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Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2012-0058; 4500030113]

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12-Month Finding on a Petition To List Four Subspecies of Great Basin Butterflies as Endangered or Threatened Species

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.
ACTION: Notice of 12-month petition finding.
SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 12-month finding on a petition to list four subspecies of Great Basin butterflies (White River Valley skipper (Hesperia uncas grandiosa), Steptoe Valley crescentspot (Phyciodes cocyta arenacolor), Baking Powder Flat blue butterfly (Euphilotes bernardino minuta), and bleached sandhill skipper (Polites sabuleti sinemaculata)) in Nevada as endangered or threatened species and designate critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). After review of the best available scientific and commercial information, we find that listing these four butterfly and skipper subspecies is not warranted at this time. However, we ask the public to submit to us any new information that becomes available concerning the threats to the White River Valley skipper, Steptoe Valley crescentspot, Baking Powder Flat bluebutterfly, and bleached sandhill skipper or their habitats at any time.
DATES: The finding announced in this document was made on September 4, 2012.
ADDRESSES: This finding is available on the internet athttp://www.regulations.govat Docket Number FWS-R8-ES-2012-0058. The supporting documentation we used in preparing this finding is available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office, 1340 Financial Boulevard, Suite 234, Reno, NV 89502. Please submit any new information, materials, comments, or questions concerning this finding to the above address.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Edward D. Koch, State Supervisor, Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES); by telephone (775-861-6300), or by facsimile (775-861-6301). If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), please call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800-877-8339.
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background

Section 4(b)(3)(B) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531et seq.), requires that, for any petition to revise the Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants that contains substantial scientific or commercial information that the listing may be warranted, we make a finding within 12 months of the date of the receipt of the petition. In this finding, we will determine that the petitioned action is either: (1) Not warranted, (2) warranted, or (3) warranted, but the immediate proposal of a regulation implementing the petitioned action is precluded by other pending proposals to determine whether species are an endangered or threatened species, and expeditious progress is being made to add or remove qualified species from the Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. Section 4(b)(3)(C) of the Act requires that we treat a petition for which the requested action is found to be warranted but precluded as though resubmitted on the date of such finding; that is, requiring a subsequent finding to be made within 12 months. We must publish these 12-month findings in theFederal Register.

Previous Federal Actions

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.

Table 1—Four Great Basin, NV, butterflies: Previous and Current Common and Scientific Names Common name Previous Current Scientific name Previous Current White River Valley skipper White River Valley skipper Hesperia uncasssp Hesperia uncas grandiosa Steptoe Valley crescentspot Steptoe Valley crescentspot Phyciodes pascoensisssp Phyciodes cocyta arenacolor Baking Powder Flat blue butterfly Baking Powder Flat blue butterfly Euphilotes battoidesssp Euphilotes bernardino minuta Denio sandhill skipper Bleached sandhill skipper Polites sabuleti sinemaculata Polites sabuleti sinemaculata

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 (Speyeria nokomis carsonensis), Carson Valley wood nymph (Cercyonis pegala carsonensis), Mono Basin skipper (Hesperia uncas giulianii), Railroad Valley skipper (Hesperia uncas fulvapalla), Railroad Valley skipper (Hesperia uncas reeseorum), and Mattoni's blue butterfly (Euphilotespallescens mattonii). In a March 26, 2010, letter to the petitioner, we responded that we had reviewed the information presented in the petition and determined that issuing an emergency regulation temporarily listing the 10 subspecies as per section 4(b)(7) of the Act was not warranted, although this was not requested in the petition. On October 4, 2011, we made our 90-day finding that the petition did not present substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that listing 6 of the 10 subspecies (Carson Valley silverspot, Carson Valley wood nymph, Mattoni's blue butterfly, Mono Basin skipper, and the two Railroad Valley skipper subspecies) may be warranted (76 FR 61532). However, we determined that the petition presented substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that listing of the other four subspecies (White River Valley skipper, Steptoe Valley crescentspot, Baking Powder Flat blue butterfly, and bleached sandhill skipper) may be warranted, and we initiated a status review for these subspecies. This notice constitutes the 12-month finding on the January 29, 2010, petition to list the White River Valley skipper, Steptoe Valley crescentspot, Baking Powder Flat blue butterfly, and bleached sandhill skipper as endangered or threatened species and designate critical habitat under the Act.

