Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Proposed Listing of the Mount Charleston Blue Butterfly as Endangered and Proposed Listing of Five Blue Butterflies as Threatened Due to Similarity of Appearance, 59517-59540 [2012-23747]

Download as PDF Vol. 77 Thursday, No. 188 September 27, 2012 Part IV Department of the Interior tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS3 Fish and Wildlife Service 50 CFR Part 17 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Proposed Listing of the Mount Charleston Blue Butterfly as Endangered and Proposed Listing of Five Blue Butterflies as Threatened Due to Similarity of Appearance; Proposed Rule VerDate Mar<15>2010 18:28 Sep 26, 2012 Jkt 226001 PO 00000 Frm 00001 Fmt 4717 Sfmt 4717 E:\FR\FM\27SEP3.SGM 27SEP3 59518 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 188 / Thursday, September 27, 2012 / Proposed Rules DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service 50 CFR Part 17 [FWS–R8–ES–2012–0069; 4500030114] RIN 1018–AY52 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Proposed Listing of the Mount Charleston Blue Butterfly as Endangered and Proposed Listing of Five Blue Butterflies as Threatened Due to Similarity of Appearance Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Proposed rule. AGENCY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, propose to list the Mount Charleston blue butterfly (Plebejus shasta charlestonensis) as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). We also propose to list the lupine blue butterfly (Plebejus lupini texanus), Reakirt’s blue butterfly (Echinargus isola), Spring Mountains icarioides blue butterfly (Plebejus icarioides austinorum), and the two Spring Mountains dark blue butterflies (Euphilotes ancilla cryptica and E. a. purpura) as threatened due to similarity of appearance to the Mount Charleston blue, with a special rule pursuant to section 4(d) of the Act. We solicit additional data, information, and comments that may assist us in making a final decision on this proposed action. In addition, we propose to make nonsubstantive, administrative changes to a previously published listing and special rule regarding five other butterflies to correct some inadvertent errors and to make these two special rules more consistent. DATES: 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 ADDRESSES section by November 13, 2012. ADDRESSES: 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–R8–ES–2012– 0069, which is the docket number for this rulemaking. You may submit a comment by clicking on ‘‘Comment Now!’’ tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS3 SUMMARY: VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:03 Sep 26, 2012 Jkt 226001 (2) By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–R8–ES–2012– 0069, 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 Public Comments section below for more information). FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Edward D. Koch, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office, 1340 Financial Blvd., Suite 234, Reno, Nevada 89502, by telephone 775–861–6300 or by facsimile 775–861–6301. Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800–877–8339. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Executive Summary This document consists of: (1) A proposed rule to list the Mount (Mt.) Charleston blue butterfly (Plebejus shasta charlestonensis) (formerly in genus Icaricia) as an endangered species and a proposed rule to list the lupine blue butterfly (Plebejus lupini texanus), Reakirt’s blue butterfly (Echinargus isola), Spring Mountains icarioides blue butterfly (Plebejus icarioides austinorum), and the two Spring Mountains dark blue butterflies (Euphilotes ancilla cryptica and E. a. purpura) as threatened due to similarity of appearance to the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly; (2) a prudency determination regarding critical habitat designation for the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly; and (3) nonsubstantive, administrative corrections to a previously published listing of the Miami blue butterfly (Cyclargus thomasi bethunebakeri) and special rule regarding the cassius blue butterfly (Leptotes cassius theonus), ceraunus blue butterfly (Hemiargus ceraunus antibubastus), and nickerbean blue butterfly (Cyclargus ammon). Why we need to publish a rule. Under the Endangered Species Act (Act), a species may warrant protection through listing if it is an endangered or threatened species throughout all or a significant portion of its range. If a species is determined to be an endangered or threatened species throughout all or a significant portion of its range, we are required to promptly publish a proposal in the Federal Register and make a determination on PO 00000 Frm 00002 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 our proposal within one year. Critical habitat shall be designated, to the maximum extent prudent and determinable, for any species determined to be an endangered or threatened species under the Act. Listing a species as an endangered or threatened species and designations and revisions of critical habitat can only be completed by issuing a rule. This rule proposes endangered status for the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly and proposes threatened status for the lupine blue butterfly, Reakirt’s blue butterfly, Spring Mountains icarioides blue butterfly, and two Spring Mountains dark blue butterflies based on similarity of appearance to the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly. This rule also finds that designation of critical habitat for the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly is not prudent at this time. 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 that the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly is threatened by: • Habitat loss and degradation due to fire suppression and succession, implementation of recreation development projects and fuels reduction projects, and nonnative plant species (Factor A); • Collection (Factor B); • Inadequate regulatory mechanisms (Factor D); and • Drought and extreme precipitation events, which are predicted to increase as a result of climate change (Factor E). We have additionally determined that five species of blue butterflies warrant listing based on similarity of appearance to the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly: • Lupine blue butterfly; • Reakirt’s blue butterfly; • Spring Mountains icarioides blue butterfly; and • Two Spring Mountains dark blue butterflies. Further, we have determined that it is not prudent to designate critical habitat for the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly because the benefits are clearly outweighed by the expected increase in threats associated with a critical habitat designation: • Publication of maps and descriptions of specific critical habitat E:\FR\FM\27SEP3.SGM 27SEP3 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 188 / Thursday, September 27, 2012 / Proposed Rules tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS3 areas will pinpoint populations more precisely than does the rule; • Publishing the exact locations of the butterfly’s habitat will further facilitate unauthorized collection and trade. Its rarity makes the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly extremely attractive to collectors; and • Purposeful or inadvertent activities have already damaged some habitat. Many locations are difficult for law enforcement personnel to regularly access and patrol. We will seek peer review. We are seeking comments from knowledgeable individuals with scientific expertise to review our analysis of the best available science and application of that science and to provide any additional scientific information to improve this proposed rule. Because we will consider all comments and information received during the comment period, our final determinations may differ from this proposal. This document consists of: (1) A proposed rule to list the Mount (Mt.) Charleston blue butterfly (Plebejus shasta charlestonensis) (formerly in genus Icaricia) as an endangered species and a proposed rule to list the lupine blue butterfly (Plebejus lupini texanus), Reakirt’s blue butterfly (Echinargus isola), Spring Mountains icarioides blue butterfly (Plebejus icarioides austinorum), and the two Spring Mountains dark blue butterflies (Euphilotes ancilla cryptica and E. a. purpura) as threatened due to similarity of appearance to the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly; and (2) a prudency determination regarding critical habitat designation for the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly. 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 the public, 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 VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:03 Sep 26, 2012 Jkt 226001 (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 and noncommercial trade or collection, or other relevant data concerning any threats (or lack thereof) to this species and 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) Any information on the biological or ecological requirements of the species, and ongoing conservation measures for the species and its habitat. (6) 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. (7) Specific information on: (a) The amount and distribution of Mt. Charleston blue butterfly 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; and (f) What areas not occupied at the time of listing are essential for the conservation of the species and why. (8) Land use designations and current or planned activities in the areas PO 00000 Frm 00003 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 59519 occupied by the species or potential habitat and their possible impacts to the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly. (9) Information on the projected and reasonably likely impacts of climate change on the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly or its habitat. (10) Threats to the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly from collection of or commercial trade involving the lupine blue butterfly (Plebejus lupini texanus), Reakirt’s blue butterfly (Echinargus isola), Spring Mountains icarioides blue butterfly (Plebejus icarioides austinorum), and the two Spring Mountains dark blue butterflies (Euphilotes ancilla cryptica and E. a. purpura), due to the Mt. Charleston blue’s similarity in appearance to these species. (11) Effects of and necessity of establishing the proposed 4(d) special rule to establish prohibitions on collection of, or commercial trade involving, the lupine blue butterfly, Reakirt’s blue butterfly, Spring Mountains icarioides blue butterfly, and two Spring Mountains dark blue butterflies. (12) 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. (13) 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. (14) 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 include sufficient information with your submission (such as scientific journal articles or other publications) to allow us to verify any scientific or commercial information you include. 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 E:\FR\FM\27SEP3.SGM 27SEP3 59520 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 188 / Thursday, September 27, 2012 / Proposed Rules 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, Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS3 Previous Federal Actions In 1991 and 1994, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) included the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly in a compilation of taxa for review and potential addition to the Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants (56 FR 58804, November 21, 1991; 59 FR 58982, November 15, 1994). The Mt. Charleston blue butterfly was formerly referred to as the Spring Mountains blue (butterfly) (56 FR 58804, November 21, 1991; 59 FR 58982, November 15, 1994), but this common name is no longer used to avoid confusion with other butterflies having similar common names. In both years, the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly was assigned to ‘‘Category 2,’’ meaning that a proposal to list was potentially appropriate, but adequate data on biological threats or vulnerabilities were not currently available. The trend for Mt. Charleston blue butterfly was described as ‘‘declining’’ in 1991 and 1994 (56 FR 58804; 59 FR 58982). These notices stressed that Category 2 species were not proposed for listing by the notice, nor were there any plans to list those Category 2 species unless supporting information became available. VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:03 Sep 26, 2012 Jkt 226001 In the February 28, 1996, Candidate Notice of Review (61 FR 7595), we adopted a single category of candidate defined as ‘‘Those species for which the Service has on file sufficient information on biological vulnerability and threat(s) to support issuance of a proposed rule to list but issuance of the proposed rule is precluded.’’ In previous Candidate Notices of Review, species and subspecies matching this 1996 definition were known as Category 1 candidates for listing. Thus, the Service no longer considered Category 2 species and subspecies as candidates and did not include them in the 1996 or any subsequent Candidate Notices of Review. The decision to stop considering Category 2 species and subspecies as candidates was designed to reduce confusion about the status of these species and subspecies and to clarify that we no longer regarded these species and subspecies as candidates for listing. On October 20, 2005, we received a petition dated October 20, 2005, from The Urban Wildlands Group, Inc., requesting that we emergency list the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly as an endangered or threatened species. In a letter to the petitioner dated April 20, 2006, we stated that our initial review did not indicate that an emergency situation existed, but that if conditions changed, an emergency rule could be developed. On May 30, 2007, we published a 90-day petition finding (72 FR 29933) in which we concluded that the petition provided substantial information indicating that listing of the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly may be warranted, and we initiated a status review. On April 26, 2010, CBD amended its complaint in Center for Biological Diversity v. Salazar, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Case No.: 1:10–cv– 230–PLF (D.D.C.), adding an allegation that the Service failed to issue its 12month petition finding on the Mount Charleston blue butterfly within the mandatory statutory timeframe. On March 8, 2011, we published a 12month finding (76 FR 12667) in which we concluded that listing the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly was warranted, but precluded by higher priority listing actions. On October 26, 2011, we listed the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly as a new candidate in the Candidate Notice of Review (76 FR 66370). Endangered Species Status for Mt. Charleston Blue Butterfly Background It is our intent to discuss below only those topics directly relevant to the PO 00000 Frm 00004 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 listing of the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly as an endangered species in this section of the proposed rule. Taxonomy and Subspecies Description The Mt. Charleston blue butterfly is a distinct subspecies of the wider ranging Shasta blue butterfly (Plebejus shasta), which is a member of the Lycaenidae family. Pelham (2008, pp. 25–26) recognized seven subspecies of Shasta blue: P. s. shasta, P. s. calchas, P. s. pallidissima, P. s. minnehaha, P. s. charlestonensis, P. s. pitkinensis, and P. s. platazul in ‘‘A catalogue of the butterflies of the United States and Canada with a complete bibliography of the descriptive and systematic literature’’ published in volume 40 of the Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera (2008, pp. 379–380). The Mt. Charleston blue butterfly is known only from the high elevations of the Spring Mountains, located approximately 25 miles (mi) (40 kilometers (km)) west of Las Vegas in Clark County, Nevada (Austin 1980, p. 20; Scott 1986, p. 410). The first mention of the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly as a unique taxon was in 1928 by Garth (p. 93), who recognized it as distinct from the species Shasta blue (Austin 1980, p. 20). Howe (in 1975, Plate 59) described specimens from the Spring Mountains as the P. s. shasta form comstocki. However, in 1976, Ferris (p. 14) placed the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly with the wider ranging Minnehaha blue subspecies. Finally, Austin asserted that Ferris had not included populations from the Sierra Nevada in his study, and in light of the geographic isolation and distinctiveness of the Shasta blue population in the Spring Mountains and the presence of at least three other well-defined races (subspecies) of butterflies endemic to the area, it was appropriate to name this population as the subspecies Mt. Charleston blue butterfly (P. s. charlestonensis) (Austin 1980, p. 20). Our use of the genus name Plebejus, rather than the synonym Icaricia, reflects recent treatments of butterfly taxonomy (Opler and Warren 2003, p. 30; Pelham 2008, p. 265). The Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) recognizes the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly as a valid subspecies based on Austin (1980) (Retrieved April 2, 2012, from the Integrated Taxonomic Information System on-line database, http://www.itis.gov). The ITIS is hosted by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Center for Biological Informatics (CBI) and is the result of a partnership of Federal agencies formed to satisfy their mutual needs for scientifically credible taxonomic information. E:\FR\FM\27SEP3.SGM 27SEP3 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 188 / Thursday, September 27, 2012 / Proposed Rules As a subspecies, the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly is similar to other Shasta blue butterflies, with a wingspan of 0.75 to 1 inch (in) (19 to 26 millimeters (mm)) (Opler 1999, p. 251). Males and females of Mt. Charleston blue are dimorphic (occurring in two distinct forms). The upperside of males is dark to dull iridescent blue, and females are brown with a blue overlay. The species has a discal black spot on the forewing and a row of submarginal black spots on the hindwing. The underside is gray, with a pattern of black spots, brown blotches, and pale wing veins to give it a mottled appearance. The underside of the hindwing has an inconspicuous band of submarginal metallic spots (Opler 1999, p. 251). Based on morphology, the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly is most closely related to the Great Basin populations of Minnehaha blue butterfly (Austin 1980, p. 23), and it can be distinguished from other Shasta blue butterfly subspecies by the presence of sharper and blacker postmedian spots on the underside of the hindwing (Scott 1986, p. 410). The Mt. Charleston blue butterfly is similar in appearance to five other sympatric (occupying the same or overlapping geographic areas without interbreeding) butterflies that occur roughly in the same habitats: lupine blue butterfly (Plebejus lupini texanus), Reakirt’s blue butterfly (Echinargus isola), Spring Mountains icarioides blue butterfly (Plebejus icarioides austinorum), and the two Spring Mountains dark blue butterflies (Euphilotes ancilla cryptica and E. a. purpura). The lupine blue butterfly (also commonly referred to as the Acmon blue, Texas blue, or Southwestern blue butterfly) is the most similar to the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly (Boyd and Austin 1999, p. 44). The Mt. Charleston blue butterfly is distinguished from the lupine blue butterfly by a less broad and distinct orange band on the hindwing (Boyd and Austin, p. 44), and the postmedian spots on the underside of the hindwing are brown rather than black (Scott 1986, p. 410). The Reakirt’s blue butterfly is similar in size or slightly smaller than the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly and is identified by black underside hindwing spots at the hind corner and large round black underside forewing spots (Scott 1986, p. 413; Opler 1999, pp. 230, 251). The Spring Mountains icarioides blue butterfly is larger than the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly and usually lacks the upperside forewing dash (Scott 1986, p. 409). In addition the underside hindwing postmedian spots of the Spring Mountains icarioides blue butterfly are typically ringed with white (Scott 1986, p. 409). The two Spring Mountains dark blue butterflies and the Spring Mountains icarioides blue butterfly lack the metallic marginal spots on the underside hindwing that is present on the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly (Scott 1986, p. 403; Brock and Kaufmann 2003, pp. 134, 136, 140). The two Spring Mountains dark blue 59521 butterflies have a more prominent orange band on the hindwing and do not have black dashes in the middle of the upperside forewing and hindwing as the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly does (Brock and Kaufmann 2003, pp. 136, 140; Scott 1986, pp. 403, 410). Distribution Based on current and historical occurrences or locations (Austin 1980, pp. 20–24; Weiss et al. 1997, Map 3.1; Boyd and Murphy 2008, p. 4, Pinyon 2011, Figure 9–11; Thompson et al. 2012, p. 99), the geographic range of the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly is in the upper elevations of the Spring Mountains, centered on lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service (Forest Service) in the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest within Upper Kyle and Lee Canyons, Clark County, Nevada. The majority of the occurrences or locations are along the upper ridges in the Mt. Charleston Wilderness and in Upper Lee Canyon area, while a few are in Upper Kyle Canyon. Table 1 lists the various locations of the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly that constitute the subspecies’ current and historical range. Estimates of population size for Mt. Charleston blue butterfly are not available, so the occurrence data summarized in Table 1 represent the best scientific information on distribution of Mt. Charleston blue butterfly and how that distribution has changed over time. TABLE 1—LOCATIONS OR OCCURRENCES OF THE MT. CHARLESTON BLUE BUTTERFLY SINCE 1928, AND THE STATUS OF THE BUTTERFLY AT THE LOCATIONS [Survey efforts are variable through time] Location name First/last time observed Most recent survey year(s) (even if not observed) Status Primary references Weiss et al. 1997; Kingsley 2007; Boyd 2006; Datasmiths 2007; SWCA 2008; Pinyon 2011; Thompson et al. 2012. Weiss et al. 1994; Weiss et al. 1997; Boyd and Austin 2002; Boyd 2006; Newfields 2006; Datasmiths 2007; Boyd and Murphy 2008;Thompson et al. 2012. Boyd and Austin 1999; Boyd 2006; Datasmiths 2007; Boyd and Murphy 2008. Weiss et al. 1997; Boyd 2006; Datasmiths 2007; Boyd and Murphy 2008. Weiss et al. 1997; Boyd 2006; Datasmiths 2007; Boyd and Murphy 2008. Weiss et al. 1997; Boyd 2006; Datasmiths 2007; Boyd and Murphy 2008. 1928/2011 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011. Known occupied; adults consistently observed. 2. Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort (LVSSR), Upper Lee Canyon. 1963/2010 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011. Known occupied; adults consistently observed. 3. Foxtail, Upper Lee Canyon ... tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS3 1. South Loop Trail, Upper Kyle Canyon. 1995/1998 2006, 2007, 2008 Presumed occupied; adults intermittently observed. 4. Youth Camp, Upper Lee Canyon. 1995/1995 2006, 2007, 2008 Presumed occupied; adults intermittently observed. 5. Gary Abbott, Upper Lee Canyon. 1995/1995 2006, 2007, 2008 Presumed occupied; adults intermittently observed. 6. Lower LVSSR Parking, Upper Lee Canyon. 1995/2002 2007, 2008 ......... Presumed occupied; adults intermittently observed. VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:03 Sep 26, 2012 Jkt 226001 PO 00000 Frm 00005 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\27SEP3.SGM 27SEP3 59522 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 188 / Thursday, September 27, 2012 / Proposed Rules TABLE 1—LOCATIONS OR OCCURRENCES OF THE MT. CHARLESTON BLUE BUTTERFLY SINCE 1928, AND THE STATUS OF THE BUTTERFLY AT THE LOCATIONS—Continued [Survey efforts are variable through time] Location name Most recent survey year(s) (even if not observed) First/last time observed Status Primary references 1995/1995 2006 ................... 1965/1995 2006, 2007, 2008 Presumed occupied; adults intermittently observed. Presumed occupied; adults intermittently observed. 9. Bristlecone Trail .................... 1990/2011 2007, 2011 ......... Presumed occupied .................. 10. Bonanza Trail ...................... 1995/1995 2006, 2007 ......... Presumed occupied .................. 11. Upper Lee Canyon holotype 1963/1976 2006, 2007 ......... Presumed extirpated ................. 12. Cathedral Rock, Kyle Canyon. 13. Upper Kyle Canyon Ski Area. 14. Old Town, Kyle Canyon ...... 1972/1972 2007 ................... Presumed extirpated ................. Weiss et al. 1997; Boyd 2006; Datasmiths 2007; Boyd and Murphy 2008. Weiss et al. 1995; Weiss et al. 1997; Kingsley 2007; Thompson et al. 2012. Weiss et al. 1997; Boyd 2006; Kingsley 2007. Weiss et al. 1997; Boyd 2006; Datasmiths 2007. Weiss et al. 1997; Datasmiths 2007. 1965/1972 1995 ................... Presumed extirpated ................. Weiss et al. 1997. 1970s 1995 ................... Presumed extirpated ................. 15. Deer Creek, Kyle Canyon ... 16. Willow Creek ....................... tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS3 7. Mummy Spring, Upper Kyle Canyon. 8. Lee Meadows, Upper Lee Canyon. 1950 1928 unknown ............. unknown ............. Presumed extirpated ................. Presumed extirpated ................. The Urban Wildlands Group, Inc. 2005. Howe 1975. Weiss et al. 1997; Thompson and Garrett 2010. We presume that the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly is extirpated from a location when it has not been recorded at that location through formal surveys or informal observation for more than 20 years. We selected a 20-year time period because it would likely allow for local extirpation and recolonization events (metapopulation dynamics) to occur and would be enough time for succession or other vegetation shifts to render the habitat unsuitable (see discussion in Biology and Habitat sections below). Using this criterion, the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly is considered to be ‘‘presumed extirpated’’ from 6 of the 16 known locations (Locations 11–16 in Table 1) (Service 2006b, pp. 8–9). Of the remaining 10 locations, 8 locations or occurrences are ‘‘presumed occupied’’ by the subspecies (Locations 3–10 in Table 1) and the first 2 locations are ‘‘known occupied’’ (Locations 1–2 in Table 1) (Service 2006b, pp. 7–8). We note that the probability of detection of Mt. Charleston blue butterflies at a particular location in a given year is affected by factors other than the butterfly’s abundance, such as survey effort and weather, both of which are highly variable from year to year. The presumed occupied category is defined as a location within the current known range of the subspecies where adults have been intermittently observed and there is a potential for diapausing (a period of suspended growth or development similar to VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:03 Sep 26, 2012 Jkt 226001 hibernation) larvae to be present. The butterfly likely exhibits metapopulation dynamics at these locations. In this situation, the subspecies is subject to local extirpation, with new individuals emigrating from nearby ‘‘known occupied’’ habitat, typically during years when environmental conditions are more favorable to emergence from diapause and the successful reproduction of individuals (see discussion in ‘‘Habitat’’ section below). At some of these presumed occupied locations (Locations 4, 5, 7, 8, and 10 in Table 1), the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly has not been recorded through formal surveys or informal observation since 1995 by Weiss et al. (1997, pp. 1– 87). Of the presumed occupied locations, 3, 6, and 9 have had the most recent observations (observed in 1998, 2002, and 2011, respectively) (Table 1). Currently, we consider the occurrence at Mummy Spring as presumed occupied because it has been intermittently observed; however, this location is not near known occupied habitat and may be extirpated. We consider the remaining two Mt. Charleston blue butterfly locations or occurrences to be ‘‘known occupied’’ (Locations 1 and 2 in Table 1). Known occupied locations have had successive observations during multiple years of surveys and occur in high-quality habitat. The South Loop Trail location in Upper Kyle Canyon (Location 1 in Table 1) is considered known occupied PO 00000 Frm 00006 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 Weiss et al. 1997; Boyd 2006. because: (1) The butterfly was observed on the site in 1995, 2002, 2007, 2010, and 2011 (Service 2007, pp. 1–2; Kingsley 2007, p. 5; Pinyon 2011, pp. 17–19; Thompson et al. 2012, p. 99); (2) the high quality of the habitat is in accordance with host plant densities of 10 plants per square meter as described in Weiss et al. (1997, p. 31) (Kingsley 2007, pp. 5 and 10; Thompson et al. 2012, p. 99); and (3) in combination with the observations and high-quality habitat, the habitat is in an area of relatively large size (SWCA 2008, pp. 2 and 5; Pinyon 2011, p. Figure 8). The South Loop Trail area is the most important remaining population area for the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly (Boyd and Murphy 2008, p. 21). The South Loop Trail runs along the ridgeline between Griffith Peak and Charleston Peak and is located within the Mt. Charleston Wilderness. This area was mapped using a global positioning system unit and included the larval host plant, Astragalus calycosus var. calycosus (Torrey’s milkvetch), as well as occurrences of two known nectar plants, Hymenoxys lemmonii (Lemmon’s bitterweed) and Erigeron clokeyi (Clokey fleabane) (SWCA 2008, pp. 2 and 5; Pinyon 2011, p. 11). The total area of the South Loop Trail location is 60 acres (ac) (24 hectares (ha)). We consider the Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort location (LVSSR) in Upper Lee Canyon (Location 2 in Table E:\FR\FM\27SEP3.SGM 27SEP3 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 188 / Thursday, September 27, 2012 / Proposed Rules tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS3 1) to be ‘‘known occupied’’ because: (1) The butterfly was first recorded at LVSSR in 1963 (Austin 1980, p. 22) and has been consistently observed at LVSSR every year between 1995 and 2006 (with the exception of 1997 when no surveys were performed (Service 2007, pp. 1–2)) and in 2010 (Thompson and Garrett 2010, p. 5); and (2) the ski runs contain two areas of high-quality butterfly habitat in accordance with host plant densities of 10 plants per square meter as described in Weiss et al. (1997, p. 31). These areas are LVSSR #1 (2.4 ac (0.97 ha)) and LVSSR #2 (1.3 ac (0.53 ha)), which have been mapped using a global positioning system unit and fieldverified. Thus, across its current range, the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly is known to persistently occupy less than 64 ac (26 ha) of known occupied habitat. Status and Trends While there are no estimates of the size of the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly population, the best available information indicates a declining trend for this subspecies, as discussed below. Prior to 1980, descriptions of the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly status and trends were characterized as usually rare (Austin and Austin 1980, p. 30). The Mt. Charleston blue butterfly is known to be rare because few have been observed since the 1920’s, even though there have been many collections and studies of butterflies in the Spring Mountains, particularly since the 1950’s (Boyd and Austin 1999, p. 2). It is important to note that year-toyear fluctuations in population numbers do occur (most likely due to variations in precipitation and temperature that affect both the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly and its larval host plant (Weiss et al. 1997, pp. 2–3 and 31–32)). However, the failure to detect Mt. Charleston blue butterflies at many of the known historical locations during the past 20 years, especially in light of increased survey efforts in recent years (since 2006), indicates a reduction in the butterfly’s distribution and likely decrease in total population size. In addition, five additional locations may be presumed extirpated in 2015, if surveys continue to fail to detect Mt. Charleston blue butterflies (these include Youth Camp, Gary Abbott, Lee Meadows, Bonanza Trail, and Mummy Spring, Table 1). Mt. Charleston blue butterflies were last observed at these sites in 1995, which was the last year reported as a good year (Boyd and Murphy 2008, p. 22) for Mt. Charleston blue butterflies, as indicated by the numbers observed at LVSSR (121 counted during 2 surveys each of 2 areas), and presence detected at 7 other VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:03 Sep 26, 2012 Jkt 226001 locations (Weiss 1996, p. 4; Weiss et al. 1997, Table 2). Survey information indicates that the numbers of recently observed Mt. Charleston blue butterflies are extremely low because butterflies have become increasingly difficult to detect. Zonneveld et al. (2003) determined that observable population size is interdependent with survey days and detection probability. Thus, the decreasing observations of Mt. Charleston blue butterflies after repeated visits in any year, after multiple years of surveying, indicates a declining and smaller population. In 2006, surveys within presumed occupied habitat at LVSSR located one individual butterfly adjacent to a pond that holds water for snowmaking (Newfields 2006, pp. 10, 13, and C5). In a later report, the accuracy of this observation was questioned and considered inaccurate (Newfields 2008, p. 27). In 2006, Boyd (2006, pp. 1–2) conducted focused surveys for the subspecies at nearly all previously known locations and within potential habitat along Griffith Peak, North Loop Trail, Bristlecone Trail, and South Bonanza Trail but did not observe the butterfly at any of these locations. In 2007, surveys were again conducted in previously known locations in Upper Lee Canyon and LVSSR, but no butterflies were recorded (Datasmiths 2007, p. 1; Newfields 2008, pp. 21–24). In 2007, two Mt. Charleston blue butterflies were sighted on different dates at the same location on the South Loop Trail in Upper Kyle Canyon (Kingsley 2007, p. 5). In 2008, butterflies were not observed during focused surveys of Upper Lee Canyon and the South Loop Trail (Boyd and Murphy 2008, pp. 1–3; Boyd 2008, p. 1; SWCA 2008, p. 6), although it is possible that adult butterflies may have been missed on the South Loop Trail because the surveys were performed very late in the season. No formal surveys were conducted in 2009; however, no individuals were observed during the few informal attempts made to observe the species (Service 2009). In 2010, the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly was observed during surveys at LVSSR and the South Loop Trail area. One adult was observed in Lee Canyon at LVSSR on July 23, 2010, but no other adults were detected at LVSSR during surveys conducted on August 2, 9, and 18, 2010 (Thompson and Garrett 2010, pp. 4–5). The Mt. Charleston blue butterfly was not observed at LVSSR in 2011 (Thompson et al. 2012, p. 99). Adults were most recently observed in 2010 and 2011 at the South Loop Trail