[Federal Register: August 5, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 150)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 46143-46160]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AI77

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Proposed 
Designation of Critical Habitat for Astragalus magdalenae var. 
peirsonii (Peirson's milk-vetch)

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), propose to 
designate critical habitat pursuant to the Endangered Species Act of 
1973, as amended (Act), for the federally threatened Astragalus 
magdalenae var. peirsonii (Peirson's milk-vetch). We propose to 
designate a total of approximately 52,780 acres (ac) (21,359 hectares 
(ha)) of critical habitat in Imperial County, California.
    Critical habitat identifies specific areas that are essential to 
the conservation of a listed species, and that may require special 
management considerations or protection. If this proposal is made 
final, section 7(a)(2) of the Act requires that Federal agencies ensure 
that actions they fund, authorize, or carry out are not likely to 
result in the destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat. 
The regulatory effect of the critical habitat designation does not 
extend beyond those activities funded, permitted, or carried out by 
Federal agencies. State or private actions, with no Federal 
involvement, are not affected.
    Section 4 of the Act requires us to consider the economic and other 
relevant impacts of specifying any area as critical habitat. We will 
conduct an analysis of the economic impacts of designating these areas, 
in a manner that is consistent with the ruling of the 10th Circuit 
Court of Appeals in N.M. Cattle Growers Ass'n v. USFWS. We hereby 
solicit data and comments from the public on all aspects of this 
proposal, including data on economic and other impacts of the 
designation. We may revise this proposal prior to final designation to 
incorporate or address new information received during public comment 

DATES: We will accept comments until October 6, 2003. Public hearing 
requests must be received by September 19, 2003.

ADDRESSES: 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, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, 6010 Hidden Valley Road, Carlsbad, CA 92009.
    2. You may hand-deliver written comments and information to our 
Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, at the above address, or fax your 
comments to 760-731-9618.
    3. You may send your comments by electronic mail (e-mail) to 
FW1PMV@r1.fws.gov. For directions on how to submit electronic filing of 
comments, see the ``Public Comments Solicited'' section.
    All 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: Jim Bartel, Field Supervisor, Carlsbad 
Fish and Wildlife Service (telephone (760) 431-9440; facsimile (760) 


Public Comments Solicited

    It is our intent that any final action resulting from this proposal 
will be as accurate as possible. Therefore, we solicit comments or 
suggestions from the public, other concerned governmental agencies, the 
scientific community, industry, or any other interested party 
concerning this proposed rule. Based on public comment, in developing 
the final rule we may find that areas proposed are not essential, 
appropriate for exclusion under section 4(b)(2), or not appropriate for 
exclusion, in which case, they would be made part of the final 
designation. We particularly seek comments concerning:
    (1) The reasons why any areas should or should not be determined to 
be critical habitat as provided by section 4 of the Act, including 
whether the benefits of designation will outweigh any threats to the 
species resulting from the designation;
    (2) Specific information on the amount and distribution of 
Astragalus magdalenae var. peirsonii and its habitat, and which habitat 
or habitat components are essential to the conservation of this species 
and why;
    (3) Land use designations and current or planned activities in or 
adjacent to the areas proposed and their possible impacts on proposed 
critical habitat;
    (4) Any foreseeable economic or other potential impacts resulting 
from the

[[Page 46144]]

proposed designation, in particular, any impacts on small entities;
    (5) Economic and other values associated with designating critical 
habitat for Astragalus magdalenae var. peirsonii such as those derived 
from non-consumptive uses (e.g., hiking, camping, photography, improved 

air quality, increased soil retention, and ``existence values''); and
    (6) Whether our approach to designating critical habitat could be 
improved or modified in any way to provide for greater public 
participation and understanding, or to assist us in accommodating 
public concerns and comments.
    If you wish to comment, you may submit your comments and materials 
concerning this proposal by any one of several methods (see ADDRESSES 
section). Please submit electronic comments in ASCII file format and 
avoid the use of special characters or any form of encryption. Please 
also include ``Attn: RIN1018-AI77'' in your e-mail subject header and 
your name and return address in the body of your message. If you do not 
receive a confirmation from the system that we have received your 
internet message, contact us directly by calling our Carlsbad Fish and 
Wildlife Office at phone number 760-431-9440. Please note that the e-
mail address ``FW1PMV@r1.fws.gov'' will be closed out at the 
termination of the public comment period.
    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 rulemaking record, which we will honor to 
the extent allowable by law. There also may be circumstances in which 
we would withhold from the rulemaking 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. 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. 
Comments and materials received will be available for public 
inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the above 


    We listed Astragalus magdalenae var. peirsonii as threatened on 
October 6, 1998 (63 FR 53596) due to threats of increasing habitat loss 
from Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) use and associated recreational 
development, destruction of plants, and lack of protection afforded the 
plant under State law. It is our intent, in this proposed rule, to 
reiterate and discuss only those topics directly relevant to the 
development and designation of critical habitat or relevant information 
obtained since the final listing. Please refer to our final listing 
rule for a more detailed discussion of the plant's taxonomic history 
and physical description.
    The current name, Astragalus magdalenae var. peirsonii (Munz and Mc 
Burney) Barneby (Barneby 1958), is accepted in both systematic (Barneby 
1964) and floristic treatments (Barneby 1959, Munz 1974, and 
Spellenberg 1993). Surveys conducted in the Borrego Valley, have failed 
to document a historical reference to an occurrence of Astragalus 
magdalenae var. peirsonii (Bureau of Land Management (BLM) 2001); 
consequently this population is thought to be extirpated. A collection 
from the Yuma Dunes of Arizona thought to represent A. m. var. 
peirsonii was found to be misidentified. In Mexico, A. m. var. 
peirsonii is known from the Gran Desierto of northwestern Sonora 
(Felger 2000) and from northeastern Estado de Baja California (Barneby 
1959, 1965; Spellenberg 1993). Currently, the only known population of 
A. m. var. peirsonii remaining in the United States is located in the 
Algodones Dunes of Imperial County, California. This dune field is one 
of the largest in the United States and one of the most popular for OHV 
    Astragalus magdalenae var. peirsonii is a stout, short-lived 
perennial member of the Fabaceae (Legume Family). Plants develop 
extremely long tap roots (Barneby 1964) that penetrate deeply to the 
more moist sand and anchor the plants in the shifting dunes. The root 
crown is often exposed by wind action moving the sand away from the 
base of the plants. The flowers are arranged in 10 to 17 flowered 
racemes. The inflated fruits are large and contain 11 to 16 large 
flattened black seeds--among the largest seeds of any Astragalus in 

North America. Seeds are either dispersed locally by falling out of 
partly opened fruits on the parent plant salt-shaker style or by their 
release from fruits blown across the sand after falling from the parent 
plant. Seeds require no pre-germination treatment to induce 
germination, but show increased germination success when scarified 
(outer cover is broken) (Romspert and Burk 1979; Porter in litt. 2002). 
Dispersed seeds that do not germinate during the subsequent growing 
season become part of the seed bank (Given 1994). In laboratory 
studies, seeds germinated more readily at lower and intermediate 
temperatures of 59 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 25 degrees Celsius) 
in the cooler fall and winter months as might be expected (Romspert and 
Burk 1979).
    Astragalus magdalenae var. peirsonii seedlings reportedly mature 
rapidly, and although perennial, some plants may bear fruit within 
several months of germination (Barneby 1964; Romspert and Burk 1979). 
Romspert and Burk (1979) noted that older plants were the primary seed 
producers, and plants that become reproductive in the first season do 
not make significant contributions to the seedbank. It is therefore 
important that plants survive for more than 1 year in order to 
replenish the existing seedbank.
    Astragalus magdalenae var. peirsonii exhibits temporal variability 
in plant numbers apparently associated with annual precipitation 
patterns. In dune-wide surveys conducted in 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2000, 
the species was most abundant in 1998, the highest rainfall year, and 
least abundant in 2000, the lowest rainfall year (BLM 2001). Based on 
current understanding of the species' life history, sufficient rain in 
conjunction with wetter-than-average fall weather appears to trigger 
significant germination events. Seedlings may be generally present in 
suitable habitat throughout the dunes, especially during above-normal 
precipitation years. In intervening drier years, plant numbers decrease 
as individuals die and are not replaced by new seedlings. The species 
likely depends on the production of seeds in the wetter years and the 
persistence of the seed banks until appropriate conditions for 
production and germination occur. Further research and modeling are 
necessary to better understand the dynamics of this system and how the 
species may be responding to natural and man-made disturbances within 
its range.
    Astragalus magdalenae var. peirsonii occurs on open sand dunes in a 
vegetation community referred to as psammophytic scrub (Westec 1977; 
BLM 2000). Desert psammophytic scrub is described as being 
distinguished by a rather large number of plants restricted entirely or 
largely to an active dune area (Thorne 1982). Desert psammophytic scrub 
transitions into the sandier phases of creosote bush scrub, which is 
generally only present at the lower, more stabilized margins of the 
dunes (Thorne 1982). Astragalus magdalenae var. peirsonii, Helianthus 
niveus ssp.

[[Page 46145]]

tephrodes (Algodones Dunes sunflower), Croton wigginsii (Wiggins' 
croton), Palafoxia arida ssp. gigantea (giant Spanish needle), Pholisma 
(as Ammobroma) sonorae (sand food), Ephedra trifurca (three-forked 
ephedra), and Eriogonum deserticola (desert eriogonum), are restricted 
desert psammophytic scrub taxa in the Algodones Dunes (Thorne 1982) 
while the same author included Astragalus lentiginosus var. borreganus 
(Borrego milk-vetch), Dicorea canescens (dune bugseed), Petalonyx 
thurberi (sandpaper plant), and Tiquilia species as more widely 
distributed species found off the dunes. Many of these taxa are also 
found in association with A. m. var. peirsonii in the Gran Desierto of 
Sonora, Mexico (Felger 2000). Astragalus magdalenae var. peirsonii is 
found on deep, active dunes generally under 20 degrees slope. Usually, 
one or more of the other psammophytic scrub taxa (Thorne 1982) are also 
found with A. m. var. peirsonii. Creosote bush scrub is rarely found in 
deep sand dunes, but may encroach in adjacent areas especially where 
the base soil is exposed.
    The current known geographical range of Astragalus magdalenae var. 
peirsonii in the United States is limited to a narrow band in the 
central portion of the Algodones Dunes of Imperial County, California. 
This band runs parallel to the active, linear dunes on the western edge 
of the dune field in a northwest to southeast direction. The band is 
between these active linear dunes on the west and transverse ridge 
dunes to the east. The dunes in this band are composed of a series of 
transitional crescentic ridges (Muhs et al. 1995). Historically A. m. 
var. peirsonii was found in Borrego Valley, San Diego County (Barneby 
1964). In Mexico, A. m. var. peirsonii occurs in northeastern Estado de 
Baja California (Barneby 1959, 1964; Westec 1977; Spellenberg 1993), 
and in the Gran Desierto of Sonora (Felger 2000).
    The Algodones Dunes are one of the largest dune fields in North 
America. The Algodones Dunes are often referred to as the Imperial Sand 
Dunes, a designation derived from their inclusion in the Imperial Sand 
Dunes Recreation Area (ISDRA) established by the BLM. Virtually all 
lands in the Algodones Dunes are managed by BLM. However, the State of 
California and private parties own some small inholdings in the dune 
area (see Table 1).

     Table 1.--Approximate Areas in Acres (ac) and Hectares (ha) of Proposed Critical Habitat for Astragalus
                                  magdalenae var. peirsonii by Land Ownership.
              Unit                      Federal              State              Private              Total
Algodones.......................  50,441 ac.........  833 ac............  1,506 ac..........  52,780 ac.
Dunes...........................  (20,413 ha).......  (337 ha)..........  (609 ha)..........  (21,359 ha).

