[Federal Register: March 14, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 50)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 12336-12337]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AI26

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Critical Habitat 
Designation for Four Vernal Pool Crustaceans and Eleven Vernal Pool 
Plants in California and Southern Oregon

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule; reopening of the comment period.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
reopening of the comment period for the proposed rule and economic 
analysis to designate critical habitat pursuant to the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act), for four vernal pool crustaceans 
and eleven vernal pool plants in 36 counties in California and one 
county in Oregon. We are reopening the comment period for the proposed 
rule and the draft economic analysis to allow interested parties 
additional time to submit comments and information to us for our 
consideration in making the final determination of critical habitat for 
the 15 vernal pool species. Comments previously submitted need not be 
resubmitted as they will be incorporated into the public record as part 
of this re-opening of the comment period, and will be fully considered 
in the final rule.

DATES: We will accept comments on the proposed critical habitat 
designation and the economic analysis until March 28, 2003.

ADDRESSES: Written comments and information should be submitted to 
Wayne White, Field Supervisor, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2800 Cottage, Room W-2605, Sacramento, 
CA 95825. Written comments may also be sent by fax to 916/414-6710 or 
hand-delivered to our Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office at the above 
address. You may also send comments by electronic mail (e-mail) to 
    You may view comments and materials received , as well as 
supporting documentation used in the preparation of this proposed rule, 
by appointment, during normal business hours in the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service's Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office at the above 
address. You may obtain copies of the proposed rule and the draft 
economic analysis from the above address, by calling (916) 414-6600, or 
from our Web site at http://sacramento.fws.gov/.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Arnold Roessler or Susan Moore, at the 
Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office address above (telephone (916) 414-
6600; facsimile (916) 414-6710).



    On September 24, 2002, we published a proposed rule to designate 
critical habitat, pursuant to the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as 
amended (Act), for four vernal pool crustaceans and eleven vernal pool 
plants (67 FR 59884). The four vernal pool crustaceans involved in this 
critical habitat designation are the Conservancy fairy shrimp 
(Branchinecta conservatio), longhorn fairy shrimp (Branchinecta 
longiantenna), vernal pool fairy shrimp (Branchinecta lynchi) and 
vernal pool tadpole shrimp (Lepidurus packardi). The eleven vernal pool 
plant species are Butte County meadowfoam (Limnanthes floccosa ssp. 
californica), Contra Costa goldfields (Lasthenia conjugens), Hoover's 
spurge (Chamaesyce hooveri), succulent (or fleshy) owl's-clover 
(Castilleja campestris ssp. succulenta), Colusa grass (Neostapfia 
colusana), Greene's tuctoria (Tuctoria greenei), hairy Orcutt grass 
(Orcuttia pilosa), Sacramento Orcutt grass (Orcuttia viscida), San 
Joaquin Valley Orcutt grass (Orcuttia inaequalis), slender Orcutt grass 
(Orcuttia tenuis), and Solano grass (Tuctoria mucronata). We proposed a 
total of 128 units of critical habitat for these 15 species, totaling 
approximately 672,920 hectares (ha) (1,662,762 acres (ac)) in 36 
counties in California and one county in Oregon. All the species listed 
above live in vernal pools (shallow depressions that hold water 
seasonally), swales (shallow drainages that carry water seasonally), 
and ephemeral freshwater habitats. None are known to occur in riverine 
waters, marine waters, or other permanent bodies of water. The vernal 
pool habitats of these species have a discontinuous distribution west 
of the Sierra Nevada that extends from southern Oregon through 
California into northern Baja California, Mexico. The species have all 
adapted to the generally mild climate and seasonal periods of 
inundation and drying which help make the vernal pool ecosystems of 
California and southern Oregon unique. Critical habitat receives 
protection from destruction or adverse modification through required 
consultation under section 7 of the Act with regards to actions carried 
out, funded, or authorized by a Federal agency. Section 4(b)(2) of the 
Act requires that the Secretary of the Interior shall designate or 
revise critical habitat based upon the best scientific and commercial 
data available, after taking into consideration the economic impact of 
specifying any particular area as critical habitat.
    The public comment period for the September 24, 2002, proposal 
originally closed on November 25, 2002, and was extended by the 
November 21, 2002, notice of availability of the draft economic 
analysis to close on December 23, 2002. The draft economic analysis 
estimates the foreseeable economic impacts of the critical habitat 
designation on government agencies and private businesses and 
individuals. The Service will not make any final decisions about 
exclusions based on economic impact, until it has obtained public 
comment on the economic analysis and produced an addendum to the 
economic analysis containing its final conclusions. The Service is 
interested in comments from the public on the economic analysis, on 
whether any of the areas identified in the economic analysis as having 
economic effects should be excluded for economic reasons, and whether 
those or any other areas should be excluded for other reasons.
    For further information regarding background biological information 
on the 15 vernal pool species, please refer to our proposed rule 
published in the Federal Register on September 24, 2002, (67 FR 59884).

