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Proposed Rule

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Extension of the Comment Period for Proposed Designation of Critical Habitat for the Arkansas River Basin Population of the Arkansas River Shiner

Document Details

Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

Published Document

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; extension of public comment period.

SUMMARY:

We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the extension of the public comment period for the proposal to designate critical habitat for the Arkansas River Basin population of the Arkansas River Shiner (Notropis girardi) (October 6, 2004; 69 FR 59859). This action will allow all interested parties an opportunity to comment on the proposed critical habitat designation under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended.

DATES:

Comments must be submitted directly to the Service (see ADDRESSES section) on or before June 17, 2005. Any comments received after the closing date may not be considered in the final determination on the proposal.

ADDRESSES:

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 to the Field Supervisor, Oklahoma Ecological Services Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 222 South Houston, Tulsa, Oklahoma 74127-8909.

2. You may hand-deliver written comments and information to our Oklahoma Office, at the above address, or fax your comments to 918-581-7467.

3. You may send your comments by electronic mail (e-mail) to r2arshinerch@fws.gov. For directions on how to submit electronic filing of comments, see the “Public Comments Solicited” section.

All comments and materials received, as well as supporting documentation used in preparation of this proposed rule, will be available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the above address.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Jerry Brabander, Field Supervisor, Oklahoma Office (telephone 918-581-7458; facsimile 918-581-7467).

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

On October 6, 2004 (69 FR 59859), we proposed to designate as critical habitat a total of approximately 2,002 kilometers (1,244 miles) of linear distance of rivers, including 91.4 meters (300 feet) of adjacent riparian areas measured laterally from each bank. This distance includes areas that we are proposing to exclude that are discussed below. The areas that we have determined to be essential to the conservation of the Arkansas River Shiner include portions of the Canadian River (often referred to as the South Canadian River) in New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma, the Beaver/North Canadian River of Oklahoma, the Cimarron River in Kansas and Oklahoma, and the Arkansas River in Arkansas, Kansas, and Oklahoma.Start Printed Page 21988

In developing this proposal, we evaluated those lands determined to be essential to the conservation of the Arkansas River Shiner to ascertain if any specific areas would be appropriate for exclusion from the final critical habitat designation pursuant to section 4(b)(2) of the Act. On the basis of our preliminary evaluation, we believe that the benefits of excluding the Beaver/North Canadian River of Oklahoma and the Arkansas River in Arkansas, Kansas, and Oklahoma, from the final critical habitat for the Arkansas River Shiner outweigh the benefits of their inclusion. The public comment period for the proposed rule was originally scheduled to close on April 30, 2005.

On September 30, 2003, in a complaint brought by the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association and 16 other plaintiffs, the U.S. District Court of New Mexico instructed us to propose critical habitat by September 30, 2004, and publish a final rule by September 30, 2005. The proposed rule was signed on September 30, 2004, and published in the Federal Register on October 6, 2004 (69 FR 59859). Additional background information is available in the October 6, 2004, proposed rule.

Critical habitat is defined in section 3 of the Act as the specific areas within the geographic area occupied by a species, at the time it is listed in accordance with the Act, on which are found those physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the species and that may require special management considerations or protection; and specific areas outside the geographic area occupied by a species at the time it is listed, upon a determination that such areas are essential for the conservation of the species. If the proposed rule is made final, section 7 of the Act will prohibit destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat by any activity funded, authorized, or carried out by any Federal agency. Federal agencies proposing actions affecting areas designated as critical habitat must consult with us on the effects of their proposed actions, pursuant to section 7(a)(2) of the Act.

Section 4 of the Act requires that we consider economic and other relevant impacts prior to making a final decision on what areas to designate as critical habitat. We are currently developing a draft economic analysis and draft environmental assessment for the proposal to designate certain areas as critical habitat for the Arkansas River Shiner and will announce their availability at a later date. We may revise the proposal, or its supporting documents, to incorporate or address new information received during the comment period. In particular, we may exclude an area from critical habitat if we determine that the benefits of excluding the area outweigh the benefits of including the area as critical habitat, provided such exclusion will not result in the extinction of the species.

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. We are currently developing a draft economic analysis and draft environmental assessment for the proposal and will announce the availability of those documents and solicit data and comments from the public on these draft documents at a later date. We will also announce hearing dates concurrently with the availability of the draft documents. However, it is our intention to leave the public comment period open and uninterrupted until those documents are available for public consideration and comment. We believe that allowing the comment period to close before the full set of supporting draft analytical documents is available could result in hurried and incomplete comments on our proposed rule and could also unnecessarily frustrate respondents. We deem these considerations as sufficient cause to extend the comment period.

We are required by court order to complete the final designation of critical habitat for the Arkansas River Shiner by September 30, 2005. To meet this date, all comments on or proposed revisions to the proposed rule need to be submitted to us during the comment period, as extended by this document (see DATES).

Our practice is to make comments, including names and home addresses of respondents, available for public review during regular business hours. Individual respondents may request that we withhold their home address, which we will honor to the extent allowable by law. If you wish us to withhold your name or address, you must state this request prominently at the beginning of your comments. However, we will not consider anonymous comments. To the extent consistent with applicable law, we will make all submissions from organizations or businesses, and from individuals identifying themselves as representatives or officials of organizations or businesses, available for public inspection in their entirety.

Comments and materials received, as well as supporting documentation used in preparation of the proposal to designate critical habitat, will be available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the Tulsa Ecological Services Office (see ADDRESSES section).

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

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Dated: April 21, 2005.

Craig Manson,

Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.

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[FR Doc. 05-8489 Filed 4-27-05; 8:45 am]

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