Summary of Procedures for Determining the Listing Status of Species Review of Status Based on Five Factors

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.

Evaluation of the Status of Each of the Four Butterfly and Skipper Subspecies

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).

Species Information for the White River Valley Skipper Taxonomy and Species Description

We accept the characterization of the White River Valley skipper (Hesperia uncas grandiosa) as a valid subspecies based on its description by Austin and McGuire (1998, p. 778). This subspecies is in the Hesperiidae family (Austin 1998a, p. 838). Male wingspans range from 0.63 to 0.7 inch (in) (16.0-17.6 millimeters (mm)). The upperside of the wings are clay color. The forewing margin is blackish. The apex has a large yellowish macule (spot, patch). The stigma (patch of scent scales) is broad and black with a silver central line. The hindwing has a black costa and narrow outer margin. The fringes of both wings are pale gray. The underside of the forewing is paler than the upperside. The apical macules are white. The area beneath the stigma and wing base is black. The hindwing is olive-gray colored. The postmedian and sub-basal macules are white. The veins are white medially and extend to the outer margin (Austin and McGuire 1998, p. 778). Females range from 0.74 to 0.82 in (18.8-20.7 mm). The upperside of the wings is similar to that of the males but is darker. The outer margin is broader than that of the males. The apical macules are paler. The hindwing is blacker than the male's hindwing. The fringes of both wings are very pale gray. The underside of the wing is similar to that of the male, but it is more blackish medially on the forewing. The hindwing postmedial macules are larger and the white on the hindwing veins extend to the outer margin usually (Austin and McGuire 1998, p. 778). Please refer to Austin and McGuire (1998, p. 778) for a more detailed description of this subspecies.

Distribution and Habitat

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 theWhite River channel, White River Valley, located 1 mile (mi) (1.6 kilometer (km)) north of the Nye County boundary in White Pine County, Nevada (Austin and McGuire 1998, p. 778; Nevada Natural Heritage Program (NNHP) 2010) (on private and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) administered lands). This area is approximately 1.5 mi (2.4 km) southwest of the Ruppes/Boghole area (White Pine County), where this subspecies has also been observed on BLM and private lands (NNHP 2006, p. 47). The subspecies is known from alkalineDistichlis spicata(salt grass) flats in the White River Valley from Sunnyside (includes the Flag Springs area) (Nye County) north to the type locality, a distance of about 20 mi (32 km) (on unspecified BLM and private lands), and from Big Smoky Valley at unspecified locations (northwestern Nye County) (Austin and McGuire 1998, p. 778). This subspecies was also found at Kirch Wildlife Management Area (WMA) (two areas at south ends of Tule and Adams-McGill Reservoirs (on State lands) (Nye County) (Boyd, pers. comm. 2012a, p. 2; b, p. 1) and at Moorman Springs (Nye County) (Boyd, pers. comm. 2012b, p. 1) (on BLM and private lands).

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.

Biology

The White River Valley skipper flies during June, July, and August (Austin and McGuire 1998, p. 778; Austinet al., in litt.2000, p. 4). Though adult nectar sources have not been reported, it is possible that they nectar on a variety of plants that are in flower during their flight period. The apparent larval host plant isJuncus mexicanus(Mexican rush) (Austin and Leary 2008, p. 11). This perennial plant species occurs in moist habitats (Kartesz 1987, p. 1503; Reed 1988, pp. 8, 10; Austin and Leary 2008, p. 11). In Nevada, it is known from western and southern counties, including Nye County (Kartesz 1987, p. 1503;http://www plants.usda.govWeb site accessed April 24, 2012). In the western United States, in addition to Nevada, it occurs in Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Texas (http://www plants.usda.govWeb site accessed April 24, 2012).

