[Federal Register: February 14, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 30)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 7339-7346]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AF75

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Proposed 
Endangered Status for the Plant Hackelia venusta (Showy Stickseed)

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), propose 
endangered species status pursuant to the Endangered Species Act (Act) 
of 1973, as amended, for Hackelia venusta (Piper) St. John (showy 
stickseed). The species is a narrow endemic limited to one small 
population on unstable, granitic scree located on the lower slopes of 
Tumwater Canyon, Chelan County, Washington. The population has declined 
to the current size of less than 150 individual plants at the single 
location in Tumwater Canyon. Threats include competition and shading 
from native trees and shrubs, encroachment onto the site by nonnative, 
noxious plant species, wildfire and fire suppression, activities 
associated with fire suppression, and low seedling establishment. In 
the past, highway maintenance activities, such as the spreading of sand 
and salt during winter months and the application of herbicides, have 
threatened the species and may do so in the future. Reproductive vigor 
may be depressed because of the plant's small population size and 
limited gene pool. A single natural or human-caused random 
environmental disturbance could destroy a significant percentage of the 
population. This proposal, if made final, would implement the Federal 
protection and recovery programs of the Act for this plant.

DATES: We must receive comments from all interested parties by April 
14, 2000. Public hearing requests must be received by March 30, 2000.

ADDRESSES: Send comments and materials concerning this proposal to the 
Manager, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Western Washington Office, 510 
Desmond Drive, Suite 102, Lacey, Washington 98503-1273. Comments and 
materials received will be available, by appointment, for public 
inspection during normal business hours at the above address.

telephone 360/753-4327; facsimile 360/753-9518.



    Hackelia venusta (showy stickseed) is a showy perennial herb of the 
Borage family (Boraginaceae). The plant was originally described by 
Charles Piper as Lappula venusta, based on a collection from Tumwater 
Canyon, Chelan County, Washington made by J. C. Otis in 1920 (Piper 
1924). In 1929, Harold St. John reexamined the specimen and placed it 
in the related genus Hackelia upon recognizing that, being a perennial 
plant, it more properly fit with Hackelia than Lappula, a genus of 
annual plants (St. John 1929).
    Hackelia venusta is a short, moderately stout species, 20 to 40 
centimeters (cm) (8 to 16 inches (in)) tall, often with numerous, erect 
to ascending stems from a slender taproot. It has large, showy, five-
lobed flowers that are white and reach approximately 1.9 to 2.2 cm 
(0.75 to 0.87 in) across. Basal leaves are 7 to 14 cm (2.8 to 5.5 in) 
long and 0.64 to 1.3 cm (0.25 to 0.5 in) wide, while the upper stem 
leaves are 2.5 to 5.1 cm (1 to 2 in) long and 0.38 to 0.64 cm (0.15 to 
0.25 in) wide (Barrett et al. 1985). The fruit consists of a prickly 
nutlet, approximately 0.38 to 0.43 cm (0.15 to 0.17 in) long, and is 
covered with stiff hairs that aid in dispersal by wildlife. Hackelia 
venusta is morphologically uniform and is distinct from other species 
occurring in central Washington. It can be distinguished from other 
species in the genus, in part, by its smaller stature, shorter leaf 
length, fewer basal leaves, and the large size of the flowers. High-
elevation Hackelia populations that have, in the past, been assigned to 
Hackelia venusta have distinct morphological features with the most 
obvious distinction being blue flowers. The Tumwater Canyon flowers are 
white, and on rare occasion, washed with blue. Other distinct 
morphological characteristics between the Tumwater Canyon and the high-
elevation Hackelia populations are limb width, plant height, and 
radical leaf length (Harrod et al. 1998).
    Hackelia venusta is shade-intolerant (Robert Carr, Eastern 
Washington University, pers. comm. 1998) and grows in openings within 
ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) and Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga 
menziesii) forest types. This vegetation type is described as the 
Douglas-fir zone by Franklin and Dyrness (1973, updated in 1988). 
Hackelia venusta is found on open, steep slopes (minimum of 80 percent 
inclination) of loose, well-drained,

