[Federal Register: January 25, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 15)]
[Page 3548-3550]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Notice of Availability of the Draft Barton Springs Salamander 
Recovery Plan; Notice of Initiation of a 5-Year Status Review for the 
Barton Springs Salamander (Eurycea sosorum)

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of document availability and notice of review.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announces the 
availability for public review of the Draft Barton Springs Salamander 
Recovery Plan (Draft Recovery Plan). The Barton Springs salamander 
(Eurycea sosorum) is known to occur near four springs outlets that 
collectively make up Barton Springs in Austin, Texas. The Service 
solicits review and comment from the public on this Draft Recovery 
Plan. The Service also announces a 5-year status review of the Barton 
Springs salamander under section 4(c)(2)(A) of the Endangered Species 
Act of 1973 (Act) (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). The purpose of reviews 
conducted under this section of the Act is to ensure that the 
classification of the species as threatened or endangered on the List 
of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants (List) is accurate. A 
5-year review is based on the best scientific and commercial data 
available at the time of the review. Therefore, we are requesting 
submission of any such information on the Barton Springs salamander 
that has become available since its original listing as an endangered 
species in 1997. If the present classification of this species is not 
consistent with the best scientific and commercial information 
available, the Service will recommend whether or not a change is 
warranted in the Federal classification of Barton Springs salamander. 
Any change in Federal classification would require a separate rule-
making process.

DATES: Comments on the Draft Recovery Plan are due by March 28, 2005 to 
assure consideration. Information and materials for consideration in 
this 5-year review of the Barton Springs salamander must be received no 
later than March 28, 2005. However, we will continue to accept new 
information about any listed species at any time.

ADDRESSES: Persons wishing to review the Draft Recovery Plan may obtain 
it from the Internet at http://endangered.fws.gov/recovery/. You may 

also request a copy from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Austin 
Ecological Services Field Office, 10711 Burnet Road, Suite 200, Austin, 
Texas, 78758. Comments and materials concerning this Draft Recovery 
Plan and/or the 5-year status review may be mailed to ``Field 
Supervisor'' at the address above. Information received in response to 
this notice and review will be available for public inspection, by 
appointment, during normal business hours at the above address.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Robert Pine, Austin Ecological 
Services Field Office, at the above address; telephone (512) 490-0057, 
facsimile (512) 490-0974.


Draft Recovery Plan

    The Barton Springs salamander was listed as endangered on May 30, 
1997, under authority of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended 
(62 FR 23377). The water that discharges from Barton Springs is 
essential to the survival of the salamander. Barton Springs is a 
segment of the Edwards Aquifer, a karst limestone aquifer containing a 
complex system of caves, sinkholes, fractures, and faults. The Edwards 
Aquifer is particularly vulnerable to contamination and land use 
changes that degrade the quality of stormwater runoff. The primary 
threat facing the survival and recovery of this species is the 
degradation of water quality and quantity of water that feeds Barton 
Springs. This degradation has resulted from urbanization over the 
Barton Springs watershed (including roadway, residential, commercial, 
and industrial development). The Draft Recovery Plan includes 
information about the species, provides recovery objectives and 
criteria, and describes the actions needed to recover the species such 
that it no longer warrants listing as endangered or threatened.
    The Draft Recovery Plan proposes reclassification of the Barton 
Springs salamander from endangered to threatened when the following 
criteria have been met: (1) Mechanisms (such as laws, rules, 
regulations, and cooperative agreements) are in place to ensure 
nondegradation of water quality in the Barton Springs watershed; (2) a 
plan to avoid, respond to, and remediate hazardous materials spills 
within the Barton Springs watershed is in place with high priority 
measures implemented to minimize risks to the Barton Springs 
salamander; (3) measures to ensure that continuous, natural springflows 
are maintained at all four spring outlets are in place and effective; 
(4) a healthy, self-sustaining natural population of Barton Springs 
salamanders is maintained within its historical range; (5) measures to 
remove local threats to the Barton Springs ecosystem have been 
implemented; (6) at least two genetically representative captive 
populations of Barton Springs salamanders have been established in 
secure locations with the completion of a captive propagation and 
contingency plan.
    The Draft Recovery Plan proposes the delisting of the Barton 
Springs salamander when the downlisting criteria have been achieved and 
the following additional criteria have been met: (1) Water quality 
protection mechanisms are shown to be effective and commitments are in 
place to continue protection; (2) measures to implement the 
catastrophic spill avoidance, response and remediation plans are 
ensured; (3) measures to maintain adequate springflows are shown to be 
effective; (4) the Barton Springs salamander population is shown to be 
viable and stable or increasing; (5) measures to remove local threats 
to the Barton Springs ecosystem are shown to be effective and a 
commitment is in place to continue the appropriate management of the 
surface habitat; and (6) captive breeding is shown to be effective and 
reliable and commitments are in place to maintain adequate captive 
populations for any needed restoration work.
    Because the Barton Springs salamander relies on continuous flow of 
clean spring water, many of the high-priority recovery tasks outlined 
in the Draft Recovery Plan include actions to ensure adequate water 
quality and quantity within the Barton Springs watershed such as: (1) 
Developing and implementing catastrophic spill avoidance, response, and 
remediation plans; (2) implementing programs to protect sensitive 
environmental features important to salamander habitat or the effective 
recharge of clean water such as caves, sinkholes, fissures, springs, 
and riparian zones; (3) developing and implementing programs to 
identify and correct problems from point and non-point source pollution 
discharges; and (4) creating a regional management

