[Federal Register: October 10, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 197)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 63067-63069]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AI26

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Critical Habitat 
Designation for Four Vernal Pool Crustaceans and Eleven Vernal Pool 
Plants in California and Southern Oregon

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule; notice of public hearing.


SUMMARY: We, the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), provide notice 
that we are holding three public hearings to take oral comments 
regarding the proposed rule to designate critical habitat for 4 
crustaceans and 11 plants endemic to vernal pools in California and 
southern Oregon.

DATES: We will hold public hearings and a public informational meeting 
at the following dates and times:

October 22, 2002:

San Luis Obispo, CA
    First public hearing: 1 p.m. until 3 p.m.; registration begins at 
12:30 p.m. Second public hearing: 6 p.m. until 8 p.m.; registration 
begins at 5:30 p.m. October 24, 2002:
Sacramento, CA
    First public hearing: 1 p.m. until 3 p.m.; registration begins at 
12:30 p.m.
    Second public hearing: 6 p.m. until 8 p.m.; registration begins at 
5:30 p.m.
Medford, OR
    Public informational meeting: 1:30

[[Page 63068]]

p.m. until 3:30 p.m.
    Public hearing: 6 p.m. until 8 p.m.; registration begins at 5:30 

    Written comments on the proposed rule (67 FR 59884) must still be 
received by the date published in the proposed rule.

ADDRESSES: The public hearings and public informational meeting will be 
held at the following locations:

San Louis Obispo, CA: Embassy Suites, 333 Madonna Road.
Sacramento, CA: Radisson Hotel, 500 Leisure Lane.
Medford, OR: Red Lion Hotel, 200 N. Riverside Avenue.

    Written comments and materials concerning the proposed critical 
habitat designation for 4 vernal pool crustaceans and 11 vernal pool 
plants in California and Southern Oregon (67 FR 59884) should be sent 
to Wayne S. White, Field Supervisor, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife 
Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2800 Cottage Way Room W-2605, 
Sacramento, CA 95825. Written comments may also be sent by facsimile to 
916/414-6713 or through the internet to fwl--vernalpool@fws.gov. You 
may also hand-deliver written comments to our Sacramento Fish and 
Wildlife Office, at the above address, or at any of the public hearings 
mentioned above.
    Comments and materials received, as well as supporting 
documentation used in the preparation of the proposed critical habitat 
designation rule, will be available for public inspection, by 
appointment, during normal business hours, at the above address. You 
may obtain copies of the proposed rule from the above address, by 
calling 916/414-6600, or from our Web site at http://

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Arnold Roessler or Susan Moore at the 
above address (telephone 916/414-6600, facsimile 916/414-6713 or visit 
our Web site at http://sacramento.fws.gov/). Information regarding this 
proposal is available in alternative formats upon request.



    On September 24, 2002, we published a proposed rule to designate 
critical habitat, pursuant to the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as 
amended (Act) for 4 vernal pool crustaceans and 11 vernal pool plants 
(67 FR 59884). The purpose of the public hearings announced here is to 
take oral comments on the proposed critical habitat designation.
    Critical habitat consists of specific areas on which are found 
physical or biological characteristics essential to the conservation of 
a threatened or endangered species. The designation of critical habitat 
does not establish a preserve or regulate purely private uses of land. 
However, the Act does require Federal agencies to avoid taking actions 
that are likely to result in the destruction or adverse modification of 
critical habitat and to consult with us regarding how to best to avoid 
such destruction or adverse modification. Critical habitat designations 
also inform the public regarding areas of special importance for the 
conservation of the threatened or endangered species involved.
    The four vernal pool crustaceans involved in this critical habitat 
designation are the Conservancy fairy shrimp (Branchinecta 
conservatio), longhorn fairy shrimp (Branchinecta longiantenna), vernal 
pool fairy shrimp (Branchinecta lynchi) and vernal pool tadpole shrimp 
(Lepidurus packardi). The eleven vernal pool plant species are Butte 
County meadowfoam (Limnanthes floccosa ssp. californica), Contra Costa 
goldfields (Lasthenia conjugens), Hoover's spurge (Chamaesyce hooveri), 
succulent (or fleshy) owl's-clover (Castilleja campestris ssp. 
succulenta), Colusa grass (Neostapfia colusana), Greene's tuctoria 
(Tuctoria greenei), hairy Orcutt grass (Orcuttia pilosa), Sacramento 
Orcutt grass (Orcuttia viscida), San Joaquin Valley Orcutt grass 
(Orcuttia inaequalis), slender Orcutt grass (Orcuttia tenuis), and 
Solano grass (Tuctoria mucronata). We are proposing a total of 128 
units of critical habitat for these 15 species, totaling approximately 
672,920 hectares (ha) (1,662,762 acres (ac)) in 36 counties in 
California and one county in Oregon.
    All the species listed above live in vernal pools (shallow 
depressions that hold water seasonally), swales (shallow drainages that 
carry water seasonally), and ephemeral freshwater habitats. None are 
known to occur in riverine waters, marine waters, or other permanent 
bodies of water. The vernal pool habitats of these species have a 
discontinuous distribution west of the Sierra Nevada that extends from 
southern Oregon through California into northern Baja California, 
Mexico. The species have all adapted to the generally mild climate and 
seasonal periods of inundation and drying which help make the vernal 
pool ecosystems of California and southern Oregon unique.

