[Federal Register: July 29, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 145)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 41060-41061]
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; 12-Month Finding 
for a Petition To List the Junaluska Salamander as Endangered With 
Critical Habitat

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of 12-month petition finding.


SUMMARY: We, the Fish and Wildlife Service, announce a 12-month finding 
for a petition to list the Junaluska salamander (Eurycea junaluska) 
under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). After 
reviewing all available scientific and commercial information, we have 
determined that listing is not warranted for the Junaluska salamander 
at this time.
    The status of the Junaluska salamander is more secure than 
indicated by the petitioners, in a large part because the number of 
populations is more than twice the number previously known to exist. 
Further, many of the factors the petitioners identified as those 
threatening the species are merely conjecture or have been lessened by 
the finding of additional populations. The species occurs in North 
Carolina and Tennessee.

[[Page 41061]]

DATES: The finding announced in this document was made on July 14, 

ADDRESSES: Send questions, comments, data, or information concerning 
this petition to the State Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 
Asheville Field Office, 160 Zillicoa Street, Asheville, North Carolina 
28801. The petition finding, supporting data, and comments are 
available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal business 
hours at the above address.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. J. Allen Ratzlaff at the above 
address or telephone 828/258-3939, ext. 229.



    Under section 4(b)(3)(B) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), for 
any petition to revise the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened 
Wildlife and Plants that presents substantial scientific and commercial 
information, we are required to make a finding within 12 months of the 
date of receipt of the petition as to whether the petitioned action is 
(a) not warranted, (b) warranted, or (c) warranted but precluded from 
immediate proposal by other pending proposals of higher priority.
    On March 31, 1998, we received a petition dated March 30, 1998, 
from Appalachian Voices and the Biodiversity Legal Foundation. The 
petition requested that we list the Junaluska salamander (Eurycea 
junaluska) as an endangered species and designate critical habitat 
under 16 U.S.C. 1533(a)(3)(A) of the Act. The petition identified 
timber harvesting, predation by nonnative trout, exposure to acid-
bearing rock, siltation, genetic drift, the inadequacy of current laws, 
and random events as immediate threats to the species' continued 
existence. We made a 90-day finding that the petition presented 
substantial information indicating that the requested action may be 
warranted. We announced the 90-day finding and the initiation of a 
status review in the Federal Register on October 28, 1998 (63 FR 
    The processing of this petition conforms with our final listing 
priority guidance for fiscal years 1998 and 1999, published in the 
Federal Register on May 8, 1998 (63 FR 25502). The guidance calls for 
giving highest priority to handling emergency situations (Tier 1); 
second highest priority to resolving the listing status of outstanding 
proposed listings, resolving the conservation status of candidate 
species, processing administrative findings on petitions, and 
processing a limited number of delistings and reclassifications (Tier 
2); and third priority to processing proposed and final designations of 
critical habitat (Tier 3). The processing of this petition falls under 
Tier 2.
    We reviewed the petition, the literature cited in the petition, and 
other available literature and information, and consulted with 
biologists and researchers familiar with the Junaluska salamander. 
Based on the best available scientific and commercial information, we 
find that listing the Junaluska salamander (Eurycea junaluska) as 
endangered or threatened is not warranted at the present time.
    The Junaluska salamander is an aquatic to semi-aquatic lungless 
(plethodontid) salamander known from a portion of the Blue Ridge 
Mountains in southwestern North Carolina and southeastern Tennessee. 
Bruce and Ryan (1995) described the habitat of the Junaluska salamander 
at three sites in North Carolina as relatively low-elevation and wide-
basin streams, with sand-gravel substrates and numerous large rocks 
that serve as refugia and brooding sites.
    Prior to receiving the petition, we had some knowledge of the 
status of the Junaluska salamander, principally from North Carolina. 
Consequently, we had already initiated a status survey for the 
Tennessee portion of the species' range. Through this survey and 
surveys being conducted by the National Park Service in the Great Smoky 
Mountains National Park, biologists observed the Junaluska salamander 
in 11 additional streams, for a total of 17 inhabited streams. Many of 
these streams are on National Park Service land, where the species 
receives considerable protection. The discovery of additional 
populations also lessens the potential impacts that any particular 
project or random event could have on the species. We do not expect any 
of the other threats outlined by the petitioner to occur so quickly or 
extensively as to pose substantial immediate threats to the Junaluska 
salamander's continued existence. There is no direct evidence of any 
population decline and no populations are known to have been lost since 
the species was described, though it is likely that reservoir 
impoundment negatively affected some populations. While small 
populations are inherently more vulnerable to extirpation, many of the 
reservoirs in the salamander's range have been in place for more than 
60 years, and there is no evidence that the smaller populations are 
suffering from genetic problems. Additionally, there is no evidence to 
suggest that predation by nonnative trout is a significant threat to 
the species. Trout feeding studies conducted in western North Carolina 
show that salamanders are a rare food item for trout (Tebo and Hassler 
    We now consider threats to the Junaluska salamander to be low. 
Listing this species as either threatened or endangered is not 
appropriate at this time because it is not presently in danger of 
extinction or likely to become so in the foreseeable future. However, 
in the event that conditions change and the species becomes imperiled 
due to the factors discussed in this finding, or other unforseen 
factors, we could propose to list the species under the Act or, if 
circumstances warranted, invoke the emergency listing provisions of the 

References Cited

    A complete list of all references cited herein, as well as others, 
is available upon request from the Asheville Field Office (See 
ADDRESSES section).
    Author: The primary author of this document is Mr. J. Allen 
Ratzlaff (see ADDRESSES section).


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

    Dated: July 14, 1999.
Marshall P. Jones,
Acting Director, Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 99-19425 Filed 7-28-99; 8:45 am]