[Federal Register: November 8, 2004 (Volume 69, Number 215)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 64710-64712]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AH40

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Proposed 
Endangered Status for the Sacramento Mountains Checkerspot Butterfly 
and Proposed Designation of Critical Habitat

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule; reopening of public comment period, notice of 
availability of draft economic analysis and draft environmental 


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
availability of the draft economic analysis and draft environmental 
assessment for the proposal to designate critical habitat for the 
Sacramento Mountains checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas anicia 
cloudcrofti) (butterfly) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as 
amended (Act). We are reopening the public comment period for the 
proposal to list this species as endangered with critical habitat to 
allow all interested parties to comment on the proposed listing and 
critical habitat designation, as well as the associated draft economic 
analysis and draft environmental assessment. Comments previously 
submitted on the September 6, 2001 (66 FR 46575), proposed rule to list 
the butterfly as endangered with critical habitat need not be 
resubmitted as they have been incorporated into the public record and 
will be fully considered in preparation of the final listing and 
critical habitat determination. We invite all interested parties to 
submit comments on this proposal.

DATES: Comments must be submitted directly to the Service (see 

[[Page 64711]]

section) on or before November 29, 2004.

ADDRESSES: If you wish to comment, you may submit your comments and 
materials by any one of several methods:
    1. You may submit written comments and information to the Field 
Supervisor, New Mexico Ecological Services Field Office, 2105 Osuna 
Road NE., Albuquerque, New Mexico 87113.
    2. You may hand-deliver written comments and information to our New 
Mexico Ecological Services Field Office, at the above address, or fax 
your comments to 505-346-2542.
    3. You may send your comments by electronic mail (e-mail) to 
R2FWE_AL@fws.gov. For directions on how to submit electronic filing of 

comments, see the ``Public Comments Solicited'' section below.
    You may obtain copies of the draft economic analysis and draft 
environmental assessment by mail, review comments and materials 
received, and review supporting documentation used in preparation of 
this proposed rule, by appointment, during normal business hours, at 
the above address.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Susan MacMullin, Field Supervisor, New 
Mexico Ecological Services Field Office (telephone 505-761-4706, 
facsimile 505-346-2542).


Public Comments Solicited

    We intend that any final action resulting from this proposal will 
be as accurate and as effective 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, the draft economic analysis, and 
the draft environmental assessment. On the basis of public comment, 
during the development of our final determination we may find that 
areas proposed are not essential, are appropriate for exclusion under 
section 4(b)(2), or not appropriate for exclusion; in all of these 
cases, this information would be incorporated into our final 
determination. We particularly seek comments concerning:
    (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 resulting from designation;
    (2) Specific information on the distribution of the butterfly, the 
amount and distribution of the species' habitat, and which habitat is 
essential to the conservation of the species, and why;
    (3) Land use designations and current or planned activities in the 
subject area and their possible impacts on the species or proposed 
critical habitat;
    (4) Whether our approach to listing or 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 concerns and comments;
    (5) Any foreseeable economic, environmental, or other impacts 
resulting from the proposed designation of critical habitat or 
coextensively from the proposed listing, and in particular, any impacts 
on small entities or families;
    (6) Whether the economic analysis identifies all State and local 
costs. If not, what other costs should be included;
    (7) Whether the economic analysis makes appropriate assumptions 
regarding current practices and likely regulatory changes imposed as a 
result of the listing of the species or the designation of critical 
    (8) Whether the economic analysis correctly assesses the effect on 
regional costs associated with land use controls that derive from the 
    (9) Whether the designation will result in disproportionate 
economic impacts to specific areas that should be evaluated for 
possible exclusion from the final designation; and
    (10) Whether the economic analysis appropriately identifies all 
costs that could result from the designation or coextensively from the 
    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-AH40'' 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 New Mexico 
Ecological Services Field Office at (505) 346-2525.
    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 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 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 


    The butterfly is restricted to meadows within the mixed-conifer 
forest at approximate elevations between 2,450 and 2,750 meters (m) 
(8,000 and 9,000 feet (ft)) in the vicinity of the Village of 
Cloudcroft, Otero County, New Mexico. Our proposed critical habitat 
designation includes the area found within an approximate 140 square km 
(54 square mi) polygon centered around the Village of Cloudcroft, Otero 
County, New Mexico, south of the Mescalero Apache Nation boundary. In 
the proposed rule, we determined that the butterfly was in danger of 
extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range because 
much of the remaining suitable habitat and the long term persistence of 
the butterfly were threatened. At that time, the known threats 
included: commercial and private development, Forest Service (FS) 
projects, fire suppression activities, highway reconstruction, off-
highway vehicle use, and overgrazed range conditions. Additional 
background information is available in the September 6, 2001, proposed 
rule (66 FR 46575).
    On September 8, 2003, the Center for Biological Diversity (Center) 
filed a complaint pursuant to the Act, challenging the failure of the 
Service to publish a final listing rule for the butterfly within the 1-
year statutory deadline set by section 4 of the Act. The Service and 
the Center reached settlement in this case that was adopted as an order 
by the District Court for the District of New Mexico on June 3, 2004. 
The terms of the settlement agreement require us to submit a final 
listing and critical habitat determination for the butterfly to the 
Federal Register on or before December 15, 2004.
    Section 4 of the Act requires that we consider economic and other 
relevant impacts prior to making a final decision on what areas to 
designate as critical habitat. We have developed a draft

[[Page 64712]]

economic analysis and draft environmental assessment for the proposal 
to designate certain areas as critical habitat for the butterfly. We 
solicit data and comments from the public on these draft documents, as 
well as on all aspects of the proposal (see ``Public Comments 
Solicited'' section above).
    Our draft economic analysis suggests that the present value of 
future conservation measures associated with the butterfly is expected 
to range from $5.6 million to $8.6 million over 20 years, or $533,000 
to $816,000 annually. Approximately 55 percent of these costs result 
from anticipated project modifications primarily associated with 
utility projects, agriculture and ranching, and U.S. Forest Service 
land management. The remaining costs are generally administrative in 
    The Service, Otero County, New Mexico, Village of Cloudcroft, New 
Mexico, FS, and other stakeholders have completed a conservation plan 
for the butterfly. A notice of availability of this draft document 
published in the Federal Register on October 7, 2004 (69 FR 60178). The 
goal of this strategy is to establish conservation measures needed for 
the conservation of the butterfly. Section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 
1533) and implementing regulations at 50 CFR part 424 set forth 
procedures for adding species to the Federal List of Endangered and 
Threatened Wildlife. A species may be determined to be endangered or 
threatened due to one or more of the five factors described in section 
4(a)(1) of the Act. Our final listing determination will analyze these 
factors and their application to the butterfly to evaluate whether the 
species meets the definition of an endangered or threatened species.

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

    Dated: November 2, 2004.
Craig Manson,
Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
[FR Doc. 04-24869 Filed 11-5-04; 8:45 am]