[Federal Register: February 12, 1998 (Volume 63, Number 29)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 7112-7117]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AE55

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Proposed 
Endangered Status for the Plant Thlaspi Californicum (Kneeland Prairie 
Penny-Cress) From Coastal Northern California

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) proposes 
endangered status pursuant to the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as 
amended (Act), for the plant Thlaspi californicum (Kneeland Prairie 
penny-cress). Thlaspi californicum is known from Kneeland Prairie in 
Humboldt County, California, where it grows in coastal prairie on 
serpentine outcrops. The Service considers the occurrences of T. 
californicum reported from Mendocino County to be T. montanum, a widely 
distributed species. Habitat loss, potential road realignment, and 
proposed airport expansion activities imperil the continued existence 
of T. californicum. The restricted range of this species, limited to a 
single population, increases the risk of extinction from naturally 
occurring events such as fire. This proposed rule, if made final, would 
extend Federal protection under the Act to this plant species.

DATES: To ensure consideration in the development of a final decision-
making document for this species, comments from all interested parties 
should be received by April 13, 1998. Public hearing requests must be 
received by March 30, 1998.

ADDRESSES: Comments and materials concerning this proposal should be 
sent to the Field Supervisor, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, 3310 El Camino Avenue, Sacramento, 
California 95821-6340. Comments and materials received, as well as the 
supporting documentation used in preparing the rule, will be available 
for public inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at 
the above address.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kirsten Tarp, Sacramento Fish and 
Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES section) (telephone 916/979-2120; 
facsimile 916/979-2128).



    Thlaspi californicum is found on serpentine soils at a coastal 
prairie in Humboldt County, California. Serpentine soils are derived 
from ultramafic rocks such as serpentinite, dunite, and peridotite, 
which are found in discontinuous outcrops in the Sierra Nevada and 
Coast Ranges of California from Santa Barbara County to Humboldt 
County. The chief constituent of the parent rock is a variant of iron-
magnesium silicate. Most serpentine soils are formed in place over the 
parent rock, and are therefore shallow, rocky, and highly erodible. 
Serpentine soils, because of the parent material, tend to have high 
concentrations of magnesium, chromium, and nickel, and low 
concentrations of calcium, nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus 
(Kruckeberg 1984). These characteristics make serpentine soil 
inhospitable for the growth of most plants, but some plants have 
adapted to serpentine substrates.
    Sereno Watson (1892) described Thlaspi californicum based on 
material collected by Volney Rattan from Kneeland Prairie at 760 meters 
(m) (2,500 feet (ft)) elevation in Humboldt County, California. Payson 
(1926) maintained it as a full species in his monograph of the genus, 
whereas it was referred to as T. alpestre var. californicum in Jepson's 
(1925) manual, and T. glaucum ssp. californicum by Munz (1959). 
Holmgren (1971) assigned the name Thlaspi montanum var. californicum 
and gave its range as Kneeland Prairie (including a 1952 specimen from 
a ``serpentine rockpile toward Ashfield Butte''). She noted that the 
plant had last been collected in 1962. Rollins (1993a, 1993b) has 
elevated it to a full species: Thlaspi californicum. 
    Thlaspi californicum is a perennial herb in the mustard family 
(Brassicaceae) that grows from 9.5 to 12.5 centimeters (cm) (3 to 6 
inches (in)) tall, with a basal rosette. The margins of the basal 
leaves range from entire to toothed. The white flowers have strongly 
ascending pedicels (flower stalks). The fruit is a sharply pointed 
silicle (a short fruit typically no more than 2 to 3 times longer than 
wide). Thlaspi californicum flowers from May to June. Characteristics 
that separate T. californicum from T. montanum include the orientation 
of the pedicel, shape and notching of the fruit, and length/width ratio 
of the fruit. Thlaspi montanum has pedicels perpendicular to the stem, 
not strongly ascending, and the silicles are either truncate or 
shallowly notched, but not acute at the apex as they are in T. 
californicum (Meyers 1991).
    Rollins (1993a, 1993b) and Holmgren (1971) considered Thlaspi 
californicum to occur only at Kneeland Prairie. Wheeler and Smith 
(1991), in their ``Flora of Mendocino County,'' reported two additional 
occurrences of T. californicum located on Mendocino National Forest in 
Mendocino County. These sites have been examined by Dave Isle, 
Mendocino National Forest botanist; Dave Imper, Environmental 
Specialist with SHN Consulting Engineers and Geologists; and Service 
staff. In addition, all of the herbarium specimens for T. californicum 
and T. montanum at Humboldt State University, including those collected 
in Mendocino County, have been examined by Imper and Service staff. The 
only collections considered by Imper and the Service to be T. 
californicum are from Kneeland Prairie in Humboldt County (Imper 1997; 
Larry Host and Kirsten Tarp, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), 
pers. comms., 1997). Plants from Blue Banks and near the Spruce Grove 
campground on the Mendocino National Forest have pedicels that are 
perpendicular to the stem and silicles that are truncate and notched, 
characteristic of T. montanum. Additionally, the habitat and elevation 
are different from Kneeland Prairie. Other herbarium specimens, housed 
at the Humboldt State University herbarium and collected from Blue 
Banks and from Spruce Grove campground, are identified as T. montanum. 
McCarten (1991) did not

