[Federal Register: July 12, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 134)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 42973-42978]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AG07

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Proposed 
Reclassification of Scutellaria montana (large-flowered skullcap) from 
Endangered to Threatened

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) proposes to 
reclassify Scutellaria montana (large-flowered skullcap) from its 
present endangered status to threatened status under the authority of 
the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act), because the 
endangered designation no longer correctly reflects the current status 
of this plant. This proposed reclassification is based on the 
substantial improvement in the status of this species. Since listing, 
22 additional sites have been discovered, and the total known number of 
individuals has increased from about 6,700 to more than 48,000. This 
proposal, if made final, would implement the Federal protection and 
recovery provisions for threatened plants as provided by the Act, to 
large-flowered skullcap. We are seeking data and comments from the 

DATES: Comments from all interested parties must be received by 
September 11, 2000. Public hearing requests must be received by August 
28, 2000.

ADDRESSES: Comments, materials, and requests for a public hearing 
concerning this proposal should be sent to the State Supervisor, 
Asheville Field Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 160 Zillicoa 
Street, Asheville, North Carolina 28801. Comments and materials 
received will be 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, by phone at 828/258-3939, Ext. 229, or by E-mail at 



    Scutellaria montana is a perennial herb with solitary, erect, four-
angled, hairy stems usually from 30 to 50 centimeters (cm) (11 to 19 
inches (in)) tall. The leaves are lanceolate (shaped like a lance-head, 
several times longer than wide, broadest above the base and narrowed to 
the apex) to ovate (egg-shaped, with the broader end at the base), on 1 
to 2 cm (0.4 to 0.8 in) petioles (the stalk of a leaf that attaches it 
to the stem), with blades (the expanded portion of a leaf) 5 to 8 cm (2 
to 3 in) long and 3 to 5 cm (1 to 2 in) wide. The leaf margins (the 
edge of the leaf) are crenate (rounded, tooth-like edges) to serrate 
(having sharp teeth pointing forward) and hairy on both surfaces. The 
inflorescence (the flowering part of a plant) is a terminal (at the end 
of the stalk), leafy-bracted (a ``modified'' leaf) raceme (simple 
flower), with or without paired lateral racemes at the base. The calyx 
(the outer part of the flower) is two-lobed with a ``cap'' just above 
the base of the upper lobe (characteristic of the genus Scutellaria). 
The corolla (petals) is relatively large, 2.6 to 3.5 cm (1 to 1.4 in) 
long, blue and white, and lacking a fleshy ridge (annulus) within the 
corolla tube near the top of the calyx. Flowering occurs from mid-May 
to early June, and fruits mature in June and early July.
    Bridges (1984) stated, ``The genus Scutellaria can be easily 
recognized by its distinctive calyx, with a protrusion, or `cap' on the 
upper lobe.'' Scutellaria montana could be confused with other species 
of Scutellaria. Bridges (1984) also listed some important characters of 
Scutellaria montana: (1) A terminal inflorescence; (2) a large corolla 
at least 2.5 cm (1 in) long; (3) tapering or truncate (ending abruptly) 
leaf bases, never cordate (heart shaped); (4) a midstem with at least 
some stipitate (short stem) glandular hairs; (5) no sessile (without a 
footstalk of any kind) glands on the upper leaf surface, (6) a fairly 
densely pubescent (hairy) lower leaf surface, often with glandular 
hairs; and (7) a corolla tube lacking an annulus within.
    Dr. A. W. Chapman described Scutellaria montana in 1878. Since 
then, the taxonomy of Scutellaria montana has undergone a period of 
debate. Penland (1924) reduced the taxon to a variety of Scutellaria 
serrata. Leonard (1927) later reinstated the species, but he made no 
distinction between Scutellaria pseudoserrata and Scutellaria montana 
(Collins unpublished). Epling (1942) restored the taxon to full species 
status and clarified the questions regarding the taxonomic differences 
between Scutellaria pseudoserrata and Scutellaria montana.
    In the field, Scutellaria montana is most likely to be confused 
with Scutellaria pseudoserrata. The two species have a similar range 
and habitat and are sometimes found growing together. Scutellaria 
montana is the only species of Scutellaria that lacks an annulus within 
the corolla tube. Further, Scutellaria pseudoserrata has transparent 
sessile glands on the upper leaf surface and hairs only on the veins 
and leaf margins. In contrast, Scutellaria montana has a fine, even-
mixed glandular and nonglandular ``velvety'' pubescence on the upper 
and lower leaf surface. Two other skullcaps that can occur in the same 
region are Scutellaria elliptica and Scutellaria ovata, both of which 
have smaller flowers and branching inflorescences. Scutellaria 
elliptica tends to have leaf margins with rounded teeth and noticeably 
longer hairs on the leaf, and Scutellaria ovata has strongly cordate 
leaf bases and flowers later in the season.
    The pollination biology of this species has not been described. 
Collins (unpublished) and Cruzan (Shea and Hogan 1998) observed bees 
(Apiodea) visiting plants, and Kemp and Knauss (1990) observed 
butterflies, wasps, and

