[Federal Register: July 2, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 127)]
[Rules and Regulations]               
[Page 44372-44382]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AF86

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Determination of 
Endangered Status for Ambrosia pumila (San Diego Ambrosia) From 
Southern California

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Final rule.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), determine 
endangered status for Ambrosia pumila (San Diego ambrosia) pursuant to 
the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). This plant 
species is restricted to 15 known occurrences in San Diego and 
Riverside Counties, CA, and also occurs in Estado de Baja California, 
Mexico. Ambrosia pumila primarily occurs on upper terraces of rivers 
and drainages as well as in open grasslands, openings in coastal sage 
scrub habitat, and occasionally in areas adjacent to vernal pools. This 
species is threatened by the following: present or threatened 
destruction, fragmentation, and degradation of habitat primarily by 
construction and maintenance of highways, maintenance of utility 
easements, development of recreational facilities, and residential and 
commercial development; inadequate regulatory mechanisms; potential 
competition, encroachment, and other negative impacts from non-native 
plants; mowing and discing for fuel modification; and trampling, as 
well as soil compaction by horses, humans, and vehicles. This rule 
implements the Federal protection and recovery provisions of the Act 
for Ambrosia pumila.

DATES: This rule is effective August 1, 2002.

ADDRESSES: The supporting record for this rule is available for 
inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the 
Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2730 
Loker Avenue West, Carlsbad, CA 92008.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jim Bartel, Field Supervisor, at the 
above address; telephone 760/431-9440; facsimile 760/918-0638.



    Ambrosia is a genus comprising 35 to 50 wind-pollinated annual and 
perennial plant species in the Asteraceae (sunflower) family. The 
perennial taxa range from woody shrubs to herbaceous plants with 
rhizome-like roots. Rhizomes are underground stems that produce leafy 
shoots. Self-pollination and self-fertility contribute to strong 
inbreeding among species of Ambrosia (Payne 1976). Members of the genus 
occur predominantly in the Western Hemisphere, especially North 
America. Species are generally found in arid or semiarid areas and some 
are weeds of cultivated fields or strand species of Pacific and 
Caribbean beaches.
    Ambrosia pumila (San Diego ambrosia) was originally described as 
Franseria pumila by Thomas Nuttall (Nuttall 1840) based on a specimen 
he collected near San Diego, California, in 1836. Asa Gray (Gray 1882), 
after seeing specimens of the plant with fruits, decided it was closely 
related to members of the genus Ambrosia and published the currently 
accepted combination, Ambrosia pumila (Nutt.) A. Gray. This 
classification has been recognized by current systematic and floristic 
treatments (Payne 1964, Munz 1935, Keck 1959, Ferris 1960, Munz 1974, 
Beauchamp 1986, and Payne 1993).
    Ambrosia pumila is an herbaceous perennial plant species that 
spreads vegetatively by means of slender, branched, underground 
rhizome-like roots from which the aerial (above-ground) stems arise. 
Plants that spread in this way are referred to as clonal species. This 
clonal growth pattern results in groupings of aerial stems 
interconnected by their underground rhizome-like roots that represent 
genetically identical individuals. When these underground 
interconnections disintegrate, aerial stems that are genetically 
identical are physically separate. The aerial stems sprout in early 
spring after the winter rains. Dead aerial stems may persist or 
deteriorate after their growing season. Therefore, the plant may not be 
in evidence at some times of the year. The aerial stems sprout in early 
spring after the winter rains and deteriorate in late summer. 
Therefore, the plant may not be in evidence from late summer to early 
spring. The aerial stems are 5 to 30 centimeters (cm) (2 to 12 inches 
(in)) tall, but may grow to 50 cm (20 in), and are densely covered with 
short hairs. The leaves are two to four times pinnately divided into 
many small segments and are covered with short, soft, gray-white, 
appressed (lying flat on surface) hairs. This wind-pollinated species 
flowers from May through October with separate male and female flower 
clusters (heads) on the same plant. The male flowers are yellow to 
translucent and are borne in clusters on terminal racemes (flower 
stalks). The female flowers have no petals and are yellowish-white. 
Female flowers are in clusters in the axils of the leaves below the 
male flower clusters.
    Although some species of Ambrosia have breeding systems that 
contribute to strong inbreeding (Payne 1976), the breeding system of A. 
pumila has not been studied. The fruiting heads are enclosed by 
involucres (composed of modified leaf-like structures fused together) 
to form cup-like structures that have no spines, although some reports 
note a few vestigial (remnant) spines. Few preserved museum specimens 
have fertile fruits, and field collections have

[[Page 44373]]

not provided evidence of production of significant numbers of viable 
seeds. None of the 22 seeds collected from three sites at Mission 
Trails Regional Park germinated in a test performed by Ransom Seed 
Laboratory (City of San Diego 2000). Although plants may flower, the 
annual reproductive output of fruits may be low. The lifespan of an 
individual plant, as well as the number and distribution of seedlings, 
are unknown. A. pumila may be distinguished from other species of 
Ambrosia in the area by its herbaceous perennial growth form, leaves 
which are two to four times pinnately divided, cup-like involucres 
lacking hooked spines, and lack of longer, stiff hairs on the stems and 
    Because Ambrosia pumila is a clonal species, it is difficult to 
determine the extent of an individual plant. Individual plants persist 
as a herbaceous rhizome-like root systems. These underground systems 
are likely intermingled at any given site. Each year a plant produces a 
variable number of aerial stems along its rhizome-like root system. The 
underground interconnections may deteriorate over time leaving 
genetically identical separate plants that represent clones. Thus, 
survey reports that record the number of ``plants'' at a site are in 
fact reporting the numbers of aerial stems that represent an unknown 
number of genetically distinct plants. Because this species is a clonal 
plant, the number of genetically different individuals in any given 
occurrence, especially small occurrences, may be very low. Small 
occurrences of A. pumila may be more susceptible to harmful effects 
from inbreeding, especially if only a portion of the population flowers 
in any given year (Barrett and Kohn 1991). Seven of the 15 extant 
occurrences that support 1,000 or fewer aerial stems may potentially be 
susceptible to extirpation (localized extinction) because of low number 
of aerial stems or low genetic diversity within the occurrences. There 
are, as yet, no data to determine a correlation between the genetic 
diversity and extirpations of occurrences of this species in the past 
that were not attributed to habitat loss. Preliminary results comparing 
greenhouse-grown specimens from two native populations of A. pumila 
indicated that there were fixed differences between specimens from the 
two populations represented in this study (H. Truesdale, San Diego 
State University Biology Department (SDSU), in litt. 2000). While the 
clonal structure of the populations is not known, these preliminary 
results indicate the importance of maintaining each of the separate 
occurrences to preserve the genetic variability represented in each of 
the occurrences.
    Ambrosia pumila primarily occurs on upper terraces of rivers and 
drainages as well as in open grasslands, openings in coastal sage 
scrub, and occasionally in areas adjacent to vernal pools. The species 
may also be found in disturbed sites such as fire fuel breaks and edges 
of dirt roadways. Associated native plants include Distichlis spicata 
(saltgrass), Baccharis salicifolia (mule-fat), Baccharis sarathroides 
(broom baccharis), Eriogonum fasciculatum (California buckwheat), and 
Eremocarpus setigerus (turkey-mullein). In the United States, 
populations of A. pumila occur on Federal, State, local jurisdictional, 
and private lands in western San Diego and Riverside Counties.
    This species has been previously reported from 49 occurrences in 
the United States (California Natural Diversity Database (CNDDB) 1999). 
The California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) defines the term 
occurrence for plants as single plants, a population, or group of 
nearby populations found within 0.25 miles (mi) (0.4 kilometer (km)) of 
each other (R. Bittman, CDFG, in litt. 2002). Since publication of the 
proposed rule, additional information concerning an additional 
historical occurrence in the Arlington area of the City of Riverside in 
Riverside County, has become available (Provance et al. 2001). Also, an 
extant occurrence that supports six concentrations of aerial stems was 
found in the Alberhill area of Riverside County (Hewitt and McGuire 
2000). Two occurrences, one northwest of Sweetwater Dam and another 
near Gillespie Field, were combined with other adjacent occurrences 
because of their close proximity. Six occurrences were based on 
misidentified specimens. Three occurrences consist of plants 
transplanted from other locations that were subsequently partially or 
totally eliminated (CNDDB 1999).
    Based on the analysis of this current information, we believe that 
there are 40 verifiable native reported occurrences of this species. 
However, 21 of these 40 occurrences have been extirpated, most since 
the 1930s and nearly all by urban development and highway construction. 
One of these 21 occurrences, an occurrence near Graves Avenue in the 
City of El Cajon, San Diego County, that was included as extant in the 
listing proposal, has been extirpated by commercial and housing 
development (C. Burrascano, in litt. 2001). Of the remaining 19 extant 
occurrences, 2 were based on old collections where the species has not 
been documented since 1936 (CNDDB 1999), including the recently 
reported historical occurrence in the City of Riverside (Provance et 
al. 2001) which no longer exists. One occurrence, near a city sidewalk, 
reduced to a single stem in 1996 (CNDDB 1999), is considered non-viable 
and therefore is not considered as an extant occurrence. Subtracting 
these 4 occurrences, we now believe that there are 15 extant native 
occurrences of this species, 12 are in San Diego County and 3 are in 
western Riverside County. Knowledge of the full extent of the 
historical range of any organism is limited by the surviving records. 
In the case of Ambrosia pumila in San Diego County, the pattern of 
extirpated occurrences reflects a significant loss of occurrences from 
each of the watersheds in which the species occurs rather than a 
complete loss from those watersheds. The pattern in Riverside County is 
different in that the recently discovered record of a historical 
occurrence reflects a significant loss to the geographical extent of 
the range in that county.

