[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 107 (Thursday, June 4, 2015)]
[Pages 31916-31918]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-13624]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R1-ES-2015-N076; FXES11130100000-156-FF01E00000]

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Revised Draft 
Recovery Plan for the Coterminous United States Population of Bull 
Trout and Draft Recovery Unit Implementation Plans

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of document availability for review and public comment.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
availability of six draft recovery unit implementation plans (RUIPs) 
that are part of the recovery plan we are developing for the 
coterminous United States population of bull trout (Salvelinus 
confluentus). On September 4, 2014, we announced the availability of 
the Revised Draft Recovery Plan for the Coterminous United States 
Population of Bull Trout, along with a 90-day comment period. While the 
revised draft recovery plan proposed the specific goals, objectives, 
and criteria that should be met to remove the species from the Federal 
List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife, the principal conservation 
actions needed to advance the recovery of bull trout had not yet been 
developed. We have been working through an interagency collaboration of 
interested and knowledgeable Federal, Tribal, State, private, and other 
parties to develop individual draft RUIPs that propose site-specific 
conservation actions for each of six recovery units (Coastal, Klamath, 
Mid-Columbia, Columbia Headwaters, Upper Snake, and St. Mary). Based on 
comments received on the revised draft recovery plan, we are also 
proposing a modification to the recovery criteria for the Columbia 
Headwaters Recovery Unit. We consider this a substantive change to the 
current revised draft recovery plan. We request review and comment on 
the draft RUIPs and recovery criteria modifications from Federal, State 
and local agencies, Native American Tribes, and the public.

DATES: In order to be considered, comments on the draft RUIPs and 
modified recovery criteria must be received on or before July 20, 2015.

ADDRESSES: Electronic copies of the draft recovery unit implementation 
plans, as well as the revised draft recovery plan of September 2014 and 
a summary of newly proposed recovery criteria, are available at http://www.fws.gov/endangered/species/recovery-plans.html and http://www.fws.gov/pacific/ecoservices/endangered/recovery/plans.html. These 
documents are also available by request from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, Idaho Fish and Wildlife Office, 1387 S. Vinnell Way, Room 368, 
Boise, ID 83709; telephone (208) 378-5345.
    If you want to comment, you may submit written comments by one of 
the following methods:
    (1) You may submit written comments and materials to Bull Trout 
Recovery, Idaho Fish and Wildlife Office, at the above Boise address;
    (2) You may hand-deliver written comments to our Idaho Fish and 
Wildlife Office, at the above Boise address, or fax them to (208) 378-
5262; or
    (3) You may send comments by email to 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Michael Carrier, State Supervisor, 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Idaho Fish

[[Page 31917]]

and Wildlife Office, at the above Boise address; telephone (208) 378-
5243. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), call 
the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339.



    In November 1999, all populations of bull trout (Salvelinus 
confluentus) within the coterminous United States were listed as a 
threatened species pursuant to the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as 
amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.; Act) (64 FR 58910; November 1, 1999). 
This final listing added bull trout in the Coastal-Puget Sound 
populations (Olympic Peninsula and Puget Sound regions) and Saint Mary-
Belly River populations (east of the Continental divide in Montana) to 
the previous listing of three distinct population segments of bull 
trout in the Columbia River, Klamath River, and Jarbidge River basins 
(63 FR 31647, June 10, 1998; 64 FR 17110, April 8, 1999).
    Recovery of endangered and threatened animals and plants 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 
estimate time and cost for implementing recovery measures.
    For the coterminous population of bull trout, three separate draft 
bull trout recovery plans were completed in 2002 and 2004. The 2002 
draft recovery plan (USFWS 2002) addressed bull trout populations 
within the Columbia, St. Mary-Belly, and Klamath River basins and 
included individual chapters for 24 separate recovery units. In 2004, 
draft recovery plans were developed for the Coastal-Puget Sound 
drainages in western Washington, including two recovery unit chapters 
(USFWS 2004a), and for the Jarbidge River in Nevada (USFWS 2004b). 
Although none of these draft recovery plans were finalized, they served 
to identify recovery actions across the range of the species, and 
provided the framework for implementing numerous recovery actions by 
our partner agencies, local working groups, and others since that time.

