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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-2010-0049; 4500030113]

RIN 1018-AX89

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Determination of Endangered Status forArctostaphylos franciscana(Franciscan manzanita) Throughout Its Range

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.
ACTION: Final rule.
SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), determine thatArctostaphylos franciscana(Franciscan manzanita) meets the definition of an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). This final rule implements the Federal protections provided by the Act for this species. We are simultaneously publishing a proposed rule to designate critical habitat forArctostaphylos franciscanain a separateFederal Registernotice.
DATES: This rule becomes effective October 5, 2012.
ADDRESSES: This final rule is available on the Internet athttp://www.regulations.govand at the Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office. Comments and materials received, as well as supporting documentation used in the preparation of this rule, will be available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, 2800 Cottage, Room W-2605, Sacramento, CA 95825; 916-414-6600 (telephone); 916-414-6712 (facsimile).
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Susan Moore, Field Supervisor, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office (seeADDRESSESsection). If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800-877-8339.
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Executive Summary

Why we need to publish a rule.This is a final rule to listArctostaphylos franciscanaas an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act. Under the Act, if a species is determined to be an endangered or threatened species we are required to promptly publish in theFederal Registerand make a determination on our proposal within one year. We were petitioned in 2010 to listA. franciscanaas an endangered or threatened species. We determined in our 12-month finding that listing was warranted, and we proposed to list the species as an endangered species in September 2001. This final rule constitutes our final determination for this species as required by the Act.

The basis for our action.Under the Endangered Species Act, we are required to determine whether a species is endangered or threatened because of any of the following 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. We reviewed all available scientific and commercial information pertaining to these factors in our status review of the species and determined that the species was limited to one plant remaining in the wild. We proposed that the species was endangered due to threats in the five factors, as follows. The primary threat toArctostaphylos franciscanais from the present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of the species' habitat or range. All original occupied habitat of the species has been lost, and its current range has been reduced to a single location that supports a singleA. franciscanaplant. Furthermore, limited suitable habitat remains available to support a viable population of the species. The remaining plant is vulnerable to overcollection or damage if visitors harvest cuttings or seeds. Sudden oak death, which is caused by the pathogenPhytophthora cinnamomi,and infections caused by otherPhytophthoraspecies are serious threats toArctostaphylos franciscanabecause only one plant occurs in the wild and the diseases are easily spread. Predation is an ongoing but lesser threat. Additional threats include climate change, altered fire regime, soil compaction from visitor use, vandalism, loss of genetic diversity, loss of pollinators, stochastic events, effects of small population size, and hybridization. In the proposed rule, we considered these threats to be significant and ongoing, but we did not find that we had sufficient informationto determine critical habitat at the time. In this final rule, we utilize public comments and peer review to inform our final determination, as required under the Act.

Peer review and public comments.In this final rule, we present and respond to peer reviewer and public comments. We obtained peer reviews from knowledgeable individuals with the scientific expertise to review our technical assumptions, analysis, adherence to regulations, and whether or not we had used the best available information. These peer reviewers generally concurred with our methods and conclusions, and they provided additional information, clarifications, and suggestions to improve this final rule. In particular, peer reviewers provided information on the physical and biological features required by the species, and on locations of remnant natural habitat that retained these features, suggesting that proposal of critical habitat would be determinable and prudent. Accordingly, a proposed rule to designate critical habitat is being published concurrently with this final rule to list the species as endangered.

Background

It is our intent to discuss only those topics directly relevant to the listing ofArctostaphylos franciscanaunder the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531et seq.) in this final rule. For further information on the species' biology and habitat, population abundance and trend, distribution, demographic features, habitat use and conditions, threats, and conservation measures, please see the September 8, 2011, proposed listing for the species (76 FR 55623) published in theFederal Register, or the Recovery Plan for Coastal Plants of the Northern San Francisco Peninsula (Service 2003). These documents are available from the Environmental Conservation Online System (ECOS) (http://ecos.fws.gov/ecos), the Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office Web site (http://www.fws.gov/sacramento/), or from the Federal eRulemaking Portal (http://www.regulations.gov).

Prudency Determination

In our proposed listing rule forArctostaphylos franciscana(76 FR 55623; September 8, 2011), we stated that we believed that critical habitat was not determinable at the time of the proposal due to a lack of knowledge of what physical or biological features were essential to the conservation of the species, or what other areas outside the site that is currently occupied may be essential for the conservation of the species. Subsequently, we requested information from the public during the public comment period and solicited information from peer reviewers on whether the determination of critical habitat was prudent and determinable. We also asked for information about the physical or biological features that are essential to the conservation of the species and what areas contained those features or were otherwise essential for the conservation of the species. Based on the information we received on the physical or biological features forA. franciscana,and information on areas otherwise essential for the species, we have determined that the designation of critical habitat is prudent and determinable. We are therefore proposing critical habitat elsewhere in today'sFederal Register. For more information regarding our determination to designate critical habitat please see our response to comments below and the proposed rule to designate critical habitat forA. franciscanapublished in the Proposed Rules section of today'sFederal Register.

Species Information

Arctostaphylos franciscanais a low, spreading-to-ascending, evergreen shrub in the heath family (Ericaceae) that may reach 0.6 to 0.9 meters (m) (2 to 3 feet (ft)) in height when mature (Chasseet al.2009, p. 5). Its leaves are about 1.5 to 2 centimeters (cm) (0.6 to 0.8 inches (in)) long, are isofacial (have the same type of surface on both sides), and are oblanceolate (longer than they are wide and wider towards the tip) (Eastwood 1905, p. 201; Chasseet al.2009, p. 39). Its mahogany brown fruits are about 6 to 8 millimeters (mm) (0.24 to 0.32 in) wide, while its urn-shaped flowers measure about 5 to 7 mm (0.2 to 0.28 in) long (Wallace 1993, p. 552; Service 2003, p. 57).