[[Page 42974]]

hummingbirds occasionally visiting the plants.
    Scutellaria montana is known from the southern portion of the Ridge 
and Valley Physiographic Province in Marion and Hamilton Counties in 
Tennessee; Dade, Floyd, Chattooga, Gordon, Catoosa, and Walker Counties 
in Georgia; and the Cumberland Plateau Province in Sequatchie, Marion, 
and Hamilton Counties in Tennessee.
    According to Bridges (1984), the geological strata underlying the 
sites for Scutellaria montana include most of the major slope-forming 
formations of the region: shale, chert, limestone, and sandstone from 
Cambrian to Pennsylvanian in age. Most sites in Tennessee occur on the 
Upper Mississippian Pennington Formation and Lower Pennsylvanian 
sandstones and shales. Most of the sites in the Lookout Mountain 
portion of the Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park are found 
on Fort Payne, St. Lewis, Warsaw, Monteagle, and Bangor Formations that 
underlie the Pennington Formations (McKerrow and Pyne 1993). The 
Georgia portion of the Ridge and Valley is underlain by Paleozoic rock 
such as sandstone, shales, and limestone (Lipps and DeSelm 1969). The 
Georgia sites are found on Mississippian Formations including Rome, Red 
Mountain, and Rockwood (Collins unpublished). Site elevations range 
from 189 meters (620 feet) to 562 m (1844 ft) above sea level.
    All populations occur on colluvial soils over bedrock composed of 
shale, chert, or limestone. The soils are generally rocky, shallow, 
well-drained, and slightly acidic. Soil depth ranges from deep to a 
thin layer, no more than 3 cm (1.2 in) deep, over bedrock. In Georgia, 
the soil is generally stony, shaley, or cherty silt loam or silty clay 
loam ranging in depth from 0.2 m (8 in) to 1.4 m (55 in). The average 
pH is 5.6 and ranges from 4.5 to 6.3 (Collins unpublished).
    Bridges (1984) described the habitat of Scutellaria montana as ``. 
. . rocky, submesic to xeric, well-drained, slightly acidic slope, 
ravine and stream bottom forests in the Ridge and Valley and Cumberland 
Plateau provinces of Northwestern Georgia, and adjacent southeastern 
Tennessee (and probably Alabama).'' Bridges (1984) also listed 
distinguishing characteristics of the forests where Scutellaria montana 
is found as: (1) A history of some natural pine occurrence; (2) a 
canopy dominated by oaks and hickories; (3) a mostly deciduous shrub 
layer with some evergreen Vaccinium; (4) a moderately dense herb layer 
with mesic and xeric species; and (5) the site occurring on well-
consolidated paleozoic to precambrian strata, often with some exposed 
    Forest composition data has been collected on sites in the Marshall 
Forest and Marion County populations (Faulkner 1993; Collins, 
unpublished; Lipps 1966). Data from the sites where Scutellaria montana 
was first studied indicated that it occurred in late-successional 
forests. Studies of other sites suggest that it is more of a mid- to 
late-successional species (Bridges 1984; Collins, unpublished; Lipps 
1966). At a Marion County, Tennessee, site, Faulkner (1993) observed 
Scutellaria montana persisting in an area where timbering activities 
had occurred and where the plants had been subjected to low-intensity 
ground fires. He concluded that, while individual plants established 
before the disturbance may survive, recruitment into disturbed sites is 
not likely. Fail and Sommers (1993) conducted a study on the Marshall 
Forest that suggests the associated species Quercus prinus (Chestnut 
oak) and Oxydendrum arboreum (Sourwood) may be producing toxic 
compounds that may be inhibiting growth and germination of Scutellaria 
montana near them.
