[Federal Register: August 8, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 152)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 44960-44966]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 90-Day Finding on 
a Petition To List the Casey's June Beetle (Dinacoma caseyi) as 

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of 90-day petition finding and initiation of status 


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 
90-day finding on a petition to list the Casey's June beetle (Dinacoma 
caseyi) as endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as 
amended (Act). We find the petition presents substantial scientific 
information indicating that listing the Casey's June beetle as 
endangered may be warranted. Therefore, with the publication of this 
notice, we are initiating a status review, and we will issue a 12-month 
finding on the petition to list the Casey's June beetle announcing our 
determination of whether listing the species as endangered is 
warranted. To ensure that the status review is comprehensive, we are 
soliciting scientific and commercial information regarding this 

DATES: The finding announced in this document was made on August 8, 
2006. To be considered in the 12-month finding for this petition, 
comments and information must be submitted to the Service by October 
10, 2006.

ADDRESSES: If you wish to comment, you may submit new information, 
materials, comments, or questions concerning this species by any one of 
the following methods:
    1. You may submit comments and information to the Field Supervisor, 
Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 6010 
Hidden Valley Road, Carlsbad, California 92011.
    2. You may hand-deliver written comments and information to the 
above address.
    3. You may fax your comments to 760-431-9624.

[[Page 44961]]

    4. You may go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov.
 Follow the instructions for submitting comments.    5. You may e-mail your comments to FW8CFWOcomments@fws.gov. Please 

see the ``Public Comments Solicited'' section below for file format and 
other information about electronic filing.
    See the ``Public Comments Solicited'' section below for more 
information on submitting comments. The complete file for this finding 
is available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal 
business hours at the above address.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jim Bartel, Field Supervisor, Carlsbad 
Fish and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES); 760-431-9440.


Public Comments Solicited

    When we make a finding that a petition presents substantial 
information to indicate that listing a species may be warranted, we are 
required to promptly commence a review of the status of the species. 
Based on results of the status review, we make a 12-month finding as 
required by section 4(b)(3)(B) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et. seq.). To 
ensure that the status review of Casey's June beetle is complete and 
based on the best available scientific and commercial data, we are 
soliciting information on the species. We request any additional data, 
comments, and suggestions from the public, other concerned governmental 
agencies, Native American Tribes, the scientific community, industry, 
or any other interested parties concerning the status of the Casey's 
June beetle. Of particular interest is information pertaining to the 
factors the Service uses to determine if a species is threatened or 
endangered: (1) Present or threatened destruction, modification, or 
curtailment of its habitat or range; (2) overutilization for 
commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes; (3) 
disease or predation; (4) inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; 
and (5) other natural or human-caused factors affecting its continued 
existence. In addition, we request data and information regarding the 
status of the Casey's June beetle throughout its range, including:
    (A) Information on taxonomy, distribution (including positive or 
negative survey and collection data), habitat selection, food habits, 
population density and trends, and habitat trends;
    (B) Information of the effects of potential threat factors, 
including artificial lighting, pesticides, lighted swimming pools, 
development, and changes in the distribution and abundance of the 
Casey's June beetle over the short and long term; and
    (C) Information on management programs for Casey's June beetle 
conservation, including mitigation measures related to development, and 
any private, Tribal, or governmental conservation programs that benefit 
the Casey's June beetle.
    If we determine that listing the Casey's June beetle is warranted, 
it is our intent to propose critical habitat to the maximum extent 
prudent and determinable at the time we would propose to list the 
species. Therefore, we also request data and information on what may 
constitute physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of the species, where these features are currently found, 
whether any of these features may require special management 
considerations or protection, and whether there are areas not 
containing these features which might of themselves be essential to the 
conservation of the species. Please provide specific comments as to 
what, if any, critical habitat should be proposed for designation if 
the species is proposed for listing, and why that proposed habitat 
meets the requirements of the Act.
    We will base our 12-month finding on a review of the best available 
scientific and commercial information, including all information 
received during the public comment period.
    If you wish to comment, you may submit your comments and materials 
concerning this proposal by any one of several methods (see ADDRESSES 
section). Electronic comments may be submitted to 
FW8CFWOcomments@fws.gov in ASCII file format and avoid the use of 

special characters or any form of encryption. Please include ``Attn: 
Casey's June beetle'' 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 electronic 
message, contact the Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office directly at 760-
    Our practice is to make comments, including names and home 
addresses of respondents, available for public review during regular 
business hours. We will not consider anonymous comments, and we will 
make all comments 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 
Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES).


