[Federal Register: February 25, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 38)]
[Rules and Regulations]               
[Page 10033-10039]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AF29

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Endangered Status 
for the Armored Snail and Slender Campeloma

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Final rule.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, determine the armored 
snail (Pyrgulopsis (=Marstonia) pachyta) and slender campeloma 
(Campeloma decampi) to be endangered species under the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). The armored snail occurs only in 
Piney and Limestone Creeks, Limestone County, Alabama. The range of the 
slender campeloma has been reduced (Aquatic Resources Center (ARC) 
1997) by at least three-quarters from its historical distribution and 
the species now occurs only in Round Island, Piney, and Limestone 
Creeks, Limestone County, Alabama. These species are now in a 
particularly precarious position, being restricted to a few isolated 
sites along two or three short river reaches. Siltation and other 
pollutants from poor land-use practices and waste discharges are 
contributing to the general deterioration of water quality, likely 
affecting these species. This action implements the protection of the 
Act for these two snails.

EFFECTIVE DATE: March 27, 2000.

ADDRESSES: The complete file for this rule is available for inspection, 
by appointment, during normal business hours at the Asheville Field 
Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 160 Zillicoa Street, Asheville, 
North Carolina 28801.

section), telephone 828/258-3939, Ext. 229; or Mr. Larry Goldman, Field 
Supervisor, P.O. Box 1190, 1208-B Main Street, Daphne, Alabama 36526, 
telephone 334/441-5181.



    Thompson (1977) described the armored snail (Marstonia pachyta), 
and Hershler and Thompson (1987) later reassigned it to the genus 
Pyrgulopsis. The armored snail is a small, presumably annual, species 
(usually less than 4 millimeters (mm) (0.16 inch (in)) in length) 
(Thompson 1984). It is distinguished from other closely related species 
by the characteristics of both its verge (male reproductive organ) and 
shell. The armored snail has a small raised gland on the ventral 
surface of the verge (a trait common only with the beaverpond snail (P. 
castor) of this genus) and two small glands along the left margin of 
the apical (tip) lobe. The apical lobe is smaller than in most species 
of Pyrgulopsis (Thompson 1977). Garner (1993) noted some variation in 
verge characteristics (more developed apical lobes), but attributed the 
differences to temporal changes in verge morphology throughout the

[[Page 10034]]

