telephone 805/644-1766; 
facsimile 805/644-3958).



    Section 4(b)(3)(A) of the Act, requires that we make a finding on 
whether a petition to list, delist, or reclassify a species presents 
substantial scientific or commercial information to demonstrate that 
the petitioned action may be warranted. This finding is based upon all 
information submitted with and referenced in the petition, and all 
other information available to us at the time the finding is made. To 
the maximum extent practicable, this finding is to be made within 90 
days following receipt of the petition and promptly published in the 
Federal Register. If the finding is positive, section 4(b)(3)(B) of the 
Act requires us to promptly commence a review of the status of the 
species, and to disclose our findings within 12 months.
    The processing of this petition finding conforms with our Listing 
Priority Guidance published in the Federal Register on October 22, 1999 
(64 FR 57114). The guidance clarifies the order in which we will 
process rulemakings. Highest priority is processing emergency listing 
rules for any species determined to face a significant and imminent 
risk to its well being (Priority 1). Second priority (Priority 2) is 
processing final determinations on proposed additions to the lists of 
endangered and threatened wildlife and plants. Third priority is 
processing new proposals to add species to the lists. The processing of 
administrative petition findings (petitions filed under section 4 of 
the Act) is the fourth priority. The processing of critical habitat 
determinations (prudency and determinability decisions) and proposed or 
final designations of critical habitat will be funded separately from 
other section 4 listing actions and will no longer be subject to 
prioritization under Listing Priority Guidance. The processing of this 
petition finding is a Priority 4 action and is being completed in 
accordance with the current Listing Priority Guidance.
    On January 8, 1999, we received a petition from the Urban Wildlands 
Group, the Lepidoptera Research Foundation, the California Oak 
Foundation, the Southwest Center for Biodiversity, Roger Kim, Lisa 
Bracamonte, Rudi Mattoni, Travis Longcore, Catherine Rich, John Emmel, 
and John Pasko (Urban Wildlands et al. 1999) requesting that we 
emergency list the Santa Monica Mountains hairstreak (Satyrium 
auretorum fumosum) as an endangered species under the Act, and that 
critical habitat be designated concurrent with listing. This petition 
dated January 2, 1999, specified endangered status primarily because of 
the butterfly's limited distribution and threats from urbanization and 
habitat fragmentation.
    Emergency listing is not a petionable action under the Act. 
However, our above-mentioned listing priority guidance requires that we 
screen petitions to list species for the need to emergency list them. 
Based on the information provided by the petitioners, we find that 
threats to the continued existence of the Santa Monica Mountains 
hairstreak are present but not immediate, and they do not individually 
or collectively pose a significant risk to the well being of the 
subspecies. Therefore, we feel that emergency listing the Santa Monica 
Mountains hairstreak is not justified at this time.
    The Santa Monica Mountains hairstreak butterfly is a small brown 
butterfly with a wing span of 2.5-3.2 centimeters (cm) (1-1.25 inches 
(in)). The subspecies is a member of the Lycaenidae family. The taxon 
was first mentioned when Emmel and Emmel (1973) noted a population of 
the nut-brown hairstreak (Satyrium auretorum spadix) with darker 
undersides in the western Santa Monica Mountains. Emmel and Mattoni 
(1990) later named this taxon the Santa Monica Mountains hairstreak 
(Satyrium auretorum fumosum), which they distinguished from the gold-
hunter's hairstreak (Satyrium auretorum auretorum) and the nut-brown 
hairstreak, primarily by the darker brown color on the underside of the 
forewing and hindwing of both males and females, and described the 
adult's morphology, distinguishing features, distribution, phenology, 
and phylogenetic relationships.
    Based upon limited rearing of a few larvae, young shoots of coast 
live oak (Quercus agrifolia) may be the sole host of the Santa Monica 
Mountain hairstreak (Pasko and Mattoni 1992). Adults spend most of 
their time perching on coast live oak and fly only when disturbed 
(Urban Wildlands et al. 1999). According to the petitioners, 
observation of the butterfly is difficult because the life cycle is 
completed in the oak canopy about 9-12 meters (m) (30-40 feet (ft)) 
above ground. Adults fly as a single brood from late April to June and 
have rarely been observed nectaring. When observed, the nectar source 
has always been California buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum) (Urban 
Wildlands et al. 1999). Based on the information provided by the 
petitioners and other information available to us, it is unclear 
whether California buckwheat is critical to the life history of the 
Santa Monica Mountains hairstreak, or if other plants can provide 
adequate nectar sources. At the present time, the complete life history 
of the Santa Monica Mountains hairstreak is unknown. It is difficult to 
identify the precise habitat requirements of the subspecies without 
certainty of the species and quality of foodplant(s) required, 
potential micro-habitat requirements of adults, pupae, larvae and eggs, 
and other environmental factors necessary for all life stages of the 
    The historic distribution of the Santa Monica Mountains hairstreak 
is not precisely known. The petitioners note that amateur butterfly 
collectors have extensively collected in the area and there is no 
indication that the Santa Monica Mountains hairstreak occurs beyond the 
western end of the Santa Monica Mountains in California. However, it is 
unlikely that collectors would have aggressively sought the Santa 
Monica Mountains hairstreak before 1973, when Emmel and Emmel first 
made reference to this subspecies or perhaps even before 1990, when the 
taxon was officially described in the scientific literature. The lack 
of historical collections cannot be used as empirical evidence of the 
narrowness of the taxon's historical or present distribution. The Santa 

