[Federal Register: September 19, 2001 (Volume 66, Number 182)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 48228-48230]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AH04

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Reopening of 
Public Comment Period and Notice of Availability of Draft Economic 
Analysis for Proposed Critical Habitat Determination for Chorizanthe 
pungens var. pungens (Monterey Spineflower)

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule; reopening of public comment period and notice of 
availability of draft economic analysis.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announce the 
availability of a draft economic analysis for the proposed designation 
of critical habitat for the Monterey spineflower (Chorizanthe pungens 
var. pungens). We are also providing notice of the reopening of the 
public comment period for the proposal to designate critical habitat 
for this plant to allow all interested parties to comment 
simultaneously on the proposed rule and the associated draft economic 
analysis. Comments previously submitted need not be resubmitted as they 
already have been incorporated into the public record and will be fully 
considered in the final rule. Comments submitted during this comment 
period will also be incorporated into the public record and will be 
fully considered in the final rule.

DATES: The comment period is opened and we will accept comments until 
October 19, 2001. Comments must be received by 5:00 p.m. on the closing 
date. Any comments that are received after the closing date may not be 
considered in the final decision on this proposal.

ADDRESSES: Copies of the draft economic analysis are available on the 
Internet at ``www.r1.fws.gov'' or by writing to the Field Supervisor, 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office, 2493 
Portola Road, Suite B, Ventura, California 93003. All written comments 
should be sent to the Field Supervisor at the above address. You may 
also send comments by electronic mail (e-mail) to 
``fw1montereysf@r1.fws.gov''. Please submit electronic comments in 
ASCII file format and avoid the use of special characters and 
encryption. Please include ``Attn: RIN 1018-AH04'' and

[[Page 48229]]

your name and return address in your e-mail message. If you do not 
receive a confirmation from the system that we have received your e-
mail message, contact us directly by calling our Ventura Fish and 
Wildlife Office at phone number 805-644-1766. 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: Catrina Martin, Assistant Field 
Supervisor, Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office, at the above address 
(telephone 805-644-1766; facsimile 805-644-3958).



    Chorizanthe pungens var. pungens is endemic to sandy soils in 
coastal areas in southern Santa Cruz and northern Monterey counties, 
and in the Salinas Valley in interior Monterey County. In California, 
the spineflower genus (Chorizanthe) in the buckwheat family 
Polygonaceae comprises species of wiry annual herbs that inhabit dry 
sandy soils, both along the coast and inland. Because of the patchy and 
limited distribution of such soils, many species of Chorizanthe tend to 
be highly localized in their distributions.
    The overall appearance of Chorizanthe pungens var. pungens is of a 
low-growing herb that is soft-hairy and grayish or reddish in color. 
The plant has a prostrate to slightly ascending habit, with large 
individuals reaching 50 centimeters (cm) (20 inches (in)) or more in 
diameter. This taxon is distinguished by white (rarely pinkish) 
scarious (membranous) margins on the lobes of the involucre (a whorl of 
bracts) that subtend the white- to rose-colored flowers. The aggregate 
of flowers (heads) tend to be small (less than 1 cm (0.4 in) in 
diameter) and either distinctly or indistinctly aggregate.
    Chorizanthe pungens var. pungens is a short-lived annual species. 
It germinates during the winter months and flowers from April through 
June; although pollination ecology has not been studied for this taxon, 
C. p. var. pungens is likely visited by a wide array of pollinators; 
observations of pollinators on other species of Chorizanthe that occur 
in Santa Cruz County have included leaf cutter bees (megachilids), at 
least six species of butterflies, flies, and sphecid wasps (R. Morgan, 
biologist, Soquel, CA, pers. comm. 2000). Each flower produces one 
seed; depending on the vigor of an individual plant, dozens, if not 
hundreds of seeds could be produced. The importance of pollinator 
activity in seed set has been demonstrated by the production of seed 
with low viability where pollinator access was limited (Harding Lawson 
Associates 2000). Seed is collectable through August. The plants turn a 
rusty hue as they dry through the summer months, eventually shattering 
during the fall. Seed dispersal is facilitated by the spines on the 
involucre, which attach the seed to passing animals. While animal 
vectors most likely facilitate dispersal between colonies and 
populations, the prevailing coastal winds undoubtedly play a part in 
scattering seed within colonies and populations.
    The locations where Chorizanthe pungens var. pungens occurs, with 
the exception of one (Soledad), are subject to a mild maritime climate, 
where fog helps keep summer temperatures cool and winter temperatures 
relatively warm, and provides moisture in addition to the normal winter 
rains. Chorizanthe pungens var. pungens is found in a variety of 
seemingly disparate habitat types, including active coastal dunes, 
grassland, scrub, chaparral, and woodland types on interior upland 
sites; and interior floodplain dunes. However, all of these habitat 
types include microhabitat characteristics that are suitable for C. p. 
var. pungens. First, all sites are on sandy soils; whether the origin 
of the soils are from active dunes, interior fossil dunes, or 
floodplain alluvium is apparently unimportant. Second, these sites are 
relatively open and free of other vegetation. In grassland and oak 
woodland communities, abundant annual grasses may outcompete C. p. var. 
pungens, while management of grass species, either through grazing, 
mowing or fire, may allow the spineflower to persist. In scrub and 
chaparral communities, C. p. var. pungens does not occur under dense 
stands, but will occur between more widely spaced shrubs.
    Chorizanthe pungens var. pungens is generally distributed along the 
rim of Monterey Bay in southern Santa Cruz and northern Monterey 
counties, and inland along the coastal plain of the Salinas Valley. At 
coastal sites ranging from the Monterey Peninsula north to Manresa 
State Beach, C. p. var. pungens is found in active coastal dune 
systems, and on coastal bluffs upon which windblown sand has been 
deposited. On coastal dunes, the distribution of suitable habitat is 
subject to dynamic shifts caused by patterns of dune mobilization, 
stabilization, and successional trends in coastal dune scrub that 
increase in cover over time. Accordingly, individual colonies of 
Chorizanthe pungens var. pungens, found in gaps between stands of 
scrub, shift in distribution and size over time.
    Portions of the coastal dune and coastal scrub communities that 
support Chorizanthe pungens var. pungens have been eliminated or 
altered by recreational use, industrial and urban development, and 
military activities. Dune communities have also been altered in 
composition by the introduction of non-native species, especially 
Carpobrotus species (sea-fig or iceplant) and Ammophila arenaria 
(European beachgrass), in an attempt to stabilize shifting sands. In 
the last decade, significant efforts have been made to restore native 
dune communities, including the elimination of these non-native 
    At more inland sites, Chorizanthe pungens var. pungens occurs on 
sandy, well-drained soils in a variety of plant communities, most 
frequently maritime chaparral, valley oak woodlands, and grasslands. 
The plant probably has been extirpated from a number of historical 
locations in the Salinas Valley, primarily due to conversion of the 
original grasslands and valley oak woodlands to agricultural crops 
(Reveal & Hardham 1989). Significant populations of C. p. var. pungens 
occur on lands that are referred to as former Fort Ord (U.S. Army Corps 
of Engineers 1992). Within grassland communities, C. p. var. pungens 
occurs along roadsides, in firebreaks, and in other disturbed sites, 
while in oak woodland, chaparral, and scrub communities, it occurs in 
sandy openings between shrubs. In older stands with a high cover of 
shrubs, the plants are restricted to roadsides, firebreaks, and trails 
that bisect these communities. At former Fort Ord, the highest 
densities of C. p. var. pungens are located in the central portion of 
the firing range, where disturbance is the most frequent. This pattern 
of distribution and densities of the C. p. var. pungens on former Fort 
Ord indicates that the very activities that have disturbed C. p. var. 
pungens habitat have also created the open conditions that result in 
high densities of the plant. Prior to onset of human use of this area, 
C. p. var. pungens may have been restricted to openings created by 
wildfires within these communities (Service 1998).
    The southwestern edge of Chorizanthe pungens var. pungens habitat 
on former Fort Ord was once continuous with habitat found in the 
community of Del Rey Oaks and at the Monterey Airport (Deb Hillyard, 
ecologist, California Department of Fish and Game, pers. comm. 2000). 
Other inland sites that support C. p. var.