A closely related species,Arctostaphylos hookerissp.ravenii(Presidio or Raven's manzanita), which was federally listed as endangered on October 26, 1979 (44 FR 61909), looks similar but has a growth habit that is more prostrate, leaves that are more rounded, fruits that are smaller and less red in color, and flowers that are smaller and more spherical (Service 2003, pp. 55, 57).Arctostaphylos hookerissp.raveniihas recently undergone a taxonomic revision toA. montanassp.ravenii,and we will be referring to the listed species by this name throughout this rule (see Genetics and Taxonomy section below). Another somewhat similar appearing species, though not as closely related, isA. uva-ursi(bearberry), which can be distinguished by its lack of isofacial leaves (Chasseet al.2009, p. 39).

In the wild,Arctostaphylos franciscanais an obligate-seeding species (it reproduces primarily from seed rather than from burls) (Vasey 2010, p. 1).Arctostaphylos(manzanita) species are members of the chaparral plant community, which have a variety of triggers for seed germination including heat, smoke, and light (Keeley 1987, p. 434).Arctostaphylosspecies have germinated after being exposed to charate (ground charred wood) (Keeley 1987, pp. 435, 440), which suggests that fire or conditions that simulate fire stimulate germination of the seeds.

Based on work with other species ofArctostaphylos,the establishment of successful populations ofA. franciscanamay require the presence of a pollinator community (primarily bumblebees (Bombusspp.) but also other insects), a fruit dispersal community (primarily rodents), and a mutually beneficial soil mycorrhizal fungi community (see Historical Distribution and Habitat below) (Parker 2011, p. 1). The seeds ofArctostaphylosare dispersed primarily by rodents that consume the fruits, but also by other mammals, including coyotes (Canis latrans) and foxes (T. Parker 2011, pers. comm.; Vasey 2011a, p. 1). Seed-eating animals such as coyotes, gray foxes (Urocyon cinereoargenteus), red foxes (Vulpes vulpes), raccoons (Procyon lotor), California quail (Callipepla californica), and rodents such as the California vole (Microtus californicus) are known to occur on the Presidio of San Francisco (Presidio), a unit of the National Park System, on the San Francisco peninsula whereA. franciscanais found (National Park Service (NPS) 2012). Animals such as coyotes and foxes eat theArctostaphylosfruit and may travel long distances before depositing their scat. Any undigested fruit left in the scat can then be harvested by rodents and either eaten or buried. Parker (2010b, p. 1) found that 70 percent of the fruits buried by rodents were located deeper than 2 cm (0.78 in), which is the maximum soil depth at which seeds are typically killed by wildfire. Seed has been removed from the wild plant, and, although it has not been directly observed, California voles have been trapped near the wild plant and are likely responsible for the seed harvesting (Carlen 2012, p. 1; Estelle 2012d, p. 1).

Listed Entity Analysis

TheArctostaphylos franciscanaplants that exist in cultivation fall into three categories: (1) Cuttings and rooted specimens collected from the Laurel Hill Cemetery and transplanted to various managed botanical gardens inSan Francisco, Berkeley, and Claremont prior to 1947; (2) specimens currently propagated in greenhouses from cuttings and layers taken from the wild plant in 2010; and (3) specimens, some of which may be of unknown origin, sold in the nursery trade or transplanted into home gardens. We consider the single wild plant and plants identified in (1) and (2) above to be the listed entity under the Act. Our rationale for not including plants identified in item (3) above is outlined below.

TheArctostaphylos franciscanaplants found in botanical gardens may represent from one to six genetically distinct plants other than the single wild plant (Chasseet al.2009, p. 7; Chasse 2011a, p. 1; Chasse 2011b, p. 1; Vasey 2011b, pp. 2, 3), and cuttings from those plants may contribute genetic material to efforts to expand the number of wild plants. The botanical garden plants are not considered part of the wild population and, therefore, are not considered in the assessment of species status, although they will be considered to be listed when this final rule becomes effective (see theDATESsection above). The cuttings and layers collected from the wild plant currently propagated in greenhouses are being considered in the assessment of the species' status. These cuttings from the wild plant will be planted withA. franciscanaspecimens propagated in botanical gardens to establish additional populations of the species. We have concluded that the third category of plants, those cultivated for private or commercial uses, will not aid in the conservation or recovery of the species in the wild because some cultivated plants may be hybrids and bred for landscape use and thus offer minimal contribution to conservation.

Current Distribution

In October 2009, an ecologist identified a plant growing in a concrete-bound median strip along Doyle Drive in the Presidio asArctostaphylos franciscana(Chasseet al.2009, pp. 3, 4; Gluesenkamp 2010, p. 7). The plant's location was directly in the footprint of a roadway improvement project designed to upgrade the seismic and structural integrity of the south access to the Golden Gate Bridge (California Department of Transportation (Caltrans)et al.2009, p. 1; Chasseet al.2009, p. 10).

Several agencies, including the Service, established a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) and conservation plan for the species (seePrevious Federal Actionssection below) (Caltranset al.2009). The conservation partners concluded that leaving the plant undisturbed at its original site would compromise public safety and cultural resources by the potential curtailment or redesign of the roadway improvement project (Chasseet al.2009, pp. 9, 10).

The conservation plan evaluated potential translocation sites, established procedures for preparation of the new site and for the translocation itself, and called for management and monitoring (both short- and long-term) of the translocated plant, with the goal of eventually establishing self-sustaining populations of the species in the wild (Chasseet al.2009, pp. 23-27, 29-30). Following recommendations in the conservation plan, theArctostaphylos franciscanaplant was moved successfully to a new site within the Presidio in January 2010. The Presidio site was chosen after careful consideration of its appropriate soil type and the management and monitoring capabilities of the NPS and the Presidio Trust. Subsequent monitoring reports indicate the translocated plant continues to do well at its new location (Yam 2010, pp. 1, 3-14; Young 2010a, p. 1; Young 2012, p. 1).

Historical Distribution and Habitat

Known historical occurrences and collections ofArctostaphylos franciscanaare from serpentine maritime chaparral, a plant community dominated byArctostaphylosandCeanothus(California lilac) species, on the San Francisco peninsula. This area is part of a region that Willis Linn Jepson named the Franciscan Area, one of 10 areas he considered to have the highest concentration of endemic plant species in California (Jepson 1925, pp. 11-14). An endemic species is one that is native to, and restricted to, a particular geographical area. Native habitats on the San Francisco peninsula have been largely converted to urban areas of the City of San Francisco, and habitat that might have supportedA. franciscanais now mostly lost to development or habitat conversion from the introduction of nonnative plant species (Chasse 2010, p. 2; Gluesenkamp 2010, p. 7; Chasse 2011c, p. 1).