San Diego County

    Five of the 12 remaining occurrences of Ambrosia pumila in San 
Diego County are within the Sweetwater River watershed; a sixth near El 
Cajon was apparently extirpated in 1999 or 2000. Two of the five 
occurrences are in the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge (SDNWR). The 
largest occurrence, in the northern portion of the SDNWR, was reported 
to cover 5.6 hectares (ha) (13.8 acres (ac)) and supported tens of 
thousands of aerial stems in 1998 (CNDDB 1999). Recent surveys by 
Service biologists reported this occurrence to be 1.4 ha (3.5 ac) in 
1999 and 1.3 ha (3.2 ac) in 2000 (GIS database Carlsbad Fish and 
Wildlife Office). Differences in the acreage may be due to different 
survey methods or the scope of the surveys. Numbers of aerial stems 
present were not recorded. The second occurrence on the SDNWR was 
reported to support aerial stems in 1996. A survey of the second 
occurrence in 1998 (J. Vanderwier, USFWS, in litt. 1998) reported that 
this site covered less than 0.1 ha (less than 0.1 ac) and supported 
hundreds of aerial stems (CNDDB 1999). Another occurrence on private 
land near the junction of Jamul Road and Steele Canyon Road was 
reported to be 0.1 ha (0.3 ac) in size in 1996, and less than 0.1 ha 
(less than 0.1 ac) in 1998 (CNDDB 1999; J. Vanderwier, in litt. 1998). 
Numbers of aerial stems have not been reported in the various surveys 
of this site. The 1998 survey indicated an unknown number of stems at 
this site and the extension of this occurrence to accommodate a few 
plants nearby to the

[[Page 44374]]

northeast. This extension was recognized as a separate occurrence that 
supported about 100 stems in 1998 (CNDDB 1999). The remaining 
occurrence in the Sweetwater River watershed in El Cajon is on adjacent 
vacant lots totaling less than 0.1 ha (0.1 ac) owned by California 
Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and supported an estimated 
10,000 stems in 1997 (J. Vanderwier, in litt. 1997). A. pumila is still 
present on these Caltrans owned lots (B. April, Caltrans, pers. comm., 
2002). Caltrans purchased these lots in the 1960s as right-of-way for 
the proposed connector between I-5 and I-8. This proposal, although 
still part of the Regional Transportation Plan, is not funded and at 
some point in the future Caltrans may auction off the parcels (B. 
April, pers. comm., 2002). In the proposed listing rule we included an 
additional occurrence in El Cajon on a group of vacant lots 1.9 ha (4.8 
ac) in size that supported 6,500 plants (aerial stems) in 1998 (CNDDB 
1999). This occurrence was apparently extirpated by development (C. 
Burrascano, in litt. 2001).
    Three of the 12 occurrences in San Diego County are within the San 
Diego River watershed. The largest of these occurrences is in Mission 
Trails Regional Park (MTRP), managed by the City of San Diego, and 
extends to adjacent private land. The portion of the occurrence on MTRP 
occupied 13.6 ha (34 ac) and supported 1,500 stems in 1994 (CNDDB 
1999). One of the areas in MTRP identified as Patch C encompasses 1.0 
ha (2.5 ac) (City of San Diego 2000). A portion of that patch, 
identified as C6 and calculated to be 0.7 ha (1.7 ac), supported 
approximately 178,624 aerial stems in 2001 (City of San Diego 2001). 
The adjacent privately owned portion of this occurrence is afforded 
protections under the City of San Diego's Subarea Plan of the Multiple 
Species Conservation Program (MSCP) (City of San Diego 1997). The 
second occurrence within the San Diego River watershed and also in MTRP 
supports an unknown number of individuals (CNDDB 1999). Both 
occurrences in MTRP are afforded protection under provisions of City of 
San Diego's Subarea Plan (City of San Diego 1997). The third occurrence 
within the San Diego River watershed occurs at Gillespie Field, a small 
general aviation airport, where there are small remnants of the native 
occurrence scattered near the south side of the airfield. The current 
status of these remnants is unknown.
    One of the 12 occurrences in San Diego County is within the San 
Dieguito River watershed in the County of San Diego's Subarea Plan area 
of the MSCP on a privately owned site. In 1997, 2,000 stems were 
reportedly found in a less than 0.1 ha (0.1 ac) area (CNDDB 1999). 
During a site visit in 1999 fewer than 100 stems were found in an area 
estimated to be less than 0.1 ha (less than 0.1 ac) (G. Wallace, USFWS, 
in litt. 1999). The uphill slope immediately adjacent to the site was 
graded in conjunction with a residential development (G. Wallace, in 
litt. 1999).
    The three remaining occurrences in San Diego County are within the 
San Luis Rey River watershed near Bonsall. Two occur within the 
planning boundary of the North County MSCP Subarea Plan. These may 
receive protection if this plan is approved. At one occurrence, some 
plants are presumed extant in a fenced area on Caltrans lands adjacent 
to State Route 76, and some are on private land. However, the current 
number of aerial stems or the areal extent of this occurrence is not 
known. The second occurrence in the area is estimated to be 2.6 ha (6.6 
ac) in size and reportedly supported about 700 aerial stems in 1996. 
The third occurrence is within the planning area for the Multiple 
Habitat Conservation Plan (MHCP) on private and Caltrans lands near 
Bonsall and reportedly supported 2,000 to 3,000 aerial stems in 1997 
(CNDDB 1999). The areal coverage of the eight patches at this 
occurrence was calculated to be less than 0.1 ha (0.2 ac) in 2000 
(American Realty Trust, Inc. 2002).