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 (Hesperia uncus) indicates eggs are pale greenish-white and are laid singly on or near the host plant (Scott 1986, p. 435). Larvae eat leaves, and they live in tied-leaf nests (Scott 1986, p. 435). Males perch during the day on small hill tops seeking females (Scott 1986, p. 435).

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.

Five-Factor Evaluation for the White River Valley Skipper

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.

Factor A. The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment of Its Habitat or Range

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.

Water Development

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 Brussardet al.1998, p. 508). The petition suggests that the historical range for the petitioned butterfly and skipper subspecies has been reduced (WildEarth Guardians 2010, p. 6), but specific supporting information is not provided. Habitat associated with riparian and aquatic habitats, including springs and seeps, has been reduced in Nevada due to various purposes such as water diversions, development, livestock grazing, recreation, mining, and power generation (Sadaet al.1992, p. 76; Nosset al.1995, p. 76; Brussardet al.1998, pp. 531-532; Sadaet al.2001, pp. 11-16; Sada 2008, pp. 49-50). Commitments of water resources beyond perennial yield may result in detrimental impacts to habitats in a designated basin. Groundwater extraction that exceeds aquifer recharge may result in surface water level decline, spring drying and degradation, or the loss of aquatic habitat (Zektseret al.2005, pp. 396-397).

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 theNatural Recharge,theArtificial(orInduced)Recharge,and theIncidental Rechargewithout causing depletion of the groundwater reservoir” (Nevada Division of Water Planning (NDWP) undated, p. 236). The NSE estimates perennial yield for 256 basins and sub-basins (areas) in Nevada, and may “designate” a groundwater basin, meaning the basin's “* * * permitted ground water rights approach or exceed the estimated average annual recharge and the water resources are being depleted or require additional administration” (NDWP undated, p. 81). In the interest of public welfare, the NSE may declare preferred uses (such as municipal water supply, irrigation, or minimum stream flows) within such basins (NDWP, undated, pp. 81-82). Table 2 shows the perennial yield and committed groundwater rights for selected basins in Nevada applicable to this finding (Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA),in litt.2011, p. 4).

Table 2—Perennial Yield and Committed Groundwater Rights for Selected Basins in Nevada (SNWA,in litt.2011, p. 4) Hydrographic area Perennial yield in acre-feet/year (cubic meters/year) Committed groundwater rights in acre-feet/year (cubic
  • meters/year)
  • Cave Valley 5,000-13,700 (6,167,409-16,898,701) 47-51 (57,974-62,908) Lake Valley 12,000 (14,801,782) 17,062 (21,045,667) Spring Valley 80,000-94,800 (98,678,548-116,934,080) 21,702-22,507 (26,769,023-27,761,976) Steptoe Valley 70,000 (86,343,730) 114,144 (140,794,553) White River Valley 37,000 (45,638,829) 33,077 (40,799,879)

    The petition and others suggest that water development may impact the White River Valley skipper (Austinet al., in litt.2000, p. 4; NatureServe 2009a, p. 2; WildEarth Guardians 2010, pp. 38-40). Lowering of the groundwater table could impact the White River Valley skipper by adversely impactingJuncus mexicanus,the apparent host plant for this subspecies. This plant species grows in moist habitats such as wetlands (Reed 1988, pp. 8, 10; Austin and Leary 2008, p. 11).

    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 athttp://dcnr.nv.govon May 15 and July 24, 2012). As a “designated” basin, the NSE has authority under NRS § 534.120 to establish additional rules, regulations, or orders to protect that basin's water resources (SNWA,in litt.2011, p. 41). If such additional rules, regulations, or orders are established in the future, they may also provide some protection to species dependent on these water resources, such as the White River Valley skipper. The NSE can declare preferred uses (such as domestic, municipal, industrial, irrigation, or other uses) in a designated groundwater basin. To date, neither the White River Valley nor Lake Valley hydrographic area has preferred uses identified.

