[Federal Register: October 10, 2001 (Volume 66, Number 196)]
[Rules and Regulations]               
[Page 51597-51606]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AF79

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Final Rule To List 
Silene spaldingii (Spalding's Catchfly) as Threatened

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Final rule.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), determine 
threatened status pursuant to the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as 
amended (Act), for Silene spaldingii (Spalding's catchfly). Silene 
spaldingii is currently known from a total of 52 populations. Seven 
populations occur in west-central Idaho, 7 in northeastern Oregon, 9 in 
western Montana, 28 in eastern Washington, and 1 in adjacent British 
Columbia, Canada. This plant is threatened by a variety of factors 
including habitat destruction and fragmentation resulting from 
agricultural and urban development, grazing and trampling by domestic 
livestock and native herbivores, herbicide treatment, and competition 
from nonnative plant species. This rule implements the Federal 
protection and recovery provisions afforded by the Act.

DATES: Effective November 9, 2001.

ADDRESSES: The complete file for this rule is available for public 
inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, Snake River Basin Office, 1387 S. Vinnell 
Way, Room 368, Boise, Idaho 83709.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Robert Ruesink, Supervisor, at the 
above address (telephone 208/378-5243; facsimile 208/378-5262).



    A member of the pink or carnation family (Caryophyllaceae), Silene 
spaldingii (Watson) is a long-lived perennial herb with four to seven 
pairs of lance-shaped leaves and a spirally arranged inflorescence 
(group of flowers) consisting of small greenish-white flowers. The 
foliage is lightly to densely covered with sticky hairs. Reproduction 
is by seed only; Silene spaldingii does not possess rhizomes or other 
means of vegetative reproduction (Lesica 1992). Plants range from 
approximately 20 to 60 centimeters (8 to 24 inches (in.)) in height 
(Lichthardt 1997).
    First collected in the vicinity of the Clearwater River, Idaho, 
between 1836 and 1847, Silene spaldingii was originally described by 
Watson (Watson 1875). Hitchcock and Cronquist (1973) retained this 
taxon as a full species in a comprehensive regional flora. Silene 
spaldingii, by having petal blades 2 millimeters (mm) (0.08 in.) in 
length, differs from the related, common species Silene scouleri, which 
has deeply lobed petal blades that are 6 to 7 mm (0.24 to 0.28 in.) 
long. Silene douglasii also occurs with S. spaldingii in some areas, 
but S. douglasii typically has multiple, slender stems, narrower 
leaves, and is rarely covered by sticky hairs (Lichthardt 1997).
    The distribution and habitat of Silene spaldingii are limited. The 
total number of sites discussed in the 90-day finding for S. spaldingii 
(63 FR 63661) was 94, which is larger than the number of populations 
identified in this final rule. We based the number of sites stated in 
the petition finding primarily on location records (i.e., element 
occurrence records) available in State natural heritage data bases. In 
the proposed rule, and during the preparation of this final rule, we 
felt it was more appropriate to group certain element occurrence 
records for S. spaldingii together when approximately 1.6 kilometers 
(km) (1 mile (mi)) or less separate the sites. Thus, the difference in 
the number of S. spaldingii locations described in this final rule and 
the 90-day finding does not reflect the actual loss or extirpation of 
    This species is currently known from a total of 52 populations in 
the United States and British Columbia, Canada. Of the 51 Silene 
spaldingii populations in the United States, 7 occur in Idaho (Idaho, 
Lewis, and Nez Perce counties), 7 in Oregon (Wallowa County), 9 in 
Montana (Flathead, Lake, Lincoln, and Sanders counties), and 28 in 
Washington (Asotin, Lincoln, Spokane, and Whitman counties). A 
population consists of one to several sites that are generally located 
less than 1.6 km (1 mi) apart. The number of S. spaldingii individuals 
within each population ranges from one to several thousand. Eighteen 
populations contain more than 50 individuals; only 6 of these 
populations are moderately large (i.e., contain more than 500 plants). 
Of the 6 largest populations, 2 are found in Oregon (Wallowa County), 1 
in Idaho (Nez Perce County), 1 in Montana (Lincoln County), and 2 in 
Washington (Asotin and Lincoln Counties). The 6 moderately large 
populations contain approximately 84 percent (i.e., about 13,800 
individuals) of the total number of Silene spaldingii. In addition, 
approximately 100 plants were located in British Columbia (Geraldine 
Allen, University of Victoria, in litt. 1996). The total number of S. 
spaldingii individuals for all 52 populations is about 16,500 (Edna 
Rey-Vizgirdas, Service, in litt. 1999).
    Much of the remaining habitat occupied by Silene spaldingii is 
fragmented. For example, S. spaldingii populations in Oregon are 
located at least 64 km (40 mi) from the nearest known populations in 
eastern Washington. Silene spaldingii sites in Montana are 
approximately 190 km (120 mi) from occupied habitats in Idaho and 
Washington. Approximately 52 percent of extant S. spaldingii 
populations occur on private land, 10 percent on State land, 33 percent 
on Federal land, and 5 percent on Tribal land (E. Rey-Vizgirdas, in 
litt. 1999).
    This species is primarily restricted to mesic (not extremely wet 
nor extremely dry) grasslands (prairie or steppe vegetation) that make 
up the Palouse region in southeastern Washington, northwestern Montana, 
adjacent portions of Idaho and Oregon, and in British Columbia. Palouse 
prairie is considered a subset of the Pacific Northwest bunchgrass 
habitat type (Tisdale 1986). In Idaho, Palouse prairie is confined to a 
narrow band along the western edge of central and north-central Idaho, 
centering on Latah County (Tisdale 1986; Ertter and Moseley 1992). 
Large-scale ecological changes in the Palouse region over the past 
century including agricultural conversion, changes in fire frequency, 
and alterations of hydrology, have resulted in the decline of many 
sensitive plant species including Silene spaldingii (Tisdale 1961). 
More than 98 percent of the original Palouse prairie habitat has been 
lost or modified by agricultural conversion, grazing, invasions of 
nonnative plant species, altered fire regimes, and urbanization (Noss 
et al. 1995). Some suitable habitat for S. spaldingii remains on the 
fringes of the Palouse region and in the forested portion of the 
channeled scablands in central Washington (John Gamon, Washington 
Natural Heritage Program (WNHP), in litt. 2000). Low-density 
subdivisions and developments, and increased use of lands in and around 
the forested portion of the channeled scablands in central Washington, 
likely pose significant threats to S. spaldingii populations remaining 
in this area (J. Gamon, in litt. 2000).
    Silene spaldingii is also found in canyon grassland habitat, 
another division of the Pacific Northwest bunchgrass habitat type 
(Tisdale 1986). Canyon grasslands are dominated by the

