[Federal Register: October 20, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 202)]

[Rules and Regulations]               

[Page 56581-56590]

From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]


[[Page 56581]]


Part II

Department of the Interior


Fish and Wildlife Service


50 CFR Part 17

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Listing Helianthus 

paradoxus (Pecos Sunflower), Devils River Minnow and Astragalus 

desereticus (Deseret milk-vetch) as Threatened; Final Rules

[[Page 56582]]


Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AE88


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Determination of 

Threatened Status for the Plant Helianthus paradoxus (Pecos Sunflower)

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Final rule.


SUMMARY: We, the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) determine 

Helianthus paradoxus (Pecos or puzzle sunflower) to be a threatened 

species under the authority of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as 

amended (Act). This species is dependent on desert wetlands for its 

survival. It is known from 22 sites in Cibola, Valencia, Guadalupe, and 

Chaves counties, New Mexico, and from 3 sites in Pecos and Reeves 

counties, Texas. Threats to this species include drying of wetlands 

from groundwater depletion, alteration of wetlands (e.g. wetland fills, 

draining, impoundment construction), competition from non-native plant 

species, excessive livestock grazing, mowing, and highway maintenance. 

This rule implements the Federal protection and recovery programs of 

the Act for this plant.

DATES: This rule is effective November 19, 1999.

ADDRESSES: The complete file for this rule is available for public 

inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the U.S. 

Fish and Wildlife Service, New Mexico Ecological Services Field Office, 

2105 Osuna Road, NE, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87113.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Charlie McDonald, Botanist, at the 

above address (telephone 505-346-2525 ext. 112; facsimile 505-346-




    Dr. S.W. Woodhouse, physician and naturalist, was the first person 

to collect Pecos sunflower on August 26, 1851, while on the Sitgreaves 

expedition to explore the Zuni River and the Lower Colorado. The 

location was given as ``Nay Camp, Rio Laguna'' (Sitgreaves 1853). The 

collection site is probably located somewhere near the Rio Laguna (now 

called the Rio San Jose) between Laguna Pueblo and Bluewater in Cibola 

County, New Mexico. Dr. John Torrey, a botanical expert at the New York 

Botanical Garden, identified this specimen as Helianthus petiolaris 

(prairie sunflower) (Sitgreaves 1853). It was not until 1958 that Dr. 

Charles Heiser named Helianthus paradoxus as a new species citing two 

known specimens, the type specimen collected September 11, 1947, by 

H.R. Reed west of Fort Stockton in Pecos County, Texas, and the 

Woodhouse specimen collected in New Mexico (Heiser 1958).

    Heiser's (1965) hybridization studies helped resolve doubts about 

the validity of Pecos sunflower as a true species. Prior to Heiser's 

studies there was some speculation the plant was a hybrid between 

Helianthus annuus (common sunflower) and the prairie sunflower. 

Heiser's studies demonstrated that Pecos sunflower is a fertile plant 

that breeds true. Heiser was able to produce hybrids between Pecos 

sunflower and both common sunflower and prairie sunflower, but these 

hybrids were of low fertility. These results support the validity of 

Pecos sunflower as a true species. In 1990, Rieseberg et al. published 

the results of molecular tests on the hypothesized hybrid origin of 

Pecos sunflower, using electrophoresis to test enzymes and restriction-

fragment analysis to test ribosomal and chloroplast DNA. This work 

identified Pecos sunflower as a true species of ancient hybrid origin 

with the most likely hybrid parents being common sunflower and prairie 


    Pecos sunflower is an annual member of the sunflower family 

(Asteraceae). It grows 1.3-2.0 meters (m) (4.25-6.5 feet (ft)) tall and 

is branched at the top. The leaves are opposite on the lower part of 

the stem and alternate at the top. The leaves are lance-shaped with 

three prominent veins, and up to 17.5 centimeters (cm) (6.9 inches 

(in)) long by 8.5 cm (3.3 in) wide. The stem and leaf surfaces have a 

few short stiff hairs. The flower heads are 5.0-7.0 cm (2.0-2.8 in) in 

diameter with bright yellow rays. Flowering is from September to 

November. Pecos sunflower looks much like the common sunflower seen 

along roadsides throughout the west, but differs from common sunflower 

in having narrower leaves, fewer hairs on the stems and leaves, 

slightly smaller flower heads, and flowers later.

    Pecos sunflower grows in permanently saturated soils. Areas with 

these conditions are most commonly desert wetlands (cienegas) 

associated with springs, but may also include stream and lake margins. 

When plants grow around lakes, the lakes are usually impounded natural 

cienega habitats. Plants commonly associated with Pecos sunflower 

include Limonium limbatum (Transpecos sealavender), Samolus cuneatus 

(limewater brookweed), Flaveria chloraefolia, Scirpus olneyi (Olney 

bulrush), Phragmites australis (common reed), Distichlis sp. 

(saltgrass), Sporobolus airoides (alkali sacaton), Muhlenbergia 

asperifolia (alkali muhly), Juncus mexicanus (Mexican rush), Suaeda 

calceoliformis (Pursh seepweed), and Tamarix spp. (saltcedar) (Poole 

1992, Sivinski 1995). All of these species are good indicators of 

saline soils. Van Auken and Bush (1995) did studies that show Pecos 

sunflower grows in saline soils, but seeds germinate and establish best 

when high water tables reduce salinities near the soil's surface.

    Until 1990, Pecos sunflower was known from only three extant sites. 

Two sites were in Pecos County, Texas, and one site was in Chaves 

County, New Mexico (Seiler et al. 1981). Searches of suitable habitats 

in Pecos, Reeves, and Culbertson counties, Texas, during 1991 failed to 

locate any new Texas sites (Poole 1992). However, searches in New 

Mexico from 1991 through 1994 located a significant number of new sites 

(Sivinski 1995). In Texas one new site was reported in 1998 (Kargas 


    Pecos sunflower is presently known from 25 sites that occur in 5 

general areas. These areas are Pecos and Reeves counties, Texas, in the 

vicinity of Fort Stockton and Balmorhea; Chaves County, New Mexico, 

from Dexter to just north of Roswell; Guadalupe County, New Mexico, in 

the vicinity of Santa Rosa; Valencia County, New Mexico, along the 

lower part of the Rio San Jose; and Cibola County, New Mexico, in the 

vicinity of Grants. There are 3 sites in the Fort Stockton-Balmorhea 

area, 11 in the Dexter to Roswell area, 8 in the Santa Rosa area, 1 

along the lower Rio San Jose, and 2 in the Grants area.