    Section 4(b)(3)(A) of the Act requires us to make a finding on 
whether a petition to list, delist, or reclassify a species presents 
substantial scientific or commercial information to indicate that the 
petitioned action may be warranted. We are to base the finding on 
information provided in the petition and supporting information 
available in our files at the time we make a determination. To the 
maximum extent practicable, we are to make a finding within 90 days of 
our receipt of the petition and to publish a notice of the finding 
promptly in the Federal Register.
    Our standard for substantial information within the Code of Federal 
Regulations (CFR) with regard to a 90-day petition finding is ``that 
amount of information that would lead a reasonable person to believe 
that the measure proposed in the petition may be warranted'' (50 CFR 
424.14(b)). If we find that substantial information is presented, we 
are required to promptly commence a review of the status of the 
    In making this finding, we relied on information provided by the 
petitioners and information available in our files at the time we 
reviewed the petition, and we evaluated that information in accordance 
with 50 CFR 424.14(b). Our process for making a 90-day finding under 
section 4(b)(3)(A) of the Act and section 424.14(b) of our regulations 
is limited to a determination of whether the information contained in 
the petition meets the ``substantial information'' threshold.
    On May 12, 2004, we received a petition, dated May 11, 2004, from 
David H. Wright, Ph.D.; the Center for Biological Diversity; and the 
Sierra Club requesting the emergency listing of the Casey's June beetle 
(Dinacoma caseyi) as endangered in accordance with section 4 of the 
Act. On October 4, 2005, the Center for Biological Diversity filed a 
complaint against us in the U.S. District Court for the Central 
District of California (Case No. ED CV-05-00922-SGL) challenging our 
failure to make the required 90-day and, if appropriate, 12-month 
findings on their petition to emergency list Casey's June beetle as 
endangered under the Act. We looked at the immediacy of possible 
threats to the species to determine if emergency listing may be 
warranted. Our initial review of the petition did not indicate that an 
emergency situation exists. We reached a settlement agreement with the

[[Page 44962]]

plaintiffs on March 28, 2006, in which we agreed to submit to the 
Federal Register a completed 90-day finding by July 27, 2006, and to 
complete and submit to the Federal Register, if applicable, a 12-month 
finding by June 30, 2007. This notice constitutes the 90-day finding on 
the May 12, 2004, petition.

Previous Federal Actions

    Casey's June beetle was not previously determined to be a candidate 
species nor does it currently have Federal regulatory status.

Species Information

Description and Taxonomy

    Casey's June beetle belongs to the scarab family (Scarabidae). The 
genus Dinacoma includes two described species, D. caseyi and D. 
marginata (Blaisdell 1930). Delbert La Rue, a researcher experienced 
with the genus Dinacoma and a taxonomic expert stated, ``Dinacoma 
caseyi is a distinct species morphologically and comprises its own 
species group--the caseyi complex--the other [species group] being the 
marginata complex which includes the bulk/remainder of the genus'' (La 
Rue 2006). The Casey's June beetle was first collected in 1916 and 
later described by Blaisdell (1930) based on male specimens. This 
species measures 0.55 to 0.71 inches (in) (1.4 to 1.8 centimeters (cm)) 
long, with dusty brown or whitish coloring, and brown and cream 
longitudinal stripes on the elytra (wing covers and back).
    Little is conclusively known about the Casey's June beetle and its 
life history. Based on surveys conducted to assess the species' 
presence, both male and female Casey's June beetles emerge from 
underground burrows sometime between late March through early June, 
with abundance peaks generally occurring in April and May (Duff 1990; 
Barrows 1998). During the active flight season, males emerge from the 
ground and begin flying near dusk (Hovore 1997). Males are reported to 
fly back and forth or crawl on the ground where a female beetle has 
been detected (Duff 1990). Cornett (2003) theorized that after 
emergence, females remain on the ground and release pheromones to 
attract flying males. After mating, females return to their burrows or 
dig a new burrow and deposit eggs. Excavations of adult emergence 
burrows revealed pupal exuviae (casings) at depths ranging from 
approximately 4 to 6 in (10 to 16 cm) (Frank Hovore and Associates 
1995). The larval cycle for the species is likely 1 year, based on the 
absence of larvae (grubs) in burrows during the adult flight season 
(Frank Hovore and Associates 1995; LaRue 2004). What Casey's June 
beetle larvae feed on while underground is unknown, but other species 
of June beetle are known to eat ``plant roots or plant detritus and 
associated decay organisms'' (LaRue 2004). La Rue (2006) stated, 
``[Casey's June beetle] exhibits no specific host preferences, and 
larvae likely consume any available organic resources--including 
stratified detritus--encountered within the alluvial habitat.'' 
Although specific host plant associations for Casey's June beetle are 
not known, visual surveys of the species using non-confining, light-
collecting methods have detected females near emergence burrows in the 
vicinity (within 1 meter) of Hymenoclea salsola (cheesebush) (Frank 
Hovore and Associates 1995).
    Recently, entomologists have found two new species or subspecies of 
Dinacoma, collected respectively from near the city of Hemet, 
California, and in the northwest portion of Joshua Tree National Park 
at Covington Flats (La Rue 2006). The specimens collected from Hemet 
are paler than Casey's June beetle specimens and possess 
morphologically different genitalia (Anderson 2006). To date, these 
specimens of Dinacoma have not been formally described in the 
scientific literature, but expert evaluation places them in the other 
Dinacoma species group (marginata complex) (La Rue 2006). La Rue (2006) 
states, ``* * * from my research, Dinacoma caseyi is the most divergent 
and distinct species in the genus * * * the Little San Bernardino 
Mountains geographically isolate [the Joshua Tree population] from all 
other known [Dinacoma] species.''


