Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government
Section 4(b)(3)(B) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531
These four subspecies were included in our Category 2 candidate list for November 21, 1991 (56 FR 58804). A Category 2 candidate species was a species for which we had information indicating that a proposal to list it as threatened or endangered under the Act may be appropriate, but for which additional information on biological vulnerability and threat was needed to support the preparation of a proposed rule. Please see Table 1 to cross reference the names on the 1991 Category 2 candidate list with the names of the four subspecies petitioned for listing.
In the February 28, 1996, Candidate Notice of Review (CNOR) (61 FR 7595), we adopted a single category of candidate species defined as follows: “Those species for which the Service has on file sufficient information on biological vulnerability and threat(s) to support issuance of a proposed rule to list but issuance of the proposed rule is precluded.” In previous CNORs, species meeting this definition were known as Category 1 candidates for listing. Thus, as of the 1996 CNOR, the Service no longer considered Category 2 species as candidates, including the four petitioned butterfly and skipper subspecies, and did not include them in the 1996 candidate list or any subsequent CNORs. The decision to no longer consider Category 2 species as candidates was designed to reduce confusion about the status of these species and to clarify that we no longer regarded these species as candidates for listing.
On January 29, 2010, we received a petition dated January 25, 2010, from WildEarth Guardians requesting that 10 subspecies of Great Basin butterflies in Nevada and California be listed as endangered or threatened species with critical habitat under the Act. The 10 subspecies of Great Basin butterflies are: White River Valley skipper, Steptoe Valley crescentspot, Baking Powder Flat blue butterfly, bleached sandhill skipper, Carson Valley silverspot (
Section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533) and its implementing regulations (50 CFR 424) set forth the procedures for adding a species to, removing species from, or reclassifying species on the Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. Under section 4(a)(1) of the Act, a species may be determined to be an endangered or threatened species based on any of the following five factors:
(A) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range;
(B) Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes;
(C) Disease or predation;
(D) The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or
(E) Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence.
In making this finding, information pertaining to the White River Valley skipper, Steptoe Valley crescentspot, Baking Powder Flat blue butterfly, and bleached sandhill skipper in relation to the five factors provided in section 4(a)(1) of the Act is discussed below. In considering what factors might constitute threats, we must look beyond the mere exposure of the species to the factor to determine whether the species responds to the factor in a way that causes actual impacts to the species. If there is exposure to a factor, but no response, or only a positive response, that factor is not a threat. If there is exposure and the species responds negatively, the factor may be a threat, and we then attempt to determine how significant a threat it is. If the threat is significant, it may drive or contribute to the risk of extinction of the species such that the species may warrant listing as an endangered or threatened species as those terms are defined by the Act. This does not necessarily require empirical proof of a threat. The combination of exposure and some corroborating evidence of how the species is likely impacted could suffice. The mere identification of factors that could impact a species negatively is not sufficient to compel a finding that listing is appropriate; we require evidence that these factors are operative threats that act on the species to the point that the species may meet the definition of an endangered or threatened species under the Act.
For each of the four butterfly and skipper subspecies, we provide a description of the subspecies and its habitat and biology, an evaluation of listing factors for that subspecies, and our finding as to whether the petitioned action is warranted or not for that subspecies.
The four butterfly and skipper subspecies evaluated in this finding are invertebrates endemic to the Great Basin region of Nevada. The four subspecies are from the phylum Arthropoda, class Insecta, and order Lepidoptera. Taxonomic families for the four subspecies are: Hesperiidae, Nymphalidae, and Lycaenidae.
The petition provides information regarding the four subspecies' rankings according to NatureServe, which considers the butterflies and skippers at the subspecies taxonomic level and ranks each as “critically imperiled” or “imperiled” at the global, national, or State level (WildEarth Guardians 2010, pp. 3-4). While the petition states that these “definitions of `critically imperiled' and `imperiled' are at least equivalent to definitions of `endangered' or `threatened' under the [Act],” this is not an appropriate comparison. According to its own Web site, NatureServe's assessment of any species “does not constitute a recommendation by NatureServe for listing [that species]” under the Act (NatureServe 2008, p. 1). In addition, NatureServe's assessment procedures include “different criteria, evidence requirements, purposes and taxonomic coverage [from those of] government lists of endangered and threatened species, and therefore these two types of lists should not be expected to coincide” (NatureServe 2008, p. 1).
