Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Endangered Status for Grotto Sculpin and Designation of Critical Habitat, 59487-59515 [2012-23742]

Download as PDF Vol. 77 Thursday, No. 188 September 27, 2012 Part III Department of the Interior erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with Fish and Wildlife Service 50 CFR Part 17 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Endangered Status for Grotto Sculpin and Designation of Critical Habitat; Proposed Rule VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:01 Sep 26, 2012 Jkt 226001 PO 00000 Frm 00001 Fmt 4717 Sfmt 4717 E:\FR\FM\27SEP2.SGM 27SEP2 59488 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 188 / Thursday, September 27, 2012 / Proposed Rules DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service 50 CFR Part 17 [Docket No. FWS–R3–ES–2012–0065; 4500030113] RIN 1018–AY16 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Endangered Status for Grotto Sculpin and Designation of Critical Habitat Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Proposed rule. AGENCY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, propose to list the grotto sculpin (Cottus sp. nov.) as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, and propose to designate critical habitat for the species. In total, all underground aquatic habitat underlying approximately 94 square kilometers (36 square miles) plus 31 kilometers (19.2 miles) of surface stream are being proposed for designation as critical habitat. The proposed critical habitat is located in Perry County, Missouri. If adopted, the effect of these regulations is to conserve grotto sculpin and its habitat under the Endangered Species Act. DATES: Written Comments: We will accept comments received or postmarked on or before November 26, 2012. Comments submitted electronically using the Federal eRulemaking Portal (see ADDRESSES section, 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 the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section by November 13, 2012. Public Meeting: To better inform the public of the implications of the proposed listing and proposed critical habitat, and to answer any questions regarding this proposed rule, we plan to hold a public meeting on Tuesday, October 30 from 5–8 p.m. at the Perryville Higher Education Center, 108 South Progress Drive, Perryville, MO 63775. ADDRESSES: Written Comments: You may submit comments by one of the following methods: (1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http:// www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter Docket No. FWS–R3–ES–2012– 0065, which is the docket number for this rulemaking. Then, click the Search erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with SUMMARY: VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:01 Sep 26, 2012 Jkt 226001 button. You may submit a comment by clicking on ‘‘Comment Now!.’’ If your comments will fit in the provided comment box, please use this feature of http://www.regulations.gov, as it is most compatible with our comment review procedures. If you attach your comments as a separate document, our preferred file format is Microsoft Word. If you attach multiple comments (such as form letters), our preferred format is a spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel. (2) By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–R3–ES–2012– 0065; 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 on http:// www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we will post any personal information you provide us (see the Information Requested section below for more information). The coordinates or plot points or both from which the critical habitat maps are generated are included in the administrative record for this rulemaking and are available at http:// www.fws.gov/midwest/Endangered, www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS–R3–ES–2012–0065, and at the Columbia Missouri Ecological Services Field Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Any additional tools or supporting information that we may develop for this rulemaking will also be available at the Fish and Wildlife Service Web site and Field Office set out above, and may also be included in the preamble and/or at www.regulations.gov. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Amy Salveter, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Columbia Missouri Ecological Services Field Office, 101 Park De Ville Drive, Suite A, Columbia, MO 65203; by telephone 573–234–2132; or by facsimile 573– 234–2181. Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800–877–8339. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This document consists of: (1) A proposed rule to list the grotto sculpin as an endangered species; and (2) a proposed critical habitat designation for the grotto sculpin. Executive Summary Why we need to publish a rule. A species may warrant protection through listing under the Endangered Species Act (Act) if it meets the definition of an PO 00000 Frm 00002 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 endangered or threatened species throughout all or a significant portion of its range. This species has been a candidate for listing since 2002, but was precluded from listing by other higher priority actions. The grotto sculpin currently is afforded no protection under the Act, and, because of continued threats, it warrants the protections afforded by listing under the Act. We are proposing to list the grotto sculpin as an endangered species. Listing a species as an endangered species or threatened species and designating critical habitat can only be done by issuing a rule. The basis for our action. Under the Act, we can determine that a species is an endangered or threatened species based on any of five factors: (A) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range; (B) overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes; (C) disease or predation; (D) the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or (E) other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence. We have determined the threats to the species include: • Habitat loss and degradation of aquatic resources, including such things as illegal waste disposal, chemical leaching, contaminated groundwater, vertical drains, urban development, sedimentation, and industrial sand mining. • Predation by nonnative predators. • Inadequate existing regulatory mechanisms that allow significant threats such as water contamination and exploitation of sinkholes. • Other natural or manmade factors, including loss of genetic diversity, natural environmental variability, and climate conditions such as drought. This rule proposes to designate critical habitat for the species. If prudent and determinable, we must designate critical habitat for endangered or threatened species. We are required to base the designation on the best available scientific data after taking into consideration economic and other impacts. We can exclude an area from critical habitat if the benefits of exclusion outweigh the benefits of designation, unless the exclusion will result in the extinction of the species. We are proposing to designate critical habitat in Perry County, Missouri, as follows: • Two units comprised of all underground aquatic habitat underlying approximately 94 km2 (36.28 mi2). • Two units that include approximately 31 kilometers (19.2 miles) of surface stream. E:\FR\FM\27SEP2.SGM 27SEP2 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 188 / Thursday, September 27, 2012 / Proposed Rules erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with We are preparing an economic analysis. To ensure that we consider the economic impacts, we are preparing an economic analysis of the proposed designation. We will seek peer review. We are seeking comments from independent specialists to ensure that our listing determination and critical habitat designation are based on scientifically sound data and analyses. We will invite these peer reviewers to comment, during the comment period, on our proposed listing and critical habitat designation. Because we will consider all comments and information received during the comment period, our final determination may differ from this proposal. Information Requested 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 governmental agencies, Native American tribes, the scientific community, industry, or any other interested parties concerning this proposed rule. We particularly seek comments concerning: (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 et seq.), which are: (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. (3) Biological, commercial trade, or other relevant data concerning any threats (or lack thereof) to this species and existing regulations that may be addressing those threats; (4) Additional information concerning the historical and current status, range, VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:01 Sep 26, 2012 Jkt 226001 distribution, and population size of this species, including the locations of any additional populations of this species; (5) The reasons why we should or should not designate habitat as ‘‘critical habitat’’ under section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et 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 threats outweighs the benefit of designation such that the designation of critical habitat is not prudent. (6) Specific information on: (a) The amount and distribution of grotto sculpin and its habitat, (b) What may constitute ‘‘physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the species,’’ within the geographical range currently occupied by the species; (c) Where these features are currently found, (d) Whether any of these features may require special management considerations or protection; (e) What areas, that were occupied at the time of listing (or are currently occupied) and that contain features essential to the conservation of the species, should be included in the designation and why, (f) What areas not occupied at the time of listing are essential for the conservation of the species and why; (7) Land use designations and current or planned activities in the areas occupied by the species or proposed to be designated as critical habitat, and possible impacts of these activities on this species and proposed critical habitat; (8) Information on the projected and reasonably likely impacts of climate change on the grotto sculpin and proposed critical habitat; (9) Any foreseeable economic, national security, or other relevant impacts that may result from designating any area that may be included in the final designation. We are particularly interested in any impacts on small entities, and the benefits of including or excluding areas from the proposed designation that are subject to these impacts; (10) Whether our approach to designating critical habitat could be improved or modified in any way to provide for greater public participation and understanding, or to assist us in accommodating public concerns and comments; (11) The likelihood of adverse social reactions to the designation of critical habitat and how the consequences of such reactions, if likely to occur, would relate to the conservation and regulatory PO 00000 Frm 00003 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 59489 benefits of the proposed critical habitat designation. Please note that 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, as section 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act directs that determinations as to whether any species is a threatened or endangered species must be made ‘‘solely on the basis of the best scientific and commercial data available.’’ You may submit your comments and materials concerning this proposed rule by one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. We request that you send comments only by the methods described in the ADDRESSES section. If you submit information via http:// www.regulations.gov, your entire submission—including any personal identifying information—will be posted on the Web site. If your submission is made via a hardcopy that includes personal identifying information, you may request at the top of your document that we withhold this information from public review. However, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. We will post all hardcopy submissions on http://www.regulations.gov. Please include sufficient information with your comments to allow us to verify any scientific or commercial information you include. Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting documentation we used in preparing this proposed rule, will be available for public inspection on http://www.regulations.gov, or by appointment, during normal business hours, at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Columbia Missouri Ecological Services Field Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Public Meeting: We have scheduled a public meeting to be held on Thursday, October 11, 2012 at the Perryville Higher Education Center, 108 South Progress Drive, Perryville, MO 63775. Any interested individuals or potentially affected parties seeking additional information on the public meeting should contact the Columbia Missouri Ecological Services Field Office (See FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is committed to providing access to this event for all participants. Please direct all requests for interpreters, close captioning, or other accommodation to the Columbia Missouri Ecological Services Field Office (See FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT) by 5 p.m. on October 4, 2012. E:\FR\FM\27SEP2.SGM 27SEP2 59490 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 188 / Thursday, September 27, 2012 / Proposed Rules Previous Federal Actions We first identified the grotto sculpin as a candidate species in a notice of review published in the Federal Register on June 13, 2002 (67 FR 40657). Candidate species are assigned listing priority numbers (LPNs) based on the immediacy and magnitude of threats, as well as taxonomic status. The lower the LPN, the higher priority that species is for us to determine appropriate action using our available resources. The grotto sculpin was assigned an LPN of 2 due to imminent threats of a high magnitude. On May 11, 2004, we received a petition dated May 4, 2004, from The Center for Biological Diversity to list 225 candidate species, including the grotto sculpin. From 2004 through 2011, notices of review published in the Federal Register (69 FR 24876, 70 FR 24870, 71 FR 53756, 72 FR 69034, 73 FR 75176, 74 FR 57804, 75 FR 69222, 76 FR 66370) continued to maintain an LPN of 2 for the species. Status Assessment for Grotto Sculpin Background erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with Species Description The grotto sculpin (Cottus sp. nov.) is a cave-dwelling fish that exhibits characteristics typical of troglomorphic (adapted to living in constant darkness) organisms, including greatly reduced or absent eyes and skin pigmentation (Burr et al. 2001, p. 286). The grotto sculpin is moderately-sized relative to other species in the genus; the largest specimen examined by Adams et al. (unpub. data) was 104 millimeters (mm) (4.1 inches (in)) standard length (SL). Taxonomy The grotto sculpin belongs to the family Cottidae (Pflieger 1997, p. 253) and until recently was considered to be a member of the banded sculpin (Cottus carolinae) complex. The banded sculpin occurs in streams and rivers in adjacent watersheds; however no other Cottus overlaps the geographic range of the grotto sculpin. Burr et al. (2001, p. 293) demonstrated that hypogean (underground) grotto sculpin found in Perry County, Missouri, are morphologically distinct from the epigean (above ground) forms of banded sculpin found outside the Cinque Hommes Creek drainage in that they exhibit obvious troglomorphic characteristics and other unique anatomical variations. Although the occurrence of banded sculpin in subterranean waters is well known, none of these sculpin shows evidence of cave adaption exhibited by grotto sculpin, and none is known to be a permanent cave resident. Grotto sculpin VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:01 Sep 26, 2012 Jkt 226001 are distinguished from all other Cottus species, except banded sculpin, by the complete lateral line terminating near the base of the caudal fin and lack of connection between dorsal fins (Adams et al. unpub. data). The grotto sculpin is distinct from the banded sculpin based on a reduction in eye size and an increase in cephalic lateralis pore size (Adams et al. unpub. data). Morphology of brain structures in hypogean individuals also differs significantly from that of epigean banded sculpin, including reduced optic and olfactory lobes and enlarged inferior lobe of the hypothalamus, eminentia granularis, and crista cerebellaris (Adams 2005, pp. 17–18). Population genetics of Cottus sculpin in southeast Missouri also have been analyzed. Adams et al. (unpub. data) conducted a population genetics study of sculpin from the Bois Brule drainage in Perry County, the Greasy Creek in Madison County, and the Current River in Ripley County. Unique evolutionary lineages for each of the three areas, based on distinct nuclear haplotypes, were identified and supported. A single nuclear haplotype was identified among sampled individuals throughout the Bois Brule drainage (Mystery Cave, Running Bull Cave, Rimstone River Cave, Crevice Cave, Moore Cave, and Cinque Hommes Creek), a second from Greasy Creek, and a third from the Current River. Adams et al. (unpub. data) is in the process of formally describing the grotto sculpin as a taxonomically distinct species based on the combination of morphologic and genetic uniqueness. Morphological data alone are not definitive in supporting a unique taxonomic unit; however, morphological data augmented by the results of genetic analyses by Adams et al. (unpub. data) support the divergence of grotto sculpin from other Cottus species. Life History and Habitat Grotto sculpin occupy cave streams, resurgences (also known as ‘‘spring branches’’) (Vandike 1985, p. 10), springs, and two surface streams (Adams 2012, pers. comm.; Burr et al. 2001, p. 284). Resurgences refer to the point of emergence of a cave stream from the cave system and are an interface between strictly subterranean habitats (caves) and streams that flow only on the surface. Age-class distribution of grotto sculpin between cave and surface habitats shifts throughout the year, but in general, adults make up a higher percentage of overall grotto sculpin abundance in caves, whereas juveniles comprise a higher percentage of overall abundance PO 00000 Frm 00004 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 on the surface (Gerken 2007, p. 14). Adults increase in abundance at resurgence sites in October, peak in December, and disappear from resurgence sites in January (Adams et al. 2008, p. 5). Such seasonal changes in adult abundance might be indicative of a subterranean migration for spawning (Adams 2005, p. 50). The appearance of grotto sculpin young-of-year in spring and early summer suggests late winter and early spring spawning (Day 2008, p. 18). The distance grotto sculpin travel upstream in caves is unknown, but a nest has been observed 0.6 meters (m) (2 feet (ft)) inside the cave portal at Thunderhole Resurgence, indicating they might stay close to surface habitats (Adams et al. 2008, p. 8). Five nests, with approximately 200 eggs each, were discovered within a 100-m (328-ft) area in Mystery Cave in December 1998, suggesting synchronous spawning within the cave (Adams 2005, p. 10). Nests were adhered to the underside of rocks in flowing water with a temperature of 14 °C (57 °F). Reproduction could occur as late as February or March in Cinque Hommes Creek, based on the observation of yolksac larvae and a single nest (Adams et al. unpub. data). Spawning could be tied to water temperature, with temperatures reaching optimum levels in caves as early as 2 to 3 months before surface habitats, explaining why spawning was not observed concurrently in those habitats (Adams 2005, pp. 10–11). Males remain present at nests and guard rocks to which nests are attached (Adams et al. unpub. data). Young-of-year abundance increases between March and May at resurgence sites, and between April and May in caves (Adams et al. 2008, p. 5). That increase, coupled with decreased recaptures, likely is a result of young-ofyear recruitment into the population. Adams et al. (2008, p. 7) classified grotto sculpin 30 mm (1.2 in) or less in length to be juveniles. At this size they can be tagged but are still susceptible to predation by adult sculpin as well as invasive fish. Grotto sculpin are cannibalistic, with the young providing a potential food source for adults in an otherwise forage-limited environment (Adams et al. 2008, p. 7). Seasonal decreases in abundance of young-of-year and juveniles likely are the result of spring and summer predation and cannibalism in addition to other causes of mortality. Epigean fishes, such as green sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus), bluegill (L. macrochirus), and channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus), can access caves through sinkholes and are E:\FR\FM\27SEP2.SGM 27SEP2 erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 188 / Thursday, September 27, 2012 / Proposed Rules potential predators on eggs and juveniles (Burr et al. 2001, p. 284). Resurgences are used by juvenile grotto sculpin as nursery areas, where the juveniles maximize growth before migrating upstream into caves to reproduce or downstream to surface streams (Day 2008, p. 18). As juveniles grow, the potential for cannibalism decreases and mortality rates stabilize, resulting in increased recapture rates in caves. Both growth rate and metabolism are lower in caves versus resurgence sites (Adams 2005, p. 61; Adams et al. 2008, p. 8). However, fish in both habitats reach comparable lengths, alluding to greater longevity of fish in caves (Adams et al. 2008, p. 8). Grotto sculpin tend to occur singly or in small aggregations of 2 to 3 individuals and can be found in the open water or hidden under rocks (Burr et al. 2001, p. 284). They occupy pools and riffles with moderate flows and variable depths (4 to 33 centimeters (cm) (1.6 to 13 in)) (Burr et al. 2001, p. 284). Although grotto sculpin have been documented to occur over a variety of substrates (for example, silt, gravel, cobble, rock rubble, and bedrock), the presence of cobble or pebble is necessary for spawning (Burr et al. 2001, p. 284; Adams et al. unpub. data). Gerken (2007, p. 16) examined habitat use by grotto sculpin in Mystery and Running Bull caves, Cinque Hommes Creek, and Thunderhole Resurgence. Grotto sculpin tend to be associated with a high availability of invertebrate prey, deeper cave pools, substrate containing cobble, and some level of sustained water flow (Gerken 2007, pp. 16–17). Use of surface habitat by grotto sculpin is most influenced by an abundance of amphipods and isopods. When surface streams with fewer prey items were used, available habitat was more than 23 percent clay. Grotto sculpin in caves occupied deeper pools where cobble comprised at least 10 percent of available habitat, and where amphipods and isopods were in greater abundance. Lower abundances of grotto sculpin were found in shallow cave pools where the substrate consisted of silt deposits deeper than 1.9 cm (0.8 in) (Gerken 2007, p. 16). Silt covered more overall area of available cave habitat, and silt also was deeper in caves compared to surface sites (Gerken and Adams 2007, p. 76). Within and among caves and streams, sculpin typically move 0 to 50 m (0 to 164 ft) (Adams et al. 2008, p. 6). Over multiple sampling trips, substantial migrations greater than 200 m (656 ft) have been observed (range 0 to 830 m (0 to 2,723 ft)). The largest single movement of sculpin observed between VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:01 Sep 26, 2012 Jkt 226001 two subsequent sampling trips (October to December 2007) was 610 m (2,001 ft) in Mystery Cave (Adams et al. 2008, p. 8). Such movements are seasonal and likely related to spawning and avoidance behavior of juveniles to escape predation by adult sculpin (Adams et al. 2008, p. 7). In May 2008, an individual that was tagged previously in Running Bull Cave was recaptured in Thunderhole Resurgence, evidencing the physical and biological connection of these two systems (Adams et al. 2008, p. 8). Species Distribution and Status The grotto sculpin was first documented in 1991 (Adams 2005, p. 11). Burr et al. (2001, pp. 280, 284) explored caves in five states that had extensive areas of karst to delineate the geographic range of the grotto sculpin, but found them to exist only in Missouri. Nine karst areas in Perry County, Missouri, were searched because sculpin (Cottus sp.) were previously known to be present in those areas, and the karst geology in those nine areas could provide suitable habitat for the grotto sculpin. Based on that study, the grotto sculpin is currently restricted to two karst areas (limestone regions characterized by sink holes, abrupt ridges, caves, and underground streams) in Perry County, Missouri: Central Perryville and Mystery-Rimstone (Burr et al. 2001, p. 283). Cave systems such as these that form beneath a sinkhole plain provide substantial organic input and an abundance of invertebrates. Such systems might be the only habitats that provide sufficient food and sustained water flow to support grotto sculpin populations (Burr et al. 2001, p. 291; Day 2008, pp. 16–17). Peck and Lewis (1978, pp. 43–53) documented an abundance of potential prey items in the karst region of southeast Missouri, including isopods, amphipods, flatworms, and snails. The grotto sculpin is restricted to Blue Spring Branch (from the Moore Cave System resurgence to the confluence with Bois Brule Creek) and the Cinque Hommes Creek drainage, including underlying caves and Cinque Hommes Creek, its tributaries, resurgences, and springs. Within the Cinque Hommes Creek drainage, populations have been documented in five cave systems: Moore Cave, Crevice Cave, Mystery Cave, Rimstone River Cave, and Running Bull Cave (Adams et al. unpub. data; Adams 2012, pers. comm.). Within these cave systems, grotto sculpin occur in cave streams and associated resurgences and springs. Cinque Hommes Creek and Blue Spring Branch are the only surface PO 00000 Frm 00005 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 59491 streams where grotto sculpin have been found. Cinque Hommes Creek is the primary resurgence stream for caves in the Mystery-Rimstone Karst and Crevice Cave in the Central Perryville Karst, whereas Blue Spring Branch is the resurgence stream for the Moore Cave System (Burr et al. 2001, p. 284). To date, over 153 additional caves in Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, and Tennessee have been searched for grotto sculpin and epigean or hypogean forms of banded sculpin. Of these, banded sculpin was documented in 25 caves, but only fish in the Central Perryville and Mystery-Rimstone karst areas exhibited the cave adaptations characteristic of grotto sculpin (Burr et al. 2001, p. 284). The full extent of the species’ range is unknown because not all reaches in occupied cave systems can be accessed and not all potential, suitable caves, springs, and surface streams have been surveyed (for example, Keyhole Spring; Moss and Pobst 2010, p. 152). We consider the geographic range of the grotto sculpin to be the extent of the Central Perryville and Mystery-Rimstone karst areas, which encompass approximately 222 km2 (89 mi2) (Service 2012 calculations based on Burr et al. 2001, p. 282 and Vandike 1985, p. 1). There are no total population estimates for the grotto sculpin. Mystery (MC) and Running Bull (RBC) caves and their associated resurgence streams, Mystery Resurgence (MR) and Thunderhole Resurgence (TR), respectively, apparently have the largest populations of grotto sculpin (Adams et al. 2008, p. 4). A study conducted from August 2005 to October 2008 yielded a total of 6,265 captures (4,218 individuals) at those four sites (Day 2008, p. 12). The 2,684 (43 percent) captures in caves represented 1,642 individuals, whereas 3,581 (57 percent) captures in resurgences represented 2,576 individuals (Day 2008, pp. 13, 15). Of the captured fish, 2,986 (MC–894, RBC–154, MR–376, TR–1562) were tagged for a mark-recapture study. Mean recapture was higher in caves (46 percent) than resurgences (18 percent) (Day 2008, p. 13). Grotto sculpin densities were significantly lower in caves (0.037/m2 (0.398/ft2)) compared to resurgence streams (0.225/m2 (2.42/ft2)) (Day 2008, p. 13). Density at Thunderhole Resurgence was significantly higher (0.610/m2 (6.57/ft2)) than any other site surveyed (MC 0.036/ m2 (0.388/ft2), RBC 0.113/m2 (1.22/ft2), MR 0.032/m2 (0.344/ft2)). Capture success, recapture rates, and population density differ seasonally. The greatest number of grotto sculpin has been captured in summer, followed E:\FR\FM\27SEP2.SGM 27SEP2 59492 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 188 / Thursday, September 27, 2012 / Proposed Rules erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with by spring, fall, and winter (Adams et al. 2008, p. 5; Day 2008, p. 12). Overall recapture rates were highest in fall and winter (32 percent each) and lower in spring (25 percent) and summer (15 percent). Overall recapture rates also were significantly lower at resurgence sites than caves, regardless of season. Recapture rates at caves were highest in winter (52 percent) and lowest in fall (44 percent). Recapture rates at resurgence sites were highest in spring (15 percent) and lowest in winter (7 percent). Similar patterns of seasonal changes in density were observed in caves and resurgences. In both habitats, densities were highest in summer, nearly equal in fall and spring, and lowest in winter (Adams et al. 2008, p. 5). Two mass mortalities of grotto sculpin have been documented in Perry County. The first occurred in Running Bull Cave in 2001, when the population was completely lost (Burr et al. 2001, p. 294; Adams 2005, p. 40). The second occurred in Mystery Cave in August 2005, and affected the uppermost 690 m (2,264 ft) of cave stream (Adams et al. 2008, p. 6). Both events were thought to have been caused by point-source pollution (Burr et al. 2001, p. 294; Adams et al. 2008, p. 6). Both caves were recolonized following the die-offs, and grotto sculpin were captured 2 years after the mortality event in Running Bull Cave (Adams et al. 2003, p. 7). Surveys were conducted as part of a research study immediately following the die-off in Mystery Cave (Adams et al. 2008, p. 6). From August 2005 through March 2006, no grotto sculpin were captured in the upstream sections of Mystery Cave. The first capture of a grotto sculpin after the die-off occurred in May 2006. The first recaptures of three individuals from three different stream sections (540, 560, and 570 m (1772, 1837, and 1870 ft)) occurred in July 2006. Stream sections that supported the earliest recolonization of grotto sculpin in the upper sections (0 to 690 m (0 to 2264 ft)) of Mystery Cave were the most downstream portion of the stream in which the die-off occurred (sections farthest away from the source of contamination). The grotto sculpin population in Mystery Cave increased over the next 3 years to more than 60 individuals in 2007 (Adams et al. 2008, p. 8). Summary of Factors Affecting the Species Section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533), and its implementing regulations at 50 CFR part 424, set forth the procedures for adding species to the Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:01 Sep 26, 2012 Jkt 226001 and Plants. Under section 4(a)(1) of the Act, we may list a species based on any of the following five factors: (A) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range; (B) overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes; (C) disease or predation; (D) the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; and (E) other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence. Listing actions may be warranted based on any of the above threat factors, singly or in combination. Each of these factors is discussed below. Factor A. The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment of Its Habitat or Range The grotto sculpin is a cave-adapted species that is endemic to karst habitats that provide consistent water flow, high organic input, and connection to surface streams, which allow for seasonal migrations to complete its life cycle. Nearly all of the land within the known range of the grotto sculpin is privately owned. Two exceptions are Ball Mill Resurgence Natural Area (19.5 ac (7.9 ha)) and Keyhole Spring and Resurgence near Blue Spring Branch; both properties are owned by the L–A–D Foundation (a private foundation dedicated to sustainable forest management and protection of natural and cultural areas in Missouri (http:// pioneerforest.org) and managed by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC)). The municipality of Perryville is in the Central Perryville Karst Area and is within the recharge area of Crevice Cave. Thirty-six percent (15.6 km2 (6.02 mi2)) of Perryville’s total area of 43 km2 (16.6 mi2) lies within the karst area, whereas 24 percent (10.4 km2 (4.02 mi2)) lies within the southern portion of the recharge area of Crevice Cave (recharge area defined by Moss and Pobst 2012, pp. 151–152). The karst in Perry County is characterized by thousands of sinkholes (Vandike 1985, p. 1) and over 700 caves (Fox et al. 2009, p. 5). Water quality in karst areas is highly vulnerable and can severely decline with rapid transmission of contaminants from the surface to the aquifer (Panno and Kelly 2004, p. 230). Moss and Pobst delineated recharge areas for known and potential grotto sculpin caves (2010, pp. 146–160) and evaluated the vulnerability of groundwater in the recharge areas to contamination (2010, pp. 161–190). Because the grotto sculpin is dependent not only on caves, but uses surface habitat in addition to caves, Moss and Pobst (2010, p. 161) evaluated hazards within and adjacent to recharge PO 00000 Frm 00006 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 areas to best characterize impairment of cave and surface streams. They found all the recharge areas to be highly vulnerable and contain hazards from historical sinkhole dumps, agricultural practices without universal application of best management practices, ineffective private septic systems, and roads with contaminated runoff (Burr et al. 2001, p. 294; Moss and Pobst 2010, p. 183). They noted additional hazards in the recharge area for Crevice Cave not found elsewhere, such as hazardous waste generators, wastewater outflows, storm water outflows, and underground storage tanks for hazard waste, that compound potential threats to groundwater and drinking water (Moss and Pobst 2010, p. 184). Impacts to groundwater are not proportional to the area impacted in such a highly vulnerable landscape—a localized pollution event can impact all aquatic habitats downstream. There are approximately 2 sinkholes per km2 (6 per mi2) in Perry County and 7 sinkholes per km2 (17 per mi2) in the Central Perryville and MysteryRimstone karst areas (Missouri Department of Natural Resources 2010, unpaginated). Recharge areas around grotto sculpin caves contain up to four times the number of sinkholes compared to other parts of the county or other karst areas. Cave recharge areas in the Central Perryville Karst contain an average of 8 sinkholes per km2 (22 per mi2), whereas those in the MysteryRimstone Karst contain an average of 4 per km2 (11 per mi2) (Missouri Department of Natural Resources 2010, unpaginated). Water flow in Perry County karst systems occurs by way of surface features, such as sinkholes and losing streams, as well as connectivity to the underlying aquifer (Aley 1976, p. 11; Fox et al. 2009, p. 5). Without adequate protection, sinkholes can funnel storm-runoff directly into cave systems in a short period of time (Aley 1976, p. 11; White 2002, p. 88; Fox et al. 2010, p. 8838). Illegal Waste Disposal and Chemical Leaching—At least half of the sinkholes in Perry County have been or are currently used as dump sites for anthropogenic waste (Burr et al. 2001, p. 294). Although it is illegal to dump waste in open sites in Missouri, the practice continues today—sinkholes continue to be used as dump sites for household wastes, tires, and occasionally dead livestock (http:// dnr.mo.gov/env/swmp/dumping/ enf_instruct.htm; Pobst 2012, pers. comm). Moss and Pobst (2010, p. 169) observed that most historical farms in the sinkhole plain had at least one sinkhole that contained household and E:\FR\FM\27SEP2.SGM 27SEP2 erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 188 / Thursday, September 27, 2012 / Proposed Rules farm waste. Waste material found in sinkholes includes, but is not limited to, household chemicals, sewage, and pesticide and herbicide containers (Burr et al. 2001, p. 294). Fox et al. (2010, p. 8838) found that Perry County cave streams were contaminated by a mixture of organic pollutants that included both current-use and legacy-use pesticides and their degradation products. They found high concentrations of heptachlor epoxide and trans-chlordane, which are degradation products of the legacy-use pesticides heptachlor and chlordane (Fox et al. 2010, p. 8839). Heptachlor and chlordane were banned in 1988, but can persist in the environment through storage in sediments above or below ground or leaking containers in sinkholes (ATSDR 1994a, unpaginated; ATSDR 2007a, unpaginated). In water, heptachlor readily undergoes hydrolysis to a compound, which is then readily processed by microorganisms into heptachlor epoxide (ATSDR 2007b, p. 98). Heptachlor and chlordane are highly persistent in soils, are almost insoluble in water, and will enter surface waters primarily though drift and surface run-off (ATSDR 1994a, unpaginated; ATSDR 2007a, unpaginated). Although not specifically tested on the grotto sculpin, both heptachlor and chlordane are highly toxic to most fish species tested, including warm-water species such as bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus) and fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas) (Johnson and Finley 1980, pp. 19, 43– 44). Heptachlor caused degenerative liver lesions, enlargement of the red blood cells, inhibited growth, and mortality in bluegill (Andrews et al. 1966, pp. 301–305). Heptachlor, heptachlor epoxide, and chlordane have been shown to bioaccumulate in aquatic organisms such as fish, mollusks, insects, plankton, and algae (ATSDR 1994b, p. 172; ATSDR 2007b, p. 89). Chemical leaching in sinkholes likely is a major contributor to the occurrence of legacy-use pesticides, such as dieldrin, in aquatic habitats (Fox et al. 2010, p. 8840). Dieldrin, a domestic pesticide used in the past to control corn pests and cancelled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 1970 (ATSDR 2002, unpaginated), was found at levels that exceeded ambient water quality criterion by 17 times in Mertz Cave and Thunderhole Resurgence (Mystery-Rimstone Karst Area) (Fox et al., p. 8839). Dieldrin is a known endocrine disruptor that bioaccumulates in animal fats, especially those animals that eat other animals and, therefore, is a concern for the grotto sculpin because it is the top VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:01 Sep 26, 2012 Jkt 226001 predator in its cave habitat (ATSDR 2002, unpaginated; Fox et al. 2010, p. 8839). The grotto sculpin depends on several species of cave amphipods, including Gammarus sp. (Gerken 2007, pp. 16–17; Fox et al. 2010, p. 8839). Dieldrin has been detected in the amphipod G. troglophilus through tissue bioassays (Taylor et al. 2000, p. 10). Tarzwell and Croswell (1957, pp. 253– 255) found that dieldrin was toxic to fathead minnow, bluegill, and green sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus). Whereas the species exhibited differences in susceptibility, individuals of all species tested ultimately experienced loss of equilibrium followed by death (Tarzwell and Croswell 1957, p. 255). Sinkholes have also been used as disposal sites for dead livestock (Fox et al. 2009, p. 6; Moss and Pobst 2010, p. 170). Animal carcasses dumped into sinkholes and cave entrances are potentially diseased and could carry pathogens that could be unintentionally introduced into the groundwater system. Decomposing animals in source water for cave streams also can lower the dissolved oxygen and negatively impact aquatic organisms. One of two documented mass mortalities of the grotto sculpin was likely caused by a dead cow in the surface stream above Mystery Cave (Adams 2012, pers. comm.). Contaminated Water—In cave streams sampled by Fox et al. (2010, p. 8838), time-weighted average (TWA) water concentrations of 20 chemicals were at levels above method detection limits (MDLs); 16 of the 20 chemicals originated from agricultural pest management activities. Acetochlor, diethatyl-ethyl, atrazine, and desethylatrazine (DEA) were detected at all sites during both May and June sampling periods. Pyrene, metolachlor, DEET, and pentachloroanisole were detected at all sites during sampling periods (Fox et al. 2010, p. 8838). There is a long list of potential impacts of these chemicals on fish, including reductions in olfactory sensitivity, immune function, and sex hormone concentrations; endocrine disruption; and increased predation and mortality due to adverse effects to behavior (Alvarez and Fuiman 2005, pp. 229, 239; Rohr and McCoy 2010, p. 30). The ubiquitous presence of current-use pesticides, such as atrazine, was not surprising based on the extensive agricultural land use in Perry County. Atrazine has been the most frequently detected herbicide in ground and surface waters in Perry County (Fox et al. 2010, p. 8838) and in a similar karst and agricultural landscape in Boone County, Missouri (Lerch 2011, p. 107); PO 00000 Frm 00007 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 59493 levels of corn production were similar in the two counties. Even at concentrations below U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) criteria for protection of aquatic life, atrazine has been shown to reduce egg production and cause gonadal abnormalities in fathead minnows (Tillett et al. 2010, pp. 8–9). Sex steroid biosynthesis pathways and gonad development in male goldfish (Carassius auratus) were impacted by atrazine in concentrations as low as 1 nanogram per liter (ng/L) (Spano et al. 2004, pp. 367–377). Concentrations of atrazine in Perry County ranged from 20 to 130 ng/L (Fox et al. 2010, p. 8838). Li et al. (2009, pp. 90–92) showed that environmentally relevant concentrations of acetochlor can decrease circulating thyroid hormone levels, decrease expression of thyroid hormone-related genes, affect normal larval development, and affect normal brain development. Pyrene is known to cause anemia, neuronal cell death, and peripheral vascular defects in larval fish (Incardona et al. 2003, p. 191). Wan et al. (2006, pp. 57–58) considered metolachlor to be slightly to moderately toxic to freshwater amphibians, crustaceans, and salmonid fishes. Wolf and Moore (2010, pp. 457, 464–465) demonstrated that sublethal concentrations of metolachlor adversely affected the chemosensory behavior of crayfish and likely impacted its ability to locate prey. These researchers also noted that this herbicide also caused physiological impairment that likely impacted locomotory behavior and predator avoidance responses. Due to the importance of chemosensory organs to the grotto sculpin, the presence of metolachlor in occupied streams may impact this fish’s ability to locate prey. Additional potential adverse effects to grotto sculpin from contaminants include increased susceptibility to fish disease (Arkoosh et al. 1998, p. 188), increased immunosuppression (Arkoosh et al. 1998, p. 188), disruption of the nervous system by inhibition of cholinesterase (Hill 1995, p. 244), and an increase in acute or chronic stress resulting in reduced reproductive success, alterations in blood and tissue chemistry, diuresis, osmoregulatory dysfunction, and reduction in growth (Wedemeyer et al. 1990, pp. 452–453). As a result, potential water contamination from various sources of point and non-point source pollution poses a significant, ongoing threat to the grotto sculpin. Vertical Drains—Potential contaminant problems with sinkholes are further exacerbated by the presence and continued installation of vertical E:\FR\FM\27SEP2.SGM 27SEP2 erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with 59494 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 188 / Thursday, September 27, 2012 / Proposed Rules drains across the agricultural landscape in Ste. Genevieve and Perry Counties (Perry County Soil and Water Conservation District (PCSWCD) 2012, unpaginated). Vertical drains are also known as ‘‘stabilized sinkholes’’ and are defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) as ‘‘a well, pipe, pit, or bore in porous, underground strata into which drainage water can be discharged without contaminating groundwater resources’’ (NRCS 2006, p. 1). This conservation practice is meant to reduce erosion by facilitating drainage of surface or subsurface water. Vertical drains often result in more land available to the farmer. As of 2012, the recharge areas for known and potential grotto sculpin habitat in the Central Perryville and Mystery-Rimstone karst areas contained an average of 2.5 vertical drains per km2 (7 per mi2), with the highest concentrations in the recharge areas for Keyhole Spring, Ball Mill Spring, and Mystery Cave (PCSWCD 2012, unpaginated). New vertical drains continue to be installed on the landscape at a rate consistent with the installation rate that occurred in the 1990s, with approximately 40 new vertical drains installed at 15 properties in Perry County in 2011 (PCSWCD 2012, unpaginated). The NRCS (2006, p. 2) noted that ‘‘significant additions to subsurface water sources may raise local water tables or cause undesirable surface discharges down-gradient from the vertical drain.’’ The impact of vertical drains on groundwater has been studied on a limited basis and studies have directly linked groundwater and drinking water contamination with vertical drains (EPA 1999, unpaginated). According to the conditions set by the NRCS, this practice can only be applied when it will not contaminate groundwater or affect instream habitat by reducing surface water flows (NRCS 2010b, p. 1). The NRCS provides a costshare of up to 75 percent for installation of vertical drains to stop erosion (NRCS 2010b; 2011; 2012) and has conservation practice and construction standards that include secure placement of the standpipe, appropriate fill material around the drainage pipe, and a filter system around the drain (NRCS 2006a, pp. 1–2; 2006b, pp. 1–3). Without implementation of the suite of standards, vertical drains might allow contaminated water to flow directly into caves without naturally occurring filtration (Pobst and Taylor 2007, p. 69). Vertical drains act as conduits for all surface water, contaminants, and VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:01 Sep 26, 2012 Jkt 226001 sediment directly from the surface through the bedrock into underground caves, streams, and karst voids (Pobst and Taylor 2007, p. 69). Although USDA requires landowners to install a minimum of 7.62 m (25 ft) of grassed buffer around vertical drains to minimize erosion and the migration of nutrients and contaminants into the groundwater system, this guideline is not strictly followed (Moss and Pobst 2010, p. 170). Because vertical drains are potential targets for illegal dumpling of liquid hazardous wastes (Fox et al. 2010, p. 8839) and there is an absence of adequate buffers around some vertical drains, the migration of sediment and contaminants is easily facilitated (Moss and Pobst 2010, p. 171). Such a scenario is supported by Fox et al.’s (2010, pp. 8835–8840) contaminant study in the karst region of Perry County. The long list of harmful chemicals detected in the Fox et al. (2010, pp. 8835–8840) study is likely due to the migration of these contaminants directly from surface fields into the underground karst system through vertical drains and sinkholes. Urbanization and Development—In addition to contamination from point sources of pollution and improper trash disposal, water quality of sculpin habitats is negatively impacted by urban growth of Perryville, located in the recharge area for Crevice Cave (Moss and Pobst 2010, p. 164). Crevice Cave had the lowest amount of cropland and grassland within its recharge and the most chemical detections. In contrast, Mystery Cave had the most cropland and grassland and fewest chemical detections (Fox et al. 2010, p. 8840). The only hazardous waste facility in the Central Perryville and MysteryRimstone karst areas is located in Perryville. The facility is permitted by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources as a large-volume hazardous waste generator. Additional hazards in Perryville include four other hazardous waste generators; nine underground storage tanks that could leak petroleum products; two National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits for wastewater outfalls; and seven NPDES permits for storm water discharge, leaking sewer lines, or lines that remain plumbed into the caves below (Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) 2010, unpaginated). Most of the runoff water in areas that recharge aquatic habitats for the grotto sculpin moves quickly into the groundwater system with ineffective natural filtration, and the same is true for waste waters from septic systems (Aley 2012, pers. comm.). Contamination of groundwater by septic systems in karst areas has been PO 00000 Frm 00008 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 documented on multiple occasions (Simon and Buikema 1997, pp. 387, 395; Panno et al. 2006, p. 60) because septic tank systems are poorly suited to karst landscapes (Aley 1976, p. 12). Panno and Kelly (2004, p. 229) listed septic systems as potential contributors of excess nitrogen to streams in the karst region of southern Illinois. Septic systems in the sinkhole plain can be direct conduits for introduction of septic effluent directly into the shallow karst aquifer (Panno et al. 2001, p. 114). In a karst area in southwest Missouri, poorly designed sewage treatment lagoons were allowing effluent from a small, rural school to seep into the only known location for the federally listed Tumbling Creek cavesnail (Antrobia culveri) (Aley 2003, unpaginated). Most of the rural residents in the Central Perryville and MysteryRimstone karst areas employ on-site septic systems (for example, in the Mystery Cave area) (Aley 1976, p. 12). Failure of septic systems occurs in karst areas of southeast Missouri, such as those in Perry County, but detections are problematic because most failures are not obvious from the surface, but instead occur underground into the groundwater system (Aley 2012, pers. comm.). One instance of a septic system failure was observed by Aley (1976, p. 12) near Mystery Cave. Sewage was being discharged to a septic field within 100 ft (30.5 m) of the cave entrance and was contaminating the waters of the Mystery Cave system. Water samples collected by the Missouri Department of Conservation within the range of the grotto sculpin indicated the presence of Escherichia coli at high levels, which might correspond to high inputs of phosphorus from septic systems (Pobst 2010, pers. comm.). Taylor et al. (2000, pp. 13–16) found that fecal contamination of karst groundwater is a serious problem in southeast Missouri. Among sampling locations in southeast Missouri, water samples were taken from streams and springs in Perry County that included sites within the range of the grotto sculpin (Mertz Cave, Running Bull Cave, Thunderhole Resurgence, and Cinque Hommes Creek) (Taylor et al. 2000, pp. 48–49). High fecal bacterial loads were found in groundwater of grotto sculpin habitats and can be a combination of both human and animal wastes (Taylor et al. 2000, p. 14). No animal feeding operations (AFOs) or concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) are present in the recharge areas of grotto sculpin habitat (MDNR 2010), but there are smaller livestock feeding areas that are in sinkholes or near sinkhole drainage E:\FR\FM\27SEP2.SGM 27SEP2 erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 188 / Thursday, September 27, 2012 / Proposed Rules points (Aley 1976, p. 12; Moss and Pobst 2010, p. 166). Large amounts of manure can be flushed through sinkholes and carry associated bacteria and pathogens into cave streams. Waste from mammalian sources, including humans and livestock, can increase nutrient loads and lower dissolved oxygen in the groundwater (Simon and Buikema 1997, p. 395; Panno et al. 2006, p. 60). Hypoxia resulting from eutrophication due to increases in nutrient load (especially phosphorus) can lead to mortality and sublethal effects by reducing the availability of oxygen needed by fish for locomotion, growth, and reproduction (Kramer 1987, p. 82; Gould 1989–1990, p. 467), Barton and Taylor (1996, p. 361) reported that low dissolved oxygen levels can cause changes in cardiac function, increased respiratory and metabolic activity, alterations in blood chemistry, mobilization of anaerobic energy pathways, upset in acid-base balance, reduced growth, and decreased swimming capacity of fish. Sedimentation—Concerns with sedimentation (actual deposition of sediment, not the transport) and wash load (portion of the sediment in transport that is generally finer than the sediment) (as defined by Biedenharn et al. 2006, pp. 2–6) relative to impacts to grotto sculpin habitat are primarily the transport of contaminants and the deposition of excessive amounts of sediment in cave streams. Soils in the Central Perryville and MysteryRimstone karst areas are dominated by highly erosive loess. Sediment transported into the karst groundwater can include agricultural chemicals that are bound to soil particles as evidenced by findings of Fox et al. (2010, p. 8840). Fox et al. (2010, p. 8840) determined that turbidity of streams in grotto sculpin caves in Perry County was positively correlated with total chemical and DEA concentrations. Additionally, Gerken and Adams (2007, p. 76) noted that siltation was a major problem in grotto sculpin sites and postulated that silt likely reduced habitat available to this fish. Excessive siltation in aquatic systems can be problematic for fish because it can change the overall structure of the habitat (Berkman and Rabeni 1986, pp. 291–292). Silt can fill voids in rock substrate that are integral components of habitat for reproduction and predator avoidance. The grotto sculpin occurs in habitats with some level of sediment deposition (Gerken 2007, pp. 16–17, 23– 25). However, siltation beyond what occurred historically could limit the amount of suitable habitat available (Gerken 2007, pp. 27–28; Gerken and VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:01 Sep 26, 2012 Jkt 226001 Adams 2007, p. 76), and the threshold of siltation that renders cave habitat unsuitable for grotto sculpin has not yet been determined. Industrial Sand Mining—Industrial sand is also known as ‘‘silica,’’ ‘‘silica sand,’’ and ‘‘quartz sand,’’ and includes sands with high silicon dioxide content. Silica sand production in the United States was 29.3 million metric tons (Mt), an increase of 5.3 Mt from 2009 to 2010 (U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) 2012, p. 66.6). The Midwest leads the Nation in industrial sand and gravel production, accounting for 49 percent of the annual total (USGS 2012, p. 66.1). One end-use of silica sand is as a propping agent for hydraulic fracturing. Higher production of silica sand in 2010 was primarily attributable to an increasing demand for hydraulic fracturing sand because of continuing exploration and production of natural gas throughout the United States. Conventional natural gas sources have become less abundant, leading drilling companies to turn to deep natural gas and shale gas. Of the 29.3 Mt of silica sand sold or used in the United States, 12.1 Mt (41 percent) was used for hydraulic fracturing in the petroleum industry (USGS 2012, p. 66.10). As of 2010, the price per ton for industrial silica sand was $45.24 in the United States (USGS 2012, p. 66.11). In addition to new facilities, existing hydraulic fracturing sand operations increased production capacity to meet the surging demand for sand. Mining for silica sand in Missouri occurs in the St. Peter Sandstone in Jefferson, Perry, and St. Louis Counties (USGS 2011, p. 27.2). The St. Peter Sandstone formation is directly adjacent to (to the west) the Joachim Dolomite formation that forms the karst habitat for the grotto sculpin in Perry County. The interface between these two formations generally comprises the western borders of the Central Perryville and MysteryRimstone karst areas. Four companies in Missouri produced 0.9 Mt of high-purity sand from the St. Peter Sandstone formation (USGS 2011, p. 27.2). The existing operation in Perry County lies 5.6 km (3.5 mi) northwest of Perryville and involves open pit mining on 101 ha (250 acres). This producer specializes in 40 to 70 and 70 to 140 size-grades that were used by the oil and gas wellservicing industry as a hydraulic fracture propping agent in shale formations (USGS 2010, p. 27.2). Sand mining is typically accomplished using open pit or dredging methods with standard mining equipment and without the use of chemicals. Sand can be mined from outcrops or by removing overburden to reach subsurface deposits. PO 00000 Frm 00009 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 59495 Environmental impacts of sand mining are primarily limited to disturbance of the immediate area. The current operation in Perry County is partially within the Joachim Dolomite formation and at the western edge of the sinkhole plain with approximately four sinkholes occurring in the immediate vicinity. Erosion of soil and disturbed overburden could occur and increase the sediment loads in adjacent surface waters and cave streams via runoff. For example, a portion of the existing mining operation is within the Bois Brule watershed. Sediment-laden runoff could enter Blue Spring Branch, one of the surface streams occupied by the grotto sculpin. As described above, sedimentation can change the structure of grotto sculpin habitat and negatively impact reproduction and predator avoidance. Presence of the current facility, only 0.5 km (0.3 mi) and 1.6 km (1 mi) from the Central Perryville Karst and Crevice Cave recharge area, respectively, shows that such operations can and do occur in the Joachim Dolomite formation and immediately adjacent to grotto sculpin habitat. We currently are unaware of any plans for new facilities or expansions of current facilities. However, based on the presence of one existing operation, the occurrence of St. Peter Sandstone in Perry County, as well as recent growth of the hydraulic fracturing industry and associated increased demand for silica sand, it is likely that increased sand mining activity will occur in the future in areas where the grotto sculpin occurs. We consider sand mining to be a potentially significant threat to the species in the future. Summary of Factor A All of the recharge areas for caves occupied by the grotto sculpin are highly vulnerable and contain hazards from historical sinkhole dumps, agricultural practices without universal application of best management practices, ineffective private septic systems, and degraded runoff from roads. Hazardous waste facilities, outfalls for waste and storm water, and underground storage tanks are found in the recharge area for Crevice Cave that are not found in other parts of the species’ range. Cave recharge areas in the Central Perryville Karst contain an average of 23 sinkholes per km2 (58 per mi2), whereas those in the MysteryRimstone Karst contain an average of 11 per km2 (27 per mi2). Water contamination from various sources of point and non-point source pollution poses a significant, ongoing threat to the grotto sculpin. Water flow in karst systems occurs by way of surface E:\FR\FM\27SEP2.SGM 27SEP2 erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with 59496 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 188 / Thursday, September 27, 2012 / Proposed Rules features, such as sinkholes and losing streams, as well as connectivity to the underlying aquifer. Sinkholes can funnel storm-runoff that carries contaminants directly into cave systems in a short period of time and severely degrades water quality. At least half of the sinkholes in Perry County have been, or are currently used as, dump sites for anthropogenic waste including household chemicals, sewage, pesticide and herbicide containers, and animal carcasses. Cave streams in Perry County are contaminated with currentuse and legacy-use pesticides that enter cave systems through storm runoff or via leaching in sinkholes. The majority of chemicals that have TWAs at levels above MDLs originated from agricultural pest management activities and included acetochlor, diethatyl-ethyl, atrazine, and desethylatrazine (DEA), pyrene, metolachlor, DEET, and pentachloroanisole. Atrazine has been the most frequently detected herbicide in ground and surface waters in Perry County. Even at concentrations below EPA criteria for protection of aquatic life, atrazine has been shown to reduce egg production and cause gonadal abnormalities in fish. Potential contaminant problems with sinkholes are further exacerbated by the presence and continued installation of vertical drains across the agricultural landscape. This practice, meant to reduce erosion by facilitating drainage of surface or subsurface water, results in more land available to the farmer. As of 2010, the recharge areas for known and potential grotto sculpin habitat in the Central Perryville and MysteryRimstone karst areas contain an average of 2.4 vertical drains per km2 (6.2 per mi2). Vertical drains have been linked directly to contamination of groundwater and water used for human consumption. Vertical drains also act as attractive nuisances because, like sinkholes, they are potential targets for illegal dumping of hazardous waste. Risk from agricultural land use and point sources of pollution, such as sinkhole dumps, are not the only concern on the Perry County landscape. The recharge area for Crevice Cave contains the city of Perryville. Urban growth and hazards, such as hazardous waste facilities, underground storage tanks, wastewater discharges, and poorly maintained septic systems, in and around the city are threats to water quality in the range of the grotto sculpin. Potential threats in more rural areas of Perry County include introduction of manure and associated bacteria and pathogens into sinkholes from small livestock feeding areas. Such contaminants can increase nutrient VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:01 Sep 26, 2012 Jkt 226001 loads and lower dissolved oxygen in the groundwater. Concerns with sedimentation and wash load are primarily the transport of contaminants and the deposition of sediment in cave streams. Turbidity of cave streams is positively correlated with chemical concentrations, indicating that chemicals can bind to sediment particles and be transported by surface runoff. Siltation beyond what occurred historically could limit the amount of suitable habitat available; abnormally high deposition of sediment in cave systems can be problematic for aquatic life as it can fill voids in rock substrate that are integral components of grotto sculpin habitat. Industrial sand mining is occurring in Perry County just outside the range of the grotto sculpin, but within the Bois Brule watershed. The mining operation near Perryville lies in the interface between the St. Peter Sandstone and Joachim Dolomite formations. Current mining operations could exacerbate erosion and sedimentation problems in the sinkhole plain and negatively impact grotto sculpin habitat. Furthermore, anticipated expansions of current operations or development of new operations to meet increasing demand of silica sand could pose a more serious threat in the future. Factor B. Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or Educational Purposes Although some specimens of the grotto sculpin have been taken for scientific investigations, we do not consider such collection activities to be at a level that poses a threat to the species. We do not have records of any individuals being taken for commercial, recreational, or educational purposes. Factor C. Disease or Predation Predation by invasive, epigean fish poses a threat to eggs, young-of-year, and juvenile grotto sculpin. Farm ponds are human-made features, as opposed to natural aquatic habitats, that often are stocked with both native and nonnative fishes for recreational purposes. Fish from farm ponds enter cave systems through sinkholes when ponds are unexpectedly drained (Burr et al. 2001, p. 284) or after high-precipitation events. Predatory fish were documented to occur in all of the caves occupied by the grotto sculpin, and include common carp (Cyprinus carpio), fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas), yellow bullhead (Ameiurus natalis), green sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus), bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus), and channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) (Burr et al. 2001, p. 284). PO 00000 Frm 00010 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 The migration and persistence of invasive, epigean fish species into cave environments poses an ongoing and pervasive threat to the grotto sculpin because of unnatural levels of predation on eggs, young-of-year, and juveniles. Predation beyond what occurs naturally among adult and juvenile grotto sculpin can reduce population levels to an unsustainable level and may render a population unrecoverable in the face of an unexpected mass mortality. Factor D. The Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms The primary causes of the grotto sculpin’s decline are degradation of aquatic resources from illegal waste disposal in sinkhole dumps, chemical leaching, urban development, and sedimentation. Existing Federal, State, and local laws have not been able to prevent impacts to the grotto sculpin and its habitat, and the existing regulatory mechanisms are not expected to prevent causes of grotto sculpin decline in the future. The grotto sculpin is not protected under the Missouri State Endangered Species Law (MO ST 252.240) because it has not been formally recognized as a distinct species, but is afforded some recognition by the Missouri Department of Conservation as a Missouri Species of Conservation Concern. All species in the State of Missouri are protected as biological diversity elements such that no harvest is permitted unless a method of legal harvest is described in the permissive Wildlife Code. No method of legal harvest is permitted for the grotto sculpin. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources establishes water quality and solid waste standards that are protective of aquatic life. The Missouri Clean Water Law of 1972 (MO ST 644.006– 644.141) addresses pollution of the waters of the State to prevent threats to public health and welfare; wildlife, fish and aquatic life; and domestic, agricultural, industrial, recreational, and other legitimate uses of water. It is unlawful for any person: (1) To cause pollution of any waters of the State or to place or cause or permit to be placed any water contaminant in a location where it is reasonably certain to cause pollution of any waters of the State; (2) to discharge any water contaminants into any waters of the State which reduce the quality of such waters below the water quality standards established by the commission; or (3) to violate any regulations regarding pretreatment and toxic material control, or to discharge any water contaminants into any waters of the State which exceed effluent regulations or permit provisions as E:\FR\FM\27SEP2.SGM 27SEP2 erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 188 / Thursday, September 27, 2012 / Proposed Rules established by the commission or required by any Federal water pollution control act (MO ST 644.051). Based on documented levels of contaminants present in the cave streams of Perry County (Fox et al. 2010, pp. 8835–8841), the Missouri Clean Water Law of 1972 is insufficient to prevent water degradation in grotto sculpin habitat. According to the Missouri State Waste Management Law of 1972 (MO ST 260.210), it is illegal to dump waste materials into sinkholes. Regulations under the Federal Clean Water Act of 1972 (CWA; 33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.) would apply if a point-source for the pollution could be determined. Discrete pollution events that impact cave systems are problematic even if a pointsource can be determined because it can be extremely difficult to assess damages to natural resources such as troglobitic biota that live underground. Cave systems are recharged by surface water and groundwater that typically travel several miles before resurfacing from cave openings and spring heads (Vandike 1985, p. 3). Once a sinkhole has been modified to function as a vertical drain, it becomes a Class V Injection Well (alternatively known as an ‘‘agricultural drainage well’’ (ADW)) as defined by the EPA (1999, unpaginaged). The Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974 (42 U.S.C. 300f et seq.) and later amendments established the Federal Underground Injection Control (UIC) Program. The State of Missouri has obtained primacy from the UEPA for the UIC program, and the Class V Injection Well program derives its authorities from Missouri Clean Water Law (MO ST 644) (MDNR 2006, p. 2). By definition, ADWs can receive ‘‘excess surface and subsurface water from agricultural fields, including irrigation tailwaters and natural drainage resulting from precipitation, snowmelt, floodwaters, etc. ADWs may also receive animal yard runoff, feedlot runoff, dairy runoff, or runoff from any other agricultural operation’’ (USEPA 1999). In addition to potential threats from permitted injectants, ADWs are vulnerable to spills from manure lagoons and direct discharge from septic tanks, as well as release of agricultural substances, such as motor oil and pesticides (USEPA 1999). Data from water sampling indicate that nitrate is a primary constituent in ADW injectate and likely exceeds health standards (USEPA 1999). Other constituents that also have exceeded primary or secondary drinking water standards or health advisory levels are boron, sulfate, coliforms, pesticides (cyanazine, atrazine, alachlor, aldicarb, carbofuran, 1,2-dichloropropane, and VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:01 Sep 26, 2012 Jkt 226001 dibromochloropropane), total dissolved solids, and chloride (USEPA 1999). Furthermore, studies have documented that ADWs contribute to, or cause, contamination of groundwater. Nitrate contamination of groundwater in agricultural areas has been documented, as has contamination from direct discharge of septic tanks (USEPA 1999). As noted above, Class V injection wells are covered under the Missouri Clean Water Law of 1972, but the existing regulations are inadequate to prevent deposition of contaminants documented in occupied grotto sculpin habitats of Perry County, as evidenced by the results of Fox et al. (2010, pp. 8835– 8841). There are no water quality ordinances in effect in Perry County beyond minimum State standards in the Code of State Regulations (19 CSR 20–3.015) and, therefore, no limitations for onsite septic construction as long as septic systems are built on properties greater than 1.2 ha (3 ac) and the system is at least 3.1 m (10 ft) from the property line. A more protective ordinance has been adopted in Monroe County, Illinois, where the soils and topography are very similar to Perry County (Monroe County Zoning Code 40–5–3, chapter 40–4–29). The ordinance in Monroe County prohibits placement of any substances or objects in sinkholes, alteration of sinkholes, and development in sinkholes. The stated purpose of the ordinance is, ‘‘to reduce the frequency of structural damage to public and private improvements by sinkhole collapse or subsidence and to protect, preserve and enhance sensitive and valuable potable groundwater resource areas of karst topography, thus protecting the public health, safety and welfare and insuring orderly development within the County.’’ Greene County, Missouri, also is in a sinkhole plain and has adopted special regulations relative to construction of onsite septic systems. They require that systems are constructed above the sinkhole flooding area, which is defined as ‘‘the area below the elevation of the lowest point on the sinkhole rim or the areas inundated by runoff from a storm with an annual exceedance probability of 1 percent (100-year storm) and a duration of 24 hours (8 inches of rain in Green County)’’ (Green County 2003, p. 3–9). The minimum standards in the Code of State Regulations (19 CSR 20– 3.015) for water quality standards in Missouri are not protective enough to prevent the deposition of silt and contaminants into occupied grotto sculpin habitats, as reported by Gerken PO 00000 Frm 00011 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 59497 and Adams (2007, p. 76) and Fox et al. (2010, pp. 8835–8841). Summary of Factor D Despite some existing regulatory mechanisms that provide protection for the grotto sculpin and its habitat, the grotto sculpin continues to decline due to the effects of a wide array of threats (see Factors A, C, and E). Existing Federal and State water quality laws and State waste management law can be applied to protect water quality in surface and cave streams occupied by the grotto sculpin; however these laws have not been sufficient to prevent continued habitat degradation and population declines. Although harvest of grotto sculpin is not permitted in the Missouri Wildlife Code, the species has not been protected under Missouri Endangered Species Law because it has not been formally recognized as a distinct species. The existing regulatory mechanisms provide little direct protection of water quality in grotto sculpin habitat, which is the most significant threat to the species, and are inadequate to address threats to the species throughout its range. We have no information to indicate that the aforementioned regulations, which currently do not offer adequate protection to the grotto sculpin, will be revised or implemented in such a manner so that they would be adequate to provide protection for the species in the future. Factor E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued Existence Small, Isolated Populations—The existing grotto sculpin populations are small in size and range and its distribution is restricted to short stream reaches in two watersheds. The grotto sculpin’s small population size makes it extremely susceptible to extirpation from a single catastrophic event (such as a toxic chemical spill or storm event that destroys its habitat), thus reducing the ability to recover from the cumulative effects of smaller chronic impacts to the population and habitat such as progressive degradation from water contamination. Environmental stressors, such as habitat loss and degradation, can exacerbate potential problems associated with the species’ endemism (i.e., restricted to five cave systems in one county) and overall small population size, increasing the species’ vulnerability to localized or rangewide extinction (Crnokrak and Roff 1999, p. 262; Hedrick and Kalinowski 1999, pp. 142–146). The isolation of subpopulations of the grotto sculpin E:\FR\FM\27SEP2.SGM 27SEP2 erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with 59498 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 188 / Thursday, September 27, 2012 / Proposed Rules make it vulnerable to extinction and loss of genetic diversity caused by genetic drift, inbreeding depression, and stochastic events (Willis and Brown 1985, p. 316). Small, isolated populations are more susceptible to genetic drift, possibly leading to fixation where all except one allele is lost, and population bottlenecks leading to inbreeding (Frankham et al. 2002, pp. 178–187). Inbreeding depression can result in death, decreased fertility, smaller body size, loss of vigor, reduced fitness, various chromosome abnormalities, and reduced resistance to disease (Hedrick and Kalinowski 1999, pp. 139–142). Even though some populations fluctuate naturally, small and low-density populations are more likely to fluctuate below a minimum viable population (the minimum or threshold number of individuals needed in a population to persist in a viable state for a given interval) if they are influenced by stressors beyond those under which they have evolved (Shaffer 1981, p. 131; Shaffer and Samson 1985, pp. 148–150; Gilpin and Soule 1986, pp. 25–33). For example, grotto sculpin in Running Bull Cave exhibit the most distinct morphological adaptations to the cave environment and are the only individuals in the Cinque Hommes Creek drainage to have a rare genetic haplotype (Adams 2005, p. 49). One of the two known mass mortalities caused by a pollution event occurred in Running Bull Cave and temporarily eliminated grotto sculpin from the site. Grotto sculpin eventually recolonized the cave, but recolonization did not necessarily occur through local recruitment, but possibly through immigration by individuals from connected populations. Running Bull Cave might serve as either a primary site of population connectivity or interaction and act as a connecting stream between otherwise isolated localities (Mystery and Rimstone River Caves) (Day 2008, p. 52). Even though haplotype diversity post-extirpation was comparable to that previously measured (Day 2008, p. 54), it is possible that previously undocumented haplotypes were lost and will not be recovered. Day (2008, p. 54) notes that extirpation events of longer duration or greater severity could negatively impact overall genetic diversity. Furthermore, this scenario is illustrative of the potential for extirpation of entire subpopulations and the cascading effects on connected subpopulations. Climate Change—Our analyses under the Act include consideration of ongoing and projected changes in climate. The terms ‘‘climate’’ and VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:01 Sep 26, 2012 Jkt 226001 ‘‘climate change’’ are defined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). ‘‘Climate’’ refers to the mean and variability of different types of weather conditions over time, with 30 years being a typical period for such measurements, although shorter or longer periods also may be used (IPCC 2007, p. 78). The term ‘‘climate change’’ thus refers to a change in the mean or variability of one or more measures of climate (for example, temperature or precipitation) that persists for an extended period, typically decades or longer, whether the change is due to natural variability, human activity, or both (IPCC 2007, p. 78). Various types of changes in climate can have direct or indirect effects on species. These effects may be positive, neutral, or negative, and they may change over time, depending on the species and other relevant considerations, such as the effects of interactions of climate with other variables (for example, habitat fragmentation) (IPCC 2007, pp. 8–14, 18–19). In our analyses, we use our expert judgment to weigh relevant information, including uncertainty, in our consideration of various aspects of climate change. As is the case with all stressors that we assess, even if we conclude that a species is currently affected or is likely to be affected in a negative way by one or more climaterelated impacts, it does not necessarily follow that the species meets the definition of an ‘‘endangered species’’ or a ‘‘threatened species’’ under the Act. If a species is listed as an endangered or threatened species, knowledge regarding the vulnerability of the species to, and known or anticipated impacts from, climate-associated changes in environmental conditions can be used to help devise appropriate strategies for its recovery. The impact of climate change on the grotto sculpin is uncertain. The species is totally dependent on an adequate water supply and has specific habitat requirements (water depth and connectivity of caves and surface sites); we expect that climate change could significantly alter the quantity and quality of grotto sculpin habitat and thus impact the species in the future. This species relies on surface water for energy input into the cave system, recharge of groundwater, and availability of surface streams. Potential adverse effects from climate change include increased frequency and duration of droughts (Rind et al. 1990, p. 9983; Seager et al. 2007, pp. 1181– 1184; Rahel and Olden 2008, p. 526) and changes in water temperature, which likely serves as a cue for PO 00000 Frm 00012 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 reproduction in grotto sculpin (Adams 2005, pp. 10–11). Climate warming might also decrease groundwater levels (Schindler 2001, p. 22) or significantly reduce annual stream flows (Moore et al. 1997, p. 925; Hu et al. 2005, p. 9). In the Missouri Ozarks, it is projected that stream basin discharges may be significantly impacted by synergistic effects of changes in land cover and climate change (Hu et al. 2005, p. 9), and similar impacts are anticipated in the karst regions of Perry County, Missouri. Grotto sculpin require deep pools in caves, which could decrease in availability under drought conditions. Overall, shallower water or reduced flows could further concentrate contaminants present and lower dissolved oxygen in cave habitats. Summary of Factor E The small size and isolation of grotto sculpin populations, loss of genetic diversity, and effects from climate change could exacerbate other factors negatively affecting the species. These additional factors are particularly detrimental when combined with other factors, such as habitat and water quality degradation, and predation by invasive fish, which has a greater cumulative impact than would any of those factors acting independently (for example, compromised health from poor water quality might increase predation risk). Proposed Determination We have carefully assessed the best scientific and commercial information available regarding the past, present, and future threats to the grotto sculpin. Numerous major threats, acting individually or synergistically, continue today (see Summary of Factors Affecting the Species). The most substantial threats to the species come from the present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat (Factor A). Although no clear estimates of historical population numbers for the grotto sculpin exist in order to determine whether or not dramatic population declines have occurred in the past, two mass mortalities have been documented since the early 2000s. Both mortality events are thought to have been caused by point-source pollution of surface waters that recharge cave streams occupied by the grotto sculpin. The known factors negatively affecting the grotto sculpin have continued to impact the species’ habitat since it was elevated to candidate status in 2002 (67 FR 40657; June 13, 2002). All of the recharge areas for known grotto sculpin habitat are considered E:\FR\FM\27SEP2.SGM 27SEP2 erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 188 / Thursday, September 27, 2012 / Proposed Rules vulnerable. It is believed that the primary threats to the species are habitat destruction and modification from water quality degradation and siltation. In particular, documentation that a suite of chemicals and other contaminants is continuously entering the groundwater above levels that can be harmful to aquatic life is especially concerning. Potential sources and vehicles for introduction of pollution likely are industrialization, contaminated agricultural runoff, sinkhole dumps, and vertical drains installed without appropriate best management practices. A variety of current- and legacy-use pesticides from agricultural runoff and sinkhole leaching, evidence of human waste from ineffective septic systems, and animal waste from livestock operations have been detected in grotto sculpin streams. These not only negatively affect the grotto sculpin directly but also the aquatic ecosystems and aquifer underlying the Perry County sinkhole plain. Siltation beyond historical levels affects the grotto sculpin in a variety of ways, such as eliminating suitable habitat for all life stages, reducing dissolved oxygen levels, increasing contaminants (that bind to sediments), and reducing prey populations. Predation on eggs, larvae, and juveniles by nonnative epigean fish can further reduce population numbers and will be a more prominent threat if siltation continues to degrade cave habitats to the point where refugia from predatory fish are no longer available to the grotto sculpin. The Act defines an endangered species as ‘‘any species which is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range’’ and a threatened species as ‘‘any species which is likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.’’ The grotto sculpin’s endemism and isolated populations make it particularly susceptible to multiple, continuing threats and stochastic events that could cause substantial population declines, loss of genetic diversity, or multiple extirpations, leading ultimately to extinction of the species. Temporary extirpations of two of five known populations have occurred in the recent past. Recolonization after such mortality events is dependent on the presence and accessibility of source populations. Continued threats to the species not only impact individual populations, but also decrease the viability of source populations, and the likelihood that areas where the species has been extirpated will be recolonized. VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:01 Sep 26, 2012 Jkt 226001 Furthermore, existing regulatory mechanisms provide little direct protection of water quality in grotto sculpin habitat, which is the most significant threat to the species. In addition to the individual threats, primarily those discussed under Factors A and E, each of which is sufficient to warrant the species’ listing, the cumulative effect of Factors A, C, D, and E is such that the influence of threats on the grotto sculpin are significant throughout its entire range. Overall, impacts from increasing threats, operating singly or in combination, are likely to result in the extinction of the species. Because these threats are placing the species in danger of extinction now and not only at some point in the foreseeable future, we determined it is endangered and not threatened. Therefore, on the basis of the best available scientific and commercial information, we propose listing the grotto sculpin as an endangered species in accordance with sections 3(6) and 4(a)(1) of the Act. Under the Act and our implementing regulations, a species may warrant listing if it is threatened or endangered throughout all or a significant portion of its range. The grotto sculpin proposed for listing in this rule is highly restricted in its range and the threats occur throughout its range. Therefore, we assessed the status of the species throughout its entire known range. The threats to the survival of the species occur throughout the species’ range and are not restricted to any particular significant portion of that range. Accordingly, our assessment and proposed determination applies to the species throughout its entire range. Available Conservation Measures Conservation measures provided to species listed as endangered or threatened under the Act include recognition, recovery actions, requirements for Federal protection, and prohibitions against certain practices. Recognition through listing results in public awareness and conservation by Federal, State, Tribal, and local agencies, private organizations, and individuals. The Act encourages cooperation with the States and requires that recovery actions be carried out for all listed species. The protection required by Federal agencies and the prohibitions against certain activities are discussed, in part, below. The primary purpose of the Act is the conservation of endangered and threatened species and the ecosystems upon which they depend. The ultimate goal of such conservation efforts is the recovery of these listed species, so that PO 00000 Frm 00013 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 59499 they no longer need the protective measures of the Act. Subsection 4(f) of the Act requires the Service to develop and implement recovery plans for the conservation of endangered and threatened species. The recovery planning process involves the identification of actions that are necessary to halt or reverse the species’ decline by addressing the threats to its survival and recovery. The goal of this process is to restore listed species to a point where they are secure, selfsustaining, and functioning components of their ecosystems. Recovery planning includes the development of a recovery outline shortly after a species is listed, and preparation of a draft and final recovery plan. The recovery outline guides the immediate implementation of urgent recovery actions and describes the process to be used to develop a recovery plan. Revisions of the plan may be done to address continuing or new threats to the species, as new substantive information becomes available. The recovery plan identifies site-specific management actions that set a trigger for review of the five factors that control whether a species remains endangered or may be downlisted or delisted, and methods for monitoring recovery progress. Recovery plans also establish a framework for agencies to coordinate their recovery efforts and provide estimates of the cost of implementing recovery tasks. Recovery teams (comprised of species experts, Federal and State agencies, nongovernment organizations, and stakeholders) are often established to develop recovery plans. When completed, the recovery outline, draft recovery plan, and the final recovery plan will be available on our Web site (http://www.fws.gov/ endangered), or from our Columbia Missouri Ecological Services Field Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Implementation of recovery actions generally requires the participation of a broad range of partners, including other Federal agencies, States, Tribal, nongovernmental organizations, businesses, and private landowners. Examples of recovery actions include habitat restoration (e.g., restoration of native vegetation), research, captive propagation and reintroduction, and outreach and education. The recovery of many listed species cannot be accomplished solely on Federal lands because their range may occur primarily or solely on non-Federal lands. To achieve recovery of these species requires cooperative conservation efforts on private, State, and Tribal lands. E:\FR\FM\27SEP2.SGM 27SEP2 erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with 59500 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 188 / Thursday, September 27, 2012 / Proposed Rules If this species is listed, funding for recovery actions will be available from a variety of sources, including Federal budgets, State programs, and cost share grants for non-Federal landowners, the academic community, and nongovernmental organizations. In addition, under section 6 of the Act, the State of Missouri would be eligible for Federal funds to implement management actions that promote the protection and recovery of the grotto sculpin. Information on our grant programs that are available to aid species recovery can be found at: http://www.fws.gov/grants. Although the grotto sculpin is only proposed for listing under the Act at this time, please let us know if you are interested in participating in recovery efforts for this species. Additionally, we invite you to submit any new information on this species whenever it becomes available and any information you may have for recovery planning purposes (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Section 7(a) of the Act requires Federal agencies to evaluate their actions with respect to any species that is proposed or listed as endangered or threatened and with respect to its critical habitat, if any is designated. Regulations implementing this interagency cooperation provision of the Act are codified at 50 CFR part 402. Section 7(a)(4) of the Act requires Federal agencies to confer with the Service on any action that is likely to jeopardize the continued existence of a species proposed for listing or result in destruction or adverse modification of proposed critical habitat. If a species is listed subsequently, section 7(a)(2) of the Act requires Federal agencies to ensure that activities they authorize, fund, or carry out are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the species or destroy or adversely modify its critical habitat. If a Federal action may affect a listed species or its critical habitat, the responsible Federal agency must enter into formal consultation with the Service. Federal agency actions within the species habitat that may require conference or consultation or both as described in the preceding paragraph include management and any other landscape-altering activities on Federal lands administered by the Department of Defense, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and U.S. Forest Service; issuance of section 404 Clean Water Act permits by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; construction and management of gas pipeline and power line rights-of-way by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; and VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:01 Sep 26, 2012 Jkt 226001 construction and maintenance of roads or highways by the Federal Highway Administration. The Act and its implementing regulations set forth a series of general prohibitions and exceptions that apply to all endangered wildlife. The prohibitions of section 9(a)(2) of the Act, codified at 50 CFR 17.21 for endangered wildlife, in part, make it illegal for any person subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to take (includes harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect; or to attempt any of these), import, export, ship in interstate commerce in the course of commercial activity, or sell or offer for sale in interstate or foreign commerce any listed species. Under the Lacey Act (18 U.S.C. 42–43; 16 U.S.C. 3371–3378), it is also illegal to possess, sell, deliver, carry, transport, or ship any such wildlife that has been taken illegally. Certain exceptions apply to agents of the Service and State conservation agencies. We may issue permits to carry out otherwise prohibited activities involving endangered and threatened wildlife species under certain circumstances. Regulations governing permits are codified at 50 CFR 17.22 for endangered species, and at 17.32 for threatened species. With regard to endangered wildlife, a permit must be issued for the following purposes: for scientific purposes, to enhance the propagation or survival of the species, and for incidental take in connection with otherwise lawful activities. It is our policy, as published in the Federal Register on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 34272), to identify to the maximum extent practicable at the time a species is listed, those activities that would or would not constitute a violation of section 9 of the Act. The intent of this policy is to increase public awareness of the effect of a proposed listing on proposed and ongoing activities within the range of species proposed for listing. The following activities could potentially result in a violation of section 9 of the Act; this list is not comprehensive: (1) Unauthorized discharge of chemicals, waste, or fill material into any waters in which the grotto sculpin is known to occur, or into any sinkholes or vertical drains that recharge waters in which the grotto sculpin is known to occur; (2) Unauthorized modification of the channel or water flow of any surface stream, cave stream, or spring in which the grotto sculpin is known to occur; and (3) Introduction of nonnative fish species that compete with or prey upon the grotto sculpin. PO 00000 Frm 00014 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 Questions regarding whether specific activities would constitute a violation of section 9 of the Act should be directed to the Columbia Missouri Ecological Services Field Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Requests for copies of the regulations concerning listed animals and general inquiries regarding prohibitions and permits may be addressed to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Endangered Species Permits, 5600 American Boulevard West, Suite 990, Bloomington, MN 55437–1458 (telephone 612–713–5343; facsimile 612–713–5292). If the grotto sculpin is listed under the Act, the State of Missouri’s Endangered Species Act (MO ST 252.240) is automatically invoked, which would also prohibit take of these species and encourage conservation by State government agencies. Further, the State may enter into agreements with Federal agencies to administer and manage any area required for the conservation, management, enhancement, or protection of endangered species (MO ST 252.240). Funds for these activities could be made available under section 6 of the Act (Cooperation with the States). Thus, the Federal protection afforded to this species by listing it as an endangered species will be reinforced and supplemented by protection under State law. Critical Habitat Designation for the Grotto Sculpin Background It is our intent to discuss below only those topics directly relevant to the designation of critical habitat for the grotto sculpin in this section of the proposed rule. 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 E:\FR\FM\27SEP2.SGM 27SEP2 erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 188 / Thursday, September 27, 2012 / Proposed Rules 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 ensure, 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 nonFederal 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 is 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 VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:01 Sep 26, 2012 Jkt 226001 conservation of the species. Primary constituent elements are those specific elements of the physical or biological features that provide for a species’ lifehistory 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. For example, an area currently occupied by the species but that was not occupied at the time of listing may be essential to the conservation of the species and may be included in the critical habitat designation. 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 the Federal Register on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 34271)), 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 PO 00000 Frm 00015 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 59501 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 the species. Areas that are important to the conservation of the species, both inside and outside the critical habitat designation, will 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. Prudency Determination Section 4(a)(3) of the Act, as amended, and implementing regulations (50 CFR 424.12), require that, to the maximum extent prudent and determinable, the Secretary designate critical habitat at the time the species is determined to be an endangered or threatened species. Our regulations (50 CFR 424.12(a)(1)) state that the designation of critical habitat is not prudent when one or both of the following situations exist: (1) The species is threatened by taking or other human activity, and identification of critical habitat can be expected to increase the degree of threat to the species, or (2) such designation of critical habitat would not be beneficial to the species. There is currently no imminent threat of take attributed to collection or vandalism under Factor B for grotto sculpin. In the absence of finding that the designation of critical habitat would increase threats to a species, if there are any benefits to a critical habitat designation, then a prudent finding is warranted. The potential benefits include: (1) Triggering consultation under section 7 of the Act, in new areas E:\FR\FM\27SEP2.SGM 27SEP2 59502 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 188 / Thursday, September 27, 2012 / Proposed Rules for actions in which there may be a Federal nexus where it would not otherwise occur because, for example, it is or has become unoccupied or the occupancy is in question; (2) focusing conservation activities on the most essential features and areas; (3) providing educational benefits to State or county governments or private entities; and (4) preventing people from causing inadvertent harm to the species. The primary regulatory effect of critical habitat is the section 7(a)(2) requirement that Federal agencies refrain from taking any action that destroys or adversely modifies critical habitat if there is a Federal nexus (Federal funds are involved or a Federal permit is required) involving actions that could adversely impact water quality parameters for this species. Various conservation measures or actions initiated and implemented under section 7(a)(1) of the Act may be useful in improving the water quality of aquatic habitats occupied by this species. In the case of the grotto sculpin, these aspects of critical habitat designation would potentially benefit the conservation of the species. Therefore, as we have determined that the designation of critical habitat will not likely increase the degree of threat to the species and may provide some measure of benefit, we find that designation of critical habitat is prudent for the grotto sculpin. erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with Critical Habitat Determinability Having determined that designation is prudent, under section 4(a)(3) of the Act we must find whether critical habitat for the grotto sculpin is determinable. Our regulations at 50 CFR 424.12(a)(2) state that critical habitat is not determinable when one or both of the following situations exist: (i) Information sufficient to perform required analyses of the impacts of the designation is lacking, or (ii) The biological needs of the species are not sufficiently well known to permit identification of an area as critical habitat. When critical habitat is not determinable, the Act allows the Service an additional year to publish a critical habitat designation (16 U.S.C. 1533(b)(6)(C)(ii)). We reviewed the available information pertaining to the biological needs of the species and habitat characteristics where this species is located. This and other information represent the best scientific data available and led us to conclude that the designation of critical habitat is determinable for the grotto sculpin. VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:01 Sep 26, 2012 Jkt 226001 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 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, geographic, and ecological distributions of a species. We derive the specific physical or biological features required for the grotto sculpin from studies of this species’ habitat, ecology, and life history. The physical and biological features required for the grotto sculpin are derived from biological needs of the species as described in the Background section of this proposal, and based on published literature (Burr et al. 2001, pp. 279–276; Gerken and Adams 2008, pp. 74–78), unpublished reports, and professional opinions by recognized experts. While little is known of the specific habitat requirements for this species, the best available information shows that the species requires adequate water quality, water quantity, water flow, a stable stream channel, minimal sedimentation, organic input into caves during rain events, and a sufficient prey base for juveniles (Burr et al. 2001, pp. 291, 294–295; Gerken and Adams 2008, pp. 74–76). Due to the complex nature of the multiple karst regions in Perry County, diverse hydrologic components will be essential to the conservation of grotto sculpin; these include cave streams, resurgences, springs, surface streams, and surface and subterranean interconnected or interspatial habitats (Vandike 1985, pp. 1–10; Day 2008, pp. 22–24). To identify the physical and biological features essential to the grotto sculpin, we have relied on current conditions at locations where the species survives and the information available on this species. Space for Individual and Population Growth and for Normal Behavior The specific space requirements for the grotto sculpin are unknown, but given the mixture of habitats used by different life stages of this fish (Burr et al. 2001, p. 284; Gerken and Adams 2008, p. 76), space is not likely a limiting factor; however, silt and various pollutants may affect the species’ overall distribution and abundance (Burr et al. 2001, p. 294; Gerken and Adams 2008, p. 76). Grotto sculpin occupy cave streams, resurgences (also known as ‘‘spring branches’’; Vandike 1985, p. 10), springs, and surface streams (Adams 2012, pers. comm.; Burr et al. 2001, p. 284). They occupy pools and riffles with moderate flows and variable depths (4 to 33 centimeters (cm) (1.6 to 13 in)) (Burr et al. 2001, p. 284). Although grotto sculpin have been documented to occur over a variety of substrates (for example, silt, gravel, cobble, rock rubble, and bedrock), the presence of cobble or pebble is necessary for spawning (Burr et al. 2001, p. 284; Adams et al. unpub. data). Grotto sculpin tend to be associated with high availability of invertebrate prey, deeper cave pools, substrate containing cobble, and some level of sustained water flow (Gerken 2007, pp. 16–17). Surface habitat used by grotto sculpin is characterized by an abundance of amphipods and isopods. In caves, grotto sculpin occupy deeper pools with cobble, and with a relatively high abundance of amphipods and isopods. Although usually in lower abundance, grotto sculpin also occupy shallow cave pools where the substrate consists of silt deposits deeper than 1.9 cm (0.8 in) (Gerken 2007, p. 16). Resurgences are used by juvenile grotto sculpin as nursery areas, where they maximize growth before migrating upstream into caves to reproduce or downstream to surface streams (Day 2008, p. 18). Habitat conditions described above provide space, cover, shelter, and sites for foraging, breeding, reproduction, and growth of offspring for the grotto sculpin. These habitats are found in caves streams, resurgences, springs, and surface streams; therefore, we identify those elements as physical or biological features essential to the conservation for grotto sculpin. Additionally, interconnected karst areas and interstitial spaces that allow for the free flow of water between occupied surface and subsurface habitats are primary components of essential physical and biological features for the grotto sculpin. PO 00000 Frm 00016 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\27SEP2.SGM 27SEP2 erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 188 / Thursday, September 27, 2012 / Proposed Rules Food, Water, Air, Light, Minerals, or Other Nutritional or Physiological Requirements Although the specific food items of grotto sculpin have not been determined, they are likely similar to the diet of banded sculpin. Prey items of the banded sculpin include ephemeropterans, dipterans, chronomids, gastropods, amphipods, isopods, fish, spiders, aquatic oligochaetes, caddisflies, damselfly larvae, ostracods, stoneflies, beetles, crayfish, and salamanders (Phillips and Kilambi 1996, pp. 69–72; Pflieger 1997, p. 253; Tumlinson and Cline 2002, pp. 111–112; Niemiller et al. 2006, p. 43). Prey availability is related to the organic input that is transported with sediment and other organic materials via sinkholes into stream habitats (Burr et al. 2001, p. 291). An abundance of aquatic invertebrates is necessary to support a viable population of grotto sculpin (Niemiller et al. 2006, p. 43; Gerken and Adams 2008, p. 75). Therefore, based on this information, we identify the availability of appropriate organic input supporting the aquatic invertebrate prey base to be a primary component of the essential physical and biological features for the grotto sculpin. The grotto sculpin occurs in pools and riffles of cave streams, resurgences, springs, and surface streams (Burr et al. 2001, pp. 280–284; Adams 2012, pers. comm.). It can occur over multiple substrates including sand, silt, gravel, pebble, cobble, breakdown, and bedrock, although the association with silt might be due to the prevalence of sediment within occupied habitat rather than a preference for such substrates (Vandike 1985, p. 38; Burr et al. 2001, p. 284; Gerken 2007, pp. 13, 22–25; Gerken and Adams 2008, pp. 76–77). Optimum water temperature, flow rates, and water depth in occupied streams have not been established for grotto sculpin and vary widely depending on life stage and location (e.g., pools of cave streams versus flowing water in resurgences or surface streams) (Gerken 2007, pp. 20–27). Water depth varied, but ranged between 4 and 33 cm (1.6 and 13.0 in) and flow rates were between .05 and 6.67 cm/sec (0.2 and 2.6 in/sec) (Burr et al. 2001, p. 284; Gerken 2007, p. 17). Occupied cave streams, resurgences, springs, surface streams, interconnected karst areas, and interstitial spaces should have reduced levels of silt, sustained water flows, high dissolved oxygen levels, and reduced amounts of organic and inorganic contaminants. Interconnected karst areas and interstitial spaces should be free of VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:01 Sep 26, 2012 Jkt 226001 debris and have reduced levels of silt to allow for free flow of water between occupied habitats. Water quality standards for contaminants should follow guidelines established by the EPA, except for ammonia and copper. Water quality criteria for ammonia and copper should follow minimum levels reported by Wang et al. (2007, pp. 2048– 2055) and established for juvenile freshwater mussels (less than 4.6 parts per billion copper per liter and less than 370 parts per billion ammonia expressed as nitrogen per liter). Optimum water quality parameters have not been determined for the grotto sculpin. Habitat information for other species that inhabit cave streams and springs in Missouri (such as the endangered Tumbling Creek cavesnail) may be used as suitable surrogates for the grotto sculpin. In the absence of information specific to the grotto sculpin’s water quality needs, we believe the criteria established for the Tumbling Creek cavesnail are also suitable for the grotto sculpin. Therefore, we recommend the following water quality parameters for the grotto sculpin: an average daily discharge of 0.07 to 150 cubic feet per second (cfs); water temperature of cave streams, springs, resurgences, and surface streams should be between 55 and 62 °F (12.78 and 16.67 °C); dissolved oxygen levels should equal or exceed 4.5 milligrams per liter; and turbidity of an average monthly reading should not exceed 200 Nephelometric Units (units used to measure sediment discharge) and should not persist for a period greater than 4 hours. Adequate water flow, temperature, and quality (as defined above) are essential for normal behavior, growth, and viability during all life stages of the grotto sculpin. Therefore, based on the information above, we identify adequate water flow, temperature, and quality to be physical and biological features essential to the conservation for the grotto sculpin. Cover or Shelter Burr et al. (2001, p. 284) noted that grotto sculpin occur in the open as well as under rocks. Rocks within cave streams allow the grotto sculpin to avoid predators (Gerken 2007, p. 25); at least six different species of piscivorous, predatory fish occur within occupied grotto sculpin habitat (Burr et al. 2001, p. 284). Additionally, rocks provide a substrate for egg laying (Gerken 2007, p. 2; Adams 2005, p. 10). In addition to rocks, large cobble has been identified as an important component of sculpin habitat (Gerken 2007, pp. 22–27). Due to the wide variety of habitats used by grotto sculpin depending on age PO 00000 Frm 00017 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 59503 and season (Burr et. al 2001, pp. 283– 284; 294; Gerken 2007, pp. 27–30; Gerken and Adams 2008, pp. 75–76), occupied underground and surface aquatic habitats including associated transitional aquatic habitats are all essential physical or biological features for the species. The grotto sculpin requires cave and surface streams with a stable stream bottom and solid bedrock and stable stream banks to maintain a stable horizontal dimension and vertical profile of pool and riffle habitats. A mixture of bottom substrates, including sand, gravel, pebbles, cobble, ceiling breakdown areas and larger rocks, is necessary to provide cover and attachment surfaces for egg masses. Additionally, bottom substrates must not be covered with excessive amounts of silt. Therefore, based on the information above, we identify the following as primary components of the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the grotto sculpin: cave streams, resurgences, springs, surface streams, and interconnected areas between surface and subterranean habitats with stable bottom and banks; rocks or large cobble to provide cover; and substrates consisting of fine gravel with coarse gravel or cobble, or bedrock with sand and gravel, with low amounts of fine sand and sediments within the interstitial spaces of the substrates. Sites for Breeding, Reproduction, or Rearing Adams (2005, pp. 10; Adams et al. 2008, p. 8; Gerken 2007, pp. 19–21) demonstrated that grotto sculpin spawn in caves but some young-of-the-year move to resurgences or surface streams and spend much of their lives away from caves. Juvenile grotto sculpin likely move out of caves to avoid predation by adult sculpin (Gerken 2007, p. 19) or to take advantage of higher levels of prey in such habitats (Burr et al. 2001, p. 291; Gerken 2007, pp. 19–20; Day 2008, pp. 18–21). Gerken (2007, p. 19) and Day (2008, p. 18) postulated that juvenile grotto sculpin use resurgences and surface streams as nursery areas to gain size by taking advantage of increased food resources. At some point in their maturation process, juvenile sculpin move from resurgences and surface streams into caves to complete their life cycle (Gerken 2007, p. 19; Day 2008, p. 18). Based on the information above, consistent connectivity between cave streams and resurgences or surface streams is a primary component of the physical or biological features essential to the conservation for the grotto sculpin. E:\FR\FM\27SEP2.SGM 27SEP2 59504 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 188 / Thursday, September 27, 2012 / Proposed Rules erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with Primary Constituent Elements (PCEs) for the Grotto Sculpin Under the Act and its implementing regulations, we are required to identify the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the grotto sculpin in areas occupied at the time of listing, focusing on the features’ primary constituent elements. We consider primary constituent elements to be the elements of physical or biological features that provide for a species’ life-history processes and 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 the grotto sculpin are: (1) Geomorphically stable stream bottoms and banks (stable horizontal dimension and vertical profile) with riffles, runs, pools, and transition zones between these stream features. (2) Instream flow regime with an average daily discharge between 0.07 and 150 cubic feet per second (cfs), inclusive of surface runoff, cave streams, resurgences, springs, and occupied surface streams and all interconnected karst areas with flowing water. (3) Water temperature between 12.8 and 16.7 °C (55 and 62 °F), dissolved oxygen 4.5 milligrams or greater per liter, and turbidity of an average monthly reading of no more than 200 Nephelometric Turbidity Units for a duration not to exceed 4 hours. (4) Adequate water quality characterized by low levels of contaminants. Adequate water quality is defined as the quality necessary for normal behavior, growth, and viability of all life stages of the grotto sculpin. (5) Bottom substrates consisting of a mixture of sand, gravel, pebble, cobble, solid bedrock, larger cobble and rocks for cover, with low amounts of sediments. (6) Abundance of aquatic invertebrate prey base to support the different life stages of the grotto sculpin. (7) Connected underground and surface aquatic habitats that provide for all life stages of the grotto sculpin, with sufficient water levels to facilitate movement of individuals among habitats. 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 primary constituent elements sufficient VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:01 Sep 26, 2012 Jkt 226001 to support the life-history requirements of the species. All units proposed as critical habitat are currently occupied by the grotto sculpin and contain the primary constituent elements sufficient to support the life-history needs of the grotto sculpin. Special Management Considerations or Protection When designating critical habitat, we assess whether the specific areas within the geographic area occupied by the species at the time of listing contain features that are essential to the conservation of the species and that may require special management considerations or protection. The four units we are proposing for designation as critical habitat will require some level of management to address the current and future threats to the physical and biological features essential to the conservation of the species. Although little area within the proposed critical habitat units is presently under special management or protection provided by a legally operative plan or agreement for the conservation of the grotto sculpin, some landowners within the recharge zones of caves occupied by the species have worked cooperatively with the MDC in the implementation of various conservation measures that facilitate good water quality. Keyhole Spring and Ball Mill Spring have both been purchased by the L–A–D Foundation, and these water sources are managed by MDC (Moss and Pobst 2010, pp. 152– 153). Management of areas within the recharge areas of Keyhole and Ball Mill springs will provide some conservation benefits to the grotto sculpin. A landowner agreement between MDC and the Missouri Caves and Karst Conservancy in 2011 will facilitate conservation actions at Berome Moore Cave (Pobst 2011a, pp. 1–2). These include access to the cave to conduct research and monitor population numbers of grotto sculpin; livestock fencing to prohibit access to sinkholes, reduce nutrient runoff, and facilitate erosion control; and the planting of warm-season grasses to benefit wildlife. Various debris and trash have been removed from multiple sinkholes within the recharge zones of cave streams occupied by grotto sculpin (Pobst 2011b, pp. 1–3), and additional access agreements are being pursued with other interested landowners to control entrances to caves occupied by the species (Pobst 2011a, p. 1). Although best management practices (BMPs) have not been specifically developed for the grotto sculpin, PO 00000 Frm 00018 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 guidelines established by MDC (2000, p. 1) for the Ozark cavefish (Amblyopsis rosae) would contribute to the conservation of the sculpin because both species occur in similar habitats. Various activities in or adjacent to the critical habitat units described in this proposed rule may affect one or more of the physical or biological features and may require special management considerations or protection. Some of these activities include, but are not limited to, those previously discussed in the ‘‘Summary of Factors Affecting the Species.’’ Features in all of the proposed critical habitat units may require special management due to threats associated with activities that could be sources of contamination that adversely affect water quality of habitats occupied by grotto sculpin; with significant changes in the existing flow regime of caves streams, resurgences, springs, or surface streams occupied by grotto sculpin; with significant alteration in the quantity of groundwater and alteration of spring discharge sites; with alterations to septic systems that could adversely affect water quality; and with other watershed and floodplain disturbances that release sediments or nutrients into the water. Other activities that may affect essential features in the proposed critical habitat unit include those listed in the ‘‘Effects of Critical Habitat Designation’’ section below. In summary, we find that the areas we are proposing as critical habitat contain the features essential to the conservation of the grotto sculpin and that these features may require special management considerations or protections. Special management considerations or protections may be required to eliminate, or to reduce to negligible levels, the threats affecting each unit and to preserve and maintain the essential features that the proposed critical habitat units provide to the grotto sculpin. There are multiple threats to the grotto sculpin in all four units proposed as critical habitat. These include industrial sand mining and degraded water quality due to various sources of contamination and siltation. Additional discussions of threats facing individual sites, where applicable, are provided in the individual unit descriptions. Criteria Used To Identify Proposed Critical Habitat As required by section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we use the best scientific and commercial data available to designate critical habitat. We review available information pertaining to the habitat requirements of the species to determine areas within the geographical area E:\FR\FM\27SEP2.SGM 27SEP2 erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 188 / Thursday, September 27, 2012 / Proposed Rules currently occupied by the species that contain the physical and biological features essential to the conservation of the grotto sculpin. In accordance with the Act and its implementing regulation 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— are necessary to ensure the conservation of the species. We are not currently proposing to designate any areas outside the geographical area occupied by the species because occupied areas are sufficient for the conservation of the species. In order to determine which sites are currently occupied, we used information from surveys conducted by Burr et al. (2001, pp. 280–286), Adams (2005, pp. 11–13), Day (2008, pp. 9–11; 62–66), Gerken (2007, pp. 5–8), and Gerken and Adams (2008, pp. 74–76), and dye tracing studies conducted by Moss and Pobst (2010, pp. 146–160, 177, 180–192). Currently, occupied habitat for the species includes all caves streams, resurgences, springs, and surface streams associated with the recharge areas for the Moore Cave System, the Crevice Cave System, Mystery Cave, Rimstone River Cave, Running Bull Cave, and Hot Caverns; as well as Thunder Hole Resurgence, Mystery Cave Resurgence, Cinque Hommes Creek, and Blue Spring Branch. After identifying the specific locations occupied by the grotto sculpin, we determined the appropriate area of occupied segments of aquatic habitats essential for the conservation of the species. These areas are collectively contained within the Central Perryville and Mystery-Rimstone karst areas as described by House (1976, pp. 13–14) and Burr et al. (2001, pp. 280–282). Although there are underground portions within the Central Perryville and Mystery-Rimstone karst areas that are inaccessible to humans, all underground aquatic habitats within the recharge zones of the Moore Cave System, the Crevice Cave System, Mystery Cave, Rimstone River Cave, Running Bull Cave, Thunder Hole Resurgence, Mystery Cave Resurgence, Cinque Hommes Creek, and Blue Spring Branch are believed to be occupied by the grotto sculpin. Areas delineated within the Central Perryville and Mystery-Rimstone karst areas are believed to comprise the entire known range of the grotto sculpin. We are not proposing to designate any areas outside of those mentioned above, because the species is believed to be a local endemic, and surveys in other nearby cave streams and springs have failed to VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:01 Sep 26, 2012 Jkt 226001 find additional populations (Burr et al. 2001, pp. 283–284). Although the total area within the Central Perryville and Mystery CaveRimstone karst areas is estimated to encompass approximately 222 km2 (89 mi2) (Service calculations from Vandike 1985, p. 1 and Burr et al. 2001, p. 282) and the above-ground recharge areas of the Moore Cave System, the Crevice Cave System, Mystery Cave, Rimstone River Cave, Running Bull Cave, and Thunderhole Resurgence have been estimated to be 93.95 km2 (36.28 mi2) (Moss and Pobst 2010, pp. 183–186), and are important to maintain the condition of sculpin habitat, nonaquatic areas within such areas do not themselves contain the physical and biological features essential to the conservation of the species. We have determined that all of the areas proposed as critical habitat are currently occupied and contain sufficient elements of physical and biological features to support lifehistory processes essential for the conservation of the species. Other than all caves streams, resurgences, springs, and surface streams associated with the recharge areas for the Moore Cave System, the Crevice Cave System, Mystery Cave, Rimstone River Cave, Running Bull Cave, Thunder Hole Resurgence, Mystery Cave Resurgence, Cinque Hommes Creek, and Blue Spring Branch, we are currently unaware of any other areas occupied by the grotto sculpin. Therefore, we are unable to determine which additional areas, if any, may be appropriate to include in the proposed critical habitat for this species. All of the areas proposed as critical habitat are within the known historical range of the species, and we are not proposing to designate any areas outside the geographical area currently occupied by the species. At this time, we believe that the occupied areas are sufficient 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 or biological features for the grotto sculpin. 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. 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 PO 00000 Frm 00019 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 59505 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 or biological features in the adjacent critical habitat. Units are proposed for designation based on sufficient elements of physical or biological features being present to support grotto sculpin life-history processes. All units contain all of the identified elements of physical or biological features and support multiple life-history processes. 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 on http:// www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS–ES–R3–2012–0065, on our Internet site http://www.fws.gov/ midwest/Endangered, and at the field office responsible for the designation (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT above). Proposed Critical Habitat Designation We are proposing four units, totaling approximately 94 km2 (36.28 mi2) plus 31 kilometers (19.2 miles) of surface stream as critical habitat for the grotto sculpin. Critical habitat areas we describe below constitute our current best assessment of areas that meet the definition of critical habitat for the grotto sculpin. The first unit encompasses all aquatic habitat within the recharge areas of the Moore Cave System, the Crevice Cave System, Ball Mill Spring and Keyhole Spring totaling approximately 46 km2 (17.61 mi2). The second unit covers all aquatic habitat within the recharge areas of Mystery Cave, Rimstone River Cave, Running Bull Cave, and Thunderhole Resurgence, totaling approximately 48 km2 (18.67 mi2). The third unit envelops approximately 6.4 km (4.0 mi) of Blue Spring Branch from its emergence within the Moore Cave System to its confluence with Bois Brule Creek (Burr et al. 2001, pp. 280–281; Moss and Pobst 2010, p. 183). The fourth unit entails approximately 24 km (15.2 mi) of Cinque Hommes Creek from its emergence near Mystery Cave and Resurgence to its confluence with Bois Brule Creek (Burr et al. 2001, pp. 280– 281; Moss and Pobst 2010, p. 185). E:\FR\FM\27SEP2.SGM 27SEP2 59506 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 188 / Thursday, September 27, 2012 / Proposed Rules Although the exact extent of occupied aquatic habitat by grotto sculpin within the recharge areas is not known due to the inaccessibility of underground karst, we presume all aquatic habitats within the entire 94 km2 (36.28 mi2) recharge could reasonably be occupied, and thus propose to designate the entire area as critical habitat. It should be implied that all references to the delineated boundaries of critical habitat for Units One and Two within cave and resurgence recharge zones apply only to those areas of aquatic habitat, because only these areas contain the physical and biological features essential to the conservation of the grotto sculpin. We present brief descriptions for the four units and reasons why they meet the definition of critical habitat below. For occupied aquatic habitats proposed as critical habitat, the approximate area of recharge areas of Tom and Berome Moore Caves, Crevice Cave, Mystery Cave, Rimstone River Cave, Running Bull Cave, and Thunderhole Resurgence, as well as upstream and downstream boundaries for Blue Spring Branch and Cinque Hommes Creek, are described generally below; more precise descriptions, as best can be determined, are provided in the Proposed Regulation Promulgation section at the end of this proposed rule. The approximate area and ownership of each proposed critical habitat unit is shown in Table 1. TABLE 1—OCCUPANCY AND OWNERSHIP OF THE PROPOSED CRITICAL HABITAT UNITS FOR THE GROTTO SCULPIN [Area estimates reflect all land within critical habitat unit boundaries.] Private ownership Unit 1 2 3 4 Location Occupied ................................... ................................... ................................... ................................... Central Perryville Karst Area Mystery-Rimstone Karst Area Blue Spring Branch ............... Cinque Hommes Creek ......... Yes Yes Yes Yes Total ...................... ................................................ .................... State, county, city ownership Total sq. km (sq. mi) km (mi) sq. km (sq. mi) 35 (14) 48 (19) 0 0 .................... 83 (32) 0 0 6 (4) 24 (14) .................... 31 (19) 11 (4) 1 (1) 0 0 .................... 11 (4) km (mi) 0 0 0 0 karst area stream 46 (18) 48 (19) 6 (4) 24 (14) 94 (36) 31 (19) Note: Area sizes may not sum due to rounding. erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with All units are considered currently occupied and all units contain all or some components of all four physical and biological features, and are therefore essential to the conservation of the species. The grotto sculpin and its habitat may require special management considerations or protections to address activities that are sources of contamination; changes in the existing flow regime of caves streams, resurgences, springs, or surface streams occupied by grotto sculpin; alteration in the quantity of groundwater and alteration of spring discharge sites; alterations to septic systems that could adversely affect water quality; and other watershed and floodplain disturbances that release sediments or nutrients into the water. Land use in the four units is similar and is primarily agriculture (row cropping and livestock production), rural or residential development, and industrial mining and quarrying. The majority of all proposed units are privately owned, with the exception of two municipalities: Perryville in Unit 1, and Longtown in Unit 2. Unit 1: Central Perryville Karst Area, Perry County, Missouri Unit 1 includes all aquatic habitats within the recharge area of the Moore Cave System, the Crevice Cave System, Ball Mill Spring, and Keyhole Spring. The entire area covers approximately 45.61 km2 (17.61 mi2). The Moore Cave System Recharge Area encompasses approximately 10.23 km2 (3.95 mi2) and VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:01 Sep 26, 2012 Jkt 226001 drains north from the edge of Perryville and discharges at Blue Spring on Blue Spring Branch; it can overflow from an adjacent spring called Blue Spring Overflow or Blue Spring Resurgence (Moss and Pobst 2010, pp. 147, 183). The recharge area of Crevice Cave includes Mertz Cave and Resurgence, Zahner Cave, Doc White Spring, Hogpen Spring, Herberlie Resurgence, Circle Drive Resurgence, Rob Roy Sink, Rozier Sink, Edgemont Sink, Shoe Factory Sink, and Lurk Sink, and has been estimated to be approximately 30.33 km2 (11.71 mi2) (Moss and Pobst 2010, pp. 151–152). Ball Mill Spring feeds portions of the Blue Spring Branch (a separate proposed critical habitat unit (Unit 3) outlined below) and the recharge area for this water source is approximately 1.71 km2 (0.66 mi2) (Moss and Pobst 2010, p. 153). Keyhole Spring includes Keyhole Resurgence, and the total recharge area has been estimated to be 3.34 km2 (1.29 mi2) (Moss and Pobst 2010, p. 152). The recharge area for Crevice Cave contains the city of Perryville. In addition to the threats that may require special management considerations or protections outlined above for all units, this unit is negatively affected by urban growth and development that might impact water quality, such as hazardous waste facilities, underground storage tanks, wastewater discharges, and poorly maintained septic systems in and around the city (Pobst and Taylor 2008, p. 69; Moss and Pobst 2010, p. 164). PO 00000 Frm 00020 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 Unit 2: Mystery-Rimstone Karst Area, Perry County, Missouri Unit 2 includes all aquatic habitats within the recharge zone of Mystery Cave, Rimstone River Cave, Running Bull Cave, and Thunderhole Resurgence, and incorporates an area of approximately 48.34 km2 (18.67 mi2). Mystery Cave includes Mystery Resurgence, Mystery Overflow Spring, Maple Leaf Cave, and Miller Spring, and the total area of its recharge area is approximately 18.26 km2 (7.05 mi2) (Moss and Pobst 2010, p. 154). The recharge area of Rimstone River Cave covers 24.53 km2 (9.47 mi2), and the main features within it include Lost Creek Cave, Weinrich Onyx Cave, Onyx Annex Cave, Twin Cave, and Snow Caverns (Moss and Pobst 2010, p. 158). The recharge area for Running Bull Cave extends from Maple Leaf Cave to Thunderhole Resurgence and encompasses 2.74 km2 (1.06 mi2) (Moss and Pobst 2010, p. 159). Thunderhole Resurgence receives water from multiple sources and, during high water events, some of the caves mentioned previously can contribute water to this resurgence (Moss and Pobst 2010, pp. 154, 159–160). Under high flow conditions, the Mystery Cave groundwater system overflows to Thunderhole Resurgence (Moss and Pobst 2010, p. 160). The total base flow recharge area of Thunderhole Resurgence is approximately 5.57 km2 (2.15 mi2). E:\FR\FM\27SEP2.SGM 27SEP2 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 188 / Thursday, September 27, 2012 / Proposed Rules Unit 3: Blue Spring Branch, Perry County, Missouri Unit 3 includes approximately 6.4 km (4.0 mi) of the surface portions of Blue Spring Branch from points downstream of the Moore Cave System to its confluence with Bois Brule Creek (Burr et al. 2002, pp. 280–281; Moss and Pobst 2010, pp. 147, 183). Blue Spring Branch is the principal resurgence stream for caves identified above within the Moore Cave System (Burr et al. 2001, p. 284). Unit 4: Cinque Hommes Creek, Perry County, Missouri Unit 4 includes approximately 24.4 km (15.2 mi) of Cinque Hommes Creek that generally flows in a northeast direction from near Interstate 55 southsoutheast of Perryville to its confluence with Bois Brule Creek (Adams 2005, p. 90; Burr et al. 2001, p. 281). erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with Effects of Critical Habitat Designation Section 7 Consultation Section 7(a)(2) of the Act requires Federal agencies, including the Service, to ensure that any action they fund, authorize, or carry out is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered species or threatened species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of designated critical habitat of such species. In addition, section 7(a)(4) of the Act requires Federal agencies to confer with the Service on any agency action which is likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any species proposed to be listed under the Act or result in the destruction or adverse modification of proposed critical habitat. Decisions by the 5th and 9th Circuit Courts of Appeals have invalidated our regulatory definition of ‘‘destruction or adverse modification’’ (50 CFR 402.02) (see Gifford Pinchot Task Force v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 378 F. 3d 1059 (9th Cir. 2004) and Sierra Club v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service et al., 245 F.3d 434, 442 (5th Cir. 2001)), and we do not rely on this regulatory definition when analyzing whether an action is likely to destroy or adversely modify critical habitat. Under the statutory provisions of the Act, we determine destruction or adverse modification on the basis of whether, with implementation of the proposed Federal action, the affected critical habitat would continue to serve its intended conservation role for the species. If a Federal action may affect a listed species or its critical habitat, the responsible Federal agency (action agency) must enter into consultation with us. Examples of actions that are subject to the section 7 consultation VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:01 Sep 26, 2012 Jkt 226001 process are actions on State, tribal, local, or private lands that require a Federal permit (such as a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers under section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.) or a permit from the Service under section 10 of the Act) or that involve some other Federal action (such as funding from the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Aviation Administration, or the Federal Emergency Management Agency). Federal actions not affecting listed species or critical habitat, and actions on State, tribal, local, or private lands that are not federally funded or authorized, do not require section 7 consultation. As a result of section 7 consultation, we document compliance with the requirements of section 7(a)(2) through our issuance of: (1) A concurrence letter for Federal actions that may affect, but are not likely to adversely affect, listed species or critical habitat; or (2) A biological opinion for Federal actions that may affect, and are likely to adversely affect, listed species or critical habitat. When we issue a biological opinion concluding that a project is likely to jeopardize the continued existence of a listed species and/or destroy or adversely modify critical habitat, we provide reasonable and prudent alternatives to the project, if any are identifiable, that would avoid the likelihood of jeopardy and/or destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat. We define ‘‘reasonable and prudent alternatives’’ (at 50 CFR 402.02) as alternative actions identified during consultation that: (1) Can be implemented in a manner consistent with the intended purpose of the action, (2) Can be implemented consistent with the scope of the Federal agency’s legal authority and jurisdiction, (3) Are economically and technologically feasible, and (4) Would, in the Director’s opinion, avoid the likelihood of jeopardizing the continued existence of the listed species and/or avoid the likelihood of destroying or adversely modifying critical habitat. Reasonable and prudent alternatives can vary from slight project modifications to extensive redesign or relocation of the project. Costs associated with implementing a reasonable and prudent alternative are similarly variable. Regulations at 50 CFR 402.16 require Federal agencies to reinitiate consultation on previously reviewed actions in instances where we have PO 00000 Frm 00021 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 59507 listed a new species or subsequently designated critical habitat that may be affected and the Federal agency has retained discretionary involvement or control over the action (or the agency’s discretionary involvement or control is authorized by law). Consequently, Federal agencies sometimes may need to request reinitiation of consultation with us on actions for which formal consultation has been completed, if those actions with discretionary involvement or control may affect subsequently listed species or designated critical habitat. Application of the ‘‘Adverse Modification’’ Standard The key factor related to the adverse modification determination is whether, with implementation of the proposed Federal action, the affected critical habitat would continue to serve its intended conservation role for the species. Activities that may destroy or adversely modify critical habitat are those that alter the physical or biological features to an extent that appreciably reduces the conservation value of critical habitat for the grotto sculpin. As discussed above, the role of critical habitat is to support life-history needs of the species and provide for the conservation of the species. Section 4(b)(8) of the Act requires us to briefly evaluate and describe, in any proposed or final regulation that designates critical habitat, activities involving a Federal action that may destroy or adversely modify such habitat, or that may be affected by such designation. Activities that may affect critical habitat, when carried out, funded, or authorized by a Federal agency, should result in consultation for the grotto sculpin. These activities include, but are not limited to: (1) Actions that would cause an increase in sedimentation to areas of all cave streams, resurgences, springs, or surface streams occupied by the grotto sculpin. Such activities could include, but are not limited to, surface soil disturbance associated with construction; agriculture and forestry practices; mining operations; maintenance of secondary or non-paved roads within the recharge areas of occupied caves; or actions that result in run off into occupied surface streams. These activities could eliminate or reduce habitats necessary for the growth and reproduction of the species by causing excessive sedimentation resulting in a decrease in dissolved oxygen levels, serving as a method of transport of hazardous chemicals that bind to soil particles, smothering egg E:\FR\FM\27SEP2.SGM 27SEP2 erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with 59508 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 188 / Thursday, September 27, 2012 / Proposed Rules masses, or eliminating interstitial spaces needed by grotto sculpin. (2) Actions that would significantly alter the existing flow regime of cave streams, resurgences, springs, or surface streams occupied by the grotto sculpin including all aquatic habitats within cave or resurgence recharge areas. Such activities could include, but are not limited to, high water demands needed for agricultural, residential, commercial, and industrial development. (3) Actions that would significantly alter water chemistry or water quality (for example, changes to temperature or pH, introduction of contaminants, or excess nutrients) in cave streams, resurgences, springs, or surface streams occupied by the grotto sculpin, including all aquatic habitats within cave or resurgence recharge areas. Such activities could include, but are not limited to, the release of chemicals or biological pollutants; pesticides or herbicides used for agriculture; hormones or antibiotics associated with animal husbandry operations; sand mining operations associated with hydraulic fracturing; disposal of dead animals and trash in sinkholes; and bacteria and nutrients from human sewage and animal manure. These activities could alter water conditions that are beyond the tolerances of the species and result in direct or cumulative adverse effects on the species and its life cycle. These activities could eliminate or reduce habitats necessary for the growth and reproduction of the species by causing eutrophication, leading to excessive filamentous algal growth. Excessive filamentous algal growth can cause extreme decreases in nighttime dissolved oxygen levels through vegetation respiration, and cover the bottom substrates and the interstitial spaces needed by sculpin. Introduction of harmful chemicals into aquatic habitats occupied by the grotto sculpin could result in adverse impacts to reproduction (e.g., cholinesterase inhibition) or mortality of the species or its food base. (4) Actions that could accidentally introduce nonnative species into occupied cave streams via tile or vertical drains. These activities could introduce potential predators, outcompeting fish (for example, catfish), or aquatic parasites and disease. (5) Actions that could significantly alter the prey base of grotto sculpin. Despite the fact that an excess of naturally occurring organic material in aquatic habitats occupied by the grotto sculpin can be deleterious, some level of energy input is important for maintaining the prey base of grotto VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:01 Sep 26, 2012 Jkt 226001 sculpin. A balance must be maintained that allows for some level of organic input that provides a food source for grotto sculpin prey, but not at such levels that impede reproduction and growth of grotto sculpin or at levels that introduce harmful chemicals and nutrients into occupied aquatic habitats. (6) Activities with a Federal nexus that may affect areas outside of critical habitat, such as development; road construction and maintenance; oil, gas, and utility easements; industrial sand mining associated with the removal of mineral deposits used in hydraulic fracturing (or fracking); forest and pasture management; herbicide and pesticide use or the migration and movement of sediment associated with crop production; and effluent discharges. These actions would be subject to review under section 7 of the Act if they may affect grotto sculpin, because Federal agencies must consider both effects to the species and effects to critical habitat independently. The Service should be consulted regarding disturbances to areas both within the proposed critical habitat units as well as areas within the recharge area of cave streams occupied by the sculpin, including resurgences, springs, and surface streams that contribute to instream flows, especially during times when water levels in occupied habitats are abnormally low (during droughts), because these activities may impact the essential features of proposed critical habitat. The prohibitions of section 9 of the Act against the take of listed species also continue to apply both inside and outside of designated critical habitat. Exemptions Application of Section 4(a)(3) of the Act The Sikes Act Improvement Act of 1997 (Sikes Act) (16 U.S.C. 670a) required each military installation that includes land and water suitable for the conservation and management of natural resources to complete an integrated natural resources management plan (INRMP) by November 17, 2001. An INRMP integrates implementation of the military mission of the installation with stewardship of the natural resources found on the base. Each INRMP includes: (1) An assessment of the ecological needs on the installation, including the need to provide for the conservation of listed species; (2) A statement of goals and priorities; (3) A detailed description of management actions to be implemented to provide for these ecological needs; and PO 00000 Frm 00022 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 (4) A monitoring and adaptive management plan. Among other things, each INRMP must, to the extent appropriate and applicable, provide for fish and wildlife management; fish and wildlife habitat enhancement or modification; wetland protection, enhancement, and restoration where necessary to support fish and wildlife; and enforcement of applicable natural resource laws. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004 (Pub. L. 108– 136) amended the Act to limit areas eligible for designation as critical habitat. Specifically, section 4(a)(3)(B)(i) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533(a)(3)(B)(i)) now provides: ‘‘The Secretary shall not designate as critical habitat any lands or other geographic areas owned or controlled by the Department of Defense, or designated for its use, that are subject to an integrated natural resources management plan prepared under section 101 of the Sikes Act (16 U.S.C. 670a), if the Secretary determines in writing that such plan provides a benefit to the species for which critical habitat is proposed for designation.’’ There are no Department of Defense lands with a completed INRMP within the proposed critical habitat designation for the grotto sculpin. Exclusions Application of Section 4(b)(2) of the Act Section 4(b)(2) of the Act states that the Secretary shall designate or 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 impacts 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 and commercial data available, that the failure to designate such area as critical habitat will result in the extinction of the species. In making that determination, the legislative history is clear that the Secretary has broad discretion regarding which factor(s) to use and how much weight to give to any factor. Under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we may exclude an area from designated critical habitat based on economic impacts, impacts on national security, or any other relevant impacts. In considering whether to exclude a particular area from the designation, we identify the benefits of including the area in the designation, identify the E:\FR\FM\27SEP2.SGM 27SEP2 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 188 / Thursday, September 27, 2012 / Proposed Rules benefits of excluding the area from the designation, and evaluate whether the benefits of exclusion outweigh the benefits of inclusion. If the analysis indicates that the benefits of exclusion outweigh the benefits of inclusion, the Secretary may exercise his discretion to exclude the area only if such exclusion would not result in the extinction of the species. Exclusions Based on Economic Impacts Under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we consider the economic impacts of specifying any particular area as critical habitat. In order to consider economic impacts, we are preparing an analysis of the economic impacts of the proposed critical habitat designation and related factors. We will announce the availability of our draft economic analysis as soon as it is completed. During the development of a final designation, we will consider economic impacts, public comments, and other new information, and areas may be excluded from the final critical habitat designation under section 4(b)(2) of the Act and our implementing regulations at 50 CFR 424.19. erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with Exclusions Based on National Security Impacts Under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we consider whether there are lands owned or managed by the Department of Defense where a national security impact might exist. In preparing this proposal, we have determined that the lands within the proposed designation of critical habitat for the grotto sculpin are not owned or managed by the Department of Defense, and, therefore, we anticipate no impact on national security. Consequently, the Secretary does not propose to exert his discretion to exclude any areas from the final designation based on impacts on national security. Exclusions Based on Other Relevant Impacts Under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we consider any other relevant impacts, in addition to economic impacts and impacts on national security. We consider a number of factors, including whether the landowners have developed any HCPs or other management plans for the area, or whether there are conservation partnerships that would be encouraged by designation of, or exclusion from, critical habitat. In addition, we look at any tribal issues, and consider the government-togovernment relationship of the United States with tribal entities. We also consider any social impacts that might occur because of the designation. VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:01 Sep 26, 2012 Jkt 226001 In preparing this proposal, we have determined that there are currently no HCPs or other management plans for the grotto sculpin, and the proposed designation does not include any tribal lands or trust resources. We anticipate no impact on tribal lands, partnerships, or HCPs from this proposed critical habitat designation. Accordingly, the Secretary does not propose to exert his discretion to exclude any areas from the final designation based on other relevant impacts. Peer Review In accordance with our joint policy on peer review published in the Federal Register on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 34270), we will seek the expert opinions of at least three appropriate and independent specialists regarding this proposed rule. The purpose of peer review is to ensure that our proposed listing and proposed critical habitat designation are based on scientifically sound data, assumptions, and analyses. We have invited these peer reviewers to comment during this public comment period on our proposed listing and designation of critical habitat. We will consider all comments and information we receive during this comment period on this proposed rule during our preparation of a final determination. Accordingly, the final decision may differ from this proposal. Public Hearings Section 4(b)(5) of the Act provides for one or more public hearings on this proposal, if requested. Requests must be received within 45 days after the date of publication of this proposed rule in the Federal Register. Such requests must be sent to the address shown in the ADDRESSES section. We will schedule public hearings on this proposal, if any are requested, and announce the dates, times, and places of those hearings, as well as how to obtain reasonable accommodations, in the Federal Register and local newspapers at least 15 days before the hearing. Persons needing reasonable accommodations to attend and participate in a public hearing or meeting should contact the Columbia Missouri Ecological Services Field Office at 573–234–2132 as soon as possible. To allow sufficient time to process requests, please call no later than one week before the hearing or meeting date. Information regarding this proposed rule is available in alternative formats upon request. PO 00000 Frm 00023 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 59509 Required Determinations Regulatory Planning and Review (Executive Orders 12866 and 13563) Executive Order 12866 provides that the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) will review all significant rules. The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs has determined that this rule is not significant. Executive Order 13563 reaffirms the principles of E.O. 12866 while calling for improvements in the nation’s regulatory system to promote predictability, to reduce uncertainty, and to use the best, most innovative, and least burdensome tools for achieving regulatory ends. The executive order directs agencies to consider regulatory approaches that reduce burdens and maintain flexibility and freedom of choice for the public where these approaches are relevant, feasible, and consistent with regulatory objectives. E.O. 13563 emphasizes further that regulations must be based on the best available science and that the rulemaking process must allow for public participation and an open exchange of ideas. We have developed this rule in a manner consistent with these requirements. Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA; 5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) as amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) of 1996 (5 U.S.C. 801 et seq.), whenever an agency must publish a notice of rulemaking for any proposed or final rule, it must prepare and make available for public comment a regulatory flexibility analysis that describes the effects of the rule on small entities (small businesses, small organizations, and small government jurisdictions). However, no regulatory flexibility analysis is required if the head of the agency certifies the rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The SBREFA amended the RFA to require Federal agencies to provide a certification statement of the factual basis for certifying that the rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. According to the Small Business Administration, small entities include small organizations such as independent nonprofit organizations; small governmental jurisdictions, including school boards and city and town governments that serve fewer than 50,000 residents; and small businesses (13 CFR 121.201). Small businesses include such businesses as E:\FR\FM\27SEP2.SGM 27SEP2 erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with 59510 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 188 / Thursday, September 27, 2012 / Proposed Rules manufacturing and mining concerns with fewer than 500 employees, wholesale trade entities with fewer than 100 employees, retail and service businesses with less than $5 million in annual sales, general and heavy construction businesses with less than $27.5 million in annual business, special trade contractors doing less than $11.5 million in annual business, and forestry and logging operations with fewer than 500 employees and annual business less than $7 million. To determine whether small entities may be affected, we will consider the types of activities that might trigger regulatory impacts under this designation as well as types of project modifications that may result. In general, the term ‘‘significant economic impact’’ is meant to apply to a typical small business firm’s business operations. Importantly, the incremental impacts of a rule must be both significant and substantial to prevent certification of the rule under the RFA and to require the preparation of an initial regulatory flexibility analysis. If a substantial number of small entities are affected by the proposed critical habitat designation, but the per-entity economic impact is not significant, the Service may certify. Likewise, if the per-entity economic impact is likely to be significant, but the number of affected entities is not substantial, the Service may also certify. Under the RFA, as amended, and following recent court decisions, Federal agencies are only required to evaluate the potential incremental impacts of rulemaking on those entities directly regulated by the rulemaking itself, and not the potential impacts to indirectly affected entities. The regulatory mechanism through which critical habitat protections are realized is section 7 of the Act, which requires Federal agencies, in consultation with the Service, to ensure that any action authorized, funded, or carried by the Agency is not likely to adversely modify critical habitat. Therefore, only Federal action agencies are directly subject to the specific regulatory requirement (avoiding destruction and adverse modification) imposed by critical habitat designation. Under these circumstances, it is our position that only Federal action agencies will be directly regulated by this designation. Therefore, because Federal agencies are not small entities, the Service may certify that the proposed critical habitat rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. We acknowledge, however, that in some cases, third-party proponents of VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:01 Sep 26, 2012 Jkt 226001 the action subject to permitting or funding may participate in a section 7 consultation, and thus may be indirectly affected. We believe it is good policy to assess these impacts if we have sufficient data before us to complete the necessary analysis, whether or not this analysis is strictly required by the RFA. While this regulation does not directly regulate these entities, in our draft economic analysis we will conduct a brief evaluation of the potential number of third parties participating in consultations on an annual basis in order to ensure a more complete examination of the incremental effects of this proposed rule in the context of the RFA. In conclusion, we believe that, based on our interpretation of directly regulated entities under the RFA and relevant case law, this designation of critical habitat will only directly regulate Federal agencies, which are not by definition small business entities. As such, we certify that, if promulgated, this designation of critical habitat would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small business entities. Therefore, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not required. However, though not necessarily required by the RFA, in our draft economic analysis for this proposal we will consider and evaluate the potential effects to third parties that may be involved with consultations with Federal action agencies related to this action. Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use— Executive Order 13211 Executive Order 13211 (Actions Concerning Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use) requires agencies to prepare Statements of Energy Effects when undertaking certain actions. We do not expect the designation of this proposed critical habitat to significantly affect energy supplies, distribution, or use. Industrial sand mining and development activities occur or could potentially occur in all of the proposed critical habitat units for the grotto sculpin. However, compliance with State regulatory requirements or voluntary BMPs would be expected to minimize impacts of industrial sand mining and development in the areas of proposed critical habitat for this species. The measures for industrial sand mining and development are likely not considered a substantial cost compared with overall project costs and are predictably being implemented by mining companies. No other activities associated with energy supply, distribution, or use are anticipated PO 00000 Frm 00024 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 within the proposed critical habitat. We do not expect the designation of this proposed critical habitat to significantly affect energy supplies, distribution, or use. Therefore, this action is not a significant energy action, and no Statement of Energy Effects is required. However, we will further evaluate this issue as we conduct our economic analysis, and review and revise this assessment as warranted. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (2 U.S.C. 1501 et seq.) In accordance with the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (2 U.S.C. 1501 et seq.), we make the following findings: (1) This rule would not produce a Federal mandate. In general, a Federal mandate is a provision in legislation, statute, or regulation that would impose an enforceable duty upon State, local, or tribal governments, or the private sector, and includes both ‘‘Federal intergovernmental mandates’’ and ‘‘Federal private sector mandates.’’ These terms are defined in 2 U.S.C. 658(5)–(7). ‘‘Federal intergovernmental mandate’’ includes a regulation that ‘‘would impose an enforceable duty upon State, local, or tribal governments’’ with two exceptions. It excludes ‘‘a condition of Federal assistance.’’ It also excludes ‘‘a duty arising from participation in a voluntary Federal program,’’ unless the regulation ‘‘relates to a then-existing Federal program under which $500,000,000 or more is provided annually to State, local, and tribal governments under entitlement authority,’’ if the provision would ‘‘increase the stringency of conditions of assistance’’ or ‘‘place caps upon, or otherwise decrease, the Federal Government’s responsibility to provide funding,’’ and the State, local, or tribal governments ‘‘lack authority’’ to adjust accordingly. At the time of enactment, these entitlement programs were: Medicaid; Aid to Families with Dependent Children work programs; Child Nutrition; Food Stamps; Social Services Block Grants; Vocational Rehabilitation State Grants; Foster Care, Adoption Assistance, and Independent Living; Family Support Welfare Services; and Child Support Enforcement. ‘‘Federal private sector mandate’’ includes a regulation that ‘‘would impose an enforceable duty upon the private sector, except (i) a condition of Federal assistance or (ii) a duty arising from participation in a voluntary Federal program.’’ The designation of critical habitat does not impose a legally binding duty on non-Federal Government entities or private parties. Under the Act, the only regulatory effect is that Federal agencies E:\FR\FM\27SEP2.SGM 27SEP2 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 188 / Thursday, September 27, 2012 / Proposed Rules must ensure that their actions do not destroy or adversely modify critical habitat under section 7. While nonFederal entities that receive Federal funding, assistance, or permits, or that otherwise require approval or authorization from a Federal agency for an action, may be indirectly impacted by the designation of critical habitat, the legally binding duty to avoid destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat rests squarely on the Federal agency. Furthermore, to the extent that non-Federal entities are indirectly impacted because they receive Federal assistance or participate in a voluntary Federal aid program, the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act would not apply and neither would critical habitat shift the costs of the large entitlement programs listed above onto State governments. (2) We do not believe that this rule would significantly or uniquely affect small governments because it will not produce a Federal mandate of $100 million or greater in any year, that is, it is not a ‘‘significant regulatory action’’ under the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act. The designation of critical habitat imposes no obligations on State or local governments and, as such, a Small Government Agency Plan is not required. However, we will further evaluate this issue as we conduct our economic analysis, and review and revise this assessment if appropriate. erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with Takings—Executive Order 12630 In accordance with Executive Order 12630 (Government Actions and Interference with Constitutionally Protected Private Property Rights), we have analyzed the potential takings implications of designating critical habitat for the grotto sculpin in a takings implications assessment. Critical habitat designation does not affect landowner actions that do not require Federal funding or permits, nor does it preclude development of habitat conservation programs or issuance of incidental take permits to permit actions that do require Federal funding or permits to go forward. The takings implications assessment concludes that this proposed designation of critical habitat for the grotto sculpin would not pose significant takings implications for lands within or affected by the proposed designation. Federalism—Executive Order 13132 In accordance with Executive Order 13132 (Federalism), this proposed rule does not have significant Federalism effects. A federalism summary impact statement is not required. In keeping with Department of the Interior and VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:01 Sep 26, 2012 Jkt 226001 59511 Department of Commerce policy, we requested information from, and coordinated development of, this proposed critical habitat designation with appropriate State resource agencies in Missouri. The designation of critical habitat in areas currently occupied by the grotto sculpin may impose nominal additional regulatory restrictions, and therefore may have some incremental impacts on State and local governments and their activities. The designation may have some benefit to these governments because the areas that contain the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the species are more clearly defined, and the elements of the features of the habitat necessary to the conservation of the species are specifically identified. This information does not alter where and what federally sponsored activities may occur. However, it may assist local governments in long-range planning (rather than having them wait for caseby-case section 7 consultations to occur). Where State and local governments require approval or authorization from a Federal agency for actions that may affect critical habitat, consultation under section 7(a)(2) would be required. While non-Federal entities that receive Federal funding, assistance, or permits, or that otherwise require approval or authorization from a Federal agency for an action, may be indirectly impacted by the designation of critical habitat, the legally binding duty to avoid destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat rests squarely on the Federal agency. et seq.). This rule will not impose recordkeeping or reporting requirements on State or local governments, individuals, businesses, or organizations. An agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number. Civil Justice Reform—Executive Order 12988 In accordance with Executive Order 12988 (Civil Justice Reform), the Office of the Solicitor has determined that the rule does not unduly burden the judicial system and that it meets the requirements of sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of the Order. We have proposed designating critical habitat in accordance with the provisions of the Act. This proposed rule uses standard property descriptions and identifies the elements of physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the grotto sculpin within the designated areas to assist the public in understanding the habitat needs of the species. We are required by Executive Orders 12866 and 12988 and by the Presidential Memorandum of June 1, 1998, to write all rules in plain language. This means that each rule we publish must: (1) Be logically organized; (2) Use the active voice to address readers directly; (3) Use clear language rather than jargon; (4) Be divided into short sections and sentences; and (5) Use lists and tables wherever possible. If you feel that we have not met these requirements, send us comments by one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. To better help us revise the rule, your comments should be as specific as possible. For example, you should tell us the numbers of the sections or paragraphs that are unclearly written, which sections or sentences are too long, the sections where you feel lists or tables would be useful, etc. Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.) This rule does not contain any new collections of information that require approval by OMB under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 PO 00000 Frm 00025 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 National Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) We have determined that environmental assessments and environmental impact statements, as defined under the authority of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), need not be prepared in connection with listing a species as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act. We published a notice outlining our reasons for this determination in the Federal Register on October 25, 1983 (48 FR 49244). It is our position that, outside the jurisdiction of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, we do not need to prepare environmental analyses pursuant to NEPA in connection with designating critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act. We published a notice outlining our reasons for this determination in the Federal Register on October 25, 1983 (48 FR 49244). This position was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Douglas County v. Babbitt, 48 F.3d 1495 (9th Cir. 1995), cert. denied 516 U.S. 1042 (1996)). Clarity of the Rule E:\FR\FM\27SEP2.SGM 27SEP2 59512 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 188 / Thursday, September 27, 2012 / Proposed Rules Government-to-Government Relationship With Tribes In accordance with the President’s memorandum of April 29, 1994 (Government-to-Government Relations with Native American Tribal Governments; 59 FR 22951), Executive Order 13175 (Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments), and the Department of the Interior’s manual at 512 DM 2, we readily acknowledge our responsibility to communicate meaningfully with recognized Federal Tribes on a government-to-government basis. In accordance with Secretarial Order 3206 of June 5, 1997 (American Indian Tribal Rights, Federal-Tribal Trust Responsibilities, and the Endangered Species Act), we readily acknowledge our responsibilities to work directly with tribes in developing programs for healthy ecosystems, to acknowledge that tribal lands are not subject to the same controls as Federal public lands, to remain sensitive to Indian culture, and to make information available to tribes. We determined that there are no tribal lands that are currently occupied by the grotto sculpin that contain the features essential for conservation of the species, and no tribal lands unoccupied by the grotto sculpin that are essential for the conservation of the species. Therefore, we are not proposing to designate critical habitat for the grotto sculpin on tribal lands. * Sculpin, grotto .......... * * § 17.95 Critical habitat—fish and wildlife. * * * (e) Fishes. * * * * * * * erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with Grotto Sculpin (Cottus sp. nov.) (1) Critical habitat units are depicted for Perry County, Missouri, on the maps below. (2) Within these areas, the primary constituent elements of the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the grotto sculpin consist of: (i) Geomorphically stable stream bottoms and banks (stable horizontal dimension and vertical profile) with VerDate Mar<15>2010 18:15 Sep 26, 2012 Jkt 226001 § 17.11 Endangered and threatened wildlife. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17 * Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and * * U.S.A. (MO) ............. Status * * Entire ....................... E * (iii) Water temperature between 12.8 and 16.7 °C (55 and 62 °F), dissolved oxygen 4.5 milligrams or greater per liter, and turbidity of an average monthly reading of no more than 200 Nephelometric Turbidity Units for a duration not to exceed 4 hours. (iv) Adequate water quality characterized by low levels of contaminants. Adequate water quality is defined as the quality necessary for normal behavior, growth, and viability of all life stages of the grotto sculpin. Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 * When listed * Critical habitat * * .................... * (ii) Instream flow regime with an average daily discharge between 0.07 and 150 cubic feet per second (cfs), inclusive of surface runoff, cave streams, resurgences, springs, and occupied surface streams and all interconnected karst areas with flowing water. Frm 00026 * * riffles, runs, pools, and transition zones between these stream features. PO 00000 * (h) * * * Vertebrate population where endangered or threatened * 3. In § 17.95, amend paragraph (e) by adding an entry for ‘‘Grotto Sculpin (Cottus sp. nov.),’’ in the same alphabetical order that the species appears in the table at § 17.11(h), to read as follows: 2. Amend § 17.11(h) by adding an entry for ‘‘Sculpin, grotto’’ in alphabetical order under FISHES to the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife to read as follows: The primary authors of this package are the staff members of the Columbia Missouri Ecological Services Field Office. * * Cottus sp. nov. ........ PART 17—[AMENDED] Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1361–1407; 16 U.S.C. 1531–1544; 16 U.S.C. 4201–4245; Pub. L. 99– 625, 100 Stat. 3500; unless otherwise noted. Authors Scientific name * Accordingly, we propose to amend part 17, subchapter B of chapter I, title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations, as set forth below: 1. The authority citation for part 17 continues to read as follows: A complete list of references cited in this rulemaking is available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov and upon request from the Columbia, Missouri Ecological Services Field Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Historic range * FISHES Proposed Regulation Promulgation References Cited Species Common name recordkeeping requirements, Transportation. * Special rules * * 17.95(e) NA * (v) Bottom substrates consisting of a mixture of sand, gravel, pebble, cobble, solid bedrock, larger cobble, and rocks for cover, with low amounts of sediments. (vi) Energy input from naturally occurring organic sources that provide habitat for the prey base that is needed by different life stages of the grotto sculpin. (vii) Connected underground and surface aquatic habitats that provide for all life stages of the grotto sculpin, with sufficient water levels to facilitate movement of individuals among habitats. (3) Critical habitat does not include manmade structures (such as buildings, aqueducts, runways, roads, and other paved areas) and the land on which they are located existing within the legal boundaries on the effective date of this rule. E:\FR\FM\27SEP2.SGM 27SEP2 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 188 / Thursday, September 27, 2012 / Proposed Rules VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:01 Sep 26, 2012 Jkt 226001 by Moss and Pobst (2010). The maps in this entry, as modified by any accompanying regulatory text, establish the boundaries of the critical habitat designation. The coordinates or plot points or both on which each map is based are available to the public at the Service’s internet site http://www.fws. gov/midwest/Endangered, http://www. regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS–R3– PO 00000 Frm 00027 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4725 ES–2012–0065, and at the field office responsible for this designation. You may obtain field office location information by contacting one of the Service regional offices, the addresses of which are listed at 50 CFR 2.2. (5) Index map of critical habitat units for the grotto sculpin follows: BILLING CODE 4310–55–P E:\FR\FM\27SEP2.SGM 27SEP2 EP27SE12.001</GPH> erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with (4) Critical habitat units index map. The map was developed from National Geographic USA Topographic maps (© National Geographic Society 2010). Upstream and downstream limits for critical habitat surface stream units were identified by degree, minute, second. Extent for critical habitat underlying recharge areas was defined by spatial data layers of recharge area delineations 59513 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 188 / Thursday, September 27, 2012 / Proposed Rules erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with (6) Unit 1: Central Perryville Karst Area, Perry County, Missouri. (i) Unit 1 includes all underground aquatic habitats in the recharge areas of the Moore and Crevice cave systems, Ball Mill Spring, and Keyhole Spring. The Unit extends as far north as, and parallels, Blue Spring Branch. The VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:01 Sep 26, 2012 Jkt 226001 western boundary of Unit 1 roughly parallels the division between the St. Peter Sandstone and Joachim Dolomite formations. The southern extent is approximately Edgemont Boulevard in Perryville. The southeastern boundary parallels Cinque Hommes Creek and crosses State Highway E approximately PO 00000 Frm 00028 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4725 1.5 miles east of Perryville. The boundary runs northeast from State Highway E to cross Missouri Route 51 near County Road 624 and continue northeast to Ball Mill Spring. (ii) Map of Units 1, 2, 3, and 4 follows: E:\FR\FM\27SEP2.SGM 27SEP2 EP27SE12.002</GPH> 59514 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 188 / Thursday, September 27, 2012 / Proposed Rules erowe on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with (7) Unit 2: Cave streams, resurgences, and springs within the MysteryRimstone Karst Area of Perry County, Missouri. (i) Unit 2 includes all underground aquatic habitats in the recharge areas of Mystery, Rimstone, and Running Bull caves, and Thunderhole Resurgence. The northern extend of the Unit County Road 316 from Stump Cemetery to State Highway P and Mystery Resurgence on Cinque Hommes Creek. The northwestern boundary of Unit 2 parallels Cinque Hommes Creek between Mystery Resurgence and the intersection of Route P and U.S. Route 61. The western boundary of Unit 2 roughly parallels the division between the St. Peter Sandstone and Joachim Dolomite formations and turns VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:01 Sep 26, 2012 Jkt 226001 southeast near the intersection of State Highway B and County Road 502. The Unit extends as far south as County Road 512 and continues east from the intersection of County Road 512 and County Road 510 to U.S. Route 61 approximately 1.5 miles south of Longtown. The eastern boundary follows U.S. Route 61 north to Longtown and continues north to County Road 316 near Stump Cemetery. (ii) Map of Unit 2 is provided at paragraph (6)(ii) of this entry. (8) Unit 3: Blue Spring Branch, Perry County, Missouri. (i) Unit 3 includes the channel in Blue Spring Branch from the resurgence of Mystery Cave (089°53′43.10″ W long., 037°48′12.45″ N lat.) to its confluence with Bois Brule Creek (089°52′54.04 W long., 037°50′40.25″ N lat.). PO 00000 Frm 00029 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 9990 59515 (ii) Map of Unit 3 is provided at paragraph (6)(ii) of this entry. (9) Unit 4: Cinque Hommes Creek, Perry County, Missouri. (i) Unit 4 includes the channel in Cinque Hommes Creek from Interstate 55 (089°52′50.77″ W long., 037°41′48.54″ N lat.) to its confluence with Bois Brule Creek (089°44′50.98″ W long., 037°47′19.22″ N lat.). (ii) Map of Unit 4 is provided at paragraph (6)(ii) of this entry. * * * * * Dated: September 10, 2012. Michael J. Bean, Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks. [FR Doc. 2012–23742 Filed 9–26–12; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–55–C E:\FR\FM\27SEP2.SGM 27SEP2