annual life cycle. The shell is easily identified by its ovate-conical 
shape, its pronounced thickness, and its complete peristome (edge of 
the opening). Other Pyrgulopsis species with ovate-conical shells have 
much thinner, almost transparent shells, and the peristome is seldom 
complete across the parietal margin (area along the opening abutting 
the main body of the shell) of the aperture (opening) (Thompson 1977).
    The armored snail occurs only in Piney and Limestone Creeks, 
Limestone County, Alabama (Garner 1993, Hershler 1994, ARC 1997), and 
has never been noted outside this area. Piney Creek was a tributary to 
Limestone Creek prior to the construction of Wheeler Lake on the 
Tennessee River. Thus, the two populations of the armored snail are 
likely remnants of a once larger population. No entire population of 
the armored snail is known to have been lost. Armored snails are 
generally found among submerged tree roots and bryophytes (nonflowering 
plants comprising mosses and liverworts) along stream margins in areas 
of slow to moderate flow. Occasionally they are found in the submerged 
detritus (organic matter and rock fragments) along pool edges.
    The armored snail is in a particularly precarious position because 
it is restricted to a few isolated sites along two short river reaches. 
Inhabited sites appear to be rather small, covering only a few square 
    The slender campeloma belongs to the ovoviviparous family 
Viviparidae. All species in this family give birth to young crawling 
snails rather than laying eggs that hatch in an external environment. 
The sexes are separate in the Viviparidae, with males being 
distinguishable by their modified right tentacle that serves as a 
copulatory organ. This modified tentacle in males is shorter and 
thicker than the left tentacle or either of the bilaterally symmetrical 
tentacles of the females (Burch and Vail 1982).
    Burch and Vail (1982) describe the slender campeloma (Campeloma 
decampi) (``Currier'' Binney 1865) as follows: Shell medium to large 
but generally less than 35 mm (1.40 in) in length; shell without spiral 
nodules; outer margin of shell aperture not concave and its oblique 
angle to the shell axis not exaggerated; columellar margin of operculum 
(plate that closes the shell when the snail is retracted) not reflected 
inward; operculum entirely concentric, including its nucleus; whorls 
without spiral angles, ridges, or sulci (grooves); shells without 
spiral color bands; length of aperture noticeably greater than width; 
lateral and marginal teeth simple with very fine, difficult-to-
distinguish cusps (points); shell narrow, relatively thin, generally 
with prominent raised spiral lines.
    The slender campeloma is easily distinguished from the sympatric 
(two or more closely related species occupying identical or overlapping 
territories) Campeloma decisum (a widespread and common species in 
northern Alabama) by the presence of fine sculpture in the form of 
faint striations and a relatively higher spire on the shell of C. 
decampi. Many C. decampi specimens have strongly developed ridges, 
referred to as axial growth ridges by Clench and Turner (1955). All 
whorls in juveniles and early whorls in adults are carinate (keel-
shaped). The shell of C. decisum is smooth, without carination.
    Campeloma decampi is typically found burrowing in soft sediment 
(sand and/or mud) or detritus. It does not appear abundant at any site, 
and the spotty distribution appears consistent with other Campeloma 
species (Bovbjerg 1952; Medcof 1940; van der Schalie 1965). Several 
size classes were found in 1996, ranging from 5 to 31 mm (0.2 to 1.24 
in) in shell height, indicating reproducing populations (ARC 1997). 
Biologists have not studied the life history of C. decampi. Based on 
other studies of species in the genus Campeloma, a genus exclusive to 
North America, we can infer a few generalities. Van Cleave and 
Altringer (1937), in their study of C. rufum in Illinois, found gravid 
females year-round, peaking in May, and with the most barren females in 
June. Parturition (giving birth) was also most active in May but 
extended until September first. Chamberlain (1958) found similar 
results with C. decisum in North Carolina (parturition extending from 
mid-March until the end of June), as did Medcof (1940) in his study of 
C. decisum in Ontario (parturition extending from March to September). 
Van Cleave and Altringer (1937) and van der Schalie (1965), in their 
work with C. ponderosum coarctatum, both found females carrying young 
in the uterus over winter. Given the wide range of sizes found by ARC 
(1997), the timing of parturition and the ability of females to 
overwinter young in the uterus are likely similar for C. decampi. 
However, it should be noted that C. rufum and C. decisum are 
parthenogenic (production of young by females without fertilization by 
males), as several of the northern Campeloma species appear to be. The 
food habits of the slender campeloma are not known, but they likely 
feed on detritus.
    Burch (1989) described the range for Campeloma decampi as Jackson, 
Limestone, and Madison Counties, Alabama. These counties all lie along 
the north side of the Tennessee River. However, the type locality of C. 
decampi is Decatur, Alabama, in Morgan County, across the river from 
Limestone County (Clench 1962).
    Clench and Turner (1955) identified museum specimens of several 
Campeloma decampi from several localities in northern Alabama. These 
sites were located primarily on stream impoundments and included Swan 
and Bass Lakes, Limestone County, Brim (=Braham) and Byrd Lakes, 
Madison County, and an unspecified locality in Jackson County. Surveys 
conducted in 1996 (ARC 1997) found no Swan Lake in North Alabama. A 
lake by that name was apparently located in Limestone County, across 
the river from Decatur, but was inundated by Wheeler Reservoir. This 
was likely the ``Decatur'' locality (type) mentioned in Clench (1962). 
Brim (=Braham) Lake was surveyed, but no C. decampi were found, though 
another viviparid (Viviparus georgianus) was abundant at the site. Byrd 
Spring, on Redstone Arsenal, was not accessible.
    Based on the 1996 surveys (ARC 1997), the range of Campeloma 
decampi has been reduced by at least three-quarters from its historical 
distribution, and existing populations are now isolated by Wheeler 
Reservoir. The species is now in a particularly precarious position, 
being restricted to a few isolated sites along three short stream 
reaches--Limestone, Piney, and Round Island Creeks.

