[Federal Register: February 16, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 32)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 8252-8257]
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 Sidalcea hendersonii (Henderson's checkermallow) as 
Threatened or Endangered

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of petition finding.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 
90-day finding on a petition to list Sidalcea hendersonii (Henderson's 
checkermallow) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. We 
find the petition does not provide substantial scientific information 
indicating that listing S. hendersonii may be warranted. Therefore, we 
will not be initiating a further status review in response to this 
petition, however, we ask the public to submit to us any new 
information that becomes available concerning the status of the species 
or threats to it.

DATES: The finding announced in this document was made on February 16, 

ADDRESSES: You may submit information by any of the following methods:
    (1) E-mail: Liz_Kelly@fws.gov. Include Sidalcea hendersonii 
(Henderson's checkermallow) in the subject line of the message.
    (2) Fax: 503-231-6195.
    (3) Mail: Kemper McMaster, State Supervisor, Oregon Fish and 
Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2600 SE. 98th Avenue, 
Suite 100, Portland, OR 97266-1398.
    (4) Hand Delivery/Courier: You may hand-deliver documents to our 
office (see mailing address above).
    The petition and supporting information are available for public 
inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the above 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Liz Kelly, Newport Field Office, U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, 2127 SE. Marine Science Drive, Newport, OR 
97365; or by electronic mail to Liz_Kelly@fws.gov (telephone: 541-867-
4558; fax: 541-867-4551). Persons who use a telecommunications device 
for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service 
(FIRS) at 800-877-8339, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.



    Section 4(b)(3)(A) of the Act requires that we make a finding on 
whether a petition to list, delist, or reclassify a species presents 
substantial scientific information to indicate that the petitioned 
action may be warranted. To the maximum extent practicable, this 
finding is to be made within 90 days of receipt of the petition, and 
the finding is to be published promptly in the Federal Register.
    This finding summarizes the information included in the petition 
and information available to us at the time of the petition review. 
Under section 4(b)(3)(A) of the Act and our regulations in 50 CFR 
424.14(b), our review of a 90-day finding is limited to a determination 
of whether the information in the petition meets the ``substantial 
scientific information'' threshold. Our standard for substantial 
scientific information with regard to a 90-day listing 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)).
    We have to satisfy the Act's requirement that we use the best 
available science to make our decisions. However, we do not conduct 
additional research at this point, nor do we subject the petition to 
rigorous critical review. Rather, at the 90-day finding stage, we 
accept the petitioner's sources and characterizations of the 
information, to the extent that they appear to be based on accepted 
scientific principles (such as citing published and peer reviewed 
articles, or studies done in accordance with valid methodologies), 
unless we have specific information to the contrary. Our finding 
considers whether the petition states a reasonable case for listing on 
its face. Thus, our 90-day finding expresses no view as to the ultimate 
issue of whether the species should be listed.
    On December 29, 2003, the Service received a petition dated 
December 15, 2003, from Dr. Rhoda Love on behalf of The Native Plant 
Society of Oregon (NPSO) requesting that the Service list Sidalcea 
hendersonii (Henderson's checkermallow) as a threatened or endangered 
species under the Act. Action on this petition was precluded by nearly 
all of our listing funds being obligated to court orders and settlement 
agreements for other listing actions.
    The petition contained detailed information on the natural history 
of Sidalcea hendersonii, its population status, and existing threats to 
the species. Potential threats discussed in the petition include 
destruction and modification of habitat, predation, inadequacy of 
existing regulatory mechanisms, and other natural and manmade factors 
such as flooding and siltation. In response to the petitioner's request 
to list S. hendersonii, the Service sent a letter to the petitioner 
dated February 13, 2004, explaining that initial review of the petition 
did not indicate that an emergency listing was warranted and that the 
Service would review the petition and determine whether or not the 
petition presents substantial scientific information indicating that 
listing S. hendersonii may be warranted.
    On January 17, 2006, we received additional information from the 
NPSO dated January 7, 2006, related to the petition. The additional 
information included an analysis of the Washington Natural Heritage 
Program (WNHP) 2005 report on the Washington Status of Sidalcea 
hendersonii (Henderson's checkermallow).

