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Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Re-opening of Comment Period on the Sacramento Splittail Final Rule

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION:

Final rule; re-opening of comment period.

SUMMARY:

We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the re-opening of the comment period for the final rule on the Sacramento splittail (Pogonichthys macrolepidotus). Comments previously submitted need not be resubmitted as they will be incorporated into the public record as part of this re-opened comment period, and will be fully considered in the final rule.

DATES:

We will accept public comments until June 7, 2001.

ADDRESSES:

Written comments and information should be submitted to the Field Supervisor, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2800 Cottage Way, Suite W-2605, Sacramento, California 95825. For electronic mail address and further instructions on commenting, refer to Public Comments Solicited section of this notice.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

For general information, Stephanie Brady or Jason Douglas, at the above address (telephone 916/414-6600; facsimile 916/414-6713).

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

The Sacramento splittail (hereafter splittail) represents the only extant species in its genus in North America. For a detailed description of the species, see the Recovery Plan for the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta Native Fishes (Service 1996) and references within that plan.

Splittail are endemic to certain waterways in California's Central Valley, where they were once widely distributed (Moyle 1976). Sacramento splittail occur in Suisun Bay, Suisun Marsh, the San Francisco Bay-Sacramento-San Joaquin River Estuary (Estuary), the Estuary's tributaries (primarily the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers), the Napa River and Marsh, and the Petaluma River and Marsh. The Sacramento splittail no longer occurs throughout a significant portion of its former range.

Pursuant to the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act), the splittail was listed as a threatened species on February 8, 1999 (64 FR 5963). In this previous listing determination, the Service found that changes in water flows and water quality resulting from export of water from the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers, periodic prolonged drought, loss of shallow water habitat, and the effect of agricultural and industrial pollutants were significant factors in the species decline.

Subsequent to the publication of the final rule, plaintiffs in the cases San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority v. Anne Badgley, et al. and State Water Contractors, et al. v. Michael Spear, et al. commenced action in Federal Eastern District Court of California, challenging the listing of the splittail as threatened, alleging various violations of the Act and of the Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C 551 et seq.). The Service, as directed by the court, and pursuant to the Act, provided notice of the opening of a comment period regarding the threatened status for the splittail, from January 12, 2001 to February 12, 2001 (66 FR 2828). The Service is now re-opening the comment period to acquire additional information on the status, abundance and distribution of splittail in the Central Valley of California. Upon the close of this comment period, the Service will make its determination whether the splittail warrants the continued protection of the Act.

Public Comments Solicited

If you wish to comment, you may submit your comments and materials concerning this proposal by any one of several methods:

1. You may submit written comments and information by mail to the Field Supervisor, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2800 Cottage Way, Suite W-2605, Sacramento, California 95825.

2. You may send comments by electronic mail (e-mail) to: fw1splittail@fws.gov. If you submit comments by e-mail, please submit them as an ASCII file and avoid the use of special characters and any form of encryption. Please also include “Attn: RIN 1018-AH73” and your name and return address in your e-mail message. If you do not receive a confirmation from the system that we have received your e-mail message, contact us directly by calling our Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office at telephone number 919/414-6600, during normal business hours.

3. You may hand-deliver comments to our Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, during normal business hours, at the address given above.

Comments and materials received will be available for inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the address under (1) above.

Author(s)

The primary author of this notice is Stephanie Brady (see ADDRESSES section), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Regional Office, 911 N.E. 11th Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97232.

Authority

The authority for this action is the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).

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Michael J. Spear,

Manager, California/Nevada Operations Office, Region 1, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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[FR Doc. 01-11459 Filed 5-7-01; 8:45 am]

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