    The dunes extend about 40 miles (mi) (64 kilometers (km)), trending 
from northwest to southeast (Norris and Norris 1961). Winds from the 
northwest are prevalent in the winter, while in the summer the winds 
are from the southeast (Romspert and Burk 1979). This regime is likely 
responsible for the dune-building (Norris and Norris 1961) and fruit 
dispersal that result in the persistence of the plants in the dune 
system. The dunes are generally considered to have formed from sands 
from Lake Cahuilla that historically occupied the Cahuilla Basin. The 
western boundary of the dunes is marked by a series of parallel, 
longitudinal generally southeast trending ridges. The northern third of 
the dunes is narrow, about 2 mi (3 km) wide, and increases in elevation 
from 200 to 300 feet (ft) (60-91 meters (m)) in the northern portion to 
300 to 400 ft (91 to 121 m) in the southern portion north of Highway 
78. Areas in the central portion of the dunes reach an elevation 500 ft 
(152 m) south of State Highway 78, but reach elevations of only 200 ft 
(60 m) for most areas just north of Interstate 8. The central portion 
of the dunes is wider, about 5 mi (8 km), and is characterized by deep 
bowls (hollows among the dunes) and slip faces (areas so steep that the 
loose sand naturally cascades downward) that run transverse to the 
primary ridge line (Norris and Norris 1961). The area south of 
Interstate 8 is generally characterized by lower elevation, under 300 
ft (91 m), dunes.
    The Algodones Dunes are one of the driest and hottest regions in 
the United States. Romspert and Burk (1979) reported average yearly 
precipitation between 1941-1970 was 2.6 in (67.8 mm). The rainfall is 
often described as scattered or patchy. Rainfall amounts differ from 
place to place and from year to year with areas to the northwest being 
generally dryer than those to the southeast (BLM 2001). A soil survey 
for the Imperial Valley area of Imperial County (Zimmerman 1981) did 
not include the areas east of the Coachella Canal but did depict a few 
adjacent portions of the Algodones Dunes as Rositas fine sand with 9 to 
30 percent slopes. Rositas fine sand are described as deep, somewhat 
excessively drained, sloping soils formed in wind-blown sands of 
diverse origin. Dean (1978) describes the sand as quartz with a mean 
grain size of 0.006 in (0.17 mm). Norris and Norris (1961) report that 
the dunes contain 60 to 70 percent quartz and 30 to 40 percent feldspar 
sand. Further analysis of the sands of the Algodones Dunes found its 
source was likely sediment from the Colorado River that flowed into the 
Cahuilla Basin (Muhs et al. 1995)
    Destruction of plants and modification of habitat associated with 
OHV activity is considered the primary threat to Astragalus magdalenae 
var. peirsonii. Vehicles may have a direct impact on the plants by 
crushing and killing them or reducing their reproductive output. 
Vehicles can alter dune structure by altering hydrological traits of 
the dune, cover standing plants with encroaching sand, or expose 
standing plants by causing sand to fall away from the plants. 
Willoughby (BLM 2001), however, concluded that healthy populations of 
A. m. var. peirsonii persist in OHV ``open areas'' in the Algodones 
Dunes and that populations in both ``open'' and ``closed'' areas 
respond to precipitation patterns. This likely results from the 
observation that OHV use does not tend to encroach on habitat of the 
plants in more distant regions of the open area away from concentrated 
OHV staging sites (BLM 2001). Significant impacts from OHV use on A. m. 
var. peirsonii have been observed at and near OHV staging areas and 
have been previously documented (WESTEC 1977; ECOS 1990; BLM 2000). 
Since the species' listing, recreational use has steadily increased in 
the Algodones Dunes.
    Another threat is herbivory by seed weevils, in the family 
Bruchidae, which contributes to the mortality of seeds and reduces seed 
crop for Astragalus magdalenae var. peirsonii (Romspert and Burk 1979). 
Fruits collected in April and stored in a bottle continued to release 
these seed weevils into

[[Page 46146]]

October (Romspert and Burk 1979). However, the overall impact of seed 
weevils on the reproductive output of A. m. var. peirsonii is not known 
at this time. Weevils were noted on nearly all of the A. m. var. 
peirsonii plants encountered in 2003 by Porter (Porter, in litt. 2003). 
Herbivory of leaves, leaflets, and stem tips by rodents was also noted 
by Porter ( in litt. 2002a; in litt. 2003).
    We have not yet developed a recovery plan or a conservation 
strategy for Astragalus magdalenae var. peirsonii. Based on our current 
understanding of the species' biology, the primary conservation needs 
include: maintenance of the major occurrences of A. m. var. peirsonii 
to conserve genetic diversity; management of the species' habitat to 
prevent catastrophic population declines; and collection of additional 
information concerning recreational use-patterns in the Algodones 
Dunes, the direct and indirect effects of OHV use on this species, and 
biological factors affecting milk-vetch demographics.

Previous Federal Action

    The final rule listing A. m. var. peirsonii as threatened was 
published in the Federal Register on October 6, 1998 (63 FR 53596). At 
the time we listed the plant we determined that designation of critical 
habitat was not prudent based on concerns about potential, deliberate 
acts of vandalism that could result from such a designation.
    On October 25, 2001, we received a petition to delist Astragalus 
magdalenae var. peirsonii, dated October 24, 2001, from David P. 
Hubbard, Ted. J. Griswold, and Philip J. Giacinti, Jr. of Procopio, 
Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP on behalf of the American Sand 
Association (ASA), San Diego Off-Road Coalition (SDO-RC), and Off-Road 
Business Association (O-RBA). On November 20, 2001, we sent a letter to 
David P. Hubbard of Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP 
acknowledging receipt of their petition. The Service is in the process 
of making the 90-day finding on the petition.
    On November 15, 2001, the Center for Biological Diversity and 
California Native Plant Society filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District 
Court for the Southern District of California challenging our 
determination not to designate critical habitat for eight desert 
plants, including Astragalus magdalenae var. peirsonii (Center for 
Biological Diversity et al. v. Norton, No. 01 CV 2101). A second 
lawsuit also asserting the same challenge was filed on November 21, 
2001, by the Building Industry Legal Defense Fund v. Norton, No. 01 CV 
2145). Following the filing of these suits, the ASA, California Off-
Road Vehicle Association, American Motorcycle Association, Inc.--
District 37, the SDO-RC, and the O-RBA filed a motion to intervene. The 
motion was granted by the Court but limited the interveners' 
participation to resolution of an appropriate timeline for 
reconsideration of the critical habitat determination for A. m. var. 
peirsonii. On July 1, 2002, the court ordered the Service to complete a 
review of the prudency determination and, if prudent, to propose 
critical habitat for the plant on or before July 28, 2003.

Designation of Critical Habitat Provides Little Additional Protection 
to Species

    In 30 years of implementing the ESA, we have found that the 
designation of statutory critical habitat provides little additional 
protection to most listed species, while consuming significant amounts 
of available conservation resources. Our present system for designating 
critical habitat has evolved since its original statutory prescription 
into a process that provides little real conservation benefit, is 
driven by litigation and the courts rather than biology, limits our 
ability to fully evaluate the science involved, consumes enormous 
agency resources, and imposes huge social and economic costs. We 
believe that additional agency discretion would allow our focus to 
return to those actions that provide the greatest benefit to the 
species most in need of protection.

Role of Critical Habitat in Actual Practice of Administering and 
Implementing the Act

    While attention to and protection of habitat is paramount to 
successful conservation actions, we have consistently found that, in 
most circumstances, the designation of critical habitat is of little 
additional value for most listed species, yet it consumes large amounts 
of conservation resources. Sidle (1987) stated, ``Because the ESA can 
protect species with and without critical habitat designation, critical 
habitat designation may be redundant to the other consultation 
requirements of section 7.'' Currently, only 306 species or 25 percent 
of the 1,211 listed species in the United States under our jurisdiction 
have designated critical habitat. We address the habitat needs of all 
1,211 listed species through conservation mechanisms such as listing, 
section 7 consultations, the Section 4 recovery planning process, the 
Section 9 protective prohibitions of unauthorized take, Section 6 
funding to the States, and the Section 10 incidental take permit 
process. We believe that it is these measures that may make the 
difference between extinction and survival for many species.

Procedural and Resource Difficulties in Designating Critical Habitat

    We have been inundated with lawsuits for our failure to designate 
critical habitat, and we face a growing number of lawsuits challenging 
critical habitat determinations once they are made. These lawsuits have 
subjected us to an ever-increasing series of court orders and court-
approved settlement agreements, compliance with which now consumes 
nearly the entire listing program budget. This leaves us with little 
ability to prioritize our activities to direct scarce listing resources 
to the listing program actions with the most biologically urgent 
species conservation needs.
    The consequence of the critical habitat litigation activity is that 
limited listing funds are used to defend active lawsuits, to respond to 
Notices of Intent (NOIs) to sue relative to critical habitat, and to 
comply with the growing number of adverse court orders. As a result, 
listing petition responses, our own proposals to list critically 
imperiled species, and final listing determinations on existing 
proposals are all significantly delayed.
    The accelerated schedules of court ordered designations have left 
us with almost no ability to provide for adequate public participation 
or to ensure a defect-free rulemaking process before making decisions 
on listing and critical habitat proposals due to the risks associated 
with noncompliance with judicially-imposed deadlines. This in turn 
fosters a second round of litigation in which those who fear adverse 
impacts from critical habitat designations challenge those 
designations. The cycle of litigation appears endless, is very 
expensive, and in the final analysis provides relatively little 
additional protection to listed species.
    The costs resulting from the designation include legal costs, the 
cost of preparation and publication of the designation, the analysis of 
the economic effects and the cost of requesting and responding to 
public comment, and in some cases the costs of compliance with NEPA; 
all are part of the cost of critical habitat designation. None of these 
costs result in any benefit to the species that is not already afforded 
by the protections of the Act enumerated earlier, and they directly 
reduce the funds available for direct and tangible conservation 

[[Page 46147]]

Critical Habitat

    Section 3(5)(A) of the Act defines critical habitat as--(i) the 
specific areas within the geographic area occupied by a species, at the 
time it is listed in accordance with the Act, on which are found those 
physical or biological features (I) essential to the conservation of 
the species and (II) that may require special management considerations 
or protection; and (ii) specific areas outside the geographic area 
occupied by a species at the time it is listed, upon a determination 
that such areas are essential for the conservation of the species. 
``Conservation'' means the use of all methods and procedures that are 
necessary to bring an endangered or a threatened species to the point 
at which listing under the Act is no longer necessary.
    The designation of critical habitat does not affect land ownership 
or establish a refuge, wilderness, reserve, preserve, or other 
conservation area. It does not allow government or public access to 
private lands. Under section 7 of the Act, Federal agencies must 
consult with us on activities they undertake, fund, or permit that may 
affect critical habitat and lead to its destruction or adverse 
modification. However, the Act prohibits unauthorized take of listed 
species and requires consultation for activities that may affect them, 
including habitat alterations, regardless of whether critical habitat 
has been designated. We have found that the designation of critical 
habitat provides little additional protection to most listed species.
    To be included in a critical habitat designation, habitat must be 
either a specific area within the geographic area occupied by the 
species on which are found those physical or biological features 
essential to the conservation of the species (primary constituent 
elements, as defined at 50 CFR 424.12(b)) and which may require special 
management considerations or protections, or be specific areas outside 
of the geographic area occupied by the species which are determined to 
be essential to the conservation of the species. Section 3(5)(C) of the 
Act states that not all areas that can be occupied by a species should 
be designated as critical habitat unless the Secretary determines that 
all such areas are essential to the conservation of the species. Our 
regulations (50 CFR 424.12(e)) also state that, ``The Secretary shall 
designate as critical habitat areas outside the geographic area 
presently occupied by the species only when a designation limited to 
its present range would be inadequate to ensure the conservation of the 
    Regulations at 50 CFR 424.02(j) define special management 
considerations or protection to mean any methods or procedures useful 
in protecting the physical and biological features of the environment 
for the conservation of listed species. When we designate critical 
habitat, we may not have the information necessary to identify all 
areas which are essential for the conservation of the species. 
Nevertheless, we are required to designate those areas we consider to 
be essential, using the best information available to us. Accordingly, 
we do not designate critical habitat in areas outside the geographic 
area occupied by the species unless the best available scientific and 
commercial data demonstrate that unoccupied areas are essential for the 
conservation needs of the species.
    Section 4(b)(2) of the Act requires that we take into consideration 
the economic, and any other relevant impact, of specifying any 
particular area as critical habitat. We may exclude areas from critical 
habitat designation when the benefits of exclusion outweigh the 
benefits of including the areas within critical habitat, provided the 
exclusion will not result in extinction of the species.
    Our Policy on Information Standards Under the Endangered Species 
Act, published in the Federal Register on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 34271), 
provides criteria, establishes procedures, and provides guidance to 
ensure that our decisions represent the best scientific and commercial 
data available. It requires our biologists, to the extent consistent 
with the Act and with the use of the best scientific and commercial 
data available, to use primary and original sources of information as 
the basis for recommendations to designate critical habitat. When 
determining which areas are critical habitat, a primary source of 
information should be the listing package for the species. Additional 
information may be obtained from a recovery plan, articles in peer-
reviewed journals, conservation plans developed by States and counties, 
scientific status surveys and studies, biological assessments, or other 
unpublished materials and expert opinion or personal knowledge.
    Section 4 of the Act requires that we designate critical habitat on 
the basis of what we know at the time of designation. Habitat is often 
dynamic, and species may move from one area to another over time. 
Furthermore, we recognize that designation of critical habitat may not 
include all of the habitat areas that may eventually be determined to 
be necessary for the recovery of the species. For these reasons, 
critical habitat designations do not signal that habitat outside the 
designation is unimportant or may not be required for recovery.
    Areas that support populations, but are outside the critical 
habitat designation, will continue to be subject to conservation 
actions implemented under section 7(a)(1) of the Act and to the 
regulatory protections afforded by the section 7(a)(2) jeopardy 
standard, as determined on the basis of the best available information 
at the time of the action. Federally funded or permitted projects 
affecting listed species outside their designated critical habitat 
areas may still result in jeopardy findings in some cases. Similarly, 
critical habitat designations made on the basis of the best available 
information at the time of designation will not control the direction 
and substance of future recovery plans, habitat conservation plans, or 
other species conservation planning efforts if new information 
available to these planning efforts calls for a different outcome.