    Most of the Pecos sunflower sites are limited to less than 2.0 

hectares (ha) (5.0 acres (ac)) of wetland habitat with some being only 

a fraction of a hectare. Two sites, one near Fort Stockton and one near 

Roswell, are considerably more extensive. The number of plants per site 

varies from less than 100 to several hundred thousand for the 2 more 

extensive sites. Because Pecos sunflower is an annual, the number of 

plants per site can fluctuate greatly from year to year with changes in 

water conditions. Pecos sunflower is totally dependent on the 

persistence of its wetland habitat for even large populations will 

disappear if the wetland dries out.

    Various Federal, State, Tribal, municipal, and private interests 

own and manage the Pecos sunflower sites. Managing Federal agencies 

include the Service, Bureau of Land Management,

[[Page 56583]]

and National Park Service. Plants are located on one New Mexico State 

park. Plants are located on municipal property within the cities of 

Roswell and Santa Rosa. The Laguna Indian Tribe owns and manages one 

site. Seven different private individuals or organizations own sites or 

parts of sites. Some plants grow on State or Federal highway rights-of-


    Five sites are on property managed principally for wildlife and 

endangered species conservation. Two major sites are on Bitter Lake 

National Wildlife Refuge near Roswell, New Mexico. The refuge has a 

series of 6 spring-fed impoundments totaling about 300 ha (750 ac). 

These impoundments are managed with high water levels in winter 

followed by a spring and summer drawdown that simulates a natural water 

cycle. This regime provides abundant habitat for Pecos sunflower that 

grows in almost solid stands at the edge of some impoundments. There is 

a small site with less than 100 plants on Dexter National Fish Hatchery 

near Dexter, New Mexico. Plants first appeared here several years ago 

after saltcedar was removed to restore a wetland.

    The Nature Conservancy of Texas owns and manages two sites, one 

near Fort Stockton, Texas, and the other near Balmorhea, Texas. Large 

desert springs are the principal features of both preserves. The spring 

near Fort Stockton harbors two species of endangered fish and three 

species of endemic snails, plus a large Pecos sunflower population that 

extends for about 1.2 kilometers (km) (0.75 miles (mi)) along the 

spring run. Two springs near Balmorhea, purchased in 1997, harbor a 

species of endangered fish and a population of several thousand Pecos 

sunflowers (Karges 1998).

    The loss or alteration of wetland habitats is the main threat to 

Pecos sunflower. The lowering of water tables through aquifer 

withdrawals for irrigated agriculture; diversion of water from wetlands 

for irrigation, livestock, or other uses; wetland filling; and invasion 

of saltcedar and other non-native species continues to destroy or 

degrade desert wetlands. Mowing of some municipal properties and 

highway rights-of-way regularly destroys some plants. Livestock will 

eat Pecos sunflowers, particularly if other green forage is scarce. 

There was some unregulated commercial sale of Pecos sunflowers in the 

past and some plant collection for breeding programs to improve 

commercial sunflowers. Pecos sunflower will naturally hybridize with 

common sunflower. There is concern about the extent to which 

backcrosses from hybrids could affect the genetic integrity of small 

Pecos sunflower populations.

Previous Federal Action

    Federal government actions on Pecos sunflower began with section 12 

of the Act, which directed the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution 

to prepare a report on plants considered to be endangered, threatened, 

or extinct in the United States. The presentation of this report, 

designated as House Document No. 94-51, occurred on January 9, 1975. On 

July 1, 1975, we published a notice in the Federal Register (40 FR 

27823) accepting the report as a petition within the context of section 

4(c)(2) (now section 4(b)(3)(A)) of the Act and announcing our intent 

to review the status of the plants in the report. As a consequence of 

this review, we published a proposed rule in the Federal Register on 

June 16, 1976 (41 FR 24523), to designate approximately 1,700 vascular 

plants as endangered species. A final rule on the proposal had not been 

published in 1978 when new amendments to the Act required that all 

proposals over 2 years old be withdrawn with a 1-year grace period 

provided for proposals already over 2 years old. We published a Federal 

Register notice on December 10, 1979 (44 FR 70796), withdrawing the 

June 16, 1976, proposed rule in addition to four other previously 

expired proposals.

    On December 15, 1980 (45 FR 82480), we published an updated notice 

of review of plants being considered for endangered or threatened 

designation. This notice included Helianthus paradoxus as a category 1 

species, which are those species for which we had on file substantial 

information on biological vulnerability and threats to support 

proposals to designate them as endangered or threatened. We retained 

Helianthus paradoxus as a category 1 species in subsequent notice of 

review of plants published in the Federal Register on September 27, 

1985 (50 FR 39526), February 21, 1990 (55 FR 6184), and September 30, 

1993 (58 FR 51143). Beginning with our February 28, 1996, candidate 

notice of review (61 FR 7596), we discontinued the designation of 

multiple categories of candidates, and only those taxa meeting the 

definition of former category 1 candidates are now considered 

candidates for listing purposes. We retained Helianthus paradoxus as a 

candidate species in our September 19, 1997, candidate notice of review 

(62 FR 49398).

    Section 4(b)(3)(B) of the Act requires the Secretary to make 

findings on pending petitions within 12 months of their receipt. 

Section 2(b)(1) of the 1982 amendments further requires that all 

petitions pending on October 13, 1982, be treated as though they were 

newly submitted on that date. This was the case for Helianthus 

paradoxus because of the acceptance of the 1975 Smithsonian report as a 

petition. On October 13, 1983, we made a petition finding that the 

listing of Helianthus paradoxus was warranted, but precluded by other 

pending listing actions, in accordance with section 4(b)(3)(B)(iii) of 

the Act. Notice of this finding was published on January 20, 1984 (49 

FR 2485). A warranted but precluded finding requires that the petition 

be recycled pursuant to section 4(b)(3)(C)(i) of the Act. This finding 

was reviewed annually from 1984 through 1997. Publication of a proposed 

rule in the Federal Register on April 1, 1998 (63 FR 15808), to 

designate Helianthus paradoxus as a threatened species constituted the 

final 1-year finding for the petitioned action.

    On June 15, 1998, we published a notice in the Federal Register (63 

FR 32635) announcing the reopening the comment period and the location 

of public hearings on the proposal. We held public hearings on July 8, 

9, and 13, 1998.

