[Federal Register: September 11, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 175)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 51766-51770]
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 List Kenk's Amphipod, Virginia Well Amphipod, and the 
Copepod Acanthocyclops columbiensis as Endangered

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of 90-day petition finding.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 
90-day finding on a petition to list the Kenk's amphipod (Stygobromus 
kenki), the Virginia well amphipod (Stygobromus phreaticus), and the 
copepod Acanthocyclops columbiensis as endangered under the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973, as amended. We find the petition does not provide 
substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that 
listing of these three crustaceans may be warranted. Therefore, we will 
not initiate a further status review in response to this petition. We 
ask the public to submit to us any new information that becomes 
available concerning the status of these species, or threats to them or 
their habitat, at any time. This information will help us monitor and 
encourage the conservation of these species.

DATES: The finding announced in this document was made on September 11, 

ADDRESSES: The supporting file for this finding is available for public 
inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the 
Chesapeake Bay Field Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 177 
Admiral Cochrane Drive, Annapolis, MD 21401. New information, 
materials, comments, or questions concerning this species may be 
submitted to us at any time at the above address.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: John Wolflin, Field Supervisor, 
Chesapeake Bay Field Office (see ADDRESSES) (telephone 410-573-4574; 
facsimile 410-269-0832). People who use a telecommunications device for 
the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 



    Section 4(b)(3)(A) of the Endangered Species Act, as amended (Act) 
(16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), requires that the Service make a finding on 
whether a petition to list, delist, or reclassify a species presents 
substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the 
petitioned action may be warranted. We base this finding on information 
provided in the petition, supporting

[[Page 51767]]

information submitted with the petition (and determined to be reliable 
after review), and information available in our files or otherwise 
available to us at the time we make the determination. To the maximum 
extent practicable, we are to make this finding within 90 days of our 
receipt of the petition and promptly publish our notice of the finding 
in the Federal Register.
    Our standard for substantial scientific or commercial information 
within the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) with regard to a 90-day 
petition finding is ``that amount of information that would lead a 
reasonable person to believe that the measure proposed in the petition 
may be warranted'' (50 CFR 424.14(b)). If we find that substantial 
scientific or commercial information was presented, we are required to 
promptly commence a status review of the species.
    In making this finding, we relied on information provided by Dr. 
Richard Mitchell and Mr. Rob Gordon (herein referred to as ``the 
petitioners'') in the initial petition and petition supplement that we 
determined to be reliable after reviewing sources referenced in the 
petition, and information otherwise available in our files at the time 
of the petition review. We evaluated this information in accordance 
with 50 CFR 424.14(b). Our process of making 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 or commercial] information'' 
threshold. The substantiality test is applied only to the reliable 
information supporting the petition.
    On March 27, 2001, we received a petition dated March 20, 2001, 
from Dr. Richard Mitchell to list as endangered: Kenk's amphipod 
(Stygobromus kenki); Virginia well amphipod (Stygobromus phreaticus); 
and a copepod with no common name (Acanthocyclops columbiensis), which 
we refer to by its scientific name in this document. In this document, 
we will collectively refer to these three crustaceans as the three 
invertebrates. The Service received a supplement to this petition dated 
June 26, 2001, from Mr. Rob Gordon of the National Wilderness 
    Action on the petition and supplement was precluded by court orders 
and settlement agreements for other listing actions that required 
nearly all of our listing funds for fiscal year 2001. However, the 
Service did evaluate the need for emergency listing based on the 
information provided in the initial petition and the supplement and 
determined that the threats described did not constitute immediate 
threats of a magnitude that would justify emergency listing. The 
Service sent letters to Dr. Mitchell on April 17 and June 14, 2001, and 
to Mr. Gordon on August 1, 2001, explaining this determination.