Species Information

    Sidalcea hendersonii was first recorded in 1841 by botanist William 
Breckenridge in southwestern Washington. Two more specimens were 
collected from British Columbia on Saturna Island in 1858 and Vancouver 
Island in 1883. Originally identified as either S. malvaeflora or S. 
campestris, the specimens were not recognized as S. hendersonii until 
examined by Eva M. F. Roush for her 1931 monograph on the genus. 
Sidalcea hendersonii did not gain its scientific name until 1887. In 
Oregon, the plant was first collected by Louis F. Henderson on July 3, 
1887, on the Columbia River estuary ``near Clatsop Bay.'' Two weeks 
earlier on June 15, 1887, the plant had been collected by Thomas 
Jefferson Howell at the mouth of the Umpqua River and labeled as S. 
campestris Greene. The

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plant was re-annotated in 1930 as S. hendersonii Watson by Eva Roush 
and then later in 1952 by C. Leo Hitchcock (Gisler and Love 2005; H. 
Kesner, pers. comm. 2005).
    Sidalcea hendersonii, in the mallow family (Malvaceae), is a 
perennial herb with pinkish-lavender to pinkish-purple flowers borne in 
clusters at the end of 1.6 to 5 foot (ft) (0.5 to 1.5 meter (m)) tall 
stems. Inflorescences (flowering parts of the plant) are spikelike 
(Hitchcock and Cronquist 1973). The flower is distinguished from other 
Sidalcea species primarily by its habitat and by its glabrous (lacking 
hairs) foliage and smooth carpels (modified leaf forming the ovary) 
(Gisler and Love 2005). Sidalcea hendersonii is a gynodioecious 
species, which means that the plants have either perfect flowers (male 
and female) or pistillate (female) flowers. The plant can reproduce 
vegetatively by rhizomes (horizontal underground stems) and produces 
seeds that drop near the parent plant (Hitchcock and Cronquist 1973). 
Flowering typically occurs from June to August.
    Sidalcea hendersonii occurs sporadically in coastal areas from 
Douglas County, Oregon, to Chilkat Peninsula, Alaska. Prior to 2003, 
when it was discovered in Howard Bay on the southern tip of the Chilkat 
Peninsula, the known range only extended as far north as southwestern 
British Columbia, Canada.
    The historical record contains uncertainty as to the number of 
sites that supported Sidalcea hendersonii populations. In Oregon, 10 
locations were documented (Gisler and Love 2005); in Washington there 
were 47 documented sites (WNHP 2005). Based on surveys from 2002-2005, 
23 extant populations have been documented in Washington. If 
populations found since 1980 (but not necessarily revisited in 2002-
2005) are included, Washington may support as many as 32 populations 
(WNHP 2005). Populations in British Columbia appear to be less 
intensively studied, with at least 30 extant populations today (J. 
Penny, pers. comm. 2005a). We do not have information on the number of 
historical populations for British Columbia. The single population 
discovered in Alaska in 2003 is well-documented.
    Based on information in our files, nine of the ten historical 
populations of Sidalcea hendersonii found in Clatsop, Tillamook, Lane, 
and Douglas Counties may have been extirpated from Oregon. The record 
for the remaining population cited in the petition, the Siuslaw River 
estuary population in Lane County, is unclear. As documented by L.F. 
Henderson in 1931, the location is described as ``Sandy flats of 
Siuslaw Bay just above tide, Florence'' (Table 1 in NPSO 2003). Based 
on this description, a single population may no longer be in existence, 
and may have shifted to form two extant populations associated with Cox 
Island in the Siuslaw River estuary and Bull Island in the North Fork 
Siuslaw River. In addition to these two populations in Oregon, 
introductions of S. hendersonii occurred in 2005 at Siletz Bay National 
Wildlife Refuge, Lincoln County and at Blacks and Goose Islands, Umpqua 
River, Douglas County (M.Gisler, pers. comm. 2005), resulting in a 
total of four populations in Oregon.
    Sidalcea hendersonii occurs in a habitat unlike that occupied by 
other members of its genus. It is found in tidally-influenced high salt 
marsh or the brackish transition zone of coastal marshes (WNHP 2005; 
Gisler and Love 2005). The top seven indicators of suitable habitat for 
S. hendersonii in Oregon and Washington at five sites were Argentina 
egedii (Potentilla pacifica) (silverweed), Juncus balticus (Baltic 
rush), Angelica lucida (sea-watch), Achillea millefolium (yarrow), 
Galium asparine (cleavers), Deschampsia caespitosa (tufted hairgrass), 
and Hordeum brachyantherum (meadow barley) (Gisler and Gisler 2005).
    In British Columbia, Sidalcea hendersonii primarily occurs in tidal 
marshes as well as salt-water influenced ditches and man-made channels. 
Associated species in natural habitats include Rumex spp. (sorrel), 
Carex lyngbyei (Lyngbye's sedge), Aster subspicatus (Douglas' aster), 
Lycopus europaeus (gypsywort), Lythrum salicaria (purple loosestrife), 
Caltha palustris (marsh marigold), Cardamine pratensis (cuckoo flower), 
Juncus balticus, Triglochin maritime (seaside arrowgrass), Typha 
latifolia (broadleaf cattail), Iris pseudacorus (yellow flag), 
Argentina egedii, Festuca rubra (red fescue), and Phalaris arundinacea 
(reed canary grass) (J. Penny, pers. comm. 2005a).
    In Alaska, Sidalcea hendersonii was found in the transitional 
habitat areas of beach meadow/forest habitats. The beach meadow was 
dominated by Geranium erianthum (geranium), Lathyrus palustris (beach 
pea), and Lupinus nootkatensis (Nootka lupine). The adjacent forest 
edge was dominated by Alnus viridis spp. sinuate (Sitka alder), Picea 
sitchensis (Sitka spruce), Rubus spectabilis (salmonberry), and 
Heracleum lanatum (cow parsnip) (Stensvold 2005).