    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 (m3y)) from central eastern Nevada (Lincoln and White Pine Counties) to Las Vegas Valley (Clark County) (BLM 2011a, pp. 1-2; Executive Summary (ES)-1).

    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 m3y) (Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Web site accessed athttp://dcnr.nv.govon April 12, 2012); this amount is a reduction from SNWA's recent request of approximately 105,000 afy (129,515,595 m3y). These four rulings are for Spring, Cave, Dry Lake, and Delamar Valleys. Each of these applications is subject to a minimum of 2 years of biological and hydrological data collection prior to exportation; a hydrological monitoring, mitigation, and management program; a biological monitoring plan, and a computer groundwater flow model that must be updated to assist in predicting impacts. If unanticipated impacts to existing water rights, conflicts with existing domestic wells, or pumping is harmful to the public interest or is not environmentally sound, SNWA wouldbe required to take measures to mitigate the impacts which could include pumping curtailment. The proposed project's main pipeline is scheduled for phased construction from 2013 to 2023 (BLM 2011a, pp. ES-14-ES-15, ES-19). The entire project is scheduled to be constructed and operational by approximately 2050 (BLM 2011a, p. 2-30).

    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 (Welchet al.2007, pp. 71-79). Simply comparing permitted groundwater or surface water rights to the perennial yield of a hydrographic area is inadequate to determine if a site or biotic entity will be impacted as additional factors should be considered as indicated above (SNWA,in litt.2011, p. 5). There needs to be hydraulic connectivity between groundwater pumping and the site. If there is no hydraulic connectivity, a site will not be impacted. A site may only be lightly impacted if the distance is great or the transmissivity is low.

    Hydraulic connectivity is influenced by hydrogeologic conditions (groundwater flow systems, groundwater flow paths, flow direction, flow barriers, etc.) (SNWA,in litt.2011, p. 5). Comparing the amount of permitted groundwater rights to a basin's estimated recharge or perennial yield does not indicate that pumping exceeds the recharge or that resources are being threatened (SNWA,in litt.2011, p. 5). Permit holders may not pump their entire amount due to self-imposed restrictions, agreements, or permit requirements (SNWA,in litt.2011, p. 5). The manner and purpose of the water right use can also influence potential impacts from groundwater or surface withdrawal (SNWA,in litt.2011, p. 6). A permit for agricultural use will not consume the entire amount since a portion is returned to the groundwater system through irrigation itself or through the inefficiency of the conveyance system (SNWA,in litt.2011, p. 6). Management of groundwater development, monitoring, and conservation and mitigation measures can reduce impacts of water withdrawal to a site and species (SNWA 2011, p. 6).

    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 litt.2011, p. 8). The goals of the Spring Valley Stipulation (BIAet al.2006, p. 4) are to (1) manage SNWA groundwater development in Spring Valley to avoid unreasonable adverse effects to groundwater-influenced ecosystems (e.g., springs) and maintain the biological integrity and ecological health of the area of interest over the long-term, and (2) avoid effects to groundwater-influenced ecosystems within the boundary of Great Basin National Park. The goals of the Delamar Valley, Dry Lake Valley, and Cave Valley (DDC) Stipulation (BIAet al.2008, Exhibit A, p. 2) are to manage the development of groundwater by SNWA in Delamar Valley, Dry Lake Valley, and Cave Valley hydrographic areas without causing (1) injury to Federal water rights and (2) any unreasonable adverse effects to Federal resources and special status species within the area of interest as a result of groundwater withdrawals in those basins by SNWA; and (3) to take actions that protect and recover special status species that are currently listed pursuant to the Act and that avoid listing of currently non-listed special-status species. Both stipulations have a list of requirements related to management, creation of technical and management teams, a consensus-based decisionmaking process, and monitoring and mitigation which, if the SNWA project is constructed, will benefit and avoid and minimize threats relevant to the White River Valley skipper, Steptoe Valley crescentspot, and the Baking Powder Flat blue butterfly (SNWA,in litt.2011, pp. 8-10).