Species Information

    Amphipods of the genus Stygobromus occur in groundwater or 
groundwater-related habitats (for example, caves, seeps, small springs, 
wells, interstices, and rarely deep lakes). They are small crustaceans 
modified for survival in these subterranean habitats; they are 
generally eyeless and unpigmented (Holsinger 1978, pp. 1-2). Members of 
this genus occur only in fresh water and belong to the family 
Crangonyctidae, the largest family of freshwater amphipods in North 
America. Both Kenk's amphipod and Virginia well amphipod were described 
by Dr. John R. Holsinger (Holsinger 1978, pp. 39-42, 98-101) and occur 
in seeps and springs. The Kenk's amphipod was historically reported 
(tentative identification) from a well in northern Virginia, and the 
Virginia well amphipod was reported historically from two wells in 
northern Virginia. The specific name phreaticus indicates that this 
species is most likely to be found in deeper groundwater habitats. Both 
species can be found in dead leaves or fine sediment submerged in the 
waters of their spring-seep outflows (Holsinger 1978, p. 130). The two 
sites mentioned in the petitions and the additional four known sites 
for Kenk's amphipod are seeps in the Rock Creek drainage in Washington, 
DC, and Montgomery County, MD (Feller 2005, p. 11). The only known 
extant site for Virginia well amphipod is a seep in a ravine on Fort 
Belvoir, a U.S. Army installation in Fairfax County, VA.
    Acanthocyclops columbiensis is a crustacean of the subclass 
Copepoda. Copepods are generally microscopic and, as a group, are 
widely distributed in a variety of freshwater and marine habitats. A. 
columbiensis was described by Dr. Janet W. Reid (Reid 1990, pp. 175-
180). The species has been found in acidic pools below seeps or springs 
at two locations in Prince Georges County, MD: a spring at Oxon Hill 
Farm Park and a seep at Fort Stanton Park. Both parks are administered 
by the National Park Service (NPS). No status survey has been conducted 
for the species, and it is likely that it will be found at additional 
locations, as were related species in brackish wetlands (Reid 2001; 
Palmer 2001).
    To our knowledge, the taxonomy of the three invertebrates has never 
been challenged, indicating that they are valid species.

Threats Analysis

    Section 4 of the Act and its implementing regulations (50 CFR Part 
424) set forth the procedures for adding species to the Federal Lists 
of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. A species may be 
determined to be an endangered or threatened species due to one or more 
of the five factors described in section 4(a)(1) of the Act: (A) 
Present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of 
habitat or range; (B) overutilization for commercial, recreational, 
scientific, or educational purposes; (C) disease or predation; (D) 
inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or (E) other natural or 
manmade factors affecting its continued existence. In making this 
finding, we evaluated whether threats to the three invertebrates 
presented in the petition and identified in other information available 
to us may pose a concern with respect to the species' survival. Our 
evaluation of these threats is presented below. In the discussion 
below, we have placed the threats listed in the petition under the most 
appropriate listing factor.

A. Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment of 
the Species' Habitat or Range

    The petitioners state that rapid commercial and residential 
development over the last 20 years in the metropolitan Washington, DC, 
area has destroyed numerous seeps, springs, and bogs associated with 
the Coastal Plain and Piedmont elements of the Upper Potomac River and 
its tributaries. Associated with this development are runoff and 
pollution that further degrade the habitat of these unique endemic 
invertebrates. The petitioners assert that the groundwater table has 
lowered drastically and wells, springs, and seeps have dried in the 
last 100 years. The petitioners claim that, currently, little habitat 
remains for the three invertebrates except in heavily used parks and on 
military reservations. The petitioners assert that given their limited 
distribution and highly restricted habitats, the three invertebrates 
could be driven to extinction by relatively small human disturbances 
such as a single construction project.
Kenk's Amphipod
    The petition supplement states that S. kenki is currently known 
from only two sites (East Spring and Sherrill Drive Spring) in Rock 
Creek Park (administered by NPS), and it indicates

[[Page 51768]]

that a species existing in a park is not, of itself, adequate 
protection. The petitioners state that a macroinvertebrate survey of 
Rock Creek (no citation provided, but identified by the Service as 
Feller 1997) described both sites as highly threatened and believed the 
existence of S. kenki is equally as tenuous to S. hayi, a listed 
species that occurs within the park boundary. The petitioners also 
state that according to the NPS (no citation provided):
    Long-term threats exist within and outside the borders of Rock 
Creek Park. The East Spring site could be threatened by additional 
development of the recreation area located up slope. The Sherrill 
Drive Spring site could be threatened by any changes in open space 
at Walter Reed Hospital or surrounding homes. An example is the plan 
Walter Reed Hospital has for building an additional Research 
facility on its grounds.