[[Page 7340]]

granitic weathered and broken rock fragmented soils at an elevation at 
about 486 meters (m) (1,600 feet (ft)). The type specimen for Hackelia 
venusta was collected at a site between Tumwater and Drury in Tumwater 
Canyon approximately 9.6 kilometers (km) (6 miles (mi)) west of 
Leavenworth, Washington. Hackelia venusta is restricted to this single 
population in Tumwater Canyon. The population is found in an area 
designated as the Tumwater Canyon Botanical Area by the Wenatchee 
National Forest. This designation was originally established in 1938 to 
protect a former candidate plant, Lewisia tweedyi (Tweedy's lewisia), 
that is more widespread than previously considered (F.V. Horton, U.S. 
Forest Service, in litt. 1938; U.S. Forest Service 1971). The 
designation for the botanical area remains because of the presence of 
Hackelia venusta and Silene seelyi (Seeley's catch-fly), a potential 
candidate for listing.
    Three other locations within 20 km (12 mi) of the type locality 
were thought to harbor Hackelia venusta. One location near Crystal 
Creek Cirque was relocated in 1986 after not having been seen since 
1947 (Gamon 1988a). A second location near Asgard Pass was not 
discovered until 1987 (Gamon 1988a). The Asgard Pass population was 
apparently extirpated by a major landslide during 1994 or 1995 (Richy 
Harrod, U.S. Forest Service, pers. comm. 1996). A third location was 
discovered on Cashmere Mountain in August 1996 (Richy Harrod, U.S. 
Forest Service, pers. comm. 1996). The Crystal Creek and Cashmere 
Mountain locations occur about 10 km (6 mi) apart and are both within 
the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area of the Wenatchee National Forest. 
Elevations for these populations range from 1,920 to 2,255 m (6,300 to 
7,400 ft). Recent information indicates these two high-elevation 
locations are a distinct taxon, different from the Hackelia venusta 
found in the Tumwater Canyon population (Harrod et al. 1998). The 
Tumwater Canyon plants have a larger white corolla, a taller habit, 
remote lower leaves, and in general, the leaves are less stiff and 
leathery. The Crystal Creek and Cashmere Mountain populations, in 
contrast, have small, blue flowers and are more compact. The population 
at Tumwater Canyon does not have individuals that are intermediate in 
these characters. Also, the Tumwater Canyon population is 
geographically and reproductively isolated from the Crystal Creek and 
Cashmere Mountain populations. The Crystal Creek and Cashmere Mountain 
populations are temporally isolated from the Tumwater Canyon population 
in relation to their local seasons and climatic zones. The Tumwater 
Canyon population flowers in May, while the Crystal Creek and Cashmere 
Mountain populations are under several meters of snow and normally 
flower in July. Since the Crystal Creek and Cashmere Mountain 
populations are distinct from Hackelia venusta, they are not the 
subject of this proposed rule and will not be further discussed.
    Preliminary isozyme analysis currently being conducted by the U.S. 
Forest Service indicates a clear separation between the Tumwater Canyon 
and high-elevation populations (Carol Aubry, U.S. Forest Service, pers. 
comm. 1998). This analysis measures the differences in plant proteins 
(usually an enzyme) and can be used to detect genetic differences among 
populations. Dr. Robert Carr, Professor of Botany, Eastern Washington 
University, attempted specific and intraspecific crosses with 18 
species of North American Hackelia over a 3-year period but has yet to 
produce viable seed from these crosses in the greenhouse. Dr. Carr 
indicated that he has not attempted to cross the Tumwater Canyon and 
Crystal Creek/Cashmere Mountain populations, primarily because of the 
difficulty of growing Hackelia from seed in the greenhouse and the 
temporal differences in the two populations' flowering. Dr. Carr, an 
expert on the genus Hackelia, confirms that the Tumwater Canyon and 
high-elevation populations are two distinct taxa (R. Carr, pers. comm. 
    An occurrence of Hackelia venusta was originally found in 1948 in 
Merritt, Washington in Chelan County, but recent attempts to relocate 
the site have failed. Changes in land use do not support growth of this 
species in this area anymore. The current element occurrence records of 
the Washington Natural Heritage Program designate this site as 
    In Tumwater Canyon, Hackelia venusta occurs primarily on unstable 
soils on steep rocky slopes and outcrops, though scattered individuals 
also occur along a State highway roadcut on Federal land. Hackelia 
venusta appears to be somewhat adapted to natural and possibly human-
caused substrate disturbance. Although potential habitat for this 
species is widespread in Tumwater Canyon, the plant is scattered 
throughout an area of less than 1 hectare (ha) (2.5 acres (ac)). In 
1968, the taxon appeared ``limited to a few hundred acres'' (Gentry and 
Carr 1976), and in 1981, the population was estimated to have 800 to 
1,000 plants. In 1984, and again in 1987, fewer than 400 individuals 
were found over an area of approximately 5 ha (12 ac) (Gamon 1988a). 
Personal observations by Ted Thomas (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) 
(in cooperation with Richy Harrod, U.S. Forest Service, and Paul 
Wagner, Washington Department of Transportation (WDOT)) using an 
intensive search and count method on May 11, 1995, revealed less than 
150 individuals growing on less than 1 ha (2.5 ac) of suitable habitat. 
According to Dr. Carr, the area occupied by Hackelia venusta is greatly 
reduced, and the number of individual plants has seriously declined 
since he first visited the Tumwater Canyon population in the early 
1970s (R. Carr, pers. comm. 1996). Even though earlier counts were 
conducted by different workers using different techniques, the 
population size shows a clear downward trend.
    The remaining known population is at risk of extirpation due to a 
variety of threats. From personal observation of the site, the suitable 
habitat for Hackelia venusta is threatened by plant succession in the 
absence of fire, and competition with nonnative, Washington State-
listed noxious plants (Ted Thomas, pers. obs. 1998; Washington 
Administrative Code 17.10, Ch. 16-750). Other threats include the mass-
wasting or erosion of soil on these unstable slopes and highway 
maintenance activities. The species occurs in the road right-of-way 
(ROW), which is Federal land, but the ROW is maintained by WDOT. In the 
past, road salting and herbicide spraying were probable factors in 
reducing the vigor of Hackelia venusta. Currently, WDOT maintenance 
crews rarely apply road salt and, when they do, they apply it at a 20:1 
ratio with road sand (Luther Beaty, WDOT, pers. comm. 1996). Herbicides 
have been applied in the past and may have contributed to the reduced 
number of plants in the population. WDOT has discontinued the use of 
herbicides in Tumwater Canyon (L. Beaty, pers. comm. 1996). In the 
narrow confines of Tumwater Canyon, automobile emissions may continue 
to be a cause for reduced vigor to the Hackelia venusta population 
because ozone and oxides of sulphur and nitrate emitted from vehicle 
tailpipes negatively affect photosynthesis of the plants. In addition, 
several individual plants occur on level ground at the roadside turnoff 
and are threatened with trampling and collecting.