Population Status

    Sidalcea hendersonii occurs in up to 67 locations rangewide (NPSO 
2003; WNHP 2005; J. Penny, pers. comm. 2005; Stensvold 2005). Records 
in our files indicate that there are at least 5,000 to 10,000 plants in 
Washington, approximately 1,200 to 1,400 plants in Oregon, and 3 plants 
in Alaska. At least 30 populations with an unknown number of 
individuals are believed to exist in British Columbia (J. Penny, pers. 
comm. 2005a). Precise counts of S. hendersonii are difficult to obtain 
due to observer subjectivity and the use of incomparable metrics to 
quantify population numbers (WNHP 2005). For example, during surveys 
conducted by the NPSO and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in Oregon 
(Appendix 1 in NPSO 2003), the terms ``stems'' and ``individuals'' were 
used interchangeably. In Washington, individual plants were defined as 
having either individual or multiple stems (WNHP 2005).
    Sidalcea hendersonii is currently considered globally rare, 
uncommon or threatened, but not immediately imperiled (G3) and is 
considered critically imperiled (S1) in Oregon by the NatureServe and 
Natural Heritage Network (Oregon Natural Heritage Information Center 
(ONHIC) 2004). The ONHIC (2004) ranks S. hendersonii with the group of 
taxa that are threatened with extinction or thought to be extinct 
throughout their range (List 1). Washington recently recommended S. 
hendersonii as vulnerable (S3), and it will continue to be maintained 
on the State's Watch List (WNHP 2005).
    In British Columbia, Sidalcea hendersonii is listed as ``blue'' or 
vulnerable (NatureServe 2005). Taxa on Canada's ``blue list'' are 
considered at risk, but not extinct, endangered, or threatened. Due to 
rarity in Alaska, S. hendersonii is ranked as critically imperiled (S1) 
(Alaska Natural Heritage Program (ANHP) 2005).
    The following is a summary of the current information on Sidalcea 
hendersonii's population status.


    According to the petition and our files, at least ten Oregon sites 
for Sidalcea hendersonii were identified from the 1880s to 1950, and 
the species has disappeared from nine of these sites since the 1950s. 
In 2003, a survey organized by the NPSO occurred in June, July, and 
August. As stated in the petition, at least ``23 trained botanists'' 
searched for the plant at historical locations and in other likely 
coastal habitat in Clatsop, Tillamook, Lane and