PO 00000 Frm 00007 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 59523 area. According to reports from surveys conducted in July and August of 2011 at the South Loop Trail area (Thompson et al. 2012, p. 99; Pinyon 2011, pp. 17– 19), the highest total number of adults counted among the days this area was surveyed was 17 on July 28, 2010, and 13 on August 12, 2011 (Pinyon 2011, p. 17). Final reports have not been completed by Thompson et al. for the 2011 surveys and the results here are considered preliminary. Based on the available survey information, the low number of sightings in recent years is likely the result of declining population size. Habitat Weiss et al. (1997, pp. 10–11) describe the natural habitat for the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly as relatively flat ridgelines above 2,500 m (8,200 ft), but isolated individuals have been observed as low as 2,000 m (6,600 ft). Boyd and Murphy (2008, p. 19) indicate that areas occupied by the subspecies featured exposed soil and rock substrates with limited or no canopy cover or shading and flat to mild slopes. Like most butterfly species, the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly is dependent on plants both during larval development (larval host plants) and the adult butterfly flight period (nectar plants). The Mt. Charleston blue butterfly requires areas that support Astragalus calycosus var. calycosus, the only known larval host plant for the subspecies (Weiss et al. 1994, p. 3; Weiss et al. 1997, p. 10; Datasmiths 2007, p. 21), as well as primary nectar plants. A. c. var. calycosus and Erigeron clokeyi are the primary nectar plants for the subspecies; however, butterflies have also been observed nectaring on Hymenoxys lemmonii and Aster sp. (Weiss et al. 1994, p. 3; Boyd 2005, p. 1; Boyd and Murphy 2008, p. 9). The best available habitat information relates mostly to the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly’s larval host plant, with little to no information available characterizing the butterfly’s interactions with its known nectar plants or other elements of its habitat; thus, the habitat information discussed in this document centers on Astragalus calycosus var. calycosus. Studies are currently underway to better understand the habitat requirements and preferences of the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly (Thompson et al. 2011, p. 99). Astragalus c.var. calycosus is a small, low-growing, perennial herb that has been observed growing in open areas between 5,000 to 10,800 ft (1,520 to 3,290 m) in subalpine, bristlecone, and mixed-conifer vegetation communities of the Spring Mountains (Nachlinger E:\FR\FM\27SEP3.SGM 27SEP3 tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS3 59524 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 188 / Thursday, September 27, 2012 / Proposed Rules and Leary 2007, p. 36). Within the alpine and subalpine range of the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly, Weiss et al. (1997, p. 10) observed the highest densities of A. c. var. calycosus in exposed areas and within canopy openings and lower densities in forested areas. Weiss et al. (1997, p. 31) describe favorable habitat for the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly as having high densities (more than 10 plants per square meter) of Astragalus calycosus var. calycosus. Weiss et al. (1995, p. 5) and Datasmiths (2007, p. 21) indicate that, in some areas, butterfly habitat may be dependent on old or infrequent disturbances that create open areas. Vegetation cover within disturbed patches naturally becomes higher over time through succession, gradually becoming less favorable to the butterfly. Therefore, we conclude that open areas with relatively little grass cover and visible mineral soil and high densities of host plants support the highest densities of butterflies (Boyd 2005, p. 1; Service 2006a, p. 1). During 1995, an especially high-population year (a total of 121 butterflies were counted during surveys of 2 areas at LVSSR on 2 separate dates, where each survey for each area takes approximately 22 minutes to complete for a single observer (Weiss 1996, p. 4)), Mt. Charleston blue butterflies were observed in small habitat patches and in open forested areas where A. c. var. calycosus was present in low densities, on the order of 1 to 5 plants per square meter (Weiss et al. 1997, p. 10; Newfields 2006, pp. 10 and C5). Therefore, areas with lower densities of the host plant may also be important to the subspecies, as these areas may be intermittently occupied or may be important for dispersal. Fire suppression and other management practices have likely limited the formation of new habitat for the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly, as discussed below. The Forest Service began suppressing fires on the Spring Mountains in 1910 (Entrix 2007, p. 111). Throughout the Spring Mountains, fire suppression has resulted in higher densities of trees and shrubs (Amell 2006, pp. 2–3) and a transition to a closed-canopy forest with shade-tolerant understory species (Entrix 2007, p. 112) that is generally less suitable for the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly. Boyd and Murphy (2008, pp. 23 and 25) hypothesized that the loss of presettlement vegetation structure over time has caused the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly’s metapopulation dynamics to collapse in Upper Lee Canyon. Similar losses of suitable butterfly habitat in VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:03 Sep 26, 2012 Jkt 226001 woodlands and their negative effect on butterfly populations have been documented (Thomas 1984, pp. 337– 338). The disturbed landscape at LVSSR provides important habitat for the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly (Weiss et al. 1995, p. 5; Weiss et al. 1997, p. 26). Periodic maintenance (removal of trees and shrubs) of the ski runs has effectively arrested forest succession on the ski slopes and serves to maintain conditions favorable to the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly, and to its host and nectar plants. However, the ski runs are not specifically managed to benefit habitat for this subspecies, and operational activities regularly modify Mt. Charleston blue butterfly habitat or prevent host plants from reestablishing in disturbed areas. Biology The Mt. Charleston blue butterfly has been described as biennial where it diapauses as an egg the first winter and as a larvae near maturity the second winter (Ferris and Brown, pp. 203–204; Scott 1986, p. 411); however, Emmel and Shields (1978, p. 132) suggested that diapause was passed as partly grown larva because freshly hatched eggshells were found near newly laid eggs (indicating that the eggs do not overwinter). The Mt. Charleston blue butterfly is generally thought to diapause at the base of its larval host plant, Astragalus calycosus var. calycosus, or in the surrounding substrate (Emmel and Shields 1978, p. 132). The pupae of some butterfly species are known to persist in diapause up to 5 to 7 years (Scott 1986, p. 28). The number of years the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly can remain in diapause is unknown. Experts have speculated that the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly may only be able to diapause for two seasons (Murphy 2006, p. 1; Boyd and Murphy 2008, p. 21). However, in response to unfavorable environmental conditions, it is hypothesized that a prolonged diapause period may be possible (Scott 1986, pp. 26–30; Murphy 2006, p. 1; Datasmiths 2007, p. 6; Boyd and Murphy 2008, p. 22). The typical flight and breeding period for the butterfly is early July to midAugust with a peak in late July, although the subspecies has been observed as early as mid-June and as late as mid-September (Austin 1980, p. 22; Boyd and Austin 1999, p. 17; Forest Service 2006a, p. 9). As with most butterflies, the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly typically flies during sunny conditions, which are particularly important for this subspecies given the cooler air temperatures at high elevations (Weiss et al. 1997, p. 31). PO 00000 Frm 00008 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 Excessive winds also deter flight of most butterflies, although Weiss et al. (1997, p. 31) speculate that this may not be a significant factor for the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly given its low-to-theground flight pattern. Like all butterfly species, both the phenology (timing) and number of Mt. Charleston blue butterfly individuals that emerge and fly to reproduce during a particular year are reliant on the combination of many environmental factors that may constitute a successful (‘‘favorable’’) or unsuccessful (‘‘poor’’) year for the subspecies. Other than observations by surveyors, little information is known regarding these aspects of the subspecies’ biology, since the key determinants for the interactions among the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly’s flight and breeding period, larval host plant, and environmental conditions have not been specifically studied. Observations indicate that above- or below-average precipitation, coupled with above- or below-average temperatures, influence the phenology of this subspecies (Weiss et al. 1997, pp. 2–3 and 32; Boyd and Austin 1999, p. 8) and are likely responsible for the fluctuation in population numbers from year to year (Weiss et al. 1997, pp. 2– 3 and 31–32). Most butterfly populations exist as regional metapopulations (Murphy et al. 1990, p. 44). Boyd and Austin (1999, pp. 17 and 53) indicate this is true of the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly. Small habitat patches tend to support smaller butterfly populations that are frequently extirpated by events that are part of normal variation (Murphy et al. 1990, p. 44). According to Boyd and Austin (1999, p. 17), smaller colonies of the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly may be ephemeral in the long term, with the larger colonies of the subspecies more likely than smaller populations to persist in ‘‘poor’’ years, when environmental conditions do not support the emergence, flight, and reproduction of individuals. The ability of the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly to move between habitat patches has not been studied; however, field observations indicate the subspecies has low vagility (capacity or tendency of a species to move about or disperse in a given environment), on the order of 10 to 100 meters (m) (33 to 330 feet (ft)) (Weiss et al. 1995, p. 9), and nearly sedentary behavior (Datasmiths 2007, p. 21; Boyd and Murphy 2008, pp. 3 and 9). Furthermore, dispersal of lycaenid butterflies, in general, is limited and on the order of hundreds of meters (Cushman and Murphy 1993, p. 40). Based on this information, the likelihood of long-distance dispersal is E:\FR\FM\27SEP3.SGM 27SEP3 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 188 / Thursday, September 27, 2012 / Proposed Rules low for the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly, and its susceptibility to being affected by habitat fragmentation caused by forest succession is high (discussed further in Factor A). 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. tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS3 Factor A. The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment of Its Habitat or Range Below, we evaluate several factors that negatively impact the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly’s habitat, including fire suppression, fuels reduction, succession, introduction of nonnative species, recreation, and development. We also examine available conservation measures in the form of conservation agreements and plans, which may offset some of these threats. Fire Suppression, Succession, and Nonnative Species Butterflies have extremely specialized habitat requirements (Thomas 1984, p. 337). Changes in vegetation structure and composition as a result of natural processes are a serious threat to butterfly populations because these changes can disrupt specific habitat requirements (Thomas 1984, pp. 337– 341; Thomas et al. 2001, pp. 1791– 1796). Cushman and Murphy (1993, p. 4) determined 28 at-risk lycaenid butterfly species, including the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly, to be dependent on one or two closely related host plants. Many of these host plants are dependent on early successional environments. Butterflies that specialize on such plants must track an ephemeral resource base that itself depends on unpredictable and perhaps infrequent ecosystem disturbances. For such butterfly species, local extinction events VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:03 Sep 26, 2012 Jkt 226001 are both frequent and inevitable (Cushman and Murphy 1993, p. 4). The Mt. Charleston blue butterfly may, in part, depend on disturbances that open up the subalpine canopy and create conditions more favorable to its host plant, Astragalus calycosus var. calycosus, and nectar resources (Weiss et al. 1995, p. 5; Boyd and Murphy 2008, pp. 22–28) (see Habitat section, above). Datasmiths (2007, p. 21) also suggest suitable habitat patches of Astragalus calycosus var. calycosus are often, but not exclusively, associated with older or infrequent disturbance. Weiss et al. (1995, p. 5) note that a colony once existed on the Upper Kyle Canyon Ski Area (Location 11 in Table 1), but since the ski run was abandoned no butterflies have been collected there since 1965. Boyd and Austin (2002, p. 13) observe that the butterfly was common at Lee Meadows (Location 8 in Table 1) in the 1960s, but became uncommon at the site because of succession and a potential lack of disturbance. Using an analysis of host plant density, Weiss et al. (1995 p. 5) concluded that Lee Meadows does not have enough host plants to support a population over the long term (minimally 5–10 host plants per square meter). Disturbances such as fire promote open understory conditions for A. c. var. calycosus to grow and reduce fragmentation of Mt. Charleston blue butterfly habitat. Fire suppression in the Spring Mountains has resulted in long-term successional changes, including increased forest area and forest structure (higher canopy cover, more young trees, and more trees intolerant of fire) (Nachlinger and Reese 1996, p. 37; Amell 2006, pp. 6–9; Boyd and Murphy 2008, pp. 22–28; Denton et al. 2008, p. 21; Abella et al. 2011, pp. 10, 12). Frequent low-severity fires would have maintained an open forest structure characterized by uneven-aged stands of fire-resistant Pinus ponderosa (ponderosa pine) trees (Amell 2006, p. 5) in lower elevations. The lowerelevation habitats of the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly are the most affected by fire suppression, as indicated by Provencher’s 2008 Fire Regime Condition Class analysis of the Spring Mountains (p. 18); there has been an increase in area covered by forest canopy and an increase in stem densities with more trees intolerant of fire within the lower-elevation Mt. Charleston blue butterfly habitat. Large-diameter Pinus ponderosa trees with multiple fire scars in Upper Lee and Kyle Canyons indicate that lowseverity fires historically burned PO 00000 Frm 00009 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 59525 through mixed-conifer forests within the range of the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly (Amell 2006, p. 3). There are no empirical estimates of fire intervals or frequencies in the Spring Mountains but it is presumed to be similar to Pinus ponderosa forests in other regions where it has been reported to be 4 to 20 or 2 to 39 years (Barbour and Minnich 2000 as cited in Amell 2006, p. 3; Denton et al. 2008, p. 23). Open mixedconifer forests in the Spring Mountains were likely characterized by more abundant and diverse understory plant communities compared to current conditions (Entrix 2007, pp. 73–78). These successional changes have been hypothesized to have contributed to the decline of the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly because of reduced densities of larval and nectar plants, decreased solar radiation, and inhibited butterfly movements that subsequently determine colonization or recolonization processes (Weiss et al. 1997, p. 26; Boyd and Murphy 2008, pp. 22–28). Boyd and Murphy (2008, p. 23) note that important habitat characteristics required by Mt. Charleston blue butterfly— Astragalus calycosus var. calycosus and preferred nectar plants occurring together in open sites not shaded by tree canopies—would have occurred more frequently across a more open forested landscape, compared to the current denser forested landscape. Not only would the changes in forest structure and understory plant communities result in habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation for the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly across a broad spatial scale, a habitat matrix dominated by denser forest also may be impacting key metapopulation processes by reducing probability of recolonization following local population extirpations in remaining patches of suitable habitat (Boyd and Murphy 2008, p. 25). The introduction of forbs, shrubs, and nonnative grasses can be a threat to the butterfly’s habitat because these species can compete with, and decrease, the quality and abundance of larval host plant and adult nectar sources. This has been observed for many butterfly species including the Quino checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas editha quino) (62 FR 2313; January 16, 1997) and Fender’s blue butterfly (Plebejus (= Icaricia) icarioides fenderi) (65 FR 3875; January 25, 2000). Succession, coupled with the introduction of nonnative species, is also believed to be the reason the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly is no longer present at the old town site in Kyle Canyon (Location 12 in Table 1) and at the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly E:\FR\FM\27SEP3.SGM 27SEP3 59526 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 188 / Thursday, September 27, 2012 / Proposed Rules tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS3 holotype (the type specimen used in the original description of a species or subspecies) site in Upper Lee Canyon (Location 9 in Table 1) (Urban Wildlands Group, Inc. 2005, p. 3; Boyd and Austin 1999, p. 17). Introduction of nonnative species within its habitat negatively impacts the quality of the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly’s habitat. As mentioned previously (see Habitat section), periodic maintenance (removal of trees and shrubs) of the ski runs has effectively arrested succession on the ski slopes and maintains conditions that can be favorable to the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly. However, the ski runs are not specifically managed to benefit habitat for this subspecies and its habitat requirements, and operational activities (including seeding of nonnative species) regularly modify Mt. Charleston blue butterfly habitat or prevent host plants from reestablishing in disturbed areas. According to Weiss et al. (1995, pp. 5–6), the planting of annual grasses and Melilotus (sweetclover) for erosion control at LVSSR is a threat to Mt. Charleston blue butterfly habitat. Titus and Landau (2003, p. 1) observed that vegetation on highly and moderately disturbed areas of the LVSSR ski runs are floristically very different from natural openings in the adjacent forested areas that support this subspecies. Seeding nonnative species for erosion control was discontinued in 2005; however, because of erosion problems during 2006 and 2007, and the lack of native seed, LVSSR resumed using a nonnative seed mix, particularly in the lower portions of the ski runs (not adjacent to Mt. Charleston blue butterfly habitat) where erosion problems persist. The best available information indicates that, in at least four of the six locations where the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly historically occurred, suitable habitat is no longer present due to vegetation changes attributable to succession, the introduction of nonnative species, or a combination of the two. Recreation, Development, and Other Projects As discussed in the Distribution section above, the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly is a narrow endemic subspecies that is currently known to occupy two locations and presumed to occupy eight others. One of the two areas where Mt. Charleston blue butterflies have been detected in recent years is the LVSSR. Several grounddisturbing projects occurred within Mt. Charleston blue butterfly suitable habitat at LVSSR between 2000 and VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:03 Sep 26, 2012 Jkt 226001 2011 (see 76 FR 12667, pp. 12672, 12673). These projects were small spatial scale (ground disturbance was less than about 10 acres each) but are known to have impacted suitable habitat and possibly impacted individual Mt. Charleston blue butterflies (eggs, larvae, pupae, or adults). In addition to these recreation development projects at LVSSR, a small area of suitable habitat and possibly individual Mt. Charleston blue butterflies were impacted by a water system replacement project in Upper Lee Canyon in 2003, and a small area of suitable habitat (less than 1 acre) was impacted by a stream restoration project at Lee Meadows in 2011. It is difficult to know the full extent of impacts to the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly’s habitat as a result of these projects because Mt. Charleston blue butterfly habitat was not mapped nor were some project areas surveyed prior to implementation. Three future projects also may impact Mt. Charleston blue butterfly habitat in Upper Lee Canyon. These projects are summarized below: (1) A March 2011 Master Development Plan for LVSSR proposes to improve, upgrade, and expand the existing facilities to provide year-round recreational activities. The plan proposes to increase snow trails, beginner terrain, and snowmaking reservoir capacity and coverage, widen existing ski trails, replace and add lifts, and develop ‘‘gladed’’ areas for sliding that would remove deadfall timber to reduce fire hazards (Ecosign 2011, I–3— I–4, IV–5—IV–7). The plan proposes to add summer activities including liftaccessed sightseeing and hiking, nature interpretive hikes, evening stargazing, mountain biking, conference retreats and seminars, weddings, family reunions, mountain music concerts, festivals, climbing walls, bungee trampoline, beach and grass volleyball, a car rally, and other activities (Ecosign 2008, pp. I–3—I–4). Widening existing ski trails and increasing snowmaking reservoir capacity (Ecosign 2011, p. IV– 5, Figure 21a) would impact the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly at a known occupied and at a presumed occupied location (Location 2 and 5 in Table 1). Summer activities would impact the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly and its known occupied and presumed occupied habitat by attracting visitors in higher numbers during the time of year when larvae and host plants are especially vulnerable to trampling (Location 2 in Table 1). The LVSSR Master Development Plan, which has been accepted by the Forest Service, considered Mt. Charleston blue butterfly habitat during development of the plan. PO 00000 Frm 00010 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 Impacts to Mt. Charleston blue butterfly habitat from the LVSSR Master Development Plan will be addressed further during the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process (discussed further in Factor D) (Forest Service 2011a, p. 3). (2) The Old Mill/Dolomite/ McWilliams Reconstruction Projects to improve camping and picnic areas in Upper Lee Canyon are currently being planned and evaluated under NEPA (discussed further in Factor D) (Forest Service 2011c pp. 1–4). Project details are limited because planning is currently underway; however, the Service has met with the Forest Service and provided recommendations to consider for analysis of potential direct and indirect impacts of these projects to the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly and its potential habitat within or in close proximity to the project area (Datasmiths 2007, Figure 1; Forest Service 2011c, Project Map; Forest Service 2011f, pp. 1–5; Service 2011, p. 1). The recommendations provided by the Service will assist with the development of a proposed action that will avoid or minimize adverse effects to the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly and its potential habitat. (3) The Foxtail Group Picnic Area Reconstruction Project is currently being planned and evaluated under NEPA (discussed further in Factor D) (Forest Service 2011g, pp. 1–4). Project details are limited because planning is currently underway; however, the Service has met with the Forest Service and provided recommendations for minimizing potential direct and indirect impacts of these projects to the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly and its habitat (Datasmiths 2007, Figure 1; Forest Service 2011f, pp. 1–5; Forest Service 2011g, Project Map; Service 2011, p. 1). Fuel Reduction Projects In December 2007, the Forest Service approved the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area Hazardous Fuels Reduction Project (Forest Service 2007a, pp. 1–127). This project resulted in tree removals and vegetation thinning in three presumed occupied Mt. Charleston blue butterfly locations in Upper Lee Canyon, including Foxtail Ridge, Lee Canyon Youth Camp, and Lee Meadows, and impacted approximately 32 ac (13 ha) of presumed occupied habitat that has been mapped in Upper Lee Canyon (Locations 3, 4 and 8 in Table 1) (Forest Service 2007a, Appendix A-Map 2; Datasmiths 2007, p. 26). Manual and mechanical clearing of shrubs and trees will be repeated on a 5- to 10-year rotating basis and will result in direct E:\FR\FM\27SEP3.SGM 27SEP3 tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS3 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 188 / Thursday, September 27, 2012 / Proposed Rules impacts to the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly and its habitat, including crushing or removal of host plants and diapausing larvae (if present). Implementation of this project began in the spring of 2008 throughout the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, including Lee Canyon, and the project is nearly completed for its initial implementation (Forest Service 2011a, p. 2). Although Boyd and Murphy (2008, p. 26) recommended increased forest thinning to improve habitat quality for the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly, the primary goal of this project was to reduce wildfire risk to life and property in the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area wildland urban interface (Forest Service 2007a, p. 6), not to improve Mt. Charleston blue butterfly habitat. Mt. Charleston blue butterflies require larval host plants in exposed areas not shaded by forest canopy cover because canopy cover reduces solar exposure during critical larval feeding periods (Boyd and Murphy 2008, p. 23). Although the fuel reduction project incorporated measures to minimize impacts to the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly and its habitat, shaded fuel breaks created for this project may not be open enough to create or significantly improve Mt. Charleston blue butterfly habitat. Also, shaded fuel breaks for this project are concentrated along access roads, property boundaries, campgrounds, picnic areas, administrative sites, and communications sites, and are not of sufficient spatial scale to improve habitat that does not occur within close proximity to these landscape features and reduce the threat identified above resulting from fire suppression and succession. Although this project may result in increased understory herbaceous plant productivity and diversity, there are short-term risks to the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly’s habitat associated with project implementation. In recommending increased forest thinning to improve Mt. Charleston blue butterfly habitat, Boyd and Murphy (2008, p. 26) cautioned that thinning treatments would need to be implemented carefully to minimize short-term disturbance impacts to the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly and its habitat. Individual butterflies (larvae, pupae, and adults), and larval host plants and nectar plants, may be crushed during project implementation. In areas where thinned trees are chipped (mastication), layers of wood chips may become too deep and impact survival of Mt. Charleston blue butterfly larvae and pupae, as well as larval host plants and nectar plants. Soil VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:03 Sep 26, 2012 Jkt 226001 and vegetation disturbance during project implementation also would result in increases in weeds and disturbance-adapted species, such as Chrysothamnus spp. (rabbitbrush), and these plants would compete with Mt. Charleston blue butterfly larval host and nectar plants. Conservation Agreement and Plans That May Offset Habitat Threats A conservation agreement was developed in 1998 to facilitate voluntary cooperation among the Forest Service, the Service, and the State of Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources in providing long-term protection for the rare and sensitive flora and fauna of the Spring Mountains, including the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly (Forest Service 1998, pp. 1– 50). The Conservation Agreement was in effect for a period of 10 years after it was signed on April 13, 1998 (Forest Service et al. 1998, pp. 44, 49), was renewed in 2008 (Forest Service 2008), and coordination between the Forest Service and Service has continued. Many of the conservation actions described in the conservation agreement have been implemented; however, several important conservation actions that would have directly benefited the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly have not been implemented. Regardless, many of the conservation actions in the conservation agreement (for example, inventory and monitoring) would not directly reduce threats to the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly or its habitat. In 2004, the Service and Forest Service signed a memorandum of agreement that provides a process for review of activities that involve species covered under the 1998 Conservation Agreement (Forest Service and Service 2004, pp. 1–9). Formal coordination through this memorandum of agreement was established to: (1) Jointly develop projects that avoid or minimize impacts to listed, candidate, and proposed species, and species under the 1998 conservation agreement; and (2) to ensure consistency with commitments and direction provided for in recovery planning efforts and in conservation agreement efforts. More than half of the past projects that impacted Mt. Charleston blue butterfly habitat were reviewed by the Service and Forest Service under this review process, but several were not. Some efforts under this memorandum of agreement have been successful in reducing or avoiding project impacts to the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly, while other efforts have not. Examples of projects that have reduced or avoided impacts to the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly include the PO 00000 Frm 00011 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 59527 Lee Meadows Restoration Project (discussed above in Recreation, Development, and Other Projects under Factor A) and the Bristlecone Trail Habitat Improvement Project (Forest Service 2007c, pp. 1–7; Forest Service 2007d, pp. 1–14; Service 2007, p. 1–2). A new conservation agreement is currently being developed for the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area (SMNRA). The loss or modification of known occupied and presumed occupied Mt. Charleston blue butterfly habitat in Upper Lee Canyon, as discussed above, has occurred in the past. However, more recently, the Forest Service has suspended decisions on certain projects that would potentially impact Mt. Charleston blue butterfly habitat (see discussion of lower parking lot expansion and new snowmaking lines projects under Recreation, Development, and Other Projects, above). In addition, the Forest Service has reaffirmed its commitment to collaborate with the Service in order to avoid implementation of projects or actions that would impact the viability of the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly (Forest Service 2010c). This commitment includes: (1) Developing a mutually agreeable process to review future proposed projects to ensure that implementation of these actions will not lead to loss of population viability; (2) reviewing proposed projects that may pose a threat to the continued viability of the subspecies; and (3) jointly developing a conservation agreement (strategy) that identifies actions that will be taken to ensure the conservation of the subspecies (Forest Service 2010c). The Forest Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service are currently in the process of developing the conservation agreement. The Mt. Charleston blue butterfly is a covered species under the 2000 Clark County Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan (MSHCP). The Clark County MSHCP identifies two goals for the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly: (a) ‘‘Maintain stable or increasing population numbers and host and larval plant species’’; and (b) ‘‘No net unmitigated loss of larval host plant or nectar plant species habitat’’ (RECON 2000a, Table 2.5, pp. 2–154; RECON 2000b, pp. B158–B161). The Forest Service is one of several signatories to the Implementing Agreement for the Clark County MSHCP, because many of the activities from the 1998 Conservation Agreement were incorporated into the MSHCP. Primarily, activities undertaken by the Forest Service focused on conducting E:\FR\FM\27SEP3.SGM 27SEP3 59528 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 188 / Thursday, September 27, 2012 / Proposed Rules tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS3 surveying and monitoring for butterflies. Although some surveying and monitoring occurred through contracts by the Forest Service, Clark County, and the Service, a butterfly monitoring plan was not fully implemented. Recently, the Forest Service has been implementing the LVSSR Adaptive Vegetation Management Plan (Forest Service 2005b, pp. 1–24) to provide mitigation for approximately 11 ac (4.45 ha) of impacts to presumed occupied butterfly habitat (and other sensitive wildlife and plant species habitat) resulting from projects that the Forest Service implemented in 2005 and 2006. Under the plan, LVSSR will revegetate impacted areas using native plant species, including Astragalus calycosus var. calycosus. However, this program is experimental and has experienced difficulties due to the challenges of native seed availability and propagation. Under the plan, A. c. var. calycosus is being brought into horticultural propagation. These efforts are not likely to provide replacement habitat to the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly for another 5 years (2016–2018), because of the short alpine growing season. Summary of Factor A The Mt. Charleston blue butterfly is currently known to occur in two locations: the South Loop Trail area in upper Kyle Canyon and LVSSR in Upper Lee Canyon. In addition, the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly is presumed to occupy eight locations: Foxtail, Youth Camp, Gary Abbott, Lower LVSSR Parking, Lee Meadows, Bristlecone Trail, Bonanza Trail, and Mummy Spring. Habitat loss and modification, as a result of fire suppression and longterm successional changes in forest structure, implementation of recreational development projects and fuels reduction projects, and nonnative species, are continuing threats to the butterfly’s habitat in Upper Lee Canyon. Recreational area reconstruction projects currently planned also may negatively impact Mt. Charleston blue butterfly habitat in Upper Lee Canyon. In addition, proposed future activities under a draft Master Development Plan at LVSSR may impact the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly and its habitat in Upper Lee Canyon. Because of its likely small population size, projects that impact even relatively small areas of occupied habitat could threaten the long-term population viability of Mt. Charleston blue butterfly. The continued loss or modification of presumed occupied habitat would further impair the longterm population viability of the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly in Upper Lee VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:03 Sep 26, 2012 Jkt 226001 Canyon by removing diapausing larvae (if present) and by reducing the ability of the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly to disperse during favorable years. The successional advance of trees, shrubs, and grasses, and the spread of nonnative species are continuing threats to the subspecies in Upper Lee Canyon. The Mt. Charleston blue butterfly is presumed extirpated from at least three of the six historical locations (Upper Lee Canyon holotype, Upper Kyle Canton Ski Area, and Old Town), likely due to successional changes and the introduction of nonnative plants. Nonnative forbs and grasses are a threat to the subspecies and its habitat at LVSSR. There are agreements and plans in place (including the 2008 Spring Mountains Conservation Agreement and the 2000 Clark County Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan) that are intended to conserve the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly and its habitat. Future voluntary conservation actions could be implemented in accordance with the terms of these agreements and plans but will be largely dependent on the level of funding available to the Forest Service for such work. Conservation actions (for example, mechanical thinning of timber stands and prescribed burns to create openings in the forest canopy suitable for the Mount Charleston blue butterfly and its host and nectar plants) could reduce to some degree the ongoing adverse effects to the butterfly of vegetative succession promoted by alteration of the natural fire regime in the Spring Mountains. The Forest Service’s commitment to collaboratively review proposed projects to minimize impacts to the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly may reduce the threat posed by activities under the Forest Service’s control, although we are unable to determine the potential effectiveness of this new strategy at this time. Therefore, based on the current distribution and recent, existing, and likely future trends in habitat loss, we find that the present and future destruction, modification, and curtailment of its habitat or range is a threat to the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly. Factor B. Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or Educational Purposes Rare butterflies and moths are highly prized by collectors, and an international trade exists in specimens for both live and decorative markets, as well as the specialist trade that supplies hobbyists, collectors, and researchers (Collins and Morris 1985, pp. 155–179; Morris et al. 1991, pp. 332–334; PO 00000 Frm 00012 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 Williams 1996, pp. 30–37). The specialist trade differs from both the live and decorative market in that it concentrates on rare and threatened species (U.S. Department of Justice [USDJ] 1993, pp. 1–3; United States v. Skalski et al., Case No. CR9320137, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California [USDC] 1993, pp. 1–86). In general, the rarer the species, the more valuable it is; prices can exceed $25,000 for exceedingly rare specimens. For example, during a 4-year investigation, special agents of the Service’s Office of Law Enforcement executed warrants and seized over 30,000 endangered and protected butterflies and beetles, with a total wholesale commercial market value of about $90,000 in the United States (USDJ 1995, pp. 1–4). In another case, special agents found at least 13 species protected under the Act, and another 130 species illegally taken from lands administered by the Department of the Interior and other State lands (USDC 1993, pp. 1–86; Service 1995, pp. 1–2). Several listings of butterflies as endangered or threatened species under the Act have been based, at least partially, on intense collection pressure. Notably, the Saint Francis’ satyr (Neonympha mitchellii francisci) was emergency-listed as an endangered species on April 18, 1994 (59 FR 18324). The Saint Francis’ satyr was demonstrated to have been significantly impacted by collectors in just a 3-year period (59 FR 18324). The Callippe and Behren’s silverspot butterflies (Speyeria callippe callippe and Speyeria zerene behrensii) were listed as endangered species on December 5, 1997 (62 FR 64306), partially due to overcollection. The Blackburn’s sphinx moth (Manduca blackburni) was listed as an endangered species on February 1, 2000 (65 FR 4770), partially due to overcollection by private and commercial collectors. Most recently, the Miami blue butterfly (Cyclargus thomasi bethunebakeri) was emergency-listed as an endangered species (76 FR 49542; August 10, 2011), with collection being one of the primary threats. Butterflies in small populations are vulnerable to harm from collection (Gall 1984, p. 133). A population may be reduced to below sustainable numbers by removal of females, reducing the probability that new colonies will be founded. Collectors can pose threats to butterflies because they may be unable to recognize when they are depleting colonies below the thresholds of survival or recovery (Collins and Morris 1985, pp. 162–165). There is ample evidence of collectors impacting other imperiled and endangered butterflies E:\FR\FM\27SEP3.SGM 27SEP3 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 188 / Thursday, September 27, 2012 / Proposed Rules (Gochfeld and Burger 1997, pp. 208– 209), host plants (Cech and Tudor 2005, p. 55), and even contributing to extirpations (Duffey 1968, p. 94). For example, the federally endangered Mitchell’s satyr (Neonympha mitchellii mitchellii) is believed to have been extirpated from New Jersey due to overcollection (57 FR 21567; Gochfeld and Burger 1997, p. 209). Rare butterflies can be highly prized by insect collectors, and collection is a known threat to some butterfly species, such as the Fender’s blue butterfly (65 FR 3882; January 25, 2000). In particular, small colonies and populations are at the highest risk. Overcollection or repeated handling and marking of females in years of low abundance can seriously damage populations through loss of reproductive individuals and genetic variability (65 FR 3882; January 25, 2000). Since the publication of the 12month finding (76 FR 12667) in 2011, we have discovered information that indicates butterfly collecting is a threat for the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly and that collectors seek diminutive butterflies. In areas of the southwestern United States surrounding the range of the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly, other diminutive lycaenid butterflies such as Western-tailed blue butterfly (Everes amyntula), Pygmy blue butterfly (Brephidium exilis), Ceraunus blue butterfly (Hemiargus ceraunus), and Boisduval’s blue butterfly (Plebejus icariodes ssp.) have been confiscated from commercial traders who illegally collected them (U.S. Attorney’s Office 1994, pp. 4, 8, 16; Alexander 1996, pp. 1–6). Furthermore, we have information that diminutive butterfly collecting is occurring within the Spring Mountains (Service 2012, pp. 1–4). Because diminutive butterflies are sought, the inadvertent collection of Mt. Charleston blue butterflies has likely occurred and is expected to continue. 59529 When Austin first described the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly in 1980 (Austin 1980, p. 22), he indicated that collectors regularly visited areas close to the known collection sites of the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly. Records indicate collection has occurred in several locations within the Spring Mountains, with Lee Canyon being among the most popular areas for butterfly collecting (Table 2; Austin 1980, p. 22; Service 2012, p. 2). Butterfly collectors may sometimes remove the only individual of a subspecies observed during collecting trips, even if it is known to be a unique specimen (Service 2012, p. 3). In many instances, a collector may not know he has a particularly rare or scarce species until after collection and subsequent identification takes place. The best available information indicates that Mt. Charleston blue butterflies have been collected for personal use (Service 2012, p. 2). TABLE 2—NUMBERS OF MT. CHARLESTON BLUE BUTTERFLY SPECIMENS COLLECTED BY AREA, YEAR, AND SEX Collection area Year Male Female Unknown Kyle Canyon ......................................................................... Cathedral Rock .................................................................... Deer Creek Rd ..................................................................... South Loop ........................................................................... 1928 1928 1963 1976 2002 1965 1972 1950 2007 ........................ 15 8 1 1 3 ........................ 2 ........................ ........................ 19 6 ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ ........................ *∼700 ........................ 8 ........................ ........................ ........................ 1 ........................ 1 *∼700 34 22 1 1 3 1 2 1 Total .............................................................................. ........................ 30 25 10 65 Mt. Charleston ...................................................................... Willow Creek ........................................................................ Lee Canyon .......................................................................... Total References: Garth 1928, p. 93; Howe 1975, Plate 59; Austin 1980, p. 22; Austin and Austin 1980, p. 30; Kingsley 2007, p. 4; Service 2012, p. 2 tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS3 * = Collections by Frank Morand as reported in Garth 1928, p. 93. Not included in totals. In some cases, private collectors often have more extensive collections of particular butterfly species than museums (Alexander 1996, p. 2). Butterfly collecting (except those with protected status) for noncommercial (recreational and personal) purposes does not require a special use authorization (Forest Service 1998b, p. 1; Joslin 1998, p. 74). However, within the SMNRA, Lee Canyon, Cold Creek, Willow Creek, and upper Kyle Canyon have been identified since 1996 as areas where permits are required for any butterfly collecting (Forest Service 1998, pp. 28, E9). However, no permits have been issued for collecting in these areas. On Forest Service-administered lands, a special use permit is required for the commercial collection of butterflies (36 CFR 251.50), which would include collections for research, museums, universities, or professional societies (Forest Service 2003, pp. 2–3). There are VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:03 Sep 26, 2012 Jkt 226001 no records indicating that special use permits have been issued for commercial collecting of Mt. Charleston blue butterflies in the Spring Mountains (S. Hinman 2011, pers. comm.); however, as discussed above, unauthorized commercial collecting has occurred in the past. For most butterfly species, collecting is generally thought to have less of an impact on butterfly populations compared to other threats. Weiss et al. (1997, p. 29) indicated that, in general, responsible collecting posed little harm to populations. However, when a butterfly population is very small, any collection of butterflies results in the direct mortality of individuals and may greatly affect the population’s viability and ability to recover. Populations already stressed by other factors may be severely threatened by intensive collecting (Thomas 1984, p. 345; Miller 1994, pp. 76, 83; New et al. 1995, p. 62). PO 00000 Frm 00013 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 Thomas 1984 (p. 345) suggested that closed, sedentary populations of less than 250 adults are most likely to be at risk from overcollection. In summary, due to the small number of discrete populations, overall small metapopulation size, close proximity to roads and trails, restricted range, and evidence of ongoing collection, we have determined that collection is a threat to the subspecies now and will continue to be in the future. Factor C. Disease or Predation We are not aware of any information regarding impacts from either disease or predation on the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly. Therefore, we do not find that disease or predation is a threat to the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly or likely to become a threat. E:\FR\FM\27SEP3.SGM 27SEP3 tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS3 59530 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 188 / Thursday, September 27, 2012 / Proposed Rules Factor D. The Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms Under this factor, we examine whether existing regulatory mechanisms are inadequate to address the threats to the species discussed under the other factors. Section 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act requires the Service to take into account ‘‘those efforts, if any, being made by any State or foreign nation, or any political subdivision of a State or foreign nation, to protect such species * * *.’’ In relation to Factor D under the Act, we interpret this language to require the Service to consider relevant Federal, State, and tribal laws, regulations, and other such mechanisms that may minimize any of the threats we describe in threat analyses under the other four factors, or otherwise enhance conservation of the species. We give strongest weight to statutes and their implementing regulations and to management direction that stems from those laws and regulations. An example would be State governmental actions enforced under a State statute or constitution, or Federal action under statute. Having evaluated the significance of the threat as mitigated by any such conservation efforts, we analyze under Factor D the extent to which existing regulatory mechanisms are inadequate to address the specific threats to the species. Regulatory mechanisms, if they exist, may reduce or eliminate the impacts from one or more identified threats. In this section, we review existing State and Federal regulatory mechanisms to determine whether they effectively reduce or remove threats to the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly. The Mt. Charleston blue butterfly occurs primarily on Federal land under the jurisdiction of the Forest Service; therefore, the discussion below focuses on Federal laws. There is no available information regarding local land use laws and ordinances that have been issued by Clark County or other local government entities for the protection of the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly. Nevada Revised Statutes sections 503 and 527 offer protective measures to wildlife and plants, but do not include invertebrate species such as the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly. Therefore, no regulatory protection is offered under Nevada State law. Please note that actions adopted by local groups, States, or Federal entities that are discretionary, including conservation strategies and guidance, are not regulatory mechanisms and were discussed above in the Conservation Agreement and Plans That May Offset Habitat Threats section in Factor A, above. VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:03 Sep 26, 2012 Jkt 226001 Mt. Charleston blue butterflies have been detected in only two general areas in recent years—the South Loop Trail area, where adult butterflies were recently detected during the summer of 2010 and 2011, and at LVSSR in 2010. The Forest Service manages lands designated as wilderness under the Wilderness Act of 1964 (16 U.S.C. 1131– 1136). With respect to these areas, the Wilderness Act states the following: (1) New or temporary roads cannot be built; (2) there can be no use of motor vehicles, motorized equipment, or motorboats; (3) there can be no landing of aircraft; (4) there can be no other form of mechanical transport; and (5) no structure or installation may be built. As such, Mt. Charleston blue butterfly habitat in the South Loop Trail area is protected from direct loss or degradation by the prohibitions of the Wilderness Act. Mt. Charleston blue butterfly habitat at LVSSR and elsewhere in Lee Canyon and Kyle Canyon is located outside of the Mt. Charleston Wilderness, and thus is not subject to protections afforded by the Wilderness Act. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), requires Federal agencies, such as the Forest Service, to describe proposed agency actions, consider alternatives, identify and disclose potential environmental impacts of each alternative, and involve the public in the decisionmaking process. Federal agencies are not required to select the NEPA alternative having the least significant environmental impacts. A Federal agency may select an action that will adversely affect sensitive species provided that these effects are identified in a NEPA document. The NEPA itself is a disclosure law, and does not require subsequent minimization or mitigation of actions taken by Federal agencies. Although Federal agencies may include conservation measures for the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly as a result of the NEPA process, such measures are not required by the statute. The Forest Service is required to analyze its projects, listed under Factor A, above, in accordance with the NEPA. The SMNRA is one of 10 districts of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest and was established by Public Law 103– 63, dated August 4, 1993 (the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area Act, 16 U.S. C. 460hhh et seq.). The Federal lands of the SMNRA are managed by the Forest Service in Clark and Nye Counties, Nevada, for the following purposes: (1) To preserve the scenic, scientific, historic, cultural, natural, wilderness, PO 00000 Frm 00014 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 watershed, riparian, wildlife, threatened and endangered species, and other values contributing to public enjoyment and biological diversity in the Spring Mountains of Nevada; (2) To ensure appropriate conservation and management of natural and recreational resources in the Spring Mountains; and (3) To provide for the development of public recreational opportunities in the Spring Mountains for the enjoyment of present and future generations. Habitat of the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly is predominantly in the SMNRA and one of several resources considered by the Forest Service under the guidance of its land management plans. The National Forest Management Act (NFMA) of 1976, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1600 et seq.), provides the principal guidance for the management of activities on lands under Forest Service jurisdiction through associated land and resource management plans for each forest unit. Under NFMA and other Federal laws, the Forest Service has authority to regulate recreation, vehicle travel and other human disturbance, livestock grazing, fire management, energy development, and mining on lands within its jurisdiction. Current guidance for the management of Forest Service lands in the SMNRA is under the Toiyabe National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan and the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area General Management Plan (Forest Service 1996). In June 2006, the Forest Service added the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly, and three other endemic butterflies, to the Regional Forester’s Sensitive Species List, in accordance with Forest Service Manual 2670. The Forest Service’s objective in managing sensitive species is to prevent listing of species under the Act, maintain viable populations of native species, and develop and implement management objectives for populations and habitat of sensitive species. Projects listed in Factor A, above, have been guided by these Forest Service plans, policies, and guidance. These plans, policies, and guidance notwithstanding, removal or degradation of known occupied and presumed occupied butterfly habitat has occurred as a result of projects approved by the Forest Service in Upper Lee Canyon. Additionally, this guidance has not been effective in reducing other threats to the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly (for example, invasion of nonnative plant species and commercial and personal collection activities) (Weiss et al. 1995, pp. 5–6, Titus and Landau 2003, p. 1; Boyd and Murphy 2008, p. 6; Service 2012, pp. 1–4). E:\FR\FM\27SEP3.SGM 27SEP3 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 188 / Thursday, September 27, 2012 / Proposed Rules tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS3 Since the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly is designated a sensitive species, Standard 0.28 of the Land and Resource Management Plan for the Spring Mountains requires a collecting permit issued by the Regional Forester (except for traditional use by American Indians) (Forest Service 1996, p. 18). Furthermore, Standard 11.6 indicates that collecting, regardless of species, in specific areas, including Cold Creek, Lee Canyon, upper Kyle Canyon, and Willow Creek, also requires a permit (Forest Service 1996, p. 31). These items, identified as ‘‘standards,’’ are constraints or mitigation measures that must be followed as directed by the General Management Plan (Forest Service 1996, p. 2). Collection permits are not required for activities contracted by, or performed under, agreement with the Forest Service. Additional information obtained since publication of the 12-month finding indicates that collecting has occurred before and after the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly was designated a sensitive species (see Factor B); however, no permits have been issued to date (Service 2012, p. 1– 4; Shawnee Hinman, pers. comm. March 22, 2012). Summary of Factor D Although Mt. Charleston blue butterfly habitat at the South Loop Trail area is to be afforded protection by prohibitions of the Wilderness Act from many types of habitat-disturbing actions, in fact, habitat-disturbance activities (such as those associated with recreation) have occurred in other locations and may continue to occur. Projects conducted under the current management plans have disturbed habitat, and may occur again in the future. The current existing regulatory mechanism designed to regulate the collection of Mt. Charleston blue butterflies is not effectively addressing or ameliorating the threat of collection to the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly, because of inadequate enforcement. Specifically, the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly is designated a sensitive species by the Forest Service, and, since 2006, a permit has been required for the noncommercial collection of this subspecies. This requirement provides limited protection, however, because collections of this and other species of butterflies have taken place without permits being issued. As discussed above, we have evidence of nonpermitted collection. Therefore, existing law, regulation, and policy have not prevented the collection of Mt. Charleston blue butterflies (see Factor B, Table 2). VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:03 Sep 26, 2012 Jkt 226001 In addition, Mt. Charleston blue butterflies occur in extremely small populations that are limited in distribution and are vulnerable to collections, projects, or actions that impact populations or even relatively small areas of occupied or suitable habitat. Therefore, we conclude that there is an inadequacy in the existing regulatory mechanisms designed to protect the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly from threats discussed in this finding (Factor A and B above). Factor E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued Existence Our analyses under the Endangered Species 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 (e.g., 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 (e.g., 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. Global climate projections are informative, and, in some cases, the only or the best scientific information available for us to use. However, projected changes in climate and related impacts can vary substantially across and within different regions of the world (e.g., IPCC 2007a, pp. 8–12). Therefore, we use ‘‘downscaled’’ projections when they are available and have been developed through appropriate scientific procedures, because such projections provide higher resolution information that is more relevant to spatial scales used for analyses of a given species (see Glick et al. 2011, pp. 58–61, for a discussion of downscaling). IPCC models are at a PO 00000 Frm 00015 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 59531 landscape scale and project that precipitation will decrease in the southwestern United States (IPCC 2007b, p. 8, Table SPM.2). The IPCC reports that temperature increases and rising air and ocean temperature is unquestionable (IPCC 2007a, p. 4). Sitespecific models project temperatures in Nevada are likely to increase as much as 2.8 degrees Celsius (5 degrees Fahrenheit) by the 2050s (TNC 2011, p. 1). Precipitation variability in the Mojave Desert region is linked spatially and temporally with events in the tropical and northern Pacific Oceans (El ˜ ˜ Nino and La Nina) (USGS 2004, pp. 2– 3). In our analyses, we use our expert judgment to weigh relevant information, including uncertainty, in our consideration of various aspects of climate change as it affects the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly. The Mt. Charleston blue butterfly population has declined since the last high-population year in 1995 (a total of 121 butterflies were counted during surveys of 2 areas at LVSSR on 2 separate dates (Weiss 1996, p. 4)). This subspecies has a limited distribution, and population numbers are likely small. Small butterfly populations have a higher risk of extinction due to random environmental events (Shaffer 1981, p. 131; Shaffer 1987, pp. 69–75; Gilpin and Soule 1986, pp. 24–28). Weather extremes can cause severe butterfly population reductions or extinctions (Murphy et al. 1990, p. 43; Weiss et al. 1987, pp. 164–167; Thomas et al. 1996, pp. 964–969). Given the limited distribution and likely low population numbers of the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly, late-season snowstorms, severe summer monsoon thunderstorms, and drought have the potential to adversely impact the subspecies. Late-season snowstorms have caused alpine butterfly extirpations (Ehrlich et al. 1972, pp. 101–105), and false spring conditions followed by normal winter snowstorms have caused adult and prediapause larvae mortality (Parmesan 2005, pp. 56–60). In addition, high rainfall years have been associated with butterfly population declines (Dobkin et al. 1987, pp. 161–176). Extended periods of rainy weather can also slow larval development and reduce overwintering survival (Weiss et al. 1993, pp. 261–270). Weiss et al. (1997, p. 32) suggested that heavy summer monsoon thunderstorms adversely impacted Mt. Charleston blue butterflies during the 1996 flight season. During the 2006 and 2007 flight season, severe summer thunderstorms may have affected the flight season at LVSSR and the South Loop Trail (Newfields 2006, E:\FR\FM\27SEP3.SGM 27SEP3 tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS3 59532 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 188 / Thursday, September 27, 2012 / Proposed Rules pp. 11 and 14; Kingsley 2007, p. 8). Additionally, drought has been shown to lower butterfly populations (Ehrlich et al. 1980, pp. 101–105; Thomas 1984, p. 344). Drought can cause butterfly host plants to mature early and reduce larval food availability (Ehrlich et al. 1980, pp. 101–105; Weiss 1987, p. 165). This has likely affected the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly. Murphy (2006, p. 3) and Boyd (2006, p. 1) both assert a series of drought years, followed by a season of above-average snowfall and then more drought, could be a reason for the lack of butterfly sightings in 2006. Continuing drought could be responsible for the lack of sightings in 2007 and 2008 (Datasmiths 2007, p. 1; Boyd 2008, p. 2). Based on this evidence, we believe that the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly has likely been affected by unfavorable climatic changes in precipitation and temperature that are both ongoing and projected to continue into the future. High-elevation species like the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly may be particularly susceptible to some level of habitat loss due to global climate change exacerbating threats already impacting the subspecies (Peters and Darling 1985, p. 714; Hill et al. 2002, p. 2170). The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has high confidence in predictions that extreme weather events, warmer temperatures, and regional drought are very likely to increase in the northern hemisphere as a result of climate change (IPCC 2007, pp. 15–16). Climate models show the southwestern United States has transitioned into a more arid climate of drought that is predicted to continue into the next century (Seager et al. 2007, p. 1181). In the past 60 years, the frequency of storms with extreme precipitation has increased in Nevada by 29 percent (Madsen and Figdor 2007, p. 37). Changes in local southern Nevada climatic patterns cannot be definitively tied to global climate change; however, they are consistent with IPCC-predicted patterns of extreme precipitation, warmer than average temperatures, and drought (Redmond 2007, p. 1). Therefore, we think it likely that climate change will impact the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly and its high-elevation habitat through predicted increases in extreme precipitation and drought. Alternating extreme precipitation and drought may exacerbate threats already facing the subspecies as a result of its small population size and threats to its habitat. Summary of Factor E Small butterfly populations have a higher risk of extinction due to random VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:03 Sep 26, 2012 Jkt 226001 environmental events (Shaffer 1981, p. 131; Gilpin and Soule 1986, pp. 24–28; Shaffer 1987, pp. 69–75). Because of its small population and restricted range, the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly is vulnerable to random environmental events; in particular, the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly is threatened by extreme precipitation events and drought. In the past 60 years, the frequency of storms with extreme precipitation has increased in Nevada by 29 percent (Madsen and Figdor 2007, p. 37), and it is predicted that altered regional patterns of temperature and precipitation as a result of global climate change will continue (IPCC 2007, pp. 15–16). Throughout the entire range of the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly, altered climate patterns could increase the potential for extreme precipitation events and drought, and may exacerbate the threats the subspecies already faces given its small population size and the threats to the alpine environment where it occurs. Based on this information, we find that other natural or manmade factors are affecting the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly such that these factors are a threat to the subspecies’ continued existence. Proposed Determination We have carefully assessed the best scientific and commercial information available regarding the past, present, and future threats to the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly. The Mt. Charleston blue butterfly is sensitive to environmental variability with the butterfly population rising and falling in response to environmental conditions (see Status and Trends section). The best available information suggests the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly population has been in decline since 1995, the last year the subspecies was observed in high numbers, and that the population is now likely extremely small (see Status and Trends section). To some extent, the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly, like most butterflies, has evolved to survive periods of unfavorable environmental conditions as diapausing larvae or pupae (Scott 1986, pp. 26–30). The pupae of some butterfly species are known to persist in diapause up to 5 to 7 years (Scott 1986, p. 28). The number of years the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly can remain in diapause is unknown. It has been speculated that the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly may only be able to diapause for two seasons in a row (Murphy 2006, p. 1; Boyd and Murphy 2008, p. 21); however, a longer diapause period may be possible (Murphy 2006, p. 1; Datasmiths 2007, p. 6; Boyd and Murphy 2008, p. 22). The PO 00000 Frm 00016 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 best available information suggests environmental conditions from 2006 to 2009 have not been favorable to the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly (see Status and Trends section). Surveys are planned for 2012 to further determine the status and provide more knowledge about the ecology of the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly. Threats facing the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly, discussed above under listing Factors A, B, D, and E, increase the risk of extinction of the subspecies, given its few occurrences in a small area. The loss and degradation of habitat due to fire suppression and succession; the implementation of recreational development projects and fuels reduction projects; and the increases in nonnative plants (see Factor A), along with the persistent, ongoing threat of collection of the subspecies for commercial and noncommercial purposes (see Factor B) and the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms to prevent these impacts (see Factor D), will increase the inherent risk of extinction of the remaining few occurrences of the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly. These threats are likely to be exacerbated by the impact of climate change, which is anticipated to increase drought and extreme precipitation events (see Factor E). The Mt. Charleston blue butterfly is currently in danger of extinction because only small populations are known to occupy 2 of 18 historical locations, its status at 8 other locations where it is presumed to be occupied may be nearing extirpation, and the threats are ongoing and persistent at all known and presumed occupied locations. The Act defines an endangered species as any species that is ‘‘in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range’’ and a threatened species as any species ‘‘that is likely to become endangered throughout all or a significant portion of its range within the foreseeable future.’’ We find that the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly is presently in danger of extinction throughout its entire range, based on the immediacy, severity, and scope of the threats described above and its limited distribution of two known occupied locations and eight presumed occupied locations nearing extirpation. The Mt. Charleston blue butterfly thus meets the definition of an endangered species rather than threatened species because (1) It has been extirpated from six locations and eight others are imminently near extirpation; (2) it is limited to only two small populations; and (3) these small populations are facing severe and imminent threats. Therefore, on the basis of the best E:\FR\FM\27SEP3.SGM 27SEP3 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 188 / Thursday, September 27, 2012 / Proposed Rules tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS3 available scientific and commercial information, we propose listing the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly as endangered 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 a threatened or endangered species throughout all or a significant portion of its range. The Mt. Charleston blue butterfly 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 subspecies throughout its entire range. The threats to the survival of the subspecies occur throughout the subspecies’ range and are not restricted to any particular significant portion of that range. Accordingly, our assessment and proposed determination applies to the subspecies throughout its entire range, and we did not further evaluate a significant portion of the subspecies’ range. Available Conservation Measures Conservation measures provided to species listed as an endangered or threatened species 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, selfsustaining, and functioning components of their ecosystems. Recovery planning includes the development of a recovery outline shortly after a species is listed, preparation of a draft and final recovery VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:03 Sep 26, 2012 Jkt 226001 plan, and revisions to the plan as significant new information becomes available. The recovery outline guides the immediate implementation of urgent recovery actions and describes the process to be used to develop a recovery plan. The recovery plan identifies sitespecific management actions that are designed to achieve recovery of the species, objective, measurable criteria that determine when a species may be downlisted or delisted, and methods for monitoring recovery progress. Additionally, recovery plans contain estimated time and costs to carry out measures that are needed to achieve the goal and intermediate steps toward that goal. 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 (comprising species experts, Federal and State agencies, nongovernmental 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 the Nevada Fish and Wildlife 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, Tribes, 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. 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, pursuant to section 6 of the Act, the State of Nevada would be eligible for Federal funds to implement management actions that promote the protection and recovery of the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly. Information on our grant programs that are available to aid species recovery can be found at: http://www.fws.gov/grants. Although the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly is only proposed for listing PO 00000 Frm 00017 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 59533 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 an endangered or threatened species 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 Forest Service. 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 E:\FR\FM\27SEP3.SGM 27SEP3 tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS3 59534 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 188 / Thursday, September 27, 2012 / Proposed Rules 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 collecting, handling, possessing, selling, delivering, carrying, or transporting of the species, including import or export across State lines and international boundaries, except for properly documented antique specimens of the species at least 100 years old, as defined by section 10(h)(1) of the Act; (2) Introduction of nonnative species or the unauthorized release of biological control agents that compete with or attack any life stage of the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly, such as the introduction of nonnative ant, wasp, fly, beetle, or other insect species to the State of Nevada; or (3) Unauthorized modification of known occupied or presumed occupied habitats of the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly that support larval host and nectar plants. Questions regarding whether specific activities would constitute a violation of section 9 of the Act should be directed to the Nevada Fish and Wildlife 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, 2800 Cottage Way, Suite W–2606, Sacramento, California, 95825–1846 (telephone 916–414–6464; facsimile 916–414–6486). (1) The specific areas within the geographical area occupied by the species, at the time it is listed in accordance with the Act, on which are found those physical or biological features (a) Essential to the conservation of the species and (b) Which may require special management considerations or protection; and (2) Specific areas outside the geographical area occupied by the species at the time it is listed, upon a determination that such areas are essential for the conservation of the species. Conservation, as defined under section 3 of the Act, means to use and the use of all methods and procedures that are necessary to bring an endangered or threatened species to the point at which the measures provided pursuant to the Act are no longer necessary. Such methods and procedures include, but are not limited to, all activities associated with scientific resources management such as research, census, law enforcement, habitat acquisition and maintenance, propagation, live trapping, and transplantation, and, in the extraordinary case where population pressures within a given ecosystem cannot be otherwise relieved, may include regulated taking. 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, we designate critical habitat at the time we determine that a species is 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. We have determined that both circumstances apply to the Mt Charleston blue butterfly. This determination involves a weighing of the expected increase in threats associated with a critical habitat designation against the benefits gained by a critical habitat designation. An explanation of this ‘‘balancing’’ evaluation follows. Critical Habitat and Prudency Determination for the Mt. Charleston Blue Butterfly Increased Threat to the Subspecies by Designating Critical Habitat Designation of critical habitat requires the publication of maps and a narrative description of specific critical habitat Critical habitat is defined in section 3 of the Act as: VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:03 Sep 26, 2012 Jkt 226001 PO 00000 Frm 00018 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 areas in the Federal Register. The degree of detail in those maps and boundary descriptions is greater than the general location descriptions provided in this proposal to list the species as endangered. We are concerned that designation of critical habitat would more widely announce the exact location of the butterflies to poachers, collectors, and vandals and further facilitate unauthorized collection and trade. Due to its extreme rarity (a low number of individuals, combined with small areas inhabited by the remaining metapopulation), this butterfly is highly vulnerable to collection. Disturbance and other harm from humans are also serious threats to the butterfly and its habitat (see Factor B above). At this time, removal of any individuals or damage to habitat would have devastating consequences for the survival of the subspecies. These threats would be exacerbated by the publication of maps and descriptions in the Federal Register and local newspapers outlining the specific locations of this critically imperiled butterfly. Maps and descriptions of critical habitat, such as those that would appear in the Federal Register if critical habitat were designated, are not now available to the general public. Please note that while we have listed area and trail names of historically occupied, presumed occupied, and currently occupied locations, these lists do not indicate specific locations, and the actual currently known occupied locations are a portion of the much larger-scale areas listed in the tables in this document. We have specific evidence of taking for this subspecies, and the noncommercial collection of butterflies from the Spring Mountains in Nevada is ongoing (Service 2012, pp. 1–5). As a subspecies endemic to the Spring Mountains, the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly is sought by collectors who may not be aware of specific locations where it is found (Service 2012, pp. 1– 5). While we are not aware of a specific market for butterflies from the Spring Mountains, there have been collections documented (collected, collected and sold, and collected with intent to sell) in nearby surrounding areas such as the Death Valley National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, and Kaibab National Forest (U.S. Attorney’s Office, 1993, pp. 2–3). A great deal of effort is made by collectors to conceal collection activities that may be legal or illegal, so as not to draw attention to the collectors (U.S. Attorney’s Office, 1993, pp. 1–86). Some collections in nearby areas have been for commercial purposes (U.S. Attorney’s Office, 1993, pp. 1–86). E:\FR\FM\27SEP3.SGM 27SEP3 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 188 / Thursday, September 27, 2012 / Proposed Rules tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS3 Additionally, we are aware of a market for butterflies that look similar to the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly, including one of the species proposed for listing due to similarity of appearance. It is clear that a demand currently exists for both imperiled butterflies and those similar in appearance to the Mt. Charleston blue. Due to the small number of discrete populations, overall small metapopulation size, accessibility of some occupied habitats, and restricted range, we find that collection is a threat to the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly and could occur at any time. Even limited collection from the remaining metapopulation would have deleterious effects on the reproductive and genetic viability of the subspecies and thus could contribute to its extinction. Identification of critical habitat would increase the severity of this threat by depicting the exact locations where the subspecies may occur and more widely publicizing this information, exposing the fragile population and its habitat to greater risks. Identification and publication of critical habitat maps would also likely increase enforcement problems. Although take prohibitions exist, effective enforcement is difficult. As discussed in Factors B, D, and elsewhere above, the threat of collection exists, and areas are already difficult to patrol. Areas within the Mt. Charleston Wilderness are remote and accessible mainly by a steep and long ascent, making the areas difficult for law enforcement personnel to patrol and monitor. Designation of critical habitat could facilitate further use and misuse of sensitive habitats and resources, and create additional difficulty for law enforcement personnel in an already challenging environment. Overall, we find that designation of critical habitat will increase the likelihood and severity of the threats of unauthorized collection of the subspecies and destruction of sensitive habitat, as well as exacerbate enforcement issues. Benefits to the Subspecies From Critical Habitat Designation It is true that designation of critical habitat for the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly within the Spring Mountains would have some beneficial effects. Section 7(a)(2) of the Act requires Federal agencies, including the Service, to ensure that actions they fund, authorize, or carry out are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered or threatened species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of that species’ critical habitat. Critical habitat only provides VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:03 Sep 26, 2012 Jkt 226001 protections where there is a Federal nexus; that is, those actions that come under the purview of section 7 of the Act. Critical habitat designation has no application to actions that do not have a Federal nexus. Section 7(a)(2) of the Act mandates that Federal agencies, in consultation with the Service, evaluate the effects of their proposed actions on any designated critical habitat. Similar to the Act’s requirement that a Federal agency action not jeopardize the continued existence of listed species, Federal agencies have the responsibility not to implement actions that would destroy or adversely modify designated critical habitat. Critical habitat designation alone, however, does not require that a Federal action agency implement specific steps toward species recovery. All areas known to support the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly since 1995 are or have been on Federal lands; these areas are currently being managed for multiple uses. Management efforts are reviewed by the Forest Service and the Service to consider Mt. Charleston blue butterfly conservation needs. Because the butterfly exists only as two occupied and eight presumed occupied, small metapopulations, any future activity involving a Federal action that would destroy or adversely modify occupied critical habitat would also likely jeopardize the subspecies’ continued existence. Consultation with respect to critical habitat would provide additional protection to a species only if the agency action would result in the destruction or adverse modification of the critical habitat but would not jeopardize the continued existence of the species. In the absence of a critical habitat designation, areas that support the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly will continue to be subject to conservation actions implemented under section 7(a)(1) of the Act and to the regulatory protections afforded by the section 7(a)(2) jeopardy standard, as appropriate. Federal actions affecting the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly, even in the absence of designated critical habitat areas, will still benefit from consultation pursuant to section 7(a)(2) of the Act and may still result in jeopardy findings. Another potential benefit to the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly from designating critical habitat is that it could serve to educate landowners, State and local government agencies, and the general public regarding the potential conservation value of the area. In addition, designation of critical habitat could inform State agencies and local governments about areas that could be PO 00000 Frm 00019 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 59535 conserved under State laws or local ordinances. However, since awareness and education involving the Mt. Charleston blue is already well underway, designation of critical habitat would likely provide only minimal incremental benefits. Therefore, designation of specific areas as critical habitat that are currently occupied or recently occupied is unlikely to provide measurable benefit to the subspecies. Increased Threat to the Subspecies Outweighs the Benefits of Critical Habitat Designation Upon reviewing the available information, we have determined that the designation of critical habitat would increase the threat to the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly from unauthorized collection. At the same time, we have determined that a designation of critical habitat is likely to confer little measurable benefit to the subspecies beyond that provided by listing. Results of consultations on Federal actions affecting the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly, should it be listed under the Act, would likely be no different with critical habitat than without its designation. Overall, we find that the risk of increasing significant threats to the subspecies by publishing location information in a critical habitat designation greatly outweighs the benefits of designating critical habitat. In conclusion, we find that the designation of critical habitat is not prudent, in accordance with 50 CFR 424.12(a)(1), because the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly is threatened by collection, and designation can reasonably be expected to increase the degree of these threats to the subspecies and its habitat. Critical habitat designation could provide some benefit to the subspecies, but these benefits are significantly outweighed by the increased risk of collection pressure and enforcement problems that could result from depicting, through publicly available maps and descriptions, exactly where this extremely rare butterfly and its habitat occurs. Similarity of Appearance Section 4(e) of the Act authorizes the treatment of a species, subspecies, or population segment as an endangered or threatened species if: ‘‘(a) Such species so closely resembles in appearance, at the point in question, a species which has been listed pursuant to such section that enforcement personnel would have substantial difficulty in attempting to differentiate between the listed and unlisted species; (b) the effect of this substantial difficulty is an additional threat to an endangered or threatened E:\FR\FM\27SEP3.SGM 27SEP3 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 188 / Thursday, September 27, 2012 / Proposed Rules tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS3 species; and (c) such treatment of an unlisted species will substantially facilitate the enforcement and further the policy of this Act.’’ Listing a species as an endangered or threatened species under the similarity of appearance provisions of the Act extends the take prohibitions of section 9 of the Act to cover the species. A designation of an endangered or threatened species due to similarity of appearance under section 4(e) of the Act, however, does not extend other protections of the Act, such as consultation requirements for Federal agencies under section 7 and the recovery planning provisions under section 4(f), that apply to species that are listed as an endangered or threatened species under section 4(a). All applicable prohibitions and exceptions for species listed under section 4(e) of the Act due to similarity of appearance to a threatened or endangered species will be set forth in a special rule under section 4(d) of the Act. There are only slight morphological differences between the Mt. Charleston blue and the lupine blue, Reakirt’s blue, Spring Mountains icarioides blue, and the two Spring Mountains dark blue butterflies, making it difficult to VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:03 Sep 26, 2012 Jkt 226001 differentiate between the species, especially due to their small size. This poses a problem for Federal and State law enforcement agents trying to stem unauthorized collection of the Mt. Charleston blue. It is quite possible that collectors authorized to collect similar species may inadvertently (or purposefully) collect the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly, thinking it to be the lupine blue, Reakirt’s blue, Spring Mountains icarioides blue, or one of the two Spring Mountains dark blue butterflies, which also occur in the same geographical area and habitat type and have overlapping flight periods. The listing of these similar blue butterflies as threatened species due to similarity of appearance eliminates the ability of amateur butterfly enthusiasts and private and commercial collectors to purposefully or accidentally misrepresent the Mt. Charleston blue as one of these other species. The listing will facilitate Federal and State law enforcement agents’ efforts to curtail unauthorized possession, collection, and trade in the Mt. Charleston blue. At this time, the five similar butterflies are not protected by the State. Extending the prohibition of collection to the five similar butterflies PO 00000 Frm 00020 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4725 through this listing of these species due to similarity of appearance under section 4(e) of the Act and providing applicable prohibitions and exceptions in a special rule under section 4(d) of the Act will provide greater protection to the Mt. Charleston blue. For these reasons, we are proposing to list the lupine blue butterfly (Plebejus lupini texanus), Reakirt’s blue butterfly (Echinargus isola), Spring Mountains icarioides blue butterfly (Plebejus icarioides austinorum), and the two Spring Mountains dark blue butterflies (Euphilotes ancilla cryptica and E. a. purpura) as threatened species due to similarity of appearance to the Mt. Charleston blue, pursuant to section 4(e) of the Act on private and public lands within the District Boundary for the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest and north of Nevada State Highway 160 (commonly referred to as the Spring Mountains and Mt. Charleston) (see Figure 1). Figure 1. Map of the area where the proposed special rule for the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly applies to the five similarity of appearance butterflies. E:\FR\FM\27SEP3.SGM 27SEP3 EP27SE12.007</GPH> 59536 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 188 / Thursday, September 27, 2012 / Proposed Rules Special Rule Under Section 4(d) of the Act Whenever a species is listed as a threatened species under the Act, the Secretary may specify regulations that he deems necessary and advisable to provide for the conservation of that species under the authorization of section 4(d) of the Act. These rules, commonly referred to as ‘‘special rules,’’ are found in part 17 of title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) in sections 17.40–17.48. This special rule to be promulgated under the designation 50 CFR 17.47, will establish prohibitions on collection of the lupine blue butterfly (Plebejus lupini texanus), Reakirt’s blue butterfly (Echinargus isola), Spring Mountains icarioides blue butterfly (Plebejus icarioides austinorum), and two Spring Mountains dark blue butterflies (Euphilotes ancilla cryptica and E. a. purpura), or their immature stages, where their ranges overlap with the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly, in order to protect the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly from collection, possession, and trade. In this context, collection is defined as any activity where lupine blue butterfly, Reakirt’s blue butterfly, Spring Mountains icarioides blue butterfly, and the two Spring Mountains dark blue butterflies or their immature stages are, or are attempted to be, collected. Capture of the lupine blue butterfly, Reakirt’s blue butterfly, Spring Mountains icarioides blue butterfly, and the two Spring Mountains dark blue butterflies, or their immature stages, is not prohibited if it is accidental, such as during research, provided the animal is released immediately upon discovery at the point of capture. Scientific activities involving collection or propagation of these similarity-of-appearance butterflies are not prohibited provided there is prior written authorization from the Service. All otherwise legal activities involving the lupine blue butterfly, Reakirt’s blue butterfly, Spring Mountains icarioides blue butterfly, and the two Spring Mountains dark blue butterflies that are conducted in accordance with applicable State, Federal, Tribal, and local laws and regulations are not considered to be take under this proposed rule. tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS3 Effects of These Rules Listing the lupine blue butterfly, Reakirt’s blue butterfly, Spring Mountains icarioides blue butterfly, and the two Spring Mountains dark blue butterflies as threatened species under the ‘‘similarity of appearance’’ provisions of the Act, and the promulgation of a special rule under VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:03 Sep 26, 2012 Jkt 226001 section 4(d) of the Act, extend take prohibitions to these species and their immature stages. Capture of these species, including their immature stages, is not prohibited if it is accidental, such as during research, provided the animal is released immediately upon discovery, at the point of capture. There are over 100 species and subspecies of butterflies within the 10 genera, occurring domestically and internationally, that could be confused with the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly, or the 4 similarity of appearance butterflies. We are aware that legal trade in some of these other blue butterflies exists. To avoid confusion and delays in legal trade, we strongly recommend maintaining the appropriate documentation and declarations with legal specimens at all times, especially when importing them into the United States. Legal trade of other species that may be confused with the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly or the five similarity of appearance butterflies should also comply with the import/ export transfer regulations under 50 CFR 14, where applicable. All otherwise legal activities that may involve what we would normally define as incidental take (take that results from, but is not the purpose of, carrying out an otherwise lawful activity) of these similar butterflies, and which are conducted in accordance with applicable State, Federal, Tribal, and local laws and regulations, will not be considered take under this regulation. For example, this special 4(d) rule exempts legal application of pesticides, grounds maintenance, recreational facilities maintenance, vehicle use, vegetation management, exotic plant removal, and burning. These actions will not be considered as violations of section 9 of the Act if they result in incidental take of any of the similarity of appearance butterflies. We think that not applying take prohibitions for those otherwise legal activities to these five similar butterflies (lupine blue butterfly, Reakirt’s blue butterfly, Spring Mountains icarioides blue butterfly, and the two Spring Mountains dark blue butterflies) will not pose a threat to the Mt. Charleston blue because: (1) Activities such as grounds maintenance and vegetation control in developed or commercial areas are not likely to affect the Mt. Charleston blue, and (2) the primary threat to the Mt. Charleston blue comes from collection and commercial trade. Listing the lupine blue butterfly, Reakirt’s blue butterfly, Spring Mountains icarioides blue butterfly, and the two Spring Mountains dark blue butterflies under the PO 00000 Frm 00021 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 59537 similarity of appearance provision of the Act, coupled with this special 4(d) rule, will help minimize enforcement problems related to collection, and enhance conservation of the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly. 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 listing decision is based on scientifically sound data, assumptions, and analyses. We have invited these peer reviewers to comment during this public comment period on our specific proposed listing, prudency determination, and similarity of appearance proposal. We will consider all comments and information received 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 accommodation to attend and participate in a public hearing should contact the Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office at 775–861–6300, as soon as possible. To allow sufficient time to process requests, please call no later than 1 week before the hearing date. Information regarding this proposed rule is available in alternative formats upon request. Nonsubstantive Administrative Action Included in this proposed rule is text to correct errors in a previously issued rule. When we published the final rule to list the Miami blue butterfly (Cyclargus thomasi bethunebakeri) as endangered and to list three additional butterflies as threatened by similarity of appearance (77 FR 20948; April 6, 2012), the last column in the table at 50 CFR 17.11(h) was inadvertently omitted E:\FR\FM\27SEP3.SGM 27SEP3 59538 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 188 / Thursday, September 27, 2012 / Proposed Rules from the published rule. This column indicates where the public may locate a special rule pertaining to the three species that were listed as threatened by similarity of appearance (cassius blue butterfly, ceraunus blue butterfly, and nickerbean blue butterfly) in title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Therefore, we are providing that information in this proposed rule. We are also proposing a revision to paragraph (a) of that special rule, which is found in 50 CFR 17.47, to make the format of that special rule consistent with this proposed special rule, which will be located immediately following, at 50 CFR 17.47(b). These changes are administrative and nonsubstantive. Required Determinations 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. tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS3 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 VerDate Mar<15>2010 18:28 Sep 26, 2012 Jkt 226001 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)). to make information available to tribes. We determined that there are no tribal lands occupied by the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly at the time of listing. Therefore, this rulemaking, if finalized, will not affect tribal lands. Clarity of the Rule References Cited 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. A complete list of references cited in this rulemaking is available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov and upon request from the Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Authors The primary authors of this package are the staff members of the Nevada Fish and Wildlife 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] Government-to-Government Relationship With Tribes 1. The authority citation for part 17 continues to read as follows: 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 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. PO 00000 Frm 00022 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 2. Amend § 17.11(h), the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife, by: a. Revising the entries for ‘‘Butterfly, cassius blue’’, ‘‘Butterfly, ceraunus blue’’, ‘‘Butterfly, Miami blue’’, and Butterfly, nickerbean blue’’; and b. Adding new entries for ‘‘Butterfly, lupine blue’’, ‘‘Butterfly, Mt. Charleston blue’’, ‘‘Butterfly, Reakirt’s blue’’, ‘‘Butterfly, Spring Mountains dark blue’’, ‘‘Butterfly, Spring Mountains dark blue’’, and ‘‘Butterfly, Spring Mountains icarioides blue’’, in alphabetical order under Insects, to read as follows: § 17.11 Endangered and threatened wildlife. * * * (h) * * * E:\FR\FM\27SEP3.SGM 27SEP3 * * 59539 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 188 / Thursday, September 27, 2012 / Proposed Rules Species Vertebrate population where endangered or threatened Common name * INSECTS Scientific name * * * Butterfly, cassius blue. * Leptotes cassius theonus. Butterfly, ceraunus blue. Hemiargus ceraunus antibubastus. * Butterfly, lupine blue Status * Historic range * When listed Critical habitat * Special rules * * U.S.A. (FL), Bahamas, Greater Antilles, Cayman Islands. U.S.A. (FL), Bahamas. * NA ........................... * T (S/A) * 801 NA 17.47(a) NA ........................... T(S/A) 801 NA 17.47(a) * Plebejus lupini texanus. * U.S.A. (AZ, CA, CO, NE, NM, NV, TX, UT), Mexico. * NA ........................... * T (S/A) * * Butterfly, Miami blue * Cyclargus thomasi bethunebakeri. * U.S.A. (FL), Bahamas. * NA ........................... * E * 801 * Butterfly, Mt. Charleston blue. * Plebejus shasta charlestonensis. * U.S.A. (NV), Spring Mountains. * NA ........................... * E * * Butterfly, nickerbean blue. * Cyclargus ammon .. * U.S.A. (FL), Bahamas, Cuba. * NA ........................... * T(S/A) * 801 * Butterfly, Reakirt’s blue. * Echinargus isola ..... * U.S.A. (AR, AZ, CA, CO, IA, IL, IN, KS, LA, MI, MN, MO, MS, ND, NE, NM, NV, OH, OK, SD, TN, TX, UT, WA, WI, WY), Mexico. * NA ........................... * T(S/A) * * Butterfly, Spring Mountains dark blue. Butterfly, Spring Mountains dark blue. Butterfly, Spring Mountains icarioides blue. * Euphilotes ancilla cryptica. * U.S.A. (NV), Spring Mountains. * NA ........................... * T(S/A) * Euphilotes ancilla purpura. U.S.A. (NV), Spring Mountains. NA ........................... Plebejus icarioides austinorum. U.S.A. (NV), Spring Mountains. NA ........................... * * * 3. Amend § 17.47 by revising the introductory text or paragraph (a) and paragraph (a)(4) and adding paragraph (b) to read as follows: tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS3 § 17.47 Special rules–insects. (a) Cassius blue butterfly (Leptotes cassius theonus), Ceraunus blue butterfly (Hemiargus ceraunus antibubastus), and Nickerbean blue butterfly (Cyclargus ammon). The provisions of this special rule apply to these species only when found in coastal counties of Florida south of Interstate 4 and extending to the boundaries of the State at the endpoints VerDate Mar<15>2010 18:28 Sep 26, 2012 Jkt 226001 * Frm 00023 Fmt 4701 17.47(b) * NA NA * NA NA * NA 17.47(a) * NA 17.47(b) * 17.47(b) T(S/A) NA 17.47(b) T(S/A) NA 17.47(b) * Sfmt 4702 * NA NA of Interstate 4 at Tampa and Daytona Beach. Specifically, regulated activities are prohibited in the following counties: Brevard, Broward, Charlotte, Collier, De Soto, Hillsborough, Indian River, Lee, Manatee, Pinellas, Sarasota, St. Lucie, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Palm Beach, and Volusia. * * * * * (4) Collection of the cassius blue butterfly, ceraunus blue butterfly, and nickerbean blue butterfly is prohibited in the areas set forth in paragraph (a). (b) Lupine blue butterfly (Plebejus lupini texanus), Reakirt’s blue butterfly (Echinargus isola), Spring Mountains PO 00000 * * * icarioides blue butterfly (Plebejus icarioides austinorum), and two Spring Mountains dark blue butterflies (Euphilotes ancilla cryptica and E. a. purpura). The provisions of this special rule apply to these species only when found on private and public lands within the District Boundary for the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest and north of Nevada State Highway 160 (commonly referred to as the Spring Mountains and Mt. Charleston). E:\FR\FM\27SEP3.SGM 27SEP3 59540 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 188 / Thursday, September 27, 2012 / Proposed Rules (1) The provisions of § 17.31(c) apply to these species (lupine blue butterfly, Reakirt’s blue butterfly, Spring Mountains icarioides blue butterfly, and two Spring Mountains dark blue butterflies), regardless of whether in the wild or in captivity, and also apply to the progeny of any such butterfly. (2) Any violation of State law will also be a violation of the Act. (3) Incidental take, that is, take that results from, but is not the purpose of, carrying out an otherwise lawful activity, will not apply to the lupine blue butterfly, Reakirt’s blue butterfly, Spring Mountains icarioides blue butterfly, and two Spring Mountains dark blue butterflies. (4) Collection of the lupine blue butterfly, Reakirt’s blue butterfly, two Spring Mountains dark blue butterflies, and Spring Mountains icarioides blue butterfly is prohibited in the Spring Mountains of Nevada. (5) A map showing the area covered by this special rule follows: Dated: September 11, 2012. Michael J. Bean, Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks. [FR Doc. 2012–23747 Filed 9–26–12; 8:45 am] VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:03 Sep 26, 2012 Jkt 226001 PO 00000 Frm 00024 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 9990 E:\FR\FM\27SEP3.SGM 27SEP3 EP27SE12.008</GPH> tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS3 BILLING CODE 4310–55–P

