[Federal Register: February 11, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 28)]
[Page 6932-6934]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Notice To Extend the Public Comment Period for the Draft Recovery 
Plan for Three of the Five Distinct Population Segments of Bull Trout 
(Salvelinus confluentus)

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of extension of public comment period.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, give notice that the 
comment period announced in the November 29, 2002, (67 FR 74139) Notice 
of Availability of 25 chapters of the Draft Recovery Plan for Three of 
the Five Distinct Population Segments of the Bull Trout (Salvelinus 
confluentus) will be extended an additional 30 days until March 29, 
2003. Substantial public interest in the draft recovery plan led us to 
distribute additional copies and to provide additional opportunities 
for the public to comment on the plan.
    Bull trout are char which are native to the Pacific northwest and 
western Canada. We identified five distinct population segments of bull 
trout in five States (Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington), 
and listed the fish under the Endangered Species Act (Act) (16 U.S.C. 
1531 et seq.) by distinct population segments during 1998 and 1999. The 
final listing resulted in all bull trout in the coterminous United 
States being listed as threatened. At this time, the draft recovery 
plan addresses three of the five distinct population segments, the 
Klamath, Columbia, and St. Mary-Belly Rivers. Draft recovery plan 
chapters for the remaining distinct population segments will become 
available for public review in approximately 1 year.
    Because bull trout in the coterminous United States are widely 
distributed within a large area, the recovery plan is organized into 
multiple chapters. The introductory chapter (Chapter 1) discusses 
programmatic issues that broadly apply to bull trout in the coterminous 
United States. This chapter describes our range-wide recovery strategy 
for bull trout and identifies recovery tasks applicable to bull trout 
in general. Each following chapter focuses on bull trout in specific 
areas (i.e., recovery units), and describes habitat conditions, defines 
recovery objectives and criteria, and identifies specific recovery 
tasks for a particular recovery unit. We have identified 27 recovery 
units in the 5 distinct population segments of bull trout. This notice 
of extension of public comment period concerns the introductory chapter 
(Chapter 1) and the 24 recovery unit chapters within the 3 distinct 
population segments mentioned above.

DATES: We will consider comments on the 25 chapters of the draft 
recovery plan for bull trout received on or before March 29, 2003.

ADDRESSES: The document is available online at http://pacific.fws.gov/bulltrout.
 Copies of the 25 chapters of the draft recovery plan are 
available for inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours 
at the following locations: Snake River Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, 1387 S. Vinnell Way, Suite 368, Boise, Idaho 
83709 (phone: 208-378-5243); Montana Field Office, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, 100 N. Park, Suite 320, Helena, Montana 59601 (phone: 
406-449-5322); Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, 1340 Financial Blvd., Suite 234, Reno, Nevada 86502 (phone: 
775-867-6300); Oregon Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, 2600 SE. 98th Ave., Suite 100, Portland, Oregon 97266 (phone: 
503-231-6179); and Western Washington Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, 510 Desmond Dr., SE., Suite 102, Lacey, 
Washington 98503 (phone: 360-753-9440). Requests for copies of the 
document should be addressed to these offices, as appropriate.
    Comments may be submitted electronically to us at the following 
email address: FW1SRBOComments@fws.gov. The subject line must state 
``Bull Trout Comments,'' and include the name and address of the person 
submitting the comments. Written comments may be sent directly to the 
Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Snake River Fish and 
Wildlife Office, 1387 S. Vinnell Way, Room 368, Boise, Idaho 83709. 
Comments may also be submitted by facsimile to 208-378-5262; please 
state in the subject line ``Bull Trout Comments,'' and include the name 
and address of the person submitting the comments.

Biologist, 1387 S. Vinnell Way, Room 368, Boise, Idaho 83709 (phone: 



    Recovery of endangered or threatened animals and plants is a 
primary goal of our endangered species program and the Act. A species 
is considered recovered when the species' ecosystem is restored and/or 
threats to the species are removed so that self-sustaining and self-
regulating populations of the species can be supported as persistent 
members of native biotic communities. Recovery plans describe actions 
considered necessary for the conservation of the species, establish 
criteria for downlisting or delisting listed species, and estimate time 
and cost for implementing the measures needed for recovery.

