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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-2012-0067; 4500030114]

RIN 1018-AY63

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Designation of Critical Habitat for Franciscan Manzanita

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.
ACTION: Proposed rule.
SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), propose to designate critical habitat forArctostaphylos franciscana(Franciscan manzanita) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act).In total, approximately 318 acres (129 hectares) are being proposed for designation as critical habitat. The proposed critical habitat is located in San Francisco County and City, California.
DATES: We will accept comments received or postmarked on or before November 5, 2012. Comments submitted electronically using the Federal eRulemaking Portal (seeADDRESSESsection, below) must be received by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the closing date. We must receive requests for public hearings, in writing, at the address shown in theFOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACTsection by October 22, 2012.
ADDRESSES: (1)Electronically:Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal:http://www.regulations.gov.In the Search box, enter Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2012-0067, which is the docket number for this rulemaking. Then, click on the Search button to locate this document. You may submit a comment by clicking on "Comment Now!"

(2)By hard copy:Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R8-ES-2012-0067; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042-PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.

We request that you send comments only by the methods described above. We will post all comments onhttp://www.regulations.gov.This generally means that we will post any personal information you provide us (seePublic Commentsbelow for more information).

The coordinates or plot points or both from which the maps are generated are included in the administrative record for this critical habitat designation and are available athttp://www.fws.gov/sacramento, http://www.regulations.govat Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2012-0067, and the Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office (seeFOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Any additional tools or supporting information that we may develop for this critical habitat designation will also be available at the Fish and Wildlife Service Web site and Fish and Wildlife Office set out above, and may also be included in the preamble or athttp://www.regulations.gov,or both.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Susan Moore, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, 2800 Cottage Way, W-2605, Sacramento, CA 95825; telephone 916-414-6600; facsimile 916-414-6612. 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 proposed rule to designate critical habitat forArctostaphylos franciscana(Franciscan manzanita). Elsewhere in today'sFederal Register, we are publishing a final rule to listArctostaphylos franciscanaas endangered. Under the Endangered Species Act, any species that is determined to be an endangered or threatened species will, to the maximum extent prudent and determinable, have habitat designated that is considered to be critical habitat. We have determined that designating critical habitat forArctostaphylos franciscanais both prudent and determinable. Designations of and revisions to critical habitat can only be completed by issuing a rule. This proposed designation for Franciscan manzanita includes 11 units in San Francisco County and City, California, totaling 318 acres (129 hectares).

The basis for our action.Section 4(b)(2) of the Endangered Species Act states that the Secretary shall designate and make revisions to critical habitat on the basis of the best available scientific data after taking into consideration the economic impact, national security impact, and any other relevant impact of specifying any particular area as critical habitat. The Secretary may exclude an area from critical habitat if he determines that the benefits of such exclusion outweigh the benefits of specifying such area as part of the critical habitat, unless he determines, based on the best scientific data available, that the failure to designate such area as critical habitat will result in the extinction of the species.

We are preparing a draft economic analysis for the proposed designation.In order to consider the economic impacts of the proposed designation, we are preparing a draft analysis of the economic impacts of the proposed critical habitat designation. We will announce the availability of the draft economic analysis as soon as it is completed.

We will seek peer review.We are seeking the expert opinions of appropriate and independent specialists regarding this proposed rule to ensure that our critical habitat designation is based on scientifically sound data, assumptions, and analyses. We have invited these peer reviewers to comment during the proposed rule's public comment period on our proposed rule to designate critical habitat. We will consider all comments and information we receive during the comment period in our preparation of the final determination. Accordingly, the final decision may differ from this proposal.

Public Comments

We intend that any final action resulting from this proposed rule will be based on the best scientific and commercial data available and be as accurate and as effective as possible. Therefore, we request comments or information from other concerned government agencies, the scientific community, industry, or any other interested party concerning this proposed rule. We particularly seek comments concerning:

(1) The reasons why we should or should not designate habitat as “critical habitat” under section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531et seq.), including whether there are threats to the species from human activity, the degree of which can be expected to increase due to the designation, and whether that increase in threat outweighs the benefit of designation such that the designation of critical habitat may not be prudent.

(2) Specific information on:

(a) The amount and distribution of historic habitat and the range ofArctostaphylos franciscana;

(b) What areas, that are occupied at the time of listing (that is, are currently occupied) and that contain features essential to the conservation of the species, should be included in the designation and why;

(c) Special management considerations or protection that may be needed in critical habitat areas we are proposing, including managing for the potential effects of climate change;

(d) What areas not occupied at the time of listing are essential for the conservation of the species and why; and

(e) The specific information onA. franciscanapollinators and their habitat requirements.

(3) Land use designations and current or planned activities in the subject areas and their possible impacts on proposed critical habitat.

(4) Information on the projected and reasonably likely impacts of climate change onArctostaphylos franciscanaand proposed critical habitat.

(5) Whether all the remaining areas containing the physical or biological features essential to the conservation ofArctostaphylos franciscanaor other areas essential for the conservation ofA. franciscanashould be designated as critical habitat or if additional areas outside the historic range should also beconsidered for designation. We have identified several areas outside the area we are considering the species' historic range and have proposed one such area, Unit 11 (Bayview Unit) (seeProposed Critical Habitat Designationsection below). Additional areas we have not currently proposed but would like public comment on including serpentine or greenstone outcrops in San Francisco (McKinley Park, and Starr King Open Space near Potrero Hill; and Grand View Park, the Rocks, and Golden Gate Heights Park along 14th Avenue) and areas farther south of Mount Davidson into San Mateo County (Milagra Ridge, Sweeney Ridge) or north into Marin County (Angel Island and Golden Gate National Recreation Area along the Marin Peninsula). Because of the limited amount of habitat available within the City and County of San Francisco, these additional areas may provide additional sites for reintroduction, and we would like public input on whether these areas should be considered essential for the conservation of the species.

