[Federal Register: December 16, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 241)]
[Page 74842-74844]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Information Collection Sent to the Office of Management and 
Budget (OMB) for Approval Under the Paperwork Reduction Act; 1018-0119; 
Policy for Evaluation of Conservation Efforts When Making Listing 

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice; request for comments.


SUMMARY: We (Fish and Wildlife Service, Service) have sent a request to 
OMB to renew approval for the collection of information associated with 
our Policy for Evaluation of Conservation Efforts When Making Listing 
Decisions (PECE). We use the information that we collect as part of the 
basis for identifying conservation efforts that can contribute to a 
decision not to list a species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) 
or to list a species as threatened rather than endangered.

DATES: You must submit comments on or before January 17, 2006.

ADDRESSES: Send your comments and suggestions on this information 
collection renewal to the Desk Officer for the Department of Interior 
at OMB-OIRA at (202) 395-6566 (fax) or OIRA_DOCKET@OMB.eop.gov (e-
mail). Please provide a copy of your comments to Hope Grey, Information 
Collection Clearance Officer, Fish and Wildlife Service, MS 222-ARLSQ, 
4401 North Fairfax Drive, Arlington, Virginia 22203 (mail); (703) 358-
2269 (fax); hope_grey@fws.gov (e-mail).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: To request a copy of the proposed 
information collection requirement, related forms, or explanatory 
material, contact Hope Grey at the addresses above or by phone at (703) 

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: OMB regulations at 5 CFR 1320, which 
implement provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 
3501 et seq.), require that interested members of the public and 
affected agencies have an opportunity to comment on information 
collection and recordkeeping activities (see 5 CFR 1320.8(d)). 
Currently, we have approval to collect this information under OMB 
Control Number 1018-0119, which expires on December 31, 2005. We are 
asking OMB to renew approval for a 3-year term. OMB has up to 60 days 
to approve or disapprove our request; however, OMB may respond as early 
as 30 days after our submittal. To ensure consideration, send your 
comments to OMB by the date listed in the DATES section. We may not 
conduct or sponsor and a person is not required to respond to a 
collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB 
control number.
    On August 15, 2005, we published in the Federal Register (70 FR 
47845) a notice of our intent to request renewal of this information 
collection authority from OMB. In that notice, we solicited public 
comments for 60 days, ending on October 14, 2005. We did not receive 
any comments.
    Section 4 of the ESA specifies the process by which we can list 
species as threatened or endangered. When we consider whether or not to 
list a species, the ESA requires us to take into account the efforts 
being made by any State or any political subdivision of a State to 
protect such species. We also take into account the efforts being made 
by other entities. States or other entities often formalize 
conservation efforts in conservation agreements, conservation plans, 
management plans, or similar documents. The conservation efforts 
recommended or called for in such documents could prevent some species

[[Page 74843]]

