[Federal Register: August 14, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 157)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 48581-48583]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AI73

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Reopening of 
Comment Period, Announcement of Public Hearing, and Availability of 
Draft Economic Analysis for Proposed Designation of Critical Habitat 
for Three Threatened Mussels and Eight Endangered Mussels in the Mobile 
River Basin

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice; reopening of comment period, announcement of hearing, 
and availability of draft economic analysis.


SUMMARY: We, the Fish and Wildlife Service, announce the availability 
of the

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draft economic analysis for the proposed designation of critical 
habitat for three threatened mussels and eight endangered mussels in 
the Mobile River Basin. We also give notice of a public hearing. We are 
reopening the comment period for the proposal to designate critical 
habitat for these species to accommodate the public hearing and to 
allow all interested parties to comment on the proposed rule and 
associated draft economic analysis. Comments previously submitted need 
not be resubmitted and will be fully considered in the final 
determination of the proposal.

DATES: The public hearing will be held from 7 to 10 p.m. central 
standard time on October 1, 2003, in Birmingham, Alabama.
    Maps of the critical habitat units and information on the species 
will be available for public review on October 1, 2003 from 5:30 to 
6:30 p.m.
    The comment period is hereby reopened until October 14, 2003. We 
must receive comments on the proposal and draft economic analysis from 
all interested parties by the closing date. Any comments that we 
receive after the closing date will not be considered in the final 
decision on this proposal.

ADDRESSES: The public hearing will be held at Brock Forum, located in 
Dwight Beeson Hall on the campus of Samford University, 800 Lakeshore 
Drive, Birmingham, Alabama. You can get copies of the proposed rule for 
the critical habitat designation, maps, and draft economic analysis by 
downloading them on the Internet at http://southeast.fws.gov/hotissues; 
or by writing to the Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 
6578 Dogwood View Parkway, Suite A, Jackson, MS 39213; or by calling 
Connie Light Dickard, Mississippi Field Office, telephone 601/321-1121.
    Written comments and materials concerning the proposal may be 
submitted to us at the hearing, or directly by any one of several 
    1. You may submit written comments and information to the Field 
Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 6578 Dogwood View Parkway, 
Suite A, Jackson, MS 39213.
    2. You may hand-deliver written comments and information to our 
Mississippi Field Office, at the above address, or fax your comments to 
    3. You may send comments by electronic mail (e-mail) to paul_
hartfield@fws.gov. For directions on how to submit comments 
electronically, see the ``Public Comments Solicited'' section.
    Comments and materials received, as well as supporting 
documentation used in preparation of this proposed rule, will be 
available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal business 
hours at the above address.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Paul Hartfield, Mississippi Field 
Office, at the above address (telephone 601/321-1125, facsimile 601/



    We listed the fine-lined pocketbook (Lampsilis altilis), orange-
nacre mucket (Lampsilis perovalis), and Alabama moccasinshell 
(Medionidus acutissimus) as threatened species, and the Coosa 
moccasinshell (Medionidus parvulus), southern clubshell (Pleurobema 
decisum), dark pigtoe (Pleurobema furvum), southern pigtoe (Pleurobema 
georgianum), ovate clubshell (Pleurobema perovatum), triangular 
kidneyshell (Ptychobranchus greeni), upland combshell (Epioblasma 
metastriata), and southern acornshell (Epioblasma othcaloogensis) as 
endangered species on March 17, 1993 (58 FR 14330).
    On March 26, 2003, we published in the Federal Register a proposal 
to designate critical habitat for these species (68 FR 14752). The 
proposed designation includes portions of the Tombigbee River drainage 
in Mississippi and Alabama; portions of the Black Warrior River 
drainage in Alabama; portions of the Alabama River drainage in Alabama; 
portions of the Cahaba River drainage in Alabama; portions of the 
Tallapoosa River drainage in Alabama and Georgia; and portions of the 
Coosa River drainage in Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee. The proposed 
designation encompasses a total of approximately 1,760 kilometers (km) 
(1,093 miles (mi)) of river and stream channels.
    Section 4(b)(2) of the Act requires that we designate critical 
habitat based upon the best scientific data available and after taking 
into consideration the economic impact, and any other relevant impact, 
of specifying any particular area as critical habitat. We may exclude 
an area from critical habitat if we determine that the benefits of 
excluding the area outweigh the benefits of including the area as 
critical habitat, provided such exclusion will not result in the 
extinction of the species. We have prepared a draft economic analysis 
concerning the proposed critical habitat designation, which is 
available for review and comment (see ADDRESSES section). The results 
of our draft analysis suggest that the potential economic impacts of 
the proposed designation range from $9.03 million to $33.3 million over 
the next 10 years. Please refer to the draft analysis for more details 
concerning the methodological approach and findings of the analysis.