[[Page 48230]]

pungens are located in the area between Aptos and La Selva Beach in 
Santa Cruz County, and near Prunedale in northern Monterey County.
    Farther up the Salinas River, Chorizanthe pungens var. pungens was 
recently found on a dune located within the river floodplain near 
Soledad, Monterey County (CNDDB 2000). Two historic sites for C. p. 
var. pungens occur near here. One, near Mission Soledad, was collected 
once in 1881; the other, near San Lucas along the Salinas River, was 
collected once in 1935. Due to conversion to agriculture and 
channelization activities along the Salinas River over the last 
century, C. p. var. pungens has most likely been extirpated from these 
locations. The dune near Soledad is the only one of its size and extent 
between there and the river mouth (Brad Olsen, East Bay Regional Parks 
District, pers. comm. 2000).
    Pursuant to the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act), 
Chorizanthe pungens var. pungens was federally listed as threatened on 
February 4, 1994 (59 FR 5499). On February 15, 2001, we published in 
the Federal Register (66 FR 10440) a rule proposing critical habitat 
for the C. p. var. pungens. Approximately 10,400 hectares (25,000 
acres) fall within the boundaries of the proposed critical habitat 
designation. Proposed critical habitat is located in Santa Cruz and 
Monterey counties, as described in the proposed rule.
    Section 4(b)(2) of the Act requires that the Secretary shall 
designate or revise critical habitat based upon the best scientific and 
commercial data available and after taking into consideration the 
economic impact of specifying any particular area as critical habitat. 
Based upon the previously published proposal to designate critical 
habitat for the Monterey spineflower and comments received during the 
previous comment period, we have prepared a draft economic analysis of 
the proposed critical habitat designation. The draft economic analysis 
is available at the above Internet and mailing address.

Public Comments Solicited

    We have reopened the comment period at this time in order to accept 
the best and most current scientific and commercial data available 
regarding the proposed critical habitat determination for the Monterey 
spineflower and the draft economic analysis of proposed critical 
habitat determination. Previously submitted written comments on this 
critical habitat proposal need not be resubmitted. We will accept 
written comments during this reopened comment period. The current 
comment period on this proposal closes on October 4, 2001. Written 
comments may be submitted to the Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office in 
the ADDRESSES section.


    The primary author of this notice is Connie Rutherford, U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service, 2493 Portola Road, Suite B, Ventura, California 
93003 (see ADDRESSES section).

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

    Dated: September 7, 2001.
Daniel S. Walsworth,
Acting Manager, California/Nevada Operations Office.
[FR Doc. 01-23248 Filed 9-18-01; 8:45 am]