Riverside County

    The three extant occurrences known from Riverside County are on 
privately owned lands. One occurrence, along Nichols Road in the City 
of Lake Elsinore, supported an estimated 3,400 stems in 1997; a 
westward extension of the Nichols Road occurrence was documented by a 
specimen collected in 2001 and deposited in the Herbarium at Rancho 
Santa Ana Botanic Garden (RSA), Claremont, CA. Another occurrence at a 
biological preserve at Skunk Hollow supported about 100 to 300 stems in 
1998 (B. McMillan, USFWS, in litt. 1999). Since publication of the 
proposed rule to list Ambrosia pumila, an additional occurrence has 
been located near Alberhill (Hewitt and McGuire 2000). This occurrence 
is about 3.5 km (2.1 mi) to the northwest of the Nichols Road site and 
reportedly consists of about 12,800 aerial stems in six concentrations, 
with most of the stems in a single concentration (Hewitt and McGuire 
2000). Also, since the listing proposal, a specimen documenting a 
historical occurrence in the Arlington area of the City of Riverside, 
Riverside County has been reported (Provance et al. 2001).

Estado de Baja California, Mexico

    The current documented range of Ambrosia pumila in Mexico extends 
from Colonet south to Lake Chapala in north-central Baja California. 
Two of the three documented sites were confirmed by D. Hogan, Southwest 
Center for Biological Diversity (now Center for Biological Diversity ) 
and C. Burrascano, San Diego Chapter, California Native Plant Society 
(CNPS) (1996). Although additional occurrences may exist in Baja 
California Mexico, the species is not considered to be widespread 
because of the lack of appropriate habitat and impacts from agriculture 
and urban development, especially near the coast.

Previous Federal Action

    Federal Government action on this species began pursuant to section 
12 of the Act, which directed the Secretary of the Smithsonian 
Institution to prepare a report on those plants considered to be 
threatened, endangered, or extinct in the United States. This report, 
designated House Document No. 94-51, was presented to Congress on 
January 9, 1975. Ambrosia pumila was not included in this document. A 
revision of the Smithsonian report (Ayensu and DeFilipps 1978) provided 
new lists based on additional data on taxonomy, geographic range, and 
endangered status of taxa, as well as suggestions of taxa to be 
included or deleted from the earlier listing. A. pumila, not included 
in the first Smithsonian report, was recommended for threatened status 
in the Ayensu and DeFilipps (1978) report. We published an updated 
Notice of Review (NOR), on December 15, 1980 (45 FR 82479). This notice 
included A. pumila as a category 1 candidate species. Category 1 
candidate species were taxa for which we had sufficient information on 
biological vulnerability and threats to support preparation of listing 
    The 1978 Smithsonian report (Ayensu and DeFilipps 1978), which 
included Ambrosia pumila, was accepted as a petition. Section 2(b)(1) 
of the 1982 amendments to the Act required that all petitions pending 
on October 13, 1982, be treated as having been newly submitted on that 
date. Section 4(b)(3)(B) of the Act further requires the Secretary to 
make findings on petitions within 12 months of their receipt. 
Consequently, on October 13, 1983, we found that the petitioned listing 
of this species was warranted but precluded by other pending listing 
actions, in accordance with section 4(b)(3)(B)(iii) of the Act. 
Notification of this finding was

[[Page 44375]]

