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ESAblawg is an educational effort by Keith W. Rizzardi. Correspondence with this site does not create a lawyer-client relationship. Photos or links may be copyrighted (but used with permission, or as fair use). ESA blawg is published with a Creative Commons License.

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florida gators... never threatened!

If you ain't a Gator, you should be! Alligators (and endangered crocs) are important indicator species atop their food chains, with sensitivity to pollution and pesticides akin to humans. See ESA blawg. Gator blood could be our pharmaceutical future, too. See ESA musing.

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"This institution will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind. For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it." -- Thomas Jefferson to William Roscoe, December 27, 1820.

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Thanks, Kevin.

KEVIN S. PETTITT helped found this blawg. A D.C.-based IT consultant specializing in Lotus Notes & Domino, he also maintains Lotus Guru blog.

« NOAA designates Critical Habitat for Threatened Lower Columbia River Coho Salmon and Puget Sound Steelhead | Main| ESA litigation in 2011: it could be a very big year. »

FWS delists Maguire daisy, proposes listing of spectaclecase and sheepnose mussel, considering downlisting of six California species, and reopening commenton critical habitat for tiger salamander and Tumbling Creek cavesnail.

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76 Fed. Reg. 3029 (Wednesday, January 19, 2011) /Rules and Regulations
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service
50 CFR Part 17 / Docket No. FWS–R6–ES–2008–0001; 92220–1113–0000–C6 / RIN 1018–AU67
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Removal of Erigeron maguirei (Maguire Daisy) From the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Plants; Availability of Final Post-Delisting Monitoring Plan
AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.
ACTION: Final rule.
SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service/USFWS), are removing the plant Erigeron maguirei (commonly referred to as Maguire daisy) from the List of Endangered and Threatened Plants. The best scientific and commercial data available indicate that this species has recovered and no longer meets the definition of endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA). Our review of the status of this species shows that populations are stable, threats are addressed, and adequate regulatory mechanisms are in place so that the species is not currently, and is not likely to again become, an endangered species within the foreseeable future in all or a significant portion of its range. Finally, we announce the availability of the final post-delisting monitoring plan for Maguire daisy. DATES: This rule becomes effective on February 18, 2011.

EXCERPT RE: RECOVERY PLANS: Recovery plans are not regulatory documents and are instead intended to provide guidance to the Service, States, and other partners on methods to minimize threats to listed species, establish goals for long-term conservation of listed species, and define criteria that may be used to determine when recovery is achieved. There are many paths to accomplishing recovery of a species, and recovery may be achieved without all criteria being fully met. For example, one or more criteria may be exceeded while other criteria may not yet be accomplished. In that instance, we may determine that the threats are minimized sufficiently and the species is robust enough to reclassify from endangered to threatened or to delist. In other cases, recovery opportunities may be discovered that were not known when the recovery plan was finalized. These opportunities may be used instead of methods identified in the recovery plan. Likewise, information on the species may be learned that was not known at the time the recovery plan was finalized. The new information may change the extent that criteria need to be met for recognizing recovery of the species. Recovery of a species is a dynamic process requiring adaptive management that may, or may not, fully follow the guidance provided in a recovery plan.

maguire_daisynps.jpg
Erigeron maguirei occurs primarily on sandstone domes on mesa tops and in cracks and crevices of domes and cliffs in the Navajo Sandstone formationFWS estimates a total population of 162,897 Erigeron maguirei individuals, and approximately 85 percent of the species’ range occurs on Federal lands with substantial protective measures in place.

EXCERPT RE: MAGUIRE DAISY RECOVERY: In fact, the 10 populations have more desirable biological attributes than the originally suggested 20 populations in the Recovery Plan. For example, the recovery goal of 20 populations was based on the assumption that the populations were small and widely scattered. The 10 current populations are well connected within 5 metapopulations, and these metapopulations are distributed throughout the range of the species. The habitat is contiguous between populations, thereby increasing the species’ robustness. Furthermore, the Recovery Plan called for 20 populations of 500 individuals. This suggests recovery at about 10,000 plants. Today, we know of 162,897 Erigeron maguirei individuals, far surpassing the implied numeric target in the Recovery Plan. In addition, the species’ population is stable (see Species Information). Therefore, the available data demonstrate that the intent of this recovery criterion has been met or exceeded.

READER COMMENT (David Martin): A decade ago when I was working for the  Fish and Wildlife Service in Vero Beach, I made an effort to apply a supervisor's similar reasoning to change the status of several listed plants from Florida's Lake Wales Ridge, thanks to large State purchases of habitat and new information from an extensive survey.  Didn't fly.  You had to meet recovery plan criteria more or less to the letter.  However, reclassifying Lake Wales Ridge plants would have been somewhat premature, because research has been rewarding.  Research on population biology and land management, more or less as prescribed by the recovery plan, proved valuable.

