[Federal Register: April 20, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 75)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 20512-20514]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 90-Day Finding on 
a Petition To Delist the Idaho Springsnail; 90-Day Finding on a 
Petition To List the Jackson Lake Springsnail, Harney Lake Springsnail, 
and Columbia Springsnail; and Initiation of a 5-Year Review for the 
Idaho Springsnail

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of two 90-day petition findings and initiation of status 
review for two 12-month findings and one 5-year review.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 
90-day finding on a petition to remove (first petition) the Idaho 
springsnail (Pyrgulopsis idahoensis) from the Federal List of 
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants (List) pursuant to the 
Endangered Species Act (Act), as well as a 90-day finding on a petition 
to add (second petition) the Jackson Lake springsnail (P. robusta), 
Harney Lake springsnail (P. hendersoni), and Columbia springsnail (P. 
spp. A) to the List as endangered or threatened. We find the first 
petition presents substantial scientific information that delisting the 
Idaho springsnail may be warranted. We also find that the second 
petition presents substantial scientific information that listing the 
Jackson Lake springsnail, Harney Lake springsnail, and Columbia 
springsnail may be warranted.
    We are requesting submission of any new information on the Idaho 
springsnail since its original listing as an endangered species in 
1992, and information on the Jackson Lake springsnail, Harney Lake 
springsnail, and Columbia springsnail. Following this 12-month status 
review, we will issue 12-month findings on the petition to delist the 
Idaho springsnail and the petition to list the Jackson Lake 
springsnail, Harney Lake springsnail, and Columbia springsnail. Section 
4(c)(2)(A) of the Act also requires a status review of listed species 
at least once every 5 years. We are therefore electing to conduct these 
reviews simultaneously. At the conclusion of these reviews, we will 
issue the 12-month findings on the petitions, as provided in section 
4(b)(3)(B) of the Act, and make the requisite recommendation under 
section 4(c)(2)(B) of the Act based on the results of the 5-year review 
for the Idaho springsnail.

DATES: The finding announced in this document was made on April 20, 
2005. To be considered in the 12-month findings for these delisting or 
listing petitions, or the 5-year review, comments and information 
should be submitted to us by June 20, 2005.

ADDRESSES: Data, information, comments, or questions concerning these 
petitions and our finding should be submitted to the Field Supervisor, 
Attention: Idaho Springsnail comments, Snake River Fish and Wildlife 
Office, 1387 S. Vinnell Way, Suite 368, Boise, ID 83709. Comments may 
also be faxed to 208/378-5262, or e-mailed to fw1srbocomment@fws.gov. 
Please include ``Idaho Springsnail Comments'' in the subject line for 
faxes and e-mails. Please submit electronic comments in ASCII file 
format, and avoid the use of special characters and encryption. The 
petitions, supporting data, and comments will be available for public 
inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the above 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Lysne, Fish and Wildlife 
Biologist, at the above address (telephone 208/378-5243 or e-mail 



    Section 4(b)(3)(A) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as 
amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) (Act) requires that

[[Page 20513]]

we make a finding on whether a petition to list, delist, or reclassify 
a species presents substantial scientific or commercial data indicating 
that the petitioned action may be warranted. To the maximum extent 
practicable, we must make the finding within 90 days of our receipt of 
the petition, and must promptly publish the finding in the Federal 
Register. If we find substantial information exists to support the 
petitioned action, we are required to promptly commence a status review 
of the species (50 CFR 424.14). ``Substantial information'' is defined 
in 50 CFR 424.14(b) as ``that amount of information that would lead a 
reasonable person to believe that the measure proposed in the petition 
may be warranted.'' Petitioners need not prove that the petitioned 
action is warranted to support a ``substantial'' finding; instead, the 
key consideration in evaluating a petition for substantiality involves 
demonstration of the reliability and adequacy of the information 
supporting the action advocated by the petition.
    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, and/or (3) a determination 
that the original data used for classification of the species as 
endangered or threatened were in error.
    In making these findings for the Idaho springsnail (Pyrgulopsis 
idahoensis), Jackson Lake springsnail (P. robusta), Harney Lake 
springsnail (P. hendersoni), and Columbia springsnail (P. spp. A), we 
rely on information provided by the petitioners and evaluate that 
information in accordance with 50 CFR 424.14(b). The content of these 
findings summarize that information included in the petition and that 
which was available to us at the time of the petition review. Our 
review for the purposes of a 90-day finding under section 4(b)(3)(A) of 
the Act and Sec.  424.14(b) of our regulations is limited to a 
determination of whether the information in the petition meets the 
``substantial scientific information'' threshold. We do not conduct 
additional research at this point, nor do we subject the petition to 
rigorous critical review. Rather, as the Act and regulations 
contemplate, at the 90-day finding, the key consideration in evaluating 
a petition involves demonstration of the reliability and adequacy of 
the information supporting the action advanced by the petition.
    Our findings are that the petitions state a reasonable case for 
delisting (first petition) and listing (second petition) on their face 
based on the taxonomic information that is presented in the petitions. 
Thus, in these findings, we express no view as to the ultimate issue of 
whether the Idaho springsnail should be delisted, or whether the 
Jackson Lake springsnail, Harney Lake springsnail, and Columbia 
springsnail should be listed. We can come to a conclusion on those 
issues only after a more thorough review of the species' status. In 
that review, which will take approximately 9 more months, we will 
perform a rigorous critical analysis of the best available scientific 
information, not just the information in the petition. We will ensure 
that the data used to make our determination as to the status of the 
species is consistent with the Act and the Information Quality Act.
    We listed the Idaho springsnail as endangered on December 14, 1992 
(57 FR 59244). We determined that the free-flowing, cool water 
environments required by the Idaho springsnail were altered by 
deteriorating water quality due to reservoir development, river 
diversions, and habitat modification (57 FR 59244). The Idaho 
springsnail was described as existing in the main-stem Snake River from 
the C.J. Strike Reservoir (river mile 518) to Bancroft Springs (river 
mile 553), a nearly 80 percent reduction from the species' historic 
distribution in the Snake River based on the existing literature (Frest 
1991). We published the Snake River Aquatic Species Recovery Plan, 
which included the Idaho springsnail, in 1995. Critical habitat has not 
been designated for the Idaho springsnail.

