[Federal Register: December 21, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 246)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 80409-80410]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AG32

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Re-opening of 
Comment Period and Notice of Availability of the Draft Economic 
Analysis for Proposed Critical Habitat for the California Red-Legged 

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule; re-opening of comment period and notice of 
availability of draft economic analysis.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
availability of the draft economic analysis for the proposed 
designation of critical habitat for the California red-legged frog 
(Rana aurora draytonii). We are also providing notice of the re-opening 
of the comment period for the proposal to designate critical habitat 
for the California red-legged frog in order to allow all interested 
parties to comment simultaneously on the proposed rule and the 
associated draft economic analysis. Comments previously submitted need 
not be resubmitted as they will be incorporated into the public record 
as part of this re-opened comment period, and will be fully considered 
in the final rule.

DATES: We will accept public comments until January 22, 2001. In 
addition, we are planning on holding two public information meetings 
during this time. Refer to the Public Information Meeting section for 
dates, times, and locations of these meetings.

ADDRESSES: Comment Submission: If you wish to comment, you may submit 
your comments and materials concerning this proposal by any one of 
several methods:
    1. You may submit written comments and information to the Field 
Supervisor, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, 2800 Cottage Way, Suite W-2605, Sacramento, California 95825.
    2. You may send comments by electronic mail (e-mail) to: 
fw1crfch@fws.gov. See the Public Comments Solicited section below for 
file format and other information about electronic filing.
    3. You may hand-deliver comments to our Sacramento Fish and 
Wildlife Office at the address given above.
    Comments and materials received, as well as supporting 
documentation used in preparation of the proposal to designate critical 
habitat, will be available for inspection, by appointment, during 
normal business hours at the address under (1) above. Copies of the 
draft economic analysis are available on the Internet at 
``www.r1.fws.gov'' or by writing to the Field Supervisor at the address 
under (1) above.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For general information, and for 
information about Alameda, Butte, Calaveras, Contra Costa, El Dorado, 
Fresno, Kern, Marin, Mariposa, Merced, Napa, Plumas, San Joaquin, San 
Mateo, Santa Clara, Sierra, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Tehama, 
Tuolumne, and Yuba counties, contact Curt McCasland, Stephanie Brady or 
Patricia Foulk, at the above address (telephone 916/414-6600; facsimile 
    For information about Monterey, Los Angeles, San Benito, San Luis 
Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, and Ventura counties, contact Diane 
Noda, Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 
2394 Portola Road, Suite B, Ventura, California 93003 (telephone 805/
644-1766; facsimile 805/644-3958).
    For information about areas in the San Gabriel Mountains of Los 
Angeles County or Riverside and San Diego counties, contact Ken Berg, 
Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2730 
Loker Avenue West, Carlsbad, California 92008 (telephone 760/431-9440; 
facsimile 760/431-9624).



    The California red-legged frog (Rana aurora draytonii) is the 
largest native frog in the western United States. It is endemic to 
California and Baja California, Mexico. It is typically found from sea 
level to elevations of approximately 1,500 meters (5,000 feet). The 
California red-legged frog is one of two subspecies of the red-legged 
frog (R. aurora). For a detailed description of these two subspecies, 
see the Draft Recovery Plan for the California Red-Legged Frog (Service 
2000) and references within that plan.
    Pursuant to the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act), 
the California red-legged frog was listed as a threatened species on 
May 31, 1996 (61 FR 25813). Habitat loss and alteration, over-
exploitation, and introduction of exotic predators were significant 
factors in the species' decline in the early- to mid-1900s. Habitat 
fragmentation, and continued colonization of existing habitat by 
nonnative species, may represent the most significant current threats 
to California red-legged frogs. We did not propose critical habitat at 
the time of the final rule to list the species because we

[[Page 80410]]

believed that critical habitat designation was not prudent.
    On March 24, 1999, The Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund, on behalf 
of the Jumping Frog Research Institute, the Southwest Center for 
Biological Diversity, and the Center for Sierra Nevada Conservation, 
filed a lawsuit in the Northern District of California against the U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service and Bruce Babbitt, Secretary of the 
Department of the Interior (Secretary), for failure to designate 
critical habitat for the California red-legged frog (Jumping Frog 
Research Institute et al. v. Babbitt).
    On December 15, 1999, U.S. District Judge William Alsup ordered us 
to make a prudency determination by August 31, 2000, and issue a final 
rule by December 29, 2001. On January 18, 2000, Judge Alsup clarified 
an error in the December 15, 1999, order stating that the Service shall 
issue a final rule by March 1, 2001.
    On September 11, 2000, we published a proposed rule to designate 
critical habitat for the California red-legged frog in the Federal 
Register (65 FR 54892). The original comment period closed on October 
11, 2000. The comment period for this proposed rule was re-opened and 
closed on November 20, 2000.
    Approximately 2,175,000 hectares (5,373,650 acres) of land fall 
within the boundaries of the proposed critical habitat designation. 
Specifically, the aquatic and upland areas where suitable breeding and 
nonbreeding habitat is interspersed throughout the landscape, and is 
interconnected by unfragmented dispersal habitat, are the areas 
proposed as critical habitat. Proposed critical habitat is located in 
Alameda, Butte, Calaveras, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Fresno, Kern, Los 
Angeles, Marin, Mariposa, Merced, Monterey, Napa, Plumas, Riverside, 
San Benito, San Diego, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa 
Barbara, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Sierra, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, 
Tehama, Tuolumne, Ventura, and Yuba counties, California.
    Critical habitat receives protection from destruction or adverse 
modification through required consultation under section 7 of the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act) (16 U.S.C. 1531 et 
seq.) with regard to actions carried out, funded, or authorized by a 
Federal agency. Section 4(b)(2) of the Act requires that the Secretary 
shall designate or revise critical habitat based upon the best 
scientific and commercial 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 California red-legged frog, and 
comments received during the previous comment periods, we have prepared 
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).

Public Comments Solicited

    We will accept written comments during this re-opened comment 
period, and comments should be submitted to the Sacramento Fish and 
Wildlife Office in the ADDRESSES section.
    If you submit comments by e-mail, please submit them as an ASCII 
file and avoid the use of special characters and any form of 
encryption. Please also include ``Attn: [RIN number]'' and your name 
and return address in your e-mail message. If you do not receive a 
confirmation from the system that we have received your e-mail message, 
contact us directly by calling our Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office 
at telephone number 919/414-6600.

Public Information Meetings

    Two public information meetings have been scheduled. The first 
meeting will be held on January 3, 2001, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at 
the San Luis Obispo Embassy Suites, 333 Madonna Road, San Luis Obispo, 
California. The second meeting will be held on January 5, 2001, from 
1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Best Western Monarch Hotel, 6680 Regional 
Street, Dublin, California.


    The primary authors of this notice is Stephanie Brady (see 
ADDRESSES section), and Barbara Behan, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 
Regional Office, 911 N.E. 11th Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97232.


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

    Dated: December 13, 2000.
Rowan W. Gould,
Acting Regional Director, Region 1, Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 00-32372 Filed 12-20-00; 8:45 am]