Public Comments Solicited

    We solicit additional information and comments that may assist us 
in making a final decision on the proposed rule to designate critical 
habitat for the four vernal pool crustaceans and eleven vernal pool 
plants. We intend that any final action resulting from our proposal 
will be as accurate and effective as possible. Therefore, we are 
reopening the comment period to solicit additional information from the 
general public, other concerned governmental agencies, the scientific 
community, industry, or any other interested party concerning this 
proposed rule. We particularly seek comments concerning:

[[Page 12337]]

    (1) The reasons why any habitat 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 due to designation and whether areas under consideration 
require additional special management;
    (2) Specific information on the amount and distribution of any of 
the vernal pool crustaceans or vernal pool plants and what habitat is 
essential to the conservation of these species and why;
    (3) Land use designations and current or planned activities in the 
subject areas and their possible impacts on proposed critical habitat; 
in particular, in Oregon, we seek information related to potential of 
selected parcels to contribute to the species recovery, considering 
their zoning, adjacent land uses, watershed integrity, and potential 
for edge effects (related to shape of parcel);
    (4) Any foreseeable economic or other impacts resulting from the 
proposed designation of critical habitat, in particular, any impacts on 
small entities or families;
    (5) Economic and other values associated with designating critical 
habitat for vernal pool crustaceans and vernal pool plants such as 
those derived from non-consumptive uses (e.g., hiking, camping, bird-
watching, enhanced watershed protection, improved air quality, 
increased soil retention, ``existence values,'' and reductions in 
administrative costs);
    (6) Whether any areas should be excluded pursuant to section 
    (7) Whether our approach to critical habitat designation could be 
improved or modified in any way to provide for greater public 
participation and understanding, or to assist us in accommodating 
public concern and comments; and
    (8) Assumptions reflected in the economic analysis regarding land 
use practices and current, planned, or reasonably foreseeable 
activities in the subject areas, including comments or information 
relating to the potential effects that the designation could have on 
private landowners as a result of actual or foreseeable State and local 
government responses due to the California Environmental Quality Act.
    If you wish to comment on this proposed rule, you may submit your 
comments and materials by any one of several methods (see ADDRESSES). 
Please submit electronic mail comments as an ASCII file and avoid the 
use of special characters and any form of encryption. Please also 
include ``Attn: Vernal Pool Critical Habitat'' and your name and return 
address in your electronic message. Please note that the electronic 
address fw1--vernalpool@fws.gov will be closed out at the termination 

of the public comment period. If you do not receive a confirmation from 
the system that we have received your electronic message, contact us 
directly by calling our Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office at phone 
number (916) 414-6600.
    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. In some circumstances, 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. To the extent consistent with 
applicable law, 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 made available for public inspection, by appointment, 
during normal business hours at the above address.
    The comment period, which originally closed on December 23, 2002 
(67 FR 70202), will now close on the date specified above in the DATES 


    The primary author of this notice is Susan Moore, (see ADDRESSES 

    Authority: The authority for this action is the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).

    Dated: March 7, 2003.
Craig Manson,
Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
[FR Doc. 03-6370 Filed 3-12-03; 4:45 pm]