[Federal Register: March 17, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 51)]
[Page 12710-12711]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Notice of Availability of the Mead's Milkweed (Asclepias meadii) 
Draft Recovery Plan for Review and Comment

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of document availability.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announces 
availability for public review of the draft recovery plan for the 
Mead's milkweed, a species that is federally listed as threatened under 
the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (Act). The purpose of this plan is 
to recover this species in order that it can be removed from the list 
of Threatened and Endangered Species. This species occurs or may occur 
on public and private land in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, 
Missouri, and Wisconsin. The Service solicits review and comment from 
the public on this draft plan.

DATES: Comments on the draft recovery plan must be received on or 
before May 16, 2003.

ADDRESSES: Persons wishing to review the draft recovery plan may obtain 
a copy by contacting the Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, Chicago, Illinois, Ecological Services Field Office, 1250 
South Grove Avenue, Suite 103, Barrington, Illinois 60010-5091 or by 
accessing the Web site: http://midwest.fws.gov/Endangered.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Kristopher Lah, (847) 381-2253. 
TTY users contact the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.



    Restoring an endangered or threatened animal or plant to the point 
where it is again a secure self-sustaining member of its ecosystem is a 
primary goal of the Service's endangered species program. To help guide 
the recovery effort, the Service is working to prepare recovery plans 
for most of the Federally listed threatened and endangered species 
native to the United States. Recovery plans describe actions considered 
necessary for conservation of the species, establish criteria for 
reclassification and delisting, and provide estimates of the time and 
costs for implementing the recovery measures needed.
    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, as amended in 1988, 
requires public notice and opportunity for public review and comment be 
provided during recovery plan development. The Service will consider 
all information presented during a public comment period prior to 
approval of each new or revised recovery plan. The Service and other 
Federal agencies will also take these comments into consideration in 
the course of implementing approved recovery plans.
    The Mead's milkweed was listed as threatened on September 1, 1988. 
The species is known to persist at 171 sites in 34 counties in eastern 
Kansas, Missouri, south-central Iowa, and southern Illinois. 
Populations no longer occur in Wisconsin and Indiana. Seventy-five 
percent of the Mead's milkweed populations are in the Osage Plains 
Physiographic Region in Kansas and Missouri. The remainder of the 
populations occur in the Shawnee Hills of Illinois; the Southern Iowa 
Drift Plain in Iowa; the Glaciated Plains, Ozark Border, Ozark 
Springfield Plateau, and the Ozark-St. Francois Mountains of Missouri; 
and the Glaciated Physiographic Region of Kansas. Mead's milkweed 
populations have been eliminated by wide-scale agriculture in the 
eastern part of the species' range. Many large populations occur in 
private hay meadows where a century of annual mowing, which prevents 
sexual reproduction, has severely reduced genetic diversity. Among the 
surviving populations in eastern Missouri, Illinois and Iowa, most 
apparently consist of a few genetically invariant clones that are 
incapable of sexual reproduction. Population restoration efforts are 
being made in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin by introducing Mead's 
milkweed into suitable habitat.
    Mead's milkweed occurs primarily in tallgrass prairie, and 
occasionally in thin-soil glades or barrens. This plant is essentially 
restricted to late-successional prairie habitat, which has never been 
plowed and only lightly grazed, or hay meadows that are cropped 
annually for hay. Plants reproduce sexually by seed and spread 
vegetatively by rhizomes, especially under midsummer haymowing regimes. 
As with other native milkweeds, Mead's is either self-incompatible or 
subject to severe inbreeding depression. Mead's milkweed populations 
that are managed by prescribed burning experience an increase in 
flowering, reproduction, and seedling establishment and are more 
genetically diverse than sites that are mowed.
    In order to accomplish recovery, the following actions are 
recommended in

[[Page 12711]]

the draft recovery plan: (1) Protect habitat; (2) manage habitat; (3) 
increase size and number of populations; (4) conduct field surveys for 
new population occurrences or potential habitat for introduction; (5) 
conduct research on restoration, management and introduction 
techniques; (6) maintain conservation populations; (7) promote public 
understanding; and (8) review and track recovery progress.
    Recovery will be achieved, and the species may be removed from the 
list of Threatened and Endangered Species when the following criteria 
are met: (1) 26 populations are distributed across plant communities 
and physiographic regions within the historic range of the species, (2) 
each of these 26 populations is highly viable, and (3) monitoring data 
indicates that these populations have been stable or increasing for 15 

Public Comments Solicited

    The Service solicits written comments on the recovery plan 
described. All comments received by the date specified will be 
considered prior to approval of the plan. Written comments and 
materials regarding the plan should be sent to the Field Supervisor, 
Ecological Services Field Office (see ADDRESSES section). Comments 
received will be available for public inspection by appointment during 
normal business hours.

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

    Dated: February 19, 2003.
Charles M. Wooley,
Assistant Regional Director, Ecological Services, Region 3.
[FR Doc. 03-6265 Filed 3-14-03; 8:45 am]