The Maguire daisy is one of a number of plants that have turned out to be far more abundant than had been previously believed--something that can happen even when careful surveys are made before listing.  Still, I marvel that "we know of 162,897 Erigeron maguirei".   With plants, it's often easier to count individuals rather than mess with a sampling scheme. But 162,897 seems kind of a lot to count with any precision.   There's at least one previous case of a plant being delisted after extensive new surveys, done in cooperation with private landowners. And the Maguire daisy isn't the first to be reclassified after turning out to be more abundant than expected.   Plants can be hard to find, sometimes hiding in plain sight.  (A classic case is the Okeechobee gourd on the St. Johns River, which wasn't seen from 1774 (William Bartram) to the 1980s, when it was rediscovered by Marc Minno.  This is a high-climbing vine with hanging gourds the size of  navel oranges.)

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76 Fed. Reg. 3392 (Wednesday, January 19, 2011) / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service
50 CFR Part 17 / ocket No. FWS–R3–ES–2010–0050; MO 92210–0–0008–B2 / RIN 1018–AV93
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Endangered Status for the Sheepnose and Spectaclecase Mussels
AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.
ACTION: Proposed rule.

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), propose to list two freshwater mussels, the spectaclecase mussel (Cumberlandia monodonta) and sheepnose (Plethobasus cyphyus) as endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). If we finalize this rule as proposed, it would extend the Act’s protections to these species throughout their ranges, including sheepnose in Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin, and spectaclecase in Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. We determined that critical habitat for these species is prudent, but not determinable at this time. The Service seeks data and comments from the public on this proposed listing rule. DATES: We will consider comments and information we receive from all interested parties by March 21, 2011.

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[76 Fed. Reg. 3069 (Wednesday, January 19, 2011) / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service
50 CFR Part 17 / Docket No. FWS–R8–ES–2011–0005; 92220–1113–0000–C5
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 90-Day Finding on a Petition To Delist or Reclassify From Endangered to Threatened Six California Species
AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.
ACTION: Notice of 90-day petition findings and initiation of status reviews.

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 90-day finding on a petition to delist Oenothera californica (avita) subsp. eurekensis (Eureka Valley eveningprimrose) and Swallenia alexandrae (Eureka Valley dunegrass), and reclassify the tidewater goby (Eucyclogobius newberryi), Acmispon dendroideus (Lotus scoparius subsp.) var. traskiae (San Clemente Island broom), Malacothamnus clementinus (San Clemente Island bush-mallow), and Castilleja grisea (San Clemente Island Indian paintbrush) from endangered to threatened under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). Based on our review, we find that the petition presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned actions may be warranted. Therefore, with the publication of this notice, we are initiating status reviews of these taxa to determine if the respective actions of delisting and reclassifying are warranted. Section 4(c)(2)(A) of the Act also requires a status review of listed species at least once every 5 years. We are therefore electing to conduct these reviews simultaneously. To ensure that these status reviews are comprehensive, we are requesting scientific and commercial data and other information regarding these species and subspecies. Based on these status reviews, we will issue 12-month findings on the petition, which will address whether the petitioned actions are warranted under section 4(b)(3)(B) of the Act. DATES: To allow us adequate time to conduct this review, we request that we receive information on or before March 21, 2011.

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76 Fed. Reg. 2863 (Tuesday, January 18, 2011) / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service
50 CFR Part 17 / Docket No. FWS–R8–ES–2009–0044; MO 92210–0–0009 / RIN 1018–AW86
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Designation of Critical Habitat for the Sonoma County Distinct Population Segment of the California Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma californiense)
AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.
ACTION: Revised proposed rule; reopening of comment period.

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announce the reopening of the comment period on our August 18, 2009, proposed designation of critical habitat for the Sonoma County Distinct Population Segment of the California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. We also announce revisions to the proposed critical habitat unit, as it was described in the proposed rule published in the Federal Register on August 18, 2009 (74 FR 41662), and announce the availability of the draft economic analysis for the revised proposed critical habitat designation and an amended required determinations section of the proposal. We are reopening the comment period for an additional 30 days to allow all interested parties an opportunity to comment simultaneously on the revised proposed critical habitat, the associated draft economic analysis, and the amended required determinations section. Comments previously submitted need not be resubmitted and will be fully considered in preparation of the final rule. DATES: We will consider public comments received on or before February 17, 2011.

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76 Fed. Reg. 2076 (Wednesday, January 12, 2011) / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service
50 CFR Part 17 / Docket No. FWS–R3–ES–2010–0042; MO 92210–0–0009–B4 / RIN 1018–AW90
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Designation of Critical Habitat for Tumbling Creek Cavesnail
AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.
ACTION: Proposed rule; reopening of comment period.

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the reopening of the comment period on June 23, 2010, proposed designation of critical habitat for the Tumbling Creek cavesnail (Antrobia culveri) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). We also announce the availability of a draft economic analysis (DEA) of the proposed designation of critical habitat for the Tumbling Creek cavesnail and an amended required determinations section of the proposal. We are reopening the comment period for an additional 30 days to allow all interested parties an opportunity to comment on the items listed above. Comments previously submitted need not be resubmitted and will be fully considered in preparation of the final rule.
DATES: We will consider public comments we receive on or before February 11, 2011. Comments must be received by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the closing date. Any comments that we receive after the closing date may not be considered in the final decision on this action.