Previous Federal Action

    In notices of review published in the Federal Register on January 
6, 1989 (54 FR 554), November 21, 1991 (56 FR 58804), and November 15, 
1994 (59 FR 58982), we identified the armored snail as a category 2 
candidate species. We identified the slender campeloma as a category 2 
species in the notice of review published in the Federal Register on 
November 15, 1994 (59 FR 58982). At that time a category 2 species was 
one that was being considered for possible addition to the Federal List 
of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants, but for which 
conclusive data on biological vulnerability and threats were not 
available to support a proposed rule. We discontinued designation of 
category 2 status in our February 28, 1996, notice of review (61 FR 
7956). We approved the two snails in this final rule as candidate 
species on August 29, 1997. A candidate species is defined as a species 
for which we have

[[Page 10035]]

on file sufficient information on biological vulnerability and threats 
to support the issuance of a proposed rule.
    On October 20, 1993, we notified potentially affected Federal and 
State agencies, local governments, and interested individuals within 
the species' present range that a status review was being conducted for 
the armored snail. We did not receive any objections to the potential 
listing of the armored snail. We did not send notification letters 
regarding the slender campeloma because the species' distribution is so 
similar to that of the armored snail.
    On October 28, 1998, we published a proposed rule (63 FR 57642) to 
list Campeloma decampi and Pyrgulopsis pachyta as endangered.
    The processing of this final rule 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 no longer be subject to 
prioritization under the Listing Priority Guidance. The processing of 
this final rule is a Priority 2. We have updated this rule to reflect 
any changes in information concerning distribution, status and threats 
since the publication of the proposed rule.

Summary of Comments and Recommendations

    In the October 28, 1998, proposed rule (63 FR 57642) and associated 
notifications, we requested that all interested parties submit 
information that might assist us in determining whether these taxa 
warranted listing. We placed a legal notice in the Decatur Daily 
announcing the proposal and inviting public comment. The comment period 
closed on December 28, 1998.
    During the comment period, we received one letter of support, three 
letters informing us of a proposed rock quarry on a tributary to 
Limestone Creek in Limestone County, Alabama, and one phone call 
questioning two of the threats (toxic chemical spills and chip mills) 
identified for the two snails but not opposing the listing. We received 
one letter in opposition to the listing stating that listing the two 
snails is unconstitutional because ``Limitations imposed by the 
Commerce clause require the Fish and Wildlife Service to demonstrate 
that species regulation has a substantial effect on interstate 
commerce,'' and because ``Protection of the species in the proposed 
rule bears no relation to interstate commerce.'' Below, we discuss 
these issues and our response to each.
    Issue 1: Toxic chemicals spills due to the numerous road crossings 
are not a significant threat to the snails.
    Response: We do not consider toxic chemical spills to be imminent 
threats to these two species; however, the impacts of such an event on 
any of the three creeks involved could eliminate one-third to one-half 
of the populations of one or both of these species. Therefore, toxic 
spills are considered a potential threat.
    Issue 2: Chip mills were specifically pointed out as a threat 
because they act as a ``lightning rod to incite environmental 
    Response: We specifically pointed out chip mills as a threat 
because they have the potential to harvest a larger area of land as 
compared to typical logging operations. However, if areas harvested for 
chip mills observe best management practices, it is unlikely they will 
have any more effect than other land-clearing activities.
    Issue 3: ``Piney and Limestone Creeks are in the path of a proposed 
rock quarry. * * * If these species are endangered, the quarry could 
only help to speed along the extinction of the snails.''
    Response: We agree that a rock quarry could pose a threat to the 
species, and we will consult with the appropriate agencies or 
individuals when the action is under our purview. For more details on 
the section 7 consultation process see the ``Available Conservation 
Measures'' section of this final rule.
    Issue 4: ``Limitations imposed by the Commerce clause require the 
Fish and Wildlife Service to demonstrate that species regulation has a 
substantial effect on interstate commerce,'' and ``Protection of the 
species in the proposed rule bears no relation to interstate 
    Response: The Federal government has the authority under the 
commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution to protect these species, for 
the reasons given in Judge Wald's opinion and Judge Henderson's 
concurring opinion in National Association of Home Builders v. Babbitt, 
130 F.3d 1041 (D.C. Cir. 1997), cert. denied, 1185 S. Ct. 2340 (1998). 
That case involved a challenge to application of the Act's prohibitions 
to protect the listed Delhi Sands flower-loving fly (Rhaphiomidas 
terminatus abdominalis). As with these species, the Delhi Sands flower-
loving fly is endemic to only one state. Judge Wald held that 
application of the Act's prohibition against taking of endangered 
species to this fly was a proper exercise of Commerce Clause power to 
regulate--(1) use of channels of interstate commerce; and (2) 
activities substantially affecting interstate commerce, because it 
prevented loss of biodiversity and destructive interstate competition. 
Judge Henderson upheld protection of the fly because doing so prevents 
harm to the ecosystem upon which interstate commerce depends, and 
regulates commercial development that is part of interstate commerce.