Public Comments Solicited

    We solicit additional information and comments that may assist us 
in making a final decision on the proposed rule to designate critical 
habitat for 4 vernal pool crustaceans and 11 vernal pool plants. We 
intend our final critical habitat designation to identify as accurately 
and effectively as possible those areas possessing characteristics 
essential to the conservation of the species. We will also take into 
account any economic or other impacts which this designation might 
cause. Therefore, we request comments and additional information from 
the general public, other concerned governmental agencies, the 
scientific community, industry, or any other interested party 
concerning this proposed rule. Comments are particularly sought 
    (1) The reasons why any habitat should or should not be determined 
to be critical habitat as provided by section 4 of the Act, including 
whether areas under consideration require additional special 
    (2) Specific information on the amount and distribution of any of 
the vernal pool crustaceans or vernal pool plants and what habitat is 
essential to the conservation of these species and why;
    (3) Land use designations and current or planned activities in the 
subject areas and their possible impacts on proposed critical habitat; 
in particular, in Oregon, we seek information related to potential of 
selected parcels to contribute to the species recovery, considering 
their zoning, adjacent land uses, watershed integrity, and potential 
for edge effects (related to shape of parcel);
    (4) Any foreseeable economic or other impacts resulting from the 
proposed designation of critical habitat, in particular, any impacts on 
small entities or families;
    (5) Economic and other values associated with designating critical 
habitat for vernal pool crustaceans and vernal pool plants such as 
those derived from non-consumptive uses (e.g., hiking, camping, bird-
watching, enhanced watershed protection, improved air quality, 
increased soil retention, ``existence values,'' and reductions in 
administrative costs);
    (6) Whether any areas should be excluded pursuant to section 
4(b)(2); and
    (7) Whether our approach to critical habitat designation could be 
improved or modified in any way to provide for greater public 
participation and understanding, or to assist us in accommodating 
public concern and comments.
    Anyone wishing to make an oral comment or statement for the record 
at any of the hearings listed above is encouraged (but not required) to 
also provide a written copy of the statement and to present it to us at 
the hearing.

[[Page 63069]]

Oral comments will be transcribed. In the event there is a large 
attendance, the time allotted for oral statements may be limited. Oral 
and written statements receive equal consideration. There are no limits 
to the length of written comments presented at the hearing or mailed, 
faxed or emailed to us. Legal notices announcing the date, time, and 
location of the public hearings will be published in newspapers 
concurrently with this Federal Register notice. We will hold public 
informational meetings in various locations in California and will 
publicize the dates and locations in the local news media.
    Persons needing reasonable accommodations in order to attend and 
participate in the public hearing should contact Patti Carroll at 503/
231-2080 as soon as possible. In order to allow sufficient time to 
process requests, please call no later than one week before the hearing 
    Previously submitted written comments on this proposal need not be 
resubmitted. Please submit electronic mail comments as an ASCII file 
and avoid the use of special characters and any form of encryption. 
Please also include ``Attn: [RIN 1018-AI26]'' and your name and return 
address in your electronic message. If you do not receive a 
confirmation from our system that we have received your e-mail message, 
contact us directly by calling our Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office 
at telephone number 916/414-6600. Comments and materials received will 
be available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal 
business hours at the Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, at the above 


    The primary author of this notice is Glen Tarr (see ADDRESSES 

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

    Dated: October 1, 2002.
Paul Hoffman,
Acting Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
[FR Doc. 02-25720 Filed 10-9-02; 8:45 am]