[Federal Register: March 21, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 55)]
[Page 13943-13944]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 90-day Finding on 
a Petition To Delist Tuctoria mucronata (Solano grass)

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of 90-day petition finding.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 
90-day finding for a petition to remove Tuctoria mucronata (Solano 
grass), throughout its range, from the Federal list of threatened and 
endangered species, pursuant to the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as 
amended (ESA). We reviewed the petition and supporting documentation, 
information in our files, and other available information, and find 
that there is not substantial information indicating that delisting of 
T. mucronata may be warranted. We will not be initiating a further 
status review in response to the petition to delist. We ask the public 
to submit to us any new information that becomes available concerning 
the status of this species. This information will help us monitor and 
encourage the conservation of this species.

DATES: The finding announced in this document was made on February 5, 
2003. You may submit new information concerning this species for our 
consideration at any time.

ADDRESSES: Data, information, written comments and materials, or 
questions concerning this petition and finding should be submitted to 
the Field Supervisor, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service, 2800 Cottage Way, Room W-2605, Sacramento, CA 
95825. The petition finding and supporting data are available for 
public inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the 
above address.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ken Fuller, Botanist, at the above 
address, or telephone 916/414-6645.



    We listed Tuctoria mucronata as an endangered species in 1978 (43 
FR 44810). At the time, T. macronata was known to exist only as a 
single population found at its type locality (the location where it was 
first discovered) at Olcott Lake, in Solano County, CA. We proposed 
critical habitat for T. mucronata, and 10 other vernal pool plant 
species, on September 24, 2002 (67 FR 59884). Tuctoria mucronata is an 
obligate vernal pool annual species.
    The petition to delist Tuctoria mucronata, dated February 3, 1997, 
was submitted by Rob Gordon, representing the National Wilderness 
Institute. The petition requested we remove T. mucronata from the List 
of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants based upon data error.
    Section 4(b)(3)(A) of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) requires 
that we make a finding on whether a petition to list, delist, or 
reclassify a species presents substantial scientific or commercial 
information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted. We 
base the finding on all information available to us at the time the 
finding is made. To the maximum extent practicable, we make this 
finding within 90 days of receipt of the petition, and promptly publish 
notice of the finding in the Federal Register. If we find that 
substantial information was presented, we are required to promptly 
commence a review of the status of the species, if one has not already 
been initiated (50 CFR 424.14).
    The factors for listing, delisting, or reclassifying species are 
described at 50 CFR 424.11. We may delist a species only if the best 
scientific and commercial data available substantiate that it is 
neither endangered nor threatened. Delisting may be warranted as a 
result of: (1) Extinction; (2) recovery; or (3) a determination that 
the original data used for classification of the species as endangered 
or threatened were in error.
    In response to the petitioner's request to delist Tuctoria 
mucronata, we sent a letter to the petitioner on June 29, 1998, 
explaining our inability to act upon the petition due to low priorities 
assigned to delisting petitions in accordance with our Listing Priority 
Guidance for Fiscal Year 1997, which was published in the Federal 
Register on December 5, 1996 (61 FR 64475). That guidance identified 
delisting activities as the lowest priority (Tier 4). Due to the large 
number of higher priority listing actions and a limited listing budget, 
we did not conduct any delisting activities during the Fiscal Year 
1997. On May 8, 1998, we published the Listing Priority Guidance for 
Fiscal Years 1998-1999 in the Federal Register (63 FR 25502) and, 
again, placed delisting activities at the bottom of our priority list. 
Since 1998, higher priority work has not allowed us to examine or act 
upon the petition to delist T. mucronata.


    The petition cited our 1993 Fiscal Year Budget Justification as its 
supporting information that the species should be removed from the List 
of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants based on data error. 
The 1993 Fiscal Year Budget Justification stated that we would evaluate 
those species identified as approaching the majority of their recovery 
objectives. Tuctoria mucronata was identified as one of 33 species 
approaching its recovery objectives, as found in our December 1990 
Report to Congress: Endangered and Threatened Species Recovery Program. 
The 1993 Fiscal Year Budget Justification identified the need to 
evaluate those species, including T. mucronata, and determine the 
appropriateness of delisting them based on status surveys.
    Our Delta Green Ground Beetle and Solano Grass Recovery Plan 
(Service 1985) states that recovery will be achieved by protecting the 
known population of the species and by establishing three additional, 
secure populations within the two protected large vernal lakes and 
their watersheds in the vicinity of the Jepson Prairie Preserve. 
Recovery would be achieved when these populations are secure and 
sustainable for a period of 15 consecutive years. Given that Tuctoria 
mucronata was last seen in 1993 at its original location when four 
individual plants were present, we are concerned that the population is 
possibly extirpated from its type locality. A second population of T. 
mucronata was discovered on private lands in 1985, and another 
population of T. mucronata was discovered in 1993 on a former U.S. Air 
Force Base communication facility that is being transferred to the Yolo 
County Parks Department. Several thousand individual plants of T. 
mucronata were seen at this site in 2000. We do not have sufficient 
additional populations protected in enough preserves specifically 
established for protection and management of the species or protected 
under conservation easements and managed for the conservation of the 
species to meet our recovery objectives.
    The petitioner also stated that ``other new scientific information 
gathered since the time of listing which is in possession of the 
Service,'' supports delisting due to data error. However, the petition 
did not identify this new scientific information. In addition, the

[[Page 13944]]

petitioner did not include any detailed narrative justification for the 
delisting or provide information regarding the status of the species 
over all or a significant portion of its range or include any 
persuasive supporting documentation for the recommended administrative 
measure to delist Tuctoria mucronata. While we have identified two 
additional populations since we listed the species, these two 
populations do not meet the recovery plan criteria for downlisting or 
delisting; in addition, the original population appears to be 
extirpated. We have found no evidence or data in our files or in the 
petition that indicates a data error was committed in listing T. 
mucronata or that otherwise supports the petitioned action.
    Threats to Tuctoria mucronata include alteration of hydrology, 
excessive livestock grazing, recreational uses, and competition from 
non-native plants (California Natural Diversity Database 2002). As of 
1999, the status of T. mucronata is declining (California Department of 
Fish and Game 2001). Thus, we do not possess any data that suggest T. 
mucronata was listed in error, and the species has not achieved 
sufficient recovery objectives to be considered for either downlisting 
to threatened status or delisting.


    We have reviewed the petition and its supporting documentation, 
information in our files, and other available information. We find that 
there is not substantial information indicating that delisting of 
Tuctoria mucronata may be warranted.

Information Solicited

    When we find that there is not substantial information indicating 
that the petitioned action may be warranted, initiation of a status 
review is not required by the ESA. However, we regularly assess the 
status of species listed as threatened or endangered and welcome any 
information concerning the status of Tuctoria mucronata. Submit any 
information at any time to the Field Supervisor, Sacramento Fish and 
Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES).

References Cited

California Department of Fish and Game. 2001. The Status of Rare, 
Threatened and Endangered Animals and Plants of California. 226 pp
California Natural Diversity Database. 2002. An electronic database 
hosted by the California Department of Fish and Game, Habitat 
Conservation Division, Sacramento California
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1985. Delta Green Ground Beetle and 
Solano Grass Recovery Plan. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Portland, 
Oregon. 68 pp.


    The primary author of this document is Ken Fuller, Botanist, 
Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
(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: February 5, 2003.
Steve Williams,
Director, Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 03-6793 Filed 3-20-03; 8:45 am]