(6) Any probable economic, national security, or other relevant impacts of designating any area that may be included in the final designation; in particular, any impacts on small entities or families, and the benefits of including or excluding areas that exhibit these impacts.

(7) Whether any specific areas we are proposing for critical habitat designation should be considered for exclusion under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, and whether the benefits of potentially excluding any specific area outweigh the benefits of including that area under section 4(b)(2) of the Act. We have not proposed to exclude any areas from critical habitat, but the Secretary is considering exercising his discretion to exclude areas within the Presidio and City or County Park Lands from final critical habitat designation. We will coordinate with the Presidio Trust, the City, and County and will examine conservation actions for theA. franciscana,including current management planning documents, in our consideration of these areas for exclusion from the final designation of critical habitat forA. franciscana,under section 4(b)(2) of the Act. We specifically solicit comments on the inclusion or exclusion of these areas.

(8) Whether we could improve or modify our approach to designating critical habitat in any way to provide for greater public participation and understanding, or to better accommodate public concerns and comments.

You may submit your comments and materials concerning this proposed rule by one of the methods listed in theADDRESSESsection. We request that you send comments only by the methods described in theADDRESSESsection.

We will post your entire comment—including your personal identifying information—onhttp://www.regulations.gov.You may request at the top of your document that we withhold personal information such as your street address, phone number, or email address from public review; however, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting documentation we used in preparing this proposed rule, will be available for public inspection onhttp://www.regulations.gov,or by appointment, during normal business hours, at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office (seeFOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

Background

It is our intent to discuss only those topics directly relevant to the designation of critical habitat forArctostaphylos franciscanain this proposed rule. For further information on the species' biology and habitat, population abundance and trends, distribution, demographic features, habitat use and conditions, threats, and conservation measures, please see the final listing rule forA. franciscana,published elsewhere in today'sFederal Register; the September 8, 2011, proposed listing for the species (76 FR 55623); 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/indexPublic.do), 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 concluded 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 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, what physical or biological features were 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 essential toA. franciscana,and information on areas otherwise essential for the species, we have determined that the designation of critical habitat is prudent and determinable, and we are proposing critical habitat at this time. For more information regarding our determination to designate critical habitat, please see our response to comments in the final listing determination forA. franciscanapublished elsewhere in today'sFederal Register.

Species Information

Arctostaphylos franciscanais a low, spreading-to-ascending evergreen shrub in the heath family (Ericaceae) that may reach 0.2 to 1.5 meters (m) (0.6 to 3 feet (ft)) in height when mature (Chasseet al.2009, p. 5; Eastwood 1905, p. 201). The leaves are smooth, flat, bright green, wider towards the tip, and 1.5-2 centimeters (cm) (0.6-0.8 inches (in)) long and 0.5-1 cm (0.2-0.4 in) wide. The flowering period is from January to April. In the wild,A. franciscanais an obligate-seeding species (it reproduces primarily from seed after a fire or other disturbance rather than resprouting from burls) (Vasey 2010, p. 1), although the exact germination requirements forA. franciscanahave not yet been studied. The fruit and seeds ofArctostaphylosare eaten and dispersed primarily by mammals, such as raccoons, coyotes, foxes, deer, and rodents (Service 1950, p. 8; Sampson and Jespersen 1963, p. 123; T. Parker pers. comm., 2011; Vasey 2011a, p. 1), and by various fruit-eating birds such as quail and turkey (NRCS 1999, p. 3; Zornes and Bishop 2009, p. 6).

Distribution and Habitat

Based on early species occurrence records, voucher specimens, and publications on San Francisco and Bay Area flora, prior to extensive development,Arctostaphylos franciscanahistorically occurred on or near open bedrock outcrops scattered throughout the San Francisco peninsula (Brandegee 1907; Clark 1928; Wieslander 1938; Schlocker 1974, p. 119; Service 1984, pp. 11-12; Service 2003, pp. 15-20, 62).

Portions of the San Francisco peninsula whereArctostaphylos franciscanaoccurs are known asmaritime chaparral, a plant community dominated by shrub species such asArctostaphylos(manzanita) (Vasey 2007b, in litt., p. 1). Maritime chaparral occurs in coastal locations and is characteristic of having small daily and seasonal temperature ranges, summer fog, and high relative humidity (Vasey 2007a, in litt., pp. 1-3). Nearly all historic herbarium collections ofA. franciscanawere from such maritime chaparral locations on or near rock outcrops, which suggests limited historic and prehistoric distribution and only local abundance (Service 2003, p. 62). Locations whereA. franciscanawas found included: (1) The former Laurel Hill Cemetery (Brandegee 1907; Eastwood 1934, p. 114); (2) the former Masonic Cemetery (near the “base of Lone Mountain”) (Greene 1894, p. 232); (3) Mount Davidson (Stewart 1918); and (4) the “rediscovery site” near Doyle Drive (Gluesenkampet al.2010, p. 6). In addition, there is a historical record of “Arctostaphylos pumila”(later considered to beA. franciscanaby species experts) at the former Protestant Orphan Asylum (Laguna at Haight Street, long urbanized by the late 1800s) (Behr 1892, pp. 2-6). The Doyle Drive plant has been transplanted to a locality within the Presidio, and is still surviving (Chasseet al.2009, pp. 17-21; Gluesenkampet al.2010, pp. 11-14). Chasseet al.(2009, pp. 6, 7) have noted that information on the plant community that historically includedA. franciscanais largely missing from the literature. At the Laurel Hill Cemetery site,A. franciscanawas associated withQuercus agrifolia(coast live oak),Ceanothus thyrsiflorus(coast blue blossom), andBaccharis pilularis(coyote brush), according to herbarium collections (Wieslander 1938). Several herbarium collections ofA. franciscanaoften consist of inadvertent inclusions ofA. hookerissp.ravenii(Note:Arctostaphylos hookerissp.raveniihas recently undergone a taxonomic revision toA. montanassp.ravenii) (Raven's manzanita) material as the two plants often co-occurred in the same locations (Roof 1976, pp. 21-24, Service 1984, p. 6) (see Figure 1 below).