Chasse (2009, pp. 6, 7) has noted that information on the plant community that historically includedArctostaphylos franciscanais largely missing from the literature. Early records describe the species as growing “on rocky ground” (Eastwood 1905, p. 202), on “bare, stony bluff on Laurel Hill Cemetary [sic]” (Brandegee 1908), and with coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia), coast blue blossom (Ceanothus thyrsiflorus), and coyote brush (Baccharis pilularis) (Wieslander 1938).Arctostaphylos franciscanawas also observed “forming flat masses over serpentine outcroppings and humus-filled gravel and flopping down over the sides of gray and chrome rocks.Ericameria, Baccharis,Ferns, Buckwheats, and Golden Yarrow grow among it; and over it stand Toyons and Live Oaks.” Additionally,A. montanassp.raveniiwas found at nearly allA. franciscanalocations. These observations, along with the geology and climate of historical sites, indicate that the species' historical community likely consisted of a mosaic of coastal scrub, barren serpentine maritime chaparral, perennial grassland, and occasional woodlands of coast live oak and toyon shrubs and small trees (Chasse 2009, pp. 6, 7).

Arctostaphylos franciscanais considered to be endemic to the San Francisco peninsula, and historically occurred in areas with serpentine soils, bedrock outcrops, greenstone, and mixed Franciscan rock, typically growing in mixed populations withA. montanassp.ravenii(Service 2003, pp. 95, 96; Chasseet al.2009, p. 6). The Doyle DriveA. franciscanasite was comprised of disturbed soil over serpentinite (Chasseet al.2009, p. 3). Serpentine soil restricts the growth of many plants due to its high nickel and magnesium concentrations, and thus tends to support unique plant communities (Brooks 1987, pp. 19, 53; Service 2003, p. 16) because relatively few plant species can tolerate such soil conditions. These conditions generally result in semibarren soil and a lack of competing plants, which benefits serpentine-tolerant plants (Bakker 1984, p. 79) such asA. franciscana.

The coastal upland habitat ofArctostaphylos franciscanais influenced by cool, humid conditions and frequent summer fog. Summer fog is important to upland coastal vegetation and partly determines the distribution of coastal species (Johnstone and Dawson 2010, p. 4533). Besides serpentine soil and cool air temperatures (Parker 2010c, p. 1), summer fog is one of the primary habitat requirements forA. franciscana(Vasey 2010, p. 1). Summer fog results from two phenomena upwelling of cold coastal ocean water and temperature inversion of hot air flowing toward the ocean over a cool humid marine air layer below (Johnstone and Dawson 2010, p. 4533; Vasey 2010, p. 1). Fog reduces sunlight and air temperature, and raises humidity. Summer fog provides a source of water for plants, includingArctostaphylosspecies, by condensing in the plant canopy and falling directly as water to the soilwhere it is taken up by the plant's roots or directly by leaves (Johnstone and Dawson 2010, p. 4533; Vasey 2010, p. 1).

Historically, the maritime serpentine chaparral plant community, of whichArctostaphylos franciscanais a part, may have been present in the southeastern portion of the San Francisco area (for example, Potrero Hill and Bayview Hill), but the cumulative effects of burning by native Americans, grazing during the Spanish/Mexican period, and later more grazing and firewood gathering during the U.S. military period may have converted the maritime chaparral to grassland or depauperate coastal scrub (Chasse 2010, p. 2). Prior to 1947,A. franciscanawas known from three locations: the Masonic and Laurel Hill Cemeteries in San Francisco's Richmond District, and Mount Davidson in south-central San Francisco (Service 2003, pp. 16, 62, 95; Chasseet al.2009, p. 4). Unconfirmed sightings were also noted at a possible fourth location near Laguna and Haight Streets (Chasse 2012, p. 1). By 1947, the Masonic and Laurel Hill Cemetery sites were removed and the grounds were destroyed in preparation for commercial and urban development (Chasseet al.2009, p. 7). The Mount Davidson and Laguna and Haight Streets locations were lost to urbanization as well. Until October 2009,A. franciscanahad not been recorded in the wild since 1947 (Chasseet al.2009, pp. 3, 7), although no systematic surveys are known to have taken place to search for potential remaining individuals (Chasse 2010, p. 1).

Cultivated Arctostaphylos franciscana

Between 1930 and 1947, prior to the loss of the wild plants, botanists collected cuttings and rooted specimens from confirmed wildArctostaphylos franciscanaplants, possibly representing between one and six distinct genotypes, and propagated them in botanical gardens (Chasseet al.2009, p. 7; Chasse 2011a, p. 1; Chasse 2011b, p. 1; Service 2003, p. 96; Vasey 2011b, p. 2). The number of distinct genotypes depends on whether the botanical garden specimens were started from cuttings of the same individual (which would mean multiple plants have identical genotypes (genetic constitutions)), or whether each specimen originated from a separate plant (in which case they would have different genotypes) (Chasse 2011a, p. 1; Chasse 2011b, p. 1; Vasey 2011b, pp. 2, 3).

Modern collections of this plant at East Bay Regional Park District's Botanical Garden at Tilden Regional Park, San Francisco Botanical Garden (formerly known as Strybing Arboretum), Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, Claremont, and University of California (UC) Berkeley Botanical Garden include some of the original specimens from Laurel Hill, as well as specimens propagated vegetatively after the species was thought to be extinct in the wild (Chasseet al.2009, pp. 6-8). Accession records for the botanical garden specimens indicate that some specimens collected and planted prior to 1947 did not survive and others are duplicates of original collections, leaving possibly only two specimens confirmed to have been original plants transplanted from Laurel Hill (Chasse 2011b, p. 1; Smisko 2012, p. 1). Further genetic work will verify whether plants with differing morphological features prove to be additionalArctostaphylos franciscanaindividuals. Although some of the botanical garden specimens may have different genotypes, which is generally the result of sexual reproduction (sprouting from seed) rather than clonal reproduction (vegetative reproduction from cuttings or plant parts other than seeds), all of the botanical garden specimens are considered to beA. franciscanauntil further genetic work can be conducted. The number of existing distinct genotypes cannot currently be determined because a suitable genetic sampling technique has not yet been developed (Chasse 2011a, p. 1).

