[Federal Register: September 10, 2001 (Volume 66, Number 175)]
[Page 47034-47035]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Status of the Wasatch Front Population of the Spotted Frog

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announce our 
intent to prepare a status review and a revised 12-month finding for 
the Wasatch Front population of the spotted frog (Rana luteiventris).

DATES: Comments and information for our use in preparing the status 
review and revised 12-month finding will be accepted until November 9, 

ADDRESSES: Questions and comments concerning this status review should 
be sent to Henry Maddux, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, 145 East 1300 South, Suite 404, Salt Lake City, Utah 84115. 
Written comments and materials also should be directed to the same 
address. Copies of our 1995 status review and 12-month finding are 
available on the web at http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/spottedfrog>. 
Comments can be provided via e-mail to fw6_spottedfrog@fws.gov>. 
Comments and materials received will be available on request for public 
inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the above 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jessica L. Gourley, Fish and Wildlife 
Biologist (see ADDRESSES section), telephone (801) 524-5001, e-mail 



    On May 1, 1989, we received a petition from the Board of Directors 
of the Utah Nature Study Society requesting that the Service add the 
spotted frog (then referred to as Rana pretiosa) to the List of 
Threatened and Endangered Species. The petition addressed the range-
wide distribution of the spotted frog that included a main population 
in southeast Alaska, Alberta, British Columbia, eastern Washington, 
northeastern Oregon, northern and central Idaho, and western Montana 
and Wyoming, Utah, and additional disjunct populations in northeastern 
California, southern Idaho, Nevada, and western Washington and Oregon. 
The disjunct populations in Utah occur along the Wasatch Front and West 
Desert. The petition specifically requested that we consider the status 
of the Wasatch Front population.
    The spotted frog belongs to the family of true frogs, the Ranidae. 
Adult frogs have large, dark spots on their backs and pigmentation on 
their abdomens varying from yellow to red (Turner 1957). Spotted frogs 
along the Wasatch Front generally possess a salmon color ventrally, 
while West Desert and Sanpete County, Utah, populations [[Page 16219]] 
generally have a yellow to yellow-orange color ventrally. Spotted frogs 
in Utah are reported to have fewer and lighter colored spots (Colburn, 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, pers. comm. 1992) than other 
populations. The spotted frog is closely associated with water (Dumas 
1966, Nussbaum et al. 1983). Habitat includes the marshy edges of 
ponds, lakes, slow-moving cool water streams and springs (Licht 1974; 
Nussbaum et al. 1983; Morris and Tanner 1969; Hovingh 1987).
    Section 4(b)(3)(B) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973, as 
amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), requires that we make a finding on 
whether a petition to list, delist or reclassify a species presents 
substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the 
petitioned action is--(a) not warranted; (b) warranted; or (c) 
warranted but precluded from immediate proposal by other pending 
listing proposals of higher priority. We subsequently published a 
notice of a 90-day finding in the Federal Register (54 FR 42529) on 
October 17, 1989, and a notice of the 12-month petition finding in the 
Federal Register (58 FR 27260) on May 7, 1993. In the 12-month petition 
finding we concluded that listing of the spotted frog as threatened in 
some portions of its range was warranted but precluded by other higher 
priority listing actions. Both distinct populations in Utah, the 
Wasatch Front and West Desert populations, were found to be warranted 
but precluded and were designated as candidates for listing. The 
Wasatch Front population was assigned a listing priority number of 3 
because the magnitude of the threats were high and imminent, while the 
West Desert population was assigned a listing priority of 9 because of 
moderate to low threats.
    Our warranted but precluded finding identified that habitat loss 
and modification from reservoir construction and from urban and 
agricultural developments was a primary cause of the decline in the 
Wasatch Front population (Dennis Shirley, pers. comm. 1992). 
Degradation of spring habitats and water quality from cattle grazing 
and other agricultural activities in these limited habitats were 
identified as potential threats to the spotted frog of the West Desert 
population (Hovingh 1987; Peter Hovingh, pers. comm. 1992; Dennis 
Shirley, pers. comm. 1992).
    On November 28, 1997, we announced the availability of a Draft 
Conservation Agreement for the Wasatch Front and West Desert 
populations (Utah) of spotted frog for review and comment (62 FR 
63375). We subsequently signed the Conservation Agreement on February 
13, 1998. The goal of this agreement developed by the Utah Department 
of Natural Resources in cooperation with the Bureau of Land Management, 
Bureau of Reclamation, Utah Reclamation Mitigation and Conservation 
Commission, Central Utah Water Conservancy District, the Confederated 
Tribes of the Goshute Federation, and the Service, was to ensure the 
long-term conservation of the spotted frog within its historical range 
in Utah. Due to numerous activities and studies in addition to and 
pursuant with the Conservation Agreement, we determined that the status 
of the species in Utah had improved and issued a new 12-month petition 
finding of ``not

[[Page 47035]]

warranted'' on April 2, 1998 (63 FR 16218).
    On June 8, 1999, a complaint was filed by the Biodiversity Legal 
Foundation and Peter Hovingh challenging the ``not warranted'' finding 
as violating the ESA and the Administrative Procedure Act. The 
complaint alleged that the ``not warranted'' finding was inconsistent 
with the 8 years of prior determinations by the Service that the 
spotted frog deserved ESA listing, that spotted frog populations had 
declined during the course of the 8-year administrative process, that 
the Conservation Agreement contained future and voluntary actions that 
had yet to be implemented and had not proven successful at protecting 
spotted frog populations prior to the ``not warranted'' decision, and 
that all measures identified by the Service as having previously been 
implemented had either failed, had been rejected by the Service as 
inadequate, or were adopted to mitigate specific projects that had 
already destroyed spotted frogs and their wetland and aquatic habitat.
    On August 6, 2001, a settlement was reached between the plaintiffs 
and the Government regarding this complaint. The settlement stipulates 
that we remand for reconsideration the ``not warranted'' finding and 
start a new status review and 12-month finding on the Wasatch Front 
population of the spotted frog. The revised finding is to be completed 
by July 31, 2002. The agreement also states that we will not vacate our 
previous determination in the interim. Therefore, the candidate status 
of the species will not be restored unless and until we determine in 
the revised 12-month finding that the species is warranted for listing, 
or warranted but precluded from listing by higher listing priority 

References Cited

    A complete list of all references cited is available upon request 
from the Utah Field Office (see ADDRESSES section).


    The primary author of this document is Jessica L. Gourley (see 
ADDRESSES section).


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

    Dated: August 30, 2001.
Ralph O. Morgenweck,
Regional Director, Denver, CO.
[FR Doc. 01-22600 Filed 9-7-01; 8:45 am]