    The petitioners assert that rebuilding the stormwater 
infrastructure of the city by the District of Columbia threatens the 
species (Twomey 2001).
    The petitioners state that unusually high flood levels from Rock 
Creek reach the level of the spring habitat of Kenk's amphipod, and 
this spring habitat has been flooded with increasing frequency in 
recent years. They indicate that flood waters may adversely affect 
spring habitat by washing away leaf litter and fine sediments, which 
form the microhabitat utilized by S. kenki.
Virginia Well Amphipod
    The petitioners state that S. phreaticus is known from only one 
current location and that until its rediscovery at Fort Belvoir, there 
was concern that it was extinct (no citation provided). The petitioners 
cite Terwilliger (1991, p. 185) to support their claim that it is 
unlikely that the species exists elsewhere. This claim is further 
supported in the petition by Holsinger (1978) who hypothesizes that the 
very distinctive morphological structure of the Virginia well amphipod 
makes it unlikely to be overlooked in other collections.
    The petitioners state that there are an increasing number of 
activities at Fort Belvoir that could affect S. phreaticus. In the 
Fort, in addition to constant activity such as military exercises and 
training, there is the prospect of greatly increased building 
activities, including creation of the Army Museum with its attendant 
construction activities and increased visitation. The petitioners also 
state that planning is underway for additional bridges crossing the 
Potomac River near Washington and conclude that the cumulative result 
of these ongoing and increasing activities for S. phreaticus will be 
imminent extinction in the absence of the Act's protection.

