[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 177 (Thursday, September 12, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 56192-56201]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-22129]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[Docket No. FWS-R4-ES-2013-0100; 4500030113]
RIN 1018-AY72

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Threatened Status 
for Arabis georgiana (Georgia rockcress)

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, propose to list Arabis 
georgiana (Georgia rockcress), a plant species in Georgia and Alabama, 
as threatened under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended 
(Act). If we finalize this rule as proposed, it would add this species 
to the List of Endangered and Threatened Plants and extend the Act's 
protections to this species.

DATES: We will accept comments received or postmarked on or before 
November 12, 2013. Comments submitted electronically using the Federal 
eRulemaking Portal (see ADDRESSES section, below) must be received by 
11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the closing date. We must receive requests 
for public hearings, in writing, at the address shown in the FOR 
FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section by October 28, 2013.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by one of the following methods:
    (1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter FWS-R4-ES-2013-0100, 
which is the docket number for this rulemaking. Then, in the Search 
panel on the left side of the screen, under the Document Type heading, 
click on the Proposed Rules link to locate this document. You may 
submit a comment by clicking on ``Comment Now!''
    (2) By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public 
Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R4-ES-2013-0100; Division of Policy and 
Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax 
Drive, MS 2042-PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.
    We request that you send comments only by the methods described 
above. We will post all information received on http://www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we will post any 
personal information you provide us (see the Information Requested 
section below for more details).

[[Page 56193]]

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sandy Tucker, Field Supervisor, U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, 105 Westpark Dr., Suite D, Athens, GA 30606; 
telephone 706-613-9493; facsimile 706-613-6059. Persons who use a 
telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal 
Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We will refer to Arabis georgiana by its 
common name, Georgia rockcress, in this proposed rule.

Information Requested

    We intend that any final action resulting from this proposed rule 
will be based on the best scientific and commercial data available and 
be as accurate and as effective as possible. Therefore, we request 
comments or information from other concerned governmental agencies, 
Native American tribes, the scientific community, industry, or any 
other interested parties concerning this proposed rule. We particularly 
seek comments concerning:
    (1) Georgia rockcress's biology, range, and population trends, 
    (a) Biological or ecological requirements of the species, including 
habitat requirements for growth and reproduction;
    (b) Genetics and taxonomy;
    (c) Historical and current range, including distribution patterns;
    (d) Historical and current population levels, and current and 
projected trends; and
    (e) Past and ongoing conservation measures for the species, its 
habitat, or both.
    (2) Factors that may affect the continued existence of the species, 
which may include habitat modification or destruction, overutilization, 
disease, predation, the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms, 
or other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence.
    (3) Biological, commercial trade, or other relevant data concerning 
any threats (or lack thereof) to this species and existing regulations 
that may be addressing those threats.
    (4) Additional information concerning the historical and current 
status, of this species, including the locations of any additional 
populations of this species.
    Please include sufficient information with your submission (such as 
scientific journal articles or other publications) to allow us to 
verify any scientific or commercial information you include.
    Please note that submissions merely stating support for or 
opposition to the action under consideration without providing 
supporting information, although noted, will not be considered in 
making a determination, as section 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act directs that 
determinations as to whether any species is an endangered or threatened 
species must be made ``solely on the basis of the best scientific and 
commercial data available.''
    You may submit your comments and materials concerning this proposed 
rule by one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. We request 
that you send comments only by the methods described in the ADDRESSES 
    If you submit information via http://www.regulations.gov, your 
entire submission--including any personal identifying information--will 
be posted on the Web site. If your submission is made via a hardcopy 
that includes personal identifying information, you may request at the 
top of your document that we withhold this information from public 
review. However, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. We 
will post all hardcopy submissions on http://www.regulations.gov. 
Please include sufficient information with your comments to allow us to 
verify any scientific or commercial information you include.
    Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting 
documentation we used in preparing this proposed rule, will be 
available for public inspection on http://www.regulations.gov, or by 
appointment, during normal business hours, at the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Ecological Services Office in Athens, Georgia (see 

Public Hearing

    Section 4(b)(5) of the Act provides for one or more public hearings 
on this proposal, if requested. Requests must be received within 45 
days after the date of publication of this proposed rule in the Federal 
Register. Such requests must be sent to the address shown in the FOR 
FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section. We will schedule public hearings 
on this proposal, if any are requested, and announce the dates, times, 
and places of those hearings, as well as how to obtain reasonable 
accommodations, in the Federal Register and local newspapers at least 
15 days before the hearing.

Peer Review

    In accordance with our joint policy on peer review published in the 
Federal Register on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 34270), we will seek the expert 
opinions of three appropriate and independent specialists regarding 
this proposed rule. The purpose of peer review is to ensure that our 
listing determination is based on scientifically sound data, 
assumptions, and analyses. The peer reviewers have expertise in the 
species' biology, field identification, and habitat requirements; have 
firsthand experience working with this species; and are currently 
reviewing the species status report, which will inform our 
determination. We will invite comment from the peer reviewers during 
the public comment period for this proposed rule (see DATES).

Previous Federal Actions

    The Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) directed the Secretary of the 
Smithsonian Institution to prepare a report on endangered and 
threatened plant species, which was published as House Document No. 94-
51. The Service published a notice on July 1, 1975 (40 FR 27824), in 
which it announced that more than 3,000 native plant taxa named in the 
Smithsonian's report, as well as other taxa, including Georgia 
rockcress, would be reviewed for possible inclusion in the List of 
Endangered and Threatened Plants. The 1975 notice was superseded on 
December 15, 1980 (45 FR 82480), by a new comprehensive notice of 
review for native plants that took into account the earlier Smithsonian 
report and other accumulated information. Complete updates of the 
notice of review for native plants were published on September 27, 1985 
(50 FR 39526), on February 21, 1990 (55 FR 6184), and on September 30, 
1993 (58 FR 51144). In these documents, Georgia rockcress was listed as 
a Category 2 candidate, a taxon for which information in the possession 
of the Service indicated that proposing to list as endangered or 
threatened was possibly appropriate, but for which sufficient data on 
biological vulnerability and threats were not available to support 
listing rules. Further biological research and field study usually were 
necessary to ascertain the status of taxa in this category. On February 
26, 1996, the Service published a notice of review for wildlife and 
plants that eliminated candidate categories, and Georgia rockcress was 
not included as a candidate in that document. Georgia rockcress was 
again elevated to candidate status on October 25, 1999 (64 FR 57534). 
The plant appeared in subsequent candidate notices of review on October 
30, 2001 (66 FR 54808), June 13, 2002 (67 FR 40657), May 4, 2004 (69 FR 
24876), May 11, 2005 (70 FR 24870), September 12, 2006 (71 FR 53756), 
December 6, 2007 (72 FR 69034), December 10, 2008 (73 FR 75176), 
November 9, 2009 (74 FR 57804), November 10, 2010 (75 FR 69222), 
October 26, 2011 (76 FR 66370), and

[[Page 56194]]

November 21, 2012 (77 FR 69993). We received an additional petition on 
May 11, 2004, for this species, which we responded to in the May 11, 
2005, candidate notice of review (70 FR 24870); the species retained 
its designation as a candidate as a result.
    Elsewhere in today's Federal Register, we propose to designate 
critical habitat for Georgia rockcress under the Act.


