FWS proposes revised critical habitat for Cirsium loncholepis, a California thistle
73 Fed. Reg. 45806 (Wednesday, August 6, 2008)(DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR; Fish and Wildlife Service; Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Revised Designation of Critical Habitat for Cirsium loncholepis (La Graciosa Thistle); Proposed rule).
Cirsium loncholepis is a thistle capable of both self-fertilization (pollination events on the same individual) and cross-fertilization (pollination events between two individuals). Its California habitat includes mats of low-growing, herbaceous, wetland plants, in soils with a sandy component, and in geographic areas with features that allow dispersal and connectivity between populations, such as allowing uninterrupted water flows or uninterrupted winds across these areas. Photo from the CalPhotos Photo Database.
SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), propose to revise the currently designated critical habitat for Cirsium loncholepis (La Graciosa thistle) pursuant to the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). In total, approximately 38,447 acres (ac) (15,559 hectares (ha)) fall within the boundaries of this proposed revised critical habitat designation. The proposed revision is to critical habitat located in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties, California. DATES: We will accept comments from all interested parties until October 6, 2008.
EXCERPT: The main differences (in the proposed rule revisions ) include the following: (1) The 2004 critical habitat rule consisted of two units comprising a total of 41,090 acres (16,629 ha). This proposed revision includes six units comprising a total of 38,447 ac (15,559 ha). Units 4, 5, and 6 are considered to be unoccupied currently and at the time of listing. In the 2004 final designation, Unit 2 Can˜ ada de las Flores (Unit 3 in the current revised proposed designation) was considered to be occupied at the time of listing and occupied in the final designation of critical habitat in 2004. For this revised proposed designation, we are considering it to currently be unoccupied All six units are within the historical range of the species. The decrease in acreage is due primarily to the removal of large areas of agriculture fields under private ownership that do not contain the appropriate spatial arrangement, quantity, or quality of the features essential to the conservation of the species. (2) We revised the PCEs. The 2004 critical habitat rule listed three PCEs that we determined were important to maintaining populations of Cirsium loncholepis where they occur (soils, plant communities, low cover of nonnative species, and physical processes that support natural dune dynamics). In our proposed revision of critical habitat, we list five PCEs in an effort to emphasize areas that are important for the long-distance dispersal of this species and for its metapopulation dynamics. (3) We included three areas in this proposal that were not included in the final designation. These areas include San Antonio Creek, San Antonio Terrace Dunes, and Santa Ynez River.