We accept the characterization of the White River Valley skipper (
Descriptions of locations where the White River Valley skipper has been found are rather vague. The White River Valley skipper's type locality (location where the specimen from which a species is described and named was collected) is a narrow marshy area in the
A specimen that may be this subspecies was collected 1 mi (1.6 km) south of Blind Spring, Spring Valley (White Pine County) (Austin and McGuire 1998, p. 785). In 1998, Austin and McGuire (1998, pp. 778-779) tentatively included populations from Spring Valley (based on one male specimen) and Lake Valley (based on two male specimens with no site specificity given) (Lincoln County), Nevada, within the range of this subspecies. During a general terrestrial invertebrate survey conducted in 2006 at 76 locations in eastern Nevada, a single male was encountered east of Cleve Creek in Spring Valley (White Pine County) (Ecological Sciences, Inc. 2007, p. 28) and was attributed to this subspecies. This location is near other areas (not specified by authors) where the subspecies has been previously documented, and is not considered to be a significant range extension (Ecological Sciences, Inc. 2007, p. 28). The size of each known occupied site or the extent of this subspecies' host plant(s), or host plant abundance, has not been reported.
The White River Valley skipper flies during June, July, and August (Austin and McGuire 1998, p. 778; Austin
There is little biological information available at the subspecies level, but some inferences can be made from biological information from related species at the species level. Information for the white-vein skipper (
The best available information does not include surveys documenting this subspecies' population dynamics, nor its overall abundance, number or size of populations, number of extirpated populations, if any, or population trends.
Information pertaining to the White River Valley skipper in relation to the five factors provided in section 4(a)(1) of the Act is discussed below.
Potential factors that may affect the habitat or range of the White River Valley skipper are discussed in this section, including: (1) Water development, (2) land development, (3) livestock grazing, (4) nonnative plant invasion, (5) agriculture, (6) mining and energy development, and (7) climate change.
Riparian communities and associated springs, seeps, and small streams comprise a small area of the Great Basin and Mojave Desert regions, but provide habitat for 70 percent of the butterfly species in these regions (Brussard and Austin 1993, cited in Brussard
The Nevada State Engineer (NSE) approves and permits groundwater rights in Nevada and defines perennial yield as “The amount of usable water of a groundwater reservoir that can be withdrawn and consumed economically each year for an indefinite period of time. It cannot exceed the sum of the
The petition and others suggest that water development may impact the White River Valley skipper (Austin
The NNHP estimates that approximately 50 percent of the springs and brooks in both the upper White River (which includes Ruppes Place/Boghole, where the subspecies has been located) and lower White River (which includes Sunnyside, where the subspecies has been located) has been eliminated, converted to other land uses, or degraded due to various activities including water development (NNHP 2007, p. 44). The NNHP estimates that approximately 60 percent of wetlands, springs, and brooks in Big Smoky Valley (where the subspecies has been observed) has been eliminated, converted to other land uses, or degraded by various activities including water development (NNHP 2007, p. 35). However, the NNHP (2007) does not delineate these areas on a map or define them in terms of acreage; therefore, the amount of White River Valley skipper habitat or the total number of occupied sites (made difficult because locations where the skipper has been seen are not specific) that may occur within these broad, vague areas and may be impacted by the various activities are not documented. The extent to which the various land use practices have degraded or converted these areas is also not individually delineated or quantified by NNHP (2007). Therefore, we are not able to determine the amount of overlap between the estimated wetland impacts identified by the NNHP and the distribution of the White River Valley skipper.
The White River Valley and Lake Valley hydrographic areas are “designated” basins by the NSE and permitted groundwater rights approach or exceed the estimated average annual recharge of the basin (Table 2; Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Web site accessed at
Specifically, the petition identifies the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) proposed groundwater pumping project in central eastern Nevada as a threat to the White River Valley skipper and other butterflies (WildEarth Guardians 2010, p. 39). The following information on the SNWA groundwater pumping project is also relevant to and incorporated by this reference into the discussions of the Steptoe Valley crescentspot and the Baking Powder Flat blue butterfly later in this document.