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 188 (Thursday, September 27, 2012)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 59517-59540]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-23747]



[[Page 59517]]

Vol. 77

Thursday,

No. 188

September 27, 2012

Part IV





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; Proposed Listing of the 
Mount Charleston Blue Butterfly as Endangered and Proposed Listing of 
Five Blue Butterflies as Threatened Due to Similarity of Appearance; 
Proposed Rule

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

[[Page 59518]]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[FWS-R8-ES-2012-0069; 4500030114]
RIN 1018-AY52


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Proposed Listing 
of the Mount Charleston Blue Butterfly as Endangered and Proposed 
Listing of Five Blue Butterflies as Threatened Due to Similarity of 
Appearance

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 
Mount Charleston blue butterfly (Plebejus shasta charlestonensis) as an 
endangered species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended 
(Act). We also propose to list the lupine blue butterfly (Plebejus 
lupini texanus), Reakirt's blue butterfly (Echinargus isola), Spring 
Mountains icarioides blue butterfly (Plebejus icarioides austinorum), 
and the two Spring Mountains dark blue butterflies (Euphilotes ancilla 
cryptica and E. a. purpura) as threatened due to similarity of 
appearance to the Mount Charleston blue, with a special rule pursuant 
to section 4(d) of the Act. We solicit additional data, information, 
and comments that may assist us in making a final decision on this 
proposed action. In addition, we propose to make nonsubstantive, 
administrative changes to a previously published listing and special 
rule regarding five other butterflies to correct some inadvertent 
errors and to make these two special rules more consistent.

