[Federal Register: January 16, 2004 (Volume 69, Number 11)]
[Page 2617]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Draft Endangered Karst Invertebrate and Karst Feature Survey 

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is updating the 
schedule to revise and make available for public comment draft 
endangered karst invertebrate and karst feature survey guidance. This 
document is intended for use in central Texas in surveying karst 
features for suitable karst invertebrate habitat and to determine the 
presence or absence of karst invertebrates listed as endangered under 
the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (as amended).

DATES: We intend to publish a Notice of Availability for public review 
of the documents by March 31, 2004.

ADDRESSES: Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Austin 
Ecological Services Field Office, 10711 Burnet Road, Suite 200, Austin, 
Texas 78758; telephone (512) 490-0057; facsimile (512) 490-0974.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Field Supervisor, Austin Ecological 
Services Field Office (see ADDRESSES).



    Sixteen invertebrate species known to occur in Bexar, Williamson, 
and Travis Counties, Texas, are listed as endangered under the 
Endangered Species Act. These invertebrates are only capable of 
surviving in caves or karstic rock. Karst ecosystems receive nutrients 
from the surface community in the form of leaf litter and other organic 
debris that are washed into or fall into the cave, from tree and other 
vascular plant roots, and/or through the feces, eggs or dead bodies of 
animals. In addition to providing nutrients to the karst ecosystem, the 
plant community also filters contaminants and buffers against changes 
in temperature and humidity. The major threats to karst invertebrates 
include the loss of habitat due to urbanization; contamination; 
predation by and competition with nonnative fire ants; and vandalism.
    On February 27, 2003, we provided notice (68 FR 9094) of our 
intention to do the following:
    (1) With respect to survey guidance for use in determining the 
presence of karst features that may contain potential habitat for 
endangered karst invertebrates in central Texas, we committed to work 
with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and other 
partners to update as needed the existing TCEQ guidance on karst 
feature surveys.
    (2) With respect to survey guidance for endangered karst 
invertebrates, we committed to request a panel of experts to review all 
new information regarding how to survey for karst invertebrates. We 
will use the panel's recommendations to modify the section 10(a)(1)(A) 
permitting requirements and to develop karst invertebrate survey 
guidance. This guidance was initially intended to be made available for 
public review and comment through a Notice of Availability to be 
published in the Federal Register by December 30, 2003.
    We submitted both draft guidance documents to a panel of 48 
individuals with expertise and interest in conservation of karst 
invertebrates. The panel met with us on September 8, 2003, and 
individuals on the panel provided feedback on both guidance documents. 
We are incorporating comments and suggestions provided by the panel 
into the guidance for surveying for the presence or absence of karst 
invertebrates. We will resubmit this updated document to the karst 
panel for additional review and comment. As a result, the notice of 
availability for public review of this document will be delayed. We now 

intend to publish the notice by March 31, 2004.

    Authority: The authority for this action is the Endangered 
Species Act, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1532 et seq.).

    Dated: November 28, 2003.
R. M. McDonald,
Acting Regional Director.
[FR Doc. 04-964 Filed 1-15-04; 8:45 am]