[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 128 (Wednesday, July 3, 2013)]
[Pages 40162-40163]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-16032]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R4-ES-2013-N120; FXES11130400000C2-134-FF04E00000]

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Notice of 
Availability of a Technical/Agency Draft Recovery Plan for Georgia 
Pigtoe Mussel, Interrupted Rocksnail, and Rough Hornsnail

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability and request for public comment.


SUMMARY: We, the Fish and Wildlife Service, announce the availability 
of the technical/agency draft recovery plan for the endangered Georgia 
pigtoe mussel, interrupted rocksnail, and rough hornsnail. The draft 
recovery plan includes specific recovery objectives and criteria the 
interrupted rocksnail and rough hornsnail would have to meet in order 
for us to downlist them to threatened under the Endangered Species Act 
of 1973, as amended (Act). Recovery criteria for the Georgia pigtoe 
will be developed after we complete critical recovery actions and gain 
a greater understanding of the species. We request review and comment 
on this draft recovery plan from local, State, and Federal agencies, 
and the public.

DATES: In order to be considered, comments on the draft recovery plan 
must be received on or before September 3, 2013.

ADDRESSES: If you wish to review this technical/agency draft recovery 
plan, you may obtain a copy by contacting Jeff Powell, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Alabama Field Office, 1208-B Main Street, Daphne, AL 
36526; tel. (251) 441-5858; or by visiting the Service's Alabama Field 
Office Web site at http://www.fws.gov/daphne. If you wish to comment, 
you may submit your comments by one of the following methods:
    1. You may submit written comments and materials to Jeff Powell, at 
the above address.
    2. You may hand-deliver written comments to our Alabama Field 
Office, at the above address, or fax them to (251) 441-6222.
    3. You may send comments by email to alabama@fws.gov. Please 
include ``Three-Snail Recovery Plan Comments'' on the subject line.
    For additional information about submitting comments, see the 
``Request for Public Comments'' section below.




    The Georgia pigtoe mussel (Pleurobema hanleyianum), interrupted 
rocksnail (Leptoxis foremani), and rough hornsnail (Pleurocera 
foremani) were listed as endangered species under the Act (16 U.S.C. 
1531 et seq.) on November 2, 2010 (75 FR 67512). All three species are 
endemic to the Coosa River drainage of the Mobile River Basin in 
Alabama and Georgia; the Georgia pigtoe also occurs in a Coosa River 
tributary in Tennessee. All three species have disappeared from 90 
percent or more of their historical ranges, primarily due to 
impoundment of riverine habitats. A single population of interrupted 
rocksnail is known to survive in the Oostanaula River, Georgia. Only 
two localized populations of rough hornsnail, one each in Yellowleaf 
Creek, Alabama, and the lower Coosa River, Alabama, are currently 
known. Surviving populations of Georgia pigtoe occur in the Conasauga 
River, Georgia, and possibly in the Coosa River (Weiss Bypass), 
Alabama. The rough hornsnail is State listed as a Priority 1 (P1) 
species in Alabama; the interrupted rocksnail is State listed as P1 
species in Alabama, while the Georgia pigtoe is State listed as 
endangered in Georgia.
    Approximately 258 km (160 mi) of stream channels in the Coosa River 
drainage have been designated as critical habitat for the interrupted 
rocksnail (101 km (63 mi)), rough hornsnail (27.4 km (17 mi)), and 
Georgia pigtoe mussel (153 km (95 mi)). Critical habitat is located in 
Cherokee, Clay, Coosa, Elmore and Shelby Counties, Alabama; Gordon, 
Floyd, Murray, and Whitfield Counties, Georgia; and Bradley and Polk 
Counties, Tennessee.
    The Georgia pigtoe mussel has a federal recovery priority number of 
5, which indicates the species faces a high degree of threat but also 
has a low recovery potential. The interrupted rocksnail and rough 
hornsnail each have a recovery priority number of 2, which indicates 
both species are facing a high degree of threat but have a high 
recovery potential.
    Restoring an endangered or threatened animal or plant to the point 
where it is again a secure, self-sustaining member of its ecosystem is 
a primary goal of our endangered species program. To help guide the 
recovery effort, we prepare recovery plans for most listed species. 
Recovery plans describe actions considered necessary for conservation 
of the species, establish criteria for downlisting or delisting, and

[[Page 40163]]

estimate time and cost for implementing recovery measures.
    The Act requires the development of recovery plans for listed 
species, unless such a plan would not promote the conservation of a 
particular species. Section 4(f) of the Act requires us to provide 
public notice and an opportunity for public review and comment during 
recovery plan development. We will consider all information presented 
during a public comment period prior to approval of each new or revised 
recovery plan. We and other Federal agencies will take these comments 
into account in the course of implementing approved recovery plans.

Recovery Plan Components

    The Service's recovery objectives are to work to reduce threats so 
that the interrupted rocksnail and rough hornsnail may be downlisted to 
threatened status, and to prevent further decline of the Georgia 
pigtoe's Conasauga River population and prevent extinction of the 
species as a whole. Defining reasonable downlisting or delisting 
criteria for the Georgia pigtoe is not possible at this time, given the 
current low number of populations and individuals, lack of information 
about the species' biology, and magnitude of threats. Therefore, this 
recovery plan only establishes downlisting criteria for the two snails. 
Instead of establishing downlisting or delisting criteria at this time 
for Georgia pigtoe, we are identifying preliminary actions to help us 
prevent its extinction until we can obtain further information on this 
species and determine recovery criteria.
    Downlisting of the interrupted rocksnail and rough hornsnail will 
be considered when we:
    1. Protect and manage at least three geographically distinct 
populations for each species. The populations can include the existing 
populations (Oostanaula for the interrupted rocksnail, Yellowleaf Creek 
and Lower Coosa River for the rough hornsnail), or can be reintroduced;
    2. Achieve demonstrated and sustainable natural reproduction and 
recruitment in each population for each species as evident by multiple 
age classes of individuals, including naturally recruited juveniles, 
and recruitment rates exceeding mortality rates for a period of 5 
years; and
    3. Develop and implement habitat and population monitoring programs 
for each population.
    The following actions are identified as necessary to help prevent 
the extinction of the Georgia pigtoe:
    1. Maintain and where possible conduct efforts to improve the 
Conasauga River population;
    2. Develop and implement a monitoring plan to help ensure that the 
Conasauga River population does not decline further;
    3. Develop a captive propagation program and establish an ark 
population (a secure, maintained captive population) to help support 
the Conasauga River population;
    4. Conduct research, such as identification of an appropriate fish 
host, that is important to gain better understanding of this mussel's 
life history; and
    5. Identify, monitor, and where possible improve potential 
reintroduction sites in the species' historic range.

Request for Public Comments

    We request written comments on the draft recovery plan. We will 
consider all comments we receive by the date specified in DATES prior 
to final approval of the plan.

Public Availability of Comments

    Before including your address, phone number, email address, or 
other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be 
aware that your entire comment--including your personal identifying 
information--may be made publicly available at any time. While you can 
ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying 
information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be 
able to do so.


    The authority for this action is section 4(f) of the Endangered 
Species Act, 16 U.S.C. 1533 (f).

    Dated: June 26, 2013.
Mike Oetker,
Acting Regional Director, Southeast Region.
[FR Doc. 2013-16032 Filed 7-2-13; 8:45 am]