    The Casey's June beetle is most commonly associated with Carsitas 
series soil (CdC), described by the United States Department of 
Agriculture's Soil Conservation Service (1980) as gravelly sand on 0 to 
9 percent slopes. This soil series is associated with alluvial fans, 
rather than areas of aeolian or windblown sand deposits. The Casey's 
June beetle also occurs in a portion of Palm Canyon Wash on soils 
characterized as ``fine sands and alluvial soils without crypto-biotic 
crusts'' (McGill 2003). According to Hovore (2003), these soils ``show 
light braiding and some organic deposition, but generally do not 
receive scouring surface flows.'' Although the Casey's June beetle has 
primarily been found on CdC soils, it is also apparently associated 
with Riverwash (RA) and, possibly, Carsitas cobbly sand (ChC) soils in 
the Palm Canyon Wash area (Anderson and Love 2006). Its burrowing habit 
would suggest the species needs soils that are not too rocky or 
compacted to complete portions of its lifecycle. La Rue (2006) states 
that all Dinacoma populations are ecologically associated with alluvial 
sediments. Alluvial sediments occurring in or contiguous with 
subcoastal scrub, submontane chaparral, and desert dry washes 
(ephemeral watercourses) are indicative of the marginata complex; bases 
of desert alluvial fans, and the broad, gently sloping, depositional 
surfaces formed at the base of mountain ranges in a dry region by the 
coalescing of individual alluvial fans (bajada) are indicative of the 
caseyi complex (La Rue 2006).

Range and Distribution

    Early collection records identify ``Palm Desert,'' ``Indian 
Wells,'' and ``Palm Canyon,'' all in Riverside County, California, as 
locations where the Casey's June beetle occurred; however, these early 
records lack specific locality information (Duff 1990). The species has 
been most commonly collected at the ``Bogert Trail'' and Smoke Tree 
Ranch localities adjacent to Palm Canyon Wash, which are commonly used 
as reference sites when collecting at other locations (Hovore 1997; 
Cornett 2000; Cornett 2003; Cornett 2004). Hovore (1995) stated the 
Casey's June beetle was collected by University of California-Long 
Beach students ``within the past 20 years'' in Dead Indian Canyon (near 
Indian Wells); however, Hovore (2006b) subsequently explained the 
reliability of this information is questionable and incomplete due to 
incomplete specimen label information. The historical range of the 
Casey's June beetle cannot be determined with any certainty given the 
lack of specific locality information for some of the collection 
records and the absence of rangewide survey data. Frank Hovore and 
Associates (1995) describe the possible extent of the species' 
historical range as ``somewhere around Chino Canyon floodplain (or at 
most northwest to the Snow Creek drainage), south to around Indian 
Wells.'' Within these general geographic areas, the species is assumed 
to have occurred on the alluvial fan bases flowing from the Santa Rosa 
Mountains, at or near the level contour line, where finer silts and 
sand are deposited. However, this purported range is ``based on 
inference and fragmentary data'' (Frank Hovore and Associates 1995).
    Given the lack of collection records, efforts have been made to 
ascertain the presence of the Casey's June beetle in its purported 
historical range. Barrows and

[[Page 44963]]

