[Federal Register: November 30, 2001 (Volume 66, Number 231)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 59769-59771]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1080-AI17

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Proposed Rule To 
List the Columbia Basin Distinct Population Segment of the Pygmy Rabbit 
(Brachylagus idahoensis) as Endangered

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), propose to 
list the Columbia Basin distinct population segment of the pygmy rabbit 
(Brachylagus idahoensis) as endangered pursuant to the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). An emergency rule listing this 
population segment as endangered for a period of 240 days is published 
concurrently in this issue of the Federal Register.
    Historically, the Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit occurred in dense, 
shrub steppe habitats in five central Washington counties. Currently, 

[[Page 59770]]

population segment is known from a single wild colony totaling fewer 
than 50 individuals in Douglas County, Washington, and a small captive 
population. Due to its small population, the Columbia Basin pygmy 
rabbit is imminently threatened by the combined influence of 
catastrophic environmental events, habitat/resource failure, disease, 
predation, and loss of genetic heterogeneity. We solicit additional 
information and data that may assist us in making a final decision on 
this proposed listing, as well as determining critical habitat for the 

DATES: Comments from all interested parties must be received by January 
29, 2002. Public hearing requests must be received by January 14, 2002.

ADDRESSES: Submit comments to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Upper 
Columbia Fish and Wildlife Office, 11103 East Montgomery Drive, 
Spokane, Washington 99206. For information and instruction on 
commenting, see the PUBLIC COMMENTS SOLICITED section below. Comments 
and materials received, as well as supporting information used to 
prepare this proposed rule, will be available for public inspection, by 
appointment, during normal business hours at the above address.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Christopher Warren at the address 
listed above (telephone 509/891-6839; facsimile 509/891-6748; 
electronic mail: chris_warren@fws.gov).



    For a discussion of background biological information, previous 
Federal action, factors affecting the species, critical habitat, and 
conservation measures available to listed and proposed species, consult 
the emergency rule to list the Columbia Basin distinct population 
segment of the pygmy rabbit published concurrently in this issue of the 
Federal Register.

Peer Review

    In accordance with our policy published on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 
34270), we will solicit the expert opinions of three appropriate and 
independent specialists regarding this proposed rule. The purpose of 
such review is to ensure listing decisions are based on scientifically 
sound data, assumptions, and analyses. We will send these peer 
reviewers copies of this proposed rule immediately following 
publication in the Federal Register. We will invite these peer 
reviewers to comment, during the public comment period, on the specific 
assumptions and conclusions regarding the proposed listing and 
designation of critical habitat.
    We will consider all comments and information received during the 
60-day comment period on this proposed rule in making a final decision 
on the proposal. Accordingly, the final determination may differ from 
this proposal.

Public Hearings

    The Act provides for one or more public hearings on this proposal, 
if requested. Requests for public hearings must be made at least 15 
days prior to the close of the public comment period. Such a request 
for a public hearing for this proposed rule may be sent to the 
Supervisor, Upper Columbia Fish and Wildlife Office (see ADDDRESES 
section). We will schedule at least one public hearing on this 
proposal, if requested, and announce the date, time, and place of any 
hearings in the Federal Register and local newspapers at least 15 days 
prior to the first hearing.

Clarity of the Rule

    Executive Order 12866 requires each agency to write regulations and 
notices that are easy to understand. We invite your comments on how to 
make this proposed rule easier to understand, including answers to 
questions such as the following--(1) Are the requirements in the 
proposed rule clearly stated? (2) Does the proposed rule contain 
technical jargon that interferes with the clarity? (3) Does the format 
of the proposed rule (grouping and order of the sections, use of 
headings, paragraphing, etc.) aid or reduce its clarity? (4) Is the 
description of the proposed rule in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION 
section of the preamble helpful in understanding the proposed rule? 
What else could we do to make this proposed rule easier to understand?
    Send a copy of any comments that concern how we could make this 
rule easier to understand to the office identified in the ADDRESSES 
section at the beginning of this document.

