[Federal Register: October 9, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 194)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 57276-57278]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AV05

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Designation of 
Critical Habitat for the Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep and Proposed 
Taxonomic Revision

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule; reopening of comment period and notice of public 


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announce the 
reopening of the public comment period and the scheduling of one public 
hearing on the proposed critical habitat designation for the Sierra 
Nevada bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis californiana) and proposed 
taxonomic revision under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended 
(Act). This action will provide all interested parties with an 
additional opportunity to submit written comments on the proposed 
designation and taxonomic revision. Comments previously submitted need 
not be resubmitted as they have already been incorporated into the 
public record and will be fully considered in any final decision.

DATES: We will accept comments and information until 5 p.m. on November 
23, 2007, or at the public hearing. Any comments received after the 
closing date may not be considered in the final decision on the 
proposed designation of critical habitat.
    Public Informational Meetings: October 24, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., 
in Bridgeport, CA and October 25, 2007, from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., in 
Bishop, CA.
    Public Hearing: October 25, 2007, between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., in 
Bishop, CA.

    Public Informational Meetings: October 24, 2007, at the Memorial 
Hall, 744 N. School Street, Bridgeport, CA 93517, and October 25, 2007, 
at Tri-County Fair Grounds, Patio Room (patio area), Sierra Street and 
Fair Drive, Bishop, CA 93514.
    Hearing: The public hearing will be held in the Tri-County Fair 
Grounds, Patio Room, Sierra Street and Fair Drive, Bishop, CA 93514.
    Public Comments: Written comments and materials may be submitted to 
us by any one of the following methods:
    1. You may submit written comments and information to Field 

[[Page 57277]]

Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office, 1340 Financial Boulevard, Suite 234, 
Reno, NV 89502-7147.
    2. You may hand-deliver written comments and information to our 
office at the above address.
    3. You may fax your comments to 775-861-6301.
    4. You may send comments by electronic mail (e-mail) to: 
snbighorn@fws.gov. For directions on how to submit electronic filing of 

comments, see the ``Public Comments Solicited'' section below.
    5. You may submit comments via the Federal Rulemaking Portal: 
http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting 

    The proposed rule is available on the Internet at http://www.fws.gov/nevada
 or in hard copy form by contacting the Nevada Fish 

and Wildlife Office. Comments and materials received, as well as 
supporting documentation used in preparation of the proposed critical 
habitat rule for the Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep, will be available for 
public inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the 
Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Bob Williams, Field Supervisor, Nevada 
Fish and Wildlife Office (telephone 775-861-6300; facsimile 775-861-


Public Comments Solicited

    We intend that any final action resulting from this proposal will 
be as accurate and as effective as possible. Therefore, we solicit 
comments or suggestions on this proposed rule from the public, other 
concerned governmental agencies, Tribes, the scientific community, 
industry, or any other interested parties concerning the proposed rule. 
We particularly seek comments concerning:
    (1) The reasons why we should or should not designate habitat as 
``critical habitat'' under section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et 
seq.), including whether the benefit of designation will outweigh 
threats to the species caused by designation such that the designation 
of critical habitat is prudent;
    (2) Specific information on:
     The amount and distribution of Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep 
     What areas that were occupied at the time of listing and 
that contain the features essential for the conservation of the 
subspecies should be included in the designation and why, and
     What areas not occupied at the listing are essential to 
the conservation of the subspecies and why;
    (3) Any proposed critical habitat areas covered by existing or 
proposed conservation or management plans that we should consider for 
exclusion from the designation under section 4(b)(2) of the Act. We 
specifically request comment on the appropriateness of including or 
excluding lands covered by: (a) The Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep 
Recovery and Conservation Plan (Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep Interagency 
Advisory Group 1984); (b) the Bighorn Sheep Management Plan (National 
Park Service 1986); (c) the Inyo National Forest Resource & Management 
Plan (U.S. Forest Service 1988); and (d) the Conservation Strategy for 
Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep (Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep Interagency 
Advisory Group 1997). We request comment on how these plans do or do 
not benefit or protect the Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep, or its primary 
constituent elements, and if the benefit or protection provided by 
these plans is equal to or greater than the benefit that would be 
provided by designation of critical habitat;
    (4) Land use designations and current or planned activities in the 
subject areas and their possible impacts on proposed critical habitat;
    (5) Any foreseeable economic, national security, or other potential 
impacts resulting from the proposed designation and, in particular, any 
impacts on small entities, and information about the benefits of 
including or excluding any areas that exhibit those impacts; and
    (6) Whether we could improve or modify our approach to designating 
critical habitat in any way to provide for greater public participation 
and understanding, or to better accommodate public concerns and 
    You may submit your comments and material concerning the above 
actions by any one of several methods (see ADDRESSES). If you use e-
mail to submit your comments, please include ``Attn: RIN 1018-AV05'' in 
your e-mail subject header, preferably with 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 e-mail message, 
please contact the Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office at telephone number 
775-861-6300. Please note that the e-mail address snbighorn@fws.gov 
will be closed out at the termination of the public comment period.
    Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or 
other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be 
aware that your entire comment--including your personal identifying 
information--may be made publicly available at any time. While you can 
ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying 
information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be 
able to do so. Comments received will be available for public 
inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the Nevada 
Fish and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES section).
    Comments and information submitted during the initial comment 
period on the proposed rule need not be resubmitted as they will be 
incorporated into the public record as part of this comment period and 
will be fully considered in preparation of the final rule.