Fisher (2000) conducted trapping on two separate evenings in Dead 
Indian Canyon in Palm Desert, but the species was not detected. The 
University of California--Riverside conducted more than 10 years of 
year-round surveys for a variety of species, including Casey's June 
beetle, at the Boyd Deep Canyon Preserve in Palm Desert, California, 
southeast of Palm Springs (also near Indian Wells, and including 
portions of Dead Indian Canyon). No Casey's June beetles were found 
during any of the surveys (Anderson 2006). A single night survey 
conducted in 2003 (Powell) near Snow Creek, northwest of Palm Springs, 
failed to find the species, although the beetle was confirmed to be 
active at Smoke Tree Ranch in Palm Springs.
    La Rue (2006) has collected and worked extensively with Dinacoma 
spp. in southern California since the 1980s, and has not collected 
Casey's June beetle outside of its current known range in the City of 
Palm Springs. La Rue (2006) states:

    ``Many collectors, researchers, ecologists, and others * * * 
have surveyed for D. caseyi throughout the Coachella Valley for 
years without finding additional populations other than those still 
extant in and around Palm Springs. There are several factors that 
contribute to this isolation, a few being: (1) topographically, the 
Palm Springs area is protected from high wind events (dessication 
[sic] of necessary substrate) [by] the precipitous San Jacinto Mtns; 
(2) the area where D. caseyi occurs in the Palm Springs area 
receives a higher amount of annual precipitation because of its 
proximity to the base of the San Jacinto/Santa Rosa Mtns. Orographic 
lift will deplete most moisture from winter storms originating from 
the Pacific, what little remains falls in the Palm Springs area and 
rarely further into the Coachella Valley. Summer monsoonal patterns 
are insignificant. (3) As mentioned above, Dinacoma are restricted 
to alluvial sediments. Re: D. caseyi; these conditions only occur at 
the base of steep narrow canyons of the San Jacinto/Santa Rosa 

    Cornett (2004) sampled more than 60 locations in Palm Springs to 
determine the current range of Casey's June beetle. Light traps were 
used to attract flying males and placed in relatively undisturbed 
flatlands likely to have supported Casey's June beetle. Traps were 
opened by 6:30 p.m. and remained open until at least 10 p.m. on 26 
nights, for a total of 756 trap-hours. Eight traps were opened each 
evening, and each trapping station was used at least two times. To 
gauge trapping success, at least one trap was opened at Smoke Tree 
Ranch each trapping session. Based on the survey results, Cornett 
(2004) concluded that Casey's June beetle is restricted to an area of 
southern Palm Springs north of Acanto Way, east of South Palm Canyon 
Drive, and south of State Route 111, west of Palm Canyon Wash (Cornett 
2004) and includes portions of the Agua Caliente Tribal Reservation. 
Cornett (2004) estimated the area occupied by Casey's June beetle to 
cover approximately 800 acres (ac) (324 hectares (ha)). Non-historic 
(1990s or later) collection locations of Casey's June beetle include 
sites near South Palm Canyon Drive, Bogert Trail, Smoke Tree Ranch, and 
portions of Palm Canyon Wash (Hovore 2003; McGill 2003; Powell 2003; 
Cornett 2004). However, not all the currently known range is occupied. 
For example, the species does not occur in residential areas where 
soils have been graded and covered with structures, nor is it found in 
areas with ornamental landscaping, such as lawns and other landscaping 
(Cornett 2004).
    The above studies present compelling evidence for a localized 
distribution of Casey's June beetle in the southern Palm Springs area. 
The localized distribution of Casey's June beetle described by Cornett 
(2004) is typical for species of June beetles (superfamily 
Scarabaeoidea) with flightlessness in one or both sexes (Hovore 2006a). 
Experts agree with La Rue's (2006) hypothesis that the Palm Springs 
area east of Mount San Jacinto has a number of unique environmental 
characteristics, such as slightly higher precipitation and lighter 
winds, which are significant, positive factors contributing to the 
presence of the Casey's June beetle.

Threats Analysis

    Section 4 of the Act and its implementing regulations (50 CFR part 
424) set forth procedures for adding species to the Federal Lists of 
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. A species may be 
determined to be endangered or threatened due to one or more of the 
following five factors as described in section 4(a)(1) of the Act: (A) 
Present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of 
habitat or range; (B) overutilization for commercial, recreational, 
scientific, or educational purposes; (C) disease or predation; (D) 
inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or (E) other natural or 
manmade factors affecting its continued existence. In making this 90-
day finding, we evaluated the petition and its supporting information 
to determine whether substantial scientific or commercial information 
was presented that indicated that listing the Casey's June beetle may 
be warranted. The Act identifies the five factors to be considered, 
either singly or in combination, to determine whether a species may be 
threatened or endangered. Our evaluation of these threats, based on 
information provided in the petition and readily available in our 
files, is presented below.

A. Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment of 
the Species' Habitat or Range

    The petitioners claimed that the Casey's June beetle is threatened 
by the cumulative loss and degradation of habitat from development. The 
petitioners stated that, within ``the south Palm Springs, California 
area,'' approximately 600 ac (243 ha) of potential CdC soils in nine 
remnant fragments ``in the Palm Springs topographic quadrangle south of 
San Rafael Drive'' remained undeveloped when the petition was submitted 
in 2004, and this area was decreasing due to continued urban 
development. The petitioners claimed that loss of habitat threatens the 
continued existence of two populations of the Casey's June beetle.
    Petitioners stated that approximately 600 ac (243 ha) of potential 
CdC soils in nine remnant fragments in the south Palm Springs area 
remained undeveloped. To evaluate the information provided in the 
petition about the range of Casey's June beetle in Palm Springs, we 
used data already in our geographic information system (GIS) to overlay 
2003 soil data (CdC and RA soil series) obtained from the U.S. 
Department of Agriculture (USDA)'s Natural Resources Conservation 
Service, 2006 aerial photography from the USDA's Farm Service Agency 
Aerial Photography Field Office, and species survey and distribution 
data from Powell (2003) (cited in the petition) and Cornett (2004) 
(available to us shortly after we received the petition).
    Information provided by the petitioners (Barrows and Fisher 2000; 
Noss et al. 2001; Hovore 2003; McGill 2003; Powell 2003; La Rue 2006) 
is corroborated by information in our files (Hovore 2003; Cornett 
2004), and GIS information available at the time of petition review 
(2003 soil data and 2006 aerial photography). Thus, we believe 
petitioners have provided substantial scientific information that only 
one population of the Casey's June beetle exists and is limited to the 
southern portion of the City of Palm Springs, California. Although the 
petition states there are two populations, no population distribution 
mapping or population dynamics studies have been conducted. Because all 
known occupied habitat is connected by Palm Canyon Wash, we consider 
all occupied areas to be within a single population distribution. That 
the majority of the

[[Page 44964]]