[[Page 62643]]

Mountains hairstreak is, thus far, known only from five locations in 
the northern slopes and plateau of the western end of the Santa Monica 
Mountains in Ventura and Los Angeles Counties (Urban Wildlands et al. 
1999; Pasko and Mattoni 1992).
    There are no comprehensive surveys undertaken for the taxon. 
According to the petitioners, at one Los Angeles County location, Santa 
Monica Mountains hairstreak adults were observed in 1990, 1993 and 1994 
in association with mature coast live oaks (Pasko and Mattoni 1992; 
Urban Wildlands et al. 1999). At another Los Angeles County location, 
on property owned by the National Park Service, larvae were found on 
seven of the coast live oaks examined (Pasko and Mattoni 1992; Urban 
Wildlands et al. 1999). Six adult male butterflies were sighted near 
this second location on May 17, 1997, and four adult males and two 
adult females were counted there on May 23, 1997, (Urban Wildlands et 
al. 1999). The petitioners assert that the population at a third 
location in Ventura County was not located and may be extirpated; 
however, it is unclear when the hairstreak was last observed at this 
location. Because of the imprecision of the data supplied by the 
petitioners, the exact locality of a single adult collected at the 
fourth location is unknown. Much of the area surrounding this location 
is within the boundaries of the Santa Monica Mountains National 
Recreation Area, administered by the National Park Service, but a 
variety of private in-holdings also occur within the recreation area. 
The petitioners assert that a fifth location also exists based upon the 
finding of one adult male butterfly collected on a site co-owned and 
managed by the Conejo Recreation and Parks District and Conejo Open 
Space Conservation Agency (COSCA). These data are the only information 
supplied by the petitioners with regard to the size and location of 
populations of the Santa Monica Mountains hairstreak.
    The petitioners maintain that although amateur butterfly collectors 
frequent the Santa Monica Mountains, there are no records of the Santa 
Monica Mountains hairstreak in areas other than in the localities 
identified previously. However, there is an absence of documentation on 
the dates, number and frequency of collections, and names of 
collectors, and there are insufficient data to substantiate the claim 
that the Santa Monica Mountains hairstreak is limited to the locations 
outlined in the petition. Coast live oak and common buckwheat, the two 
species of plants on which the butterfly may depend, are common 
throughout the Santa Monica Mountains (Tim Thomas, Service, pers. comm. 
1999). Therefore, it is unclear, why the Santa Monica Mountains 
hairstreak would occur in such small numbers in a few localized areas 
when the two plant species most closely associated with the butterfly 
are widespread. Since the butterfly occurs high above the ground in the 
canopy of oaks, the subspecies is probably difficult to locate. 
Comprehensive surveys are needed to determine if the present range and 
habitat requirements of the taxon is as restricted as asserted in the 
    The petitioners outlined factors threatening the subspecies, 
including urbanization; fragmentation and other natural and manmade 
factors; overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific or 
educational purposes; and inadequacy of existing conservation 
mechanisms. Three of the five known localities of this butterfly occur 
on private land and are the most susceptible to habitat destruction and 
degradation. According to the petition, one of the Los Angeles County 
locations of the subspecies has been designated for a future high-
priced housing development, and ``most or all'' of the 25 
aforementioned coast live oaks will be removed. This development has 