    Scutellaria montana does not appear to compete well with other 
herbaceous species, especially colonial plants that can propagate from 
extensive root structures, and is not found in thick herbaceous cover 
(Bridges 1984). While optimal light conditions are not yet known, 
plants grow in areas that receive a relatively greater amount of light 
at ground level, generally due to canopy disturbance (Sutter 1993). Nix 
(1993) states that ``canopy coverage is probably the most important 
environmental factor that influences growth and survival.'' However, 
disturbances to the canopy accompanied by disturbances to the soil can 
lead to increases in other herbaceous species that could be detrimental 
to Scutellaria montana.
    When we listed Scutellaria montana in 1986, 10 populations were 
known; 7 in Georgia (4 in Floyd County, 2 in Walker County, and 1 in 
Gordon County) and 3 in Tennessee (2 in Hamilton County and 1 in Marion 
County). Now 32 populations are known. A population is being defined as 
an ``occurrence'' that is at least 0.5 miles from other occurrences, 
but we must take into account physical barriers (ridges, highways, 
etc.), contiguous habitat (occurrences could be 1 mile apart on the 
same ridge or slope), and richness or diversity of the occurrence. 
Based on criteria in the Large-flowered Skullcap Recovery Plan, a 
population is considered self-sustaining, or viable if it has a minimum 
of 100 individuals.
    Georgia is now known to have 15 populations. In Floyd County, there 
are 7 known populations that range in size from a few plants to about 
1,300 plants. Three of these populations are considered self-
sustaining. Two of the three self-sustaining populations are protected 
on lands owned by The Nature Conservancy. Catoosa County, Georgia, is 
currently known to have 4 populations ranging in size from 10 to about 
200 plants. One population (100-200 plants) is self-sustaining and is 
protected (Catoosa County Park). Walker County, Georgia, has 2 
populations of 5 and 60 plants respectively, which do not meet the 
minimum criteria of 100 individuals for self-sustaining status. 
Additionally, there is an introduced population on the Chattahoochee 
National Forest in Walker County (not included in recovery criteria for 
downlisting). A single, nonviable population of 15 plants occurs in 
Dade County, Georgia, near the Lookout Mountain population in 
Tennessee. Another single nonviable population of an estimated 50 
plants occurs in Chattooga County, Georgia. One population known from 
Gordon County, Georgia, was extirpated when the area was clearcut in 
    Tennessee is now known to have 17 populations. Hamilton County has 
13 known populations, 7 of which are considered self-sustaining. These 
populations range in size from just a few plants to more than 2,000 
plants. Several Hamilton County populations are made up of several 
subpopulations, some of which are large enough to constitute self-
sustaining populations by themselves but do not meet the necessary 
criteria of being separated by at least 0.5 miles from each other. 
Marion County, Tennessee, now has 2 populations ranging in size from 
about 50 plants to more than 40,000 plants at the Tennessee River 
Gorge. The Tennessee River Gorge is a population made up of 8 
subpopulations, 2 of which contain more than 20,000 plants. The smaller 
Marion County site is protected, and 6 of the 8 subpopulations in the 
Tennessee River Gorge are protected (less than 1 percent of the plants 
are not protected). Two populations of 2 and 50 plants respectively, 
are known from Sequatchie County, Tennessee. Neither is protected nor 
considered self-sustaining.