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 188 (Thursday, September 27, 2012)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 59487-59515]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-23742]



[[Page 59487]]

Vol. 77

Thursday,

No. 188

September 27, 2012

Part III





 Department of the Interior





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 Fish and Wildlife Service





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50 CFR Part 17





Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Endangered Status for 
Grotto Sculpin and Designation of Critical Habitat; Proposed Rule

Federal Register / Vol. 77 , No. 188 / Thursday, September 27, 2012 / 
Proposed Rules

[[Page 59488]]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[Docket No. FWS-R3-ES-2012-0065; 4500030113]
RIN 1018-AY16


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Endangered Status 
for Grotto Sculpin and Designation of Critical Habitat

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, propose to list the 
grotto sculpin (Cottus sp. nov.) as an endangered species under the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973, and propose to designate critical 
habitat for the species. In total, all underground aquatic habitat 
underlying approximately 94 square kilometers (36 square miles) plus 31 
kilometers (19.2 miles) of surface stream are being proposed for 
designation as critical habitat. The proposed critical habitat is 
located in Perry County, Missouri. If adopted, the effect of these 
regulations is to conserve grotto sculpin and its habitat under the 
Endangered Species Act.

DATES: 
    Written Comments: We will accept comments received or postmarked on 
or before November 26, 2012. Comments submitted electronically using 
the Federal eRulemaking Portal (see ADDRESSES section, 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 the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section by November 13, 2012.
    Public Meeting: To better inform the public of the implications of 
the proposed listing and proposed critical habitat, and to answer any 
questions regarding this proposed rule, we plan to hold a public 
meeting on Tuesday, October 30 from 5-8 p.m. at the Perryville Higher 
Education Center, 108 South Progress Drive, Perryville, MO 63775.

ADDRESSES: Written Comments: You may submit comments by one of the 
following methods:
    (1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter Docket No. FWS-R3-ES-
2012-0065, which is the docket number for this rulemaking. Then, click 
the Search button. You may submit a comment by clicking on ``Comment 
Now!.'' If your comments will fit in the provided comment box, please 
use this feature of http://www.regulations.gov, as it is most 
compatible with our comment review procedures. If you attach your 
comments as a separate document, our preferred file format is Microsoft 
Word. If you attach multiple comments (such as form letters), our 
preferred format is a spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel.
    (2) By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public 
Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R3-ES-2012-0065; 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 on http://www.regulations.gov. This 
generally means that we will post any personal information you provide 
us (see the Information Requested section below for more information).
    The coordinates or plot points or both from which the critical 
habitat maps are generated are included in the administrative record 
for this rulemaking and are available at http://www.fws.gov/midwest/Endangered, www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-R3-ES-2012-0065, and 
at the Columbia Missouri Ecological Services Field Office (see FOR 
FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Any additional tools or supporting 
information that we may develop for this rulemaking will also be 
available at the Fish and Wildlife Service Web site and Field Office 
set out above, and may also be included in the preamble and/or at 
www.regulations.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Amy Salveter, Field Supervisor, U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, Columbia Missouri Ecological Services Field 
Office, 101 Park De Ville Drive, Suite A, Columbia, MO 65203; by 
telephone 573-234-2132; or by facsimile 573-234-2181. Persons who use a 
telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal 
Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This document consists of: (1) A proposed 
rule to list the grotto sculpin as an endangered species; and (2) a 
proposed critical habitat designation for the grotto sculpin.

