Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government
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When we make a finding that a petition presents substantial information indicating that listing a species may be warranted, we are required to promptly review the status of the species (status review). For the status review to be complete and based on the best available scientific and commercial information, we request information on Eagle Lake rainbow trout from governmental agencies, Native American tribes, the scientific community, industry, and any other interested parties. We seek information on:
(1) The species' biology, range, and population trends, including:
(a) Habitat requirements for feeding, breeding, and sheltering;
(b) Genetics and taxonomy;
(c) Historical and current range, including distribution patterns;
(d) Historical and current population levels, and current and projected trends; and
(e) Past and ongoing conservation measures for the species, its habitat, or both.
(2) The factors that are the basis for making a listing determination for a species under section 4(a) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531
(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; and
(e) Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence.
If, after the status review, we determine that listing the Eagle Lake rainbow trout is warranted, we will propose critical habitat (see definition in section 3(5)(A) of the Act) under section 4 of the Act, to the maximum extent prudent and determinable at the time we propose to list the species. Therefore, we also request data and information on:
(1) What may constitute “physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the species,” within the geographical range currently occupied by the species;
(2) Where these features are currently found;
(3) Whether any of these features may require special management considerations or protection;
(4) Specific areas outside the geographical area occupied by the species that are “essential for the conservation of the species”; and
(5) What, if any, critical habitat you think we should propose for designation if the species is proposed for listing, and why such habitat meets the requirements of section 4 of the Act.
Please include sufficient information with your submission (such as scientific journal articles or other publications) to allow us to verify any scientific or commercial information you include.
Submissions merely stating support for or opposition to the action under consideration without providing supporting information, although noted, will not be considered in making a determination. Section 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act directs that determinations as to whether any species is an endangered or threatened species must be made “solely on the basis of the best scientific and commercial data available.”
You may submit your information concerning this status review by one of the methods listed in
Information and supporting documentation that we received and used in preparing this finding is available for you to review at
Section 4(b)(3)(A) of the Act requires that we make a finding on whether a petition to list, delist, or reclassify a species presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted. We are to base this finding on information provided in the petition, supporting information submitted with the petition, and information otherwise available in our files. To the maximum extent practicable, we are to make this finding within 90 days of our receipt of the petition, and publish our notice of the finding promptly in the
Our standard for substantial scientific or commercial information within the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) with regard to a 90-day petition finding is “that amount of information that would lead a reasonable person to believe that the measure proposed in the petition may be warranted” (50 CFR 424.14(b)). If we find that substantial scientific or commercial information was presented, we are required to promptly conduct a species status review, which we subsequently summarize in our 12-month finding.
The “substantial information” standard for a 90-day finding differs from the Act's “best scientific and commercial data” standard that applies to a status review to determine whether a petitioned action is warranted. A 90-day finding does not constitute a status review under the Act. In a 12-month finding, we will announce our determination as to whether a petitioned action is warranted after we have completed a thorough status review of the species, which is conducted following a substantial 90-day finding. Because the Act's standards for a 90-day finding and the status review conducted for a 12-month finding on a petition are different, as described above, a substantial 90-day finding does not mean that our status review and resulting determination will result in a warranted finding.
On April 28, 1994, we received a petition, dated April 25, 1994, from Mr. John F. Bosta of Susanville, California, requesting that the Eagle Lake rainbow trout be listed as an endangered or threatened species, with critical habitat, under the Act. On August 7, 1995, we published our 90-day finding in the
On August 15, 2003, we received a new petition, dated August 14, 2003, again from Mr. John Bosta of Amargosa Valley, Nevada, requesting that the Eagle Lake rainbow trout be listed as an endangered or threatened species under the Act. The petition clearly identified itself as such and included the requisite identification information for the petitioner, as required by 50 CFR 424.14(a). On October 6, 2003, we received a similar petition from Mr. Chuck Sanford, of Loomis, California, dated September 23, 2003. As explained in our 1996 Petition Management Guidance (Service 1996, p. 5), subsequent petitions are treated separately only when they are greater in scope or broaden the area of review of the first petition. Mr. Sanford's petition repeated the same information provided earlier in Mr. Bosta's August 14, 2003, petition and will, therefore, be treated as a comment on the first petition we received.