These observations, along with the geology and climate of historical sites, indicate that the species' community likely consisted of a mosaic of coastal scrub, barren serpentine maritime chaparral, and perennial grassland, with occasional woodland of coast live oak and toyon shrubs and small trees (Chasse 2009, pp. 6, 7). However, native habitats have been largely converted to urban areas of the City of San Francisco, and habitat that might supportA. franciscanais now mostly lost to development (Chasse 2010, p. 2; Gluesenkampet al.2010, p. 7).

EP05SE12.001 BILLING CODE 6560-55-C Previous Federal Actions

On December 23, 2009, we received a petition dated December 14, 2009, from the Wild Equity Institute, the Center for Biological Diversity, and the California Native Plant Society, requesting thatArctostaphylos franciscanabe listed as an endangered species 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. On August 10, 2010, we published in theFederal Registera 90-day finding indicating that the petition presented substantial information and that we would conduct a status review on the species (75 FR 48294). On September 8, 2011, we published a combined 12-month finding and proposed listing for the species in theFederal Register(76 FR 55623). In the proposed listing for the species, we requested information on whether it was prudent to designate critical habitat for the species. After receiving comments from peer reviewers as well as the public, we have determined to the designation of critical habitat is both prudent and determinable. For additional information on previous Federal actions please refer to the September 8, 2011, combined 12-monthfinding and proposed listing for the species (76 FR 55623).

Critical Habitat Background

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

(a) Essential to the conservation of the species and

(b) 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.

Conservation, as defined under section 3 of the Act, means to use and the use of all methods and procedures that are necessary to bring an endangered or threatened species to the point at which the measures provided pursuant to the Act are no longer necessary. Such methods and procedures include, but are not limited to, all activities associated with scientific resources management such as research, census, law enforcement, habitat acquisition and maintenance, propagation, live trapping, and transplantation, and, in the extraordinary case where population pressures within a given ecosystem cannot be otherwise relieved, may include regulated taking.

Critical habitat receives protection under section 7 of the Act through the requirement that Federal agencies insure, in consultation with the Service, that any action they authorize, fund, or carry out is not likely to result in the destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat. The designation of critical habitat does not affect land ownership or establish a refuge, wilderness, reserve, preserve, or other conservation area. Such designation does not allow the government or public to access private lands. Such designation does not require implementation of restoration, recovery, or enhancement measures by non-Federal landowners. Where a landowner requests Federal agency funding or authorization for an action that may affect a listed species or critical habitat, the consultation requirements of section 7(a)(2) of the Act would apply, but even in the event of a destruction or adverse modification finding, the obligation of the Federal action agency and the landowner is not to restore or recover the species, but to implement reasonable and prudent alternatives to avoid destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat.

Under the first prong of the Act's definition of critical habitat, areas within the geographical area occupied by the species at the time it was listed are included in a critical habitat designation if they contain physical or biological features (1) essential to the conservation of the species and (2) which may require special management considerations or protection. For these areas, critical habitat designations identify, to the extent known using the best scientific and commercial data available, those physical or biological features that are essential to the conservation of the species (such as space, food, cover, and protected habitat). In identifying those physical and biological features within an area, we focus on the principal biological or physical constituent elements (primary constituent elements such as roost sites, nesting grounds, seasonal wetlands, water quality, tide, soil type) that are essential to the conservation of the species. Primary constituent elements are the specific elements of physical or biological features that provide for a species' life-history processes, and are essential to the conservation of the species.

Under the second prong of the Act's definition of critical habitat, we can designate critical habitat in 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. We designate critical habitat in areas outside the geographical area occupied by a species only when a designation limited to its range would be inadequate to ensure the conservation of the species.

Section 4 of the Act requires that we designate critical habitat on the basis of the best scientific data available. Further, our Policy on Information Standards Under the Endangered Species Act (published in theFederal Registeron July 1, 1994 (59 FR 34270)), the Information Quality Act (section 515 of the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2001 (Pub. L. 106-554; H.R. 5658)), and our associated Information Quality Guidelines, provide criteria, establish procedures, and provide guidance to ensure that our decisions are based on the best scientific data available. They require our biologists, to the extent consistent with the Act and with the use of the best scientific data available, to use primary and original sources of information as the basis for recommendations to designate critical habitat.

When we are determining which areas should be designated as critical habitat, our primary source of information is generally the information developed during the listing process for the species. Additional information sources may include the recovery plan for the species, articles in peer-reviewed journals, conservation plans developed by States and counties, scientific status surveys and studies, biological assessments, other unpublished materials, or experts' opinions or personal knowledge.

Habitat is dynamic, and species may move from one area to another over time. We recognize that critical habitat designated at a particular point in time may not include all of the habitat areas that we may later determine are necessary for the recovery of the species. Climate change will be a particular challenge for biodiversity because the interaction of additional stressors associated with climate change and current stressors may push species beyond their ability to survive (Lovejoy 2005, pp. 325-326). The synergistic implications of climate change and habitat fragmentation are the most threatening facet of climate change for biodiversity (Hannahet al.2005, p.4). Current climate change predictions for terrestrial areas in the Northern Hemisphere indicate warmer air temperatures, more intense precipitation events, and increased summer continental drying (Fieldet al.1999, pp. 1-3; Hayhoeet al.2004, p. 12422; Cayanet al.2005, p. 6; Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2007, p. 1181). Climate change may lead to increased frequency and duration of severe storms and droughts (McLaughlinet al.2002, p. 6074; Cooket al.2004, p. 1015; Golladayet al.2004, p. 504).