Relationships to Sections 3(5)(A) and 4(b)(2) of the Act

    Section 3(5)(A) of the Act defines critical habitat as the specific 
areas within the geographic area occupied by the species on which are 
found those physical and biological features (I) essential to the 
conservation of the species and (II) which may require special 
management considerations or protection. As such, for an area to be 
designated as critical habitat for a species it must meet both 
provisions of the definition. In those cases where an area does not 
provide those physical and biological features essential to the 
conservation of the species, it has been our policy not to include 
these specific areas in designated critical habitat. Likewise, if we 
believe, based on an analysis, that an area determined to be 
biologically essential has an adequate conservation management plan 
that covers the species and provides for adaptive management sufficient 
to conserve the species, then special management and protection are 
already being provided, so those areas do not meet the second provision 
of the definition and are also not proposed as critical habitat.
    Further, section 4(b)(2) of the Act states that critical habitat 
shall be designated, and revised, on the basis of the best available 
scientific data available after taking into consideration the economic 
impact, and any other relevant impact, of specifying any

[[Page 46148]]

particular area as critical habitat. An area may be excluded from 
critical habitat if it is determined, following an analysis, that the 
benefits of such exclusion outweigh the benefits of specifying a 
particular area as critical habitat, unless the failure to designate 
such area as critical habitat will result in the extinction of the 
species. Consequently, we may exclude an area from designated critical 
habitat based on economic impacts, or other relevant impacts such as 
preservation of conservation partnerships and national security, if we 
determine the benefits of excluding an area from critical habitat 
outweigh the benefits of including the area in critical habitat, 
provided the action of excluding the area will not result in the 
extinction of the species.
    In our critical habitat designations we have used both the 
provisions outlined in sections 3(5)(A) and 4(b)(2) of the Act to 
evaluate those specific areas which are proposed for designation as 
critical habitat and those areas which are subsequently finalized 
(i.e., designated).

Prudency Determination

    Section 4(a)(3) of the Act and its implementing regulations (50 CFR 
424.12) require that, to the maximum extent prudent and determinable, 
we designate critical habitat at the time a species is listed as 
endangered or threatened. Our regulations at 50 CFR 424.12(a)(1) state 
that the designation of critical habitat is not prudent when one or 
both of the following situations exist: (1) The species is threatened 
by taking or other activity and the identification of critical habitat 
can be expected to increase the degree of threat to the species or (2) 
such designation of critical habitat would not be beneficial to the 
species. In our October 6, 1998, final rule (63 FR 53596), we 
determined that designation of critical habitat would provide little 
conservation benefit over that provided by listing. We determined that 
designation of critical habitat was not prudent based on the increased 
threat of vandalism and stated that designation of critical habitat 
could lead to acts of vandalism, may provoke deliberate incidents of 
vandalism by OHV users and may serve to encourage acts of vandalism.
    However, in the past few years, several of our determinations that 
the designation of critical habitat would not be prudent have been 
overturned by court decisions. For example, in Conservation Council for 
Hawaii v. Babbitt, the United States District Court for the District of 
Hawaii ruled that the Service could not rely on the ``increased 
threat'' rationale for a ``not prudent'' determination without specific 
evidence of the threat to the species at issue (2 F. Supp. 2d 1280 [D. 
Hawaii 1998]). Additionally, in Natural Resources Defense Council v. 
U.S. Department of the Interior, the United States Court of Appeals for 
the Ninth Circuit ruled that the Service must balance, in order to 
invoke the ``increased threat rationale,'' the threat against the 
benefit to the species of designating critical habitat (113 F. 3d 1121, 
1125 [9th Cir. 1997]).
    We continue to be concerned that Peirson's milk-vetch is vulnerable 
to impacts from OHV use in the area, vandalism, or disturbance of their 
habitat and that these threats might be increased by the designation of 
critical habitat, publication of critical habitat maps, and further 
dissemination of location and habitat information. The periodically low 
numbers and restricted range of this plant taxon make it vulnerable. At 
this time, we do have some limited specific evidence for vandalism, and 
other unauthorized human disturbance specific to this plant and its 
    The courts also have ruled that, in the absence of a finding that 
the designation of critical habitat would increase threats to a 
species, the existence of another type of protection, even if it offers 
potentially greater protection to the species, does not justify a ``not 
prudent'' finding (Conservation Council for Hawaii v. Babbitt 2 F. 
Supp. 2d 1280). We are already working with Federal and State agencies 
and organizations in carrying out conservation activities for this 
plant and conducting surveys for additional occurrences of the species 
and to assess habitat conditions. These entities are fully aware of the 
distribution, status, and habitat requirements for this plant.
    We have reconsidered our evaluation of the threats posed by 
vandalism in the prudency determination. We have determined that the 
threats to Peirson's milk-vetch from specific instances of vandalism we 
previously identified are limited, if not speculative. Accordingly, we 
withdraw our previous determination that the designation of critical 
habitat is not prudent for Peirson's milk-vetch. Therefore, we 
determine that the designation of critical habitat is prudent for 
Peirson's milk-vetch. At this time, we have sufficient information 
necessary to identify specific areas as essential to the conservation 
of this plant taxon and are therefore proposing critical habitat (see 
``Methods and Analysis used to Identify Proposed Critical Habitat'' 
section below for a discussion of information used in our 


    As required by section 4(b)(2) of the Act and regulations at 50 CFR 
424.12, we used the best scientific information available to determine 
areas that contain the physical and biological features that are 
essential for the conservation of Astragalus magdalenae var. peirsonii. 
This included information from our own documents on this plant and 
related taxa, available information that pertains to the biology and 
habitat requirements of this taxon, including data from research and 
survey observations, such as Westec (1977), BLM surveys conducted from 
1998 to 2002 primarily summarized by Willoughby (BLM 2000, 2001), 
Thomas Olsen Associates (TOA) (2001), and Phillips and Kennedy (2002); 
the California Natural Diversity Database (2003); peer-reviewed journal 
articles and book excerpts regarding A. m. var. peirsonii, similar 
species, or more generalized issues of conservation biology; 
unpublished biological documents and discussions with botanical experts 
regarding A. m. var. peirsonii and related species; site visits; and 
    The area proposed for critical habitat is occupied by Astragalus 
magdalenae var. peirsonii as demonstrated by repeated surveys 
summarized by BLM (BLM 2000, 2001), and independently confirmed by TOA 
(TOA 2001). This plant may be present as standing plants, as seed bank 
in the sand or as plants persisting as perennial root crowns in the 
sand. During any given year, the suitable habitat for A. m. var. 
peirsonii may be occupied by various combinations of these three life 
history phases. The dynamics of dune morphology, local rainfall 
patterns and amounts, as well as the spatial distribution of the seed 
bank, and seed scarification each contribute to the patchy or mosaic 
nature of the distribution of standing plants of A. m. var. peirsonii. 
Local rainfall patterns and amounts are likely to cause shifts in the 
proportions of these three life history phases. All areas proposed as 
critical habitat contain at least one of the primary constituent 
elements and have been determined to be essential to the conservation 
of the species, as described below.
    Areas proposed as critical habitat are occupied, in any given year, 
by standing plants, root crowns, or the soil seed bank. Likewise, areas 
of unsurveyed, suitable habitat that are contiguous with areas where 
standing plants have been documented by BLM surveys (BLM 2000, 2001), 
are reasonably likely to support standing plants, root crowns, or

[[Page 46149]]

a portion of the soil seed bank. BLM did not survey every west-to-east 
transect across the dunes, however, interpolation of earlier survey 
data (WESTEC 1977) and census data (TOA 2001) confirms the presence of 
Astragalus magdalenae var. peirsonii and the continuity of the 
northwest-to-southeast habitat. These data sustain our inclusion of 
these areas in the proposed critical habitat. These areas are not 
likely any bigger than naturally occurring gaps in the spatial 
distribution. As a result, these intervening areas, where standing 
plants may not have been documented are determined to be essential to 
the conservation of A. m. var. peirsonii because they contain the 
primary constituent elements and will accommodate the natural 
fluctuations and movement of populations as well as connectivity across 
the plants' range. Surveys need not have identified standing plants for 
an area to be considered occupied because a species may still be 
present at a site as part of the seed bank (Given 1994) or unsprouted 
root crowns.
    The most extensive survey of the Algodones Dunes was conducted in 
1977 (Westec 1977). This survey used 66 transects that ran across the 
dunes from west to east. Along the transects they recorded presence and 
relative abundance of standing plants of Astragalus magdalenae var. 
peirsonii and four other rare psammophytic scrub species. In 1998 the 
BLM began surveying for rare plants in the dunes repeating the 
methodology used by Westec in their 1977 survey; however, the BLM 
surveyed only 34 of the original 66 transects and employed a different 
abundance measure. The BLM conducted these surveys for 5 consecutive 
years (1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, and 2002) recording the presence and 
abundance of the rare plant taxa along the transects.
    To determine the general range of Astragalus magdalenae var. 
peirsonii in the Algodones Dunes, we used survey information from 
published and unpublished documents and maps including Westec (1977), 
BLM (2000, 2001), and TOA (2001). Westec (1977) devised a grid system 
overlay for the Algodones Dunes. Each quadrant of the grid was 
approximately 0.45 mi (0.72 km) on a side. BLM reproduced this grid 
system to present data from their subsequent annual surveys from 1998 
to 2002 (BLM 2000, 2001). Both Westec and BLM considered a grid square 
occupied if A. m. var. peirsonii was encountered anywhere within that 
grid square. For comparison, we also superimposed census data included 
by TOA (2001) on this same grid system. We produced maps based on 
Westec (1977), BLM (2000, 2001), and TOA (2001) data. Because of the 
differences in survey methodologies and abundance classes used by these 
surveys, we considered each of these records to represent presence or 
absence only. Due to fluctuations in both the presence and abundance of 
A. m. var. peirsonii from year to year, we combined the data from 
multiple years of survey data. Also the various surveys recorded 
standing plants as the only measure of occupancy, not taking into 
account a dormant soil seed bank or root crowns.
    The survey efforts, discussed above, provided us with the data 
necessary to construct a model showing which regions of the Algodones 
Dunes represent essential habitat for the Astragalus magdalenae var. 
peirsonii. The model that we created used the data collected by the BLM 
from 1998 to 2002 as the input data and the data collected by Westec 
1977 and TOA 2001 as a means of verifying the information generated by 
the model. The BLM data was used as the input data source for the model 
because it was more current, covered multiple years, and used the same 
methodology each year. Time and resources precluded us from conducting 
independent surveys. Outlier occurrences evidenced only by Westec 1977 
were not included because of the age of the report and the lack of 
substantiation by more recent BLM surveys.
    In order to create this model we used the BLM data to extrapolate 
the values for four variables: (1) The presence or absence of standing 

plants of A. m. var. peirsonii; (2) the abundance of A. m. var. 
peirsonii; (3) the frequency of occurrence of A. m. var. peirsonii; and 
(4) the number of associated rare psammophytic plant taxa present. 
These variables were scored, then standardized, and finally compiled. 
We grouped the data into five categories and created a map depicting 
the distribution of the model's output. This map showed a strong band 
of high values that ran from the Northeast to the Southwest of the dune 
field. The portion of the dunes that corresponded to the top three 
categories represented the portion of the Algodones Dunes that is 
essential to the conservation of this species.
    Analysis of four variables depicted on GIS-based maps provided us 
with information necessary for determining which areas of the Algodones 
Dunes are essential for the conservation of the species and contain the 
primary constituent elements. The first variable was that of the 
presence or absence of standing plants. This indicated localities where 
Astragalus magdalenae var. peirsonii had been found in each of the five 
survey years either as seedlings or as older plants. The second 
variable gave us information about the relative abundance of A. m. var. 
peirsonii in each of the five survey years. The highest abundance class 
value recorded for each grid cell during the five survey years was used 
as the cell's value for this variable. This provided us with 
information to depict areas that seem to have higher plant densities, 
and thus presence of primary constituent elements. The third variable 
provided us with information about the frequency with which A. m. var. 
peirsonii occurred from year to year. This variable was calculated 
based on the number of times A. m. var. peirsonii was reported in a 
grid cell throughout the 5-year survey period. This was important in 
determining areas that continued to function as good habitat for A. m. 
var. peirsonii and were most likely to contain the primary constituent 
elements. Finally, we used the presence and absence data for the other 
rare psammophytic scrub taxa that occur in the Algodones dunes and are 
often found with A. m. var. peirsonii as the fourth variable. These 
plants included Croton wigginsii, Helianthus niveus ssp. tephrodes, 
Palafoxia arida var. gigantea, and Pholisma sonorae. For each grid 
cell, scores were assigned based on the number of these associated 
plants that were found over the course of the 5 years of surveys. 
Higher scores may indicate a greater abundance and persistence of A. m. 
var. peirsonii and/or the diversity of associated psammophytic scrub 
species. Therefore, by this measure higher scores indicate the presence 
of higher quality psammophytic scrub habitat, and thus the presence of 
primary constituent elements.
    Intrinsic to the creation of the essential habitat model for 
Astragalus magdalenae var. peirsonii was the application of several 
assumptions related to the (1) BLM study design (Willoughby 2000 and 
Willoughby 2001), (2) habitat and weather variability across the entire 
dune system, (3) paved roads as barriers to dispersal, (4) occurrences 
of plants and seeds in grid cells over different survey periods, and 
(5) model protocol. These assumptions are described to allow the 
reviewer to understand the potential strengths and limitations of the 
results of the habitat modeling. Based on the BLM study design, a 
consistent survey methodology was used for the plant surveys conducted 
in 1998, 1999, and 2000 (Willoughby 2000 and Willoughby 2001). 
Vegetation maps (BLM 2003),

