[Federal Register: November 21, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 225)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 70201-70202]
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 availability of draft economic 
analysis; extension 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 four vernal pool crustaceans and 
eleven vernal pool plants in California and southern Oregon. The 
economic analysis identifies potential costs between $6 and $7 million 
per year as a result of the designation of critical habitat, including 
those costs coextensive with listing. We are extending the comment 
period for the proposal to designate critical habitat for these 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 23, 2002.

ADDRESSES: Written comments and information should be submitted to 
Wayne White, Field Supervisor, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2800 Cottage Way, Suite W-2605, 
Sacramento, CA 95825. Written comments may also be sent by fax to 916/
414-6710 or hand-delivered to our Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office 
at the above address. You may also send comments by electronic mail (e-
mail) to fw1--vernalpool@fws.gov.
    You may view comments and materials received, as well as supporting 
documentation used in the preparation of this proposed rule, by 
appointment, during normal business hours in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service's Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office at the above address. You 
may obtain copies of the proposed rule and draft economic analysis from 
the above address, by calling 916/414-6600, or from our Web site at 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Arnold Roessler, Sacramento Fish and 
Wildlife Office, at the address above (telephone 916/414-6600; 
facsimile 916/414-6710).



    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 four vernal pool crustaceans and eleven vernal pool 
plants (67 FR 59884). 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 proposed 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.
    Critical habitat receives protection from destruction or adverse 
modification through required

[[Page 70202]]

consultation under section 7 of the Act with regards 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 September 24, 2002, proposal 
originally closed on November 25, 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. The economic analysis identifies potential 
costs between $6 and $7 million per year as a result of the designation 
of critical habitat, including those costs coextensive with listing. At 
this time the Service has not identified any areas to exclude under 
Section 4(b)(2) or 3(5)(A) of the Act. The Service will consider 
excluding areas if they do not require special management or if the 
benefits of excluding them from the critical habitat designation 
outweigh the benefits of including them. The economic analysis presents 
the Service's tentative conclusions with respect to the economic 
effects of the proposed critical habitat designation. The Service will 
not make any final decisions about exclusions, however until it has 
obtained public comment on the economic analysis and produced an 
addendum to the economic analysis containing its final conclusions. The 
Service is interested in comments from the public on the economic 
analysis, on whether any of the areas identified in the economic 
analysis as having economic effects should be excluded for economic 
reasons, and whether those or any other areas should be excluded for 
other reasons. Extension 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 four vernal pool crustaceans and 
eleven vernal pool plants do not need to be resubmitted as they will be 
fully considered in the final determination.

Public Comment Solicited

    The final economic analysis concerning the designation of critical 
habitat for four vernal pool crustaceans and eleven vernal pool plants 
will consider information and recommendations from all interested 
parties. We particularly seek comments concerning:
    (1) Assumptions reflected in the economic analysis regarding land 
use practices and current, planned, or reasonably foreseeable 
activities in the subject areas, including comments or information 
relating to the potential effects that the designation could have on 
private landowners as a result of actual or foreseeable State and local 
government responses due to the California Environmental Quality Act;
    (2) Land use practices and current, planned, or foreseeable 
activities in the subject areas and their possible impacts on proposed 
critical habitats;
    (3) Any foreseeable economic or other impacts resulting from the 
proposed designation of these critical habitats, including impacts that 
may not have been addressed in the draft economic analysis and, in 
particular, any impacts on small entities or families;
    (4) Economic and other values associated with designating critical 
habitat for these species; and
    (5) 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.
    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 
    You may mail or hand-deliver written comments and information to 
the Field Supervisor, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, at the above 
address. Hand deliveries must be made during normal business hours.
    You may also send comments by electronic mail (e-mail) to fw1--
vernalpool@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.
    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 
http://www.r1.fws.gov or by writing or calling Arnold Roessler, at the 
address or telephone number listed above.


    The primary author of this notice is Susan Moore (see ADDRESSES 


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

    Dated: November 7, 2002.
Paul Hoffman,
Acting Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
[FR Doc. 02-29619 Filed 11-19-02; 8:45 am]