We anticipate these changes could affect a number of native plants and their habitats, includingArctostaphylos franciscanaoccurrences and habitat. For example, if the amount and timing of precipitation changes or the average temperature increases in northern California, the following changes may affect the long-term viability ofA. franciscanain its current habitat configuration:

(1) Drier conditions or changes in summer fog may result in additional stress on the transplanted plant.

(2) Drier conditions may also result in lower seed set, lower germination rate, and smaller population sizes.

(3) A shift in the timing of annual rainfall may favor nonnative species that impact the quality of habitat for this species.

(4) Warmer temperatures may affect the timing of pollinator life-cycles causing pollinators to become out-of-sync with timing of floweringA. franciscana.

(5) Drier conditions may result in increased fire frequency, making the ecosystems in whichA. franciscanacurrently grows more vulnerable to the initial threat of burning, and to subsequent threats associated with erosion and nonnative or native plant invasion.

However, currently we are unable to specifically identify the ways that climate change may impactArctostaphylos franciscana;therefore, we are unable to determine if any additional areas may be appropriate to include in this proposed critical habitat designation.

We recognize that critical habitat designated at a particular point in time may not include all of the habitat areas that we may later determine are necessary for the recovery of the species. For these reasons, a critical habitat designation does not signal that habitat outside the designated area is unimportant or may not be needed for recovery of a species. Areas that are important to the conservation ofArctostaphylos franciscana,both inside and outside a critical habitat designation, would continue to be subject to: (1) Conservation actions implemented under section 7(a)(1) of the Act, (2) regulatory protections afforded by the requirement in section 7(a)(2) of the Act for Federal agencies to ensure their actions are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered or threatened species, and (3) the prohibitions of section 9 of the Act if actions occurring in these areas may affect the species.

Federally funded or permitted projects affecting listed species outside their designated critical habitat areas may still result in jeopardy findings in some cases. These protections and conservation tools will continue to contribute to recovery of this species. Similarly, critical habitat designations made on the basis of the best available information at the time of designation will not control the direction and substance of future recovery plans, habitat conservation plans (HCPs), or other species conservation planning efforts if new information available at the time of these planning efforts calls for a different outcome.

Physical or Biological Features

In accordance with section 3(5)(A)(i) and 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act and regulations at 50 CFR 424.12, in determining which areas within the geographical area occupied by the species at the time of listing to designate as critical habitat, we consider the physical or biological features that are essential to the conservation of the species and which may require special management considerations or protection. These include, but are not limited to:

(1) Space for individual and population growth and for normal behavior;

(2) Food, water, air, light, minerals, or other nutritional or physiological requirements;

(3) Cover or shelter;

(4) Sites for breeding, reproduction, or rearing (or development) of offspring; and

(5) Habitats that are protected from disturbance or are representative of the historical, geographical, and ecological distributions of a species.

We derive the specific physical or biological features required forArctostaphylos franciscanafrom studies of this species' habitat, ecology, and life history as described below. Additional information can be found in the August 10, 2010, 90-day finding published in theFederal Register(75 FR 48294); the September 8, 2011, combined 12-month finding and proposed listing for the species published in theFederal Register(76 FR 55623); the 2003 Recovery Plan for Coastal Plants of the Northern San Francisco Peninsula (Service 2003); and the Raven's Manzanita Recovery Plan (Service 1984). We have determined that the physical or biological features discussed below are essential toA. franciscana.

Space for Individual and Population Growth and for Normal Behavior

Historically, the 46-mi2(119-km2) tip of the San Francisco peninsula contained a diversity of habitat types including dunes, coastal scrub, maritime chaparral, grasslands, salt and fresh water marsh, oak woodlands, rocky outcrops, and serpentine habitats (Holland 1986, pp. 1-156; National Park Service 1999, pp. 18-26; Sawyer and Keeler-Wolf 1997, p. 211). The vegetation of the area is influenced by coastal wind, moisture, and temperature (Service 1984, pp. 11-16; Chasseet al.2009, p. 4). The maritime chaparral and open grassland plant communities, of whichArctostaphylos franciscanais a part, may have been present historically to a greater extent (even before habitat loss through development), but the cumulative effects of periodic burning by native Americans, grazing during the mid-1800s to early 1900s, gathering of firewood during the U.S. military period, and fire suppression actions during the 1900s to the present may have converted many of the areas to nonnative grassland or depauperate coastal scrub (Sweeney 1956, pp. 143-250; Schlocker 1974, pp. 6-7; Christensen and Muller 1975, pp. 29-55; Keeley and Keeley 1987, pp. 240-249; Greenlee and Langenheim 1990, pp. 239-253; Tyler 1996, pp. 2182-2195; Keeley 2005, pp. 285-286; Chasse 2010, p. 2).

The current geographic distribution ofArctostaphylos franciscanahas been greatly reduced by habitat loss in San Francisco. In 2009, the single remaining wild plant was discovered along the freeway access to the Golden Gate Bridge during construction activities and was transplanted to a natural area within the Presidio of San Francisco (Chasseet al.2009, pp. 3-4, 10-11; Gluesenkampet al.2010, pp. 10-15). Historic populations ofA. franciscana,as identified from herbarium records, occurred locally, often with the endangeredA. montanassp.ravenii.A single individual ofA. montanassp.raveniiexists in the wild today within the Presidio (44 FR 61910; October 26, 1979). Both manzanitas occurred on or near scattered exposures of bedrock outcrops (Behr 1892, pp. 2-6; Greene 1894, p. 232; Stewart 1918; Service 1984, pp. 11-12; McCarten 1993, pp. 4-5).