[[Page 46150]]

wind patterns (Romspert and Burk 1979 and Norris and Norris 1961), and 
precipitation patterns (Willoughby 2000 and Willoughby 2001) supported 
our assumption that the habitat, in terms of dune action, 
precipitation, and vegetation, was uniform in variation and continuous 
throughout the dune system. Based on rainfall data collected from 
November 16, 2000 to March 16, 2001 (1.40 inches of precipitation was 
recorded at Cahuilla Ranger Station in the northwest part of the dunes 
and 2.67 inches of precipitation was reported at Buttercup Campground 
in the southern end of the dunes (Willoughby 2001)), BLM indicated that 
more precipitation may fall in the southern portion of the Algodones 
Dunes compared to the northern end of the dunes. However, given the 
limited precipitation data available for the Algodones Dunes (5 months) 
and the relatively short linear extent of the dunes (40 mi long) (64 km 
long), we could not project a rainfall gradient and, instead, assumed 
that the precipitation was uniformly variable and continuous throughout 
the dune system. Based on observations of unimpeded sand and wind 
movement across existing paved roads, we did not expect that the paved 
roads would represent a barrier to the dispersal of the fruits and 
seeds of Astragalus magdalenae var. peirsonii. Surveys conducted by BLM 
indicate variability in occurrences of standing plants from year to 
year (Willoughby 2000 and Willoughby 2001) and that at any given time, 
these occurrences may represent standing plants, root crown regrowth, 
or seedlings of Astragalus magdalenae var. peirsonii. We assumed that 
if standing plants were not found in a particular grid cell during a 
survey, but were recorded as present in other survey years, then that 
grid cell may be occupied by either root crowns or seeds of this 
species. BLM randomly selected survey transects and, as expected, this 
random selection results in gaps between transects. We projected the 
distribution of Astragalus magdalenae var. peirsonii across the gaps by 
assuming that the values of unknown grid cells are more closely related 
to nearby cells rather than distant cells.
    From the data provided by BLM we were able to calculate scores for 
each of these variables and then extrapolate the values for each 
variable for the entire dune area. We made this extrapolation based on 
a statistical method called Kriging, which calculates new values for 
unsurveyed areas based on the known values for the cells that were 
surveyed. The data for these four variables was then standardized to a 
scale of 0 to 5 points so that the range of scores, from low to high, 
would be comparable to one another. The standardized scores were then 
totaled for each cell, for a possible high score of 20 points. This set 
of values was then further refined using the Kriging method to generate 
a map similar in appearance to a topographic map, showing the resulting 
scores of the model in the same way a topographic map shows variations 
in elevation. A line was then drawn around those areas of higher-
quality psammophytic scrub habitat described above and considered 
essential to the conservation of Astragalus magdalenae var. peirsonii.

Primary Constituent Elements

    In accordance with section 3(5)(A)(i) of the Act and regulations at 
50 CFR 424.12, in determining which areas to propose as critical 
habitat, we consider those physical and biological features (primary 
constituent elements) that are essential to the conservation of the 
species and that may require special management considerations or 
protection. These include but are not limited to: Space for individual 
and population growth and for normal behavior; food, water, air, light, 
minerals or other nutritional or physiological requirements; cover or 
shelter; sites for germination or seed dispersal; and habitats that are 
protected from disturbance or are representative of the historic 
geographical and ecological distributions of a species.
    Much of what is known about the specific physical and biological 
requirements of Astragalus magdalenae var. peirsonii is described in 
the Background section of this proposal and in the final listing rule. 
The proposed critical habitat is designed to provide sufficient habitat 
to maintain self-sustaining populations of A. m. var. peirsonii 
throughout its range and to provide those habitat components essential 
for the conservation of the species. These habitat components provide 
for: (1) Individual and population growth, including sites for 
germination, pollination, reproduction, pollen and seed dispersal, and 
seed bank; (2) intervening areas that allow gene flow and provide 
connectivity or linkage within segments of the larger population; and 
(3) areas that provide basic requirements for growth, such as water, 
light, and minerals.
    The conservation of Astragalus magdalenae var. peirsonii is 
dependent upon a number of factors including the protection and 
management of existing population sites and habitat, the maintenance of 
normal ecological functions within these sites, including connectivity 
between groups of plants within close geographic proximity to 
facilitate gene flow among the sites by pollinator activity and fruit 
as well as seed dispersal. Some of the factors associated with the 
observed and potential distribution of this species include: seeds will 
likely germinate if germination requirements of scarification and 
moisture are met within a germination time frame for the species 
(Porter, in litt. 2003); germination patterns likely reflect the 
distribution of the seed bank in the shifting sands, (seeds will not 
effectively germinate below a certain depth); and distribution patterns 
of standing plants may, in large part, reflect the distribution pattern 
of adequate rainfall for a particular year.
    The areas we are proposing to designate as critical habitat provide 
some or all of the habitat components essential for the conservation of 
Astragalus magdalenae var. peirsonii. These habitat components and 
primary constituent elements are generally associated with psammophytic 
scrub (e.g., Croton wigginsii, Eriogonum deserticola, Helianthus niveus 
ssp. tephrodes, Palafoxia arida var. gigantea, Pholisma sonorae, and 
Tiquilia plicata). Based on the best available information at this 
time, the primary constituent elements of critical habitat for A. m. 
var. peirsonii consist of:
    (1) Intact, active sand dune systems (defined as sand areas that 
are subject to sand-moving winds that result in natural expanses of 
slopes and swales) within the historical range of A. m. var. peirsonii 
that are characterized by:
    (A) substrates of the Rositas soil series, specifically Rositas 
fine sands of sufficient depth to promote A. m. var. peirsonii and 
discourage creosote bush scrub; and
    (B) wind-formed slopes of less than 30 degrees, but generally less 
than 20 degrees.

Criteria Used To Identify Critical Habitat

    We identified critical habitat essential to the conservation of 
Astragalus magdalenae var. peirsonii in the primary locations where it 
currently occurs or has been known to occur in the Algodones Dunes. We 
are proposing to designate critical habitat to maintain self-sustaining 
populations of A. m. var. peirsonii within the range of the taxon in 
the United States.
    Astragalus magdalenae var. peirsonii has a very limited range even 
within the Algodones Dunes. Less than one-third of the area delineated 
by the ISDRA has documented occurrences of A. m. var. peirsonii. 
Extreme fluctuations in populations have been demonstrated.

[[Page 46151]]

As a result, it is likely in some years that few, if any, seeds are 
added to the soil seed bank. The patchy distribution of the plants in 
any given year is likely a combination of several factors including the 
dynamics of dune morphology, local rainfall patterns and amounts, as 
well as the spatial distribution of the seed bank, and seed 
    We delineated the proposed critical habitat by creating data layers 
in a GIS format. Because of the dynamic nature of the distribution of 
this plant, the cyclic nature of suitable climatic regimes, and the 
presence of a seed bank for Astragalus magdalenae var. peirsonii, grid 
squares where this plant has not been encountered are included as 
critical habitat if they are contiguous with grid squares where the 
plant has been found and possess the primary constituent elements and 
are considered occupied. Another reason for their inclusion is that 
there are gaps in those transects surveyed by Westec and BLM. The TOA 
(2001) survey bridged some of these gaps and leave little doubt that 
additional surveys in previously unsurveyed transects would likely fill 
in the east-to-west pattern as well. The BLM surveys serve as the basis 
for the mapping of critical habitat. An exception to this is instances 
where Westec (1977) data is the only source of a record. Because BLM 
has included only 34 west-east transects along the length of the dunes, 
and additional data from TOA (2001) and Westec (1977) tend to bridge 
the gaps between BLM's transects, we considered the northwest to 
southeast distribution to be generally continuous.
    In order to provide legal descriptions of the critical habitat 
boundaries, we then used an overlayed 100-meter grid to establish 
Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) North American Datum 27 (NAD 27) 
coordinates which, when connected, provided the critical habitat unit 
    In designating critical habitat, we made an effort to avoid 
developed areas, OHV staging areas, and disturbed areas along roadways 
that are unlikely to contain the primary constituent elements and 
therefore contribute to the conservation of Astragalus magdalenae var. 
peirsonii. However, we did not map critical habitat in sufficient 
detail to exclude all developed areas, or other lands unlikely to 
contain the primary constituent elements essential for the conservation 
of A. m. var. peirsonii. Areas within the boundaries of the mapped 
units, such as buildings, roads, parking lots, railroad tracks, canals, 
and other paved areas, will not contain one or more of the primary 
constituent elements. Federal actions limited to these areas, 
therefore, would not trigger a consultation under section 7 of the Act, 
unless they affect the species or primary constituent elements in 
adjacent critical habitat.

Special Management Considerations

    Special management considerations or protections may be needed to 
maintain the physical and biological features as well as the primary 
constituent elements that are essential for the conservation of 
Astragalus magdalenae var. peirsonii within the unit being proposed as 
critical habitat. As noted in the Critical Habitat section, ``special 
management considerations or protection'' is a term that originates in 
section 3(5)(A) of the Act under the definition of critical habitat. We 
believe that the proposed critical habitat unit may require the special 
management considerations or protections outlined below.
    1. The dune composition and structure should be maintained in a 
manner compatible with the natural distribution pattern of Astragalus 
magdalenae var. peirsonii and be conducive to the persistence of 
associated psammophytic scrub species and discourage creosote bush 
    2. The direct and indirect impacts of OHVs on individual plants, as 
well as on the plants reproductive capacity, must be scientifically 
determined. These impacts must be assessed at a relevant time scale to 
determine seasonal impact, frequency of impact, duration of impacts, 
and pattern of impacts. This may allow an objective application of 
acceptable levels and timing of OHV activity in each of the BLM 
recreation management areas.
    Recently, the BLM issued a Recreation Area Management Plan (RAMP) 
for the Imperial San Dunes (BLM 2003). A specified major focus of the 
RAMP is to ensure that the ``world class opportunities'' of Imperial 
Sand Dunes Recreation Area (ISDRA) are continuously available while 
responding to increased need for protection of plant and animal species 
in the dunes (BLM 2003). Species specific management needs and measures 
for Astragalus magdalenae var. peirsonii are not addressed in the RAMP. 
In the RAMP, BLM does include a monitoring/study plan that they propose 
to implement. The results of this monitoring would be incorporated into 
a management plan developed for Astragalus magdalenae var. peirsonii.
    Within the ISDRA only the North Algodones Dune Wilderness Area 
(Wilderness Area) will remain closed to public motorized vehicle use. 
Although the Wilderness Area does not allow motorized recreational use, 
it is open to non-motorized public uses including hiking and horseback 
riding. Additionally, vehicular use by the California Department of 
Fish and Game, the Border Patrol and other permitted entities will be 
allowed. The Wilderness Area is not actively managed for the 
conservation of plant and animal species, rather management will take 
the form of ``minimal and subtle on-site controls and restrictions.''

Proposed Critical Habitat Designation

    Lands proposed for critical habitat designation include Federal and 
private lands. The approximate areas of proposed critical habitat by 
land ownership are shown previously in this document in table 1.
    The proposed critical habitat areas constitute our best assessment 
of the areas essential for the conservation of Astragalus magdalenae 
var. peirsonii and provide the primary constituent elements described 
above. The critical habitat includes locations where standing plants of 
A. m. var. peirsonii have been observed during BLM and Westec surveys. 
Because of the natural fluctuations in population numbers and timing of 
rainfall and pattern of seed germination, standing plants may not 
appear in all areas of critical habitat every year. Within the boundary 
of critical habitat we also include areas contiguous to those where 
standing plants have been recorded, and where, because of plant 
proximity and habitat continuity, we have no reason to doubt the 
presence of plants as a seed bank. This has been supported by recent 
findings from a single survey by TOA (2001) that found plants in areas 
of the dunes interspersed with those included in the BLM transects.
    The Algodones Dunes Critical Habitat Unit is in eastern Imperial 
County, California. This is the only region in the United States where 
there are deep dunes maintained by dune-building winds that result in 
natural expanses of swales and slopes under 20 degrees slope, and 
appropriate Rositas soils. This is also the only region of the United 
States that supports an extant population of Astragalus magdalenae var. 
peirsonii, and we have no evidence that another such area exists. It 
extends, as an elongate triangle shape, from the International Boundary 
northward in a northwesterly direction. The western boundary parallels 
the Coachella Canal. The eastern boundary is generally half way between 
this and Ted Kipf Road to the east. The northern end attenuates to a 
point near the convergence of the Coachella Canal and Ted Kipf Road.