[[Page 51599]]

same bunchgrass species as Palouse prairie, but the two habitat types 
differ slightly in their overall plant species composition (Janice 
Hill, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), in litt. 2000; Greg Yuncevich, 
Bureau of Land Management (BLM), in litt. 2000). In addition, canyon 
grasslands occur in steep, highly dissected canyon systems whereas 
Palouse grasslands generally occur on gently rolling plateaus. The 
steep slopes in canyon grasslands result in pronounced habitat 
diversity (G. Yuncevich, in litt. 2000). This steepness has also 
prevented conversion of canyon grasslands to other uses, such as 
agriculture. Nevertheless, other disturbances (e.g., livestock grazing 
and the invasion of nonnative plant species) have caused significant 
alterations of the native vegetation of canyon grasslands, although 
portions of this habitat type have not received heavy use by domestic 
livestock (G. Yuncevich, in litt. 2000). The largest population of S. 
spaldingii in Idaho occurs in canyon grassland habitat where invasive 
nonnative species are a serious threat (J. Hill, in litt. 2000).
    Silene spaldingii is typically associated with grasslands dominated 
by native perennial grasses such as Festuca idahoensis (Idaho fescue) 
or Festuca scabrella (rough fescue). Other associated species include 
bluebunch wheatgrass (Agropyron spicatum), prairie junegrass (Koeleria 
cristata), snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus), Nootka rose (Rosa 
nutkana), yarrow (Achillea millefolium), prairie smoke avens (Geum 
triflorum), sticky purple geranium (Geranium viscosissimum), and 
arrowleaf balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata) (Lichthardt 1997; Montana 
Natural Heritage Program (MNHP) 1998). Scattered individuals of 
ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) may also be found in or adjacent to S. 
spaldingii habitat. Silene spaldingii sites range from approximately 
460 meters (m) (1,500 feet (ft)) to 1,600 m (5,100 ft) elevation 
(Oregon Natural Heritage Program (ONHP) 1998; WNHP 1998).

Previous Federal Action

    Federal Government actions for the plant began as a result of 
section 12 of the Act, (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), which directed the 
Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution to prepare a report on those 
plants considered to be endangered, threatened, or extinct in the 
United States. This report, designated as House Document No. 94-51, was 
presented to Congress on January 9, 1975, and included Silene 
spaldingii as an endangered species. We published a notice on July 1, 
1975, in the Federal Register (40 FR 27823) accepting the report of the 
Smithsonian Institution as a petition within the context of section 
4(c)(2) (petition provisions are now found in section 4(b)(3) of the 
Act), and our intention to review the status of the plant taxa named in 
the report. The July 1, 1975, notice included the above taxon. On June 
16, 1976, we published a proposal (41 FR 24523) to determine 
approximately 1,700 vascular plant species to be endangered species 
pursuant to section 4 of the Act. The list of 1,700 plant taxa was 
assembled on the basis of comments and data received by the Smithsonian 
Institution and us in response to House Document No. 94-51 and the July 
1, 1975, Federal Register publication. We included Silene spaldingii in 
the June 16, 1976, proposal.
    In 1978, amendments to the Act required that all proposals more 
than 2 years old be withdrawn. On December 10, 1979, we published a 
notice withdrawing that portion of the June 16, 1976, proposal that had 
not been made final, including the proposal to list Silene spaldingii 
(44 FR 70796). We published an updated Notice of Review for plants on 
December 15, 1980 (45 FR 82480). This notice included S. spaldingii as 
a category 1 candidate. Category 1 candidates were those for which we 
had sufficient information on biological vulnerability and threats to 
support proposals to list them as endangered or threatened species.
    The 1982 amendments to the Act required that we treat all petitions 
pending on October 13, 1982, as having been newly submitted on that 
date. This provision applied to Silene spaldingii because we had 
accepted the 1975 Smithsonian report as a petition. On October 13, 
1983, we found that the listing of the species was warranted but 
precluded by other pending listing actions, in accordance with section 
4(b)(3)(B)(iii) of the Act. We published notification of this finding 
on January 20, 1984 (49 FR 2485). Our warranted but precluded finding 
required us to consider the petition as having been resubmitted 
annually, pursuant to section 4(b)(3)(C)(i) of the Act.
    We included Silene spaldingii as a category 2 candidate in the 
November 28, 1983, supplement to the Notice of Review (48 FR 53640), as 
well as subsequent revisions on September 27, 1985 (50 FR 39526), 
February 21, 1990 (55 FR 6184), and September 30, 1993 (58 FR 51143). 
Category 2 candidates were those species for which information in our 
possession indicated that proposing to list as endangered or threatened 
was possibly appropriate, but sufficient data to support proposed rules 
was not currently available. Upon publication of the February 28, 1996, 
Notice of Review (61 FR 7596), we ceased using category designations. 
Silene spaldingii was not included as a candidate species in this 
    On February 27, 1995, we received a petition dated February 23, 
1995, from the Biodiversity Legal Foundation of Boulder, Colorado; the 
Montana and Washington Native Plant Societies; and Mr. Peter Lesica of 
Missoula, Montana, to list Silene spaldingii within the conterminous 
United States as threatened or endangered under the Act. The petition 
submitted information stating that this species is threatened by 
competition with nonnative and woody vegetation, improper livestock 
grazing practices, improper herbicide application, inbreeding 
depression, and fire suppression.
    In April 1995, the enactment of Public Law 104-6 placed a 
moratorium on final listing determinations and critical habitat 
designations. It also rescinded $1.5 million from our budget for 
carrying out listing activities for the remainder of Fiscal Year 1995. 
From October 1, 1995, until April 26, 1996, the Department of the 
Interior operated without a regularly enacted full-year appropriations 
bill. On April 26, 1996, President Clinton approved the Omnibus Budget 
Reconciliation Act of 1996 and lifted the moratorium. At that time, we 
had accrued a backlog of proposed listings for 243 species, of which 
Region 1 had the lead on 199, or 82 percent. Due to this backlog, 
reduced budgets for the listing program, and litigation demands, 
completion of the processing of this petition was not practicable until 
November 16, 1998. On that date, we published a finding that the 
petition presented substantial information indicating that the 
petitioned action may be warranted (63 FR 63661) and commenced a status 
review for Silene spaldingii.
    On December 3, 1999 (64 FR 67814), we published a proposal to list 
Silene spaldingii as a threatened species. In the proposed rule, we did 
not propose a critical habitat determination for S. spaldingii, but 
stated that we would publish such a determination for this species in 
the Federal Register subsequent to the proposed rule. On April 24, 2000 
(65 FR 21711), we published a notice proposing that designation of 
critical habitat is prudent for S. spaldingii and reopened the public 
comment period. We reopened the comment period again on September 8, 
2000 (65 FR 54472).

