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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-R9-ES-2012-0050; MO-4500030113]

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Review of Native Species That Are Candidates for Listing as Endangered or Threatened; Annual Notice of Findings on Resubmitted Petitions; Annual Description of Progress on Listing Actions

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.
ACTION: Notice of review.
SUMMARY: The CNOR summarizes the status and threats that we evaluated in order to determine that species qualify as candidates and to assign a listing priority number (LPN) to each species or to determine that species should be removed from candidate status. Additional material that we relied on is available in the Species Assessment and Listing Priority Assignment Forms (species assessment forms) for each candidate species.

Overall, this CNOR recognizes two new candidates, changes the LPN for nine candidates, and removes three species from candidate status. Combined with other decisions for individual species that were published separately from this CNOR in the past year, the current number of species that are candidates for listing is 192.

This document also includes our findings on resubmitted petitions and describes our progress in revising the Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants (Lists) during the period October 1, 2011, through September 30, 2012.

We request additional status information that may be available for the 192 candidate species identified in this CNOR.

DATES: We will accept information on any of the species in this Candidate Notice of Review at any time.
ADDRESSES: This notice is available on the Internet athttp://www.regulations.govandhttp://www.fws.gov/endangered/what-we-do/cnor.html.Species assessment forms with information and references on a particular candidate species' range, status, habitat needs, and listing priority assignment are available for review at the appropriate Regional Office listed below inSUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATIONor at the Office of Communications and Candidate Conservation, Arlington, VA (see address underFOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT), or on our Web site (http://ecos.fws.gov/tess_public/pub/candidateSpecies.jsp). Please submit any new information, materials, comments, or questions of a general nature on this notice to the Arlington, VA, address listed underFOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.Please submit any new information, materials, comments, or questions pertaining to a particular species to the address of the Endangered Species Coordinator in the appropriate Regional Office listed inSUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: The Endangered Species Coordinator(s) in the appropriate Regional Office(s), or Chief, Office of Communications and Candidate Conservation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Room 420, Arlington, VA 22203 (telephone 703-358-2171). Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800-877-8339.
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

We request additional status information that may be available for any of the candidate species identified in this CNOR. We will consider this information to monitor changes in the status or LPN of candidate species and to manage candidates as we prepare listing documents and future revisions to the notice of review. We also request information on additional species to consider including as candidates as we prepare future updates of this notice.

You may submit your information concerning this notice in general or for any of the species included in this notice by one of the methods listed in theADDRESSESsection.

Species-specific information and materials we receive will be available for public inspection by appointment, during normal business hours, at the appropriate Regional Office listed below under Request for Information inSUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION.General information we receive will be available at the Office of Communications and Candidate Conservation, Arlington, VA (see address underFOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

Candidate Notice of Review Background

The Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531et seq.) (ESA), requires that we identify species of wildlife and plants that are endangered or threatened, based on the best available scientific and commercial information. As defined in section 3 of the ESA, an endangered species is any species which is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range, and a threatened species is any species which is likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range. Through the Federal rulemaking process, we add species that meet these definitions to the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife at 50 CFR 17.11 or the List of Endangered and Threatened Plants at 50 CFR 17.12. As part of this program, we maintain a list of species that we regard as candidates for listing. A candidate species is one for which we have on file sufficient information on biological vulnerability and threats to support a proposal to list as endangered or threatened, but for which preparation and publication of a proposal is precluded by higher-priority listing actions. We may identify a species as a candidate for listing after we have conducted an evaluation of its status on our own initiative, or after we have made a positive finding on a petition to list a species, in particular we have found that listing is warranted but precluded by other higher priority listing actions (see the Petition Findings section, below).

We maintain this list of candidates for a variety of reasons: To notify the public that these species are facing threats to their survival; to provide advance knowledge of potential listings that could affect decisions of environmental planners and developers; to provide information that may stimulate and guide conservation efforts that will remove or reduce threats to these species and possibly make listing unnecessary; to request input from interested parties to help us identifythose candidate species that may not require protection under the ESA or additional species that may require the ESA's protections; and to request necessary information for setting priorities for preparing listing proposals. We strongly encourage collaborative conservation efforts for candidate species, and offer technical and financial assistance to facilitate such efforts. For additional information regarding such assistance, please contact the appropriate Regional Office listed under Request for Information or visit our Web site,http://www.fws.gov/endangered/what-we-do/cca.html.

Previous Notices of Review

We have been publishing candidate notices of review (CNOR) since 1975. The most recent CNOR (prior to this CNOR) was published on October 26, 2011 (76 FR 66370). CNORs published since 1994 are available on our Web site,http://www.fws.gov/endangered/what-we-do/cnor.html.For copies of CNORs published prior to 1994, please contact the Office of Communications and Candidate Conservation (seeFOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACTsection above).

On September 21, 1983, we published guidance for assigning an LPN for each candidate species (48 FR 43098). Using this guidance, we assign each candidate an LPN of 1 to 12, depending on the magnitude of threats, immediacy of threats, and taxonomic status; the lower the LPN, the higher the listing priority (that is, a species with an LPN of 1 would have the highest listing priority). Section 4(h)(3) of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1533(h)(3)) requires the Secretary to establish guidelines for such a priority-ranking guidance system. As explained below, in using this system we first categorize based on the magnitude of the threat(s), then by the immediacy of the threat(s), and finally by taxonomic status.

Under this priority-ranking system, magnitude of threat can be either “high” or “moderate to low.” This criterion helps ensure that the species facing the greatest threats to their continued existence receive the highest listing priority. It is important to recognize that all candidate species face threats to their continued existence, so the magnitude of threats is in relative terms. For all candidate species, the threats are of sufficiently high magnitude to put them in danger of extinction, or make them likely to become in danger of extinction in the foreseeable future. But for species with higher magnitude threats, the threats have a greater likelihood of bringing about extinction or are expected to bring about extinction on a shorter timescale (once the threats are imminent) than for species with lower magnitude threats. Because we do not routinely quantify how likely or how soon extinction would be expected to occur absent listing, we must evaluate factors that contribute to the likelihood and time scale for extinction. We therefore consider information such as: The number of populations or extent of range of the species affected by the threat(s) or both; the biological significance of the affected population(s), taking into consideration the life-history characteristics of the species and its current abundance and distribution; whether the threats affect the species in only a portion of its range, and if so, the likelihood of persistence of the species in the unaffected portions; the severity of the effects and the rapidity with which they have caused or are likely to cause mortality to individuals and accompanying declines in population levels; whether the effects are likely to be permanent; and the extent to which any ongoing conservation efforts reduce the severity of the threat.

