[Federal Register: March 6, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 44)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 10118-10119]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AH31

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 the Carolina 

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

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


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announce the 
availability of the draft economic analysis for the proposed 
designation of critical habitat for the Carolina heelsplitter 
(Lasmigona decorata). We also provide notice that the public comment 
period for the proposal is reopened to allow all interested parties to 
submit written comments on the proposal and the draft economic 
analysis. Comments previously submitted during the comment period need 
not be resubmitted as they will be incorporated into the public record 
and will be fully considered in the final determination on the 

DATES: The original comment period closed on September 10, 2001. The 
comment period is hereby reopened until April 5, 2002. We must receive 
comments from all interested parties by the closing date. Any comments 
that we receive after the closing date will not be considered in the 
final decision on this proposal.

ADDRESSES: Copies of the draft economic analysis can be obtained by 
writing to or calling the State Supervisor, Asheville Field Office, 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 160 Zillicoa Street, Asheville, North 
Carolina 28801; telephone 828/258-3939.
    If you wish to comment, you may submit your comments by any one of 
several methods:
    1. You may submit written comments and information to the State 
Supervisor, Asheville Field Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 160 
Zillicoa Street, Asheville, North Carolina 28801.
    2. You may hand-deliver written comments to our Asheville Field 
Office, at the above address or fax your comments to 828/258-5330.
    Comments and materials received, as well as supporting 
documentation used in preparation of this proposed rule, will be 
available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal business 
hours at the above address.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: John A. Fridell, Fish and Wildlife 
Biologist (see ADDRESSES section).



    The Carolina heelsplitter is a medium sized freshwater mussel, 
reaching up to about 114.8 millimeters (4.6 inches in length), with a 
greenish brown to dark brown shell (Keferl 1991). It currently has a 
very fragmented, relict distribution but historically was known from 
several locations within the Catawba and Pee Dee River systems in North 
Carolina and the Pee Dee and Savannah River systems, and possibly the 
Saluda River system, in South Carolina (Clarke 1985, Keferl and Shelly 
1988, Keferl 1991). Recent collection records (Keferl and Shelly 1988; 
Keferl 1991; Alderman 1995, 1998a, and 1998b; North Carolina Wildlife 
Resources Commission 1999 and 2000) indicate that the Carolina 
heelsplitter has been eliminated from the majority of its historical 
range, and only six populations of the species are known to exist. In 
Union County, North Carolina, one small remnant population occurs in 
Waxhaw Creek, a tributary to the Catawba River, and another small 
population occurs in both Goose Creek, a tributary in the Rocky River, 
and Duck Creek, a tributary to Goose Creek, in the Pee Dee River 
system. In South Carolina, there are four small surviving populations--
one each in the Pee Dee and Catawba River systems and two in the 
Savannah River system. The population in the Pee Dee River system 
occurs in a relatively short reach of the Lynches River in 
Chesterfield, Lancaster, and Kershaw Counties and extends into Flat 
Creek, a tributary to the Lynches River in Lancaster County. In the 
Catawba River system, the species survives only in a short reach of 
Gills Creek in Lancaster County. In the Savannah River system, one 
population is found in Turkey Creek in Edgefield and McCormick 
Counties, and two of its tributaries, Mountain Creek and Beaverdam 
Creek in Edgefield County; and another smaller population survives in 
Cuffytown Creek, in Greenwood and McCormick Counties. Despite extensive 
surveys, no evidence of a surviving population has been found in recent 
years in the Saluda River system (Keferl and Shelly 1988; Keferl 1991; 
Alderman 1998a). Several factors adversely affecting the water and 
habitat quality of our creeks and rivers are believed to

[[Page 10119]]

have contributed to the decline and loss of populations of the Carolina 
heelsplitter and threaten the remaining populations. These factors 
include pollutants in wastewater discharges (sewage treatment plants 
and industrial discharges); habitat loss and alteration associated with 
impoundments and other stream alteration activities; and increased 
stormwater run-off and the run-off of silt, fertilizers, pesticides, 
and other pollutants from poorly implemented land-use activities 
(Service 1993, 1997, and 2001).
    The Carolina heelsplitter requires cool, clean, well oxygenated 
water. It has been recorded from a variety of substrata (including mud, 
clay, sand, gravel, and cobble/boulder/bedrock) without significant 
silt accumulations, along stable, well-shaded stream banks (Keferl and 
Shelly 1988, Keferl 1991). The stability of the stream banks and 
stream-bottom substrata appear to be critical to the species (Service 
1993, 1997, and 2001).
    We listed the Carolina heelsplitter as endangered (58 FR 34926) 
under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act) on June 30, 
1993. On July 11, 2001, we published in the Federal Register a proposal 
to designate critical habitat for this species (66 FR 36229). The 
proposal includes approximately 7.2 kilometers (km)--4.5 miles (mi)--of 
Goose Creek, 8.8 km (5.5 mi) of Duck Creek, and 19.6 km (12.25 mi) of 
Waxhaw Creek in Union County, North Carolina; 18.4 km (11.5 mi) of Flat 
Creek and 9.6 km (6.0 mi) of Gills Creek in Lancaster County, South 
Carolina; 23.6 km (14.75 mi) of the Lynches River in Lancaster, 
Chesterfield, and Kershaw Counties, South Carolina; 11.2 km (7.0 mi) of 
Mountain Creek and 10.8 km (6.75 mi) of Beaverdam Creek in Edgefield 
County, South Carolina; 18.4 km (11.5 mi) of Turkey Creek in Edgefield 
and McCormick Counties, South Carolina; and 20.8 km (13.0 mi) of 
Cuffytown Creek in Greenwood and McCormick Counties, South Carolina. 
All of the stream reaches proposed for designation as critical habitat 
for the Carolina heelsplitter are within the current occupied range of 
the species and include all known occurrences of the species.
    Section 4(b)(2) of the Act requires that we designate or revise 
critical habitat based upon the best scientific and commercial data 
available and after taking into consideration the economic impact, and 
any other relevant impact, of specifying any particular area as 
critical habitat. We may exclude an area from critical habitat if we 
determine that the benefits of excluding the area outweigh the benefits 
of including the area as critical habitat, provided such exclusion will 
not result in the extinction of the species. Consequently, we have 
prepared a draft economic analysis concerning the proposed critical 
habitat designation, which is available for review and comment (see 
ADDRESSES section).

Public Comments Solicited

    We solicit comments on the draft economic analysis described in 
this notice, as well as any other aspect of the proposed designation of 
critical habitat for the Carolina heelsplitter. Our final determination 
on the proposed critical habitat will take into consideration comments 
and any additional information received by the date specified above. 
All previous comments and information submitted during the comment 
period need not be resubmitted. Written comments may be submitted to 
the State Supervisor (see ADDRESSES section).
    Our practice is to make all 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 rulemaking record, which we will honor to 
the extent allowable by law. In some circumstances, we would withhold 
from the rulemaking record a respondent's identity, as allowable by 
law. If you wish for us to withhold your name and/or address, you must 
state this prominently at the beginning of your comments. However, we 
will not consider anonymous comments. We will make all submissions from 
organizations or businesses, and from individuals identifying 
themselves as representatives or officials of organizations or 
businesses, available for public inspection in their entirety.

Referenced Cited

    A complete list of all references cited in this document is 
available upon request from the Asheville Field Office (see ADDRESSES 


    The primary author of this document is John A. Fridell (see 
ADDRESSES section).


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

    Dated: February 26, 2002.
Craig Manson,
Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
[FR Doc. 02-5275 Filed 3-5-02; 8:45 am]