[Federal Register: May 24, 2004 (Volume 69, Number 100)]
[Page 29569-29570]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Availability of the Recovery Plan for Five Freshwater Mussels--
Cumberland Elktoe (Alasmidonta atropurpurea), Oyster Mussel (Epioblasma 
capsaeformis), Cumberlandian Combshell (Epioblasma brevidens), Purple 
Bean Villosa perpurpurea), and Rough Rabbitsfoot (Quadrula cylindrica 

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of document availability.


SUMMARY: We, the Fish and Wildlife Service, announce the availability 
of the final recovery plan for five freshwater mussels--Cumberland 
elktoe (Alasmidonta atropurpurea), oyster mussel (Epioblasma 
capsaeformis), Cumberlandian combshell (Epioblasma brevidens), purple 
bean (Villosa perpururea), and rough rabbitsfoot (Quadrula cylindrica 
strigillata). These species are endemic to the Cumberland and Tennessee 
River systems in Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, and 
Virginia. Recent research has greatly increased our understanding of 
the ecology of these species. The recovery plan includes specific 
recovery objectives and criteria to be met in order to downlist these 
mussels to threatened status or delist them under the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973, as amended.

ADDRESSES: Copies of this recovery plan are available by request from 
Bob Butler, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 160 Zillicoa Street, 
Asheville, North Carolina 28801 (Telephone 828/258-3939, Ext. 235). 
Recovery plans that have been approved by the Fish and Wildlife Service 
are also available on the Internet at http://endangered.fws.gov/recovery

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Bob Butler at the address and 
telephone number given above.



    Restoring endangered or threatened animals or plants to the point 
where they are again secure, self-sustaining members of their 
ecosystems is a primary goal of our endangered species program. To help 
guide the recovery effort, we are working to prepare recovery plans for 
most of the listed species native to the United States. Recovery plans 
describe actions considered necessary for the conservation of the 
species, establish criteria for downlisting or delisting them, and 
estimate time and cost for implementing the necessary recovery 
    The Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et 
seq.). (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 we provide 
public notice and an opportunity for public review and comment during 
recovery plan development. A notice of availability of the agency draft 
recovery plan for these five mussel species was published in the 
Federal Register on April 22, 2003 (68 FR 19844). A 60-day comment 
period was opened with the notice, closing on Monday, June 23, 2003. We 
received comments from 16 interested parties and from six mussel 
experts who served as official peer reviewers of the recovery plan. All 
persons who submitted comments supported the recovery plan and the 
Service's efforts to recover these species. Comments and information 
submitted by peer reviewers and other interested parties have been 
considered in the preparation of this final plan and, where 
appropriate, incorporated.
    These five mussels were listed as endangered species under the Act 
on January 10, 1997 (62 FR 1647). These species are restricted to the 
Cumberland River system (Cumberland elktoe), the Tennessee River system 
(purple bean and rough rabbitsfoot), or to both river systems (oyster 
mussel and Cumberlandian combshell). They once existed in thousands of 
stream miles and now survive in only a few relatively small, isolated 
populations many of questionable long-term viability. These populations 
are found in Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Virginia. 
Currently they occur in the Clinch River (Tennessee and Virginia), Duck 
River (Tennessee), Nolichucky River (Tennessee), Powell River 
(Tennessee and Virginia), Bear Creek (Alabama and Mississippi), Beech 
Creek (Tennessee), Buck Creek (Kentucky), Cooper Creek (Virginia), 
Indian Creek (Virginia), Marsh Creek (Kentucky), Sinking Creek 
(Kentucky), Laurel Fork (Kentucky), Big South Fork (Kentucky

[[Page 29570]]

and Tennessee), and several tributaries in the Big South Fork drainage 
(Rock Creek, Kentucky; New River, Bone Camp Creek, Crooked Creek, North 
White Oak Creek, and White Oak Creek, all Tennessee). Habitat 
alternation continues to be the major threat to the continued existence 
of these species. The species and their habitats are currently being 
impacted by excessive sediment bed loads of smaller sediment particles, 
changes in turbidity, increased suspended solids (primarily resulting 
from nonpoint-source loading from poor land-use practices and lack of, 
or maintenance of, best management practices (BMPs)), and pesticides. 
Other primarily localized impacts include coal mining, gravel mining, 
reduced water quality below dams, developmental activities, water 
withdrawal, impoundments, and alien species (e.g., the zebra mussel, 
Dreissena polymorpha). Their restricted ranges and low population 
levels also increase their vulnerability to toxic chemical spills and 
the deleterious effects of genetic isolation.
    The objective of this recovery plan is to provide a framework for 
the recovery of these five species so that protection under the Act is 
no longer necessary. As recovery criteria are met, the status of the 
five species will be reviewed, and they will be considered for 
reclassification to threatened status or for removal from the Federal 
List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants (50 CFR part 17).

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

    Dated: September 5, 2003.
Noreen Walsh,
Acting Regional Director, Southeast Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 

    Editorial Note: This document was received in the Office of the 
Federal Register on May 19, 2004.

[FR Doc. 04-11637 Filed 5-21-04; 8:45 am]