Revised Draft Recovery Plan

    On September 4, 2014, the Service announced the availability of a 
Revised Draft Recovery Plan for the Coterminous United States 
Population of Bull Trout (79 FR 52741).
    The primary recovery strategy for bull trout in the coterminous 
United States proposed in the revised draft recovery plan is to: (1) 
Conserve bull trout so that they are geographically widespread across 
representative habitats and demographically stable in six recovery 
units; (2) effectively manage and ameliorate the primary threats in 
each of six recovery units at the core area scale such that bull trout 
are not likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future; (3) 
build upon the numerous and ongoing conservation actions implemented on 
behalf of bull trout since their listing in 1999, and improve our 
understanding of how various threat factors potentially affect the 
species; (4) use that information to work cooperatively with our 
partners to design, fund, prioritize, and implement effective 
conservation actions in those areas that offer the greatest long-term 
benefit to sustain bull trout and where recovery can be achieved; and 
(5) apply adaptive management principles to implementing the bull trout 
recovery program to account for new information.
    The revised draft recovery plan also proposed recovery criteria 
that represent our best assessment of the conditions that would most 
likely result in a determination that listing under the Act is no 
longer required. For bull trout, these conditions would be met when 
conservation actions have been implemented to ameliorate the primary 
threats in suitable habitats in each of the six recovery units. 
Additionally, proposed recovery criteria were drafted with the 
acknowledgement that despite our best conservation efforts, it is 
possible that some existing bull trout core areas may become extirpated 
due to various factors, including the effects of small populations, 
isolation, and possible future climate change effects.
    If threats are effectively managed at the thresholds established in 
the revised draft recovery plan, we expect that bull trout populations 
will respond accordingly and reflect the biodiversity principles of 
resiliency, redundancy, and representation. Specifically, achieving the 
proposed recovery criteria in each recovery unit would result in 
geographically widespread and demographically stable local bull trout 
populations within the range of natural variation, with their essential 
cold water habitats connected to allow their diverse life history forms 
to persist into the foreseeable future; therefore, the species would be 
brought to the point where the protections of the Act are no longer 
    During the 90 day comment period, we received 70 comment letters 
from 4 federal agencies, 5 state agencies, 6 Native American tribes, 9 
utilities/commissions/counties, 20 environmental or conservation 
organizations, 26 individuals, and 4 peer reviewers. Several commenters 
provided new and updated scientific information or suggested revisions 
or changes in the revised draft recovery plan. New scientific 
information will be incorporated or updated in the final recovery plan 
where appropriate.
    In general, most of the comments were centered around: (1) The six 
recovery unit structure and boundary delineations, with several 
suggested boundary changes or further splitting of recovery units 
(i.e., separating the core areas in the lower Columbia/Willamette 
watersheds from the rest of the Coastal Recovery Unit, separating the 
Malheur drainage from the rest of the Upper Snake Recovery Unit, and/or 
moving the Clearwater drainage from the Mid-Columbia to Upper Snake 
Recovery Unit); (2) lack of support for the proposed threshold for 
effective threat management in recovery criteria for the Coastal, Mid-
Columbia, Upper Snake, and Columbia Headwaters Recovery Units (i.e., 
primary threats effectively managed in 75 percent of core areas, 
representing 75 percent of local populations within each recovery 
unit), which many believe does not conserve all remaining bull trout 
populations; (3) concern that the revised draft recovery plan abandons 
demographic or population targets proposed in earlier draft recovery 
plans for bull trout; and (4) requests for further explanation and 
detail regarding the role of monitoring and evaluation in bull trout 
    Any changes resulting from these comments will be reflected when 
the final recovery plan is published, and a detailed response to 
comments will be included as an appendix to the final recovery plan. We 
are continuing to review proposed modifications to the recovery unit 
boundaries, but at present the draft RUIPs continue to be based upon 
the original recovery unit boundaries as published in the revised draft 
recovery plan. Based on comments received, we propose modifying the 
recovery criteria for the Columbia Headwaters Recovery Unit to address 
simple and complex core areas separately. Given that this is a 
substantive change to the revised draft recovery plan, we request 
public comment on the criteria as modified. A link to the amended 
recovery criteria is available at the Web addresses above. Note also 
that the current status and expected needs for bull trout monitoring 
and evaluation at the recovery unit and core area level are now 
discussed in greater detail within the draft RUIPs.

[[Page 31918]]

    The final bull trout recovery plan will describe the principal 
actions needed to advance the recovery of bull trout in the six 
recovery units within the coterminous United States; and will include 
individual RUIPs for each recovery unit that will provide site-specific 
detail at the core area scale. The RUIPs for each recovery unit have 
been developed through an interagency collaboration of interested and 
knowledgeable Federal, Tribal, State, private, and other parties prior 
to completion of the final recovery plan. In many parts of the range of 
bull trout, local interagency bull trout working groups have previously 
identified and are already implementing recovery actions necessary for 
local bull trout core area conservation. Much of this existing 
information has been incorporated into the RUIPs where appropriate. 
RUIPs incorporated in the final recovery plan will also include an 
implementation schedule that outline core area specific recovery 
actions and estimated costs for bull trout recovery.

Request for Public Comments

    Section 4(f) of the Act requires us to provide public notice and an 
opportunity for public review and comment during recovery plan 
development. In an appendix to the approved final recovery plan, we 
will summarize and respond to the issues raised by the public and peer 
reviewers. Substantive comments may or may not result in changes to the 
recovery plan; comments regarding recovery plan implementation will be 
forwarded as appropriate to Federal or other entities so that they can 
be taken into account during the course of implementing recovery 
    We request written comments on the six draft RUIPs and the proposed 
modified recovery criteria. We will consider all comments we receive by 
the date specified in DATES prior to final approval of the plan. If you 
previously submitted comments or information on the revised draft 
recovery plan during the initial comment period from September 4, 2014, 
to December 3, 2014 (79 FR 52741), you need not resubmit them. We have 
incorporated them into our files for the original comment period, and 
we will fully consider them in development of the final recovery 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 of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).

    Dated: May 12, 2015.
Richard R. Hannan,
Acting Regional Director, Pacific Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
[FR Doc. 2015-13624 Filed 6-3-15; 8:45 am]