Service Revises Critical Habitat for Three Endangered Comal Invertebrates
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today the final revised critical habitat for the Comal Springs dryopid beetle, Comal Springs riffle beetle and Peck’s cave amphipod under the Endangered Species Act. In total, approximately 169 acres in four units are being designated in Comal and Hays Counties, Texas.
Service Boosts State Endangered Species Conservation Efforts with $32 Million in Grants
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced nearly $32 million in grants to 20 states to help advance their collaborative efforts to conserve America’s rarest species. The cooperative grants will provide vital support to efforts by partnering state wildlife agencies and conservation organizations to improve the health of the land and water that supports these species and scores of communities across the nation.
One of this year’s grants will provide the Solana Ranch Preserve (Bell County) Texas with $881,250. This funding will allow the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to acquire a conservation easement on a 256-acre tract located in Bell County to benefit the Salado salamander. The acquisition will provide protection for the species in three of the seven springs in which it is known to occur. Acquisition of the Solana Ranch Preserve will protect an area of 75 percent of the proposed critical habitat units for this species in the Service’s Southwest Region. The acquisition will also protect the quality of cave and spring water, minimize ground water pollution, protect groundwater and spring flow, and exclude cattle and feral hogs.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will protect six species of aquatic invertebrates native to west Texas as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Service also designated critical habitat for these species in portions of Reeves, Jeff Davis and Pecos Counties.
The six aquatic invertebrates, the Phantom springsnail, Phantom tryonia, diminutive amphipod, Diamond tryonia, Gonzales tryonia and Pecos amphipod are in danger of extinction due to the loss and degradation of the natural springs that support them. All six invertebrate species are entirely aquatic and occur in spring habitats dependent upon surface flows from groundwater sources for their survival, growth and reproduction.
Service Announces Availability of Draft Economic Analysis for Three Endangered Comal Invertebrates
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released an analysis that estimates the cost related to the revised proposed critical habitat for the Comal Springs dryopid beetle, Comal Springs riffle beetle and Peck’s cave amphipod over the next 20 years. In addition, the Service is announcing the reopening of the comment period for 30 days to allow all interested parties the opportunity to comment on the draft economic analysis, the amended determinations sections and the revised proposed critical habitat rule.
Critical Habitat Designated for Nine Invertebrates Found in Bexar County, Texas
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced on February 14, 2012, a final critical habitat designation for nine invertebrates under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA). In total, the Service will designate 4,216 acres (1,706 ha) in 30 units as critical habitat in Bexar County, Texas. In addition, the Service is announcing a 12-month finding on a petition to revise the critical habitat designation by removing unit 13 from the designation. After review of all available scientific and commercial information, we find that the petitioned action is not warranted at this time. The final critical habitat rule becomes effective 30 days after its publication in the Federal Register.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Announces Recovery of the Concho Water Snake
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has removed the Concho water snake from the list of threatened species under the Endangered Species Act and removed the federally designated critical habitat for the Concho water snake. A post-delisting monitoring plan has been prepared.
Service Announces the Availability of a Draft Conservation Plan and Draft Environmental Assessment; Dunes Sagebrush Lizard
The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced in the Federal Register on October 6, 2011, a Notice Of Availability (NOA) of a draft Environmental Assessment (dEA) on an application for an enhancement of survival permit under Section 10(a)(1)(A) of the Endangered Species Act (Act) of 1973, as amended, for the dunes sagebrush lizard (Sceloporus arenicolus)(DSL). The application was submitted by The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts (TX CPA).
The permit application includes the draft Texas Conservation Plan Dunes Sagebrush Lizard (TX CP DSL) that will function as a Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA) between the Service and TX CPA for the dunes sagebrush lizard (DSL) throughout its range in Texas.
The proposed CCAA would be in effect for 30 years in west and northwest Texas. This area constitutes the CCAA’s Planning Area, with Covered Areas being private lands and state trust lands that provide suitable habitat or are being improved or restored to provide suitable habitat for the DSL. The Applicant proposes to implement conservation measures for the DSL by removing threats to the survival of these species and protecting their habitat. If the DSL becomes listed in the future, the draft TX CP DSL may also act as a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) in support of future applications for incidental take permits under the ESA.
The draft TX CP DSL and the dEA are available for public review and comment on the potential issuance of the above permits. The comment period runs for 60 days and all comments must be received by December 5, 2011.
Service Announces the Availability of the Final Recovery Plan and the Five-Year Status Review for Nine Bexar County Karst Invertebrates
Recovery Plan: The nine Bexar County karst invertebrates were protected as endangered under the Endangered Species Act on December 26, 2000. These invertebrates are troglobites, spending their entire lives underground, inhabiting caves and mesocaverns (humanly impassable voids in karst) in Bexar County, Texas. They are characterized by small or absent eyes and pale coloration.