Executive Summary

    Why we need to publish a rule. A species may warrant protection 
through listing under the Endangered Species Act (Act) if it meets the 
definition of an endangered or threatened species throughout all or a 
significant portion of its range. This species has been a candidate for 
listing since 2002, but was precluded from listing by other higher 
priority actions. The grotto sculpin currently is afforded no 
protection under the Act, and, because of continued threats, it 
warrants the protections afforded by listing under the Act. We are 
proposing to list the grotto sculpin as an endangered species. Listing 
a species as an endangered species or threatened species and 
designating critical habitat can only be done by issuing a rule.
    The basis for our action. Under the Act, we can determine that a 
species is an endangered or threatened species based on any of five 
factors: (A) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or 
curtailment of its habitat or range; (B) overutilization for 
commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes; (C) 
disease or predation; (D) the inadequacy of existing regulatory 
mechanisms; or (E) other natural or manmade factors affecting its 
continued existence. We have determined the threats to the species 
include:
     Habitat loss and degradation of aquatic resources, 
including such things as illegal waste disposal, chemical leaching, 
contaminated groundwater, vertical drains, urban development, 
sedimentation, and industrial sand mining.
     Predation by nonnative predators.
     Inadequate existing regulatory mechanisms that allow 
significant threats such as water contamination and exploitation of 
sinkholes.
     Other natural or manmade factors, including loss of 
genetic diversity, natural environmental variability, and climate 
conditions such as drought.
    This rule proposes to designate critical habitat for the species. 
If prudent and determinable, we must designate critical habitat for 
endangered or threatened species. We are required to base the 
designation on the best available scientific data after taking into 
consideration economic and other impacts. We can exclude an area from 
critical habitat if the benefits of exclusion outweigh the benefits of 
designation, unless the exclusion will result in the extinction of the 
species. We are proposing to designate critical habitat in Perry 
County, Missouri, as follows:
     Two units comprised of all underground aquatic habitat 
underlying approximately 94 km\2\ (36.28 mi\2\).
     Two units that include approximately 31 kilometers (19.2 
miles) of surface stream.

[[Page 59489]]

    We are preparing an economic analysis. To ensure that we consider 
the economic impacts, we are preparing an economic analysis of the 
proposed designation.
    We will seek peer review. We are seeking comments from independent 
specialists to ensure that our listing determination and critical 
habitat designation are based on scientifically sound data and 
analyses. We will invite these peer reviewers to comment, during the 
comment period, on our proposed listing and critical habitat 
designation. Because we will consider all comments and information 
received during the comment period, our final determination may differ 
from this proposal.

Information Requested

    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 governmental agencies, 
Native American tribes, the scientific community, industry, or any 
other interested parties concerning this proposed rule. We particularly 
seek comments concerning:
    (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 et seq.), which are:
    (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.
    (3) Biological, commercial trade, or other relevant data concerning 
any threats (or lack thereof) to this species and existing regulations 
that may be addressing those threats;
    (4) Additional information concerning the historical and current 
status, range, distribution, and population size of this species, 
including the locations of any additional populations of this species;
    (5) The reasons why we should or should not designate habitat as 
``critical habitat'' under section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et 
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 threats outweighs the benefit 
of designation such that the designation of critical habitat is not 
prudent.
    (6) Specific information on:
    (a) The amount and distribution of grotto sculpin and its habitat,
    (b) What may constitute ``physical or biological features essential 
to the conservation of the species,'' within the geographical range 
currently occupied by the species;
    (c) Where these features are currently found,
    (d) Whether any of these features may require special management 
considerations or protection;
    (e) What areas, that were occupied at the time of listing (or are 
currently occupied) and that contain features essential to the 
conservation of the species, should be included in the designation and 
why,
    (f) What areas not occupied at the time of listing are essential 
for the conservation of the species and why;
    (7) Land use designations and current or planned activities in the 
areas occupied by the species or proposed to be designated as critical 
habitat, and possible impacts of these activities on this species and 
proposed critical habitat;
    (8) Information on the projected and reasonably likely impacts of 
climate change on the grotto sculpin and proposed critical habitat;
    (9) Any foreseeable economic, national security, or other relevant 
impacts that may result from designating any area that may be included 
in the final designation. We are particularly interested in any impacts 
on small entities, and the benefits of including or excluding areas 
from the proposed designation that are subject to these impacts;
    (10) Whether our approach to designating critical habitat could be 
improved or modified in any way to provide for greater public 
participation and understanding, or to assist us in accommodating 
public concerns and comments;
    (11) The likelihood of adverse social reactions to the designation 
of critical habitat and how the consequences of such reactions, if 
likely to occur, would relate to the conservation and regulatory 
benefits of the proposed critical habitat designation.
    Please note that 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, as section 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act directs that 
determinations as to whether any species is a threatened or endangered 
species must be made ``solely on the basis of the best scientific and 
commercial data available.''
    You may submit your comments and materials concerning this proposed 
rule by one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. We request 
that you send comments only by the methods described in the ADDRESSES 
section.
    If you submit information via http://www.regulations.gov, your 
entire submission--including any personal identifying information--will 
be posted on the Web site. If your submission is made via a hardcopy 
that includes personal identifying information, you may request at the 
top of your document that we withhold this information from public 
review. However, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. We 
will post all hardcopy submissions on http://www.regulations.gov. 
Please include sufficient information with your comments to allow us to 
verify any scientific or commercial information you include.
    Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting 
documentation we used in preparing this proposed rule, will be 
available for public inspection on http://www.regulations.gov, or by 
appointment, during normal business hours, at the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Columbia Missouri Ecological Services Field Office 
(see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).
    Public Meeting: We have scheduled a public meeting to be held on 
Thursday, October 11, 2012 at the Perryville Higher Education Center, 
108 South Progress Drive, Perryville, MO 63775. Any interested 
individuals or potentially affected parties seeking additional 
information on the public meeting should contact the Columbia Missouri 
Ecological Services Field Office (See FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). 
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is committed to providing access to 
this event for all participants. Please direct all requests for 
interpreters, close captioning, or other accommodation to the Columbia 
Missouri Ecological Services Field Office (See FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
CONTACT) by 5 p.m. on October 4, 2012.

[[Page 59490]]

Previous Federal Actions

    We first identified the grotto sculpin as a candidate species in a 
notice of review published in the Federal Register on June 13, 2002 (67 
FR 40657). Candidate species are assigned listing priority numbers 
(LPNs) based on the immediacy and magnitude of threats, as well as 
taxonomic status. The lower the LPN, the higher priority that species 
is for us to determine appropriate action using our available 
resources. The grotto sculpin was assigned an LPN of 2 due to imminent 
threats of a high magnitude. On May 11, 2004, we received a petition 
dated May 4, 2004, from The Center for Biological Diversity to list 225 
candidate species, including the grotto sculpin. From 2004 through 
2011, notices of review published in the Federal Register (69 FR 24876, 
70 FR 24870, 71 FR 53756, 72 FR 69034, 73 FR 75176, 74 FR 57804, 75 FR 
69222, 76 FR 66370) continued to maintain an LPN of 2 for the species.

Status Assessment for Grotto Sculpin

Background

Species Description

    The grotto sculpin (Cottus sp. nov.) is a cave-dwelling fish that 
exhibits characteristics typical of troglomorphic (adapted to living in 
constant darkness) organisms, including greatly reduced or absent eyes 
and skin pigmentation (Burr et al. 2001, p. 286). The grotto sculpin is 
moderately-sized relative to other species in the genus; the largest 
specimen examined by Adams et al. (unpub. data) was 104 millimeters 
(mm) (4.1 inches (in)) standard length (SL).

Taxonomy

    The grotto sculpin belongs to the family Cottidae (Pflieger 1997, 
p. 253) and until recently was considered to be a member of the banded 
sculpin (Cottus carolinae) complex. The banded sculpin occurs in 
streams and rivers in adjacent watersheds; however no other Cottus 
overlaps the geographic range of the grotto sculpin. Burr et al. (2001, 
p. 293) demonstrated that hypogean (underground) grotto sculpin found 
in Perry County, Missouri, are morphologically distinct from the 
epigean (above ground) forms of banded sculpin found outside the Cinque 
Hommes Creek drainage in that they exhibit obvious troglomorphic 
characteristics and other unique anatomical variations. Although the 
occurrence of banded sculpin in subterranean waters is well known, none 
of these sculpin shows evidence of cave adaption exhibited by grotto 
sculpin, and none is known to be a permanent cave resident. Grotto 
sculpin are distinguished from all other Cottus species, except banded 
sculpin, by the complete lateral line terminating near the base of the 
caudal fin and lack of connection between dorsal fins (Adams et al. 
unpub. data). The grotto sculpin is distinct from the banded sculpin 
based on a reduction in eye size and an increase in cephalic lateralis 
pore size (Adams et al. unpub. data). Morphology of brain structures in 
hypogean individuals also differs significantly from that of epigean 
banded sculpin, including reduced optic and olfactory lobes and 
enlarged inferior lobe of the hypothalamus, eminentia granularis, and 
crista cerebellaris (Adams 2005, pp. 17-18).
    Population genetics of Cottus sculpin in southeast Missouri also 
have been analyzed. Adams et al. (unpub. data) conducted a population 
genetics study of sculpin from the Bois Brule drainage in Perry County, 
the Greasy Creek in Madison County, and the Current River in Ripley 
County. Unique evolutionary lineages for each of the three areas, based 
on distinct nuclear haplotypes, were identified and supported. A single 
nuclear haplotype was identified among sampled individuals throughout 
the Bois Brule drainage (Mystery Cave, Running Bull Cave, Rimstone 
River Cave, Crevice Cave, Moore Cave, and Cinque Hommes Creek), a 
second from Greasy Creek, and a third from the Current River. Adams et 
al. (unpub. data) is in the process of formally describing the grotto 
sculpin as a taxonomically distinct species based on the combination of 
morphologic and genetic uniqueness. Morphological data alone are not 
definitive in supporting a unique taxonomic unit; however, 
morphological data augmented by the results of genetic analyses by 
Adams et al. (unpub. data) support the divergence of grotto sculpin 
from other Cottus species.

Life History and Habitat

    Grotto sculpin occupy cave streams, resurgences (also known as 
``spring branches'') (Vandike 1985, p. 10), springs, and two surface 
streams (Adams 2012, pers. comm.; Burr et al. 2001, p. 284). 
Resurgences refer to the point of emergence of a cave stream from the 
cave system and are an interface between strictly subterranean habitats 
(caves) and streams that flow only on the surface. Age-class 
distribution of grotto sculpin between cave and surface habitats shifts 
throughout the year, but in general, adults make up a higher percentage 
of overall grotto sculpin abundance in caves, whereas juveniles 
comprise a higher percentage of overall abundance on the surface 
(Gerken 2007, p. 14). Adults increase in abundance at resurgence sites 
in October, peak in December, and disappear from resurgence sites in 
January (Adams et al. 2008, p. 5). Such seasonal changes in adult 
abundance might be indicative of a subterranean migration for spawning 
(Adams 2005, p. 50).
    The appearance of grotto sculpin young-of-year in spring and early 
summer suggests late winter and early spring spawning (Day 2008, p. 
18). The distance grotto sculpin travel upstream in caves is unknown, 
but a nest has been observed 0.6 meters (m) (2 feet (ft)) inside the 
cave portal at Thunderhole Resurgence, indicating they might stay close 
to surface habitats (Adams et al. 2008, p. 8). Five nests, with 
approximately 200 eggs each, were discovered within a 100-m (328-ft) 
area in Mystery Cave in December 1998, suggesting synchronous spawning 
within the cave (Adams 2005, p. 10). Nests were adhered to the 
underside of rocks in flowing water with a temperature of 14 [deg]C (57 
[deg]F). Reproduction could occur as late as February or March in 
Cinque Hommes Creek, based on the observation of yolk-sac larvae and a 
single nest (Adams et al. unpub. data). Spawning could be tied to water 
temperature, with temperatures reaching optimum levels in caves as 
early as 2 to 3 months before surface habitats, explaining why spawning 
was not observed concurrently in those habitats (Adams 2005, pp. 10-
11). Males remain present at nests and guard rocks to which nests are 
attached (Adams et al. unpub. data).
    Young-of-year abundance increases between March and May at 
resurgence sites, and between April and May in caves (Adams et al. 
2008, p. 5). That increase, coupled with decreased recaptures, likely 
is a result of young-of-year recruitment into the population. Adams et 
al. (2008, p. 7) classified grotto sculpin 30 mm (1.2 in) or less in 
length to be juveniles. At this size they can be tagged but are still 
susceptible to predation by adult sculpin as well as invasive fish. 
Grotto sculpin are cannibalistic, with the young providing a potential 
food source for adults in an otherwise forage-limited environment 
(Adams et al. 2008, p. 7). Seasonal decreases in abundance of young-of-
year and juveniles likely are the result of spring and summer predation 
and cannibalism in addition to other causes of mortality. Epigean 
fishes, such as green sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus), bluegill (L. 
macrochirus), and channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus), can access 
caves through sinkholes and are

[[Page 59491]]

potential predators on eggs and juveniles (Burr et al. 2001, p. 284).
    Resurgences are used by juvenile grotto sculpin as nursery areas, 
where the juveniles maximize growth before migrating upstream into 
caves to reproduce or downstream to surface streams (Day 2008, p. 18). 
As juveniles grow, the potential for cannibalism decreases and 
mortality rates stabilize, resulting in increased recapture rates in 
caves. Both growth rate and metabolism are lower in caves versus 
resurgence sites (Adams 2005, p. 61; Adams et al. 2008, p. 8). However, 
fish in both habitats reach comparable lengths, alluding to greater 
longevity of fish in caves (Adams et al. 2008, p. 8).
    Grotto sculpin tend to occur singly or in small aggregations of 2 
to 3 individuals and can be found in the open water or hidden under 
rocks (Burr et al. 2001, p. 284). They occupy pools and riffles with 
moderate flows and variable depths (4 to 33 centimeters (cm) (1.6 to 13 
in)) (Burr et al. 2001, p. 284). Although grotto sculpin have been 
documented to occur over a variety of substrates (for example, silt, 
gravel, cobble, rock rubble, and bedrock), the presence of cobble or 
pebble is necessary for spawning (Burr et al. 2001, p. 284; Adams et 
al. unpub. data). Gerken (2007, p. 16) examined habitat use by grotto 
sculpin in Mystery and Running Bull caves, Cinque Hommes Creek, and 
Thunderhole Resurgence. Grotto sculpin tend to be associated with a 
high availability of invertebrate prey, deeper cave pools, substrate 
containing cobble, and some level of sustained water flow (Gerken 2007, 
pp. 16-17). Use of surface habitat by grotto sculpin is most influenced 
by an abundance of amphipods and isopods. When surface streams with 
fewer prey items were used, available habitat was more than 23 percent 
clay. Grotto sculpin in caves occupied deeper pools where cobble 
comprised at least 10 percent of available habitat, and where amphipods 
and isopods were in greater abundance. Lower abundances of grotto 
sculpin were found in shallow cave pools where the substrate consisted 
of silt deposits deeper than 1.9 cm (0.8 in) (Gerken 2007, p. 16). Silt 
covered more overall area of available cave habitat, and silt also was 
deeper in caves compared to surface sites (Gerken and Adams 2007, p. 
76).
    Within and among caves and streams, sculpin typically move 0 to 50 
m (0 to 164 ft) (Adams et al. 2008, p. 6). Over multiple sampling 
trips, substantial migrations greater than 200 m (656 ft) have been 
observed (range 0 to 830 m (0 to 2,723 ft)). The largest single 
movement of sculpin observed between two subsequent sampling trips 
(October to December 2007) was 610 m (2,001 ft) in Mystery Cave (Adams 
et al. 2008, p. 8). Such movements are seasonal and likely related to 
spawning and avoidance behavior of juveniles to escape predation by 
adult sculpin (Adams et al. 2008, p. 7). In May 2008, an individual 
that was tagged previously in Running Bull Cave was recaptured in 
Thunderhole Resurgence, evidencing the physical and biological 
connection of these two systems (Adams et al. 2008, p. 8).

Species Distribution and Status

    The grotto sculpin was first documented in 1991 (Adams 2005, p. 
11). Burr et al. (2001, pp. 280, 284) explored caves in five states 
that had extensive areas of karst to delineate the geographic range of 
the grotto sculpin, but found them to exist only in Missouri. Nine 
karst areas in Perry County, Missouri, were searched because sculpin 
(Cottus sp.) were previously known to be present in those areas, and 
the karst geology in those nine areas could provide suitable habitat 
for the grotto sculpin. Based on that study, the grotto sculpin is 
currently restricted to two karst areas (limestone regions 
characterized by sink holes, abrupt ridges, caves, and underground 
streams) in Perry County, Missouri: Central Perryville and Mystery-
Rimstone (Burr et al. 2001, p. 283). Cave systems such as these that 
form beneath a sinkhole plain provide substantial organic input and an 
abundance of invertebrates. Such systems might be the only habitats 
that provide sufficient food and sustained water flow to support grotto 
sculpin populations (Burr et al. 2001, p. 291; Day 2008, pp. 16-17). 
Peck and Lewis (1978, pp. 43-53) documented an abundance of potential 
prey items in the karst region of southeast Missouri, including 
isopods, amphipods, flatworms, and snails.
    The grotto sculpin is restricted to Blue Spring Branch (from the 
Moore Cave System resurgence to the confluence with Bois Brule Creek) 
and the Cinque Hommes Creek drainage, including underlying caves and 
Cinque Hommes Creek, its tributaries, resurgences, and springs. Within 
the Cinque Hommes Creek drainage, populations have been documented in 
five cave systems: Moore Cave, Crevice Cave, Mystery Cave, Rimstone 
River Cave, and Running Bull Cave (Adams et al. unpub. data; Adams 
2012, pers. comm.). Within these cave systems, grotto sculpin occur in 
cave streams and associated resurgences and springs. Cinque Hommes 
Creek and Blue Spring Branch are the only surface streams where grotto 
sculpin have been found. Cinque Hommes Creek is the primary resurgence 
stream for caves in the Mystery-Rimstone Karst and Crevice Cave in the 
Central Perryville Karst, whereas Blue Spring Branch is the resurgence 
stream for the Moore Cave System (Burr et al. 2001, p. 284). To date, 
over 153 additional caves in Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, and 
Tennessee have been searched for grotto sculpin and epigean or hypogean 
forms of banded sculpin. Of these, banded sculpin was documented in 25 
caves, but only fish in the Central Perryville and Mystery-Rimstone 
karst areas exhibited the cave adaptations characteristic of grotto 
sculpin (Burr et al. 2001, p. 284). The full extent of the species' 
range is unknown because not all reaches in occupied cave systems can 
be accessed and not all potential, suitable caves, springs, and surface 
streams have been surveyed (for example, Keyhole Spring; Moss and Pobst 
2010, p. 152). We consider the geographic range of the grotto sculpin 
to be the extent of the Central Perryville and Mystery-Rimstone karst 
areas, which encompass approximately 222 km\2\ (89 mi\2\) (Service 2012 
calculations based on Burr et al. 2001, p. 282 and Vandike 1985, p. 1).
    There are no total population estimates for the grotto sculpin. 
Mystery (MC) and Running Bull (RBC) caves and their associated 
resurgence streams, Mystery Resurgence (MR) and Thunderhole Resurgence 
(TR), respectively, apparently have the largest populations of grotto 
sculpin (Adams et al. 2008, p. 4). A study conducted from August 2005 
to October 2008 yielded a total of 6,265 captures (4,218 individuals) 
at those four sites (Day 2008, p. 12). The 2,684 (43 percent) captures 
in caves represented 1,642 individuals, whereas 3,581 (57 percent) 
captures in resurgences represented 2,576 individuals (Day 2008, pp. 
13, 15). Of the captured fish, 2,986 (MC-894, RBC-154, MR-376, TR-1562) 
were tagged for a mark-recapture study. Mean recapture was higher in 
caves (46 percent) than resurgences (18 percent) (Day 2008, p. 13). 
Grotto sculpin densities were significantly lower in caves (0.037/m\2\ 
(0.398/ft\2\)) compared to resurgence streams (0.225/m\2\ (2.42/ft\2\)) 
(Day 2008, p. 13). Density at Thunderhole Resurgence was significantly 
higher (0.610/m\2\ (6.57/ft\2\)) than any other site surveyed (MC 
0.036/m\2\ (0.388/ft\2\), RBC 0.113/m\2\ (1.22/ft\2\), MR 0.032/m\2\ 
(0.344/ft\2\)).
    Capture success, recapture rates, and population density differ 
seasonally. The greatest number of grotto sculpin has been captured in 
summer, followed

[[Page 59492]]

by spring, fall, and winter (Adams et al. 2008, p. 5; Day 2008, p. 12). 
Overall recapture rates were highest in fall and winter (32 percent 
each) and lower in spring (25 percent) and summer (15 percent). Overall 
recapture rates also were significantly lower at resurgence sites than 
caves, regardless of season. Recapture rates at caves were highest in 
winter (52 percent) and lowest in fall (44 percent). Recapture rates at 
resurgence sites were highest in spring (15 percent) and lowest in 
winter (7 percent). Similar patterns of seasonal changes in density 
were observed in caves and resurgences. In both habitats, densities 
were highest in summer, nearly equal in fall and spring, and lowest in 
winter (Adams et al. 2008, p. 5).
    Two mass mortalities of grotto sculpin have been documented in 
Perry County. The first occurred in Running Bull Cave in 2001, when the 
population was completely lost (Burr et al. 2001, p. 294; Adams 2005, 
p. 40). The second occurred in Mystery Cave in August 2005, and 
affected the uppermost 690 m (2,264 ft) of cave stream (Adams et al. 
2008, p. 6). Both events were thought to have been caused by point-
source pollution (Burr et al. 2001, p. 294; Adams et al. 2008, p. 6). 
Both caves were recolonized following the die-offs, and grotto sculpin 
were captured 2 years after the mortality event in Running Bull Cave 
(Adams et al. 2003, p. 7). Surveys were conducted as part of a research 
study immediately following the die-off in Mystery Cave (Adams et al. 
2008, p. 6). From August 2005 through March 2006, no grotto sculpin 
were captured in the upstream sections of Mystery Cave. The first 
capture of a grotto sculpin after the die-off occurred in May 2006. The 
first recaptures of three individuals from three different stream 
sections (540, 560, and 570 m (1772, 1837, and 1870 ft)) occurred in 
July 2006. Stream sections that supported the earliest recolonization 
of grotto sculpin in the upper sections (0 to 690 m (0 to 2264 ft)) of 
Mystery Cave were the most downstream portion of the stream in which 
the die-off occurred (sections farthest away from the source of 
contamination). The grotto sculpin population in Mystery Cave increased 
over the next 3 years to more than 60 individuals in 2007 (Adams et al. 
2008, p. 8).

Summary of Factors Affecting the Species

    Section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533), and its implementing 
regulations at 50 CFR part 424, set forth the procedures for adding 
species to the Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and 
Plants. Under section 4(a)(1) of the Act, we may list a species based 
on any of the following five factors: (A) The present or threatened 
destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range; (B) 
overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes; (C) disease or predation; (D) the inadequacy of 
existing regulatory mechanisms; and (E) other natural or manmade 
factors affecting its continued existence. Listing actions may be 
warranted based on any of the above threat factors, singly or in 
combination. Each of these factors is discussed below.

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

    The grotto sculpin is a cave-adapted species that is endemic to 
karst habitats that provide consistent water flow, high organic input, 
and connection to surface streams, which allow for seasonal migrations 
to complete its life cycle. Nearly all of the land within the known 
range of the grotto sculpin is privately owned. Two exceptions are Ball 
Mill Resurgence Natural Area (19.5 ac (7.9 ha)) and Keyhole Spring and 
Resurgence near Blue Spring Branch; both properties are owned by the L-
A-D Foundation (a private foundation dedicated to sustainable forest 
management and protection of natural and cultural areas in Missouri 
(http://pioneerforest.org) and managed by the Missouri Department of 
Conservation (MDC)). The municipality of Perryville is in the Central 
Perryville Karst Area and is within the recharge area of Crevice Cave. 
Thirty-six percent (15.6 km\2\ (6.02 mi\2\)) of Perryville's total area 
of 43 km\2\ (16.6 mi\2\) lies within the karst area, whereas 24 percent 
(10.4 km\2\ (4.02 mi\2\)) lies within the southern portion of the 
recharge area of Crevice Cave (recharge area defined by Moss and Pobst 
2012, pp. 151-152).
    The karst in Perry County is characterized by thousands of 
sinkholes (Vandike 1985, p. 1) and over 700 caves (Fox et al. 2009, p. 
5). Water quality in karst areas is highly vulnerable and can severely 
decline with rapid transmission of contaminants from the surface to the 
aquifer (Panno and Kelly 2004, p. 230). Moss and Pobst delineated 
recharge areas for known and potential grotto sculpin caves (2010, pp. 
146-160) and evaluated the vulnerability of groundwater in the recharge 
areas to contamination (2010, pp. 161-190). Because the grotto sculpin 
is dependent not only on caves, but uses surface habitat in addition to 
caves, Moss and Pobst (2010, p. 161) evaluated hazards within and 
adjacent to recharge areas to best characterize impairment of cave and 
surface streams. They found all the recharge areas to be highly 
vulnerable and contain hazards from historical sinkhole dumps, 
agricultural practices without universal application of best management 
practices, ineffective private septic systems, and roads with 
contaminated runoff (Burr et al. 2001, p. 294; Moss and Pobst 2010, p. 
183). They noted additional hazards in the recharge area for Crevice 
Cave not found elsewhere, such as hazardous waste generators, 
wastewater outflows, storm water outflows, and underground storage 
tanks for hazard waste, that compound potential threats to groundwater 
and drinking water (Moss and Pobst 2010, p. 184). Impacts to 
groundwater are not proportional to the area impacted in such a highly 
vulnerable landscape--a localized pollution event can impact all 
aquatic habitats downstream.
    There are approximately 2 sinkholes per km\2\ (6 per mi\2\) in 
Perry County and 7 sinkholes per km\2\ (17 per mi\2\) in the Central 
Perryville and Mystery-Rimstone karst areas (Missouri Department of 
Natural Resources 2010, unpaginated). Recharge areas around grotto 
sculpin caves contain up to four times the number of sinkholes compared 
to other parts of the county or other karst areas. Cave recharge areas 
in the Central Perryville Karst contain an average of 8 sinkholes per 
km\2\ (22 per mi\2\), whereas those in the Mystery-Rimstone Karst 
contain an average of 4 per km\2\ (11 per mi\2\) (Missouri Department 
of Natural Resources 2010, unpaginated). Water flow in Perry County 
karst systems occurs by way of surface features, such as sinkholes and 
losing streams, as well as connectivity to the underlying aquifer (Aley 
1976, p. 11; Fox et al. 2009, p. 5). Without adequate protection, 
sinkholes can funnel storm-runoff directly into cave systems in a short 
period of time (Aley 1976, p. 11; White 2002, p. 88; Fox et al. 2010, 
p. 8838).
    Illegal Waste Disposal and Chemical Leaching--At least half of the 
sinkholes in Perry County have been or are currently used as dump sites 
for anthropogenic waste (Burr et al. 2001, p. 294). Although it is 
illegal to dump waste in open sites in Missouri, the practice continues 
today--sinkholes continue to be used as dump sites for household 
wastes, tires, and occasionally dead livestock (http://dnr.mo.gov/env/swmp/dumping/enf_instruct.htm; Pobst 2012, pers. comm). Moss and Pobst 
(2010, p. 169) observed that most historical farms in the sinkhole 
plain had at least one sinkhole that contained household and

[[Page 59493]]

farm waste. Waste material found in sinkholes includes, but is not 
limited to, household chemicals, sewage, and pesticide and herbicide 
containers (Burr et al. 2001, p. 294). Fox et al. (2010, p. 8838) found 
that Perry County cave streams were contaminated by a mixture of 
organic pollutants that included both current-use and legacy-use 
pesticides and their degradation products. They found high 
concentrations of heptachlor epoxide and trans-chlordane, which are 
degradation products of the legacy-use pesticides heptachlor and 
chlordane (Fox et al. 2010, p. 8839). Heptachlor and chlordane were 
banned in 1988, but can persist in the environment through storage in 
sediments above or below ground or leaking containers in sinkholes 
(ATSDR 1994a, unpaginated; ATSDR 2007a, unpaginated). In water, 
heptachlor readily undergoes hydrolysis to a compound, which is then 
readily processed by microorganisms into heptachlor epoxide (ATSDR 
2007b, p. 98). Heptachlor and chlordane are highly persistent in soils, 
are almost insoluble in water, and will enter surface waters primarily 
though drift and surface run-off (ATSDR 1994a, unpaginated; ATSDR 
2007a, unpaginated). Although not specifically tested on the grotto 
sculpin, both heptachlor and chlordane are highly toxic to most fish 
species tested, including warm-water species such as bluegill (Lepomis 
macrochirus) and fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas) (Johnson and 
Finley 1980, pp. 19, 43-44). Heptachlor caused degenerative liver 
lesions, enlargement of the red blood cells, inhibited growth, and 
mortality in bluegill (Andrews et al. 1966, pp. 301-305). Heptachlor, 
heptachlor epoxide, and chlordane have been shown to bioaccumulate in 
aquatic organisms such as fish, mollusks, insects, plankton, and algae 
(ATSDR 1994b, p. 172; ATSDR 2007b, p. 89).
    Chemical leaching in sinkholes likely is a major contributor to the 
occurrence of legacy-use pesticides, such as dieldrin, in aquatic 
habitats (Fox et al. 2010, p. 8840). Dieldrin, a domestic pesticide 
used in the past to control corn pests and cancelled by the U.S. 
Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 1970 (ATSDR 2002, unpaginated), was 
found at levels that exceeded ambient water quality criterion by 17 
times in Mertz Cave and Thunderhole Resurgence (Mystery-Rimstone Karst 
Area) (Fox et al., p. 8839). Dieldrin is a known endocrine disruptor 
that bioaccumulates in animal fats, especially those animals that eat 
other animals and, therefore, is a concern for the grotto sculpin 
because it is the top predator in its cave habitat (ATSDR 2002, 
unpaginated; Fox et al. 2010, p. 8839). The grotto sculpin depends on 
several species of cave amphipods, including Gammarus sp. (Gerken 2007, 
pp. 16-17; Fox et al. 2010, p. 8839). Dieldrin has been detected in the 
amphipod G. troglophilus through tissue bioassays (Taylor et al. 2000, 
p. 10). Tarzwell and Croswell (1957, pp. 253-255) found that dieldrin 
was toxic to fathead minnow, bluegill, and green sunfish (Lepomis 
cyanellus). Whereas the species exhibited differences in 
susceptibility, individuals of all species tested ultimately 
experienced loss of equilibrium followed by death (Tarzwell and 
Croswell 1957, p. 255).
    Sinkholes have also been used as disposal sites for dead livestock 
(Fox et al. 2009, p. 6; Moss and Pobst 2010, p. 170). Animal carcasses 
dumped into sinkholes and cave entrances are potentially diseased and 
could carry pathogens that could be unintentionally introduced into the 
groundwater system. Decomposing animals in source water for cave 
streams also can lower the dissolved oxygen and negatively impact 
aquatic organisms. One of two documented mass mortalities of the grotto 
sculpin was likely caused by a dead cow in the surface stream above 
Mystery Cave (Adams 2012, pers. comm.).
    Contaminated Water--In cave streams sampled by Fox et al. (2010, p. 
8838), time-weighted average (TWA) water concentrations of 20 chemicals 
were at levels above method detection limits (MDLs); 16 of the 20 
chemicals originated from agricultural pest management activities. 
Acetochlor, diethatyl-ethyl, atrazine, and desethylatrazine (DEA) were 
detected at all sites during both May and June sampling periods. 
Pyrene, metolachlor, DEET, and pentachloroanisole were detected at all 
sites during sampling periods (Fox et al. 2010, p. 8838). There is a 
long list of potential impacts of these chemicals on fish, including 
reductions in olfactory sensitivity, immune function, and sex hormone 
concentrations; endocrine disruption; and increased predation and 
mortality due to adverse effects to behavior (Alvarez and Fuiman 2005, 
pp. 229, 239; Rohr and McCoy 2010, p. 30). The ubiquitous presence of 
current-use pesticides, such as atrazine, was not surprising based on 
the extensive agricultural land use in Perry County. Atrazine has been 
the most frequently detected herbicide in ground and surface waters in 
Perry County (Fox et al. 2010, p. 8838) and in a similar karst and 
agricultural landscape in Boone County, Missouri (Lerch 2011, p. 107); 
levels of corn production were similar in the two counties. Even at 
concentrations below U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 
criteria for protection of aquatic life, atrazine has been shown to 
reduce egg production and cause gonadal abnormalities in fathead 
minnows (Tillett et al. 2010, pp. 8-9). Sex steroid biosynthesis 
pathways and gonad development in male goldfish (Carassius auratus) 
were impacted by atrazine in concentrations as low as 1 nanogram per 
liter (ng/L) (Spano et al. 2004, pp. 367-377). Concentrations of 
atrazine in Perry County ranged from 20 to 130 ng/L (Fox et al. 2010, 
p. 8838). Li et al. (2009, pp. 90-92) showed that environmentally 
relevant concentrations of acetochlor can decrease circulating thyroid 
hormone levels, decrease expression of thyroid hormone-related genes, 
affect normal larval development, and affect normal brain development. 
Pyrene is known to cause anemia, neuronal cell death, and peripheral 
vascular defects in larval fish (Incardona et al. 2003, p. 191). Wan et 
al. (2006, pp. 57-58) considered metolachlor to be slightly to 
moderately toxic to freshwater amphibians, crustaceans, and salmonid 
fishes. Wolf and Moore (2010, pp. 457, 464-465) demonstrated that 
sublethal concentrations of metolachlor adversely affected the 
chemosensory behavior of crayfish and likely impacted its ability to 
locate prey. These researchers also noted that this herbicide also 
caused physiological impairment that likely impacted locomotory 
behavior and predator avoidance responses. Due to the importance of 
chemosensory organs to the grotto sculpin, the presence of metolachlor 
in occupied streams may impact this fish's ability to locate prey.
    Additional potential adverse effects to grotto sculpin from 
contaminants include increased susceptibility to fish disease (Arkoosh 
et al. 1998, p. 188), increased immunosuppression (Arkoosh et al. 1998, 
p. 188), disruption of the nervous system by inhibition of 
cholinesterase (Hill 1995, p. 244), and an increase in acute or chronic 
stress resulting in reduced reproductive success, alterations in blood 
and tissue chemistry, diuresis, osmoregulatory dysfunction, and 
reduction in growth (Wedemeyer et al. 1990, pp. 452-453). As a result, 
potential water contamination from various sources of point and non-
point source pollution poses a significant, ongoing threat to the 
grotto sculpin.
    Vertical Drains--Potential contaminant problems with sinkholes are 
further exacerbated by the presence and continued installation of 
vertical