Peer Review

    In conformance with our policy on peer review, published on July 1, 
1994 (59 FR 34270), we solicited the expert opinions of independent 
specialists regarding pertinent scientific or commercial data and 
assumptions relating to the supportive biological and ecological 
information for the armored snail and slender campeloma. The purpose of 
such review is to ensure that the listing decision is based on the best 
scientific and commercial information available, as well as to ensure 
that reviews by appropriate experts and specialists are included into 
the review process of rulemakings.
    We solicited information and opinions from State and Federal 
resource agencies, as well as academic institutions. We asked them to 
provide any relevant scientific data relating to taxonomy, 
distribution, or supporting biological and ecological data used in the 
analysis of the factors for listing. None of the reviewers objected to 
the proposed rule or to the biological information supporting the rule.

Summary of Factors Affecting the Species

    After a thorough review and consideration of all information 
available, we have determined that we should classify the armored snail 
(Pyrgulopsis (=Marstonia) pachyta) and slender campeloma (Campeloma 
decampi) as endangered species. We followed procedures found at section 
4(a)(1) of the Act and regulations implementing the listing provisions 
of the Act (50 CFR part 424). We may determine a species to be an 

[[Page 10036]]

or threatened species due to one or more of the five factors described 
in section 4(a)(1). These factors and their application to the armored 
snail and slender campeloma are as follows:
    A. The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or 
Curtailment of Its Habitat or Range. The armored snail occurs only in 
Limestone and Piney Creeks, Limestone County, Alabama, and has never 
been noted outside this area. The slender campeloma is currently known 
from Round Island, Piney, and Limestone Creeks, Limestone County, 
Alabama, a reduction of about three-quarters from its historical range. 
Both of these species are extremely vulnerable to extirpation because 
of their very limited distribution, limited occupied habitat, and 
annual life cycle (in the case of the armored snail). Threats to these 
species include siltation, direct loss of habitat, altered water 
chemistry, and chemical pollution.
    Piney Creek was a tributary to Limestone Creek prior to the 
construction of Wheeler Lake on the Tennessee River. Thus, populations 
of both the armored snail and slender campeloma inhabiting these two 
creeks are likely remnants of once larger populations. In addition to 
directly altering snail habitat, dams and their impounded waters form 
barriers to the movement of snails. Sediment accumulation and changes 
in flow and water chemistry in impounded stream and river reaches 
reduce food and oxygen availability and eliminate essential breeding 
habitat for riverine snails. It is suspected that isolated colonies 
gradually disappear as a result of local water and habitat quality 
changes. Unable to emigrate (move out of the area), isolated snail 
populations are vulnerable to local discharges and any surface run-off 
within their watersheds. Although many watershed impacts have been 
temporary, eventually improving or even disappearing with the advent of 
new technology, practices, or laws, dams and their impoundments prevent 
natural recolonization by surviving snail populations.
    Sedimentation of rivers and streams may affect the reproductive 
success of aquatic snails by eliminating breeding habitat and 
interfering with their feeding activity by reducing or eliminating 
periphyton (plankton which live attached to rooted aquatic plants) food 
sources. Sources of sediments likely affecting these species include 
channel modification, agriculture, cattle grazing, unpaved road 
drainage, and industrial and residential development.
    Other types of water quality degradation from both point and 
nonpoint sources currently affect these species. Stream discharges from 
these sources may result in eutrophication (nutrient enrichment), 
decreased dissolved oxygen concentration, increased acidity and 
conductivity, and other changes in water chemistry. Nutrients, usually 
phosphorus and nitrogen, may emanate from agricultural fields, 
residential lawns, livestock operations, and leaking septic tanks at 
levels that result in eutrophication and reduced oxygen levels in small 
streams. The Round Island, Limestone, and Piney Creek drainages are 
dominated by agricultural use, primarily cotton (a high pesticide use 
crop), which makes these creeks susceptible to pesticide contamination. 
Pesticide containers were found in Limestone and Piney Creeks during 
site visits in 1997 (J. Allen Ratzlaff, personal observation). Timber 
harvesting could also impact these species if riparian vegetation is 
removed or siltation from run-off increases.
    Many bridge crossings occur within these species' range. Highway 
and bridge construction and widening could impact these species through 
sedimentation or the physical destruction of their habitat unless 
appropriate precautions are implemented.
    Limestone Creek currently supports one endangered snail species, 
Athearnia anthonyi (Anthony's riversnail), and most of its mussel fauna 
has been extirpated (17 species), including five species currently 
listed as endangered. We do not know the specific reasons for the loss 
of these species, but they are likely a combination of the above-listed 

B. Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or 
Educational Purposes

    The two snail species addressed in this final rule are currently 
not of commercial value, and overutilization has not been a problem. 
However, as their rarity becomes known, they may become more attractive 
to collectors. Although scientific collecting is not presently 
identified as a threat, unregulated collecting by private and 
institutional collectors could pose a threat to these locally 
restricted populations.

C. Disease or Predation

    Diseases of aquatic snails are unknown. Although various vertebrate 
predators, including fishes, mammals, and possibly birds, undoubtedly 
consume both the armored snail and slender campeloma, predation by 
naturally occurring predators is a normal aspect of the population 
dynamics of a species and we do not consider it a threat to these 
species at this time.
    Chamberlain (1958) found the uterus of some specimens of Campeloma 
decisum infected by the trematode Leucochloridomorpha constantiae, a 
black duck (Anas rubripes) parasite, with the snail evidently being an 
intermediate host. We do not know whether the slender campeloma is 
parasitized or to what degree any parasitism inhibits its life cycle.

D. The Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    The State of Alabama's prohibitions against taking fish and 
wildlife for scientific purposes without State collecting permits 
provide some protection for these snails. However, these species are 
generally not protected from other threats. These snails do not receive 
any special consideration under other environmental laws when project 
impacts are reviewed. Existing authorities available to protect aquatic 
systems, such as the Clean Water Act (CWA), administered by the 
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of 
Engineers (Corps), have not been adequate to prevent the degradation of 
these species' aquatic habitat. Federal listing will provide increased 
protection through existing authorities such as the CWA by requiring 
Federal agencies to consult with us when projects they fund, authorize, 
or carry out may adversely affect these species. Federal listing also 
will provide additional protection under the Act by requiring Federal 
permits to take these species.

E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued Existence

    Both species inhabit short creek reaches; thus, they are vulnerable 
to extirpation from random, catastrophic events, such as toxic chemical 
spills. All three creeks are crossed by a number of roads, railroads, 
and power lines that pose direct threats (e.g., loss of riparian 
vegetation) and indirect threats from potential toxic run-off. 
Additionally, because these populations are isolated, their long-term 
genetic viability is questionable. Because all three creeks are 
isolated by an impoundment, recolonization of an extirpated population 
is not likely without human intervention.
    Further, the loss of 17 species of mussels from Limestone Creek, 
including 5 species now listed as endangered, indicates a severely

[[Page 10037]]

impacted ecosystem that has undergone significant degradation. Because 
the life history and biology of these species are virtually unknown, it 
is likely they may continue to decline due to currently unrecognizable 
impacts and stresses to their populations.
    We have carefully assessed the best scientific and commercial 
information available regarding the past, present, and future threats 
faced by these species in determining to make this rule final. Based on 
this evaluation, the preferred action is to list the armored snail and 
slender campeloma as endangered species. The Act defines an endangered 
species as one that is in danger of extinction throughout all or a 
significant portion of its range. A threatened species is one that is 
likely to become an endangered species in the foreseeable future 
throughout all or a significant portion of its range. The armored snail 
is currently known only from Piney and Limestone Creeks, Limestone 
County, Alabama, and the slender campeloma is known only from Piney, 
Limestone, and Round Island Creeks, Limestone County, Alabama. These 
snails and their habitat have been and continue to be threatened. Their 
limited distribution also makes them vulnerable to toxic chemical 
spills. Because of their restricted distribution and vulnerability to 
extinction, endangered status is the most appropriate classification 
for these species.