    The processing of this final rule conforms with our Listing 

Priority Guidance for Fiscal Years 1998 and 1999, published on May 8, 

1998 (63 FR 25502). The guidance clarifies the order in which we will 

process rulemakings giving highest priority (Tier 1) to processing 

emergency rules to add species to the Lists of Endangered and 

Threatened Wildlife and Plants (Lists); second priority (Tier 2) to 

processing final determinations on proposals to add species to the 

Lists, processing new listing proposals, processing administrative 

findings on petitions (to add species to the Lists, delist species, or 

reclassify listed species), and processing a limited number of proposed 

and final rules to delist or reclassify species; and third priority 

(Tier 3) to processing proposed and final rules designating critical 

habitat. Processing this final rule is a Tier 2 action.

Summary of Comments and Recommendations

    In our April 1, 1998, proposed rule and associated notifications, 

we solicited interested parties to submit factual reports or 

information to contribute to the development of a final rule. In 

addition, contacts were made and we solicited comments from appropriate 

State and Federal agencies and representatives, Tribal governments, 

county governments,

[[Page 56584]]

municipal governments, scientific organizations, and other interested 

parties. We published legal notices soliciting comments in five 

newspapers--Albuquerque Journal on April 6, 1998, Cibola County Beacon, 

Grants, New Mexico, on April 8, 1998, Santa Rosa News on April 8, 1998, 

Roswell Daily Record on April 6, 1998, and The Pioneer, Fort Stockton, 

Texas, on April 8, 1998. In response to these notices we received 

several requests for a public hearing. On June 15, 1998 (63 FR 32635), 

we published a notice in the Federal Register announcing the dates and 

times for three scheduled public hearings, and notifying the public of 

the extension of the comment period until August 13, 1998. Newspaper 

notices announcing the public hearings and extended comment period 

appeared in the five newspapers listed above between June 24 and 26, 


    We received 14 written comments on the proposal. Seven commentors 

supported the proposed listing; these included two peer reviewers who 

also provided pertinent information included within this final rule, 

two State agencies, and three individuals. Seven commentors opposed the 

proposed listing; these included one State agency, one Indian Tribe, 

two private organizations, and three individuals.

    We received requests to hold a public hearing requests from the New 

Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau; New Mexico County Farm and Livestock 

Bureaus in Colfax, Cibola-McKinley, and Santa Fe counties; Production 

Credit Association of New Mexico; Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers 

Association; and Davis Mountains Trans-Pecos Heritage Association. We 

held hearings on the proposed rule on July 8, 9, and 13, 1998, at Fort 

Stockton, Texas; Roswell, New Mexico; and Grants, New Mexico at which a 

total of 34 people attended. Of the five oral statements presented at 

the hearings, one statement supported the listing, two opposed the 

listing, and two were neutral.

    The following summary contains our response to the written comments 

we received during the comment period and to oral statements made 

during the public hearings. Comments on a similar topic are grouped by 

general issues.

    Issue 1: Survey efforts were inadequate to find all Pecos sunflower 

populations. Because Pecos sunflower is a species of hybrid origin, 

survey efforts should encompass the entire range where the two parental 

species overlap, which includes the plains region from Canada to 


    Response: The sunflowers are in a large genus with species 

distributed throughout North America. The taxonomy and distribution of 

these species has always attracted considerable interest, particularly 

the annual species most closely related to commercial sunflowers. Dr. 

Charles Heiser and his colleagues thoroughly investigated the annual 

sunflowers, examining thousands of specimens from 41 herbaria in the 

United States and Canada (Heiser et al. 1969). They found no specimens 

of Pecos sunflower other than those from near Fort Stockton, Texas, and 

the Rio San Jose in New Mexico. Other investigators such as Dr. Gerald 

Seiler of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Dr. R.C. Jackson of Texas 

Tech University, and Dr. Loren Rieseberg of Indiana University studied 

sunflowers throughout North America for years without finding Pecos 

sunflower beyond its present known range. Our present knowledge of the 

distribution and abundance of Pecos sunflower relies, in part, on the 

work of these earlier investigators.

    The Pecos sunflower is a large plant with bright yellow flowers 

that often grows in patches of thousands. Because its habitat is very 

specific and limited, it is unlikely that significant populations still 

remain unsurveyed after recent intensive efforts to survey for this 

species. However, even if other populations are found, they are likely 

to be subject to the same threats as the known populations.

    Issue 2: Listing is unwarranted until a determination is made 

regarding the species' population ecology, pollinators, seed 

dispersers, seed viability, seed germination, and seed bank.

    Response: While a comprehensive understanding of the life history 

and ecology of a species is useful when available, that level of 

knowledge is not required for listing. Listing a species as threatened 

or endangered is based on the five factors given in section 4(a)(1) of 

the Act. These factors and their application to Pecos sunflower are 

discussed in the ``Summary of Factors Affecting the Species'' section 

of this final rule.

    Issue 3: Evidence indicates that Pecos sunflower has always been a 

rare species with numbers that fluctuate with yearly water conditions. 

There is no documentation that the species is either significantly 

increasing or declining in the region as a whole. Listing is 

unwarranted until a determination is made on the status of the species.

    Response: Declines in rare plant species can be difficult to 

document when there are relatively few historical collections and the 

localities provided with the specimens are imprecise. However, several 

of the specimens collected in Pecos County, Texas, strongly indicate 

Pecos sunflower once grew in places where it no longer occurs. The site 

11 kilometers (or 7 miles (mi)) west of Fort Stockton where the type 

specimen (location of the population from which the plant was first 

described as a species) was collected in 1947 was reported to still 

have a remnant population in 1980 (Seiler et al. 1981), but since that 

time there are no reported findings of Pecos sunflowers. A specimen 

from ``Fort Stockton'' collected in 1943, is thought to be from around 

Comanche Springs, which is now dry and incapable of supporting Pecos 

sunflower. Although there is a reported collection from Escondido Creek 

occurring in the 1800s, the springs feeding this creek have been dry 

for many years, are no longer suitable habitat, and are no longer 

marked on topographic maps. One of the public hearing attendees who 

ranches in the Diamond Y area gave his recollection from 1949 of seeing 

a continuous stand of Pecos sunflowers along the then spring-fed draw 

(natural drainage basin) that runs into Diamond Y draw. The draw is now 

dry except for intermittent flows and Pecos sunflowers are absent.

