[Federal Register: May 31, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 105)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 38059-38060]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AI15

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Listing of Roswell 
Springsnail, Koster's Tryonia, Pecos Assiminea, and Noel's Amphipod 
With Critical Habitat

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule; notice of public hearing and reopening of 
comment period.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), give notice 
that we are holding a public hearing for the proposed rule to list the 
Roswell springsnail (Pyrgulopsis roswellensis), Koster's tryonia 
(Tryonia kosteri), Pecos assiminea (Assiminea pecosensis) and Noel's 
amphipod (Gammarus desparatus) as endangered with critical habitat 
under the authority of the Endangered Species Act (Act) of 1973, as 
amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). We also give notice of the extension 
of the comment period for the proposed rule for these species. The 
extension of the comment period will be for 90 additional days and will 
allow all interested parties to submit written comments on the 
proposal. Comments already submitted on the proposed rule need not be 
resubmitted as they will be fully considered in the final 

DATES: We will hold a public hearing in Carlsbad, New Mexico, from 6 to 
8 p.m. on Tuesday, June 18, 2002, to solicit comments on the proposed 
rule. We will consider all comments received at the public hearing or 
those submitted in writing by July 14, 2002.

ADDRESSES: The location for the public hearing is room 153 of the 
Instructional Building on the New Mexico State University Campus in 
Carlsbad, NM.
    You may submit written comments and materials concerning the 
proposal at the hearing or send them directly to Joy Nicholopoulos, 
Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, New Mexico Ecological 
Services Field Office, 2105 Osuna NE, Albuquerque, NM 87113. Written 
comments may also be sent by facsimile to (505) 346-2542 or 
R2FWE_AL@fws.gov. You may also hand-deliver written comments to our New 
Mexico Ecological Services Field Office, at the above address. Comments 
and materials received, as well as supporting documentation used in the 
preparation of this proposed rule, will be available for public 
inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours from 8 a.m. to 
4:30 p.m., at the above address. You may obtain copies of the proposed 
rule from the above address, by calling 505/346-2542, or from our 
website at http://ifw2es.fws.gov/Library/.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Joy Nicholopoulos, Field Supervisor, 
New Mexico Ecological Services Field Office (see ADDRESSES section) 
(telephone 505/346-2525, ext. 143; facsimile 505/346-2542) or visit our 
website at http://ifw2es.fws.gov/.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On November 22, 1985, we received a petition 
from Mr. Harold F. Olson, Director of the New Mexico Department of Game 
and Fish, to add 11 species of New Mexican mollusks to the Federal list 
of endangered and threatened wildlife. Roswell springsnail (Pyrgulopsis 
roswellensis formerly Fontelicella sp. (Hershler 1994)), Koster's 
tryonia, and Pecos assiminea were among the 11 species. We determined 
the petition presented substantial information and found that the 
requested action may be warranted and published a positive 90-day 
petition finding in the Federal Register on August 20, 1986 (51 FR 
29671). A subsequent 12-month finding published in the Federal Register 
on July 1, 1987 (52 FR 24485), concluded that the petitioned action was 
warranted but precluded by other higher priority listing actions. A 
proposed rule to list these four species as endangered with critical 
habitat was published in the Federal Register on February 12, 2002 (67 
FR 6459). The proposed rule constitutes our 12-month recycled petition 
finding for the Roswell springsnail, Koster's tryonia, and Pecos 
assiminea. The proposed rule includes a proposal for Noel's amphipod, 
which is found in the same locations as the other three species and 
shares the same threats and management needs.
    These species occur at sinkholes, springs, and associated spring 
runs and wetland habitats. They are found at two sites in Chaves 
County, NM, one site in Pecos County, TX, and one site in Reeves 
County, TX. Pecos assiminea is also known from one area in Coahuila, 
    In the proposed rule we determined that these three snails and one 
amphipod have an exceedingly limited distribution and are imperiled by 
local and regional groundwater depletion, surface and groundwater 
contamination, oil and gas extraction activities within the supporting 
aquifer and watershed, and direct loss of their habitat (e.g., through 
burning or removing marsh vegetation, cementing, or filling of 
habitat). This proposal, if made final, will implement the Federal 
protection and recovery provisions of the Act for these invertebrate 
    Public hearings are designed to gather relevant information that 
the public may have that we should consider in our rule-making. During 
the hearing we will present information about the proposed action. We 
invite the public to submit information and comments either at the 
hearings or in writing. This notice and public hearing will allow all 
interested parties to submit comments on the proposed rule and proposed 
designation. We are seeking comments or suggestions from the public, 
other concerned governmental agencies, tribes, the scientific 
community, industry, or any other interested parties concerning the 
    We may have to limit the time allotted for oral statements if the 
number of people who wish to comment necessitates such a limitation. We 
encourage persons wishing to comment at the hearings to provide a 
written copy of their statement at the start of the hearing. There is 
no limit on the length of written comments. Persons may send written 
comments to our office (see ADDRESSES section) at any time during the 
open comment period. We will give equal consideration to oral and 
written comments. Concurrently with the

[[Page 38060]]

publication of this notice we are publishing legal notices in local 
newspapers announcing the date, time, and location of this hearing.

National Environmental Policy Act

    It is our position that, outside the Tenth Circuit, we do not need 
to prepare environmental analyses as defined by the National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in connection with designating critical 
habitat under 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 49244). This assertion was 
upheld in the courts of the Ninth Circuit (Douglas County v. Babbitt, 
48 F.3d 1495 (9th Cir. Ore. 1995), cert. denied 116 S. Ct. 698 (1996). 
However, when the range of the species includes States within the Tenth 
Circuit, such as those of the Roswell springsnail, Koster's tryonia, 
Pecos assiminea, and Noel's amphipod, pursuant to the Tenth Circuit 
ruling in Catron County Board of Commissioners v. U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, 75 F.3d 1429 (10th Cir. 1996), we will undertake a 
NEPA analysis for the critical habitat designation. We will notify the 
public of the availability of the draft NEPA document for this proposal 
so that interested and affected parties may participate and contribute 
to a final decision. The draft NEPA document will be sent out for a 
minimum 45-day public comment period, during which comments will be 
    In addition, we will conduct a robust economic analysis on the 
effects of the proposed critical habitat designation prior to a final 
determination. We will conduct an analysis that complies with the 
ruling by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Mexico Cattle 
Growers Association, et. al. v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. When 
the draft economic analysis is completed, we will announce its 
availability with a notice in the Federal Register, and we will reopen 
the comment period at that time to accept comments on the draft 
economic analysis, draft NEPA document, or further comment on the 
proposed rule. We will also transmit the draft documents to all who 
commented on the proposed rule, and send the documents to anyone who 
requests a copy. We are particularly interested in comments or 
suggestions on reasons why any particular area should or should not be 
designated as critical habitat, information on the distribution and 
quality of habitat for these four invertebrate species, land use 
practices and current or planned activities in areas that may be 
affected by a designation of critical habitat, and any other pertinent 
issues of concern.


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

    Dated: May 21, 2002.
Craig Manson,
Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
[FR Doc. 02-13534 Filed 5-30-02; 8:45 am]