    Georgia rockcress was first collected in 1841, by Boykin from the 
vicinity of the Chattahoochee River in Georgia. Several other 
collections of this species were made in the late 1800s; however, 
Harper was the first to document its distinctiveness, after seeing it 
in fruit in 1901, on the bank of the Chattahoochee River in Stewart 
County, Georgia. Harper later described it as a distinct species in 
1903 (Allison 1995, p. 4). Georgia rockcress was maintained as a 
distinct species (Arabis georgiana) in Hopkins's 1937 monograph of 
Arabis in the eastern United States (Allison 1995, p. 3).
    Georgia rockcress is a perennial herb up to 90 centimeters (cm) (35 
inches (in.)) tall. The basal leaves are oblanceolate (lance-shaped but 
broadest above the middle and tapering toward the base), rounded at the 
apex, toothed on the margins, 4 to 8 cm (2 to 3 in.) long, and with or 
without long, tapered petioles. The basal leaves form a basal rosette 
and usually persist through the fruiting season with green lower 
surfaces. The stem leaves are alternate, lanceolate (lance-shaped) to 
narrowly elliptic, 1 to 5 cm (0.4 to 2.0 in.) long, and somewhat 
clasping around the stems. The upper surfaces of the stem leaves have 
stiff, branched hairs when young and are smoothish when mature. All 
leaves tend to be finely hairy. The flowers are borne in a terminal 
inflorescence (cluster at the tip of the stem) that is somewhat loosely 
branched. There are four, white petals that measure 6 to 10 millimeters 
(mm) (0.2 to 0.4 in.) long. The fruit stands erect as a slender (1 mm 
or 0.04 in. wide), relatively long (5 to 7 cm or 2 to 3 in.) pod that 
splits in two, leaving behind a thin, papery, lengthwise partition. 
Seeds are brownish, oblong, about 2 mm (0.1 in.) long, and are borne in 
single rows on each side of the partition. Flowering occurs from March 
to April, with fruiting beginning in May and into early July (Allison 
1995, p. 4; Patrick et al. 1995, pp. 17-18; Chafin 2007, pp. 47-48; 
Schotz 2010, p. 3).
    Georgia rockcress is primarily associated with high bluffs along 
major river courses, with dry-mesic to mesic soils of open rocky 
woodland and forested slopes, generally within regions underlain or 
otherwise influenced by granite, sandstone, or limestone. Georgia 
rockcress grows in a variety of dry situations, including shallow soil 
accumulations on rocky bluffs, ecotones of sloping rock outcrops, and 
sandy loam along eroding riverbanks. It is occasionally found in 
adjacent mesic woods (or glades), but it will not persist in heavily 
shaded conditions. This species is adapted to high or moderately high 
light intensities, generally with a mature canopy providing partial 
shading; the habitat supports a relatively closed to open canopy 
typified by Juniperus virginiana (eastern red cedar), Ostrya virginiana 
(American hophornbeam), Quercus muehlenbergii (chinquapin oak), 
Fraxinus americana (white ash), Acer barbatum (southern sugar maple), 
and Cercis canadensis (eastern redbud) with a rich diversity of grasses 
and forbs characterizing the herb layer, which might include: Carex 
cherokeensis (Cherokee sedge), Bromus purgans (hairy woodland brome), 
Chasmanthium sessiliflorum (longleaf woodoats), Piptochaetium avenaceum 
(blackseed speargrass), Pellaea atropurpurea (purple cliffbreak), 
Melica mutica (two-flower melic grass), Poa autumnalis (autumn 
bluegrass), Delphinium alabamicum (Alabama larkspur), Myosotis 
macrosperma (largeseed forget-me-not), Desmodium ochroleucum (cream 
ticktrefoil), Dodecatheon meadia (shooting star), Solidago auriculata 
(eared goldenrod), Symphyotrichum shortii (Short's aster), and many 
more. The combination of a mature canopy on extreme slope with shallow 
soils lends this habitat to discrete disturbance events with wind-
thrown trees or sloughing soils that create canopy gaps and preclude 
leaf litter accumulation. Georgia rockcress exploits the exposed soil 
and increased light created by the canopy gap dynamics.
    This species occurs on soils that are circumneutral to slightly 
basic (or buffered) from the Lower Gulf Coastal Plain, Upper Gulf 
Coastal Plain, Red Hills, Black Belt, Piedmont, and the Ridge and 
Valley Physiographic Provinces (Schotz 2010, pp. 4-6). Extensive 
searches have been conducted for this species throughout these 
physiographic provinces in both Alabama and Georgia (Allison 1995, pp. 
1-31; Allison 1999, pp. 1-7). Allison (1995, pp. 18-31) conducted the 
first comprehensive survey and compiled existing data on known 
occurrences. As part of this effort, he surveyed 205 sites over nine 
counties in Georgia and discovered only four previously unknown 
populations (a 2 percent success rate). Schotz (2010, p. 7) visited a 
total of 44 sites (16 historically occupied and 28 new sites), and of 
the 16 historically occupied sites, 14 were still extant and 2 sites 
appeared to be extirpated. In addition, one new site was discovered. 
Currently, 18 populations are documented to occur across Alabama and 
Georgia. Twelve of these occur solely in Alabama; five occur solely in 
Georgia; and one extends into both States. Of the 12 populations in 
Alabama, 6 occur in the Ridge and Valley region (all in Bibb County), 
and 6 occur in the Coastal Plain region (Dallas (2), Elmore, Wilcox, 
Monroe and Sumter Counties). Of the five populations found solely in 
Georgia, three occur in the Ridge and Valley region (Floyd and Gordon 
Counties); one occurs in the Piedmont region (Harris/Muscogee 
Counties); and one occurs in the Coastal Plain region (Clay County). 
The one population that extends into both States (Russell County, AL/
Chattahoochee County, GA) also occurs in the Coastal Plain region 
(Allison 1995, pp. 13-14; Allison 1999, pp. 1-7; Moffett 2007, p. 1; 
Schotz 2010, pp. 48-50). A historical location from Stewart County, 
Georgia, has not been relocated despite repeated searches, including 
the most recent attempt in 2005 (Moffett 2007, p. 1).
    Georgia rockcress is rare throughout its range. Moffett (2007, p. 
8) found approximately 2,140 plants from all known sites in Georgia. 
During surveys in 1999, Allison (1999, pp. 1-7) found that populations 
of this species typically had a limited number of individuals 
restricted over a small area. Of the nine known localities (six 
populations) in Georgia, Allison (1995, pp. 18-28) reported that six 
sites consisted of only 3 to 25 plants, and the remaining three sites 
had 51 to 63 individuals. However, a 2007 survey, by Moffett (2007, p. 
8), of the six Georgia populations resulted in counts of 5 or fewer 
plants at one population; 30 to 50 plants at two populations; 150 
plants at one population; and two populations (greatly expanded from 
1995) of almost 1,000 plants each. In 2009, plants could not be 
relocated at one Floyd County, Georgia, site, and only one plant was 
seen at another site where 25 to 50 had been documented in 2007 (Elmore 
2010, p. 1). Moffett (2007, pp. 1-2) indicated that the overall status 
of the three populations in the Ridge and Valley ecoregion (Floyd and 
Gordon Counties, Georgia) was poor, as these populations tended to be 
small, and declining in size and vigor. The largest population in 
Georgia is the multi-site Goat Rock Dam