As used in our priority-ranking system, immediacy of threat is categorized as either “imminent” or “nonimminent” and is based on when the threats will begin. If a threat is currently occurring or likely to occur in the very near future, we classify the threat as imminent. Determining the immediacy of threats helps ensure that species facing actual, identifiable threats are given priority for listing proposals over those for which threats are only potential or species that are intrinsically vulnerable to certain types of threats but are not known to be presently facing such threats.

Our priority ranking system has three categories for taxonomic status: Species that are the sole members of a genus; full species (in genera that have more than one species); and subspecies and distinct population segments of vertebrate species (DPS).

The result of the ranking system is that we assign each candidate a listing priority number of 1 to 12. For example, if the threats are of high magnitude, with immediacy classified as imminent, the listable entity is assigned an LPN of 1, 2, or 3 based on its taxonomic status (i.e., a species that is the only member of its genus would be assigned to the LPN 1 category, a full species to LPN 2, and a subspecies or DPS would be assigned to LPN 3). In summary, the LPN ranking system provides a basis for making decisions about the relative priority for preparing a proposed rule to list a given species. No matter which LPN we assign to a species, each species included in this notice as a candidate is one for which we have sufficient information to prepare a proposed rule to list because it is in danger of extinction or likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.

For more information on the process and standards used in assigning LPNs, a copy of the 1983 guidance is available on our Web site at:http://www.fws.gov/endangered/esa-library/pdf/48fr43098-43105.pdf.For more information on the LPN assigned to a particular species, the species assessment for each candidate contains the LPN chart and a rationale for the determination of the magnitude and immediacy of threat(s) and assignment of the LPN; that information is summarized in this CNOR.

This revised notice supersedes all previous animal, plant, and combined candidate notices of review.

Summary of This CNOR

Since publication of the previous CNOR on October 26, 2011 (76 FR 66370), we reviewed the available information on candidate species to ensure that a proposed listing is justified for each species, and reevaluated the relative LPN assigned to each species. We also evaluated the need to emergency-list any of these species, particularly species with high priorities (i.e., species with LPNs of 1, 2, or 3). This review and reevaluation ensures that we focus conservation efforts on those species at greatest risk first.

In addition to reviewing candidate species since publication of the last CNOR, we have worked on numerous findings in response to petitions to list species, and on proposed and final determinations for rules to list species under the ESA. Some of these findings and determinations have been completed and published in theFederal Register, while work on others is still under way (seePreclusion and Expeditious Progress,below, for details).

Based on our review of the best available scientific and commercial information, with this CNOR we identify 2 new candidate species (see New Candidates, below), change the LPN for 9 candidates (see Listing Priority Changes in Candidates, below) and determine that a listing proposal is not warranted for 3 species and thus remove them from candidate status (see Candidate Removals, below). Combined with the other decisions published separately from this CNOR, a total of 192 species (including 69 plant and 123 animal species) are now candidates awaiting preparation of rules proposingtheir listing. These 192 species, along with the 94 species currently proposed for listing (including 6 species proposed for listing due to similarity in appearance), are included in Table 1.

Table 2 lists the changes from the previous CNOR, and includes 47 species identified in the previous CNOR as either proposed for listing or classified as candidates that are no longer in those categories. This includes 41 species for which we published a final listing rule, 1 species for which we published a withdrawal of a proposed rule, 2 candidate species for which we published separate not-warranted findings and removed from candidate status, plus the 3 species in this notice that we have determined do not meet the definition of an endangered or threatened species and therefore do not warrant listing. We have removed these species from candidate status in this CNOR.

New Candidates

Below we present a brief summary of one new mammal (Peñasco least chipmunk), and one new fish (Cumberland arrow darter), that are additions to this year's CNOR. Complete information, including references, can be found in the species assessment forms. You may obtain a copy of these forms from the Regional Office having the lead for the species, or from our Web sitehttp://ecos.fws.gov/tess_public/pub/candidateSpecies.jsp.For these species, we find that we have on file sufficient information on biological vulnerability and threats to support a proposal to list as endangered or threatened, but that preparation and publication of a proposal is precluded by higher-priority listing actions (i.e., it met our definition of a candidate species). We also note below that two other species—San Francisco Bay-Delta longfin smelt DPS and Arapahoe snowfly—were identified as candidates earlier this year as a result of separate petition findings published in theFederal Register.

Mammals

Peñasco least chipmunk (Tamias minimus atristriatus)—The Peñasco least chipmunk is endemic to the White Mountains, Otero and Lincoln Counties, and the Sacramento Mountains, Otero County, New Mexico. The Peñasco least chipmunk historically had a broad distribution throughout the Sacramento Mountains within ponderosa pine forests. The last verification of persistence of the Sacramento Mountains population of Peñasco least chipmunk was in 1966, and the subspecies appears to be extirpated from the Sacramento Mountains. The only remaining known distribution of the least chipmunk is restricted to open, high elevation, talus slopes within a subalpine grassland, located in the Sierra Blanca area, White Mountains, Lincoln and Otero Counties, New Mexico.

The Peñasco least chipmunk faces threats from present or threatened destruction, modification, and curtailment of its habitat from the alteration or loss of mature ponderosa pine forests in one of the two historically-occupied areas. The documented decline in occupied localities, in conjunction with the small numbers of individuals captured, are linked to widespread habitat alteration. Moreover, the highly-fragmented nature of its current distribution is a significant contributor to the vulnerability of this subspecies and increases the likelihood of very small, isolated populations being extirpated. As a result of this fragmentation, even if suitable habitat exists (or is restored) in the Sacramento Mountains, the likelihood of recolonization of historical habitat or population expansion from the White Mountains is extremely remote. Considering the magnitude and imminence of these threats to the subspecies and its habitat, and the vulnerability of the White Mountains population, we conclude that the least chipmunk is in danger of extinction throughout all of its known range now or in the foreseeable future.

