[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 189 (Wednesday, September 30, 2015)]
[Pages 58767-58768]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-24670]

[[Page 58767]]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R1-ES-2015-N151; FXES11130100000-156-FF01E00000]

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Recovery Plan for 
the Coterminous United States Population of Bull Trout

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of document availability.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
availability of the final Recovery Plan for the Coterminous United 
States Population of Bull Trout, including six final recovery unit 
implementation plans, under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as 
amended (Act). The recovery plan includes specific goals, objectives, 
and criteria that should be met in order to consider removing the 
species from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife.

ADDRESSES: An electronic copy of the recovery plan is available at 
http://www.fws.gov/endangered/species/recovery-plans.html and http://www.fws.gov/pacific/ecoservices/endangered/recovery/plans.html. Copies 
of the recovery plan 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. Printed 
copies of the recovery plan will be available for distribution 
approximately 4 to 6 weeks after publication of this notice.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Michael Carrier, State Supervisor, 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Idaho Fish 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.
    Section 4(f) of the Act requires that public notice, and an 
opportunity for public review and comment, be provided during recovery 
plan development. 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). These draft recovery plans were not finalized, but they have 
served to identify recovery actions across the range of the species, 
and provide the framework for implementing numerous recovery actions by 
our partner agencies, local working groups, and others with an interest 
in bull trout conservation. A revised draft recovery plan, addressing 
the overall recovery strategy for bull trout throughout its range in 
the coterminous United States, was made available for public comment 
from September 4 through December 3, 2014 (79 FR 52741). Subsequently, 
from June 4 through July 20, 2015 (80 FR 31916), we made available for 
public comment our proposed modifications to the recovery criteria, as 
well as six associated draft recovery unit implementation plans 
(RUIPs), supplemental recovery planning documents which describe more 
detailed site-specific conservation actions and implementation 
schedules for each of the six recovery units (Coastal, Klamath, Mid-
Columbia, Columbia Headwaters, Upper Snake, and St. Mary).
    We considered information we received from public comments and peer 
reviewers in our preparation of the final recovery plan. Updated 
information was incorporated into the final recovery plan and the six 
final RUIPs as appropriate, and substantive issues and comments, 
together with our responses, are summarized in appendices. Comments 
relating to overall recovery strategy and criteria are addressed in an 
appendix to the final recovery plan, while those comments specific to 
individual recovery units are addressed in appendices to each RUIP.

Recovery Plan Components

    The primary recovery strategy for bull trout in the coterminous 
United States that we describe in the 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 incorporate new information.
    Bull trout population status is stable or increasing in some core 
areas. However, in developing this recovery plan, we also acknowledge 
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 and isolation. Our 
current approach to developing recovery criteria and necessary recovery 
actions for bull trout is intended to ensure adequate conservation of 
genetic diversity, life history features, and broad geographical 
representation of bull trout populations while acknowledging some local 
extirpations may occur.
    We may initiate an assessment of whether recovery has been achieved 
and delisting is warranted when the recovery criteria below have been 
met in each recovery unit. Alternatively, if recovery criteria are met 
in an individual recovery unit, we may initiate an assessment of 
whether it is possible to designate that recovery unit as a distinct 
population segment and if

[[Page 58768]]

delisting of that distinct population segment would be warranted.
    For the Coastal, Mid-Columbia, and Upper Snake Recovery Units, the 
recovery criteria provide that primary threats must be managed 
effectively in at least 75 percent of all core areas, representing 75 
percent or more of bull trout local populations within each of these 
three recovery units. For the Columbia Headwaters Recovery Unit, the 
recovery criteria provide that primary threats must be managed 
effectively in at least 75 percent of complex core areas and at least 
75 percent of simple core areas, representing 75 percent or more of 
bull trout local populations within the recovery unit. For the Klamath 
and St. Mary Recovery Units, the recovery criteria provide that all 
primary threats must be managed effectively in all existing core areas, 
representing all existing local populations. In addition, because 9 of 
the 17 known local populations in the Klamath Recovery Unit have been 
extirpated and others are significantly imperiled and require active 
management, we believe that the geographic distribution of bull trout 
within this recovery unit needs to be substantially expanded before it 
can be considered to have met recovery goals. To achieve recovery, we 
seek to add seven additional local populations distributed among the 
three core areas (two in the Upper Klamath Lake core area, three in the 
Sycan core area, and two in the Upper Sprague core area). In recovery 
units where shared foraging/migratory/overwintering (FMO) habitat 
outside core areas has been identified, connectivity and habitat in 
these shared FMO areas should be maintained in a condition sufficient 
for regular bull trout use and successful dispersal among the 
connecting core areas for those core areas to meet the criterion.
    If threats are effectively managed at these thresholds, we expect 
that bull trout populations will respond accordingly and reflect the 
biodiversity principles of resiliency, redundancy, and representation. 
Specifically, achieving the 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 necessary.

    Authority:  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: September 3, 2015.
Robyn Thorson,
Regional Director, Pacific Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2015-24670 Filed 9-29-15; 8:45 am]