    These records and statements provide good evidence the distribution 

and abundance of Pecos sunflower has declined in West Texas with the 

loss of spring-fed wetlands. The collection record is inadequate to 

document similar declines in New Mexico, but they are likely due to the 

alteration and loss of wetlands.

    Issue 4: There is no data indicating that livestock grazing is 

contributing to the decline of this species. The population on private 

land at Diamond Y Spring is grazed showing Pecos sunflower can co-exist 

with grazing.

    Response: In the proposed rule we identified livestock gazing as a 

threat to Pecos sunflower by stating, ``Livestock will eat Pecos 

sunflowers, particularly when other green forage is scarce.'' In the 

only study of grazing effects on the species, Bush and Van Auken (1997) 

found no significant differences between plants inside and outside 

cattle exclosures during a 1-year study. However, they are also careful 

to note that ``This experiment was completed during a relatively wet 

year, and perhaps there was enough forage available for the herbivores. 

In subsequent years during times of drought, we have observed severe 

herbivory of H. paradoxus and extreme differences in the stem length 


[[Page 56585]]

number of flowers (unpublished). Therefore, the effects of large 

grazers of H. paradoxus may be dependent on the availability of 

moisture and its effects on the grazers preferred forage plants.'' This 

agrees with our (the Service's) observations of grazing on Pecos 

sunflower. It is possible to have grazing at Pecos sunflower 

populations, as evidenced by the Diamond Y Spring site, but good 

grazing management is still needed to prevent or reduce damage to the 


    Issue 5: In addition to grazing by livestock, consider the effects 

of predation from wildlife species and insects. Additional studies are 

needed to determine elk damage to riparian areas in New Mexico.

    Response: Although we have not seen significant wildlife or insect 

predation on Pecos sunflower, such impacts are possible. Insects and 

their damage to maturing seeds can go undetected because the plants may 

otherwise appear perfectly normal. Elk in New Mexico usually occur at 

much higher elevations than the Pecos sunflower populations.

    Issue 6: Pecos sunflower can survive periods of natural drought. 

Threats associated with problem years having little or no rainfall 

should be attributed to natural causes.

    Response: We agree droughts occur naturally and contribute to poor 

growing conditions for Pecos sunflower during some years. We consider 

natural factors affecting the species under Factor E of the ``Summary 

of Factors Affecting the Species'' section of this final rule. The Act 

directs us to consider both natural factors and human-caused threats in 

determining whether a species is endangered or threatened.

    Issue 7: The statement that Pecos sunflowers grow on the dams of 

man-made impoundments appears to contradict the statement that the 

species is dependent on wetlands.

    Response: We acknowledge that the statement that Pecos sunflowers 

plants grow on dams does need some clarification. Plants found on dams 

grow in saturated soils either at the shoreline or where there is 

seepage through the dam. Pecos sunflowers do not grow on the dry upland 

portion of a dam.

    Issue 8: The focus on the loss of natural wetlands appears 

misplaced, especially when one of the largest known populations 

occupies created wetlands at Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge.

    Response: Our discussion emphasizes the loss of natural wetlands 

because these losses exceed the rate of wetland creation. The wetlands 

created at Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge simply replace former 

natural spring-fed wetlands and still rely on those springs for water. 

There is a high probability that Pecos sunflowers grew around the 

springs before the refuge impoundments were built.

    Issue 9: Hybridization is a natural event and should not be 

considered a threat.

    Response: Hybridization between Pecos sunflower and common 

sunflower may not be a totally natural occurrence. Substantial 

increases in the habitat of common sunflower can result from human land 

disturbances and the construction of road ditches. These disturbances 

have made it possible for common sunflower to grow much closer to Pecos 

sunflower than was possible in the past. Because of concerns about 

hybridization, personnel from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department 

have been removing common sunflowers from the road ditches near the 

Pecos sunflower population at Texas Highway 18 north of Fort Stockton. 

Even if such hybridization was completely natural, we still must 

consider the effects of Pecos sunflower potentially hybridizing with 

other species under Factor E of the ``Summary of Factors Affecting the 

Species'' section of this final rule.

    Issue 10: Because listing may increase collecting and vandalism 

through heightened attention to the species and because Pecos 

sunflowers will not be protected from collecting or destruction on 

private lands, listing will increase risks to the species rather than 

reducing them.

    Response: We believe the conservation measures for listed species 

described in the ``Available Conservation Measures'' section of this 

final rule greatly outweigh any risks associated with listing. We are 

also minimizing those potential risks through our ``not prudent'' 

finding for the designation of critical habitat (see discussion under 

Critical Habitat, below) and through outreach and education directed 

towards individual private landowners.

    Issue 11: Listing is not warranted because other management and 

protection measures are already removing threats to the species 

including: protective management on The Nature Conservancy's preserves 

and Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge, the presence of several 

federally listed fish species at some sites that already serve to 

protect the essential habitat, protection in New Mexico through State 

listing, a management agreement between the Texas Department of 

Transportation and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for the 

population on Texas Highway 18, and various Federal agency policies 

that protect candidate species.

    Response: While these measures are important for conservation, the 

threats to the species have not been reduced or removed so that listing 

is no longer necessary. We find that enough Pecos sunflower populations 

lack sufficient protection to warrant listing the species as 


    Issue 12: There are many conservation measures for Pecos sunflower 

that can be implemented without the need for Federal listing and these 

measures would be more effective than the protections provided under 

the Act. These include: State listing in Texas under chapter 88 of the 

Texas Parks and Wildlife Code; funding to hire a botanist to do 

surveys, develop a conservation strategy, and work with local 

landowners; horticultural propagation of Pecos sunflowers for 

introduction into unoccupied suitable habitats; purchase of lands 

through the New Mexico Natural Lands Protection Act or the Federal Land 

and Water Conservation Fund; development of a regional water plan for 

West Texas through recently passed State legislation; and conservation 

in the Rio Puerco watershed in New Mexico through a recently funded 

multi-agency watershed initiative.

    Response: We must base our listing determinations on current 

threats. For example, the general obligation bond to provide funding 

for the New Mexico Lands Protection Act was defeated in a recent 

general election leaving no funds for land acquisition. Listing the 

species as threatened and the subsequent drafting of a recovery plan 

will increase the likelihood that agencies, organizations, and 

individuals will be able to accomplish conservation measures for this 

species. We encourage further implementation of conservation measures 

for the Pecos sunflower, and we will consider delisting the species 

when it becomes sufficiently protected and recovered to ensure its 

continued survival.