[[Page 46152]]

    The Algodones Dunes Critical Habitat Unit has three separate 
portions separated by highways. The discontinuities associated with the 
highways are likely traversed occasionally by mature fruits dispersed 
by the wind as well as by pollinators. The northern portion of the Unit 
is north of State Highway 78. The majority of the northern portion of 
the critical habitat lies within the North Algodones Dunes Wilderness. 
The central portion of the Unit is south of State Highway 78 and north 
of Interstate 8. This portion of the Unit extends from the leeward side 
of the dunes east of the Coachella Canal eastward to approximately one 
half the distance to Ted Kipf Road on the eastern side of the Algodones 
Dunes. West of the central portion of the critical habitat, there are 
at least 11 campgrounds mostly associated with the Gecko Road area. The 
southern portion of the Unit is south of Interstate 8 and includes 
campgrounds and a major OHV staging area. Astragalus magdalenae var. 
peirsonii has consistently been found in the Buttercup Management Area. 
A primary feature of the area are the barchan dunes that between 1953 
and 1968 were determined to migrate toward the southeast (Smith 1978). 
This pattern is likely still operative. This area is important to the 
conservation of A. m. var. peirsonii because it provides the only 
potential connectivity between the range of the plant in the United 
States and that in Mexico.

Effects of Critical Habitat Designation

Section 7 Consultation

    Section 7(a) of the Act requires Federal agencies, including the 
Service, to ensure that actions they fund, authorize, permit, or carry 
out do not destroy or adversely modify critical habitat. Destruction or 
adverse modification of critical habitat occurs when a Federal action 
directly or indirectly alters critical habitat to the extent that it 
appreciably diminishes the value of critical habitat for the 
conservation of the species. Individuals, organizations, States, local 
governments, and other non-Federal entities are affected by the 
designation of critical habitat only if their actions occur on Federal 
lands, require a Federal permit, license, or other authorization, or 
involve Federal funding.
    In our regulations at 50 CFR 402.02, we define destruction or 
adverse modification as ``a direct or indirect alteration that 
appreciably diminishes the value of critical habitat for both the 
survival and recovery of a listed species. Such alterations include, 
but are not limited to: alterations adversely modifying any of those 
physical or biological features that were the basis for determining the 
habitat to be critical.'' However, in a March 15, 2001, decision of the 
United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (Sierra Club v. 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service et al., F.3d 434), the Court found our 
definition of destruction or adverse modification to be invalid. In 
response to this decision, we are reviewing the regulatory definition 
of adverse modification in relation to the conservation of the species.
    Section 7(a) of the Act requires Federal agencies, including the 
Service, to evaluate their actions with respect to any species that is 
proposed or listed as endangered or threatened, and with respect to its 
critical habitat, if any is designated or proposed. Regulations 
implementing this interagency cooperation provision of the Act are 
codified at 50 CFR part 402. Section 7(a)(4) of the Act requires 
Federal agencies to confer with us on any action that is likely to 
jeopardize the continued existence of a proposed species or result in 
destruction or adverse modification of proposed critical habitat. 
Conference reports provide conservation recommendations to assist 
Federal agencies in eliminating conflicts that may be caused by their 
proposed actions. The conservation measures in a conference report are 
    We may issue a formal conference report, if requested by the 
Federal action agency. Formal conference reports include an opinion 
that is prepared according to 50 CFR 402.14, as if the species was 
listed or critical habitat designated. We may adopt the formal 
conference report as the biological opinion when the species is listed 
or critical habitat designated, if no substantial new information or 
changes in the action alter the content of the opinion (50 CFR 
    If a species is listed or critical habitat is designated, section 
7(a)(2) of the Act requires Federal agencies to ensure that activities 
they authorize, fund, or carry out are not likely to jeopardize the 
continued existence of such a species or to destroy or adversely modify 
its critical habitat. If a Federal action may affect a listed species 
or its critical habitat, the responsible Federal agency (action agency) 
must enter into consultation with us. Through this consultation, the 
Federal action agency would ensure that the permitted actions do not 
destroy or adversely modify critical habitat.
    If we issue a biological opinion concluding that a project is 
likely to result in the destruction or adverse modification of critical 
habitat, we also provide ``reasonable and prudent alternatives'' to the 
project, if any are identifiable. Reasonable and prudent alternatives 
are defined at 50 CFR 402.02 as alternative actions identified during 
consultation that can be implemented in a manner consistent with the 
intended purpose of the action, that are consistent with the scope of 
the Federal agency's legal authority and jurisdiction, that are 
economically and technologically feasible, and that the Director 
believes would avoid the likelihood of jeopardizing the continued 
existence of listed species or resulting in the destruction or adverse 
modification of critical habitat.
    Regulations at 50 CFR 402.16 require Federal agencies to reinitiate 
consultation on previously reviewed actions under certain 
circumstances, including instances where critical habitat is 
subsequently designated and the Federal agency has retained 
discretionary involvement or control over the action or such 
discretionary involvement or control is authorized by law. 
Consequently, some Federal agencies may request reinitiating of 
consultation or conference with us on actions for which formal 
consultation has been completed, if those actions may affect designated 
critical habitat, or adversely modify or destroy proposed critical 
    Activities that, when carried out, funded, or authorized by a 
Federal agency, may affect critical habitat and require that a section 
7 consultation be conducted include, but are not limited to:
    (1) Activities that disturb or degrade the structure of the dunes 
(ridges, slip faces, bowls, and swales);
    (2) Activities that irreversibly compact or disturb the sand such 
that seeds of Astragalus magdalenae var. peirsonii are not capable of 
germinating or plants are not able to survive; and,
    (3) Activities that alter the existing hydrology or reduce soil 
moisture by lowering the groundwater table or redirecting surface 
    Activities that may destroy or adversely modify critical habitat 
include those that alter the primary constituent elements to an extent 
that the value of critical habitat for both the survival and recovery 
of Peirson's milk-vetch is appreciably reduced. We note that such 
activities may also jeopardize the continued existence of the species.
    We recognize that the proposed designation of critical habitat may 
not include all of the habitat areas that may eventually be determined 
to be necessary for the recovery of the species. For these reasons, we 
want to ensure that the public is aware that

[[Page 46153]]

critical habitat designations do not signal that habitat outside the 
proposed designation is unimportant or may not be required for 
recovery. Areas outside the proposed critical habitat designation will 
continue to be subject to conservation actions that may be implemented 
under section 7(a)(1) of the Act and to the regulatory protections 
afforded by the section 7(a)(2) jeopardy standard and the prohibitions 
of section 9 of the Act. Critical habitat designations made on the 
basis of the best available information at the time of designation will 
not control the direction and substance of future recovery plans, 
habitat conservation plans, or other species conservation planning 
efforts if new information available to these planning efforts calls 
for a different outcome.
    Section 4(b)(8) of the Act requires us to evaluate briefly and 
describe, in any proposed or final regulation that designates critical 
habitat, those activities involving a Federal action that may adversely 
modify such habitat or that may be affected by such designation. 
Activities that may destroy or adversely modify critical habitat would 
be those that alter the primary constituent elements to the extent that 
the value of critical habitat for the conservation of the Astragalus 
magdalenae var. peirsonii is appreciably reduced. The actions listed 
previously are activities that may affect critical habitat and are not 
necessarily actions that would result in adverse modification. We also 
note that such activities may also jeopardize the continued existence 
of the species.
    Moreover, we completed a section 7 consultation with BLM on the 
Imperial Sand Dunes Recreational Area Management Plan (RAMP) (FWS-IMP-
3419.2) dated April 3, 2003. In that biological opinion, we concluded 
that the implementation of the RAMP is not likely to jeopardize the 
continued existence of Astragalus magdalenae var. peirsonii. BLM will 
modify the monitoring plan to include (1) dune-wide monitoring of A. m. 
var. peirsonii, (2) dune-wide monitoring and calibration of OHV use 
patterns, (3) two experimental studies on the effects of OHVs on A. m. 
var. peirsonii, (4) examination for correlation between OHV use 
patterns and A. m. var. peirsonii population levels, (5) modeling of A. 
m. var. peirsonii populations under various management scenarios, and 
(6) an implementation schedule. In addition, BLM proposes to establish 
triggers to activate alternative management actions when visitation 
exceeds target levels and to reinitiate consultation (1) if A. m. var. 
peirsonii population levels in individual Management Areas fall to 50 
percent of baseline in a comparable rainfall year (at or above the 
long-term mean), and (2) after accumulation of 4 years of monitoring 
information. This information will be valuable in determining the 
effects of the RAMP on critical habitat. While BLM's proposed action 
has not been analyzed in the context of a final designation of critical 
habitat, we expect that a similar approach would be used to evaluate 
whether the implementation of the RAMP would result in destruction or 
adverse modification of critical habitat.
    If you have questions regarding whether specific activities will 
constitute destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat, 
contact the Field Supervisor, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office (see 
ADDRESSES section). Requests for copies of the regulations on listed 
wildlife and plants and inquiries about prohibitions and permits may be 
addressed to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Branch of Endangered 
Species, 911 N.E. 11th Ave, Portland, OR 97232 (telephone 503/231-2063; 
facsimile 503/231-6243).
    All lands proposed as critical habitat are within the geographical 
area occupied by the species and are necessary for the conservation of 
Astragalus magdalenae var. peirsonii. Federal agencies already consult 
with us on actions that may affect A. m. var. peirsonii to ensure that 
their actions do not jeopardize the continued existence of the species. 
Thus, we do not anticipate substantial additional regulatory protection 
will result from critical habitat designation.

Economic Analysis

    Section 4(b)(2) of the Act requires us to designate critical 
habitat on the basis of the best scientific and commercial data 
available and to consider the economic and other relevant impacts of 
designating a particular area as critical habitat. We may exclude areas 
from critical habitat upon a determination that the benefits of such 
exclusions outweigh the benefits of specifying such areas as critical 
habitat. We cannot exclude such areas from critical habitat when such 
exclusion will result in the extinction of the species.
    An analysis of the economic impacts of proposing critical habitat 
for the Astragalus magdalenae var. peirsonii is being prepared. We will 
announce the availability of the draft economic analysis as soon as it 
is completed, at which time we will seek public review and comment. At 
that time, copies of the draft economic analysis will be available for 
downloading from the Internet at http://carlsbad.fws.gov, or by 
contacting the Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office directly (see 
ADDRESSES section).

Peer Review

    In accordance with our policy published on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 
34270), we will solicit the expert opinions of at least three 
appropriate and independent specialists regarding this proposed rule. 
The purpose of such review is to ensure that our critical habitat 
designation is 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 designation of critical habitat.
    We will consider all comments and information received during the 
60-day comment period on this proposed rule as we prepare our final 
rulemaking. Accordingly, the final designation may differ from this 

Public Hearings

    The Act provides for one or more public hearings on this proposal, 
if requested. Requests must be received within 45 days of the date of 
publication of the proposal in the Federal Register. Such requests must 
be made in writing and be addressed to the Field Supervisor (see 
ADDRESSES section). We will schedule public hearings on this proposal, 
if any are requested, and announce the dates, times, and places of 
those 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 notice in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of 
the preamble helpful in understanding the proposed rule? (5) What else 
could we do to make this proposed rule easier to understand?

[[Page 46154]]

    Send a copy of any comments on how we could make this proposed rule 
easier to understand to: Office of Regulatory Affairs, Department of 
the Interior, Room 7229, 1849 C Street, NW., Washington, DC 20240. You 
may e-mail your comments to this address: Exsec@ios.doi.gov.
Required Determinations

Regulatory Planning and Review

    In accordance with Executive Order 12866, this document is not a 
significant rule and, therefore, was not reviewed by the Office of 
Management and Budget (OMB). We will be preparing a draft economic 
analysis of this proposed action; we will use this analysis to meet the 
requirement of section 4(b)(2) of the Act to determine the economic 
consequences of designating the specific areas as critical habitat and 
excluding any area from critical habitat if it is determined that the 
benefits of such exclusion outweigh the benefits of specifying such 
areas as part of the critical habitat, unless failure to designate such 
area as critical habitat will lead to the extinction of the Astragalus 
magdalenae var. peirsonii. This draft economic analysis will be made 
available for public review and comment before we finalize this 
designation. At that time, copies of the analysis will be available for 
downloading from the Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office's Internet 
website at http://carlsbad.fws.gov or by contacting the Carlsbad Fish 
and Wildlife Office directly (see ADDRESSES section)

Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.)

    Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq., as 
amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act 
(SBREFA) of 1996), whenever an agency is required to publish a notice 
of rulemaking for any proposed or final rule, it must prepare and make 
available for public comment a regulatory flexibility analysis that 
describes the effects of the rule on small entities (i.e., small 
businesses, small organizations, and small government jurisdictions). 
However, no regulatory flexibility analysis is required if the head of 
the agency certifies the rule will not have a significant economic 
impact on a substantial number of small entities. SBREFA amended the 
Regulatory Flexibility Act to require Federal agencies to provide a 
statement of the factual basis for certifying that a rule will not have 
a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. SBREFA also amended the Regulatory Flexibility Act to require 
a certification statement. Based on the information that is available 
to us at this time, we are certifying that this proposed designation of 
critical habitat will not have a significant economic impact on a 
substantial number of small entities. The following discussion explains 
our rationale.
    According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), small 
entities include small organizations, including any independent 
nonprofit organization that is not dominant in its field, and small 
governmental jurisdictions, including school boards and city and town 
governments that serve fewer than 50,000 residents, as well as small 
businesses. The SBA defines small businesses categorically and has 
provided standards for determining what constitutes a small business at 
13 CFR 121-201 (also found at http://www.sba.gov/size/), which the 
Regulatory Flexibility Act requires all Federal agencies to follow. To 
determine if potential economic impacts to these small entities are 
significant, we consider the types of activities that might trigger 
regulatory impacts under this rule as well as the types of project 
modifications that may result.
    The Regulatory Flexibility Act does not explicitly define either 
``substantial number'' or ``significant economic impact.'' 
Consequently, to assess whether a ``substantial number'' of small 
entities is affected by this designation, this analysis considers the 
relative number of small entities likely to be impacted in the area. 
Similarly, this analysis considers the relative cost of compliance on 
the revenues/profit margins of small entities in determining whether or 
not entities incur a ``significant economic impact.'' Only small 
entities that are expected to be directly affected by the designation 
are considered in this portion of the analysis. This approach is 
consistent with several judicial opinions related to the scope of the 
Regulatory Flexibility Act. (Mid-Tex Electric Co-Op, Inc. v. F.E.R.C. 
and American Trucking Associations, Inc. v. EPA).
    To determine if the rule would affect a substantial number of small 
entities, we considered the number of small entities affected within 
particular types of economic activities (e.g., housing development, 
grazing, oil and gas production, timber harvesting). We applied the 
``substantial number'' test individually to each affected industry to 
determine if certification is appropriate. In estimating the numbers of 
small entities potentially affected, we also considered whether their 
activities have any Federal involvement; some kinds of activities are 
unlikely to have any Federal involvement and so will not be affected by 
critical habitat designation.
    Designation of critical habitat only affects activities conducted, 
funded, or permitted by Federal agencies; non-Federal activities are 
not affected by the designation if they lack a Federal nexus. In areas 
where the species is present, Federal agencies funding, permitting, or 
implementing activities are already required to avoid jeopardizing the 
continued existence of the Astragalus magdalenae var. peirsonii through 
consultation with us under section 7 of the Act. If this critical 

habitat designation is finalized, Federal agencies must also consult 
with us to ensure that their activities do not destroy or adversely 
modify designated critical habitat through consultation with us.
    Should a federally funded, permitted, or implemented project be 
proposed that may affect designated critical habitat, we will work with 
the Federal action agency and any applicant, through section 7 
consultation, to identify ways to implement the proposed project while 
minimizing or avoiding any adverse effect to the species or critical 
habitat. In our experience, the vast majority of such projects can be 
successfully implemented with at most minor changes that avoid 
significant economic impacts to project proponents.
    Based on our experience with section 7 consultations for all listed 
species, virtually all projects-including those that, in their initial 
proposed form, would result in jeopardy or adverse modification 
determinations in section 7 consultations--can be implemented 
successfully with, at most, the adoption of reasonable and prudent 
alternatives. These measures, by definition, must be economically 
feasible and within the scope of authority of the Federal agency 
involved in the consultation. The kinds of actions that may be included 
in future reasonable and prudent alternatives include avoidance, 
conservation set-asides, management of competing non-native species, 
restoration of degraded habitat, construction of protective fencing, 
and regular monitoring. These measures are not likely to result in a 
significant economic impact to project proponents.
    In the case of Astragalus magdalenae var. peirsonii, our review of 
the consultation history for this plant suggests that the proposed 
designation of critical habitat is not likely to have a significant 
impact on any small entities or classes of small entities. The only 
class of small entities that could be affected by this designation is 
the off-

[[Page 46155]]

highway vehicle industry. To identify potential small entities related 
to off-highway vehicle use that may be affected by the proposed 
designation, we considered the membership list of the Off-Road Business 
Association (updated June 11, 2003) to be an indication of the 
potential number of small entities that may be affected by the proposed 
designation of critical habitat. Based on the June 11, 2003, list, 247 
companies were members of the Off-Road Business Association. Most of 
the Off-Road Business Association members represented business 
primarily located in California.
    We considered the potential relative cost of compliance to these 
small entities and evaluated only small entities that are expected to 
be directly affected by the proposed designation of critical habitat. 
Based on the consultation history for Astragalus magdalenae var. 
peirsonii, we do not anticipate that the proposed designation of 
critical habitat will result in increased compliance costs for small 
entities. The business activities of these small entities and their 
effects on Astragalus magdalenae var. peirsonii or its proposed 
critical habitat have not directly triggered a section 7 consultation 
with the Service under the jeopardy standard and likely would not 
trigger a section 7 consultation under the adverse modification 
standard after designation of critical habitat. The proposed 
designation of critical habitat does not, therefore, create a new cost 
for the small entities to comply with the proposed designation. 
Instead, proposed designation only impacts Federal agencies that 
conduct, fund, or permit activities that may affect critical habitat 
for Astragalus magdalenae var. peirsonii. Moreover, none of the small 
entities have been applicants with a Federal agency for a section 7 
consultation with the Service. On April 3, 2003, we also completed a 
section 7 consultation with BLM on the Imperial Sand Dunes RAMP. In 
that biological opinion, we concluded that the implementation of the 
RAMP is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of Astragalus 
magdalenae var. peirsonii. Thus, we conclude that the proposed 
designation of critical habitat is not likely to result in a 
significant impact to this group of small entities.
    In addition, we completed an informal section 7 consultation with 
BLM on the potential effects to Astragalus magdalenae var. peirsonii of 
a private company filming a movie on Federal lands within the Algodones 
Dunes. Given the relatively small number of consultations related to 
film-making activities on Federal lands within the Algodones Dunes, we 
anticipate that the proposed designation of critical habitat is not 
likely to have a significant impact on this group of small entities.
    As required under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we will conduct an 
analysis of the potential economic impacts of this proposed critical 
habitat designation and will make that analysis available for public 
review and comment before finalizing this designation. However, court 
deadlines require us to publish this proposed rule before the economic 
analysis can be completed.
    In summary, we have considered whether this proposed designation 
would result in a significant economic impact on a substantial number 
of small entities and find that it would not. This rule would result in 
project modifications only when proposed activities with a Federal 
nexus would destroy or adversely modify critical habitat. While this 
may occur, it is not expected to occur frequently enough to affect a 
substantial number of small entities. Even if a small entity is 
affected, we do not expect it to result in a significant economic 
impact, as the measures included in reasonable and prudent alternatives 
must be economically feasible and consistent with the proposed action. 
The kinds of measures we anticipate we would recommend can usually be 
implemented at low cost. Therefore, we are certifying that the proposed 
designation of critical habitat for the Astragalus magdalenae var. 
peirsonii will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial 
number of small entities, and an initial regulatory flexibility 
analysis is not required. This determination will be revisited after 
the close of the comment period and revised, if necessary, in the final 
    This discussion is based upon the information regarding potential 
economic impact that is available to us at this time. This assessment 
of economic effect may be modified prior to final rulemaking based upon 
development and review of the draft economic analysis prepared pursuant 
to section 4(b)(2) of the ESA and Executive Order 12866. This analysis 
is for the purpose of compliance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act 
and does not reflect our position on the type of economic analysis 
required by New Mexico Cattle Growers Assn. v. U.S. Fish & Wildlife 
Service 248 F.3d 1277 (10th Cir. 2001).

Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (5 U.S.C. 802(2))

    In the draft economic analysis, we will determine whether 
designation of critical habitat will cause (a) any effect on the 
economy of $100 million or more; (b) any increases in costs or prices 
for consumers, individual industries, Federal, State, or local 
government agencies, or geographic regions; or (c) any significant 
adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity, 
innovation, or the ability of U.S.-based enterprises to compete with 
foreign-based enterprises.

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 proposed rule to designate critical habitat for the Astragalus 
magdalenae var. peirsonii is not a significant regulatory action under 
Executive Order 12866, and it 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 

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (2 U.S.C. 1501 et seq.)

    In accordance with the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (2 U.S.C. 1501 
et seq.), the Service will use the economic analysis to further this 
rule's effect on nonfederal governments.


    In accordance with Executive Order 12630 (``Government Actions and 
Interference with Constitutionally Protected Private Property 
Rights''), we have analyzed the potential takings implications of 
designating critical habitat for Astragalus magdalenae var. peirsonii. 
This preliminary assessment concludes that this proposed rule does not 
pose significant takings implications. However, we have not yet 
completed the economic analysis for this proposed rule. Once the 
economic analysis is available, we will review and revise this 
preliminary assessment as warranted.


    In accordance with Executive Order 13132, this rule does not have 
significant Federalism effects. A Federalism assessment is not 
required. In keeping with Department of the Interior policies, we 
requested information from and coordinated development of this proposed 
critical habitat designation with appropriate State resource agencies 
in California. The proposed designation of critical

[[Page 46156]]

habitat in areas currently occupied by the Astragalus magdalenae var. 
peirsonii imposes no additional significant restrictions beyond those 
currently in place and, therefore, has little incremental impact on 
State and local governments and their activities.
    The proposed designation of critical habitat may have some benefit 
to the State and local resource agencies in that the areas essential to 
the conservation of this species are more clearly defined, and the 
primary constituent elements of the habitat necessary to the 
conservation of this species are specifically identified. While this 
definition and identification does not alter where and what federally 
sponsored activities may occur, it may assist local governments in 
long-range planning (rather than waiting for case-by-case section 7 
consultations to occur).

Civil Justice Reform

    In accordance with Executive Order 12988, the Department of the 
Interior's Office of the Solicitor has determined that this rule does 
not unduly burden the judicial system and does meet the requirements of 
sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of the Order. We are proposing to designate 
critical habitat in accordance with the provisions of the Endangered 
Species Act. The rule uses standard property descriptions and 
identifies the primary constituent elements within the designated areas 
to assist the public in understanding the habitat needs of the 
Astragalus magdalenae var. peirsonii.

Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.)

    This proposed rule does not contain new or revised information 
collection for which OMB approval is required under the Paperwork 
Reduction Act. Information collections associated with certain Act 
permits are covered by an existing OMB approval and are assigned 
clearance No. 1018-0094, Forms 3-200-55 and 3-200-56, with an 
expiration date of July 31, 2004. Detailed information for Act 
documentation appears at 50 CFR 17. This rule will not impose 
recordkeeping or reporting requirements on State or local governments, 
individuals, businesses, or organizations. 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 OMB control number.

National Environmental Policy Act

    We have determined that an Environmental Assessment and/or an 
Environmental Impact Statement as defined by 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, as 
amended. A notice outlining our reason for this determination was 
published in the Federal Register on October 25, 1983 (48 FR 49244). 
This proposed rule does not constitute a major Federal action 
significantly affecting the quality of the human environment.

Government-to-Government Relationship With Tribes

    In accordance with the President's memorandum of April 29, 1994, 
``Government-to-Government Relations with Native American Tribal 
Governments'' (59 FR 22951), Executive Order 13175, and the Department 
of the Interior's manual at 512 DM 2, we readily acknowledge our 
responsibility to communicate meaningfully with recognized Federal 
Tribes on a government-to-government basis. We have determined that 
there are no Tribal lands essential for the conservation of the 
Astragalus magdalenae var. peirsonii. Therefore, designation of 
critical habitat for the A. m. var. peirsonii has not been proposed on 
Tribal lands.

References Cited

    A complete list of all references cited in this proposed rule is 
available upon request from the Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office (see 
ADDRESSES section).


    The primary authors of this notice are the Carlsbad Fish and 
Wildlife Office staff (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

    Accordingly, 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.  17.12(h) revise the entry for ``Astragalus magdalenae 
var. peirsonii,'' under ``FLOWERING PLANTS,'' to read as follows:

Sec.  17.12  Endangered and threatened plants.

* * * * *
    (h) * * *

------------------------------------------------------   Historic range          Family            Status     When listed  Critical habitat    Special
         Scientific name              Common name                                                                                               rules

                                                                      * * * * * * *
Astragalaus magdalenae var.       Peirson's milkvetch  U.S.A. (CA).......  Fabaceae--Pea.....  T                      647  17.96(a)                   NA

                                                                      * * * * * * *

    3. In Sec.  17.96, amend paragraph (a) by adding an entry for 
Astragalus magdalenae var. peirsonii in alphabetical order under Family 
Fabaceae to read as follows:

Sec.  17.96  Critical habitat--plants.

    (a) * * *
Family Fabaceae: Astragalus magdalenae var. peirsonii (Peirson's Milk-
    (1) Critical habitat units are depicted for Algodones Dunes in 
Imperial County, California, on the maps below.