from becoming so imperiled that they meet the definition of a 
threatened or endangered species under the ESA.
    PECE encourages the development of conservation agreements/plans 
and provides certainty about the standard that individual conservation 
efforts contained in an agreement/plan must meet so that we can 
consider that such efforts contribute to forming a basis for a listing 
determination. PECE applies to ``formalized conservation efforts'' that 
have not been implemented or have been implemented but have not yet 
demonstrated effectiveness in contributing to the reduction or removal 
of one or more threats to a species. Under PECE, formalized 
conservation efforts are defined as conservation efforts (specific 
actions, activities, or programs designed to eliminate or reduce 
threats or otherwise improve the status of a species identified in a 
conservation agreement, conservation plan, management plan, or similar 
document (68 FR 15100)). The development of such agreements/plans is 
voluntary and there is no requirement that the individual conservation 
efforts included in such documents be designed to meet the standard in 
    PECE specifies that to consider that a conservation effort 
contributes to forming a basis for not listing a species or listing a 
species as threatened rather than endangered, we must find that the 
effort is sufficiently certain to be implemented and effective so as to 
have contributed to the elimination or adequate reduction of one or 
more threats to the species. To gauge whether or not this standard has 
been met, PECE includes criteria for evaluating the certainty of 
implementation and the certainty of effectiveness of individual 
conservation efforts.
    One criterion for evaluating the certainty of effectiveness of a 
conservation effort is that the agreement/plan contains provisions for 
monitoring and reporting progress on implementation and effectiveness 
of the effort. Also, if we make a decision not to list a species or to 
list the species as threatened rather than endangered based in part on 
the contributions of formalized conservation efforts that were subject 
to the policy, we must (1) track the status of the effort, including 
the progress of implementation and effectiveness of the efforts, and 
(2) if necessary, reevaluate the status of species and consider whether 
or not initiating the listing process is necessary. The nature and 
frequency of the monitoring and reporting will vary according to the 
species addressed, land ownership, specific conservation efforts, 
expertise of participants, and other factors. Generally monitoring and 
reporting occurs annually for several years as the conservation efforts 
are implemented and their effectiveness is evaluated. The information 
collected through monitoring is invaluable to the Service, the States, 
and other entities implementing agreements and plans, and to others 
concerned about the welfare of the species covered by the agreements/
    Title: Policy for Evaluation of Conservation Efforts When Making 
Listing Decisions.
    OMB Control Number: 1018-0119.
    Form Number: None.
    Frequency: Occasional.
    Description of Respondents: Federal agencies, States, tribes, local 
governments, individuals, not-for-profit institutions.
    Total Annual Responses: 11 (4 original agreements; 7 monitoring/
    Annual Burden Hours: 13,040 hours (2,000 hours per original 
agreement; 600 hours per agreement for monitoring; 120 hours per 
agreement for reporting).
    When a State or other entity voluntarily decides to develop a 
conservation agreement or plan with the specific intent of making 
listing the subject species unnecessary, the criteria and the standard 
identified in PECE can be construed as a requirement placed on the 
development of that agreement/plan, and the entity must satisfy the 
monitoring and reporting requirements to obtain and retain the desired 
benefit (e.g., making listing of a species as threatened or endangered 
unnecessary). Thus, the development of such an agreement/plan with the 
involvement of the Service and the monitoring and reporting elements 
are the basis for this information collection. Those agreements/plans 
developed with the intent of influencing a listing decision and with 
involvement of the Service constitute an information collection that 
requires OMB approval under the Paperwork Reduction Act. Estimating the 
hours associated with developing such a conservation agreement or plan 
is difficult because:
    (1) Development and associated monitoring of conservation efforts 
are completely voluntary, and we cannot predict who will decide to 
develop these efforts, how many entities they might involve, or the 
type and extent of the planning, monitoring, and reporting processes 
they might use.
    (2) We cannot predict which species are certain to become the 
subjects of conservation efforts, and, therefore, cannot predict the 
nature and extent of conservation efforts and monitoring that might be 
included in conservation agreements/plans designed with the intent of 
influencing a decision regarding listing a species.
    (3) Many agreements/plans, such as agency land management plans, 
are developed to satisfy requirements of other laws or for other 
purposes, and we cannot predict whether or the extent to which some of 
these plans may be expanded to attempt to make listing unnecessary.
    Consequently, we must base our estimates of the amount of work 
associated with developing conservation agreements or plans, and 
monitoring and reporting of conservation efforts, on information from 
conservation agreements developed in the past. To prepare this estimate 
we contacted two representatives of entities involved in conservation 
agreements containing conservation efforts that were subject to PECE 
and were a key basis for Service determinations that listing the 
covered species was not necessary. We also reviewed the number of 
conservation agreements and plans developed since the publication of 
the final PECE on March 28, 2003 (68 FR 15100), through FY 2005, in 
which the Service was substantially involved. Of 27 such agreements/
plans prepared during that period, 9 were developed with the specific 
intent of influencing a decision to list species, for an average of 3 
to 4 such agreements per year. On average, conservation efforts subject 
to PECE in one to two agreements/plans per year contributed 
substantially to determinations that listing species was unnecessary. 
We expect these averages to continue, based on the number of draft 
conservation plans/agreements currently in preparation. Thus we 
estimate that four agreements/plans with the intent of making listing 
unnecessary will be completed annually. We further estimate that an 
average of two such agreements/plans will contain conservation efforts 
that meet the standard in PECE and contribute substantially to a 
decision that listing a species is unnecessary, and that the States or 
other entities will carry through with monitoring and reporting the 
efforts in such agreements in order to keep the covered species off the 
lists of endangered or threatened species. Monitoring and reporting 
occurs for a period of years until the efforts have been implemented 
and demonstrate effectiveness. We estimate that monitoring and 
reporting will occur for an average of seven agreements annually.
    The hour burden estimated for preparation of a conservation 
agreement/plan varies from approximately 500 hours to 4,000 hours.

[[Page 74844]]

The variability is related to differences in the size and scope of the 
areas covered by these plans, the number of entities involved in 
developing them, and the complexity of the conservation issues 
involving a given species. We estimate the public reporting burden for 
the information collection covered by this renewal to average 2,000 
hours for developing one agreement with the intent to preclude a 
listing (one-time burden). We further estimate 600 hours for annual 
monitoring under one agreement, and 120 hours for one annual report, 
for a total of 720 hours annually for monitoring and reporting per 
agreement. We estimate that monitoring and reporting will occur for 
seven agreements annually. Based on our estimate of four plans prepared 
per year and seven plans for which monitoring and reporting will occur 
per year, the total annual burden is estimated at 13,040 hours.
    We again invite comments on this information collection renewal on: 
(1) Whether or not the collection of information is necessary for the 
proper performance of our management functions involving PECE, 
including whether or not the information will have practical utility; 
(2) the accuracy of our estimate of the burden of the collection of 
information; (3) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of 
the information to be collected; and (4) ways to minimize the burden of 
the collection of information on respondents. The information 
collections in this program are part of a system of records covered by 
the Privacy Act (5 U.S.C. 552(a)).

    Dated: December 2, 2005.
Hope Grey,
Information Collection Clearance Officer, Fish and Wildlife Service.
 [FR Doc. E5-7436 Filed 12-15-05; 8:45 am]