The remaining population of Peñasco least chipmunk in the White Mountains is particularly susceptible to extinction as a result of small, reduced population sizes and its isolation. Because of the reduced population size and lack of contiguous habitat adjacent to the extant White Mountains population, even a small impact on the White Mountains could have a very large impact on the status of the species as a whole. As a result of its restricted range, apparent small population size, and fragmented historical habitat, the one known remaining extant population in the White Mountains is inherently vulnerable to extinction due to effects of small, population sizes. These impacts are likely to be seen in the population at some point in the foreseeable future, but do not appear to be affecting this population currently. Therefore, we conclude the threats to this population are of high magnitude, but not imminent. Therefore, we assign an LPN of 6 to the subspecies.

Fish

Cumberland arrow darter (Etheostoma sagitta sagitta)—The following summary is based on information in our files. The Cumberland arrow darter is a brightly colored darter with a total length of 116 millimeters (4.6 inches). It is restricted to the upper Cumberland River basin in southeastern Kentucky and northeastern Tennessee. The Cumberland arrow darter typically inhabits small, headwater streams (first to third order) but is sometimes observed in larger streams or small rivers. Its preferred habitat consists of pools or transitional areas between riffles and pools (runs and glides) in moderate to high gradient streams with bedrock, boulder, and cobble substrates. Cumberland arrow darters feed on a variety of aquatic invertebrates, but adults feed predominantly on larval mayflies (order Ephemeroptera), specifically the families Heptageniidae and Baetidae. Rangewide surveys from 2010 to 2012 revealed that the Cumberland arrow darter has been extirpated from portions of its range. During these efforts, the subspecies was observed at 60 of 101 historical streams and 72 of 123 historical sites.

The subspecies' habitat and range have been degraded and limited by water pollution from surface coal mining and gas exploration activities; removal of riparian vegetation; stream channelization; increased siltation associated with poor mining, logging, and agricultural practices; and deforestation of watersheds. The magnitude of these threats is most severe in the eastern half of the range, where resource extraction activities are more common and public ownership is sparse. The threat magnitude is lower in the western half of the range where resource extraction activities are less severe and a larger proportion of the range is in public ownership. Since the species and its life cycle and habitat requirements are fairly evenly distributed across its range, overall, the magnitude of the threats is moderate. We also consider these threats to be imminent because the threats are ongoing and will continue for the foreseeable future. Consequently, we assigned an LPN of 9 to the Cumberland arrow darter.

Longfin smelt, San Francisco Bay-Delta DPS (Spirinchus thaleichthys)—We previously announced candidate status for this DPS, and described the reasons and data on which the finding was based, in a separate warranted-but-precluded 12-month petition finding published on April 2, 2012 (77 FR 19756).

Insects

Arapahoe snowfly (Capnia arapahoe)—We previously announced candidate status for this species, anddescribed the reasons and data on which the finding was based, in a separate warranted-but-precluded 12-month petition finding published on May 10, 2012 (77 FR 27386).

Listing Priority Changes in Candidates

We reviewed the LPN for all candidate species and are changing the numbers for the following species discussed below. Some of the changes reflect actual changes in either the magnitude or immediacy of the threats. For some species, the LPN change reflects efforts to ensure national consistency as well as closer adherence to the 1983 guidelines in assigning these numbers, rather than an actual change in the nature of the threats.

Reptiles

Sonoran desert tortoise (Gopherus morafkai)—The following summary is based on information contained in our files. Sonoran desert tortoises are most closely associated with Sonoran and Mojave Desert scrub vegetation types, but may also be found in other habitat types within their distribution and elevation range. They occur most commonly on rocky, steep slopes and bajadas in paloverde-mixed cacti associations. Washes and valley bottoms may be used in dispersal and, in some areas, as all or part of home ranges. Most Sonoran desert tortoises in Arizona occur between 904 to 4,198 feet (275 to 1280 meters) in elevation. The Sonoran desert tortoise is distributed south and east of the Colorado River in Arizona in all counties except for Navajo, Apache, Coconino, and Greenlee Counties, south to the Rio Yaqui in southern Sonora, Mexico.

Threats known to affect Sonoran desert tortoises include nonnative plant species invasions and altered fire regimes; urban and agricultural development, and human population growth; barriers to dispersal and genetic exchange; off-highway vehicles; roads and highways; historical ironwood and mesquite tree harvest in Mexico; improper livestock grazing (predominantly in Mexico); undocumented human immigration and interdiction activities; illegal collection; predation from feral dogs; human depredation and vandalism; drought; and climate change. Threats to the Sonoran desert tortoise differ geographically in type and scope, and are highly synergistic in their effects. However, in their totality, these threats are high in magnitude because of the large amount of habitat that is likely to be affected and the irreversible nature of the effect of these threats in sensitive habitats that are slow to rebound. While some threats are ongoing, the more significant ones are not. Thus, overall, the threats are nonimminent. Recent phylogenetic research confirmed what has been suspected for decades within the scientific community that the Sonoran desert tortoise is a distinct species. Therefore, we changed the LPN from a 6 to a 5, reflecting that this entity is now a full species and no longer a DPS.

Sonoyta mud turtle (Kinosternon sonoriense longifemorale)—The following summary is based on information contained in our files. No new information was provided in the petition we received on May 11, 2004. The Sonoyta mud turtle occurs in a spring and pond at Quitobaquito Springs on Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona, and in the Rio Sonoyta and Quitovac Spring of Sonora, Mexico. Loss and degradation of stream habitat from water diversion and groundwater pumping, along with its very limited distribution, are the primary threats to the Sonoyta mud turtle. The Sonoyta mud turtle may also be vulnerable to aerial spraying of pesticides on nearby agricultural fields. Sonoyta mud turtles are highly aquatic and depend on permanent water for survival. The area of southwest Arizona and northern Sonora where the Sonoyta mud turtle occurs is one of the driest regions in the Southwest. Due to continued drought and irrigated agriculture in the region, we expect surface water in the Rio Sonoyta to further dwindle in the foreseeable future but not as imminently as previously believed since National Park Service staff have implemented several actions to stabilize the water levels at Quitobaquito Springs. However, surface water use will have a significant impact on the survival of this subspecies. Based on a change in the timing of the threat from the reduction of surface water to nonimminent (i.e., expected to occur in foreseeable future), we are changing the LPN for Sonoyta mud turtle from a 3 to a 6.