Critical Habitat

    Section 3 of the Act defines critical habitat as: (i) The specific 
areas within the geographical area occupied by a species, at the time 
it is listed in accordance with the Act, on which are found those 
physical or biological features (I) essential to the conservation of 
the species and (II) that may require special management considerations 
or protection and (ii) specific areas outside the geographical area 
occupied by a species at the time it is listed, upon a determination 
that such areas are essential for the conservation of the species. 
``Conservation'' means the use of all methods and procedures needed to 
bring the species to the point at which listing under the Act is no 
longer necessary.
    Section 4(a)(3) of the Act, as amended, and implementing 
regulations (50 CFR 424.12) require that, to the maximum extent prudent 
and determinable, we designate critical habitat at the time the species 
is determined to be endangered or threatened. Our regulations (50 CFR 
424.12(a)(1)) state that designation of critical habitat is not prudent 
when one or both of the following situations exist--(i) the species is 
threatened by taking or other activity and the identification of 
critical habitat can be expected to increase the degree of threat to 
the species or (ii) such designation of critical habitat would not be 
beneficial to the species. We find that designation of critical habitat 
is prudent for the armored snail and slender campeloma.
    In the proposed rule, we indicated that designation of critical 
habitat was not prudent because of a concern that publication of 
precise maps and descriptions of critical habitat in the Federal 
Register could increase the vulnerability of these species to incidents 
of collection and vandalism. We also indicated that designation of 
critical habitat was not prudent because we believed it would not 
provide any additional benefit beyond that provided through listing as 
    In the last few years, a series of court decisions have overturned 
Service determinations regarding a variety of species that designation 
of critical habitat would not be prudent (e.g., Natural Resources 
Defense Council v. U.S. Department of the Interior 113 F. 3d 1121 (9th 
Cir. 1997); Conservation Council for Hawaii v. Babbitt, 2 F. Supp. 2d 
1280 (D. Hawaii 1998)). Based on the standards applied in those 
judicial opinions, we have reexamined the question of whether critical 
habitat for the armored snail and slender campeloma would be prudent.
    Due to the small number of populations, the armored snail and 
slender campeloma are vulnerable to unrestricted collection, vandalism, 
or other disturbance. We remain concerned that these threats might be 
exacerbated by the publication of critical habitat maps and further 
dissemination of locational information. However, we have examined the 
evidence available for the armored snail and slender campeloma and have 
not found specific evidence of taking, vandalism, collection, or trade 
of these species or any similarly situated species. Consequently, 
consistent with applicable regulations (50 CFR 424.12(a)(1)(i)) and 
recent case law, we do not expect that the identification of critical 
habitat will increase the degree of threat to this species of taking or 
other human activity.
    In the absence of a finding that critical habitat would increase 
threats to a species, if there are any benefits to critical habitat 
designation, then a prudent finding is warranted. In the case of this 
species, there may be some benefits to designation of critical habitat. 
The primary regulatory effect of critical habitat is the section 7 
requirement that Federal agencies refrain from taking any action that 
destroys or adversely modifies critical habitat. While a critical 
habitat designation for habitat currently occupied by this species 
would not be likely to change the section 7 consultation outcome 
because an action that destroys or adversely modifies such critical 
habitat would also be likely to result in jeopardy to the species, 
there may be instances where section 7 consultation would be triggered 
only if critical habitat is designated. Examples could include 
unoccupied habitat or occupied habitat that may become unoccupied in 
the future. There may also be some educational or informational 
benefits to designating critical habitat. Therefore, we find that 
critical habitat is prudent for the armored snail and slender 
    The Final Listing Priority Guidance for FY 2000 (64 FR 57114) 
states, ``The processing of critical habitat determinations (prudency 
and determinability decisions) and proposed or final designations of 
critical habitat will no longer be subject to prioritization under the 
Listing Priority Guidance. Critical habitat determinations, which were 
previously included in final listing rules published in the Federal 
Register, may now be processed separately, in which case stand-alone 
critical habitat determinations will be published as notices in the 
Federal Register. We will undertake critical habitat determinations and 
designations during FY 2000 as allowed by our funding allocation for 
that year.'' As explained in detail in the Listing Priority Guidance, 
our listing budget is currently insufficient to allow us to immediately 
complete all of the listing actions required by the Act. Deferral of 
the critical habitat designation for the armored snail and slender 
campeloma will allow us to concentrate our limited resources on higher 
priority critical habitat (including court order designations) and 
other listing actions, while allowing us to put in place protections 
needed for the conservation of armored snail and slender campeloma 
without further delay. However, because we have successfully reduced, 
although not eliminated, the backlog of other listing actions, we 
anticipate in FY 2000 and beyond giving higher priority to critical 
habitat designation, including designations deferred pursuant to the 
Listing Priority Guidance, such as the designation for this species, 
than we have in recent fiscal years.
    We plan to employ a priority system for deciding which outstanding 
critical habitat designations should be