[[Page 3549]]

program that will be used to ensure the protection of aquifer level and 
springflows under normal and drought conditions. Other high-priority 
recovery actions include ensuring protection for existing spring 
habitats and establishing and maintaining adequate captive breeding 
    Restoring an endangered or threatened animal or plant to the point 
where it is again a secure, self-sustaining member of its ecosystem is 
a primary goal of the Service's endangered species program. To help 
guide the recovery effort, the Service is working to prepare recovery 
plans for most of the listed species native to the United States. 
Recovery plans describe actions considered necessary for conservation 
of listed species, establish criteria for downlisting or delisting 
those species, and estimate time and cost for implementing the 
necessary recovery measures.
    The 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, as amended in 1988, 
requires that public notice and an opportunity for public review and 
comment be provided during recovery plan development. The Service 
considers all information presented during a public comment period 
prior to approval of each new or revised recovery plan. The Service and 
others also take these comments into account in the course of 
implementing recovery plans.
    The Draft Recovery Plan is being submitted for review to all 
interested parties and for independent peer review. After consideration 
of comments received during the review period, and including new 
information and materials provided for the 5-year status review, the 
Draft Recovery Plan will be prepared for final approval.

5-Year Status Review

    Under the Act, the Service maintains a list of endangered and 
threatened wildlife and plant species at 50 CFR 17.11 (for animals) and 
17.12 (for plants). Section 4(c)(2)(A) of the Act requires that we 
conduct a status review of listed species at least once every five 
years. Then, on the basis of such reviews under section 4(c)(2)(B), we 
determine whether or not any species should be removed from the List 
(delisted), or reclassified from endangered to threatened or from 
threatened to endangered (downlisted). Delisting a species must be 
supported by the best scientific and commercial data available and only 
considered if such data substantiates that the species is neither 
endangered nor threatened for one or more of the following reasons: (1) 
The species is considered extinct; (2) the species is considered to be 
recovered; and/or (3) the original data available when the species was 
listed, or the interpretation of such data, were in error. Any change 
in Federal classification would require a separate rulemaking process. 
The regulations in 50 CFR 424.21 require that we publish a notice in 
the Federal Register announcing those species currently under active 
    The City of Austin initiated Barton Springs salamander surveys in 
1993, and is currently conducting monthly surveys of salamanders at all 
known salamander locations. Although monitoring of the status of the 
Barton Springs salamander is an ongoing process, the Service is now 
initiating an active, periodic review on the status of the Barton 
Springs salamander in accordance with section 4(c)(2)(A) of the Act. 
This information may include population trend data and information on 
the threats faced by the salamander. The recovery planning process is 
an appropriate time to conduct an active review of a species' status, 
as the Service is actively seeking all relevant information on the 
salamander and the threats it faces. This notice announces our active 
review of the Barton Springs salamander, which is currently listed as 

What Information Is Considered in the Review?