[[Page 51600]]

Summary of Comments and Recommendations

    In the December 3, 1999, proposed rule (64 FR 67814) and associated 
notifications, we requested all interested parties to submit factual 
reports or information that might contribute to the development of a 
final listing decision. The comment period closed on February 1, 2000. 
We contacted appropriate State agencies, county governments, Federal 
agencies, scientific organizations, and other interested parties and 
requested them to comment. We reopened the public comment period for 
another 60 days on April 24, 2000 (65 FR 21711) when we issued the 
proposed Silene spaldingii critical habitat prudency determination, and 
the public was able to comment both on the proposed critical habitat 
determination and on the proposed rule to list the species as 
threatened. We did not receive any requests for a public hearing. We 
reopened the comment period again on September 8, 2000 (65 FR 54472) 
for another 15 days to provide notification of the proposal in a 
newspaper as required by the Act. We published announcements of the 
proposed rule in the Spokane Spokesman Review and the Moscow-Pullman 
Daily News on September 8, 2000, the Missoulian on September 9, 2000, 
and the LaGrande Observer on September 11, 2000.
    We received 16 written comments during the comment periods. Six 
commenters expressed support for the listing proposal, seven were 
neutral to the listing and critical habitat proposals, and one was 
opposed. Four commenters supported the proposed determination that it 
is prudent to designate critical habitat for Silene spaldingii. We 
considered all comments and incorporated them, as appropriate, into the 
final rule.
    We have grouped comments of a similar nature or point regarding the 
proposed rule into general issues, and our response to the issues are 
discussed below.
    Issue 1: Threats to Silene spaldingii and its rarity are not 
sufficiently documented in the proposed rule.
    Our Response: Data presented in the proposed rule demonstrate the 
decline and degradation of ecological communities in which Silene 
spaldingii occurs and the disappearance of S. spaldingii within these 
habitats. For example, the proposed rule describes the extensive loss 
of Palouse grassland that historically was the primary habitat for S. 
spaldingii and refers to the subsequent rarity of other species found 
principally in this declining habitat type. The proposed rule cites 
numerous ongoing threats to S. spaldingii, including trampling and 
consumption by livestock, expansion of invasive nonnative species in 
sites occupied by S. spaldingii, and housing developments. Moreover, S. 
spaldingii is evidently extirpated from at least 16 sites where 
knowledgeable observers had previously seen the species.
    Issue 2: One commenter stated that Silene spaldingii should not be 
listed because economic impacts have not been considered.
    Our Response: In accordance with section 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act and 
the Act's implementing regulations, 50 CFR 424.11(b), listing decisions 
are made solely on the basis of the best available scientific and 
commercial data. Congress was very clear on this point, a House of 
Representatives' committee report stated: ``The only alternatives 
involved in the listing of species are whether the species should be 
listed as endangered or threatened or not listed at all. Applying 
economic criteria to the analysis of the alternatives and to any phase 
of the species listing process is applying economics to the 
determinations made under Section 4 of the Act and is specifically 
rejected by the inclusion of the word ``solely'' in this legislation'' 
(H.R. Rep. No. 97-567 at 20 (1982)). Therefore, economic impacts cannot 
be considered when determining whether to list a species under the Act.
    Issue 3: The Service should wait to list Silene spaldingii until it 
collects further information to substantiate its decline and rarity.
    Our Response: Ongoing surveys for this species have documented the 
extirpation or near extirpation of numerous populations. We received 
information from all known experts on this species before and after 
publishing the proposed rule. No new populations of this species were 
reported to us during the public comment period. While it is possible 
that new populations of Silene spaldingii will be found in the future, 
we believe it is unlikely that such discoveries alone would alter the 
species' status. Additionally, the almost complete destruction of 
Palouse grasslands (as discussed in the ``Background'' section), which 
evidently was the center of this species' historical range, and the 
significant threats (e.g., invasive nonnative species) to S. spaldingii 
documented in its other important habitat type, canyon grasslands, are 
sufficient to list S. spaldingii as threatened at this time.
    Issue 4: One commenter stated that the proposed rule did not 
adequately substantiate our claim that mowing is a threat to Silene 
    Our Response: The proposed rule did not list mowing as a threat to 
this species.
    Issue 5: This species is simply obscure and not threatened. 
Observations of the species do not prove absence at other sites, and it 
is likely present at sites that have not been surveyed. The Service 
should not list Silene spaldingii until its absence from apparently 
suitable habitats in the Blue Mountains of Oregon can be demonstrated. 
The Service should not list S. spaldingii until threats described in 
the proposed rule are shown experimentally to cause extirpation of the 
species from occupied habitats.
    Our Response: It is true that Silene spaldingii is, at times, 
difficult to identify and locate. However, the surveys on which we 
relied to document the presence of S. spaldingii were made by qualified 
botanists who can identify this species and are familiar with the 
habitats in which it occurs. Botanists have been looking for this and 
other rare plant species in Palouse and canyon grasslands for several 
years. If the species were simply obscure, many new populations should 
have been located as a result of these widespread surveys.
    It is true that observations and monitoring of known populations of 
Silene spaldingii do not prove that it is absent from unsurveyed sites. 
Unfortunately, Natural Heritage databases and other data sources 
generally do not contain data on sites that do not contain rare 
species, such as S. spaldingii, unless the species was previously 
observed there. Therefore, we could not present information on what 
proportion of sites surveyed have never had S. spaldingii observed. As 
stated above, however, in numerous cases, negative survey results were 
recorded at sites where botanists had formerly located S. spaldingii. 
These negative results clearly document numerous recent extirpations of 
this species. Surveys for this species have been conducted and are 
ongoing in various portions of Oregon's Blue Mountains. Given the 
substantial information on the threats and decline of S. spaldingii 
throughout its range, waiting for the results of these surveys before 
listing this species would not be prudent. Similarly, awaiting the 
results of numerous experimental studies to quantify the effects of all 
threats to this species would also not be prudent. Threats to plant 
species and population declines can be documented or inferred based on 
empirical observations by qualified professionals and on

