[Federal Register: January 12, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 8)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 1845]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

[[Page 1845]]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AF76

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Extension of 
Comment Period and Notice of Public Hearing on Proposed Critical 
Habitat Determination for the Spikedace and Loach Minnow

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule; extension of comment period and notice of public 


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) gives notice that 
a public hearing will be held and the comment period extended on the 
proposed determination of critical habitat for two threatened fishes, 
the spikedace (Meda fulgida) and the loach minnow (Tiaroga = 
(Rhinichthys) cobitis). The hearing and the extension of the comment 
period will allow all interested parties to submit oral or written 
comments on the critical habitat proposal and the draft Economic 
Analysis and draft Environmental Assessment for the proposal.

DATES: The public hearing will be held from 7:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on 
January 31, 2000, in Sierra Vista, Arizona. The comment period for this 
proposal will be extended from January 14, 2000, to February 14, 2000. 
Comments on the proposal, draft Economic Analysis, and draft 
Environmental Assessment must be received by the closing date. Any 
comments that are received after the closing date may not be considered 
in the final decision on the proposal.

ADDRESSES: The public hearing will be held at Buena Performing Arts 
Center (Buena High School), 5225 Buena School Boulevard, Sierra Vista, 
Arizona. Written comments should be sent to the State Supervisor, U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, 2321 W. Royal Palm Road, Suite 103, Phoenix, 
Arizona 85021. Copies of the proposal, draft Economic Analysis, and 
draft Environmental Assessment are available from the State Supervisor 
or on the Internet at http://ifw2es.fws.gov/Arizona. Comments and 
materials received will be available for public inspection, by 
appointment, during normal business hours at the above Service address.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jeffrey A. Humphrey, at the above 
address, 602/640-2720.



    We, the Fish and Wildlife Service, proposed designation of critical 
habitat pursuant to the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended 
(Act), for the spikedace and the loach minnow in the Federal Register 
(64 FR 69324) on December 10, 1999. This proposal was made in response 
to a court order Southwest Center for Biological Diversity v. Clark, 
CIV 98-0769 M/JHG, directing us to complete designation of critical 
habitat for the spikedace and loach minnow by February 17, 2000. The 
court has provided an extension of the deadline to April 21, 2000.
    The spikedace, a small fish, was listed as a threatened species 
under the Act on July 1, 1986 (51 FR 23769); however, final designation 
of the proposed critical habitat was postponed until March 8, 1994 (59 
FR 10906). Similarly, the loach minnow, another small fish, was listed 
as a threatened species under the Act on October 28, 1986 (51 FR 39468) 
and final designation of the proposed critical habitat was postponed 
until March 8, 1994 (59 FR 10898). Critical habitat for spikedace and 
loach minnow was set aside by order of the Federal courts in Catron 
County Board of Commissioners, New Mexico v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, CIV No. 93-730 HB (D.N.M., Order of October 13, 1994). The 
court cited our failure to analyze the effects of critical habitat 
designation under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) as its 
basis for setting aside critical habitat for the two species. As a 
result, we removed critical habitat for spikedace and loach minnow on 
March 25, 1998 (63 FR 14378).
    We have proposed approximately 1,443 kilometers (km) (894 miles 
(mi)) of rivers and creeks for the two species. The entire designation 
is proposed as critical habitat for the loach minnow and approximately 
1325 km (822 mi) of those miles are proposed as critical habitat for 
the spikedace in portions of the Gila, San Francisco, Blue, Black, 
Verde, and San Pedro rivers and some of their tributaries in Apache, 
Cochise, Gila, Graham, Greenlee, Pima, Pinal, and Yavapai counties in 
Arizona, and Catron, Grant, and Hidalgo counties in New Mexico.
    If this proposed rule is finalized, Federal actions that may affect 
the areas designated as critical habitat will be subject to 
consultation with the Fish and Wildlife Service, pursuant to section 
7(a)(2) of the Act.
    Pursuant to 50 CFR 424.16(c)(2), the Service may extend or reopen a 
comment period upon finding that there is good cause to do so. Full 
participation of the affected public in the species listing process, 
allowing the Service to consider the best scientific and commercial 
data available in making a final determination on the proposed action, 
is deemed as sufficient cause.
    Section 4(b)(5)(E) of the Act, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), 
requires that a public hearing be held if it is requested within 45 
days of the publication of a proposed rule. However, due to the 
expeditious treatment of these proposed critical habitat determinations 
under Federal District Court order as described in the proposed rules, 
the Service arranged for and conducted three public hearings in 
proximity to the areas proposed for critical habitat designation. 
Granting of an extension by the District Court allows us to conduct an 
additional public hearing on the date and at the address described 
    Anyone wishing to make an oral statement for the record is 
encouraged to provide a written copy of their statement and present it 
to the Service at the start of the hearing. In the event there is a 
large attendance, the time allotted for oral statements may have to be 
limited. Oral and written statements receive equal consideration. There 
are no limits to the length of written comments presented at the 
hearings or mailed to the Service. Legal notices announcing the date, 
time, and location of the hearings will be published in newspapers 
concurrently with the Federal Register notice.
    The current comment period on this proposal closes on January 14, 
2000. In order to accommodate this public hearing, the Service extends 
the public comment period. Written comments may now be submitted until 
February 13, 2000, to the Service office in the ADDRESSES section.
    Author: The primary author of this notice is Jeffrey A. Humphrey 

    Authority: The authority for this action is the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531-1544).

    Dated: January 5, 2000.
Ren Lohoefener,
Acting Regional Director, Region 2, Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 00-685 Filed 1-11-00; 8:45 am]