Public Comments Solicited

    We intend that any final listing action resulting from this 
proposed rule to list the Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit will be as 
accurate and effective as possible. Therefore, we request comments or 
suggestions from the general public, other concerned governmental 
agencies, the scientific community, industry, or any other interested 
party concerning this proposed rule. Comments are particularly sought 
    (1) Biological, commercial trade, or other relevant data regarding 
any threat (or lack thereof) to the pygmy rabbit, both within the 
Columbia Basin population area and range-wide;
    (2) Information regarding the range, distribution, and population 
size of this distinct population segment, including the locations of 
any additional colonies of the Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit;
    (3) Information regarding the range, distribution, and population 
size of the pygmy rabbit range-wide;
    (4) Information (e.g., maps, data, unpublished reports) and 
justification regarding why any habitat should or should not be 
determined to be critical habitat for the Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit 
as provided by section 4 of the Act;
    (5) Current and planned activities in the subject area and their 
potential impacts on the Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit.
    If you wish to comment, you may submit your comments and materials 
concerning this proposal by any one of several methods: (1) You may 
submit written comments and information to the Field Supervisor at the 
address provided in the ADDRESSES section above; (2) You may comment 
electronically via the Internet to ``fw1cbprabbit@r1.fws.gov''. Please 
submit e-mail comments as an ASCII file, avoiding the use of special 
characters and any form of encryption. Please note that the Internet 
address will be closed at the termination of the public comment period; 
if you do not receive a confirmation from the system that we have 
received your e-mail message, contact us directly by calling our Upper 
Columbia Fish and Wildlife Office at 590/891-6748; and (3) You also may 
hand-deliver comments to our Upper Columbia Fish and Wildlife Office at 
11103 East Montgomery Drive, Spokane, Washington.
    Our practice is to make comments, including names and home 
addresses of respondents, available for public review during regular 
business hours. Individual respondents may request that we withhold 
their home address from the rule making record, which we will honor to 
the extent allowable by law. In some circumstances, we would withhold 
from the rule making record a respondent's identity, as allowable by 
law. If you wish us to withhold your name and/or address, you must 
state this prominently at the beginning of your comment. However, we 
will not consider anonymous comments. To the extent consistent with 
applicable law, we will make all submissions from organizations or 
businesses, and from individuals identifying themselves as 
representatives or officials of organizations or businesses, available

[[Page 59771]]

for public inspection in their entirety. Comments and materials 
received will be available for public inspection, by appointment, 
during normal business hours at the above address.

National Environmental Policy Act

    We have determined that environmental assessments and environmental 
impact statements, as defined in the National Environmental Policy Act 
of 1969, need not be prepared in connection with regulations adopted 
pursuant to section 4(a) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as 
amended. We published a notice outlining our reasons for this 
determination in the Federal Register on October 25, 1983 (48 FR 

Paperwork Reduction Act

    This rule does not contain any new collections of information other 
than those already approved under the Paperwork Reduction Act and 
assigned Office of Management and Budget clearance number 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 currently 
valid control number. For additional information concerning permit and 
associated requirements for endangered species, see 50 CFR 17.21 and 

Executive Order 13211

    On May 18, 2001, the President issued an Executive Order (E.O. 
13211) on regulations that significantly affect energy supply, 
distribution, and use. Executive Order 13211 requires agencies to 
prepare Statements of Energy Effects when undertaking certain actions. 
This rule is not expected to significantly affect energy supplies, 
distribution, or use. Therefore, this action is not a significant 
energy action and no Statement of Energy Effects is required.

References Cited

    A complete list of references cited in the emergency rule to list 
the Columbia Basin distinct population segment of the pygmy rabbit as 
endangered, published concurrently in this issue of the Federal 
Register, is available upon request from the Upper Columbia Fish and 
Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES section).


    The primary author of this proposed rule is Christopher Warren of 
the Upper Columbia Fish and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES section).

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

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

Proposed Regulation Promulgation

    For the reasons given in the preamble to the emergency rule listing 
the Columbia Basin distinct population segment of the pygmy rabbit as 
endangered, published concurrently in this issue of the Federal 
Register, we propose to amend part 17, subchapter B of chapter I, title 
50 of the Code of Federal Regulations, as set forth below:


    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. In Sec. 17.11(h), add the following to the List of Endangered 
and Threatened Wildlife in alphabetical order under MAMMALS:

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

          *                  *                  *                  *                  *                  *                  *
Rabbit, Columbia Basin pygmy.....  Brachylagus           U.S.A. (Western      U.S.A. (WA--         E               ...........           NA           NA
                                    idahoensis.           conterminous         Douglas, Grant,
                                                          States).             Lincoln, Adams,
                                                                               Benton Counties).
          *                  *                  *                  *                  *                  *                  *

    Dated: November 21, 2001.
Marshall P. Jones, Jr.,
Acting Director, Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 01-29612 Filed 11-29-01; 8:45 am]