    Issue 13: Because of the many actions on Tribal lands that are 

authorized, funded, or carried out by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, 

listing this species will place the largest section 7 consultation 

burden on the Laguna Tribe. This is contrary to the intent of 

Secretarial Order 3206 and Executive Order 13084 that strive to ensure 

Indian Tribes do not bear a disproportionate burden for the 

conservation of listed species.

    Response: Because only one of the 25 known sites for Pecos 

sunflower occurs on Tribal lands, we anticipate that most activities 

for the conservation of Pecos sunflower will be undertaken by other

[[Page 56586]]

agencies, organizations, and individuals. The one site on Tribal lands 

probably occupies only a few acres and is in a remote undeveloped part 

of the reservation. It is unlikely there will be many actions at this 

site that will require section 7 consultation. If consultation is 

needed, we will seek to find ways to both conserve the listed species 

and complete the action. Our hope is that we can help Pecos sunflower 

to recover through voluntary efforts and cooperation with other Federal 

agencies, States, local and Tribal governments and private landowners 

and conservation groups.

    Issue 14: Listing Pecos sunflower will have negative economic 

impacts on the farmers, ranchers, and communities where it occurs.

    Response: We believe the listing of the Pecos sunflower as 

threatened will not force private landowners to change any existing 

land practices. We anticipate that any economic impacts of listing will 

be minimal due to the small number of populations that are involved. 

The Act requires listing determinations to be made solely on the basis 

of the best available scientific and commercial information regarding 

the species' status without reference to possible economic or other 

impacts of the determination. Economic considerations may only be 

considered in the designation of critical habitat and in recovery 

planning and implementation.

    Issue 15: Designation of critical habitat would help farmers and 

ranchers manage the species by showing them where it occurs.

    Response: As with every Federal listing, we conduct intensive 

outreach to inform landowners if the species occurs on their land. We 

believe that information about the location of populations is best 

handled through direct contact with individual landowners. The reasons 

for our ``not prudent'' finding for the designation of critical habitat 

are given in the ``Critical Habitat'' section of this final rule.

Summary of Factors Affecting the Species

    Section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) 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. 

We determine a species 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 Helianthus paradoxus Heiser (Pecos sunflower) 

are as follows:

A. The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment 

of its Habitat or Range

    Wetland habitats in the desert Southwest are both ecologically 

important and economically valuable. Wetlands cover only about 195,000 

ha (482,000 ac) (0.6 percent) of New Mexico (Fretwell et al. 1996). 

This is a reduction of about 33 percent from the wetland acreage that 

existed 200 years ago (Dahl 1990). Wetlands in Texas cover 3,077,000 ha 

(7,600,000 ac), a decline of about 52 percent from the State's original 

wetland acreage (Dahl 1990). The loss of springs in western Texas may 

be a better indicator of wetland losses that affect Pecos sunflower 

than estimates for the State as a whole. Within the historical range of 

Pecos sunflower in Pecos and Reeves counties, only 13 of 61 (21 

percent) springs remain flowing (Brune 1981 in Poole 1992).

    The lowering of water tables due to groundwater withdrawals for 

irrigated agriculture, municipalities, and other uses has reduced 

available habitat for Pecos sunflower, particularly in Texas. Beginning 

around 1946, groundwater levels fell as much as 120 m (400 ft) in Pecos 

County and 150 m (500 ft) in Reeves County due to heavy pumping for 

irrigation. As a result, most of the springs in these counties have 

gone dry. Groundwater pumping has lessened in recent decades due to the 

higher cost of removing water from deeper aquifers in the ground, but 

rising water tables or resumption of spring flows are not expected 

(Brune 1981 in Poole 1992). Diamond Y Spring, which has a large Pecos 

Sunflower population, remains flowing largely because it comes from a 

saline strata unsuitable for agricultural or municipal uses.

    Texas water law provides no protection for remaining springs. The 

law is based on the right of first capture that lets any water user 

pump as much groundwater as can be put to a beneficial use without 

regard to overall effects on the aquifer. Recently passed Texas 

legislation directs the development of regional water plans in the 

State, but it is too soon to know if this planning effort will have any 

beneficial effects for Pecos sunflower.

    Groundwater pumping affected Pecos sunflower habitats in Chaves 

County, New Mexico, but water tables are now rising due to State-

directed efforts at monitoring and conservation. These efforts are the 

result of a court ruling that requires New Mexico to deliver larger 

volumes of Pecos River water to Texas than in the past. There are 

presently no major groundwater withdrawals taking place in the vicinity 

of the other Pecos sunflower sites in New Mexico.

    The introduction of non-native species, particularly saltcedar, is 

a major factor in the loss and degradation of Southwestern wetlands. 

Several species of saltcedar were introduced into the United States for 

ornamental purposes as windbreaks, and as stream bank stabilization in 

the 1800s. Saltcedar and other non-native vegetation invaded many 

western riverine systems from the 1890s to the 1930s and increased 

rapidly from the 1930s to the 1950s, by which time they occupied most 

of the available and suitable habitat in New Mexico and western Texas 

(Horton 1977).

    Saltcedar will out-compete and displace native wetland vegetation, 

including Pecos sunflower. At Dexter National Fish Hatchery, Pecos 

sunflower appeared for the first time in the summer of 1996 after 

saltcedar was removed to rehabilitate a wetland (Radke 1997). Saltcedar 

affects 2,000 ha (5,000 ac) at Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge 

where the most extensive Pecos sunflower population occurs (Service 

1996). Although there have been many projects on refuges to remove 

saltcedar, these projects are labor intensive and reinvasion of 

saltcedar is a continuing problem.

    We know that some wetlands where Pecos sunflower occurs have either 

been filled or impounded. Part of a wetland near Grants, New Mexico, 

was filled for real estate development along a major highway. The 

development predated knowledge that Pecos sunflower grows in the area, 

so it is unknown if any plants were actually destroyed. Present 

development in this area that could affect Pecos sunflower includes 

construction of a discount department store and other smaller shops, 

and reconstruction of a highway overpass.

    Wetlands in Santa Rosa were lost many years ago to impoundment 

created for a fish hatchery that has since been abandoned. Pecos 

sunflowers grow in wet soils on some impoundment dams. Because the 

extent of this former wetland habitat is unknown, it is uncertain 

whether these impoundments have actually increased or decreased 

sunflower habitat.

