FWS may list the Sacramento Mountains checkspot butterfly... but will it bring tourists to Cloudcroft?
73 Fed. Reg. 74123 / Vol. 73, No. 235 / Friday, December 5, 2008 / DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR; Fish and Wildlife Service; 50 CFR Part 17; Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 90-Day Finding on a Petition To List the Sacramento Mountains Checkerspot Butterfly (Euphydryas anicia cloudcrofti) as Endangered; initiation of a status review.
SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 90–day finding on a petition to list the Sacramento Mountains checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas anicia cloudcrofti) as an endangered species and designate critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). We find the petition provides substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that listing this subspecies under the Act may be warranted. Therefore, with the publication of this notice, we are initiating a status review of the species, and we will issue a 12–month finding to determine if the petitioned action is warranted. To ensure that the status review is comprehensive, we are soliciting scientific and commercial data regarding this species. We will make a determination on critical habitat for this subspecies if and when we initiate a listing action. DATES: To allow us adequate time to conduct this review, we request that we receive information on or before February 3, 2009.
EXCERPT: The petitioners present substantial information indicating that the butterfly may be threatened by Factor D (inadequacy of existing USFS regulatory mechanisms) and Factor E (pesticide spraying and climate change) throughout the entire range of the butterfly... It is important to note that the
‘‘substantial information’’ standard for a 90–day finding is in contrast to the Act’s ‘‘best scientific and commercial data’’ standard that applies to a 12–month finding as to whether a petitioned action is warranted. A 90–day finding is not a status assessment of the species and does not constitute a status review under the Act. Our final determination as to whether a petitioned action is warranted is not made until we have completed a thorough status review of the species, which is conducted following a positive 90–day finding. Because the Act’s standards for 90–day and 12–month findings are different, as described above, a positive 90–day finding does not mean that the 12–month finding also will be positive.
For more information, visit the FWS recovery plan, and an interesting article from High Country News discussing the origins of that plan, undertaken by New Mexico private landowners trying to keep the species unlisted by the Endangered Species Act. In Cloudcroft, NM, the butterfly — once regarded as a fluttery annoyance — is now regarded by some community leaders as a tourist attraction. Photo from High Country News.