Previous Federal Action

    Federal Government actions on this species began with section 12 of 
the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), which directed

[[Page 42975]]

the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution (Smithsonian) to prepare a 
report on plants considered endangered, threatened, or extinct. This 
report, designated House Document No. 94-51, was presented to Congress 
on January 9, 1975. On July 1, 1975, we published a notice (40 FR 
27823) that formally accepted the Smithsonian report as a petition 
within the context of section 4(c)(2) (now Section 4(b)(3)) of the Act. 
By accepting this report as a petition, we also acknowledged our 
intention to review the status of those plant taxa named within the 
report. Scutellaria montana was included in the Smithsonian report and 
the July 1, 1975, Notice of Review.
    We published a revised Notice of Review for Native Plants on 
December 15, 1980 (45 FR 82480); Scutellaria montana was included as a 
category-1 species. Category 1 species were those for which we had 
information on file to support proposing them as endangered or 
threatened. On November 28, 1983, we published a supplement to the 
Notice of Review for native plants in the Federal Register (48 FR 
53640). Scutellaria montana was changed to a category-2 species in this 
supplement. Category-2 species were those for which we had information 
indicating that proposing to list them as endangered or threatened may 
be appropriate but for which substantial data on biological 
vulnerability and threats were not currently known or on file to 
support the preparation of proposed listing rules. Subsequent to this 
notice, we received a draft status report on Scutellaria montana 
(Collins unpublished manuscript). This report and other available 
information indicated that the addition of Scutellaria montana to the 
Federal List of Threatened and Endangered species was appropriate.
    All plants included in the comprehensive plant notices are treated 
as under petition. Section 4(b)(3)(B) of the Act, as amended in 1982, 
requires the Secretary to make certain 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 having been newly submitted on that date. This 
situation was the case for Scutellaria montana because of the 
acceptance of the 1975 Smithsonian report as a petition. On October 13, 
1983, October 12, 1984, and October 11, 1985, we found that the 
petitioned listing of Scutellaria montana was warranted but precluded 
by other listing actions of higher priority and that additional data on 
vulnerability and threats were still being gathered. On September 27, 
1985, Scutellaria montana was again included as a Category 1 species in 
the revised Notice of Review (50 FR 39526) and on November 13, 1985, we 
published in the Federal Register (50 FR 46797) a proposal to list 
Scutellaria montana as an endangered species. That proposal constituted 
the next 1 year finding as required by the 1982 amendments to the 
Endangered Species Act. A final rule placing Scutellaria montana on the 
Federal List of Threatened and Endangered Plants as an endangered 
species was published in the Federal Register on June 20, 1986 (51 FR 
    Since listing, Federal actions have included a variety of recovery 
actions funded or carried out by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), 
National Park Service (NPS), U.S. Forest Service, and the Service, 
including searches for additional populations, habitat studies, 
translocations, and land management.
    We have conducted numerous consultations under section 7 of the Act 
involving Scutellaria montana. More than 50 consultations have taken 
place in Tennessee, principally concerning road and bridge construction 
or maintenance. Most potential conflicts have been resolved early in 
the informal portion of the consultation process resulting in 
concurrence by us with ``not likely to adversely affect'' 
determinations. One formal consultation was conducted that resulted in 
a ``no jeopardy'' biological opinion. There have been three informal 
section 7 consultations regarding this species in Georgia, one of which 
is ongoing.
    A recovery plan was completed for Scutellaria montana in 1996 (U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service 1996). The recovery plan provides the 
following criteria for downlisting. ``If numbers of discrete 
populations increase to 25 (because of the discovery/establishment of 
additional populations) or the number of protected and managed self-
sustaining populations becomes 10 or more (distributed throughout the 
known geographic range), the species will be considered for downlisting 
to threatened status.'' The recovery plan also provides a description 
of protected and managed self-sustaining populations as follows: ``A 
population will be considered adequately protected when it is legally 
protected and all needed active management is provided. A population 
will be considered ``self-sustaining'' if monitoring data support the 
conclusion that it is reproducing successfully and is stable or 
increasing in size. The minimum number of individuals necessary for a 
self-sustaining population should be considered at least 100 until 
otherwise determined by demographic studies.''
    The criteria for downlisting have been met through both the number 
of known populations (32) and the number of self-sustaining, protected 
populations (11) distributed throughout the range of the species. 
Though no formal written agreements have been developed with the 
principle landowners where protected, self-sustaining populations occur 
(The Nature Conservancy, the States of Georgia and Tennessee, Tennessee 
Valley Authority and National Park Service), managers of these lands 
are committed to the conservation of these populations and are actively 
involved as part of the recovery team.

