[Federal Register: September 9, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 174)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 54822-54845]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[Docket No. FWS-R2-ES-2009-0041]
[MO 92210-0-008]

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12-Month Finding 
on a Petition To List the Jemez Mountains Salamander (Plethodon 
neomexicanus) as Endangered or Threatened With Critical Habitat

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of 12-month petition finding.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 
12-month finding on a petition to list the Jemez Mountains salamander 
(Plethodon neomexicanus) as an endangered or threatened species and to 
designate critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as 
amended (Act). After review of all available scientific and commercial 
information, we find that listing the Jemez Mountains salamander as 
endangered or threatened throughout its range is warranted. Currently, 
however, listing the Jemez Mountains salamander is precluded by higher 
priority actions to amend the Lists of Endangered and Threatened 
Wildlife and Plants. Upon publication of this 12-month petition 
finding, we will add the Jemez Mountains salamander to our candidate 
species list. We will develop a proposed rule to list the Jemez 
Mountains salamander as our priorities allow. We will make any 
determination on critical habitat during development of the proposed 
rule. In the interim period, we will address the status of the 
candidate taxon through our annual Candidate Notice of Review (CNOR).

DATES: The finding announced in this document was made on September 9, 

ADDRESSES: This finding is available on the Internet at http://
www.regulations.gov at Docket Number FWS-R2-ES-2009-0041. Supporting 
documentation we used in preparing this finding is available for public 
inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours by contacting 
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, New Mexico Ecological Services 
Office, 2105 Osuna NE, Albuquerque, NM 87113. Please submit any new 
information, materials, comments, or questions concerning this finding 
to the above address.

[[Page 54823]]

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Wally Murphy, Field Supervisor, New 
Mexico Ecological Services Office (see ADDRESSES); by telephone at 505-
346-2525; or by facsimile at 505-346-2542. If you use a 
telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), please call the Federal 
Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800-877-8339.



    Section 4(b)(3)(B) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), requires 
that, for any petition to revise the Federal Lists of Threatened and 
Endangered Wildlife and Plants that contains substantial scientific or 
commercial information indicating that listing the species may be 
warranted, we make a finding within 12 months of the date of receipt of 
the petition. In this finding we determine that the petitioned action 
is: (a) Not warranted, (b) warranted, or (c) warranted, but immediate 
proposal of a regulation implementing the petitioned action is 
precluded by other pending proposals to determine whether species are 
endangered or threatened, and expeditious progress is being made to add 
or remove qualified species from the Lists of Endangered and Threatened 
Wildlife and Plants. Section 4(b)(3)(C) of the Act requires that we 
treat a petition for which the requested action is found to be 
warranted but precluded as though resubmitted on the date of such 
finding, that is, requiring a subsequent finding to be made within 12 
months. We must publish these 12-month findings in the Federal 

Previous Federal Actions

    We initially considered the Jemez Mountains salamander (Plethodon 
neomexicanus) for listing under the Act in the early 1980s (General 
Accounting Office 1993, p. 30). In December 1982, we published a notice 
of review classifying the salamander as a Category 2 species (47 FR 
58454, December 30, 1982). Category 2 status included those taxa for 
which information in the Service's possession indicated that a proposed 
listing rule was possibly appropriate, but for which sufficient data on 
biological vulnerability and threats were not available to support a 
proposed rule.
    On February 21, 1990, we received a petition to list the salamander 
as threatened. Subsequently, we published a positive 90-day finding, 
indicating that the petition contained sufficient information to 
suggest that listing may be warranted (55 FR 38342; September 18, 
1990). In the Candidate Notice of Review (CNOR) published on November 
21, 1991, we announced the salamander as a Category 1 species with a 
``declining'' status (56 FR 58814). Category 1 status included those 
species for which the Service had on file substantial information 
regarding the species' biological vulnerability and threat(s) to 
support proposals to list them as endangered or threatened species. The 
``declining'' status indicated decreasing numbers, increasing threats, 
or both.
    On May 30, 1991, the Service, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), and 
the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF) signed a Memorandum 
of Agreement outlining actions to be taken to protect the salamander 
and its habitat on the Santa Fe National Forest lands, including the 
formation of a team of agency biologists to immediately implement the 
Memorandum of Agreement and to develop a management plan for the 
species. The management plan was to be incorporated into the Santa Fe 
National Forest Plan. On April 3, 1992, we published a 12-month finding 
that listing the salamander was not warranted because of the 
conservation measures and commitments within the Memorandum of 
Agreement (57 FR 11459). In the November 15, 1994, CNOR, we included 
the salamander as a Category 2 species, with a trend status of 
``improving'' (59 FR 58982). A status of ``improving'' indicated those 
species known to be increasing in numbers or whose threats to their 
continued existence were lessening in the wild.
    In the CNOR published on February 28, 1996, we announced a revised 
list of animal and plant taxa that were regarded as candidates for 
possible addition to the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and 
Plants (61 FR 7596). The revised candidate list included only former 
Category 1 species. All former Category 2 species were dropped from the 
list in order to reduce confusion about the conservation status of 
those species, and to clarify that the Service no longer regarded them 
as candidates for listing. Because the salamander was a Category 2 
species, it was no longer recognized as a candidate species as of the 
February 28, 1996, CNOR.
    In January 2000, the New Mexico Endemic Salamander Team (NMEST), a 
group of interagency biologists representing NMDGF, the Service, the 
U.S. Geological Survey, and the Santa Fe National Forest, finalized a 
Cooperative Management Plan for the salamander on lands administered by 
the Santa Fe National Forest (Cooperative Management Plan), and the 
agencies signed an updated Conservation Agreement that superseded the 
Memorandum of Agreement. The stated purpose of the Conservation 
Agreement and the Cooperative Management Plan was to provide for the 
long-term conservation of salamanders by reducing or removing threats 
to the species and by proactively managing their habitat (NMEST 2000 
Conservation Agreement, p. 1). In a Decision Notice and Finding of No 
Significant Impact for the Forest Plan Amendment for Managing Special 
Status Species Habitat, signed on December 8, 2004, the Cooperative 
Management Plan was incorporated into the Santa Fe National Forest 
    On October 15, 2008, we received a petition dated October 9, 2008, 
from WildEarth Guardians requesting that we list the Jemez Mountains 
salamander (Plethodon neomexicanus) (salamander) as endangered or 
threatened under the Act, and designate critical habitat. On August 11, 
2009, we published a 90-day finding that the petition presented 
substantial information that listing the salamander may be warranted 
and that initiated a status review of the species (74 FR 40132). On 
December 30, 2009, WildEarth Guardians filed suit against the Service 
for failure to issue a 12-month finding on the petition (WildEarth 
Guardians v. Salazar, No. 09-1212 (D.N.M.)). Under a stipulated 
settlement agreement, the 12-month finding is due to the Federal 
Register by September 8, 2010. This notice constitutes our 12-month 
finding for the petition to list the Jemez Mountains salamander as 
endangered or threatened.

Species Information

    The salamander is uniformly dark brown above, with occasional fine 
gold to brassy coloring with stippling dorsally (on the back and sides) 
and is sooty gray ventrally (underside). The salamander is slender and 
elongate, and it possesses foot webbing and a reduced fifth toe. This 
salamander is strictly terrestrial and is a member of the family 
Plethodontidae. The salamander does not use standing surface water for 
any life stage. Respiration occurs through the skin, which requires a 
moist microclimate for gas exchange.
Taxonomy and Species Description
    The salamander was originally reported as Spelerpes multiplicatus 
(=Eurycea multiplicata) in 1913 (Degenhardt et al. 1996, p. 27); 
however, it was described and recognized as a new and distinct species 
(Plethodon neomexicanus) in 1950 (Stebbins and Riemer, pp. 73-80). No 
subspecies are recognized.

[[Page 54824]]

    It is a member of the Plethodontidae family. Two species of 
plethodontid salamanders are endemic (native and restricted to a 
particular region) to New Mexico: the Jemez Mountains salamander and 
the Sacramento Mountains salamander (Aneides hardii). Unlike all other 
North American plethodontid salamanders, these two species are 
geographically isolated from all other species of Plethodon and 
    The distribution of plethodontid salamanders in North America has 
been highly influenced by past changes in climate and associated 
Pleistocene glacial cycles. In the Jemez Mountains, the lack of glacial 
landforms indicates that alpine glaciers did not develop here, but the 
abundance of evidence from exposed rock surfaces that have been quickly 
broken up by frost action may reflect near-glacial conditions during 
the Wisconsin Glacial Episode (Allen 1989, p. 11). Conservatively, the 
salamander has likely occupied the Jemez Mountains for at least 10,000 
years, but this could be as long as 1.2 million years, colonizing the 
area subsequent to volcanic eruption.
    The salamander is restricted to the Jemez Mountains in northern New 
Mexico, in Los Alamos, Rio Arriba, and Sandoval Counties, around the 
rim of the collapsed caldera (large volcanic crater), with some 
occurrences on topographic features (e.g., resurgent domes) on the 
interior of the caldera. The majority of salamander habitat is located 
on federally managed lands including USFS, Valles Caldera National 
Preserve (VCNP), National Park Service (Bandelier National Monument), 
and Los Alamos National Laboratory, with some habitat located on tribal 
land and private lands (NMEST 2000, p. 1). The species predominantly 
occurs at an elevation between 2,200 and 2,900 meters (m) (7,200 and 
9,500 feet (ft)) (Degenhardt et al. 1996, p. 28), but has been found as 
low as 2,133 m (6,998 ft) (Ramotnik 1988, p. 78) and as high as 3,350 m 
(10,990 ft) (Ramotnik 1988, p. 84).
    We divided known salamander distributional data into 5 units (Unit 
1-Western; Unit 2-Northern; Unit 3-East-South-Eastern; Unit 4-Southern; 
and Unit 5-Central) to provide clarity in describing and analyzing the 
potential threats that may differ across the species' range. We 
developed these units based on the best information available to us, 
but some of the unit boundaries are based on incomplete occupancy 
information. These units reflect where surveys have occurred and 
generally follow breaks in topography. For example, there are areas 
(e.g., VCNP) where few surveys have been conducted and occupancy may 
not be uniform. Because the salamander has been found to occupy a wide 
variety of sites, we do not know the extent of geographic or genetic 
connectivity between localities. The VCNP is located west of Los 
Alamos, New Mexico, and is owned by the U.S. Department of Agriculture 
(part of the National Forest System), but run by a nine-member Board of 
Trustees: the Supervisor of Bandelier National Monument, the Supervisor 
of the Santa Fe National Forest, and seven other members with distinct 
areas of experience or activity appointed by the President of the 
United States (Valles Caldera Trust 2005, pp. 1-11). Prior to Federal 
ownership in 2000, the VCNP was privately held.
    The terrestrial salamander predominantly inhabits mixed conifer 
forest, consisting primarily of Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), 
blue spruce (Picea pungens), Engelman spruce (P. engelmannii), white 
fir (Abies concolor), limber pine (Pinus flexilis), Ponderosa pine (P. 
ponderosa), Rocky Mountain maple (Acer glabrum), and aspen (Populus 
tremuloides) (Degenhardt et al. 1996, p. 28; Reagan 1967, p. 17). The 
species can also be found in stands of pure Ponderosa pine and in 
spruce-fir and aspen stands, but these forest types have not been 
adequately surveyed. Predominant understory includes Rocky Mountain 
maple (Acer glabrum), New Mexico locust (Robinia neomexicana), 
oceanspray (Holodiscus sp.), and various shrubby oaks (Quercus spp.) 
(Degenhardt et al. 1996, p. 28; Reagan 1967, p. 17). Salamanders are 
generally found in association with decaying coniferous logs, and in 
areas with abundant white fir, Ponderosa pine, and Douglas fir as the 
predominant tree species (Ramotnik 1988, p. 17; Reagan 1967, pp. 16-
17). Salamanders use decaying coniferous logs considerably more often 
than deciduous, likely due to the physical features (e.g., blocky 
chunks with cracks and spaces) that form as coniferous logs decay 
(Ramotnik 1988, p. 53). Still, the species may be found beneath some 
deciduous logs and excessively decayed coniferous logs, because these 
can provide surface habitat and cover (Ramotnik 1988, p. 53).
    The salamander is strictly terrestrial and does not possess lungs. 
The salamander does not use standing surface water for any life stage. 
Respiration occurs through the skin, which requires a moist 
microclimate for gas exchange. The salamander spends much of its life 
underground; it can be found at the surface from July through 
September, when relative environmental conditions are warm and wet. 
When active at the surface, the species is usually found under decaying 
logs, rocks, bark, moss mats, or inside decomposing stumps. The 
salamander's underground habitat appears to be deep, fractured, sub-
surface rock in areas with high soil moisture (NMEST 2000, p. 2) where 
the geologic and moisture constraints likely limit the distribution of 
the species. Soil pH (acidity) may limit distribution as well. It is 
unknown whether the species forages or carries on any other activity 
below ground, although it is presumed that eggs are laid and hatch 
beneath the surface.
    The surface microhabitat temperature for 577 Jemez Mountains 
salamanders ranged from 6.0 to 17.0 degrees Celsius ([deg]C) (43 to 63 
degrees Fahrenheit ([deg]F)), with a mean of 12.7 [deg]C (54.9 [deg]F) 
(Williams 1972, p. 18). Significantly more salamanders were observed 
under logs where temperatures are closest to the mean temperature (12.5 
[deg]C (54.5 [deg]F)) than inside logs where temperatures deviated the 
most from the mean temperature (13.3 [deg]C (55.9 [deg]F)) (Williams 
1972, p. 19). Changes to microhabitat temperatures are discussed under 
Factors A and E, below.
    Sexual maturity is attained at 3 to 4 years in females and 3 years 
in males (Williams 1976, pp. 31, 35). Reproduction in the wild has not 
been observed; however, based on observed physiological changes, 
reproduction is believed to occur above ground between mid-July and 
mid-August (Williams 1976, pp. 31-36). Based on examination of 57 
female salamanders in the wild and one clutch of eggs laid in a 
laboratory setting, Williams (1978, p. 475) concluded that females 
likely lay 7 or 8 eggs every other year or every third year. Eggs are 
thought to be laid underground the spring after mating occurs (Williams 
1978, p. 475). Fully-formed salamanders hatch from the eggs. The 
lifespan of the salamander in the wild is unknown; however, based on 
reproductive information that indicates the species is not sexually 
mature until age 3 or 4 years and that it only lays eggs every 2 or 3 
years, and considering the estimated lifespan of other terrestrial 
plethodontid salamanders, we estimate that the species likely lives 
more than 10 years.
    Salamander prey from above ground foraging is diverse in size and 
type, with ants, mites, and beetles being most