Previous Federal Action

    Federal action on this species began when we published a Notice of 
Review in the Federal Register for plants on

[[Page 7341]]

December 15, 1980 (45 FR 82480). In this notice, Hackelia venusta was 
included as a category 1 candidate species. Category 1 candidates were 
those species for which we had on file substantial information on 
biological vulnerability and threats to support preparation of listing 
proposals, but for which listing proposals had not been prepared due to 
other higher priority listing actions. The plant notice of review was 
revised on September 27, 1985 (50 FR 39525); in that notice Hackelia 
venusta was included as a category 2 candidate. At that time, a 
category 2 species was one that was being considered for possible 
addition to the Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and 
Plants but for which conclusive data on biological vulnerability and 
threats were not available to support a proposed rule. Pending 
completion of updated status surveys, the status was changed to 
category 1 in the February 21, 1990 (55 FR 6183), Notice of Review. In 
the September 30, 1993, Notice of Review (58 FR 51144), Hackelia 
venusta remained a category 1 candidate. In the February 28, 1996, 
Notice of Review (61 FR 7596), Hackelia venusta was removed from the 
candidate list due to questions regarding the species' taxonomic 
status. Also, beginning with the 1996 Notice of Review, we discontinued 
the use of multiple categories of candidates, and only those taxa 
meeting the definition of former category 1 are now considered 
candidates. A status review was completed in June 1997 to reflect new 
information regarding the taxonomy of the species. The status review 
recognized Hackelia venusta as a valid taxon of which only a single 
population was extant.
    The processing of this proposed rule conforms with our Listing 
Priority Guidance published in the Federal Register on October 22, 1999 
(64 FR 57114). The guidance clarifies the order in which we will 
process rulemakings. Highest priority is processing emergency listing 
rules for any species determined to face a significant and imminent 
risk to its well-being (Priority 1). Second priority (Priority 2) is 
processing final determinations on proposed additions to the lists of 
endangered and threatened wildlife and plants. Third priority is 
processing new proposals to add species to the lists. The processing of 
administrative petition findings (petitions filed under section 4 of 
the Act) is the fourth priority. The processing of critical habitat 
determinations (prudency and determinability decisions) and proposed or 
final designations of critical habitat will be funded separately from 
other section 4 listing actions and will no longer be subject to 
prioritization under the Listing Priority Guidance. The processing of 
this proposed rule is a Priority 2 action.

Summary of Factors Affecting the Species

    Section 4 of the Act 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. The Service may 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 Hackelia venusta (showy stickseed) are as follows:

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

    The range of Hackelia venusta has been reduced to a scattered 
distribution occupying less than 1 ha (2.5 ac) in the Tumwater Canyon; 
this restricted population consists of less than 150 individuals and 
constitutes the sole population of Hackelia venusta.
    The primary loss of habitat for Hackelia venusta has resulted from 
changes in habitat due to plant succession in the absence of fire. Fire 
suppression has been a factor in reducing the extent of the Tumwater 
Canyon population and in the apparent loss of the Merritt population 
(Gamon 1988a; Gamon 1988b). Wildfires play a role in maintaining open, 
sparsely vegetated sites as suitable habitat for Hackelia venusta, as 
the plant appears to be shade-intolerant (R. Carr, pers. comm. 1998). 
The species prefers habitat that has been burned, have little competing 
vegetation, and have little soil-organic matter (R. Carr, pers. comm. 
1998). The species has been seen in canopy openings created by a 
wildfire in 1994 where they were not previously found (T. Thomas, pers. 
obs. 1998). These plants are within 50 m (165 ft) of the original 
population and are probably offspring of the existing population. Seeds 
were likely carried to the open substrate by wind, and germination was 
likely aided by the increase in light and moisture within the canopy 
    Two nonnative, Washington State-listed noxious weeds (Ch 16, WAC 
1997) occur within the habitat of Hackelia venusta within Tumwater 
Canyon. Linaria dalmatica (dalmatian toadflax) and Centaurea diffusa 
(diffuse knapweed) are present along the roadside, have increased in 
numbers and distribution, and have encroached into the population of 
Hackelia venusta. Each of these species has the ability to outcompete 
and replace native vegetation and are a threat to Hackelia venusta 
(Jane Wentworth, Washington Department of Natural Resources, pers. 
comm. 1998). During visits to the population site in 1995, 1996, and 
1997, Ted Thomas (pers. obs. 1995, 1996, and 1997) noted that the cover 
and distribution of the noxious weeds had increased over time. Without 
intervention, these species have the ability to completely outcompete 
Hackelia venusta and dominate the area.
    Highway maintenance activities are an ongoing threat. The highway 
is sanded during winter months, and occasionally a mixture of sand and 
salt is applied, affecting the immediate roadside habitat where 
Hackelia venusta is found. Highway maintenance activities involving the 
clearing of landslide material from the highway right-of-way resulted 
in the destruction of 20 to 30 Hackelia venusta individuals several 
years ago (R. Harrod, pers. comm. 1997). Although the roadsides have 
not been sprayed with herbicides in recent years, spraying did occur 
for a considerable period of time prior to 1980. The residual effect of 
herbicide spraying on Hackelia venusta is unknown. Some herbicides are 
known to be resident in the soil for long periods of time, affecting 
the plants that persist there.
    Erosional landslides of the unstable slope where the population is 
located are also a threat to the species. The steepness of the slope 
exceeds 100 percent (45 degree) inclination in some places, and the 
slope's instability constitutes a significant threat as a major 
landslide could bury the population (Gamon 1997). The potential for 
slumping has increased since 1994, when fires burned through the forest 
directly adjacent to the Hackelia venusta population. Water uptake by 
trees and other vegetation that were killed by the 1994 fire has 
decreased, and as tree roots begin to decompose, their binding action 
in the soil will also decrease. This factor increases the potential for 
slumping and destruction of the site and population.
    Although there are no data regarding the effects of automobile 
emissions on this species, such emissions should be considered a 
threat, given the proximity of the road to the population. The highway 
is heavily used, with 3,900 to 5,200 automobiles traveling daily 
through Tumwater Canyon, which is very narrow (WDOT 1996). According to 
population projections, 100,000 people will move into the State of 

[[Page 7342]]

each year. Trends for Chelan County indicate an increase from the 
current human population of 52,250 (1995) to more than 86,000 people in 
the year 2020, a 39 percent increase (Washington Office of Financial 
Management 1995). A larger human population will increase the demands 
for recreational activities and bring more people to central 
Washington. Automobile emissions are likely to increase along this 
heavily traveled corridor. These emissions, containing ozone and 
sulphur and nitrate oxides, negatively affect photosynthesis of 
coniferous and herbaceous plants.

B. Overutilization for Commercial, Scientific, or Educational Purposes

    Wildflower collecting does pose a threat, and future collecting 
could increase, especially if the site becomes known to the general 
public. The Tumwater Canyon population is accessible to the public 
because it is located near a highway with a turnout directly across the 
road. Amateur and professional botanists know of the location of the 
population; their collecting activities may affect the species (Gamon 
    Representatives from the Service, the Forest Service, and Eastern 
Washington University witnessed an instance of a person collecting the 
plant as they inspected the Hackelia venusta site (T. Thomas, pers. 
obs. 1998). That episode indicates that the species, when in bloom, is 
eye-catching and sufficiently attractive to cause someone to stop and 
remove the plant, presumably for personal use. Not only does the 
removal of plants cause a loss of reproductive potential, but trampling 
the site to access the plants could have a devastating effect on the 
remaining plants.

C. Disease or Predation

    Disease is not currently known to be a threat to this species. No 
livestock or wildlife are known to graze on Hackelia venusta.

D. Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    Although the known population of Hackelia venusta is located in an 
area designated as a special management area, the species remains 
vulnerable to threats. The Tumwater Canyon Botanical Area was 
designated by the Wenatchee National Forest in 1938 because of the 
occurrence of Lewisia tweedyi. Lewisia tweedyi has since been found to 
be more widespread than previously known and is no longer a species of 
concern for the area. The Wenatchee National Forest has maintained the 
Botanical Area designation because of the presence of Hackelia venusta 
and Silene seelyi, a potential candidate. Silene seelyi grows in rock 
outcrop crevices near where Hackelia venusta is located, but it does 
not occupy the talus habitat that Hackelia venusta does. Management 
activities in the Botanical Area should emphasize botanical values 
(Terry Lillybridge, Wenatchee National Forest, pers. comm. 1998); 
however, there is no specific, completed management guide for Hackelia 
venusta or Silene seelyi. This Botanical Area is also managed as part 
of a designated late-successional reserve under the Northwest Forest 
Plan, which permits some silvicultural and fire hazard reduction 
treatments. The populations of both species are listed on the U.S. 
Forest Service Regional Forester's Sensitive Species List. The Forest 
Service is required to maintain or enhance the viability of species on 
this list by considering the species in their project biological 
evaluations and mitigate actions that adversely impact the species. The 
Forest Service prohibits the collection of native plants without a 
    The Washington Natural Heritage Program developed management 
guidelines for Hackelia venusta in 1988 (Gamon 1988b), with 
recommendations that certain actions be taken to protect the plant on 
National Forest land. These guidelines included the recommendation that 
managers of the Wenatchee National Forest develop a Species Management 
Guide to provide management direction for the habitat of this species. 
The Wenatchee National Forest developed a draft management guide 
several years ago, but has not yet finalized it (T. Lillybridge, pers. 
comm. 1997). The Washington Department of Natural Resources designated 
Hackelia venusta as endangered in 1982, and the species designation was 
retained in subsequent updates of the State's endangered species list. 
The State of Washington does not have a State Endangered Species Act 
and therefore, has no law that provides protection for Hackelia venusta 
or other species designated as endangered or threatened.
    Status survey reports document a declining population of Hackelia 
venusta that will continue to decline unless conservation efforts are 
implemented (Barrett et al. 1985; Gamon 1997). At present, there is no 
management of the habitat where Hackelia venusta occurs. The recent 
survey conducted by Ted Thomas (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), Richy 
Harrod (U.S. Forest Service), and Paul Wagner (WDOT) in May 1995 
further supports the observed decline in the population and that the 
species is at risk of extinction if protection and recovery efforts are 
not implemented.

E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued Existence

    Low seed production, as well as low genetic variation, are factors 
in the decline of Hackelia venusta. At the Tumwater Canyon site, an 
estimated high proportion (60 to 70 percent) of Hackelia venusta seeds 
did not develop in 1984 (Barrett et al. 1985). Fruit development was 
poor on many plants; only a few individuals exhibited mature fruit 
development. It is unknown why this occurred, but low genetic variation 
may have contributed to poor reproduction success. This reduced 
reproductive potential may be a major factor in the reduction of plants 
at the type locality and the extirpation of the historic Merritt 
population. The age structure of the extant population at Tumwater 
Canyon, poor seed output, and historical estimates of population size 
indicate that the population is declining (Barrett et al. 1985; Gamon 
    The small size of the Hackelia venusta population is a major 
problem. Seedling establishment is most critical, and trampling may 
significantly affect seedlings occurring on flat ground near the road 
(R. Carr, pers. comm. 1998). Human activities along the roadside 
turnout at the Tumwater Canyon site represent a significant threat to 
plants nearest the turnout. Motorists use the area to view the 
Wenatchee River, often venturing over the guardrail and along the bank 
below the road. Plants on this bank are damaged by trampling, burial by 
loose rock, and root exposure as a result of human traffic on the 
unstable slopes (Gamon 1997).
    Fire suppression during this century is likely a factor in the 
reduced extent of the Tumwater Canyon population and may have also 
contributed to the extirpation of the historic Merritt population. 
Historically, fuels in the forest type where Hackelia venusta is found 
were rarely at high levels because of the frequent fires that consumed 
forest floor fuels and pruned residual trees (Agee 1991). In the past, 
fires suppressed the encroachment of woody vegetation and maintained 
open areas more conducive to Hackelia venusta reproduction and growth. 
Continued suppression of fires in this forest type could bring about 
additional habitat loss (Barrett et al. 1985; Gamon 1997).
    Competition from Linaria dalmatica (dalmatian toadflax) and 
Centaurea diffusa (diffuse knapweed) is a threat to Hackelia venusta. 
Both of these noxious weeds outcompete many native plant