[[Page 7113]]

find any T. californicum in his habitat management study of rare plants 
and communities associated with serpentine soils on the Mendocino 
National Forest. The Mendocino National Forest botanist and the 
botanical consultant for Humboldt County concurred with this conclusion 
(Imper 1997; Dave Isle, botanist, Mendocino National Forest, pers. 
comm., 1997; L. Host and K. Tarp, pers. comms., 1997).
    The California Natural Diversity Database (CNDDB) includes one 
occurrence for Thlaspi californicum based on Constance & Rollins' 
collection #2877 from 1942 (``5 mi s of Hoopa Valley''), housed at the 
Humboldt State University herbarium. The specimen had been annotated as 
T. californicum in 1976 by T. Nelson, then the herbarium's curator. A 
duplicate of this specimen, housed at another herbarium, had been 
assigned to T. montanum var. montanum by Patricia Holmgren in her 1971 
biosystematic study of North American T. montanum and its allies. The 
specimen has since been examined by Imper and Service staff, who concur 
that it is T. montanum (Meyers 1991, Imper 1997).
    The only known population of Thlaspi californicum is scattered 
within an area of 0.25 hectare (ha) (0.6 acre (ac)), with a total of 
about 11,000 individuals at Kneeland Prairie in Humboldt County (Dave 
Imper, Environmental Specialist, SHN Consulting Engineers and 
Geologists, pers. comm., 1997). The Kneeland Prairie population is 
bisected into two colonies by the Kneeland Airport. Both colonies occur 
on private land immediately adjacent to the Kneeland Airport. At 
Kneeland Prairie, the habitat for T. californicum has been reduced by 
approximately 60 to 70 percent within the past 33 years (CNDDB 1990, 
Meyer 1991, Imper 1997). This population is currently threatened by the 
proposed expansion of the County airport and potential realignment of 
the adjacent road. Because of its extremely restricted range, the plant 
is also vulnerable to extinction from naturally occurring events such 
as fire (CNDDB 1997).
    In order to assess the significance of the Kneeland prairie 
population to the species, Imper (1997) inspected potentially suitable 
habitat for Thlaspi californicum in other areas near Kneeland Prairie 
and to the south. He found no other occurrences. Additionally, T. 
californicum has been targeted for surveys by the Bureau of Land 
Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service staff. The Six Rivers National 
Forest has no documented occurrences (Lisa Hoover, botanist, Six Rivers 
National Forest, pers. comm., 1997). A search for the species has not 
revealed any T. californicum on the serpentine at Iaqua Buttes on BLM 
lands (Jennifer Wheeler, botanist, BLM, Arcata Resource Area, pers. 
comm., 1997).