[[Page 10038]]

addressed first. We will focus our efforts on those designations that 
will provide the most conservation benefit, taking into consideration 
the efficacy of critical habitat designation in addressing the threats 
to the species, and the magnitude and immediacy of those threats. We 
will develop a proposal to designate critical habitat for the armored 
snail and slender campeloma as soon as feasible, considering our 
workload priorities.

Available Conservation Measures

    Conservation measures provided to species listed as endangered or 
threatened under the Act include recognition, recovery actions, 
requirements for Federal protection, and prohibitions against certain 
practices. Recognition through listing encourages and results in 
conservation actions by Federal, State, and private agencies, groups, 
and individuals. The Act provides for possible land acquisition and 
cooperation with the States and requires that recovery actions be 
carried out for all listed species. The protection required of Federal 
agencies and the prohibitions against taking and harm are discussed, in 
part, below.
    Section 7(a) of the Act, as amended, requires Federal agencies to 
evaluate their actions with respect to any species that is listed as 
endangered or threatened and with respect to its critical habitat, if 
any is being designated. Regulations implementing this interagency 
cooperation provision of the Act are codified at 50 CFR part 402. 
Section 7(a)(2) requires Federal agencies to ensure that activities 
they authorize, fund, or carry out are not likely to jeopardize the 
continued existence of such a species or to destroy or adversely modify 
its critical habitat. If a Federal action may affect a listed species 
or its critical habitat, the responsible Federal agency must enter into 
formal consultation with us.
    We notified Federal agencies that may have programs or projects 
affecting the armored snail and requested information on Federal 
activities that might adversely affect the species. We did not give 
notification about the slender campeloma because its range is so 
similar and because no controversy arose from the notification of the 
potential listing of the armored snail. No Federal agencies identified 
specific proposed actions that would likely affect the species. Federal 
activities that could occur and impact the species include, but are not 
limited to, reservoir construction or issuance of permits for reservoir 
construction, stream alterations, wastewater facility development, 
pesticide registration, and road and bridge construction. Activities 
affecting water quality may also impact these species and are subject 
to the Corps' and EPA's regulations and permit requirements under 
authority of the CWA and the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination 
System (NPDES). It has been our experience, however, that nearly all 
section 7 consultations can be resolved so that the species is 
protected and the project objectives are met.
    The Act and implementing regulations found at 50 CFR 17.21 set 
forth a series of general prohibitions and exceptions that apply to all 
endangered wildlife. These prohibitions, in part, make it illegal for 
any person subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to take 
(includes harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, or 
collect or to attempt any of these), import or export, ship in 
interstate commerce in the course of commercial activity, or sell or 
offer for sale in interstate or foreign commerce any endangered 
wildlife. It also is illegal to possess, sell, deliver, carry, 
transport, or ship any such wildlife that has been taken illegally. 
Certain exceptions apply to our agents and agents of State conservation 
    Under certain circumstances, we may issue permits to carry out 
otherwise prohibited activities involving endangered wildlife species. 
Regulations governing permits are at 50 CFR 17.22 for endangered 
wildlife. Such permits are available for scientific purposes, to 
enhance the propagation or survival of the species, and/or for 
incidental take in connection with otherwise lawful activities.
    It is our policy, published in the Federal Register on July 1, 1994 
(59 FR 34272), to identify, to the maximum extent practicable, those 
activities that would or would not constitute a violation of section 9 
of the Act. The intent of this policy is to increase public awareness 
as to the effects of this listing on future and ongoing activities 
within the species' range.
    Activities that we believe are not likely to result in a violation 
of section 9 for these two snails include:
    (1) Existing discharges into waters supporting these species, 
provided these activities are carried out in accordance with existing 
regulations and permit requirements (e.g., activities subject to 
sections 404 and 405 of the CWA including discharges regulated under 
the NPDES);
    (2) Actions that may affect these two snail species and are 
authorized, funded, or carried out by a Federal agency when the action 
is conducted in accordance with any reasonable and prudent measures 
given by us in accordance with section 7 of the Act;
    (3) Typical agricultural and silvicultural practices carried out in 
compliance with existing State and Federal regulations and best 
management practices;
    (4) Development and construction activities designed and 
implemented according to State and local water quality regulations;
    (5) Existing recreational activities, such as swimming, wading, 
canoeing, and fishing; and
    (6) Use of pesticides and herbicides in accordance with the label 
restrictions within the species' watersheds.
    Activities that we believe could result in ``take'' of these snails 
    (1) Unauthorized collection or capture of these species;
    (2) Unauthorized destruction or alteration of the species' habitat 
(e.g., in-stream dredging, channelization, water withdrawal, and 
discharge of fill material);
    (3) Violation of any discharge or water withdrawal permit; and
    (4) Illegal discharge or dumping of toxic chemicals or other 
pollutants into waters supporting these two species.
    We will review other activities not identified above on a case-by-
case basis to determine if a violation of section 9 of the Act may be 
likely to result from such activity. We do not consider these lists to 
be exhaustive and provide them simply as information to the public.
    You should direct questions regarding whether specific activities 
may constitute a future violation of section 9 to our Asheville or 
sections). You may request copies of regulations regarding listed 
species and address questions about prohibitions and permits to the 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ecological Services Division, 1875 
Century Boulevard, Suite 200, Atlanta, Georgia 30345 (Phone 404/679-
7313; Fax 404/679-7081).