    On July 25, 2007, we published a proposed rule in the Federal 
Register (72 FR 40956) to designate critical habitat for the Sierra 
Nevada bighorn sheep. Twelve critical habitat units, totaling 
approximately 417,577 acres (168,992 hectares), are proposed as 
critical habitat for the Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep. The proposed 
critical habitat is located within Tuolumne, Mono, Fresno, Inyo, and 
Tulare counties, California. For locations of these proposed units, 
please consult the proposed rule. The initial public comment period for 
the proposal critical habitat was open for 60 days, ending on September 
24, 2007.
    Critical habitat is defined by the Act as:
    (i): The specific areas within the geographic area occupied by the 
species at the time of listing pursuant to section 4 of the Act, on 
which are found those physical or biological features (1) essential to 
the conservation of the species, and (2) which may require special 
management considerations or protection, and
    (ii): Specific areas outside the geographic areas occupied by the 
species at the time of listing that the Secretary determines are 
essential for the conservation of the species.
    If the proposed critical habitat designation is finalized, section 
7(a)(2) of the Act would require that Federal agencies ensure that 
actions they fund, authorize, or carry out are not likely to jeopardize 
the continued existence of the species or result in the destruction or 
adverse modification of critical habitat.
    Section 4(b)(2) of the Act requires that we designate or revise 
critical habitat on the basis of the best scientific and commercial 
data available, after taking into consideration the economic, National 
security, and any other relevant impact of specifying any particular 
area as critical habitat.

[[Page 57278]]

Public Hearings

    Section 4(b)(5)(E) of the Act requires that a public hearing be 
held if any person requests a hearing within 45 days of the publication 
of a proposed rule. In response to a request from the Inyo County Board 
of Supervisors, the Service will conduct one public hearing on the date 
and at the address described in the DATES and ADDRESSES sections above.
    Oral comments may be limited in length. Persons wishing to make an 
oral statement for the record are encouraged to provide a written copy 
of their statement and present it to us at the hearing. In the event 
there is a large attendance, the time allotted for oral statements may 
be limited. Oral and written statements receive equal consideration. 
There are no limits on the length of written comments submitted to us. 
If you have any questions concerning the public hearing, please contact 
the Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES section).
    Persons needing reasonable accommodations in order to attend and 
participate in the public hearing should contact Jeannie Stafford at 
775-861-6300 as soon as possible. In order to allow sufficient time to 
process requests, please call no later than one week before the hearing 
date. Information regarding this proposal is available in alternative 
formats upon request.


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

    Dated: September 21, 2007.
David M. Verhey,
Acting Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
[FR Doc. E7-19596 Filed 10-5-07; 8:45 am]