DATES: 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 ADDRESSES 
section by November 13, 2012.

ADDRESSES: 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-R8-ES-
2012-0069, which is the docket number for this rulemaking. You may 
submit a comment by clicking on ``Comment Now!''
    (2) By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public 
Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R8-ES-2012-0069, 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 Public Comments section below for more information).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Edward D. Koch, Field Supervisor, U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office, 1340 
Financial Blvd., Suite 234, Reno, Nevada 89502, by telephone 775-861-
6300 or by facsimile 775-861-6301. Persons who use a telecommunications 
device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay 
Service (FIRS) at 800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Executive Summary

    This document consists of: (1) A proposed rule to list the Mount 
(Mt.) Charleston blue butterfly (Plebejus shasta charlestonensis) 
(formerly in genus Icaricia) as an endangered species and a proposed 
rule to list the lupine blue butterfly (Plebejus lupini texanus), 
Reakirt's blue butterfly (Echinargus isola), Spring Mountains 
icarioides blue butterfly (Plebejus icarioides austinorum), and the two 
Spring Mountains dark blue butterflies (Euphilotes ancilla cryptica and 
E. a. purpura) as threatened due to similarity of appearance to the Mt. 
Charleston blue butterfly; (2) a prudency determination regarding 
critical habitat designation for the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly; and 
(3) nonsubstantive, administrative corrections to a previously 
published listing of the Miami blue butterfly (Cyclargus thomasi 
bethunebakeri) and special rule regarding the cassius blue butterfly 
(Leptotes cassius theonus), ceraunus blue butterfly (Hemiargus ceraunus 
antibubastus), and nickerbean blue butterfly (Cyclargus ammon).
    Why we need to publish a rule. Under the Endangered Species Act 
(Act), a species may warrant protection through listing if it is an 
endangered or threatened species throughout all or a significant 
portion of its range. If a species is determined to be an endangered or 
threatened species throughout all or a significant portion of its 
range, we are required to promptly publish a proposal in the Federal 
Register and make a determination on our proposal within one year. 
Critical habitat shall be designated, to the maximum extent prudent and 
determinable, for any species determined to be an endangered or 
threatened species under the Act. Listing a species as an endangered or 
threatened species and designations and revisions of critical habitat 
can only be completed by issuing a rule.
    This rule proposes endangered status for the Mt. Charleston blue 
butterfly and proposes threatened status for the lupine blue butterfly, 
Reakirt's blue butterfly, Spring Mountains icarioides blue butterfly, 
and two Spring Mountains dark blue butterflies based on similarity of 
appearance to the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly. This rule also finds 
that designation of critical habitat for the Mt. Charleston blue 
butterfly is not prudent at this time.
    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 that the Mt. Charleston blue 
butterfly is threatened by:
     Habitat loss and degradation due to fire suppression and 
succession, implementation of recreation development projects and fuels 
reduction projects, and nonnative plant species (Factor A);
     Collection (Factor B);
     Inadequate regulatory mechanisms (Factor D); and
     Drought and extreme precipitation events, which are 
predicted to increase as a result of climate change (Factor E).
    We have additionally determined that five species of blue 
butterflies warrant listing based on similarity of appearance to the 
Mt. Charleston blue butterfly:
     Lupine blue butterfly;
     Reakirt's blue butterfly;
     Spring Mountains icarioides blue butterfly; and
     Two Spring Mountains dark blue butterflies.
    Further, we have determined that it is not prudent to designate 
critical habitat for the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly because the 
benefits are clearly outweighed by the expected increase in threats 
associated with a critical habitat designation:
     Publication of maps and descriptions of specific critical 
habitat

[[Page 59519]]

areas will pinpoint populations more precisely than does the rule;
     Publishing the exact locations of the butterfly's habitat 
will further facilitate unauthorized collection and trade. Its rarity 
makes the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly extremely attractive to 
collectors; and
     Purposeful or inadvertent activities have already damaged 
some habitat. Many locations are difficult for law enforcement 
personnel to regularly access and patrol.
    We will seek peer review. We are seeking comments from 
knowledgeable individuals with scientific expertise to review our 
analysis of the best available science and application of that science 
and to provide any additional scientific information to improve this 
proposed rule. Because we will consider all comments and information 
received during the comment period, our final determinations may differ 
from this proposal.
    This document consists of: (1) A proposed rule to list the Mount 
(Mt.) Charleston blue butterfly (Plebejus shasta charlestonensis) 
(formerly in genus Icaricia) as an endangered species and a proposed 
rule to list the lupine blue butterfly (Plebejus lupini texanus), 
Reakirt's blue butterfly (Echinargus isola), Spring Mountains 
icarioides blue butterfly (Plebejus icarioides austinorum), and the two 
Spring Mountains dark blue butterflies (Euphilotes ancilla cryptica and 
E. a. purpura) as threatened due to similarity of appearance to the Mt. 
Charleston blue butterfly; and (2) a prudency determination regarding 
critical habitat designation for the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly.

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 the public, 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 and noncommercial trade or collection, 
or other relevant data concerning any threats (or lack thereof) to this 
species and 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) Any information on the biological or ecological requirements of 
the species, and ongoing conservation measures for the species and its 
habitat.
    (6) 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.
    (7) Specific information on:
    (a) The amount and distribution of Mt. Charleston blue butterfly 
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; and
    (f) What areas not occupied at the time of listing are essential 
for the conservation of the species and why.
    (8) Land use designations and current or planned activities in the 
areas occupied by the species or potential habitat and their possible 
impacts to the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly.
    (9) Information on the projected and reasonably likely impacts of 
climate change on the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly or its habitat.
    (10) Threats to the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly from collection 
of or commercial trade involving the lupine blue butterfly (Plebejus 
lupini texanus), Reakirt's blue butterfly (Echinargus isola), Spring 
Mountains icarioides blue butterfly (Plebejus icarioides austinorum), 
and the two Spring Mountains dark blue butterflies (Euphilotes ancilla 
cryptica and E. a. purpura), due to the Mt. Charleston blue's 
similarity in appearance to these species.
    (11) Effects of and necessity of establishing the proposed 4(d) 
special rule to establish prohibitions on collection of, or commercial 
trade involving, the lupine blue butterfly, Reakirt's blue butterfly, 
Spring Mountains icarioides blue butterfly, and two Spring Mountains 
dark blue butterflies.
    (12) 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.
    (13) 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.
    (14) 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 include sufficient information with your submission (such as 
scientific journal articles or other publications) to allow us to 
verify any scientific or commercial information you include.
    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

[[Page 59520]]

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, Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT).

Previous Federal Actions

    In 1991 and 1994, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) 
included the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly in a compilation of taxa for 
review and potential addition to the Lists of Endangered and Threatened 
Wildlife and Plants (56 FR 58804, November 21, 1991; 59 FR 58982, 
November 15, 1994). The Mt. Charleston blue butterfly was formerly 
referred to as the Spring Mountains blue (butterfly) (56 FR 58804, 
November 21, 1991; 59 FR 58982, November 15, 1994), but this common 
name is no longer used to avoid confusion with other butterflies having 
similar common names. In both years, the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly 
was assigned to ``Category 2,'' meaning that a proposal to list was 
potentially appropriate, but adequate data on biological threats or 
vulnerabilities were not currently available. The trend for Mt. 
Charleston blue butterfly was described as ``declining'' in 1991 and 
1994 (56 FR 58804; 59 FR 58982). These notices stressed that Category 2 
species were not proposed for listing by the notice, nor were there any 
plans to list those Category 2 species unless supporting information 
became available.
    In the February 28, 1996, Candidate Notice of Review (61 FR 7595), 
we adopted a single category of candidate defined as ``Those species 
for which the Service has on file sufficient information on biological 
vulnerability and threat(s) to support issuance of a proposed rule to 
list but issuance of the proposed rule is precluded.'' In previous 
Candidate Notices of Review, species and subspecies matching this 1996 
definition were known as Category 1 candidates for listing. Thus, the 
Service no longer considered Category 2 species and subspecies as 
candidates and did not include them in the 1996 or any subsequent 
Candidate Notices of Review. The decision to stop considering Category 
2 species and subspecies as candidates was designed to reduce confusion 
about the status of these species and subspecies and to clarify that we 
no longer regarded these species and subspecies as candidates for 
listing.
    On October 20, 2005, we received a petition dated October 20, 2005, 
from The Urban Wildlands Group, Inc., requesting that we emergency list 
the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly as an endangered or threatened 
species. In a letter to the petitioner dated April 20, 2006, we stated 
that our initial review did not indicate that an emergency situation 
existed, but that if conditions changed, an emergency rule could be 
developed. On May 30, 2007, we published a 90-day petition finding (72 
FR 29933) in which we concluded that the petition provided substantial 
information indicating that listing of the Mt. Charleston blue 
butterfly may be warranted, and we initiated a status review. On April 
26, 2010, CBD amended its complaint in Center for Biological Diversity 
v. Salazar, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Case No.: 1:10-cv-230-PLF 
(D.D.C.), adding an allegation that the Service failed to issue its 12-
month petition finding on the Mount Charleston blue butterfly within 
the mandatory statutory timeframe. On March 8, 2011, we published a 12-
month finding (76 FR 12667) in which we concluded that listing the Mt. 
Charleston blue butterfly was warranted, but precluded by higher 
priority listing actions. On October 26, 2011, we listed the Mt. 
Charleston blue butterfly as a new candidate in the Candidate Notice of 
Review (76 FR 66370).

Endangered Species Status for Mt. Charleston Blue Butterfly

Background

    It is our intent to discuss below only those topics directly 
relevant to the listing of the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly as an 
endangered species in this section of the proposed rule.

Taxonomy and Subspecies Description

    The Mt. Charleston blue butterfly is a distinct subspecies of the 
wider ranging Shasta blue butterfly (Plebejus shasta), which is a 
member of the Lycaenidae family. Pelham (2008, pp. 25-26) recognized 
seven subspecies of Shasta blue: P. s. shasta, P. s. calchas, P. s. 
pallidissima, P. s. minnehaha, P. s. charlestonensis, P. s. 
pitkinensis, and P. s. platazul in ``A catalogue of the butterflies of 
the United States and Canada with a complete bibliography of the 
descriptive and systematic literature'' published in volume 40 of the 
Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera (2008, pp. 379-380). The Mt. 
Charleston blue butterfly is known only from the high elevations of the 
Spring Mountains, located approximately 25 miles (mi) (40 kilometers 
(km)) west of Las Vegas in Clark County, Nevada (Austin 1980, p. 20; 
Scott 1986, p. 410). The first mention of the Mt. Charleston blue 
butterfly as a unique taxon was in 1928 by Garth (p. 93), who 
recognized it as distinct from the species Shasta blue (Austin 1980, p. 
20). Howe (in 1975, Plate 59) described specimens from the Spring 
Mountains as the P. s. shasta form comstocki. However, in 1976, Ferris 
(p. 14) placed the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly with the wider ranging 
Minnehaha blue subspecies. Finally, Austin asserted that Ferris had not 
included populations from the Sierra Nevada in his study, and in light 
of the geographic isolation and distinctiveness of the Shasta blue 
population in the Spring Mountains and the presence of at least three 
other well-defined races (subspecies) of butterflies endemic to the 
area, it was appropriate to name this population as the subspecies Mt. 
Charleston blue butterfly (P. s. charlestonensis) (Austin 1980, p. 20).
    Our use of the genus name Plebejus, rather than the synonym 
Icaricia, reflects recent treatments of butterfly taxonomy (Opler and 
Warren 2003, p. 30; Pelham 2008, p. 265). The Integrated Taxonomic 
Information System (ITIS) recognizes the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly 
as a valid subspecies based on Austin (1980) (Retrieved April 2, 2012, 
from the Integrated Taxonomic Information System on-line database, 
http://www.itis.gov). The ITIS is hosted by the United States 
Geological Survey (USGS) Center for Biological Informatics (CBI) and is 
the result of a partnership of Federal agencies formed to satisfy their 
mutual needs for scientifically credible taxonomic information.

[[Page 59521]]

    As a subspecies, the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly is similar to 
other Shasta blue butterflies, with a wingspan of 0.75 to 1 inch (in) 
(19 to 26 millimeters (mm)) (Opler 1999, p. 251). Males and females of 
Mt. Charleston blue are dimorphic (occurring in two distinct forms). 
The upperside of males is dark to dull iridescent blue, and females are 
brown with a blue overlay. The species has a discal black spot on the 
forewing and a row of submarginal black spots on the hindwing. The 
underside is gray, with a pattern of black spots, brown blotches, and 
pale wing veins to give it a mottled appearance. The underside of the 
hindwing has an inconspicuous band of submarginal metallic spots (Opler 
1999, p. 251). Based on morphology, the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly 
is most closely related to the Great Basin populations of Minnehaha 
blue butterfly (Austin 1980, p. 23), and it can be distinguished from 
other Shasta blue butterfly subspecies by the presence of sharper and 
blacker postmedian spots on the underside of the hindwing (Scott 1986, 
p. 410).
    The Mt. Charleston blue butterfly is similar in appearance to five 
other sympatric (occupying the same or overlapping geographic areas 
without interbreeding) butterflies that occur roughly in the same 
habitats: lupine blue butterfly (Plebejus lupini texanus), Reakirt's 
blue butterfly (Echinargus isola), Spring Mountains icarioides blue 
butterfly (Plebejus icarioides austinorum), and the two Spring 
Mountains dark blue butterflies (Euphilotes ancilla cryptica and E. a. 
purpura). The lupine blue butterfly (also commonly referred to as the 
Acmon blue, Texas blue, or Southwestern blue butterfly) is the most 
similar to the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly (Boyd and Austin 1999, p. 
44). The Mt. Charleston blue butterfly is distinguished from the lupine 
blue butterfly by a less broad and distinct orange band on the hindwing 
(Boyd and Austin, p. 44), and the postmedian spots on the underside of 
the hindwing are brown rather than black (Scott 1986, p. 410). The 
Reakirt's blue butterfly is similar in size or slightly smaller than 
the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly and is identified by black underside 
hindwing spots at the hind corner and large round black underside 
forewing spots (Scott 1986, p. 413; Opler 1999, pp. 230, 251). The 
Spring Mountains icarioides blue butterfly is larger than the Mt. 
Charleston blue butterfly and usually lacks the upperside forewing dash 
(Scott 1986, p. 409). In addition the underside hindwing postmedian 
spots of the Spring Mountains icarioides blue butterfly are typically 
ringed with white (Scott 1986, p. 409). The two Spring Mountains dark 
blue butterflies and the Spring Mountains icarioides blue butterfly 
lack the metallic marginal spots on the underside hindwing that is 
present on the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly (Scott 1986, p. 403; Brock 
and Kaufmann 2003, pp. 134, 136, 140). The two Spring Mountains dark 
blue butterflies have a more prominent orange band on the hindwing and 
do not have black dashes in the middle of the upperside forewing and 
hindwing as the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly does (Brock and Kaufmann 
2003, pp. 136, 140; Scott 1986, pp. 403, 410).

Distribution

    Based on current and historical occurrences or locations (Austin 
1980, pp. 20-24; Weiss et al. 1997, Map 3.1; Boyd and Murphy 2008, p. 
4, Pinyon 2011, Figure 9-11; Thompson et al. 2012, p. 99), the 
geographic range of the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly is in the upper 
elevations of the Spring Mountains, centered on lands managed by the 
U.S. Forest Service (Forest Service) in the Spring Mountains National 
Recreation Area of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest within Upper 
Kyle and Lee Canyons, Clark County, Nevada. The majority of the 
occurrences or locations are along the upper ridges in the Mt. 
Charleston Wilderness and in Upper Lee Canyon area, while a few are in 
Upper Kyle Canyon. Table 1 lists the various locations of the Mt. 
Charleston blue butterfly that constitute the subspecies' current and 
historical range. Estimates of population size for Mt. Charleston blue 
butterfly are not available, so the occurrence data summarized in Table 
1 represent the best scientific information on distribution of Mt. 
Charleston blue butterfly and how that distribution has changed over 
time.

    Table 1--Locations or Occurrences of the Mt. Charleston Blue Butterfly Since 1928, and the Status of the
                                           Butterfly at the Locations
                                   [Survey efforts are variable through time]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                    Most recent survey
         Location name             First/last      year(s)  (even if not         Status             Primary
                                  time observed          observed)                                 references
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1. South Loop Trail, Upper Kyle       1928/2011  2007, 2008, 2010, 2011..  Known occupied;     Weiss et al.
 Canyon.                                                                    adults              1997; Kingsley
                                                                            consistently        2007; Boyd 2006;
                                                                            observed.           Datasmiths 2007;
                                                                                                SWCA 2008;
                                                                                                Pinyon 2011;
                                                                                                Thompson et al.
                                                                                                2012.
2. Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard        1963/2010  2007, 2008, 2010, 2011..  Known occupied;     Weiss et al.
 Resort (LVSSR), Upper Lee                                                  adults              1994; Weiss et
 Canyon.                                                                    consistently        al. 1997; Boyd
                                                                            observed.           and Austin 2002;
                                                                                                Boyd 2006;
                                                                                                Newfields 2006;
                                                                                                Datasmiths 2007;
                                                                                                Boyd and Murphy
                                                                                                2008;Thompson et
                                                                                                al. 2012.
3. Foxtail, Upper Lee Canyon...       1995/1998  2006, 2007, 2008........  Presumed occupied;  Boyd and Austin
                                                                            adults              1999; Boyd 2006;
                                                                            intermittently      Datasmiths 2007;
                                                                            observed.           Boyd and Murphy
                                                                                                2008.
4. Youth Camp, Upper Lee Canyon       1995/1995  2006, 2007, 2008........  Presumed occupied;  Weiss et al.
                                                                            adults              1997; Boyd 2006;
                                                                            intermittently      Datasmiths 2007;
                                                                            observed.           Boyd and Murphy
                                                                                                2008.
5. Gary Abbott, Upper Lee             1995/1995  2006, 2007, 2008........  Presumed occupied;  Weiss et al.
 Canyon.                                                                    adults              1997; Boyd 2006;
                                                                            intermittently      Datasmiths 2007;
                                                                            observed.           Boyd and Murphy
                                                                                                2008.
6. Lower LVSSR Parking, Upper         1995/2002  2007, 2008..............  Presumed occupied;  Weiss et al.
 Lee Canyon.                                                                adults              1997; Boyd 2006;
                                                                            intermittently      Datasmiths 2007;
                                                                            observed.           Boyd and Murphy
                                                                                                2008.