[[Page 54825]]

important in the salamander's diet (Cummer 2005, p. 43). Cummer (2005, 
pp. 45-50) found that specialization on invertebrate species was 
unlikely, but there was likely a preferential selection of prey.
Overview of Survey Data
    Standardized survey protocols have been used for the salamander 
since 1987 (NMDGF 2000, p. 2), but the number and location of surveys 
have been variable and opportunistic. Survey methods involve searching 
under potential cover objects (e.g., logs, rocks, bark, moss mats) and 
inside decomposing coniferous logs when environmental conditions are 
likely best for detecting surface-active salamanders, generally May 
through September, when summer monsoon rains occur. Unfortunately, 
methods for determining locations to survey salamanders over the past 
20 years have not been systematic, and though we have conducted a 
comprehensive review, the data have not been consistently available to 
allow comparison of the status of the salamander over its entire range.
    Three survey protocols have been in use since 1987 (NMEST 2000b, 
pp. 27-29). Protocol A (presence or absence) has been used when 
attempting to determine whether an area is occupied (NMEST 2000b, p. 
27). Following this protocol, surveys cease after 2 ``person-hours'' of 
effort (e.g., one person searching for 2 hours or two people searching 
for 1 hour) or when the first salamander is observed, whichever comes 
first. Because the salamander utilizes underground habitat and an 
unknown number of individuals may be active at the surface, repeated 
surveys may be necessary to determine occupancy of a locality (NMEST 
2000b, p. 27).
    Protocol B (population levels and trends) has been used for 
comparing plots, monitoring trends through time, or evaluating how 
salamander localities fluctuate in response to environmental variables 
(NMEST 2000b, p. 28). For this protocol, a survey is conducted for 2 
person-hours, with all salamanders tallied.
    Protocol C (detailed environmental data) collects microhabitat data 
to characterize potential salamander habitat (NMEST 2000b, p. 28). This 
protocol involves collecting data on important habitat features within 
a 50 m (160 ft) by 2 m (6.6 ft) transect, in addition to surveying for 
salamanders under cover objects.
    The rangewide population size of the salamander is also unknown. 
Monitoring the absolute abundance of plethodontid salamanders is 
inherently difficult because of the natural variation associated with 
surface activity (Hyde and Simons 2001, p. 624), which ultimately 
affects the probability of detecting a salamander. The probability of 
detection varies over space and time and is highly dependent upon the 
environmental and biological parameters that drive surface activity 
(Hyde and Simons 2001, p. 624). Given the known bias of detection 
probabilities and the inconsistent survey effort across years, 
population size estimates using existing data cannot be made 
    Despite our inability to assess the rangewide population of the 
salamander in a comprehensive manner, the survey data are useful to 
understand that persistence of the salamander in localities may vary 
across the range of the species. For example, some localities where the 
salamander was once considered abundant or common (e.g., many parts of 
Unit 2, the Type Locality or the location where the salamander was 
originally found (Unit 4), and VCNP-Old Beaver Pond (Unit 5)), either 
the salamander no longer persists, or it persists at very low numbers. 
Alternatively, there are also three localities (Redondo Border, VCNP 
(Unit 5), and North East Slope VCNP (northern part of Unit 3)) where 
the salamander continues to be relatively abundant compared to most 
currently occupied sites. However, the numbers in these relatively 
abundant areas are far less than historic reports for the type 
locality, where 659 individuals were captured in a single year (1970), 
394 of them in a single month (Williams 1976, p. 26). We know of no 
location where salamander abundance is similar to that observed in 
1970. Overall, a few localized areas appear to be stable; however, 
there appears to be a decreasing trend within areas (decrease in 
numbers of salamanders observed during surveys) and a possible 
rangewide declining trend (an increase in the number of areas where 
salamanders were once present and have not been observed in recent 
surveys). The apparent declining trend is evident in Units 1 and 3, 
where we have the best survey information. Because it appears that the 
species is relatively long-lived, has relatively low reproductive 
output, has limited dispersal ability, and a small home range, it is 
likely that the apparent decreasing and declining trends both within 
localized areas and across the landscape represent actual declines in 
salamanders over the past 20 to 30 years.

Summary of Information Pertaining to the Five Factors

    Section 4 of the Act (U.S.C. 1533 et seq.) and implementing 
regulations (50 CFR 424) set forth the procedures for adding species to 
the Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. 
Under section 4(a)(1) of the Act, a species may be determined to be 
endangered or threatened based on any of the following five factors:
    (A) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or 
curtailment of its habitat or range;
    (B) Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes;
    (C) Disease or predation;
    (D) The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or
    (E) Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued 
    In considering what factors might constitute threats to the 
species, we must look beyond the exposure of the species to a factor to 
evaluate whether the species may respond to the factor in a way that 
causes actual impacts to the species. If there is exposure to a factor 
and the species responds negatively, the factor may be a threat and, 
during the subsequent status review, we attempt to determine how 
significant a threat it is. The threat is significant if it drives, or 
contributes to, the risk of extinction of the species such that the 
species may warrant listing as endangered or threatened as those terms 
are defined in the Act. However, the identification of factors that 
could impact a species negatively may not be sufficient to compel a 
finding that the information in the petition and our files is 
substantial. The information must include evidence sufficient to 
suggest that these factors may be operative threats that act on the 
species to the point that the species may meet the definition of 
endangered or threatened under the Act.
    In making this finding, information pertaining to the salamander in 
relation to the five factors provided in section 4(a)(1) of the Act is 
discussed below.

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

    Under Factor A, we considered whether the Jemez Mountains 
salamander is threatened by the following: fire exclusion and severe 
wildland fires; forest composition and structure conversions; post-fire 
rehabilitation; forest and fire management (fire use, fire suppression, 
mechanical treatment of hazardous fuels, and forest silvicultural 

[[Page 54826]]

(timber harvest, salvage logging, forest thinning, and forest 
restoration projects)); dams and mining; private (residential) 
development; geothermal development; roads, trails, and habitat 
fragmentation; recreation; and livestock grazing.
Fire Exclusion and Severe Wildland Fires
    Fire exclusion and wildfire threaten the salamander. In the Jemez 
Mountains, the results of over 100 years of fire suppression and fire 
exclusion (along with cattle grazing and other stressors) have altered 
forest composition and structure and increased the threat of wildfire 
in Ponderosa pine and mixed conifer forests in semi-arid western 
interior forests (Belsky and Blumenthal 1997, p. 318). Fire has been an 
important process in the Jemez Mountains for at least several thousand 
years (Allen 1989, p. 69), indicating the salamander evolved with fire. 
Frequent, low-intensity, surface fires and patchy, small scale, high-
intensity fires in the Jemez Mountains historically maintained 
salamander habitat. These fires spread widely through the grassy 
understory fuels, or erupted on very small scales. The natural fire 
intervals prior to the 1900s ranged from 5 to 25 years across the Jemez 
Mountains (Allen 2001, p. 4). Dry mixed conifer forests burned on 
average every 12 years, whereas wet mixed conifer forests averaged 
every 20 years. Historically, patchy surface fires within mixed conifer 
forests would have thinned stands and created natural fuel breaks that 
would limit the extent of fires. Still, in very dry years, there is 
evidence of fires occurring across entire watersheds, but they did not 
burn with high severity over entire mountain sides (Jemez Mountains 
Adaptive Planning Workshop Session II Final Notes 2010, p. 7). Aspen 
stands are evidence of historic patchy crown fires that represent the 
relatively small-scale, stand-replacing fires that have historically 
occurred in the Jemez Mountains, which are also associated with 
significantly dry years (Margolis et al. 2007, p. 2236).
    These historic fire patterns were interrupted in the late 1800s 
through the elimination of fine fuels as a result of livestock 
overgrazing and managed fire suppression. This interruption and 
exclusion of fire promoted the development of high forest stand 
densities with heavy accumulations of dead and downed fuel, and growth 
of ladder fuels (the dense mid-story trees that favor development of 
crown fires) (Allen 2001, pp. 5-6). In fact, fire exclusion in this 
area converted historically low- to moderate-severity fire regimes with 
small, patchy fires to high-severity, large-scale, stand-replacing 
fires that have the potential to significantly destroy or degrade 
salamander habitat (USFS 2009a, pp. 8-9). The disruption of the natural 
cycle of fire and subsequent accumulation of continuous fuels within 
the coniferous forests on south and north-facing slopes has increased 
the chances of a severe wildfire affecting large areas of salamander 
habitat within the Jemez Mountains (e.g., see USFS 2009a, 2009b).
    Prescribed fire at VCNP has been limited, with only one burn in 
2004 that was described as creating a positive vegetation response 
(ENTRIX 2009, p. 97). A prescribed fire plan is expected to be 
developed (ENTRIX 2009, p. 97), as there is concern for severe wildland 
fires to occur (Parmenter 2009, cited in Service 2010). The planned 
Scooter Peak prescribed burn between the VCNP and Bandelier National 
Monument is a fuel reduction project in occupied salamander habitat, 
but is small in scale (approximately 960 acres (ac) (390 hectares (ha)) 
(ENTRIX 2009, p. 2). Although future thinning of secondary growth may 
somewhat lessen the risk of severe wildland fires in areas, these 
efforts are not likely at a sufficient geographic scale to lessen the 
overall threat to the salamander.
    The frequency of large-scale, high-severity, stand-replacing 
wildland fires has increased in the latter part of the 20th century in 
the Jemez Mountains. This increase is due to landscape-wide buildup of 
woody fuels associated with removal of grassy fuels from extreme year-
round livestock overgrazing in the late 1800s, and subsequent fire 
suppression (Allen 1989, pp. 94-97; 2001, pp. 5-6). The majority of 
wildfires over the past 20 years has exhibited crown fire behavior and 
burned in the direction of the prevailing south or southwest winds 
(USFS 2009a, p. 17). The first severe wildland fire in the Jemez 
Mountains was the La Mesa Fire in 1977, burning 15,400 ac (6,250 ha). 
Subsequent fires included the Buchanon Fire in 1993 (11,543 ac (4,671 
ha)), the Dome Fire in 1996 (16,516 ac (6,684 ha)), the Oso Fire in 
1997 (6,508 ac (2,634 ha)), the Cerro Grande Fire in 2000 (42,970 ac 
(17,390 ha)), and the Lakes Fire Complex (Lakes and BMG Fires) in 2002 
(4,026 ac (1,629 ha)) (Cummer 2005, pp. 3-4). Over the past 15 years, 
severe wildland fires have burned about 36 percent of modeled or known 
salamander habitat on USFS lands (USFS 2009, p. 1). Following the Cerro 
Grande Fire, the General Accounting Office reported that these 
conditions are common in much of the western part of the United States 
turning areas into a ``virtual tinderbox'' (General Accounting Office 
2000, p. 15). The threat of severe wildland fires to salamander habitat 
remains high due to the tons of dead and down fuel, overcrowded tree 
conditions leading to poor forest health, and dense thickets of small-
diameter trees. There is a 36 percent probability of having at least 
one large fire of 4,000 ac (over 1,600 ha) every year for the next 20 
years in the southwest Jemez Mountains (USFS 2009a, p. 19). Moreover, 
the probability of exceeding this estimated threshold of 4,000 ac 
(1,600 ha) burned in the same time period is 65 percent (USFS 2009a, p. 
19). As an example of the severe fire risk, the Thompson Ridge-San 
Antonio area, in Unit 1, has extensive ladder fuels and surface fuels 
estimated at over 20 tons per acre, and the understory in areas 
contains over 800 dense sapling trees per acre within the mixed conifer 
and Ponderosa pine stands (USFS 2009a, pp. 24-25). The canyon 
topography aligns with south winds and steep slopes, making this area 
more susceptible to crown fire (USFS 2009a, pp. 24-25).
    Increases in soil and microhabitat temperatures, which generally 
increase with increasing burn severity, can have profound effects on 
salamander behavior and physiology, and thus their ability to persist 
subsequent to severe wildland fires. Following the Cerro Grande Fire, 
soil temperatures were recorded under potential salamander cover 
objects in areas occupied by the salamander (Cummer and Painter 2007, 
pp. 26-37). Soil temperatures in areas of high severity burn exceeded 
the salamander's thermal tolerance, which would have resulted in the 
death of any salamanders present (Spotila 1972, p. 97; Cummer and 
Painter 2007, pp. 28-31). Even in moderate and high-severity burned 
areas where fires did not result in the death of salamanders, the 
microhabitat conditions, such as those occurring during the Cerro 
Grande Wildfire, would limit the timing and duration that the 
salamanders could be surface active (feeding and mating). Moreover, 
elevated temperatures lead to increases in oxygen consumption, heart 
rate, and metabolic rate, resulting in decreased body water and body 
mass (Whitford 1968, pp. 247-251). Physiological stress from elevated 
temperatures may also increase susceptibility to disease and parasites. 
Effects from temperature increases are discussed in greater detail 
under Factor E.
    Severe wildland fires typically increase soil pH, which could 
affect the

[[Page 54827]]

salamander. In one study of the Jemez Mountains salamander, soil pH was 
the single best indicator of relative abundance of salamanders at a 
site (Ramotnik 1988, pp. 24-25). Sites with salamanders had a pH of 6.6 
( 0.08) and sites without salamanders had a pH of 6.2 
( 0.06). In another species of a terrestrial plethodontid 
salamander, the red-backed salamander (Plethodon cinereus), soil pH 
influences and limits its distribution and occurrence as well as its 
oxygen consumption rates and growth rates (Wyman and Hawksley-Lescault 
1987, p. 1823). Similarly, Frisbie and Wyman (1991, p. 1050) found the 
disruption of sodium balance by acidic conditions in three species of 
terrestrial salamanders. A low pH substrate can also reduce body 
sodium, body water levels, and body mass (Frisbie and Wyman 1991, p. 
1050). Changes in soil pH following wildfire likely impact the 
salamander either by making the habitat less suitable or through 
physiological stress.
    Several regulatory attempts have been made to address and correct 
the altered ecological balance of New Mexico's forests resulting from a 
century of fire suppression, logging, and livestock grazing. Congress 
enacted the Community Forest Restoration Act to promote healthy 
watersheds and reduce the threat of large, high-intensity wildfires; 
insect infestation; and disease in the forests in New Mexico (H.R. 
2389, Public Law 106-393). The subsequent Omnibus Public Land 
Management Act, also called the ``Forest Landscape Restoration Act'' 
(Title, IV, Public Law III-II, 2009), established a national program 
that encourages ecological, economic, and social sustainability and 
utilization of forest restoration byproducts to benefit local rural 
economies and improve forest health. As a result, the Santa Fe National 
Forest is preparing the Southwest Jemez Mountains Landscape Assessment 
that, if funded, may reduce the threat of severe wildland fire in Units 
1 and 4 of the salamander's range over the next 10 years (USFS 2009, p. 
2). However, funding of this project is not certain, nor is it likely 
to address the short-term risk of severe wildland fire; thus, the 
efficacy of this program is unsure.
    We are not aware of any recently completed or currently funded 
large-scale projects to address the risk of severe wildland fire on the 
Jemez Ranger District of the Santa Fe National Forest. Thinning and 
burning activities in the Southwest Jemez Restoration Assessment area 
have ranged from 12 ac (5 ha) to about 7,100 ac (2,900 ha) since 1989 
(USFS 2009f, pp. 16-18). Still, most of these activities have focused 
on Ponderosa pine, with precommercial thinning (removing trees less 
than 9 inches (in) (23 centimeters (cm)) in diameter at breast height 
(dbh)) occurring on only 6,000 ac (2,400 ha) since 1986 (USFS 2009f, p. 
18). Many of the forest stands remain densely stocked, creating multi-
tiered fuels that add to crown fire risk. As such, the limited scale of 
these thinning and burning activities has not reduced the overall risk 
of severe crown fire in the area (e.g., see USFS 2009, 2009a, 2009b). 
The existing risk of wildfire on the VCNP and surrounding areas is 
uncharacteristically high and is a significant departure from historic 
conditions over 100 years ago (VCNP 2010, p. 3.1; Allen 1989, pp. ii-
346; 2001, pp. 1-10). Therefore, it is highly probable that the overall 
risk of severe wildland fire will not be significantly reduced or 
eliminated on USFS lands, National Park Service lands, the VCNP, or 
surrounding lands in the foreseeable future.
    Since 1977, these severe wildland fires have significantly degraded 
important features of salamander habitat including removal of tree 
canopy and shading, increases of soil temperature, decreases of soil 
moisture, increased pH, loss or reduction of soil organic matter, 
reduced porosity, and short-term creation of water-repelling soils. 
These and other effects limit the amount of available surface habitat 
and the timing and duration when salamanders can be surface active, 
which negatively impacts salamander behavior (e.g., foraging and 
mating). For these reasons, severe wildland fires have led to a 
reduction in the quality and quantity of the available salamander 
habitat rangewide. For this reason, the USFS believes, and we concur, 
that habitat loss from extensive, stand-replacing wildland fire 
threatens the salamander (USFS 2009c, p. 1). These effects will likely 
continue into the foreseeable future because we do not anticipate 
large-scale changes to funding or initiation of projects that would 
significantly alleviate the currently high risk of wildfire. Therefore, 
we believe that fire exclusion and suppression has substantially 
affected the salamander and this trend is expected to continue.
Forest Composition and Structure Conversions
    Changes in forest composition and structure threaten the salamander 
by directly altering soil moisture, soil temperature, soil pH, relative 
humidity, and air temperature. With an increase of small-diameter trees 
on the Jemez Mountains, there is an increase in demand for water 
required for evapotranspiration, which in turn can lead to increased 
drying of the soil. Limited water leads to drought-stressed trees, and 
increases their susceptibility to burning, insects, and disease. This 
is especially true on south-facing slopes, where less moisture is 
available or during times of earlier snowmelt. Furthermore, reduced 
soil moisture may disrupt surface activities of salamanders (e.g., 
foraging) or alter prey availability. The degree of these impacts is 
currently unknown; however, alteration of forest composition and 
structure contribute to increased risk of forest die-offs from disease 
and insects throughout the range of the salamander (USFS 2002, pp. 11-
13; 2009d, p. 1; 2009a, pp. 8-9; 2010, pp. 1-11; Allen 2001, p. 6). We 
find that the interrelated contributions from changes in vegetation to 
large-scale, high-severity wildfire and forest die-offs are of a 
significant magnitude across the range of the species (e.g., see ``Fire 
Exclusion and Severe Wildland Fires'' section, above), and in addition 
to continued predicted future changes to forested habitat within the 
range of the species, threaten the salamander.
    Preliminary data collected from the VCNP indicates that an increase 
in the amount of tree canopy cover in an area influences the amount of 
snow that is able to reach the ground, and can decrease the amount of 
soil moisture and infiltration (Enquist et al. 2009, p. 8). On the 
VCNP, 95 percent of coniferous forests have thick canopy cover with 
heavy understory fuels (VCNP 2010, pp. 3.3-3.4; USFS 2009a, p. 9). In 
these areas, snow accumulates in the tree canopy over winter, and in 
the spring can quickly evaporate without reaching or infiltrating the 
soil. For this reason, recent increases in canopy cover, resulting from 
fire exclusion and suppression, could be having significant drying 
effects on salamander habitat and threaten the salamander now and in 
the foreseeable future.
Post-fire Rehabilitation
    Post-fire management practices are often needed to restore forest 
dynamics (Beschta et al. 2004, p. 957). In 1971, USFS was given formal 
authority by Congress for Burn Area Emergency Rehabilitation (BAER) 
(Robichaud et al. 2000, p. 1) and integrated the evaluation of fire 
severity, funding request procedures, and treatment options. Treatment 
options implemented by USFS and BAER teams include hillslope treatments 
(grass seeding, contour-felled logs, mulch, and other methods to reduce 
surface runoff and keep post-fire soil in place, such as tilling, 
temporary fencing, erosion control fabric, straw wattles, lopping, and 
scattering of slash) and channel treatments (straw bale

