[Federal Register: September 12, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 177)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 57783-57784]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AH91

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Extension of the 
Public Comment Period on Proposed Designation of Critical Habitat for 
the Rio Grande Silvery Minnow

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule; reopening and extension of the public comment 


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), provide 
notice of an extension of the public comment period for the proposal to 
designate critical habitat for the Rio Grande silvery minnow 
(Hybognathus amarus) (silvery minnow), a species federally listed as 
endangered under the authority of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, 
as amended (Act). Comments are also solicited on the associated draft 
economic analysis and draft environmental impact statement (draft EIS). 
Comments previously submitted need not be resubmitted as they have 
already been incorporated into the public record and will be fully 
considered in the final rule. The proposed rule designating critical 
habitat for the silvery minnow and the draft EIS were issued pursuant 
to a November 21, 2000, court order by the United States District Court 
for the District of New Mexico, in Middle Rio Grande Conservancy 
District v. Babbitt, Civ. Nos. 99-870, 99-872, 99-1445M/RLP 
(Consolidated), that set aside the July 9, 1999, critical habitat 
designation for the silvery minnow.

DATES: The comment period will be extended until October 2, 2002. 
Comments must be received by the closing date.

ADDRESSES: You may submit written comments and materials concerning the 
proposal, the draft economic analysis, or the draft EIS to Field 
Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, New Mexico Ecological 
Services Field Office, 2105 Osuna NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87113. Written 
comments may also be sent by facsimile to (505) 346-2542 or R2FWE--
AL@fws.gov. All comments, including names and addresses, will become 
part of the administrative record and may be released. You may also 
hand-deliver written comments to our New Mexico Ecological Services 
Field Office, at the above address. Comments and materials received, as 
well as supporting documentation used in the preparation of this 
proposed rule, will be available for public inspection, by appointment, 
during normal business hours from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at the above 
address. You may obtain copies of the proposed rule from the above 
address or by calling 505/346-2542, or from our website at http://

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Joy Nicholopoulos, Field Supervisor, 
New Mexico Ecological Services Field Office (see ADDRESSES above); 
phone: 505-346-2525 or visit our website at http://ifw2es.fws.gov/.



    We published a proposed rule to designate critical habitat for the 
silvery minnow in the Federal Register on June 6, 2002 (67 FR 39206). 
The silvery minnow presently occurs only in the Rio Grande from Cochiti 
Dam, Sandoval County, downstream to the headwaters of Elephant Butte 
Reservoir, Sierra County, New Mexico. We proposed to designate critical 
habitat within this last remaining portion of the occupied range in the 
middle Rio Grande (Cochiti Dam to Elephant Butte Dam) in New Mexico. 
The proposed critical habitat designation defines the lateral extent 
(width) as those areas bounded by existing levees or, in areas without 
levees, 91.4 meters (300 feet) of riparian zone adjacent to each side 
of the middle Rio Grande.
    We have not proposed critical habitat designation for two areas 
important for the conservation of the silvery minnow (i.e., the river 
reach of the middle Pecos and lower Rio Grande in Big Bend National 
Park and downstream to the Terrell/Val Verde County line). We proposed 
a conservation strategy of developing one or more experimental 
populations under section 10(j) of the Act, because we believe this 
strategy outweighs any benefits that could be provided to the silvery 
minnow by including these areas within a designation of critical 
    If the proposed rule is finalized, section 7(a)(2) of the Act would 
require that Federal agencies ensure that actions they fund, authorize, 
or carry out are not likely to result in the ``destruction or adverse 
modification'' of critical habitat. Section 4 of the Act requires us to 
consider economic and other relevant impacts of specifying any 
particular area as critical habitat. We request data and comments from 
the public and all interested parties on all aspects of the proposal, 
including data on economic and other impacts of the proposed 
    We held two public hearings to receive comments from the public. 
The hearings were in Socorro and Albuquerque, NM, on June 25 and 26, 
2002 respectively. Public hearings are designed to gather relevant 
information that the public may have that we should consider in our 
rule-making. During the hearings, we presented information about the 
proposed action. We invited the public to submit information and 
comments either at the hearings or in writing.

Public Comments Solicited

    We solicit comments or suggestions from the public, other concerned 
governmental agencies, tribes, the scientific community, industry, or 
any other interested parties concerning the proposal, the draft 
economic analysis, or draft EIS. Our practice is to make all comments, 
including names and home

[[Page 57784]]

addresses of respondents, available for public review. Individual 
respondents may request that we withhold their home addresses from the 
rulemaking record; we will honor these requests to the extent allowed 
by law. If you wish us to withhold your name or address, you must state 
this prominently at the beginning of your comments. We will make all 
submissions from organizations or businesses, and from individuals 
identifying themselves as representatives or officials of organizations 
or businesses, available for public inspection in their entirety.
    We are particularly interested in comments or suggestions on 
reasons why any particular area should or should not be designated as 
critical habitat. We are further soliciting information or comments 
concerning our conservation strategy for the silvery minnow; specific 
information on the amount and distribution of silvery minnow habitat; 
what habitat is essential to the conservation of the species and why; 
and land use practices and current or planned activities in the subject 
areas, including comments or information relating to the 300-foot 
lateral width. Depending on public comments, information, or data 
received, we will evaluate whether these areas within the silvery 
minnow's historical range should be designated as critical habitat, and 
critical habitat could be revised as appropriate.


    The primary authors of this notice are the New Mexico Field Office 
staff (see ADDRESSES section).


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

    Dated: September 5, 2002.
Craig Manson,
Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
[FR Doc. 02-23249 Filed 9-11-02; 8:45 am]