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Douglas Counties. As described in the petition, S. hendersonii was 
found at a single, known location in Lane County with 900 to 1,100 
individuals. Although the petitioner provided information on survey 
results, survey methodology was not submitted. Regarding the site where 
the plant was found in Lane County, the petition does state that this 
area is the only site where monitoring of the species regularly takes 
place. According to the petition, this scattered population is divided 
into five ``aggregations,'' with only two aggregations (Cox Island and 
nearby Wilbur Island) considered viable (NPSO 2003).
    Based on information from the petition and our files, we now 
believe there are four populations of Sidalcea hendersonii in Oregon. 
According to the maps provided in the petition, the Siuslaw River 
estuary population appears to be two populations. One large population 
exists in the Siuslaw River estuary on Cox Island and nearby Wilbur 
Island. Cox Island is located on TNC property and supports a population 
of 545 stems NPSO 2003). The peninsula northeast of Cox Island is under 
unknown ownership and supports scattered individuals (see TNC Report, 
Summer 2003, Appendix 1 in NPSO 2003). Wilbur Island is private 
property adjacent to Cox Island, and supports an estimated 300 to 500 
stems (see TNC Report, July 9, 2003, Appendix 1 in NPSO 2003).
    A second small population is found in the North Fork Siuslaw River, 
and is comprised of the ``North Fork'' site and Bull Island. The 
``North Fork'' site is located on private property and supports 13 
individuals (see NPSO Report, July 3, 2003, Appendix 1 in NPSO 2003). 
The Bull Island site is located on Oregon Department of Fish and 
Wildlife property and contains 31 stems (NPSO 2003). The confluence of 
the North Fork Siuslaw River with the Siuslaw River estuary is 
downriver from both populations and the two populations are at least 
one mile apart.
    Since the petition was submitted, two introductions of Sidalcea 
hendersonii were made on sites with suitable habitat in Oregon; at 
Siletz Bay National Wildlife Refuge (131 plants) in Lincoln County and 
at Blacks and Goose Islands, Umpqua River estuary (154 plants) in 
Douglas County (M. Gisler, pers. comm. 2005). It is unknown if either 
of these locations were historical sites.
    As included in the petition, the NPSO (2003) speculated that 
Sidalcea hendersonii declined in Oregon due to a number of factors, 
including conversion of wetlands for agricultural purposes, livestock 
grazing, weed invasions, urban and rural development, highway and 
bridge construction, off-road vehicle use, and recreational activities.


    In Washington, 47 current and historical sites of Sidalcea 
hendersonii have been documented (WNHP 2005), twenty-seven of which 
were revisited from 2002 to 2005 through incidental surveys, or during 
a status review conducted by the Washington Natural Heritage Program in 
2004 to 2005 and documented in the 2005 Status Report (WNHP 2005). 
These surveys described 23 extant populations with a total of 18,000 to 
20,000 stems. Distribution was concentrated along the coastal areas of 
Grays Harbor and Pacific County, with scattered populations in Clallam, 
Island, Snohomish, and San Juan Counties (WNHP 2005). If populations 
found since 1980 (but not revisited in 2002 to 2005) are included, 
Washington may support as many as 32 populations and 5,000 to 10,000 
plants (WNHP 2005). The Status Report stated that any of the 
populations may be much larger than the area surveyed and that ``there 
is little evidence of population decline or loss, and the habitat 
appears currently stable and secure, despite the large proportion of 
populations on private land.''

British Columbia and Alaska

    In British Columbia, the most recent estimate of Sidalcea 
hendersonii populations is that there are 21 populations (69 percent) 
located along the coast of the lower mainland (greater Vancouver) and 7 
populations (24 percent) are found on Vancouver Island. There are two 
locations on the Gulf Islands (North Pender Island and Briola Island) 
and one on Trial Island, off of Oak Bay, Victoria (J. Penny, pers. 
comm. 2005a). Inventory is incomplete so there is a likelihood of 
finding more locations (J. Penny, pers. comm. 2005a).
    In Alaska in 2003, two Sidalcea hendersonii were discovered at one 
location on the Chilkat Peninsula, Tongass National Forest. This was 
the first record of a plant within the family Malvaceae for the State. 
Three S. hendersonii were found at the same location in 2005 (Stensvold 

Threats Analysis

    Pursuant to section (4) of the Act, we may list a species, 
subspecies, or vertebrate taxa distinct population segment (DPS) on the 
basis of any of the following five factors: (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 finding, we evaluated 
whether the information related to Sidalcea hendersonii presented in 
the petition, or in our files, suggests that the petitioned action 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 available in our files, is 
presented below.

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

    The petition states that the historical range of Sidalcea 
hendersonii extended from Vancouver Island, British Columbia, to Umpqua 
River estuary, Oregon, and based on the available scientific evidence, 
approximately 40 sites currently exist for the species. The petitioner 
states that, based on the decrease in S. hendersonii's range in Oregon 
alone, the species is in clear danger of extinction within a 
significant portion of its range. The petition also states that, based 
on the plight and lack of protection of S. hendersonii, the species is 
in danger of extinction throughout its range.
    There is little information regarding the historical population 
size or viability for Sidalcea hendersonii prior to the 1980s, 
particularly for Oregon. Records prior to 2003 may not accurately 
reflect the species' historical distribution because they were not 
collected in a systematic, comprehensive manner with the goal of 
determining species distribution and abundance. The petition does not 
provide comprehensive information on the current range of S. 
hendersonii within estuarine ecosystems.
    It appears that in nine of the ten known historical locations in 
Oregon the species is no longer present. A single population of 
Sidalcea hendersonii as identified in the petition has recently been 
recognized as two extant populations at the Siuslaw River estuary 
location. In 2005, a population of S. hendersonii was introduced in 
Lincoln County and another was introduced in Douglas County. The four 
populations are located on protected lands, private land, or on 
relatively inaccessible islands, and do not appear to be at risk from 
threats such as wetlands conversion, weed invasions, development, or 
recreational activities. The locations where S. hendersonii