Most bedrock outcrops of the interior parts of San Francisco are characterized by areas often at ridges with steep topography, thin dry soils, and bare rock, conditions that maintain permanently sparse vegetative cover, at least locally (Service 2003, p. 16). Many persist as undevelopable knobs on the crests of hills up to 281 m (922 ft) above sea level, or as high, unstable, coastal bluffs subject to frequent landslides. They are composed mostly of serpentine and greenstone or other mafic and ultramafic rocks (Schlocker 1974, pp. 8-16, Plate 3). These serpentine and rocky areas are often harsh and contain unproductive soils with poor nutrient levels and reduced water-holding capacity (Holland 1986, p. 8; Sawyer and Keeler-Wolf 1997, p. 211; Chasseet al.2009, pp. 12-13). McCarten (1993, pp. 4-5) identified some of the rock outcrops within the area as being sparsely vegetated with open barrens that may have historically containedArctostaphylosspecies such asA. montanassp.raveniiand “A. hookerissp.franciscana[A. franciscana].” He referred to the serpentine areas on thePresidio as “Decumbent Manzanita Serpentine Scrub” and stated that the plant community is one of the rarer plant communities in the area. Historically, these areas included plant associations classified as coastal grassland (prairie) and variations of coastal scrub. Historic voucher specimens and observations citedA. franciscanaoccurring withQuercus agrifolia(coast live oak),Ceanothus thyrsiflorus(coast blue blossom),Baccharis pilularis(coyote brush),Heteromeles arbutifolia(toyon),Ericameriasp. (mock heather),Eriogonumsp. (buckwheat), andAchilleasp. (yarrow) (Eastwood 1905, pp. 201-202). The bedrock outcrop vegetation in San Francisco is variable today, including elements of remnant native vegetation as well as naturalized nonnative vegetation (National Park Service 1999, pp. 1, 17-18).

Some knowledge of the habitat requirements ofArctostaphylos franciscanacan be inferred from historic locations and information on voucher specimens. The historic sites were mostly underlain by serpentine or greenstone substrates (Roof 1976, pp. 20-24). Sites which were occupied byA. franciscanahistorically were characterized as bare stony or rocky habitats often along ridges and associated with bedrock outcrops and other areas with thin soils on the San Francisco peninsula (Eastwood 1905, pp. 201-202; Brandegee 1907). Rowntree (1939, p. 121) observedA. franciscana“forming flat masses over serpentine outcroppings and humus-filled gravel and flopping down over the sides of gray and chrome rocks.” In a study to determine potential restoration sites forA. montanassp.ravenii,the general site conditions identified included open exposures with mild slopes of shallow rocky soils with some coastal fog (McCarten 1986, pp. 4-5). These rocky outcrops within the San Francisco peninsula occur in the geologic strata known as the Franciscan formation. The Franciscan formation, which has contributed to the characteristic appearance and distribution of flora on portions of the peninsula, is a result of fault zones occurring in the area. These faults have uplifted and folded various geologic strata and formed the characteristic “islands” of rock outcrops and soils associated withA. franciscana.The thrust-fault shear zone runs across San Francisco from Potrero Hill in the southeast to the Presidio in the northwest (Schlocker 1974, pp. 1-2). Figure 2, below, identifies bedrock outcrops occurring in the San Francisco peninsula.

BILLING CODE 6560-55-P EP05SE12.002 BILLING CODE 6560-55-C

Franciscan formation rocks include sandstones, shale, chert, greenstone (mostly basalts), serpentinite, gabbro-diabase, and mixed sheared rocks along fault zones. The outcrops range from erosion-resistant basalt and chert, to serpentine rocks that are hard and dense to soft, friable, and plastic (Schlocker 1974, pp. 56-65). The soils surrounding the rock outcrops are often thin. Serpentine rocks and soils derived from them are particularly low in calcium and high in magnesium and heavy metals, and greatly influence local vegetation. The majority of sites whereA. franciscanawas historically found occurred on serpentine outcrops, except at Mount Davidson, which is comprised of greenstone and mixed Franciscan rocks. The characteristics of serpentine soils or rock outcrops often result in exclusion or growth suppression of many plant species, creating open or barren areas that are not as subject to plant competition for light, moisture, and nutrients, which often causes selection for a narrow range of endemic plant species such asA. franciscana(Raven and Axelrod 1978, pp. 24-26; Kruckeberg 1984, pp. 11-17, Service 1984, pp. 11-12; McCarten 1993, pp. 4-5; Service 1998, pp. 1-1, 1-2, 1-10—1-12; Service 2003, pp. 15-16). Therefore, based on the above information, we identify sites with open rocky bedrock associated with serpentine or greenstone outcrops to be an essential physical or biological feature for this species.

Cover or Shelter

As stated above,Arctostaphylos franciscanahistorically occurred in open or semi-open areas associated withrock outcroppings in coastal scrub or serpentine maritime chaparral. AlthoughA. franciscanais considered to be endemic to serpentine soils (Kruckeberg 1984, pp. 11-17; Saffordet al.2005, p. 226), its historic occurrence at Mount Davidson on greenstone and at other locations on mixed Franciscan rocks, and its ability to grow at nursery locations (with management), calls into question such a strict edaphic affinity. McCarten (1993, p. 8) stated that the species most likely evolved in these open to semi-open, thin-soiled, nutrient-poor locations due to a response to lack of competition from nearby plants in better soil locations rather than a specific plant-serpentine soil relationship. Being more open, these sites are exposed to direct sun with little shading from nearby vegetation and are often dry. The nutrient-poor soils of these outcroppings also limit the number of other species able to tolerate these locations. Disturbance of these areas through introduction of additional nutrients (soil disturbance, nitrogen deposition, erosion) may lead to increased tolerance of these sites by native and nonnative species, and lead to competition and shading, thereby preventing natural growth and reproduction ofA. franciscana(Weiss 1999, pp. 1479-1485). Therefore, based on the information above, we identify areas with mostly full to full sun, that are open, barren, or sparse with minimal overstory or understory of vegetation to be an essential physical or biological feature for this species.

