[Federal Register: October 2, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 191)]
[Page 58784-58785]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Notice of Availability of a Draft Recovery Plan for the Virginia 
Sneezeweed for Review and Comment

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of document availability.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announces the availability 
for public review of a draft Recovery Plan for the Virginia sneezeweed 
(Helenium virginicum).
    The Virginia sneezeweed is a rare herb in the Asteraceae family 
found in the Shenandoah Valley of western Virginia, with a single 
possible disjunct population in southern Missouri. The species was 
listed as threatened in December 1998 due to its restricted range, 
small number of occurrences, and growing threats from loss and 
degradation of its sinkhole pond habitat. The objective of the proposed 
Recovery Plan is to protect Heleniuim virginicum populations and their 
habitat, thereby enabling the species' removal from the Federal list of 
endangered and threatened wildlife and plants. To accomplish this, the 
draft Plan recommends protection and management of extant populations, 
definitively establishing the distribution of the plant, and strategies 
for maintaining the genetic diversity of the species. If the Recovery 
Plan is successfully implemented, full recovery may be possible by 
2020. The Service solicits review and comment from the public on this 
draft Plan.

DATES: Comments on the draft Recovery Plan must be received by November 
16, 2000, to receive consideration by the Service.

ADDRESSES: Persons wishing to review the draft Recovery Plan can obtain 
a copy from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Chesapeake Bay Field 
Office, 177 Admiral Cochrane Drive, Annapolis, Maryland 21401, 
telephone 410/573-4537 and fax 410/269-0832. Comments should be sent to 
the same address, to the attention of G. Andrew Moser.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: G. Andrew Moser at 410/573-4537 (see 



    Restoring an endangered or threatened animal or plant to the point 
where it is again a secure, self-sustaining member of its ecosystem is 
a primary goal of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's endangered 
species program. To help guide the recovery effort, the Service is 
working to prepare Recovery Plans for most of the listed species native 
to the United States. Recovery Plans describe actions considered 
necessary for conservation of the species, establish criteria for 
downlisting or delisting them, and estimate time and cost for 
implementing the recovery measures needed.
    The Endangered Species Act of 1973 (Act), as amended (16 U.S.C. 
1531 et seq.) requires the development of Recovery Plans for listed 
species unless such a Plan would not promote the conservation of a 
particular species. Section 4(f) of the Act, as amended in 1988, 
requires that public notice and an opportunity for public review and 
comment be provided during Recovery Plan development. The Service will 
consider all information presented during a public comment period prior 
to approval of each new or revised Recovery Plan. The Service and other 
Federal agencies will also take these comments into account in the 
course of implementing Recovery Plans.
    The document submitted for review is the draft Virginia Sneezeweed 
(Helenium virginicum) Recovery Plan. The Virginia sneezeweed, a rare 
herb in the Asteraceae family, has been found in 30 sites in the 
Shenandoah Valley of western Virginia, although plants have not been 
seen at 4 of these sites for several years. Recent studies of a 
Helenium sp. from a sinkhole pond in southern Missouri suggest that it 
may represent a disjunct population of H. virginicum, but further 
research is needed to resolve this. The Virginia sneezeweed is limited 
to seasonally flooded sinkhole ponds, a restricted and threatened 
habitat type that is in some cases closely associated with agricultural 
and residential land uses. In addition, there is some indication that 
the species may have a self-incompatible breeding system, which could 
increase the threat of local extinctions in small populations. For 
these reasons, H. virginicum was listed as a threatened species in 
December 1998.
    The objective of the draft Recovery Plan is to protect Helenium 
virginicum populations and their habitat, thereby enabling the species' 
removal from the Federal list of endangered and threatened wildlife and 
plants. Delisting of H. virginicum may be considered when: (1) 20 self-
sustaining populations and their habitats have received permanent 
protection across the species' Virginia range; (2) monitoring over 15 
years indicates that populations in the 20 sites are viable; (3) life 
history and ecological requirements are understood sufficiently to 
allow for effective protection monitoring, and, as needed, management; 
(4) seeds representing the range of genetic diversity in H. virginicum 
are placed in long-term storage to provide a source of genetic material 
in the event of in situ extinction; and (5) if determined to be H. 
virginicum, the Missouri population and its habitat are permanently 
protected and seeds placed in long-term storage.
    Recovery activities designed to achieve these objectives include 
protection, management, and monitoring of extant populations and their 
habitat; definitive identification of the range and distribution of the 
species; continuing investigations into the life history and ecology of 
H. virginicum; maintenance of seed sources for the species; and 
development of informational materials to create more awareness of H. 
virginicum and its status. Contingent on successful implementation of 
all recovery tasks, full recovery is anticipated by the year 2020.

[[Page 58785]]

    The draft Recovery Plan is being submitted for technical and agency 
review. After consideration of comments received during the review 
period, the Plan will be submitted for final approval.

Public Comments Solicited

    The Service solicits written comments on the Recovery Plan 
described. All comments received by the date specified above will be 
considered prior to approval of the Plan.

    Authority: The authority for this action is Section 4(f) of the 
Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. 1533(f).

    Dated: September 21, 2000.
J. Mitch King,
Acting Regional Director.
[FR Doc. 00-25107 Filed 9-29-00; 8:45 am]