Responding to court order, critical habitat revisions proposed for New Mexico invertebrates
74 Fed. Reg. 10701 (Thursday, March 12, 2009) / DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR / Fish and Wildlife Service / 50 CFR Part 17 / Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Designation of Critical Habitat for Roswell springsnail (Pyrgulopsis roswellensis), Koster's springsnail (Juturnia kosteri), Noel's amphipod (Gammarus desperatus), and Pecos assiminea (Assiminea pecos) / ACTION: Proposed rule; reopening of public comment period.
SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), take this action pursuant to a settlement agreement and court order that vacated, in part, the August 9. 2005 final rule that designated critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act), for the Roswell springsnail (Pyrgulopsis roswellensis), Koster’s springsnail (Juturnia kosteri), Noel’s amphipod (Gammarus desperatus), and Pecos assiminea (Assiminea pecos) with respect to lands at the Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge. Accordingly, the February 12, 2002, proposed critical habitat designation is reinstated for these invertebrates with respect to Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge and we announce the reopening of the public comment period for the February 12, 2002, proposed rule in order to reconsider designation of these lands. This re-evaluation of the designation of critical habitat at Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge does not affect the designation of critical habitat at Diamond Y Spring and Sandia Spring. Comments previously submitted on the February 12, 2002, proposed rule (67 FR 6459) need not be resubmitted as they have been incorporated into the public record as part of this reopening of the comment period and will be fully considered in preparation of the final rule. Additionally, so that we may fully consider any new information available, we are also soliciting comments and information on the final economic analysis and final environmental assessment that were made available concurrent with the August 9, 2005, final designation of critical habitat.
The Roswell springsnail, Koster's tryonia and Pecos assiminea are small aquatic snails, while the Noel's amphipod is a freshwater shrimp. The species co-exist in small, geographically isolated springs on federal land at Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Chaves County County in southeastern New Mexico. Snails serve as indicators for the health of the aquifer and its ability to continue providing clean, available water for people and wildlife. Caption info from FWS press release, and photo from New Mexico Game and Fish, both available online.