[Federal Register: May 25, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 100)]
[Rules and Regulations]               
[Page 29998-30000]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AU31

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Opening of the 
Comment Period for the Proposed and Final Designation of Critical 
Habitat for the Klamath River and Columbia River Populations of Bull 

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Final rule; opening of comment period.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
opening of a public comment period on the proposed and final 
designation of critical habitat for the Klamath River and Columbia 
River populations of bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus). Due to court 
action, we have determined that it would be appropriate to reevaluate 
the exclusions made in the final critical habitat rule. We are opening 
this comment period to allow all interested parties to comment 
simultaneously on the November 29, 2002, proposed rule (67 FR 71235) 
and the October 6, 2004, final rule (69 FR 59996). Copies of the 
proposed and final rules, as well as the economic analysis for the 
critical habitat designation, are available on the Internet at http://pacific.fws.gov/bulltrout
 or from the Portland Regional Office at the 

address and contact numbers below.

DATES: We will accept public comments until June 24, 2005.

ADDRESSES: Written comments and materials may be submitted to us by any 
one of the following methods:
    1. You may submit written comments and information to John Young, 
Bull Trout Coordinator, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ecological 
Services, 911 NE 11th Avenue, Portland, OR 97232;
    2. You may hand-deliver written comments and information to our 
office, at the above address, or fax your comments to 503/231-6243; or
    3. You may also send comments by electronic mail (e-mail) to 
R1BullTroutCH@r1.fws.gov. For

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directions on how to submit electronic filing of comments, see the 
``Public Comments Solicited'' section. In the event that our internet 
connection is not functional, please submit your comments by the 
alternate methods mentioned above.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: John Young, at the address above 
(telephone 503/231-6194; facsimile 503/231-6243).



    We published a proposed rule to designate critical habitat for the 
Klamath River and Columbia River populations of bull trout on November 
29, 2002 (67 FR 71235). The proposed critical habitat designation 
included approximately 18,471 miles (mi) (29,720 kilometers (km)) of 
streams, and 532,721 acres (ac) (215,585 hectares (ha)) of lakes and 
reservoirs on Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana. The final 
critical habitat designation was published on October 6, 2004 (69 FR 
59996), and included approximately 1,748 mi (2,813 km) of streams and 
61,235 ac (24,781 ha) of lakes and marshes. On December 14, 2004, 
Alliance for the Wild Rockies et al. (plaintiffs) filed a complaint 
challenging the adequacy of the final designation. In particular, the 
plaintiffs challenged the exclusions made in the final rule, pursuant 
to section 4(b)(2) of the Act.
    Critical habitat receives protection from destruction or adverse 
modification through required consultation under section 7 of the Act, 
with regard to actions carried out, funded, or authorized by a Federal 
agency. Section 4(b)(2) of the Act requires that ``The Secretary shall 
designate critical habitat, and make revisions thereto, under 
subsection (a)(3) of this section on the basis of the best scientific 
data available and after taking into consideration the economic impact, 
and any other relevant impact, of specifying any particular area as 
critical habitat. The Secretary may exclude any area from critical 
habitat if she determines that the benefits of such exclusion outweigh 
the benefits of specifying such area as part of the critical habitat, 
unless she determines, based on the best scientific and commercial data 
available, that the failure to designate such area as critical habitat 
will result in the extinction of the species concerned.''
    The economic analysis estimated the potential economic effects over 
a 10-year period would range from $200 to $260 million ($20 to $26 
million per year) for the bull trout. It is expected that Federal 
agencies will bear 70 percent of these costs. The total estimated costs 
associated with bull trout consultation is expected to be $9.8 million 
annually, and total project modification costs are expected to range 
from $19.5 to $26.1 million annually. Economic costs were considered in 
balancing the benefits of including and excluding areas from critical 
habitat. The economic analysis is available on the Internet and from 
the mailing address in the ADDRESSES section above.
    Once the public comment period has closed, we will compile all 
comments and data received and consider them for use in our 
reevaluation of the final rule. We will then reconsider all of the 
relevant impacts of designating the proposed areas as critical habitat 
on the basis of our administrative record. We do not intend to contract 
for a new formal economic analysis, but we will consider any new 
information received regarding the economic impacts of the designation. 
Upon completion of the reconsideration process, we will issue a new 
final rule designating critical habitat for the Klamath River and 
Columbia River populations of bull trout.