Under the conservation plan for the relocated wild plant, cuttings and rooted specimens from the wild plant are also being cultivated. Cuttings from the plant, both nonrooted stems and layering stems (stems that have rooted at their leaf nodes), were taken for vegetative propagation prior to translocation of theArctostaphylos franciscanaplant in January 2010 (Chasseet al.2009, pp. 10-16, 40-42, Young 2010a, p. 1). This material was distributed to seven locations, including UC Berkeley Botanic Garden, Regional Parks Botanic Garden, UC Santa Cruz Botanical Garden, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Cal Flora Nursery, Presidio Nursery, and the Presidio Trust Forester (Young 2011, p. 1 of attachment 2). As of February 2012, 351 clones continue to survive at these locations (Young 2012, p. 1). A total of 1,346A. franciscanaseeds were collected from the plant in 2009, before it was transplanted; an estimated 2,100 seeds were collected in July and August 2010; and 19 seeds were collected in 2011 (Frey 2010, p. 1; Young 2010a, p. 1; Young 2012, p. 1). The numbers of seeds collected are estimates based on weight of seed collected (Laskowski 2012, p. 1). No attempts have yet been made to germinateA. franciscanaseeds (Young 2012, p. 1). Two rootedA. franciscanacuttings were outplanted to managed sites at the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum in January 2011 (Kriegar 2011, unpaginated). The conservation plan calls for eventual propagation of seeds (including any seeds collected from the soil around the plant's original location), and for genetic testing of resulting plants. Seeds fertilized in the wild could result from cross-pollination from another individualArctostaphylos franciscanaor a closely related species to produce a genetically unique individual (Chasseet al.2009, p. 13). Additionally, because the roots of mostArctostaphylosindividuals establish a mutually beneficial association with mycorrhizal fungi in the soil, the conservation plan establishes means by which the soil for propagating cuttings and seeds should be inoculated with spores from such fungi (Chasseet al.2009, p. 9). Propagation ofA. franciscanaseed and inoculation of seeds and cuttings by mycorrhizal fungi have not yet occurred. Soil surrounding the wild plant has been examined for presence of a seedbank, but noA. franciscanaseeds have been found (Young 2011, p. 1; Young 2012, p. 1).

Genetics and Taxonomy

At one timeArctostaphylos franciscanaandA. montanassp.raveniiwere considered to be subspecies ofA. hookeri(Hooker's manzanita). However, recent taxonomic revisions have establishedA. montanassp.raveniiandA. franciscanaas separate species. These revisions have been based primarily on genetic comparisons, including the fact thatA. franciscanais diploid whileA. montanassp.raveniiis tetraploid (having four sets of chromosomes, 26 chromosome pairs) (Service 2003, p. 95; Parkeret al.2007, pp. 149, 150; Chasseet al.2009, p. 6). The identification of the wild plant asA. franciscanahas since been confirmed with 95 percent confidence based on morphological characteristics (Chasseet al.2009, pp. 3, 4; Vasey and Parker 2010, pp. 1, 5). Additional tests indicate that the plant is diploid, consistent withA. franciscana(Vasey and Parker 2010, p. 6). Molecular genetic data also indicate that the plant isA. franciscana(Parker 2010a). Based on the best available scientific information, we consider the individual found along Doyle Drive in October 2009 to beA. franciscana(Vasey and Parker 2010, pp. 1, 5-7).

Previous Federal Actions

Arctostaphylos franciscanawas originally proposed for listing as an endangered species under the Act in 1976 (41 FR 24524; June 16, 1976). In 1980, it was included in the list of Category 1 candidates for listing as one of the taxa retaining a high priority for addition to the list, subject to confirmation of extant wild populations. At that time, the species was thought to be extinct in the wild, although it was known to be extant in cultivation (45 FR 82479; December 15, 1980). It was included as a species of concern in the Recovery Plan for Coastal Plants of the Northern San Francisco Peninsula (Service 2003, pp. 95-96).

On December 23, 2009, we received a petition dated December 14, 2009, from Wild Equity Institute, Center for Biological Diversity, and California Native Plant Society requesting thatArctostaphylos franciscanabe listed as endangered on an emergency basis under the Act and that critical habitat be designated. Included in the petition was supporting information regarding the species' taxonomy and ecology, historical and current distribution, present status, and actual and potential causes of decline. On January 26, 2010, we acknowledged the receipt of the petition in a letter to Wild Equity Institute. In that letter, we responded that we had reviewed the information presented in the petition and determined that issuing an emergency rule to temporarily list the species, under section 4(b)(7) of the Act, was not warranted. Our rationale for this determination was that, although only a single plant of this species remained in the wild, the individual had recently been transplanted to a new location on Federal land. Additionally, a conservation plan (Chasseet al.2009, pp. 1-44) and associated MOA (cited herein as Caltranset al.2009) signed by five Federal and State wildlife and land management agencies (conservation partners) successfully addressed the concerns raised by the petition to the extent that none of those concerns constituted an “emergency posing a significant risk to the well-being of the species” (50 CFR 424.20(a)). The Federal agencies participating in the MOA are the NPS and the Service. The State of California is represented by Caltrans and the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG). The Presidio Trust, a wholly owned government corporation that jointly manages the Presidio with NPS, also participates (71 FR 10608; March 2, 2006).

The transplanted plant is considered to be the single remaining plant in the wild, despite having been transplanted to the Presidio. The original habitat of the plant was threatened by the ongoing redevelopment of Doyle Drive, but that threat was removed by moving the plant to a new location (translocation). Potential immediate threats in the new location, including the danger that the plant might not survive the move and transplantation, were addressed by provisions in the conservation plan for collecting and propagating rooted clones, seeds, and cuttings from the original plant prior to translocation. The conservation plan provides for the long-term propagation, and eventual reestablishment in wild populations, of all remaining genetic lines, including those from the surviving wild plant and from the individuals located in two botanical gardens, which were collected from historically confirmed locations. It also includes long-term monitoring provisions. While these provisions do not remove the need for further review of the species' status, they appear to be effective for protecting the species in the short term.