published in the Federal Register on January 20, 1984 (49 FR 2485). 
Such a finding requires the petition to be recycled annually, pursuant 
to section 4(b)(3)(C)(i) of the Act. On November 28, 1983, we published 
a supplement (48 FR 53639) to the December 15, 1980, NOR of plant taxa 
for listing. In this NOR, the status of A. pumila was changed to a 
category 2 candidate species. Category 2 candidate species were taxa 
for which information then in our possession indicated that proposing 
to list the taxa as endangered or threatened was possibly appropriate, 
but for which substantial data on biological vulnerability and threats 
were not currently known or on file to support proposed rules. The 
status of A. pumila remained unchanged through, and including, the 
September 30, 1993 NOR (58 FR 51143). On February 28, 1996, we 
published an NOR (61 FR 7595). In that notice we announced changes to 
the way we identify species that are candidates for listing under the 
Act that included our discontinuance of the maintenance of a list of 
species that were previously identified as category 2 candidates. Thus, 
as a category 2 candidate, A. pumila was not included in the February 
28, 1996, NOR.
    On January 9, 1997, we received a petition dated November 12, 1996, 
from the Southwest Center for Biological Diversity and the San Diego 
Chapter of the California Native Plant Society, requesting that 
Ambrosia pumila be listed as endangered pursuant to section 4 of the 
Act. Additionally, the petition appealed for emergency listing pursuant 
to section 4(b)(7) of the Act. The petitioners further requested that 
critical habitat be designated for A. pumila concurrent with the 
listing pursuant to 50 CFR 424.12 and the Administrative Procedure Act 
(5 U.S.C. 553). On January 23, 1997, we notified the petitioners that 
we received their petition and that it would be processed based on the 
listing priority guidance then in effect.
    Section 4(b)(3)(A) of the Act requires that we make a finding on 
whether a petition presents substantial information indicating that the 
action may be warranted. To the maximum extent practicable, this 
finding should be made within 90 days of the receipt of the petition 
and it should be published promptly in the Federal Register. If we 
determine that listing the species may be warranted, section 4(b)(3)(B) 
of the Act requires us to make a finding within 12 months of the date 
of the receipt of the petition on whether the petitioned action is (a) 
not warranted, (b) warranted, or (c) warranted but precluded from 
immediate proposal by other pending proposals of higher priority. 
However, because of budgetary restraints, we processed petitions in 
accordance with the 1997 listing priority guidance published in the 
Federal Register on December 5, 1996 (61 FR 64475). This guidance 
identified four tiers of listing activities to be conducted by us with 
appropriate funds. Tier 1, the highest priority, covered emergency 
listings of species facing an imminent risk of extinction as defined 
under the emergency listing provisions of section (4)(b)(7) of the Act. 
Tier 2, the second priority, included processing of final 
determinations for species currently proposed for listing. Tier 3, the 
third priority, addressed efforts under the Act to resolve the 
conservation status of candidate species and process administrative 
findings on petitions to add species to the lists or reclassify 
threatened species to endangered status. Tier 4, the lowest priority, 
covered the processing of critical habitat determinations, delisting 
actions, and reclassification of endangered species to threatened 
status. Under the priority system and because of the backlog of species 
proposed for listing and awaiting final listing determinations at that 
time, we deferred action on listing petitions except where an emergency 
existed and where the immediacy of the threat was so great to a 
significant portion of the population that the routine listing process 
would not be sufficient to prevent large losses that might result in 
    We reviewed the petition and supporting documentation to determine 
whether Ambrosia pumila warranted emergency listing pursuant to section 
4(b)(7) of the Act. On July 15, 1997, we concluded that emergency 
listing and the designation of critical habitat were not warranted, and 
that the petition should be processed as a Tier 3 priority task 
pursuant to the listing priority guidance for fiscal year 1997 (61 FR 
64475). On October 23, 1997, a notice published in the Federal Register 
(62 FR 55268), announced the extension of the fiscal year 1997 listing 
priority guidance until such time as the fiscal year 1998 appropriation 
bill for the Department of the Interior became law and new final 
guidance was published in the Federal Register. In this notice there 
were no changes made in the tier system.
    On October 1, 1998, Southwest Center for Biological Diversity and 
the California Native Plant Society filed a lawsuit in the United 
States District Court for the Southern District of California, 
challenging our failure to produce timely administrative 90-day and 12-
month findings for Ambrosia pumila.
    On May 8, 1998, new listing priority guidance for Fiscal Years 1998 
and 1999 was published in the Federal Register (63 FR 25502). This new 
guidance changed the four-tier priority system to a three-tier priority 
system. Highest priority, Tier 1, was assigned to processing emergency 
listing rules for any species determined to face a significant and 
imminent risk to its well-being. Second priority, Tier 2, was 
processing final decisions on proposed listings; resolving the 
conservation status of candidate species; the processing of 
administrative findings on petitions to add species to the lists, and 
petitions to delist species, or reclassify species; and delisting and 
reclassifying actions. Lowest priority, Tier 3, was the processing of 
proposed or final critical habitat designations. Under that guidance, 
the administrative review process for this petition fell under Tier 2. 
We published a 90-day finding on the petition to list Ambrosia pumila 
as endangered in the Federal Register (64 FR 19108) on April 19, 1999. 
We found that substantial information existed indicating listing may be 
warranted and solicited comments and information regarding the finding. 
However, we did not receive any comments by May 19, 1999, the close of 
the comment period. On October 28, 1999, the District Court (Case No. 
98-CV-1785 J(RBB)) ordered us to complete a 12-month finding for A. 
pumila on or before December 10, 1999.
    On December 9, 1999, we sent the proposed rule to list Ambrosia 
pumila as endangered to the Federal Register. On December 29, 1999, it 
was published (64 FR 72993). This proposed rule constituted the 12-
month finding on the petition. In the proposed rule we indicated that 
designation of critical habitat was prudent for A. pumila, but we did 
not propose critical habitat at that time because of budgetary 
constraints and our current listing priority guidance. Due to limited 
resources and the need to undertake other, higher-priority listing 
actions, the Service was unable to make a final determination for this 
species within the 12-month statutory timeframe provided pursuant to 
the Act. In August 2001, the Department of the Interior reached an 
agreement in principle with the Center for Biological Diversity, 
Southern Appalachian Biodiversity Project, and the California Native 
Plant Society on a timeframe to make final listing determinations for 
14 species, including A. pumila. The agreement was formalized in 
October 2001 (Center for Biological Diversity, et al. v. Norton,

[[Page 44376]]

Civ. No. 01-2063 (JR) (D.D.C.). The publication of the final rule to 
list A. pumila complies with the terms of that court-approved 
settlement agreement.

Summary of Comments and Recommendations

    In our December 29, 1999, proposal to list Ambrosia pumila as 
endangered (64 FR 72993), we requested that all interested parties 
provide information concerning the status and distribution of the 
species and threats to the species and its habitat. During the 60-day 
comment period that closed on February 28, 2000, we contacted 
appropriate Federal and State agencies, county and city governments, 
scientific organizations, and other interested parties and requested 
comments on the proposal. In addition, legal notices announcing the 
publication of the proposed rule and opening of the public comment 
period were published in the North County Times and The San Diego 
Union-Tribune on January 6, 2000, and in the Riverside Press 
Enterprise, on January 7, 2000. We received no requests for a public 
hearing during the public comment period. We received two letters 
during the comment period, one from the petitioner and one from a peer 
reviewer. The comments provided information regarding the condition of 
several of the occurrences of the species and are incorporated in this 
final rule. On March 30, 2000, in response to a request, we reopened 
the comment period (65 FR 16869) for this proposed action for an 
additional 60 days, until May 30, 2000. No further comments were 
received during the reopened comment period.

Peer Review

    In accordance with interagency 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 taxonomic, biological, and ecological 
information for Ambrosia pumila presented in the proposed rule. The 
purpose of such a review is to ensure that listing decisions are based 
on scientifically sound data, assumptions, and analyses, including the 
input of appropriate experts. We received peer review comments from one 
of the persons contacted. The peer reviewer stated that the proposed 
action to list A. pumila as endangered was clear and complete. The peer 
reviewer also included some statements about translocations carried out 
for the species. Those comments are incorporated in this final rule 
where appropriate. There were no other responses to our requests for 
peer review of this listing action.
    Where applicable, we have incorporated factual information provided 
by the commenters in this final rule. Other statements or comments are 
addressed below.
    Comment 1: The commenter stated that two additional populations 
have been reported for Riverside County, bringing the total to four 
known occurrences in Riverside County.
    Our Response: Two new occurrences have been reported since the 
publication of the proposed rule in December 1999. A new historical 
occurrence of the species is based on a voucher specimen from the 
Herbarium of Riverside Community College. The specimen, which was 
verified by Andrew Sanders, Curator of the Herbarium at UCR, was 
collected in 1940 in the Arlington area of the City of Riverside 
(Provance et al. 2001). The other occurrence is near Alberhill where a 
series of six subpopulations supporting over 12,000 aerial stems was 
reported in 2000 (Hewitt and McGuire 2000). Currently, we are aware of 
three extant occurrences in Riverside County.
    Comment 2: The commenter did not think transplantation of Ambrosia 
pumila plants from a Caltrans site in the Sweetwater River drainage to 
a site in Penasquitos Canyon, a different watershed, or to multiple 
sites, was an appropriate use of those plants.
    Our Response: Transplantation has been used to salvage plants where 
the occurrence was to be totally or partially extirpated. The above-
mentioned activities were carried out by Caltrans in the summer of 
1996, as a mitigation measure for the unavoidable extirpation of 
Ambrosia pumila associated with construction of State Route 125/54. 
This was done prior to publication of the proposed rule to list the 
species. As part of the recovery planning process, protocols for the 
collection and use of salvaged materials will be developed, taking into 
account the reproductive biology and clonal structure of A. pumila. In 
collecting material for propagation, consideration must be given to 
maximize genetic variation and equal numbers of progeny should be 
obtained from each line (Given 1994). Caution will be used in employing 
translocation, relocation, and reintroduction as mitigation for project 
impacts (CDFG 1991).

