Comments on Proposals to List the Sharpnose Shiner and the Smalleye
Shiner and Designate Critical Habitat
Seeking information to inform final decision
Based on evidence that the
sharpnose shiner and the smalleye shiner and their habitats are in
decline, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced
today that it is proposing to list the two shiner species as
endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The
Service is also proposing to designate critical habitat in 11 Texas
Members of the public and
scientific community are encouraged to review and comment on the
proposals during the 60-day public comment period. The Service will
hold a public informational meeting followed by a public hearing on
Wednesday, September 4, 2013, at the Abilene Civic Center, Upstairs
Conference Room, 1100 North 6th Street, Abilene, TX
79601. The informational meeting will be held from 5:00 - 6:00 p.m.
followed by a break, and the public hearing will be held from 6:30 –
8:00 p.m. The Service will make a final listing determination based
on the best available science.
The sharpnose and smalleye
shiners are small minnows native to arid prairie streams of Texas.
Once found throughout the Brazos River and several of its major
tributaries within the watershed, the two species are currently
restricted almost entirely to the contiguous river segments of the
upper Brazos River basin in north-central Texas. This represents a
reduction from the sharpnose and smalleye shiners’ historical ranges
of more than 50 and 70 percent, respectively.
The maximum lifespan of these
species is approximately three years, although many shiners live
through only one breeding season. The sharpnose and smalleye shiners
both require wide, shallow, unobstructed flowing waters to survive,
grow and reproduce. The Service first identified both species as
candidates for ESA protection in June 2002.
The Service is proposing to
designate a total of approximately 623 miles (1,002 river
kilometers) of the upper Brazos River basin, including the riparian
areas extending beyond the river channel by 30 meters on each side
as critical habitat in the following Texas counties: Baylor, Crosby,
Fisher, Garza, Haskell, Kent, King, Knox, Stonewall, Throckmorton
and Young. We are not currently proposing to designate any areas
outside the geographical area occupied by the species.
Today’s proposal is part of the
Service’s efforts to implement a court-approved work plan that
resolves a series of lawsuits concerning the agency’s ESA Listing
Program. The intent of the agreement is to significantly reduce
litigation-driven workloads and allow the agency to focus its
resources on the species most in need of the ESA’s protections.
The Service is requesting
comments or information from the public, governmental agencies, the
scientific community, industry, or any other interested parties
concerning this proposed rule. Comments must be received within 60
Written comments and information
concerning the proposed listing and critical habitat proposals will
be accepted until October 7, 2013, and may be submitted by one of
the following methods:
1.) Federal eRulemaking Portal:
http://www.regulations.gov, Submit comments on the listing
proposal to Docket No. FWS–R2–ES–2013–0083, and submit comments on
the critical habitat proposal to Docket No. FWS–R2–ES–2013–0008.; or
2.) By hard copy: U.S. mail or
hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–R2–ES–2013-0083;
Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042–PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.
Submit comments on the critical habitat proposal by U.S. mail or
hand-delivery to: Public Comments Processing, Attn:
FWS-R2-ES-2013-0008; Division of Policy and Directives Management;
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042-PDM;
Arlington, VA 22203.
Additional sharpnose shiner and smalleye shiner information is