Summary of Factors Affecting the Species

    Section 4(a)(1) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and regulations 
promulgated to implement the listing provisions of the Act (50 CFR Part 
424) set forth five criteria to be used in determining whether to add, 
reclassify, or remove a species from the list of threatened and 
endangered species. These factors and their application to Scutellaria 
montana (large-flowered skullcap) are as follows:

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

    In 1986, when Scutellaria montana was listed as endangered, there 
were 7 populations known in Georgia and 3 in Tennessee. Over 90 percent 
of the 7,000 individual plants known in 1986 occurred at only two 
sites, neither of which was completely protected. At the time of 
listing the most significant threats were logging, wildfires, livestock 
grazing, and residential development. In 1986, 80 percent of the site 
with the largest known population had been subdivided and was being 
offered for sale. A large portion of the second-largest population at 
that time was on land owned by The Nature Conservancy and was therefore 
afforded protection. The third largest population occurred on privately 
owned land and had no protection from potential land use changes. All 
remaining 1986 populations were extremely small, consisting of 4 to 60 
plants, and were vulnerable to even the slightest modification of their 
remaining habitat. It was thought at the time of listing that one 
population had possibly been destroyed by timber operations conducted 
prior to the landowner becoming aware of the presence of Scutellaria 
montana on the property.

[[Page 42976]]

    This species status has improved largely due to the fact that 20 
(63 percent) of the 32 known populations are currently afforded 
protection through occurrence on lands owned by conservation 
organizations, county parks, or on Federal lands (11 of these protected 
populations are considered viable), and through the discovery of 
additional populations. However, threats to the species' habitat and 
future security still exist. Further, most of the plants (more than 85 
percent) continue to occur in only two populations.
    Habitat destruction caused by logging, residential development, 
clearing of wooded areas for pasture, grazing, and wildfire all 
continue to pose some degree of threat to the species. One population 
of Scutellaria montana, described in the final rule for this species, 
was lost due to clearcutting activities. Damage caused by off-road 
vehicles and hikers (trampling) has been noted at several sites, and 
the maintenance (widening) or rerouting of hiking trails is also a 
potential threat. Rapid urbanization in and around the Chattanooga area 
also poses a significant threat.

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

    In 1986, Scutellaria montana was not a significant component of the 
commercial trade in native plants. Significant commercial trade in 
Scutellaria montana is not currently known to occur or expected in the 
future, and no significant import or export is expected. Therefore, 
taking of Scutellaria montana for these purposes is not considered a 

C. Disease or Predation

    While predation by animals, especially deer, has been observed at 
several sites, predation does not appear to be a factor affecting the 
continued existence of the species at this time. Some individual plants 
have been affected by disease, but this factor appears to affect only a 
few individuals and is not a threat to the species.

