[Federal Register: June 14, 2004 (Volume 69, Number 113)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 32966-32968]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AJ16

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Extension of the 
Public Comment Period on the Proposed Designation of Critical Habitat 
for the California Red-legged Frog (Rana aurora draytonii)

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule; extension of public comment period.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
extension of the public comment period on the proposed designation of 
critical habitat for the California red-legged frog (Rana aurora 
draytonii). The comment period will provide the public, and Federal, 
State, and local agencies and Tribes with an opportunity to submit 
written comments on the proposal. Comments previously submitted for 
this proposal need not be resubmitted as they have already been 
incorporated into the public record and will be fully considered in any 
final decision.

DATES: The original comment period is scheduled to close on June 14, 
2004 (69 FR 19620, April 13, 2004). The public comment period for this 
proposal is now extended for an additional 30 days. We will now accept 
comments and

[[Page 32967]]

information until 5 p.m. July 14, 2004. Any comments received after the 
closing date may not be considered in the final decisions on these 

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, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, 2800 Cottage Way, Suite W. 2605, Sacramento, California 95825.
    2. You may hand-deliver written comments and information to our 
Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, at the above address, or fax your 
comments to 916/414-6712.
    3. You may send your comments by electronic mail (e-mail) to 
fw1crlf@r1.fws.gov. For directions on how to submit electronic filing 

of comments, see the ``Public Comments Solicited'' section below. In 
the event that our internet connection is not functional, please submit 
comments by the alternate methods mentioned above.
    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: For general information, and for 
information about Alameda, Butte, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Fresno, 
Kern, Marin, Mariposa, Merced, Napa, Plumas, San Joaquin, San Mateo, 
Santa Clara, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Tehama, and Tuolumne Counties, 
contact Wayne White, Field Supervisor, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife 
Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2800 Cottage Way, Suite W. 
2605, Sacramento, California 95825 (telephone 916/414-6600; facsimile 
    For information about Los Angeles, Monterey, San Benito, San Luis 
Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, and Ventura Counties, contact Diane 
Noda, Field Supervisor, Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, 2394 Portola Road, Suite B, Ventura, California 93003 
(telephone 805/644-1766; facsimile 805/644-3958).
    For information about areas in the San Gabriel Mountains of Los 
Angeles County or Riverside and San Diego Counties, contact Jim Bartel, 
Field Supervisor, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, 2730 Loker Avenue West, Carlsbad, California 92008 
(telephone 760/431-9440; facsimile 760/431-9624).


Public Comments Solicited

    It is our intent that any final action resulting from the April 13, 
2004, proposed designation of critical habitat for the California red-
legged frog (Rana aurora draytonii) (69 FR 19620) 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. On the basis of public comment, during the development 
of 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 removed from or 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 
California red-legged frog and its habitat, and which habitat or 
habitat components are essential to the conservation of this species 
and why;
    (3) Whether the primary constituent elements for the California 
red-legged frog as defined in this proposal are biologically and 
scientifically accurate, specifically,
    (a) Whether aquatic habitat used for breeding must have a minimum 
deep water depth of 0.5 meters (m) (20 inches (in));
    (b) Whether aquatic components must consist of two or more breeding 
sites located within 2 kilometers (km) (1.25 miles (mi)) of each other;
    (c) Should the primary constituent elements be more descriptive of 
the variations in habitat preference throughout the range of the 
    (4) Whether the two recently discovered populations of California 
red-legged frogs in Youngs Creek, in Calaveras County, and in 
artificial ponds in Nevada County are essential to the conservation of 
the subspecies and should be included in designated critical habitat;
    (5) Land use designations and current or planned activities in or 
adjacent to the areas proposed and their possible impacts on proposed 
critical habitat;
    (6) Any foreseeable economic or other potential impacts resulting 
from the proposed designation, in particular, any impacts on small 
    (7) Some of the lands we have identified as essential for the 
conservation of the California red-legged frog are not being proposed 
as critical habitat. We specifically solicit comment on the inclusion 
or exclusion of such areas and:
    (a) Whether these areas are essential;
    (b) Whether these areas warrant exclusion; and
    (c) The basis for not designating these areas as critical habitat 
(section 3(5)(A) or section 4(b)(2) of the Act);
    (8) With specific reference to the recent amendments to sections 
4(a)(3) and 4(b)(2) of the Act, we request information from the 
Department of Defense to assist the Secretary of the Interior in 
excluding critical habitat on lands administered by or under the 
control of the Department of Defense based on the benefit of an 
Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan (INRMP) to the 
conservation of the species; and information regarding impacts to 
national security associated with proposed designation of critical 
habitat; and
    (9) 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: RIN 1018-AJ16'' 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 Sacramento Fish 
and Wildlife Office at phone number 916/414-6600. Please note that the 
e-mail address fw1crlf@r1.fws.gov will be closed out at the termination 
of the public comment period. In the event that our internet connection 
is not functional, please submit comments by the alternate methods 
mentioned above.
    Our practice is to make comments, including names and home 
addresses of respondents, available for public review. Individual 
respondents may request that we withhold their home addresses 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

[[Page 32968]]

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 


    A final rule designating critical habitat for the California red-
legged frog (Rana aurora draytonii) was signed on March 1, 2001, and 
published in the Federal Register on March 13, 2001 (66 FR 14626).
    On June 8, 2001, the Home Builders Association of Northern 
California, California Chamber of Commerce, California Building 
Industry Association, California Alliance for Jobs, and the Building 
Industry Legal Defense Fund filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court 
for the District of Columbia challenging the Service's designation of 
critical habitat for the California red-legged frog. Home Builders 
Ass'n of Northern California, et al. v. Norton, et al., Civ. No. 01-
1291 (RJL) (D. D.C.). On November 6, 2002, the court entered a consent 
decree remanding the designation to the Service to conduct an economic 
analysis in accordance with the Tenth Circuit's decision in New Mexico 
Cattle Growers Ass'n v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 248 F.3d 1277 
(10th Cir. 2001). The consent decree vacated the critical habitat 
designation for the California red-legged frog with the exception of 
Units 5 and 31, units not known to be occupied by the frog, and ordered 
the Service to promulgate a proposed revised designation by March 2004, 
and a final revised rule by November 2005. A proposed rule designating 
critical habitat for the California red-legged frog was published on 
April 13, 2004 (69 FR 19620). A public comment period on the proposal 
was open for 60 days following its publication. By this notice, we are 
hereby extending the public comment period on the proposal for an 
additional 30 days.


    The primary author of this notice is Douglas Krofta, Division of 
Conservation and Classification, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 
Arlington, Virginia.

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

    Dated: June 8, 2004.
Craig Manson,
Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
[FR Doc. 04-13400 Filed 6-9-04; 12:37 pm]