[[Page 56195]]

complex in the Piedmont province (Harris/Muscogee Counties) with 
approximately 1,000 flowering stems at last census (Moffett 2007, p. 
2). Fort Benning also supports a vigorous population with an estimated 
1,000 plants (Moffett 2007, p. 2). Georgia rockcress has been 
extirpated from its type locality near Omaha, Georgia, in Stewart 
County (Moffett 2007, p. 2). At another site, Blacks Bluff, Georgia, 
rockcress had declined to a few individuals by 2007 (Moffett 2007, p. 
2), but 100 individuals were replanted in 2009. During a count done in 
2013, 31 individuals were found to be surviving at the site, and more 
than 500 seeds were broadcast to supplement this population (Goldstrohm 
2013, p. 1).
    Schotz (2010, p. 8) documented fewer than 3,000 plants from all 
known sites in Alabama. Populations from Bibb County, Alabama, had 
between 16 and 229 plants, with 42 and 498 from Dallas County, 47 from 
Elmore County, 414 from Monroe County, 842 from Russell County, 4 from 
Sumter County, and 551 from Wilcox County. Allison (1999, pp. 2-4) 
originally documented this species at 18 localities (representing seven 
populations) in Bibb County. However, one of these Bibb County 
populations was not relocated during surveys in 2001 (Allison 2002, 
pers. comm.), and plants were not relocated at two other sites in 
Alabama (Schotz 2010, pp. 13 and 57). Therefore, it is believed that 
Georgia rockcress has been extirpated from these three sites in 

Summary of Factors Affecting the Species

    The Act directs us to determine whether any species is an 
endangered species or a threatened species based on the factors, singly 
or in combination, that are set forth in section 4(a)(1) of the Act, 
which are:
    (A) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or 
curtailment of its habitat or range;
    (B) Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes;
    (C) Disease or predation;
    (D) The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or
    (E) Other natural or manmade factors affection its continued 
    In this section, we summarize the biological condition of the 
species and its resources, and the influences on such to assess the 
species' overall viability and the risks to that viability.
    Georgia rockcress generally occurs on steep river bluffs often with 
shallow soils overlaying rock or with exposed rock outcroppings. These 
edaphic conditions result in micro-disturbances, such as sloughing 
soils with limited accumulation of leaf litter or canopy gap dynamics, 
possibly with wind-thrown trees, which provide small patches of exposed 
mineral soil in a patchy distribution across the river bluff (Schotz 
2010, p. 6). While Georgia rockcress needs small-scale disturbances 
with slightly increased light, limited competition for water, and 
exposed soils for seed germination, the species is a poor competitor 
and is easily outcompeted by aggressive competitors (Alison 1995, p. 8; 
Moffett 2007, p. 4; Schotz 2010, p. 9). Natural large-scale 
disturbances, such as fire and catastrophic flooding, are unlikely to 
occur on the steep river bluffs occupied by Georgia rockcress. However, 
human-induced disturbance has fragmented river bluff habitats and 
created conditions favorable to invasion of nonnative species (Factor 
    Populations of Georgia rockcress are healthiest in areas receiving 
full or partial sunlight. This species seems to be able to tolerate 
moderate shading, but it exists primarily as vegetative rosettes in 
heavily shaded areas (Moffett 2007, p. 4). Those populations occurring 
in forested areas will decline as the forest canopy closes. Allison 
(1999, p. 4) attributed the decline of a population in Bibb County, 
Alabama, to canopy closure. In addition, the small number of 
individuals at the majority of the sites makes these populations 
vulnerable to local extinctions from unfavorable habitat conditions 
such as extreme shading.
    Habitat fragmentation is a major feature of many landscapes within 
the eastern deciduous forest and creates boundaries or edges where 
disturbed patches of vegetation are adjacent to intact habitat. 
Disturbance events fragment the forest, creating edge habitat and 
promoting the invasion of nonnative species (Honu and Gibson 2006, pp. 
263-264). Edges function as sources of propagules for disturbed 
habitats and represent complex environmental gradients with changes in 
light availability, temperature, humidity, wind speed, and soil 
moisture, with plant species responding directly to environmental 
changes (Meiners et al. 1999, p. 261). Edge effect, including any 
canopy break due to timber harvest, fields, or maintained rights-of-
way, may penetrate as far as 175 meters (574 feet), resulting in 
changes in community composition (Honu and Gibson 2006, p. 264; 
Gehlhausen et al. 2000, p. 21; Meiners et al. 1999, p. 266; Fraver 
1994). Roads create a canopy break, destroy the soil profile, and 
disrupt hydrology of the bluff habitat. Roads are also known corridors 
for the spread of invasive plant species (Forman et al. 2003, pp. 75-
112), as disturbed soil and the maintenance of open, sunny conditions 
create favorable conditions where invasive species can establish and 
spread into the forest interior (Fraver 1994, pp. 828-830). Aspect is 
an important factor in determining how forest microclimate and 
vegetation are influenced by the external environment (Gehlhausen et 
al. 2000, p. 30; Fraver 1994, pp. 828-830). Aspect likely increases the 
distance that the edge effect can influence microclimate and plays an 
important role on the steep bluff habitat occupied by Georgia 
rockcress. Edge effects are reduced by a protective border with buffers 
that eliminate most microhabitat edge effect (Honu and Gibson 2006, p. 
255; Gehlhausen et al. 2000, p. 32).
    Currently, habitat degradation, more than its outright destruction, 
is the most serious threat to this species' continued existence. Most 
of the Coastal Plain rivers surveyed by Allison (1995, p. 11) were 
considered unsuitable for Georgia rockcress because their banks had 
been disturbed to the point where there was no remaining vegetative 
buffer. Recent habitat degradation (i.e., vegetation denuded and 
replaced by hard-packed, exposed mineral soil) has occurred at several 
Georgia sites in association with residential development and campsites 
atop the bluffs (Moffett 2007, pp. 3-4). Disturbance associated with 
timber harvesting, road building, and grazing in areas where the plant 
exists has created favorable conditions for the invasion of nonnative 
weeds in this species' habitat (Factor E) (Schotz 2010, p. 10). Timber 
operations that remove the forest canopy promote early successional 
species and result in the decline of Georgia rockcress (Schotz 2010, p. 
10). Encroachment of development in the form of bridges, roads, houses, 
commercial buildings, or utility lines allowing for the introduction of 
nonnative species (Factor E) also result in the decline of Georgia 
rockcress (Schotz 2010, pp. 9-10; Moffett 2007, pp. 2-7; Alison 1995, 
pp. 7-18).
    The riparian bluff habitat surrounding 17 of the known populations 
has been adversely impacted in some way, and in many cases the habitat 
has suffered multiple impacts. Blacks Bluff, Fort Benning (Georgia), 
McGuire Ford, Limestone Park, Prairie Bluff, and Fort Benning (Alabama) 
all have roads that bisect the habitat while Murphys Bluff, Pratts 
Ferry, Fort Tombecbee, and Resaca Bluffs have roads associated with 
bridges that impact bluff habitat (Schotz 2010, pp. 20-57; Moffett 
2007, pp. 5-8; Allison 1999, pp. 3-8; Allison