been approved and approximately 12 to 22 of the oak trees will be 
removed (Scott Wolfe, City of Westlake Village, pers. comm. 1999). It 
is unclear if one or more of the four coast live oaks that the 
subspecies was found on will be removed, and what the impacts of coast 
live oak removal will be.
    At another location in Ventura County, development took place in 
the form of numerous, privately owned homes. Any remaining habitat for 
the Santa Monica Mountains hairstreak in this area is susceptible to 
development and could also be degraded in the future (R. Sauvoget, 
National Park Service, pers. comm. 1999). If a population of the Santa 
Monica Mountains hairstreak does occur in the Santa Monica Mountains 
Recreation Area where a single adult was collected, this population 
could also be susceptible to development since there are a number of 
private in-holdings within the Recreation Area (R. Sauvoget, pers. 
comm. 1999).
    The petitioners also identify habitat fragmentation by roads and 
highways, along with habitat degradation from littering, dumping and 
unlawful hunting as threats to the Santa Monica Mountains hairstreak at 
one location. Recreational and commercial activities, such as mountain 
biking, in-line skating, and jogging, were also cited by the 
petitioners, but there is no explanation on how these activities would 
negatively affect the subspecies. Since most of this subspecies' life 
cycle appears to be spent within the canopy of coast live oak, it is 
unclear how these threats in the area surrounding the coast live oaks 
might affect the butterfly at any locality. It is conceivable that 
habitat fragmentation and degradation could decrease the proximity, 
quantity or quality of nectar sources, such as California buckwheat. 
However, at the present time, the role or importance of nectar sources 
in the life history of the Santa Monica Mountains hairstreak is 
unknown. Fragmentation of habitat could also lead to genetic isolation 
of populations of the taxon and increased susceptibility to 
catastrophic events, including fire. However, without adequate data on 
the habitat requirements and population structure of the Santa Monica 
Mountains hairstreak, the extent of potential threats of habitat 
fragmentation, modification or destruction cannot be adequately 
    Butterflies are potentially subject to intense collection 
pressures. There is an international commercial trade in many butterfly 
species listed and proposed for listing under the Act, as well as other 
imperiled or rare butterflies (U.S. Department of Justice 1993, 1995; 
Williams 1996; Claireborne 1997; Hoekwater 1997; Chris Nagano, Service, 
pers. comm. 1999). At the present time, two known localities of the 
Santa Monica Mountains hairstreak are protected from collection. As 
property of the National Park Service, one location has regulations in 
place that make it illegal to collect animal or plant specimens. 
Because this location is consistently patrolled by rangers, these 
regulations are well-enforced (R. Sauvoget, pers. comm. 1999). 
Regulations at the site co-owned and managed by COSCA, prohibit the 
collection of animals and plants within the park, and this prohibition 
is well-enforced by park rangers (Mark Towne, COSCA, pers. comm. 1999). 
The three other currently known sites of the Santa Monica Mountains 
hairstreak have no protective measures to preclude collecting of the 
    Regulatory mechanisms currently in place are generally inadequate 
to protect the Santa Monica Mountains hairstreak. Federal agencies and 
private landholders are not legally required to consider and manage for 
this or other subspecies during project design and implementation. The 
Santa Monica Mountains hairstreak is not listed under the California 
Endangered Species Act. The California Environmental Quality Act and 
local regulations do not provide