CdC soils tend to occur along the base of the mountains in ``areas most 
extensively used for agriculture and urban development, so that very 
little potential habitat may still exist'' (Coachella Valley 
Association of Governments 2001) supports the possibility of a larger 
historical distribution. However, we examined 2006 aerial photography 
overlaying potentially suitable soils from Palm Springs to Indian Wells 
and determined that the majority of these soils have been developed. In 
Palm Springs, the bulk of remaining undeveloped CdC soils are north of 
the city center, an area lacking in records of the species (Cornett 
    Within southern Palm Springs, the petitioners cited at least five 
projects that had been formally proposed that would remove additional 
occupied habitat in Palm Springs: (1) The 30-ac (12-ha) Monte Sereno 
project north of Bogart Trail; (2) the 34-ac (14-ha) El Portal project 
east of South Palm Drive; (3) the 10-ac (4-ha) Canyon Ranch project 
west of South Palm Canyon Drive; (4) a 3-ac (1.2-ha) condominium 
project at Baristo; and (5) the 1.5- to 2-ac (0.6- to 0.81-ha) Desert 
Water Agency wells and pipeline project in the Smoke Tree Ranch 
development. The petition states that these five projects would remove 
over 11 percent of the remaining 600 ac of habitat. While these five 
projects were considered the most imminent projects, the petition also 
lists several properties that were being actively advertised for lease 
and development and other projects in various stages of development 
south of San Rafael Drive: (1) 18 ac (7 ha) on Smoke Tree Ranch 
actively advertised for lease and development; (2) a roughly 25-ac (10-
ha) project north of Acanto Drive and west of Palm Canyon Wash; (3) a 
0.3-ac (0.1-ha) communications site at Smoke Tree Ranch; and (4) a 25-
ac (10-ha) ``Casitas'' development at Smoke Tree Ranch. These projects, 
if approved and implemented, could result in the additional removal or 
modification of approximately 68-ac (27.5-ha) of Casey's June beetle 
habitat south of San Rafael Drive. The petition also lists a 3-ac (1-
ha) South Ridge Cove project and a 306-ac (124-ha) ``McComic'' project 
proposed in CdC soils south of Whitewater Wash. However, it appears 
that these proposed development projects south of Whitewater Wash are 
north of Palm Springs, outside of the current known range of the 
Casey's June beetle as identified by Cornett (2004).
    Based on our GIS mapping of Cornett's (2004) distribution map, the 
estimated Casey's June beetle range is approximately 707 ac (286 ha) as 
opposed to the approximately 800 ac (324 ha) estimated by Cornett 
(2004). To this we add another 51 ac (21 ha) of north Palm Canyon Wash 
between East Palm Canyon Drive and South Gene Autry Trail based on 
collection of more than 70 individuals by Powell (2003), resulting in 
an approximately 758-ac (307-ha) range for Casey's June beetle in the 
Palm Springs area. While this estimated current range of 758 ac (307 
ha) is greater than the 600 ac (243 ha) of potential CdC soils 
presented in the petition, past development likely greatly reduced the 
habitat for Casey's June beetle in Palm Springs. As stated in the 
petition, historical records of the Casey's June beetle from elsewhere 
in Palm Springs and nearby communities are from areas that have been 
thoroughly developed or otherwise altered and no longer have the 
appropriate habitat (Noss et al. 2001). Also, according to 2006 aerial 
photography, it appears that construction has been at least initiated 
for some of the proposed or pending development projects listed in the 
petition (such as the 30-ac Monte Sereno project) and that other 
development projects may have been initiated within Palm Springs since 
the 2004 petition was submitted.
    Based on information provided in the petition, it appears that 
pending or proposed development projects could result in the 
destruction or modification of approximately 147 ac (59 ha) of Casey's 
June beetle habitat in Palm Springs. This constitutes about 19 percent 
of the remaining 758 ac (307 ha), based on our determination of the 
species' current range. Since it appears that past development has 
removed most of the historical Casey's June beetle habitat, resulting 
in a range restricted to the southern Palm Springs area, and future 
development projects threaten to continue removing Casey's June beetle 
habitat, we find that the petition, supporting information, and 
information readily available to the Service presents substantial 
information indicating that listing Casey's June beetle may be 

B. Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or 
Educational Purposes

    The petitioners stated that they do not have information on trade 
of the species, citing the difficulty of tracking these activities. We 
are not aware of any information regarding the overutilization of 
Casey's June beetle for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes.

C. Disease or Predation

    The petitioners stated that they are unaware of impacts from 
disease or predation on Casey's June beetle. We are not aware of any 
information regarding the threats of disease or predation to the 
Casey's June beetle.

D. Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    The petitioners maintained that Casey's June beetle occurs 
primarily on private lands and, to an unknown extent, occurs on a 
portion of the Agua Caliente Tribal Reservation. They also asserted 
that regulatory mechanisms currently available do not protect the 
Casey's June beetle. According to the petitioners, some protection for 
Casey's June beetle can potentially be provided under the California 
Environmental Quality Act (CEQA); however, the petition cited six 
projects that considered the species under CEQA (but proceeded with 
impacts) and another list of 12 projects in the City of Palm Springs 
that impacted potentially suitable soils for the species that may not 
have considered the species in their respective environmental reviews.
    CEQA requires public agencies to disclose environmental impacts of 
a project on native species and natural communities during the land use 
planning process and to identify mitigation measures and project 
alternatives. This allows public comments to influence the planning 
process. The petition cites an example of the inadequacy of CEQA as a 
regulatory mechanism to provide for conservation of the Casey's June 
beetle. The Monte Sereno project impacted approximately 30 ac (12 ha) 
of occupied habitat. Impacts to the Casey's June beetle were expected 
to be mitigated by payment of $600 per acre (total of $24,780) to the 
City of Palm Springs or a habitat conservation entity designated by the 
city for 41.3 ac (16.7 ha) of ``potential'' Casey's June beetle habitat 
(Dudek and Associates 2001). No specific use of the funds for 
mitigation was specified (Dudek and Associates 2001).
    The petitioners claimed that, while development on Tribal lands is 
subject to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)(42 U.S.C. 4321-
4347), potential impacts to Casey's June beetle may not always be 
considered during the NEPA process. The petitioners cited two instances 
of projects on Tribal lands that did not review impacts to the Casey's 
June beetle. In a 2004 Environmental Assessment (EA) for a brush 
clearing project on the Agua Caliente Tribal Reservation, CdC soils