[[Page 59522]]

 
7. Mummy Spring, Upper Kyle           1995/1995  2006....................  Presumed occupied;  Weiss et al.
 Canyon.                                                                    adults              1997; Boyd 2006.
                                                                            intermittently
                                                                            observed.
8. Lee Meadows, Upper Lee             1965/1995  2006, 2007, 2008........  Presumed occupied;  Weiss et al.
 Canyon.                                                                    adults              1997; Boyd 2006;
                                                                            intermittently      Datasmiths 2007;
                                                                            observed.           Boyd and Murphy
                                                                                                2008.
9. Bristlecone Trail...........       1990/2011  2007, 2011..............  Presumed occupied.  Weiss et al.
                                                                                                1995; Weiss et
                                                                                                al. 1997;
                                                                                                Kingsley 2007;
                                                                                                Thompson et al.
                                                                                                2012.
10. Bonanza Trail..............       1995/1995  2006, 2007..............  Presumed occupied.  Weiss et al.
                                                                                                1997; Boyd 2006;
                                                                                                Kingsley 2007.
11. Upper Lee Canyon holotype..       1963/1976  2006, 2007..............  Presumed            Weiss et al.
                                                                            extirpated.         1997; Boyd 2006;
                                                                                                Datasmiths 2007.
12. Cathedral Rock, Kyle Canyon       1972/1972  2007....................  Presumed            Weiss et al.
                                                                            extirpated.         1997; Datasmiths
                                                                                                2007.
13. Upper Kyle Canyon Ski Area.       1965/1972  1995....................  Presumed            Weiss et al.
                                                                            extirpated.         1997.
14. Old Town, Kyle Canyon......           1970s  1995....................  Presumed            The Urban
                                                                            extirpated.         Wildlands Group,
                                                                                                Inc. 2005.
15. Deer Creek, Kyle Canyon....            1950  unknown.................  Presumed            Howe 1975.
                                                                            extirpated.
16. Willow Creek...............            1928  unknown.................  Presumed            Weiss et al.
                                                                            extirpated.         1997; Thompson
                                                                                                and Garrett
                                                                                                2010.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    We presume that the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly is extirpated 
from a location when it has not been recorded at that location through 
formal surveys or informal observation for more than 20 years. We 
selected a 20-year time period because it would likely allow for local 
extirpation and recolonization events (metapopulation dynamics) to 
occur and would be enough time for succession or other vegetation 
shifts to render the habitat unsuitable (see discussion in Biology and 
Habitat sections below). Using this criterion, the Mt. Charleston blue 
butterfly is considered to be ``presumed extirpated'' from 6 of the 16 
known locations (Locations 11-16 in Table 1) (Service 2006b, pp. 8-9). 
Of the remaining 10 locations, 8 locations or occurrences are 
``presumed occupied'' by the subspecies (Locations 3-10 in Table 1) and 
the first 2 locations are ``known occupied'' (Locations 1-2 in Table 1) 
(Service 2006b, pp. 7-8). We note that the probability of detection of 
Mt. Charleston blue butterflies at a particular location in a given 
year is affected by factors other than the butterfly's abundance, such 
as survey effort and weather, both of which are highly variable from 
year to year.
    The presumed occupied category is defined as a location within the 
current known range of the subspecies where adults have been 
intermittently observed and there is a potential for diapausing (a 
period of suspended growth or development similar to hibernation) 
larvae to be present. The butterfly likely exhibits metapopulation 
dynamics at these locations. In this situation, the subspecies is 
subject to local extirpation, with new individuals emigrating from 
nearby ``known occupied'' habitat, typically during years when 
environmental conditions are more favorable to emergence from diapause 
and the successful reproduction of individuals (see discussion in 
``Habitat'' section below). At some of these presumed occupied 
locations (Locations 4, 5, 7, 8, and 10 in Table 1), the Mt. Charleston 
blue butterfly has not been recorded through formal surveys or informal 
observation since 1995 by Weiss et al. (1997, pp. 1-87). Of the 
presumed occupied locations, 3, 6, and 9 have had the most recent 
observations (observed in 1998, 2002, and 2011, respectively) (Table 
1). Currently, we consider the occurrence at Mummy Spring as presumed 
occupied because it has been intermittently observed; however, this 
location is not near known occupied habitat and may be extirpated.
    We consider the remaining two Mt. Charleston blue butterfly 
locations or occurrences to be ``known occupied'' (Locations 1 and 2 in 
Table 1). Known occupied locations have had successive observations 
during multiple years of surveys and occur in high-quality habitat. The 
South Loop Trail location in Upper Kyle Canyon (Location 1 in Table 1) 
is considered known occupied because: (1) The butterfly was observed on 
the site in 1995, 2002, 2007, 2010, and 2011 (Service 2007, pp. 1-2; 
Kingsley 2007, p. 5; Pinyon 2011, pp. 17-19; Thompson et al. 2012, p. 
99); (2) the high quality of the habitat is in accordance with host 
plant densities of 10 plants per square meter as described in Weiss et 
al. (1997, p. 31) (Kingsley 2007, pp. 5 and 10; Thompson et al. 2012, 
p. 99); and (3) in combination with the observations and high-quality 
habitat, the habitat is in an area of relatively large size (SWCA 2008, 
pp. 2 and 5; Pinyon 2011, p. Figure 8). The South Loop Trail area is 
the most important remaining population area for the Mt. Charleston 
blue butterfly (Boyd and Murphy 2008, p. 21). The South Loop Trail runs 
along the ridgeline between Griffith Peak and Charleston Peak and is 
located within the Mt. Charleston Wilderness. This area was mapped 
using a global positioning system unit and included the larval host 
plant, Astragalus calycosus var. calycosus (Torrey's milkvetch), as 
well as occurrences of two known nectar plants, Hymenoxys lemmonii 
(Lemmon's bitterweed) and Erigeron clokeyi (Clokey fleabane) (SWCA 
2008, pp. 2 and 5; Pinyon 2011, p. 11). The total area of the South 
Loop Trail location is 60 acres (ac) (24 hectares (ha)).
    We consider the Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort location (LVSSR) 
in Upper Lee Canyon (Location 2 in Table

[[Page 59523]]

1) to be ``known occupied'' because: (1) The butterfly was first 
recorded at LVSSR in 1963 (Austin 1980, p. 22) and has been 
consistently observed at LVSSR every year between 1995 and 2006 (with 
the exception of 1997 when no surveys were performed (Service 2007, pp. 
1-2)) and in 2010 (Thompson and Garrett 2010, p. 5); and (2) the ski 
runs contain two areas of high-quality butterfly habitat in accordance 
with host plant densities of 10 plants per square meter as described in 
Weiss et al. (1997, p. 31). These areas are LVSSR 1 (2.4 ac 
(0.97 ha)) and LVSSR 2 (1.3 ac (0.53 ha)), which have been 
mapped using a global positioning system unit and field-verified. Thus, 
across its current range, the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly is known to 
persistently occupy less than 64 ac (26 ha) of known occupied habitat.

Status and Trends

    While there are no estimates of the size of the Mt. Charleston blue 
butterfly population, the best available information indicates a 
declining trend for this subspecies, as discussed below. Prior to 1980, 
descriptions of the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly status and trends 
were characterized as usually rare (Austin and Austin 1980, p. 30). The 
Mt. Charleston blue butterfly is known to be rare because few have been 
observed since the 1920's, even though there have been many collections 
and studies of butterflies in the Spring Mountains, particularly since 
the 1950's (Boyd and Austin 1999, p. 2).
    It is important to note that year-to-year fluctuations in 
population numbers do occur (most likely due to variations in 
precipitation and temperature that affect both the Mt. Charleston blue 
butterfly and its larval host plant (Weiss et al. 1997, pp. 2-3 and 31-
32)). However, the failure to detect Mt. Charleston blue butterflies at 
many of the known historical locations during the past 20 years, 
especially in light of increased survey efforts in recent years (since 
2006), indicates a reduction in the butterfly's distribution and likely 
decrease in total population size. In addition, five additional 
locations may be presumed extirpated in 2015, if surveys continue to 
fail to detect Mt. Charleston blue butterflies (these include Youth 
Camp, Gary Abbott, Lee Meadows, Bonanza Trail, and Mummy Spring, Table 
1). Mt. Charleston blue butterflies were last observed at these sites 
in 1995, which was the last year reported as a good year (Boyd and 
Murphy 2008, p. 22) for Mt. Charleston blue butterflies, as indicated 
by the numbers observed at LVSSR (121 counted during 2 surveys each of 
2 areas), and presence detected at 7 other locations (Weiss 1996, p. 4; 
Weiss et al. 1997, Table 2).
    Survey information indicates that the numbers of recently observed 
Mt. Charleston blue butterflies are extremely low because butterflies 
have become increasingly difficult to detect. Zonneveld et al. (2003) 
determined that observable population size is interdependent with 
survey days and detection probability. Thus, the decreasing 
observations of Mt. Charleston blue butterflies after repeated visits 
in any year, after multiple years of surveying, indicates a declining 
and smaller population. In 2006, surveys within presumed occupied 
habitat at LVSSR located one individual butterfly adjacent to a pond 
that holds water for snowmaking (Newfields 2006, pp. 10, 13, and C5). 
In a later report, the accuracy of this observation was questioned and 
considered inaccurate (Newfields 2008, p. 27).
    In 2006, Boyd (2006, pp. 1-2) conducted focused surveys for the 
subspecies at nearly all previously known locations and within 
potential habitat along Griffith Peak, North Loop Trail, Bristlecone 
Trail, and South Bonanza Trail but did not observe the butterfly at any 
of these locations. In 2007, surveys were again conducted in previously 
known locations in Upper Lee Canyon and LVSSR, but no butterflies were 
recorded (Datasmiths 2007, p. 1; Newfields 2008, pp. 21-24). In 2007, 
two Mt. Charleston blue butterflies were sighted on different dates at 
the same location on the South Loop Trail in Upper Kyle Canyon 
(Kingsley 2007, p. 5). In 2008, butterflies were not observed during 
focused surveys of Upper Lee Canyon and the South Loop Trail (Boyd and 
Murphy 2008, pp. 1-3; Boyd 2008, p. 1; SWCA 2008, p. 6), although it is 
possible that adult butterflies may have been missed on the South Loop 
Trail because the surveys were performed very late in the season. No 
formal surveys were conducted in 2009; however, no individuals were 
observed during the few informal attempts made to observe the species 
(Service 2009).
    In 2010, the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly was observed during 
surveys at LVSSR and the South Loop Trail area. One adult was observed 
in Lee Canyon at LVSSR on July 23, 2010, but no other adults were 
detected at LVSSR during surveys conducted on August 2, 9, and 18, 2010 
(Thompson and Garrett 2010, pp. 4-5). The Mt. Charleston blue butterfly 
was not observed at LVSSR in 2011 (Thompson et al. 2012, p. 99). Adults 
were most recently observed in 2010 and 2011 at the South Loop Trail 
area. According to reports from surveys conducted in July and August of 
2011 at the South Loop Trail area (Thompson et al. 2012, p. 99; Pinyon 
2011, pp. 17-19), the highest total number of adults counted among the 
days this area was surveyed was 17 on July 28, 2010, and 13 on August 
12, 2011 (Pinyon 2011, p. 17). Final reports have not been completed by 
Thompson et al. for the 2011 surveys and the results here are 
considered preliminary. Based on the available survey information, the 
low number of sightings in recent years is likely the result of 
declining population size.

Habitat

    Weiss et al. (1997, pp. 10-11) describe the natural habitat for the 
Mt. Charleston blue butterfly as relatively flat ridgelines above 2,500 
m (8,200 ft), but isolated individuals have been observed as low as 
2,000 m (6,600 ft). Boyd and Murphy (2008, p. 19) indicate that areas 
occupied by the subspecies featured exposed soil and rock substrates 
with limited or no canopy cover or shading and flat to mild slopes. 
Like most butterfly species, the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly is 
dependent on plants both during larval development (larval host plants) 
and the adult butterfly flight period (nectar plants). The Mt. 
Charleston blue butterfly requires areas that support Astragalus 
calycosus var. calycosus, the only known larval host plant for the 
subspecies (Weiss et al. 1994, p. 3; Weiss et al. 1997, p. 10; 
Datasmiths 2007, p. 21), as well as primary nectar plants. A. c. var. 
calycosus and Erigeron clokeyi are the primary nectar plants for the 
subspecies; however, butterflies have also been observed nectaring on 
Hymenoxys lemmonii and Aster sp. (Weiss et al. 1994, p. 3; Boyd 2005, 
p. 1; Boyd and Murphy 2008, p. 9).
    The best available habitat information relates mostly to the Mt. 
Charleston blue butterfly's larval host plant, with little to no 
information available characterizing the butterfly's interactions with 
its known nectar plants or other elements of its habitat; thus, the 
habitat information discussed in this document centers on Astragalus 
calycosus var. calycosus. Studies are currently underway to better 
understand the habitat requirements and preferences of the Mt. 
Charleston blue butterfly (Thompson et al. 2011, p. 99). Astragalus 
c.var. calycosus is a small, low-growing, perennial herb that has been 
observed growing in open areas between 5,000 to 10,800 ft (1,520 to 
3,290 m) in subalpine, bristlecone, and mixed-conifer vegetation 
communities of the Spring Mountains (Nachlinger

[[Page 59524]]

and Leary 2007, p. 36). Within the alpine and subalpine range of the 
Mt. Charleston blue butterfly, Weiss et al. (1997, p. 10) observed the 
highest densities of A. c. var. calycosus in exposed areas and within 
canopy openings and lower densities in forested areas.
    Weiss et al. (1997, p. 31) describe favorable habitat for the Mt. 
Charleston blue butterfly as having high densities (more than 10 plants 
per square meter) of Astragalus calycosus var. calycosus. Weiss et al. 
(1995, p. 5) and Datasmiths (2007, p. 21) indicate that, in some areas, 
butterfly habitat may be dependent on old or infrequent disturbances 
that create open areas. Vegetation cover within disturbed patches 
naturally becomes higher over time through succession, gradually 
becoming less favorable to the butterfly. Therefore, we conclude that 
open areas with relatively little grass cover and visible mineral soil 
and high densities of host plants support the highest densities of 
butterflies (Boyd 2005, p. 1; Service 2006a, p. 1). During 1995, an 
especially high-population year (a total of 121 butterflies were 
counted during surveys of 2 areas at LVSSR on 2 separate dates, where 
each survey for each area takes approximately 22 minutes to complete 
for a single observer (Weiss 1996, p. 4)), Mt. Charleston blue 
butterflies were observed in small habitat patches and in open forested 
areas where A. c. var. calycosus was present in low densities, on the 
order of 1 to 5 plants per square meter (Weiss et al. 1997, p. 10; 
Newfields 2006, pp. 10 and C5). Therefore, areas with lower densities 
of the host plant may also be important to the subspecies, as these 
areas may be intermittently occupied or may be important for dispersal.
    Fire suppression and other management practices have likely limited 
the formation of new habitat for the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly, as 
discussed below. The Forest Service began suppressing fires on the 
Spring Mountains in 1910 (Entrix 2007, p. 111). Throughout the Spring 
Mountains, fire suppression has resulted in higher densities of trees 
and shrubs (Amell 2006, pp. 2-3) and a transition to a closed-canopy 
forest with shade-tolerant understory species (Entrix 2007, p. 112) 
that is generally less suitable for the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly. 
Boyd and Murphy (2008, pp. 23 and 25) hypothesized that the loss of 
presettlement vegetation structure over time has caused the Mt. 
Charleston blue butterfly's metapopulation dynamics to collapse in 
Upper Lee Canyon. Similar losses of suitable butterfly habitat in 
woodlands and their negative effect on butterfly populations have been 
documented (Thomas 1984, pp. 337-338). The disturbed landscape at LVSSR 
provides important habitat for the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly (Weiss 
et al. 1995, p. 5; Weiss et al. 1997, p. 26). Periodic maintenance 
(removal of trees and shrubs) of the ski runs has effectively arrested 
forest succession on the ski slopes and serves to maintain conditions 
favorable to the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly, and to its host and 
nectar plants. However, the ski runs are not specifically managed to 
benefit habitat for this subspecies, and operational activities 
regularly modify Mt. Charleston blue butterfly habitat or prevent host 
plants from reestablishing in disturbed areas.

Biology

    The Mt. Charleston blue butterfly has been described as biennial 
where it diapauses as an egg the first winter and as a larvae near 
maturity the second winter (Ferris and Brown, pp. 203-204; Scott 1986, 
p. 411); however, Emmel and Shields (1978, p. 132) suggested that 
diapause was passed as partly grown larva because freshly hatched 
eggshells were found near newly laid eggs (indicating that the eggs do 
not overwinter). The Mt. Charleston blue butterfly is generally thought 
to diapause at the base of its larval host plant, Astragalus calycosus 
var. calycosus, or in the surrounding substrate (Emmel and Shields 
1978, p. 132). The pupae of some butterfly species are known to persist 
in diapause up to 5 to 7 years (Scott 1986, p. 28). The number of years 
the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly can remain in diapause is unknown. 
Experts have speculated that the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly may only 
be able to diapause for two seasons (Murphy 2006, p. 1; Boyd and Murphy 
2008, p. 21). However, in response to unfavorable environmental 
conditions, it is hypothesized that a prolonged diapause period may be 
possible (Scott 1986, pp. 26-30; Murphy 2006, p. 1; Datasmiths 2007, p. 
6; Boyd and Murphy 2008, p. 22).
    The typical flight and breeding period for the butterfly is early 
July to mid-August with a peak in late July, although the subspecies 
has been observed as early as mid-June and as late as mid-September 
(Austin 1980, p. 22; Boyd and Austin 1999, p. 17; Forest Service 2006a, 
p. 9). As with most butterflies, the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly 
typically flies during sunny conditions, which are particularly 
important for this subspecies given the cooler air temperatures at high 
elevations (Weiss et al. 1997, p. 31). Excessive winds also deter 
flight of most butterflies, although Weiss et al. (1997, p. 31) 
speculate that this may not be a significant factor for the Mt. 
Charleston blue butterfly given its low-to-the-ground flight pattern.
    Like all butterfly species, both the phenology (timing) and number 
of Mt. Charleston blue butterfly individuals that emerge and fly to 
reproduce during a particular year are reliant on the combination of 
many environmental factors that may constitute a successful 
(``favorable'') or unsuccessful (``poor'') year for the subspecies. 
Other than observations by surveyors, little information is known 
regarding these aspects of the subspecies' biology, since the key 
determinants for the interactions among the Mt. Charleston blue 
butterfly's flight and breeding period, larval host plant, and 
environmental conditions have not been specifically studied. 
Observations indicate that above- or below-average precipitation, 
coupled with above- or below-average temperatures, influence the 
phenology of this subspecies (Weiss et al. 1997, pp. 2-3 and 32; Boyd 
and Austin 1999, p. 8) and are likely responsible for the fluctuation 
in population numbers from year to year (Weiss et al. 1997, pp. 2-3 and 
31-32).
    Most butterfly populations exist as regional metapopulations 
(Murphy et al. 1990, p. 44). Boyd and Austin (1999, pp. 17 and 53) 
indicate this is true of the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly. Small 
habitat patches tend to support smaller butterfly populations that are 
frequently extirpated by events that are part of normal variation 
(Murphy et al. 1990, p. 44). According to Boyd and Austin (1999, p. 
17), smaller colonies of the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly may be 
ephemeral in the long term, with the larger colonies of the subspecies 
more likely than smaller populations to persist in ``poor'' years, when 
environmental conditions do not support the emergence, flight, and 
reproduction of individuals. The ability of the Mt. Charleston blue 
butterfly to move between habitat patches has not been studied; 
however, field observations indicate the subspecies has low vagility 
(capacity or tendency of a species to move about or disperse in a given 
environment), on the order of 10 to 100 meters (m) (33 to 330 feet 
(ft)) (Weiss et al. 1995, p. 9), and nearly sedentary behavior 
(Datasmiths 2007, p. 21; Boyd and Murphy 2008, pp. 3 and 9). 
Furthermore, dispersal of lycaenid butterflies, in general, is limited 
and on the order of hundreds of meters (Cushman and Murphy 1993, p. 
40). Based on this information, the likelihood of long-distance 
dispersal is

[[Page 59525]]

low for the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly, and its susceptibility to 
being affected by habitat fragmentation caused by forest succession is 
high (discussed further in Factor A).