[[Page 59494]]

drains across the agricultural landscape in Ste. Genevieve and Perry 
Counties (Perry County Soil and Water Conservation District (PCSWCD) 
2012, unpaginated). Vertical drains are also known as ``stabilized 
sinkholes'' and are defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's 
Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) as ``a well, pipe, pit, 
or bore in porous, underground strata into which drainage water can be 
discharged without contaminating groundwater resources'' (NRCS 2006, p. 
1). This conservation practice is meant to reduce erosion by 
facilitating drainage of surface or subsurface water. Vertical drains 
often result in more land available to the farmer. As of 2012, the 
recharge areas for known and potential grotto sculpin habitat in the 
Central Perryville and Mystery-Rimstone karst areas contained an 
average of 2.5 vertical drains per km\2\ (7 per mi\2\), with the 
highest concentrations in the recharge areas for Keyhole Spring, Ball 
Mill Spring, and Mystery Cave (PCSWCD 2012, unpaginated). New vertical 
drains continue to be installed on the landscape at a rate consistent 
with the installation rate that occurred in the 1990s, with 
approximately 40 new vertical drains installed at 15 properties in 
Perry County in 2011 (PCSWCD 2012, unpaginated).
    The NRCS (2006, p. 2) noted that ``significant additions to 
subsurface water sources may raise local water tables or cause 
undesirable surface discharges down-gradient from the vertical drain.'' 
The impact of vertical drains on groundwater has been studied on a 
limited basis and studies have directly linked groundwater and drinking 
water contamination with vertical drains (EPA 1999, unpaginated). 
According to the conditions set by the NRCS, this practice can only be 
applied when it will not contaminate groundwater or affect instream 
habitat by reducing surface water flows (NRCS 2010b, p. 1). The NRCS 
provides a cost-share of up to 75 percent for installation of vertical 
drains to stop erosion (NRCS 2010b; 2011; 2012) and has conservation 
practice and construction standards that include secure placement of 
the standpipe, appropriate fill material around the drainage pipe, and 
a filter system around the drain (NRCS 2006a, pp. 1-2; 2006b, pp. 1-3). 
Without implementation of the suite of standards, vertical drains might 
allow contaminated water to flow directly into caves without naturally 
occurring filtration (Pobst and Taylor 2007, p. 69). Vertical drains 
act as conduits for all surface water, contaminants, and sediment 
directly from the surface through the bedrock into underground caves, 
streams, and karst voids (Pobst and Taylor 2007, p. 69). Although USDA 
requires landowners to install a minimum of 7.62 m (25 ft) of grassed 
buffer around vertical drains to minimize erosion and the migration of 
nutrients and contaminants into the groundwater system, this guideline 
is not strictly followed (Moss and Pobst 2010, p. 170). Because 
vertical drains are potential targets for illegal dumpling of liquid 
hazardous wastes (Fox et al. 2010, p. 8839) and there is an absence of 
adequate buffers around some vertical drains, the migration of sediment 
and contaminants is easily facilitated (Moss and Pobst 2010, p. 171). 
Such a scenario is supported by Fox et al.'s (2010, pp. 8835-8840) 
contaminant study in the karst region of Perry County. The long list of 
harmful chemicals detected in the Fox et al. (2010, pp. 8835-8840) 
study is likely due to the migration of these contaminants directly 
from surface fields into the underground karst system through vertical 
drains and sinkholes.
    Urbanization and Development--In addition to contamination from 
point sources of pollution and improper trash disposal, water quality 
of sculpin habitats is negatively impacted by urban growth of 
Perryville, located in the recharge area for Crevice Cave (Moss and 
Pobst 2010, p. 164). Crevice Cave had the lowest amount of cropland and 
grassland within its recharge and the most chemical detections. In 
contrast, Mystery Cave had the most cropland and grassland and fewest 
chemical detections (Fox et al. 2010, p. 8840). The only hazardous 
waste facility in the Central Perryville and Mystery-Rimstone karst 
areas is located in Perryville. The facility is permitted by the 
Missouri Department of Natural Resources as a large-volume hazardous 
waste generator. Additional hazards in Perryville include four other 
hazardous waste generators; nine underground storage tanks that could 
leak petroleum products; two National Pollutant Discharge Elimination 
System (NPDES) permits for wastewater outfalls; and seven NPDES permits 
for storm water discharge, leaking sewer lines, or lines that remain 
plumbed into the caves below (Missouri Department of Natural Resources 
(MDNR) 2010, unpaginated).
    Most of the runoff water in areas that recharge aquatic habitats 
for the grotto sculpin moves quickly into the groundwater system with 
ineffective natural filtration, and the same is true for waste waters 
from septic systems (Aley 2012, pers. comm.). Contamination of 
groundwater by septic systems in karst areas has been documented on 
multiple occasions (Simon and Buikema 1997, pp. 387, 395; Panno et al. 
2006, p. 60) because septic tank systems are poorly suited to karst 
landscapes (Aley 1976, p. 12). Panno and Kelly (2004, p. 229) listed 
septic systems as potential contributors of excess nitrogen to streams 
in the karst region of southern Illinois. Septic systems in the 
sinkhole plain can be direct conduits for introduction of septic 
effluent directly into the shallow karst aquifer (Panno et al. 2001, p. 
114). In a karst area in southwest Missouri, poorly designed sewage 
treatment lagoons were allowing effluent from a small, rural school to 
seep into the only known location for the federally listed Tumbling 
Creek cavesnail (Antrobia culveri) (Aley 2003, unpaginated).
    Most of the rural residents in the Central Perryville and Mystery-
Rimstone karst areas employ on-site septic systems (for example, in the 
Mystery Cave area) (Aley 1976, p. 12). Failure of septic systems occurs 
in karst areas of southeast Missouri, such as those in Perry County, 
but detections are problematic because most failures are not obvious 
from the surface, but instead occur underground into the groundwater 
system (Aley 2012, pers. comm.). One instance of a septic system 
failure was observed by Aley (1976, p. 12) near Mystery Cave. Sewage 
was being discharged to a septic field within 100 ft (30.5 m) of the 
cave entrance and was contaminating the waters of the Mystery Cave 
system. Water samples collected by the Missouri Department of 
Conservation within the range of the grotto sculpin indicated the 
presence of Escherichia coli at high levels, which might correspond to 
high inputs of phosphorus from septic systems (Pobst 2010, pers. 
comm.). Taylor et al. (2000, pp. 13-16) found that fecal contamination 
of karst groundwater is a serious problem in southeast Missouri. Among 
sampling locations in southeast Missouri, water samples were taken from 
streams and springs in Perry County that included sites within the 
range of the grotto sculpin (Mertz Cave, Running Bull Cave, Thunderhole 
Resurgence, and Cinque Hommes Creek) (Taylor et al. 2000, pp. 48-49). 
High fecal bacterial loads were found in groundwater of grotto sculpin 
habitats and can be a combination of both human and animal wastes 
(Taylor et al. 2000, p. 14).
    No animal feeding operations (AFOs) or concentrated animal feeding 
operations (CAFOs) are present in the recharge areas of grotto sculpin 
habitat (MDNR 2010), but there are smaller livestock feeding areas that 
are in sinkholes or near sinkhole drainage

[[Page 59495]]

points (Aley 1976, p. 12; Moss and Pobst 2010, p. 166). Large amounts 
of manure can be flushed through sinkholes and carry associated 
bacteria and pathogens into cave streams. Waste from mammalian sources, 
including humans and livestock, can increase nutrient loads and lower 
dissolved oxygen in the groundwater (Simon and Buikema 1997, p. 395; 
Panno et al. 2006, p. 60). Hypoxia resulting from eutrophication due to 
increases in nutrient load (especially phosphorus) can lead to 
mortality and sublethal effects by reducing the availability of oxygen 
needed by fish for locomotion, growth, and reproduction (Kramer 1987, 
p. 82; Gould 1989-1990, p. 467), Barton and Taylor (1996, p. 361) 
reported that low dissolved oxygen levels can cause changes in cardiac 
function, increased respiratory and metabolic activity, alterations in 
blood chemistry, mobilization of anaerobic energy pathways, upset in 
acid-base balance, reduced growth, and decreased swimming capacity of 
fish.
    Sedimentation--Concerns with sedimentation (actual deposition of 
sediment, not the transport) and wash load (portion of the sediment in 
transport that is generally finer than the sediment) (as defined by 
Biedenharn et al. 2006, pp. 2-6) relative to impacts to grotto sculpin 
habitat are primarily the transport of contaminants and the deposition 
of excessive amounts of sediment in cave streams. Soils in the Central 
Perryville and Mystery-Rimstone karst areas are dominated by highly 
erosive loess. Sediment transported into the karst groundwater can 
include agricultural chemicals that are bound to soil particles as 
evidenced by findings of Fox et al. (2010, p. 8840). Fox et al. (2010, 
p. 8840) determined that turbidity of streams in grotto sculpin caves 
in Perry County was positively correlated with total chemical and DEA 
concentrations. Additionally, Gerken and Adams (2007, p. 76) noted that 
siltation was a major problem in grotto sculpin sites and postulated 
that silt likely reduced habitat available to this fish.
    Excessive siltation in aquatic systems can be problematic for fish 
because it can change the overall structure of the habitat (Berkman and 
Rabeni 1986, pp. 291-292). Silt can fill voids in rock substrate that 
are integral components of habitat for reproduction and predator 
avoidance. The grotto sculpin occurs in habitats with some level of 
sediment deposition (Gerken 2007, pp. 16-17, 23-25). However, siltation 
beyond what occurred historically could limit the amount of suitable 
habitat available (Gerken 2007, pp. 27-28; Gerken and Adams 2007, p. 
76), and the threshold of siltation that renders cave habitat 
unsuitable for grotto sculpin has not yet been determined.
    Industrial Sand Mining--Industrial sand is also known as 
``silica,'' ``silica sand,'' and ``quartz sand,'' and includes sands 
with high silicon dioxide content. Silica sand production in the United 
States was 29.3 million metric tons (Mt), an increase of 5.3 Mt from 
2009 to 2010 (U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) 2012, p. 66.6). The Midwest 
leads the Nation in industrial sand and gravel production, accounting 
for 49 percent of the annual total (USGS 2012, p. 66.1). One end-use of 
silica sand is as a propping agent for hydraulic fracturing. Higher 
production of silica sand in 2010 was primarily attributable to an 
increasing demand for hydraulic fracturing sand because of continuing 
exploration and production of natural gas throughout the United States. 
Conventional natural gas sources have become less abundant, leading 
drilling companies to turn to deep natural gas and shale gas. Of the 
29.3 Mt of silica sand sold or used in the United States, 12.1 Mt (41 
percent) was used for hydraulic fracturing in the petroleum industry 
(USGS 2012, p. 66.10). As of 2010, the price per ton for industrial 
silica sand was $45.24 in the United States (USGS 2012, p. 66.11). In 
addition to new facilities, existing hydraulic fracturing sand 
operations increased production capacity to meet the surging demand for 
sand.
    Mining for silica sand in Missouri occurs in the St. Peter 
Sandstone in Jefferson, Perry, and St. Louis Counties (USGS 2011, p. 
27.2). The St. Peter Sandstone formation is directly adjacent to (to 
the west) the Joachim Dolomite formation that forms the karst habitat 
for the grotto sculpin in Perry County. The interface between these two 
formations generally comprises the western borders of the Central 
Perryville and Mystery-Rimstone karst areas. Four companies in Missouri 
produced 0.9 Mt of high-purity sand from the St. Peter Sandstone 
formation (USGS 2011, p. 27.2). The existing operation in Perry County 
lies 5.6 km (3.5 mi) northwest of Perryville and involves open pit 
mining on 101 ha (250 acres). This producer specializes in 40 to 70 and 
70 to 140 size-grades that were used by the oil and gas well-servicing 
industry as a hydraulic fracture propping agent in shale formations 
(USGS 2010, p. 27.2).
    Sand mining is typically accomplished using open pit or dredging 
methods with standard mining equipment and without the use of 
chemicals. Sand can be mined from outcrops or by removing overburden to 
reach subsurface deposits. Environmental impacts of sand mining are 
primarily limited to disturbance of the immediate area. The current 
operation in Perry County is partially within the Joachim Dolomite 
formation and at the western edge of the sinkhole plain with 
approximately four sinkholes occurring in the immediate vicinity. 
Erosion of soil and disturbed overburden could occur and increase the 
sediment loads in adjacent surface waters and cave streams via runoff. 
For example, a portion of the existing mining operation is within the 
Bois Brule watershed. Sediment-laden runoff could enter Blue Spring 
Branch, one of the surface streams occupied by the grotto sculpin. As 
described above, sedimentation can change the structure of grotto 
sculpin habitat and negatively impact reproduction and predator 
avoidance. Presence of the current facility, only 0.5 km (0.3 mi) and 
1.6 km (1 mi) from the Central Perryville Karst and Crevice Cave 
recharge area, respectively, shows that such operations can and do 
occur in the Joachim Dolomite formation and immediately adjacent to 
grotto sculpin habitat. We currently are unaware of any plans for new 
facilities or expansions of current facilities. However, based on the 
presence of one existing operation, the occurrence of St. Peter 
Sandstone in Perry County, as well as recent growth of the hydraulic 
fracturing industry and associated increased demand for silica sand, it 
is likely that increased sand mining activity will occur in the future 
in areas where the grotto sculpin occurs. We consider sand mining to be 
a potentially significant threat to the species in the future.
Summary of Factor A
    All of the recharge areas for caves occupied by the grotto sculpin 
are highly vulnerable and contain hazards from historical sinkhole 
dumps, agricultural practices without universal application of best 
management practices, ineffective private septic systems, and degraded 
runoff from roads. Hazardous waste facilities, outfalls for waste and 
storm water, and underground storage tanks are found in the recharge 
area for Crevice Cave that are not found in other parts of the species' 
range. Cave recharge areas in the Central Perryville Karst contain an 
average of 23 sinkholes per km\2\ (58 per mi\2\), whereas those in the 
Mystery-Rimstone Karst contain an average of 11 per km\2\ (27 per 
mi\2\). Water contamination from various sources of point and non-point 
source pollution poses a significant, ongoing threat to the grotto 
sculpin. Water flow in karst systems occurs by way of surface

[[Page 59496]]

features, such as sinkholes and losing streams, as well as connectivity 
to the underlying aquifer. Sinkholes can funnel storm-runoff that 
carries contaminants directly into cave systems in a short period of 
time and severely degrades water quality.
    At least half of the sinkholes in Perry County have been, or are 
currently used as, dump sites for anthropogenic waste including 
household chemicals, sewage, pesticide and herbicide containers, and 
animal carcasses. Cave streams in Perry County are contaminated with 
current-use and legacy-use pesticides that enter cave systems through 
storm runoff or via leaching in sinkholes. The majority of chemicals 
that have TWAs at levels above MDLs originated from agricultural pest 
management activities and included acetochlor, diethatyl-ethyl, 
atrazine, and desethylatrazine (DEA), pyrene, metolachlor, DEET, and 
pentachloroanisole. Atrazine has been the most frequently detected 
herbicide in ground and surface waters in Perry County. Even at 
concentrations below EPA criteria for protection of aquatic life, 
atrazine has been shown to reduce egg production and cause gonadal 
abnormalities in fish.
    Potential contaminant problems with sinkholes are further 
exacerbated by the presence and continued installation of vertical 
drains across the agricultural landscape. This practice, meant to 
reduce erosion by facilitating drainage of surface or subsurface water, 
results in more land available to the farmer. As of 2010, the recharge 
areas for known and potential grotto sculpin habitat in the Central 
Perryville and Mystery-Rimstone karst areas contain an average of 2.4 
vertical drains per km\2\ (6.2 per mi\2\). Vertical drains have been 
linked directly to contamination of groundwater and water used for 
human consumption. Vertical drains also act as attractive nuisances 
because, like sinkholes, they are potential targets for illegal dumping 
of hazardous waste.
    Risk from agricultural land use and point sources of pollution, 
such as sinkhole dumps, are not the only concern on the Perry County 
landscape. The recharge area for Crevice Cave contains the city of 
Perryville. Urban growth and hazards, such as hazardous waste 
facilities, underground storage tanks, wastewater discharges, and 
poorly maintained septic systems, in and around the city are threats to 
water quality in the range of the grotto sculpin. Potential threats in 
more rural areas of Perry County include introduction of manure and 
associated bacteria and pathogens into sinkholes from small livestock 
feeding areas. Such contaminants can increase nutrient loads and lower 
dissolved oxygen in the groundwater.
    Concerns with sedimentation and wash load are primarily the 
transport of contaminants and the deposition of sediment in cave 
streams. Turbidity of cave streams is positively correlated with 
chemical concentrations, indicating that chemicals can bind to sediment 
particles and be transported by surface runoff. Siltation beyond what 
occurred historically could limit the amount of suitable habitat 
available; abnormally high deposition of sediment in cave systems can 
be problematic for aquatic life as it can fill voids in rock substrate 
that are integral components of grotto sculpin habitat.
    Industrial sand mining is occurring in Perry County just outside 
the range of the grotto sculpin, but within the Bois Brule watershed. 
The mining operation near Perryville lies in the interface between the 
St. Peter Sandstone and Joachim Dolomite formations. Current mining 
operations could exacerbate erosion and sedimentation problems in the 
sinkhole plain and negatively impact grotto sculpin habitat. 
Furthermore, anticipated expansions of current operations or 
development of new operations to meet increasing demand of silica sand 
could pose a more serious threat in the future.

Factor B. Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or 
Educational Purposes

    Although some specimens of the grotto sculpin have been taken for 
scientific investigations, we do not consider such collection 
activities to be at a level that poses a threat to the species. We do 
not have records of any individuals being taken for commercial, 
recreational, or educational purposes.

Factor C. Disease or Predation

    Predation by invasive, epigean fish poses a threat to eggs, young-
of-year, and juvenile grotto sculpin. Farm ponds are human-made 
features, as opposed to natural aquatic habitats, that often are 
stocked with both native and nonnative fishes for recreational 
purposes. Fish from farm ponds enter cave systems through sinkholes 
when ponds are unexpectedly drained (Burr et al. 2001, p. 284) or after 
high-precipitation events. Predatory fish were documented to occur in 
all of the caves occupied by the grotto sculpin, and include common 
carp (Cyprinus carpio), fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas), yellow 
bullhead (Ameiurus natalis), green sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus), 
bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus), and channel catfish (Ictalurus 
punctatus) (Burr et al. 2001, p. 284).
    The migration and persistence of invasive, epigean fish species 
into cave environments poses an ongoing and pervasive threat to the 
grotto sculpin because of unnatural levels of predation on eggs, young-
of-year, and juveniles. Predation beyond what occurs naturally among 
adult and juvenile grotto sculpin can reduce population levels to an 
unsustainable level and may render a population unrecoverable in the 
face of an unexpected mass mortality.

Factor D. The Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    The primary causes of the grotto sculpin's decline are degradation 
of aquatic resources from illegal waste disposal in sinkhole dumps, 
chemical leaching, urban development, and sedimentation. Existing 
Federal, State, and local laws have not been able to prevent impacts to 
the grotto sculpin and its habitat, and the existing regulatory 
mechanisms are not expected to prevent causes of grotto sculpin decline 
in the future.
    The grotto sculpin is not protected under the Missouri State 
Endangered Species Law (MO ST 252.240) because it has not been formally 
recognized as a distinct species, but is afforded some recognition by 
the Missouri Department of Conservation as a Missouri Species of 
Conservation Concern. All species in the State of Missouri are 
protected as biological diversity elements such that no harvest is 
permitted unless a method of legal harvest is described in the 
permissive Wildlife Code. No method of legal harvest is permitted for 
the grotto sculpin.
    The Missouri Department of Natural Resources establishes water 
quality and solid waste standards that are protective of aquatic life. 
The Missouri Clean Water Law of 1972 (MO ST 644.006-644.141) addresses 
pollution of the waters of the State to prevent threats to public 
health and welfare; wildlife, fish and aquatic life; and domestic, 
agricultural, industrial, recreational, and other legitimate uses of 
water. It is unlawful for any person: (1) To cause pollution of any 
waters of the State or to place or cause or permit to be placed any 
water contaminant in a location where it is reasonably certain to cause 
pollution of any waters of the State; (2) to discharge any water 
contaminants into any waters of the State which reduce the quality of 
such waters below the water quality standards established by the 
commission; or (3) to violate any regulations regarding pretreatment 
and toxic material control, or to discharge any water contaminants into 
any waters of the State which exceed effluent regulations or permit 
provisions as

[[Page 59497]]

established by the commission or required by any Federal water 
pollution control act (MO ST 644.051). Based on documented levels of 
contaminants present in the cave streams of Perry County (Fox et al. 
2010, pp. 8835-8841), the Missouri Clean Water Law of 1972 is 
insufficient to prevent water degradation in grotto sculpin habitat.
    According to the Missouri State Waste Management Law of 1972 (MO ST 
260.210), it is illegal to dump waste materials into sinkholes. 
Regulations under the Federal Clean Water Act of 1972 (CWA; 33 U.S.C. 
1251 et seq.) would apply if a point-source for the pollution could be 
determined. Discrete pollution events that impact cave systems are 
problematic even if a point-source can be determined because it can be 
extremely difficult to assess damages to natural resources such as 
troglobitic biota that live underground. Cave systems are recharged by 
surface water and groundwater that typically travel several miles 
before resurfacing from cave openings and spring heads (Vandike 1985, 
p. 3).
    Once a sinkhole has been modified to function as a vertical drain, 
it becomes a Class V Injection Well (alternatively known as an 
``agricultural drainage well'' (ADW)) as defined by the EPA (1999, 
unpaginaged). The Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974 (42 U.S.C. 300f et 
seq.) and later amendments established the Federal Underground 
Injection Control (UIC) Program. The State of Missouri has obtained 
primacy from the UEPA for the UIC program, and the Class V Injection 
Well program derives its authorities from Missouri Clean Water Law (MO 
ST 644) (MDNR 2006, p. 2). By definition, ADWs can receive ``excess 
surface and subsurface water from agricultural fields, including 
irrigation tailwaters and natural drainage resulting from 
precipitation, snowmelt, floodwaters, etc. ADWs may also receive animal 
yard runoff, feedlot runoff, dairy runoff, or runoff from any other 
agricultural operation'' (USEPA 1999). In addition to potential threats 
from permitted injectants, ADWs are vulnerable to spills from manure 
lagoons and direct discharge from septic tanks, as well as release of 
agricultural substances, such as motor oil and pesticides (USEPA 1999). 
Data from water sampling indicate that nitrate is a primary constituent 
in ADW injectate and likely exceeds health standards (USEPA 1999). 
Other constituents that also have exceeded primary or secondary 
drinking water standards or health advisory levels are boron, sulfate, 
coliforms, pesticides (cyanazine, atrazine, alachlor, aldicarb, 
carbofuran, 1,2-dichloropropane, and dibromochloropropane), total 
dissolved solids, and chloride (USEPA 1999). Furthermore, studies have 
documented that ADWs contribute to, or cause, contamination of 
groundwater. Nitrate contamination of groundwater in agricultural areas 
has been documented, as has contamination from direct discharge of 
septic tanks (USEPA 1999). As noted above, Class V injection wells are 
covered under the Missouri Clean Water Law of 1972, but the existing 
regulations are inadequate to prevent deposition of contaminants 
documented in occupied grotto sculpin habitats of Perry County, as 
evidenced by the results of Fox et al. (2010, pp. 8835-8841).
    There are no water quality ordinances in effect in Perry County 
beyond minimum State standards in the Code of State Regulations (19 CSR 
20-3.015) and, therefore, no limitations for onsite septic construction 
as long as septic systems are built on properties greater than 1.2 ha 
(3 ac) and the system is at least 3.1 m (10 ft) from the property line. 
A more protective ordinance has been adopted in Monroe County, 
Illinois, where the soils and topography are very similar to Perry 
County (Monroe County Zoning Code 40-5-3, chapter 40-4-29). The 
ordinance in Monroe County prohibits placement of any substances or 
objects in sinkholes, alteration of sinkholes, and development in 
sinkholes. The stated purpose of the ordinance is, ``to reduce the 
frequency of structural damage to public and private improvements by 
sinkhole collapse or subsidence and to protect, preserve and enhance 
sensitive and valuable potable groundwater resource areas of karst 
topography, thus protecting the public health, safety and welfare and 
insuring orderly development within the County.'' Greene County, 
Missouri, also is in a sinkhole plain and has adopted special 
regulations relative to construction of onsite septic systems. They 
require that systems are constructed above the sinkhole flooding area, 
which is defined as ``the area below the elevation of the lowest point 
on the sinkhole rim or the areas inundated by runoff from a storm with 
an annual exceedance probability of 1 percent (100-year storm) and a 
duration of 24 hours (8 inches of rain in Green County)'' (Green County 
2003, p. 3-9). The minimum standards in the Code of State Regulations 
(19 CSR 20-3.015) for water quality standards in Missouri are not 
protective enough to prevent the deposition of silt and contaminants 
into occupied grotto sculpin habitats, as reported by Gerken and Adams 
(2007, p. 76) and Fox et al. (2010, pp. 8835-8841).
Summary of Factor D
    Despite some existing regulatory mechanisms that provide protection 
for the grotto sculpin and its habitat, the grotto sculpin continues to 
decline due to the effects of a wide array of threats (see Factors A, 
C, and E). Existing Federal and State water quality laws and State 
waste management law can be applied to protect water quality in surface 
and cave streams occupied by the grotto sculpin; however these laws 
have not been sufficient to prevent continued habitat degradation and 
population declines. Although harvest of grotto sculpin is not 
permitted in the Missouri Wildlife Code, the species has not been 
protected under Missouri Endangered Species Law because it has not been 
formally recognized as a distinct species. The existing regulatory 
mechanisms provide little direct protection of water quality in grotto 
sculpin habitat, which is the most significant threat to the species, 
and are inadequate to address threats to the species throughout its 
range. We have no information to indicate that the aforementioned 
regulations, which currently do not offer adequate protection to the 
grotto sculpin, will be revised or implemented in such a manner so that 
they would be adequate to provide protection for the species in the 
future.

Factor E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued 
Existence

    Small, Isolated Populations--The existing grotto sculpin 
populations are small in size and range and its distribution is 
restricted to short stream reaches in two watersheds. The grotto 
sculpin's small population size makes it extremely susceptible to 
extirpation from a single catastrophic event (such as a toxic chemical 
spill or storm event that destroys its habitat), thus reducing the 
ability to recover from the cumulative effects of smaller chronic 
impacts to the population and habitat such as progressive degradation 
from water contamination.
    Environmental stressors, such as habitat loss and degradation, can 
exacerbate potential problems associated with the species' endemism 
(i.e., restricted to five cave systems in one county) and overall small 
population size, increasing the species' vulnerability to localized or 
rangewide extinction (Crnokrak and Roff 1999, p. 262; Hedrick and 
Kalinowski 1999, pp. 142-146). The isolation of subpopulations of the 
grotto sculpin

[[Page 59498]]

make it vulnerable to extinction and loss of genetic diversity caused 
by genetic drift, inbreeding depression, and stochastic events (Willis 
and Brown 1985, p. 316). Small, isolated populations are more 
susceptible to genetic drift, possibly leading to fixation where all 
except one allele is lost, and population bottlenecks leading to 
inbreeding (Frankham et al. 2002, pp. 178-187). Inbreeding depression 
can result in death, decreased fertility, smaller body size, loss of 
vigor, reduced fitness, various chromosome abnormalities, and reduced 
resistance to disease (Hedrick and Kalinowski 1999, pp. 139-142). Even 
though some populations fluctuate naturally, small and low-density 
populations are more likely to fluctuate below a minimum viable 
population (the minimum or threshold number of individuals needed in a 
population to persist in a viable state for a given interval) if they 
are influenced by stressors beyond those under which they have evolved 
(Shaffer 1981, p. 131; Shaffer and Samson 1985, pp. 148-150; Gilpin and 
Soule 1986, pp. 25-33). For example, grotto sculpin in Running Bull 
Cave exhibit the most distinct morphological adaptations to the cave 
environment and are the only individuals in the Cinque Hommes Creek 
drainage to have a rare genetic haplotype (Adams 2005, p. 49). One of 
the two known mass mortalities caused by a pollution event occurred in 
Running Bull Cave and temporarily eliminated grotto sculpin from the 
site. Grotto sculpin eventually recolonized the cave, but 
recolonization did not necessarily occur through local recruitment, but 
possibly through immigration by individuals from connected populations. 
Running Bull Cave might serve as either a primary site of population 
connectivity or interaction and act as a connecting stream between 
otherwise isolated localities (Mystery and Rimstone River Caves) (Day 
2008, p. 52). Even though haplotype diversity post-extirpation was 
comparable to that previously measured (Day 2008, p. 54), it is 
possible that previously undocumented haplotypes were lost and will not 
be recovered. Day (2008, p. 54) notes that extirpation events of longer 
duration or greater severity could negatively impact overall genetic 
diversity. Furthermore, this scenario is illustrative of the potential 
for extirpation of entire subpopulations and the cascading effects on 
connected subpopulations.
    Climate Change--Our analyses under the Act include consideration of 
ongoing and projected changes in climate. The terms ``climate'' and 
``climate change'' are defined by the Intergovernmental Panel on 
Climate Change (IPCC). ``Climate'' refers to the mean and variability 
of different types of weather conditions over time, with 30 years being 
a typical period for such measurements, although shorter or longer 
periods also may be used (IPCC 2007, p. 78). The term ``climate 
change'' thus refers to a change in the mean or variability of one or 
more measures of climate (for example, temperature or precipitation) 
that persists for an extended period, typically decades or longer, 
whether the change is due to natural variability, human activity, or 
both (IPCC 2007, p. 78). Various types of changes in climate can have 
direct or indirect effects on species. These effects may be positive, 
neutral, or negative, and they may change over time, depending on the 
species and other relevant considerations, such as the effects of 
interactions of climate with other variables (for example, habitat 
fragmentation) (IPCC 2007, pp. 8-14, 18-19). In our analyses, we use 
our expert judgment to weigh relevant information, including 
uncertainty, in our consideration of various aspects of climate change. 
As is the case with all stressors that we assess, even if we conclude 
that a species is currently affected or is likely to be affected in a 
negative way by one or more climate-related impacts, it does not 
necessarily follow that the species meets the definition of an 
``endangered species'' or a ``threatened species'' under the Act. If a 
species is listed as an endangered or threatened species, knowledge 
regarding the vulnerability of the species to, and known or anticipated 
impacts from, climate-associated changes in environmental conditions 
can be used to help devise appropriate strategies for its recovery.
    The impact of climate change on the grotto sculpin is uncertain. 
The species is totally dependent on an adequate water supply and has 
specific habitat requirements (water depth and connectivity of caves 
and surface sites); we expect that climate change could significantly 
alter the quantity and quality of grotto sculpin habitat and thus 
impact the species in the future. This species relies on surface water 
for energy input into the cave system, recharge of groundwater, and 
availability of surface streams. Potential adverse effects from climate 
change include increased frequency and duration of droughts (Rind et 
al. 1990, p. 9983; Seager et al. 2007, pp. 1181-1184; Rahel and Olden 
2008, p. 526) and changes in water temperature, which likely serves as 
a cue for reproduction in grotto sculpin (Adams 2005, pp. 10-11). 
Climate warming might also decrease groundwater levels (Schindler 2001, 
p. 22) or significantly reduce annual stream flows (Moore et al. 1997, 
p. 925; Hu et al. 2005, p. 9). In the Missouri Ozarks, it is projected 
that stream basin discharges may be significantly impacted by 
synergistic effects of changes in land cover and climate change (Hu et 
al. 2005, p. 9), and similar impacts are anticipated in the karst 
regions of Perry County, Missouri. Grotto sculpin require deep pools in 
caves, which could decrease in availability under drought conditions. 
Overall, shallower water or reduced flows could further concentrate 
contaminants present and lower dissolved oxygen in cave habitats.
Summary of Factor E
    The small size and isolation of grotto sculpin populations, loss of 
genetic diversity, and effects from climate change could exacerbate 
other factors negatively affecting the species. These additional 
factors are particularly detrimental when combined with other factors, 
such as habitat and water quality degradation, and predation by 
invasive fish, which has a greater cumulative impact than would any of 
those factors acting independently (for example, compromised health 
from poor water quality might increase predation risk).

Proposed Determination

    We have carefully assessed the best scientific and commercial 
information available regarding the past, present, and future threats 
to the grotto sculpin. Numerous major threats, acting individually or 
synergistically, continue today (see Summary of Factors Affecting the 
Species). The most substantial threats to the species come from the 
present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its 
habitat (Factor A). Although no clear estimates of historical 
population numbers for the grotto sculpin exist in order to determine 
whether or not dramatic population declines have occurred in the past, 
two mass mortalities have been documented since the early 2000s. Both 
mortality events are thought to have been caused by point-source 
pollution of surface waters that recharge cave streams occupied by the 
grotto sculpin.
    The known factors negatively affecting the grotto sculpin have 
continued to impact the species' habitat since it was elevated to 
candidate status in 2002 (67 FR 40657; June 13, 2002). All of the 
recharge areas for known grotto sculpin habitat are considered

[[Page 59499]]

vulnerable. It is believed that the primary threats to the species are 
habitat destruction and modification from water quality degradation and 
siltation. In particular, documentation that a suite of chemicals and 
other contaminants is continuously entering the groundwater above 
levels that can be harmful to aquatic life is especially concerning. 
Potential sources and vehicles for introduction of pollution likely are 
industrialization, contaminated agricultural runoff, sinkhole dumps, 
and vertical drains installed without appropriate best management 
practices.
    A variety of current- and legacy-use pesticides from agricultural 
runoff and sinkhole leaching, evidence of human waste from ineffective 
septic systems, and animal waste from livestock operations have been 
detected in grotto sculpin streams. These not only negatively affect 
the grotto sculpin directly but also the aquatic ecosystems and aquifer 
underlying the Perry County sinkhole plain.
    Siltation beyond historical levels affects the grotto sculpin in a 
variety of ways, such as eliminating suitable habitat for all life 
stages, reducing dissolved oxygen levels, increasing contaminants (that 
bind to sediments), and reducing prey populations. Predation on eggs, 
larvae, and juveniles by nonnative epigean fish can further reduce 
population numbers and will be a more prominent threat if siltation 
continues to degrade cave habitats to the point where refugia from 
predatory fish are no longer available to the grotto sculpin.
    The Act defines an endangered species as ``any species which is in 
danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its 
range'' and a threatened species as ``any species which is likely to 
become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout 
all or a significant portion of its range.'' The grotto sculpin's 
endemism and isolated populations make it particularly susceptible to 
multiple, continuing threats and stochastic events that could cause 
substantial population declines, loss of genetic diversity, or multiple 
extirpations, leading ultimately to extinction of the species. 
Temporary extirpations of two of five known populations have occurred 
in the recent past. Recolonization after such mortality events is 
dependent on the presence and accessibility of source populations. 
Continued threats to the species not only impact individual 
populations, but also decrease the viability of source populations, and 
the likelihood that areas where the species has been extirpated will be 
recolonized. Furthermore, existing regulatory mechanisms provide little 
direct protection of water quality in grotto sculpin habitat, which is 
the most significant threat to the species. In addition to the 
individual threats, primarily those discussed under Factors A and E, 
each of which is sufficient to warrant the species' listing, the 
cumulative effect of Factors A, C, D, and E is such that the influence 
of threats on the grotto sculpin are significant throughout its entire 
range.
    Overall, impacts from increasing threats, operating singly or in 
combination, are likely to result in the extinction of the species. 
Because these threats are placing the species in danger of extinction 
now and not only at some point in the foreseeable future, we determined 
it is endangered and not threatened. Therefore, on the basis of the 
best available scientific and commercial information, we propose 
listing the grotto sculpin as an endangered species in accordance with 
sections 3(6) and 4(a)(1) of the Act.
    Under the Act and our implementing regulations, a species may 
warrant listing if it is threatened or endangered throughout all or a 
significant portion of its range. The grotto sculpin proposed for 
listing in this rule is highly restricted in its range and the threats 
occur throughout its range. Therefore, we assessed the status of the 
species throughout its entire known range. The threats to the survival 
of the species occur throughout the species' range and are not 
restricted to any particular significant portion of that range. 
Accordingly, our assessment and proposed determination applies to the 
species throughout its entire range.

Available Conservation Measures

    Conservation measures provided to species listed as endangered or 
threatened under the Act include recognition, recovery actions, 
requirements for Federal protection, and prohibitions against certain 
practices. Recognition through listing results in public awareness and 
conservation by Federal, State, Tribal, and local agencies, private 
organizations, and individuals. The Act encourages cooperation with the 
States and requires that recovery actions be carried out for all listed 
species. The protection required by Federal agencies and the 
prohibitions against certain activities are discussed, in part, below.
    The primary purpose of the Act is the conservation of endangered 
and threatened species and the ecosystems upon which they depend. The 
ultimate goal of such conservation efforts is the recovery of these 
listed species, so that they no longer need the protective measures of 
the Act. Subsection 4(f) of the Act requires the Service to develop and 
implement recovery plans for the conservation of endangered and 
threatened species. The recovery planning process involves the 
identification of actions that are necessary to halt or reverse the 
species' decline by addressing the threats to its survival and 
recovery. The goal of this process is to restore listed species to a 
point where they are secure, self-sustaining, and functioning 
components of their ecosystems.
    Recovery planning includes the development of a recovery outline 
shortly after a species is listed, and preparation of a draft and final 
recovery plan. The recovery outline guides the immediate implementation 
of urgent recovery actions and describes the process to be used to 
develop a recovery plan. Revisions of the plan may be done to address 
continuing or new threats to the species, as new substantive 
information becomes available. The recovery plan identifies site-
specific management actions that set a trigger for review of the five 
factors that control whether a species remains endangered or may be 
downlisted or delisted, and methods for monitoring recovery progress. 
Recovery plans also establish a framework for agencies to coordinate 
their recovery efforts and provide estimates of the cost of 
implementing recovery tasks. Recovery teams (comprised of species 
experts, Federal and State agencies, nongovernment organizations, and 
stakeholders) are often established to develop recovery plans. When 
completed, the recovery outline, draft recovery plan, and the final 
recovery plan will be available on our Web site (http://www.fws.gov/endangered), or from our Columbia Missouri Ecological Services Field 
Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).
    Implementation of recovery actions generally requires the 
participation of a broad range of partners, including other Federal 
agencies, States, Tribal, nongovernmental organizations, businesses, 
and private landowners. Examples of recovery actions include habitat 
restoration (e.g., restoration of native vegetation), research, captive 
propagation and reintroduction, and outreach and education. The 
recovery of many listed species cannot be accomplished solely on 
Federal lands because their range may occur primarily or solely on non-
Federal lands. To achieve recovery of these species requires 
cooperative conservation efforts on private, State, and Tribal lands.

