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Proposed Rule

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Reopening of Comment Period, Notice of Public Hearings on Proposed Threatened Status for Chiricahua Leopard Frog, and Clarification of Special Rule

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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This document has been published in the Federal Register. Use the PDF linked in the document sidebar for the official electronic format.

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AGENCY:

Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION:

Proposed rule; reopening of comment period, notice of public hearing, and clarification.

SUMMARY:

We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) give notice that the comment period is reopened and that public hearings are scheduled on the proposed rule to list the Chiricahua leopard frog as threatened with a special rule. The hearings and the reopening of the comment period will allow all interested parties to submit oral or written comments on the proposal. We also clarify the extent of lands to which a proposed special rule for the frog would apply.

DATES:

The public hearings will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on October 10, 2000, in Silver City, New Mexico; and October 11, 2000, in Bisbee, Arizona. The comment period for this proposal is now reopened until October 27, 2000. Comments must be received by the closing date. Any comments that are received after the closing date may not be considered in the final decision on the proposal.

ADDRESSES:

The public hearings will be held at Light Hall Auditorium, Western New Mexico University, 1000 College Street, Silver City, New Mexico; and Bisbee High School Auditorium, School Terrace Road (south of Highway 92), Bisbee, Arizona. Written comments should be sent to the Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2321 W. Royal Palm Road, Suite 103, Phoenix, Arizona 85021. Comments and materials received will be available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the above Fish and Wildlife Service address.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Jeffrey A. Humphrey, at the above address (602-640-2720).

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

A proposed rule to list Chiricahua leopard frog (Rana chiricahuensis) as threatened pursuant to the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act)was published in the Federal Register on June 14, 2000 (65 FR 37343). The Chiricahua leopard frog is now absent from many historical localities and numerous mountain ranges, valleys, and drainages within its former range. In areas where it is present, populations are often few, small, and widely scattered. Known threats include habitat alteration, destruction, and fragmentation; predation by nonnative organisms; and disease. Problems associated with small population numbers and size, and adverse effects from water-borne contaminants may also threaten the species.

Concurrently with publication of the proposed rule to list the Chiricahua leopard frog as threatened, we published a proposed special rule under 4(d) of the Act to amend regulations at 50 CFR 17.84. The special rule stated that “incidental take of the Chiricahua leopard frog will not be considered a violation of section 9 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act), if it results from livestock use of or maintenance activities at livestock tanks located on private or tribal lands.” The intent of the special rule was to encourage continued conservation of Chiricahua leopard frog habitat in livestock tanks on all non-Federal lands, rather than limiting the conservation incentive to just private and tribal lands.

Incidental take of Chiricahua leopard frogs during operations and maintenance of livestock tanks on Federal lands will be reviewed under the section 7 consultation process.

Clarification of Special Rule

3. We propose to amend 50 CFR 17.84 by adding paragraphs to read as follows:

Special rules-vertebrates
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(1) What species are covered by this special rule?

(i) Chiricahua leopard frog (Rana chiricahuensis).

(2) What activities are prohibited?

(i) Except as noted in paragraph (3) of this section, all prohibitions of § 17.31 will apply to the Chiricahua leopard frog.

(3) What activities are allowed on non-Federal land? Start Printed Page 58034

(i) Incidental take of the Chiricahua leopard frog will not be considered a violation of section 9 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act), if it results from livestock use of, or maintenance activities at, livestock tanks located on any non-Federal lands. A livestock tank is defined as an existing or future impoundment in an ephemeral drainage or upland site constructed primarily as a watering site for livestock.

Comments Solicited

Pursuant to 50 CFR 424.16(c)(2), we may extend or reopen a comment period upon finding that there is good cause to do so. Full participation of the affected public in the species listing process, allowing us to consider the best scientific and commercial data available in making a final determination on the proposed action, is deemed as sufficient cause. Additionally, this reopened comment period will allow the public to consider and comment on the clarification of the special rule provided in this notice.

Section 4(b)(5)(E) of the Act, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), requires that a public hearing be held if it is requested within 45 days of the publication of a proposed rule. In response to 11 such requests, we will hold two public hearings (see DATES and ADDRESSES).

Anyone wishing to make an oral statement for the record is encouraged to provide a written copy of their statement and present it at the start of the hearing. In the event there is a large attendance, the time allotted for oral statements may have to be limited. Oral and written statements receive equal consideration. There are no limits to the length of written comments presented at the hearings or mailed to the Fish and Wildlife Service.

The current comment period on this proposal closes on September 12, 2000. In order to accommodate public hearings, the Service reopened the public comment period. Written comments may now be submitted until October 27, 2000, to our office in the ADDRESSES section.

Author

The primary author of this notice is James Rorabaugh (see ADDRESSES).

Authority

The authority for this action is the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531-1544).

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Dated: September 14, 2000.

Nancy M. Kaufman,

Regional Director, Region 2, Fish and Wildlife Service.

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[FR Doc. 00-24757 Filed 9-26-00; 8:45 am]

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