The proposed Clark, Lincoln, and White Pine Counties Groundwater Development Project Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) (BLM 2011a) addresses SNWA's proposed project to construct and operate a system of groundwater conveyance facilities, including pipelines, pumping stations, power lines, a substation, pressure reduction stations, an underground reservoir, a treatment plant, and associated ancillary facilities to import up to 176,655 acre-feet/year (afy) (217,900,737 cubic meters/year (m
Valleys that may be affected by the project's groundwater drawdowns and that may also support three of the four petitioned subspecies, including the White River Valley Skipper, are Cave Valley, Lake Valley, Spring Valley, Steptoe Valley, and White River Valley. Currently, some specific features of the proposed project are known (e.g., main pipeline and associated facilities (power transmission, pump stations)) (BLM 2011a, p. 2-5). Locations of future facilities for groundwater development including number and location of wells, routes and lengths of collector pipelines, distribution lines, and access roads are not yet known (BLM 2011a, p. 2-5). The impacts of future facility development and groundwater withdrawal, which is analyzed conceptually in BLM's draft EIS, will be specifically addressed in subsequent National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analyses (BLM 2011a, p. 2-5).
This project is also contingent on the approval of SNWA's water rights applications by the NSE (BLM 2011a, p. ES-14). On March 22, 2012, the NSE issued four rulings on SNWA's water right applications for their proposed project totaling up to approximately 84,000 afy (103,612,476 m
Determining whether groundwater development is a threat to springs, streams, or wetlands and therefore a potential threat to those petitioned subspecies whose habitats are associated with moist areas depends upon whether: (1) The basins in which withdrawals are occurring or proposed exceed perennial yield or have a hydrologic connection to springs and groundwater flow systems; (2) the springs, streams, or wetlands are upgradient and outside of the zone of influence of the carbonate aquifer (i.e., they occur in the alluvial aquifer or mountain block aquifer instead); or (3) the springs, streams, or wetlands are too far away from proposed pumping to be impacted (Welch
Hydraulic connectivity is influenced by hydrogeologic conditions (groundwater flow systems, groundwater flow paths, flow direction, flow barriers, etc.) (SNWA,
Groundwater flow modeling efforts for SNWA's proposed project are described in BLM's draft EIS (BLM 2011a, pp. 3.3-80-3.3-85), as well as the uncertainties and limitations expected with regional groundwater flow models that cover a large area with complex hydrogeologic conditions (BLM 2011a, pp. 3.3-85-3.3-87). While the model is a reasonable tool for regional-scale drawdown trends (BLM 2011a, p. 3.3-86), it is not an accurate predictor for site-specific changes in flow for streams or springs (BLM 2011a, p. 3.3-87).
Two stipulations related to SNWA's proposed project were reached between SNWA and four Department of the Interior bureaus (the Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), the BLM, and the National Park Service (NPS)) in 2006 and 2008 (SNWA,
In addition to the two stipulations, an Adaptive Management Plan has been prepared by SNWA for its proposed project. It includes a list of measures that can be implemented based on the environmental resource impacted, the severity, and likely cause(s) (BLM 2011a, Appendix E, Appendix A, pp. A-46-A-57). The Adaptive Management Plan acknowledges the uncertainties in predicting effects of groundwater withdrawal on hydrologic flow systems. The plan will identify and implement practicable adaptive management measures to address adverse environmental impacts relevant to the three butterfly and skipper subspecies including avoiding, minimizing, or mitigating: (1) Adverse environmental impacts to groundwater-dependent ecosystems and their biological communities, (2) effects of actions that could contribute to listing of species under the Act, and (3) adverse environmental impacts to water features that support fish and wildlife species. Specific actions to be implemented would be determined at a later date based on data collection and monitoring results.