[[Page 59500]]

    If this species is listed, funding for recovery actions will be 
available from a variety of sources, including Federal budgets, State 
programs, and cost share grants for non-Federal landowners, the 
academic community, and nongovernmental organizations. In addition, 
under section 6 of the Act, the State of Missouri would be eligible for 
Federal funds to implement management actions that promote the 
protection and recovery of the grotto sculpin. Information on our grant 
programs that are available to aid species recovery can be found at: 
http://www.fws.gov/grants.
    Although the grotto sculpin is only proposed for listing under the 
Act at this time, please let us know if you are interested in 
participating in recovery efforts for this species. Additionally, we 
invite you to submit any new information on this species whenever it 
becomes available and any information you may have for recovery 
planning purposes (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).
    Section 7(a) of the Act requires Federal agencies to evaluate their 
actions with respect to any species that is proposed or listed as 
endangered or threatened and with respect to its critical habitat, if 
any is designated. Regulations implementing this interagency 
cooperation provision of the Act are codified at 50 CFR part 402. 
Section 7(a)(4) of the Act requires Federal agencies to confer with the 
Service on any action that is likely to jeopardize the continued 
existence of a species proposed for listing or result in destruction or 
adverse modification of proposed critical habitat. If a species is 
listed subsequently, section 7(a)(2) of the Act requires Federal 
agencies to ensure that activities they authorize, fund, or carry out 
are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the species or 
destroy or adversely modify its critical habitat. If a Federal action 
may affect a listed species or its critical habitat, the responsible 
Federal agency must enter into formal consultation with the Service.
    Federal agency actions within the species habitat that may require 
conference or consultation or both as described in the preceding 
paragraph include management and any other landscape-altering 
activities on Federal lands administered by the Department of Defense, 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and U.S. Forest Service; issuance of 
section 404 Clean Water Act permits by the U.S. Army Corps of 
Engineers; construction and management of gas pipeline and power line 
rights-of-way by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; and 
construction and maintenance of roads or highways by the Federal 
Highway Administration.
    The Act and its implementing regulations set forth a series of 
general prohibitions and exceptions that apply to all endangered 
wildlife. The prohibitions of section 9(a)(2) of the Act, codified at 
50 CFR 17.21 for endangered wildlife, in part, make it illegal for any 
person subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to take 
(includes harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, 
capture, or collect; or to attempt any of these), import, export, ship 
in interstate commerce in the course of commercial activity, or sell or 
offer for sale in interstate or foreign commerce any listed species. 
Under the Lacey Act (18 U.S.C. 42-43; 16 U.S.C. 3371-3378), it is also 
illegal to possess, sell, deliver, carry, transport, or ship any such 
wildlife that has been taken illegally. Certain exceptions apply to 
agents of the Service and State conservation agencies.
    We may issue permits to carry out otherwise prohibited activities 
involving endangered and threatened wildlife species under certain 
circumstances. Regulations governing permits are codified at 50 CFR 
17.22 for endangered species, and at 17.32 for threatened species. With 
regard to endangered wildlife, a permit must be issued for the 
following purposes: for scientific purposes, to enhance the propagation 
or survival of the species, and for incidental take in connection with 
otherwise lawful activities.
    It is our policy, as published in the Federal Register on July 1, 
1994 (59 FR 34272), to identify to the maximum extent practicable at 
the time a species is listed, those activities that would or would not 
constitute a violation of section 9 of the Act. The intent of this 
policy is to increase public awareness of the effect of a proposed 
listing on proposed and ongoing activities within the range of species 
proposed for listing. The following activities could potentially result 
in a violation of section 9 of the Act; this list is not comprehensive:
    (1) Unauthorized discharge of chemicals, waste, or fill material 
into any waters in which the grotto sculpin is known to occur, or into 
any sinkholes or vertical drains that recharge waters in which the 
grotto sculpin is known to occur;
    (2) Unauthorized modification of the channel or water flow of any 
surface stream, cave stream, or spring in which the grotto sculpin is 
known to occur; and
    (3) Introduction of nonnative fish species that compete with or 
prey upon the grotto sculpin.
    Questions regarding whether specific activities would constitute a 
violation of section 9 of the Act should be directed to the Columbia 
Missouri Ecological Services Field Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
CONTACT). Requests for copies of the regulations concerning listed 
animals and general inquiries regarding prohibitions and permits may be 
addressed to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Endangered Species 
Permits, 5600 American Boulevard West, Suite 990, Bloomington, MN 
55437-1458 (telephone 612-713-5343; facsimile 612-713-5292).
    If the grotto sculpin is listed under the Act, the State of 
Missouri's Endangered Species Act (MO ST 252.240) is automatically 
invoked, which would also prohibit take of these species and encourage 
conservation by State government agencies. Further, the State may enter 
into agreements with Federal agencies to administer and manage any area 
required for the conservation, management, enhancement, or protection 
of endangered species (MO ST 252.240). Funds for these activities could 
be made available under section 6 of the Act (Cooperation with the 
States). Thus, the Federal protection afforded to this species by 
listing it as an endangered species will be reinforced and supplemented 
by protection under State law.

Critical Habitat Designation for the Grotto Sculpin

Background

    It is our intent to discuss below only those topics directly 
relevant to the designation of critical habitat for the grotto sculpin 
in this section of the proposed rule.
    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

[[Page 59501]]

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 ensure, 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 is 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 those 
specific elements of the 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. For example, an area currently occupied by the species but 
that was not occupied at the time of listing may be essential to the 
conservation of the species and may be included in the critical habitat 
designation. 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 
the Federal Register on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 34271)), 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. 
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 the species. Areas that are important to the 
conservation of the species, both inside and outside the critical 
habitat designation, will 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.

Prudency Determination

    Section 4(a)(3) of the Act, as amended, and implementing 
regulations (50 CFR 424.12), require that, to the maximum extent 
prudent and determinable, the Secretary designate critical habitat at 
the time the species is determined to be an endangered or threatened 
species. Our regulations (50 CFR 424.12(a)(1)) state that the 
designation of critical habitat is not prudent when one or both of the 
following situations exist: (1) The species is threatened by taking or 
other human activity, and identification of critical habitat can be 
expected to increase the degree of threat to the species, or (2) such 
designation of critical habitat would not be beneficial to the species.
    There is currently no imminent threat of take attributed to 
collection or vandalism under Factor B for grotto sculpin. In the 
absence of finding that the designation of critical habitat would 
increase threats to a species, if there are any benefits to a critical 
habitat designation, then a prudent finding is warranted. The potential 
benefits include: (1) Triggering consultation under section 7 of the 
Act, in new areas

[[Page 59502]]

for actions in which there may be a Federal nexus where it would not 
otherwise occur because, for example, it is or has become unoccupied or 
the occupancy is in question; (2) focusing conservation activities on 
the most essential features and areas; (3) providing educational 
benefits to State or county governments or private entities; and (4) 
preventing people from causing inadvertent harm to the species.
    The primary regulatory effect of critical habitat is the section 
7(a)(2) requirement that Federal agencies refrain from taking any 
action that destroys or adversely modifies critical habitat if there is 
a Federal nexus (Federal funds are involved or a Federal permit is 
required) involving actions that could adversely impact water quality 
parameters for this species. Various conservation measures or actions 
initiated and implemented under section 7(a)(1) of the Act may be 
useful in improving the water quality of aquatic habitats occupied by 
this species. In the case of the grotto sculpin, these aspects of 
critical habitat designation would potentially benefit the conservation 
of the species. Therefore, as we have determined that the designation 
of critical habitat will not likely increase the degree of threat to 
the species and may provide some measure of benefit, we find that 
designation of critical habitat is prudent for the grotto sculpin.

Critical Habitat Determinability

    Having determined that designation is prudent, under section 
4(a)(3) of the Act we must find whether critical habitat for the grotto 
sculpin is determinable. Our regulations at 50 CFR 424.12(a)(2) state 
that critical habitat is not determinable when one or both of the 
following situations exist:
    (i) Information sufficient to perform required analyses of the 
impacts of the designation is lacking, or
    (ii) The biological needs of the species are not sufficiently well 
known to permit identification of an area as critical habitat.
    When critical habitat is not determinable, the Act allows the 
Service an additional year to publish a critical habitat designation 
(16 U.S.C. 1533(b)(6)(C)(ii)).
    We reviewed the available information pertaining to the biological 
needs of the species and habitat characteristics where this species is 
located. This and other information represent the best scientific data 
available and led us to conclude that the designation of critical 
habitat is determinable for the grotto sculpin.

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 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, geographic, and ecological 
distributions of a species.
    We derive the specific physical or biological features required for 
the grotto sculpin from studies of this species' habitat, ecology, and 
life history. The physical and biological features required for the 
grotto sculpin are derived from biological needs of the species as 
described in the Background section of this proposal, and based on 
published literature (Burr et al. 2001, pp. 279-276; Gerken and Adams 
2008, pp. 74-78), unpublished reports, and professional opinions by 
recognized experts. While little is known of the specific habitat 
requirements for this species, the best available information shows 
that the species requires adequate water quality, water quantity, water 
flow, a stable stream channel, minimal sedimentation, organic input 
into caves during rain events, and a sufficient prey base for juveniles 
(Burr et al. 2001, pp. 291, 294-295; Gerken and Adams 2008, pp. 74-76). 
Due to the complex nature of the multiple karst regions in Perry 
County, diverse hydrologic components will be essential to the 
conservation of grotto sculpin; these include cave streams, 
resurgences, springs, surface streams, and surface and subterranean 
interconnected or interspatial habitats (Vandike 1985, pp. 1-10; Day 
2008, pp. 22-24). To identify the physical and biological features 
essential to the grotto sculpin, we have relied on current conditions 
at locations where the species survives and the information available 
on this species.
Space for Individual and Population Growth and for Normal Behavior
    The specific space requirements for the grotto sculpin are unknown, 
but given the mixture of habitats used by different life stages of this 
fish (Burr et al. 2001, p. 284; Gerken and Adams 2008, p. 76), space is 
not likely a limiting factor; however, silt and various pollutants may 
affect the species' overall distribution and abundance (Burr et al. 
2001, p. 294; Gerken and Adams 2008, p. 76). Grotto sculpin occupy cave 
streams, resurgences (also known as ``spring branches''; Vandike 1985, 
p. 10), springs, and surface streams (Adams 2012, pers. comm.; Burr et 
al. 2001, p. 284). They occupy pools and riffles with moderate flows 
and variable depths (4 to 33 centimeters (cm) (1.6 to 13 in)) (Burr et 
al. 2001, p. 284). Although grotto sculpin have been documented to 
occur over a variety of substrates (for example, silt, gravel, cobble, 
rock rubble, and bedrock), the presence of cobble or pebble is 
necessary for spawning (Burr et al. 2001, p. 284; Adams et al. unpub. 
data). Grotto sculpin tend to be associated with high availability of 
invertebrate prey, deeper cave pools, substrate containing cobble, and 
some level of sustained water flow (Gerken 2007, pp. 16-17). Surface 
habitat used by grotto sculpin is characterized by an abundance of 
amphipods and isopods. In caves, grotto sculpin occupy deeper pools 
with cobble, and with a relatively high abundance of amphipods and 
isopods. Although usually in lower abundance, grotto sculpin also 
occupy shallow cave pools where the substrate consists of silt deposits 
deeper than 1.9 cm (0.8 in) (Gerken 2007, p. 16). Resurgences are used 
by juvenile grotto sculpin as nursery areas, where they maximize growth 
before migrating upstream into caves to reproduce or downstream to 
surface streams (Day 2008, p. 18).
    Habitat conditions described above provide space, cover, shelter, 
and sites for foraging, breeding, reproduction, and growth of offspring 
for the grotto sculpin. These habitats are found in caves streams, 
resurgences, springs, and surface streams; therefore, we identify those 
elements as physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation for grotto sculpin. Additionally, interconnected karst 
areas and interstitial spaces that allow for the free flow of water 
between occupied surface and subsurface habitats are primary components 
of essential physical and biological features for the grotto sculpin.

[[Page 59503]]

Food, Water, Air, Light, Minerals, or Other Nutritional or 
Physiological Requirements
    Although the specific food items of grotto sculpin have not been 
determined, they are likely similar to the diet of banded sculpin. Prey 
items of the banded sculpin include ephemeropterans, dipterans, 
chronomids, gastropods, amphipods, isopods, fish, spiders, aquatic 
oligochaetes, caddisflies, damselfly larvae, ostracods, stoneflies, 
beetles, crayfish, and salamanders (Phillips and Kilambi 1996, pp. 69-
72; Pflieger 1997, p. 253; Tumlinson and Cline 2002, pp. 111-112; 
Niemiller et al. 2006, p. 43). Prey availability is related to the 
organic input that is transported with sediment and other organic 
materials via sinkholes into stream habitats (Burr et al. 2001, p. 
291). An abundance of aquatic invertebrates is necessary to support a 
viable population of grotto sculpin (Niemiller et al. 2006, p. 43; 
Gerken and Adams 2008, p. 75). Therefore, based on this information, we 
identify the availability of appropriate organic input supporting the 
aquatic invertebrate prey base to be a primary component of the 
essential physical and biological features for the grotto sculpin.
    The grotto sculpin occurs in pools and riffles of cave streams, 
resurgences, springs, and surface streams (Burr et al. 2001, pp. 280-
284; Adams 2012, pers. comm.). It can occur over multiple substrates 
including sand, silt, gravel, pebble, cobble, breakdown, and bedrock, 
although the association with silt might be due to the prevalence of 
sediment within occupied habitat rather than a preference for such 
substrates (Vandike 1985, p. 38; Burr et al. 2001, p. 284; Gerken 2007, 
pp. 13, 22-25; Gerken and Adams 2008, pp. 76-77).
    Optimum water temperature, flow rates, and water depth in occupied 
streams have not been established for grotto sculpin and vary widely 
depending on life stage and location (e.g., pools of cave streams 
versus flowing water in resurgences or surface streams) (Gerken 2007, 
pp. 20-27). Water depth varied, but ranged between 4 and 33 cm (1.6 and 
13.0 in) and flow rates were between .05 and 6.67 cm/sec (0.2 and 2.6 
in/sec) (Burr et al. 2001, p. 284; Gerken 2007, p. 17).
    Occupied cave streams, resurgences, springs, surface streams, 
interconnected karst areas, and interstitial spaces should have reduced 
levels of silt, sustained water flows, high dissolved oxygen levels, 
and reduced amounts of organic and inorganic contaminants. 
Interconnected karst areas and interstitial spaces should be free of 
debris and have reduced levels of silt to allow for free flow of water 
between occupied habitats. Water quality standards for contaminants 
should follow guidelines established by the EPA, except for ammonia and 
copper. Water quality criteria for ammonia and copper should follow 
minimum levels reported by Wang et al. (2007, pp. 2048-2055) and 
established for juvenile freshwater mussels (less than 4.6 parts per 
billion copper per liter and less than 370 parts per billion ammonia 
expressed as nitrogen per liter).
    Optimum water quality parameters have not been determined for the 
grotto sculpin. Habitat information for other species that inhabit cave 
streams and springs in Missouri (such as the endangered Tumbling Creek 
cavesnail) may be used as suitable surrogates for the grotto sculpin. 
In the absence of information specific to the grotto sculpin's water 
quality needs, we believe the criteria established for the Tumbling 
Creek cavesnail are also suitable for the grotto sculpin. Therefore, we 
recommend the following water quality parameters for the grotto 
sculpin: an average daily discharge of 0.07 to 150 cubic feet per 
second (cfs); water temperature of cave streams, springs, resurgences, 
and surface streams should be between 55 and 62 [deg]F (12.78 and 16.67 
[deg]C); dissolved oxygen levels should equal or exceed 4.5 milligrams 
per liter; and turbidity of an average monthly reading should not 
exceed 200 Nephelometric Units (units used to measure sediment 
discharge) and should not persist for a period greater than 4 hours. 
Adequate water flow, temperature, and quality (as defined above) are 
essential for normal behavior, growth, and viability during all life 
stages of the grotto sculpin. Therefore, based on the information 
above, we identify adequate water flow, temperature, and quality to be 
physical and biological features essential to the conservation for the 
grotto sculpin.
Cover or Shelter
    Burr et al. (2001, p. 284) noted that grotto sculpin occur in the 
open as well as under rocks. Rocks within cave streams allow the grotto 
sculpin to avoid predators (Gerken 2007, p. 25); at least six different 
species of piscivorous, predatory fish occur within occupied grotto 
sculpin habitat (Burr et al. 2001, p. 284). Additionally, rocks provide 
a substrate for egg laying (Gerken 2007, p. 2; Adams 2005, p. 10). In 
addition to rocks, large cobble has been identified as an important 
component of sculpin habitat (Gerken 2007, pp. 22-27).
    Due to the wide variety of habitats used by grotto sculpin 
depending on age and season (Burr et. al 2001, pp. 283-284; 294; Gerken 
2007, pp. 27-30; Gerken and Adams 2008, pp. 75-76), occupied 
underground and surface aquatic habitats including associated 
transitional aquatic habitats are all essential physical or biological 
features for the species. The grotto sculpin requires cave and surface 
streams with a stable stream bottom and solid bedrock and stable stream 
banks to maintain a stable horizontal dimension and vertical profile of 
pool and riffle habitats. A mixture of bottom substrates, including 
sand, gravel, pebbles, cobble, ceiling breakdown areas and larger 
rocks, is necessary to provide cover and attachment surfaces for egg 
masses. Additionally, bottom substrates must not be covered with 
excessive amounts of silt.
    Therefore, based on the information above, we identify the 
following as primary components of the physical or biological features 
essential to the conservation of the grotto sculpin: cave streams, 
resurgences, springs, surface streams, and interconnected areas between 
surface and subterranean habitats with stable bottom and banks; rocks 
or large cobble to provide cover; and substrates consisting of fine 
gravel with coarse gravel or cobble, or bedrock with sand and gravel, 
with low amounts of fine sand and sediments within the interstitial 
spaces of the substrates.
Sites for Breeding, Reproduction, or Rearing
    Adams (2005, pp. 10; Adams et al. 2008, p. 8; Gerken 2007, pp. 19-
21) demonstrated that grotto sculpin spawn in caves but some young-of-
the-year move to resurgences or surface streams and spend much of their 
lives away from caves. Juvenile grotto sculpin likely move out of caves 
to avoid predation by adult sculpin (Gerken 2007, p. 19) or to take 
advantage of higher levels of prey in such habitats (Burr et al. 2001, 
p. 291; Gerken 2007, pp. 19-20; Day 2008, pp. 18-21). Gerken (2007, p. 
19) and Day (2008, p. 18) postulated that juvenile grotto sculpin use 
resurgences and surface streams as nursery areas to gain size by taking 
advantage of increased food resources. At some point in their 
maturation process, juvenile sculpin move from resurgences and surface 
streams into caves to complete their life cycle (Gerken 2007, p. 19; 
Day 2008, p. 18). Based on the information above, consistent 
connectivity between cave streams and resurgences or surface streams is 
a primary component of the physical or biological features essential to 
the conservation for the grotto sculpin.

[[Page 59504]]

Primary Constituent Elements (PCEs) for the Grotto Sculpin
    Under the Act and its implementing regulations, we are required to 
identify the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of the grotto sculpin in areas occupied at the time of 
listing, focusing on the features' primary constituent elements. We 
consider primary constituent elements to be the elements of physical or 
biological features that provide for a species' life-history processes 
and 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 the grotto sculpin are:
    (1) Geomorphically stable stream bottoms and banks (stable 
horizontal dimension and vertical profile) with riffles, runs, pools, 
and transition zones between these stream features.
    (2) Instream flow regime with an average daily discharge between 
0.07 and 150 cubic feet per second (cfs), inclusive of surface runoff, 
cave streams, resurgences, springs, and occupied surface streams and 
all interconnected karst areas with flowing water.
    (3) Water temperature between 12.8 and 16.7 [deg]C (55 and 
62[emsp14][deg]F), dissolved oxygen 4.5 milligrams or greater per 
liter, and turbidity of an average monthly reading of no more than 200 
Nephelometric Turbidity Units for a duration not to exceed 4 hours.
    (4) Adequate water quality characterized by low levels of 
contaminants. Adequate water quality is defined as the quality 
necessary for normal behavior, growth, and viability of all life stages 
of the grotto sculpin.
    (5) Bottom substrates consisting of a mixture of sand, gravel, 
pebble, cobble, solid bedrock, larger cobble and rocks for cover, with 
low amounts of sediments.
    (6) Abundance of aquatic invertebrate prey base to support the 
different life stages of the grotto sculpin.
    (7) Connected underground and surface aquatic habitats that provide 
for all life stages of the grotto sculpin, with sufficient water levels 
to facilitate movement of individuals among habitats.
    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 primary 
constituent elements sufficient to support the life-history 
requirements of the species. All units proposed as critical habitat are 
currently occupied by the grotto sculpin and contain the primary 
constituent elements sufficient to support the life-history needs of 
the grotto sculpin.

Special Management Considerations or Protection

    When designating critical habitat, we assess whether the specific 
areas within the geographic area occupied by the species at the time of 
listing contain features that are essential to the conservation of the 
species and that may require special management considerations or 
protection.
    The four units we are proposing for designation as critical habitat 
will require some level of management to address the current and future 
threats to the physical and biological features essential to the 
conservation of the species.
    Although little area within the proposed critical habitat units is 
presently under special management or protection provided by a legally 
operative plan or agreement for the conservation of the grotto sculpin, 
some landowners within the recharge zones of caves occupied by the 
species have worked cooperatively with the MDC in the implementation of 
various conservation measures that facilitate good water quality. 
Keyhole Spring and Ball Mill Spring have both been purchased by the L-
A-D Foundation, and these water sources are managed by MDC (Moss and 
Pobst 2010, pp. 152-153). Management of areas within the recharge areas 
of Keyhole and Ball Mill springs will provide some conservation 
benefits to the grotto sculpin.
    A landowner agreement between MDC and the Missouri Caves and Karst 
Conservancy in 2011 will facilitate conservation actions at Berome 
Moore Cave (Pobst 2011a, pp. 1-2). These include access to the cave to 
conduct research and monitor population numbers of grotto sculpin; 
livestock fencing to prohibit access to sinkholes, reduce nutrient 
runoff, and facilitate erosion control; and the planting of warm-season 
grasses to benefit wildlife. Various debris and trash have been removed 
from multiple sinkholes within the recharge zones of cave streams 
occupied by grotto sculpin (Pobst 2011b, pp. 1-3), and additional 
access agreements are being pursued with other interested landowners to 
control entrances to caves occupied by the species (Pobst 2011a, p. 1).
    Although best management practices (BMPs) have not been 
specifically developed for the grotto sculpin, guidelines established 
by MDC (2000, p. 1) for the Ozark cavefish (Amblyopsis rosae) would 
contribute to the conservation of the sculpin because both species 
occur in similar habitats.
    Various activities in or adjacent to the critical habitat units 
described in this proposed rule may affect one or more of the physical 
or biological features and may require special management 
considerations or protection. Some of these activities include, but are 
not limited to, those previously discussed in the ``Summary of Factors 
Affecting the Species.'' Features in all of the proposed critical 
habitat units may require special management due to threats associated 
with activities that could be sources of contamination that adversely 
affect water quality of habitats occupied by grotto sculpin; with 
significant changes in the existing flow regime of caves streams, 
resurgences, springs, or surface streams occupied by grotto sculpin; 
with significant alteration in the quantity of groundwater and 
alteration of spring discharge sites; with alterations to septic 
systems that could adversely affect water quality; and with other 
watershed and floodplain disturbances that release sediments or 
nutrients into the water. Other activities that may affect essential 
features in the proposed critical habitat unit include those listed in 
the ``Effects of Critical Habitat Designation'' section below.
    In summary, we find that the areas we are proposing as critical 
habitat contain the features essential to the conservation of the 
grotto sculpin and that these features may require special management 
considerations or protections. Special management considerations or 
protections may be required to eliminate, or to reduce to negligible 
levels, the threats affecting each unit and to preserve and maintain 
the essential features that the proposed critical habitat units provide 
to the grotto sculpin. There are multiple threats to the grotto sculpin 
in all four units proposed as critical habitat. These include 
industrial sand mining and degraded water quality due to various 
sources of contamination and siltation. Additional discussions of 
threats facing individual sites, where applicable, are provided in the 
individual unit descriptions.

Criteria Used To Identify Proposed Critical Habitat

    As required by section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we use the best 
scientific and commercial data available to designate critical habitat. 
We review available information pertaining to the habitat requirements 
of the species to determine areas within the geographical area

[[Page 59505]]

currently occupied by the species that contain the physical and 
biological features essential to the conservation of the grotto 
sculpin. In accordance with the Act and its implementing regulation 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--are necessary to ensure the conservation of the species. We 
are not currently proposing to designate any areas outside the 
geographical area occupied by the species because occupied areas are 
sufficient for the conservation of the species.
    In order to determine which sites are currently occupied, we used 
information from surveys conducted by Burr et al. (2001, pp. 280-286), 
Adams (2005, pp. 11-13), Day (2008, pp. 9-11; 62-66), Gerken (2007, pp. 
5-8), and Gerken and Adams (2008, pp. 74-76), and dye tracing studies 
conducted by Moss and Pobst (2010, pp. 146-160, 177, 180-192). 
Currently, occupied habitat for the species includes all caves streams, 
resurgences, springs, and surface streams associated with the recharge 
areas for the Moore Cave System, the Crevice Cave System, Mystery Cave, 
Rimstone River Cave, Running Bull Cave, and Hot Caverns; as well as 
Thunder Hole Resurgence, Mystery Cave Resurgence, Cinque Hommes Creek, 
and Blue Spring Branch. After identifying the specific locations 
occupied by the grotto sculpin, we determined the appropriate area of 
occupied segments of aquatic habitats essential for the conservation of 
the species. These areas are collectively contained within the Central 
Perryville and Mystery-Rimstone karst areas as described by House 
(1976, pp. 13-14) and Burr et al. (2001, pp. 280-282).
    Although there are underground portions within the Central 
Perryville and Mystery-Rimstone karst areas that are inaccessible to 
humans, all underground aquatic habitats within the recharge zones of 
the Moore Cave System, the Crevice Cave System, Mystery Cave, Rimstone 
River Cave, Running Bull Cave, Thunder Hole Resurgence, Mystery Cave 
Resurgence, Cinque Hommes Creek, and Blue Spring Branch are believed to 
be occupied by the grotto sculpin. Areas delineated within the Central 
Perryville and Mystery-Rimstone karst areas are believed to comprise 
the entire known range of the grotto sculpin. We are not proposing to 
designate any areas outside of those mentioned above, because the 
species is believed to be a local endemic, and surveys in other nearby 
cave streams and springs have failed to find additional populations 
(Burr et al. 2001, pp. 283-284).
    Although the total area within the Central Perryville and Mystery 
Cave-Rimstone karst areas is estimated to encompass approximately 222 
km\2\ (89 mi\2\) (Service calculations from Vandike 1985, p. 1 and Burr 
et al. 2001, p. 282) and the above-ground recharge areas of the Moore 
Cave System, the Crevice Cave System, Mystery Cave, Rimstone River 
Cave, Running Bull Cave, and Thunderhole Resurgence have been estimated 
to be 93.95 km\2\ (36.28 mi\2\) (Moss and Pobst 2010, pp. 183-186), and 
are important to maintain the condition of sculpin habitat, non-aquatic 
areas within such areas do not themselves contain the physical and 
biological features essential to the conservation of the species.
    We have determined that all of the areas proposed as critical 
habitat are currently occupied and contain sufficient elements of 
physical and biological features to support life-history processes 
essential for the conservation of the species. Other than all caves 
streams, resurgences, springs, and surface streams associated with the 
recharge areas for the Moore Cave System, the Crevice Cave System, 
Mystery Cave, Rimstone River Cave, Running Bull Cave, Thunder Hole 
Resurgence, Mystery Cave Resurgence, Cinque Hommes Creek, and Blue 
Spring Branch, we are currently unaware of any other areas occupied by 
the grotto sculpin. Therefore, we are unable to determine which 
additional areas, if any, may be appropriate to include in the proposed 
critical habitat for this species. All of the areas proposed as 
critical habitat are within the known historical range of the species, 
and we are not proposing to designate any areas outside the 
geographical area currently occupied by the species. At this time, we 
believe that the occupied areas are sufficient 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 or biological features for the grotto sculpin. 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. 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 or biological features in the adjacent 
critical habitat.
    Units are proposed for designation based on sufficient elements of 
physical or biological features being present to support grotto sculpin 
life-history processes. All units contain all of the identified 
elements of physical or biological features and support multiple life-
history processes.
    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 on http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-ES-R3-2012-0065, on our Internet 
site http://www.fws.gov/midwest/Endangered, and at the field office 
responsible for the designation (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT 
above).

Proposed Critical Habitat Designation

    We are proposing four units, totaling approximately 94 km\2\ (36.28 
mi\2\) plus 31 kilometers (19.2 miles) of surface stream as critical 
habitat for the grotto sculpin. Critical habitat areas we describe 
below constitute our current best assessment of areas that meet the 
definition of critical habitat for the grotto sculpin. The first unit 
encompasses all aquatic habitat within the recharge areas of the Moore 
Cave System, the Crevice Cave System, Ball Mill Spring and Keyhole 
Spring totaling approximately 46 km\2\ (17.61 mi\2\). The second unit 
covers all aquatic habitat within the recharge areas of Mystery Cave, 
Rimstone River Cave, Running Bull Cave, and Thunderhole Resurgence, 
totaling approximately 48 km\2\ (18.67 mi\2\). The third unit envelops 
approximately 6.4 km (4.0 mi) of Blue Spring Branch from its emergence 
within the Moore Cave System to its confluence with Bois Brule Creek 
(Burr et al. 2001, pp. 280-281; Moss and Pobst 2010, p. 183). The 
fourth unit entails approximately 24 km (15.2 mi) of Cinque Hommes 
Creek from its emergence near Mystery Cave and Resurgence to its 
confluence with Bois Brule Creek (Burr et al. 2001, pp. 280-281; Moss 
and Pobst 2010, p. 185).

[[Page 59506]]

Although the exact extent of occupied aquatic habitat by grotto sculpin 
within the recharge areas is not known due to the inaccessibility of 
underground karst, we presume all aquatic habitats within the entire 94 
km\2\ (36.28 mi\2\) recharge could reasonably be occupied, and thus 
propose to designate the entire area as critical habitat. It should be 
implied that all references to the delineated boundaries of critical 
habitat for Units One and Two within cave and resurgence recharge zones 
apply only to those areas of aquatic habitat, because only these areas 
contain the physical and biological features essential to the 
conservation of the grotto sculpin.
    We present brief descriptions for the four units and reasons why 
they meet the definition of critical habitat below. For occupied 
aquatic habitats proposed as critical habitat, the approximate area of 
recharge areas of Tom and Berome Moore Caves, Crevice Cave, Mystery 
Cave, Rimstone River Cave, Running Bull Cave, and Thunderhole 
Resurgence, as well as upstream and downstream boundaries for Blue 
Spring Branch and Cinque Hommes Creek, are described generally below; 
more precise descriptions, as best can be determined, are provided in 
the Proposed Regulation Promulgation section at the end of this 
proposed rule. The approximate area and ownership of each proposed 
critical habitat unit is shown in Table 1.

                             Table 1--Occupancy and Ownership of the Proposed Critical Habitat Units for the Grotto Sculpin
                                       [Area estimates reflect all land within critical habitat unit boundaries.]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                             Private ownership        State, county, city
                                                                                        --------------------------         ownership
                    Unit                                Location              Occupied                            --------------------------    Total
                                                                                            sq. km      km  (mi)      sq. km
                                                                                           (sq. mi)                  (sq. mi)     km  (mi)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1..........................................  Central Perryville Karst Area          Yes      35 (14)            0       11 (4)            0      46 (18)
2..........................................  Mystery-Rimstone Karst Area..          Yes      48 (19)            0        1 (1)            0      48 (19)
3..........................................  Blue Spring Branch...........          Yes            0        6 (4)            0            0        6 (4)
4..........................................  Cinque Hommes Creek..........          Yes            0      24 (14)            0            0      24 (14)
                                                                                         ...........  ...........  ...........   karst area      94 (36)
    Total..................................  .............................  ...........      83 (32)      31 (19)       11 (4)       stream      31 (19)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Note: Area sizes may not sum due to rounding.

    All units are considered currently occupied and all units contain 
all or some components of all four physical and biological features, 
and are therefore essential to the conservation of the species. The 
grotto sculpin and its habitat may require special management 
considerations or protections to address activities that are sources of 
contamination; changes in the existing flow regime of caves streams, 
resurgences, springs, or surface streams occupied by grotto sculpin; 
alteration in the quantity of groundwater and alteration of spring 
discharge sites; alterations to septic systems that could adversely 
affect water quality; and other watershed and floodplain disturbances 
that release sediments or nutrients into the water. Land use in the 
four units is similar and is primarily agriculture (row cropping and 
livestock production), rural or residential development, and industrial 
mining and quarrying. The majority of all proposed units are privately 
owned, with the exception of two municipalities: Perryville in Unit 1, 
and Longtown in Unit 2.

Unit 1: Central Perryville Karst Area, Perry County, Missouri

    Unit 1 includes all aquatic habitats within the recharge area of 
the Moore Cave System, the Crevice Cave System, Ball Mill Spring, and 
Keyhole Spring. The entire area covers approximately 45.61 km\2\ (17.61 
mi\2\). The Moore Cave System Recharge Area encompasses approximately 
10.23 km\2\ (3.95 mi\2\) and drains north from the edge of Perryville 
and discharges at Blue Spring on Blue Spring Branch; it can overflow 
from an adjacent spring called Blue Spring Overflow or Blue Spring 
Resurgence (Moss and Pobst 2010, pp. 147, 183). The recharge area of 
Crevice Cave includes Mertz Cave and Resurgence, Zahner Cave, Doc White 
Spring, Hogpen Spring, Herberlie Resurgence, Circle Drive Resurgence, 
Rob Roy Sink, Rozier Sink, Edgemont Sink, Shoe Factory Sink, and Lurk 
Sink, and has been estimated to be approximately 30.33 km\2\ (11.71 
mi\2\) (Moss and Pobst 2010, pp. 151-152). Ball Mill Spring feeds 
portions of the Blue Spring Branch (a separate proposed critical 
habitat unit (Unit 3) outlined below) and the recharge area for this 
water source is approximately 1.71 km\2\ (0.66 mi\2\) (Moss and Pobst 
2010, p. 153). Keyhole Spring includes Keyhole Resurgence, and the 
total recharge area has been estimated to be 3.34 km\2\ (1.29 mi\2\) 
(Moss and Pobst 2010, p. 152). The recharge area for Crevice Cave 
contains the city of Perryville. In addition to the threats that may 
require special management considerations or protections outlined above 
for all units, this unit is negatively affected by urban growth and 
development that might impact water quality, such as hazardous waste 
facilities, underground storage tanks, wastewater discharges, and 
poorly maintained septic systems in and around the city (Pobst and 
Taylor 2008, p. 69; Moss and Pobst 2010, p. 164).

Unit 2: Mystery-Rimstone Karst Area, Perry County, Missouri

    Unit 2 includes all aquatic habitats within the recharge zone of 
Mystery Cave, Rimstone River Cave, Running Bull Cave, and Thunderhole 
Resurgence, and incorporates an area of approximately 48.34 km\2\ 
(18.67 mi\2\). Mystery Cave includes Mystery Resurgence, Mystery 
Overflow Spring, Maple Leaf Cave, and Miller Spring, and the total area 
of its recharge area is approximately 18.26 km\2\ (7.05 mi\2\) (Moss 
and Pobst 2010, p. 154). The recharge area of Rimstone River Cave 
covers 24.53 km\2\ (9.47 mi\2\), and the main features within it 
include Lost Creek Cave, Weinrich Onyx Cave, Onyx Annex Cave, Twin 
Cave, and Snow Caverns (Moss and Pobst 2010, p. 158). The recharge area 
for Running Bull Cave extends from Maple Leaf Cave to Thunderhole 
Resurgence and encompasses 2.74 km\2\ (1.06 mi\2\) (Moss and Pobst 
2010, p. 159). Thunderhole Resurgence receives water from multiple 
sources and, during high water events, some of the caves mentioned 
previously can contribute water to this resurgence (Moss and Pobst 
2010, pp. 154, 159-160). Under high flow conditions, the Mystery Cave 
groundwater system overflows to Thunderhole Resurgence (Moss and Pobst 
2010, p. 160). The total base flow recharge area of Thunderhole 
Resurgence is approximately 5.57 km\2\ (2.15 mi\2\).

