[Federal Register: September 5, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 171)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 50929-50930]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AU37; RIN 1018-AU91

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Designation of 
Critical Habitat for the Marbled Murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus, 
Designation of Critical Habitat for the Northern Spotted Owl (Strix 
occidentalis caurina), Draft Recovery Plan for the Northern Spotted Owl

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Reopening of comment periods for two proposed revised critical 
habitat rules and a draft recovery plan.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
reopening of comment periods for three actions that are being 
promulgated under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act): 
(1) A proposed revision of critical habitat for the marbled murrelet 
(Brachyramphus marmoratus) and its associated draft economic analysis; 
(2) a proposed revision of critical habitat for the northern spotted 
owl (Strix occidentalis caurina); and (3) the development of a recovery 
plan for the northern spotted owl. In order to provide a combined 
comment period for these three actions, we are reopening the comment 
periods to allow additional time for interested parties to comment on 
any or all of these actions. Comments previously submitted need not be 
resubmitted as they are already part of the public record and will be 
fully considered in preparation of any critical habitat rule(s) and the 
recovery plan.

DATES: We will accept public comments on any of the above actions until 
October 5, 2007.

ADDRESSES: If you wish to comment, you may submit your comments and 
materials by any one of several methods:
    1. By mail or hand-delivery to Patrick Sousa, Chief, Endangered 
Species, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ecological Services, Pacific 
Regional Office, 911 NE. 11th Avenue, Portland, OR 97232.
    2. By electronic mail (e-mail) to: owl-murrelet@fws.gov. Please see 
the Public Comments Solicited section below for other information about 
electronic filing.
    3. By fax to: the attention of Patrick Sousa at (503) 231-6243.
    4. Via the Federal eRulemaking Portal at: http://www.regulations.gov.
 Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Patrick Sousa, Chief, Endangered 
Species, Pacific Regional Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 
Ecological Services, 911 NE. 11th Avenue, Portland, OR 97232 
(telephone: 503-231-6158; facsimile: 503-231-6243). If you use a 
telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), call the Federal 
Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800-877-8339.


Public Comments Solicited

    We solicit comments on the following three actions:
    (1) Our proposal to revise currently designated critical habitat 
for the marbled murrelet published in the Federal Register on September 
12, 2006 (71 FR 53838), and on our associated draft economic analysis 
of the proposed revision that was made available on June 26, 2007 (72 
FR 35025);
    (2) Our proposal to revise currently designated critical habitat 
for the northern spotted owl published in the Federal Register on June 
12, 2007 (72 FR 32450); and
    (3) Our draft recovery plan for the northern spotted owl announced 
in the Federal Register on April 26, 2007 (72 FR 20865), including the 
associated peer review.
    We will consider information and recommendations from all 
interested parties. For the marbled murrelet and northern spotted owl 
proposed revised critical habitat rules, we particularly seek comments 
    (1) The reasons why we should or should not designate habitat as 
``critical habitat'' under section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et 
seq.), including whether the benefits of designation would outweigh 
threats to the species caused by designation such that the designation 
of critical habitat is prudent;
    (2) Specific information on the amount and distribution of marbled 
murrelet and/or northern spotted owl habitat, what areas occupied at 
the time of listing that contain features essential to the conservation 
of the species should be included in the revised designation and why, 
and what areas not occupied at the time of listing are essential to the 
conservation of the species and why;
    (3) Land use designations and current or planned activities in the 
subject areas and their possible impacts on proposed revised critical 
    (4) Any foreseeable economic, national security, or other potential 
impacts resulting from the proposed revised designation, and in 
particular, any impacts on small entities, and the benefits of 
including or excluding areas that exhibit these impacts;
    (5) Whether our approach to designating critical habitat could be 
improved or modified in any way to provide for greater public 
participation and understanding, or to assist us in accommodating 
public concerns and comments; and
    (6) Whether the benefits of exclusion in any particular area 
outweigh the benefits of inclusion under section 4(b)(2) of the Act.
    For the proposed marbled murrelet critical habitat revision, we are 
also interested in comments on the draft economic analysis, including:
    (1) The extent to which the description of economic impacts in the 
draft economic analysis is complete and accurate;
    (2) The likelihood of adverse social reactions to the designation 
of revised critical habitat, as discussed in the draft economic 
analysis, and how the consequences of such reactions, if likely to 
occur, would relate to the conservation and regulatory benefits of the 
proposed revised critical habitat designation; and
    (3) Economic data on the incremental effects that would result from 
designating any particular area as revised critical habitat, since it 
is our intent to include the incremental costs attributed to the 
revised critical habitat designation in the final economic analysis.
    A draft economic analysis of the proposed revision of critical 
habitat for the northern spotted owl is not yet available. Public 
comment will be solicited separately at the time the availability of a 
draft economic analysis for the proposed northern spotted owl critical 
habitat revision is published in the Federal Register.
    For the draft recovery plan for the northern spotted owl, we 
particularly seek comments concerning:
    (1) The methods used to determine desired habitat percentages 
listed in Recovery Criterion 4. If recommendations are offered, 
respondents are asked to explain the scientific foundation supporting 
their comments;
    (2) The biological need, design and feasibility of attempting to 
provide connectivity between the Olympic Peninsula and central 
Washington northern spotted owl populations;

