[Federal Register: July 15, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 135)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 46440-46441]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

Notice of Availability of a Draft Recovery Plan for the Northern 
Idaho Ground Squirrel (Spermophilus brunneus brunneus), for Review and 

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of document availability.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announce the 
availability for public review of the Draft Recovery Plan for the 
Northern Idaho Ground Squirrel (Spermophilus brunneus brunneus; 
squirrel). The draft plan includes specific recovery criteria and 
measures to be taken in order to delist the squirrel. We solicit review 
and comment from local, State, and Federal agencies, and the public on 
this draft recovery plan.

DATES: Comments on the draft recovery plan must be received on or 
before September 13 2002, to receive consideration by the Service.

ADDRESSES: Copies of the draft recovery plan are available for 
inspection, by appointment, during normal working hours at the 
following location: Snake River Fish and Wildlife Office, 1387 S. 
Vinnell Way, Suite 368, Boise, Idaho 83709 (Phone: 208-378-5243). 
Requests for copies of the draft recovery plan, and written comments 
and materials regarding this plan should be addressed to Robert 
Ruesink, Field Supervisor, at the above address.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rich Howard, Fish and Wildlife 
Biologist, at the above address.



    Recovery of endangered or threatened animals and plants is a 
primary goal of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's endangered species 
program. A species is considered recovered when the species' ecosystem 
is restored and/or threats to the species are removed so that self-
sustaining and self-regulating populations of the species can be 
supported as persistent members of native biotic communities. Recovery 
plans describe actions considered necessary for the conservation of the 
species, establish criteria for downlisting or delisting listed 
species, and estimate time and cost for implementing the measures 
needed for recovery.
    The Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended in 1988 (Act) (16 
U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), requires the development of recovery plans for 
listed species unless such a plan would not promote the conservation of 
a particular species. Section 4(f) of the Act requires that public 
notice and an opportunity for public review and comment be provided 
during recovery plan development. We will consider all information 
presented during the public comment period prior to approval of this 
recovery plan. Substantive technical comments may result in changes to 
the plan. Substantive comments regarding recovery plan implementation 
will be forwarded to appropriate Federal or other entities for 
consideration during the implementation of recovery actions.
    The squirrel was listed as a threatened species on April 5, 2000. 
This subspecies is endemic to the Weiser and Little Salmon River Basins 
in western Idaho. It is distributed in small, isolated populations 
across two U.S. Forest Service Districts, and State and private lands 
in Adams and Valley Counties of western Idaho. It formerly occurred in 
Long Valley and Round Valley of Valley County, but no viable 
populations have been documented there within the past 5 years. Twenty-
three population sites are considered extant; another 14 have unknown 
status or have become extirpated.
    Declines in extant population sites and numbers of squirrels are 
attributed to the loss and fragmentation of habitat. The squirrel is 
dependent on meadow and shrub/grassland, and does well in habitat 
bordered by coniferous forests. However, the species becomes extirpated 
from areas that develop high densities of small trees. Conifers have 
displaced the species' food base, and inhibited or prevented dispersal 
of yearlings and adults between population sites. Land conversion from

[[Page 46441]]

meadows and shrub/grasslands to agricultural crops, residential areas, 
and recreational facilities has also contributed to the eradication of 
local populations of squirrels.
    The objective of this plan is to provided a framework for the 
recovery of the squirrel so that protection by the Act is no longer 
necessary. Recovery is contingent on protecting and managing the 
squirrel's habitat to maintain and enhance viable populations through a 
range of natural variability.
    The squirrel will be considered for delisting when a total of 30 
stable population sites are distributed throughout the historic range 
of the species. Each population site that has maintained a 5-year 
average size of 100 to 500 individuals will be considered stable. At 
least 20 of the 30 population sites must be protected. Additionally, 
genetic exchange between population sites should be occurring through 
dispersal or linkage corridors; a post-delisting monitoring program 
should be written and ready to be implemented; and ecological 
management of habitats should be initiated for all population sites.

    Authority: The authority for this action is section 4(f) of the 
Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. 1533 (f).

    Dated: May 16, 2002.
Benito A. Perez,
Acting Regional Director, Region 1, Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 02-17685 Filed 7-12-02; 8:45 am]