[[Page 54828]]

check dams, log check dams, rock dams, and rock cage dams (gabions)) 
(Robichaud et al. 2000, pp. 11-21). Rehabilitation actions following 
the Cerro Grande fire in salamander habitat included heavy equipment 
and bulldozer operation, felling trees for safety reasons, mulching 
with straw and placement of straw bales, cutting and trenching trees 
(contour felling and securing on slope), hand and aerial seeding, and 
aerial hydromulch (wet mulch with fertilizer and seed) (USFS 2001, p. 
1). Some contour felling is likely beneficial for the salamander post-
fire because it can slow erosion and, in cases where surface rocks are 
not present or present in low numbers, the logs can also provide 
immediate cover. Following the Cerro Grande Fire, the BAER Team 
recommended felling large-diameter Douglas fir logs and cutting four 
disks off each log (rounds) to provide immediate cover for salamanders 
before summer rains (Interagency BAER Team 2000, p. 87; USFS 2001, p. 
1). It remains unknown if these measures are effective, but they 
probably benefit the salamander in the short term. Alternatively, some 
post-fire treatments (e.g., grass seeding, tilling, erosion control 
fabrics, and removal of surface rocks to build rock dams) likely 
negatively impact the salamander. The most common BAER treatment is 
grass seeding dropped from aircraft (Robichaud et al. 2000, p. 11). 
This treatment is inexpensive, rapidly increases water infiltration, 
and stabilizes soil (Robichaud et al. 2000, p. 11). Nonnative grasses 
are typically seeded because they are fast-growing and have extensive 
fibrous roots (Robichaud et al. 2000, p. 11). Nevertheless, these 
nonnative grasses have created thick mats that are impenetrable to the 
salamander because the species has short legs and cannot dig tunnels. 
The existing spaces in the soil fill with extensive roots, altering the 
sub-surface habitat in a manner that is unusable to the salamander. 
Finally, grass seeds can also contain fertilizer that is broadcast over 
large areas of habitat (e.g., hydromulch used in post-fire treatments 
for the Cerro Grande Fire). Fertilizers can contain nitrate, which is 
toxic to amphibians at certain levels (Rouse et al. 1999, p. 799). 
While the effects of seeding with nonnative grasses and the use of 
fertilizers on salamanders have not been specifically studied, this 
action has likely caused widespread adverse impacts to the salamander. 
Because this action is a common post-fire treatment, it will likely 
continue to negatively impact salamander localities from both past and 
future treatments.
    In summary, some post-fire treatments could benefit the salamander, 
such as some contour felling of logs. Additional measures, such as 
cutting and scattering rounds, can also benefit the salamander. 
However, other post-fire treatments negatively impact the salamander. 
Small-scale impacts could occur from removing rocks from habitat to 
build rock dams, and large-scale impacts include grass seeding and 
associated chemicals. We conclude that while the effects of high-
severity, stand-replacing wildfire, also referred to as severe wildland 
fires, are the most significant threat to the salamander, actions taken 
subsequent to the wildfires could determine whether the salamander will 
persist in or return to those areas. We therefore find that post-fire 
rehabilitation treatments are currently a threat to the salamander, and 
are expected to continue in the future.
Fire Use
    Fire use includes the combination of wildland fire use (the 
management of naturally ignited wildland fires to accomplish specific 
resource management objectives) and prescribed fire (any fire ignited 
by management actions to meet specific objectives) applications to meet 
natural resource objectives (USFS 2010b, p. 1). Fire use can benefit 
the salamander in the long term by reducing the risk of severe wildland 
fires and by returning the natural fire cycle to the ecosystem. 
Alternatively, other practices such as broadcast burning (i.e., 
conducting prescribed fires over large areas) consume ground litter 
that helps to create moist conditions and stabilize soil and rocky 
slopes. Depending on time of year, fire use can also impact the 
salamander if the species is active on the surface, which is typically 
from July to September. Conditions for salamander surface activity 
(wet) are often not conducive to fire. Prescribed fire in the Jemez 
Mountains is often planned for the fall (when the salamanders are not 
active), because low wind and increased moisture during this time allow 
more control, lowering chances of the fire's escape. Because fire 
historically occurred prior to July (i.e., pre-monsoon rains), the 
majority of fires likely preceded surface activity. Prescribed fires 
conducted after September, when salamanders typically return to their 
underground retreats, would be similar to a natural fire regime in the 
spring with low direct impacts because most salamanders are subsurface. 
However, it is unknown what the indirect impacts to the salamander 
would be by altering the time of year when fire is present on the 
    Other impacts to the salamander from fire use can include digging 
fire lines, targeting the reduction of large decomposing logs, and 
chemical use (such as flares and fire retardant) in salamander habitat. 
Some impacts to the salamander can be avoided through seasonal timing 
of prescribed burns and modifying objectives (e.g., leaving large 
diameter logs, greater canopy cover) and techniques (e.g., not using 
flares or chemicals) of the prescribed fire in salamander habitat 
(Cummer 2005, pp. 2-7). As part of the Southwest Jemez Restoration 
Project proposal, the Santa Fe National Forest has set specific goals 
pertaining to the salamander including reduction of the risk of high-
intensity wildfire in salamander habitat and retention of a moisture 
regime that will sustain high-quality salamander habitat (USFS 2009a, 
p. 11). The Santa Fe National Forest intends to minimize impacts to the 
salamander and to work towards its recovery (USFS 2009, p. 4), but 
specific actions or recommendations to accomplish this goal have not 
yet been determined. If the salamander is not considered, fire use 
could make its habitat less suitable (warmer; drier; fewer large, 
decomposing logs) and kill or injure salamanders that are surface 
active. Alternatively, the species may benefit if seasonal restrictions 
and maintaining key habitat features (e.g., large logs and sufficient 
canopy cover to maintain moist microhabitats) are part of managing the 
fire. Given the current condition of forest composition and structure, 
the risks of severe wildland fire on a large geographic scale will take 
a long-term planning strategy. Fire use is critical to the long-term 
protection of the salamander's habitat, although some practices are not 
beneficial to the species and may threaten the salamander.
Fire Suppression Activities
    Similarly, fire suppression activities both protect and negatively 
impact the salamander or its habitat. For example, fire suppression 
actions that occurred in salamander habitat during the Cerro Grande 
Fire included hand line construction, backfiring with the capacity of 
burning off heavy ground cover, fire retardant drops, and bulldozer 
line (USFS 2001, p. 1). Water dropping from helicopters is another fire 
suppression technique used in the Jemez Mountains, where water is 
collected from accessible streams, ponds, or stock tanks. By dropping 
surface water into terrestrial habitat, there is a significant 
increased risk of

[[Page 54829]]

spreading aquatic pathogens into terrestrial habitats (see Factor C, 
    Fire retardants and fire fighting foams are addressed under Factor 
E. Fire suppression actions including the use of fire retardants, water 
dropping, backfiring, and fire line construction likely impact the 
salamander; however, the magnitude of impacts from fire suppression 
remains unknown, and we do not have enough information at this time to 
determine if fire suppression actions threaten the salamander. However, 
these activities improve the chances of quick fire suppression and 
would be relatively smaller in scale and could have fewer impacts than 
a severe wildland fire. Therefore, we do not find that fire suppression 
activities are a threat to the salamander, nor do we expect them to 
become a threat in the future.
Mechanical Treatment of Hazardous Fuels
    Mechanical treatment of hazardous fuels refers to the process of 
grinding or chipping vegetation (trees and shrubs) to meet forest 
management objectives. When these treatments are used, resprouting 
vegetation often grows back in a few years, if the area is not 
maintained through prescribed fire. Mechanical treatment may include 
the use of heavy equipment or manual equipment to cut vegetation (trees 
and shrubs) and to scrape slash and other debris into piles for burning 
or mastication. Mastication equipment uses a cutting head attached to 
an overhead boom to grind, chip, or crush wood into smaller pieces and 
is able to treat vegetation on slopes up to 35 to 45 percent while 
generally having little ground impact (soil compaction or disturbance). 
The debris is left on the ground where it decomposes and provides 
erosion protection or it is burned after drying out.
    Mechanical treatment of hazardous fuels such as manual or machine 
thinning (chipping and mastication) may cause localized disturbances to 
the forest structure that can impact the salamander. For example, 
removal of overstory tree canopy or ground cover within salamander 
habitat may cause desiccation of soil or rocky substrates. 
Additionally, tree-felling or use of heavy equipment has the potential 
to disturb the substrate, resulting in destabilization of talus and 
compaction of soil, which may reduce sub-surface interstices used by 
salamanders as refuges or for their movements. Similarly, if 
salamanders are surface active, any of these activities could crush 
salamanders present under surface cover objects (through use of heavy 
equipment or heavy foot traffic).
    Also of concern is soil compaction from the use of heavy equipment. 
The masticator largely operated on skid trails (temporary trails used 
to transport trees, logs, or other forest products), and mastication 
did not increase soil compaction, because the machinery traveled on 
trails covered with masticated materials (wood chips, etc.), which more 
evenly distributed the weight of the machinery and reduced soil 
compaction (Moghaddas and Stephens 2008, p. 3104). Activities that 
compact soil, remove excessive canopy cover, or are conducted while 
salamanders are surface active would be detrimental to the salamander 
and its habitat. If mechanical treatment and hazardous fuels activities 
are conducted in a manner that minimizes impacts to the salamander 
while reducing the risk of severe wildland fire, the salamander could 
ultimately benefit from the reduction in the threat of severe wildland 
fire and the improvement in the structure and composition of the 
forest. While mechanical treatments likely impact a few individual 
salamanders, we do not have enough information at this time to 
determine whether mechanical treatments threaten the species.
Forest Silvicultural Practices
    Forest silvicultural practices (the care and cultivation of forest 
trees) threaten the salamander. Many areas of the landscape in the 
Jemez Mountains has been fragmented by past commercial (trees greater 
than 9 in (23 cm) dbh) and pre-commercial (trees less than 9 in (23 cm) 
dbh) timber harvesting. Much of the forests of the Jemez Mountains lack 
large-diameter trees and have become overgrown with small-diameter 
trees. Salamander localities are found generally within the intact 
stands of mature forest, but can still be found in areas where evidence 
of logging exists. We assessed whether timber harvest (logging) or 
salvage logging threaten the salamander.
    From 1935 to 1972, logging (particularly clear-cut logging) was 
conducted on VCNP (ENTRIX 2009, p. 164). These timber activities 
resulted in about 50 percent of VCNP being logged, with over 1,600 
kilometers (km) (1,000 miles (mi)) of 1960s era logging roads (ENTRIX 
2009, p. 164) being built in winding and spiraling patterns around 
hills (ENTRIX 2009, pp. 59-60). On the VCNP, 95 percent of forest 
stands contain dense thickets of small-diameter trees (VCNP 2010, pp. 
3.3-3.4). This multi-tiered forest structure is similar to surrounding 
areas and provides ladder fuels that favor the development of crown 
fires (Allen 2001, pp. 5-6; USFS 2009a, p. 10). Additionally, all 
forest types on the VCNP contain very few late-stage mature trees 
greater than 16 in (41 cm) dbh (less than 10 percent of the overall 
cover) (VCNP 2010, pp. 3.4, 3.6-3.23). The lack of large trees is an 
artifact of intense logging, mostly from clear-cutting practices in the 
1960s (VCNP 2010, p. 3.4), and we believe this to be similar for 
surrounding forests. Clear-cutting degrades forest floor microhabitats 
by eliminating shading and leaf litter, increasing soil surface 
temperature, and reducing moisture (Petranka 1998, p. 16).
    In a comparison of four logged sites and five unlogged sites in 
Jemez Mountains salamander habitat, Ramotnik (1986, p. 8) reports that 
a total of 47 salamanders were observed at four of the five unlogged 
sites, while no salamanders were observed on any of the logged sites. 
It is unclear whether salamanders were observed at the sites prior to 
logging, but significant differences in habitat features (soil pH, 
litter depth, and log size) between the logged and unlogged sites are 
reported. On the unlogged sites, salamanders were associated with cover 
objects that were closer together and more decayed, and that had a 
higher canopy cover, greater moss and lichen cover, and lower 
surrounding needle cover, compared to cover objects on logged sites 
(Ramotnik 1986, p. 8). Cover objects on logged sites were less 
decomposed and accessible by the salamanders, had a shallower 
surrounding litter depth, and were associated with a more acidic soil 
than were cover objects on the unlogged sites (Ramotnik 1986, p. 8).
    Consistent with the findings of Ramotnik (1986, p. 8), deMaynadier 
and Hunter (1995; in Olson et al. 2009, p. 6) reviewed 18 studies and 
found that salamander abundance after timber harvest was 3.5 times 
greater on controls than in clear-cut areas. Furthermore, Petranka et 
al. (1993; in Olson et al. 2009, p. 6) found that Plethodon abundance 
and richness in mature forest were five times higher than those in 
recent clear cuts, and they estimated that it would take as much as 50 
to 70 years for clearcut populations to return to pre-clearcut levels. 
In the Jemez Mountains, historic clearcut logging practices likely led 
to significant habitat loss for the salamander with effects that 
continue today.
    The majority of salamander habitat has been heavily logged, which 
has resulted in changes in stand structure and a paucity of large-
diameter trees. This lack of large-diameter trees means

