[Federal Register: October 19, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 203)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 62691-62692]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AG17

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Reopening of 
Comment Period and Notice of Availability of Draft Economic Analysis on 
Proposed Critical Habitat Determination for the Peninsular Bighorn 
Sheep. Notice of Availability of Peninsular Bighorn Sheep Distribution 

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule; reopening of comment period and notice of 
availability of draft economic analysis and notice of availability of 
Peninsular bighorn sheep distribution map.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announces the 
availability of a draft economic analysis for the proposed designation 
of critical habitat for the Peninsular bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis). 
We also provide notice of the reopening of the comment period for the 
proposal to designate critical habitat for the Peninsular bighorn sheep 
to allow all interested parties to submit written comments on the 
proposed rule and on the draft economic analysis. Comments previously 
submitted need not be resubmitted as they will be incorporated into the 
public record as a part of this reopening and will be fully considered 
in the final rule. We also provide notice of the availability of 
distribution map for the Peninsular bighorn sheep.

DATES: The original comment period on the critical habitat proposal 
closed on August 31, 2000. The comment period is again reopened and we 
will accept comments until November 20, 2000. Comments must be received 
by the closing date. Any comments that are received after the closing 
date may not be considered in the final decision on this proposal.

ADDRESSES: Copies of the draft economic analysis are available on the 
Internet at ``http://pacific.fws.gov/crithab/pbsh'' or by writing to 
the Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Carlsbad Fish and 
Wildlife Office, 2730 Loker Avenue West, Carlsbad, California, 92008. 
Written comments should be sent to the Field Supervisor. You may also 
send comments by electronic mail (e-mail) to fw1pbsh@fws.gov. Please 
submit comments in ASCII file format and avoid the use of special 
characters and

[[Page 62692]]

encryption. Please include ``Attn: RIN 1018-AG17'' and your name and 
return address in your e-mail message. Comments and materials received 
will be available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal 
business hours at the above Service address. Copies of the distribution 
map for the Peninsular bighorn sheep are available by contacting the 
Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office or by appointment during normal 
business hours.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: The Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, 
at the above address (telephone 760-431-9440; facsimile 760-431-9618).



    Bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) are found along the Peninsular 
Mountain Ranges from the San Jacinto Mountains of southern California 
south into the Volcan Tres Virgenes Mountains near Santa Rosalia, Baja 
California, Mexico, a total distance of approximately 800 kilometers 
(km) (500 miles (mi)). The Peninsular bighorn sheep is similar in 
appearance to other desert bighorn sheep. The coat is pale brown, and 
the permanent horns, which become rough and scarred with age, vary in 
color from yellowish-brown to dark brown. The Peninsular bighorn sheep 
occurs on steep, open slopes, canyons, and washes in hot and dry desert 
regions where the land is rough, rocky, and sparsely vegetated. Most of 
these sheep live between 91 and 1,219 meters (m) (300 and 4,000 feet 
(ft)) in elevation, where average annual precipitation is less than 10 
centimeters (cm) (4 inches (in)) and daily high temperatures average 
104 deg. Fahrenheit in the summer. Alluvial fans (sloping masses of 
gravel, sand, clay, and other sediments that widen out like fans at the 
base of canyons and washes) are used for breeding, feeding, and 
movement. Peninsular bighorn sheep use a wide variety of plant species 
as their food source. Peninsular bighorn sheep typically produce only 
one lamb per year. Bighorn ewes exhibit a high degree of site fidelity 
to their home range; this behavior is learned by their offspring. From 
May through October, Peninsular bighorn sheep are typically more 
localized in distribution around permanent water sources.
    The decline of the Peninsular bighorn sheep is attributed to a 
combination of factors, including: (1) Relatively low adult 
survivorship from predation and human-related causes; (2) the effects 
of disease and parasitism; (3) low lamb recruitment; and (4) habitat 
loss, degradation, and fragmentation. The Peninsular bighorn sheep in 
the United States declined from an estimated 1,171 individuals in 1971 
to about 570 individuals in 1991 (Bleich et al. 1992). Recent estimates 
now number the population at approximately 335 adults in about eight 
ewe groups in the wild in the United States. The habitat still 
remaining for the Peninsular bighorn sheep in the United States is 
managed by the California Department of Parks and Recreation, 
California Department of Fish and Game, Bureau of Land Management, 
private landowners, Trust lands, U.S. Forest Service, and other State 
and local entities.
    Section 4(b)(2) of the Act requires that the Secretary shall 
designate or revise critical habitat based upon the best scientific 
data available and after taking into consideration the economic impact 
of specifying any particular area as critical habitat. Based upon the 
previously published proposal to designate critical habitat for the 
Peninsular bighorn sheep and comments received during previous comment 
period, we have conducted a draft economic analysis of the proposed 
critical habitat designation. The draft economic analysis is available 
at the above Internet and mailing address (see ADDRESSES section). To 
accept the best and most current scientific data regarding the critical 
habitat proposal and the draft economic analysis of the proposal, we 
reopen the comment period at this time. Previously submitted oral or 
written comments on this critical habitat proposal need not be 
resubmitted. The current comment period on this proposal closes on 
November 20, 2000. Written comments may be submitted to the Service 
office in the ADDRESSES section.
    The distribution map for Peninsular bighorn sheep represents a 
recent compilation of data from numerous sources that depicts the 
distributional range of bighorn sheep in the Peninsular Ranges of 
southern California. The mapped information was compiled through an 
interagency recovery planning program. The map is being made available 
to provide the public with additional information on the biology of the 
Peninsular bighorn sheep.


    The primary author of this notice is the Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife 
Office (see ADDRESSES section).


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

    Dated: October 11, 2000.
Anne Badgley,
Regional Director, Region 1.
[FR Doc. 00-26877 Filed 10-18-00; 8:45 am]