    Alteration of habitat is occurring by mowing on some highway 

rights-of-way and some municipal properties where Pecos sunflower 

occurs. In Santa Rosa, the weeds and some Pecos sunflowers are often 

mowed around some of the old fish hatchery ponds now used for 

recreational fishing. In another part of town an open boggy area is 

mowed when dry enough. In years when it is

[[Page 56587]]

too wet to mow, a stand of Pecos sunflowers develops. Mowing of highway 

rights-of-way in Santa Rosa and near Grants may be destroying some 

plants. In Texas, the only population in a highway right-of-way was 

fenced several years ago to protect it from mowing and other 


B. Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or 

Educational Purposes

    Some commercial trade in Pecos sunflower has occurred in the past 

(Poole, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Austin, in litt. 1991). 

This trade was undertaken by an organization interested in preserving 

rare species of indigenous crop plants through their distribution and 

cultivation. There was also some collecting for crop breeding research 

(Seiler et al. 1981). With its tolerance for high salinity, Pecos 

sunflower is considered a good candidate for the introduction of salt 

tolerance into cultivated sunflowers. Some Pecos sunflower sites are 

both small and easily accessible. Repeated uncontrolled collecting may 

harm these sites.

C. Disease or Predation

    Livestock eat Pecos sunflowers, particularly when other green 

forage is scarce. Livestock tend to pull off the flower heads. If an 

area is heavily grazed for several years in succession when plants are 

flowering, the soil seed bank may diminish and the population will 

eventually decline. There are several examples of Pecos sunflowers 

being absent from habitat that is heavily grazed, but growing in 

similar nearby habitat that is protected from grazing. In these 

instances, grazing is the most likely cause of the plant's absence from 

otherwise suitable habitat. There are also examples of Pecos sunflower 

populations persisting in areas grazed for many years. Apparently the 

type and intensity of grazing has much to do with the persistence of 

Pecos sunflower in these areas. There have been no observations of 

wildlife grazing or insect damage on Pecos sunflower.

D. The Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    Pecos sunflower is listed as a New Mexico State endangered plant 

species in NMNRD Rule 85-3 of the State Endangered Plant Species Act 

(9-10-10 NMSA). The scientific collection, commercial transport, and 

sale of Pecos sunflower is already regulated by NMSA. However, NMSA 

does not protect habitat on private land or require collecting permits 

for Federal employees working on lands within their jurisdictions 

(Sivinski and Lightfoot 1995). The penalty for violating NMSA is a 

misdemeanor carrying a fine of not more than $1,000 and/or 

incarceration for not more than 120 days; by comparison, the criminal 

penalty for violation of the Federal Act carries a fine of not more 

than $50,000 and/or imprisonment for not more than 1 year, a much 

greater deterrent than that available under State law. In general, 

State listing fails to generate the level of recognition or promote the 

opportunities for conservation that result through Federal listing. 

Most importantly, NMSA lacks the interagency coordination and 

conservation requirements found in section 7 of the Federal Act. Pecos 

sunflower is not listed as an endangered, threatened, or as a protected 

plant under the Texas Endangered Plant Species Act.

E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued Existence

    Natural hybrids between Pecos sunflower and common sunflower can 

occur and are known from sites in both Texas and New Mexico. Habitat 

for common sunflower is increased by human activities and the two 

sunflowers may be in greater contact than in the past. Natural hybrids 

have low fertility, but are not completely sterile (Heiser 1965). A 

measure of isolation between the two species is provided by the 

different flowering times for Pecos sunflower and common sunflower. 

Hybrids are likely to be intermediate between the two species in 

flowering time and may serve as a bridge for gene flow between the 

species. Once a bridge is established, the genetic swamping of small 

Pecos sunflower populations could occur rapidly.

    Natural droughts are common in the desert regions where Pecos 

sunflower occurs. These droughts combined with the effects of wetland 

alterations and losses could extirpate some small populations. The 

present distribution of Pecos sunflower coincides with areas having 

large reliable springs and this may in part be a response to the 

effects of natural droughts.

    We have carefully assessed the best scientific and commercial 

information available regarding the past, present, and future threats 

faced by this species in determining to issue this final rule. Based on 

this evaluation, our preferred action is to list Pecos sunflower as a 

threatened species. The drying of springs due to ground water pumping, 

the diversion of water for agriculture and other uses, the filling of 

wetlands, the degradation of wetlands from intensive livestock grazing, 

and the invasion of saltcedar and other non-native plants into many 

wetlands has significantly reduced the habitat of this species. Most 

remaining populations are vulnerable because these and other activities 

continue to destroy habitat or keep it in a degraded condition. While 

not in immediate danger of extinction, the Pecos sunflower is likely to 

become an endangered species in the foreseeable future if present 

trends continue.

Critical Habitat

    Section 3 of the Act defines critical habitat 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 a determination 

that such areas are essential for 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, we designate critical habitat at the time the species 

is determined to be endangered or threatened. We find that designation 

of critical habitat is not prudent for Pecos sunflower. Our 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.

    Critical habitat designation for Pecos sunflower is not prudent for 

both of the above reasons. There has been some commercial trade in 

Pecos sunflower, which was due largely to its rarity (See Factor B of 

the ``Summary of Factors Affecting the Species'' section). There are 

several documented instances of other species of commercially valuable 

rare plants being collected when their localities became known. In 

1995, at least 48 plants of the endangered Pediocactus knowltonii 

(Knowlton cactus) were taken from a monitoring plot at the species' 

only known locality (Sivinski, New Mexico Forestry

[[Page 56588]]

Division, Santa Fe, in litt. 1996). In the early 1990s, the rediscovery 

of Salvia penstemonoides (big red sage) in Texas led to the collection 

of thousands of seeds at the single rediscovery site (Poole, in litt. 


    Listing contributes to the risk of over collecting because the 

rarity of a plant is made known to far more people than were aware of 

it previously. Designating critical habitat, including the required 

disclosure of precise maps and descriptions of critical habitat, would 

further advertise the rarity of Pecos sunflower and provide a road map 

to occupied sites causing even greater threat to this plant from 

vandalism or unauthorized collection. Many of the Pecos sunflower sites 

are small, have few individuals, and are easily accessible. These sites 

would be particularly susceptible to indiscriminate collection if 

publication of critical habitat maps made their exact locations known.

