[Federal Register: April 14, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 73)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 20123-20125]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AF45

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Notice of 6-Month 
Extension on the Proposed Rule To List the Southwestern Washington/
Columbia River Coastal Cutthroat Trout in Washington and Oregon as 

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of extension of deadline.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, extend for 6 months 
the time to make a final determination on the proposal to list the 
distinct vertebrate population segment of the coastal cutthroat trout 
(Onocorhynchus clarki clarki) in the Southwestern Washington/Columbia 
River area as a threatened species. Under the Endangered Species Act 
(ESA) of 1973, as amended, the deadline for the final action on the 
proposed rule to list this population segment in Washington and Oregon 
is extended from April 5, 2000, to October 5, 2000. The 6-month 
extension is necessary for us to obtain and review new information 
needed to resolve substantial scientific disagreement about the status 
of this population.

DATES: Comments may be submitted until May 15, 2000.

ADDRESSES: The complete file for this notice is available for 
inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the Oregon 
Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2600 SE 98th 
Ave., Suite 100, Portland, Oregon 97266.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kemper McMaster, State Supervisor, at 
the above address (telephone 503/231-6179; facsimile 503/231-6195).



    In January 1999, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) 
published a document titled ``Status Review of Coastal Cutthroat Trout 
(Oncorhynchus clarki clarki) from Washington, Oregon, and California'' 
(Johnson et al. 1999). The status review document determined that there 
were six Evolutionarily Significant Units (ESUs) of coastal cutthroat 
trout along the coast of Washington, Oregon, and California. Subsequent 
to the completion of the status review, NMFS and the Fish and Wildlife 
Service (FWS) (jointly, the Services) published a proposed rule on 
April 5, 1999, (64 FR 16397) to list one of the six cutthroat trout 
ESUs as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The proposed 
ESU consisted of coastal cutthroat trout populations in southwestern 
Washington and the Columbia River, excluding the Willamette River above 
Willamette Falls. This proposed rule was issued jointly due to a 
question regarding which agency (FWS or NMFS) had regulatory 
jurisdiction over coastal cutthroat trout. The proposal also proposed, 
based on newly available information, to delist the Umpqua River 
coastal cutthroat trout ESU previously listed by NMFS as endangered.
    Since the joint proposal was published, agency jurisdiction has 
been determined to be with FWS. On November 22, 1999, the Services 
jointly signed a letter announcing FWS regulatory jurisdiction over 

[[Page 20124]]

cutthroat trout (USDI & USDC 1999). This document clarified that NMFS 
would retain responsibility to reach a final determination, subject to 
our concurrence, on the proposal to delist the Umpqua population, and 
we would assume all other regulatory ESA responsibilities for coastal 
cutthroat trout (USDI & USDC 1999). A notice will soon be published in 
the Federal Register announcing this change in regulatory jurisdiction.
    Under the timeframe established for listing decisions by the ESA 
(section 4(3)(b)(6)(A)), a final determination on the proposal to list 
the Southwestern Washington/Columbia River ESU of the coastal cutthroat 
trout in Washington and Oregon would normally be due by April 5, 2000. 
However, when substantial scientific disagreement occurs regarding the 
sufficiency or accuracy of the available data, as in this case, the Act 
allows for a 6-month extension of a final listing determination for the 
purpose of soliciting additional data (section 4(3)(b)(6)(B)(i)). The 
6-month extension announced in this notice is based on this provision.

Substantial Scientific Disagreement

    Two groups (hatchery populations and above-barrier populations of 
coastal cutthroat trout) were not fully examined in the NMFS status 
review. The proposed rule (64 FR 16397) stated:

    In the proposed [Southwestern Washington/Columbia River] ESU, 
only naturally spawned cutthroat trout are proposed for listing. 
Prior to the final listing determination, we will examine the 
relationship between hatchery and naturally spawned populations of 
cutthroat trout, and populations of cutthroat trout above barriers 
to assess whether any of these populations warrant listing. This may 
result in the inclusion of specific hatchery populations or 
populations above barriers as part of the listed ESU in the final 
listing determination.

