Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.
Proposed rule; notice of public hearing and reopening of comment period.
We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), give notice that we are holding a public hearing for the proposed rule to list the Roswell springsnail (Pyrgulopsis roswellensis), Koster's tryonia (Tryonia kosteri), Pecos assiminea (Assiminea pecosensis) and Noel's amphipod (Gammarus desparatus) as endangered with critical habitat under the authority of the Endangered Species Act (Act) of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). We also give notice of the extension of the comment period for the proposed rule for these species. The extension of the comment period will be for 90 additional days and will allow all interested parties to submit written comments on the proposal. Comments already submitted on the proposed rule need not be resubmitted as they will be fully considered in the final determination.
We will hold a public hearing in Carlsbad, New Mexico, from 6 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, June 18, 2002, to solicit comments on the proposed rule. We will consider all comments received at the public hearing or those submitted in writing by July 14, 2002.
The location for the public hearing is room 153 of the Instructional Building on the New Mexico State University Campus in Carlsbad, NM.
You may submit written comments and materials concerning the proposal at the hearing or send them directly to Joy Nicholopoulos, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, New Mexico Ecological Services Field Office, 2105 Osuna NE, Albuquerque, NM 87113. Written comments may also be sent by facsimile to (505) 346-2542 or R2FWE_AL@fws.gov. You may also hand-deliver written comments to our New Mexico Ecological Services Field Office, at the above address. Comments and materials received, as well as supporting documentation used in the preparation of this proposed rule, will be available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at the above address. You may obtain copies of the proposed rule from the above address, by calling 505/346-2542, or from our website at http://ifw2es.fws.gov/Library/.Start Further Info
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Joy Nicholopoulos, Field Supervisor, New Mexico Ecological Services Field Office (see ADDRESSES section) (telephone 505/346-2525, ext. 143; facsimile 505/346-2542) or visit our website at http://ifw2es.fws.gov/.End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information
On November 22, 1985, we received a petition from Mr. Harold F. Olson, Director of the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, to add 11 species of New Mexican mollusks to the Federal list of endangered and threatened wildlife. Roswell springsnail (Pyrgulopsis roswellensis formerly Fontelicella sp. (Hershler 1994)), Koster's tryonia, and Pecos assiminea were among the 11 species. We determined the petition presented substantial information and found that the requested action may be warranted and published a positive 90-day petition finding in the Federal Register on August 20, 1986 (51 FR 29671). A subsequent 12-month finding published in the Federal Register on July 1, 1987 (52 FR 24485), concluded that the petitioned action was warranted but precluded by other higher priority listing actions. A proposed rule to list these four species as endangered with critical habitat was published in the Federal Register on February 12, 2002 (67 FR 6459). The proposed rule constitutes our 12-month recycled petition finding for the Roswell springsnail, Koster's tryonia, and Pecos assiminea. The proposed rule includes a proposal for Noel's amphipod, which is found in the same locations as the other three species and shares the same threats and management needs.
These species occur at sinkholes, springs, and associated spring runs and wetland habitats. They are found at two sites in Chaves County, NM, one site in Pecos County, TX, and one site in Reeves County, TX. Pecos assiminea is also known from one area in Coahuila, Mexico.
In the proposed rule we determined that these three snails and one amphipod have an exceedingly limited distribution and are imperiled by local and regional groundwater depletion, surface and groundwater contamination, oil and gas extraction activities within the supporting aquifer and watershed, and direct loss of their habitat (e.g., through burning or removing marsh vegetation, cementing, or filling of habitat). This proposal, if made final, will implement the Federal protection and recovery provisions of the Act for these invertebrate species.
Public hearings are designed to gather relevant information that the public may have that we should consider in our rule-making. During the hearing we will present information about the proposed action. We invite the public to submit information and comments either at the hearings or in writing. This notice and public hearing will allow all interested parties to submit comments on the proposed rule and proposed designation. We are seeking comments or suggestions from the public, other concerned governmental agencies, tribes, the scientific community, industry, or any other interested parties concerning the proposal.
We may have to limit the time allotted for oral statements if the number of people who wish to comment necessitates such a limitation. We encourage persons wishing to comment at the hearings to provide a written copy of their statement at the start of the hearing. There is no limit on the length of written comments. Persons may send written comments to our office (see ADDRESSES section) at any time during the open comment period. We will give equal consideration to oral and written comments. Concurrently with the Start Printed Page 38060publication of this notice we are publishing legal notices in local newspapers announcing the date, time, and location of this hearing.
National Environmental Policy Act
It is our position that, outside the Tenth Circuit, we do not need to prepare environmental analyses as defined by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in connection with designating critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. We published a notice outlining our reasons for this determination in the Federal Register on October 25, 1983 (48 FR 49244). This assertion was upheld in the courts of the Ninth Circuit (Douglas County v. Babbitt, 48 F.3d 1495 (9th Cir. Ore. 1995), cert. denied 116 S. Ct. 698 (1996). However, when the range of the species includes States within the Tenth Circuit, such as those of the Roswell springsnail, Koster's tryonia, Pecos assiminea, and Noel's amphipod, pursuant to the Tenth Circuit ruling in Catron County Board of Commissioners v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 75 F.3d 1429 (10th Cir. 1996), we will undertake a NEPA analysis for the critical habitat designation. We will notify the public of the availability of the draft NEPA document for this proposal so that interested and affected parties may participate and contribute to a final decision. The draft NEPA document will be sent out for a minimum 45-day public comment period, during which comments will be solicited.
In addition, we will conduct a robust economic analysis on the effects of the proposed critical habitat designation prior to a final determination. We will conduct an analysis that complies with the ruling by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Mexico Cattle Growers Association, et. al. v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. When the draft economic analysis is completed, we will announce its availability with a notice in the Federal Register, and we will reopen the comment period at that time to accept comments on the draft economic analysis, draft NEPA document, or further comment on the proposed rule. We will also transmit the draft documents to all who commented on the proposed rule, and send the documents to anyone who requests a copy. We are particularly interested in comments or suggestions on reasons why any particular area should or should not be designated as critical habitat, information on the distribution and quality of habitat for these four invertebrate species, land use practices and current or planned activities in areas that may be affected by a designation of critical habitat, and any other pertinent issues of concern.
The authority for this action is the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).Start Signature
Dated: May 21, 2002.
Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
[FR Doc. 02-13534 Filed 5-30-02; 8:45 am]
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