Previous Federal Action

    Federal government action on this species began on December 15, 
1980 (45 FR 82480), when the Service published a revised Notice of 
Review of native plant taxa considered for listing under the Act. 
Thlaspi californicum (then known as T. californicum var. montanum) was 
included as a category 2 candidate. Category 2 candidates were formerly 
defined as taxa for which data on biological vulnerablilty and threats 
in the Service's possession indicated that listing was possibly 
appropriate, but was not sufficient to support proposed rules. The 
taxon remained a category 2 candidate in the revised plant notices of 
review published in the Federal Register on November 28, 1983 (48 FR 
53640), and September 27, 1985 (50 FR 39526). The plant was listed as a 
category 1 candidate in the February 21, 1990 (55 FR 6184), and 
September 30, 1993 (58 FR 51144), revised notices of review. Category 1 
candidates were defined as those taxa for which the Service had on file 
sufficient information on biological vulnerability and threats to 
support the preparation of listing proposals, but issuance of the 
proposed rule was precluded by other pending listing proposals of 
higher priority. On February 28, 1996, the Service published a notice 
of review in the Federal Register (61 FR 7596) that discontinued the 
designation of category 2 candidates. Thlaspi californicum was listed 
as a candidate in that notice of review. This species has been given a 
listing priority assignment number of 2, due to the high magnitude, 
imminent threats to its continued existence.
    The processing of this proposed rule conforms with the Service's 
final listing priority guidance for fiscal year 1997, published in the 
Federal Register on December 5, 1996 (61 FR 64475). In a Federal 
Register notice published on October 23, 1997 (62 FR 55628), the 
guidance was extended beyond fiscal year 1997 until such time as the 
fiscal year 1998 appropriations bill for the Department of the Interior 
becomes law and new final guidance is published. The fiscal year 1997 
guidance clarifies the order in which the Service will process 
rulemakings following two related events: (1) the lifting on April 26, 
1996, of the moratorium on final listings imposed on April 10, 1995 
(Public Law 104-6), and (2) the restoration of significant funding for 
listing through passage of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act on 
April 26, 1996, following severe funding constraints imposed by a 
number of continuing resolutions between November 1995 and April 1996. 
Based on biological considerations, this guidance establishes a 
``multi-tiered approach that assigns relative priorities, on a 
descending basis, to actions to be carried out under section 4 of the 
Act'' (61 FR 64479). The guidance calls for giving highest priority to 
handling emergency situations (Tier 1) and second highest priority 
(Tier 2) to resolving the listing status of the outstanding proposed 
listings. Tier 3 includes the processing of new proposed listings for 
species facing high magnitude threats. This proposed rule for Thlaspi 
californicum falls under Tier 3. The guidance states that ``effective 
April 1, 1997, the Service will concurrently undertake all of the 
activities presently included in Tiers 1, 2, and 3'' (61 FR 64480). The 
Service has thus begun implementing a more balanced listing program, 
including processing more Tier 3 activities. The completion of this 
Tier 3 activity (a proposal for a species with high-magnitude, imminent 
threats) follows those guidelines.

Summary of Factors Affecting the Species

    Section 4 of the Act and regulations (50 CFR part 424) promulgated 
to implement the listing provisions of the Act set forth the procedures 
for adding species to the Federal lists. A species may be determined to 
be endangered or threatened due to one or more of the five factors 
described in section 4(a)(1). These factors and their application to 
Thlaspi californicum S. Watson (Kneeland Prairie penny-cress) are as 

A. The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment 
of its Habitat or Range.

    The habitat of Thlaspi californicum has been significantly reduced 
within the past 33 years. Just prior to 1964, an estimated 2.0 to 2.25 
ha (5 to 6 ac) of habitat existed at Kneeland Prairie (Meyers 1991). 
Approximately 60 to 70 percent of the habitat at Kneeland Prairie has 
been lost since 1964, due to construction of the Kneeland Airport, 
realignment of the county road that runs through Kneeland Prairie, and 
construction of the California Department of Forestry (CDFFP) helitack 
base (Meyers 1991; Imper 1990; Imper, pers. comm., 1997). Additional 
habitat and plants are currently threatened by the proposed expansion

[[Page 7114]]