[[Page 51601]]

information available in the scientific literature, as we have done for 
this species.
    Issue 6: Understanding of the ecology and life history of Silene 
spaldingii is insufficient to allow listing.
    Our Response: We have sufficient information regarding the ecology 
and life history of Silene spaldingii. While there are usually some 
unknown aspects of nearly every species' life history, the available 
natural history information for S. spaldingii is sufficient to proceed 
with listing this species. Additionally, the Act requires us to make 
listing decisions based solely on the best available scientific and 
commercial information (section 4(b)(1)(A)). We cannot delay listing a 
species to gather more ecological or life history information when the 
best available scientific and commercial information currently 
demonstrates that the species meets the definition of threatened. This 
is the case for S. spaldingii.
    Issue 7: Noxious weeds, such as knapweed species and yellow star-
thistle, are not threats because habitat can be restored using various 
``treatments'' and ``revegetation techniques.''
    Our Response: The proposed rule describes and cites examples of 
sites at which yellow star-thistle (Centaurea solstitialis) and other 
nonnative species have invaded habitat in which Silene spaldingii 
occurs. Various practices are being implemented throughout the range of 
S. spaldingii to control or eradicate nonnative species that threaten 
native plant communities. At many of these sites, however, these 
practices are not entirely successful in restoring the native plant 
communities. Based on information obtained from reports, personal 
communications, and scientific papers that we cited and summarized in 
the proposed rule, most or all of the nonnative species invasions that 
threaten S. spaldingii cannot be controlled with the current effort 
levels and techniques. For example, at Garden Creek Ranch, which 
contains the largest S. spaldingii population in Idaho (Idaho 
Conservation Data Center 1998), C. solstitialis spread from 
approximately 60 hectares (ha) (150 acres (ac)) in 1987 to 810 ha 
(2,000 ac) in 1998 (J. Hill, in litt. 1999). Numerous botanists and 
ecologists recognize that S. spaldingii is always, or almost always, 
found at sites that are generally free of nonnative plant species. We 
are not aware of any efforts that have been successful in returning a 
site dominated by nonnative species to one dominated by native species 
that included S. spaldingii.
    Issue 8: Critical habitat designation does not seem to confer added 
protection for listed plant species, primarily because of limited 
protection for plants on non-Federal lands.
    Our Response: The designation of critical habitat on Federal lands 
may provide a greater measure of protection than the limited 
prohibitions against take of plants on areas under Federal 
jurisdiction. Critical habitat may also confer additional protection 
for listed plant species because Federal actions may affect non-Federal 
lands. Moreover, critical habitat designation may educate and inform 
the public and help focus conservation efforts through future Federal, 
State, and local planning efforts and the public, by identifying the 
habitat needs and essential areas for Silene spaldingii.
    Issue 9: Critical habitat designation may increase the chance that 
areas in which Silene spaldingii occurs that are not designated as 
critical habitat would be downgraded in importance when making land 
management decisions.
    Our Response: As stated above, critical habitat may increase 
protection for listed plant species. It is possible that Silene 
spaldingii would receive greater consideration in areas within the 
critical habitat designation than where it occurs outside critical 
habitat. However, it is the intention of critical habitat designation, 
however, to ensure that land managers and others are aware of areas 
that are essential to the conservation of listed species.

Peer Review

    In accordance with our policy published on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 
34270), we solicited the expert opinions of three independent 
specialists regarding pertinent scientific or commercial data and 
assumptions relating to the taxonomy, population status, and supportive 
biological and ecological information for the taxon under consideration 
for listing. The purpose of such review is to ensure that listing 
decisions are based on scientifically sound data, assumptions, and 
analyses, including input from appropriate experts and specialists. All 
three scientists responded to our request for peer review of this 
listing action, and provided information that supported and augmented 
the biological and ecological data presented in the proposed rule, and 
we incorporated the comments, as appropriate, into this final rule.

Summary of Factors Affecting the Species

    After a thorough review and consideration of all information 
available, we determine that Silene spaldingii should be classified as 
a threatened species. We followed procedures found at section 4(a)(1) 
of the Act and regulations (50 CFR part 424) implementing the listing 
provisions of the Act. A species may be determined 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 Silene spaldingii 
Watson, are as follows:

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

    As discussed in the ``Background'' section above, the distribution 
and habitat of Silene spaldingii are limited. This species is primarily 
restricted to mesic slopes, flats, or depressions in grassland or 
steppe vegetation of the Palouse region in southeastern Washington, 
northwestern Montana, and adjacent portions of Idaho and Oregon. One 
site is located in British Columbia, Canada, directly adjoining a 
Montana population. In Idaho, Palouse prairie is confined to a narrow 
band along the western edge of central and north-central Idaho, 
centering on Latah County (Tisdale 1986; Ertter and Moseley 1992), 
although the largest population of S. spaldingii in Idaho occurs in 
canyon grassland habitat. The areas that supported Palouse prairie are 
now extensively cultivated, with few remnants of native habitat 
(Tisdale 1986). About 94 percent of the grasslands have been converted 
to crop, hay, or pasture lands (Black et al. 1998), and more than 98 
percent of the original Palouse prairie has been lost to all causes 
combined, including urbanization (Noss et al. 1995). Invasive nonnative 
species also seriously threaten canyon grasslands occupied by S. 
spaldingii in Idaho (J. Hill, in litt. 2000). This loss of habitat has 
resulted in the decline of numerous sensitive plant species including 
S. spaldingii (Tisdale 1961).
    Although historical data on Silene spaldingii distribution and 
population size are incomplete, based on the former distribution of 
suitable Palouse habitat, this species was likely much more widespread 
in the past. According to Ertter and Moseley (1992), ``because of the 
exceptionally rich soil, a deep layer of loess, most of the grasslands 
have been converted to agriculture. Most of the Palouse prairie 
vegetation has, therefore, disappeared, and endemic species such as 
Aster jessicae Piper and Haplopappus liatriformis (Greene) St. John are 
threatened with extinction.'' Both A. jessicae and H. liatriformis may 
be found within or near habitat occupied by S. spaldingii (Lichthardt 
1997). Similar to S. spaldingii, A.