[[Page 7343]]

species through uptake of water and nutrients, interference with 
photosynthesis and respiration of associated species, and production of 
compounds that can directly affect seed germination and seedling growth 
and development. These noxious plants co-occur with Hackelia venusta at 
the Tumwater Canyon site and have become more widespread on the 
available habitat.
    The small number of individuals (less than 150 plants) remaining in 
the sole population located in Tumwater Canyon makes Hackelia venusta 
vulnerable to extinction due to random events such as slope failure 
(mass-wasting) or drought. A single random environmental event could 
extirpate a substantial portion or all of the remaining individuals of 
this species and cause its extinction. Also, changes in gene 
frequencies within small, isolated populations can lead to a loss of 
genetic variability and a reduced likelihood of long-term viability 
(Franklin 1980; Soule 1980; Lande and Barrowclough 1987).
    We have carefully assessed the best scientific and commercial 
information available concerning the past, present, and future threats 
as well as the decline faced by this species in developing this 
proposed rule. Currently, only one known population of Hackelia venusta 
exists. Habitat modification associated with fire suppression, 
competition and shade from native shrubs and trees and nonnative 
noxious weeds, maintenance of the highway located near the population, 
poor seed development, low reproductive capacity, human collection, and 
incidental loss from human trampling, threaten the continued existence 

of this species. Also, the single, small population of this species is 
particularly susceptible to extinction from random environmental 
events. Because of the high potential for these threats to cause 
extinction of the species, the preferred course of action is to list 
Hackelia venusta as endangered.

Critical Habitat

    Critical habitat is defined in section 3, paragraph (5)(A) of the 
Act as 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 essential to the 
conservation of the species and which may require special management 
considerations or protection; and specific areas outside the 
geographical area occupied by the species at the time it is listed in 
accordance with the provisions of section 4 of the Act, upon a 
determination by the Secretary that such areas are essential for the 
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.
    Critical habitat designation, by definition, directly affects only 
Federal agency actions through consultation under section 7(a)(2) of 
the Act. 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 a listed species or destroy or 
adversely modify its critical habitat.
    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. Our regulations (50 CFR 
424.12(a)(1)) state that the 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.
    The Final Listing Priority Guidance for FY 2000 (64 FR 57114) 
states, the processing of critical habitat determinations (prudency and 
determinability decisions) and proposed or final designations of 
critical habitat will no longer be subject to prioritization under the 
Listing Priority Guidance. Critical habitat determinations, which were 
previously included in final listing rules published in the Federal 
Register, may now be processed separately, in which case stand-alone 
critical habitat determinations will be published as notices in the 
Federal Register. We will undertake critical habitat determinations and 

designations during FY 2000 as allowed by our funding allocation for 
that year. As explained in detail in the Listing Priority Guidance, our 
listing budget is currently insufficient to allow us to immediately 
complete all of the listing actions required by the Act.
    We propose that critical habitat is prudent for Hackelia venusta. 
In the last few years, a series of court decisions have overturned 
Service determinations regarding a variety of species that designation 
of critical habitat would not be prudent (e.g., Natural Resources 
Defense Council v. U.S. Department of the Interior 113 F. 3d 1121 (9th 
Cir. 1997); Conservation Council for Hawaii v. Babbitt, 2 F. Supp. 2d 
1280 (D. Hawaii 1998)). Based on the standards applied in those 
judicial opinions, we believe that designation of critical habitat 
would be prudent for Hackelia venusta.
    Due to the small number of populations, Hackelia venusta is 
vulnerable to unrestricted collection, vandalism, or other disturbance. 
We are concerned that these threats might be exacerbated by the 
publication of critical habitat maps and further dissemination of 
locational information. However, at this time we do not have specific 
evidence for Hackelia venusta of vandalism, collection, or trade of 
this species or any similarly situated species. Consequently, 
consistent with applicable regulations (50 CFR 424.12(a)(1)(i)) and 
recent case law, we do not expect that the identification of critical 
habitat will increase the degree of threat to this species of taking or 
other human activity.
    In the absence of a finding that critical habitat would increase 
threats to a species, if there are any benefits to critical habitat 
designation, then a prudent finding is warranted. In the case of this 
species, there may be some benefits to designation of critical habitat. 
The primary regulatory effect of critical habitat is the section 7 
requirement that Federal agencies refrain from taking any action that 
destroys or adversely modifies critical habitat. While a critical 
habitat designation for habitat currently occupied by this species 
would not be likely to change the section 7 consultation outcome 
because an action that destroys or adversely modifies such critical 
habitat would also be likely to result in jeopardy to the species, 
there may be instances where section 7 consultation would be triggered 
only if critical habitat is designated. Examples could include 
unoccupied habitat or occupied habitat that may become unoccupied in 
the future. There may also be some educational or informational 
benefits to designating critical habitat. Therefore, we propose that 
critical habitat is prudent for Hackelia venusta. However, the deferral 
of the critical habitat designation for Hackelia venusta will allow us 
to concentrate our limited resources on higher priority critical 
habitat and other listing actions, while allowing us to put in place 
protections needed for the conservation of Hackelia venusta without 
further delay. We anticipate in FY 2000 and beyond giving higher 
priority to critical habitat designation, including designations 
deferred pursuant to the Listing Priority Guidance, such as the 
designation for