D. The Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    Though there is less protection afforded to threatened plants than 
to endangered plants under section 9 of the Act, the protection 
currently afforded and that would continue to be afforded this species 
under the Act is significant enough that inadequate regulatory 
protection cannot be considered a threat. Further, both Georgia (Ga. 
Code Ann. Secs. 27-3-130 et seq.) and Tennessee (Tenn. Code Ann. 
Secs. 70-8-301 et seq.) have rare plant protection laws that also 
protect this species.
    Half (16) of the known Scutellaria montana populations occur on 
privately owned lands. Of these, 12 populations receive no protection. 
All of two populations and a portion of two others are owned by 
conservation groups that are active in management for the conservation 
of Scutellaria montana.
    Of the populations that are not on privately owned land, one 
population occurs on county land (on a nature park), a portion of one 
other population occurs on city-owned land, and two entire populations 
and a portion of three others occur on state-owned land. Except for the 
portion of one population occurring on city-owned land, all of these 
populations are being actively managed (Shea and Hogan 1998). In 
addition, nine entire populations and portions of three others occur on 
Federal land (TVA, NPS, and Department of Defense-U.S. Army) where they 
receive the protection afforded by section 7 of the Act.

E. Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence

    Invasive species, such as Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) 
and privet (Ligustrum vulgare), are currently a problem for some 
populations of Scutellaria montana. These non-native species are likely 
to continue to be a problem where disturbance allows these species to 
become established in proximity to Scutellaria montana on some smaller 
public areas and privately owned sites.
    Several investigators have noted a low reproductive capacity for 
Scutellaria montana. The percentage of flowers that form fruit has been 
recorded at 30 and 44 percent in the Marshall Forest (Kemp and Knauss 
1990), and, in another study, 91.5 percent of the plants did not form 
fruits (Kemp 1987). This reproductive rate is extremely low compared 
with other Scutellaria species that have 75 to 93 percent of the 
flowers producing mature nutlets (Collins 1976).
    Scutellaria montana also produces fewer seeds per fruit compared 
with other members of the genus. Kemp and Knauss (1990) found that the 
fruit averaged 2.2-2.3 seeds rather than the 4 seeds that are possible. 
Similarly, Cruzan (in Shea and Hogan 1998) found pollen present on 60 
percent of the styles, but only 15 percent of these flowers set fruit 
with an average of 2 seeds per fruit.
    We have carefully assessed the best scientific and commercial 
information available regarding the past, present, and future threats 
faced by Scutellaria montana in determining to propose this rule. Based 
on this evaluation, the preferred action is to reclassify Scutellaria 
montana from an endangered species to a threatened species. The 
Recovery Plan for Scutellaria montana states that the species is 
qualified for downlisting to threatened ``. . . If numbers of discrete 
populations increase to 25 (because of the discovery/establishment of 
additional populations) or the number of protected and managed self-
sustaining populations becomes 10 or more (distributed throughout the 
known geographic range) . . .'' The criteria for downlisting have been 
met through both the number of known populations (32) and the number of 
viable (self-sustaining), protected populations (11) distributed 
throughout the range of the species.

Available Conservation Measures

    Half (16) of the known Scutellaria montana populations are 
privately owned (all of two populations and a portion of two other are 
owned by conservation groups), one is County-owned, a portion of one is 
City-owned, and two entire populations and a portion of three others 
are State-owned. However, nine entire populations and portions of three 
others are on Federal land (TVA, NPS, and Department of Defense-U.S. 
    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 
practices. Recognition through listing encourages and results in 
conservation actions by Federal, State, and private agencies, groups, 
and individuals. The protection required of Federal agencies and the 
prohibitions against taking and harm are discussed, in part, below.
    Section 7(a) of the Act, as amended, 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 being designated. Regulations implementing this 
interagency cooperation provision of the Act are codified at 50 CFR 
part 402. 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. No critical habitat is being proposed 
for designation with this proposed rule.
    The Act and its implementing regulations set forth a series of 
general prohibitions and exceptions that apply to all threatened 
plants. However,