Review of Petitions

    On June 28, 2004, we received a petition from the State of Idaho, 
Office of Species Conservation, and the Idaho Power Company requesting 
that the Idaho springsnail be removed from the List based on a 
taxonomic reappraisal that indicated it is no longer a separate 
species. The delisting petition cites a recent peer-reviewed article, 
published in The Veliger, titled ``Taxonomic Reappraisal of Species 
Assigned to the North American Freshwater Gastropod Subgenus Natricola 
(Rissooidea: Hydrobiidae)'' (Hershler and Liu 2004). Hershler and Liu 
(2004) evaluated the taxonomic status of the Idaho springsnail, Jackson 
Lake springsnail, Harney Lake springsnail, and Columbia springsnail and 
recommended placing all four species into P. robusta (Hydrobiidae: 
Walker 1908). The distribution of P. robusta is ``broadly ranging in 
the northwestern United States, including parts of the Snake-Columbia 
River basin and several closed basins in southeastern Oregon. Habitats 
include springs and spring-fed streams as well as large rivers'' 
Hershler and Liu (2004).
    On August 5, 2004, we received a petition from Dr. Peter Bowler, 
the Biodiversity Conservation Alliance, Center for Biological 
Diversity, Center for Native Ecosystems, Western Watersheds Project, 
and The Xerces Society, requesting that the Jackson Lake springsnail, 
Harney Lake springsnail, and Columbia springsnail be added to the List. 
This listing petition cites habitat loss and degradation from spring 
development, domestic livestock grazing, groundwater withdrawal, water 
pollution, dams, predation, the introduction and spread of nonnative 
species, and inadequate Federal and State regulatory mechanisms as 
threats to the continued existence of these other three northwestern 
springsnail species. The listing petition also cites Hershler and Liu 
(2004) and their suggested taxonomic revision, and acknowledges that 
the Idaho springsnail, Jackson Lake springsnail, Harney Lake 
springsnail, Columbia springsnail may be one species (Pyrgulopsis 
robusta). However, the listing petition contends that Hershler and Liu 
(2004) overlooked key differences between the four species, and states 
that whether assessed individually or as one species, all four 
springsnails need the protection of the Act.
    Hershler and Liu (2004) suggested three lines of evidence to 
support changing the taxonomic classification of the Idaho springsnail. 
Morphology, mitochondrial DNA sequences, and nuclear DNA sequences were 
used to evaluate the relationship between previously recognized species 
in the subgenus. Results from the morphology analysis found a 
significant difference between the ratio of shell height to height of 
body whorl between the Idaho springsnail and all other species tested. 
However, several other morphological metrics, including the position of 
the callus (hardened tissue) on the operculum (serves as a cover for 
the opening in the shell), the shape of the central cusp of the central 
teeth, the number of cusps on central teeth, notching of inner marginal 
teeth, number of cusps on outer marginal teeth, the male penial 
features, and female genitalia did not differ substantially. The 
genetic data found very little variation in the partial cytochrome c 
oxidase (COI) gene (mitochondrial DNA). Differences ranged from 0.0-0.8 
percent (0-5 base