[[Page 8255]]

populations are no longer found were located on the north coast of 
Oregon, and constitute a relatively minor geographic area in relation 
to the species' range. In view of the fact that the net loss of 6 
locations in Oregon represents only 9 percent of the 67 existing 
locations rangewide, we do not consider the loss of the Oregon 
populations to be a significant loss to the rangewide existence of S. 
hendersonii. There are no major geographic areas where S. hendersonii 
was once viable but no longer is viable.
    Although the petition states that Sidalcea hendersonii evolved in 
Oregon, no published or peer-reviewed articles were provided in support 
of the species' evolutionary origin. The petitioner states that S. 
hendersonii is the only member of its genus that has adapted to an 
environment between salt and fresh water, thereby limiting its 
distribution to estuaries from central Oregon to southwestern British 
Columbia. The petition claims S. hendersonii has been subject to 
population losses and declines due to various land management practices 
such as conversion of wetlands for agricultural purposes, livestock 
grazing, weed invasions, urban and rural development, highway and 
bridge construction, off-road vehicle use, and recreational activities. 
Based on these, and other threats, the petitioner claims that S. 
hendersonii is in danger of extinction throughout its entire range, and 
provides the following information to substantiate this claim.
    The petitioner cites wetland conversion for agriculture and grazing 
purposes as a threat to Sidalcea hendersonii. Wetland conversion was 
reported as a factor in the extirpation of S. hendersonii at five of 
the ten sites investigated by the NPSO (Table 1 in NPSO 2003) in 
Oregon. Surveyors noted channelization and diking at three sites in 
Clatsop County. Grazing was cited as a threat at one site in Lane 
County and one site in Douglas County. Forestry practices and grazing 
in the Umpqua River estuary, Oregon, have impacted wetland habitat 
(Miller 2003). Henderson (1891) described hundreds of acres of 
estuarine habitat that have since been converted to pasture in 
Tillamook County. Although the petition provided a list of sites where 
anthropogenic threats to habitat exist, the petition did not provide 
information on wetland conversion for portions of the S. hendersonii's 
range where S. hendersonii is known to exist or to have existed.
    The information in the petition suggests that conversion of 
wetlands for agricultural and grazing purposes has been, in part, 
responsible for the reduction of high salt marsh habitat in Oregon. The 
petitioner provides general statements regarding wetland loss, but does 
not cite specific examples of losses in specific areas where the 
Sidalcea hendersonii has been found.
    In Washington during the 2004-2005 survey, two marsh areas were 
noted as being actively grazed and no longer providing habitat to 
Sidalcea hendersonii due to diking and associated changes in hydrology. 
However, the grazing had been on-going for 100 years and would not 
likely be responsible for the recent declines in the population (WNHP 
2005). No information was available in the petition or in our files on 
wetland loss for current or historical sites in British Columbia. No 
wetland loss has occurred where S. hendersonii was recently discovered 
in Alaska. However, the loss of high salt marsh habitat is a factor 
that likely contributed to population declines in Oregon and some 
individual populations rangewide (Adamus et al. 2005; WNHP 2005).
Invasive Plants
    The petition claims weed invasions pose a threat to Sidalcea 
hendersonii throughout its range. In Oregon, invasive weeds were 
reported as threats at three of the ten sites surveyed for Sidalcea 
hendersonii (NPSO 2003). The petitioner claims that invasive weedy 
competitors such as Phalaris arundinacea, Cytisus scoparius (scotch 
broom), Lythrum salicaria, Festuca arundinacea (tall fescue), 
Erechtites minima (coastal burnweed), and Spartina patens (saltmeadow 
cordgrass) invade the Sidalcea hendersonii habitat. Spartina patens has 
become established at Cox Island and is the target of TNC control 
efforts (Pickering 2000). The petition does not provide specific 
information on the threat of invasive weeds in other portions of 
Sidalcea hendersonii's range.
    The petitioner provides information about general weed invasions in 
Sidalcea hendersonii habitat, and several sites where the presence of 
weeds may be a threat in Oregon. However, the petitioner does not 
provide substantial information that documents impacts by invasive 
species outside of Oregon.
    On Cox Island, although there is some overlap in habitat of 
Spartina patens and Sidalcea hendersonii, Pickering (pers. comm. 2005) 
states that Phalaris arundinacea is more of a threat than Spartina 
patens. In Washington, invasive species were present at low levels 
within 11 populations of Sidalcea hendersonii (WNHP 2005). Of the 
greatest concern were Lythrum salicaria, Erechtites minima, Iris 
pseudoacorus, and Cirsium arvense (Canada thistle). Lythrum salicaria 
was the only invasive species that posed a major threat to Sidalcea 
hendersonii at one site, where it was also being actively controlled. 
All other invasives were considered a low threat to the Sidalcea 
hendersonii's viability (WNHP 2005), including Spartina patens which 
occurs much lower in the tidal zone and not in the high marsh where 
Sidalcea hendersonii occurs.
    In British Columbia, the role of the introduced Lythrum salicaria 
in competition with Sidalcea hendersonii is unknown, although in one 
location L. salicaria seems to grow in wetter areas than those with S. 
hendersonii (J. Penny, pers. comm. 2005b).
    It is likely that invasive weeds pose a significant threat to some 
individual populations and have contributed, in part, to the loss of 
populations. However, the petition does not provide substantial 
information on the magnitude and the extent of habitat impacts by 
invasive weeds such that we might conclude that they threaten the 
continued existence of Sidalcea hendersonii throughout all or a 
significant portion of its range.
Urban and Rural Development
    The petition identifies habitat loss from urban and rural 
development as a negative impact to Sidalcea hendersonii. The 
construction of the Columbia River jetty and Winchester Bay boat basin, 
resorts, industrial development and airport construction were examples 
cited in the petition. The infrastructure that accompanies development 
(i.e., roads, highways, bridges) is also considered a threat. In the 
2003 NPSO survey, five of the ten sites were found to have some form of 
development associated with them. Although the petition provides a list 
of sites where anthropogenic threats to habitat exist, it does not 
provide specific information on the threat of urban and rural 
development throughout S. hendersonii's range.
Recreational Activities
    The petitioner claims that off-road vehicle use is a threat to 
Sidalcea hendersonii, specifically at Bob Straub State Park (Nestucca 
River). According to the petition, the last sighting of S. hendersonii 
in Bob Straub State Park was in 1987, when 45 stems were found, 
although the exact location is unknown. One stem was found at nearby 
Whalen Island in 2000. The petitioner also states that the potential 
park expansion and

