[Federal Register: August 6, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 150)]
[Rules and Regulations]               
[Page 43560-43563]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AU66

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Final Rule To 
Remove the Idaho Springsnail (Pyrgulopsis(=Fontelicella) idahoensis) 
From the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Final rule.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS, Service, or 
we), under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act), hereby 
remove the Idaho springsnail (Pyrgulopsis(=Fontelicella) idahoensis) 
from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife (List). 
This determination is based on a thorough review of all available data, 
which indicate that the Idaho springsnail is not a discrete taxonomic 
entity and does not meet the definition of a species under the Act. It 
is now considered to be part of a more widely distributed taxon, the 
Jackson Lake springsnail. Because the Idaho springsnail is not 
recognized as a species, as defined by the Act, we have determined that 
it is not a listable entity and are removing it from the List.

DATES: This rule is effective September 5, 2007.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Susan Burch, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, 1387 S. Vinnell Way, Room 368, Boise, ID 83709 (telephone 208/
378-5243; facsimile 208/378-5262).



    The Idaho springsnail (Pyrgulopsis(=Fontelicella) idahoensis; 
Hydrobiidae) was first described by Pilsbry (1933, pp. 11-12) and 
placed in the genus Amnicola. Subsequently, Greg and Taylor (1965, pp. 
103-110) placed

[[Page 43561]]

the Idaho springsnail--along with the Harney Lake springsnail (P. 
hendersoni), and Jackson Lake springsnail (P. robusta)--in the newly 
created Fontelicella genus and Natricola subgenus. After several 
taxonomic revisions, the subgenus Natricola was subsumed under the 
genus Pyrgulopsis (Hershler and Thompson 1987, pp. 28-31), the largest 
genus of freshwater mollusks in North America, comprised of over 120 
described species (Liu and Hershler 2005, p. 284). The genus occurs in 
much of eastern North America, throughout western North America, and in 
parts of northern Mexico (Hershler and Thompson 1987, p. 30). The genus 
expresses its greatest diversity in the Great Basin of the western 
United States, where most species are endemic to springs, spring 
systems, and drainage basins (Hershler and Sada 2000, p. 367; Hershler 
and Sada 2002, p. 255).
    In 2004, Hershler and Liu (2004, pp. 78-79) revised the taxonomic 
status of four Pyrgulopsis springsnail species--the Idaho springsnail, 
Harney Lake springsnail, Jackson Lake springsnail, and Columbia 
springsnail (P. species A (unnamed))--by combining them into a single 
species and, following standard naming conventions, naming this 
combined taxon for the first taxon to be described among the four 
previously recognized species, the Jackson Lake springsnail (Walker 
1908, p. 97). The authors reviewed morphological characters, 
mitochondrial DNA sequences, and nuclear DNA sequences to establish the 
revised taxonomic classification.
    The methods employed by Hershler and Liu (2004, pp. 67-70) are 
considered contemporary in the field of genetics and are consistent 
with those used by numerous authors reconstructing phylogenies based on 
molecular evidence in general (Raahauge and Kristensen 2000, pp. 87-89; 
Jones et al. 2001, pp. 281; Attwood et al. 2003, pp. 265-266), and with 
western hydrobiid snails in particular (Hershler et al. 2003, pp. 358-
359; Liu et al. 2003, pp. 2772-2775; Hurt 2004, pp. 1174-1177; Liu and 
Hershler 2005, p. 285). Further, it is the position of the American 
Malacological Society that the Hershler and Liu (2004) revised taxonomy 
sets the standard for understanding this group of springsnails until 
evidence is presented to refute this classification (Leal in litt. 
2004). Therefore, Hershler and Liu (2004, pp. 66-81) represents the 
best available scientific and commercial data on the taxonomic status 
of the four previously recognized Pyrgulopsis springsnails. These 
springsnails are now considered to be a single species, the Jackson 
Lake springsnail--a species we recently determined, in a 12-month 
finding (71 FR 56938), does not warrant listing under the Act.