[[Page 46157]]

    (2) The primary constituent elements of critical habitat for 
Astragalus magdalenae var. peirsonii consist of intact, active sand 
dune systems (defined as sand areas that are subject to sand-moving 
winds that result in natural expanses of slopes and swales) within the 
historical range of A. m. var. peirsonii that are characterized by:
    (i) Substrates of the Rositas soil series, specifically Rositas 
fine sands of sufficient depth to promote A. m. var. peirsonii and 
discourage creosote bush scrub; and
    (ii) Wind-formed slopes of less than 30 degrees, but generally less 
than 20 degrees.
    (3) Critical habitat does not include existing features and 
structures, such as buildings, roads, aqueducts, railroads, airport 
runways and buildings, other paved areas, lawns, and other urban 
landscaped areas not containing one or more of the primary constituent 
    (4) Critical Habitat Map Units.
    (i) Map Unit 1: Algodones Dunes, Imperial County, California. From 
USGS 1:24,000 quadrangle maps Acolita, Amos, Cactus, Glamis, Glamis NW, 
Glamis SE, Grays Well, Grays Well NE, and Tortuga, California.
    (A) Unit 1a: lands bounded by the following UTM NAD27 coordinates 
(E,N): 657200, 3668800; 658100, 3668800; 658100, 3668500; 658000, 
3668500; 658000, 3668000; 658100, 3668000; 658100, 3667800; 658200, 
3667800; 658200, 3667600; 658300, 3667600; 658300, 3667300; 658400, 
3667300; 658400, 3667100; 658500, 3667100; 658500, 3666800; 658600, 
3666800; 658600, 3666600; 658700, 3666600; 658700, 3666500; 658800, 
3666500; 658800, 3666400; 658900, 3666400; 658900, 3666300; 659000, 
3666300; 659000, 3666200; 659100, 3666200; 659100, 3666100; 659300, 
3666100; 659300, 3666000; 659400, 3666000; 659400, 3665900; 659500, 
3665900; 659500, 3665800; 659600, 3665800; 659600, 3665700; 659700, 
3665700; 659700, 3665600; 659800, 3665600; 659800, 3665500; 660000, 
3665500; 660000, 3665400; 660100, 3665400; 660100, 3665300; 660200, 
3665300; 660200, 3665200; 660300, 3665200; 660300, 3665100; 660500, 
3665100; 660500, 3665000; 660700, 3665000; 660700, 3664900; 660800, 
3664900; 660800, 3664700; 660900, 3664700; 660900, 3664500; 661000, 
3664500; 661000, 3664400; 661200, 3664400; 661200, 3664300; 661400, 
3664300; 661400, 3664100; 661500, 3664100; 661500, 3663900; 661600, 
3663900; 661600, 3663700; 661700, 3663700; 661700, 3663600; 661800, 
3663600; 661800, 3663500; 662000, 3663500; 662000, 3663400; 662100, 
3663400; 662100, 3663200; 662200, 3663200; 662200, 3662900; 662300, 
3662900; 662300, 3662700; 662400, 3662700; 662400, 3662500; 662500, 
3662500; 662500, 3662400; 662600, 3662400; 662600, 3662300; 662700, 
3662300; 662700, 3662200; 662800, 3662200; 662800, 3662100; 664000, 
3662100; 664000, 3662000; 664400, 3662000; 664400, 3661900; 664600, 
3661900; 664600, 3661800; 664800, 3661800; 664800, 3661500; 664900, 
3661500; 664900, 3661300; 665000, 3661300; 665000, 3661100; 665100, 
3661100; 665100, 3660200; 665200, 3660200; 665200, 3660000; 665500, 
3660000; 665500, 3659900; 665900, 3659900; 665900, 3659800; 666100, 
3659800; 666100, 3659700; 666200, 3659700; 666200, 3659600; 666300, 
3659600; 666300, 3659500; 666400, 3659500; 666400, 3659300; 666500, 
3659300; 666500, 3658800; 666600, 3658800; 666600, 3658500; 666700, 
3658500; 666700, 3658200; 666800, 3658200; 666800, 3658100; 666900, 
3658100; 666900, 3658000; 667100, 3658000; 667100, 3657900; 667400, 
3657900; 667400, 3657800; 667600, 3657800; 667600, 3657700; 667800, 
3657700; 667800, 3657500; 667900, 3657500; 667900, 3657400; 668000, 
3657400; 668000, 3657200; 668100, 3657200; 668100, 3657100; 668300, 
3657100; 668300, 3657000; 668500, 3657000; 668500, 3656900; 668600, 
3656900; 668600, 3656800; 668700, 3656800; 668700, 3656700; 668800, 
3656700; 668800, 3656600; 669000, 3656600; 669000, 3656700; 669300, 
3656700; 669300, 3656800; 669700, 3656800; 669700, 3656700; 669800, 
3656700; 669800, 3656600; 669900, 3656600; 669900, 3656500; 670100, 
3656500; 670100, 3656400; 670300, 3656400; 670300, 3656300; 671100, 
3656300; 671100, 3656200; 671300, 3656200; 671300, 3656100; 671400, 
3656100; 671400, 3656000; 671500, 3656000; 671500, 3655900; 671600, 
3655900; 671600, 3655700; 671700, 3655700; 671700, 3655600; 671800, 
3655600; 671800, 3655500; 671900, 3655500; 671900, 3655400; 672000, 
3655400; 672000, 3655200; 672100, 3655200; 672100, 3654900; 672200, 
3654900; 672200, 3654500; 672300, 3654500; 672300, 3654300; 672400, 
3654300; 672400, 3654100; 672900, 3654100; 672900, 3654200; 673700, 
3654200; 673700, 3654100; 674100, 3654100; 674100, 3654000; 674200, 
3654000; 674200, 3653900; 674300, 3653900; 674300, 3653700; 674400, 
3653700; 674400, 3652300; 674300, 3652300; 674300, 3652100; 674400, 
3652100; 674400, 3651500; 674500, 3651500; 674500, 3651400; 674600, 
3651400; 674600, 3651300; 674700, 3651300; 674700, 3651200; 674400, 
3651200; 674400, 3651100; 674200, 3651100; 674200, 3651000; 673900, 
3651000; 673900, 3650900; 673800, 3650900; 673800, 3650800; 673600, 
3650800; 673600, 3650700; 673400, 3650700; 673400, 3650600; 673100, 
3650600; 673100, 3650500; 672500, 3650500; 672500, 3650400; 671900, 
3650400; 671900, 3650300; 671500, 3650300; 671500, 3650200; 671200, 
3650200; 671200, 3650100; 670900, 3650100; 670900, 3650000; 670600, 
3650000; 670600, 3649900; 670300, 3649900; 670300, 3649800; 670100, 
3649800; 670100, 3649700; 669900, 3649700; 669900, 3649600; thence west 
to the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreational Area (ISDRA), North Algodones 
Dunes Wilderness Management Area (NADWMA) boundary at UTM NAD27 y-
coordinate 3649600; thence northwest following the ISDRA, NADWMA 
boundary to UTM NAD27 x-coordinate 669100; thence north following UTM 
NAD27 coordinates 669100, 3650500; 669000, 3650500; 669000, 3650900; 
669100, 3650900; 669100, 3651200; 669200, 3651200; 669200, 3651300; 
669300, 3651300; 669300, 3651400; 669400, 3651400; 669400, 3651700; 
669300, 3651700; 669300, 3651800; 669200, 3651800; 669200, 3652400; 
669300, 3652400; 669300, 3652500; 669400, 3652500; 669400, 3652700; 
669500, 3652700; 669500, 3652900; 669600, 3652900; 669600, 3653600; 
669500, 3653600; 669500, 3653700; 669400, 3653700; 669400, 3653800; 
669100, 3653800; 669100, 3653900; 669000, 3653900; 669000, 3654100; 
668900, 3654100; 668900, 3654200; 668800, 3654200; 668800, 3654300; 
668600, 3654300; 668600, 3654400; 668300, 3654400; 668300, 3654500; 
668100, 3654500; 668100, 3654600; 667900, 3654600; 667900, 3654700; 
667700, 3654700; 667700, 3654800; 667600, 3654800; 667600, 3654900; 
667500, 3654900; 667500, 3655000; 667300, 3655000; 667300, 3655100; 
667100, 3655100; 667100, 3655200; 666900, 3655200; 666900, 3655300; 
666800, 3655300; 666800, 3655400; 666700, 3655400; 666700, 3655500; 
666600, 3655500; 666600, 3655600; 666500, 3655600; 666500, 3655700; 
666400, 3655700; 666400, 3655800; 666200, 3655800; 666200, 3655900; 
666100, 3655900; 666100, 3656000; 666000, 3656000; 666000, 3656200; 
665900, 3656200; 665900, 3656300; 665800, 3656300; 665800, 3656400; 
665700, 3656400; 665700, 3656500; 665600, 3656500; 665600, 3656600; 
665400, 3656600; 665400, 3656700;

[[Page 46158]]

665300, 3656700; 665300, 3656800; 665200, 3656800; 665200, 3656900; 
665100, 3656900; 665100, 3657100; 665000, 3657100; 665000, 3657200; 
664900, 3657200; 664900, 3657300; 664800, 3657300; 664800, 3657500; 
664700, 3657500; 664700, 3657800; 664600, 3657800; 664600, 3658000; 
664500, 3658000; 664500, 3658100; 664300, 3658100; 664300, 3658200; 
664000, 3658200; 664000, 3658300; 663900, 3658300; 663900, 3658400; 
663800, 3658400; 663800, 3658500; 663600, 3658500; 663600, 3658600; 
663500, 3658600; 663500, 3658700; 663300, 3658700; 663300, 3658800; 
663200, 3658800; 663200, 3659000; 663100, 3659000; 663100, 3659300; 
663000, 3659300; 663000, 3659400; 662900, 3659400; 662900, 3659500; 
662700, 3659500; 662700, 3659600; 662600, 3659600; 662600, 3659700; 
662500, 3659700; 662500, 3659800; 662400, 3659800; 662400, 3659900; 
662300, 3659900; 662300, 3660000; 662200, 3660000; 662200, 3660100; 
662100, 3660100; 662100, 3660300; 662000, 3660300; 662000, 3660400; 
661900, 3660400; 661900, 3660600; 661800, 3660600; 661800, 3660800; 
661700, 3660800; 661700, 3660900; 661600, 3660900; 661600, 3661000; 
661400, 3661000; 661400, 3661100; 661300, 3661100; 661300, 3661200; 
661200, 3661200; 661200, 3661300; 661100, 3661300; 661100, 3661400; 
661000, 3661400; 661000, 3661500; thence west to the ISDRA, Mammoth 
Wash Management Area (MWMA) boundary at UTM NAD27 y-coordinate 3661500; 
thence northwest following the ISDRA, MWMA boundary to UTM NAD27 x-
coordinate 659200; thence north following UTM NAD27 coordinates 659200, 
3663000; 659100, 3663000; 659100, 3663200; 659000, 3663200; 659000, 
3663500; 658900, 3663500; 658900, 3663900; 658800, 3663900; 658800, 
3664300; 658700, 3664300; 658700, 3664400; 658600, 3664400; 658600, 
3664500; 658400, 3664500; 658400, 3664600; 658300, 3664600; 658300, 
3664700; 658100, 3664700; 658100, 3664800; 658000, 3664800; 658000, 
3664900; 657800, 3664900; 657800, 3665000; 657600, 3665000; 657600, 
3665100; 657500, 3665100; 657500, 3665200; 657300, 3665200; 657300, 
3665300; 657100, 3665300; 657100, 3665400; 656800, 3665400; 656800, 
3665500; 656700, 3665500; 656700, 3665600; thence west to the ISDRA, 
MWMA boundary at UTM NAD27 y-coordinate 3665600; thence north following 
the ISDRA, MWMA boundary to UTM NAD27 x-coordinate 656300; thence north 
following UTM NAD27 coordinates 656300, 3666000; 656400, 3666000; 
656400, 3666300; 656500, 3666300; 656500, 3666700; 656400, 3666700; 
656400, 3666800; 656300, 3666800; 656300, 3666900; 656200, 3666900; 
656200, 3668300; 656300, 3668300; 656300, 3668400; 656400, 3668400; 
656400, 3668500; 656700, 3668500; 656700, 3668600; 656900, 3668600; 
656900, 3668700; 657200, 3668700; returning to UTM NAD27 coordinates 
657200, 3668800.
    (B) Unit 1b: lands bounded by the following UTM NAD27 coordinates 
(E,N): 676200, 3650500; 676400, 3650500; 676400, 3650400; 676500, 
3650400; 676500, 3650300; 676600, 3650300; 676600, 3650100; 676700, 
3650100; 676700, 3649600; 676800, 3649600; 676800, 3648600; 677000, 
3648600; 677000, 3648500; 677200, 3648500; 677200, 3648400; 678100, 
3648400; 678100, 3648500; 679800, 3648500; 679800, 3648600; 679900, 
3648600; 679900, 3649400; 680000, 3649400; 680000, 3649600; 680300, 
3649600; 680300, 3649700; 681100, 3649700; 681100, 3649600; 681300, 
3649600; 681300, 3649400; 681400, 3649400; 681400, 3647700; 681300, 
3647700; 681300, 3647600; 681200, 3647600; 681200, 3647500; 681100, 
3647500; 681100, 3647400; 681000, 3647400; 681000, 3647300; 680900, 
3647300; 680900, 3647200; 681000, 3647200; 681000, 3647100; 681100, 
3647100; 681100, 3647000; 681200, 3647000; 681200, 3646900; 681400, 
3646900; 681400, 3646800; 681500, 3646800; 681500, 3646500; 681600, 
3646500; 681600, 3646300; 681700, 3646300; 681700, 3646200; 681900, 
3646200; 681900, 3646100; 682100, 3646100; 682100, 3645900; 682200, 
3645900; 682200, 3645600; 682300, 3645600; 682300, 3645500; 682400, 
3645500; 682400, 3645400; 682700, 3645400; 682700, 3645500; 682800, 
3645500; 682800, 3645600; 682900, 3645600; 682900, 3645700; 683000, 
3645700; 683000, 3645800; 683100, 3645800; 683100, 3645900; 683400, 
3645900; 683400, 3645600; 683500, 3645600; 683500, 3645100; 683600, 
3645100; 683600, 3644500; 683700, 3644500; 683700, 3644000; 684300, 
3644000; 684300, 3643900; 684400, 3643900; 684400, 3643700; 684500, 
3643700; 684500, 3643500; 684600, 3643500; 684600, 3643400; 684800, 
3643400; 684800, 3643300; 685000, 3643300; 685000, 3643200; 685100, 
3643200; 685100, 3643100; 685200, 3643100; 685200, 3643000; 685300, 
3643000; 685300, 3642800; 685400, 3642800; 685400, 3642700; 685500, 
3642700; 685500, 3642600; 685600, 3642600; 685600, 3642500; 685700, 
3642500; 685700, 3642300; 685800, 3642300; 685800, 3640800; 685700, 
3640800; 685700, 3640400; 685600, 3640400; 685600, 3640300; 685500, 
3640300; 685500, 3640200; 685200, 3640200; 685200, 3640100; 684700, 
3640100; 684700, 3640000; 684600, 3640000; 684600, 3639600; 684700, 
3639600; 684700, 3639300; 684900, 3639300; 684900, 3639200; 685100, 
3639200; 685100, 3639100; 685500, 3639100; 685500, 3639000; 685600, 
3639000; 685600, 3638900; 685700, 3638900; 685700, 3638800; 685800, 
3638800; 685800, 3638700; 685900, 3638700; 685900, 3638500; 686000, 
3638500; 686000, 3638400; 686100, 3638400; 686100, 3638300; 686300, 
3638300; 686300, 3638200; 686500, 3638200; 686500, 3638100; 686600, 
3638100; 686600, 3637900; 686700, 3637900; 686700, 3637500; 686600, 
3637500; 686600, 3637000; 686500, 3637000; 686500, 3636700; 686400, 
3636700; 686400, 3636600; 686300, 3636600; 686300, 3636500; 686200, 
3636500; 686200, 3636400; 686300, 3636400; 686300, 3636300; 686500, 
3636300; 686500, 3636200; 687000, 3636200; 687000, 3636500; 687100, 
3636500; 687100, 3636700; 687200, 3636700; 687200, 3636800; 687300, 
3636800; 687300, 3636900; 687500, 3636900; 687500, 3637000; 687600, 
3637000; 687600, 3637100; 687700, 3637100; 687700, 3637200; 687800, 
3637200; 687800, 3637300; 687900, 3637300; 687900, 3637500; 688200, 
3637500; 688200, 3637600; 688300, 3637600; 688300, 3637500; 688500, 
3637500; 688500, 3637400; 688600, 3637400; 688600, 3637300; 688700, 
3637300; 688700, 3637100; 688800, 3637100; 688800, 3637000; 688900, 
3637000; 688900, 3636900; 689000, 3636900; 689000, 3636800; 689200, 
3636800; 689200, 3636700; 689300, 3636700; 689300, 3636600; 689400, 
3636600; 689400, 3634100; 689500, 3634100; 689500, 3632800; 689600, 
3632800; 689600, 3632200; 689700, 3632200; 689700, 3632000; 690700, 
3632000; 690700, 3631900; 691200, 3631900; 691200, 3631800; 691400, 
3631800; 691400, 3631700; 691500, 3631700; 691500, 3631600; 691600, 
3631600; 691600, 3631400; 691700, 3631400; 691700, 3631200; 691900, 
3631200; 691900, 3631100; 692100, 3631100; 692100, 3631000; 692200, 
3631000; 692200, 3630900; 692300, 3630900; 692300, 3630800; 692400, 
3630800; 692400, 3630600; 692500, 3630600; 692500, 3630500; 692700, 
3630500; 692700, 3630400; 692900, 3630400; 692900, 3630300; 693000, 
3630300; 693000, 3630100; 693100, 3630100; 693100, 3629900; 693200, 
3629900; 693200, 3629800; 693400,