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this species, than we have in recent fiscal years.
    We plan to employ a priority system for deciding which outstanding 
critical habitat designations should be addressed first. We will focus 
our efforts on those designations that will provide the most 
conservation benefit, taking into consideration the efficacy of 
critical habitat designation in addressing the threats to the species, 
and the magnitude and immediacy of those threats. We will make the 
final critical habitat determination with the final listing 
determination for Hackelia venusta. If this final critical habitat 
determination is that critical habitat is prudent, we will develop a 
proposal to designate critical habitat for Hackelia venusta as soon as 
feasible, considering our workload priorities. Unfortunately, for the 
immediate future, most of Region 1's listing budget must be directed to 
complying with numerous court orders and settlement agreements, as well 
as due and overdue final listing determinations.

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 
public awareness and conservation actions by Federal, State, and local 
agencies, private organizations, and individuals. The Act provides for 
possible land acquisition and cooperation with the States and requires 
that the Service carry out recovery actions for all listed species. 
Together with our partners, we would initiate such actions following 
listing. 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, 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. Section 7(a)(4) requires Federal agencies to confer with us 
on any action that is likely to jeopardize the continued existence of a 
species proposed for listing, 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 the species or destroy or 
adversely modify its critical habitat, if any has been designated. If a 
Federal action may affect a listed species or its critical habitat, the 
responsible Federal agency must enter into formal consultation with us.
    Federal agencies, whose proposed actions may require conference 
and/or consultation as described in the preceding paragraph, include 
the Forest Service, Federal Highway Administration, and U.S. Army Corps 
of Engineers (Corps). State highway activity implemented by the State 
and partly funded by the Federal government, that may include highway 
maintenance activities, such as roadside vegetation control, may be 
subject to consultation under the Act. U.S. Forest Service activities 
that may require consultation under section 7 of the Act would include 
fire suppression, activities associated with fire suppression, timber 
harvest and habitat restoration activities. The Corps may be required 
to confer or consult with us on proposed actions planned on the 
Wenatchee River, which is adjacent and directly below the highway ROW. 
The distance from the base of the Hackelia venusta population and the 
Wenatchee River is less than 30 m (100 ft).
    WDOT has proposed removing a large, dead tree and several live 
trees, as well as unstable, large boulders that pose a safety hazard to 
the highway and are adjacent to the Hackelia venusta population (P. 
Wagner, pers. comm. 1996). Tree removal may benefit the species by 
reducing shade from overstory trees, as well as reducing conifer seed 
production and establishment of conifer seedlings. However, if the 
large trees are felled and fall downslope onto the Hackelia venusta 
population, and then cabled down to the road, severe adverse effects on 
the population could result. To avoid such a situation, we are working 
with the Forest Service and WDOT to develop management guidelines to 
protect the population, such as falling the trees upslope and removing 
them from the site with a helicopter. The Forest Service is preparing 
the National Environmental Policy Act documents to analyze the action 
and may implement the project in the fall of 1999.
    Listing of this plant would authorize development of a recovery 
plan for the plant. Such a plan would identify both State and Federal 
efforts for conservation of the plant and establish a framework for 
agencies to coordinate activities and cooperate with each other in 
conservation efforts. The plan would set recovery priorities and 
describe site-specific management actions necessary to achieve 
conservation and survival of the plant. Additionally, pursuant to 
section 6 of the Act, we would be able to grant funds to the State of 
Washington for management actions promoting the protection and recovery 
of the species.
    The Act and its implementing regulations set forth a series of 
general prohibitions and exceptions that apply to all endangered 
plants. All prohibitions of section 9(a)(2) of the Act, implemented by 
50 CFR 17.61 for endangered plants, would 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 
in interstate or foreign commerce, or remove the species from areas 
under Federal jurisdiction. In addition, for plants listed as 
endangered, the Act prohibits the malicious damage or destruction in 
areas under Federal jurisdiction and the removal, cutting, digging up, 
damaging, or destroying of such endangered plants in knowing violation 
of any State law or regulation, or in the course of any violation of a 
State criminal trespass law. Certain exceptions to the prohibitions 
apply to our agents and State conservation agencies.
    Per our policy, published in the Federal Register on July 1, 1994 
(59 FR 34272), at the time a species is listed we identify to the 
maximum extent practicable those activities that would or would not 
constitute a violation of section 9 of the Act. The intent of this 
policy is to increase public awareness of the effect of the listing on 
proposed and ongoing activities within a species' range.
    Based upon the best available information, we believe that the 
following actions will not result in a violation of section 9, provided 
these activities are carried out in accordance with existing 
regulations and permit requirements:
    (1) Activities authorized, funded, or carried out by Federal 
agencies (e.g., grazing management, agricultural conversions, wetland 
and riparian habitat modification, flood and erosion control, 
residential development, recreational trail development, road 
construction, hazardous material containment and cleanup activities, 
prescribed burns, pesticide/herbicide application, and pipeline or 
utility line construction crossing suitable habitat), when such 
activity is conducted in accordance with any reasonable and prudent 
measures given by the Service