[[Page 54830]]

that there is a limited source for future large, decomposing logs 
needed for high-quality salamander habitat. Ramotnik (1986, p. 12) 
reports that logs with salamanders present were significantly larger 
and wetter than those without salamanders. Further, most salamanders 
were found in well decomposed logs. In a similar plethodontid 
salamander, large logs provide refuge from warmer temperatures and 
resiliency from impacts that can warm and dry habitat (Kluber et al. 
2009, p. 31).
    On the VCNP, only minor selective logging has occurred since 1972, 
and it is expected that some thinning of second growth forests will 
continue to occur to prevent severe wildfires. However, no commercial 
logging is proposed or likely in the foreseeable future (Parmenter 
2009b, cited in Service 2010). Although commercial timber harvest on 
the Santa Fe National Forest has declined appreciably since 1988 (Fink 
2008, pp. 9, 19), the effects from historical logging and associated 
roads will continue to threaten the salamander and are expected to 
continue in the foreseeable future.
    Salvage cutting (logging) removes dead, dying, damaged, or 
deteriorating trees while the wood is still merchantable (Wegner 1984, 
p. 421). Sanitation cutting, similar to salvage, removes the same kinds 
of trees as well as those susceptible to attack, but for the purpose of 
reducing the spread of biotic pests (Wegner 1984, p. 421). Both types 
of cutting are used in salamander habitat, and are referred to as 
``salvage logging.'' Salvage logging is a common response to forest 
disturbance (Lindenmayer et al. 2008, p. 4) and, in salamander habitat, 
is most likely to occur after a forest die-off resulting from fire, 
disease, insects, or drought. The purposes for salvage logging in the 
Jemez Mountains have included firewood for local use, timber for small 
and large mills, salvage before economic decay, creation of diverse 
healthy and productive timber stands, management of stands to minimize 
insect and disease losses (USFS 1996, p. 4), and recovery of the timber 
value of fire-killed trees (USFS 2003, p. 1). When conducted in 
salamander habitat, it can further reduce the quality of the habitat 
remaining after the initial disturbance by removing or reducing the 
shading afforded by dead standing trees (Moeur and Guthrie 1984, p. 
140) and future salamander cover objects (removal of trees precludes 
their recruitment to the forest floor), and by interfering with habitat 
recovery (Lindenmayer et al. 2008, p. 13).
    Recent salvage logging within the range of the salamander occurred 
following the Lakes and BMG Wildfire. The USFS stated that mitigation 
measures for the Lakes and BMG Wildfire Timber Salvage Project would 
further protect the salamander and enhance salamander habitat by 
immediately providing slash and down logs (USFS 2003, pp. 4-5). 
Mitigation for the salvage logging project included conducting 
activities during winter to avoid soil compaction, and providing for 
higher snag retention (by leaving all Douglas fir trees (16 percent 
fire-killed trees) and 10 percent of other large snags) to provide 
future down log habitat (USFS 2003, p. 29). These mitigation measures 
were developed in consultation with NMEST in an effort to minimize 
impacts to salamander from salvage logging; however, NMEST recommended 
that salvage logging be excluded from occupied salamander habitat 
because it was not clear that even with the additional mitigations that 
it would meet the conservation objectives of the Cooperative Management 
Plan (NMEST 2003, p. 1). The mitigation measures would likely benefit 
the salamander in the short term if conducted without salvage logging. 
It is not known if mitigation measures offset the impacts of salvage 
logging in salamander habitat; however, Lindenmayer et al. (2008, p. 
13) reports that salvage logging interferes with natural ecological 
recovery and may increase the likelihood and intensity of subsequent 
fires. We believe that removal of trees limits the amount of future 
cover and allows additional warming and drying of habitat. The 
potential for large-scale forest die-offs from wildfire, insect 
outbreak, disease, or drought is high in the Jemez Mountains (see 
Factors A and E), which may result in future salvage logging in 
salamander habitat in the foreseeable future. We believe that salvage 
logging in salamander habitat further diminishes habitat quality and 
may be a determining factor of salamander persistence subsequent to 
forest die-off.
    Some timber harvest activities likely pose no threat to the 
salamander. For example, removal of hazard trees may have minimal 
disturbance to surrounding soils or substrates, especially if removal 
is conducted when the species is not surface-active (i.e., seasonal 
restrictions). This type of localized impact may affect a few 
individuals but is not likely to affect a population or be considered a 
threat. Likewise, precommercial thinning (removal of trees less than 9 
in (22.9 cm) dbh) or shrub and brush removal (without the use of 
herbicides) to control vegetation, and without disturbing or compacting 
large areas of the surrounding soils, likely could be conducted without 
adverse effects on the salamander.
    In summary, current commercial logging levels are very low and do 
not threaten the salamander. Because most of the high-quality, large-
diameter trees have been removed from the Jemez Mountains, we believe 
that commercial logging levels will remain low for the foreseeable 
future. Nevertheless, impacts from past commercial logging activities 
continue to have detrimental effects to the salamander and its habitat. 
These past activities removed large-diameter trees, removed forest 
canopy, created roads, compacted soil, and disturbed other important 
habitat features. These effects of historic logging include the warming 
and drying of habitat, and no source for future large cover objects 
(decomposing logs) that contribute to habitat complexity and 
resiliency. Salvage logging further diminishes salamander habitat 
subsequent to disturbance. Therefore, we conclude that the salamander 
continues to be threatened by forest silvicultural practices, including 
salvage logging, and we expect that these practices and the resulting 
threats to the species will continue in the future.
    Following the 2000 Cerro Grande Fire, water retention dams were 
constructed within potential salamander habitat to minimize soil 
erosion within burned areas (NMDGF 2001, p. 1; NMEST 2002, pp.1-2; Kutz 
2002, p. 1). Surveys were not conducted prior to construction, and we 
do not know if the areas were occupied by salamanders, but the areas 
are in the vicinity of occupied salamander habitat. Because these types 
of structures were installed to slow erosion subsequent to wildfire, 
additional dams or flood control features could be constructed within 
salamander habitat in the foreseeable future following severe wildland 
fires. Some individual salamanders may be killed or injured by this 
activity; however, the impact to the species and habitat from 
construction of retention dams would be relatively minor. For this 
reason, we do not consider the construction of dams to currently be a 
significant threat to the salamander, nor do we expect dam construction 
to be a threat to the species in the future.
    Pumice mining activities (e.g., Copar Pumice Company, the Copar 
South Pit Pumice Mine, and the El Cajete Pumice Mine) have been 
evaluated for impacts to the salamander (USFS 1995, pp. 1-14;

[[Page 54831]]

1996, pp. 1-3). Pumice mines are located within areas of volcanic 
substrate that are unlikely to support salamanders (USFS 2009c, p. 2). 
However, associated infrastructure from expansion of the El Cajete 
Mine, such as access roads and heavy equipment staging areas, may have 
the potential to be located in potential salamander habitat. Although 
no decision on authorizing the extension to the El Cajete Mine has been 
made (USFS 2009. p. 2), these activities would be small in scale and 
not likely considered a threat to the species, either currently or in 
the future.
Private (Residential) Development
    Private property development threatens the salamander. Although the 
majority of salamander habitat is located on Federally managed lands, 
private land contains substantially sized, contiguous areas of 
salamander habitat. Additionally, some areas with salamander habitat on 
the Santa Fe National Forest could be developed for private use (as 
proposed in USFS 1997, pp. 1-4; USFS 1998, pp. 1-2). Development can 
destroy and fragment habitat through the construction of homes and 
associated infrastructure (e.g., roads, driveways, and buildings), 
making those areas unusable to salamanders and likely resulting in 
mortalities to salamanders within those areas. These activities have 
reduced the quantity and quality of salamander habitat primarily within 
the southern part of Unit 1, the central and eastern parts of Unit 3, 
and large inholdings in Unit 4. As the human population continues to 
increase in New Mexico, we believe development will likely continue to 
directly affect the salamander within these units in the foreseeable 
future. These activities will likely be in the form of new housing and 
associated roads and infrastructure. Because development occurs, or is 
likely to occur, in part of the range of the salamander, and because we 
anticipate the continuing loss and degradation of habitat in these 
areas, we determine that private property development currently 
threatens the salamander, and this threat will continue in the future.
Geothermal Development
    Geothermal development does not threaten the salamander. A large 
volcanic complex in the Jemez Mountains is the only known high-
temperature geothermal resource in New Mexico (Fleischmann 2006, p. 
27). Geothermal energy was explored for possible development on the 
VCNP between 1959 and 1983 (USFS 2007, p. 126). In July 1978, the U.S. 
Department of Energy, Union Oil Company of California (Unocal), and the 
Public Service Company of New Mexico began a cooperative geothermal 
energy project (USFS 2007, p. 126). The demonstration project drilled 
20 exploratory wells over the next 4 years. One of the geothermal 
development locations was south of Redondo Peak on the VCNP, and the 
canyon in this area was occupied by the salamander (Sabo 1980, pp. 2-
4). An Environmental Impact Statement analyzed a variety of 
alternatives, including placement of transmission towers and lines 
(U.S. Department of Energy cited in Sabo 1980, pp. 2-5). Nevertheless, 
the project ended in January 1982, because Unocal's predictions 
concerning the size of geothermal resources were not met. Out of the 40 
wells drilled in the Valles Caldera in the Redondo Creek and Sulphur 
Springs areas, only a few yielded sufficient resources to be considered 
production wells (USFS 2007, p. 126). In some cases, primarily in Unit 
5, this occurred in salamander habitat and concrete well pads were 
built. Although the geothermal resources are found within the range of 
the salamander in the Jemez Mountains, extraction of large quantities 
of hot fluids from these rocks has proven difficult and not 
commercially viable (USFS 2007, p. 127). As such, we are not aware of 
any current or future plans to construct large or small-scale 
geothermal power production projects within salamander habitat. 
Moreover, in 2006, the mineral rights on the VCNP were condemned, 
including geothermal resources (VallesCaldera.com 2010, p. 1). For 
these reasons, geothermal development does not present a current or 
foreseeable threat to the salamander.
Roads, Trails, and Habitat Fragmentation
    Roads, trails, and habitat fragmentation have had significant 
detrimental impacts that threaten the salamander now and in the 
foreseeable future. Construction of roads and trails has historically 
eliminated or reduced the quality or quantity of salamander habitat, 
reducing blocks of native vegetation to isolated fragments and creating 
a matrix of native habitat islands that have been altered by varying 
degrees from their natural state. Allen (1989, pp. 46, 54, 163, 216-
242, and 302) collected and analyzed changes in road networks 
(railroads, paved roads, improved roads, dirt roads, and primitive 
roads) in the Jemez Mountains from 1935 to 1981. Landscape-wide road 
density increased 11.75 times from 0.382 km (0.237 mi) of road per 
square km (0.386 square mi) in 1935 to 4.490 km (2.790 mi) of road per 
square km in 1981, and in surface area of the map area from 0.131 
percent (247 ha; 610 ac) to 1.667 percent (3,132 ha; 7,739 ac) (Allen 
1989, pp. 236-240). Allen (1989, p. 240) reports that of 8,443 km 
(5,246 mi) of roads in the Jemez Mountains in 1981, 74 percent was 
mapped on USFS lands (3,607 km; 2,241 mi) and private lands (2,649 km; 
1,646 mi). These roads generally indicate past logging activity (Allen 
1989 p. 236). Ongoing effects of roads and their construction on the 
VCNP may exceed the effects of the timber harvests for which the roads 
were constructed (Balmat and Kupfer 2004, p. 46). The majority of roads 
within the range of the salamander are unpaved, and the compacted soil 
typically has very low infiltration rates that generate large amounts 
of surface runoff (Robichaud et al. 2010, p. 80). Increasing runoff and 
decreasing infiltration has led to the drying of adjacent areas of 
salamander habitat.
    The construction of roads and trails degrades habitat by compacting 
soil and eliminating interstitial spaces on the surface and sub-
surface. Furthermore, roads and trails reduce or eliminate important 
habitat features (e.g., lowering canopy cover or drying of soil) and 
prevent gene flow (Saunders et al. 1991, p. 25; Burkey 1995, pp. 527, 
528; Frankham et al. 2002, p. 310; Noss et al. 2006, p. 219). Vehicular 
and off-highway vehicle (OHV) use of roads and trails can kill or 
injure salamanders. Roads are known to fragment terrestrial salamander 
habitat and act as partial barriers to movement (deMaynadier and Hunter 
2000, p. 56; Marsh et al. 2005, p. 2004). We find that the 
establishment of roads and trails will likely continue to impact the 
salamander and its habitat, increasing the risk of extirpation of some 
    Road clearing and maintenance activities can also cause localized 
adverse impacts to the salamander from scraping and widening roads and 
shoulders or maintaining drainage ditches or replacing culverts. These 
activities may kill or injure individuals through crushing by heavy 
equipment. Existing and newly constructed roads or trails fragment 
habitat, accelerating extirpation of localities, especially when 
movement between suitable habitat is not possible (Burkey 1995, p. 540; 
Frankham et al. 2002, p. 314). Isolated populations or patches are 
vulnerable to random events, which could easily destroy part of or an 
entire salamander locality, or decrease a locality to such a low number 
of individuals that the risk of extirpation from human disturbance, 
natural catastrophic events, or genetic

[[Page 54832]]