Previous Federal Actions

    We published the final rule listing the Idaho springsnail as 
endangered on December 14, 1992 (57 FR 59244). At the time of listing 
we believed that the species was restricted to small populations in 
permanent, flowing waters of the mainstem Snake River from rm 518 (rkm 
834) to rm 553 (rkm 890). In that rule, we described range reduction, 
the threat of dam construction, operation of existing hydroelectric 
dams, deteriorating water quality from multiple sources, and potential 
competition with the invasive New Zealand mudsnail (Potamopyrgus 
antipodarum) as the major threats to the species. We have not 
designated critical habitat for the Idaho springsnail.
    On June 28, 2004, we received a petition from the Idaho Office of 
Species Conservation and the Idaho Power Company (IPC) requesting that 
the Idaho springsnail be delisted based on a recent taxonomic revision 
of the species. The petitioners also provided new Idaho springsnail 
scientific information, and contrasted this new information with 
information used in the 1992 Idaho springsnail listing decision (57 FR 
59244). The petitioners stated that, based on this new information, 
threats to the Idaho springsnail identified in the 1992 listing rule 
have been eliminated, are being actively addressed by State and private 
entities, or are no longer relevant.
    On August 5, 2004, we received a petition from Dr. Peter Bowler, 
the Biodiversity Conservation Alliance, the Center for Biological 
Diversity, the Center for Native Ecosystems, the Western Watersheds 
Project, and the Xerces Society, requesting that the Jackson Lake 
springsnail, Harney Lake springsnail, and Columbia springsnail be 
listed as either threatened or endangered species, either as individual 
species or, together with the Idaho springsnail, as a single new 
species. The listing petition discussed the recent taxonomic revision 
and acknowledged that the Jackson Lake springsnail, Harney Lake 
springsnail, Columbia springsnail, and Idaho springsnail may be one 
species, but contended that, whether considered individually or as one 
species, all four springsnails warranted the protection of the Act. (16 
U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) The petition cited habitat loss and degradation 
from development of springs, domestic livestock grazing, and 
groundwater withdrawal, among other factors, as threats to the 
continued existence of these springsnails.
    On April 20, 2005, we published combined 90-day petition findings 
(70 FR 20512), stating that both petitions provided substantial 
information suggesting that delisting of the Idaho springsnail, or 
listing of the Jackson Lake springsnail (both the new and the old 
taxonomic grouping), the Harney Lake springsnail, and the Columbia 
springsnail, may be warranted.
    On September 28, 2006, we published a warranted 12-month finding on 
the petition to delist the endangered Idaho springsnail along with a 
not warranted 12-month finding on the petition to list the Jackson Lake 
springsnail (both the new and the old taxonomic grouping), Harney Lake 
springsnail, and Columbia springsnail. Concurrent with these findings 
we published a proposed rule to remove the Idaho springsnail from the 
List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife due to the change in its 
taxonomic status (71 FR 56938).

Summary of Comments and Recommendations

    In our September 28, 2006, combined 12-month finding and proposed 
rule (71 FR 56938), we requested that all interested parties submit 
comments or information concerning the proposed delisting of the Idaho 
springsnail. We provided notification of this document through e-mail, 
telephone calls, letters, and news releases faxed and/or mailed to the 
appropriate Federal, State, and local agencies, county governments, 
elected officials, media outlets, local jurisdictions, scientific 
organizations, interested groups, and other interested parties. We also 
posted the document on our regional Web site.
    We accepted public comments on the proposal for 60 days, ending 
November 27, 2006. By that date, we received comments from three 
parties, specifically one law firm representing the State of Idaho's 
Office of Species Conservation and IPC, and two organizations.
    In accordance with our peer review policy published on July 1, 1994 
(59 FR 34270), we solicited independent opinions from four 
knowledgeable individuals who have expertise with the genus 
Pyrgulopsis, who possess a current knowledge of the geographic region 
where the species occurs, and/or are familiar with the principles of 
conservation biology. We received comments from four peer reviewers, 
three of whom are associated with academic research institutions and 
one who is employed by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

[[Page 43562]]

    We reviewed all comments received from peer reviewers and the 
public for substantive issues and new information regarding the 
proposed delisting of the Idaho springsnail. Substantive comments 
received during the comment period are addressed below.
    We also received several comments from both the public and peer 
reviewers concerning threats to the Jackson Lake springsnail because 
our proposed rule to delist the Idaho springsnail due to taxonomic 
revision was published jointly with our 12-month finding on a petition 
to list the Jackson Lake springsnail (71 FR 56938). However, we 
addressed the threats to the Jackson Lake springsnail in our 12-month 
finding and found that listing was not warranted. Therefore, comments 
on the threats to the Jackson Lake springsnail are outside the scope of 
the proposed rule to delist the Idaho springsnail and those comments 
are not addressed in this final rule.