Amphibians

Black Warrior waterdog (Necturus alabamensis)—The following summary is based on information contained in our files. No new information was provided in the petition we received on May 11, 2004. The Black Warrior waterdog is a salamander that inhabits streams above the Fall Line within the Black Warrior River Basin in Alabama. There is very little specific locality information available on the historical distribution of the Black Warrior waterdog because little attention was given to this species between its description in 1937 and the 1980s. During this time, there were a total of only 11 known historical records from 4 Alabama counties. Two of these sites have now been inundated by impoundments. Extensive survey work was conducted in the 1990s to look for additional populations. As a result of that work, the species was documented at 14 sites in 5 counties.

Water-quality degradation is the biggest threat to the continued existence of the Black Warrior waterdog. Most streams that have been surveyed for the waterdog showed evidence of pollution and many appeared biologically depauperate. Sources of point and nonpoint pollution in the Black Warrior River Basin have been numerous and widespread. Pollution is generated from inadequately treated effluent from industrial plants, sanitary landfills, sewage treatment plants, poultry operations, and cattle feedlots. Surface mining represents another threat to the biological integrity of waterdog habitat. Runoff from old, abandoned coal mines generates pollution through acidification, increased mineralization, and sediment loading. The North River, Locust Fork, and Mulberry Fork, all streams that this species inhabits, are on the Environmental Protection Agency's list of impaired waters. An additional threat to the Black Warrior waterdog is the creation of large impoundments that have flooded thousands of square hectares of its habitat. These impoundments are likely marginal or unsuitable habitat for the salamander. Suitable habitat for the Black Warrior waterdog is limited, and available data indicate extant populations are small and their viability is questionable. This situation is pervasive and problematic; water quality issues are persistent and regulatory mechanisms are not ameliorating these ongoing threats. The most current survey information indicates all populations except one may have decreased below detectable limits indicating the threats have increased in their severity and effects on the species. Based on this updated information, the threats are now of high magnitude overall. Water quality degradation in the Black Warrior Basin is ongoing, therefore, the threats are imminent. We have changed the LPN from an 8 to a 2 for this species.

Snails

Page springsnail (Pyrgulopsis morrisoni)—The following summary is based on information contained in our files. The Page springsnail is known from a complex of springs located within an approximately 0.93-mi (1.5-km) stretch along the west side of OakCreek around the community of Page Springs, and within springs located along Spring Creek, tributary to Oak Creek, Yavapai County, Arizona.

The primary threat to the Page springsnail has been modification of habitat by domestic use, agriculture, ranching, fish hatchery operations, recreation, and groundwater withdrawal. Many of the springs where the species occurs have been subjected to some level of modification. However, the immediacy of the threat of groundwater withdrawal is uncertain, due to conflicting information regarding immediacy. Based on recent survey data, it appears that the Page springsnail is abundant within natural habitats and persists in modified habitats, albeit at reduced densities. Arizona Game and Fish Department (AGFD) management plans for the Bubbling Ponds and Page Springs fish hatcheries include commitments to replace lost habitat and to monitor remaining populations of invertebrates such as the Page springsnail. The candidate conservation agreement with assurances (CCAA) for the Page springsnail has resulted in the implementation of conservation measures such as restoration and creation of spring ecosystems, including springs on AGFD properties. The implementation of the CCAA has resulted in measurable benefits to the species and its habitats. Additionally, the National Park Service has expressed an interest in restoring natural springhead integrity to Shea Springs, a site historically occupied by Page springsnail.

Accordingly, we find that ongoing implementation of the CCAA continues to substantially reduce the magnitude and immediacy of threats to, and to appreciably improve the conservation status of, the species. Therefore, we are changing the LPN for the Page springsnail from an 8 to an 11.

Insects

Nevares Spring naucorid bug (Ambrysusfunebris)—The Nevares Spring naucorid bug is an aquatic insect that has a distribution that is limited to the Travertine-Nevares Springs Complex within Death Valley National Park, Inyo County, California. Surveys indicate that it is a rare species within the aquatic invertebrate community. The Travertine and Nevares Springs areas have eight water collection facilities that provide water for commercial and domestic uses. Information pertaining to the historical distribution of the Nevares Spring naucorid bug prior to the development of the local water collection systems is not available. However, several of the aquatic habitats where the insect occurred have been eliminated or substantially reduced in size. It is likely that the species occupied a large area of habitat where suitable micro-habitat features were present. The widespread loss of aquatic habitat within the Travertine-Nevares Springs Complex since the water collection systems were installed suggests the species has experienced major reductions in abundance and distribution as springbrook environments were eliminated or reduced in extent. The adverse effects of water diversion activities are most pronounced during the summer months, when aquatic habitats and the species that occupy those habitats are most restricted, and therefore vulnerable to perturbation. In addition, as the human population in southwestern Nevada grows, the demand for ground water and the application for permits to pump more ground water from the underground aquifer that supplies water to desert springs, seeps, and streams in Death Valley National Park will grow. This would likely reduce the quantity of water supplies to desert seeps, springs, and streams and reduce the habitat available to the Nevares Spring naucorid bug.

Nonnative mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis) may prey on and compete with Nevares Spring naucorid bugs for food resources. Crayfish (Procambarussp.) are in close proximity to the naucorid bug's range, and if ever introduced into the same habitat, could pose an immediate threat to the species. The presence of nonnative plants may also reduce water availability or alter microhabitat features. Climate change will likely affect the species because increasing temperatures will likely result in greater evaporation rates and increasingly arid conditions, which may result in decreased recharge rates into the groundwater system. In previous years, magnitude of threats was classified as high and immediacy of threats was classified as nonimminent for this species, resulting in an LPN of 5. However, the primary threats to this species are ongoing, and, thus, to ensure consistency in the application of our listing priority process, we have changed the immediacy of threats from nonimminent to imminent, resulting in an LPN of 2 (high magnitude and imminent threats) for the Nevares Spring naucorid bug.

