[Federal Register: May 22, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 98)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 28664-28665]
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; Status of the Rio 
Grande Cutthroat Trout

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent to initiate a status review.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce our 
intent to initiate a candidate status review for the Rio Grande 
cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki virginalis) to determine if 
candidate status is warranted. The Endangered Species Act of 1973, as 
amended (Act), requires that we identify species of wildlife and plants 
that are endangered or threatened, based on the best available 
scientific and commercial information. Through the Federal rulemaking 
process, we add these species to the List of Endangered and Threatened 
Wildlife at 50 CFR 17.11 or the List of Endangered or Threatened Plants 
at 50 CFR 17.12. As part of this program, we maintain a list of species 
that we regard as candidates for listing. A candidate is one for which 
we have on file sufficient information on biological vulnerability and 
threats to support a proposal to list as endangered or threatened but 
for which preparation and publication of a proposal is precluded by 
higher-priority listing actions. During or prior to April 2008, we will 
make a determination concerning the results of the status review for 
the Rio Grande cutthroat trout, and, shortly thereafter, we will 
publish this determination in the Federal Register.

DATES: We will accept comments and information from all interested 
parties for our use in the status review and in preparing a revised 
finding until July 6, 2007.

ADDRESSES: If you wish to comment, you may submit your comments and 
materials by any of the following methods:
    1. You may mail or hand-deliver your written comments and 
information to Wally ``J'' Murphy, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, New Mexico Ecological Services Field Office, 2105 
Osuna NE, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87113.
    2. You may fax your comments to Wally ``J'' Murphy, Field 
Supervisor, New Mexico Ecological Services Field Office, at (505) 346-
    3. You may send comments by electronic mail (e-mail) to 

    4. You may go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov.
 Follow the instructions for submitting comments. 

In the event that our Internet connection is not functional, please 
submit your comments by one of the alternate methods mentioned above.
    Comments and materials received, as well as supporting 
documentation used in the preparation of candidate status review, will 
be available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal 
business hours at the New Mexico Ecological Services Field Office, at 
the street address above (telephone: (505) 346-2525).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Wally ``J'' Murphy, Field Supervisor, 
New Mexico Ecological Services Field Office (see ADDRESSES) (telephone: 
(505) 346-2525; facsimile: (505) 346-2542). Persons who use a 
telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal 
Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800/877-8339.



    On February 25, 1998, we received a petition from the Southwest 
Center for Biological Diversity requesting that the Service add the Rio 
Grande cutthroat trout (Onchorynchus clarki virginalis) to the List of 
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. The petition addressed the range-
wide distribution of the Rio Grande cutthroat trout, including 
populations in Colorado and New Mexico.
    Section 4(b)(3)(B) of the Act requires that we make a finding on 
whether a petition to list, delist, or reclassify a species presents 
substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the 
petitioned action may be warranted. We subsequently published a notice 
of a 90-day finding in the Federal Register (63 FR 49062, September 14, 
1998). In the 90-day finding, we concluded that the petition did not 
present substantial information indicating that listing of the Rio 
Grande cutthroat trout may be warranted.
    On June 9, 1999, the Southwest Center for Biological Diversity 
filed a complaint challenging the September 14, 1998, 90-day petition 
finding as violating the Act and the Administrative Procedure Act (5 
U.S.C. 551 et seq). On November 8, 2001, a settlement agreement 
executed by both parties (the Service and the Southwest Center for 
Biological Diversity) was filed with the court. The settlement 
agreement stipulated that we would conduct a candidate status review 
for the Rio Grande cutthroat trout.
    After completing the candidate status review for the Rio Grande 
cutthroat trout, the Service made a determination that listing of the 
trout was not warranted because the trout was neither endangered nor 
likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future throughout 
all or a significant portion of its range. Notice of that determination 
was published in the Federal Register on June 11, 2002 (67 FR 39936). 
Since that time, the Service has further defined how it analyzes what 
constitutes a ``significant portion'' of a species'' range. For 
example, in the recent finding regarding the status of the Western 
Great Lakes distinct population segment of gray wolf (72 FR 6052, 
February 8, 2007), the Service outlined a framework for analyzing 
whether a species is in danger of extinction throughout a significant 
portion of its range. In addition, in the 5 years since the June 2002 
deterimation, a significant amount of new information and data

[[Page 28665]]

relevant to the Rio Grande cutthroat trout's status has been collected, 
such that a new candidate status review is prudent.
    In light of these developments, the Service has withdrawn the June 
11, 2002, candidate status review and the determination based upon that 
status review. The Service is initiating a new candidate status review 
for the Rio Grande cutthroat trout that is consistent with the new 
framework for analyzing ``significant portion of its range'' and that 
incorporates new information.

Request for Information

    Our determination of candidate status for the Rio Grande cutthroat 
trout will be based upon the best available scientific and commercial 
data, as required under section 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act. We request that 
you submit any information on the Rio Grande cutthroat trout not 
previously submitted for our review. We are particularly interested in 
any relevant information gathered since June 2002 concerning the 
    (1) Current population status (e.g., population estimates, age-
structure, trend) for any of the populations of the Rio Grande 
cutthroat trout, including methodology used for population estimation 
and confidence intervals if available;
    (2) Rio Grande cutthroat trout's susceptibility to whirling 
disease, and distribution of Rio Grande cutthroat trout infected by 
whirling disease in New Mexico and Colorado;
    (3) Distribution of Tubifix tubifix worms in the streams of New 
Mexico and Colorado and the susceptibility of these worms to infection;
    (4) Genetic classification of any Rio Grande cutthroat trout 
    (5) Condition of occupied habitat;
    (6) Restoration projects that have been completed, including 
translocation, new barrier construction or barrier repair, habitat 
improvement projects, or nonnative trout removal projects;
    (7) Results of barrier surveys;
    (8) Distribution of nonnative trout or their population size and 
structure in streams currently occupied by Rio Grande cutthroat trout;
    (9) Status of any of the thirteen ``core'' populations identified 
in the 2002 status review (see 67 FR 39936);
    (10) Current and future threats to Rio Grande cutthroat trout 
populations and remaining habitat areas; and
    (11) Other regulatory mechanisms that address those threats, and 
the success of those mechanisms to date.
    (12) Whether any portion of the range of the species is a 
significant portion of the range, and whether there are threats in that 
portion sufficient to meet the standards for listing under the Act.
    Our candidate status review will take into consideration all 
comments and any additional information received, including all 
previous comments and information submitted during the previous 
candidate status review. As such, information provided during the 
previous status review does not need to be resubmitted.
    If you are submitting e-mail comments, please include ``Attn: Rio 
Grande cutthroat trout'' in your e-mail subject header. If you do not 
receive a confirmation from the system that we have received your e-
mail, contact us directly by calling our New Mexico Ecological Services 
Field Office at (505) 346-2525. Please note that comments must be 
received by the date specified in the DATES section in order to be 
considered and that the e-mail address (R2FWE_AL@fws.gov) will be 
unavailable 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 to withhold your personal identifying information from public 
review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.


    The primary author of this notice is the staff of the New Mexico 
Ecological Services Field Office.


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

    Dated: May 11, 2007.
Kenneth Stansell,
Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. E7-9590 Filed 5-21-07; 8:45 am]