We published a 90-day finding in theFederal Registeron August 10, 2010 (75 FR 48294), in which we found that the petition presented substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that listing this species may be warranted. On June 14, 2011, Wild Equity Institute filed a complaint that alleged that, given our 90-day finding, the Service had failed to make the required 12-month finding on the petition in a timely manner. On September 8, 2011, we published a combined 12-month finding and proposed rule in theFederal Registerin which we determined that listingArctostaphylos franciscanawas warranted, and, as a result, we proposed to list the species as endangered (76 FR 55623). We also stated that we did not find critical habitat to be determinable at that time, and requested information and comments on whether designation of critical habitat for the species was prudent and determinable.

The Presidio is under joint management by the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA), a part of NPS, and the Presidio Trust. The wildArctostaphylos franciscanaplant is located in the portion of the Presidio managed by the Presidio Trust. The plant is considered to be wild because it has been moved to an undeveloped area of the Presidio that is managed as natural habitat. Although the plant is currently receiving care (monitoring and insect removal) associated with its transplantation and recent infestation by insects, it is not receiving the level of protection, water, or nutrients given to the plants in botanical gardens or to those within the nursery trade.

Summary of Comments and Recommendations

In the proposed rule published on September 8, 2011 (76 FR 55623), we requested that all interested parties submit written comments on the proposal by November 7, 2011. We also contacted appropriate Federal and State agencies, scientific experts and organizations, and other interested parties and invited them to comment on the proposal. A newspaper notice inviting general public comment for a period of 15 days was published in the San Francisco Chronicle on June 5, 2012. A question and answer sheet and news release regarding the species was posted online on our Web site for the public. We did not receive any requests for a public hearing.

During the comment periods for the proposed rule, we received eight comment letters directly addressing the proposed listing ofArctostaphylos franciscanaas endangered. All public commenters supported listing the species as endangered. Three commenters supported designation of critical habitat and provided opinions on the value of critical habitat designation and the threats resulting from lack of this designation. One commenter opposed critical habitat designation. All substantive information provided during the comment periods has either been incorporated directly into this final determination or is addressed below.

Peer Review

In accordance with our peer review policy published on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 34270), we solicited expert opinion from five knowledgeable individuals with scientific expertise that included familiarity withArctostaphylos franciscanaand its habitat, biological needs, and threats. We received responses from four of the peer reviewers.

We reviewed all comments received from the peer reviewers for substantive issues and new information regarding the listing and critical habitat ofArctostaphylos franciscana.The peer reviewers generally concurred with our methods and conclusions regarding listing and provided additional information, clarifications, and suggestions to improve the final rule; however, three reviewers disagreed with our comments that designation of critical habitat was not prudent or determinable, and they provided supporting information regarding critical habitat. The fourth peer reviewerindicated that publicizing the location of the transplanted plant could increase the threat of infection byPhytophthoraspecies. Additionally, this peer reviewer noted that the threat toA. franciscanawas greater than stated in the proposed rule due to the presence of other species ofPhytophthorain the San Francisco Bay area. Peer reviewer comments are addressed in the following summary and incorporated into the final listing rule as appropriate. A proposed rule to designate critical habitat forA. franciscanais published in the Proposed Rules section of today'sFederal Register. Please see that proposed rule for information on submitting a comment on our proposed designation of critical habitat forA. franciscana.

Peer Reviewer Comments

(1)Comment:All peer reviewers provided comments on conservation measures, recommendations for outplanting cuttings and selection of planting sites, and additional information on threats to the species from the five factors discussed below inSummary of Factors Affecting the Species.

Our Response:Recommendations regarding outplanting and selection of planting sites have been reviewed for the proposed critical habitat and will be considered during the development of a recovery plan. All other appropriate information was incorporated into this final rule.

(2)Comment:Three peer reviewers and three public commenters stated that designation of critical habitat is prudent and determinable.

Our Response:Critical habitat is defined in section 3 of the Act as: (1) The specific areas within the geographical area occupied by the species, at the time it is listed in accordance with the Act, on which are found those physical or biological features that are essential to the conservation of the species, and which may require special management considerations or protection; and (2) specific areas outside the geographical area occupied by the species at the time it is listed, upon a determination that such areas are essential for the conservation of the species. The peer reviewers provided information on the ecological requirements ofArctostaphylos franciscanaand areas with the highest potential for establishing new populations. Based on this information, we have determined that the designation of critical habitat is prudent and determinable. All known remaining historic locations as well as the site of the transplanted wild plant have been evaluated, and the areas that have met our criteria to be included as proposed critical habitat have been identified. We are proposing to designate critical habitat for the species concurrently with this final rule. That proposal is published in the Proposed Rules section of today'sFederal Register. Please see that proposed rule for information on submitting a comment on our proposed designation of critical habitat forA. franciscana.

(3)Comment:Two peer reviewers disagreed with our statement that small sites on the order of 0.4 hectare (ha) (1 acre (ac)) may not be suitable forArctostaphylos franciscana.One peer reviewer stated that while small sites may facilitate the growth of nonnative plant species,A. franciscanawould be started from cuttings, not from seed, and management efforts could easily accommodate competition from nonnative plants, as established woody species are not easily displaced by weeds. The second peer reviewer noted that there are many natural occurrences of rareArctostaphylosspecies existing in small, isolated remnants of habitat where soils and climate are suitable.

Our Response:Some invasive plant species in the Presidio and in other San Francisco peninsula areas have been shown to be difficult to control. For example, on Mount Davidson, which previously supported a population ofArctostaphylos franciscana,invasive plant species, includingEucalyptusspp., invasive ivy, and other species, have largely displaced native vegetation on portions of the site.We agree that some rare species ofArctostaphyloshave persisted on small parcels of suitable habitat; however, in order to maximize the potential of establishing multiple, successful populations ofA. franciscana,selection of suitable sites that require the least amount of long-term maintenance and promise the greatest opportunity for growth is necessary. However, we will evaluate small sites during our process to designate critical habitat for the species.