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    The Act, requires the development of recovery plans for listed 
species unless such a plan would not promote the conservation of a 
particular species. Section 4(f) of the Act requires that public notice 
and an opportunity for public review and comment be provided during 
recovery plan development. We will consider all information presented 
during a public comment period prior to approval of each new or revised 
recovery plan. We, along with other Federal agencies, will also take 
these comments into account in the course of implementing approved 
recovery plans. Individual responses to comments will not be provided.
    Bull trout are char native to the Pacific northwest and western 
Canada. We identified five distinct population segments of bull trout 
in five states, and issued a final rule listing the Columbia River 
(Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington) and Klamath River (Oregon) 
population segments of bull trout as threatened species on June 10, 
1998 (63 FR 31647). The Jarbidge River population segment (Idaho and 
Nevada) was listed as threatened on April 8, 1999 (64 FR 17110). The 
Coastal-Puget Sound (Washington) and St. Mary-Belly River (Montana) 
population segments were listed as threatened on November 1, 1999 (64 
FR 58910), which resulted in all bull trout in the coterminous United 
States being listed as threatened.
    Bull trout have more specific habitat requirements than most other 
salmonid fish. Habitat components that influence bull trout 
distribution and abundance include water temperature, cover, channel 
form and stability, spawning and rearing substrate conditions, and 
migratory corridors. Bull trout require colder water than most other 
salmonids for incubation, juvenile rearing, and spawning. All life-
history stages of bull trout are associated with complex forms of 
cover, including large woody debris, undercut banks, boulders, and 
pools. Alterations in channel form and reductions in channel stability 
influence bull trout due to habitat degradation and negative effects on 
early life-history stages. Channel alterations may reduce the abundance 
and quality of side channels, stream margins, and pools, which are 
areas bull trout frequently inhabit. Because bull trout have a 
relatively long incubation and development period within spawning 
gravel (greater than 200 days), bedload transport in unstable channels 
may kill young bull trout. Spawning and rearing areas are often 
associated with cold-water springs, groundwater infiltration, and the 
coldest streams in a watershed. Bull trout require loose, clean gravel 
relatively free of fine sediments for spawning and early rearing. Bull 
trout use migratory corridors to move from spawning and rearing 
habitats to foraging and overwintering habitats and back. Different 
habitats provide bull trout with diverse resources, and migratory 
corridors allow local populations to connect, which may increase the 
potential for gene flow and support or refounding of populations.
    Bull trout distribution, abundance, and habitat quality have 
declined range wide. These declines are the results of combined effects 
of habitat degradation and fragmentation; the blockage of migratory 
corridors; poor water quality; angler harvest and poaching; diversion 
structures that cause injuries or fatalities; and introduced nonnative 
species. Specific land and water management activities that have 
degraded and continue to depress bull trout populations and degrade 
habitat include dams and other diversion structures, forest management 
practices, livestock grazing, agriculture, road construction and 
maintenance, mining, and urban and rural development.
    Because the threatened bull trout population segments are widely 
distributed over a large area, and population segments were subject to 
listing at different times, we adopted a two-tiered approach to develop 
the draft recovery plan for bull trout. The first tier addresses broad 
aspects of bull trout recovery that apply at the level of population 
segments. The second tier addresses bull trout recovery in smaller 
areas, such as specific river basin areas or collections of river 
basins within population segments, termed ``recovery units.'' We relied 
on two types of teams to assist in developing the draft recovery plan.
    To address ``big-picture'' issues, such as identifying an overall 
recovery strategy, designating recovery units, and providing guidance 
in developing the recovery plan, we convened a recovery oversight team. 
Membership on the recovery oversight team consisted of our biologists, 
a representative from State fish and wildlife resource agencies in each 
of four northwestern States (Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington), 
and a representative from the Upper Columbia United Tribes 
(Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, Coeur d'Alene Tribe, 
Kalispel Tribe, Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, and Spokane Tribe).
    To develop local recovery strategies at the recovery unit level, we 
enlisted the assistance of recovery unit teams, one for each recovery 
unit or recovery subunit. Membership on the recovery unit teams 
consisted of persons with technical expertise in various aspects of 
bull trout biology within each recovery unit, typically representing 
Federal and State agencies, Tribes, and industry and interest groups. 
Major tasks of recovery unit teams include: Defining recovery for 
recovery units, including recovery unit-specific objectives and 
recovery criteria; reviewing factors affecting bull trout; estimating 
recovery costs; and identifying site-specific recovery actions. Members 
of the recovery oversight team coordinated the recovery unit teams to 
ensure consistency among recovery units.
    The draft bull trout recovery plan that is currently available for 
public comment differs from many recovery plans in that it is organized 
into multiple chapters. The introductory chapter (Chapter 1) discusses 
programmatic issues that broadly apply to bull trout in the coterminous 
United States. This chapter describes our recovery strategy for bull 
trout, defines recovery, and identifies recovery tasks applicable to 
bull trout in general. Each following chapter (Chapters 2 through 28) 
addresses a specific recovery unit, and describes conditions, defines 
recovery objectives and criteria, identifies specific recovery tasks, 
and estimates time and cost required to achieve recovery for a 
particular recovery unit.
    The general goal of all recovery plans is to describe courses of 
actions necessary for the ultimate delisting of a species. The specific 
goal of the draft bull trout recovery plan is to ensure the long-term 
persistence of self-sustaining, complex interacting groups of bull 
trout distributed across the species' native range in the United 
States. Recovery of bull trout will require reducing threats to the 
long-term persistence of populations, maintaining multiple 
interconnected populations of bull trout across the diverse habitats of 
their native range, and preserving the diversity of bull trout life-
history strategies (e.g., resident or migratory forms, emigration age, 
spawning frequency, local habitat adaptations). To accomplish this goal 
throughout the coterminous United States, the draft recovery plan 
recommends the following four objectives: (1) Maintain current 
distribution of bull trout within core areas in all recovery units as 
described in recovery unit chapters and restore distribution where 
recommended in recovery unit chapters; (2) maintain stable or 
increasing trends in abundance of bull trout in all recovery units; (3) 
restore and maintain suitable habitat conditions for all bull trout 
life history stages and strategies; and (4) conserve genetic diversity 
and provide opportunity for genetic exchange. These objectives would 