[[Page 56196]]

1995, pp. 18-28). Housing development requires a road network and 
further impacts bluff habitat by creating canopy gaps and soil 
disturbances, with landscaping that may introduce nonnative plants. 
McGuire Ford, Prairie Bluff, Fort Tombecbee, and Creek Side Glades have 
bluff habitat that has been impacted by housing development (Schotz 
2010, pp. 20-57; Allison 1999, pp. 3-8). Commercial development has the 
same impact as housing; Resaca Bluff and Fort Tombecbee are impacted by 
commercial development (Schotz 2010, pp. 20-57; Moffett 2007, pp. 5-8; 
Allison 1999, pp. 3-8; Allison 1995, pp. 18-28). McGuire Ford and Fort 
Toulouse have maintained fields for pasture or recreational use (Schotz 
2010, pp. 20-57; Allison 1999, pp. 3-8). The removal of the canopy to 
maintain a field provides an opportunity for nonnatives to invade. 
Utility lines have created canopy breaks at Creek Side Glades, Little 
Schulz Creek, and Goat Rock Dam (Schotz 2010, pp. 20-57; Moffett 2007, 
pp. 5-8; Allison 1999, pp. 3-8; Allison 1995, pp. 18-28). Timber 
harvesting activities create soil disturbance and canopy breaks that 
provide access for nonnative plants to invade. Durant Bend, Portland 
Landing, Fort Gains, Pratts Ferry, Fern Glade and Six Mile Creek, and 
Whitmore Bluff have all been impacted by timber harvesting activates 
(Schotz 2010, pp. 20-57; Moffett 2007, pp. 5-8; Allison 1999, pp. 3-8; 
Allison 1995, pp. 18-28). While these impacts are to the bluff habitat 
that surrounds these populations, these disturbances eliminate 
potential habitat for expansion of populations, fragment the 
populations, and introduce nonnative species (Factor E).

                 Table 1--Impacts to Populations of Georgia Rockcress From Human-Induced Factors
                                              and Nonnative Plants
                                                                  Human-induced impact    Impacted by nonnative
              Site name                     County/state               (factor A)           plants (factor E)
Fort Tombecbee......................  Sumter/AL...............  Road with bridge,        None.
                                                                 Housing, Commercial.
Marshalls Bluff.....................  Monroe/AL...............  Quarry.................  None.
Prairie Bluff.......................  Wilcox/AL...............  Road, Housing,           Chinese privet and
                                                                 Hydropower.              Japanese honeysuckle.
Portland Landing River Slopes.......  Dallas/AL...............  Timber harvest,          China berrytree,
                                                                 Hydropower.              Japanese honeysuckle,
                                                                                          and kudzu.
Durant Bend.........................  Dallas/AL...............  Timber harvest.........  Chinese privet and
                                                                                          Japanese honeysuckle.
Murphys Bluff Bridge Cahaba River...  Bibb/AL.................  Road with bridge.......  Chinese privet,
                                                                                          Japanese honeysuckle,
                                                                                          and others.
Creekside Glades and Little Schulz    Bibb/AL.................  Housing, Utility lines.  None.
Cottingham Creek Bluff and Pratts     Bibb/AL.................  Road with bridge,        Chinese privet and
 Ferry.                                                          Timber harvest.          Japanese honeysuckle.
Fern Glade and Six Mile Creek.......  Bibb/AL.................  Timber harvest.........  Chinese privet and
                                                                                          Japanese honeysuckle.
Browns Dam Glade North and South....  Bibb/AL.................  None...................  Chinese privet.
McGuire Ford  Limestone      Bibb/AL.................  Road, Housing,           None.
 Park.                                                           Maintained field.
Fort Toulouse State Park............  Elmore/AL...............  Maintained field/        Japanese honeysuckle.
Fort Gaines Bluff...................  Clay/GA.................  Timber harvest.........  Japanese honeysuckle.
Fort Benning (GA) and (AL)..........  Chattahoochee/GA and      Road...................  Chinese privet and
                                       Russell/AL.                                        Japanese honeysuckle.
Goat Rock North and South...........  Harris, Muscogee/GA.....  Hydropower and Utility   Chinese privet and
                                                                 lines.                   Japanese honeysuckle.
Blacks Bluff Preserve...............  Floyd/GA................  Road, Quarry...........  Napalese browntop and
                                                                                          Japanese honeysuckle.
Whitmore Bluff......................  Floyd/GA................  Timber harvest.........  Japanese honeysuckle.
Resaca Bluffs.......................  Gordon/GA...............  Road with bridge,        Chinese privet and
                                                                 Commercial.              Japanese honeysuckle.