(4)Comment:Two peer reviewers questioned our statement under Factor A in the proposed rule that small, isolated areas of habitat can be drier than larger ones due to evaporation and lack of surrounding vegetation. One reviewer stated that this does not apply to small urban or near-urban sites because hard surfaces such as asphalt and cement provide additional runoff and available moisture in these areas.

Our Response:Many of the remnant parcels of potential habitat on the peninsula are isolated and surrounded by urban development or nonnative landscaping rather than native vegetation. One of the general effects of this abrupt transition from natural habitat to urban landscape or hard surfaces is a change in the abundance and distribution of species in the natural habitat due to physical conditions near the edge (the edge effect). These conditions include desiccation and changes in wind and light. We agree with one peer reviewer's premise that hard surfaces such as rooftops, streets, and parking lots increase urban runoff; however, our understanding is that when rain or irrigation water falls on urban hard surfaces, it flows predominately into storm water control systems, including gutters and storm drains, and is carried away from urban areas rather than being absorbed into the soil and providing more moisture to plants.

(5)Comment:We stated under Factor A that remaining areas of greenstone and serpentine habitat on the peninsula are frequently 0.4 ha (1 ac) or less in size and may no longer be appropriate sites for re-establishment ofArctostaphylos franciscanadue to fragmentation and loss of native plant diversity in the small remnant areas. One peer reviewer pointed out the loss of native diversity in existing stands of vegetation is not a relevant argument because new populations ofA. franciscanawould be newly created in the small sites.

Our Response:We appreciate the reviewer's point and agree that if small remnant habitat areas were to supportArctostaphylos franciscana,it would be through restoration with newly assembled populations of the species, which could permit establishment of other naturally co-occurring natives. However, we remain concerned that small sites may insufficiently support the pollinator, fruit-dispersal, and mycorrhizal communities that are thought to contribute to successful establishment of the species. We will be looking at all potential sites when selecting locations for outplanting.

(6)Comment:One peer reviewer noted that the threat toArctostaphylos franciscanafrom nonnative, root-rottingPhytophthoraspecies is greater than noted under Factor C in the proposed rule. He noted that species ofPhytophthoradiffer in their ecological requirements, such as optimum temperature range. Several species ofPhytophthorahave become established in a variety of San Francisco Bay area microclimates and could be introduced to the vicinity ofA. franciscana.He also noted that other factors discussed under Factor E, including climate change, soil compaction, and low genetic diversity, have the potential to increase the risk tothe existing wild plant fromP. cinnamomiand otherPhytophthoraspecies.

Our Response:This information has been incorporated into this final rule. Please see Factor C discussion on threats toArctostaphylos franciscanaassociated with disease below.

(7)Comment:One peer reviewer noted that the general strategy to recoverArctostaphylos franciscanashould be two-fold: (A) Identify other genotypes ofA. franciscanathat have been cultivated in botanical gardens and use their cuttings to propagate large numbers of plants for future outplantings in restored habitats, and (B) identify and secure sites for outplanting these clones and create as many populations within the historical range as feasible.

Our Response:This information has been incorporated into this final rule where appropriate and will be considered during development of the proposed critical habitat and recovery actions for the species.

(8)Comment:One peer reviewer noted that the potential risks of failure of small, restored populations are outweighed by benefits of having a large number of isolated populations within the range ofArctostaphylos franciscana.These populations would buffer the wildA. franciscanafrom the threats noted in this rule, including disease, disturbance, predation, and climate change. The peer reviewer further noted that having many scattered populations will optimize the potential for at least some populations to adjust to climate change.

Our Response:We concur with this opinion and are considering this during our development of proposed critical habitat and recovery actions for the species.

Comments from States

Section 4(i) of the Act states, “the Secretary shall submit to the State agency a written justification for his failure to adopt regulations consistent with the agency's comments or petition.” No comments were received from the State regarding the proposal to listArctostaphylos franciscanaas an endangered species.

Federal Agency Comments

No comments were received from any Federal agencies.

Public Comments

(9)Comment:All seven commenters noted that the species should be listed and protected in the wild because only one plant is known to exist.

Our Response:Comments noted.

(10)Comment:One commenter noted that not all nursery stock ofArctostaphylos franciscanais of unknown origin. The commenter stated that UC Berkeley Arboretum and Yerba Buena Nursery sell plants of known origin. Plants from Yerba Buena Nursery have been planted in Golden Gate Park Arboretum, which validates their legitimacy. The commenter further stated that specimens from verified sources are a vital repository and should not be disregarded.

Our Response:The UC Berkeley Botanical Garden does not sellArctostaphylos franciscanaplants; however, their stock was originally from the Laurel Hill Cemetery and may have been the source for plants sold by California Native Plant Society (Forbes 2012, p. 1). We agree that someA. franciscanaplants in the nursery trade originated from plants salvaged from the Laurel Hill Cemetery prior to its destruction in 1947; however, it is difficult to trace the lineage of all nursery plants in the intervening 65 years. Some currently available, nursery-grownA. franciscanaplants could be cultivars selected for specific growth characteristics, and others could be the product of hybrid seed. Plants from Yerba Buena Nursery that were planted at Golden Gate Park Arboretum, now known as the San Francisco Botanic Garden, are believed to beA. franciscana(D. Mahoney 2012, pers. comm.). We encourage the use of plants that are proven to beA. franciscanato generate stock for additional populations ofA. franciscana.However, introgression (the spread of genes of one species into the gene pool of another by hybridization) could occur if hybrid nursery stock is outplanted near the wild plant and cross-fertilization occurs. Because of the uncertainty of the origin or subsequent hybridization, we currently only consider the plants of confirmed origin at East Bay Regional Parks Botanic Garden at Tilden Regional Park and at UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley, and the wild plant on the Presidio to beA. franciscanaand the listed entity.

(11)Comment:One commenter noted that there is no apparent incentive for anyone to poach or vandalize plants in natural settings that are available in the nursery trade.