of the Kneeland Prairie Airport and potential road realignment.
    The Kneeland Prairie Airport serves principally as the backup 
airport for Rohnerville, Murray, Eureka Municipal, and Arcata-Eureka 
airports. Small single-engine and occasionally twin-engine planes use 
Kneeland Airport. This airfield is especially important when airports 
at lower elevations are fogged in, a frequent occurrence in the region 
(Hodges & Shutt 1993). Kneeland Prairie is the only airport in the 
Humboldt Bay area that can be used when the bay is fogged in (Don 
Tuttle, Resource Specialist, Humboldt County Public Works, pers. comm., 
1997). The airport is particularly important for commercial express 
mail and air freight carriers, as well as other couriers (Ray Beeninga, 
Airports Manager, Humboldt County, pers. comm., 1997).
    Humboldt County contracted a study to evaluate its airports and 
prepare appropriate planning documents (Hodges & Shutt 1993). The study 
provided an assessment of Kneeland Airport's role and associated 
airfield requirements. The report also discussed land use compatibility 
issues and descriptions of capital projects, and provided documentation 
required to upgrade Kneeland Airport from temporary to permanent 
inclusion in the National Plan for Integrated Airport Systems. That 
designation allows the county to receive Federal funding for airport 
modifications through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). 
Recommendations in the report included development of a complete 
geotechnical study of specific engineering designs to stabilize the 
airport, and construction of a new parking area meeting FAA setback 
standards. The report discussed design constraints for placement of the 
new parking area. The location of the CDFFP helitack base limits the 
ability of the airport to expand the existing parking area to the 
northwest (Hodges & Shutt 1993). The recommended location for the new 
parking area is on the eastern side of the airport (Hodges & Shutt 
1993), adjacent to the eastern colony of Thlaspi californicum. 
Construction of the parking facility at Kneeland Airport could 
adversely affect the habitat and individuals of the eastern colony due 
to the proximity of the plants to the potential site.
    Humboldt County is also contracting an initial study to evaluate 
the geotechnical feasibility and cost of modifying Kneeland Prairie 
Airport. The study, currently in progress (D. Tuttle and D. Imper, 
pers. comms., 1997), is evaluating ways to solve problems involving 
subsidence of the runway, slope stabilization, and the safety issue 
that the runway is too short (Dave Dietz, Project Manager, Shutt-Moen 
Associates, pers. comm., 1997). Possible options include leaving the 
airport configuration as is (i.e., repairing current subsidence, but 
not extending the runway), finding a different site for a new airport, 
or modifying the existing airport (D. Dietz, pers. comm., 1997). 
Financial constraints could influence the choice among the 
alternatives. In additional, exploratory soil boring is needed to 
determine how to stabilize the airport and to determine the cost of 
extending the runway. Thlaspi californicum occurs on the slopes 
immediately adjacent to the airfield. Exploratory boring may affect 
individuals located immediately adjacent to airport lands. Modification 
of the existing airport is anticipated to occur in the year 2000 (R. 
Beeninga, pers. comm., 1997).
    The realignment of the county road adjacent to the airport could 
affect the western occurrence of Thlaspi californicum at Kneeland 
Prairie (D. Imper, pers. comm., 1997). The road currently runs along 
the southwest edge of the runway and serves areas beyond the airport. 
The aviation manager would not be authorized to modify the road except 
as necessary for slope stabilization or as the result of possible 
runway extension at the south end of the airport. The extension of the 
runway to the south is not expected to directly impact T. californicum. 
However, if the runway is extended 30 to 65 m (90 to 200 ft) (R. 
Beeninga, pers. comm., 1997), the runway will run through the current 
road. The road would then either need to go under the runway via a 
tunnel, or be realigned. Road realignment could result in impacts to 
the habitat and individual plants. The western colony of Thlaspi 
californicum occurs just downslope of the current road. For safety 
reasons, it is likely that Humboldt County will undertake straightening 
and/or widening the road, either independent of or concurrent with 
runway expansion (L. Host, in litt., 1997). The road adjacent to the 
airport is narrow; a blind, 90-degree curve in the road around the end 
of the runway limits safe speeds to only 10 to 15 miles per hour. These 
conditions could warrant a county decision to realign the road in order 
to achieve a safer curve radius at the end of the runway. Unless the 
approach to that portion of the road is moved outward beyond the plants 
(which would require extra length and expense), the realignment would 
cross the remaining serpentine habitat and eliminate about half of the 
remaining plants in the western colony. The Service anticipates that 
such roadwork would occur during airport construction in order to avoid 
the expense of bringing necessary machinery to the site twice.

B. Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or 
Educational Purposes

    Overutilization is not known to be a threat for this plant.

C. Disease or Predation

    There is no known threat to Thlaspi californicum from disease. 
Cattle grazing occurs throughout the prairie and the area surrounding 
the airport (Imper 1997). Cattle trails run through T. californicum 
habitat (Meyers 1991), but there does not appear to be any threat to 
the species from current levels of grazing.