Stephan's riffle beetle (Heterelmis stephani)—The following summary is based on information contained in our files. No new information was provided in the petition received on May 11, 2004. The Stephan's riffle beetle is an endemic riffle beetle historically found in limited spring environments within the Santa Rita Mountains, Pima County, Arizona. In the most recent surveys conducted in 1993, the beetle was only documented in Sylvester Spring in Madera Canyon, within the Coronado National Forest. Suspected potential threats to that spring are largely from habitat modification, and potential changes in water quality and quantity due to catastrophic natural events and climate change. The threats are of low to moderate magnitude based on our current knowledge that the effects of these threats are unlikely to be permanent as they stem from occasional natural events that do not result in permanent water quality degradation. Additionally, there is a higher likelihood that the species will persist in areas that are unaffected by the threats; it is unlikely that all areas of the spring would be simultaneously be affected. Threats from habitat modification have already occurred and are no longer ongoing, and the threats from climate change are expected to occur over many years. Therefore, the threats are nonimminent. Thus, we are changing the LPN for the Stephan's riffle beetle from an 8 to an 11.

Flowering Plants

Astragalus anserinus(Goose Creek milkvetch)—The following summary is based on information in our files and in the petition received on February 3, 2004. The majority (over 80 percent) of Goose Creek milkvetch sites in Idaho, Utah, and Nevada occur on Federal lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The rest of the sites occur as small populations on private and State lands in Utah and on private land in Idaho and Nevada. Goose Creek milkvetch occurs in a variety of habitats, but is typically associated with dry, tuffaceous soils (made up of rock consisting of smaller kinds of volcanic detritus) from the Salt Lake Formation. The species grows on steep or flat sites, with soil textures ranging from silty to sandy to somewhat gravelly. The species tolerates some level of disturbance, based on its occurrence on steep slopes where downhill movement of soil is common.

The primary threat to Goose Creek milkvetch is habitat degradation and modification resulting from an altered wildfire regime, fire suppression activities, and rehabilitation efforts to recover lands that have burned. Other factors that also appear to threaten Goose Creek milkvetch include livestock use; invasive, nonnative species; and the inadequacy of regulatory mechanisms to address these threats. Climate change effects to GooseCreek drainage habitats are possible, but we are unable to predict the specific impacts of this change to Goose Creek milkvetch at this time.

We originally assigned the species an LPN of 5 based on high magnitude threats that were capable of destroying entire populations, but that were nonimminent, or not currently ongoing. However, our recent review reveals that the threats have increased and are now imminent, or currently occurring, largely a result of land management actions taken since fires initially altered the habitat. We now consider the threats associated with livestock grazing and invasive species to be imminent throughout a large portion of the species' range. The increased magnitude and immediacy of threats leaves the species and its small populations more vulnerable to stochastic events. Additionally, surveys have not identified new populations that would significantly increase the range or extent of the species. Therefore, we are changing the LPN for Goose Creek milkvetch from a 5 to a 2.

Calochortus persistens(Siskiyou mariposa lily)—The following summary is based on information contained in our files and the petition we received on September 10, 2001. The Siskiyou mariposa lily is a narrow endemic that is restricted to three disjunct ridge tops in the Klamath-Siskiyou Range near the California-Oregon border. The southernmost occurrence of this species is composed of nine separate sites on approximately 17.6 hectares (ha) (43.4 acres (ac)) of Klamath National Forest and privately owned lands that stretch for 10 kilometers (km) (6 miles (mi)) along the Gunsight-Humbug Ridge, Siskiyou County, California. In 2007, a new occurrence was confirmed in the locality of Cottonwood Peak and Little Cottonwood Peak, Siskiyou County, where several populations are distributed over 164 ha (405 ac) on three individual mountain peaks in the Klamath National Forest and on private lands. The northernmost occurrence consists of not more than five Siskiyou mariposa lily plants that were discovered in 1998, on Bald Mountain, west of Ashland, Jackson County, Oregon.

Major threats include competition and shading by native and nonnative species fostered by suppression of wildfire; increased fuel loading and subsequent risk of wildfire; fragmentation by roads, fire breaks, tree plantations, and radio-tower facilities; maintenance and construction around radio towers and telephone relay stations located on Gunsight Peak and Mahogany Point; and soil disturbance, direct damage, and exotic weed and grass species introduction as a result of heavy recreational use and construction of fire breaks. Dyer's woad (Isatis tinctoria), an invasive, nonnative plant that may prevent germination of Siskiyou mariposa lily seedlings, affects 75 percent of the known lily habitat on Gunsight-Humbug Ridge, the southernmost California occurrence. U.S. Forest Service staff and the Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center cite competition with dyer's woad as a significant and chronic threat to the survival of Siskiyou mariposa lily.

The combination of restricted range, extremely low numbers (five plants) in one of three disjunct populations, poor competitive ability, short seed dispersal distance, slow growth rates, low seed production, apparently poor survival rates in some years, herbivory, habitat disturbance, and competition from exotic plants threaten the continued existence of this species. However, because efforts are underway to reduce the threat of dyer's woad where it is found and because there is no evidence of a decline in the populations of any of the threeC. persistensoccurrences since the time this species was added to the list of candidate species, we now classify the magnitude of existing threats as moderate rather than high. As the threats of competition from exotic plants are not anticipated to overwhelm a large portion of the species' range in the immediate future, the threats are nonimminent. Therefore, we have changed the LPN from a 5 to an 11 to this species.

Helianthus verticillatus(whorled sunflower)—The following summary is based on information contained in our files. No new information was provided in the petition we received on May 11, 2004. The whorled sunflower is found in moist, prairie-like openings in woodlands and along adjacent creeks. Despite extensive surveys throughout its range, only four populations are known for this species. There is one population (consisting of two subpopulations) documented in Cherokee County, Alabama; one population in Floyd County, Georgia; and one population each in Madison and McNairy Counties, Tennessee.