The proposed project construction and operation may impact White River Valley skipper habitat (BLM 2011a, p. 3.6-27). The White River Valley skipper was not detected in the project's ROW surveys of groundwater development areas (BLM 2011a, pp. 3.6-18-3.6-19; 3.6-94). Based on the groundwater flow model estimate for 200 years post full buildout, the skipper's occupied areas at Ruppes Place/Boghole (SNWA,
Based on the groundwater flow model estimate for 200 years post full buildout (BLM 2011a, p. 3.3-102), an unknown portion of this skipper's occupied habitat is located within the greater than 10-foot (3.0-m) drawdown contour and could be impacted at Blind Spring in Spring Valley. Because its apparent larval host plant,
Based on the recent water right application rulings issued by the NSE for reduced pumping amounts in Spring Valley (Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Web site accessed at
Lake Valley is also shown to be impacted by pumping (BLM 2011a, p. 3.3-102; SNWA,
While human water demands have impacted wetland areas in the White River and Big Smoky Valleys, the White River Valley skipper is rather widespread throughout its known distribution in these valleys. Other locations (Spring Valley and Lake Valley) where the subspecies may be found are tentative locations based on Austin and McGuire (1998, pp. 778-779). The possible host plant for the White River Valley skipper,
In addition, the SNWA water project has multiple design features developed to reduce adverse effects to groundwater-influenced ecosystems. The Spring Valley Stipulation (BIA
While water development has occurred in parts of the White River Valley skipper's range (White River Valley and Big Smoky Valley), we found no information indicating effects from past water development have resulted in loss or degradation of White River Valley skipper habitat. The SNWA water project could affect groundwater flow in certain parts of the White River Valley skipper's known and possible range (White River Valley, Spring Valley, and Lake Valley), but not in other parts of its range (Big Smoky Valley). The SNWA water project also has multiple design features developed to reduce adverse effects to groundwater-influenced ecosystems. At this time, the best available information does not indicate that water development is modifying the White River Valley skipper's habitat to the extent that it represents a threat to this subspecies now or in the future.
Different levels of development can greatly alter the amount of larval host plants and adult nectar sources for butterflies, affecting directly the distribution and abundance of individual species and indirectly the microclimate (Blair and Launer 1997, p. 119). Blair and Launer (1997, p. 116) found the abundance of the 23 butterfly species included in their California study varied across the development gradient from natural to urban. The butterfly community contained fewer species in more developed sites compared to the relatively undeveloped oak-woodland community (Blair and Launer 1997, p. 117). Species richness and diversity was greatest at moderately disturbed sites while the relative abundance decreased from the natural to the urban areas (Blair and Launer 1997, p. 113).
The petition suggests that land development may impact this subspecies (WildEarth Guardians 2010, pp. 38-40). A portion of the springs and wetlands in the upper and lower White River and Big Smoky Valleys have been eliminated, converted, or degraded due to land uses, such as land development (NNHP 2007, pp. 35, 44). The NNHP (2007) does not delineate these areas in terms of location, acreage, or by land use practice. Although the White River Valley skipper is known to occur in several locations within these valleys, the number of sites or the amount of White River Valley skipper habitat that may be impacted by land development is not documented.
The best available information does not indicate that land development is occurring in habitat that is occupied by the White River Valley skipper. We did not receive any information as a result of our 90-day petition finding notice, nor did we locate information indicating that land development is negatively impacting the habitat or the known populations of the White River Valley skipper. Therefore, the best available information does not indicate that land development is modifying the subspecies' habitat to the extent that it represents a threat to this subspecies now or in the future.
Potential impacts of livestock grazing include selective grazing for native plant species and reducing cover, trampling of plants and soil, damage to soil crusts, reduction of mycorrhizal fungi, increases in soil nitrogen, increases in erosion and runoff, increases in fire frequency, and contribution to nonnative plant introductions (Fleishner 1994, pp. 631-635; Belsky
In relation to butterflies, as noted in the petition, livestock grazing can impact host plants as well as nectar sources, trample larvae and the host or nectar plants, degrade habitats, and assist in the spread of nonnative plant species that can dominate or replace native plant communities and thereby impact larval host and adult nectar species (WildEarth Guardians 2010, pp. 22-23). While the petition states that light or moderate grazing can assist in maintaining butterfly habitats (WildEarth Guardians 2010, p. 23), heavy grazing is considered incompatible with the conservation of some butterflies (Sanford 2006, p. 401; Selby 2007, pp. 3, 29, 33, 35).
Kruess and Tscharntke (2002, p. 1570) found an increase of species richness and abundance from pastures to ungrazed grasslands in Germany for grasshoppers, butterflies, bees, and wasps. Decreased grazing on pastures resulted in increased species richness and abundance for adult butterflies. Vogel
BLM regulatory authority for grazing management is provided at 43 CFR part 4100 (Regulations on Grazing Administration Exclusive of Alaska). Livestock grazing permits and leases contain terms and conditions determined by BLM to be appropriate to achieve management and resource condition objectives on the public lands and other lands administered by the BLM, and to ensure that habitats are, or are making significant progress toward, being restored or maintained for BLM special status species (43 CFR 4180.1(d)). Grazing practices and activities include the development of grazing-related portions of implementation or activity plans, establishment of terms and conditions of permits, leases, and other grazing authorizations, and range improvement activities such as vegetation manipulation, fence construction, and development of water for livestock.