[[Page 6934]]

to bull trout in all recovery units. Additional objectives may be 
necessary to achieve recovery in some recovery units, which will be 
identified in the respective recovery unit chapters.
    The draft recovery plan provides criteria to assess whether actions 
have resulted in the recovery of bull trout. The overall recovery 
criterion for bull trout in the coterminous United States is that all 
recovery units meet their criteria, as identified in the recovery unit 
chapters. Criteria specific to each recovery unit are presented in each 
draft recovery unit chapter. Individual chapters may contain criteria 
for assessing the status of bull trout and alleviation of threats that 
are unique to one or several recovery units. However, every draft 
recovery unit chapter contains criteria to address the following four 
characteristics: (1) The distribution of bull trout in identified and 
potential local populations in all core areas within the recovery unit; 
(2) the estimated abundance of adult bull trout within core areas in 
the recovery unit, expressed as either a point estimate or a range of 
individuals; (3) the presence of stable or increasing trends for adult 
bull trout abundance in the recovery unit; and (4) the restoration of 
passage at specific barriers identified as inhibiting recovery.
    The draft recovery plan identifies specific tasks falling within 
the following seven categories as necessary to promote recovery: (1) 
Protect, restore, and maintain suitable habitat conditions for bull 
trout; (2) prevent and reduce negative effects of nonnative fishes and 
other nonnative taxa on bull trout; (3) establish fishery management 
goals and objectives compatible with bull trout recovery, and implement 
practices to achieve goals; (4) characterize, conserve, and monitor 
genetic diversity and gene flow among local populations of bull trout; 
(5) conduct research and monitoring to implement and evaluate bull 
trout recovery activities, consistent with an adaptive management 
approach using feedback from implemented, site-specific recovery tasks; 
(6) use all available conservation programs and regulations to protect 
and conserve bull trout and bull trout habitats; and (7) assess the 
implementation of bull trout recovery by recovery units, and revise 
recovery unit plans based on evaluations.

Public Comments Solicited

    We solicit written comments on any aspect of the draft recovery 
plan described, including the estimated costs associated with the 
recovery tasks outlined in the implementation schedule in each draft 
recovery unit chapter. All comments received by the date specified 
above will be considered in developing a final bull trout recovery 

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

    Dated: January 27, 2003.
Anne Badgley,
Regional Director, Region 1, Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 03-3307 Filed 2-10-03; 8:45 am]