[[Page 62644]]

specific protection measures to ensure the continued existence of the 
Santa Monica Mountains hairstreak (Urban Wildlands et al. 1999). Some 
city and county jurisdictions are attempting to provide for the 
protection of coast live oaks in areas where the Santa Monica Mountains 
hairstreak occurs through adoption of land ordinances. These ordinances 
require landowners to plant saplings as replacements for removed oak 
trees (Urban Wildlands et al. 1999). However, it is unknown whether the 
Santa Monica Mountains hairstreak would benefit from the planting of 
young oak trees, or if the subspecies is associated solely with older 
oak trees. Information on the life history or habitat requirements of 
the Santa Monica Mountains hairstreak is insufficient to determine the 
full effect of oak tree protection on the subspecies.
    We have reviewed the petition, and carefully assessed the 
scientific and commercial information available from this petition and 
our own files regarding the past, present, and future threats faced by 
the Santa Monica Mountains hairstreak. Several factors may impact the 
Santa Monica Mountains hairstreak at the five known sites, but this 
butterfly was only recently discovered, and little is known of its life 
history requirements and potential distribution. Critical information 
needed includes documentation of historical collection records 
throughout the range of the taxon; surveys of the western Santa Monica 
Mountains devoted to searching for the butterfly; documentation and 
detailed descriptions of studies of hostplant specificity of the 
butterfly; and analysis of nectar sources available to and used by the 
subspecies. The evidence the petitioners present indicates that the 
subspecies may be rare, but available information is insufficient to 
adequately determine if other populations exist beyond the currently 
described five locations. Without additional information on the life 
history, range, or population size of the taxon, we cannot evaluate the 
seriousness of the potential threats to the Santa Monica Mountains 
hairstreak that are identified in the petition. Because of the lack of 
adequate data on biological vulnerability and threats, we find that the 
petition does not present substantial information that listing the 
Santa Monica Mountains hairstreak may be warranted.

References Cited

    Claiborne, W. 1997. Authorities net butterfly poacher at 
National Park. Page A4. Washington Post. August 2, 1997.
    Emmel, T.C. and J.F. Emmel. 1973. The butterflies of Southern 
California. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles Scientific 
Publication no. 26.
    Emmel, J.F. and R.H.T. Mattoni. 1989. A new subspecies of 
Satyrium auretorum (Lycaenidae) from the Santa Monica Mountains of 
southern California. Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera 28(1-
    Hoekwater, J. 1997. Butterfly poaching for profit in Baxter 
State Park, Maine. Northeastern Naturalist 4:145-152.
    Pasko, J. and R. Mattoni. 1992. Notes on the Santa Monica 
Mountains hairstreak Satyrium auretorum fumosum, Emmel and Mattoni. 
Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera 31:287-292.
    U. S. Department of Justice. 1995. Prison for illegal smuggling 
of endangered and protected species. (press release). Milwaukee, 
    U. S. Department of Justice. 1993. United States of America v. 
Richard J. Skalski, Thomas W. Kral, and Marc L. Grinnell. Violation: 
Conspiracy to violate the wildlife laws of the United States, 
including the Endangered Species Act [16 U.S.C. 1538(a)(1) (E), (F) 
and (G), and 1540(b)(1)] and the Lacey Act [16 U.S.C. 3372(a)(1), 
3373(a)(2)(A), sections 3373(d)(1)(B), and 3373(d)(2)] all in 
violation of Title 18 U.S.C. Sec. 371, a felony (indictment). San 
Jose, California.
    Urban Wildlands Group, Lepidoptera Research Foundation, 
California Oaks Foundation, Southwest Center for Biodiversity, R. 
Kim, L. Bracamante, R. Mattoni, T. Longcore, C. Rich, J. Emmel, and 
J. Prasko. January 2, 1999. Petition to list the Santa Monica 
Mountains hairstreak (Satyrium auretorum fumosum) as endangered 
under the Endangered Species Act.
    Williams, T. 1996. The great butterfly bust. Audubon 98(2): 30-


    The primary author of this finding is Colleen Sculley, U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service, Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES 


    The authority for this action is the Endangered Species Act (16 
U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).

    Dated: November 5, 1999.
Jamie Rappaport Clark,
Director, Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 99-29993 Filed 11-16-99; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-p