    Critical habitat designation, by definition, directly affects only 

Federal agency actions. Private interests own 13 of the 25 Pecos 

sunflower sites. For the most part, activities constituting threats to 

the species on these lands, including alterations of wetland hydrology, 

competition from non-native vegetation, grazing, and agricultural and 

urban development, are not subject to the Federal review process under 

section 7. Designation of critical habitat on private lands provides no 

benefit to the species when only non-Federal actions are involved.

    Activities on Federal lands and some activities on private lands 

require Federal agencies to consult with us under section 7. There are 

few known sites for Pecos sunflower and habitat for the species is 

limited. Given these circumstances, any activity that would adversely 

modify designated critical habitat would likely also jeopardize the 

species' continued existence. Thus, in this case, the Federal agency 

prohibition against adverse modification of critical habitat would 

provide no additional benefit beyond the prohibition against 

jeopardizing the species.

    Occupied habitat for Pecos sunflower occurs on a National Wildlife 

Refuge and a National Fish Hatchery, which we administer; a National 

Monument the National Park Service administers, and public lands the 

Bureau of Land Management administers. Because these occupied habitats 

are well known to these Federal land managers, no adverse modification 

of this habitat is likely to occur without consultation under section 7 

of the Act. Because of the small size of the species' habitat, any 

adverse modification of the species' critical habitat would also likely 

jeopardize the species' continued existence. Designation of critical 

habitat for Pecos sunflower on Federal lands, therefore, is not prudent 

because it would provide no additional benefit to the species beyond 

that conferred by listing.

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 encourages and results in 

conservation actions by Federal, State, and private agencies, groups, 

and individuals. The elevated profile Federal listing affords enhances 

the likelihood that conservation activities will be undertaken. 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 species that are listed or proposed for listing 

as endangered or threatened and with respect to those species' 

designated or proposed critical habitat, if any. 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 us 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 adversely affect a listed species or its 

critical habitat, the responsible Federal agency must enter into formal 

consultation with us. Federal agencies that manage occupied Pecos 

sunflower habitat are the ones most likely to have activities that 

involve section 7 consultation. These agencies are the Bureau of Land 

Management, National Park Service, and Fish and Wildlife Service. Other 

agencies with potential section 7 involvement include the U.S. Army 

Corps of Engineers through its permit authority under section 404 of 

the Clean Water Act, the Natural Resources Conservation Service that 

provides private landowner planning and assistance for various soil and 

water conservation projects, the Federal Highway Administration for 

highway construction and maintenance projects that receive funding from 

the Department of Transportation, the Bureau of Indian Affairs that has 

trust responsibilities for certain activities on Indian lands, and 

various agencies of the Department of Housing and Urban Development 

that undertake homeowner mortgage insurance and community development 


    We considered the potential impacts of designating Pecos sunflower 

as a threatened plant species in relation to the compliance of this 

action with Secretarial Order 3206. That order was issued to clarify 

the responsibilities of the component agencies, bureaus, and offices of 

the Department of the Interior and the Department of Commerce, when 

actions taken under authority of the Act and associated implementing 

regulations affect, or may affect, Indian lands, Tribal trust 

resources, or the exercise of American Indian Tribal rights. In keeping 

with the trust responsibility and government-to-government 

relationships, we recognize our responsibility to consult with affected 

Tribes and provide written notice to them as far in advance as 

practicable of conservation restrictions that we consider necessary to 

protect listed species.

    Secretarial Order 3206 states that, ``If a proposed conservation 

restriction is directed at a Tribal activity that could raise the 

potential issue of direct (directed) take under the Act, then 

meaningful government-to-government consultation shall occur, in order 

to strive to harmonize the Federal trust responsibility to Tribes, 

Tribal sovereignty and the statutory missions of the Department of 

Interior and Commerce.'' The term ``take'' as defined in the Act means 

to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or 

collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct. The Act has no 

prohibitions against take for listed plants; instead, regulations for 

threatened plants found at 50 CFR 17.71 prohibit their removal or 

reduction to possession from areas under Federal jurisdiction. For 

threatened plants, there are no prohibitions against their removal and 

reduction to possession from areas outside Federal jurisdiction or 

against their damage or destruction in any area when no removal and 

reduction to possession are involved. We know of no instance where 

Indian Tribal members collect (i.e. remove and

[[Page 56589]]

reduce to possession) Pecos sunflowers for cultural, spiritual, 

religious, or economic reasons. Therefore, we do not believe the 

prohibition against removal or reduction to possession from areas under 

Federal jurisdiction will affect Indian lands, Tribal trust resources, 

or the exercise of American Indian Tribal rights.

    We met with representatives of the Laguna Tribe on March 12, 1998, 

prior to publication of the listing proposal to discuss our intention 

to propose Pecos sunflower for protection under the Act. We discussed 

with them range-wide threats to the species, conservation measures 

listing would initiate, prohibitions that would result from listing, 

Tribal activities that occur in the area where the sunflower grows on 

Tribal lands, and the role of Federal agencies (especially the BIA) in 

insuring that activities they authorize, fund, or carry out do not 

jeopardize the continued existence of listed species. We discussed the 

value of monitoring to assess conservation needs and indicated we would 

provide whatever assistance we could for monitoring and a conservation 

program on Tribal lands. Subsequently, we were contacted by a Tribal 

representative to provide whatever information we had concerning Pecos 

sunflower. We went through our files with the representative and 

supplied those documents thought useful to the Tribe. We kept the Tribe 

informed during the listing proposal process with notifications about 

proposal comment requests and public hearings.

    A question was raised concerning the potential effect listing this 

plant might have on future Indian water rights claims. The Pecos 

sunflower on Tribal lands occurs at springs adjacent to the Rio San 

Jose. These springs, although near the river, are not dependent on it 

for their flows. If upstream water rights claims reduced flows in the 

Rio San Jose, the sunflower would likely be unaffected. The area where 

the springs occur is presently used for grazing. The Tribe indicates no 

planned land use changes that would create new demands on water from 

the springs. Finally, if any water use changes led to loss of the 

sunflower on Tribal lands it would not violate any of the limited 

prohibitions applicable to threatened plants given in section 9 of the 

Act or in 50 CFR 17.71. Water use changes occurring on non-Federal 

lands and having no Federal nexus would also not be subject to the 

requirements of section 7 of the Act. Given these conditions, we cannot 

foresee a circumstance where listing Pecos sunflower as a threatened 

plant would affect Indian water rights claims.