Our Response:Plants have been vandalized in Golden Gate Park, including species that are also available in nurseries such as elm and sycamore trees, and rose bushes (King 2010, unpaginated; Gordon 2010, unpaginated). The fact that a plant is available in the nursery trade does not protect it from being vandalized or poached.

(12)Comment:A commenter noted that leaving the nursery trade specimens ofArctostaphylos franciscanaunlisted may result in introgression. The commenter suggests that including nursery stock in the listed entity will help to regulate this threat.

Our Response: Arctostaphylos franciscanahas been available to the public in the nursery trade for many years, and introgression of this species with other manzanitas may have already occurred. IncludingA. franciscananursery stock as part of the listed entity will have no effect on controlling hybridization of these plants. Only the removal ofA. franciscanafrom nursery production could minimize its hybridization with other species ofArctostaphyloswhile in the nursery setting.

(13)Comment:A commenter noted that if theArctostaphylos franciscanaplants in the nursery trade are not considered to be the listed species, they should be protected under the similarity of appearance provisions of the Act.

Our Response:We acknowledge that similarity of appearance is a tool available to us under the Act. Section 4(e) of the Act states that the Secretary may treat any species as an endangered species or threatened species even though it is not listed pursuant to section 4 of the Act if he finds that: (1) Such species so closely resembles in appearance, at the point in question, a species which has been listed that enforcement personnel would have substantial difficulty in attempting to differentiate between the listed and unlisted species; (2) the effect of this substantial difficulty is an additional threat to an endangered or threatened species; and (3) such treatment of an unlisted species will substantially facilitate the enforcement and further the policy of the Act. It should be noted, however, that the basic intent of section 4(e) of the Act is to prevent the inadvertent harm to the listed species in the wild resulting from its similarity to a different species that is not protected by the Act. TheArctostaphylos franciscanaplants in the nursery trade do not need the protection of the Act, and including them in this listing under section 4(e) will provide no or minimal benefit to the wild specimen or any future outplantings of the listed entity. Similarity of appearance protections can be effective in situations where collection of a species is highly desirable (such as for insects or butterflies) and such collection is the primary threat or a threat of such an extent that not including the similarspecies with the listed entity would greatly affect the listed species' status. Although collection of the remaining wild plant and any future outplantings is a potential threat, no known collection has occurred to date, and we would not consider this threat to be of such a high level as to greatly affect the species' status. As a result, we have determined that treatingA. franciscanaplants in the nursery trade as endangered under section 4(e) of the Act would not substantially facilitate enforcement or the policy of the Act, and the Secretary is not invoking section 4(e) of the Act forA. franciscana.

(14)Comment:One commenter disagreed with information we reported, which indicated that lands in Area B of the Presidio, which are managed by the Presidio Trust, could be dispersed to the private sector and become available for development if the Presidio Trust is not financially self-sufficient by 2013. Further, the commenter does not agree that differences in the missions of the Presidio Trust and NPS would cause uncertainty in the future management of theArctostaphylos franciscanaand its habitat.

Our Response:The Presidio Trust Act of 1996 states in section 105(b) that the Presidio Trust must be self-sufficient within 15 complete fiscal years of the first meeting of the Presidio Board of Directors, thereby requiring that the Trust be self-sufficient by 2013 (Presidio Trust Act, p. 9; Presidio Trust Management Plan 2002, p. 1). Because this timeframe extends into the future, there is no assurance that this goal will be met. The Presidio Trust, as stated in the Presidio Trust Management Plan (2002, pp. 1, 12), is directed to preserve natural, scenic, cultural, and recreation resources, and at the same time ensure that the Presidio becomes financially self-sufficient. Again, as stated in the Presidio Trust Management Plan (2002, pp. 1, 12), “Congress gave the Trust the authority to lease property and generate revenues, and required the Presidio to be financially self-sufficient by 2013. Once appropriations cease, the Trust must use the park's building assets to fund its rehabilitation and to pay for its ongoing operation. No other area within the National Park System is managed in the same way or operates under the same financial requirement.” The mission of NPS on the Presidio, as stated in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area Addition Act of 1992 (16 U.S.C. 460bb), while similar to the Presidio Trust Act in protecting values and resources, does not include the mandate that the public lands under NPS authority become financially self-sufficient.

(15)Comment:One commenter stated that there are no remaining landfill remediation sites on the Presidio that have the potential to impactArctostaphylos franciscana,and that all waste material has been removed from the landfill remediation site closest to where the wild plant is located. The commenter noted that this work was completed without impacts toA. franciscanaand asked that we delete the text under Factor A that refers to the Presidio Environmental Remediation Program.

Our Response:Remediation of the landfill site closest to theArctostaphylos franciscanaon the Presidio is being completed without apparent impact to the wild plant, and no further remediation projects are located within the vicinity of the plant. Remediation of this landfill site has been deleted as a current threat from the Factor A discussion.

(16)Comment:A commenter noted that under Factor E we stated that theArctostaphylos franciscanaplant is located near an area available for public events and threatened by foot traffic. The commenter stated that this area is available one afternoon per week for wedding ceremonies and does not present a threat to the plant, and requested that reference to this event space be removed as a threat.

Our Response:As stated in the proposed rule, the Presidio is a highly popular, easily accessible National Park contiguous with the City of San Francisco, which receives 5 million visitors each year. The public area described in the proposed rule, which is available for public events, provides views of the San Francisco Bay and the City of San Francisco, and attracts a large number of visitors year round. The best information available to us indicates that the public has unrestricted access to this area 24 hours a day, every day of the year; therefore, this site may be a different location than that referred to by the commenter. Additionally, theArctostaphylos franciscanaplant has been located near common-use trails with unrestricted access. Because of its proximity to these heavily used areas, the plant could be damaged accidentally or intentionally by park users. The Presidio Trust and NPS are concerned that authorized and unauthorized group tours by plant enthusiasts could overwhelm the plant and compact the soil (T. Thomas, pers. comm., 2011).

(17)Comment:One public commenter stated that designation of critical habitat is not prudent or determinable for the reasons stated in the proposed rule.