and demographic problems (e.g., loss of genetic diversity, uneven male 
to female ratios) would increase greatly (Shaffer 1987, p. 71; Burkey 
1995, pp. 527, 528; Frankham et al. 2002, pp. 310-324).
    Terrestrial salamanders are impacted by edge effects, typically 
adjacent to roads and areas of timber harvest, because microclimate 
conditions within forest edges often exhibit higher air and soil 
temperatures, lower soil moisture, and lower humidity, compared to 
interior forested areas (Moseley et al. 2009, p. 426). Moreover, by 
creating edge effects, roads can reduce the quality of adjacent habitat 
by increasing light and wind penetration, exposure to pollutants, and 
the spread of invasive species (Marsh et al. 2005, pp. 2004-2005). Due 
to the physiological nature of terrestrial salamanders, they are 
sensitive to these types of microclimate alterations, particularly to 
changes to temperature and moisture (Moseley et al. 2009, p. 426). 
Generally, more salamanders are observed with increasing distance from 
some edge types, which is attributed to reduced moisture and 
microhabitat quality (Moseley et al. 2009, p. 426).
    Road construction on New Mexico State Highway 126 around the town 
of Seven Springs in 2007-2008 occurred in occupied salamander habitat 
in Unit 1. Measures were implemented by the USFS reduce the impact of 
these road construction activities on salamanders including limiting 
construction to times when salamanders would not be active on the 
surface and felling of approximately 300 trees in the project area to 
replace large woody debris used as salamander habitat. However, at 
least 24 ac (9.7 ha) of salamander habitat were directly impacted by 
this project (USFS 2009c, p. 2), which resulted in the destruction and 
fragmentation of occupied salamander habitat. Continued maintenance of 
State Highway 126 in the future will likely involve the use of salts 
for road de-icing, and increase the exposure of adjacent areas to 
chemicals and pollution from vehicular traffic. Fragmentation of parts 
of Unit 1 and subsequent edge effects have reduced the quality and 
quantity of salamander habitat.
    In 2007, the NMEST concluded that impacts from OHVs and motorcycles 
were variable depending on their location relative to salamander 
habitat. Since the width of a trail is generally smaller than a road, 
canopy cover typically remains over trails. In some cases (e.g., flat 
areas without deeply cut erosion), the trails do not likely impede 
salamander movement. Alternatively, severe erosion caused by heavy 
trail use in some places formed trenches approximately 2 ft wide by 2 
to 3 ft deep (0.6 m wide by 0.6 to 0.9 m deep), which would likely 
prevent salamander movement, fragment local populations, and trap 
salamanders that fall into the trenches. Often, the most severely 
impacted areas from OHVs had been the best salamander habitat prior to 
OHV use, because they were located on steep, north-facing slopes, with 
loose rocky soils that are easily eroded.
    In November 2005, the USFS issued the Travel Management Rule that 
requires designation of a system of roads, trails, and areas for motor 
vehicle use by vehicle class and, if appropriate, by time of year (70 
FR 68264; November 9, 2005). As part of this effort, the USFS 
inventoried and mapped roads and motorized trails, and is currently 
completing a Draft Environmental Impact Statement to change the usage 
of some of the current system within the range of the salamander. The 
Santa Fe National Forest is attempting to minimize the amount of 
authorized roads or trails in known occupied salamander habitat and 
will likely prohibit the majority of motorized cross-country travel 
within the range of the species (USFS 2009c, p. 2). Nevertheless, by 
closing some areas to OHV use, the magnitude of impacts in areas open 
to OHV use in salamander habitat will be greater (NMEST 2008, p. 2). We 
acknowledge that some individual salamanders may be killed or injured 
by vehicles and OHVs and that OHV use impacts salamander habitat. 
However, we believe the Santa Fe National Forest is attempting to 
minimize impacts to the salamander and its habitat. Furthermore, we 
believe that the revised travel management regulations will reduce the 
impact of motorized vehicles on the salamander and its habitat by 
providing a consistent policy that can be applied to all classes of 
motor vehicles, including OHVs. We conclude that OHV and motorcycle use 
threatens the salamander if left unmanaged, but with the implementation 
of the forthcoming management of motorized trails on the Santa Fe 
National Forest, the threat will be greatly reduced.
    In summary, the extensive roads that currently exist in the Jemez 
Mountains have significantly impacted the salamander and its habitat 
due to death and injury of salamanders; fragmentation and population 
isolation; habitat loss; habitat modification from edges; and in some 
cases, increased exposure to chemicals, salts, and pollution. Roads 
associated with private development are most likely to be constructed 
in the future in portions of Units 3 and 4, which has the most private 
land. However, new roads may also be constructed through Federal lands 
within the salamander's range. Roads and trails have significantly 
fragmented habitat and likely reduced persistence of existing 
salamander localities. Therefore, we conclude that roads, trails, and 
the resulting habitat fragmentation currently present a threat to the 
salamander, and this threat will continue in the future.
    Recreational activities threaten the salamander now and in the 
foreseeable future. The Jemez Mountains are heavily used for dispersed 
recreational activities that have the potential to impact the species, 
including camping, hiking, mountain biking, hunting, and skiing; OHV 
use is addressed above. There is overlap of the Jemez National 
Recreation Area, a 57,650 ac (23,330 ha) area of the southwestern Jemez 
Mountains, and salamander Units 1 and 4. It is estimated that nearly 
1.6 million people visit the Jemez National Recreation Area for 
recreational opportunities each year (Jemez National Recreation Area 
2002, p. 2). Despite an existing average road density of approximately 
2.5 mi (4.0 km) of road per square mile (2.6 square km) on the Jemez 
National Recreation Area, off road use continues to occur resulting in 
new roads being created or decommissioned roads being reopened (Jemez 
National Recreation Area 2002, pp. 10, 11). Using current population 
and travel trends, the potential visitation demand on the VCNP is 
between 250,000 and 400,000 visits per year (Entrix 2009, p. 93). Of 
this projection, the VCNP is expected to realize 120,000 visitors per 
year by the year 2020 (Entrix 2009, p. 94). To put this in context, 
from 2002 to 2007 the VCNP averaged about 7,600 visitors per year 
(Entrix 2009, p. 13). Bandelier National Monument, which has a smaller 
proportion of salamander habitat, overlaps with the southern portion of 
Unit 3, and attracts an average annual visitation of over 250,000 
people (Entrix 2009, p. 92). Fenton Lake State Park in Unit 1 also 
contains salamander habitat. The park received over 120,000 visitors on 
its 70 ac (28 ha) containing hiking trails and a fishing lake (Entrix 
2009, p. 92).
    Campgrounds and associated parking lots and structures have likely 
impacted the salamander through modification of small areas of habitat 
from soil compaction and vegetation removal. Similarly, compaction of 
soil from hiking or mountain biking trails has modified a relatively 
small amount of habitat. The majority of these trails likely do not act 
as barriers to

[[Page 54833]]

movement nor create edge effects similar to roads because they are 
narrow and do not reduce canopy cover. However, similar to OHV trails, 
deeply eroded mountain bike trails could act as barriers and entrap 
    The Pajarito Ski Area in Los Alamos County was established in 1957 
and expanded through 1994. Ski runs were constructed within salamander 
habitat. A significant amount of high-quality habitat (north-facing 
mountain with mixed conifer forests and many salamander observations) 
was destroyed with construction of the ski areas and the runs and roads 
have fragmented and created a high proportion of edge areas. 
Nevertheless, surveys conducted in 2001 in two small patches of 
forested areas between ski runs detected salamanders (Cummer et al. 
2001, pp. 1, 2). Most areas between runs remain unsurveyed. However, 
because of the large amount of habitat destroyed, the extremely small 
patch sizes that remain, and relatively high degree of edge effects, 
the salamander will likely not persist in these areas in the long term.
    Adjacent to the downhill ski runs are cross country ski trails. 
These trails are USFS lands, but maintained by a private group. In 
2001, trail maintenance and construction with a bulldozer was conducted 
by the group in salamander habitat during salamander surface activity 
period (NMEST 2001, p. 1). Trail maintenance was reported as leveling 
all existing ski trails with a bulldozer, that involved substantial 
soil disturbance, cutting into slopes as much as 2 ft (0.6 m), filling 
other areas in excess of 2 ft (0.6 m), widening trails, and downing 
some large trees (greater than 10 in (25.4 cm) dbh), ultimately 
disturbing approximately 2 to 5 ac (1 to 2 ha) of occupied salamander 
habitat (Sangre de Christo Audubon Society 2001, pp. 2-3). This type of 
trail maintenance while salamanders are surface active could result in 
direct impacts to salamanders, and further fragment and dry habitat. We 
do not know if there are future plans to modify or expand the existing 
ski area.
    The Jemez Mountains are currently heavily used for recreational 
activities, and as human populations in New Mexico continue to expand, 
there will likely be an increased demand in the foreseeable future for 
recreational opportunities in the Jemez Mountains. Large-scale 
recreational projects in salamander habitat would threaten the 
salamander. Therefore, we conclude that recreational activities 
currently threaten the salamander, and will continue to be a threat in 
the future.
Livestock Grazing
    Historical livestock grazing changed the Jemez Mountains ecosystem 
by removing understory grasses, contributing to altered fire regimes, 
altered vegetation composition and structure, and increased soil 
erosion. Livestock grazing generally does not occur within salamander 
habitat because cattle concentrate outside of forested areas where 
grass and water are more abundant. We have no information that 
indicates livestock grazing is directly or indirectly threatening the 
salamander or its habitat. However, small-scale habitat modification, 
such as livestock trail establishment or trampling, in occupied 
salamander habitat is possible. The USFS and VCNP manage livestock to 
maintain fine grassy fuels and should not limit low-intensity fires in 
the future. Indirect effects from livestock activities may include the 
risk of aquatic disease transmission from earthen stock ponds that 
create areas of standing surface water. Earthen stock tanks are often 
utilized by tiger salamanders (Ambystoma tigrinum), which are known to 
be vectors for disease (i.e., they can carry and spread disease) 
(Davidson et al. 2003, pp. 601-607). Earthen stock tanks can also 
concentrate tiger salamanders, increasing chances of disease. Some 
tiger salamanders use adjacent upland areas and may transmit disease to 
the Jemez Mountains salamander in areas where they co-occur. However, 
we do not have enough information to draw conclusions on the extent or 
role tiger salamanders may play in disease transmission. Although some 
small-scale habitat modification is possible, livestock are managed to 
maintain a grassy forest understory, and the connection between earthen 
stock tanks for livestock and aquatic disease transmission is unclear. 
Therefore, we conclude that livestock grazing is not a current threat 
to the salamander, nor do we believe it will be in the future.
    In summary, the salamander and its habitat are threatened by 
historical and current fire management practices; severe wildland fire; 
forest composition and structure conversions; post-fire rehabilitation; 
forest management (including silvicultural practices); private 
(residential) development; roads, trails, and habitat fragmentation; 
and recreation. Due to the limited extent of habitat occupied by the 
salamander, the severity and magnitude of the threat of severe wildland 
fire, and ongoing impacts from the existing extensive road network and 
previous logging practices, we have determined that the present or 
threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of habitat and 
range represents a current significant threat to the salamander, and 
will continue to be so in the future.

Factor B. Overutilization For Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or 
Educational Purposes

    Overutilization does not threaten the salamander now or in the 
foreseeable future, but has likely caused salamander extirpation at the 
most abundant location known historically. Between 1960 and 1999, 
nearly 1,000 salamanders were collected from the wild for scientific or 
educational purposes. The majority (738 salamanders) were collected 
between 1960 and 1979 (Painter 1999, p. 1). Since 1999, very few 
salamanders have been collected, and all were collected under a valid 
permit issued by either NMDGF or USFS. This species is difficult to 
maintain in captivity, and we know of no salamanders in the pet trade 
or in captivity for educational or scientific purposes.
    In 1967, salamanders were only known from seven localities (Reagan 
1967, p. 13). Only one of these localities (the ``Type Locality'') was 
considered to have an abundant salamander population (Reagan 1967, p. 
8). The species was originally described using specimens collected from 
this type locality within Unit 4 (Stebbins and Reimer 1950, pp. 73-80). 
Reagan (1967, p. 11) collected 165 salamanders from this locality 
between 1965 and 1967, whereas Williams collected an additional 67 of 
659 salamanders found at this locality in 1970 (1972, p. 11). Although 
surveys have been conducted at this locality since the 1990s, no 
salamanders have been found, suggesting that salamanders in the area 
have likely been extirpated from overcollection. We are not aware of 
any other localities where the species has been extirpated from 
overcollection. Nevertheless, it is apparent that repeated collections 
of individuals can lead to extirpation. Still, we believe this is no 
longer a threat because collections are stringently regulated through 
permits issues by NMDGF and the USFS (see Factor D below). 
Additionally, due to these measures, we do not believe that collection 
will be a threat in the future.
    Survey techniques can alter salamander habitat by disturbing and 
drying the areas underneath the objects that provide cover, and 
destroying decaying logs by searching inside them. Surveyors are now 
trained to replace cover objects as they were found and to

[[Page 54834]]

leave part of every log intact; however, impacts still occur. When 
surveys are dispersed and there are multiple intervening years, impacts 
are likely lessened; however, when a location is repeatedly surveyed, 
habitat quality is diminished. We are aware of only a few locations 
that have received impacts from repeated surveys (e.g., Activity 
    We do not have any recent evidence of risks to the salamander from 
overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes, and we have no reason to believe this factor will 
become a threat to the species in the future. Therefore, based on a 
review of the available information, we find that overutilization for 
commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes is not a 
threat to the salamander now or in the foreseeable future.

Factor C. Disease or Predation

    The petition did not present any information indicating that 
disease or predation threatens the salamander. Additionally, we have no 
information in our files that indicates that disease or predation are a 
threat to the salamander currently or likely to become a threat in the 
    The amphibian pathogenic fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) 
was found in a wild-caught salamander in 2003 (Cummer et al. 2005, p. 
248). Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis causes the disease 
chytridiomycosis, whereby the Bd fungus attacks keratin in amphibians. 
In adult amphibians, keratin primarily occurs in the skin. The symptoms 
of chytridiomycosis can include sloughing of skin, lethargy, morbidity, 
and death. Chytridiomycosis has been linked with worldwide amphibian 
declines, die-offs, and extinctions, possibly in association with 
climate change (Pounds et al. 2006, p. 161). In New Mexico, Bd has 
caused significant population declines and local extirpations in the 
federally threatened Chiricahua leopard frog (Lithobates [Rana] 
chiricahuensis) (USFWS 2007, p. 14). It is also implicated in the 
decline of other leopard frogs and the disappearance of the boreal toad 
(Bufo boreas) from the State (NMDGF 2006, p. 13). Prior to the 
detection of Bd in the salamander, Bd was considered an aquatic 
pathogen (Longcore et al. 1999, p. 221; Cummer et al. 2005, p. 248). 
The salamander does not have an aquatic life stage and is strictly 
terrestrial; thus the mode of transmission of Bd remains unknown. It is 
possible that the fungus was transported by other amphibian species 
that utilize the same terrestrial habitat. Both the tiger salamander 
and the boreal chorus frog (Pseudacris maculata) are amphibians that 
have aquatic life stages and share terrestrial habitat with the 
salamander. In California, Bd has been present in wild populations of 
another strictly terrestrial salamander since 1973, without apparent 
population declines (Weinstein 2009, p. 653).
    Cummer (2006, p. 2) reported that noninvasive skin swabs on 66 
Jemez Mountains salamanders, 14 boreal chorus frogs, and 24 tiger 
salamanders from the Jemez Mountains were all negative for Bd. The 
observation of Bd in the salamander indicates that the species may be 
susceptible. However, virulence relative to the salamander remains 
unknown. Although Bd can be highly infectious and lethal, we have no 
information to suggest that the disease threatens the salamander 
currently or in the future. We intend to monitor the prevalence of Bd 
in the salamander using noninvasive skin swabs. Therefore, we do not 
find that disease or predations is currently a threat to the 
salamander, nor do we find it likely they will be so in the future.

Factor D. Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    One of the primary threats to the salamander is the loss, 
degradation, and fragmentation of habitat. As described below, existing 
regulatory mechanisms are not sufficient to protect the salamander or 
its habitat. New Mexico State law provides limited protection to the 
salamander. The salamander was reclassified by the State of New Mexico 
from threatened to endangered in 2005 (NMDGF 2005, p. 2). This 
designation provides protection under the New Mexico Wildlife 
Conservation Act of 1974 (i.e., State Endangered Species Act) (19 NMAC 
33.6.8), but only prohibits direct take of species, except under 
issuance of a scientific collecting permit. The New Mexico Wildlife 
Conservation Act defines ``take'' or ``taking'' as harass, hunt, 
capture, or kill any wildlife or attempt to do so (17 NMAC 17.2.38). In 
other words, New Mexico State status as an endangered species only 
conveys protection from collection or intentional harm to the animals 
themselves. New Mexico State statutes do not address habitat 
protection, indirect effects, or other threats to these species. There 
is no formal consultation process to address the habitat requirements 
of the species or how a proposed action may affect the needs of the 
species. Because most of the threats to the species are from effects to 
habitat, protecting individuals will not ensure their long-term 
conservation and survival.
    The New Mexico State statutes require the NMDGF to develop a 
recovery plan that will restore and maintain habitat for the species. 
Although the species does not have a finalized recovery plan, NMDGF has 
the authority to consider and recommend actions to mitigate potential 
adverse effects to the salamander during its review of development 
proposals. There is no requirement to follow the recommendations as 
seen during the construction and realignment of Highway 126, when NMDGF 
made recommendations, but none of the measures recommended were 
incorporated into the project design to limit impacts to the salamander 
or its habitat (New Mexico Game Commission 2006, pp. 12-13) (see Factor 
A. Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment of 
the Species' Habitat or Range section, above).
    The NMEST Cooperative Management Plan and Conservation Agreement 
were completed in 2000 (see Previous Federal Actions section above). 
The goal of these non-regulatory documents was to ``...provide guidance 
for the conservation and management of sufficient habitat to maintain 
viable populations of the species'' (NMEST 2000, p. i.). However, they 
have been ineffective in preventing the ongoing loss of salamander 
habitat, and they are not expected to prevent further declines of the 
species. As discussed elsewhere, the intent of the agreement was to 
protect the salamander and its habitat on lands administered by the 
USFS; however, there have been projects that have negatively affected 
the species (e.g., State Highway 126 project) (WildEarth Guardians 
2008, pp. 28-54). The Cooperative Management Plan and Conservation 
Agreement have been unable to prevent ongoing loss of habitat, and they 
are not expected to prevent further declines of the species. They do 
not provide adequate protection for the salamander or its habitat.
    Under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (43 U.S.C. 
1701 et seq.) and the National Forest Management Act of 1976 (16 U.S.C. 
1600 et seq.), the USFS is directed to prepare programmatic-level 
management plans to guide long-term resource management decisions. 
Under this direction, the salamander has been on the Regional 
Forester's Sensitive Species List since 1990 (USFS 1990). The Regional 
Forester's Sensitive Species List policy is applied to projects 
implemented under the 1982 National Forest Management Act Planning Rule 
(49 FR 43026, September 30, 1982). All