    Listing Pecos sunflower will require us to development a recovery 

plan to help coordinate Federal, State, and private efforts to conserve 

this species. The plan will establish a framework for agencies to 

coordinate activities and cooperate in conservation efforts. The plan 

will set recovery priorities, estimate costs of various tasks, and 

describe site-specific management actions necessary to achieve 

conservation and survival of the species. Additionally, under section 6 

of the Act, we will be able to grant funds to the states of New Mexico 

and Texas for management actions promoting the protection and recovery 

of Pecos sunflower.

    Because many of the known Pecos sunflower sites are on private 

land, we will pursue conservation easements and conservation agreements 

with willing private landowners to help maintain and/or enhance habitat 

for the plant. Under a cooperative program between us and the State of 

New Mexico, contacts were made with all private landowners and the 

importance of Pecos sunflower and the consequences for the private 

landowner of having it listed under the Act explained. To date, no 

agreements are established but several landowners indicate a 

willingness to continue with discussions.

    The Act and its implementing regulations found at 50 CFR 17.71 and 

17.72 set forth a series of general prohibitions and exceptions that 

apply to all threatened plants. All trade prohibitions of Section 

9(a)(2) of the Act, implemented by 50 CFR 17.71, apply. These 

prohibitions, in part, make it illegal for any person subject to the 

jurisdiction of the United States to import or export, transport in 

interstate or foreign commerce in the course of a commercial activity, 

sell or offer for sale this species in interstate or foreign commerce, 

or to remove and reduce to possession the species from areas under 

Federal jurisdiction. Seeds from cultivated specimens of threatened 

plants are exempt from these prohibitions provided that their 

containers are marked ``Of Cultivated Origin.'' Certain exceptions to 

the prohibitions apply to agents of the Service and State conservation 


    The Act and 50 CFR 17.72 also provide for the issuance of permits 

to carry out otherwise prohibited activities involving threatened plant 

species under certain circumstances. Such permits are available for 

scientific purposes and to enhance the propagation or survival of the 

species. For threatened plants, permits are also available for 

botanical or horticultural exhibition, educational purposes, or special 

purposes consistent with the purposes of the Act.

    Pecos sunflower is uncommon both in cultivation or in the wild, and 

there was only limited commercial trade in the species. Therefore, it 

is anticipated few trade permits will ever be sought or issued. You 

should direct requests for copies of the regulations concerning the 

trade of listed plants and general inquiries regarding prohibitions and 

permits to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (see ADDRESSES section). 

Information collections associated with these permits are approved 

under the Paperwork Reduction Act, 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq., and assigned 

Office of Management and Budget clearance number 1018-0094. For 

additional information about these permits and associated requirements, 

see 50 CFR 17.72.

    It is our policy (59 FR 34272; July 1, 1997) to identify to the 

maximum extent practicable at the time we list a species those 

activities that would or would not constitute a violation of the 

section 9 prohibitions of the Act. The intent of this policy is to 

increase public awareness of the effect of this listing on proposed and 

ongoing activities within the species' range. You may take the 

following actions, without violation of section 9, when carried out in 

accordance with existing regulations and permit requirements:

    (1) Activities authorized, funded, or carried out by Federal 

agencies (e.g., wetland modification; the construction or maintenance 

of drainage ditches, construction of impoundments or other livestock 

watering facilities, power line construction, maintenance, and 

improvement; highway construction, maintenance, and improvement; 

mineral exploration and mining,) when such activity is conducted in 

accordance with any reasonable and prudent measures given by us 

according to section 7 of the Act. These activities may require 

Federal, State, and/or local approval under other laws or regulations.

    (2) Normal agricultural practices, including mowing or clearing, 

and light to moderate livestock grazing, and pesticide and herbicide 

use, carried out in accordance with any existing regulations, permit 

and label requirements, and best management practices.

    (3) Clearing a defensible space for fire protection and normal 

landscape activities around one's personal residence.

    We believe that the following might potentially result in a 

violation of section 9; however, possible violations are not limited to 

these actions alone:

[[Page 56590]]

    (1) Removal, cutting, digging up, damaging, or destroying 

threatened plants on non-Federal land if conducted in knowing violation 

of State law or regulation or in violation of State criminal trespass 


    (2) Interstate or foreign commerce and import/export without 

previously obtaining an appropriate permit.

    (3) The unauthorized removal, reducing to possession or collection 

of this species from areas under Federal jurisdiction.

    In appropriate cases, permits could be issued to allow collection 

for scientific or recovery purposes, for horticultural or botanical 

exhibition, for educational purposes, or for special purposes 

consistent with the purposes of the Act. You should direct questions 

regarding whether specific activities may constitute a violation of 

section 9 to the Field Supervisor of the New Mexico Ecological Services 

Field Office (see ADDRESSES section).

National Environmental Policy Act

    We have 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. We published a notice outlining our 

reasons for this determination in the Federal Register on October 25, 

1983 (48 FR 49244).

Required Determinations

    This rule does not contain collections of information that require 

Office of Management and Budget approval under 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.

References Cited

    A complete list of all references cited herein is available on 

request from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, New Mexico Ecological 

Services Field Office (see ADDRESSES section).

    Author: The primary author of this final rule is Charlie McDonald, 

New Mexico Ecological Services Field Office (see ADDRESSES section).

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

    Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and 

recordkeeping requirements, Transportation.

Regulation Promulgation


    Accordingly, the Service amends part 17, subchapter B of chapter I, 

title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations, as follows:

    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. In Sec. 17.12(h) add the following to the List of Endangered and 

Threatened Plants in alphabetical order under FLOWERING PLANTS:

Sec. 17.12  Endangered and threatened plants.

* * * * *

    (h) * * *



------------------------------------------------------    Historic range           Family            Status       When   Critical habitat  Special rules

         Scientific name              Common name                                                                listed



                   *                  *                  *                  *                  *                  *                  *

Helianthus paradoxus............  Pecos sunflower      U.S.A. (NM, TX)....  Asteraceae.........  T                  667  NA                NA


                                   sunflower, paradox


                   *                  *                  *                  *                  *                  *                  *


    Dated: September 14, 1999.

John G. Rogers,

Acting Director, Fish and Wildlife Service.

[FR Doc. 99-27186 Filed 10-19-99; 8:45 am]