[[Page 42977]]

unlike endangered plants, not all prohibitions of section 9(a)(2) of 
the Act apply (50 CFR 17.71). Those prohibitions that do apply, 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 
in interstate or foreign commerce, or remove and reduce to possession 
any threatened plant species from areas under Federal jurisdiction.
    Under the Act, reclassifying Scutellaria montana from endangered to 
threatened status will continue to protect Scutellaria montana on areas 
under Federal jurisdiction. Collection, removal and possession of 
plants found on Federal land is prohibited. Activities including 
removal, cutting, digging up, damaging, or destroying threatened plants 
on non-Federal lands would constitute a violation of State natural 
resource laws or regulations. Such actions if conducted in the course 
of violating State criminal trespass laws may also be subject to 
    The Act and 50 CFR 17.72 also provide for the issuance of permits 
to carry out otherwise prohibited activities involving threatened 
plants 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 
activities consistent with the purposes of the Act. We anticipate that 
few trade permits would ever be sought.
    Questions regarding whether specific activities will constitute a 
violation of section 9 should be directed to the Field Supervisors of 
either the Service's Asheville Field Office (see the ``Addresses'' 
section); the North Georgia Field Office, 380 Meigs St., Athens, 
Georgia 30601 (706/613-9493); or the Cookeville Field Office, U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service, 446 Neal Street, Cookeville, Tennessee 38501 
(615/528-6481). Requests for copies of regulations regarding listed 
species and inquiries about prohibitions and permits may be addressed 
to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ecological Services Division, 
1875 Century Boulevard, Atlanta, Georgia 30345 (Phone 404/679-7088; Fax 
    This proposed rule proposes to change the status of Scutellaria 
montana at 50 CFR 17.12 from endangered to threatened. If made final, 
this rule would formally recognize that this species is no longer in 
imminent danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion 
of its range. Reclassification would not significantly alter the 
protection for this species under the Act. Anyone taking, attempting to 
take, or otherwise possessing Scutellaria montana in violation of 
section 9 is still subject to a penalty under section 11 of the Act. 
There is no difference in penalties for the illegal take of endangered 
species versus threatened species. Section 7 of the Act would still 
continue to protect this species from Federal actions that would 
jeopardize its continued existence.
    Finalization of this rule will not be an irreversible commitment on 
the part of the Service. Reclassifying Scutellaria montana to 
endangered would be possible should changes occur in management, 
habitat, or other factors that alter the species' status or increase 
threats to its survival.

Public Comments Solicited

    We intend 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. Comments 
particularly are sought concerning:
    (1) Biological, commercial trade, or other relevant data concerning 
any threat (or lack thereof) to Scutellaria montana;
    (2) The location of any additional populations of Scutellaria 
    (3) Additional information concerning the range and distribution of 
this species; and
    (4) Current or planned activities in the subject area and their 
possible impacts on Scutellaria montana.
    In promulgating a final regulation on Scutellaria montana, we will 
take into consideration the comments and any additional information we 
receive, and such communications may lead to adoption of a final 
regulation that differs from this proposal.
    The Act provides for a public hearing on this proposal, if 
requested. Requests must be filed within 45 days of the date of this 
proposal. Such requests must be made in writing and addressed to the 
State Supervisor, Asheville Field Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, 160 Zillicoa Street, Asheville, North Carolina 28801.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    This proposed rule does not contain any new collections of 
information other than those already approved under the Paperwork 
Reduction Act, 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq., and assigned Office of 
Management and Budget clearance number 1018-0094. An agency may not 
conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to a 
collection of information, unless it displays a currently valid control 
number. For additional information concerning permit and associated 
requirements for threatened species, see 50 CFR 17.72.

National Environmental Policy Act

    We have determined that an Environmental Assessment, 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 Act. A notice outlining our reasons for this 
determination was published in the Federal Register on October 25, 1983 
(48 FR 49244).

