[Federal Register: July 17, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 137)]
[Page 42419-42420]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Notice of Availability of an Agency Draft Recovery Plan for the 
Endangered Fat Threeridge (Amblema neislerii), Shinyrayed Pocketbook 
(Lampsilis subangulata), Gulf Moccasinshell (Medionidus penicillatus), 
Ochlockonee Moccasinshell (Medionidus simpsonianus), and Oval Pigtoe 
(Pleurobema pyriforme), and the Threatened Chipola Slabshell (Elliptio 
chipolaensis) and Purple Bankclimber (Elliptoideus sloatianus), for 
Review and Comment

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of document availability and public comment period.


SUMMARY: We, the Fish and Wildlife Service, announce the availability 
of the agency draft recovery plan for seven freshwater mussels--the 
endangered fat threeridge (Amblema neislerii), shinyrayed pocketbook 
(Lampsilis subangulata), Gulf moccasinshell (Medionidus penicillatus), 
Ochlockonee moccasinshell (Medionidus simpsonianus), and oval pigtoe 
(Pleurobema pyriforme), and the threatened Chipola slabshell (Elliptio 
chipolaensis) and purple bankclimber (Elliptoideus sloatianus). These 
species are endemic to several river basins (Apalachicola-
Chattahoochee-Flint, Ochlockonee, Suwannee, and Econfina Creek) in 
Alabama, Florida, and Georgia. Recent research has greatly increased 
our understanding of the ecology of these species. The agency draft 
recovery plan includes specific recovery objectives and criteria to be 
met in order to downlist these mussels to threatened status or delist 
them under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) 
as amended (Act). We solicit review and comment on this agency draft 
recovery plan from local, State, and Federal agencies and the public.

DATES: In order to be considered, we must receive comments on the draft 
recovery plan on or before August 18, 2003.

ADDRESSES: If you wish to review this agency draft recovery plan, you 
may obtain a copy by contacting the Panama City Field Office, U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service, 1601 Balboa Avenue, Panama City, Florida 32405 
(telephone 850/769-0552), or by visiting our recovery plan Web site at 
http://www.endangered.fws.gov. If you wish to comment, you may submit 
your comments by any one of several methods:
    1. You may submit written comments and materials to the Project 
Leader, at the above address.
    2. You may hand-deliver written comments to our Panama City Field 
Office, at the above address, or fax your comments to 850/763-2177.
    3. You may send comments by e-mail to jerry_ziewitz@fws.gov. For 
directions on how to submit electronic filing of comments, see the 
``Public Comments Solicited'' section.
    Comments and materials received are available on request for public 
inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the above 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jerry Ziewitz at the above address 
(telephone 850/769-0552, ext. 223).



    Pursuant to the Act, we listed these seven mussels, five as 
endangered and two as threatened species, on March 16, 1998 (63 FR 
12664). The seven freshwater mussels are restricted to a few river 
basins (Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint, Ochlockonee, Suwannee, and 
Econfina Creek) in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia. They were once 
distributed across hundreds of stream miles in these basins and now 
survive in a few relatively small, isolated populations scattered 
throughout their former range.
    Habitat alteration, including impoundments, channelization, gravel 
mining, contaminants, sedimentation, and stream-flow depletion, are 
likely the principal causes of these species' decline in range and 
abundance. Genetic factors associated with increasingly small and 
isolated populations and the introduction of alien species may present 
additional obstacles to their recovery.
    Restoring an endangered or threatened animal or plant to the point 
where it is again a secure, self-sustaining member of its ecosystem is 
a primary goal of the endangered species program. To help guide the 
recovery effort, we are preparing recovery plans for most listed 
species native to the United States. Recovery plans describe actions 
considered necessary for conservation of the species, establish 
criteria for downlisting or delisting, and estimate time and cost for 
implementing recovery measures.
    The Act 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 us to provide a 
public notice and an opportunity for public review and comment during 
recovery plan development. We will consider all information presented 
during a public comment period prior to approval of each new or revised 
recovery plan. We and other Federal agencies will take these comments 
into account in the course of implementing approved recovery plans.
    We developed a technical/agency draft of this recovery plan and 
released it for review by the professional community, interested 
agencies, and the public on September 16, 1999 (64 FR 50301). We 
incorporated received comments, where appropriate, into this subsequent 
agency draft recovery plan, which we are now making available for 
review by all interested agencies and parties, including the general 
    The objective of this draft plan is to provide a framework for the 
recovery of these seven species so that protection under the Act is no 
longer necessary. As recovery criteria are met, the status of the 
species will be reviewed and they will be considered for removal from 
the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants.

[[Page 42420]]

Public Comments Solicited

    We solicit written comments on the recovery plan described. We will 
consider all comments received by the date specified above prior to 
final approval of the plan.
    Please submit electronic comments as an ASCII file format and avoid 
the use of special characters and encryption. Please also include 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 Panama City Field Office (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 record, which we will honor to the extent 
allowable by law. In some circumstances, we would withhold also from 
the 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.


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

    Dated: July 3, 2003.
J. Mitch King,
Acting Regional Director, Southeast Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
[FR Doc. 03-18081 Filed 7-16-03; 8:45 am]