Sites for Breeding, Reproduction, or Rearing (or Development) of Offspring Summer Fog

Summer fog is a climatic condition that characterizes many areas within the San Francisco Bay area, including the Presidio (Schlocker 1974, p. 6; Null 1995, p. 2). Summer fog increases humidity, moderates drought pressure, and provides for milder summer and winter temperature ranges than occur in interior coastal areas. Summer fog is a major influence on the survival and diversity of manzanitas and other vegetation within this zone (Patton 1956, pp. 113-200; McCarten 1986, p. 4; McCarten 1993, p. 2; Service 2003, p. 66; Chasseet al.2009, p. 9; Johnstone and Dawson 2010, p. 5). The cooler temperatures and additional moisture availability during the summer may lessen the harsh site conditions of the thin-soiled, nutrient-poor, rock outcrops (Raven and Axlerod 1978, pp. 1, 25-26; Kruckeberg 1984, pp. 11-17). As a result, we have identified areas influenced by coastal summer fog to be an essential physical or biological feature forArctostaphylos franciscana.

Fungal Mycorrhizae Relationship

Arctostaphylosspecies form strong symbiotic relationships with over 100 different fungal mycorrhizae species (McCarten 1986, p. 4; Brunset al.2005, p. 33; Chaseet al.2009, p. 12). These fungi are located in the soil and form an ectomycorrhizal sheath around the host plant's roots (Salisbury and Ross 1985, pp. 116-118). The presence of these fungal mycorrhizae is essential for the plant because they assist in water and nutrient absorption (Brunset al.2002, pp. 352-353). The fungi form a network of connections within the soil to other plants (of the same or other species) and may play a major role in ecosystem sustainability, thereby leading to increased plant germination and vigor (Hortonet al.1999, p. 94; Simard and Durall 2004, pp. 1140-1141). As a result, we identify areas with a healthy fungal mycorrhizae component to be an essential physical or biological feature forA. franciscana.

Pollinators

We are currently unaware of any studies that have specifically documented which insect or animal species pollinateArctostaphylos franciscana;however, the species is most likely visited by numerous bees, butterflies, and even hummingbirds. In a study onA. patulain northern California, 3 solitary bees (Halictidae and Andrenidae), 2 long-tongued bees (Anthophoridae), 1 honey bee (Apidae), and 4 bumble bees (Apidae) were observed pollinating that species (Valentiet al.1997, p. 4), which is in addition to the 27 other hymenopteran species previously documented by species experts (Krombeinet al.1979). These pollinators are important as they are able to travel long distances and cross fragmented landscapes to pollinateA. franciscana.Conserving habitat where these pollinators nest and forage will sustain an active pollinator community and facilitate mixing of genes within and among plant populations, without which inbreeding and reduced fitness may occur (Widen and Widen 1990, p. 191).

Native bees typically are more efficient pollinators than introduced European honeybees (Apis mellifera) (Javoreket al.2002, p. 345). Therefore, plant populations visited by a higher proportion of native pollinator species are likely to maintain higher reproductive output and persist for more generations than populations served by fewer native pollinators or with pollination limitations of any kind (Javoreket al.2002, p. 350).

Pollinators also require space for individual and population growth, so adequate habitat should be available for pollinators in addition to the habitat necessary forA. franciscanaplants.

In this proposed critical habitat rule, we acknowledge that healthy pollinator populations provide conservation value toA. franciscana.However, we do not currently include areas for pollinators and their habitats within this designation, because: (1) Meaningful data on specific pollinators and their habitat needs are lacking; and (2) we were not able to quantify the amount of habitat needed for pollinators, given the lack of information on the specific pollinators ofA. franciscana.We are seeking input from the public and peer reviewers on the specific information on pollinators for input into our final critical habitat designation.

Habitats Representative of the Historical, Geographical, and Ecological Distribution of the Species

The type locality forArctostaphylos franciscanais the former Laurel Hill Cemetery (Eastwood 1905, pp. 201-202), an area south of the Presidio between California Street and Geary Boulevard. Voucher specimens forA. franciscanaalso exist from exposed slopes of Mount Davidson (Roof 1976, pp. 21-24), and reliable observations are recorded from the former Masonic Cemetery (bounded by Turk Street, Masonic Avenue, Park Avenue, and Fulton Street near Lone Mountain) (Roof 1976, pp. 21-24). Behr (1892, pp. 2-6) observed a possible fourth historic occurrence near the former Protestant Orphan Asylum near Laguna and Haight Streets. All these sites have been lost due to development, except for the Mount Davidson location, which has mostly been altered and converted to nonnative habitat. The “rediscovery site” at Doyle Drive near the Golden Gate Bridge has also been lost due to freeway construction (Gluesenkampet al.2010, pp. 9-10; Park Presidio 2012, pp. 1-2). The lone “wild”A. franciscanashrub has been transplanted to a site within the Presidio (Gluesenkampet al.2010, pp. 10-15). Development and habitat alteration from human activities and nonnative plant species have greatly altered the majority of remaining habitat for the species, although some appropriate habitat for the species still remains within the San Francisco peninsula. As a result, we have identified the species' general range to include only the area within the San Francisco peninsula from the Presidio of San Francisco south toMount Davison (see Figure 1, above). Although additional sites outside the peninsula, but within the Bay Area, contain appropriate habitat characteristics, these areas are outside the known historic range of the species, and we are not considering these areas for critical habitat at this time.

Primary Constituent Elements forArctostaphylos franciscana

Under the Act and its implementing regulations, we are required to identify the physical and biological features essential to the conservation ofArctostaphylos franciscanain areas occupied at the time of listing (i.e., areas that are currently occupied), focusing on the features' primary constituent elements. We consider primary constituent elements (PCEs) to be the elements of physical and biological features that provide for a species' life-history processes and that are essential to the conservation of the species.

Based on our current knowledge of the physical or biological features and habitat characteristics required to sustain the species' life-history processes, we determine that the primary constituent elements specific to self-sustainingArctostaphylos franciscanapopulations are:

(1) Areas on or near bedrock outcrops often associated with ridges of serpentine or greenstone, mixed Franciscan rocks, or soils derived from these parent materials.