    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,in litt.2011, p. 17) and areas at the Flag Springs Complex/Sunnyside/Kirch Wildlife Management Area (SNWA,in litt.2011, p. 19) are located outside of the greater than 10-foot (3.0-m) drawdown contour (or any other contour range) (BLM 2011a, p. 3.3-102). However, based on the model estimate, there is a potential 17 percent flow decrease at 200-years post full buildout at Flag Springs 3 (BLM 2011a, p. 3.3-108). The Flag Springs Complex and Sunnyside Creek are biological monitoring sites under the DDC Stipulation and are hydrologic monitoring sites under the Hydrologic Monitoring and Mitigation Plan for Delamar, Dry Lake, and Cave Valleys (Exhibit A of the DDC Stipulation (BIAet al.2008,)) (SNWA,in litt.2011, p. 19), which would be monitored for early signs of impacts to these areas with mitigating measures available to reduce adverse impacts to the area and thus to the White River Valley skipper. While the Service recognizes that uncertainties remain regarding potential impacts to water resources, all but one location occupied by White River Valley skipperoccur outside of the estimated drawdown contour in the White River Valley.

    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,Juncus mexicanus,is a wetland species, habitat for the White River Valley skipper could be affected by the SNWA water development project (BLM 2011a, p. 3.6-74). Though monitoring is occurring using surface-water gages, groundwater monitoring wells, and a piezometer on or near Cleve Creek (Spring Valley), possible future project impacts to White River Valley skipper in Spring Valley are unclear (SNWA,in litt.2011, p. 20). As indicated earlier, there is uncertainty whether the White River Valley skipper is actually found in Spring Valley (Austin and McGuire 1998, pp. 778-779).

    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 athttp://dcnr.nv.govon April 12, 2012), it appears that potential impacts at Blind Spring would be reduced. Additionally, these recent rulings require that the pumping in Spring Valley occur in stages with an initial pumping of 38,000 afy (46,872,311.0 m3y) for 8 years and the full amount of approximately 61,000 afy (75,242,393.2 m3y) being pumped only if previous stages indicate it is appropriate based on data collection and management plans indicated above (biological and hydrological data collection; hydrological monitoring, mitigation, and management program; biological monitoring plan, and a computer groundwater flow model) (Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Web site accessed athttp://dcnr.nv.govon April 12, 2012).

    Lake Valley is also shown to be impacted by pumping (BLM 2011a, p. 3.3-102; SNWA,in litt.2011, pp. 20-21), but as described in theDistribution and Habitatsection, there is uncertainty whether the White River Valley skipper occurs in Lake Valley (Austin and McGuire 1998, pp. 778-779). Without specific locations indicated for specimens collected in Lake Valley, it is difficult to determine possible impacts to this subspecies from SNWA's proposed project in this valley. We conclude that SNWA's proposed groundwater development project would not impact populations of this subspecies in Big Smoky Valley as these populations occur too far west of the proposed project area and occur outside of the area(s) that would be affected by the groundwater project.

    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,Juncus mexicanus,has not been confirmed as the host plant at any location where the skipper has been observed (Austin and Leary 2008, p. 11). Because of these uncertainties related to some of the subspecies' reported locations as well as its host plant, overall potential impacts due to SNWA's proposed project are difficult to determine. However, based on the possible impact to only one occupied White River Valley skipper location (Flag Springs 3), the recent water right application rulings issued by the NSE for reduced pumping amounts in Spring Valley and the presumed reduction in potential impacts at Blind Spring as well as the initial staged pumping in Spring Valley (Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Web site accessed athttp://dcnr.nv.govon April 12, 2012), we do not anticipate major impacts to the White River Valley skipper from SNWA's proposed project.

