May 7, 2013
Comment Period Reopened on Proposal to List Grotto Sculpin as Endangered with Critical Habitat
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has reopened the comment period on its proposal to list the grotto sculpin, a smallfish found in Perry County, Missouri, as endangered, and to designate critical habitat for the species. Additionally, the public may comment on a conservation plan that has been developed to address threats identified for the species. The comment period will be open through June 6, 2013.
The Service initially proposed the grotto sculpin as endangered in September 2012, and opened a 60-day public comment period. The comment period has reopened so that the public can provide further input on the proposal and on a newly-released draft economic analysis of the proposed critical habitat designation.
The draft economic analysis evaluates the potential economic impact of designating critical habitat for the grotto sculpin. When designating critical habitat, the Service may exclude some areas if the benefits of excluding areas outweigh including them. Comments previously submitted need not be resubmitted, as they will be fully considered in preparation of the final rule.
The Service proposed 36 square miles of underground aquatic habitat in recharge areas plus 19 miles of surface stream in Perry County, Missouri, as critical habitat for the grotto sculpin. Of the total acreage identified, 89 percent of the underground aquatic habitat and all of the surface stream miles are located on private lands and 11 percent of the underground aquatic habitat is on non-private (i.e., state, city, or county lands).
The ESA requires the Service to identify the location of habitat essential for the conservation of the species, which the Act terms “critical habitat.” This identification helps Federal agencies identify actions that may affect listed species or their habitat, and to work with the Service to avoid or minimize those impacts. Identifying this habitat also helps raise awareness of the habitat needs of imperiled species and focus the conservation efforts of other partners such as state and local governments, non-governmental organizations, and individual landowners.
Although non-federal lands have initially been included in these areas, activities on these lands are not affected now, and will not necessarily be affected if critical habitat for the species is protected under the ESA in the future. Only if an activity is authorized, funded or carried out by a federal agency will the agency need to work with the Service to help landowners avoid, reduce or reduce potential impacts to listed species or their identified habitat.
The final decision to add the grotto sculpin to the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants, as well as the final identification of areas containing habitat essential to the species, will be based on the best scientific information available. Only areas that contain habitat essential to the conservation of the species, and where the benefits of including this habitat outweigh exclusion due to potential economic or other impacts, will be included in the final determination. When identifying the benefits of excluding critical habitat, the Service considers, among other things, whether exclusion of specific areas are likely to result in conservation; the continuation, strengthening, or encouragement of partnerships; or implementation of a management plan that provides the sameor more conservation than a critical habitat designation would provide. The Perry County Community Conservation Plan has been developed to address threats to the grotto sculpin and is available for review and comment at the website below.
You may submit written comments by one of the following methods:
- Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Submit comments on the listing proposal to Docket No. FWS–R3–ES–2012–0065, and submit comments on the critical habitat proposal and associated draft economic analysis to Docket No. FWS–R3–ES–2013–0016. See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION for an explanation of the two dockets.
- By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–R3–ES–2012–0065 (for the listing proposal) or FWS–R3–ES–2013–0016 (for the critical habitat proposal and associated draft economic analysis); Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042–PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.
More information on the proposal to list the grotto sculpin as endangered, the proposed critical habitat designation, and the draft economic analysis may be found at www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.
Connect with our Facebook page at facebook.com/usfwsmidwest, follow our tweets at twitter.com/usfwsmidwest, watch our YouTube Channel at youtube.com/usfws and download photos from our Flickr page at flickr.com/photos/usfwsmidwest.