Our Response:As noted in our response to comment 2, the peer reviewers provided information on the ecological requirements ofArctostaphylos franciscanaand areas with the highest potential for establishing new populations. Based on this information, we have determined that the designation of critical habitat is prudent and determinable. As a result, a proposed rule to designate critical habitat forA. franciscanais published in the Proposed Rules section of today'sFederal Register. Please see that proposed rule for information on submitting a comment on our proposed designation of critical habitat forA. franciscana.

Summary of Changes From Proposed Rule

Based on peer review and public comments (see comments 1, 6, 7, and 15 in theSummary of Comments and Recommendationssection above), and monitoring of the wild plant, we have added new information in theSpecies Informationsection and additional threats information in theSummary of Factors Affecting the Speciessection to better characterize our knowledge of the species' habitat requirements and threats. After input from peer reviewers and public comment, we have determined that the designation of critical habitat is prudent and determinable, and we are proposing to designate critical habitat, as described in a separate proposed critical habitat rule in today'sFederal Register.

Summary of Factors Affecting the Species

Section 4 of the Act and its implementing regulations (50 CFR part 424) set forth the procedures for adding species to the Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. A species may be determined to be an endangered or threatened species due to one or more of the five factors described in section 4(a)(1) of the Act: (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. Listing actions may be warranted based on any of the above threat factors, singly or in combination. Each of these factors is discussed below.

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

All areas of habitat originally known to be occupied byArctostaphylos franciscanahave been lost to urban development or to habitat conversion through the introduction of nonnative plant species (Chasseet al.2009, pp. 4, 7; Chasse 2011c, p. 1). The largest historical occurrence was at the quarry area of the former Laurel Hill Cemetery in San Francisco (Chasse 2011c, p. 1). Most of this area was converted to residential housing and city streets after the late 1940s. A small remaining area of open space at Laurel Hill is dominated by ornamental shrubs and invasive understory plants, although serpentine rock is visible in several openings (Chasse 2011c, p. 1). Lawns, pathways, and buildings, part of the University of San Francisco campus, now occupy the location of the Masonic Cemetery occurrence (Chasse 2011c, p. 2). The precise location of the third historical occurrence ofA. franciscana,at Mount Davidson, is unknown but thought to be on one of the greenstone outcrops (Chasse 2011c, p. 2). The upper portions of Mount Davidson are covered with nonnative trees and invasive understory species; some grassland and scrub persist on the south and northeast sides (Chasse 2011c, p. 2). The species' range is now limited to the single transplanted location on the Presidio. In January 2010, after the newly discovered wild plant was moved to the Presidio, the plant's habitat at Doyle Drive was destroyed as part of a Caltrans highway improvement project.

Past urban development on the San Francisco peninsula has limited the remaining areas of potential habitat forArctostaphylos franciscanaby habitat conversion and habitat degradation and, to a lesser degree, habitat fragmentation. Some of these small remnant areas may no longer be suitable for reestablishment ofA. franciscanadue to factors such as dominance by other plant species (Chasse pers. comm., 2011). Currently, these small, isolated parcels are subject to edge effects, such as changes in soil moisture, changes in light, and potential increased invasion of weed species that would compete withA. franciscanafor limited resources (water, nutrients, space).

Urban barriers, such as streets and buildings, have been found to impose a high degree of isolation on chaparral species and, over time, to result in decreased numbers of native plant species and concurrent increased numbers of nonnative plant species in the habitat fragments (Albertset al.(unpubl.) as cited in Souleet al.1992, p. 41; Souleet al.1992, pp. 41-43). These effects of urbanization on the San Francisco peninsula are expected to continue to affect these remnant parcels into the future, and to pose a threat to the establishment of additionalArctostaphylos franciscanaplants, without assistance to restore suitable habitat conditions and to restore plants to suitable locations.

Additionally, nitrogen deposition may modify habitat by increasing soil nutrients, thus posing a current and continuing threat to remnant habitat that might otherwise be suitable forArctostaphylos franciscana.Weiss and Luth (2003, p. 1) have conducted research on the effects of nitrogen deposition in a serpentine grassland south of the San Franciscan peninsula.They found that nitrogen deposition from automobiles on Highway 280 (a north-south oriented highway on the peninsula) was responsible for higher nitrogen levels in the soil within 400 m (1,312 ft) on the west side and 100 m (328 ft) on the east side of the roadway. Nitrogen deposition was correlated with increased nonnative grass cover in these areas, resulting in competition for space for native plants. Native species within this zone are thought to be at long-term risk from invasions of nitrogen-loving grasses and other weedy plant species (Weiss and Luth 2003, p. 1). An increase in nonnative grass cover through changed habitat conditions could threaten the wildA. franciscanaby competing for soil moisture and nutrients and could inhibit successful germination ofA. franciscanaseed. The entire northern San Francisco peninsula, with the exception of the Presidio and Golden Gate Park, has been urbanized, and four major highways (Highways 1, 101, 280, and 480) and other urban roadways dissect the peninsula. Urban areas and roadways are a continuous source of nitrogen deposition from automobiles, trucks, and industrial and home heating (Weiss 1999, p. 1477). Invasions of nitrogen-loving plants into nitrogen-limited grasslands and shrublands appears to be a common response to atmospheric nitrogen deposition (Weiss and Luth 2003, p. 1), and may partly explain why the ecosystem that existed on the San Francisco peninsula has been so altered.

The one remaining wildArctostaphylos franciscanaplant is subject to multiple threats. The Presidio Trust Act contains a sunset clause that could result in the transfer of Presidio holdings to the General Services Administration (GSA) for disbursement if the Presidio Trust operations are not self-sufficient by 2013 (the Presidio Trust Act is discussed underFactor Dbelow). In the unlikely event that the Presidio Trust is not self-sufficient within that timeframe, the potential that lands could be transferred and become available for development presents a threat of additional habitat loss in the future.

Based on the best scientific and commercial information available, we consider the present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of the species' habitat or range to be a high-magnitude and ongoing threat to the wild population ofArctostaphylos franciscana.The current fragmented and degraded condition of most remaining serpentine or greenstone soil habitat on the San Francisco peninsula threatens the abilit