This species appears to have restricted ecological requirements and is dependent upon the maintenance of prairie-like openings for its survival. Active management of habitat is needed to keep competition and shading under control. Much of its habitat has been degraded or destroyed for agricultural, silvicultural, and residential purposes. Populations near roadsides or powerlines are threatened by herbicide usage in association with right-of-way maintenance. The majority of the Georgia population is protected due to its location within a conservation easement; however, only 15 to 20 plants are estimated to occur at this site. The remaining three populations are not formally protected, but efforts have been taken to abate threats associated with highway right-of-way maintenance at one Alabama subpopulation. However, timber growth, following a 2001 timber harvest that benefitted the plants, now threatens the other Alabama subpopulation. Last year, this species was assigned an LPN of 8 based on imminent threats of moderate magnitude. However this year, we have evidence that one Alabama subpopulation is facing new threats from shading by trees, and additional information on the variable reproductive fitness of the species. Because small population size poses a threat to all known populations ofH. verticillatus,threats associated with land uses affect all populations except for the one in Georgia, and the reproductive fitness of the Georgia population is apparently diminished, we currently consider threats to be of high magnitude, and have changed the LPN to 2 for this species.

Candidate Removals

As summarized below, we have evaluated the threats to the following species and considered factors that, individually and in combination, currently or potentially could pose a risk to these species and their habitats. After a review of the best available scientific and commercial data, we conclude that listing these species under the Endangered Species Act is not warranted because these species are not likely to become endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of their ranges. Therefore, we find that proposing a rule to list them is not warranted, and we no longer consider them to be candidate species for listing. We will continue to monitor the status of these species and to accept additional information and comments concerning this finding. We will reconsider our determination in the event that new information indicates that the threats to the species are of a considerably greater magnitude or imminence than identified through assessments of information contained in our files, as summarized here.

Snails

Elongate mud meadows springsnail (Pyrgulopsis notidicola)—The following summary is based on informationcontained in our files.Pyrgulopsis notidicola,a freshwater snail, is endemic to Soldier Meadow, which is located at the northern extreme of the western arm of the Black Rock Desert in the transition zone between the Basin and Range Physiographic Province and the Columbia Plateau Province, Humboldt County, Nevada. The species is currently known to occupy four separate stretches of thermal (between 45 and 32 ° Celsius, 113 and 90 ° Fahrenheit) aquatic habitat. The first stretch is the largest at approximately 600 m (1,968 ft) long and 2 m (6.7 ft) wide. The other stretches wherePyrgulopsis notidicolaoccurs are less than 6 m (19.7 ft) long and 0.5 m (1.6 ft) wide.Pyrgulopsis notidicolaoccurs only in shallow, flowing water on gravel substrate. The species does not occur in deep water (i.e., impoundments) where water velocity is low, gravel substrate is absent, and sediment levels are high.

The primary threat toPyrgulopsis notidicolaidentified when the species was elevated to candidate status was associated with the pattern and amount of recreational use in Soldier Meadow, particularly bathing and camping in the immediate vicinity of the only spring known to contain the species at that time. However, management actions implemented by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) have greatly reduced recreation impacts in Soldier Meadow and thus have appreciably reduced the threat of habitat destruction or modification forPyrgulopsis notidicola.BLM constructed a designated central campground to preclude dispersed camping in sensitive habitats. Established walkways were also constructed to direct foot traffic away from sensitive habitats, including springs occupied byPyrgulopsis notidicola.BLM implemented a campground host system during periods of peak recreation use, and the site steward interacts with recreationists, directing them to designated camping and bathing areas. Educational signs that provide information on the need to protect sensitive species likePyrgulopsis notidicolaand their habitats were also installed. In addition, BLM has increased on-site presence of staff, including law enforcement staff, within the area. Another conservation action implemented was construction of a 1,215-ha (3,000-ac) exclosure fence to exclude livestock, wild horses, and burros from the majority of the hot springs, includingPyrgulopsis notidicolahabitat. Some of these conservation actions began beforePyrgulopsis notidicolabecame a candidate, but most have been implemented since that time.

Only one population was known at the timePyrgulopsis notidicolawas designated as a candidate in 2002. Since then, three additional populations have been discovered, indicating the species is more widely distributed and abundant than previously thought. As a result, the species is less vulnerable to stochastic events than previously thought.

Because conservation actions implemented in Soldier Meadow have greatly reduced threats toPyrgulopsis notidicolaand are likely to stay in place for the foreseeable future, and because the population status of the species is more secure than originally thought as a result of the discovery of three additional populations, we conclude thatPyrgulopsis notidicolano longer meets the definition of an endangered or threatened species under section 3 of the ESA. There are no portions of its range where threats remain, therefore, it is not threatened or endangered in a significant portion of its range. Therefore, we find that listing ofPyrgulopsis notidicolathroughout all or a significant portion of its range is no longer warranted, and we have removed it from candidate status.

Flowering Plants

Castilleja christii(Christ's paintbrush)—The following summary is based on information contained in our files and the petition we received on January 2, 2001.Castilleja christiioccurs as a single population within an approximately 85-ha (220-ac) area of subalpine meadow and sagebrush habitats found near the summit of Mount Harrison, Cassia County, Idaho, between 2,621 and 2,804 meters (8,600 to 9,200 feet (ft)). This endemic species is considered a hemiparasite that grows in association with native host plants found in its subalpine-meadow and sagebrush habitats. The species is subject to annual population fluctuations likely resulting from a variety of factors, such as biological interactions, anthropogenic disturbances, and environmental effects. The most recent population estimate, conducted in 2005, used distance sampling to estimate the overall population size forC. christiiof 1,267,580 plants, with lower and upper confidence limits of 819,126 and 1,716,033 plants, respectively. The overallC. christiipopulation is currently stable throughout a large portion of its range.

Castilleja christiiwas previously threatened by destruction, modification, and curtailment of its habitat by the effects from the nonnative smooth brome (Bromus inermis), recreation-based impacts, and inadequate regulatory mechanisms. It was also thought that hybridization with nearbyCastillejaspp. may be affectingC. christii.The U.S. Forest Service has successfully implemented numerous conservation actions that have ameliorated most of the previously known threats and established long-term monitoring programs to document their effectiveness on conservation actions. There is a long-term commitment by the Forest Service, through a 2005 Candidate Conservation Agreement and 2012 Memorandum of Agreement with the Service, to continue to implement conservation actions forC. christii.Furthermore, recent research by Boise State University has demonstrated that hybridization is not a factor affectingC. christii.Finally, the species' estimated population is much larger—by as much as two orders of magnitude —than earlier estimates had indicated. Therefore, we find that this species is no longer warranted for listing throughout all or a portion of its range. The species no longer meets our definition of a threatened or endangered species, and we have removed it from candidate status.