[[Page 20514]]

pairs) within the Natricola subgenus to 2.6-6.9 percent (16-43 base 
pairs) with outgroups in the genus Pyrgulopsis. This suggests that 
genetic variation within Natricola differed little compared to genetic 
variation between Natricola and other species of Pyrgulopsis. In 
addition, differences in the internal transcribed spacer (ITS-1) 
sequences (nuclear DNA) within the Natricola subgenus were 
substantially smaller (0.0-0.6 percent) compared to differences among 
other congeners (5.9-20.4 percent). These two lines of evidence suggest 
that differences among the four species are very small compared to 
differences between other recognized taxa within the larger genus.
    The authors then contend that ``three independent data sets 
(morphology, mitochondrial, and nuclear DNA sequences) congruently 
suggest that these four Natricola snails do not merit recognition as 
distinct species according to various currently applied concepts of 
this taxonomic rank.''
    In addition to the taxonomic revision, Hershler and Liu (2004) 
noted that the Jackson Lake springsnail was a former Service candidate 
for threatened or endangered species status. They state that it may be 
currently threatened by the presence of the exotic New Zealand mudsnail 
(Potamopyrgus antipodarum) in the Pacific Northwest. Also, Hershler and 
Liu (2004) noted that the Harney Lake springsnail is designated as a 
critically imperiled species by the Oregon Natural Heritage Program, 
and the middle Snake River population of the Idaho springsnail is 
genetically isolated from other populations.


    We have reviewed the delisting and listing petitions and their 
supporting documents, as well as other information in our files. We 
find that the delisting petition and other information in our files 
present substantial information that delisting the Idaho springsnail 
may be warranted. We also find that the listing petition and other 
information in our files present substantial information that listing 
the Jackson Lake springsnail, Harney Lake springsnail, and Columbia 
springsnail may be warranted. We are initiating a status review of all 
four species. We will issue 12-month findings in accordance with 
section 4(b)(3)(B) of the Act as to whether or not delisting is 
warranted (first petition) and/or whether or not listing is warranted 
(second petition).

Five Year Review

    Section 4(c)(2)(A) of the Act requires that we conduct a review of 
listed species at least once every 5 years. We are then, under section 
4(c)(2)(B), to determine, on the basis of such a review, whether or not 
any species should be removed from the List (delisted), or reclassified 
from endangered to threatened, or threatened to endangered. Our 
regulations at 50 CFR 424.21 require that we publish a notice in the 
Federal Register announcing those species currently under active 
review. This notice announces our active review of the Idaho 

Public Information Solicited

    We are requesting information on the Idaho springsnail for both the 
12-month finding and the 5-year review, as we are conducting these 
reviews simultaneously. We are also requesting information on the 
Jackson Lake springsnail, Harney Lake springsnail, and Columbia 
    When we make a finding that substantial information exists to 
indicate that listing or delisting a species may be warranted, we are 
required to promptly commence a review of the status of the species. To 
ensure that the status review is complete and based on the best 
available scientific and commercial information, we are soliciting any 
additional information, comments, or suggestions on the Idaho 
springsnail, Jackson Lake springsnail, Harney Lake springsnail, and 
Columbia springsnail from the public, State and Federal agencies, 
tribes, the scientific community, industry or environmental entities, 
or any other interested parties. Information sought includes any data 
regarding interactions with other populations, historical and current 
distribution, biology and ecology, ongoing conservation measures for 
the species or its habitat, and threats to the species or its habitat. 
We also request information regarding the adequacy of existing 
regulatory mechanisms.
    The 5-year review considers all new information available at the 
time of the review. This review will consider the best scientific and 
commercial data regarding the Idaho springsnail that has become 
available since the current listing determination or most recent status 
review, such as:
    (1) Species biology, including but not limited to population 
trends, distribution, abundance, demographics, genetics, and taxonomy, 
specifically regarding any key differences between the four subspecies;
    (2) Habitat conditions, including but not limited to amount, 
distribution, and suitability;
    (3) Conservation measures that have been implemented that benefit 
the species;
    (4) Threat status and trends; and
    (5) Other new information, data, or corrections, including but not 
limited to taxonomic or nomenclatural changes, identification of 
erroneous information contained in the List, and improved analytical 
    If you wish to comment on either of the 12-month findings or 5-year 
review, you may submit your comments and materials to the Field 
Supervisor, Snake River Fish and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES 
section). Our practice is to make comments, including names and home 
addresses of respondents, available for public review during regular 
business hours. Respondents may request that we withhold a respondent's 
identity, as allowable by law. If you wish to withhold your name or 
address, you must state this request prominently at the beginning of 
your comment. However, we will not consider anonymous comments. To the 
extent consistent with applicable law, 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. Comments 
and materials received will be available for public inspection, by 
appointment, during normal business hours at the above address.

References Cited

    A complete list of all references cited in this finding is 
available, upon request, from the Snake River Fish and Wildlife Office 
(see ADDRESSES section).


    The primary author of this document is Steve Lysne (see ADDRESSES 


    The authority for this action is section 4 of the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).

    Dated: April 7, 2005.
Marshall P. Jones, Jr.,
Deputy Director, Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 05-7640 Filed 4-19-05; 8:45 am]