[[Page 44965]]

were confirmed in a portion of the proposed project site. These soils 
were described in the EA as being compacted, and it was stated that the 
distance from this area to known locations of the Casey's June beetle, 
coupled with the amount of nonnative vegetation onsite, made it 
unlikely for the species to occur on the project site (Agua Caliente 
Band of Cahuilla Indians (Tribe 2004). Although the Tribe indicated 
that the two projects were not likely to impact Casey's June beetle 
habitat, we have no information indicating whether surveys were 
conducted for the species within the project's footprint.
    Although Casey's June beetle was initially considered for coverage 
under the Coachella Valley Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan 
(MSHCP), the April 2006 release of the final MSHCP, final EIR, and 
final implementing agreement did not include Casey's June beetle as a 
covered species. Given the non-inclusion of Casey's June beetle in the 
final Coachella Valley MSHCP and draft Agua Caliente Tribal HCP, the 
Service has been working with Smoke Tree Ranch to develop a Candidate 
Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA) addressing species' 
conservation. As indicated in reports (Hovore 2003; Cornett 2004), 
Smoke Tree Ranch supports a substantial portion of known occupied 
Casey's June beetle habitat, including a portion of the property 
currently identified in Smoke Tree Ranch Codes, Covenants, and 
Restrictions as ``open space.'' The Service expects to continue working 
cooperatively with Smoke Tree Ranch to complete and implement a CCAA 
for the Casey's June beetle. The use of a CCAA can be an effective tool 
to conserve species in the absence of listing them as threatened or 
endangered under the Act. However, until such time as a CCAA is 
completed, current regulatory mechanisms likely are inadequate to 
ensure conservation of the species.
    Removal of occupied habitat by projects in the Bogert Trail area 
after submission of the petition in 2004, and other recent and proposed 
development in potentially occupied habitat, demonstrates existing 
regulatory mechanisms are not sufficient to protect remaining occupied 
Casey's June beetle habitat from destruction. We find the petition and 
supporting information, as well as information readily available to the 
Service, present substantial information indicating that the petitioned 
action may be warranted.

E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting the Species' Continued 

    The petitioners asserted male Casey's June beetles are readily 
attracted to artificial lights (Frank Hovore and Associates 1995; 
Hovore 1997), and such lights pose a significant threat to the species. 
They further stated that lighted swimming pools attract males and cause 
substantial mortality (Barrows and Fisher 2000; Cornett 2000). The 
extent that artificial lights and lighted swimming pools pose a threat 
to the Casey's June beetle is speculative. Hovore (2003) noted the 
presence of the Casey's June beetle on a portion of Smoke Tree Ranch 
with limited natural open space adjacent to ``numerous attractive light 
sources.'' He concluded that while males would likely be attracted to 
these light sources during the flight season, such losses of straying 
males would not put the overall population at risk because males 
typically outnumber females and males are likely to complete multiple 
matings. While drowning in swimming pools or flying into lights causes 
mortality, we have no substantial information that would lead us to 
conclude that these factors singularly pose a significant threat to the 
    In addition, the petitioners claimed the species may be killed or 
injured by vehicles in the springtime at dusk. However, the petitioners 
provide no data regarding the possible number of beetles killed by 
vehicles. Additionally, the petitioners asserted that Casey's June 
beetle may be particularly sensitive to chemicals that interfere with 
neural or chemosensory functions during the flight season when males 
are seeking females. However, the petitioners did not provide any 
citations or documented evidence for this. We have no substantial 
information that would lead us to conclude that pesticides or toxins 
pose a significant threat to the species.
    The petitioners claimed loss and fragmentation of habitat 
compromises the ability of the species to disperse and establish new, 
or augment declining, populations, especially because females have not 
been observed to fly and males alone cannot establish new populations. 
Because female Casey's June beetle do not appear to fly, Frank Hovore 
and Associates (1995) assumed subpopulations of the species ``tend to 
be localized.'' Hovore (2003) indicated that population movement would 
be ``slow and indirect,'' and suggested the population structure for 
Casey's June beetle in any given area is for multiple mini-colonies or 
``clusters of individuals around areas of repeated female emergence.'' 
This would, in Hovore's (2003) assessment, make the species susceptible 
to extirpation by land use changes that would remove or alter surface 
features. In their report on the draft Coachella Valley MSHCP, Noss et 
al. (2001) also expressed concern about the species' ability to adjust 
its range in response to environmental changes.
    The petitioners asserted that having only two population locations 
and restricted habitat makes Casey's June beetle susceptible to 
extinction or extirpation from all or a significant portion of its 
range due to chance events such as fire, flood, drought, or disease 
(Shaffer 1981, 1987; Primack 1998). The petitioners noted that Palm 
Canyon Wash is likely ephemeral habitat for the Casey's June beetle and 
that periodic flooding of the wash would eliminate the species from 
this site. Between 1978 and 2001, streamflows in Palm Canyon Wash 
exceeded 1,000 cubic feet (28 cubic meters) per second on four 
occasions (U.S. Geological Survey 2003). Streamflows of high magnitude 
could temporarily eliminate the species from portions of the wash 
(Hovore 2003; Cornett 2004). Furthermore, the petitioners assert that 
recolonization of the wash would most likely be accomplished by species 
from the extant habitat on upland terraces, making the upland habitat 
areas essential for the species' long-term survival (Wright 2003). It 
is also possible that periodic flooding in Palm Canyon Wash could have 
a positive impact by depositing detritus downstream that could be used 
by the species as it recolonizes the area following flood events 
(Wright 2003). However, conclusive information on such habitat use is 
not available.
    While periodic flooding of Palm Canyon Wash may result in temporary 
elimination of that portion of the population, the overall impact of 
periodic flooding on the continued existence of the species is not 
known. However, given the ephemeral characteristic of habitat in Palm 
Canyon Wash, the conservation of upland habitat is likely required to 
maintain the species long term.
    The petitioners claimed low numbers of Casey's June beetles make it 
vulnerable to risks experienced by small, restricted populations, 
including (1) chance demographic effects (such as skewed sex ratios, 
high death rates, or low birth rates); (2) the effects of genetic drift 
and inbreeding; and (3) deterioration in environmental quality (such as 
increased artificial lighting, swimming pools, or wash channelization). 
No analyses have been undertaken to estimate a minimum