BLM grazing administration standards for a particular state or region must address habitat for endangered, threatened, proposed, candidate, or special status species, and habitat quality for native plant and animal populations and communities (43 CFR 4180.2(d)(4) and (5)). The guidelines must address restoring, maintaining, or enhancing habitats of BLM special status species to promote their conservation, and maintaining or promoting the physical and biological conditions to sustain native populations and communities (43 CFR 4180.2(e)(9) and (10)).
The petition and others suggest that livestock grazing may impact this subspecies (NatureServe 2009a, p. 2; WildEarth Guardians 2010, pp. 38-40), but specific information supporting this claim is not provided. A portion of the springs and wetlands in the upper and lower White River and Big Smoky Valleys have been eliminated, converted, or degraded due to other land uses, such as livestock grazing (NNHP 2007, pp. 35, 44). The NNHP (2007) does not delineate these areas in terms of location, acreage, or by land use practice. The type locality (1 mi (1.6 km) north of the Nye County line) is on private and BLM lands. It is not known how livestock grazing is managed on the private lands, but general knowledge of the area indicates it is not heavily grazed during the late spring to early summer period (Lowrie
The type locality and the Ruppes/Boghole sites are surrounded by three BLM grazing allotments (Dee Gee Spring to the east, North Cove to the west; and Swamp Cedar to the northwest) (Lowrie
The Kirch WMA encompasses about 14,800 ac (5,989 ha) of public State lands with five major reservoirs (
The presumed larval host plant,
We did not receive any additional information as a result of our 90-day petition finding notice, nor did we locate information indicating that livestock grazing is negatively impacting the habitat or White River Valley skipper populations. Thus, the best available information does not indicate that livestock grazing is modifying the subspecies' habitat to the extent that it represents a threat to this subspecies now or in the future.
Nonnative species can present a range of threats to native ecosystems, including extinction of native species, alteration of ecosystem functions, and introduction of infectious diseases (Schlaepfer
The introduction of nonnative or invasive plant species or types of vegetation (forbs, shrubs, grasses, etc.) can threaten butterfly populations because these introduced species may compete with and decrease the quantity and quality of larval host plants and adult nectar sources (76 FR 12667, March 8, 2011). This competition resulting in loss of host plants and nectar sources has been observed with the Quino checkerspot butterfly (
There has been an increased focus on the roles that State, county, and private entities have in controlling invasive plants. For example, the Noxious Weed Control and Eradication Act of 2004 is intended to assist eligible weed management entities to control or eradicate harmful nonnative weeds on both public and private lands and is an amendment to the Plant Protection Act of 2000 (1 U.S.C. 7701
Noxious and invasive weed treatments on BLM lands involving reseeding can occur through the Emergency Stabilization and Burned Area Rehabilitation Program, a program available to BLM districts (including Ely and Winnemucca Districts) which evaluates conditions following wildland fire. Actions can be taken to protect soils, riparian areas, cultural resources, as well as to reduce potential invasive plant species spread. Invasive plant species control is a management objective stated in many RMPs, including the RMPs for Ely and Winnemucca Districts.
BLM commonly uses herbicides on lands to control invasive plant species. In 2007, BLM completed a programmatic EIS (BLM 2007a) and Record of Decision (BLM 2007b) for vegetation treatments on BLM-administered lands in the western United States. This program approves the use of 4 new herbicides, provides updated analyses of 18 currently used herbicides, and identifies herbicides that the BLM will no longer use on public lands. Information is unavailable on how frequently the programmatic EIS has been used for most states or whether actions implemented under this EIS have been effective; and while not authorizing any specific on-the-ground actions, it guides the use of herbicides for field-level planning. Site-specific NEPA analysis is still required at the project level (BLM 2007a, pp. ES-1- ES-2).