Summary of Factors Affecting the Species

    Section 4 of the Act and implementing regulations (50 CFR Part 424) 
set forth the procedures for adding species to the Federal list of 
endangered and threatened species. We may determine that a species is 
endangered or threatened due to one or more of the five factors 
described in section 4(a)(1) of the Act. These factors and their 
application to Ambrosia pumila are as follows.
    A. The present or threatened destruction, modification, or 
curtailment of its habitat or range. Twenty-one of the 40 documented 
native occurrences of this species are believed to have been extirpated 
by human activities, including, but not limited to, urban development 
as well as highway and utility corridor construction and maintenance 
(CNDDB 1999). Of the remaining 19 occurrences, the occurrence adjacent 
to a sidewalk in National City (CNDDB 1999) was not considered viable 
because of the small size of the population, and three additional 
occurrences have not been verified in many years. Five of the remaining 
15 extant native occurrences, including 3 of the larger occurrences, 
are threatened with habitat destruction associated with highway 
expansion or highway rights-of-way maintenance activities including 
mowing (CNDDB 1999). Three known extant occurrences are within the San 
Luis Rey River watershed and are potentially threatened by highway 
maintenance and expansion of State Route 76 (CNDDB, 1999). Since 
issuance of a Notice of Preparation (NOP) in 1999 regarding widening of 
State Route 76, the scope of the project has been reduced and Caltrans 
has recently had internal scoping meetings to discuss alternatives (J. 
D'Elia, USFWS, in litt. 2002). One of these occurrences is west of the 
Bonsall Bridge and reportedly supported 2,000 to 3,000 stems in 1997 
(CNDDB). While this occurrence is within the boundary of a proposed 
project on Jeffries Ranch, (along the south side of State Route 76), 
current project design avoids all of this occurrence (American Realty 
Trust, Inc. 2002). However, the occurrence is still threatened by 
highway expansion along the northern boundary of the property. A 
portion of this same occurrence was inadvertently impacted in 1996 by a 
San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) utility project. The species was 
found on the site during the latter stages of planning for the project. 
Some of the aerial stems were salvaged by Pacific Southwest Biological 
Services, Inc. and have been maintained for future translocation. 
Ambrosia pumila still occurs at this locality. We have recently 
received a request from SDG&E for assistance in replanting the A. 
pumila at this site (Sempra Energy in litt. 2001). One of the five 
remaining occurrences within the

[[Page 44377]]

Sweetwater River watershed, near El Cajon, reportedly supports more 
that 1,000 stems, and is potentially threatened by highway construction 
(CNDDB 1999) although no project is currently funded for the site (B. 
April, pers. comm., 2002). In Riverside County, highway expansion or 
highway and utility rights-of-way maintenance threaten a large 
occurrence (500 to 1,000 stems reported in 1998) along Nichols Road 
near Lake Elsinore (CNDDB 1999).
    Development of recreational facilities has also affected Ambrosia 
pumila (CNDDB 1999). One occurrence that reportedly supported 2,000 
aerial stems in 1997 was apparently significantly degraded by the 
construction of a golf course near Del Dios Highway in the San Dieguito 
River watershed, San Diego County (G. Wallace, in litt. 1999). Fewer 
than 100 aerial stems were found on the site which was less than 0.1 ha 
(less than 0.1 ac) in size (G. Wallace, in litt. 1999). Construction of 
a campground facility in MTRP by the City of San Diego resulted in the 
loss of less than 0.1 ha (0.1 ac) or 10 percent of this major 
population. This impact was the anticipated loss allowable under 
provisions of the City of San Diego's MSCP Subarea Plan (City of San 
Diego 1997). Biological monitoring, a requirement of MSCP, is in place 
and biologists periodically evaluate the status of this species and 
make management recommendations.
    Urban development continues to threaten this species. A large 
occurrence in the City of El Cajon that reportedly supported 6,500 
stems of Ambrosia pumila in 1998 (CNDDB 1999) was apparently extirpated 
by commercial and residential development (C. Burrascano, in litt. 
2001). In Riverside County, the recently reported occurrence near 
Alberhill (reportedly supporting about 13,000 aerial stems in 2000) is 
threatened by development associated with the Alberhill Sports and 
Entertainment project (Hewitt & McGuire 2000).
    B. Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes. Overutilization is not known to be a factor 
affecting Ambrosia pumila at this time. The potential threat to this 
species from over-collection may increase upon publication of this 
rule, although we are not aware of any incidents of collection of this 
species resulting from the proposal to list A. pumila as an endangered 
species. This species has been offered for sale locally, however, the 
source of the material is unknown (J. Bartel and B. McMillan, USFWS, 
pers. comm., 1999; CNPS, in litt. 2000).
    C. Disease or predation. Disease and predation are not known to be 
factors affecting this plant species.
    D. The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms. Existing 
regulatory mechanisms that could currently provide some protection for 
this species include (1) Federal laws and regulations including the 
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Endangered Species Act in 
those cases where this species occurs in habitat occupied by other 
listed species, the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, and section 404 
of the Federal Clean Water Act; (2) State laws, including the Native 
Plant Protection Act (NPPA), California Endangered Species Act (CESA), 
California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and section 1603 of the 
California Fish and Game Code; (3) local land use processes and 
ordinances; and (4) protection under Mexican laws.

Federal Laws and Regulations

    NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 to 4347) requires disclosure of the 
environmental effects of projects within Federal jurisdiction. NEPA 
requires that the project alternatives include recommendations for 
protecting, restoring, and enhancing the environment. NEPA does not, 
however, require that the lead agency select an alternative with the 
least significant impact to the environment, nor does it prohibit 
implementing a proposed action in an environmentally sensitive area (40 
CFR 1500 et seq.).
    The Endangered Species Act (Act) may afford protection to Ambrosia 
pumila if it co-occurs with species already listed as threatened or 
endangered. A number of federally listed species are known to or are 
likely to co-occur within the range of A. pumila. Protection afforded 
by these species through sections 7 and 10 of the Act, however, is 
minimal due to the lack of significantly overlapping habitat 
requirements. These species include the endangered least Bell's vireo 
(Vireo bellii pusillus) and the threatened coastal California 
gnatcatcher (Polioptila californica californica). These species are not 
known to consistently co-occur in the same vegetation communities with 
A. pumila although they may occur in nearby associated communities.
    The Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act and section 404 of the Clean 
Water Act may afford some protection to Ambrosia pumila where it occurs 
in waters of the United States that require a permit from the U.S. Army 
Corps of Engineers (Corps). Under section 404 of the Clean Water Act, 
the Corps regulates the discharge of fill material into waters of the 
United States, which may include terraces of streams where A. pumila is 
found. Through the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, we may recommend 
discretionary conservation measures to avoid, minimize, and offset 
impacts to fish and wildlife resources resulting from a water 
development project authorized by the Corps. Section 404 regulations 
require that applicants obtain a nationwide, regional, or individual 
permit for projects that discharge fill material into waters of the 
United States. However, because the distribution of this species occurs 
mainly in non-wetland habitats and may not co-occur with other listed 
species, the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act and section 404 of the 
Clean Water Act provide only limited opportunities to protect A. 