D. The Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) (chapter 2, section 
21050 et seq. of the California Public Resources Code) requires full 
disclosure of the potential environmental impacts of proposed projects. 
The public agency with primary authority or jurisdiction over the 
project is designated as the lead agency, and is responsible for 
conducting a review of the project and consulting with the other 
agencies concerned with the resources affected by the project. Section 
15065 of the CEQA guidelines requires a finding of significance if a 
project has the potential to ``reduce the number or restrict the range 
of a rare or endangered plant or animal.'' Species that are eligible 
for listing as rare, threatened, or endangered but are not so listed 
are given the same protection as those species that are officially 
listed with the State or Federal governments. Once significant effects 
are identified, the lead agency has the option of requiring mitigation 
for effects through changes in the project or to decide that overriding 
considerations make mitigation infeasible. In the latter case, projects 
may be approved that cause significant environmental damage, such as 
destruction of endangered species. Protection of listed species through 
CEQA is therefore dependent upon the discretion of the agency involved.
    When the CDFFP constructed the Kneeland Helitack Base in 1980, a 
botanical assessment was required by the Humboldt County Planning 
Department for issuance of a conditional use permit. However, CDFFP did 
not include any analysis of potential impacts to Thlaspi californicum, 
although records of its California Native

[[Page 7115]]

Plant Society 1B status and CNDDB documentation of the species' 
presence were available at that time (Imper 1990, Meyers 1991).

E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued Existence

    Thlaspi californicum has never been found anywhere other than at 
Kneeland Prairie, where the single population occupies 0.25 ha (0.6 
ac), bisected by the Kneeland Airport. This plant occupies serpentine 
prairie habitat that is quite restricted in extent. The combination of 
a single population and restricted habitat makes T. californicum 
susceptible to destruction of all or a significant portion of its range 
from naturally occurring events such as fire, drought, or severe 
erosion (Shaffer 1981, Primack 1993). Chance events causing population 
fluctuations or even population extirpations are not usually a concern 
until the number of individuals or geographic distribution becomes as 
limited as with T. californicum (Primack 1993). The single known 
locality of the species makes the population at Kneeland Prairie 
particularly susceptible to extinction due to fire or an erosional 
event causing slope failure. Even one such event has the potential to 
seriously impact the sole population of the species.
    The Service has carefully assessed the best scientific and 
commercial information available regarding the past, present, and 
future threats faced by this species in determining to propose this 
rule. Airport expansion activities, potential road realignment, 
inadequate regulatory mechanisms, and naturally occurring events such 
as fire imperil the continued existence of this plant. The one known 
population of Thlaspi californicum includes approximately 11,000 
individual plants scattered within a 0.25 ha (0.6 ac) area. The species 
is in danger of extinction throughout all of its known range. Based on 
this evaluation, the preferred action is to list T. californicum as 
endangered. Other alternatives to this action were considered but not 
preferred because they would not provide adequate protection and would 
not be consistent with the Act. Listing T. californicum as endangered 
would provide additional protection and is consistent with the Act's 
definition of endangered. Critical habitat is not being proposed for T. 
californicum for reasons discussed in the ``Critical Habitat'' section 
of this proposal.

Critical Habitat

    Critical habitat is defined in section 3 of the Act as: (i) The 
specific areas within the geographical area occupied by a species, at 
the time it is listed in accordance with the Act, on which are found 
those physical or biological features (I) essential to the conservation 
of the species and (II) that may require special management 
consideration or protection and; (ii) specific areas outside the 
geographical area occupied by a species at the time it is listed, upon 
determination that such areas are essential for the conservation of the 
species. ``Conservation'' means the use of all methods and procedures 
needed to bring the species to the point at which listing under the Act 
is no longer necessary.
    Section 4(a)(3) of the Act, as amended, and implementing 
regulations (50 CFR 424.12) require that, to the maximum extent prudent 
and determinable, the Secretary designate critical habitat at the time 
a species is determined to be endangered or threatened. The Service 
finds that designation of critical habitat is not prudent for Thlaspi 
californicum. Service regulations (50 CFR 424.12(a)(1)) state that 
designation of critical habitat is not prudent when one or both of the 
following situations exist: (1) the species is threatened by taking or 
other human activity, and identification of critical habitat can be 
expected to increase the degree of threat to the species, or (2) such 
designation of critical habitat would not be beneficial to the species.
    The Service determines that designation of critical habitat for 
Thlaspi californicum is not prudent due to lack of benefit to the 
species. Critical habitat designation provides protection only on 
Federal lands or on private lands when there is Federal involvement 
through authorization or funding of, or participation in, a project or 
activity. Although this plant occurs only on private land, it may be 
affected by projects with Federal connections, including potential 
Federal funding of the county road realignment and airport expansion by 
the Federal Highway Administration and the FAA respectively. Section 
7(a)(2) of the Act requires Federal agencies, in consultation with the 
Service, to ensure that any action authorized, funded, or carried out 
by such agency is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of a 
federally listed species, or to destroy or adversely modify designated 
critical habitat.
    Thlaspi californicum has an extremely narrow distribution in a 
serpentine prairie, totalling about 0.25 ha (0.6 ac) in two parcels 
separated by the runway of Kneeland Airport, whose construction appears 
to have destroyed most of the plant's habitat. At the present time, no 
other site is known to be occupied by or suitable for this plant. The 
private landowners at Kneeland are aware of the plant's presence and 
extremely limited habitat, as are the airport operators and others 
involved in management of the area. Therefore, designation of critical 
habitat would provide no benefit with respect to notification. In 
addition, given the species' narrow distribution and precarious status, 
virtually any conceivable adverse effect would very likely jeopardize 
its continued existence. Designation of critical habitat for T. 
californicum would therefore provide no benefit to the species apart 
from the protection afforded by listing the plant as endangered.