[[Page 44966]]

viable population size for Casey's June beetle, nor is there any 
substantial information concerning the population dynamics of the 
species. No information was provided in the petition, and we are not 
aware of any information regarding any genetic analyses of the species 
to determine the presence of skewed sex ratios or inbreeding. 
Therefore, we find the petition, supporting information, and 
information readily available to the Service does not present 
substantial information for this factor indicating that the petitioned 
action may be warranted.


    The petition focused on three of the five listing factors: (A) The 
Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment of the 
Species' Habitat or Range; (B) the Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory 
Mechanisms; and (C) Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting the 
Species' Continued Existence. Specifically, under Factor A, the 
petition indicates the range of the Casey's June beetle has been 
greatly reduced and is threatened by habitat removal from continued 
urban development. This is corroborated by information in the Service's 
files. The petition also presents information under Factor D suggesting 
that the existing regulatory mechanisms, such as CEQA and NEPA, are 
inadequate to protect the Casey's June beetle and its habitat. 
Additionally, while the Casey's June beetle was initially a covered 
species under the Coachella Valley MSHCP, the finalized version of that 
plan does not cover the species. The petition also presents information 
regarding additional threats under Factor E, such as drowning in 
lighted swimming pools, direct mortality by vehicles, and reduced 
genetic exchange due to a reduced population size. We are not aware, 
however, of any substantial information to suggest that any of the 
threats described under Factor E would threaten the existence of the 
Casey's June beetle.
    According to the petition, five ``imminent'' projects would destroy 
over 11 percent of Casey's June beetle habitat in Palm Springs. As 
cited in the petition, two of the five projects (Monte Sereno and El 
Portal) considered imminent had been approved by the City Council at 
the time we received the petition in 2004.
    After this review and evaluation, we find the petition presents 
substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that 
listing of Casey's June beetle may be warranted. Therefore, we are 
initiating a status review to determine if listing is warranted. To 
ensure the status review is comprehensive, we are soliciting scientific 
and commercial information regarding this species. Under the terms of a 
settlement agreement, we are required to make a 12-month finding 
determining whether listing the Casey's June beetle is warranted on or 
before June 30, 2007.
    The petitioners also requested critical habitat be designated for 
this species. We consider the need for critical habitat designation 
when listing species. If we determine in our 12-month finding that 
listing of Casey's June beetle is warranted, we will address the 
designation of critical habitat in a subsequent proposed rule.

References Cited

    A complete list of all references cited herein is available, upon 
request, from the Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES).


    The primary author of this document is the staff of the Carlsbad 
Fish and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES).


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

    Dated: July 28, 2006.
Kenneth Stansell,
Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
 [FR Doc. E6-12579 Filed 8-7-06; 8:45 am]