    Quarrying destroys the bluff habitat by removing the canopy and 
soil. The Blacks Bluff population of Georgia rockcress in Floyd County, 
Georgia, appears to be a surviving remnant of a once larger population. 
The primary habitat at this locality has been extensively quarried 
(Allison 1995, p. 10). The Marshalls Bluff population in Monroe County, 
Alabama, is adjacent to an area that was once quarried (Schotz 2010, 
pp. 45-47). Rock bluffs along rivers have also been favored sites for 
hydropower dam construction. The construction of Goat Rock Dam in 
Harris County, Georgia, destroyed a portion of suitable habitat for a 
population of Georgia rockcress, and the current population there may 
also represent a remnant of a once much larger population (Allison 
1995, p. 10). The Prairie Bluff and Portland landing populations in 
Wilcox and Dallas Counties, Alabama, occur on the banks of William 
``Bill'' Dannelly Reservoir, where potential habitat was likely 
inundated (Schotz 2010, pp. 41 and 56). Due to the obscure nature of 
Georgia rockcress, it is likely that other populations on rocky bluffs, 
in the Piedmont and Ridge and Valley provinces, were destroyed by 
quarrying or inundated by hydropower projects (Allison 1995, p. 10).
    Conservation efforts by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in Bibb 
County, Alabama, have included the land acquisition of the entire 
population of Georgia rockcress at Browns Dam Glade and a small portion 
of the Cottingham Creek Bluff population, and the proposed acquisition 
of the Six Mile Creek population.
    The Blacks Bluff Preserve population, Floyd County, Georgia, is in 
private ownership with a conservation easement held by TNC on the 
property. There were 27 Georgia rockcress reported on this site in 
1995; however, the presence of nonnative species has since extirpated 
Georgia rockcress from

[[Page 56197]]

this site. The Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance (GPCA) and TNC 
agreed to bolster the existing population with plants grown from seed 
collected at the two nearby (Ridge and Valley physiographic province) 
populations: Whitmore Bluff and Resaca Bluffs. The Chattahoochee Nature 
Center collected seed and grew 35 plants from Whitmore's Bluff and 65 
plants from Resaca Bluffs. In 2008, 100 Georgia rockcress plants were 
planted in this unit, with 31 Georgia rockcress surveyed on this site 
in 2013 (Goldstrohm 2013, p. 3). In April 2013, an additional 15,000 
seeds where sown directly onsite to attempt to recruit new plants to 
this population (Goldstrohm 2013, p.1).
    Two populations are on land owned by the Federal Government, and 
two on land owned by the State of Alabama. In Federal ownership, the 
entire Fern Glade population, Bibb County, Alabama, is on land within 
the Cahaba National Wildlife Refuge. Also, along the banks of the 
Chattahoochee River in Russell County, Alabama, and Chattahoochee 
County, Georgia, the entire population at Fort Benning is on land that 
is in Federal ownership. The Department of Defense is aware of the two 
sites on the Fort Benning property and is working with TNC to monitor 
and provide for the conservation of these populations (Elmore 2010, pp. 
1-2). However, the current integrated natural resources management plan 
(INRMP) for Fort Benning does not address Georgia rockcress or its 
habitat (INRMP 2001). The Prairie Bluff population in Wilcox County, 
Alabama, may be within an area under a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 
easement. The State of Alabama owns Fort Tombecbee in Sumtner County 
and Fort Toulouse State Park in Elmore County, but there is no 
protection afforded to these State-owned properties.
    The majority of the Goat Rock Dam population in Georgia (Harris/
Muscogee Counties) is mostly located on buffer lands of the Georgia 
Power Company and receives a level of protection in the form of a 
shoreline management plan with vegetative management buffers to 
developed to prohibit disturbance and protect Georgia rockcress; this 
management plan was developed during Federal Energy Regulatory 
Commission (FERC) licensing (FERC 2004, pp. 7, 18-19, 29-30; Moffett 
2007, p. 4). However, the southernmost portion of the Goat Rock Dam 
population is on privately owned land.
    In total at least some portions of nine populations are on land 
owned by potential conservation partners; however, none of these 
populations have a formal management plan to benefit Georgia rockcress. 
These populations are afforded varying degrees of protection, and while 
none of these lands are likely to be developed, they could be subject 
to other impacts including recreation, military training, road 
construction, inappropriate timber harvest, and continued pressure from 
invasive species. None of the populations are on land that is subject 
to a management plan, and only the Goat Rock Dam and Blacks Bluff 
populations are on land on which efforts have been directed to managing 
for Georgia rockcress.
    Historically, suitable habitat was destroyed or degraded due to 
quarrying, residential development, timber harvesting, road building, 
recreation, and hydropower dam construction. Severe impacts continue to 
occur across the range of this species, from quarrying, residential 
development, timber harvesting, road building, recreation, and 
hydropower dam construction, and one or more of these activities pose 
ongoing threats to all known populations. Given the extremely small 
size of Georgia rockress populations, projects that destroy even a 
small amount of habitat can have a serious impact on this species, 
including existing genetic diversity of the species (Factor E).
    Overutilization is not known to pose a threat to this species 
(Alison 1995, p. 10; Moffett 2007, p. 2; Schotz 2010, p. 11).
    Limited browsing of Georgia rockcress plants has been noted in 
Georgia (Allison 1995, p. 10; Moffett 2007, p. 3; Schotz 2010, p. 11). 
However, disease and predation are not considered to be a threat to 
this species.
    Georgia rockcress is listed as threatened by the State of Georgia 
(Patrick et al. 1995, p. 17; Chaffin 2007, p. 47). This State listing 
provides legal standing under the Georgia Wildflower Preservation Act 
of 1973. This law prohibits the removal of this and other wildflower 
species from public land and regulates the taking and sale of plants 
from private land. This law also triggers the Georgia Environmental 
Protection Act process in the event of potential impacts to a 
population by State activities on State-owned land (Moffett 2007, p. 
3). However, the greater problem of habitat destruction and degradation 
is not addressed by this law (Patrick et al. 1995, p. 6); therefore, 
there is no protection from projects like road construction, 
construction of reservoirs, installation of utility lines, quarrying, 
or timber harvest that degrade or fragment habitat, especially on 
private lands. Moreover, the decline of the species in Georgia is also 
attributed to invasive species (Factor E), and there are no State 
regulatory protections in place to ameliorate that threat on private 
lands. In Alabama, there is no protection or regulation, either direct 
or indirect, for Georgia rockcress (Schotz 2010, pp. 2, 11).
    Climate change will be a particular challenge for biodiversity 
because the interaction of additional stressors associated with climate 
change and current stressors may push species beyond their ability to 
survive (Lovejoy 2005, pp. 325-326). The synergistic implications of 
climate change and habitat fragmentation are the most threatening facet 
of climate change for biodiversity (Hannah and Lovejoy 2005, p. 4). 
Current climate change predictions for terrestrial areas in the 
Northern Hemisphere indicate warmer air temperatures, more intense 
precipitation events, and increased summer continental drying (Field et 
al. 1999, pp. 1-3; Hayhoe et al. 2004, p. 12422; Cayan et al. 2005, p. 
6; Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2007, p. 1181). 
Climate change may lead to increased frequency and duration of severe 
storms and droughts (Golladay et al. 2004, p. 504; McLaughlin et al. 
2002, p. 6074; Cook et al. 2004, p. 1015).).
    While severe drought would be expected to have an effect on the 
plant community, including the mature canopy and canopy gap dynamic, 
and increased storm intensity could accelerate erosion-related 
disturbances, the information currently available on the effects of 
global climate change and increasing temperatures does not make 
sufficiently precise estimates of the location and magnitude of the 
effects. In addition, we are not currently aware of any climate change 
information specific to the habitat of the Georgia rockcress that would 
indicate which areas may become important to the species in the future.
    The primary threat to extant populations of Georgia rockcress is 
the ongoing invasion of nonnative species due to the degradation of its 
habitat. Encroachment from timber management and development in the 
form of bridges, roads, houses, commercial buildings, or utility lines 
allowing for the introduction of nonnative species has resulted in the 
decline of Georgia rockcress (Schotz 2010, pp. 9-10; Moffett 2007, pp. 
2-7; Alison 1995, pp. 7-18). Human-induced disturbance (quarrying, 
residential development, timber harvesting, road building, recreation 
and hydropower dam construction) has fragmented river bluff habitats 
and created conditions so that