Public Comments Solicited

    We intend that any final action resulting from our November 2002 
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 the portion of the proposed rule subject to 
reevaluation. We will accept written comments and information during 
this comment period on the November 29, 2002, proposed rule (67 FR 
71235) and the October 6, 2004, final rule (69 FR 59996). On the basis 
of public comment, during the development of our new 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 new final determination with respect to those 
areas. We specifically seek comments on:
    (1) The reasons why any of the habitat identified in this rule 
should or should not be determined to be critical habitat as provided 
by section 4 of the Act, including whether the benefits of exclusion 
outweigh the benefits of specifying such area as part of critical 
    (2) Information related to the benefits of designating any specific 
areas as critical habitat for the bull trout;
    (3) Information related to the benefits of excluding any specific 
areas as critical habitat for the bull trout;
    (4) Specific information on the amount and distribution of bull 
trout habitat, and why those particular amounts and distributions of 
habitat are essential to the conservation of this species;
    (5) Any effects of the Ninth Circuit's recent decision in Gifford 
Pinchot Task Force v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 378 F.3d 1059 
(Ninth Cir. 2004) that we should consider in our review of the final 
designation of critical habitat for the Klamath River and Columbia 
River populations of bull trout (69 FR 59996);
    (6) Any foreseeable economic or other impacts resulting from the 
designation of critical habitat, in particular, any previously 
unidentified impacts on small entities or families;
    (7) Whether the draft economic analysis identifies all State and 
local economic costs and economic benefits attributable to the critical 
habitat designation. If not, what costs and benefits are overlooked;
    (8) Are the adjustments to local governments' economic data made by 
the economic analysis reasonable? If not, please provide alternative 
interpretations and the justification for the alternative, and/or the 
reasons the interpretation in the economic analysis is not correct;
    (9) Any previously unidentified impacts associated with likely 
regulatory changes as a result of the designation of critical habitat;
    (10) Any previously unidentified regional costs or benefits 
associated with land use controls that derive from the designation, to 
the extent possible economic cost or benefit analysis should be 
included as the Service will not conduct additional economic analysis 
on this rule;
    (11) Whether the designation will result in disproportionate 
economic impacts to specific areas that should be evaluated for 
possible exclusion from the final designation;
    (12) Some of the lands we have identified as essential for the 
conservation of the bull trout were excluded from critical habitat 
designation. We specifically solicit comment on the inclusion or 
exclusion of such areas and:
    (a) Whether these areas are essential and why;
    (b) The benefits of including these areas as essential habitat;
    (c) The benefits of excluding these areas as essential habitat;
    (13) With specific reference to the recent amendments to sections 
4(a)(3) and 4(b)(2) of the Act, we request

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information from the Department of Defense to assist the Secretary of 
the Interior in making a determination as to whether to exclude 
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 
designation of critical habitat; and
    (14) 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.
    (15) Whether contemplated changes to Federal land management plans 
should be considered and if so, how.
    Refer to the ADDRESSES section for information on how to submit 
written comments and information. Our final determination on critical 
habitat for the Klamath River and Columbia River populations of bull 
trout will take into consideration all comments and any additional 
information received.
    Please submit electronic comments in an ASCII file format and avoid 
the use of special characters and encryption. Please also include 
``Attn: RIN 1018-AU31'' and your name and return address in your e-mail 
message. If you do not receive a confirmation from the system that we 
have received your e-mail message, please contact the Bull Trout 
Coordinator (see ADDRESSES section).
    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. In some circumstances, we would withhold 
from the rulemaking record a respondent's identity, as allowable by 
law. If you wish for us to withhold your name and/or address, you must 
state this prominently at the beginning of your comments. 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, as well as supporting 
documentation used to designate critical habitat, will be available for 
inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours, in the U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service Office at the above address.
    Copies of the final economic analysis and proposed and final rules 
are available on the Internet at: http://pacific.fws.gov/bulltrout or 

from the Bull Trout Coordinator at the address and contact numbers 


    The primary author of this notice is the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 


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

    Dated: May 16, 2005.
Paul Hoffman,
Acting Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
[FR Doc. 05-10246 Filed 5-24-05; 8:45 am]