Public Comments

    (1) Comment: The Idaho springsnail is more widespread than 
previously known at the time of its listing and is more resilient and 
less vulnerable to certain habitat-altering activities than previously 
    Response: Although the Idaho springsnail is no longer recognized as 
a discreet taxon, the formerly recognized species is now known from 
more locations than at the time of listing and appears to be more 
resilient and less vulnerable to certain habitat-altering activities 
than previously thought. We appreciate the efforts of those who 
collected and synthesized information to expand our understanding of 
Pyrgulopsis taxonomy and ecology.
    (2) Comment: Despite their conclusions, the data presented by 
Hershler and Liu (2004) illustrate the geographic, morphological, and 
genetic divergence of the Idaho springsnail from other springsnails in 
the region, and therefore the Idaho springsnail should continue to be 
protected under the Act.
    Response: In a recent scientific article by Hershler and Liu 
(2004), published in the Veliger (an international, peer-reviewed 
scientific quarterly published by the California Malacozoological 
Society), the authors revised the taxonomic status of the Idaho 
springsnail, combining it with three other groups of Natricola 
springsnails. Hershler and Liu (2004, p. 77) concluded ``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.'' For the reasons stated in 
the Background section of this final rule, we believe that Hershler and 
Liu (2004, pp. 66-81) represents the best available scientific and 
commercial data on the taxonomic status of the four Natricola 
springsnails and that the Idaho springsnail no longer constitutes a 
distinct species and does not warrant protection under the Act.
    (3) Comment: The ecological and evolutionary divergence of the 
Idaho springsnail is significant and would easily qualify it for 
continued protection as a distinct population segment under the Act.
    Response: Section 4(a)(1) of the Act outlines the factors for which 
we may list an endangered or threatened species. Section 3 of the Act 
defines an endangered species as ``any species which is in danger of 
extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range,'' and 
a threatened species as ``any species which is likely to become an 
endangered species throughout all or a significant portion of its 
range.'' Section 3 of the Act also defines a species to include any 
subspecies of fish or wildlife or plants, and any distinct population 
segment of any species of vertebrate fish or wildlife which interbreeds 
when mature. Because springsnails are invertebrates, they do not 
qualify for protection as a distinct population segment under the Act.
    (4) Comment: The Service should specify in its final rule that 
delisting of the Idaho springsnail is warranted due to recovery and 
original data for classification in error.
    Response: Section 4(a)(1) of the Act and regulations (50 CFR part 
424) issued to implement the listing provisions of the Act set forth 
the procedures for adding species to, or removing them from, Federal 
lists. The regulations at 50 CFR 424.11(d) state that a species may be 
delisted if: (1) The species is extinct or has been extirpated from its 
previous range; (2) the species has recovered and is no longer 
endangered or threatened; or (3) investigations show that the best 
scientific or commercial data available when the species was listed, or 
the interpretation of such data, were in error. Since the time of the 
Idaho springsnail listing in 1992, genetics research and additional 
survey effort have revealed that it is not a distinct species, but is 
now part of a combined taxon that is widely distributed (occurring in 
Wyoming, Oregon, Idaho, and Washington) and occurs in a variety of 
habitat types.
    We acknowledge that numerous recovery actions were implemented for 
the Idaho springsnail, and we commend the State of Idaho, IPC, and 
other conservation partners for their ongoing efforts to conserve 
listed species, but the primary reason we are removing the Idaho 
springsnail from the List is its taxonomic reclassification.

Peer Review Comments

    (1) Comment: Data presented in the combined 12-month finding and 
proposed rule support the case for combining the Idaho springsnail 
under the Jackson Lake springsnail as recommended by Hershler and Liu 
(2004), but further ecological, biological, and population genetic 
evidence would greatly strengthen this case.
    Response: We acknowledge that more scientific inquiry and 
subsequent information may strengthen the case for Hershler and Liu's 
(2004) taxonomic revisions with the Pyrgulopsis genus; however, our 
charge is to use the best available commercial and scientific 
information in our assessments. Hershler and Liu (2004) published their 
taxonomic review of the Idaho springsnail, the Harney Lake springsnail, 
the Jackson Lake springsnail, and the Columbia springsnail in a peer-
reviewed scientific journal and determined that they were all one 
species. No other peer-reviewed scientific studies have been published 
that challenge the veracity or conclusions of Hershler and Liu (2004). 
Furthermore, it is the position of the American Malacological Society 
that the Hershler and Liu (2004) revised taxonomy sets the standard for 
understanding this group of springsnails (Leal in litt. 2004). 
Therefore, we believe that Hershler and Liu (2004) currently represents 
the best scientific information available with respect to Idaho 
springsnail taxonomy.
    (2) Comment: The Service appears to be delisting the Idaho 
springsnail solely because it is more wide-ranging than thought at the 
time of listing, regardless of the fact that we know relatively little 
about the species as a whole.
    Response: Although the range of the Jackson Lake springsnail was 
one factor that contributed to our ``not warranted'' petition finding 
for that species (see 71 FR 56938), our decision to delist the Idaho 
springsnail is based on the fact that it is not currently recognized as 
a valid species as defined by the Act.