    In the section on the framework for ESUs, the NMFS status review 
document (Johnson et al. 1999) discussed the issue of barriers to 
migration (p. 125). The NMFS Biological Review Team (BRT) questioned 
the role played by above-barrier populations in ESUs immediately 
downstream, and found this analysis to be a challenging problem. 
Evidence of the challenge includes the fact that ``[t]he BRT was 
divided regarding whether populations above long-standing natural 
barriers (i.e., those that effectively preclude all migration for 
hundreds or thousands of years) should be included in ESUs.'' The BRT 
went on to discuss the reasons they might or might not choose to 
include populations above such barriers in ESUs, but failed to reach 
any resolution or pass on recommendations. The BRT also addressed the 
question of whether populations above barriers that permit some one-way 
migration should be included in an ESU downstream. A majority of BRT 
members felt that such populations should be included in the downstream 
ESU because these populations may ``* * * contribute demographically 
and genetically to populations below them * * *'', and ``* * * may 
represent genetic resources shared by populations below these barriers 
(and potentially a significant component of diversity for an ESU)'' 
(Johnson et al. 1999).
    When the Services published the proposed rule, however, the 
question on whether to include above-barrier populations in downstream 
ESUs remained unresolved. Furthermore, the BRT unanimously decided that 
the guidance on including populations above one-way passable barriers 
into downstream ESUs should not be followed in the case of Willamette 
Falls, a barrier that allows some one-way (and possibly in rare 
instances, two-way) migration between the currently proposed 
Southwestern Washington/Lower Columbia River ESU and the upper 
Willamette ESU (for which the BRT made no status assessment). In fact, 
the BRT went so far as to conclude that the upper Willamette population 
deserved its own ESU status, based primarily on the fact that it ``* * 
* encompasses a large area with considerable habitat complexity * * *'' 
and that it ``* * * supports several different populations * * *'' of 
coastal cutthroat trout (Johnson et al. 1999). However, it is possible 
that, with additional analysis, the area identified by NMFS as the 
Upper Willamette ESU is actually part of the Southwestern Washington/
Lower Columbia River ESU. Another issue that needs to be addressed is 
how the BRT handled other populations either above impassable barriers, 
or above barriers allowing one-way passage, and if any of these 
populations warrant recognition as distinct vertebrate population 
    In addition, we are aware of additional information provided to the 
BRT by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) that 
indicates that some coastal Washington populations currently included 
within the Southwestern Washington/Lower Columbia River ESU should not 
be included. Although this information was presented to the BRT during 
the status review, it was not made available to the FWS until after the 
decision regarding regulatory jurisdiction over coastal cutthroat trout 
was resolved. The BRT has also recently alerted the FWS to a 
compilation of new genetic data that the BRT indicated ``* * * are 
relevant to the identification of distinct population segments in the 
Lower Columbia River and southwestern Washington coast'' (Waples, in 
litt. 2000). Therefore, with further review, the WDFW information, 
information concerning the role of above-barrier and hatchery 
populations of cutthroat trout, and the new genetic data may lead us to 
modify the boundaries of the ESU proposed for listing. Such 
modification may result in the need to repropose the distinct 
vertebrate population segment for listing, if we determine that the 
status of the segment warrants protection under the ESA.
    Therefore, in consideration of all the above issues, we are 
providing notice that, according to section 4(b)(6)(B)(i) of the ESA, 
the 1-year timeframe allowed to make a final determination on a listing 
proposal will be extended an additional 6 months. The 6-month extension 
will enable us to evaluate new information regarding the status of 
above-barrier and hatchery populations, and allow the integration of 
this information into the final listing decision. With this 6-month 
extension, a final decision regarding the proposal to list the 
Southwestern Washington/Columbia River ESU of the coastal cutthroat 
trout (64 FR 16397) is due by October 5, 2000.

Comments Solicited

    In order to resolve the substantial scientific disagreement, we are 
requesting comments from interested parties on the following three 
    (1) The role of hatchery populations of coastal cutthroat trout 
within the Southwestern Washington/Columbia River ESU, and their 
importance to the conservation of this population;
    (2) The role of above-barrier populations, including the area 
identified as the Upper Willamette ESU, within the Southwestern 
Washington/Columbia River ESU and their importance to the conservation 
of this ESU; and
    (3) Genetic data or other information that may help resolve the 
identification of distinct population segments in the southwestern 
Washington coast, Lower Columbia River, and Upper Willamette River 

Literature Cited

Johnson, O.W., M.H. Ruckelshaus, W.S. Grant, F.W. Waknitz, A.M. 
Garrett, G.J. Bryant, K. Neely, and J.J. Hard. 1999. Status review 
of coastal cutthroat trout from Washington, Oregon, and California. 
U.S. Dept. Commer., NOAA Tech Memo. NMFS-NWFSC-37, 292 p.

[[Page 20125]]

USDI & USDC 1999. Letter from USFWS Director Jamie Rappaport Clark 
and NMFS Director Penelope D. Dalton to Anne Badgley, Regional 
Director, Region 1 USFWS and Will Stelle, Regional Administrator, 
Northwest Region NMFS, regarding Regulatory Jurisdiction over the 
Coastal Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarki clarki). Dated November 
22, 1999. 2 pages.
Waples, R.S. In Litt. Letter from Robin Waples of NMFS Northwest 
Fisheries Science Center to Anne Badgley, Regional Director, Region 
1 USFWS regarding a request for assistance in completing Endangered 
Species Act status review for Coastal cutthroat trout. Dated 
February 22, 2000. 2 pages.

    Author: The primary author of this document is Rollie White (see 
ADDRESSES section).


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

    Dated: April 6, 2000.
Jamie Rappaport Clark,
Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 00-9258 Filed 4-13-00; 8:45 am]