References Cited

Bridges, E. 1984. Unpublished field data on Scutellaria montana.
Chapman, A. W. 1878. An enumeration of some plants--chiefly from the 
semitropical regions of Florida--which are either new or which have not 
hitherto been recorded as belonging to the Southern States. Bot. Gaz. 
3:2-6, 9-12, 17-21.
Collins, J. L. 1976. A revision of the annulate Scutellaria (Labiatae). 
Ph.D. dissertation. Vanderbilt Univ., Nashville, TN. 249 pp.
Collins, J. L. Unpublished manuscript. The Taxonomy, Distribution, and 
Rarity of Scutellaria montana Chapm. (Lamiaceae).
Epling, C. 1942. The American Species of Scutellaria montana. Univ. of 
California Publ. Bot. 20(1):1-146.
Fail, J. Jr. and R. Sommers. 1993. Species associations and 
implications of canopy change for an endangered mint in a virgin oak-
hickory-pine forest. J. Elisha Mitchell Soc. 109(1):51-54.
Faulkner, J. 1993. A Survey of Scutellaria montana in the Hick's Gap 
Area of Marion County, Tennessee. 22 pp.
Kemp, A. C. 1987. Showy but not very sexy. Tipularia 1(2):28-30.
Kemp, A. C. and M. Knauss. 1990. Intensive monitoring of Scutellaria 
montana Chapman in the Marshall Forest: A Proposal to The Nature 
Conservancy. Unpublished.
Leonard, E. C. 1927. The North American species of Scutellaria. 
Contributions from the United States National Herbarium 22:703-745. 22 
Lipps, L. 1966. Plant Communities of a Portion of Floyd County, 
Georgia--Especially the Marshall Forest.

[[Page 42978]]

Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Tennessee. Knoxville, Tennessee.
Lipps, E. L. and H. R. DeSelm. 1969. The vascular flora of the Marshall 
Forest, Rome, Georgia. Castanea 34(4): 414-432.
McKerrow, A., and M. Pyne. 1993. Survey of Scutellaria montana (Large-
flowered Skullcap) on Lookout Mountain, Chickamauga-Chattanooga 
National Military Park. Report to the Southeast Regional Office of The 
Nature Conservancy. 13 pp.
Nix, T. L. 1993. Intensive monitoring of Scutellaria montana Chapman in 
the Marshall Forest. Unpublished manuscript, The Nature Conservancy, 
Georgia Field Office.
Penland, C. W. 1924. Notes on North American Scutellarias. Rhodora 
Shea, A. and T. Hogan. 1998. Draft status survey report on Scutellaria 
montana Chapman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Asheville, North 
Carolina. 98 pp.
Tennessee Natural Heritage Program. No date. Species and site files. 
Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. Nashville, 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1975. Notice of review. Federal 
Register 40:27824-27825.
--1980. Notice of review. Federal Register 45:82480-82569.
--1983. Notice of review supplement. Federal Register 48:53640-53670.
--1985. Notice of review. Federal Register 50:39526-39527.
--1985. Endangered and threatened wildlife and plants; proposed 
determination of Scutellaria montana (large-flowered skullcap) to be an 
endangered species. Federal Register 50:46797-46800.
--1986. Endangered and threatened wildlife and plants; determination of 
Scutellaria montana (large-flowered skullcap) to be an endangered 
species. Federal Register 51:22521-22524.


    The primary author of this proposed rule is Mr. J. Allen Ratzlaff 
(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

    We propose 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 (1986), unless otherwise 
    2. We propose to amend Sec. 17.12(h) by revising the entry for 
Scutellaria montana under ``FLOWERING PLANTS'' in the ``Status'' column 
to read ``T'' instead of ``E''.
* * * * *

    Dated: June 2, 2000.
Jamie Rappaport Clark,
Director, Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 00-17561 Filed 7-11-00; 8:45 am]