In a February 24, 2004, letter to Mr. Bosta, we responded that we reviewed the information presented in the petition and determined that issuing an emergency regulation temporarily listing the species under section 4(b)(7) of the Act was not warranted. We also stated that, due to court orders and judicially approved settlement agreements for other listing and critical habitat determinations under the Act, which required nearly all of our listing and critical habitat funding, we would not be able to further address the petition at that time but would complete the action when workload and funding allowed. Delays in responding to the petition continued due to the high priority of responding to court orders and settlement agreements. In response to litigation brought on behalf of petitioned and candidate species, we reached two settlement agreements on May 10, 2011, and July 12, 2011, that establish a 6-year work schedule for reaching final listing determinations for all petitioned and candidate species (
In our development of this finding, we attempted to contact both petitioners regarding the information they presented and to obtain documents cited in their petitions. The petitioners did not respond to our requests, or we were unable to contact them due to the timeframe between receiving the petitions and our ability to review them, and thus, we were unable to confirm or clarify the intent of some of the petitions' claims or issues raised or to specifically review the information. As a result, we have used information available at the time of the petition in our files to assist in our review of the petitions.
The Eagle Lake rainbow trout is a recognized subspecies of rainbow trout (
The Eagle Lake rainbow trout's alkalinity tolerance helps it to survive the unusual conditions of Eagle Lake. Because the lake has no natural outlet,
Historically, Eagle Lake rainbow trout spawned primarily in the headwaters of Pine Creek (Moyle
Prior to 1917, population levels of Eagle Lake rainbow trout within the lake were high enough to support a commercial fishery, but harvesting of the fish was extremely high, leading to concerns the fish would be driven to extinction (Snyder 1917, p. 78; Moyle
Since 1950, reproduction in the Eagle Lake rainbow trout population has depended largely on a hatchery program run by the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) (Platts and Jensen 1991, pp. 20-22; Moyle
Between 1959 and 1994, Eagle Lake rainbow trout were known to pass above the weir at Pine Creek during years of high water flow. The structure at Pine Creek was rebuilt in 1995 to address erosion problems and to prevent upstream migration because some individuals were being stranded, resulting in their death during years of low water levels. Construction modifications on the weir in 1995, and installation of an Alaskan style fish weir at the site in 2002, have made it highly unlikely that fish attempting to move upstream have been able to pass the weir to reach the headwaters of the creek to spawn, even in high flow years.
The CDFG traps fish as they enter Pine Creek from Eagle Lake. The fish are then collected and artificially spawned to produce 2 to 3 million eggs, which are shipped to Crystal Lake and Darrah Springs State Fish Hatcheries (Platts and Jensen 1991, pp. 20-23; Moyle
In 1987, a Coordinated Resource Management Planning (CRMP) group met to identify goals and implement a course of action for habitat and ecosystem restoration for Pine Creek. The initial goals for restoring Pine Creek included: (1) Improve streambank stability; (2) improve vegetation cover in watershed; (3) raise the streambed and watertable in the drainage and spread out peak flows of Pine Creek; (4) restore the natural Eagle Lake rainbow trout fishery in Pine Creek; (5) improve wildlife habitat along Pine Creek; (6) reduce nutrient and sediment loading into Eagle Lake from Pine Creek; (7) maintain grazing and timber management; and (8) meet goals in a coordinated effort with all affected parties (Platts and Jensen 1991, p. 1). The CRMP group includes membership by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), the University of California Cooperative Extension for Lassen County, the CDFG, and local landowners and interested parties. The Service has been occasionally involved in the planning efforts of the CRMP group since 1995. Numerous restoration efforts have been implemented since 1987 or are planned for the Pine Creek watershed.