A portion of the springs and wetlands in the upper and lower White River and Big Smoky Valleys has been eliminated, converted, or degraded due to other land uses, such as nonnative species invasion (NNHP 2007, pp. 35, 44). It is likely nonnative and invasive plant species occur to some extent because numerous nonnative and invasive plant species occur in Nevada, though this has not been quantified within the habitat of the White River Valley skipper. The White River Valley skipper is possibly associated with
Activities involving nonnative plant species management within the White River Valley skipper habitat on BLM lands would be addressed in consideration of the Ely District Record of Decision and Approved RMP (BLM 2008a), BLM's authority under Regulations on Grazing Administration Exclusive of Alaska, the Plant Protection Act of 2000, BLM's programmatic EIS for vegetation treatments on BLM's administered lands in the western United States (BLM 2007a), BLM's 6840 Manual (BLM 2008b), and possibly NEPA (see Factor D). Activities involving nonnative plant species management and control on private lands within the White River Valley habitat could also be addressed in consideration of the Plant Protection Act of 2000. We did not receive any information as a result of the 90-day petition finding notice, nor did we locate information indicating that nonnative plant species in general, or that a specific nonnative or invasive plant species, actually occur in and are negatively impacting the habitat and
Agricultural practices can eliminate suitable habitat, resulting in losses of butterfly species. Fleishman
The petition and others suggest that the White River Valley skipper may be impacted by agriculture (NatureServe 2009a, p. 2; WildEarth Guardians 2010, pp. 38-40), though specific information is not provided to support this claim. A portion of the springs and wetlands in the upper and lower White River and Big Smoky Valleys has been eliminated, converted, or degraded due to other land uses, including agriculture (NNHP 2007, pp. 35, 44). The best available information does not indicate that agriculture is occurring in areas that are occupied by the White River Valley skipper. We did not receive any information as a result of the 90-day petition finding notice, nor did we locate information that indicates agriculture is negatively impacting the White River Valley skipper populations, host plants, or nectar sources. Thus, the best available information does not indicate that agriculture is modifying the subspecies' habitat to the extent that it represents a threat to this subspecies now or in the future.
Possible impacts to butterflies due to mining exploration and development, renewable and nonrenewable energy exploration and development, as well as associated power line installation include loss of habitat, habitat fragmentation, increased dispersal barriers, increases in predators, and disturbance due to human presence.
The Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA) (43 U.S.C. 1701
There are specific, major power line installation projects in eastern Nevada. The Southwest Intertie Project, proposed by Idaho Power Company, involves installation of an approximately 520-mi (836.7-km) 500-kilovolt (kV) transmission line from Shoshone, Idaho, to Las Vegas, Nevada (BLM 1993, p. 1; 2008c, p. 1). Though the White River Valley skipper is known from the project area, impacts to it from this project were not identified (BLM 1993, pp. 3-75-3-89). The Record of Decision approving this action was published in 2008 (BLM 2008c). The One Nevada Transmission Line Project, proposed by NV Energy, involves construction of a 236-mile (252.3-km) 500-kV transmission line with telecommunication and appurtenant facilities, construction and expansion of substations, and a loop in the existing Falcon-Gonder transmission line in White Pine, Nye, Lincoln, and Clark Counties (BLM 2010c, p. ES-2). The White River Valley skipper was not observed during wildlife surveys conducted for this project (BLM 2010c, Appendix 3D, Table 2, pp. 1-5). A Record of Decision approving this project was published in 2011 (BLM 2011b).
A Programmatic EIS for the Designation of Energy Corridors on Federal Land in the 11 Western States was published in 2008 (Department of Energy (DOE) and BLM 2008). This EIS addresses section 368 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which directs the designation of corridors for oil, gas, and hydrogen pipelines, and electricity transmission and distribution facilities on Federal lands. Federal agencies are required to conduct environmental reviews to complete the designation and incorporate the designated corridors into agency land use and RMPs or equivalent plans. This EIS proposes only designation of corridors, and no environmental impacts are attributed to this action. Section 368 does not require agencies to consider or approve specific projects, applications for ROW, or other permits within any designated corridor, nor does section 368 direct, license, or permit any activity on the ground. Any interested applicant would need to apply for a ROW authorization, and the agency would consider each application under the requirements of various laws and related regulations (DOE and BLM 2008, pp. S-1-S-2). The proposed action would designate more than 6,000 mi (9,600 km) with an average width of 3,500 ft (1 km) of energy corridors across the West (DOE and BLM 2008, p. S-17). Federal land not presently in transportation or utility rights-of-way is proposed for use in Nevada (373 mi or 600 km) (DOE and BLM 2008, p. S-18). The R