[Federal Register: October 4, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 192)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 58574-58575]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AU33

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Proposed 
Designation of Critical Habitat for the Spikedace and Loach Minnow

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule; reopening of public comment period.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
reopening of the public comment period for the proposal to designate 
critical habitat for the spikedace (Meda fulgida) and loach minnow 
(Tiaroga cobitis) designation under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, 
as amended (Act). This action will allow all interested parties an 
opportunity to comment on the proposed critical habitat, the draft 
economic analysis, draft environmental assessment, Tribal management 
plans and resolutions, and a management plan and economic analysis 
submitted by Phelps Dodge Corporation, as further discussed below.
    Comments previously submitted on the December 20, 2005 (70 FR 
75546), proposed rule and on the June 6, 2006 (71 FR 32496), reopening 
of the comment period need not be resubmitted as they have been 
incorporated into the public record and will be fully considered in 
preparation of the final rule.

DATES: We will consider all comments received from interested parties 
by October 16, 2006. Any comments received after the closing date may 
not be considered in the final determination on the proposal.



    If you wish to comment on the proposed rule, draft economic 
analysis, draft environmental assessment, Tribal management plans and 
resolutions, or a management plan and economic analysis submitted by 
Phelps Dodge Corporation, you may submit your comments and materials, 
identified by RIN 1018-AU33, by any of the following methods:
    (1) E-mail: SD_LMComments@fws.gov. Include RIN 1018-AU33 in the 
subject line. Please include your name and return address in the body 
of your message. If you do not receive a confirmation from the system 
that we have received your Internet message, contact us directly by 
calling our Arizona Ecological Services Field Office at (602) 242-0210.
    (2) Fax: (602) 242-2513.
    (3) Mail, hand delivery, or courier: Steve Spangle, Field 
Supervisor, Arizona Ecological Services Field Office, 2321 W. Royal 
Palm Road, Suite 103, Phoenix, AZ 85021.
    (4) Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow 

the instructions for submitting comments.
    You may obtain copies of the proposed rule, draft economic 
analysis, draft environmental assessment, Tribal management plans and 
resolutions, and the Phelps Dodge Corporation's management plan and 
economic analysis, by mail by contracting the person listed under FOR 
FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT or by visiting our Web site at http://www.fws.gov/arizonaes/.
 You may also review comments and materials 

received and review supporting documentation used in preparation of the 
proposed rule by appointment, during normal business hours, at the 
Arizona Ecological Services Field Office (see ADDRESSES).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Spangle, Field Supervisor, 
Arizona Ecological Services Field Office (telephone, 602-242-0210; 
facsimile, 602-242-2513).



    On December 20, 2005, we proposed to designate as critical habitat 
for spikedace and loach minnow approximately 633 stream miles (mi) 
(1018.7 stream kilometers (km)), which includes various stream segments 
and their associated riparian areas, including the stream at bankfull 
width and a 300-foot (91.4 meters) buffer on either side of the stream 
(70 FR 75546). The proposed designation includes Federal, State, 
tribal, and private lands in Arizona and New Mexico.
    Critical habitat identifies specific areas containing features 
essential to the conservation of a listed species and that may require 
special management

[[Page 58575]]

considerations or protections. If the proposed critical habitat 
designation is finalized, section 7(a)(2) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et 
seq.) would require that Federal agencies ensure that actions they 
fund, authorize, or carry out are not likely to result in the 
destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat.
    Section 4 of the Act requires that we consider economic and other 
relevant impacts prior to making a final decision on what areas to 
designate as critical habitat. During our second comment period (71 FR 
32496, June 6, 2006) on the proposed designation of critical habitat 
for spikedace and loach minnow, Phelps Dodge Corporation submitted 
documents that include management plans for Eagle Creek in Arizona and 
the upper Gila River in New Mexico, and an independent economic 
analysis summarizing their economic concerns for their mining 
operations in New Mexico and Arizona. We are reopening the comment 
period to inform the public of our consideration of this information in 
terms of a potential exclusion of portions of Eagle Creek and the upper 
Gila River in the final critical habitat designation pursuant to 
section 4(b)(2) of the Act. Additionally, as noted in our previous 
reopening of the public comment period (71 FR 32496), we are 
considering excluding all or portions of the Verde River Unit based on 
disproportionate economic costs from the final designation per our 
discretion under section 4(b)(2) of the Act.
    As discussed in our proposed rule (70 FR 75546, December 20, 2005), 
we determined that the following tribes have lands containing features 
essential to the conservation of the spikedace and loach minnow: 
Yavapai Apache, San Carlos Apache, and White Mountain Apache. We also 
proposed to exclude lands of the San Carlos Apache Tribe and lands of 
the White Mountain Apache Tribe based upon our relationship with the 
Tribes and their management plans developed for the conservation of the 
spikedace and loach minnow. During the initial comment period, we 
received a resolution from the Yavapai-Apache Nation, that we believe 
provides a conservation benefit to the spikedace and loach minnow on 
their lands. Thus, based on this new information and our relationship 
with the Nation we anticipate excluding their lands from the final 
designation pursuant to section 4(b)(2) of the Act. We are reopening 
the comment period to allow the public access to relevant documents and 
an opportunity to comment on these proposed exclusions.
    In addition to the specific areas mentioned above, we may consider 
exclusion of additional areas 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 will base our final 
determination upon information received or made available for public 
review during this or the previous public comment periods.
    Our practice is to make comments, including names and home 
addresses of respondents, available for public review during regular 
business hours. Individual respondents may request that we withhold 
their names and/or home addresses, etc. but if you wish us to consider 
withholding this information you must state this prominently at the 
beginning of your comments. In addition, you must present rationale for 
withholding this information. This rationale must demonstrate that 
disclosure would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of privacy. 
Unsupported assertions will not meet this burden. In the absence of 
exceptional, documentable circumstances, this information will be 
released. We will always make submissions from organizations or 
businesses, and from individuals identifying themselves as 
representatives of or officials of organizations or businesses, 
available for public inspection in their entirety.
    Comments and materials received, including the information 
submitted by the Tribes and by Phelps Dodge Corporation, will be 
available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal business 
hours at the Arizona Ecological Services Field Office (see ADDRESSES).


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

    Dated: September 25, 2006.
David M. Verhey,
Acting Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
 [FR Doc. E6-16423 Filed 10-3-06; 8:45 am]