(2) Areas having soils originating from parent materials identified above in PCE 1 that are thin, have limited nutrient content or availability, or have large concentrations of heavy metals.

(3) Areas within a vegetation community consisting of a mosaic of coastal scrub, serpentine maritime chaparral, or serpentine grassland characterized as having a vegetation structure that is open, barren, or sparse with minimal overstory or understory of trees, shrubs, or plants that contain and exhibit a healthy fungal mycorrhizae component.

(4) Areas that are influenced by summer fog, which limits daily and seasonal temperature ranges, provides moisture to limit drought stress, and increases humidity.

With this proposed designation of critical habitat, we intend to identify the physical and biological features essential to the conservation of the species, through the identification of the appropriate quantity and spatial arrangement of the features' primary constituent elements sufficient to support the life-history processes of the species.

Special Management Considerations or Protection

When designating critical habitat, we assess whether the specific areas within the geographical area occupied by the species at the time of listing (in the case ofArctostaphylos franciscana,areas that are currently occupied) contain features which are essential to the conservation of the species and which may require special management considerations or protection. Special management considerations or protection may be necessary to eliminate or reduce the magnitude of threats that affect these species. Threats identified in the final listing rule for the species include: (1) Loss, degradation, or alteration of habitat due to development or other human activities; (2) competition from nonnative plants; (3) small population size and curtailment of the species' range, which restrict the species' current and future ability to naturally reproduce and expand its range; and (4) soil compaction, potential overutilization, disease introduction, or vandalism from visitor use at the transplantation site.

Loss and degradation of habitat from development are cited in the final listing rule as a primary cause for the decline ofArctostaphylos franciscana.The single “wild” plant is located in the Presidio of San Francisco on one of the limited open rocky sites remaining. These areas are frequently near or bounded by urbanized areas, roadways, trails, or other developed sites, and continue to have impacts from increasing human populations and development pressure. Urban development removes the plant community's components and associated rocky substrate and mycorrhizal relationship within the soil, which eliminates or fragments the remaining habitat ofA. franciscana.Conservation and management ofA. franciscanahabitat is needed to address the threat of development. Adjacent development may introduce nonnative, invasive plant species that alter the vegetation composition or the open physical structure, to such an extent that the area would not support or would greatly affectA. franciscanaor the surrounding plant community that it inhabits. Additionally, nitrogen or other nutrient deposition from human activities may assist excessive plant growth from other species that would compete withA. franciscanafor space and resources that would otherwise be available to the species. Management activities including (but not limited to) removal and control of nonnative, or excessive native, plants are needed to reduce this threat. Unauthorized recreational activities or visitor use may impact the vegetation composition, increase soil compaction, or introduce soil-borne disease toA. franciscanahabitat to such an extent that the area will no longer support the species.

Criteria Used To Identify Critical Habitat

As required by section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we use the best scientific data available to designate critical habitat. We review available information pertaining to the habitat requirements of the species. In accordance with the Act and its implementing regulations at 50 CFR 424.12(e), we consider whether designating additional areas—outside those currently occupied as well as those occupied at the time of listing, if listing occurs before the designation of critical habitat—are necessary to ensure the conservation of the species. We are proposing to designate critical habitat in areas within the geographical area currently occupied by the species (see final listing determination published elsewhere in today'sFederal Register). We also are proposing to designate specific areas outside the geographical area occupied by the species at the time of listing (in this case, the geographic area currently occupied by the species), which were historically occupied but are presently unoccupied, because such areas are essential for the conservation of the species.

This section provides details of the criteria and process we used to delineate the proposed critical habitat forArctostaphylos franciscana.The areas being proposed for critical habitat within this rule are based largely on habitat characteristics identified from the “rediscovery site” near Doyle Drive, the currently occupied transplantation site, and historically occupied areas identified in voucher specimens and historical records. We also used the Recovery Plan for Coastal Plants of the Northern San Francisco Peninsula (Service 2003, pp. 1-322); the Conservation Plan forArctostaphylos franciscana(the Franciscan Manzanita) (Chasseet al.2009, pp. 1-44); the Raven's Manzanita Recovery Plan (Service 1984, pp. 1-73), which provide habitat characteristics of the historically co-occurring species; and information received from peer reviewers and the public on our proposed listing forA. franciscana(76 FR 55623; September 8, 2011). Due to the rapid development of the San Francisco peninsula and limited historical information on plant location and distribution, it is difficult to determine the exact range of the species. Given the amount of remaining habitat available with the appropriatecharacteristics, we looked at all areas within San Francisco that met our criteria as potential habitat. Based on this information, we are proposing to designate critical habitat in areas within the geographical area currently occupied byA. franciscana(which is the same as the geographical area occupied by the species at the time of listing) and unoccupied areas that are essential for the conservation of the species (see the Distribution and Habitat section above for more information on the range of the species).

Although a recovery plan forArctostaphylos franciscanahas not been developed, the species is discussed along with the endangeredA. montanassp.raveniiin the Recovery Plan for Coastal Plants of the Northern San Francisco Peninsula (Service 2003). The recovery plan calls for a three part strategy in conservingA. montanassp.ravenii,as well as additional recommendations for establishment in areas outside the Presidio at historic and other rock outcrop sites in conjunction withA. franciscana(Service 2003, pp. 75-77). The strategy includes: (1) Protecting the existing plant and surrounding habitat; (2) increasing the number of independent populations throughout suitable habitat within the Presidio; and (3) restoring the natural ecological interactions of the species with its habitat, including allowing gene flow withA. franciscana.As mentioned above, the recovery plan also identifies establishing additional areas within rock outcrops throughout suitable habitat along with populations ofA. franciscana.We believe that a recovery strategy forA. franciscanawould have many aspects similar to the recovery plan forA. montanassp.raveniibased on the two species being limited to one “wild” individual, their co-occurrence in similar habitat within the Presidio and elsewhere at historical locations, and the seeming dependence ofA. montanassp.raveniionA. franciscanato produce viable seed and maintain gene flow withA. franciscanain the absence of more than the single individual or clones ofA. montanassp.ravenii.In order to accomplish portions of this strategy, we have identified areas we believe are essential to the conservation ofA. franciscanathrough the following criteria:

(1) Determine, in accordance with section 3(5)(A)(i) of the Act and regulations at 50 CFR 424.12, the physical or biological habitat features essential to the conservation of the species and which may require special management considerations or protection, as explained in the previous section.