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in a consultation conducted under section 7 of the Act;
    (2) Casual, dispersed human activities on foot or horseback (e.g., 
bird watching, sightseeing, photography, camping, hiking);
    (3) Activities on private lands that do not require Federal 
authorization and do not involve Federal funding, such as grazing 
management, agricultural conversions, flood and erosion control, 
residential development, road construction, and pesticide/herbicide 
application when consistent with label restrictions;
    (4) Residential landscape maintenance, including the clearing of 
vegetation around one's personal residence as a fire break.
    The Service believes that the following might potentially result in 
a violation of section 9; however, possible violations are not limited 
to these actions alone:
    (1) Unauthorized collecting of the species on Federal lands;
    (2) Application of pesticides/herbicides in violation of label 
    (3) Interstate or foreign commerce and import/export without 
previously obtaining an appropriate permit.
    (4) The removal or destruction of the species on non-Federal land 
when conducted in knowing violation of Washington State law or 
regulations, or in the course of any violation of a State criminal 
trespass law.
    The Act and 50 CFR 17.62 and 17.63 also provide for the issuance of 
permits to carry out otherwise prohibited activities involving 
endangered plants under certain circumstances. Such permits are 
available for scientific purposes and to enhance the propagation or 
survival of the species. Requests for copies of the regulations 
regarding listed species and inquiries about prohibitions and permits 
may be addressed to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ecological 
Services, Permits Branch, 911 N.E. 11th Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97232-
4181 (telephone 503/231-2063; facsimile 503/231-6243).
    Questions regarding whether specific activities will constitute a 
violation of section 9 should be addressed to the Manager of the 
Western Washington Office (see ADDRESSES section).

Public Comments Solicited

    We intend that any final action resulting from this proposal will 
be as accurate and as effective as possible. Therefore, we request 
comments or suggestions from the public, other concerned governmental 
agencies, the scientific community, industry, or any other interested 
party concerning this proposed rule. Comments particularly are sought 
    (1) Biological, commercial trade, or other relevant data concerning 
any threat (or lack thereof) to Hackelia venusta;
    (2) The location of any additional populations of Hackelia venusta 
and the reasons why any habitat of this species should or should not be 
determined to be critical habitat pursuant to section 4 of the Act;
    (3) Additional information concerning the range, distribution, and 
population size of this species; and
    (4) Current or planned activities in the subject area and their 
possible impacts on Hackelia venusta.
    In making a final decision on this proposal, we will take into 
consideration the comments and any additional information we receive. 
Such communications may lead to a final regulation that differs from 
this proposal.

National Environmental Policy Act

    We have determined that an Environmental Assessment and 
Environmental Impact Statement, 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

    We have examined this regulation under the Paperwork Reduction Act 
of 1995 and found it to contain no information collection requirements.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    This rule does not contain any information collection requirements 
for which Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval under the 
Paperwork Reduction Act, 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq. is required. An 
information collection related to the rule pertaining to permits for 
endangered and threatened species has OMB approval and is assigned 
clearance number 1018-0094. For additional information concerning 
permits and associated requirements for endangered plants, see 50 CFR 
17.62 and 17.63.

References Cited

    You may request a complete list of all references cited in this 
document, as well as others, from our Western Washington Office (see 
ADDRESSES section).
    Author: The primary author of this proposed rule is Ted Thomas, 
Western Washington Office of the North Pacific Coast Ecoregion (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

    Accordingly, we hereby propose to amend Part 17, subchapter B of 
chapter I, Title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations, as set forth 


    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. Amend Sec. 17.12(h) by adding the following, in alphabetical 
order under FLOWERING PLANTS, to the List of Endangered and Threatened 

Sec. 17.12  Endangered and threatened plants.

* * * * *
    (h) * * *

--------------------------------------------------------    Historic range           Family            Status      When listed    Critical     Special
         Scientific name                Common name                                                                               habitat       rules
         Flowering plants
                   *                  *                  *                   *                *                  *                  *
Hackelia venusta.................  Showy stickseed.....  U.S.A. (WA)........  Boraginaceae-borage  E                       686           NA           NA
                    *                  *                  *                  *                *                  *                  *

[[Page 7346]]

    Dated: December 22, 1999.
Jamie Rappaport Clark,
Director, Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 00-3403 Filed 2-11-00; 8:45 am]