National Environmental Policy Act

    We have determined that we do not need to prepare an Environmental 
Assessment, as defined under the authority of the National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969, in connection with regulations 
adopted pursuant to section 4(a) of the Act. A notice outlining our 
reasons for this determination was published in the Federal Register on 
October 25, 1983 (48 FR 49244).

Paperwork Reduction Act

    This rule does not contain any new collections of information other 
than those already approved under the

[[Page 10039]]

Paperwork Reduction Act, 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq., and assigned Office of 
Management and Budget clearance 1018-0094. An agency may not conduct or 
sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, a collection of 
information unless it displays a current valid control number. For 
additional information concerning permit and associated requirements 
for endangered wildlife species, see 50 CFR 17.22.

References Cited

    You may request a complete list of all references cited herein, as 
well as others, from the Asheville Field Office (see ADDRESSES 


    The primary author of this final rule is Mr. J. Allen Ratzlaff (see 
ADDRESSES section) (828/258-3939, Ext. 229).

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

    Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements, Transportation.

Regulation Promulgation


    Accordingly, we amend part 17, subchapter B of chapter I, title 50 
of the Code of Federal Regulations, as follows:
    1. The authority citation for part 17 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1361-1407; 16 U.S.C. 1531-1544; 16 U.S.C. 
4201-4245; Pub. L. 99-625, 100 Stat. 3500; unless otherwise noted.

    2. Amend Sec. 17.11(h) by adding the following, in alphabetical 
order under SNAILS, to the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife:

Sec. 17.11  Endangered and threatened wildlife.

* * * * *
    (h) * * *

                        Species                                                    Vertebrate
--------------------------------------------------------                        population where                                  Critical     Special
                                                            Historic range       endangered or         Status      When listed    habitat       rules
           Common name                Scientific name                              threatened

                       *                *                 *                 *                *                 *                 *

                       *                *                 *                 *                *                 *                 *
Campeloma, slender...............  Campeloma decampi...  U.S.A. (AL)........  NA.................  E                       688           NA           NA

                       *                *                 *                 *                *                 *                 *
Snail, armored...................  Pyrgulopsis           U.S.A. (AL)........  NA.................  E                       688           NA           NA

                       *                *                 *                 *                *                 *                 *

    Dated: December 22, 1999.
Jamie Rappaport Clark,
Director, Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 00-4373 Filed 2-24-00; 8:45 am]