State Laws and Regulation

    Although State laws, including CEQA, CESA, and NPPA at times may 
provide a measure of protection to species, these laws are not adequate 
to protect species in all cases or may not be applicable to a 
particular species.
    Ambrosia pumila is not listed under the CESA although it may be 
eligible for State listing under section 1901, chapter 10 of the 
California Department of Fish and Game Code. Its inclusion in List 1B 
of the California Native Plant Society Inventory (CNPS 2001) may 
satisfy the threat requirement of that section. The State was 
petitioned to list this species as endangered, under CESA, in June 
1997. This petition was rejected by the State because it was not 
accurate. The same petitioner submitted another petition in February 
1998 to list the species as threatened but subsequently withdrew the 
petition in March 1998. The State did not comment on our proposal to 
list this species.
    CEQA (Public Resources Code, section 21000 et seq.) pertains to 
projects on non-Federal lands or activities and requires that a project 
proponent publicly disclose the potential environmental impacts of 
proposed projects. The public agency with primary authority or 
jurisdiction over the project is designated as the lead agency. The 
lead agency is responsible for conducting a review of the project and 
consulting with other agencies concerned with the resources affected by 
the project. Section 15065 of the CEQA Guidelines requires a finding of 
significance if a project has the potential to ``reduce the number or 
restrict the range of a rare or endangered plant or animal'' including 
those that are eligible for listing under the NPPA or CESA. However, 
under CEQA, where overriding social and economic considerations can be 
demonstrated, a

[[Page 44378]]

project may go forward even where adverse impacts to a species are 

Mexican Law

    We are not aware of any existing regulatory mechanisms in Mexico 
that would protect Ambrosia pumila or its habitat. If A. pumila was 
specifically protected in Mexico, the portion of the range in Mexico 
alone would not be adequate to ensure long-term conservation of this 
    E. Other natural or manmade factors affecting their continued 
existence. Non-native plants are considered a threat to virtually all 
of the extant occurrences of Ambrosia pumila (CNDDB 1999; J. 
Vanderwier, in litt. 1998). Non-native species of grasses and forbs 
have invaded many of southern California's plant communities. Their 
presence and abundance are often an indirect result of persistent and 
repeated habitat disturbance from development, discing, mowing, 
alteration of local hydrology, and the presence and maintenance of 
highways and trails. Overgrowth and competition by non-native plants 
likely affect the reproductive potential of this low growing, wind-
pollinated species (CNDDB 1999). Non-native plants found with A. pumila 
include Brassica spp. (mustard), Vulpia spp. (annual fescue), Erodium 
spp. (crane's-bill), Bromus spp. (brome grass), and Foeniculum vulgare 
(sweet fennel). While scientific studies on the effects of non-native 
plants on A. pumila have not been undertaken, the presence of these and 
other non-native plants is likely to affect (1) pollen and fruit 
dispersal by impeding flow of wind-blown pollen and local dispersal of 
seeds; (2) fire patterns by increasing the fuel loads due to the influx 
of non-native plants; (3) hydrological conditions by decreasing the 
amount of water available for A. pumila; and (4) the cumulative effects 
by reducing the vegetative productivity and the apparently low seed 
production for this species.
    Several occurrences of Ambrosia pumila are threatened by periodic 
mowing or discing which can reduce the vegetative vigor of the plants 
and may greatly reduce or eliminate the chances of reproductive output 
for the year. If the plants were mowed in mid summer to early fall, it 
is likely that the flowering portions of the aerial stems would be 
removed. Vegetation in a fuel modification zone in a portion of one of 
the occurrences in the SDNWR is periodically mowed or disced (J. 
Vanderwier, in litt. 1998; A. Davenport, in litt. 2002). In the future, 
populations on the SDNWR will be flagged prior to discing for fire 
breaks to avoid this species (A. Davenport, in litt. 2002). The extant 
occurrence in El Cajon, owned by Caltrans, is also impacted by periodic 
mowing by an adjacent landowner (CNDDB 1999; B. April, pers. comm., 
    In one documented instance in 1999, the occurrence of Ambrosia 
pumila at a fenced biological preserve at Skunk Hollow in Riverside 
County, was grazed by sheep (C. Moen, USFWS, in litt. 1999). Grazing 
would likely eliminate or severely reduce the annual reproductive 
output of A. pumila and could also reduce the vegetative portions of 
the plants to a degree that would threaten their capacity to persist. 
Grazing was not a covered activity in the Rancho Bella Vista Habitat 
Conservation Plan that encompasses this area (USFWS 2000).
    Trampling by hikers, horses, and vehicles is likely a threat to any 
of the occurrences that are found along trails, access roads, rights-
of-way, and utility easements. At least four of the larger occurrences 
of Ambrosia pumila are known to be threatened by trampling, including 
the occurrences at the SDNWR (J. Vanderwier, in litt. 1998; T. Roster, 
SDNWR, pers. comm., 1999; A. Davenport, in litt. 2002). While the 
effects on the rhizome-like roots by soil compaction from vehicle 
traffic has not been quantified, no aerial stems occur in a wide trail 
used by hikers and horseback riders that traverses an occurrence in the 
SDNWR (A. Davenport, in litt. 2002). As an avoidance measure, some of 
the trails that cross and fragment occurrences of the species at the 
SDNWR will be abandoned, while those that remain will have increased 
signage to direct hikers and equestrian users away from the A. pumila 
populations (T. Roster, pers. comm., 1999). In addition, SDNWR will 
consult under section 7 of the Act for any proposed actions that may 
affect A. pumila.
    The occurrence at Skunk Hollow in Riverside County is reportedly 
threatened by indirect impacts from urbanization, including a park, 
surrounding the occurrence (CNDDB 1999). These activities could include 
increased impacts from trail use by mountain bikes, horses, or hikers.
    Two occurrences are in MTRP. Coincident with their subarea plan 
(City of San Diego 1997), the San Diego Ambrosia Management Plan (City 
of San Diego 2000) includes several conservation measures already in 
place at MTRP. These include fencing at area C which supports the 
highest concentration of stems of San Diego ambrosia (City of San Diego 
2000). Social trails that disperse foot traffic from main trails have 
been closed by fencing or signage noting sensitive habitat and an 
interpretive sign is posted in the area (P. Kilburg, Senior Ranger, 
MTRP, pers. comm., 2002). The management plan (City of San Diego 2000) 
states that 26 percent of all mapped patches and 24 percent of the 
total area supporting this species are impacted by trails. The document 
also notes that Ambrosia pumila cannot withstand trampling from routine 
foot traffic and that trampling compacts the soil. Compacted soil may 
reduce the percolation of water into the soil and small patches may be 
in greater jeopardy than larger patches from this type of altered 
hydrological condition (City of San Diego 2000). Therefore, the plan 
recommends enhancement of the population of A. pumila. The plan 
cautions that strategies should be carefully tested prior to large-
scale implementation or acceptance as a reliable enhancement method 
(City of San Diego 2000). Two strategies were proposed, one to increase 
the areal extent and absolute numbers of rhizome-like roots in a given 
patch. The other strategy involves increasing the range of the species 
in MTRP. Removal of exotic non-native species and planting of native 
grassland species should be included as funding permits (City of San 
Diego 2000). Enhancement protocols would likely require inclusion of 
sampling methodologies to identify specific genetic composition of 
occurrences and obtain material of the desired genotypes. Success 
criteria will be determined based in part on genetic composition and 
dynamics of natural populations.
    Two extant occurrences (CNDDB 1999) are within the Metro/Lakeside/
Jamul segment of the San Diego County Subarea Plan of the MSCP (County 
of San Diego 1997). At least one of these occurrences is threatened by 
the parking of cars on the site and discing of the site (CNDDB 1999). 
This same occurrence is affected by trampling during maintenance 
activities on SDG&E utility towers (J. Vanderwier, in litt. 1998) and 
trampling associated with children using the area as a playground for 
walking and riding bicycles (A. Davenport, in litt. 2002). The area 
where the plants occur appears to be mowed periodically (A. Davenport, 
in litt. 2002).
    As described above in the background section, small occurrences 
composed of a low number of aerial stems or those consisting of few 
genetically distinct genotypes are likely at a greater risk of negative 
impacts from random events. This could include fire, which could