[[Page 46159]]

3629800; 693400, 3629700; 693500, 3629700; 693500, 3629600; 693700, 
3629600; 693700, 3629400; 693800, 3629400; 693800, 3629300; 693900, 
3629300; 693900, 3629100; 694000, 3629100; 694000, 3629000; 694400, 
3629000; 694400, 3628900; 694700, 3628900; 694700, 3628800; 695600, 
3628800; 695600, 3628700; 695800, 3628700; 695800, 3628500; 695900, 
3628500; 695900, 3627700; 696000, 3627700; 696000, 3627500; 696200, 
3627500; 696200, 3627400; 696400, 3627400; 696400, 3627300; 696500, 
3627300; 696500, 3627100; 696600, 3627100; 696600, 3626700; 696500, 
3626700; 696500, 3626100; 696600, 3626100; 696600, 3625200; 695800, 
3625200; 695800, 3625100; 695500, 3625100; 695500, 3625000; 694800, 
3625000; 694800, 3624900; 694700, 3624900; 694700, 3624800; 694600, 
3624800; 694600, 3624400; 694500, 3624400; 694500, 3624300; 694300, 
3624300; 694300, 3624200; 694100, 3624200; 694100, 3624100; 693900, 
3624100; thence south to the ISDRA, Dune Buggy Management Area (DBMA) 
boundary at UTM NAD27 x-coordinate 693900, thence northwest following 
the ISDRA, DBMA boundary to UTM NAD27 x-coordinate 680600, thence north 
following UTM NAD27 coordinates 680600, 3638800; 680500, 3638800; 
680500, 3638900; 680400, 3638900; 680400, 3639000; 680200, 3639000; 
680200, 3639100; 680100, 3639100; 680100, 3639700; 680200, 3639700; 
680200, 3639900; 680300, 3639900; 680300, 3640000; 680100, 3640000; 
680100, 3640100; 679900, 3640100; 679900, 3640200; 679800, 3640200; 
679800, 3640700; 679700, 3640700; 679700, 3640800; 679600, 3640800; 
679600, 3640900; 679400, 3640900; 679400, 3641000; 679100, 3641000; 
679100, 3641100; 679000, 3641100; 679000, 3641200; 678800, 3641200; 
678800, 3641300; 678600, 3641300; 678600, 3641400; 678500, 3641400; 
678500, 3641500; 678300, 3641500; 678300, 3641700; 678200, 3641700; 
678200, 3641800; 678100, 3641800; 678100, 3641900; 678000, 3641900; 
678000, 3642000; 677900, 3642000; 677900, 3642100; 677800, 3642100; 
677800, 3642200; 677700, 3642200; 677700, 3642300; 677600, 3642300; 
677600, 3642500; 677500, 3642500; 677500, 3642700; 677400, 3642700; 
677400, 3642800; 677300, 3642800; 677300, 3642900; 677100, 3642900; 
677100, 3643000; 676900, 3643000; 676900, 3643200; 676800, 3643200; 
676800, 3643400; 676700, 3643400; 676700, 3643600; 676600, 3643600; 
676600, 3643800; 676500, 3643800; 676500, 3644000; 676400, 3644000; 
676400, 3644200; 676300, 3644200; 676300, 3644300; 675900, 3644300; 
675900, 3644400; 675800, 3644400; 675800, 3644600; 675700, 3644600; 
675700, 3644700; 675600, 3644700; 675600, 3644800; 675500, 3644800; 
675500, 3644900; 675400, 3644900; 675400, 3645000; 675300, 3645000; 
675300, 3645100; 675200, 3645100; 675200, 3645200; 675100, 3645200; 
675100, 3645300; 675000, 3645300; 675000, 3645400; 674900, 3645400; 
674900, 3645600; 674800, 3645600; 674800, 3645700; 674700, 3645700; 
674700, 3645900; 674600, 3645900; 674600, 3646000; 674500, 3646000; 
674500, 3646100; 674400, 3646100; 674400, 3646200; 674300, 3646200; 
674300, 3646300; 674200, 3646300; 674200, 3646400; 674100, 3646400; 
674100, 3646500; 674000, 3646500; 674000, 3646600; 674100, 3646600; 
674100, 3646900; 674200, 3646900; 674200, 3647300; 674300, 3647300; 
674300, 3647400; 674400, 3647400; 674400, 3647500; 674500, 3647500; 
674500, 3647700; 674400, 3647700; 674400, 3647800; 674300, 3647800; 
674300, 3648000; 674200, 3648000; 674200, 3648100; 674100, 3648100; 
674100, 3648200; 674000, 3648200; 674000, 3648400; 673900, 3648400; 
673900, 3649300; 673800, 3649300; 673800, 3649500; 674000, 3649500; 
674000, 3649600; 674200, 3649600; 674200, 3649700; 674300, 3649700; 
674300, 3649800; 674500, 3649800; 674500, 3649900; 674700, 3649900; 
674700, 3650000; 674900, 3650000; 674900, 3650100; 675200, 3650100; 
675200, 3650200; 675500, 3650200; 675500, 3650300; 675900, 3650300; 
675900, 3650400; 676200, 3650400 returning to UTM NAD27 coordinates 
676200, 3650500, excluding lands bounded by the following UTM NAD27 
coordinates 695500, 3626300; 695600, 3626300; 695600, 3626200; 695700, 
3626200; 695700, 3626100; 695800, 3626100; 695800, 3626000; 695900, 
3626000; 695900, 3625800; 695700, 3625800; 695700, 3625700; 695500, 
3625700; 695500, 3625600; 695100, 3625600; 695100, 3625500; 694600, 
3625500; 694600, 3625600; 694700, 3625600; 694700, 3625700; 694900, 
3625700; 694900, 3625800; 695000, 3625800; 695000, 3625900; 695100, 
3625900; 695100, 3626000; 695200, 3626000; 695200, 3626100; 695300, 
3626100; 695300, 3626200; 695500, 3626200; 695500, 3626300.
    (C) Unit 1c: beginning at the U.S./Mexico border at UTM NAD27 x-
coordinate 698400, lands bounded by the following UTM NAD27 coordinates 
(E,N): 698400, 3620800, 698200, 3620800; 698200, 3620900; 698000, 
3620900; 698000, 3621100; 697900, 3621100; 697900, 3621700; 698000, 
3621700; 698000, 3622200; 698200, 3622200; 698200, 3622300; 698400, 
3622300; 698400, 3622400; 698500, 3622400; 698500, 3622500; 698600, 
3622500; 698600, 3622600; 698700, 3622600; 698700, 3622800; 698800, 
3622800; 698800, 3622900; 698900, 3622900; 698900, 3623000; 699000, 
3623000; 699000, 3623100; 699200, 3623100; 699200, 3623200; 699300, 
3623200; 699300, 3623400; 699400, 3623400; 699400, 3623600; 699500, 
3623600; 699500, 3623700; 699600, 3623700; 699600, 3623800; 700300, 
3623800; 700300, 3623700; 700700, 3623700; 700700, 3623500; 700800, 
3623500; 700800, 3622500; 700700, 3622500; 700700, 3622400; 700600, 
3622400; 700600, 3622300; 700400, 3622300; 700400, 3622200; 700300, 
3622200; 700300, 3622000; 700200, 3622000; 700200, 3620900; thence 
south to the U.S./Mexico border at UTM x-coordinate 700200; returning 
to the point of beginning on the U.S./Mexico border at UTM x-coordinate 
    (D) Unit 1d: lands bounded by the following UTM NAD27 coordinates 
(E,N): 703900, 3624300; 704200, 3624300; 704200, 3624200; 704300, 
3624200; 704300, 3624000; 704400, 3624000; 704400, 3623800; 704500, 
3623800; 704500, 3623700; 704600, 3623700; 704600, 3623600; 704800, 
3623600; 704800, 3623300; 704700, 3623300; 704700, 3623200; 704500, 
3623200; 704500, 3623100; 704400, 3623100; 704400, 3622700; 704300, 
3622700; 704300, 3622500; 704100, 3622500; 704100, 3622400; 704000, 
3622400; 704000, 3622500; 703800, 3622500; 703800, 3622700; 703700, 
3622700; 703700, 3622800; 703600, 3622800; 703600, 3623000; 703400, 
3623000; 703400, 3623100; 703200, 3623100; 703200, 3623200; 703100, 
3623200; 703100, 3623300; 703000, 3623300; 703000, 3623500; 703100, 
3623500; 703100, 3623700; 703300, 3623700; 703300, 3623800; 703600, 
3623800; 703600, 3623900; 703700, 3623900; 703700, 3624000; 703800, 
3624000; 703800, 3624200; 703900, 3624200; returning to UTM NAD27 
coordinates 703900, 3624300.
    (ii) Map of Algodones Dunes Critical Habitat Unit follows:

[[Page 46160]]


* * * * *

    Dated: July 28, 2003.

Craig Manson,
Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.

[FR Doc. 03-19670 Filed 8-4-03; 8:45 am]