Available Conservation Measures

    Conservation measures provided to species listed as endangered or 
threatened under the Act include recognition, recovery actions, 
requirements for Federal protection, and prohibitions against certain 
activities. Recognition through listing results in public awareness and 
conservation actions by Federal, State, and local agencies, private 
organizations, and individuals. The Act provides for possible land 
acquisition and cooperation with the States and requires that recovery 
actions be carried out for all listed species. The protection required 
of Federal agencies and the prohibitions against certain activities 
involving listed plants are discussed, in part, below.
    Section 7(a) of the Act requires Federal agencies to evaluate their 
actions with respect to any species that is proposed or listed as 
endangered or threatened and with respect to its critical habitat, if 
any is designated. Regulations implementing this interagency 
cooperation provision of the Act are codified at 50 CFR part 402. 
Section 7(a)(4) of the Act requires Federal agencies to confer with the 
Service on any action that is likely to jeopardize the continued 
existence of a proposed species or result in destruction or adverse 
modification of proposed critical habitat. If a species is listed 
subsequently, section 7(a)(2) requires Federal agencies to ensure that 
activities they authorize, fund, or carry out are not likely to 
jeopardize the continued existence of such a species or to destroy or 
adversely modify its critical habitat. If a Federal action may affect a 
listed species or its critical habitat, the responsible Federal agency 
must enter into formal consultation with the Service.
    All of the occurrences of Thlaspi californicum are on privately 

[[Page 7116]]

land. However, impacts of modifying the adjacent airport have the 
potential to adversely affect T. californicum, due to the proximity of 
the plants to the proposed parking apron. Funds from the FAA have been 
used to partially finance a planning document for the Kneeland Airport 
and are proposed to be used for airport modifications. Private sector 
funding is not anticipated to be available for Kneeland Airport (Hodges 
& Shutt 1993). Realignment of a county road adjacent to the airport may 
be required if the runway is extended. This work could be partially 
funded by Federal Highway Administration grants, thereby providing 
another avenue for section 7 consultation.
    The Act and its implementing regulations set forth a series of 
general prohibitions and exceptions that apply to all endangered 
plants. All prohibitions of section 9(a)(2) of the Act, implemented by 
50 CFR 17.61 for endangered plants, apply. These prohibitions, in part, 
make it illegal for any person subject to the jurisdiction of the 
United States to import or export an endangered plant, transport such a 
plant in interstate or foreign commerce in the course of a commercial 
activity, sell or offer for sale an endangered plant in interstate or 
foreign commerce, or remove and reduce an endangered plant to 
possession from areas under Federal jurisdiction. In addition, for 
plants listed as endangered, the Act prohibits malicious damage or 
destruction on areas under Federal jurisdiction, and the removal, 
cutting, digging up, or damaging or destroying of such plants in 
knowing violation of any State law or regulation, including State 
criminal trespass law. Certain exceptions to the prohibitions apply to 
agents of the Service and State conservation agencies.
    It is the policy of the Service, published in the Federal Register 
on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 34272), to identify to the maximum extent 
practicable those activities that would or would not constitute a 
violation of section 9 of the Act if a species is listed. The intent of 
this policy is to increase public awareness of the effect of a proposed 
listing on proposed and ongoing activities within a species' range. 
This species is not located on areas under Federal jurisdiction. 
Collection, damage or destruction of this species on Federal lands is 
prohibited (although in appropriate cases a Federal endangered species 
permit may be issued to allow collection for scientific or recovery 
purposes). Such activities on areas not under Federal jurisdiction 
would constitute a violation of section 9 if conducted in knowing 
violation of California State law or regulations, or in violation of 
State criminal trespass law. Moderate livestock grazing and normal use 
of the existing airfield and road are among the activities that would 
be unlikely to violate section 9. Questions regarding whether specific 
activities would constitute a violation of section 9, should this 
species be listed, should be directed to the Field Supervisor of the 
Sacramento Field Office (see ADDRESSES section).
    The Act and 50 CFR 17.62 and 17.63 provide for the issuance of 
permits to carry out otherwise prohibited activities involving 
endangered plants under certain circumstances. Such permits are 
available for scientific purposes and to enhance the propagation or 
survival of the species. It is anticipated that few trade permits would 
ever be sought or issued for Thlaspi californicum because it is not 
common in cultivation or in the wild. Requests for copies of the 
regulations regarding listed species and inquiries regarding 
prohibitions and permits may be addressed to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, Endangered Species Permits, 911 N.E. 11th Avenue, Portland, 
Oregon 97232-4181 (phone 503/231-2063; facsimile 503/231-6243).