Narthecium americanum(bog asphodel)—Over the last 20 years frequent monitoring activities, studies, and increases in regulatory protections have improved our understanding and outlook for the status ofNarthecium americanum.Based on our current review of the best available information, we have determined that the species is less imperiled than previously believed and therefore does not warrant listing as threatened or endangered.

The historical range ofNarthecium americanumincluded three counties in the Pinelands Area of New Jersey and one county each in Delaware and South Carolina. The Delaware and South Carolina occurrences are documented by a single sample in each state collected in 1895 and 1922, respectively. The species' current range includes the same three New Jersey counties. The species' distribution consists of 18 occurrences covering approximately 80 ac. The relatively broad distribution of the species reduces the risk or loss of the species from stochastic, habitat-modifying events. While some historical locations have been lost on the periphery of the species' range due to habitat loss, other new locations have been found.

There are no manmade or natural threats affectingNarthecium americanumto the level that the species meets the definition of threatened orendangered. Approximately 97 percent ofN. americanumoccurs on public land or on private conservation land. Therefore, the historical threats of wetland filling, draining, flooding, and conversion to commercial cranberry bogs that resulted in the decline of the species are no longer occurring. Other manmade threats that we once thought were severely affecting the species such as upland development, water withdrawal, disturbance from recreational activities such as off-road vehicles (ORV), and collection are either adequately regulated (development and water withdrawal) or at most having ade minimusimpact (ORV and collection) on a small number of populations. The regulations controlling the manmade threats are expected to stay in place, and thede minimuslevel of impacts are expected to remain stable or further decrease. The natural threats of habitat succession, deer and waterfowl browsing, and beaver flooding are also not affectingN. americanumas we once believed. For example, new information suggests that the species is able to persist in closed canopy conditions and that greater than 20 percent of the distribution ofN. americanumis found in cedar forest cover that has remained relatively stable for the past 61 years. In addition, wetter microhabitat conditions created by deer trails may allowN. americanumto expand and colonize into forested areas. Beaver flooding of the species' habitat does occur, but only five percent of allN. americanumoccurrences are negatively influenced by beaver activities. These natural threats are not anticipated to increase. And lastly, climate change is not now impacting the species, and we are unable to accurately predict if or howN. americanummay be impacted by climate change in the future. It is possible that future climate conditions in the New Jersey Pinelands may cause changes in water table, precipitation, or evapotranspiration levels. However, these climate processes may increase or decrease or the potential effects may be off-setting. Therefore, based on the best available information, we cannot conclude that climate change is a threat toN. americanum.

In summary,Narthecium americanumis secure within its current range. There are no manmade or natural threats affecting the species to such a degree thatN. americanumwarrants listing in all or a significant portion of its range. The species no longer meets our definition of a threatened or endangered species, and we have removed it from candidate status.

Petition Findings

The ESA provides two mechanisms for considering species for listing. One method allows the Secretary, on his own initiative, to identify species for listing under the standards of section 4(a)(1). We implement this through the candidate program, discussed above. The second method for listing a species provides a mechanism for the public to petition us to add a species to the Lists. The CNOR serves several purposes as part of the petition process: (1) In some instances (in particular, for petitions to list species that the Service has already identified as candidates on its own initiative), it serves as the petition finding; (2) for candidate species for which the Service has made a warranted-but-precluded petition finding, it serves as a “resubmitted” petition finding that the ESA requires the Service to make each year; and (3) it documents the Service's compliance with the statutory requirement to monitor the status of species for which listing is warranted-but-precluded to ascertain if they need emergency listing.

First, the CNOR serves as a petition finding in some instances. Under section 4(b)(3)(A), when we receive a listing petition, we must determine within 90 days, to the maximum extent practicable, whether the petition presents substantial information indicating that listing may be warranted (a “90-day finding”). If we make a positive 90-day finding, we must promptly commence a status review of the species under section 4(b)(3)(A); we must then make and publish one of three possible findings within 12 months of the receipt of the petition (a “12-month finding”):

(1) The petitioned action is not warranted;

(2) The petitioned action is warranted (in which case we are required to promptly publish a proposed regulation to implement the petitioned action; once we publish a proposed rule for a species, sections 4(b)(5) and 4(b)(6) of the ESA govern further procedures regardless of whether we issued the proposal in response to a petition); or

(3) The petitioned action is warranted but (a) the immediate proposal of a regulation and final promulgation of a regulation implementing the petitioned action is precluded by pending proposals to determine whether any species is endangered or threatened, and (b) expeditious progress is being made to add qualified species to the Lists. We refer to this third option as a “warranted-but-precluded finding.”

We define “candidate species” to mean those species for which the Service has on file sufficient information on biological vulnerability and threat(s) to support issuance of a proposed rule to list, but for which issuance of the proposed rule is precluded (61 FR 64481; December 5, 1996). The standard for making a species a candidate through our own initiative is identical to the standard for making a warranted-but-precluded 12-month petition finding on a petition to list, and we add all petitioned species for which we have made a warranted-but-precluded 12-month finding to the candidate list.

Therefore, all candidate species identified through our own initiative already have received the equivalent of substantial 90-day and warranted-but-precluded 12-month findings. Nevertheless, we review the status of the newly petitioned candidate species and through this CNOR publish specific section 4(b)(3) findings (i.e., substantial 90-day and warranted-but-precluded 12-month findings) in response to the petitions to list these candidate species. We publish these findings as part of the first CNOR following receipt of the petition. On October 5, 2011, we received a petition to list the Peñasco least chipmunk (see summary above under New Candidates) after we had initiated our assessment of this species for candidate status. As part of this notice, we are making the substantial 90-day and warranted-but-precluded 12-month findings for this species. We have identified the candidate species for which we received petitions by the code “C*” in the category column on the left side of Table 1 below.