[[Page 51602]]

jessicae and H. liatriformis are considered globally rare and 
vulnerable to extinction by the Idaho Native Plant Society (Idaho 
Native Plant Society 2000).
    Invasion by nonnative plant species, herbicide application, and/or 
grazing (including trampling and consumption of plants) threaten 
virtually all of the remaining populations of this species, including 
those present in areas administered by the BLM and U.S. Forest Service 
(Forest Service) (Biodiversity Legal Foundation et al. 1995; Lichthardt 
1997; MNHP 1998; ONHP 1998; WNHP 1998).
    Nonnative plant species are considered a major threat at nearly all 
sites supporting Silene spaldingii. Threats to S. spaldingii posed by 
nonnative plant species include competition for water, nutrients, and 
light, in addition to competition for pollinators (Lesica and Heidel 
1996). Nonnative plant species such as St. John's-wort (Hypericum 
perforatum, yellow star-thistle, leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula, teasel 
(Dipsacus sylvestris, Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense, sulfur 
cinquefoil (Potentilla recta, Russian knapweed (Acroptilon repens, 
Scotch thistle (Onopordium acanthium, and cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum 
threaten S. spaldingii in Idaho, Oregon, Montana, and Washington 
(Lesica and Heidel 1996; Lichthardt 1997; MNHP 1998; ONHP 1998; WNHP 
1998; J. Hill, in litt. 1999).
    Some of these nonnative species can invade and displace native 
plant communities in a relatively short period of time. For example, at 
TNC's Garden Creek Ranch, which contains the largest Silene spaldingii 
population in Idaho (Idaho Conservation Data Center 1998), yellow star-
thistle spread from approximately 60 ha (150 ac) in 1987 to 810 ha 
(2,000 ac) in 1998 (J. Hill, in litt. 1999). Another site containing S. 
spaldingii in Idaho (Lawyer's Creek) was apparently extirpated by 
highway construction in 1990 and the invasion of yellow star-thistle.
    Yellow star-thistle is found near all Silene spaldingii populations 
in Idaho (Lichthardt 1997). This aggressive nonnative species can form 
almost complete monocultures (a single species growing in an area to 
the exclusion of others), invading and out competing native species. 
Even small areas that experience soil disturbance are almost 
immediately colonized by yellow star-thistle or other nonnative winter 
annuals (Lichthardt 1997). Seeds of yellow star-thistle can remain 
dormant in the soil for up to 10 years (Callihan and Miller 1997), 
making effective control of this aggressive nonnative extremely 
    Russian knapweed spreads readily by reproducing vegetatively, as 
well as by seed. Once established, knapweed forms single-species stands 
by producing chemicals that inhibit the survival of competing plant 
species, known as allelopathy (U.S. Geological Survey 1999). Knapweed 
(probably spotted knapweed, Centaurea maculosa) has been noted to 
displace Silene spaldingii plants in Montana. At this site, the number 
of S. spaldingii plants declined from 30 in 1983 to 11 in 1990, due to 
the invasion of knapweed (MNHP 1998). Spotted knapweed is considered 
``the number one weed problem on rangeland in western Montana'' 
(Whitson 1996). Nonnative species also threaten the largest S. 
spaldingii populations in Montana (Biodiversity Legal Foundation et al. 
1995; Brian Martin, TNC, in litt. 1998), Oregon (Jimmy Kagan, ONHP, 
pers. comm. 1998), and Washington (Scott Riley, Umatilla National 
Forest, pers. comm. 1999). Silene spaldingii and other native plants 
are generally unable to grow or successfully reproduce in areas 
dominated by yellow star-thistle and knapweed.
    Herbicide drift also threatens Silene spaldingii habitat. Most 
remaining S. spaldingii populations are adjacent to agricultural 
fields, which are often treated with herbicides to control nonnative 
vegetation. Even S. spaldingii sites that are not located immediately 
adjacent to agricultural areas may be vulnerable to herbicide use due 
to the presence of nonnative species (Jerry Hustafa, Wallowa-Whitman 
National Forest, pers. comm. 1999). Herbicide overspray threatens 
populations in Idaho (Lichthardt 1997; J. Hill, in litt. 1999), Oregon 
(J. Hustafa, pers. comm. 1998; J. Kagan, pers. comm. 1998), and 
Washington (WNHP 1998). One population of S. spaldingii in Idaho (Lewis 
County) decreased by more than 80 percent in the past 11 years, 
apparently due to nonnative species invasion, herbicide spraying, and 
development (Lichthardt 1997). Herbicide spraying to control nonnatives 
threatens one of the two largest S. spaldingii sites on the Umatilla 
National Forest in Washington (S. Riley, pers. comm. 1999). In 
addition, knapweed recently invaded the largest S. spaldingii 
population in Oregon. Because knapweed blooms late (i.e., during the 
active growth period of S. spaldingii) and local weed control officials 
will likely demand spraying at this site, herbicide applications also 
pose a serious threat to this population (J. Kagan, in litt. 2000). A 
recent aerial herbicide spraying incident in Idaho County, Idaho, 
impacted the threatened plant species, MacFarlane's four-o'clock 
(Mirabilis macfarlanei). Approximately 2,000 M. macfarlanei plants on 
Federal and private land were accidentally sprayed during treatment for 
nearby target nonnative species (Craig Johnson, BLM, in litt. 1997). 
This species occurs in similar habitats as S. spaldingii. At least two 
S. spaldingii sites in Idaho (Nez Perce County) are particularly 
vulnerable to herbicide drift because of their proximity to cropland 
(Lichthardt 1997).
    In addition to direct consumption of plants (as discussed under 
Factor C of this section), grazing animals can also affect Silene 
spaldingii by trampling and changing the plant community composition by 
fostering the invasion of nonnative species. Impacts from trampling by 
native ungulates and domestic livestock have been observed at S. 
spaldingii sites in Washington (Gamon 1991; WNHP 1998). Grazing can 
indirectly affect S. spaldingii habitat by altering the species 
composition (Gamon 1991; Lichthardt 1997; Bonnie Heidel, MNHP, in litt. 
1999). If grazing is heavy enough to adversely affect native species or 
allow nonnative species invasion, S. spaldingii will likely disappear 
from sites (Barbara Benner, BLM, in litt. 1993). Biennial and nonnative 
annual plants, adapted to disturbance, have a competitive advantage 
over S. spaldingii because of the soil disturbance associated with 
grazing (B. Benner, in litt. 1995).
    Most populations (52 percent) of Silene spaldingii occur on 
privately owned property and are threatened by changes in land use 
including certain livestock grazing practices, agricultural 
developments, and urbanization. For example, active housing development 
threatens to eliminate S. spaldingii habitat near Redbird Ridge in 
Idaho (Lichthardt 1997). Over the past 3 years, residential development 
immediately adjoining land owned by TNC, which has the largest S. 
spaldingii population in Montana, has destroyed potential habitat, 
increased the likelihood of uncontrolled, competing nonnative 
vegetation, and reduced management options such as controlled burning 
on the preserve (B. Martin, in litt. 1998). Continued development in 
this area is expected (B. Martin, in litt. 1998). Habitat for S. 
spaldingii on private land near Wallowa Lake in eastern Oregon, which 
supports the largest site in Oregon, may be threatened by development 
because of its proximity to existing recreational facilities and 
residences (E. Rey-Vizgirdas, pers. obs. 1998). Other S. spaldingii 
sites on private land in Idaho, Montana, and

[[Page 51603]]

Washington may also be threatened by development.

B. Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or 
Educational Purposes

    The plant is not a source for human food, nor is it currently of 
commercial horticultural interest. Therefore, overutilization is not 
currently considered a threat to this species. However, should it 
occur, some populations of Silene spaldingii are small enough that even 
limited collection pressure would have adverse impacts on their 
reproductive or genetic viability.

C. Disease or Predation

    Grazing or browsing of Silene spaldingii inflorescences by 
livestock and native herbivores has been observed and is considered a 
significant threat to the species (Kagan 1989; Lesica 1993; Heidel 
1995; B. Benner, in litt. 1999). While grazing or browsing of S. 
spaldingii by native herbivores likely occurred historically, the 
effects of grazing or browsing become even more important as the 
plant's population sizes decrease. Rodent activity is also considered a 
significant factor affecting the persistence of S. spaldingii at 
several sites in eastern Washington (B. Benner, in litt. 1999). For 
example, numerous S. spaldingii plants were marked with stakes and 
metal tags as part of a monitoring study on land managed by the BLM in 
Washington. On a site visit, the BLM botanist discovered that many of 
these plants were either broken off or missing completely and likely 
consumed by rodents, as evidenced by rodent burrowing activity in the 
area (B. Benner, in litt. 1999). Since S. spaldingii reproduces only by 
seed (Lesica 1992), grazing, browsing, or trampling directly affects 
reproduction of this species when flowers or seeds are removed or 
    Insect predation on flowers and fruits is also a threat for this 
species (Kagan 1989; Gamon 1991; B. Benner, in litt. 1999). Such 
predation likely results in reduced reproductive success for Silene 
spaldingii (Heidel 1995). For example, at one of the two largest S. 
spaldingii populations in Washington on land managed by the Forest 
Service, biologists monitoring the plants have consistently observed 
seeds consumed by insects. This consumption results in empty capsules 
with no seeds, thereby limiting sexual reproduction of affected S. 
spaldingii plants (S. Riley, pers. comm. 1999). Similarly, in Oregon, 
seed weevils destroyed a high percentage of S. spaldingii seed heads 
(Kagan 1989). Insect damage to the foliage of S. spaldingii has also 
been noted (Lichthardt 1997). Although some insect damage to plants may 
be expected, the effects on the survival of S. spaldingii are amplified 
as plant populations become small and fragmented.

D. The Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    Silene spaldingii is listed as endangered by the State of Oregon 
(Oregon Department of Agriculture). However, the Oregon State 
Endangered Species Act does not provide protection for species on 
private land, so under State law, any plant protection is at the 
discretion of the landowner. Silene spaldingii is on the Washington 
Natural Heritage Program's list of threatened species (Gamon 1991), but 
this designation offers no statutory protection (Ted Thomas, Service, 
in litt. 1998). In addition, although State natural heritage programs 
in Idaho and Montana consider S. spaldingii to be rare and imperiled, 
these States have no endangered species legislation that protect 
threatened or endangered plants. The majority of S. spaldingii habitat 
occurs on private land, which is not adequately protected by existing 
regulatory mechanisms.
    In Canada, Silene spaldingii is listed on the British Columbia, 
Ministry of Environment, Lands and Park's Red List. The Red List 
includes indigenous species or subspecies (taxa) that are either 
extirpated, endangered, threatened, or candidates for such status. 
Endangered taxa are those species facing imminent extirpation or 
extinction. Threatened taxa are likely to become endangered if limiting 
factors are not reversed. Silene spaldingii is a candidate for legal 
designation as an endangered or threatened species (British Columbia 
Conservation Data Center 1999). The Red List designation does not 
provide any statutory protection to this population, which occurs on 
private pasture land (Mike Miller, University of Victoria, in litt. 
    Silene spaldingii is considered a sensitive species by the BLM and 
Region 1 of the Forest Service. Both of these agencies have laws and 
regulations that address the need to protect sensitive, candidate, and 
federally listed species (e.g., the Federal Land Policy and Management 
Act and the National Forest Management Act). Monitoring of some S. 
spaldingii populations on Federal lands has already been initiated. 
Also, the BLM in eastern Washington has acquired several private land 
parcels that contain S. spaldingii habitat. However, these actions have 
not eliminated all of the threats to this species. For example, the 
effects of activities such as livestock grazing have not been evaluated 
for all S. spaldingii sites managed by the Forest Service and BLM. In 
addition, numerous sites on Federal lands are threatened by nonnative 
species, herbicide spraying, and habitat succession through fire 
suppression (see factors A and E of this section).
    One Silene spaldingii population in eastern Washington occurs on 
the U.S. Department of Defense Fairchild Air Force Base (Base). The 
Base asked the WNHP to visit the area in 1999 to assess its habitat and 
ground-disturbing activities that would affect this species (J. Gamon, 
pers. comm. 1999). It was found that this population contains 77 plants 
in 8 subpopulations in an isolated fragment of native habitat. The area 
has been used for military training (WNHP 1998), although the WNHP has 
prepared a draft management plan and established a monitoring program 
for S. spaldingii for the Base.
    Two populations occur on lands owned by TNC. This organization 
protects the habitat and natural communities on lands that it owns. TNC 
will protect Silene spaldingii on its lands and actively manage the 
habitat to improve conditions for this species, such as controlling 
livestock grazing and nonnative vegetation (J. Hill, in litt. 1999; B. 
Martin, in litt. 1998). However, nonnative species cannot be entirely 
eliminated and will likely remain a threat to S. spaldingii in the 

E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued Existence

    Competition with other species for a limited number of pollinators 
(e.g., bumblebees (Bombus fervidus)) has the potential to adversely 
affect both fecundity and individual fitness in Silene spaldingii 
(Lesica and Heidel 1996). Competition for pollinators occurs primarily 
at S. spaldingii sites with large populations of other flowering 
plants, and the competition can adversely affect the survival of these 
small populations of S. spaldingii. For example, the nonnative 
flowering plant St. John's-wort competes for pollinators where this 
plant occurs with S. spaldingii in Idaho (Lesica and Heidel 1996; J. 
Hill, in litt. 1999; Karen Gray, botanist, in litt. 1999).
    Reduced pollinator activity is associated with poor reproductive 
success of Silene spaldingii, particularly in small populations (Lesica 
1993; Lesica and Heidel 1996). Agricultural fields do not provide 
suitable habitat for pollinators of S. spaldingii, which requires 
pollination by insects for maximum seed set and population

