[Federal Register: June 19, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 118)]
[Page 36828-36829]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Availability of a Draft Recovery Plan for the Lake Erie Water 
Snake (Nerodia sipedon insularum) for Review and Comment

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of document availability.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announces 
availability for public review of a draft recovery plan for the Lake 
Erie water snake

[[Page 36829]]

(Nerodia sipedon insularum). This species is federally listed as 
threatened under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act) 
(16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) on the offshore islands and surrounding waters 
in the western basin of Lake Erie, Ohio. The Service solicits review 
and comment from the public on this draft plan.

DATES: Comments on the draft recovery plan received on or before August 
18, 2003 will be considered by the Service.

ADDRESSES: Persons wishing to review the draft recovery plan may obtain 
a copy by contacting the Field Supervisor, Reynoldsburg Ohio Field 
Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 6950 Americana Parkway, Suite 
H, Reynoldsburg, Ohio 43068-4127, telephone (614) 469-6923, email 
lewatersnake@fws.gov, or by accessing the Web site: http://midwest.fws.gov/Endangered.
 Copies of the draft recovery plan may also 
be viewed at four public libraries listed in SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Megan Seymour at the above 
address, or telephone at (614) 469-6923, x16. TTY users may contact Ms. 
Seymour through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.



    Restoring an endangered or threatened animal or plant to the point 
where it is again a secure, self-sustaining member of its ecosystem is 
a primary goal of the Service's endangered species program. To help 
guide the recovery effort, the Service is working to prepare recovery 
plans for most of the federally threatened and endangered species 
native to the United States. Recovery plans describe actions considered 
necessary for conservation of the species, establish criteria which 
when met, would result in a determination that the species no longer 
needs the protection of the Act, and provide estimates of the time and 
cost for implementing the recovery measures needed.
    The Act 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 public notice and opportunity for public review and comment be 
provided during recovery plan development. The Service will consider 
all information presented during a public comment period prior to 
approval of each new or revised recovery plan. The Service and other 
Federal agencies will also take these comments into consideration in 
the course of implementing approved recovery plans.
    Lake Erie water snakes on the offshore islands and surrounding 
waters of Lake Erie were listed as threatened on August 30, 1999. Water 
snakes found on the Ohio mainland and islands adjacent to the mainland 
are not protected by the threatened designation due to the likelihood 
that these snakes represent intermediate forms between the Lake Erie 
water snake and northern water snake. The Lake Erie water snake spends 
summers basking on the rocky shorelines of the limestone and dolomite 
islands in the western Lake Erie basin. Hibernation habitat for the 
snake is composed of areas inland from the shore, which typically have 
soil and rock substrates and consist of natural openings or fissures. 
Human-made structures such as crib docks and erosion control protection 
can provide suitable summer habitat, while old building foundations and 
drainage tiles may provide suitable hibernation habitat. The primary 
threats to the snake include both accidental and intentional human-
induced mortality, and loss of suitable summer and hibernation habitat 
through development. Nine U.S. islands and seven Canadian islands 
currently provide year-round habitat for the snake, while two U.S. 
islands provide summer habitat only. The Lake Erie water snake has been 
extirpated from one U.S. island and two Canadian islands.
    Recovery will be achieved and the species removed from the list of 
Threatened and Endangered Species when the following criteria are met: 
(1) A minimum of 5,555 adult snakes exists on nine U.S. islands 
combined for six or more consecutive years, including at least 900 
snakes on Kelleys Island, 850 snakes on South Bass Island, 620 snakes 
on Middle Bass Island, and 410 snakes on North Bass Island, with the 
remaining snakes occurring on any of the nine islands; (2) a total of 
7.4 km of shoreline habitat and 51 hectares of hibernation habitat 
distributed proportionately among the four largest U.S. islands are 
protected in perpetuity by a written agreement approved by Service; (3) 
objective analysis of public attitude indicates that human persecution 
is no longer a threat to the continued existence of the snake; and (4) 
accidental human-induced mortality no longer poses a significant threat 
to the population.

Library Locations

    Copies of the documents can be obtained as indicated in the 
ADDRESSES section, and are also available for review at the following 
    1. Port Clinton Public Library, 310 Madison Street, Port Clinton, 
Ohio 43452.
    2. Sandusky Library, 114 W. Adams Street, Sandusky, Ohio 44870.
    3. Sandusky Library, 528 Division Street, Kelleys Island, Ohio 
    4. South Bass Island Library, Put-In-Bay School, Catawba Avenue, 
Put-In-Bay, Ohio 43456.

Public Comments Solicited

    The Service solicits written comments on the recovery plan 
described. All comments received by the date specified will be 
considered prior to approval of the plan. Written comments and 
materials regarding the plan should be addressed to the Field 
Supervisor (see ADDRESSES section). Comments and materials received 
will be available, by appointment, for public inspection during normal 
business hours, at the above address.

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

    Dated: May 23, 2003.
Charles M. Wooley,
Assistant Regional Director, Ecological Services.
[FR Doc. 03-15456 Filed 6-18-03; 8:45 am]