    A 5-year review considers all new information available at the time 
of the review. These reviews will consider the best scientific and 
commercial data that has become available since the current listing 
determination or most recent status review of each species, such as:
    A. Species biology including, but not limited to, population 
trends, distribution, abundance, demographics, and genetics;
    B. Habitat conditions including, but not limited to, amount, 
distribution, and suitability;
    C. Conservation measures that have been implemented to benefit the 
    D. Threat status and trends (see five factors under heading ``How 
do we determine whether a species is endangered or threatened?''); and
    E. Other new information, data, or corrections including, but not 
limited to, taxonomic or nomenclatural changes, identification of 
erroneous information contained in the List, and improved analytical 

How Is Barton Springs Salamander Currently Listed?

    The List is found in 50 CFR 17.11 (wildlife) and 17.12 (plants). 
Amendments to the List through final rules are published in the Federal 
Register. The List is also available on our internet site at http://endangered.fws.gov/wildlife.html#Species.
 The Barton Springs salamander 

is listed as endangered. It occurs only in the state of Texas. The 
final rule listing it as endangered was published in the Federal 
Register in 1997 (62 FR 23377 23392).

Definitions Related to This Notice

    The following definitions are provided to assist those persons 
considering submission of information regarding the species being 
    A. Species includes any species or subspecies of fish, wildlife, or 
plant, and any distinct population segment of any species of 
vertebrate, which interbreeds when mature.
    B. Endangered means any species that is in danger of extinction 
throughout all or a significant portion of its range.
    C. Threatened means any species that is likely to become an 
endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a 
significant portion of its range.

How Do We Determine Whether a Species Is Endangered or Threatened?

    Section 4(a)(1) of the Act establishes that we determine whether a 
species is endangered or threatened based on one or more of the five 
following factors:
    A. The present or threatened destruction, modification, or 
curtailment of its habitat or range;
    B. Over-utilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes;
    C. Disease or predation;
    D. The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or
    E. Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued 
    Section 4(a)(1) of the Act requires that our determination be made 
on the basis of the best scientific and commercial data available.

What Could Happen as a Result of This Review?

    If new information concerning Barton Springs salamander indicates a 
change in classification may be warranted, we may propose a new rule 
that could do one of the following: (a) Reclassify the species from 
endangered to threatened; or (b) remove the species from the List. If 
we determine that a change in classification is not warranted for

[[Page 3550]]

Barton Springs salamander, it will remain on the List under its current 
status. Information provided during this 5-year review could also 
affect the recommendations of the recovery plan for this species.

Public Comments and New Information Solicited

    The Service solicits written comments on the draft recovery plan 
described above. All comments received by the date specified above will 
be considered prior to approval of the recovery plan.
    To ensure that the 5-year status review is complete and based on 
the best available scientific and commercial information, we are also 
soliciting new information from the public, concerned governmental 
agencies, Tribes, the scientific community, industry, environmental 
entities, and any other interested parties concerning the status of the 
Barton Springs salamander.
    Comments on the draft recovery plan and information and/or 
materials for the 5-year review should be provided to the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Austin Ecological Services Field Office (see 
ADDRESSES section). Information submitted should be supported by 
documentation such as maps, bibliographic references, methods used to 
gather and analyze the data, and/or copies of any pertinent 
publications, reports, or letters by knowledgeable sources. Our 
practice is to make comments, including names and home addresses of 
respondents, available for public review during regular business hours. 
Respondents may request that we withhold a respondent's identity, as 
allowable by law. If you wish us to withhold your name or address, you 
must state this request prominently at the beginning of your comment. 
We will not, however, 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 available for public inspection, by 
appointment, during normal business hours (see ADDRESSES section).


    This document is published under the authority of the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).

    Dated: December 3, 2004.
H. Dale Hall,
Regional Director, Region 2, Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 05-1290 Filed 1-24-05; 8:45 am]