[Federal Register: May 18, 1998 (Volume 63, Number 95)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 27255-27256]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants, Notice of 
Reopening of Comment Period on the Proposed Threatened Status of the 
Sacramento Splittail

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule, notice of reopening of comment period.


SUMMARY: The Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), pursuant to the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act), provides notice of 
the reopening of the comment period for the proposed threatened status 
for the Sacramento splittail (Pogonichthys macrolepidotus). The comment 
period has been reopened to acquire additional information on the 
status, abundance and distribution of the Sacramento splittail in the 
Central Valley of California.

DATES: Comments received by July 17, 1998 will be considered by the 

ADDRESSES: Written comments, materials and data, and available reports 
and articles concerning this proposal should be sent directly to the 
Field Supervisor, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, 3310 El Camino Avenue, Suite 130, Sacramento, 
California 95821. Comments and materials received will be available for 
public inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the 
above address.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mike Thabault, at the address listed 
above (telephone 916/979-2725, facsimile 916/979-2723).



    The Sacramento splittail (Pogonichthys macrolepidotus), is the only 
large cyprinid that is endemic to California's Central Valley, where 
they were once widely distributed (Moyle 1976). Historically, splittail 
were found as far north as Redding on the Sacramento River, as far 
south as the present-day site of Friant Dam on the San Joaquin River, 
and as far upstream as the current Oroville Dam site on the Feather 
River and Folsom Dam site on the American River (Rutter 1908).
    In recent times, dams and diversions have increasingly prevented 
upstream access to large rivers, and the species is now apparently 
restricted to a small portion of its former range (Moyle and Yoshiyama 
1992). Splittail enter the

[[Page 27256]]

lower reaches of the Feather (Jones and Stokes 1993) and American 
rivers (Charles Hanson, State Water Contractors, in litt., 1993) on 
occasion; however, the species now is largely confined to the delta, 
Suisun Bay, Suisun Marsh, and Napa Marsh. The ``Delta'' refers to all 
tidal waters contained within the legal definition of the San Francisco 
Bay-Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, as delineated by section 12220 
of the State of California's Water Code of 1969. Generally, the Delta 
is contained within a triangular area that extends south from the City 
of Sacramento to the confluence of the Stanilaus and San Joaquin Rivers 
at the southeast corner and Chipps Island in Suisun Bay.
    In recent years, splittail have been found most often in slow 
moving sections of rivers and sloughs and dead-end sloughs (Moyle et 
al. 1982, Daniels and Moyle 1983). Reports from the 1950's, however, 
mention Sacramento River spawning migrations and catches of splittail 
during fast tides in Suisun Bay (Caywood 1974). California Department 
of Fish and Game survey data from the last 15 years indicate that the 
highest catches occurred in shallow areas subject to flooding. 
Historically, major flood basins, distributed throughout the Sacramento 
and San Joaquin Valleys, provided spawning and rearing habitat. These 
flood basins have all been reclaimed or modified into flood control 
structures (bypasses). Although primarily a freshwater species, 
splittail can tolerate salinities as high as 10 to 18 parts per 
thousand (Moyle and Yoshiyama 1992).
    On January 10, 1995, a second comment period was opened for 45 
days, and a 6-month extension added to the final rulemaking time frame, 
in accordance with section 4(b)(6)(B)(i) of the Act. A moratorium on 
listing actions, imposed on April 10, 1995 (Pub. L. 104-6), was lifted 
on April 26, 1996. Severe funding constraints imposed by a number of 
continuing resolutions between November 1995 and April 1996 were 
followed by passage of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act on April 
26, 1996, allowing work to continue on various listing actions in 
accordance with fiscal year guidance that assigned priorities in a 
multi-tiered approach in accordance with section 4 of the Act (61 FR 
64479). The guidance stated that handling emergency situations was 
highest priority (Tier 1), and resolving the listing status of 
outstanding proposed rules was second highest priority (Tier 2). 
Processing of this proposed rule fell under Tier 2.
    On March 19 and March 20, 1998, the California Department of Water 
Resources and the State Water Contractors, respectively, requested a 
reopening of the comment period. The basis of this request is that 
substantial data have been collected since 1995 regarding the abundance 
and distribution of the splittail. The Service believes that 
consideration of this and any new information is significant to make 
the final determination for the Sacramento splittail. For this reason, 
the Service particularly seeks information concerning abundance and 
distribution data for this species from 1995-1997. Specifically, the 
Service seeks comments regarding the paper ``Resilience of Splittail in 
the Sacramento-San Joaquin Estuary'' (Sommer et al. 1997), and how the 
information contained in this paper effects the Service's 
recommendation for listing the Sacramento splittail as a threatened 
    Written comments may be submitted until July 17, 1998 to the 
Service office in the ADDRESSES section.


    The primary author of this notice is Diane Windham, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service (see ADDRESSES section).


Caywood, M.L. 1974. Contributions to the life history of the 
splittail Pogonichthys macrolepidotus (Ayres). M.S. Thesis, 
California State University, Sacramento.
Daniels, R.A., and P.B. Moyle. 1983. Life history of the splittail 
(Cyprinidae: Pogonichthys macrolepidotus) in the Sacramento-San 
Joaquin estuary. Fish. Bull. 84:105-117.
Jones and Stokes Assoc., Inc. 1993. Sutter Bypass fisheries 
technical memorandum II: Potential entrapment of juvenile chinook 
salmon in the proposed gravel mining pond. May 27, 1993. (JSA 91-
272). Sacramento, California. Prepared for Teichert Aggregates, 
Sacramento, California. 31 pp. + Appendix.
Moyle, P.B., J.J. Smith, R.A. Daniels, and D.M. Balz. 1982. 
Distribution and ecology of stream fishes of the Sacramento-San 
Joaquin Drainage System, California: A review. Univ. Calif. Publ. 
Zool. 115:225-256.
Moyle. P.B., and R.M. Yoshiyama. 1992. Fishes, aquatic diversity 
management areas, and endangered species: A plan to protect 
California's native aquatic biota. Draft report prepared for 
California Policy Seminar, Univ. of Calif. Berkeley, California. 
July 1992. 196 pp.
Rutter, C. 1908. The fishes of the Sacramento-San Joaquin basin, 
with a study of their distribution and variation. U.S. Bull. 27:103-
Sommer, T., R. Baxter, and B. Herbold. 1997. Resilience of the 
Splittail in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Estuary. Transactions of the 
American Fisheries Society 126:961-976.


    The authority for this action is the Endangered Species Act of 1973 
(16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).

    Dated: May 12, 1998.
Thomas Dwyer,
Acting Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 1.
[FR Doc. 98-13083 Filed 5-15-98; 8:45 am]