Second, the CNOR serves as a “resubmitted” petition finding. Section 4(b)(3)(C)(i) of the ESA requires that when we make a warranted-but-precluded finding on a petition, we are to treat such a petition as one that is resubmitted on the date of such a finding. Thus, we must make a 12-month petition finding in compliance with section 4(b)(3)(B) of the ESA at least once a year, until we publish a proposal to list the species or make a final not-warranted finding. We make these annual findings for petitioned candidate species through the CNOR.

Third, through undertaking the analysis required to complete the CNOR, the Service determines if any candidate species needs emergency listing. Section 4(b)(3)(C)(iii) of the ESA requires us to “implement a system to monitor effectively the status of all species” for which we have made a warranted-but-precluded 12-month finding, and to “make prompt use of the [emergency listing] authority [under section 4(b)(7)] to prevent a significantrisk to the well being of any such species.” The CNOR plays a crucial role in the monitoring system that we have implemented for all candidate species by providing notice that we are actively seeking information regarding the status of those species. We review all new information on candidate species as it becomes available, prepare an annual species assessment form that reflects monitoring results and other new information, and identify any species for which emergency listing may be appropriate. If we determine that emergency listing is appropriate for any candidate we will make prompt use of the emergency listing authority under section 4(b)(7). For example, on August 10, 2011, we emergency listed the Miami blue butterfly (76 FR 49542). We have been reviewing and will continue to review, at least annually, the status of every candidate, whether or not we have received a petition to list it. Thus, the CNOR and accompanying species assessment forms constitute the Service's system for monitoring and making annual findings on the status of petitioned species under sections 4(b)(3)(C)(i) and 4(b)(3)(C)(iii) of the ESA.

A number of court decisions have elaborated on the nature and specificity of information that must be considered in making and describing the petition findings in the CNOR. The CNOR published on November 9, 2009 (74 FR 57804), describes these court decisions in further detail. As with previous CNORs, we continue to incorporate information of the nature and specificity required by the courts. For example, we include a description of the reasons why the listing of every petitioned candidate species is both warranted and precluded at this time. We make our determinations of preclusion on a nationwide basis to ensure that the species most in need of listing will be addressed first and also because we allocate our listing budget on a nationwide basis (see below). Regional priorities can also be discerned from Table 1, below, which includes the lead region and the LPN for each species. Our preclusion determinations are further based upon our budget for listing activities for unlisted species only, and we explain the priority system and why the work we have accomplished does preclude action on listing candidate species.

In preparing this CNOR, we reviewed the current status of, and threats to, the 172 candidates for which we have received a petition to list and the 5 listed species and for which we have received a petition to reclassify from threatened to endangered, where we found the petitioned action to be warranted but precluded. Included in this work is our review of the current status of, and threats to, the Canada lynx in New Mexico for which we received a petition to add that State to the listed range. We find that the immediate issuance of a proposed rule and timely promulgation of a final rule for each of these species has been, for the preceding months, and continues to be, precluded by higher priority listing actions. Additional information that is the basis for this finding is found in the species assessments and our administrative record for each species.

Our review included updating the status of, and threats to, petitioned candidate or listed species for which we published findings, under section 4(b)(3)(B) of the ESA, in the previous CNOR. We have incorporated new information we gathered since the prior finding and, as a result of this review, we are making continued warranted-but-precluded 12-month findings on the petitions for these species.

The immediate publication of proposed rules to list these species was precluded by our work on higher priority listing actions, listed below, during the period from October 1, 2011, through September 30, 2012. Below we describe the actions that continue to preclude the immediate proposal and final promulgation of a regulation implementing each of the petitioned actions for which we have made a warranted-but-precluded finding, and we describe the expeditious progress we are making to add qualified species to, and remove species from, the Lists. We will continue to monitor the status of all candidate species, including petitioned species, as new information becomes available to determine if a change in status is warranted, including the need to emergency-list a species under section 4(b)(7) of the ESA.

In addition to identifying petitioned candidate species in Table 1 below, we also present brief summaries of why each of these candidates warrants listing. More complete information, including references, is found in the species assessment forms. You may obtain a copy of these forms from the Regional Office having the lead for the species, or from the Fish and Wildlife Service's Internet Web site:http://ecos.fws.gov/tess_public/pub/candidateSpecies.jsp.As described above, under section 4 of the ESA, we identify and propose species for listing based on the factors identified in section 4(a)(1), and section 4 also provides a mechanism for the public to petition us to add species to the Lists of Endangered or Threatened Wildlife and Plants under the ESA.

Preclusion and Expeditious Progress

To make a finding that a particular action is warranted-but-precluded, the Service must make two findings: (1) That the immediate proposal and timely promulgation of a final regulation is precluded by pending listing proposals, and (2) that expeditious progress is being made to add qualified species to either of the lists and to remove species from the lists. 16 U.S.C. 1533(b)(3)(B)(iii).

Preclusion

A listing proposal is precluded if the Service does not have sufficient resources available to complete the proposal, because there are competing demands for those resources, and the relative priority of those competing demands is higher. Thus, in any given fiscal year (FY), multiple factors dictate whether it will be possible to undertake work on a listing proposal regulation or whether promulgation of such a proposal is precluded by higher priority listing actions—(1) the amount of resources available for completing the listing function, (2) the estimated cost of completing the proposed listing, and (3) the Service's workload and prioritization of the proposed listing in relation to other actions.

Available Resources

The resources available for listing actions are determined through the annual Congressional appropriations process. In FY 1998 and for each fiscal year since then, Congress has placed a statutory cap on funds that may be expended for the Listing Program. This spending cap was designed to prevent the listing function from depleting funds needed for other functions under the ESA (for example, recovery functions, such as removing species from the Lists), or for other Service programs (see House Report 105-163, 105th Congress, 1st Session, July 1, 1997). The funds within the spending cap are available to support work involving the following listing actions: Proposed and final listing rules; 90-day and 12-month findings on petitions to add species to the Lists or to change the status of a species from threatened to endangered; annual “resubmitted” petition findings on prior warranted-but-precluded petition findings as required under section 4(b)(3)(C)(i) of the ESA; critical habitat petition findings; proposed and final rules designating critical habitat; and litigation-related, administrative, and program-mana