    In addition, the SNWA water project has multiple design features developed to reduce adverse effects to groundwater-influenced ecosystems. The Spring Valley Stipulation (BIAet al.2006, Exhibit A, p. 10), which was negotiated between SNWA, the Service, BIA, BLM, and the NPS, requires an adaptive management approach in implementation of the water development project, monitoring, mitigation (may include geographic redistribution, reduction, or cessations in groundwater withdrawals; provision of consumptive water supply requirements using surface and groundwater sources; augmentation of water supply for Federal water rights and resources using surface and groundwater sources; and other measures agreed to by the parties or the NSE consistent with the stipulation), creation of technical and management teams, and a consensus-based decisionmaking process. These project design features will likely result in reduced potential effects of the project on habitat suitability for the White River Valley skipper.

    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.

    Land Development

    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).

    Bocket al.(2007, pp. 40-41) found that low-density housing developments in former ranch lands of Arizona impacted butterfly species abundance and variety to a lesser degree than in developed urban or suburban landscapes as documented elsewhere by others. Summerville and Crist (2001) studied the effects of habitat fragmentation on patch use by butterflies and skippers. They found that butterflies and skippers select habitat based on quantity (size) and quality (flower availability); moderately-sized patches of high quality may function equally to larger patches of lower quality (Summerville and Crist 2001, p. 1367). Species did not respondequally to fragmentation, with rare species no longer using patches where less than 40 percent of the habitat remained (Summerville and Crist 2001, p. 1365). While some common species appeared unaffected by fragmentation, other common species were significantly affected (Summerville and Crist 2001, p. 1365).

    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.

    Livestock Grazing

    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; Belskyet al.1999, pp. 8-11; Paige and Ritter 1999, pp. 7-8; Belsky and Gelbard 2000, pp. 12-18; Sadaet al.2001, p. 15).

    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. Vogelet al.(2007, p. 78) evaluated three restoration practices in prairie habitat in Iowa on butterfly communities and found that the total butterfly abundance was highest in areas restored through burning and grazing, and was lowest in areas that were only burned. Species richness did not differ among the practices. Species diversity was highest in areas that were only burned. Individual butterfly species responses to the restoration practices were variable.

    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 (Lowriein litt.2012, p. 1). The Ruppes/Boghole location is on private and BLM lands. It is not known how grazing is managed on the private lands, but the area has been grazed in the past (Lowriein litt.2012, p. 7), and the site appears to continue to provide suitable habitat for the skipper (Lowriein litt.2012, p. 7).

    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) (Lowriein litt.2012, p. 1), which may support limited suitable habitat (Lowriein litt.2012, pp. 5-6). The allotments are permitted for cattle grazing during the late winter to early summer, though none are grazed the entire period (Lowriein litt.2012, pp. 1-3). The animal unit months have generally been reduced since 1999 for all three allotments; each allotment has received growing season rest in various years since 1999 (Lowriein litt.2012, pp. 3-5).

    The Kirch WMA encompasses about 14,800 ac (5,989 ha) of public State lands with five major reservoirs (www.NDOW.org,p. 6; accessed April 27, 2012). Based on observations in 2005 when the White River Valley skipper was observed on the WMA, Boyd (pers. comm. 2012b, p. 1) thought grazing by feral horses may have occurred at the south end of Tule Reservoir. The area is primarily a recreational area with limited fishing, hunting, camping, and OHV use during certain times.

    The presumed larval host plant,Juncus mexicanus,is common and can be found in several Nevada counties in moist habitats. The adults likely feed on a variety of plants flowering during their flight period. The best available information does not indicate declines in larval or adult plant species inoccupied White River Valley skipper habitat due to livestock grazing. Activities involving grazing management within any suitable White River Valley skipper habitat on BLM lands are addressed in consideration of the Ely District Record of Decision and Approved Resource Management Plan (RMP) (BLM 2008a) (see Factor D discussion under White River Valley skipper), BLM's authority under Regulations on Grazing Administration Exclusive of Alaska, BLM's 6840 Manual (BLM 2008b) (see Factor D discussion under White River Valley skipper), and possibly NEPA.

