[Federal Register: April 30, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 83)]
[Page 23158-23159]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Draft Cactus 
Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl Recovery Plan

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; reopening of public comment period.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announce the 
reopening of the comment period for the Draft Recovery Plan for the 
Cactus Ferruginous Pygmy-owl (Glaucidium brasilianum cactorum) (Draft 
Plan). The species is currently known to occur on Federal, state, 
tribal, and private lands in Pima and Pinal Counties in southern 
Arizona. We solicit review and comment from the public on this Draft 
Plan. Since the prior comment period, additional information from the 
administrative record concerning the locations of pygmy-owls has become 
available to the public, in part as a result of a court ruling in 
National Association of Home Builders v. Norton, 309 F.3d 26 (D.C. Cir. 
2002). Thus, we are reopening the comment period on the Draft Plan to 
allow all interested parties additional time to provide comments. 
Comments previously submitted need not be resubmitted, because they 
will be incorporated into the public record as part of this reopening 
of the comment period, and will be fully considered in the Final Plan.

DATES: Submit comments on or before June 30, 2003.

ADDRESSES: Written comments and materials regarding the plan should be 
addressed to the Field Supervisor, Arizona Ecological Services Field 
Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2321 West Royal Palm Road, 
Suite 103, Phoenix, Arizona, 85021-4951 or faxed to 602/242-2513, or 
emailed to cfpo_recovery@fws.gov. The additional materials from the 
administrative record, as well as comments and materials received, are 
available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal business 
hours at the above address. You may also write the Field Supervisor at 
the address above, or call 602/242-0210 to have a copy mailed to you or 
made available for you to pick up at the address above. Persons wishing 
to review the Draft Recovery Plan may also obtain a copy by accessing 
the Service's Arizona Ecological Service Field Office internet web page 
at Arizonaes.fws.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Scott Richardson, Arizona Ecological 
Services Tucson Suboffice, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 110 South 
Church Avenue, Suite 3450, Tucson, Arizona, 85701 (520/670-4643).



    Restoring an endangered or threatened animal or plant species to 
the point where it is again a secure, self-sustaining member of its 
ecosystem is a primary goal of our endangered species program. To help 
guide the recovery effort, we are working to prepare recovery plans for 
most of the listed species native to the United States. Recovery plans 
describe actions considered necessary for conservation of species, 
establish criteria for the recovery levels for downlisting or delisting 
them, and estimate time and cost for implementing the recovery measures 
needed. The current comment period for the Draft Plan closed on April 
9, 2003.
    The Endangered Species Act of 1973 (Act), as amended (16 U.S.C. 
1531 et seq.), requires the development of recovery plans for listed 
species unless such a plan would not promote the conservation of a 
particular species. Section 4(f) of the Act, as amended in 1988, 
requires that public notice and an opportunity for public review and

[[Page 23159]]

comment be provided during recovery plan development. We will consider 
all information presented during the public comment period prior to 
approval of each new or revised recovery plan. We, along with other 
Federal agencies, will take these comments into account in the course 
of implementing approved recovery plans.
    The Draft Plan describes the status, current management, recovery 
objectives and criteria, and actions needed to reclassify the pygmy-owl 
from endangered to threatened. The Draft Plan was developed in 
coordination with the Service and by an appointed Recovery Team which 
includes a group of scientists with expertise in the ecology of the 
pygmy-owl and other raptors (Technical Group) together with a team of 
stakeholders (the Implementation Group), which includes members of 
affected parties (i.e., tribes, state agencies, counties, towns, 
developers, environmental groups, ranchers, mining, and private 
property rights groups). The Draft Plan has undergone peer review by 
scientists, conservation biologists, range experts, and others 
experienced in reviewing recovery plans. This Draft Plan incorporates 
their comments where applicable. Additional peer review will be 
conducted during the current public comment period.
    The pygmy-owl occurs in a variety of scrub and woodland 
communities, including riverbottom woodlands, woody thickets, Sonoran 
desertscrub, and semidesert grasslands. The pygmy-owl occurs in areas 
with fairly dense woody thickets or woodlands with trees and/or cacti 
large enough to support nesting cavities. They are found below 1,200 
meters (4,000 feet ). We determined in 1997 that the distinct 
population segment in Arizona of the pygmy-owl was endangered (62 FR 
10730) primarily because of habitat destruction. Factors identified 
included (1) present or threatened destruction of their habitat and 
range, (2) inadequate existing regulatory mechanisms, and (3) other 
natural or manmade factors affecting their continued existence. The 
Draft Plan contains actions to address these factors.

Public Comments Solicited

    We solicit written comments on the Draft Plan. In particular, we 
are soliciting specific comments on:
    1. Any information on the numbers and distribution of the pygmy-owl 
not considered in the Draft Plan and their relation to proposed 
recovery actions;
    2. Whether we have looked at the right biological factors and other 
relevant data related to the quantity and quality of available pygmy-
owl habitat and what habitat is necessary to the recovery of the 
    3. Land use practices and current or planned activities within 
Recovery Areas and their possible impacts on proposed recovery actions.
    All comments received by us on or before the date specified in the 
DATES section above will be considered prior to approval of the plan.


    The authority for this action is section 4(f) of the Endangered 
Species Act, 16 U.S.C. 1533(f).

    Dated: April 16, 2003.
H. Dale Hall,
Regional Director, Region 2.
[FR Doc. 03-10635 Filed 4-29-03; 8:45 am]