[[Page 56198]]

these bluff habitats are receptive to invasion of nonnative species 
(Honu and Gibson 2006, pp. 263-264). Disturbance of 17 of the 18 known 
sites occupied by this species has provided opportunities for the 
invasion of aggressive, nonnative weeds, especially Lonicera japonica 
(Japanese honeysuckle). This species is a gap adaptor, that can easily 
invade disturbed areas to 90 meters (295 feet) into a forested habitat 
(Honu and Gibson 2006, p. 264). Other nonnatives include Melia 
azedarach (Chinaberry or bead-tree), Pueraria montana var. lobata 
(kudzu), Albizia julibrissin (mimosa), Ligustrum japonica (Japanese 
privet), Ligustrum sinense (Chinese privet), Lygodium japonicum 
(Japanese climbing fern), and Microstegium vimineum (Napalese browntop) 
(Alison 1995, pp. 18-29; Moffett 2007, p. 9; Schotz 2010, pp. 10, 19-
57). While edge habitats are subject to invasion of nonnative species, 
a more limited group of nonnative plants can then invade closed-canopy 
habitats; furthermore, species with a rosette form (e.g., Georgia 
rockcress) are more susceptible to exclusion by some nonnatives 
(Meiners et al. 1999, p. 266). Georgia rockcress is not a strong 
competitor and is usually found in areas where growth of other plants 
is restrained due to the shallowness of the soils or the dynamic status 
of the site (e.g., eroding riverbanks) (Allison 1995, pp. 7-8; Moffett 
2007, p. 4). However, nonnative species are effectively invading these 
riverbank sites, and the long-term survival of the at least five 
populations in the Coastal Plain province is questionable (Allison 
1995, p. 11). This species is only able to avoid competition with 
nonnative species where the soil depth is limited (e.g., rocky bluffs) 
(Allison 1995, pp. 7-8; Moffett 2007, p. 4)
    Competition from nonnative species, exacerbated by adjacent land 
use changes (Factor A), likely contributed to the loss of the 
population at the type locality in Stewart County, Georgia (Allison 
1995, p. 28), and possibly to one of the Bibb County, Alabama, 
populations and several other sites in this general area (Allison 2002, 
pers. comm.; Alabama Natural Heritage Program 2004, p. 2). Additional 
populations are also currently being negatively affected by competition 
with nonnative plants. According to Moffett (2007, p. 3), most of the 
sites in Georgia are being impacted by the presence of invasive plant 
species, primarily Japanese honeysuckle, Chinese privet, and Napalese 
browntop. Japanese honeysuckle was observed growing on individual 
plants of Georgia rockcress at three sites visited by Allison in 1995. 
At a fourth site, plants growing in a mat of Nepalese browntop declined 
in number from 27 individuals in 1995 (Allison 1995, p. 19) to 3 in 
2006 (Moffet 2007 p. 8). Allison (1995, pp. 18-28; Allison 1999, pp. 1-
5) considered four other populations to be imminently threatened by the 
nearby presence of nonnative plants. Thus, approximately 40 percent of 
the populations visited by Allison in 1995 were reportedly threatened 
by nonnative species. By 2007, Moffett (2007, p. 3) reported all six of 
the Georgia rockcress populations in Georgia were threatened by 
nonnative species. By 2010, Schotz (2010, pp. 20-57) reported 9 of the 
13 populations in Alabama were impacted by nonnative species. Currently 
14 of the 18 extant populations are threatened by nonnatives.
    Given the extremely small number of total plants (fewer than 5,000 
in a given year; 12 of the 18 populations have fewer than 50 plants 
(Schotz 2010, p. iii; Elmore 2010, pp. 1-4; Moffett 2007, pp. 2-7; 
Alison 1999, pp. 1-5; Alison 1995, pp. 7-18)), and that the species is 
distributed as disjunct populations across five physiographic provinces 
(Schotz 2010, pp. 9-10; Moffett 2007, pp. 2-7; Alison 1995, pp. 7-18) 
in three major river systems, each population is important to the 
conservation of genetics for the species (Garcia 2012, pp. 30-36). Only 
the Goat Rock Dam and Fort Benning populations are sufficiently large 
(greater than 1,000 individuals) to preclude a genetic bottleneck 
(Schotz 2010, pp. 13-57; Moffett 2007, p. 8). A genetic bottleneck 
would result in reduced genetic diversity with mating between closely 
related individuals, which can lead to reduced fitness due to 
inbreeding depression (Ellstrand and Elam, pp. 217-237). This species 
is composed of three genetic groups: A North Georgia group, a Middle 
Georgia group, and an Alabama group (Garcia 2012, p 32). While the 
Middle Georgia genetic group contains the largest populations (Goat 
Rock Dam and Fort Benning) and is the most important to the 
conservation of this species, the smaller populations in the North 
Georgia and Alabama genetic groups are more vunerable to localized 
extirpation and represent an important conservation element for this 
species. Any threats that remove or further deteriorate populations can 
also have a detrimental effect on the existing genetic diversity of the 