[[Page 51604]]

viability (Lesica and Heidel 1996). Populations of S. spaldingii that 
occupy small areas surrounded by land that does not support bumblebee 
colonies (e.g., crop lands) are not likely to persist over the long 
term, and the presence of pollinators is considered critical for the 
persistence of S. spaldingii (Lesica 1993; Lesica and Heidel 1996). In 
addition to agricultural conversion and pesticides, pollinators are 
vulnerable to herbicide application, domestic livestock grazing, and 
fire (Gamon 1991; Lesica 1993).
    Climatic fluctuations can adversely affect this species and may 
contribute to the extirpation of small populations. For example, a 
population of Silene spaldingii at Wild Horse Island (Montana) declined 
from approximately 250 to 10 plants, due primarily to drought 
conditions in the late 1980s (Lesica 1988; Heidel 1995). Such 
reductions in population size are often exacerbated by other factors 
including pollinator competition and poor reproductive success.
    Habitat changes associated with fire suppression threaten this 
species, even at sites on public lands and those with some protective 
status (e.g., managed by TNC). Fire suppression can result in an 
overall decline in suitable habitat conditions for Silene spaldingii by 
facilitating encroachment by woody vegetation and other plant species 
and contributing to a build-up in the litter or duff layer. Competition 
from woody plants is frequently considered to reduce fecundity or 
recruitment of native prairie species (Menges 1995). In areas where 
fire regimes have been altered or excluded, shrubs and trees can 
encroach on grassland habitats that support S. spaldingii and inhibit 
seed germination. Prescribed fire may have a positive effect on S. 
spaldingii by removing litter and creating suitable sites for 
recruitment (Lesica 1999). Recruitment of S. spaldingii at study sites 
in Montana was enhanced following prescribed fire (Lesica 1992; Lesica 
1999). However, the effects of fire will vary at different sites within 
the range of this species due to factors such as fuel moisture content, 
species composition, and season and intensity of burning (Lesica 1997). 
The effects of prescribed fire on aggressive, nonnative species, where 
they occur near S. spaldingii, must be carefully considered. In some 
cases, prescribed fires may adversely affect S. spaldingii if the fire 
indirectly leads to increased coverage of invasive nonnatives, such as 
yellow star-thistle (Idaho Department of Fish and Game, in litt. 2000).
    Most populations of Silene spaldingii are restricted to small, 
remnant patches of native habitat (Gamon 1991; Lichthardt 1997; B. 
Heidel, in litt. 1999; S. Riley, pers. comm. 1999). When the number of 
populations of a species or the population size is reduced, the remnant 
populations (or portions of populations) have a higher probability of 
extinction from random events. Small populations are vulnerable to even 
relatively minor disturbances such as fire, herbicide drift, and 
nonnative species invasions, which could result in the loss of S. 
spaldingii populations (Gamon 1991). Small populations of Silene regia, 
a rare prairie species native to the Midwest, have low seed 
germination, presumably due to reduced pollinator visitation and other 
factors (Menges 1995). Small fragments of habitat that contain S. 
spaldingii may not be large enough to support viable populations of 
pollinators (Lesica 1993). Small populations are vulnerable to natural 
and manmade disturbances and may lose a large amount of genetic 
variability because of genetic drift (loss of genetic variability that 
takes place as a result of chance), reducing their long-term viability. 
Many S. spaldingii populations are isolated from other populations by 
large distances, and the majority of the populations occur at scattered 
localities separated by habitat that is not suitable for this species, 
such as agricultural fields. Extinction appears to be imminent for at 
least two S. spaldingii populations in Idaho due to their small size 
and habitat degradation (Lichthardt 1997). One of these populations 
consists of four individuals, and the other population has only one S. 
spaldingii plant. With these very small population sizes, even if the 
habitat was completely undisturbed, these populations would not be 
considered viable.
    We have carefully assessed the best scientific and commercial 
information available regarding the past, present, and future threats 
faced by the species in developing this final rule. Most of the 
remaining sites that support Silene spaldingii are small and highly 
fragmented, and the existing sites are vulnerable to impacts from 
factors including grazing, trampling, herbicide use, and nonnative 
vegetation, in addition to urban and agricultural development. Only 52 
sites supporting this species remain with a total of approximately 
16,500 individuals. The majority of this species (52 percent) occurs on 
private land with little or no protection. Only one-third (33 percent) 
of S. spaldingii populations occur on Federal land (managed primarily 
by the BLM and Forest Service) and may, therefore, be afforded some 
level of protection. Even the two S. spaldingii sites on land managed 
by TNC are not completely free of threats such as nonnative vegetation 
encroachment. As previously described, only 6 S. spaldingii populations 
(12 percent) contain more than 500 plants, and even these relatively 
large populations (which occur on private and Federal land) are 
variously threatened by one or more of the above factors. The Act 
generally defines an endangered species as any species that is in 
danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its 
range. Although S. spaldingii is facing clear and significant threats, 
because of the number of remaining populations and the spatial 
distribution of the populations, we do not believe that S. spaldingii 
is currently in danger of extinction. Alternatively, as a result of 
threats we have discussed, we have determined that S. spaldingii is 
likely to become in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future 
throughout all or a significant portion of its range; therefore, S. 
spaldingii meets the Act's definition of a threatened species. We 
discuss the reasons for not concurrently designating critical habitat 
for this species in the ``Critical Habitat'' section below.

Critical Habitat

    Critical habitat is defined in section 3 of the Act as: (i) 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 (I) essential to the conservation 
of the species and (II) that may require special management 
considerations or protection; and (ii) specific areas outside the 
geographic area occupied by a species at the time it is listed, upon a 
determination 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.
    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--(i) 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 (ii) such designation

[[Page 51605]]

of critical habitat would not be beneficial to the species.
    In the last few years, a series of court decisions have overturned 
our critical habitat determinations for a variety of species (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)). In the proposed rule, we 
stated that we would publish a critical habitat determination for 
Silene spaldingii in the Federal Register subsequent to the proposed 
rule. Based on the standards applied in those judicial opinions, we 
published a notice on April 24, 2000, in which we proposed that 
designation of critical habitat for S. spaldingii is prudent (65 FR 
    Due to the small number of populations, Silene spaldingii 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 
location information. However, at this time we do not have specific 
evidence for S. spaldingii of taking, 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 believe that the identification of critical habitat 
is unlikely to increase the degree of threat to this species of taking 
or other human activity.
    In the absence of a finding that identification of critical habitat 
would increase threats to a species, if any benefits would result from 
the designation of critical habitat, then a prudent finding is 
warranted. In the case of this species, designation of critical habitat 
may provide some benefits. For example, critical habitat designation 
may educate and inform the public and help focus conservation efforts 
through future Federal, State, and local planning efforts, by 
identifying the habitat needs and crucial areas for Silene spaldingii. 
Therefore, we find that designation of critical habitat is prudent for 
S. spaldingii.
    However, our budget for listing activities is currently 
insufficient to allow us to immediately complete all of the listing 
actions required by the Act. Listing Silene spaldingii without 
designation of critical habitat will allow us to concentrate our 
limited resources on other listing actions that must be addressed, 
while allowing us to invoke protections needed for the conservation of 
this species without further delay. This is consistent with section 
4(b)(6)(C)(i) of the Act, which states that final listing decisions may 
be issued without critical habitat designations when it is essential 
that such determinations be promptly published. We will prepare a 
critical habitat designation in the future at such time when our 
available resources and priorities allow.