    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 Plant Invasion

    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 (Schlaepferet al.2011, p. 429). However, not all nonnative species cause economic or biological harm and only a small percentage become established and result in harmful effects (Williamson and Fitter 1996 and Davis 2009, cited in Schlaepferet al.2011, p. 429). Nonnative species can provide a conservation value, for example, by providing food or habitat for rare species (Schlaepferet al.2011, p. 431).

    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 (Euphydryas editha quino) (62 FR 2313, January 16, 1997) and Fender's blue butterfly (Icaricia icarioides fenderi) (65 FR 3875, January 25, 2000). However, Graves and Shapiro (2003, p. 430) found that California butterflies use numerous nonnative plant species positively and negatively. Some of them are using these nonnative plant species for depositing eggs and feeding, which has led to range expansions, increased population size, extension of the breeding season as well as the opportunity to remain in an area where the native host plant species has been lost. Nonnative plant species have also allowed butterfly species from outside the State to invade and breed in California. There are also instances where egg laying has occurred on a nonnative plant species that is toxic to the larvae.

    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. 7701et seq.,p. 1) which, in part, determined that detection, control, eradication, suppression, prevention, and retardation of the spread of noxious weeds is necessary to protect the agriculture, environment, and economy in the United States. Additionally, Executive Order 13112 was signed on February 3, 1999, establishing an interagency National Invasive Species Council in charge of creating and implementing a National Invasive Species Management Plan. The Management Plan directs Federal efforts, including overall strategy and objectives, to prevent, control, and minimize invasive species and their impacts (National Invasive Species Council 2008, p. 5). However, the Executive Order also directs the Council to encourage planning and action at local, tribal, state, regional, and ecosystem levels to achieve the goals of the National Invasive Species Management Plan, in cooperation with stakeholders (e.g., private landowners, states) and existing organizations addressing invasive species.

    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 withJuncus mexicanusas its larval host plant which is common in the White River Valley and other moist habitats in Nevada. Nonnative plant species do not appear to be competing withJuncus mexicanus,causing its decline or the decline of potential adult nectar plants.

    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 andpopulations of the White River Valley skipper. Consequently, the best available information does not indicate that nonnative plant species are modifying the subspecies' habitat to the extent that it represents a threat to this subspecies now or in the future.

    Agriculture

    Agricultural practices can eliminate suitable habitat, resulting in losses of butterfly species. Fleishmanet al.(1999, pp. 214-215) states that artificial riparian areas such as irrigated croplands support fewer butterfly species than native habitats; that most butterfly species found in agricultural sites are widespread generalists often found in disturbed sites; that less common species, as well as those restricted in native larval host plants, are less likely to or do not occur in agricultural sites, and though agriculture can provide habitat for some butterfly species, these modified habitats cannot replace the natural undisturbed riparian ecosystems.

    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.

    Mining and Energy Development

    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. 1701et seq.) is the primary Federal law governing most land uses on BLM administered lands. Section 102(a)(8) of FLPMA specifically recognizes that wildlife and fish resources are included as uses for which these lands are to be managed. BLM has management and permitting authorities to regulate and condition oil and gas lease permits under FLPMA and the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920, as amended (30 U.S.C. 181et seq.). BLM usually incorporates stipulations as a condition of issuing leases. The BLM's planning handbook has program-specific guidance for fluid materials (including oil and gas) that specifies that RMP decision-makers will consider restrictions on areas subject to leasing, including closures, and lease stipulations (BLM 2000, Appendix C, p. 16). The handbook also specifies that all stipulations must have waiver, exception, or modification criteria documented in the plan, and indicates that the least restrictive constraint to meet the resource protection objective should be used (BLM 2000, Appendix C, p. 16).

    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