Public Hearing

    Section 4(b)(5)(E) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) requires 
that a public hearing be held if it is requested within 45 days of the 
publication of the proposed rule. Donald Waldon, Tennessee-Tombigbee 
Waterway Development Authority; Randall Chafin, The Birmingham 
Waterworks Board; Ralph Clemens, Alabama-Tombigbee Rivers Coalition; 
Jerry Sailors, Coosa-Alabama Improvement Association; and Sheldon 
Morgan, Warrior-Tombigbee Waterway Association, individually requested 
a public hearing within the allotted time period.
    Public hearings are designed to gather relevant information that 
the public may have that we should consider in the proposed designation 
of critical habitat or a draft economic analysis.
    We will hold a public hearing in Birmingham, Alabama, on October 1, 
2003, from 7 to 10 p.m. Birmingham is centrally located relative to the 
proposed critical habitat units and the affected States. The hearing 
location will be the Brock Forum, located in Dwight Beeson Hall on the 
campus of Samford University, 800 Lakeshore Drive, Birmingham, Alabama. 
All comments presented at the public hearing will be recorded by a 
court reporter. Maps of the critical habitat units and information on 
the species will be available for public review one hour prior to the 
public hearing between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m.

Public Comments Solicited

    We have reopened the comment period at this time in order to accept 
the best and most current scientific and commercial data available 
regarding the proposed critical habitat determination for the three 
threatened and eight endangered Mobile River Basin mussels and the 
draft economic analysis associated with the designation of critical 
habitat. All previous comments and information submitted during the 
comment period need not be resubmitted. Written comments may be 
submitted to the Field Supervisor (see ADDRESSES section).
    Please submit electronic comments as an ASCII file format and avoid 
the use of special characters and encryption. Please also include 
``Attn: RIN 1018-AI73'' and your name and return address in your e-mail 
message. If you

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do not receive a confirmation from the system that we have received 
e-mail message, please contact us directly by calling our Mississippi 
Field Office (see ADDRESSES section).
    Our practice is to make all comments, including names and home 
addresses of respondents, available for public review during regular 
business hours. Individual respondents may request that we withhold 
their home addresses from the rulemaking record, which we will honor to 
the extent allowable by law. In some circumstances, we would withhold 
from the rulemaking record a respondent's identity, as allowable by 
law. If you wish for us to withhold your name and/or address, you must 
state this prominently at the beginning of your comments. However, we 
will not consider anonymous comments. We will make all submissions from 
organizations or businesses, and from individuals identifying 
themselves as representatives or officials of organizations or 
businesses, available for public inspection in their entirety.
    We solicit comments or suggestions from the public, other concerned 
governmental agencies, the scientific community, industry, or any other 
interested parties concerning the proposal or the draft economic 
analysis. We particularly seek comments concerning:
    (1) Are data available to develop more accurate estimates of the 
costs of project modifications related to the relicensing of Weiss Dam 
and operations at Carters Reregulation Dam;
    (2) Are data available to discern the likelihood that the proposed 
water supply dams will be constructed within critical habitat; further, 
is information available regarding the costs of potential project 
modifications for construction of these dams;
    (3) Are data available on additional land use practices, or current 
or planned activities in proposed critical habitat areas, that are not 
specifically or adequately addressed in this analysis; and
    (4) Are data available detailing additional specific benefits of 
the species or habitat that may be incorporated qualitatively or 
quantitatively into the discussion of benefits?


    The primary author of this document is Paul Hartfield (see 
ADDRESSES section).


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

    Dated: August 5, 2003.
Craig Manson,
Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
[FR Doc. 03-20729 Filed 8-13-03; 8:45 am]