Acanthocyclops columbiensis

    The petitioners state that A. columbiensis, unless protected, could 
likewise be extirpated at any moment. They indicate that it is known 
from only two locations, Fort Stanton and Oxon Hill Parks. They further 
assert that A. columbiensis' occurrence in a National Park affords it 
little specific protection. Rob Gordon (author of the petition 
supplement) has not seen the Fort Stanton site but indicates that at 
Oxon Hill, where it is found in a small, brick-lined spring, A. 
columbiensis is vulnerable to extirpation. Gordon cites impacts from 
humans (such as, litter and discarded harmful substances) and a current 
major Federal construction project (Wilson Bridge), which includes a 
12-lane, two-span drawbridge and expansive network of approaches, as 
threats to this species. He asserts that the highway project alone 
could massively alter the hydrologic regime, altering ground water 
recharge and introducing pollution from the project area.
Evaluation of Information in the Petition
    The citations provided in the petition do not support the 
petitioner's claims for any of the three species. Furthermore, the 
assertion that the three invertebrates could be driven to extinction by 
a single construction project is not plausible for Kenk's amphipod, 
which occurs at six different sites (Feller 2005, p. 11), or for A. 
columbiensis, which is known from two different sites and may occur in 
many more areas (Reid 2001). It is more plausible for Virginia well 
amphipod, which, at present, is only known from a single site on Fort 
Belvoir. However, the petition provides no information about, nor are 
we aware of, any projects planned within the recharge area for this 
species as delineated by the hydrogeologic study funded by Fort Belvoir 
(MACTEC 2003, p. 19).
    Kenk's amphipod is known from six sites, not two as the petitioner 
asserts. Four of the sites are within Rock Creek Park in the District 
of Columbia, and two are in Montgomery County, MD: one in a county park 
and one on private property (Feller 2005, p. 11). The macroinvertebrate 
study (Feller 1997, pp. 8, 24-25, 37) that was referenced in the 
petition supplement does support the petitioners' claim that the East 
Spring and Sherill Drive Spring sites are highly threatened; however, 
the petition does not refer to any of the other four sites supporting 
the species. Although the information attributed to NPS regarding the 
threats to East Spring and Sherrill Drive Spring appears plausible, no 
specific source is cited by the petitioners, and this information 
relates to only two of the six known sites. The planned stormwater 
infrastructure project in the District of Columbia mentioned by the 
petitioners is unlikely to have an effect on this species, as it only 
affects a section of the Rock Creek drainage well downstream of all 
Kenk's amphipod sites (Yeaman 2001). The petitioners provide no 
citation to support their statement that there is an increasing level 
and frequency of flooding in Rock Creek and that this increased 
flooding is affecting Kenk's amphipod.
    As stated by the petitioners, Virginia well amphipod is currently 
known to be extant at only a single location (Chazal and Hobson 2003, 
p. iii). The petition correctly states that there is an increasing 
number of activities occurring on Fort Belvoir, but presents no 
evidence that the referenced activities will affect the recharge area, 
as delineated by MACTEC (2003, p. 19), for the seep supporting this 
species. The one activity described in detail in the petition, the 
construction of the Army Museum, will occur near Route 1, approximately 
2 miles (3.2 kilometers) from the seep and its recharge area (Keough 
2001), making this activity unlikely to affect this species. Although 
the petitioners state that planning is underway for additional Potomac 
River bridges near Washington, DC, they provide no supporting 
information for this claim, and the Service is not aware of any 
planning currently underway (Zepp 2006).
    As stated in the petition supplement, Acanthocyclops columbiensis 
is currently known to be extant at only two locations, Fort Stanton 
Park and Oxon Hill Farm Park, both in Prince Georges County, MD. The 
petitioners provided information concerning threats at the Oxon Hill 
site only; no information is provided for the Fort Stanton Park site. 
Their evidence concerning the threat of pollution of the Oxon Hill 
spring from public littering is speculative and not supported by any 
independent sources. The potential for impacts to this copepod from 
upgrades to the Washington (DC) Beltway and the construction of a new 
access road to Oxon Hill Farm Park (which are part of the Wilson Bridge 
Project) appears plausible, given the potential impact area for the 
project shown in the Environmental Impact Statement for the Wilson 
Bridge (Federal Highway Administration 2000, Figure 3-13). However, 
construction of these features is now complete, and we are aware of

[[Page 51769]]

no evidence that spring flows have been affected.
    Based on the information in the petition and information readily 
available to us, we conclude that present or threatened destruction, 
modification, or curtailment of habitats or ranges has not affected the 
status of the three invertebrates to the extent that listing under the 
Act as a threatened or endangered species may be warranted.

B. Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or 
Educational Purposes

    The petitioners assert that even moderate collection of the three 
species for scientific or educational purposes would pose a threat to 
these species due to their rarity and limited occurrence in small 
Evaluation of Information in the Petition
    The petitioners provide no documentation that collecting for 
scientific or educational purposes is a threat, nor are we aware of any 
such information. Collections involved very low numbers of the three 
invertebrates, and effects on their populations are unlikely. 
Therefore, we find that the petition does not contain substantial 
scientific or commercial information concerning collecting for 
scientific or educational purposes to indicate that listing of the 
three invertebrates may be warranted.

C. Disease and Predation

    The petitioners speculate that it is reasonable to assume that the 
three invertebrates could possibly be prey for large aquatic insects 
and their predacious larvae.
Evaluation of Information in the Petition
    The petitioners provide no documentation that such predators are 
present in the spring-seep habitats of the three invertebrates or that 
their predation constitutes a threat. Therefore, we find that the 
petition does not present substantial scientific or commercial 
information concerning that disease or predation to indicate that 
listing of the three invertebrates may be warranted.

D. Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    The petitioners indicate that Kenk's amphipod receives some 
protection from NPS, which administers Rock Creek Park, but that such 
protection was not considered adequate for the federally listed Hay's 
Spring amphipod (Stygobromus hayi), which also occurs there. In support 
of the latter statement, the petitioners cite the rule listing the 
Hay's Spring amphipod (47 FR 5425, February 5, 1982).
    The petitioners also assert that manmade or small natural events 
could destroy the only known habitat for Virginia well amphipod at Fort 
Belvoir and the Fort Stanton and Oxon Hill Farm habitats for A. 
Evaluation of Information in the Petition
    We also note that Hay's Spring amphipod was not known to occur on 
NPS lands (its only occurrence was on the adjacent National Zoological 
Park), so the protections (or lack thereof) that now apply to Rock 
Creek Park were not a consideration in the listing decision (47 FR 
5425, February 5, 1982).
    Therefore, we find that the petition does not present substantial 
scientific or commercial information concerning the inadequacy of 
existing regulatory mechanisms to indicate that listing of the three 
invertebrates may be warranted.

E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued Existence

    The petitioners indicate that ``any activities affecting the Upper 
Potomac and its tributaries, especially the ground water level and its 
characteristics could be detrimental to the survival of these three 
invertebrates.'' The petitioners also assert that manmade or small 
natural events could destroy the only known habitat for the Virginia 
well amphipod at Fort Belvoir and Fort Stanton and Oxon Hill Farm 
habitats for A. columbiensis
Evaluation of Information in the Petition
    Activities in the Upper Potomac and its tributaries have previously 
been covered under Factor A. Except for the proposed Army Museum, 
discussed under Factor A, the petitioners have provided no 
documentation of specific threats at Fort Belvoir. Specific manmade or 
natural events potentially affecting A. columbiensis were discussed 
under Factors A and D.
    No additional information or documentation is provided on this 
point by the petitioners. Therefore, we find that the petition does not 
present substantial scientific or commercial information concerning 
other natural or manmade factors, to indicate that listing of the three 
invertebrates may be warranted.
Significant Portion of the Range
    Under section 4(b)(1) of the Act, we are required to make a finding 
as to whether the petition presents substantial information ``that the 
petitioned action may be warranted'' (emphasis added). The petition 
asserts that the three invertebrates (Kenk's amphipod, Virginia well 
amphipod, and Acanthocyclops columbiensis) require listing throughout 
their current, respective ranges; the petitioned action was to list 
each of the invertebrates throughout all of its range. As discussed 
above, we have determined that the petition did not present substantial 
information that the petitioned action may be warranted. Although we 
have no obligation under section 4(b)(1) to address the separate 
question of whether any of the three invertebrates is threatened or 
endangered in a significant portion of its range, we note that nothing 
in the petition or our files lead us to the conclusion that we should 
at this time, undertake a candidate assessment of any of the three 
invertebrates to determine whether it is threatened or endangered in a 
significant portion of its range. If the Service obtains sufficient 
information in the future that suggests that any of the three 
invertebrates may warrant listing due to threats in all or a 
significant portion of its range, we will initiate a candidate 
assessment, subject to availability of resources, and if appropriate, 
add the species to the candidate list or propose its listing where 
threatened or endangered.


    We reviewed the petition, the petition supplement, and supporting 
information provided with these documents and evaluated that 
information in relation to other pertinent literature and information 
available in our files at the time of petition review. After this 
review and evaluation, we find the petition does not present 
substantial scientific or commercial information to demonstrate that 
listing of Kenk's amphipod, Virginia well amphipod, or the copepod 
Acanthocyclops columbiensis may be warranted at this time, nor do we 
have other information available to us that indicates that a listing 
proposal may be warranted. We encourage interested parties to continue 
to gather data that will assist with the conservation of these species. 
Information regarding the three invertebrates may be submitted to the 
Field Supervisor, Chesapeake Bay Field Office (see ADDRESSES), at any 

References Cited

    A complete list of all references cited herein is available upon 
request from the Chesapeake Bay Field Office (see ADDRESSES).

[[Page 51770]]


    The primary author of this document is the Chesapeake Bay Field 
Office, Annapolis, MD.


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

    Dated: August 31, 2007.
Kenneth Stansell,
Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
 [FR Doc. E7-17716 Filed 9-10-07; 8:45 am]