    Section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533), and its implementing 
regulations at 50 CFR part 424, set forth the procedures for adding 
species to the Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and 
Plants. Under section 4(a)(1) of the Act, we may list a species based 
on: (A) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or 
curtailment of its habitat or range; (B) overutilization for 
commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes; (C) 
disease or predation; (D) the inadequacy of existing regulatory 
mechanisms; or (E) other natural or manmade factors affecting its 
continued existence. Listing actions may be warranted based on any of 
the above threat factors, singly or in combination.
    We have carefully assessed the best scientific and commercial 
information available regarding the past, present, and future threats 
to Georgia rockcress. Habitat degradation (Factor A) and the subsequent 
invasion of nonnative species (Factor E), more than outright habitat 
destruction, are the most serious threats to this species' continued 
existence. Disturbance, associated with timber harvesting, road 
building, and grazing, has created favorable conditions for the 
invasion of nonnative weeds, especially Japanese honeysuckle, in this 
species' habitat. Although the species is afforded some regulatory 
protection in Georgia, such protection is inadequate to reduce these 
threats, especially on private land (Factor D); furthermore, there are 
no such protections in Alabama. Because nearly all populations are 
currently or potentially threatened by the presence of nonnatives, we 
find that this species is warranted for listing throughout all its 
range, and, therefore, we find that it is unnecessary to analyze 
whether it is endangered or threatened in a significant portion of its 
    The riparian bluff habitat surrounding all 18 of the known 
populations has been adversely impacted in some way, and in some cases 
the habitat has suffered multiple impacts. The most imminent and severe 
threat to extant populations of Georgia rockcress is the ongoing 
invasion of nonnative species due to the degradation of its habitat. 
Disturbance (Factor A, in the form of quarrying, residential 
development, timber harvesting, road building, recreation, and 
hydropower dam construction) of most of the species' known sites has 
provided opportunities for the invasion of aggressive, nonnative weeds, 
especially Japanese honeysuckle. Additional populations are also 
currently being negatively affected by competition with nonnative 
plants. According to Moffett (2007, p. 3), most of the sites in Georgia 
are being impacted by the presence of invasive

[[Page 56199]]

plant species. At least 14 of the known populations are adversely 
impacted by nonnative species. Control of nonnative species will 
require active management, which is not provided for with current 
conservation efforts.
    The Act defines an endangered species as any species that is ``in 
danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its 
range'' and a threatened species as any species ``that is likely to 
become endangered throughout all or a significant portion of its range 
within the foreseeable future.'' We find that the Georgia rockcress is 
likely to become endangered throughout its entire range within the 
foreseeable future, based on the immediacy, severity, and scope of the 
threats described above. We do not find it to be endangered at this 
time because there are 18 sites spread across the geographic range; 
therefore the threats, while impacting all populations are not likely 
to eliminate all populations simultaneously, or even all populations 
within physiographic areas in the near future. Therefore, on the basis 
of the best available scientific and commercial information, we propose 
to list the Georgia rockcress (Arabis georgiana) as threatened in 
accordance with sections 3(20) and 4(a)(1) of the Act.

Available Conservation Measures

    Conservation measures provided to species listed as endangered or 
threatened under the Act include recognition, recovery actions, 
requirements for Federal protection, and prohibitions against certain 
practices. Recognition through listing results in public awareness and 
conservation by Federal, State, Tribal, and local agencies; private 
organizations; and individuals. The Act encourages cooperation with the 
States and requires that recovery actions be carried out for all listed 
species. The protection required by Federal agencies and the 
prohibitions against certain activities are discussed, in part, below.
    The primary purpose of the Act is the conservation of endangered 
and threatened species and the ecosystems upon which they depend. The 
ultimate goal of such conservation efforts is the recovery of these 
listed species, so that they no longer need the protective measures of 
the Act. Subsection 4(f) of the Act requires the Service to develop and 
implement recovery plans for the conservation of endangered and 
threatened species. The recovery planning process involves the 
identification of actions that are necessary to halt or reverse the 
species' decline by addressing the threats to its survival and 
recovery. The goal of this process is to restore listed species to a 
point where they are secure, self-sustaining, and functioning 
components of their ecosystems.
    Recovery planning includes the development of a recovery outline 
shortly after a species is listed, preparation of a draft and final 
recovery plan, and revisions to the plan as significant new information 
becomes available. The recovery outline guides the immediate 
implementation of urgent recovery actions and describes the process to 
be used to develop a recovery plan. The recovery plan identifies site-
specific management actions that will achieve recovery of the species, 
measurable criteria that determine when a species may be downlisted or 
delisted, and methods for monitoring recovery progress. Recovery plans 
also establish a framework for agencies to coordinate their recovery 
efforts and provide estimates of the cost of implementing recovery 
tasks. Recovery teams (comprised of species experts, Federal and State 
agencies, nongovernment organizations, and stakeholders) are often 
established to develop recovery plans. When completed, the recovery 
outline, draft recovery plan, and the final recovery plan will be 
available on our Web site (http://www.fws.gov/endangered), or from the 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ecological Services Office in Athens, 
    Implementation of recovery actions generally requires the 
participation of a broad range of partners, including other Federal 
agencies, States, Tribal, nongovernmental organizations, businesses, 
and private landowners. Examples of recovery actions include habitat 
restoration (e.g., restoration of native vegetation), research, captive 
propagation and reintroduction, and outreach and education. The 
recovery of many listed species cannot be accomplished solely on 
Federal lands because their range may occur primarily or solely on non-
Federal lands. To achieve recovery of these species requires 
cooperative conservation efforts on private, State, and Tribal lands.
    If this species is listed, funding for recovery actions will be 
available from a variety of sources, including Federal budgets, State 
programs, and cost share grants for non-Federal landowners, the 
academic community, and nongovernmental organizations. In addition, 
pursuant to section 6 of the Act, the States of Alabama and Georgia 
would be eligible for Federal funds to implement management actions 
that promote the protection and recovery of Georgia rockcress. 
Information on our grant programs that are available to aid species 
recovery can be found at: http://www.fws.gov/grants.
    Although Georgia rockcress is only proposed for listing under the 
Act at this time, please let us know if you are interested in 
participating in recovery efforts for this species. Additionally, we 
invite you to submit any new information on this species whenever it 
becomes available and any information you may have for recovery 
planning purposes (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).
    Section 7(a) of the Act requires Federal agencies to evaluate their 
actions with respect to any species that is proposed or listed as 
endangered or threatened and with respect to its critical habitat, if 
any is designated. Regulations implementing this interagency 
cooperation provision of the Act are codified at 50 CFR part 402. 
Section 7(a)(4) of the Act requires Federal agencies to confer with the 
Service on any action that is likely to jeopardize the continued 
existence of a species proposed for listing or result in destruction or 
adverse modification of proposed critical habitat. If a species is 
listed subsequently, section 7(a)(2) of the Act requires Federal 
agencies to ensure that activities they authorize, fund, or carry out 
are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the species or 
destroy or adversely modify its critical habitat. If a Federal action 
may affect a listed species or its critical habitat, the responsible 
Federal agency must enter into formal consultation with the Service.
    Federal agency actions within the species' habitat that may require 
conference or consultation or both as described in the preceding 
paragraph include management and any other landscape-altering 
activities on Federal lands administered by the Department of Defense, 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and U.S. Forest Service; issuance of 
section 404 Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.) permits by the 
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; construction and management of gas 
pipeline and power line rights-of-way by the Federal Energy Regulatory 
Commission; and construction and maintenance of roads or highways by 
the Federal Highway Administration.
    The Act and its implementing regulations set forth a series of 
general prohibitions and exceptions that apply to endangered and 
threatened plants. The prohibitions of section 9(a)(2) of the Act, 
implemented by 50 CFR 17.61 for endangered plants and by 50 CFR 17.71 
for threatened plants, apply. These prohibitions, in part, make it 
illegal for any person subject to the jurisdiction of the United States 
to import or export,