[[Page 59507]]

Unit 3: Blue Spring Branch, Perry County, Missouri

    Unit 3 includes approximately 6.4 km (4.0 mi) of the surface 
portions of Blue Spring Branch from points downstream of the Moore Cave 
System to its confluence with Bois Brule Creek (Burr et al. 2002, pp. 
280-281; Moss and Pobst 2010, pp. 147, 183). Blue Spring Branch is the 
principal resurgence stream for caves identified above within the Moore 
Cave System (Burr et al. 2001, p. 284).

Unit 4: Cinque Hommes Creek, Perry County, Missouri

    Unit 4 includes approximately 24.4 km (15.2 mi) of Cinque Hommes 
Creek that generally flows in a northeast direction from near 
Interstate 55 south-southeast of Perryville to its confluence with Bois 
Brule Creek (Adams 2005, p. 90; Burr et al. 2001, p. 281).

Effects of Critical Habitat Designation

Section 7 Consultation

    Section 7(a)(2) of the Act requires Federal agencies, including the 
Service, to ensure that any action they fund, authorize, or carry out 
is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered 
species or threatened species or result in the destruction or adverse 
modification of designated critical habitat of such species. In 
addition, section 7(a)(4) of the Act requires Federal agencies to 
confer with the Service on any agency action which is likely to 
jeopardize the continued existence of any species proposed to be listed 
under the Act or result in the destruction or adverse modification of 
proposed critical habitat.
    Decisions by the 5th and 9th Circuit Courts of Appeals have 
invalidated our regulatory definition of ``destruction or adverse 
modification'' (50 CFR 402.02) (see Gifford Pinchot Task Force v. U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, 378 F. 3d 1059 (9th Cir. 2004) and Sierra 
Club v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service et al., 245 F.3d 434, 442 (5th 
Cir. 2001)), and we do not rely on this regulatory definition when 
analyzing whether an action is likely to destroy or adversely modify 
critical habitat. Under the statutory provisions of the Act, we 
determine destruction or adverse modification on the basis of whether, 
with implementation of the proposed Federal action, the affected 
critical habitat would continue to serve its intended conservation role 
for the species.
    If a Federal action may affect a listed species or its critical 
habitat, the responsible Federal agency (action agency) must enter into 
consultation with us. Examples of actions that are subject to the 
section 7 consultation process are actions on State, tribal, local, or 
private lands that require a Federal permit (such as a permit from the 
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers under section 404 of the Clean Water Act 
(33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.) or a permit from the Service under section 10 
of the Act) or that involve some other Federal action (such as funding 
from the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Aviation 
Administration, or the Federal Emergency Management Agency). Federal 
actions not affecting listed species or critical habitat, and actions 
on State, tribal, local, or private lands that are not federally funded 
or authorized, do not require section 7 consultation.
    As a result of section 7 consultation, we document compliance with 
the requirements of section 7(a)(2) through our issuance of:
    (1) A concurrence letter for Federal actions that may affect, but 
are not likely to adversely affect, listed species or critical habitat; 
or
    (2) A biological opinion for Federal actions that may affect, and 
are likely to adversely affect, listed species or critical habitat.
    When we issue a biological opinion concluding that a project is 
likely to jeopardize the continued existence of a listed species and/or 
destroy or adversely modify critical habitat, we provide reasonable and 
prudent alternatives to the project, if any are identifiable, that 
would avoid the likelihood of jeopardy and/or destruction or adverse 
modification of critical habitat. We define ``reasonable and prudent 
alternatives'' (at 50 CFR 402.02) as alternative actions identified 
during consultation that:
    (1) Can be implemented in a manner consistent with the intended 
purpose of the action,
    (2) Can be implemented consistent with the scope of the Federal 
agency's legal authority and jurisdiction,
    (3) Are economically and technologically feasible, and
    (4) Would, in the Director's opinion, avoid the likelihood of 
jeopardizing the continued existence of the listed species and/or avoid 
the likelihood of destroying or adversely modifying critical habitat.
    Reasonable and prudent alternatives can vary from slight project 
modifications to extensive redesign or relocation of the project. Costs 
associated with implementing a reasonable and prudent alternative are 
similarly variable.
    Regulations at 50 CFR 402.16 require Federal agencies to reinitiate 
consultation on previously reviewed actions in instances where we have 
listed a new species or subsequently designated critical habitat that 
may be affected and the Federal agency has retained discretionary 
involvement or control over the action (or the agency's discretionary 
involvement or control is authorized by law). Consequently, Federal 
agencies sometimes may need to request reinitiation of consultation 
with us on actions for which formal consultation has been completed, if 
those actions with discretionary involvement or control may affect 
subsequently listed species or designated critical habitat.

Application of the ``Adverse Modification'' Standard

    The key factor related to the adverse modification determination is 
whether, with implementation of the proposed Federal action, the 
affected critical habitat would continue to serve its intended 
conservation role for the species. Activities that may destroy or 
adversely modify critical habitat are those that alter the physical or 
biological features to an extent that appreciably reduces the 
conservation value of critical habitat for the grotto sculpin. As 
discussed above, the role of critical habitat is to support life-
history needs of the species and provide for the conservation of the 
species.
    Section 4(b)(8) of the Act requires us to briefly evaluate and 
describe, in any proposed or final regulation that designates critical 
habitat, activities involving a Federal action that may destroy or 
adversely modify such habitat, or that may be affected by such 
designation.
    Activities that may affect critical habitat, when carried out, 
funded, or authorized by a Federal agency, should result in 
consultation for the grotto sculpin. These activities include, but are 
not limited to:
    (1) Actions that would cause an increase in sedimentation to areas 
of all cave streams, resurgences, springs, or surface streams occupied 
by the grotto sculpin. Such activities could include, but are not 
limited to, surface soil disturbance associated with construction; 
agriculture and forestry practices; mining operations; maintenance of 
secondary or non-paved roads within the recharge areas of occupied 
caves; or actions that result in run off into occupied surface streams. 
These activities could eliminate or reduce habitats necessary for the 
growth and reproduction of the species by causing excessive 
sedimentation resulting in a decrease in dissolved oxygen levels, 
serving as a method of transport of hazardous chemicals that bind to 
soil particles, smothering egg

[[Page 59508]]

masses, or eliminating interstitial spaces needed by grotto sculpin.
    (2) Actions that would significantly alter the existing flow regime 
of cave streams, resurgences, springs, or surface streams occupied by 
the grotto sculpin including all aquatic habitats within cave or 
resurgence recharge areas. Such activities could include, but are not 
limited to, high water demands needed for agricultural, residential, 
commercial, and industrial development.
    (3) Actions that would significantly alter water chemistry or water 
quality (for example, changes to temperature or pH, introduction of 
contaminants, or excess nutrients) in cave streams, resurgences, 
springs, or surface streams occupied by the grotto sculpin, including 
all aquatic habitats within cave or resurgence recharge areas. Such 
activities could include, but are not limited to, the release of 
chemicals or biological pollutants; pesticides or herbicides used for 
agriculture; hormones or antibiotics associated with animal husbandry 
operations; sand mining operations associated with hydraulic 
fracturing; disposal of dead animals and trash in sinkholes; and 
bacteria and nutrients from human sewage and animal manure. These 
activities could alter water conditions that are beyond the tolerances 
of the species and result in direct or cumulative adverse effects on 
the species and its life cycle. These activities could eliminate or 
reduce habitats necessary for the growth and reproduction of the 
species by causing eutrophication, leading to excessive filamentous 
algal growth. Excessive filamentous algal growth can cause extreme 
decreases in nighttime dissolved oxygen levels through vegetation 
respiration, and cover the bottom substrates and the interstitial 
spaces needed by sculpin. Introduction of harmful chemicals into 
aquatic habitats occupied by the grotto sculpin could result in adverse 
impacts to reproduction (e.g., cholinesterase inhibition) or mortality 
of the species or its food base.
    (4) Actions that could accidentally introduce nonnative species 
into occupied cave streams via tile or vertical drains. These 
activities could introduce potential predators, outcompeting fish (for 
example, catfish), or aquatic parasites and disease.
    (5) Actions that could significantly alter the prey base of grotto 
sculpin. Despite the fact that an excess of naturally occurring organic 
material in aquatic habitats occupied by the grotto sculpin can be 
deleterious, some level of energy input is important for maintaining 
the prey base of grotto sculpin. A balance must be maintained that 
allows for some level of organic input that provides a food source for 
grotto sculpin prey, but not at such levels that impede reproduction 
and growth of grotto sculpin or at levels that introduce harmful 
chemicals and nutrients into occupied aquatic habitats.
    (6) Activities with a Federal nexus that may affect areas outside 
of critical habitat, such as development; road construction and 
maintenance; oil, gas, and utility easements; industrial sand mining 
associated with the removal of mineral deposits used in hydraulic 
fracturing (or fracking); forest and pasture management; herbicide and 
pesticide use or the migration and movement of sediment associated with 
crop production; and effluent discharges. These actions would be 
subject to review under section 7 of the Act if they may affect grotto 
sculpin, because Federal agencies must consider both effects to the 
species and effects to critical habitat independently. The Service 
should be consulted regarding disturbances to areas both within the 
proposed critical habitat units as well as areas within the recharge 
area of cave streams occupied by the sculpin, including resurgences, 
springs, and surface streams that contribute to in-stream flows, 
especially during times when water levels in occupied habitats are 
abnormally low (during droughts), because these activities may impact 
the essential features of proposed critical habitat. The prohibitions 
of section 9 of the Act against the take of listed species also 
continue to apply both inside and outside of designated critical 
habitat.

Exemptions

Application of Section 4(a)(3) of the Act

    The Sikes Act Improvement Act of 1997 (Sikes Act) (16 U.S.C. 670a) 
required each military installation that includes land and water 
suitable for the conservation and management of natural resources to 
complete an integrated natural resources management plan (INRMP) by 
November 17, 2001. An INRMP integrates implementation of the military 
mission of the installation with stewardship of the natural resources 
found on the base. Each INRMP includes:
    (1) An assessment of the ecological needs on the installation, 
including the need to provide for the conservation of listed species;
    (2) A statement of goals and priorities;
    (3) A detailed description of management actions to be implemented 
to provide for these ecological needs; and
    (4) A monitoring and adaptive management plan.
    Among other things, each INRMP must, to the extent appropriate and 
applicable, provide for fish and wildlife management; fish and wildlife 
habitat enhancement or modification; wetland protection, enhancement, 
and restoration where necessary to support fish and wildlife; and 
enforcement of applicable natural resource laws.
    The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004 (Pub. 
L. 108-136) amended the Act to limit areas eligible for designation as 
critical habitat. Specifically, section 4(a)(3)(B)(i) of the Act (16 
U.S.C. 1533(a)(3)(B)(i)) now provides: ``The Secretary shall not 
designate as critical habitat any lands or other geographic areas owned 
or controlled by the Department of Defense, or designated for its use, 
that are subject to an integrated natural resources management plan 
prepared under section 101 of the Sikes Act (16 U.S.C. 670a), if the 
Secretary determines in writing that such plan provides a benefit to 
the species for which critical habitat is proposed for designation.''
    There are no Department of Defense lands with a completed INRMP 
within the proposed critical habitat designation for the grotto 
sculpin.

Exclusions

Application of Section 4(b)(2) of the Act

    Section 4(b)(2) of the Act states that the Secretary shall 
designate or 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 
impacts 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 and commercial data available, that the failure 
to designate such area as critical habitat will result in the 
extinction of the species. In making that determination, the 
legislative history is clear that the Secretary has broad discretion 
regarding which factor(s) to use and how much weight to give to any 
factor.
    Under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we may exclude an area from 
designated critical habitat based on economic impacts, impacts on 
national security, or any other relevant impacts. In considering 
whether to exclude a particular area from the designation, we identify 
the benefits of including the area in the designation, identify the

[[Page 59509]]

benefits of excluding the area from the designation, and evaluate 
whether the benefits of exclusion outweigh the benefits of inclusion. 
If the analysis indicates that the benefits of exclusion outweigh the 
benefits of inclusion, the Secretary may exercise his discretion to 
exclude the area only if such exclusion would not result in the 
extinction of the species.
Exclusions Based on Economic Impacts
    Under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we consider the economic impacts 
of specifying any particular area as critical habitat. In order to 
consider economic impacts, we are preparing an analysis of the economic 
impacts of the proposed critical habitat designation and related 
factors.
    We will announce the availability of our draft economic analysis as 
soon as it is completed. During the development of a final designation, 
we will consider economic impacts, public comments, and other new 
information, and areas may be excluded from the final critical habitat 
designation under section 4(b)(2) of the Act and our implementing 
regulations at 50 CFR 424.19.
Exclusions Based on National Security Impacts
    Under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we consider whether there are 
lands owned or managed by the Department of Defense where a national 
security impact might exist. In preparing this proposal, we have 
determined that the lands within the proposed designation of critical 
habitat for the grotto sculpin are not owned or managed by the 
Department of Defense, and, therefore, we anticipate no impact on 
national security. Consequently, the Secretary does not propose to 
exert his discretion to exclude any areas from the final designation 
based on impacts on national security.
Exclusions Based on Other Relevant Impacts
    Under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we consider any other relevant 
impacts, in addition to economic impacts and impacts on national 
security. We consider a number of factors, including whether the 
landowners have developed any HCPs or other management plans for the 
area, or whether there are conservation partnerships that would be 
encouraged by designation of, or exclusion from, critical habitat. In 
addition, we look at any tribal issues, and consider the government-to-
government relationship of the United States with tribal entities. We 
also consider any social impacts that might occur because of the 
designation.
    In preparing this proposal, we have determined that there are 
currently no HCPs or other management plans for the grotto sculpin, and 
the proposed designation does not include any tribal lands or trust 
resources. We anticipate no impact on tribal lands, partnerships, or 
HCPs from this proposed critical habitat designation. Accordingly, the 
Secretary does not propose to exert his discretion to exclude any areas 
from the final designation based on other relevant impacts.

Peer Review

    In accordance with our joint policy on peer review published in the 
Federal Register on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 34270), we will seek the expert 
opinions of at least three appropriate and independent specialists 
regarding this proposed rule. The purpose of peer review is to ensure 
that our proposed listing and proposed critical habitat designation are 
based on scientifically sound data, assumptions, and analyses. We have 
invited these peer reviewers to comment during this public comment 
period on our proposed listing and designation of critical habitat.
    We will consider all comments and information we receive during 
this comment period on this proposed rule during our preparation of a 
final determination. Accordingly, the final decision may differ from 
this proposal.

Public Hearings

    Section 4(b)(5) of the Act provides for one or more public hearings 
on this proposal, if requested. Requests must be received within 45 
days after the date of publication of this proposed rule in the Federal 
Register. Such requests must be sent to the address shown in the 
ADDRESSES section. We will schedule public hearings on this proposal, 
if any are requested, and announce the dates, times, and places of 
those hearings, as well as how to obtain reasonable accommodations, in 
the Federal Register and local newspapers at least 15 days before the 
hearing.
    Persons needing reasonable accommodations to attend and participate 
in a public hearing or meeting should contact the Columbia Missouri 
Ecological Services Field Office at 573-234-2132 as soon as possible. 
To allow sufficient time to process requests, please call no later than 
one week before the hearing or meeting date. Information regarding this 
proposed rule is available in alternative formats upon request.

Required Determinations

Regulatory Planning and Review (Executive Orders 12866 and 13563)

    Executive Order 12866 provides that the Office of Information and 
Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) will review all significant rules. The Office 
of Information and Regulatory Affairs has determined that this rule is 
not significant.
    Executive Order 13563 reaffirms the principles of E.O. 12866 while 
calling for improvements in the nation's regulatory system to promote 
predictability, to reduce uncertainty, and to use the best, most 
innovative, and least burdensome tools for achieving regulatory ends. 
The executive order directs agencies to consider regulatory approaches 
that reduce burdens and maintain flexibility and freedom of choice for 
the public where these approaches are relevant, feasible, and 
consistent with regulatory objectives. E.O. 13563 emphasizes further 
that regulations must be based on the best available science and that 
the rulemaking process must allow for public participation and an open 
exchange of ideas. We have developed this rule in a manner consistent 
with these requirements.

Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.)

    Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA; 5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) as 
amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act 
(SBREFA) of 1996 (5 U.S.C. 801 et seq.), whenever an agency must 
publish a notice of rulemaking for any proposed or final rule, it must 
prepare and make available for public comment a regulatory flexibility 
analysis that describes the effects of the rule on small entities 
(small businesses, small organizations, and small government 
jurisdictions). However, no regulatory flexibility analysis is required 
if the head of the agency certifies the rule will not have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. 
The SBREFA amended the RFA to require Federal agencies to provide a 
certification statement of the factual basis for certifying that the 
rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial 
number of small entities.
    According to the Small Business Administration, small entities 
include small organizations such as independent nonprofit 
organizations; small governmental jurisdictions, including school 
boards and city and town governments that serve fewer than 50,000 
residents; and small businesses (13 CFR 121.201). Small businesses 
include such businesses as

[[Page 59510]]

manufacturing and mining concerns with fewer than 500 employees, 
wholesale trade entities with fewer than 100 employees, retail and 
service businesses with less than $5 million in annual sales, general 
and heavy construction businesses with less than $27.5 million in 
annual business, special trade contractors doing less than $11.5 
million in annual business, and forestry and logging operations with 
fewer than 500 employees and annual business less than $7 million. To 
determine whether small entities may be affected, we will consider the 
types of activities that might trigger regulatory impacts under this 
designation as well as types of project modifications that may result. 
In general, the term ``significant economic impact'' is meant to apply 
to a typical small business firm's business operations.
    Importantly, the incremental impacts of a rule must be both 
significant and substantial to prevent certification of the rule under 
the RFA and to require the preparation of an initial regulatory 
flexibility analysis. If a substantial number of small entities are 
affected by the proposed critical habitat designation, but the per-
entity economic impact is not significant, the Service may certify. 
Likewise, if the per-entity economic impact is likely to be 
significant, but the number of affected entities is not substantial, 
the Service may also certify.
    Under the RFA, as amended, and following recent court decisions, 
Federal agencies are only required to evaluate the potential 
incremental impacts of rulemaking on those entities directly regulated 
by the rulemaking itself, and not the potential impacts to indirectly 
affected entities. The regulatory mechanism through which critical 
habitat protections are realized is section 7 of the Act, which 
requires Federal agencies, in consultation with the Service, to ensure 
that any action authorized, funded, or carried by the Agency is not 
likely to adversely modify critical habitat. Therefore, only Federal 
action agencies are directly subject to the specific regulatory 
requirement (avoiding destruction and adverse modification) imposed by 
critical habitat designation. Under these circumstances, it is our 
position that only Federal action agencies will be directly regulated 
by this designation. Therefore, because Federal agencies are not small 
entities, the Service may certify that the proposed critical habitat 
rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial 
number of small entities.
    We acknowledge, however, that in some cases, third-party proponents 
of the action subject to permitting or funding may participate in a 
section 7 consultation, and thus may be indirectly affected. We believe 
it is good policy to assess these impacts if we have sufficient data 
before us to complete the necessary analysis, whether or not this 
analysis is strictly required by the RFA. While this regulation does 
not directly regulate these entities, in our draft economic analysis we 
will conduct a brief evaluation of the potential number of third 
parties participating in consultations on an annual basis in order to 
ensure a more complete examination of the incremental effects of this 
proposed rule in the context of the RFA.
    In conclusion, we believe that, based on our interpretation of 
directly regulated entities under the RFA and relevant case law, this 
designation of critical habitat will only directly regulate Federal 
agencies, which are not by definition small business entities. As such, 
we certify that, if promulgated, this designation of critical habitat 
would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of 
small business entities. Therefore, an initial regulatory flexibility 
analysis is not required. However, though not necessarily required by 
the RFA, in our draft economic analysis for this proposal we will 
consider and evaluate the potential effects to third parties that may 
be involved with consultations with Federal action agencies related to 
this action.

Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use--Executive Order 13211

    Executive Order 13211 (Actions Concerning Regulations That 
Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use) requires 
agencies to prepare Statements of Energy Effects when undertaking 
certain actions. We do not expect the designation of this proposed 
critical habitat to significantly affect energy supplies, distribution, 
or use. Industrial sand mining and development activities occur or 
could potentially occur in all of the proposed critical habitat units 
for the grotto sculpin. However, compliance with State regulatory 
requirements or voluntary BMPs would be expected to minimize impacts of 
industrial sand mining and development in the areas of proposed 
critical habitat for this species. The measures for industrial sand 
mining and development are likely not considered a substantial cost 
compared with overall project costs and are predictably being 
implemented by mining companies. No other activities associated with 
energy supply, distribution, or use are anticipated within the proposed 
critical habitat. We do not expect the designation of this proposed 
critical habitat to significantly affect energy supplies, distribution, 
or use. Therefore, this action is not a significant energy action, and 
no Statement of Energy Effects is required. However, we will further 
evaluate this issue as we conduct our economic analysis, and review and 
revise this assessment as warranted.

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (2 U.S.C. 1501 et seq.)

    In accordance with the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (2 U.S.C. 1501 
et seq.), we make the following findings:
    (1) This rule would not produce a Federal mandate. In general, a 
Federal mandate is a provision in legislation, statute, or regulation 
that would impose an enforceable duty upon State, local, or tribal 
governments, or the private sector, and includes both ``Federal 
intergovernmental mandates'' and ``Federal private sector mandates.'' 
These terms are defined in 2 U.S.C. 658(5)-(7). ``Federal 
intergovernmental mandate'' includes a regulation that ``would impose 
an enforceable duty upon State, local, or tribal governments'' with two 
exceptions. It excludes ``a condition of Federal assistance.'' It also 
excludes ``a duty arising from participation in a voluntary Federal 
program,'' unless the regulation ``relates to a then-existing Federal 
program under which $500,000,000 or more is provided annually to State, 
local, and tribal governments under entitlement authority,'' if the 
provision would ``increase the stringency of conditions of assistance'' 
or ``place caps upon, or otherwise decrease, the Federal Government's 
responsibility to provide funding,'' and the State, local, or tribal 
governments ``lack authority'' to adjust accordingly. At the time of 
enactment, these entitlement programs were: Medicaid; Aid to Families 
with Dependent Children work programs; Child Nutrition; Food Stamps; 
Social Services Block Grants; Vocational Rehabilitation State Grants; 
Foster Care, Adoption Assistance, and Independent Living; Family 
Support Welfare Services; and Child Support Enforcement. ``Federal 
private sector mandate'' includes a regulation that ``would impose an 
enforceable duty upon the private sector, except (i) a condition of 
Federal assistance or (ii) a duty arising from participation in a 
voluntary Federal program.''
    The designation of critical habitat does not impose a legally 
binding duty on non-Federal Government entities or private parties. 
Under the Act, the only regulatory effect is that Federal agencies

[[Page 59511]]

must ensure that their actions do not destroy or adversely modify 
critical habitat under section 7. While non-Federal entities that 
receive Federal funding, assistance, or permits, or that otherwise 
require approval or authorization from a Federal agency for an action, 
may be indirectly impacted by the designation of critical habitat, the 
legally binding duty to avoid destruction or adverse modification of 
critical habitat rests squarely on the Federal agency. Furthermore, to 
the extent that non-Federal entities are indirectly impacted because 
they receive Federal assistance or participate in a voluntary Federal 
aid program, the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act would not apply and 
neither would critical habitat shift the costs of the large entitlement 
programs listed above onto State governments.
    (2) We do not believe that this rule would significantly or 
uniquely affect small governments because it will not produce a Federal 
mandate of $100 million or greater in any year, that is, it is not a 
``significant regulatory action'' under the Unfunded Mandates Reform 
Act. The designation of critical habitat imposes no obligations on 
State or local governments and, as such, a Small Government Agency Plan 
is not required. However, we will further evaluate this issue as we 
conduct our economic analysis, and review and revise this assessment if 
appropriate.

Takings--Executive Order 12630

    In accordance with Executive Order 12630 (Government Actions and 
Interference with Constitutionally Protected Private Property Rights), 
we have analyzed the potential takings implications of designating 
critical habitat for the grotto sculpin in a takings implications 
assessment. Critical habitat designation does not affect landowner 
actions that do not require Federal funding or permits, nor does it 
preclude development of habitat conservation programs or issuance of 
incidental take permits to permit actions that do require Federal 
funding or permits to go forward. The takings implications assessment 
concludes that this proposed designation of critical habitat for the 
grotto sculpin would not pose significant takings implications for 
lands within or affected by the proposed designation.

Federalism--Executive Order 13132

    In accordance with Executive Order 13132 (Federalism), this 
proposed rule does not have significant Federalism effects. A 
federalism summary impact statement is not required. In keeping with 
Department of the Interior and Department of Commerce policy, we 
requested information from, and coordinated development of, this 
proposed critical habitat designation with appropriate State resource 
agencies in Missouri. The designation of critical habitat in areas 
currently occupied by the grotto sculpin may impose nominal additional 
regulatory restrictions, and therefore may have some incremental 
impacts on State and local governments and their activities. The 
designation may have some benefit to these governments because the 
areas that contain the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of the species are more clearly defined, and the elements 
of the features of the habitat necessary to the conservation of the 
species are specifically identified. This information does not alter 
where and what federally sponsored activities may occur. However, it 
may assist local governments in long-range planning (rather than having 
them wait for case-by-case section 7 consultations to occur).
    Where State and local governments require approval or authorization 
from a Federal agency for actions that may affect critical habitat, 
consultation under section 7(a)(2) would be required. While non-Federal 
entities that receive Federal funding, assistance, or permits, or that 
otherwise require approval or authorization from a Federal agency for 
an action, may be indirectly impacted by the designation of critical 
habitat, the legally binding duty to avoid destruction or adverse 
modification of critical habitat rests squarely on the Federal agency.

Civil Justice Reform--Executive Order 12988

    In accordance with Executive Order 12988 (Civil Justice Reform), 
the Office of the Solicitor has determined that the rule does not 
unduly burden the judicial system and that it meets the requirements of 
sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of the Order. We have proposed designating 
critical habitat in accordance with the provisions of the Act. This 
proposed rule uses standard property descriptions and identifies the 
elements of physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of the grotto sculpin within the designated areas to 
assist the public in understanding the habitat needs of the species.

Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.)

    This rule does not contain any new collections of information that 
require approval by OMB under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 
U.S.C. 3501 et seq.). This rule will not impose recordkeeping or 
reporting requirements on State or local governments, individuals, 
businesses, or organizations. An agency may not conduct or sponsor, and 
a person is not required to respond to, a collection of information 
unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number.

National Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.)

    We have determined that environmental assessments and environmental 
impact statements, as defined under the authority of the National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), need not be 
prepared in connection with listing a species as endangered or 
threatened under the Endangered Species Act. We published a notice 
outlining our reasons for this determination in the Federal Register on 
October 25, 1983 (48 FR 49244).
    It is our position that, outside the jurisdiction of the U.S. Court 
of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, we do not need to prepare 
environmental analyses pursuant to NEPA in connection with designating 
critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act. We published a 
notice outlining our reasons for this determination in the Federal 
Register on October 25, 1983 (48 FR 49244). This position was upheld by 
the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Douglas County v. 
Babbitt, 48 F.3d 1495 (9th Cir. 1995), cert. denied 516 U.S. 1042 
(1996)).

Clarity of the Rule

    We are required by Executive Orders 12866 and 12988 and by the 
Presidential Memorandum of June 1, 1998, to write all rules in plain 
language. This means that each rule we publish must:
    (1) Be logically organized;
    (2) Use the active voice to address readers directly;
    (3) Use clear language rather than jargon;
    (4) Be divided into short sections and sentences; and
    (5) Use lists and tables wherever possible.
    If you feel that we have not met these requirements, send us 
comments by one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. To 
better help us revise the rule, your comments should be as specific as 
possible. For example, you should tell us the numbers of the sections 
or paragraphs that are unclearly written, which sections or sentences 
are too long, the sections where you feel lists or tables would be 
useful, etc.

[[Page 59512]]

Government-to-Government Relationship With Tribes

    In accordance with the President's memorandum of April 29, 1994 
(Government-to-Government Relations with Native American Tribal 
Governments; 59 FR 22951), Executive Order 13175 (Consultation and 
Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments), and the Department of the 
Interior's manual at 512 DM 2, we readily acknowledge our 
responsibility to communicate meaningfully with recognized Federal 
Tribes on a government-to-government basis. In accordance with 
Secretarial Order 3206 of June 5, 1997 (American Indian Tribal Rights, 
Federal-Tribal Trust Responsibilities, and the Endangered Species Act), 
we readily acknowledge our responsibilities to work directly with 
tribes in developing programs for healthy ecosystems, to acknowledge 
that tribal lands are not subject to the same controls as Federal 
public lands, to remain sensitive to Indian culture, and to make 
information available to tribes.
    We determined that there are no tribal lands that are currently 
occupied by the grotto sculpin that contain the features essential for 
conservation of the species, and no tribal lands unoccupied by the 
grotto sculpin that are essential for the conservation of the species. 
Therefore, we are not proposing to designate critical habitat for the 
grotto sculpin on tribal lands.

References Cited

    A complete list of references cited in this rulemaking is available 
on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov and upon request from the 
Columbia, Missouri Ecological Services Field Office (see FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT).

Authors

    The primary authors of this package are the staff members of the 
Columbia Missouri Ecological Services Field Office.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

    Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements, Transportation.

Proposed Regulation Promulgation

    Accordingly, we propose to amend part 17, subchapter B of chapter 
I, title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations, as set forth below:

PART 17--[AMENDED]

    1. The authority citation for part 17 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  16 U.S.C. 1361-1407; 16 U.S.C. 1531-1544; 16 U.S.C. 
4201-4245; Pub. L. 99-625, 100 Stat. 3500; unless otherwise noted.

    2. Amend Sec.  17.11(h) by adding an entry for ``Sculpin, grotto'' 
in alphabetical order under FISHES to the List of Endangered and 
Threatened Wildlife to read as follows:


Sec.  17.11  Endangered and threatened wildlife.

* * * * *
    (h) * * *

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                        Species                                                     Vertebrate
--------------------------------------------------------                         population where                                 Critical     Special
                                                            Historic range         endangered or        Status     When listed    habitat       rules
           Common name                Scientific name                               threatened
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
              Fishes
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
Sculpin, grotto..................  Cottus sp. nov......  U.S.A. (MO).........  Entire..............  E             ...........     17.95(e)           NA
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     3. In Sec.  17.95, amend paragraph (e) by adding an entry for 
``Grotto Sculpin (Cottus sp. nov.),'' in the same alphabetical order 
that the species appears in the table at Sec.  17.11(h), to read as 
follows:


Sec.  17.95  Critical habitat--fish and wildlife.

* * * * *
    (e) Fishes.
* * * * *

Grotto Sculpin (Cottus sp. nov.)

    (1) Critical habitat units are depicted for Perry County, Missouri, 
on the maps below.
    (2) Within these areas, the primary constituent elements of the 
physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the 
grotto sculpin consist of:
    (i) Geomorphically stable stream bottoms and banks (stable 
horizontal dimension and vertical profile) with riffles, runs, pools, 
and transition zones between these stream features.
    (ii) Instream flow regime with an average daily discharge between 
0.07 and 150 cubic feet per second (cfs), inclusive of surface runoff, 
cave streams, resurgences, springs, and occupied surface streams and 
all interconnected karst areas with flowing water.
    (iii) Water temperature between 12.8 and 16.7 [deg]C (55 and 62 
[deg]F), dissolved oxygen 4.5 milligrams or greater per liter, and 
turbidity of an average monthly reading of no more than 200 
Nephelometric Turbidity Units for a duration not to exceed 4 hours.
    (iv) Adequate water quality characterized by low levels of 
contaminants. Adequate water quality is defined as the quality 
necessary for normal behavior, growth, and viability of all life stages 
of the grotto sculpin.
    (v) Bottom substrates consisting of a mixture of sand, gravel, 
pebble, cobble, solid bedrock, larger cobble, and rocks for cover, with 
low amounts of sediments.
    (vi) Energy input from naturally occurring organic sources that 
provide habitat for the prey base that is needed by different life 
stages of the grotto sculpin.
    (vii) Connected underground and surface aquatic habitats that 
provide for all life stages of the grotto sculpin, with sufficient 
water levels to facilitate movement of individuals among habitats.
    (3) Critical habitat does not include manmade structures (such as 
buildings, aqueducts, runways, roads, and other paved areas) and the 
land on which they are located existing within the legal boundaries on 
the effective date of this rule.

[[Page 59513]]

    (4) Critical habitat units index map. The map was developed from 
National Geographic USA Topographic maps ((copyright) National 
Geographic Society 2010). Upstream and downstream limits for critical 
habitat surface stream units were identified by degree, minute, second. 
Extent for critical habitat underlying recharge areas was defined by 
spatial data layers of recharge area delineations by Moss and Pobst 
(2010). The maps in this entry, as modified by any accompanying 
regulatory text, establish the boundaries of the critical habitat 
designation. The coordinates or plot points or both on which each map 
is based are available to the public at the Service's internet site 
http://www.fws.gov/midwest/Endangered, http://www.regulations.gov at 
Docket No. FWS-R3-ES-2012-0065, and at the field office responsible for 
this designation. You may obtain field office location information by 
contacting one of the Service regional offices, the addresses of which 
are listed at 50 CFR 2.2.
    (5) Index map of critical habitat units for the grotto sculpin 
follows:
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP27SE12.001


[[Page 59514]]


    (6) Unit 1: Central Perryville Karst Area, Perry County, Missouri.
    (i) Unit 1 includes all underground aquatic habitats in the 
recharge areas of the Moore and Crevice cave systems, Ball Mill Spring, 
and Keyhole Spring. The Unit extends as far north as, and parallels, 
Blue Spring Branch. The western boundary of Unit 1 roughly parallels 
the division between the St. Peter Sandstone and Joachim Dolomite 
formations. The southern extent is approximately Edgemont Boulevard in 
Perryville. The southeastern boundary parallels Cinque Hommes Creek and 
crosses State Highway E approximately 1.5 miles east of Perryville. The 
boundary runs northeast from State Highway E to cross Missouri Route 51 
near County Road 624 and continue northeast to Ball Mill Spring.
    (ii) Map of Units 1, 2, 3, and 4 follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP27SE12.002
    

[[Page 59515]]


    (7) Unit 2: Cave streams, resurgences, and springs within the 
Mystery-Rimstone Karst Area of Perry County, Missouri.
    (i) Unit 2 includes all underground aquatic habitats in the 
recharge areas of Mystery, Rimstone, and Running Bull caves, and 
Thunderhole Resurgence. The northern extend of the Unit County Road 316 
from Stump Cemetery to State Highway P and Mystery Resurgence on Cinque 
Hommes Creek. The northwestern boundary of Unit 2 parallels Cinque 
Hommes Creek between Mystery Resurgence and the intersection of Route P 
and U.S. Route 61. The western boundary of Unit 2 roughly parallels the 
division between the St. Peter Sandstone and Joachim Dolomite 
formations and turns southeast near the intersection of State Highway B 
and County Road 502. The Unit extends as far south as County Road 512 
and continues east from the intersection of County Road 512 and County 
Road 510 to U.S. Route 61 approximately 1.5 miles south of Longtown. 
The eastern boundary follows U.S. Route 61 north to Longtown and 
continues north to County Road 316 near Stump Cemetery.
    (ii) Map of Unit 2 is provided at paragraph (6)(ii) of this entry.
    (8) Unit 3: Blue Spring Branch, Perry County, Missouri.
    (i) Unit 3 includes the channel in Blue Spring Branch from the 
resurgence of Mystery Cave (089[deg]53'43.10'' W long., 
037[deg]48'12.45'' N lat.) to its confluence with Bois Brule Creek 
(089[deg]52'54.04 W long., 037[deg]50'40.25'' N lat.).
    (ii) Map of Unit 3 is provided at paragraph (6)(ii) of this entry.
    (9) Unit 4: Cinque Hommes Creek, Perry County, Missouri.
    (i) Unit 4 includes the channel in Cinque Hommes Creek from 
Interstate 55 (089[deg]52'50.77'' W long., 037[deg]41'48.54'' N lat.) 
to its confluence with Bois Brule Creek (089[deg]44'50.98'' W long., 
037[deg]47'19.22'' N lat.).
    (ii) Map of Unit 4 is provided at paragraph (6)(ii) of this entry.
* * * * *

    Dated: September 10, 2012.
Michael J. Bean,
Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and 
Parks.
[FR Doc. 2012-23742 Filed 9-26-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-C