[[Page 50930]]

    (3) The biological value in identifying owl conservation areas in 
southwest Washington and northwest Oregon;
    (4) Appendix E, which provides examples of how a salvage logging 
action (Recovery Action 22) may be implemented;
    (5) The identified boundaries of the Managed Owl Conservation Areas 
(option 1 only) and the Conservation Support Areas;
    (6) Methods for managing the threat posed by barred owls; and
    (7) Ways to create incentives for private land owners and managers 
to support recovery of the northern spotted owl.
    You may submit your comments and material concerning the above 
actions by any one of several methods (see ADDRESSES). If you use e-
mail to submit your comments, please include ``Attn: RIN 1018-AU37; RIN 
1018-AU91'' in your e-mail subject header, preferably with 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 e-mail, contact 
us directly by calling our Pacific Regional Office at 503-231-6158. 
Please note that the e-mail address owl-murrelet@fws.gov will be closed 
out at the termination of the public comment period.
    Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or 
other personal identifying information in your comments, you should be 
aware that your entire comments--including your personal identifying 
information--may be made publicly available at any time. While you can 
ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying 
information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be 
able to do so.
    Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting 
documentation we used in preparing the proposed rules and the draft 
recovery plan, will be available for public inspection, by appointment, 
during normal business hours at the Western Washington Fish and 
Wildlife Office, 510 Desmond Drive, SE., Suite 101, Lacey, WA 98503-
1273 for the marbled murrelet, and at the Oregon Fish and Wildlife 
Office, 2600 SE. 98th Avenue, Suite 100, Portland, OR 97266 for actions 
related to the northern spotted owl. Copies of the proposed revised 
rules for the marbled murrelet and the northern spotted owl, the draft 
economic analysis for the marbled murrelet, and the draft recovery plan 
and the associated peer review for the northern spotted owl are 
available on the Internet at http://www.fws.gov/pacific/ecoservices/endangered/index.html
 or by request to the Chief of Endangered Species 



    On January 13, 2003, we entered into a settlement agreement with 
the American Forest Resource Council and the Western Council of 
Industrial Workers to complete a rulemaking for critical habitat for 
the marbled murrelet that considers new relevant information. The terms 
of that agreement, as amended, required that we submit any final 
regulation revising marbled murrelet critical habitat to the Federal 
Register by August 30, 2007. On September 12, 2006, we published a 
proposed rule to revise critical habitat for the marbled murrelet in 
Washington, Oregon, and California (71 FR 53838). On June 26, 2007, we 
published a notice of the availability of the draft economic analysis; 
reopened the comment period on the September 12, 2006, proposed rule 
for 30 days; and amended certain required determinations (72 FR 35025). 
However, because of unforeseen delays in publishing the June 26, 2007, 
notice and in light of the final rule's August 30, 2007, due date to 
the Federal Register, we and the American Forest Resource Council 
mutually agreed to extend the Federal Register submission due date for 
the final rule for 6 months from the August 30, 2007, date. This 
extension was approved by the court to allow additional time for us to 
consider all comments received before making a final critical habitat 
determination for the marbled murrelet. Accordingly, we will submit for 
publication to the Federal Register any final regulation revising 
critical habitat for the marbled murrelet by March 1, 2008.
    On January 13, 2003, we entered into a settlement agreement with 
the American Forest Resource Council, Western Council of Industrial 
Workers, Swanson Group Inc., and Rough & Ready Lumber Company to 
conduct a rulemaking to consider potential revisions to critical 
habitat for the northern spotted owl that includes a revised 
consideration of economic impacts and other relevant aspects of 
designation. The settlement agreement dates for completion of this 
review have been extended and currently call for the Service to submit 
a final revised critical habitat designation for the northern spotted 
owl to the Federal Register by June 1, 2008.
    In addition, the Bureau of Land Management published a notice of 
availability in the Federal Register for the Draft Environmental Impact 
Statement (DEIS) for the Western Oregon Plan Revision on August 10, 
2007 (72 FR 45062). With this notice, we are providing a combined 
comment period for the proposed revised critical habitat designations 
for the marbled murrelet and northern spotted owl, and the draft 
recovery plan for the northern spotted owl, to allow additional time 
for interested parties to comment on any or all of these actions within 
the context of the Western Oregon Plan Revision DEIS.


    The authors of this notice are the staff of the Division of 
Endangered Species, Pacific Regional Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 


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

    Dated: August 24, 2007.
David M. Verhey,
Acting Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
 [FR Doc. E7-17236 Filed 9-4-07; 8:45 am]