[[Page 56200]]

transport in interstate or foreign commerce in the course of a 
commercial activity, sell or offer for sale in interstate or foreign 
commerce, or remove and reduce the species to possession from areas 
under Federal jurisdiction. In addition, for plants listed as 
endangered, the Act prohibits the malicious damage or destruction on 
areas under Federal jurisdiction and the removal, cutting, digging up, 
or damaging or destroying of such plants in knowing violation of any 
State law or regulation, including State criminal trespass law. Certain 
exceptions to the prohibitions apply to agents of the Service and State 
conservation agencies. As discussed above (Factor D), this species is 
not listed in Alabama's State Wildlife Action conservation plan 
(Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources 2005). 
Georgia lists the Georgia rockcress as a ``high priority species'' in 
its State Wildlife Action Plan (Georgia Department of Natural Resources 
    We may issue permits to carry out otherwise prohibited activities 
involving endangered and threatened species under certain 
circumstances. Regulations governing permits are codified at 50 CFR 
17.62 for endangered plants, and at 50 CFR 17.72 for threatened plants. 
With regard to threatened plants, a permit must be issued for the 
following reasons: scientific purposes, to enhance the propagation or 
survival of the species, economic hardship, botanical or horticultural 
exhibition, educational purposes, or other activities consistent with 
the purposes and policy of the Act.
    It is our policy, as published in the Federal Register on July 1, 
1994 (59 FR 34272), to identify to the maximum extent practicable at 
the time a species is listed, those activities that would or would not 
constitute a violation of section 9 of the Act. The intent of this 
policy is to increase public awareness of the effect of a proposed 
listing on proposed and ongoing activities within the range of species 
proposed for listing. The following activity could potentially result 
in a violation of section 9 of the Act; this list is not comprehensive:
     Unauthorized collecting, handling, possessing, selling, 
delivering, carrying, or transporting of the species, including import 
or export across State lines and international boundaries, except for 
properly documented antique specimens of these taxa at least 100 years 
old, as defined by section 10(h)(1) of the Act.
    Questions regarding whether specific activities would constitute a 
violation of section 9 of the Act should be directed to the Ecological 
Services Office in Athens, Georgia (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
CONTACT). Requests for copies of the regulations concerning listed 
animals and general inquiries regarding prohibitions and permits may be 
addressed to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 105 West Park Drive, 
Suite D, Athens, GA 30606; telephone 706-613-9493; facsimile 706-613-

Required Determinations

Clarity of the Rule

    We are required by Executive Orders 12866 and 12988 and by the 
Presidential Memorandum of June 1, 1998, to write all rules in plain 
language. This means that each rule we publish must:
    (1) Be logically organized;
    (2) Use the active voice to address readers directly;
    (3) Use clear language rather than jargon;
    (4) Be divided into short sections and sentences; and
    (5) Use lists and tables wherever possible.
    If you feel that we have not met these requirements, send us 
comments by one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. To 
better help us revise the rule, your comments should be as specific as 
possible. For example, you should tell us the numbers of the sections 
or paragraphs that are unclearly written, which sections or sentences 
are too long, the sections where you feel lists or tables would be 
useful, etc.

National Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.)

    We have determined that environmental assessments and environmental 
impact statements, as defined under the authority of the National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969, need not be prepared in connection 
with listing a species as endangered or threatened under the Act. We 
published a notice outlining our reasons for this determination in the 
Federal Register on October 25, 1983 (48 FR 49244).

References Cited

    A complete list of all references cited in this rule is available 
on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov or upon request from the 
Field Supervisor, Ecological Services Office in Athens, Georgia (see 


    The primary authors of this proposed rule are the staff members of 
the Ecological Services Office in Athens, Georgia (see FOR FURTHER 

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

    Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements, Transportation.

Proposed Regulation Promulgation

    Accordingly, we propose to amend part 17, subchapter B of chapter 
I, title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations, as set forth below:


1. The authority citation for part 17 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  16 U.S.C. 1361-1407; 1531-1544; 4201-4245, unless 
otherwise noted.

2. In Sec.  17.12(h), add an entry for ``Arabis georgiana'' to the List 
of Endangered and Threatened Plants in alphabetical order under 
FLOWERING PLANTS, to read as follows:

Sec.  17.12  Endangered and threatened plants.

* * * * *
    (h) * * *

[[Page 56201]]

--------------------------------------------------------    Historic range           Family            Status      When listed    Critical     Special
         Scientific name                Common name                                                                               habitat       rules
         Flowering Plants
                                                                      * * * * * * *
Arabis georgiana.................  Georgia rockcress...  U.S.A. (GA and AL).  Brassicaceae.......  T               ...........           NA           NA
                                                                      * * * * * * *

* * * * *

    Dated: August 26, 2013.
Rowan W. Gould,
Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2013-22129 Filed 9-11-13; 8:45 am]