(2) Identify multiple independent sites forA. franciscana.These sites should be throughout the historic range of the species (generally on the San Francisco peninsula north of Mount Davidson) within or near rock outcrops of various origins but especially on ridges or slopes within serpentine or greenstone formations along the Franciscan fault zone between Potrero Hills and the Golden Gate (see Figure 2, above).

(3) In accordance with section 2(b) of the Act, select areas which would conserve the ecosystem upon which the species depends. This includes areas that contain the natural ecological interactions of the species with its habitat or areas with additional management that may be enhanced. The conservation ofA. franciscanais dependent on several factors including, but not limited to, selection of areas of sufficient size and configuration to sustain natural ecosystem components, functions, and processes (such as full sun exposure, summer fog, natural fire and hydrologic regimes, intact mycorrhizal or edaphic interactions); protection of existing substrate continuity and structure; connectivity among groups of plants of this species within geographic proximity to facilitate gene flow among the sites through pollinator activity and seed dispersal; and sufficient adjacent suitable habitat for vegetative reproduction and population expansion.

(4) In selecting areas to propose as critical habitat, consider factors such as size, connectivity to other habitats, and rangewide recovery considerations. We rely upon principles of conservation biology, including: (a) Resistance and resiliency, to ensure sufficient habitat is protected throughout the range of the species to support population viability (e.g., demographic parameters); (b) redundancy, to ensure multiple viable populations are conserved throughout the species' range; and (c) representation, to ensure the representative genetic and life history ofA. franciscanaare conserved.

Methods

In order to identify the physical or biological features on the ground based on our criteria outlined above, we used the following methods to delineate the proposed critical habitat:

(1) We compiled and reviewed all available information onArctostaphylos franciscanahabitat and distribution from historic voucher specimens, literature, and reports; (2) we also compiled and reviewed all available information onA. montanassp.raveniihabitat and distribution from similar sources, as these two species have similar habitat requirements and often occurred together historically; (3) we reviewed available information on rock outcrops, bedrock, and areas identified as serpentine, greenstone, or of Franciscan formation within the San Francisco peninsula and surrounding areas south of Mount Davidson and north into Marin County to determine the extent of these features on the landscape; (4) we compiled species occurrence information including historic record locations, the current occupied site within the Presidio, and information on the “rediscovery site” near Doyle Drive; (5) we then compiled all this information into a GIS database using ESRI ArcMap 10.0; and (6) we screen digitized and mapped the specific areas on which are found those physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the species or other areas determined to be essential for the conservation of the species.

When determining proposed critical habitat boundaries, we made every effort to avoid including developed areas such as lands covered by buildings, pavement, and other structures because such lands lack physical and biological features forArctostaphylos franciscana.The scale of the maps we prepared under the parameters for publication within the Code of Federal Regulations may not reflect the exclusion of such developed lands, especially within such an urbanized area as San Francisco. Any such lands inadvertently left inside critical habitat boundaries shown on the maps of this proposed rule have been excluded by text in the proposed rule and are not proposed for designation as critical habitat. Therefore, if the critical habitat is finalized as proposed, a Federal action involving these lands would not trigger section 7 consultation with respect to critical habitat and the requirement of no adverse modification unless the specific action would affect the physical and biological features in the adjacent critical habitat.

We are proposing for designation of critical habitat lands that we have determined are currently occupied (which, in this case, is the same as occupied at the time of listing) and contain sufficient elements of physical and biological features to support life-history processes essential to the conservation of the species, and lands outside of the geographic area currently occupied that we have determined are essential for the conservation ofArctostaphylos franciscana.

The units of critical habitat are proposed for designation based on sufficient elements of physical orbiological features being present to supportArctostaphylos franciscana's life-history processes. Some units contain all of the identified elements of physical or biological features and support multiple life-history processes. Some units contain only some elements of the physical or biological features necessary to support the use of that habitat byA. franciscana.

The critical habitat designation is defined by the map or maps, as modified by any accompanying regulatory text, presented at the end of this document in the rule portion. We include more detailed information on the boundaries of the critical habitat designation in the preamble of this document. We will make the coordinates or plot points or both on which each map is based available to the public onhttp://www.regulations.govat Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2012-0067, on our Internet site athttp://www.fws.gov/sacramento, and at the Fish and Wildlife office responsible for the designation (seeFOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACTabove).

Proposed Critical Habitat Designation

We are proposing 11 units as critical habitat forArctostaphylos franciscana.The critical habitat areas we describe below constitute our current best assessment of areas that meet the definition of critical habitat forA. franciscana.The areas we propose as critical habitat are identified below. Table 1 shows the occupancy status of each unit.

Table 1—Occupancy of Arctostaphylos franciscana by Proposed Critical Habitat Units Unit Occupied at time of
  • listing?
  • Currently occupied?
    1. Fort Point No No. 2. Fort Point Rock No No. 3. World War II Memorial No No. 4. Immigrant Point No No. 5. Inspiration Point Yes Yes. 6. Corona Heights No No. 7. Twin Peaks No No. 8. Mount Davidson No No. 9. Diamond Heights No No. 10. Bernal Heights No No. 11. Bayview Park No No.

    The approximate area of each proposed critical habitat unit is shown in Ta