[[Page 8256]]

prospective golf course at Sand Lake are a threat to S. hendersonii.
    While recreational activities could be an issue in parks where 
heavy recreational pressure or lack of enforcement lead to trampling of 
habitat by users where Sidalcea hendersonii is found, the petition does 
not provide information that links the actual loss of S. hendersonii 
habitat to off-road vehicle use locally.
Summary of Habitat Threats
    While a variety of anthropogenic activities that affect wetlands 
(e.g., agriculture, grazing, coastal development) are occurring across 
the range of Sidalcea hendersonii, the petition does not provide 
substantial information that these activities, either singly or in 
combination, are destroying or modifying S. hendersonii habitat over 
all or a significant portion of the species' range. Also, with limited 
exceptions, the petition fails to provide scientific documentation to 
demonstrate that the areas where habitat loss has occurred are the same 
areas where S. hendersonii populations have been documented.
    Based on the preceding discussion, we do not believe that 
substantial information is available indicating that the present or 
threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of habitat or 
range may, either singularly or in combination with other factors, rise 
to the level of a major threat to the continued existence of the 
species throughout all or a significant portion of the species' range.

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

    No information was presented in the petition, nor is any in our 
files, to suggest that Sidalcea hendersonii has been overutilized for 
commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes.

C. Disease or Predation

    The petition states that weevil predation poses a threat to 
Sidalcea hendersonii populations by impacting seedling recruitment into 
a population through the reduction or elimination of perfect flowers. 
The petition cites the following information to support these claims.
    Two species of curculionid beetles (weevils), Macrorhoptus sidalcea 
Sleeper and Anthonomus melancholicus Dietz, are known to parasitize the 
flowers of Sidalcea hendersonii in British Columbia. In populations 
where female plants were abundant, weevil larvae destroyed 
significantly more seeds from hermaphrodite plants, substantially 
reducing seed production by perfect flowers overall (Marshall and 
Ganders 2001). In 2003, weevils were collected from S. hendersonii on 
Cox Island, Siuslaw River estuary, Oregon (R. Love, pers. comm. 2004), 
although the significance of weevils to reproduction in this population 
is unknown. The petition does not provide specific information on the 
threat of weevil predation in other portions of the S. hendersonii's 
range. The information presented indicates that this potential threat 
has been evaluated in British Columbia (although no details were 
provided), and that further research is needed to determine actual 
impacts to S. hendersonii rangewide. In Washington, weevils were found 
in 1 out of 14 populations searched (WNHP 2005).
    Since weevils co-occur with other members of Sidalcea, their 
occurrence in habitats with Sidalcea hendersonii is not surprising. The 
petition does not present documentation to indicate that weevil 
predation is a significant threat to the continued existence of S. 

D. Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    The petition states that State and Federal agencies have failed to 
conduct monitoring for Sidalcea hendersonii in most of its range and 
have failed to protect it from numerous direct and indirect impacts 
associated with conversion of wetlands for agricultural purposes, 
livestock grazing, and development (see Factor A above). The petition 
further states that mechanisms to regulate and control these various 
activities have failed to prevent harm to S. hendersonii habitat in a 
significant portion of its range. The petitioner states that in Oregon, 
one population is protected and actively managed on Cox Island through 
invasive species management by TNC. The petition also states that S. 
hendersonii has no known legal protection or conservation status in 
Washington since the majority of sites are on private land, and that in 
British Columbia only one population out of the 27 known sites is 
protected (NPSO 2003).
    While many Sidalcea hendersonii sites are not protected, several 
sites are managed in a manner beneficial to the species. As stated in 
the petition, Cox Island receives active weed management control and 
protection under TNC (Pickering 2000). Sidalcea hendersonii was 
recently introduced to the Siletz Bay National Wildlife Refuge on U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service property in Oregon to help stabilize and 
conserve the species (Gisler 2005). In Washington, the site that occurs 
on National Park Service land is managed as a natural area (L. Smith, 
pers. comm. 2005). Two populations on Washington Department of Natural 
Resources (WDNR) property are found within Natural Area Preserves. At 
John's River and Smith Creek on Washington Department of Fish and 
Wildlife (WDFW) land, conservation measures are in place for the 
estuarine ecosystems where S. hendersonii is found. At John's River, 
estuary restoration is creating an additional 200 acres (81 hectares) 
of tidally influenced high salt marsh with the breaching of the dike on 
the East side (J. Gerchak, pers. comm. 2005).
    In British Columbia, Sidalcea hendersonii occurs in protected areas 
at Medicine Beach on Pender Islands, Trial Island Ecological Reserve, 
and in a fen (marshland) sanctuary in greater Vancouver. Most locations 
are likely on private land with unknown status (J. Penny, pers. comm. 
2005). In Alaska, S. hendersonii is protected on Tongass National 
Forest land under the National Forest Management Act of 1976 (M. 
Stensvold, pers. comm. 2005).
    While many areas where Sidalcea hendersonii occurs are not 
protected, a number of sites are managed in a manner consistent with 
conservation of the species. Therefore, we conclude that the petition 
does not present substantial information to indicate that S. 
hendersonii may be threatened by the inadequacy of existing regulatory 
mechanisms across all or a significant portion of its range.

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

    The petition mentions several other factors, not discussed above, 
that negatively impact Sidalcea hendersonii populations. Some of these 
are found within the text of the petition, others within the survey 
data provided as attachments. These factors include changes to the 
estuarine ecosystem, the species' breeding system, succession, 
browsing, and pollution.
Changes to the Estuarine Habitat
    The petition states that estuarine habitats are susceptible to 
flooding, siltation, storm surges, battering by driftwood, and long-
term changes in sea level. The petitioner cites the threat of these 
events within estuarine habitat to Sidalcea hendersonii, and provides 
the following information to support this claim. Dr. R. Frenkel from 
Oregon State University (NPSO 2003) states that ``complicating the 
distribution of S.

[[Page 8257]]