[[Page 54835]]

existing Plans continue to operate under the 1982 Planning Rule and all 
of its associated implementing regulations and policies.
    The intent of the Regional Forester's sensitive species designation 
is to provide a proactive approach to conserving species, to prevent a 
trend toward listing under the Act, and to ensure the continued 
existence of viable, well-distributed populations. The USFS policy (FSM 
2670.3) states that Biological Evaluations must be completed for 
sensitive species and signed by a journey-level biologist or botanist. 
The Santa Fe National Forest will continue developing biological 
evaluation reports and conducting analyses under the National 
Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) for each project that 
will affect the salamander or its habitat. The Santa Fe National Forest 
is also preparing the Southwest Jemez Mountains Landscape Assessment 
that, if funded, may reduce the threat of severe wildland fire in Units 
1 and 4 of the salamander's range over the next 10 years (USFS 2009c, 
p. 2). At this time, funding of this project is not certain, nor is it 
likely to address short-term risk of severe wildland fire. While the 
Regional Forester's sensitive species designation provides for 
consideration of the salamander during planning of activities, it does 
not preclude activities that may harm salamanders or their habitats on 
the Santa Fe National Forest.
    Finally, populations of salamanders have been observed on Tribal 
lands, Los Alamos National Laboratory lands, the VCNP, and private 
lands. Los Alamos National Laboratory has committed to, whenever 
possible, retaining trees in order to maintain greater than 80 percent 
canopy cover, and avoiding activities that either compact soils or dry 
habitat (Los Alamos National Laboratory 2010, p. 7).
    In summary, the salamander currently does not receive adequate 
regulatory protection through the USFS sensitive species designation, 
State regulations, or the guidelines provided in the Cooperative 
Management Plan and Conservation Agreement. Outside of the limited 
protection from collection and intentional harm through the New Mexico 
Wildlife Conservation Act, there are no State or Federal regulations 
providing specific protections for the salamander or its habitat on 
these areas.
    The existing regulatory mechanisms are inadequate to ensure the 
species' long-term conservation and survival because they do not 
specifically prevent threats to its habitat. We believe this lack of 
effective regulatory protection will affect the overall ability of the 
species to persist into the future. In light of this information, we 
conclude that the existing regulatory mechanisms have been ineffective 
and inadequate at preventing actions that threaten the salamander and 
its habitat, and this is expected to continue into the foreseeable 

Factor E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting the Species' 
Continued Existence

    Under Factor E, we considered whether the Jemez Mountains 
salamander is threatened by chemical use and climate conditions.
Chemical Use
    There is a potential for the salamander to be impacted by chemical 
use. Chemicals are used to suppress wildfire and for noxious weed 
control. Because the salamander has permeable skin, and breathes and 
carries out physiological functions with its skin, it may be 
susceptible if it comes in contact with fire retardants or herbicides. 
Many of these chemicals have not been assessed for effects to 
amphibians, and none have been assessed for effects to terrestrial 
amphibians. Therefore, we do not have enough information to determine 
whether chemical use threatens the salamander.
    Prior to 2006 (71 FR 42797; July 28, 2006), fire retardant used by 
the USFS contained sodium ferrocyanide, which is highly toxic to fish 
and amphibians (Pilliod et al. 2003, p. 175). Fire retardant was used 
in salamander habitat for the Cerro Grande Fire (Unit 3), but we do not 
know the quantity or location of this effort (USFS 2001, p. 1). While 
sodium ferrocyanide is no longer used by USFS to suppress wildfire, 
similar retardants and foams may still contain ingredients that are 
toxic to the salamander. Beginning in 2010, the USFS will begin phasing 
out the use of ammonium sulfate because of its toxicity to fish and 
replacing it with ammonium phosphate (USFS 2009e, p. 1), which still 
may have adverse effects to the salamander. One of the ingredients of 
ammonium phosphate (a type of salt) appeared to have the greatest 
likelihood of adverse effects to terrestrial species assessed (birds 
and mammals) through ingestion (USFS/LABAT Environmental 2007, pp. 24-
27), and in amphibians, salts can disrupt osmoregulation (regulation of 
proper water balance and osmotic or fluid pressure within tissues and 
cells). Currently, we do not have enough information to determine 
whether the chemicals within fire retardants or foams threaten the 
salamander. However, we will continue to evaluate whether these 
chemicals may be a threat to this species.
    The USFS is in the process of completing an Environmental Impact 
Statement regarding the use of herbicides to manage noxious or invasive 
plants (Orr 2010, p. 2). Chemicals that could be used include 2,4,D; 
Clopyralid; Chorsulfuron; Dicamba; Glyphosate; Hexazinone; Imazapic; 
Imazapyr; Metasulfuron Methyl; Sulfometuron Methyl; Picloram; and 
Triclopyr (Orr 2010, p. 2). We reviewed the ecological risk assessments 
for these chemicals at http://www.fs.fed.us/foresthealth/pesticide/
risk.shtml, but found few studies and data relative to amphibians. We 
found a single study for Sulfometuron Methyl conducted on the African 
clawed frog (Xenopus laevis) (an aquatic frog not native to the United 
States). This study resulted in alterations in limb and organ 
development and metamorphosis (Klotzbach and Durkin 2004, pp. 4-6, 4-
7). The use of chemicals listed above by hand-held spot treatments or 
road-side spraying (Orr 2010, p. 2) in occupied salamander habitat 
could result in impacts to the salamander. Because of the lack of 
toxicological studies of these chemicals, we do not know if there is a 
threat to the salamander. However, we will continue to evaluate whether 
these chemicals are a threat to the salamander.
Climate Conditions
    Climate conditions have contributed to the status of the salamander 
now and will continue to in the foreseeable future. Habitat drying 
affects salamander physiology, behavior, and persistence; will affect 
the occurrence of natural events such as fire, drought, and forest die-
off; and will increase the risk of disease and infection. Trends in 
climate change and drought conditions have contributed to temperature 
increases in the Jemez Mountains, with a corresponding decrease in 
precipitation. Because the salamander is terrestrial, constrained in 
range, and isolated to the higher elevations of the Jemez Mountains, 
continued temperature increases and precipitation decreases could 
threaten the viability of the species over its entire range.
    Climate simulations of Palmer Drought Severity Index (PSDI) (a 
calculation of the cumulative effects of precipitation and temperature 
on surface moisture balance) for the Southwest for the periods of 2006-
2030 and 2035-2060 show an increase in drought severity with surface 
warming. Additionally, drought still increases during wetter 
simulations because of the effect of heat-related moisture loss

[[Page 54836]]

(Hoerling and Eicheid 2007, p. 19). Annual mean precipitation is likely 
to decrease in the Southwest as well as the length of snow season and 
snow depth (International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2007b, p. 
887). Most models project a widespread decrease in snow depth in the 
Rocky Mountains and earlier snowmelt (IPCC 2007b, p. 891). Exactly how 
climate change will affect precipitation is less certain, because 
precipitation predictions are based on continental-scale general 
circulation models that do not yet account for land use and land cover 
change effects on climate or regional phenomena. Consistent with recent 
observations in climate changes, the outlook presented for the 
Southwest and New Mexico predict warmer, drier, drought-like conditions 
(Seager et al. 2007, p. 1181; Hoerling and Eischeid 2007, p. 19).
    McKenzie et al. (2004, p. 893) suggest, based on models, that the 
length of the fire season will likely increase further and that fires 
in the western United States will be more frequent and more severe. In 
particular, they found that fire in New Mexico appears to be acutely 
sensitive to summer climate and temperature changes and may respond 
dramatically to climate warming.
    Plethodontid salamanders have a low metabolic rate and relatively 
large energy stores (in tails) that provide the potential to survive 
long periods between unpredictable bouts of feeding (Feder 1983, p. 
291). Despite these specializations, terrestrial salamanders must have 
sufficient opportunities to forage and build energy reserves for use 
during periods of inactivity. As salamander habitat warms and dries, 
the quality and quantity of habitat decreases along with the amount of 
time that salamanders could be surface active. Wiltenmuth (1997, pp. 
ii-122) concluded that the Jemez Mountains salamanders likely persist 
by utilizing moist microhabitats and they may be near their 
physiological limits relative to water balance and moist skin. During 
field evaluations, the species appeared to be in a dehydrated state. If 
the species has difficulty maintaining adequate skin moisture (e.g., 
see Wiltenmuth 1997, pp. ii-122), it will likely spend less time being 
active. As a result, energy storage, reproduction, and long-term 
persistence would be reduced.
    Wiltenmuth (1997, p. 77) reported rates of dehydration and 
rehydration were greatest for the Jemez Mountains salamander compared 
to the other salamanders, and suggested greater skin permeability. 
While the adaptation to relatively quickly rehydrate and dehydrate may 
allow the salamander to more quickly rehydrate when moisture becomes 
available, it may also make it more susceptible and less resistant to 
longer dry times because it also quickly dehydrates. Dehydration 
affects the salamander by increasing heart rate, oxygen consumption, 
and metabolic rate (Whitford 1968, p. 249), thus increasing energy 
demand, limiting movements (Wiltenmuth 1997, p. 77), increasing 
concentration and storage of waste products (Duellman and Trueb 1986, 
p. 207), decreasing burst locomotion (stride length, stride frequency, 
and speed) (Wiltenmuth 1997, p.45), and sometimes causing death. 
Moisture-stressed salamanders prioritize hydration over all else, 
thereby reducing salamander survival and persistence. Additional 
impacts from dehydration could include increased predation because 
burst locomotion is impaired (which reduces ability to escape) and 
increased susceptibility to pathogens resulting from depressed immunity 
from physiological stress of dehydration. Any of these factors, alone 
or in combination, could lead either to the reduction or extirpation of 
salamander localities, especially in combination with the threats of 
habitat-altering activities, as discussed under Factor A. The IPCC 
(2007, pp. 12, 13) predicts that changes in the global climate system 
during the 21st century will very likely be larger than those observed 
during the 20th century. For the next 2 decades, a warming of about 0.2 
[deg]C (0.4 [deg]F) per decade is projected (IPCC 2007, p. 12). The 
Nature Conservancy of New Mexico analyzed recent changes in New 
Mexico's climate. Parts I and II of a three-part series have been 
completed. In Part I, the time period 1961-1990 was used as the 
reference condition for analysis of recent departures (1991-2005; 2000-
2005). This time period is consistent with the baseline used by 
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the IPCC for 
presenting 20\th\-century climate anomalies and generating future 
projections (Enquist and Gori 2008, p. 9). In Part II, trends in 
climate water deficit (an indicator of biological moisture stress, or 
drying), snowpack, and timing of peak stream flows were assessed for 
the period of 1970-2006 (Enquist et al. 2008, p. iv). The Nature 
Conservancy of New Mexico concludes the following regarding climate 
conditions in New Mexico and the Jemez Mountains:
    (1) Over 95 percent of New Mexico has experienced mean temperature 
increases; warming has been greatest in the Jemez Mountains (Enquist 
and Gori 2008, p. 16);
    (2) 93 percent of New Mexico's watersheds have experienced 
increasing annual trends in moisture stress during 1970-2006, that is, 
they have become relatively drier (Enquist et al. 2008, p. iv);
    (3) Snowpack has declined in 98 percent of sites analyzed in New 
Mexico; the Jemez Mountains has experienced significant declines in 
snowpack (Enquist et al. 2008, p. iv);
    (4) Between 1980-2006, the timing of peak run-off from snowmelt 
occurred 2 days earlier than in the 1951-1980 period (Enquist et al. 
2008, pp. 9, 25);
    (5) The Jemez Mountains have experienced warmer and drier 
conditions during the 1991-2005 time period (Enquist and Gori 2008, pp. 
16, 17, 23); and
    (6) The Jemez Mountains ranked highest of 248 sites analyzed in New 
Mexico in climate exposure--a measure of mean temperature and mean 
precipitation departures (Enquist and Gori 2008, pp. 10, 22, 51-58).
    Although the extent of warming likely to occur is not known with 
certainty at this time, the IPCC (2007a, p. 5) has concluded that the 
summer season will experience the greatest increase in warming in the 
Southwest (IPCC 2007b, p. 887). Temperature has strong effects on 
amphibian immune systems and may be an important factor influencing 
susceptibility of amphibians to pathogens (e.g., see Raffel et al. 
2006, p. 819); thus increases in temperature in the Jemez Mountains 
have the potential to increase the salamander's susceptibility to 
disease and pathogens. As noted, we have no information that indicates 
disease threatens the salamander currently or in the future, but we 
intend to evaluate this further.
Climate Conditions Summary
    In summary, we find that current and future effects from warmer 
climate conditions in the Jemez Mountains could reduce the amount of 
suitable salamander habitat, reduce the time period when the species 
can be surface active, and increase the moisture demands and subsequent 
physiological stress on salamanders. Warming and drying trends in the 
Jemez Mountains currently threaten the species, and these threats are 
projected to continue into the foreseeable future.


    As required by the Act, we conducted a review of the status of the 
species and considered the five factors in assessing whether the 
salamander is endangered or threatened throughout all or a significant 
portion of its range. We examined the best scientific and commercial 
information available regarding the past, present, and future

[[Page 54837]]

threats faced by the salamander. We reviewed the petition, information 
available in our files, and other available published and unpublished 
information, and we consulted with salamander experts and other 
Federal, State, and tribal agencies.
    On the basis of the best scientific and commercial information 
available, we find that the petitioned action to list the Jemez 
Mountains is warranted, due to a combination of risk of historical and 
current fire management practices, severe wildland fire, forest 
composition and structure conversions, post-fire rehabilitation 
treatments, forest management (including silvicultural practices), 
private residential development, roads, trails, habitat fragmentation, 
and recreation. The salamander may also be threatened by disease and 
chemical use. Some of these threats may be exacerbated by the current 
and projected effects of climate change, and we have determined that 
the current and projected effects from climate change directly threaten 
the salamander. The loss of one of the largest known populations, the 
documented modification of the habitat from fire exclusion, and severe 
wildland fire places this species at great risk. Cumulative threats to 
the salamander are not being adequately addressed through existing 
regulatory mechanisms. Because of the limited distribution of this 
endemic species and its lack of mobility, threats are likely to render 
the species at risk of extinction in the foreseeable future. We will 
make a determination on the status of the species as endangered or 
threatened when we prepare a proposed listing determination. However, 
as explained in more detail below, an immediate proposal of a 
regulation implementing this action is precluded by higher priority 
listing actions, and progress is being made to add or remove qualified 
species to or from the Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and 
    We reviewed the available information to determine if the existing 
and foreseeable threats render the species at risk of extinction now 
such that issuing an emergency regulation temporarily listing the 
species under section 4(b)(7) of the Act is warranted. We determined 
that issuing an emergency regulation temporarily listing the species is 
not warranted for this species at this time because, within the current 
distribution of the species throughout its range, there are at least 
some populations of the salamander that exist in relatively natural 
conditions that are unlikely to change in the short term. However, if 
at any time we determine that emergency listing of the salamander is 
warranted, we will initiate an emergency listing.
    The Service adopted guidelines on September 21, 1983 (48 FR 43098), 
to establish a rational system for allocating available appropriations 
to the highest priority species when adding species to the Lists of 
Endangered or Threatened Wildlife and Plants or reclassifying 
threatened species to endangered status. The system places greatest 
importance on the immediacy and magnitude of threats, but also factors 
in the level of taxonomic distinctiveness by assigning priority in 
descending order to monotypic genera, full species, and subspecies (or 
equivalently, distinct population segments of vertebrates). As a result 
of our analysis of the best available scientific and commercial 
information, we assigned the Jemez Mountains salamander a listing 
priority number (LPN) of 2, based on our finding that the species faces 
imminent and high-magnitude threats from the present or threatened 
destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat and the 
inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms. The salamander and its 
habitat are threatened by historical and current fire management 
practices; severe wildland fire; forest composition and structure 
conversions; post-fire rehabilitation; forest management (including 
silvicultural practices); private (residential) development; roads, 
trails, and habitat fragmentation; and recreation. Due to the limited 
extent of habitat occupied by the salamander, the severity and 
magnitude of the threat of severe wildland fire, and ongoing impacts 
from the existing extensive road network and previous logging 
practices, we have determined that the present or threatened 
destruction, modification, or curtailment of habitat and range 
represents a current significant threat to the salamander. Existing 
regulatory mechanisms are inadequate to ensure the species' long-term 
conservation and survival because they do not specifically prevent 
threats to its habitat. One or more of the threats discussed above is 
occurring or is expected to occur throughout the entire range of this 
species. These threats are ongoing and, in some cases (e.g., loss of 
habitat through forest management), considered irreversible. While we 
conclude that listing the Jemez Mountains salamander is warranted, an 
immediate proposal to list this species is precluded by other higher 
priority listings, which we address below.

