[Federal Register: October 31, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 211)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 66378-66379]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AG93

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Designation of 
Critical Habitat for Sidalcea keckii (Keck's checkermallow)

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule; notice of availability of draft economic 
analysis; reopening of comment period.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announce the 
availability of the draft economic analysis for the proposed 
designation of critical habitat for Sidalcea keckii (Keck's 
checkermallow) located in Fresno and Tulare Counties, California. We 
are reopening the comment period for the proposal to designate critical 
habitat for this species to allow all interested parties to comment 
simultaneously on the proposed rule and the associated draft economic 
analysis. Comments previously submitted need not be resubmitted as they 
will be incorporated into the public record as part of this extended 
comment period, and will be fully considered in the final rule.

DATES: We will accept comments on both the draft economic analysis and 
the proposed critical habitat designation until December 2, 2002.

ADDRESSES: Written comments and information should be submitted to the 
Field Supervisor, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, 2800 Cottage Way, Suite W-2605, Sacramento, CA 95825. 
For the electronic mail address, and further instructions on 
commenting, refer to Public Comments Solicited section of this notice.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Susan Moore, at the address above 
(telephone 916/414-6600; facsimile 916/414-6710).



    Sidalcea keckii (Keck's checkermallow) is an annual herb of the 
mallow family (Malvaceae) endemic (native and restricted to) the 
western foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains in California. It 
produces bright pink flowers in April and early May, and likely forms a 
persistent soil seed bank consisting of viable seeds from numerous 
years. S. keckii was first

[[Page 66379]]

described in 1940 from samples taken near the town of White River in 
southern Tulare County, but the plant could not be relocated by 
botanists for over 50 years. Many botanists had presumed it to be 
extinct when a new population was discovered near Mine Hill in central 
Tulare County in 1992. Based on soils information from the new site, 
surveys were conducted on a previously documented site in the Piedra 
area of Fresno County, and a population was rediscovered there in 1998. 
We have recently learned of another population discovered near Piedra 
in 2002, but we do not yet have details regarding its exact location 
(John Stebbins, Herbarium Curator, California State University, in 
litt., 2002). We have also received information that the standing 
population at Mine Hill may have been extirpated by conversion of the 
habitat to an orange grove (J. Stebbins, in litt., 2002). Much of the 
area around the original population at Mine Hill remains potentially 
viable however, and may contain a seed bank or standing plants.
    We listed Sidalcea keckii as an endangered species under the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act) (16 U.S.C. 1531 et 
seq.) on February 16, 2000 (65 FR 7757). On June 19, 2002, we proposed 
three critical habitat units for the plant totaling approximately 438 
hectares (ha) (1,085 acres (ac)) (67 FR 41669). The proposed critical 
habitat units are located near Piedra in Fresno County, and near Mine 
Hill and White River in Tulare County. The areas are all privately 
owned except for 3 ha (7 ac) of Federal land at the Piedra site managed 
by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Approximately 77 ha (189 ac) of the 
privately owned land at the Piedra site is on a reserve established by 
the Sierra Foothill Conservancy for the protection of S. keckii and 
other rare plants.
    Critical habitat receives protection from destruction or adverse 
modification through required consultation under section 7 of the Act 
with regard to actions carried out, funded, or authorized by a Federal 
agency. Section 4(b)(2) of the Act requires that the Secretary of the 
Interior shall designate or revise critical habitat based upon the best 
scientific and commercial data available, after taking into 
consideration the economic impact of specifying any particular area as 
critical habitat.
    The public comment period for the June 19, 2002, proposal 
originally closed on August 19, 2002. We have prepared a draft economic 
analysis on the effects of the proposed critical habitat designation, 
and are now announcing its availability for review. The draft analysis 
estimates the foreseeable economic impacts of the critical habitat 
designation on government agencies and private businesses and 
individuals. Reopening of the comment period will provide the public an 
opportunity to evaluate and comment on both the proposed rule and the 
draft economic analysis. Comments already submitted on the proposed 
designation of critical habitat for Sidalcea keckii do not need to be 
resubmitted as they will be fully considered in the final 

Public Comment Solicited

    The final economic analysis concerning the designation of critical 
habitat for Sidalcea keckii will consider information and 
recommendations from all interested parties. We will accept written 
comments and information during this reopened comment period. If you 
wish to comment, you may submit your comments and materials concerning 
this proposal by any of several methods:
    You may mail or hand-deliver written comments and information to 
the Field Supervisor, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service, 2800 Cottage Way, Suite W-2605, Sacramento, CA 
95825. Hand deliveries must be made during normal business hours.
    You may also send comments by electronic mail (e-mail) to 
    Hand-delivered or mailed comments and information should be 
submitted to the Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, as found in the 
ADDRESSES section. Comments and information submitted by e-mail should 
be addressed to fw1kecks--checkermallow@fws.gov. If you submit comments 
by e-mail, please submit them as an ASCII file and avoid the use of 
special characters and any form of encryption. Please also include a 
return address in your e-mail message. If you do not receive a 
confirmation from the 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, during normal business hours.
    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 or the draft 
economic analysis. We particularly seek comments concerning:
    (1) Plans or potential for development within the area proposed to 
be designated, notwithstanding the comments of the county employee 
contacted in preparing the economic analysis;
    (2) Plans or potential for conversion of land within the area 
proposed to be designated to other types of agricultural uses, such as 
vineyards, which might require a permit under section 404 of the Clean 
Water Act, or other types of Federal permits;
    (3) The likelihood of ``stigma effects'' and costs associated with 
the designation; and
    (4) The likely effects and resulting costs arising from the 
California Environmental Quality Act and other State laws as a result 
of the designation.
    Comments and materials received, as well as supporting 
documentation used in preparation of the proposal to designate critical 
habitat, will be available for inspection, by appointment, during 
normal business hours at our office listed in the ADDRESSES section. 
Copies of the draft economic analysis are available on the Internet at 
www.r1.fws.gov or by writing or calling Susan Moore, at the address or 
telephone number listed above.


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


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

    Dated: October 23, 2002.
Paul Hoffman,
Acting Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
[FR Doc. 02-27649 Filed 10-30-02; 8:45 am]