[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 71 (Thursday, April 12, 2012)]
[Pages 21993-21994]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-8744]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R4-ES-2012-N027; FXES11130400000C2-123-FF04E00000]

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Notice of 
Availability of a Technical/Agency Draft Recovery Plan for Alabama 

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability and request for public comment.


SUMMARY: We, the Fish and Wildlife Service, announce the availability 
of the technical/agency draft recovery plan for the endangered Alabama 
Sturgeon. The draft recovery plan includes specific recovery objectives 
and criteria that would have to be met in order for us to downlist the 
species to be threatened under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as 
amended (Act). We request review and comment on this draft recovery 
plan from local, State, and Federal agencies, and the public.

DATES: In order to be considered, comments on the draft recovery plan 
must be received on or before June 11, 2012.

ADDRESSES: If you wish to review this technical/agency draft recovery 
plan, you may obtain a copy by contacting Jeff Powell, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Alabama Field Office, 1208-B Main Street, Daphne, AL 
36532; tel. (251) 441-6630, or by visiting either the Service's 
recovery plan Web site at http://endangered.fws.gov/recovery/index.html#plans or the Daphne Field Office Web site at http://www.fws.gov/daphne/.
    If you wish to comment, you may submit your comments by one of the 
following methods:
     You may submit written comments and materials to Jeff 
Powell, at the above address.
     You may hand-deliver written comments to our Alabama Field 
Office, at the above address, or fax them to (251) 441-6222.
     You may send comments by email to jeff_powell@fws.gov.
    For additional information about submitting comments, see the 
``Request for Public Comments'' section below.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jeff Powell, at the above addresses or 
by telephone: (251) 441-5858.



    The Alabama sturgeon (Scaphirhyncus suttkusi) was listed as

[[Page 21994]]

an endangered species under the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) on May 5, 
2000 (65 FR 26438). Its historic range encompassed all major rivers in 
the Mobile Basin, including the Alabama, Tombigbee, and Cahaba River 
systems, below the fall lines for each river. (Fall lines are changes 
in elevation (i.e., falls) that block navigation upstream by fish.) 
Recent collections of Alabama sturgeon have been restricted to the 
lower Alabama River, from below R.F. Henry Lock and Dam to the 
confluence of the Tombigbee River, and the lower Cahaba River near its 
confluence with the Alabama River; however, records are extremely rare. 
The last capture of an Alabama sturgeon was on April 3, 2007, by 
biologists at the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural 
Resources (ADCNR). Critical habitat was designated for the species on 
June 2, 2009 (74 FR 26488). The Alabama sturgeon is one of the rarest 
fish in the nation and may be close to extinction.
    Restoring an endangered or threatened animal or plant to the point 
where it is again a secure, self-sustaining member of its ecosystem is 
a primary goal of our endangered species program. To help guide the 
recovery effort, we prepare recovery plans for most listed species. 
Recovery plans describe actions considered necessary for conservation 
of the species, establish criteria for downlisting or delisting, and 
estimate time and cost for implementing recovery measures.
    The Act requires the development of recovery plans for listed 
species, unless such a plan would not promote the conservation of a 
particular species. Section 4(f) of the Act requires us to provide a 
public notice and an opportunity for public review and comment during 
recovery plan development. We will consider all information we receive 
during a public comment period prior to approval of each new or revised 
recovery plan. We and other Federal agencies will take these comments 
into account in the course of implementing approved recovery plans.

Recovery Plan Components

    The objective of this plan is to provide a framework for the 
recovery of the Alabama sturgeon, so that protection under the Act is 
no longer necessary. Delisting is not currently foreseeable, due to 
extreme curtailment of range and extensive modification to the riverine 
habitats. Therefore, if finalized, this draft recovery plan would 
establish downlisting criteria for the Alabama sturgeon so that it may 
be reclassified as threatened.
    Downlisting of the Alabama sturgeon from endangered to threatened 
will be considered when: (1) A population consisting of approximately 
500 sexually mature Alabama sturgeon is shown to be surviving and 
naturally reproducing in the Alabama/Cahaba Rivers; (2) population 
studies show that the Alabama sturgeon population is naturally 
recruiting (consisting of multiple age classes) and sustainable over a 
period of 20 years (2-3 generations), and no longer requires hatchery 
augmentation; and (3) an agreement is in place that ensures adequate 
flows are being delivered down the Alabama River to allow for 
successful development of sturgeon larvae, and that fish are able to 
move successfully both upstream and downstream at dams on the Alabama 

Request for Public Comments

    We request written comments on the draft recovery plan. We will 
consider all comments we receive by the date specified in DATES prior 
to final approval of the plan.

Public Availability of Comments

    Before including your address, phone number, email 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.


    The authority for this action is section 4(f) of the Endangered 
Species Act, 16 U.S.C. 1533 (f).

    Dated: February 1, 2012.
Mark J. Musaus,
Acting Regional Director, Southeast Region.
[FR Doc. 2012-8744 Filed 4-11-12; 8:45 am]