[[Page 44379]]

eliminate the reproductive output at an occurrence, kill all of the 
plants, or severely reduce the vegetative capacity of the plants to 
sustain reproductive structures for some period of time.
    We have carefully assessed the best scientific and commercial 
information available regarding the threats faced by this species in 
developing this rule. Based on this evaluation, listing Ambrosia pumila 
as endangered is warranted. The species is threatened with extinction 
due to present or threatened destruction, fragmentation, and 
degradation of habitat primarily by construction and maintenance of 
highways, maintenance of utility easements, development of recreational 
facilities, and residential and commercial development; inadequate 
regulatory mechanisms; potential competition, encroachment, and other 
negative impacts from non-native plants; mowing and discing for fuel 
modification; and trampling as well as soil compaction by horses, 
humans, and vehicles. These threats are compounded by the fact that 
this species is a clonal perennial plant that has wind-pollinated 
flowers and may rarely produce viable seeds. The number of genetically 
different plants at any given site is unknown, but there are likely 
multiple aerial stems per plant. This means that some of the smaller 
occurrences could represent a single plant. Seven of the 15 occurrences 
are on private lands, some of these with rights-of-way access where 
regular maintenance activities may impact the plants. Conservation 
measures, provided by MSCP, are in place for 5 of the 15 occurrences. 
Even with full protection, this represents only one-third of the known 
occurrences and will likely not protect sufficient numbers of 
genetically different plants. Other occurrences may be conserved in 
future habitat conservation plans. Also, there are no known examples of 
transplanted or reintroduced occurrences of this species in which 
sexual reproduction has occurred to sustain either a viable population 
or exhibit the genetic diversity found in a naturally occurring 

Critical Habitat

    Critical habitat is defined in section 3(5)(A) 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) which may require special management 
considerations or protection; and (ii) 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, the Secretary designates 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.
    Ambrosia pumila is potentially vulnerable to unrestricted over-
collection or vandalism. 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 of over-collection or vandalism of A. 
pumila. This species has been offered for sale locally, but the origin 
of the material is unknown. 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 from over-collection or vandalism.
    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 of 
the Act 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 
determine that designation of critical habitat for Ambrosia pumila is 
    However, the deferral of the critical habitat designation for 
Ambrosia pumila will allow us to concentrate our limited resources on 
higher priority listing actions, while allowing us to put in place 
protections needed for the conservation of A. pumila without delay. 
This is consistent with section 4(b)(6)(C)(i) of the Act, which states 
that final listing decisions may be issued without concurrent 
designation of critical habitat if it is essential to the conservation 
of the species that such determinations be promptly published. We will 
prepare a critical habitat designation for this species in the future 
at such time when our available resources allow it.

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 
conservation actions by Federal, State, and private agencies, groups, 
and individuals. The Act provides for possible land acquisition and 
cooperation with the States, local agencies, private groups, and 
organizations and requires that recovery actions be carried out for all 
listed species. We discuss the protection required by Federal agencies 
and the prohibitions against taking and harm, 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) of the Act requires Federal agencies to 
confer informally

[[Page 44380]]

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 agency action may 
affect a listed species or its critical habitat, the responsible 
Federal agency must enter into consultation with us.
    Several Federal agencies are expected to potentially have 
involvement with section 7 of the Act regarding this species. The 
association of Ambrosia pumila with terraces of streams may result in 
the Corps becoming involved through its permitting authority under 
section 404 of the Clean Water Act and the issuance of permits related 
to the discharge of fill material into waters of the United States. The 
Federal Highway Administration may be affected through potential 
funding of future highway construction affecting this species. The 
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission may be involved through its 
permitting authority for utility projects that may potentially affect 
this species. The two occurrences of A. pumila on the SDNWR receive the 
protection afforded biological resources on the refuge. In addition, 
SDNWR is managed in accordance with San Diego MSCP. In the long-term, 
the SDNWR will develop a comprehensive conservation plan that addresses 
this species and other biological resources.
    In 1991, the State of California established the Natural Community 
Conservation Planning (NCCP) program to address conservation needs of 
natural ecosystems throughout the State. The initial focus of the NCCP 
program is the coastal sage scrub community in southern California. 
Regional habitat conservation plans have been approved, are in 
development, or are being planned in San Diego, Orange, Riverside, San 
Bernardino, and Los Angeles Counties pursuant to the State of 
California Natural Community Conservation Planning Act of 1991 and 
section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act.
    The San Diego MSCP establishes a 68,800-ha (172,000-ac) preserve 
and provides for monitoring and management for the 85 covered species 
addressed in the permit, including Ambrosia pumila. Additionally, A. 
pumila is defined in the MSCP as a narrow endemic species. The Service 
approved subarea plans under the MSCP for the City of Poway in July 
1996, the City of San Diego in July 1997, the County of San Diego in 
March 1998 and the City of La Mesa in January 2000.
    All of the 12 extant occurrences in San Diego County are in 
approved or proposed regional habitat conservation planning areas. 
Eleven of the 12 extant occurrences in San Diego County are in the MSCP 
planning area. Two of these occurrences are in the SDNWR. Five of the 
nine known occurrences in the MSCP planning area are provided 
protection within approved permitted Subarea Plans. Two of the 
occurrences, both at MTRP, are addressed under the approved City of San 
Diego's Subarea Plan (City of San Diego 1997) and in the San Diego 
Ambrosia Management Plan (City of San Diego 2000). Several conservation 
measures are in place at MTRP. These include fencing of the largest 
concentration of Ambrosia pumila, closure of several trails that impact 
the species, and interpretive signage in the area (City of San Diego 
2000, P. Kilburg pers. comm., 2002). According to the City of San 
Diego's Subarea Plan (City of San Diego 1997), 90 percent of the only 
major population will be conserved and 100 percent of the adjacent 
portion of the occurrence on private lands near the radio tower will be 
preserved. The site-specific monitoring plan, with management plan and 
directives, include measures to protect against detrimental edge 
effects (City of San Diego 1997). This Subarea Plan also treats this 
plant as a narrow endemic species requiring impacts within the preserve 
to be avoided. Outside the preserve, narrow endemic species will be 
protected through one of the following measures: (1) Avoidance; (2) 
management; (3) enhancement; and (4) transplantation to areas 
identified for preservation. Unavoidable impacts associated with 
reasonable use or essential public facilities would need to be 
minimized and mitigated (City of San Diego 1997).
    Under the County of San Diego's Subarea Plan, Ambrosia pumila is a 
narrow endemic species requiring avoidance to the maximum extent 
possible. Where avoidance is infeasible, a maximum encroachment may be 
authorized of up to 20 percent of the population on site. Where impacts 
are allowed, in-kind preservation shall be required at a 1:1 to 3:1 
ratio depending upon the sensitivity of the species and population 
size, as determined in a biological analysis approved by the Service 
and the CDFG. The occurrences near Del Dios Highway in the San Dieguito 
River watershed, as well as two occurrences near Steele Canyon Road are 
within the approved County of San Diego's Subarea Plan (County of San 
Diego 1997).
    Two existing occurrences remain within the City of El Cajon. The 
City of El Cajon submitted a draft MSCP Subarea Plan dated January 2, 
1997 (City of El Cajon 1997). Neither of the two occurrences is 
included within the 100 percent habitat preserve areas. The draft plan 
notes that the plant is considered a narrow endemic species by MSCP and 
the intention of the City of El Cajon to address species and habitat 
protection through the CEQA process. The City of El Cajon has not yet 
completed their MSCP subarea plan. The last time this plan was an 
agenda item at a meeting with the City of El Cajon was on May 20, 1999.
    The draft Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact 
Report for the MHCP in northwestern San Diego County was released for 
review by the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) and the 
Service in December 2001. The only known occurrence of this species 
within the planning area is proposed to be conserved. Under the draft 
MHCP, the plant would be treated as a narrow endemic species requiring 
surveys of suitable habitat and onsite conservation of 80-100 percent 
of each occurrence discovered in the area. Two occurrences of Ambrosia 
pumila in San Diego County are within the North County MSCP Subarea 
Plan, which is also in the planning phase. This plan is projected to be 
completed in 2004.
    The County of Riverside anticipates completion of the Western 
Riverside Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan (MSHCP) by 
December 2002. Ambrosia pumila has been proposed for coverage under 
this plan and will be treated as a narrow endemic species. The three 
known extant occurrences of this species in Riverside County are within 
the planning boundaries of the MSHCP. One of these is within an area 
already managed for conservation. The other two occurrences are within 
the criteria area where conservation is proposed. The narrow endemic 
species policy will require pre-project surveys and onsite conservation 
of a portion of any new populations identified (County of Riverside 
    SDG&E prepared a subregional Natural Communities Conservation Plan. 
The Service, CDFG, and SDG&E signed an implementation agreement and 
memorandum of understanding in December 1995. Under the provisions of 
this plan, Ambrosia pumila is a covered species and a narrow endemic 
species. The plan prohibits impacts to occupied habitat except in 
emergency situations.