Significant Portion of the Range

    The Act defines an endangered species as one ``in danger of 
extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range,'' and 
a threatened species as one ``likely to become an endangered species 
within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion 
of its range.'' The term ``significant portion of its range'' is not 
defined by the statute. For the purposes of this finding, a significant 
portion of a species' range is an area that is important to the 
conservation of the species because it contributes meaningfully to the 
representation, resiliency, or redundancy of the species. The 
contribution must be at a level such that its loss would result in a 
decrease in the ability to conserve the species.
    If an analysis of whether a species is endangered or threatened in 
a significant portion of its range is appropriate, we engage in a 
systematic process that begins with identifying any portions of the 
range of the species that warrant further consideration. The range of a 
species can theoretically be divided into portions in an infinite 
number of ways. However, there is no purpose in analyzing portions of 
the range that are not reasonably likely to be significant and 
endangered or threatened. To identify only those portions that warrant 
further consideration, we determine whether there is substantial 
information indicating that (i) the portions may be significant and 
(ii) the species may be in danger of extinction there or likely to 
become so within the foreseeable future. In practice, a key part of 
this analysis is whether the threats are geographically concentrated in 
some way. If the threats to the species are essentially uniform 
throughout its range, no portion is likely to warrant further 
consideration. Moreover, if any concentration of threats applies only 
to portions of the range that are unimportant to the conservation of 
the species, such portions will not warrant further consideration.
    On the basis of an analysis of factors that may threaten the Jemez 
Mountains salamander, we have determined that listing is warranted 
throughout its range. Therefore, it is not necessary to conduct further 
analysis with respect to the significance of any portion of its range 
at this time. We will further analyze whether threats may be 
disproportionate and warrant further consideration as a significant 
portion of the species' range when we develop a proposed listing 

Preclusion and Expeditious Progress

    Preclusion is a function of the listing priority of a species in 
relation to the resources that are available and competing demands for 
those resources. Thus, in any given fiscal year (FY),

[[Page 54838]]

multiple factors dictate whether it will be possible to undertake work 
on a proposed listing regulation or whether promulgation of such a 
proposal is warranted but precluded by higher priority listing actions.
    The resources available for listing actions are determined through 
the annual Congressional appropriations process. The appropriation for 
the Listing Program is available to support work involving the 
following listing actions: Proposed and final listing rules; 90-day and 
12-month findings on petitions to add species to the Lists of 
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants (Lists) or to change the 
status of a species from threatened to endangered; annual 
determinations on prior ``warranted but precluded'' petition findings 
as required under section 4(b)(3)(C)(i) of the Act; critical habitat 
petition findings; proposed and final rules designating critical 
habitat; and litigation-related, administrative, and program-management 
functions (including preparing and allocating budgets, responding to 
Congressional and public inquiries, and conducting public outreach 
regarding listing and critical habitat). The work involved in preparing 
various listing documents can be extensive and may include, but is not 
limited to: Gathering and assessing the best scientific and commercial 
data available and conducting analyses used as the basis for our 
decisions; writing and publishing documents; and obtaining, reviewing, 
and evaluating public comments and peer review comments on proposed 
rules and incorporating relevant information into final rules. The 
number of listing actions that we can undertake in a given year also is 
influenced by the complexity of those listing actions; that is, more 
complex actions generally are more costly. For example, during the past 
several years, the cost (excluding publication costs) for preparing a 
12-month finding, without a proposed rule, has ranged from 
approximately $11,000 for one species with a restricted range and 
involving a relatively uncomplicated analysis to $305,000 for another 
species that is wide-ranging and involving a complex analysis.
    We cannot spend more than is appropriated for the Listing Program 
without violating the Anti-Deficiency Act (see 31 U.S.C. 
1341(a)(1)(A)). In addition, in FY 1998 and for each fiscal year since 
then, Congress has placed a statutory cap on funds which may be 
expended for the Listing Program, equal to the amount expressly 
appropriated for that purpose in that fiscal year. This cap was 
designed to prevent funds appropriated for other functions under the 
Act (for example, recovery funds for removing species from the Lists), 
or for other Service programs, from being used for Listing Program 
actions (see House Report 105-163, 105\th\ Congress, 1st Session, July 
1, 1997).
    Recognizing that designation of critical habitat for species 
already listed would consume most of the overall Listing Program 
appropriation, Congress also put a critical habitat subcap in place in 
FY 2002 and has retained it each subsequent year to ensure that some 
funds are available for other work in the Listing Program: ``The 
critical habitat designation subcap will ensure that some funding is 
available to address other listing activities'' (House Report No. 107 - 
103, 107\th\ Congress, 1st Session, June 19, 2001). In FY 2002 and each 
year until FY 2006, the Service has had to use virtually the entire 
critical habitat subcap to address court-mandated designations of 
critical habitat, and consequently none of the critical habitat subcap 
funds have been available for other listing activities. In FY 2007, we 
were able to use some of the critical habitat subcap funds to fund 
proposed listing determinations for high-priority candidate species. In 
FY 2009, while we were unable to use any of the critical habitat subcap 
funds to fund proposed listing determinations, we did use some of this 
money to fund the critical habitat portion of some proposed listing 
determinations so that the proposed listing determination and proposed 
critical habitat designation could be combined into one rule, thereby 
being more efficient in our work. In FY 2010, we are using some of the 
critical habitat subcap funds to fund actions with statutory deadlines.
    Thus, through the listing cap, the critical habitat subcap, and the 
amount of funds needed to address court-mandated critical habitat 
designations, Congress and the courts have in effect determined the 
amount of money available for other listing activities. Therefore, the 
funds in the listing cap, other than those needed to address court-
mandated critical habitat for already listed species, set the limits on 
our determinations of preclusion and expeditious progress.
    Congress also recognized that the availability of resources was the 
key element in deciding, when making a 12-month petition finding, 
whether we would prepare and issue a listing proposal or instead make a 
``warranted but precluded'' finding for a given species. The Conference 
Report accompanying Public Law 97-304, which established the current 
statutory deadlines and the warranted-but-precluded finding, states (in 
a discussion on 90-day petition findings that by its own terms also 
covers 12-month findings) that the deadlines were ``not intended to 
allow the Secretary to delay commencing the rulemaking process for any 
reason other than that the existence of pending or imminent proposals 
to list species subject to a greater degree of threat would make 
allocation of resources to such a petition [that is, for a lower-
ranking species] unwise.''
    In FY 2010, expeditious progress is that amount of work that can be 
achieved with $10,471,000, which is the amount of money that Congress 
appropriated for the Listing Program (that is, the portion of the 
Listing Program funding not related to critical habitat designations 
for species that are already listed). However these funds are not 
enough to fully fund all our court-ordered and statutory listing 
actions in FY 2010, so we are using $1,114,417 of our critical habitat 
subcap funds in order to work on all of our required petition findings 
and listing determinations. This brings the total amount of funds we 
have for listing actions in FY 2010 to $11,585,417. Our process is to 
make our determinations of preclusion on a nationwide basis to ensure 
that the species most in need of listing will be addressed first and 
also because we allocate our listing budget on a nationwide basis. The 
$11,585,417 is being used to fund work in the following categories: 
compliance with court orders and court-approved settlement agreements 
requiring that petition findings or listing determinations be completed 
by a specific date; section 4 (of the Act) listing actions with 
absolute statutory deadlines; essential litigation-related, 
administrative, and listing program-management functions; and high-
priority listing actions for some of our candidate species. In 2009, 
the responsibility for listing foreign species under the Act was 
transferred from the Division of Scientific Authority, International 
Affairs Program, to the Endangered Species Program. Starting in FY 
2010, a portion of our funding is being used to work on the actions 
described above as they apply to listing actions for foreign species. 
This has the potential to further reduce funding available for domestic 
listing actions, although there are currently no foreign species issues 
included in our high-priority listing actions at this time. The 
allocations for each specific listing action are identified in the 
Service's FY 2010 Allocation Table (part of our administrative record).
    In FY 2007, we had more than 120 species with an LPN of 2, based on 

[[Page 54839]]

September 21, 1983, guidance for assigning an LPN for each candidate 
species (48 FR 43098). Using this guidance, we assign each candidate an 
LPN of 1 to 12, depending on the magnitude of threats (high vs. 
moderate to low), immediacy of threats (imminent or nonimminent), and 
taxonomic status of the species (in order of priority: monotypic genus 
(a species that is the sole member of a genus); species; or part of a 
species (subspecies, distinct population segment, or significant 
portion of the range)). The lower the listing priority number, the 
higher the listing priority (that is, a species with an LPN of 1 would 
have the highest listing priority). Because of the large number of 
high-priority species, we further ranked the candidate species with an 
LPN of 2 by using the following extinction-risk type criteria: 
International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural 
Resources (IUCN) Red list status/rank, Heritage rank (provided by 
NatureServe), Heritage threat rank (provided by NatureServe), and 
species currently with fewer than 50 individuals, or 4 or fewer 
populations. Those species with the highest IUCN rank (critically 
endangered), the highest Heritage rank (G1), the highest Heritage 
threat rank (substantial, imminent threats), and currently with fewer 
than 50 individuals, or fewer than 4 populations, comprised a group of 
approximately 40 candidate species (``Top 40''). These 40 candidate 
species have had the highest priority to receive funding to work on a 
proposed listing determination. As we work on proposed and final 
listing rules for these 40 candidates, we are applying the ranking 
criteria to the next group of candidates with an LPN of 2 and 3 to 
determine the next set of highest priority candidate species.
    To be more efficient in our listing process, as we work on proposed 
rules for these species in the next several years, we are preparing 
multi-species proposals when appropriate, and these may include species 
with lower priority if they overlap geographically or have the same 
threats as a species with an LPN of 2. In addition, available staff 
resources are also a factor in determining high-priority species 
provided with funding. Finally, proposed rules for reclassification of 
threatened species to endangered are lower priority, since as listed 
species, they are already afforded the protection of the Act and 
implementing regulations.
    We assigned the Jemez Mountains salamander an LPN of 2, based on 
our finding that the species faces immediate and high magnitude threats 
from the present or threatened destruction, modification, or 
curtailment of its habitat; predation; and the inadequacy of existing 
regulatory mechanisms. One or more of the threats discussed above are 
occurring in each known population in the United States. These threats 
are ongoing and, in some cases (e.g., nonnative species), considered 
irreversible. Under our 1983 Guidelines, a ``species'' facing imminent 
high-magnitude threats is assigned an LPN of 1, 2, or 3 depending on 
its taxonomic status. Because the Jemez Mountains salamander is a 
species, we assigned it an LPN of 2 (the highest category available for 
a species). Therefore, work on a proposed listing determination for the 
Jemez Mountains salamander is precluded by work on higher priority 
candidate species; listing actions with absolute statutory, court 
ordered, or court-approved deadlines; and final listing determinations 
for those species that were proposed for listing with funds from 
previous fiscal years. This work includes all the actions listed in the 
tables below under expeditious progress.
    As explained above, a determination that listing is warranted but 
precluded must also demonstrate that expeditious progress is being made 
to add or remove qualified species to and from the Lists of Endangered 
and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. (Although we do not discuss it in 
detail here, we are also making expeditious progress in removing 
species from the Lists under the Recovery program, which is funded by a 
separate line item in the budget of the Endangered Species Program. As 
explained above in our description of the statutory cap on Listing 
Program funds, the Recovery Program funds and actions supported by them 
cannot be considered in determining expeditious progress made in the 
Listing Program.) As with our ``precluded'' finding, expeditious 
progress in adding qualified species to the Lists is a function of the 
resources available and the competing demands for those funds. Given 
that limitation, we find that we are making progress in FY 2010 in the 
Listing Program. This progress included preparing and publishing the 
following determinations:

                                   Table 1: FY 2010 Completed Listing Actions
          Publication Date                      Title                   Actions                  FR Pages
10/08/2009                            Listing Lepidium          Final Listing                  74 FR 52013-52064
                                       papilliferum (Slickspot   Threatened
                                       Peppergrass) as a
                                       Threatened Species
                                       Throughout Its Range
10/27/2009                            90-day Finding on a       Notice of 90-day               74 FR 55177-55180
                                       Petition To List the      Petition
                                       American Dipper in the   Finding, Not
                                       Black Hills of South      substantial.
                                       Dakota as Threatened or
10/28/2009                            Status Review of Arctic   Notice of Intent to            74 FR 55524-55525
                                       Grayling (Thymallus       Conduct Status Review
                                       arcticus) in the Upper
                                       Missouri River System
11/03/2009                            Listing the British       Proposed Listing               74 FR 56757-56770
                                       Columbia Distinct         Threatened
                                       Population Segment of
                                       the Queen Charlotte
                                       Goshawk Under the
                                       Endangered Species Act:
                                       Proposed rule.
11/03/2009                            Listing the Salmon-       Proposed Listing               74 FR 56770-56791
                                       Crested Cockatoo as       Threatened
                                      Throughout Its Range
                                       with Special Rule.
11/23/2009                            Status Review of          Notice of Intent to            74 FR 61100-61102
                                       Gunnison sage-grouse      Conduct Status Review

[[Page 54840]]

12/03/2009                            12-Month Finding on a     Notice of 12-month             74 FR 63343-63366
                                       Petition to List the      petition finding, Not
                                       Black-tailed Prairie      warranted
                                       Dog as Threatened or
12/03/2009                            90-Day Finding on a       Notice of 90-day               74 FR 63337-63343
                                       Petition to List          Petition
                                       Sprague's Pipit as       Finding, Substantial...
                                      Threatened or Endangered
12/15/2009                            90-Day Finding on         Notice of 90-day               74 FR 66260-66271
                                       Petitions To List Nine    Petition
                                       Species of Mussels From  Finding, Substantial...
                                       Texas as Threatened or
                                       Endangered With
                                       Critical Habitat
12/16/2009                            Partial 90-Day Finding    Notice of 90-day               74 FR 66865-66905
                                       on a Petition to List     Petition
                                       475 Species in the       Finding, Not
                                       Southwestern United       substantial and
                                       States as Threatened or   Subtantial.
                                       Endangered With
                                       Critical Habitat
12/17/2009                            12-month Finding on a     Notice of 12-month             74 FR 66937-66950
                                       Petition To Change the    petition finding,
                                       Final Listing of the      Warranted but
                                       Distinct Population      precluded..............
                                       Segment of the Canada
                                       Lynx To
                                      Include New Mexico......
1/05/2010                             Listing Foreign Bird      Proposed                           75 FR 605-649
                                       Species in Peru and       ListingEndangered
                                       Bolivia as
                                      Endangered Throughout
                                       Their Range.
1/05/2010                             Listing Six Foreign       Proposed                           75 FR 286-310
                                       Birds as Endangered       ListingEndangered
                                       Throughout Their Range
1/05/2010                             Withdrawal of Proposed    Proposed rule,                     75 FR 310-316
                                       Rule to List Cook's       withdrawal
1/05/2010                             Final Rule to List the    Final Listing                      75 FR 235-250
                                       Galapagos Petrel and      Threatened
                                       Heinroth's Shearwater
                                       as Threatened
                                       Throughout Their Ranges
1/20/2010                             Initiation of Status      Notice of Intent to              75 FR 3190-3191
                                       Review for Agave          Conduct Status Review
                                       eggersiana and Solanum
2/09/2010                             12-month Finding on a     Notice of 12-month               75 FR 6437-6471
                                       Petition to List the      petition finding, Not
                                       American Pika as          warranted
                                       Threatened or
2/25/2010                             12-Month Finding on a     Notice of 12-month               75 FR 8601-8621
                                       Petition To List the      petition finding, Not
                                       Sonoran Desert            warranted
                                       Population of the Bald
                                       Eagle as a Threatened
                                      Endangered Distinct
                                       Population Segment.
2/25/2010                             Withdrawal of Proposed    Withdrawal of Proposed           75 FR 8621-8644
                                       Rule To List the          Rule to List
                                       River Distinct
                                       Population Segment of
                                       Coastal Cutthroat Trout
                                       (Oncorhynchus clarki
                                       clarki) as Threatened.
3/18/2010                             90-Day Finding on a       Notice of 90-day               75 FR 13068-13071
                                       Petition to List the      Petition
                                       Berry Cave               Finding, Substantial...
                                      salamander as Endangered
3/23/2010                             90-Day Finding on a       Notice of 90-day               75 FR 13717-13720
                                       Petition to List the      Petition
                                       Southern Hickorynut      Finding, Not
                                       Mussel (Obovaria          substantial.
                                       jacksoniana) as
                                       Endangered or
3/23/2010                             90-Day Finding on a       Notice of 90-day               75 FR 13720-13726
                                       Petition to List the      Petition
                                       Striped Newt as          Finding, Substantial...
3/23/2010                             12-Month Findings for     Notice of 12-month             75 FR 13910-14014
                                       Petitions to List the     petition
                                       Greater Sage-Grouse       finding,Warranted but
                                       (Centrocercus            precluded..............
                                       Threatened or
3/31/2010                             12-Month Finding on a     Notice of 12-month             75 FR 16050-16065
                                       Petition to List the      petition
                                       Tucson Shovel-Nosed       finding,Warranted but
                                       Snake (Chionactis        precluded..............
                                       occipitalis klauberi)
                                       as Threatened or
                                       Endangered with
                                       Critical Habitat