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 public awareness and 
results in conservation actions by Federal, State, and private 
agencies, groups, and individuals. The Act provides for possible land 
acquisition and cooperation with the State and requires that recovery 
plans be developed for all listed species. 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 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 
designated. Regulations implementing this interagency cooperation 
provision of the Act are codified at 50 CFR part 402. Section 7(a)(4) 
of the Act requires Federal agencies to confer with us on any action 
that is likely to jeopardize the continued existence of a proposed 
species or result in destruction or adverse modification of proposed 
critical habitat. If a species is subsequently listed, 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 such a species or to destroy or adversely modify its critical 
habitat. 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 that may have involvement with Silene spaldingii 
include the Federal Housing Administration and the Farm Services 
Agency, which may be subject to section 7 consultation through 
potential funding of housing and farm loans where this species or its 
habitat occurs. Highway construction and maintenance projects that 
receive funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation for Federal 
highways will also be subject to review under section 7 of the Act. The 
Natural Resources Conservation Service may also be involved with S. 
spaldingii through their farm conservation programs. In addition, 
section 2(c)(1) and 7(a)(1) of the Act require Federal agencies to 
utilize their authorities in furtherance of the purposes of the Act to 
carry out conservation programs for endangered and threatened species.
    Listing of this plant will provide for development of a recovery 
plan for the plant. Such a plan will bring together both State and 
Federal efforts for conservation of this species. The plan will 
establish a framework for agencies to coordinate activities and 
cooperate with each other in conservation efforts. The plan will set 
recovery priorities, assign responsibilities, and estimate the costs of 
various tasks necessary to accomplish them. It will also describe site-
specific management actions necessary to achieve conservation and 
survival of the plant. Additionally, pursuant to section 6 of the Act, 
we will be able to grant funds to affected States for management 
actions promoting the protection and recovery of this species.
    The Act and its implementing regulations set forth a series of 
general prohibitions and exceptions that apply to all threatened 
plants. Pursuant to 50 CFR 17.71, generally all prohibitions of 50 CFR 
17.61 apply to threatened plants. These prohibitions, in part, make it 
illegal for any person subject to the jurisdiction of the United States 
to import or export, transport or ship any endangered or threatened 
plant species in interstate or foreign commerce in the course of a 
commercial activity, sell or offer for sale such species in interstate 
or foreign commerce, or remove and reduce such species to possession 
from areas under Federal jurisdiction. Certain exceptions apply to our 
agents and State conservation agencies.
    Our policy, published in the Federal Register on July 1, 1994 (59 
FR 34272), is to identify, to the maximum extent practicable, those 
activities that would or would not constitute a violation of section 9 
of the Act at the time of listing. The intent of this policy is to 
increase public awareness of the effects of the listing on proposed and 
ongoing activities within a species' range. Collection, damage, or 
destruction of this species on Federal land is prohibited, although in 
appropriate cases, we may issue a Federal permit for scientific or 
recovery purposes.
    We believe that, based upon the best available information, 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.,

[[Page 51606]]

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 us 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); and
    (3) Activities on non-Federal lands that do not require Federal 
authorization and do not involve Federal funding.
    We believe 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, or damage to, the species on Federal 
lands; and
    (2) Interstate or foreign commerce and import/export without 
previously obtaining an appropriate permit.
    Questions regarding whether specific activities risk violating 
section 9 should be directed to the Field Supervisor of the Snake River 
Basin Office (see ADDRESSES section). The Act and 50 CFR 17.72 also 
provide for the issuance of permits to carry out otherwise prohibited 
activities involving threatened plant species under certain 
circumstances. Such permits are available for scientific purposes and 
to enhance the propagation or survival of the species. For threatened 
plants, permits also are available for botanical or horticultural 
exhibition, educational purposes, or special purposes consistent with 
the purposes of the Act. Requests for copies of the regulations on 
listed plants and animals, and general inquiries regarding prohibitions 
and permits, may be addressed to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 
Ecological Services, Endangered Species Permits, 911 N.E. 11th Ave., 
Portland, Oregon 97232-4181 (telephone 503/231-2063; facsimile 503/231-

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 
Act. We published a notice outlining our reasons for this determination 
in the Federal Register on October 25, 1983 (48 FR 49244).

Paperwork Reduction Act

    This rule does not contain any new collections of information other 
than those already approved under the Paperwork Reduction Act, 44 
U.S.C. 3501 et seq., and assigned Office of Management and Budget 
clearance number 1018-0094. An agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a 
person is not required to respond to a collection of information, 
unless it displays a currently valid control number. For additional 
information concerning permit and associated requirements for 
threatened plants, see 50 CFR 17.72.

References Cited

    A complete list of all references cited herein, as well as others, 
is available upon request from our Snake River Basin Office (see 
ADDRESSES section).


    The primary authors of this final rule are Phil Delphey and Edna 
Rey-Vizgirdas, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Snake River Basin Office 
(see ADDRESSES section).

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

    Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements, Transportation.

Regulation Promulgation

    Accordingly, we amend part 17, subchapter B of chapter I, title 50 
of the Code of Federal Regulations as follows:


    1. The authority citation for part 17 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1361-407; 16 U.S.C. 1531-1544; 16 U.S.C. 
4201-4245; Pub. L. 99-625, 100 Stat. 3500, unless otherwise noted.

    2. Section 17.12(h) is amended by adding the following, in 
alphabetical order under FLOWERING PLANTS, to the List of Endangered 
and Threatened Plants.

Sec. 17.12  Endangered and threatened plants.

* * * * *
    (h) * * *

--------------------------------------------------------    Historic range           Family            Status          When       Critical     Special
         Scientific name                Common name                                                                   listed      habitat       rules
         Flowering Plants

                   *                  *                  *                  *                  *                  *                  *
Silene spaldingii................  Spalding's catchfly.  U.S.A. (OR, ID, MT,  Caryophyllaceae....  T                       712           NA           NA
                                                          WA), Canada (B.C.).

                   *                  *                  *                  *                  *                  *                  *

    Dated: September 17, 2001.
Marshall P. Jones, Jr.,
Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 01-23912 Filed 10-9-01; 8:45 am]