Delisting Analysis

    After a review of all information available, we are removing the 
Idaho springsnail from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. 
Section 4(a)(1) of the Act and regulations (50 CFR part 424) issued to 
implement the listing provisions of the Act set forth the

[[Page 43563]]

procedures for adding species to or removing them from Federal lists. 
The regulations at 50 CFR 424.11(d) state that a species may be 
delisted if (1) it becomes extinct, (2) it recovers, or (3) the 
original classification data were in error.
    New scientific information has become available since we listed the 
Idaho springsnail in 1992. Most pertinent among this new information is 
a taxonomic reappraisal of Natricola snails, published by Hershler and 
Liu (2004), in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. Their study 
indicated that this formerly recognized species has been subsumed by a 
more widely distributed taxon. Because the Idaho springsnail is no 
longer considered a species as defined by the Act, it does not qualify 
for listing under the Act. The original classification data related to 
Pyrgulopsis taxonomy, although considered the best available 
information at the time of listing, are now thought to be in error.
    When a listed species is subsumed by another entity, we believe it 
is prudent to examine the status of the new entity before delisting the 
subsumed taxon. In our combined 12-month finding and proposed rule we 
considered whether listing the Jackson Lake springsnail was warranted, 
and found that it was not (71 FR 56938).

Effects of This Rule

    This action removes the Idaho springsnail from the List of 
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. The prohibitions and conservation 
measures provided by the Act, particularly under sections 7 and 9, no 
longer apply to the Idaho springsnail. Federal agencies no longer are 
required to consult with the Service under section 7 of the Act on 
actions they fund, authorize, or carry out that may affect the Idaho 
springsnail. There is no designated critical habitat for the Idaho 

Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.)

    This rule does not contain any new collections of information that 
require Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval under the 
Paperwork Reduction Act. We may not conduct or sponsor, and you are not 
required to respond to, a collection of information unless it displays 
a currently valid OMB control number.

National Environmental Policy Act

    The Service has determined that Environmental Assessments and 
Environmental Impact Statements, as defined under the authority of the 
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), 
need not be prepared in connection with actions adopted under section 
4(a) of the Act. We published a notice outlining our reasons for this 
determination in the Federal Register on October 25, 1983 (48 FR 
49244). This assertion was upheld in the courts of the Ninth Circuit 
(Douglas County v. Babbitt, 48 F.3d 1495 (9th Cir. Ore. 1995), cert. 
denied 116 S. Ct. 698 (1996)).

Government-to-Government Relationship With Tribes

    In accordance with the President's memorandum of April 29, 1994, 
``Government-to-Government Relations with Native American Tribal 
Governments'' (59 FR 22951), Executive Order 13175, and the Department 
of the Interior's manual at 512 DM 2, we readily acknowledge our 
responsibility to communicate meaningfully with recognized Federal 
Tribes on a government-to-government basis. Therefore, we have 
solicited information from Native American Tribes during the comment 
period and informational briefing to determine potential effects on 
them or their resources that may result from the delisting of the Idaho 


    A complete list of all references cited is available on request 
from the Snake River Fish and Wildlife Office, 1387 S. Vinnell Way, 
Room 368, Boise, ID 83709.


    The primary authors of this document are staff of the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service (see References Section above).

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

    Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements, Transportation.

Regulation Promulgation

Accordingly, we amend part 17, subchapter B of chapter I, title 50 of 
the Code of Federal Regulations, as follows:


1. The authority citation for part 17 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1361-1407; 16 U.S.C. 1531-1544; 16 U.S.C. 
4201-4245; Pub. L. 99-625, 100 Stat. 3500; unless otherwise noted.

Sec.  17.11  [Amended].

2. Amend Sec.  17.11(h) by removing the entry ``Springsnail, Idaho 
(Fontelicella idahoensis)'' under ``SNAILS'' from the List of 
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife.

    Dated: July 26, 2007.
Randall Luthi,
Acting Director, Fish and Wildlife Service.
 [FR Doc. E7-15111 Filed 8-2-07; 8:45 am]