[[Page 44381]]

    While four of the 12 extant occurrences of Ambrosia pumila in San 
Diego County are in areas where regional habitat conservation planning 
is ongoing, the plans have not yet been approved. These regional 
planning efforts include MHCP, the North County MSCP Subarea Plan, and 
the City of El Cajon Subarea Plan. The details of protections for each 
of the occurrences of Ambrosia pumila under each of these plans are 
being developed and thus are not currently in place. Protections for 
the eight remaining occurrences in San Diego County are discussed 
above. All three of the only known extant occurrences in Riverside 
County are in the planning area for the Western Riverside Multiple 
Species Habitat Conservation Plan. Because this plan is not yet 
approved, two of these occurrences, including one of the largest, are 
not currently afforded any protections under the MSHCP.
    Listing Ambrosia pumila provides for the development and 
implementation of a recovery plan for the species. This plan will bring 
together Federal, State, and local agency efforts for conservation of 
the species. A recovery plan will establish a framework for agencies to 
coordinate their recovery efforts. The plan will set recovery 
priorities and estimate the costs of the tasks necessary to accomplish 
the priorities. It will also describe the site-specific management 
actions necessary to achieve conservation and recovery of the species. 
Based on the biology of this species and preliminary data regarding the 
clonal structure of the species, attention should be given to 
preservation of as many genotypes as possible. This is most easily 
accomplished by preserving as many different occurrences as possible, 
determining their clonal structure, and protecting the occurrences from 
direct effects of habitat destruction or degradation and the indirect 
effects of encroachment by invasive non-native 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, 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 and reduce to possession 
from areas under Federal jurisdiction any endangered plant species. In 
addition, for plants listed as endangered, the Act prohibits malicious 
damage or destruction on areas under Federal jurisdiction, and the 
removal, cutting, digging up, or damaging or destroying of such 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 agents of the Service and State conservation 
    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 plant species under certain circumstances. Such permits are 
available for scientific purposes and to enhance the propagation or 
survival of the species. It is anticipated that few trade permits would 
ever be sought or issued because this species is not common in 
cultivation or common in the wild. Requests for copies of the 
regulations concerning listed plants and general inquiries regarding 
prohibitions and permits may be addressed to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, Endangered Species Permits, 911 NE. 11th Avenue, Portland, OR 
97232-4181 (telephone 503/231-2063; facsimile 503/231-6243).
    It is our policy, published in the Federal Register (59 FR 34272) 
on July 1, 1994, to identify to the maximum extent practicable those 
activities that would or would not be likely to constitute a violation 
of section 9 of the Act if a species is listed. The intent of this 
policy is to increase public awareness of the effect of the species' 
listing on proposed and ongoing activities within its range. Collection 
of listed plants or activities that would damage or destroy listed 
plants on Federal lands are prohibited without a Federal endangered 
species permit. Such activities on non-Federal lands would constitute a 
violation of section 9 of the Act if they were conducted in knowing 
violation of California State law or regulation, or in the course of 
violation of California criminal trespass law. Otherwise, such 
activities would not constitute a violation of the Act on non-Federal 
    Questions on whether specific activities would likely constitute a 
violation of section 9 should be directed to the Field Supervisor of 
the Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
CONTACT section).

National Environmental Policy Act

    We have determined that Environmental Assessments and Environmental 
Impact Statements, 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. A notice outlining our reasons for this determination was 
published in the Federal Register on October 25, 1983 (48 FR 49244).

Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.)

    This rule does not contain any new collections of information that 
require approval by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under the 
Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.). Any information 
collection related to the rule pertaining to permits for endangered and 
threatened species has OMB approval and is assigned control number 
1018-0094, which expires on July 31, 2004. For additional information 
concerning these permits and associated requirements, see 50 CFR 
Sec. 17.62.

References Cited

    A complete list of all references cited herein is available, upon 
request, from the Field Supervisor, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office 
(see ADDRESSES section).


    The primary author of this final rule is Gary D. Wallace, Ph.D., 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife 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. 1361-1407; 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 entry in 
alphabetical order under FLOWERING PLANTS to the List of Endangered and 
Threatened Plants to read as follows:

Sec. 17.12  Endangered and threatened plants.

* * * * *
    (h) * * *

[[Page 44382]]

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

                *                   *                   *                   *                   *                   *                   *
Ambrosia pumila..................  San Diego ambrosia..  U.S.A. (CA) Mexico.  Asteraceae.........  E                       727           NA           NA

                *                   *                   *                   *                   *                   *                   *

    Dated: June 14, 2002.
Marshall P. Jones, Jr.,
Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 02-16370 Filed 7-1-02; 8:45 am]