About the Document:
Title: Proposed rule: Proposed Threatened Status for the Plant Penstemon grahamii (Graham’s beardtongue) with Critical Habitat
Type of review: Influential
Timeline of the Peer Review:
Draft document disseminated: January 19, 2006
Peer review initiated: January 19, 2006
Peer review to be completed by: May 19, 2006
Document to be finalized: December 2006
About the Peer Review Process:
In accordance with our July 1, 1994 peer review policy (59 FR 34270), we solicited independent scientific reviews of the information contained in our January 19, 2006 proposal to list Penstemon grahamii as a threatened species and designate critical habitat (71 FR 3158, 71 FR 19158). This review is occurring concurrently with the public comment period for the proposed action. This review will also satisfy the peer review requirements of the Office of Management and Budget’s Final Information Quality Bulletin for Peer Review.
On January 30, 2006, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) sent letters to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, the Utah field office of the Nature Conservancy, the Utah Native Plant Society, and the Colorado Natural Heritage Program soliciting nominations for potential peer reviews. These groups were selected due to their jurisdiction over plants or other involvement in Penstemon grahamii conservation. In total, six nominations were put forward. Considering, but not limited to these nominations, the Service selected and solicited comments from 8 independent scientific reviewers. These reviewers are experienced botanists, biologists and researchers with knowledge of Penstemon grahamii and do not work for Department of Interior. They were chosen based on their direct research experience with plants and their taxonomic and ecological relationships in the Uinta Basin of Utah and Colorado. While expertise was the primary consideration, the Service selected peer reviewers that added to a diversity of scientific perspectives relevant to the proposed designation of critical habitat. Six of these eight potential reviewers accepted the opportunity to review the proposed rule and our use of the information contained in our January 19, 2006 proposal. We did not provide financial compensation to peer reviewers.
The Service provided each peer reviewer with information explaining their role and instructions for fulfilling that role, the proposed rule, a full list of citations noting whether the source has been peer reviewed, and all citations (or in the case of some longer documents, the relevant pages of the document) in an electronic format, on a CD. The purpose of seeking independent peer review is to ensure use of the best scientific and commercial information available and to ensure and to maximize the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of the information upon which the proposed action is based, as well as to ensure that reviews by recognized experts are incorporated into the rulemaking process. Peer Reviewers will be advised that they are not to provide advice on policy. Rather, they should focus their review on identifying and characterizing scientific uncertainties. Peer reviewers will be asked to answer questions pertaining to the logic of our assumptions, arguments, and conclusions and to provide any other relevant comments, criticisms, or thoughts. Specific questions put to the reviewers included the following:
1. Is our description and analysis of the biology, population, and distribution of Penstemon grahamii accurate?
2. Does the Proposed Rule provide accurate and adequate review and analysis of the factors relating to the threats to the Penstemon grahamii (A. the present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat, B. overutilization for commercial, sporting, scientific, or educational purposes, C. disease and predation, D. adequate regulatory mechanisms, and E. any other natural or man made factors affecting its continued existence)?
3. Are our assumptions and definition of suitable habitat logical and adequate?
4. Is our delineation and proposal of critical habitat for this species appropriate?
5. Are the conclusions we reach logical and supported by the evidence we provide?
6. Did we include all the necessary and pertinent literature to support our assumptions/arguments/conclusions?
Peer reviewers will provide individual, written responses. Peer reviewers will be advised that their reviews, including their names and affiliations, will (1) be included in the administrative record of our final determination regarding this proposal (i.e., a final rule or a withdrawal), and (2), once all are completed, will be available upon request. We will summarize and respond to the issues raised by the peer reviewers in a special section of the final rulemaking determination. Because this peer review process is running concurrently with public review of the proposed action, peer reviewers will not be provided public comments. A final determination regarding this proposed action is expected in late 2006.
About Public Participation:
The peer review process was initiated shortly after publication of the proposed rule in the Federal Register. This peer review is currently underway. The public may comment on the approach of this peer review through the normal comment process associated with the proposed rule. Public comments were accepted from January 19, 2006 through March 20, 2006 (71 FR 3158). On April 13, 2006, the Service reopened the public comment period through May 19, 2006 (71 FR 19158).
1. You may submit written comments to the Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2369 W. Orton Circle, Suite 50, West Valley City, Utah 84119.
2. You may hand deliver written comments to our Salt Lake City office at address given above.
3. You may send comments by electronic mail (e-mail) to: FW6_penstemongrahamii@fws.gov.
Comments and materials received, as well as supporting documentation used in preparation of this proposed action, will be available for inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours, at our Salt Lake City, UT office at the above address.
For more information, contact Henry Maddux at 801-975-3330