[[Page 54841]]

4/5/2010                              90-Day Finding on a       Notice of 90-day               75 FR 17062-17070
                                       Petition To List          Petition
                                       Thorne's Hairstreak      Finding, Substantial...
                                      Butterfly as or
4/6/2010                              12-month Finding on a     Notice of 12-month             75 FR 17352-17363
                                       Petition To List the      petition finding, Not
                                       Mountain Whitefish in     warranted
                                       the Big Lost River,
                                       Idaho, as Endangered or
4/6/2010                              90-Day Finding on a       Notice of 90-day               75 FR 17363-17367
                                       Petition to List a        Petition
                                       Stonefly (Isoperla       Finding, Not
                                       jewetti) and a Mayfly     substantial.
                                       (Fallceon eatoni) as
                                       Threatened or
                                      Endangered with Critical
4/7/2010                              12-Month Finding on a     Notice of 12-month             75 FR 17667-17680
                                       Petition to Reclassify    petition
                                       the Delta Smelt From      finding,Warranted but
                                       Threatened to             precluded
                                       Endangered Throughout
                                       Its Range
4/13/2010                             Determination of          Final ListingEndangered        75 FR 18959-19165
                                       Endangered Status for
                                       48 Species on Kauai and
                                       Designation of Critical
4/15/2010                             Initiation of Status      Notice of Initiation of        75 FR 19591-19592
                                       Review of the North       Status Review
                                       American Wolverine in
                                       the Contiguous United
4/15/2010                             12-Month Finding on a     Notice of 12-month             75 FR 19592-19607
                                       Petition to List the      petition finding, Not
                                       Wyoming Pocket Gopher     warranted
                                       as Endangered or
                                       Threatened with
                                       Critical Habitat
4/16/2010                             90-Day Finding on a       Notice of 90-day               75 FR 19925-19935
                                       Petition to List a        Petition
                                       Distinct Population      Finding, Substantial...
                                      Segment of the Fisher in
                                       Its United States
                                       Northern Rocky Mountain
                                       Range as Endangered or
                                       Threatened with
                                       Critical Habitat.
4/20/2010                             Initiation of Status      Notice of Initiation of        75 FR 20547-20548
                                       Review for Sacramento     Status Review
                                       splittail (Pogonichthys
4/26/2010                             90-Day Finding on a       Notice of 90-day               75 FR 21568-21571
                                       Petition to List the      Petition
                                       Harlequin Butterfly as   Finding, Substantial...
4/27/2010                             12-Month Finding on a     Notice of 12-month             75 FR 22012-22025
                                       Petition to List          petition finding, Not
                                       Susan's Purse-making      warranted
                                       Caddisfly (Ochrotrichia
                                       susanae) as Threatened
4/27/2010                             90-day Finding on a       Notice of 90-day               75 FR 22063-22070
                                       Petition to List the      Petition
                                       Mohave Ground            Finding, Substantial...
                                      Squirrel as Endangered
                                       with Critical Habitat.
5/4/2010                              90-Day Finding on a       Notice of 90-day               75 FR 23654-23663
                                       Petition to List Hermes   Petition
                                       Copper Butterfly as      Finding, Substantial...
                                       Threatened or
6/1/2010                              90-Day Finding on a       Notice of 90-day               75 FR 30313-30318
                                       Petition To List          Petition
                                       Castanea pumila var.     Finding, Substantial...
6/1/2010                              12-month Finding on a     Notice of 12-month             75 FR 30338-30363
                                       Petition to List the      petition finding, Not
                                       White-tailed Prairie      warranted
                                       Dog as Endangered or
6/9/2010                              90-Day Finding on a       Notice of 90-day               75 FR 32728-32734
                                       Petition To List van      Petition
                                       Rossem's Gull-billed     Finding, Substantial...
                                       Tern as Endangered
6/16/2010                             90-Day Finding on Five    Notice of 90-day               75 FR 34077-34088
                                       Petitions to List Seven   Petition
                                       Species of               Finding, Substantial...
                                      Hawaiian Yellow-faced
                                       Bees as Endangered.
6/22/2010                             12-Month Finding on a     Notice of 12-month             75 FR 35398-35424
                                       Petition to List the      petition
                                       Least Chub as             finding,Warranted but
                                       Threatened or            precluded..............
6/23/2010                             90-Day Finding on a       Notice of 90-day               75 FR 35746-35751
                                       Petition to List the      Petition
                                       Honduran Emerald         Finding, Substantial...
                                       Hummingbird as

[[Page 54842]]

6/23/2010                             Listing Ipomopsis         Proposed                       75 FR 35721-35746
                                       polyantha (Pagosa         ListingEndangeredPropo
                                       Skyrocket) as             sed Listing Threatened
                                      Endangered Throughout
                                       Its Range, and Listing
                                       Penstemon debilis
                                       (Parachute Beardtongue)
                                       and Phacelia submutica
                                       (DeBeque Phacelia) as
                                       Threatened Throughout
                                       Their Range.
6/24/2010                             Listing the Flying        Final ListingEndangered        75 FR 35990-36012
                                       Earwig Hawaiian
                                       Damselfly and Pacific
                                      Hawaiian Damselfly As
                                       Endangered Throughout
                                       Their Ranges.
6/24/2010                             Listing the Cumberland    Proposed                       75 FR 36035-36057
                                       Darter, Rush Darter,      ListingEndangered
                                       Yellowcheek Darter,
                                       Chucky Madtom, and
                                       Laurel Dace as
                                       Endangered Throughout
                                       Their Ranges
6/29/2010                             Listing the Mountain      Reinstatement of               75 FR 37353-37358
                                       Plover as Threatened      Proposed

    Our expeditious progress also includes work on listing actions that 
we funded in FY 2010 but have not yet been completed to date. These 
actions are listed below. Actions in the top section of the table are 
being conducted under a deadline set by a court. Actions in the middle 
section of the table are being conducted to meet statutory timelines, 
that is, timelines required under the Act. Actions in the bottom 
section of the table are high-priority listing actions. These actions 
include work primarily on species with an LPN of 2, and selection of 
these species is partially based on available staff resources, and when 
appropriate, include species with a lower priority if they overlap 
geographically or have the same threats as the species with the high 
priority. Including these species together in the same proposed rule 
results in considerable savings in time and funding, as compared to 
preparing separate proposed rules for each of them in the future.

             Actions funded in FY 2010 but not yet completed
                  Species                              Action
           Actions Subject to Court Order/Settlement Agreement
6 Birds from Eurasia                        Final listing determination
Flat-tailed horned lizard                   Final listing determination
Mountain plover                             Final listing determination
6 Birds from Peru                           Proposed listing
Sacramento splittail                        Proposed listing
Gunnison sage-grouse                        12-month petition finding
Wolverine                                   12-month petition finding
Arctic grayling                             12-month petition finding
Agave eggergsiana                           12-month petition finding
Solanum conocarpum                          12-month petition finding
Mountain plover                             12-month petition finding
Thorne's Hairstreak Butterfly               12-month petition finding
Hermes copper butterfly                     12-month petition finding
                    Actions with Statutory Deadlines
Casey's june beetle                         Final listing determination
Georgia pigtoe, interrupted rocksnail, and  Final listing determination
 rough hornsnail
African penguin                             Final listing determination
3 Foreign bird species (Andean flamingo,    Final listing determination
 Chilean woodstar, St. Lucia forest

[[Page 54843]]

5 Penguin species                           Final listing determination
Southern rockhopper penguin - Campbell      Final listing determination
 Plateau population
5 Bird species from Colombia and Ecuador    Final listing determination
7 Bird species from Brazil                  Final listing determination
Queen Charlotte goshawk                     Final listing determination
 Salmon-crested cockatoo                    Proposed listing
Black-footed albatross                      12-month petition finding
Mount Charleston blue butterfly             12-month petition finding
Mojave fringe-toed lizard\1\                12-month petition finding
Pygmy rabbit (rangewide)\1\                 12-month petition finding
Kokanee - Lake Sammamish population\1\      12-month petition finding
Delta smelt (uplisting)                     12-month petition finding
Cactus ferruginous pygmy-owl\1\             12-month petition finding
Northern leopard frog                       12-month petition finding
Tehachapi slender salamander                12-month petition finding
Coqui Llanero                               12-month petition finding
White-sided jackrabbit                      12-month petition finding
Dusky tree vole                             12-month petition finding
Eagle Lake trout\1\                         12-month petition finding
29 of 206 species                           12-month petition finding
Desert tortoise - Sonoran population        12-month petition finding
Gopher tortoise - eastern population        12-month petition finding
Amargosa toad                               12-month petition finding
Pacific walrus                              12-month petition finding
Wrights marsh thistle                       12-month petition finding
67 of 475 southwest species                 12-month petition finding
9 Southwest mussel species                  12-month petition finding
14 parrots (foreign species)                12-month petition finding
Berry Cave salamander\1\                    12-month petition finding
Striped Newt\1\                             12-month petition finding
Fisher - Northern Rocky Mountain Range\1\   12-month petition finding
Mohave Ground Squirrel\1\                   12-month petition finding
Puerto Rico Harlequin Butterfly             12-month petition finding
Western gull-billed tern                    12-month petition finding
Ozark chinquapin (Castanea pumila var.      12-month petition finding
HI yellow-faced bees                        12-month petition finding
Southeastern pop snowy plover & wintering   90-day petition finding
 pop. of piping plover\1\

[[Page 54844]]

Eagle Lake trout\1\                         90-day petition finding
Smooth-billed ani\1\                        90-day petition finding
Bay Springs salamander\1\                   90-day petition finding
32 species of snails and slugs\1\           90-day petition finding
Calopogon oklahomensis\1\                   90-day petition finding
White-bark pine                             90-day petition finding
42 snail species (Nevada & Utah)            90-day petition finding
Red knot roselaari subspecies               90-day petition finding
Peary caribou                               90-day petition finding
Plain bison                                 90-day petition finding
Giant Palouse earthworm                     90-day petition finding
Mexican gray wolf                           90-day petition finding
Spring Mountains checkerspot butterfly      90-day petition finding
Spring pygmy sunfish                        90-day petition finding
San Francisco manzanita                     90-day petition finding
Bay skipper                                 90-day petition finding
Unsilvered fritillary                       90-day petition finding
Texas kangaroo rat                          90-day petition finding
Spot-tailed earless lizard                  90-day petition finding
Eastern small-footed bat                    90-day petition finding
Northern long-eared bat                     90-day petition finding
Prairie chub                                90-day petition finding
10 species of Great Basin butterfly         90-day petition finding
6 sand dune (scarab) beetles                90-day petition finding
Golden-winged warbler                       90-day petition finding
Sand-verbena moth                           90-day petition finding
Aztec (beautiful) gilia                     90-day petition finding
Arapahoe snowfly                            90-day petition finding
                    High Priority Listing Actions\3\
19 Oahu candidate species\3\ (16 plants, 3  Proposed listing
 damselflies) (15 with LPN = 2, 3 with LPN
 = 3, 1 with LPN =9)
17 Maui-Nui candidate species\3\ (14        Proposed listing
 plants, 3 tree snails) (12 with LPN = 2,
 2 with LPN = 3, 3 with LPN = 8)
Sand dune lizard\3\ (LPN = 2)               Proposed listing
2 Arizona springsnails\3\ (Pyrgulopsis      Proposed listing
 bernadina (LPN = 2), Pyrgulopsis
 trivialis (LPN = 2))
2 New Mexico springsnails\3\ (Pyrgulopsis   Proposed listing
 chupaderae (LPN = 2), Pyrgulopsis
 thermalis (LPN = 11))
2 mussels\3\ (rayed bean (LPN = 2),         Proposed listing
 snuffbox No LPN)
2 mussels\3\ (sheepnose (LPN = 2),          Proposed listing
 spectaclecase (LPN = 4),)

[[Page 54845]]

Ozark hellbender\2\ (LPN = 3)               Proposed listing
Altamaha spinymussel\3\ (LPN = 2)           Proposed listing
8 southeast mussels (southern kidneyshell   Proposed listing
 (LPN = 2), round ebonyshell (LPN = 2),
 Alabama pearlshell (LPN = 2), southern
 sandshell (LPN = 5), fuzzy pigtoe (LPN =
 5), Choctaw bean (LPN = 5), narrow pigtoe
 (LPN = 5), and tapered pigtoe (LPN = 11))
\1\ Funds for listing actions for these species were provided in
  previous FYs.
\2\ We funded a proposed rule for this subspecies with an LPN of 3 ahead
  of other species with LPN of 2, because the threats to the species
  were so imminent and of a high magnitude that we considered emergency
  listing if we were unable to fund work on a proposed listing rule in
  FY 2008.
\3\ Funds for these high-priority listing actions were provided in FY
  2008 or 2009.

    We have endeavored to make our listing actions as efficient and 
timely as possible, given the requirements of the relevant law and 
regulations, and constraints relating to workload and personnel. We are 
continually considering ways to streamline processes or achieve 
economies of scale, such as by batching related actions together. Given 
our limited budget for implementing section 4 of the Act, these actions 
described above collectively constitute expeditious progress.
    The Jemez Mountains salamander will be added to the list of 
candidate species upon publication of this 12-month finding. We will 
continue to monitor the status of this species as new information 
becomes available. This review will determine if a change in status is 
warranted, including the need to make prompt use of emergency listing 
    We intend that any proposed listing action for the Jemez Mountains 
salamander will be as accurate as possible. Therefore, we will continue 
to accept additional information and comments from all concerned 
governmental agencies, the scientific community, industry, or any other 
interested party concerning this finding.

References Cited

    A complete list of all references is available on the Internet at 
http://www.regulations.gov or upon request from the Field Supervisor, 
New Mexico Ecological Services Field Office (see ADDRESSES section).


    The primary authors of this rule are the staff members of the New 
Mexico Ecological Services Office.


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

    Dated: August 23, 2010.
Wendi Weber,
Acting Deputy Director, Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2010-22455 Filed 9-8-10; 8:45 am]