Public Comments Solicited

    The Service intends that any final action resulting from this 
proposal will be as accurate and as effective as possible. Therefore, 
comments or suggestions from the public, other concerned governmental 
agencies, the scientific community, industry, or any other interested 
party concerning this proposed rule are hereby solicited. The Service 
will follow its peer review policy (59 FR 34270; July 1, 1994) in the 
processing of this rule. Comments are particularly sought concerning:
    (1) Biological, commercial trade, or other relevant data concerning 
any threat (or lack thereof) to Thlaspi californicum;
    (2) The location of any additional populations of this species and 
the reasons why any habitat should or should not be determined to be 
critical habitat as provided by section 4 of the Act;
    (3) Additional information concerning the range, distribution, and 
population size of this species; and
    (4) Current or planned activities in the subject area and their 
possible impacts on this species.
    A final determination of whether to list this species will take 
into consideration the comments and any additional information received 
by the Service. Such communications may lead to a final decision-making 
document that differs from this proposal.
    The Act provides for one or more public hearings on this proposal, 
if requested. Requests must be received within 45 days of the date of 
publication of the proposal in the Federal Register. Such requests must 
be made in writing and be addressed to the Field Supervisor, Sacramento 
Fish and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES section).

National Environmental Policy Act

    The Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that Environmental 
Assessments and Environmental Impact Statements, as defined under the 
authority of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, need not be 
prepared in connection with regulations adopted pursuant to section 
4(a) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. A notice 
outlining the Service's reasons for this determination was published in 
the Federal Register on October 25, 1983 (48 FR 49244).

Required Determinations

    This rule does not contain collections of information that require 
approval by the Office of Management and Budget under 44 U.S.C. 3501 et 

References Cited

    A complete list of all references cited herein is available upon 
request from the Field Supervisor, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office 
(see ADDRESSES section).
    Author. The primary author of this proposed rule is Kirsten Tarp, 
Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES section).

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

    Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements, Transportation.

Proposed Regulation Promulgation

    Accordingly, the Service hereby proposes to amend part 17, 
subchapter B of chapter I, title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations, 
as set forth below:


    1. The authority citation for part 17 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1361-1407; 16 U.S.C. 1531-1544; 16 U.S.C. 
4201-4245; Pub. L. 99-625, 100 Stat. 3500, unless otherwise noted.

    2. Amend section 17.12(h) by adding the following, in alphabetical 
order under FLOWERING PLANTS, to the List of Endangered and Threatened 

Sec. 17.12  Endangered and threatened plants.

* * * * *
    (h) * * *

[[Page 7117]]

--------------------------------------------------------    Historic range           Family            Status      When listed    Critical     Special  
         Scientific name                Common name                                                                               habitat       rules   
                 *                  *                  *                    *                    *                  *                  *                
         Flowering Plants                                                                                                                               
                 *                  *                  *                    *                    *                  *                  *                
Thlaspi californicum.............  Kneeland Prairie      U.S.A. (CA)........  Brassicaceae.......  E               ...........           NA           NA
                 *                  *                  *                    *                    *                  *                  *                

    Dated: December 30, 1997.
Jamie Rappaport Clark,
Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 98-3561 Filed 2-11-98; 8:45 am]