[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 16 (Friday, January 24, 2020)]
[Pages 4336-4338]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-01201]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R3-ES-2018-N148; FXES11130300000-189-FF03E00000]

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Draft Recovery 
Plan for the Dakota Skipper

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability and request for public comment.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announce the 
availability of the draft recovery plan for the threatened Dakota 
skipper for public review and comment. 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 must be received on or 
before February 24, 2020.

    Document availability: You may obtain a copy of the draft recovery 
plan by one of the following methods:
     U.S. mail: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Minnesota-
Wisconsin Ecological Services Field Office, Attention: Peter Fasbender; 
4101 American Blvd. East, Bloomington, MN 55425.
     Telephone: Peter Fasbender, 952-252-0092.
     internet: Download the document at the Service's Midwest 
Region website at https://www.fws.gov/midwest/Endangered/insects/dask/index.html.
    Comment submission: You may submit comments by one of the following 
     Mail or hand-delivery: Submit written comments to the 
above U.S. mail address.
     Fax: 952-646-2873, Attention: Peter Fasbender. Please 
include ``Dakota Skipper DRP'' in the subject line.
     Email: peter_fasbender@fws.gov. Please include ``Dakota 
Skipper DRP'' in the subject line.
    For additional information about submitting comments, see 
Availability of Public Comments in SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Peter Fasbender, by one of the methods 

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
(Service), announce the availability of the draft recovery plan for the 
threatened Dakota skipper (Hesperia dacotae) for public review and 
comment. The draft recovery plan includes objective, measurable 
criteria and management actions as may be necessary for removal of the 
species from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. We 
request review and comment on this draft recovery plan from local, 
State, and Federal agencies, and the public.

Recovery Planning

    Section 4(f) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended 
(Act; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), requires the development of recovery 
plans for listed species, unless such a plan would not promote the 
conservation of a particular species. Also pursuant to section 4(f) of 
the Act, a recovery plan must, to the maximum extent practicable, 
include (1) a description of site-specific management actions as may be 
necessary to achieve the plan's goals for the conservation and survival 
of the species; (2) objective, measurable criteria that, when met, 
would support a determination under section 4(a)(1) that the species 
should be removed from the List of Endangered and Threatened Species; 
and (3) estimates of the time and costs required to carry out those 
measures needed to achieve the plan's goal and to achieve intermediate 
steps toward that goal.
    The Service has revised its approach to recovery planning. The 
revised process is intended to reduce the time

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needed to develop and implement recovery plans, increase recovery plan 
relevancy over a longer timeframe, and add flexibility to recovery 
plans so they can be adjusted to new information or circumstances. A 
recovery plan will include statutorily required elements (objective, 
measurable criteria, site-specific management actions, and estimates of 
time and costs), along with a concise introduction and our strategy for 
how we plan to achieve species recovery. The recovery plan is supported 
by a separate Species Status Assessment. The essential component to 
flexible implementation under this recovery process is producing a 
separate working document called the Recovery Implementation Strategy 
(implementation strategy). The implementation strategy steps down from 
the more general description of actions in the recovery plan to detail 
the specific, near-term activities needed to implement the recovery 
plan. The implementation strategy will be adaptable by being able to 
incorporate new information without having to concurrently revise the 
recovery plan, unless changes to statutory elements are required. The 
implementation strategy will be developed following publication of the 
final recovery plan and will be made available on the Service's website 
at that time.

Species Background

    The Dakota skipper is a small butterfly with a 1-inch wingspan. 
Like other skippers, it has a thick body and faster, more powerful 
flight than most butterflies. The Dakota skipper inhabits remnants of 
tallgrass prairie and mixed-grass prairie in the north-central United 
States and into southern Saskatchewan and Manitoba Provinces of Canada. 
Within the native prairie patches where it persists, the species relies 
on high-quality habitat conditions--diverse native grassland plant 
communities--and on natural or human disturbances that maintain the 
integrity of these plant communities while minimizing mortality to 
vulnerable life stages. Populations may also be influenced 
significantly at local, landscape, regional, and continental scales by 
other factors that include activities such as grazing, haying, burning, 
pesticide use, and lack of management. (Refer to the Species Status 
Assessment Report (USFWS 2018) for a full discussion of the species' 
biology and threats.) Under the Act, the Service added the Dakota 
skipper as a threatened species to the Federal List of Endangered and 
Threatened Wildlife on October 24, 2014 (79 FR 63672).

Recovery Plan

    The draft recovery strategy and criteria are summarized below. For 
a complete description of these components, as well as the actions and 
estimated time and costs associate with recovery, refer to the Draft 
Recovery Plan for the Dakota Skipper (see ADDRESSES for document 

Recovery Strategy

    To recover the Dakota skipper, we will work with our public, 
private, and tribal partners to design and implement actions that will 
meet the four goals described below.
    1. To ensure that the species' adaptive capacity is preserved, 
recovery efforts will focus on maintaining Dakota skipper persistence 
across its current range of adaptive variation. We identified four 
conservation areas, referred to as Conservation Units (CU), to focus 
and manage our recovery efforts.
    2. To foster the Dakota skipper's ability to withstand 
environmental stochasticity, stressors, and catastrophes, recovery 
efforts should ensure that populations are healthy. Those healthy 
populations need to be supported by native prairie habitats typified by 
plant communities that reflect historical conditions and that contain a 
low abundance of non-native species. Recovery actions will also focus 
on ensuring that healthy populations are distributed across 
heterogeneous conditions within each CU.
    3. Successful recovery requires a better understanding of some 
fundamental aspects of Dakota skipper ecology. Employing a well-
designed adaptive management and monitoring framework for recovery 
implementation will allow us to better manage for suitable habitat 
conditions, protect against wide-range and simultaneous population 
declines due to environmental stochasticity and catastrophes, and 
respond to adverse effects of climate change.
    4. Achieving the above goals is highly dependent on the cooperation 
and contributions of conservation partners. Specifically, attaining 
recovery will necessitate the cooperation and dedication of native 
prairie managers, conservationists, ranchers, farmers, agencies, and 
those with expertise needed to design and evaluate the effects of land 
management actions on the species. It will be critical to ensure that 
recovery goals are met in a manner that is in concert with the 
missions, objectives, and aspirations of our conservation partners.

Recovery Criteria

    The ultimate recovery goal is to remove the Dakota skipper from the 
Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife (delist) by ensuring 
the long-term viability of the species in the wild. In the recovery 
plan, we define the following delisting criteria based on the best 
available information on the species:
    Criterion 1. A probability of persistence (pP) >= 0.95 over 50 
years in each CU. Each CU must also have a minimum of five healthy 
    Criterion 2. A minimum of an additional 29 populations with each 
having a probability of persistence (pP) >= 0.75 over 50 years and 
distributed across CUs as specified in Table 1.

                  Table 1--The Minimum Number of Populations Required To Meet Criteria 1 and 2
                                                         Number of               Number of
                Conservation unit                 populations--Criterion  populations--Criterion     Number of
                                                             1                       2              populations
CU 1: Dry Steppes Ecoregion.....................                   5                       9                  14
CU 2: Steppes Ecoregion.........................                   5                       6                  11
CU 3: Red River Valley Section..................                   5                       4                   9
CU 4: Prairie Coteau Section....................                   5                      10                  15

    Criterion 3. Each population considered under Criteria 1 and 2 has 
a written management plan in place that promotes population 

Availability of Public 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 

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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).

Lori Nordstrom,
Assistant Regional Director, Ecological Services, Midwest Region.
[FR Doc. 2020-01201 Filed 1-23-20; 8:45 am]