hendersonii is the accumulation of storm driven debris from massive 
debris deposition. To survive, the plant population in this zone must 
migrate bayward. For plants like S. hendersonii, with a vulnerable 
reproductive strategy, life is particularly hazardous.'' Glenn Miller 
from the Oregon Department of Agriculture (NPSO 2003) has stated that 
S. hendersonii has disappeared in the Umpqua River estuary partly due 
to ``silt events during floods.'' Siltation events were cited as a 
threat at two of the ten sites surveyed by NPSO in Oregon (2003). 
However, aside from these two citations, the petition does not provide 
specific information on the threat of natural estuarine processes or 
sea-level changes in other portions of the S. hendersonii's range. In 
Washington, no direct damage from storm or flooding events was apparent 
at survey sites (WNHP 2005).
Breeding System
    Sidalcea hendersonii is a gynodioecious species, which means that 
the plants have either perfect flowers (male and female) or pistillate 
(female) flowers. The petition claims that under this breeding system, 
three scenarios are likely to occur including (1) If numbers of female-
only plants become low, cross pollination would become rare and 
inbreeding depression would occur; (2) if numbers of plants (especially 
female) become low, recruitment would be negatively impacted as female 
plants produce the most seeds, and (3) if perfect-flowered plants 
become scarce, this would destroy the pollen source and prevent sexual 
reproduction. The only evidence that the petition provided to support 
these claims was the presence of two small populations in the Siuslaw 
River estuary comprising 98 percent and 100 percent females. One of 
these populations did not produce any seeds in 2003 (NPSO 2003). The 
petition does not provide specific information on the threat of low 
populations of either female or perfect flowers in other portions of 
the S. hendersonii's range.
    Poor recruitment of individuals is likely a threat locally where 
populations are low; however, no information exists to suggest this is 
a current threat to the species rangewide, or in a significant portion 
of the range. While the claims regarding inbreeding depression and 
scarcity of perfect-flowered plants are conceivable, no information 
exists to suggest this is a current threat to the species rangewide or 
in a significant portion of the range.
Other Threats
    Succession, grazing and browsing by deer, road maintenance, and 
pollution are threats listed either in the petition and its appendices. 
While discussion of these topics was not provided in the petition, road 
maintenance was cited as a particular threat to populations adjacent to 
roads and highways in Washington (see survey data in WNHP 2005). In 
Alaska, succession was a threat to the single population located near 
Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) in the upper beach meadow, which was 
described as undergoing relatively rapid changes toward forested 
successional stage (Stensvold 2005).
    Based on the foregoing discussion, we do not believe that the 
petition has presented substantial scientific information relating the 
changes in geographic range and abundance of the species to the actual 
threats to the survival of the species. We also do not believe that the 
petition indicates that natural or manmade factors threaten the 
continued existence of Sidalcea hendersonii throughout all or a 
significant portion of the species' range. Consequently, we conclude 
that the petitioner does not present substantial information indicating 
that a reduction in the species' numbers or range warrants a status 

Additional Information Provided by Petitioner

    The additional information we received on January 17, 2006, from 
the petitioner in support of the petitioned action claims that 90 
percent of the Sidalcea hendersonii populations in Oregon and 54 
percent of the populations in Washington have been lost, and provides 
statements about perceived threats to 23 extant populations in 
Washington. Although as many as nine populations have disappeared in 
Oregon, two extant and two introduced populations are located in the 
state, for a net loss of six locations. In Washington there is a total 
of 47 historic and current sites, of which 27 sites were surveyed 
between 2002 and 2005, and based on these surveys 23 populations were 
found. As many as 9 of the remaining 20 unsurveyed sites may have 
existing populations. Therefore, we do not agree that 54 percent of the 
populations in Washington have been lost. Although the 2002-2005 
surveys were not comprehensive, the species appears to be ``abundant in 
numerous well-distributed locations within Washington'' (WNHP 2006). 
After reviewing the NPSO's list of specific threats to S. hendersonii, 
the WNHP (2006) concluded that the ``overall vigor of the populations 
remains high, and the existing threats are not pushing the species into 
rapid decline in Washington.'' Based on the preceding discussion, we do 
not believe that petitioner's new information presents substantial 
scientific information indicating that natural or manmade factors 
threaten the species' continued existence.


    We have reviewed the petition and literature cited in the petition, 
and evaluated that information in relation to other pertinent 
literature and information available in our files. Based on the current 
status of the species, our threats analysis, and a lack of information 
suggesting that the species is threatened in a significant portion of 
its range, we find the petition does not present substantial 
information indicating that listing of Sidalcea hendersonii may be 
warranted at this time. While we will not be initiating a status review 
in response to the petition, we will continue to work with others to 
monitor the species' status and trends and we encourage interested 
parties to continue to provide us with information that will assist 
with the conservation of the species. If you wish to provide 
information regarding S. hendersonii, you may submit your information 
or materials to the Field Supervisor, Portland Fish and Wildlife Office 
(see ADDRESSES section above).

References Cited

    A complete list of all references cited herein is available, upon 
request, from our Oregon Fish and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES 
section above).


    The primary author of this notice is Liz Kelly, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Newport Field Office (see ADDRESSES section above).


    The authority for this action is section 4 of the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).

    Dated: February 6, 2006.
H. Dale Hall,
Director, Fish and Wildlife Service.
 [FR Doc. E6-2206 Filed 2-15-06; 8:45 am]