Section 4 of the Act and its implementing regulations at 50 CFR 424 set forth the procedures for adding a species to, or removing a species from, 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.
In considering what factors might constitute threats, we must look beyond the mere exposure of the species to the
In making this 90-day finding, we evaluated whether information regarding the threats to the Eagle Lake rainbow trout, as presented in the petition and other information available in our files at the time the petition was received, is substantial, thereby indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted. Our evaluation of this information is presented below.
The information provided in the petition and in our files does not indicate that any impact from overutilization is occurring to Eagle Lake rainbow trout. Commercial fishing for the fish was stopped in 1917 (Snyder 1917, p. 78). However, we will further investigate overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes in our status review for this subspecies.
The petition did not provide any information regarding predation. However, information in our files does include information on potential predation by introduced trout species. As stated in the
The petition does not discuss or provide any information on how an inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms under Factor D may threaten the Eagle Lake rainbow trout, and we do not have any information in our files suggesting that existing regulatory mechanisms are inadequate. However, we will further investigate whether the existing regulatory mechanisms are inadequate in our status review for the subspecies.
The petition lists two potential threats relevant to Factor E: (1) Mortality of Eagle Lake rainbow trout in 2000 during CDFG trout-stocking activities; and (2) hatchery practices that have reduced Eagle Lake rainbow trout's survival in the wild and affected their genetics through gene pool alteration and species contamination.
Muir and Howard (1999, entire) used modeling based on the Japanese medaka (
Because the petition did not include reference information for the Leary and Allendorf paper, it is difficult for us to assess its content. We did find a study by Leary that we believe may be the paper referenced by the petition (Leary 1996); however, it does not appear to provide strong support for the petition's conclusions. While the study did find differences between hatchery and naturally spawning stocks, the author also emphasized that the differences were of “little or no biological significance” (Leary 1996, pp. 11-13).
We have reviewed the petition, literature cited in the petition, and information in our files and evaluated that information in relation to the information available to us at the time we received the petition. After this review and evaluation, we find that the petition does present substantial scientific information that listing the Eagle Lake rainbow trout may be warranted at this time.
We evaluated each of the five listing factors individually, and because the potential threats to the Eagle Lake rainbow trout may not be mutually exclusive, we also evaluated the collective effect of these potential threats. The petition focused on three of the five listing factors; habitat modification (Factor A), disease (Factor C), and “other natural or manmade factors” (Factor E). Based on information we had at the time of the petition, the placement of the weir on Pine Creek has all but eliminated access to the spawning grounds, and although habitat conditions on Pine Creek had significantly improved through implementation of measures by the CRMP group, habitat conditions were still a concern and it was uncertain if fish are able to traverse the distance between the lake and spawning grounds.
The petition raised several concerns regarding potential genetic threats to the subspecies. Although many of these arguments were either unsupported, or supported by incomplete citations to articles that we were unable to locate, the information we did have or were able to find did raise concerns and supported less dependence on hatchery rearing.
On the basis of our determination under section 4(b)(3)(A) of the Act, we determine that the petition and the information in our files presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that listing the Eagle Lake rainbow trout throughout its range may be warranted. This finding is based on information provided under Factors A (the present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range), C (predation), and E (other natural or manmade factors affecting the subspecies' continued existence). Although information provided under Factors C (disease), B (overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes), and D (inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms) do not support the petition's assertions, we will further consider information relating to these factors in the status review.
Because we have found that the petition presents substantial information indicating that listing Eagle Lake rainbow trout may be warranted, we are initiating a status review to determine whether listing Eagle Lake rainbow trout under the Act is warranted. We will fully evaluate these potential threats during our status review, pursuant to the Act's requirement to review the best available scientific information when making our 12-month finding. Accordingly, we encourage the public to consider and submit information related to these and any other threats that may be operating on the Eagle Lake rainbow trout (see “Request for Information”).
A complete list of references cited is available on the Internet at
The primary authors of this notice are the staff member(s) of the Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office (see
The authority for this action is the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531