The recovery plan (Plan) includes scientific information about the species and provides objectives and actions needed to recover the Bexar County karst invertebrates, with the goal of ultimately removing them from the list of threatened and endangered species. The Plan lays out recovery actions designed to achieve these objectives. The primary threat to these species is habitat loss.
Five-Year Review: The 5-year status review determined that these species are appropriately listed as endangered and that their status has not changed since they were listed. The review also provides updated information on the current threats to the species, ongoing conservation efforts, and the priority needs for future conservation actions. Further, the review identifies areas that have the potential to meet part of the recovery criteria. This information provides a path to reaching recovery for these species.
Service Determines That Three Moth Species Do Not Warrant Protection Under the Endangered Species Act
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced in the September 27, 2011, Federal Register it has completed a status review of the Tamaulipan agapema (Agapema galbina), Sphingicampa blanchardi (no common name), and Ursia furtiva (no common name) and concluded that they do not warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act (Act). The Service made this 12-month finding after a thorough review of all the available scientific and commercial information regarding the status of the three moth species and threats to them. Please submit any new information, materials, comments, or questions concerning the Tamaulipan agapema or Sphingicampa blanchardi to the Corpus Christi Ecological Services Field Office. Please submit any new information, material, comments, or questions concerning Urisa furtiva to the Austin Ecological Services Field Office.
Service Determines the Nueces River and Plateau Shiners Do Not Warrant Protection Under the Endangered Species Act
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced in the August 9, 2011, Federal Register it has completed a status review of the Nueces River shiner (Cyprinella sp.) and plateau shiner (Cyprinella lepida) and concluded that they do not warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act. The Service made this 12-month finding after a thorough review of all the available scientific and commercial information regarding the status of the Nueces River shiner and plateau shiner and threats to these species. We request that you submit any new information concerning the status of, or threats to, the species to our Austin Ecological Services Field Office.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced in the Federal Register on May 24, 2011 that the spot-tailed earless lizard (Holbrookia lacerata) may warrant Federal protection as a threatened or endangered species. This 90-day finding follows an initial review of a petition from WildEarth Guardians, seeking to protect the spot-tailed earless lizard under the Endangered Species Act (Act).
The Service finds that the petition presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that listing the spot-tailed earless lizard may be warranted. This finding is based on potential threats posed by predation from fire ants. Fire ants are known to adversely impact native fauna in general, including reptiles. Fire ants occur across a large part of the spot-tailed earless lizard’s range and may pose a threat through direct predation on adults, hatchlings and eggs.
The spot-tailed earless lizard is divided into two distinct subspecies, based on morphological (physical) differences and geographic separation. The northern spot-tailed earless lizard subspecies (Holbrookia lacerata lacerata) historically occurred throughout the Edwards Plateau in Texas. The southern spot-tailed earless lizard (Holbrookia lacerata subcaudalis) historically occurred through south Texas into parts of Mexico’s States of Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, and Tamaulipas. The present population status of the spot-tailed earless lizard is largely unknown.
The Service will undertake a more thorough status review of the species to determine whether to propose adding the species to the Federal List of Threatened and Endangered Wildlife. With publication of this notice in the Federal Register, the Service will open a 60-day public comment period.
To ensure this status review is comprehensive, the Service is soliciting information from state and federal natural resource agencies and all interested parties regarding the spot-tailed earless lizard and its habitat. For information on how to submit comments, refer to the Federal Register notice, below.
Revised Critical Habitat Proposed for Nine Bexar County Karst-Dwelling Invertebrates
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced in the Federal Register on Tuesday, February 22, 2011, a proposal to revise critical habitat designation for nine invertebrates under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). The proposed critical habitat is located in Bexar County, Texas. In total, approximately 6,906 acres (2,795 hectares) are being proposed for revised or designated critical habitat. Publication of this proposal in the Federal Register begins a 60-day public comment period.
The nine species for which the Service is proposing to designate critical habitat or to revise critical habitat are collectively known as the nine Bexar County invertebrates. They are Rhadine exilis (ground beetle, no common name); Rhadine infernalis (ground beetle, no common name); Helotes mold beetle (Batrisodes venyivi); Cokendolpher Cave harvestman (Texella cokendolpheri); Robber Baron Cave meshweaver (Cicurina baronia); Madla Cave meshweaver (Cicurina madla); Braken Bat Cave meshweaver (Cicurina venii); the Government Canyon Bat Cave meshweaver (Cicurina vespera); and Government Canyon Bat Cave spider (Neoleptoneta microps). All of these species are subterranean-dwelling, non-aquatic species of local distribution in north and northwest Bexar County, Texas. Additional information about these species and their proposed critical habitat is contained in the documents listed below.
The Service is requesting comments or information from the public, other concerned government agencies, the scientific community, industry, or other interested parties concerning this proposed rule. For information on how to submit comments or request a hearing, refer to the Federal Register notice, below.