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

    Below, we evaluate several factors that negatively impact the Mt. 
Charleston blue butterfly's habitat, including fire suppression, fuels 
reduction, succession, introduction of nonnative species, recreation, 
and development. We also examine available conservation measures in the 
form of conservation agreements and plans, which may offset some of 
these threats.
Fire Suppression, Succession, and Nonnative Species
    Butterflies have extremely specialized habitat requirements (Thomas 
1984, p. 337). Changes in vegetation structure and composition as a 
result of natural processes are a serious threat to butterfly 
populations because these changes can disrupt specific habitat 
requirements (Thomas 1984, pp. 337-341; Thomas et al. 2001, pp. 1791-
1796). Cushman and Murphy (1993, p. 4) determined 28 at-risk lycaenid 
butterfly species, including the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly, to be 
dependent on one or two closely related host plants. Many of these host 
plants are dependent on early successional environments. Butterflies 
that specialize on such plants must track an ephemeral resource base 
that itself depends on unpredictable and perhaps infrequent ecosystem 
disturbances. For such butterfly species, local extinction events are 
both frequent and inevitable (Cushman and Murphy 1993, p. 4). The Mt. 
Charleston blue butterfly may, in part, depend on disturbances that 
open up the subalpine canopy and create conditions more favorable to 
its host plant, Astragalus calycosus var. calycosus, and nectar 
resources (Weiss et al. 1995, p. 5; Boyd and Murphy 2008, pp. 22-28) 
(see Habitat section, above).
    Datasmiths (2007, p. 21) also suggest suitable habitat patches of 
Astragalus calycosus var. calycosus are often, but not exclusively, 
associated with older or infrequent disturbance. Weiss et al. (1995, p. 
5) note that a colony once existed on the Upper Kyle Canyon Ski Area 
(Location 11 in Table 1), but since the ski run was abandoned no 
butterflies have been collected there since 1965. Boyd and Austin 
(2002, p. 13) observe that the butterfly was common at Lee Meadows 
(Location 8 in Table 1) in the 1960s, but became uncommon at the site 
because of succession and a potential lack of disturbance. Using an 
analysis of host plant density, Weiss et al. (1995 p. 5) concluded that 
Lee Meadows does not have enough host plants to support a population 
over the long term (minimally 5-10 host plants per square meter). 
Disturbances such as fire promote open understory conditions for A. c. 
var. calycosus to grow and reduce fragmentation of Mt. Charleston blue 
butterfly habitat.
    Fire suppression in the Spring Mountains has resulted in long-term 
successional changes, including increased forest area and forest 
structure (higher canopy cover, more young trees, and more trees 
intolerant of fire) (Nachlinger and Reese 1996, p. 37; Amell 2006, pp. 
6-9; Boyd and Murphy 2008, pp. 22-28; Denton et al. 2008, p. 21; Abella 
et al. 2011, pp. 10, 12). Frequent low-severity fires would have 
maintained an open forest structure characterized by uneven-aged stands 
of fire-resistant Pinus ponderosa (ponderosa pine) trees (Amell 2006, 
p. 5) in lower elevations. The lower-elevation habitats of the Mt. 
Charleston blue butterfly are the most affected by fire suppression, as 
indicated by Provencher's 2008 Fire Regime Condition Class analysis of 
the Spring Mountains (p. 18); there has been an increase in area 
covered by forest canopy and an increase in stem densities with more 
trees intolerant of fire within the lower-elevation Mt. Charleston blue 
butterfly habitat.
    Large-diameter Pinus ponderosa trees with multiple fire scars in 
Upper Lee and Kyle Canyons indicate that low-severity fires 
historically burned through mixed-conifer forests within the range of 
the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly (Amell 2006, p. 3). There are no 
empirical estimates of fire intervals or frequencies in the Spring 
Mountains but it is presumed to be similar to Pinus ponderosa forests 
in other regions where it has been reported to be 4 to 20 or 2 to 39 
years (Barbour and Minnich 2000 as cited in Amell 2006, p. 3; Denton et 
al. 2008, p. 23). Open mixed-conifer forests in the Spring Mountains 
were likely characterized by more abundant and diverse understory plant 
communities compared to current conditions (Entrix 2007, pp. 73-78). 
These successional changes have been hypothesized to have contributed 
to the decline of the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly because of reduced 
densities of larval and nectar plants, decreased solar radiation, and 
inhibited butterfly movements that subsequently determine colonization 
or recolonization processes (Weiss et al. 1997, p. 26; Boyd and Murphy 
2008, pp. 22-28).
    Boyd and Murphy (2008, p. 23) note that important habitat 
characteristics required by Mt. Charleston blue butterfly-- Astragalus 
calycosus var. calycosus and preferred nectar plants occurring together 
in open sites not shaded by tree canopies--would have occurred more 
frequently across a more open forested landscape, compared to the 
current denser forested landscape. Not only would the changes in forest 
structure and understory plant communities result in habitat loss, 
degradation, and fragmentation for the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly 
across a broad spatial scale, a habitat matrix dominated by denser 
forest also may be impacting key metapopulation processes by reducing 
probability of recolonization following local population extirpations 
in remaining patches of suitable habitat (Boyd and Murphy 2008, p. 25).
    The introduction of forbs, shrubs, and nonnative grasses can be a 
threat to the butterfly's habitat because these species can compete 
with, and decrease, the quality and abundance of larval host plant and 
adult nectar sources. This has been observed for many butterfly species 
including the Quino checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas editha quino) (62 
FR 2313; January 16, 1997) and Fender's blue butterfly (Plebejus (= 
Icaricia) icarioides fenderi) (65 FR 3875; January 25, 2000). 
Succession, coupled with the introduction of nonnative species, is also 
believed to be the reason the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly is no 
longer present at the old town site in Kyle Canyon (Location 12 in 
Table 1) and at the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly

[[Page 59526]]

holotype (the type specimen used in the original description of a 
species or subspecies) site in Upper Lee Canyon (Location 9 in Table 1) 
(Urban Wildlands Group, Inc. 2005, p. 3; Boyd and Austin 1999, p. 17).
    Introduction of nonnative species within its habitat negatively 
impacts the quality of the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly's habitat. As 
mentioned previously (see Habitat section), periodic maintenance 
(removal of trees and shrubs) of the ski runs has effectively arrested 
succession on the ski slopes and maintains conditions that can be 
favorable to the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly. However, the ski runs 
are not specifically managed to benefit habitat for this subspecies and 
its habitat requirements, and operational activities (including seeding 
of nonnative species) regularly modify Mt. Charleston blue butterfly 
habitat or prevent host plants from reestablishing in disturbed areas. 
According to Weiss et al. (1995, pp. 5-6), the planting of annual 
grasses and Melilotus (sweetclover) for erosion control at LVSSR is a 
threat to Mt. Charleston blue butterfly habitat. Titus and Landau 
(2003, p. 1) observed that vegetation on highly and moderately 
disturbed areas of the LVSSR ski runs are floristically very different 
from natural openings in the adjacent forested areas that support this 
subspecies. Seeding nonnative species for erosion control was 
discontinued in 2005; however, because of erosion problems during 2006 
and 2007, and the lack of native seed, LVSSR resumed using a nonnative 
seed mix, particularly in the lower portions of the ski runs (not 
adjacent to Mt. Charleston blue butterfly habitat) where erosion 
problems persist.
    The best available information indicates that, in at least four of 
the six locations where the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly historically 
occurred, suitable habitat is no longer present due to vegetation 
changes attributable to succession, the introduction of nonnative 
species, or a combination of the two.
Recreation, Development, and Other Projects
    As discussed in the Distribution section above, the Mt. Charleston 
blue butterfly is a narrow endemic subspecies that is currently known 
to occupy two locations and presumed to occupy eight others. One of the 
two areas where Mt. Charleston blue butterflies have been detected in 
recent years is the LVSSR. Several ground-disturbing projects occurred 
within Mt. Charleston blue butterfly suitable habitat at LVSSR between 
2000 and 2011 (see 76 FR 12667, pp. 12672, 12673). These projects were 
small spatial scale (ground disturbance was less than about 10 acres 
each) but are known to have impacted suitable habitat and possibly 
impacted individual Mt. Charleston blue butterflies (eggs, larvae, 
pupae, or adults). In addition to these recreation development projects 
at LVSSR, a small area of suitable habitat and possibly individual Mt. 
Charleston blue butterflies were impacted by a water system replacement 
project in Upper Lee Canyon in 2003, and a small area of suitable 
habitat (less than 1 acre) was impacted by a stream restoration project 
at Lee Meadows in 2011. It is difficult to know the full extent of 
impacts to the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly's habitat as a result of 
these projects because Mt. Charleston blue butterfly habitat was not 
mapped nor were some project areas surveyed prior to implementation.
    Three future projects also may impact Mt. Charleston blue butterfly 
habitat in Upper Lee Canyon. These projects are summarized below:
    (1) A March 2011 Master Development Plan for LVSSR proposes to 
improve, upgrade, and expand the existing facilities to provide year-
round recreational activities. The plan proposes to increase snow 
trails, beginner terrain, and snowmaking reservoir capacity and 
coverage, widen existing ski trails, replace and add lifts, and develop 
``gladed'' areas for sliding that would remove deadfall timber to 
reduce fire hazards (Ecosign 2011, I-3--I-4, IV-5--IV-7). The plan 
proposes to add summer activities including lift-accessed sightseeing 
and hiking, nature interpretive hikes, evening stargazing, mountain 
biking, conference retreats and seminars, weddings, family reunions, 
mountain music concerts, festivals, climbing walls, bungee trampoline, 
beach and grass volleyball, a car rally, and other activities (Ecosign 
2008, pp. I-3--I-4). Widening existing ski trails and increasing 
snowmaking reservoir capacity (Ecosign 2011, p. IV-5, Figure 21a) would 
impact the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly at a known occupied and at a 
presumed occupied location (Location 2 and 5 in Table 1). Summer 
activities would impact the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly and its known 
occupied and presumed occupied habitat by attracting visitors in higher 
numbers during the time of year when larvae and host plants are 
especially vulnerable to trampling (Location 2 in Table 1). The LVSSR 
Master Development Plan, which has been accepted by the Forest Service, 
considered Mt. Charleston blue butterfly habitat during development of 
the plan. Impacts to Mt. Charleston blue butterfly habitat from the 
LVSSR Master Development Plan will be addressed further during the 
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process (discussed further in 
Factor D) (Forest Service 2011a, p. 3).
    (2) The Old Mill/Dolomite/McWilliams Reconstruction Projects to 
improve camping and picnic areas in Upper Lee Canyon are currently 
being planned and evaluated under NEPA (discussed further in Factor D) 
(Forest Service 2011c pp. 1-4). Project details are limited because 
planning is currently underway; however, the Service has met with the 
Forest Service and provided recommendations to consider for analysis of 
potential direct and indirect impacts of these projects to the Mt. 
Charleston blue butterfly and its potential habitat within or in close 
proximity to the project area (Datasmiths 2007, Figure 1; Forest 
Service 2011c, Project Map; Forest Service 2011f, pp. 1-5; Service 
2011, p. 1). The recommendations provided by the Service will assist 
with the development of a proposed action that will avoid or minimize 
adverse effects to the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly and its potential 
habitat.
    (3) The Foxtail Group Picnic Area Reconstruction Project is 
currently being planned and evaluated under NEPA (discussed further in 
Factor D) (Forest Service 2011g, pp. 1-4). Project details are limited 
because planning is currently underway; however, the Service has met 
with the Forest Service and provided recommendations for minimizing 
potential direct and indirect impacts of these projects to the Mt. 
Charleston blue butterfly and its habitat (Datasmiths 2007, Figure 1; 
Forest Service 2011f, pp. 1-5; Forest Service 2011g, Project Map; 
Service 2011, p. 1).
Fuel Reduction Projects
    In December 2007, the Forest Service approved the Spring Mountains 
National Recreation Area Hazardous Fuels Reduction Project (Forest 
Service 2007a, pp. 1-127). This project resulted in tree removals and 
vegetation thinning in three presumed occupied Mt. Charleston blue 
butterfly locations in Upper Lee Canyon, including Foxtail Ridge, Lee 
Canyon Youth Camp, and Lee Meadows, and impacted approximately 32 ac 
(13 ha) of presumed occupied habitat that has been mapped in Upper Lee 
Canyon (Locations 3, 4 and 8 in Table 1) (Forest Service 2007a, 
Appendix A-Map 2; Datasmiths 2007, p. 26). Manual and mechanical 
clearing of shrubs and trees will be repeated on a 5- to 10-year 
rotating basis and will result in direct

[[Page 59527]]

impacts to the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly and its habitat, including 
crushing or removal of host plants and diapausing larvae (if present). 
Implementation of this project began in the spring of 2008 throughout 
the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, including Lee Canyon, 
and the project is nearly completed for its initial implementation 
(Forest Service 2011a, p. 2).
    Although Boyd and Murphy (2008, p. 26) recommended increased forest 
thinning to improve habitat quality for the Mt. Charleston blue 
butterfly, the primary goal of this project was to reduce wildfire risk 
to life and property in the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area 
wildland urban interface (Forest Service 2007a, p. 6), not to improve 
Mt. Charleston blue butterfly habitat. Mt. Charleston blue butterflies 
require larval host plants in exposed areas not shaded by forest canopy 
cover because canopy cover reduces solar exposure during critical 
larval feeding periods (Boyd and Murphy 2008, p. 23). Although the fuel 
reduction project incorporated measures to minimize impacts to the Mt. 
Charleston blue butterfly and its habitat, shaded fuel breaks created 
for this project may not be open enough to create or significantly 
improve Mt. Charleston blue butterfly habitat. Also, shaded fuel breaks 
for this project are concentrated along access roads, property 
boundaries, campgrounds, picnic areas, administrative sites, and 
communications sites, and are not of sufficient spatial scale to 
improve habitat that does not occur within close proximity to these 
landscape features and reduce the threat identified above resulting 
from fire suppression and succession.
    Although this project may result in increased understory herbaceous 
plant productivity and diversity, there are short-term risks to the Mt. 
Charleston blue butterfly's habitat associated with project 
implementation. In recommending increased forest thinning to improve 
Mt. Charleston blue butterfly habitat, Boyd and Murphy (2008, p. 26) 
cautioned that thinning treatments would need to be implemented 
carefully to minimize short-term disturbance impacts to the Mt. 
Charleston blue butterfly and its habitat. Individual butterflies 
(larvae, pupae, and adults), and larval host plants and nectar plants, 
may be crushed during project implementation. In areas where thinned 
trees are chipped (mastication), layers of wood chips may become too 
deep and impact survival of Mt. Charleston blue butterfly larvae and 
pupae, as well as larval host plants and nectar plants. Soil and 
vegetation disturbance during project implementation also would result 
in increases in weeds and disturbance-adapted species, such as 
Chrysothamnus spp. (rabbitbrush), and these plants would compete with 
Mt. Charleston blue butterfly larval host and nectar plants.
Conservation Agreement and Plans That May Offset Habitat Threats
    A conservation agreement was developed in 1998 to facilitate 
voluntary cooperation among the Forest Service, the Service, and the 
State of Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources in 
providing long-term protection for the rare and sensitive flora and 
fauna of the Spring Mountains, including the Mt. Charleston blue 
butterfly (Forest Service 1998, pp. 1-50). The Conservation Agreement 
was in effect for a period of 10 years after it was signed on April 13, 
1998 (Forest Service et al. 1998, pp. 44, 49), was renewed in 2008 
(Forest Service 2008), and coordination between the Forest Service and 
Service has continued. Many of the conservation actions described in 
the conservation agreement have been implemented; however, several 
important conservation actions that would have directly benefited the 
Mt. Charleston blue butterfly have not been implemented. Regardless, 
many of the conservation actions in the conservation agreement (for 
example, inventory and monitoring) would not directly reduce threats to 
the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly or its habitat.
    In 2004, the Service and Forest Service signed a memorandum of 
agreement that provides a process for review of activities that involve 
species covered under the 1998 Conservation Agreement (Forest Service 
and Service 2004, pp. 1-9). Formal coordination through this memorandum 
of agreement was established to: (1) Jointly develop projects that 
avoid or minimize impacts to listed, candidate, and proposed species, 
and species under the 1998 conservation agreement; and (2) to ensure 
consistency with commitments and direction provided for in recovery 
planning efforts and in conservation agreement efforts. More than half 
of the past projects that impacted Mt. Charleston blue butterfly 
habitat were reviewed by the Service and Forest Service under this 
review process, but several were not. Some efforts under this 
memorandum of agreement have been successful in reducing or avoiding 
project impacts to the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly, while other 
efforts have not. Examples of projects that have reduced or avoided 
impacts to the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly include the Lee Meadows 
Restoration Project (discussed above in Recreation, Development, and 
Other Projects under Factor A) and the Bristlecone Trail Habitat 
Improvement Project (Forest Service 2007c, pp. 1-7; Forest Service 
2007d, pp. 1-14; Service 2007, p. 1-2). A new conservation agreement is 
currently being developed for the Spring Mountains National Recreation 
Area (SMNRA).
    The loss or modification of known occupied and presumed occupied 
Mt. Charleston blue butterfly habitat in Upper Lee Canyon, as discussed 
above, has occurred in the past. However, more recently, the Forest 
Service has suspended decisions on certain projects that would 
potentially impact Mt. Charleston blue butterfly habitat (see 
discussion of lower parking lot expansion and new snowmaking lines 
projects under Recreation, Development, and Other Projects, above).
    In addition, the Forest Service has reaffirmed its commitment to 
collaborate with the Service in order to avoid implementation of 
projects or actions that would impact the viability of the Mt. 
Charleston blue butterfly (Forest Service 2010c). This commitment 
includes: (1) Developing a mutually agreeable process to review future 
proposed projects to ensure that implementation of these actions will 
not lead to loss of population viability; (2) reviewing proposed 
projects that may pose a threat to the continued viability of the 
subspecies; and (3) jointly developing a conservation agreement 
(strategy) that identifies actions that will be taken to ensure the 
conservation of the subspecies (Forest Service 2010c). The Forest 
Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service are currently in the process 
of developing the conservation agreement.
    The Mt. Charleston blue butterfly is a covered species under the 
2000 Clark County Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan (MSHCP). 
The Clark County MSHCP identifies two goals for the Mt. Charleston blue 
butterfly: (a) ``Maintain stable or increasing population numbers and 
host and larval plant species''; and (b) ``No net unmitigated loss of 
larval host plant or nectar plant species habitat'' (RECON 2000a, Table 
2.5, pp. 2-154; RECON 2000b, pp. B158-B161). The Forest Service is one 
of several signatories to the Implementing Agreement for the Clark 
County MSHCP, because many of the activities from the 1998 Conservation 
Agreement were incorporated into the MSHCP. Primarily, activities 
undertaken by the Forest Service focused on conducting

[[Page 59528]]

surveying and monitoring for butterflies. Although some surveying and 
monitoring occurred through contracts by the Forest Service, Clark 
County, and the Service, a butterfly monitoring plan was not fully 
implemented.
    Recently, the Forest Service has been implementing the LVSSR 
Adaptive Vegetation Management Plan (Forest Service 2005b, pp. 1-24) to 
provide mitigation for approximately 11 ac (4.45 ha) of impacts to 
presumed occupied butterfly habitat (and other sensitive wildlife and 
plant species habitat) resulting from projects that the Forest Service 
implemented in 2005 and 2006. Under the plan, LVSSR will revegetate 
impacted areas using native plant species, including Astragalus 
calycosus var. calycosus. However, this program is experimental and has 
experienced difficulties due to the challenges of native seed 
availability and propagation. Under the plan, A. c. var. calycosus is 
being brought into horticultural propagation. These efforts are not 
likely to provide replacement habitat to the Mt. Charleston blue 
butterfly for another 5 years (2016-2018), because of the short alpine 
growing season.
Summary of Factor A
    The Mt. Charleston blue butterfly is currently known to occur in 
two locations: the South Loop Trail area in upper Kyle Canyon and LVSSR 
in Upper Lee Canyon. In addition, the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly is 
presumed to occupy eight locations: Foxtail, Youth Camp, Gary Abbott, 
Lower LVSSR Parking, Lee Meadows, Bristlecone Trail, Bonanza Trail, and 
Mummy Spring. Habitat loss and modification, as a result of fire 
suppression and long-term successional changes in forest structure, 
implementation of recreational development projects and fuels reduction 
projects, and nonnative species, are continuing threats to the 
butterfly's habitat in Upper Lee Canyon. Recreational area 
reconstruction projects currently planned also may negatively impact 
Mt. Charleston blue butterfly habitat in Upper Lee Canyon. In addition, 
proposed future activities under a draft Master Development Plan at 
LVSSR may impact the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly and its habitat in 
Upper Lee Canyon.
    Because of its likely small population size, projects that impact 
even relatively small areas of occupied habitat could threaten the 
long-term population viability of Mt. Charleston blue butterfly. The 
continued loss or modification of presumed occupied habitat would 
further impair the long-term population viability of the Mt. Charleston 
blue butterfly in Upper Lee Canyon by removing diapausing larvae (if 
present) and by reducing the ability of the Mt. Charleston blue 
butterfly to disperse during favorable years. The successional advance 
of trees, shrubs, and grasses, and the spread of nonnative species are 
continuing threats to the subspecies in Upper Lee Canyon. The Mt. 
Charleston blue butterfly is presumed extirpated from at least three of 
the six historical locations (Upper Lee Canyon holotype, Upper Kyle 
Canton Ski Area, and Old Town), likely due to successional changes and 
the introduction of nonnative plants. Nonnative forbs and grasses are a 
threat to the subspecies and its habitat at LVSSR.
    There are agreements and plans in place (including the 2008 Spring 
Mountains Conservation Agreement and the 2000 Clark County Multiple 
Species Habitat Conservation Plan) that are intended to conserve the 
Mt. Charleston blue butterfly and its habitat. Future voluntary 
conservation actions could be implemented in accordance with the terms 
of these agreements and plans but will be largely dependent on the 
level of funding available to the Forest Service for such work. 
Conservation actions (for example, mechanical thinning of timber stands 
and prescribed burns to create openings in the forest canopy suitable 
for the Mount Charleston blue butterfly and its host and nectar plants) 
could reduce to some degree the ongoing adverse effects to the 
butterfly of vegetative succession promoted by alteration of the 
natural fire regime in the Spring Mountains. The Forest Service's 
commitment to collaboratively review proposed projects to minimize 
impacts to the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly may reduce the threat 
posed by activities under the Forest Service's control, although we are 
unable to determine the potential effectiveness of this new strategy at 
this time. Therefore, based on the current distribution and recent, 
existing, and likely future trends in habitat loss, we find that the 
present and future destruction, modification, and curtailment of its 
habitat or range is a threat to the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly.

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

    Rare butterflies and moths are highly prized by collectors, and an 
international trade exists in specimens for both live and decorative 
markets, as well as the specialist trade that supplies hobbyists, 
collectors, and researchers (Collins and Morris 1985, pp. 155-179; 
Morris et al. 1991, pp. 332-334; Williams 1996, pp. 30-37). The 
specialist trade differs from both the live and decorative market in 
that it concentrates on rare and threatened species (U.S. Department of 
Justice [USDJ] 1993, pp. 1-3; United States v. Skalski et al., Case No. 
CR9320137, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California 
[USDC] 1993, pp. 1-86). In general, the rarer the species, the more 
valuable it is; prices can exceed $25,000 for exceedingly rare 
specimens. For example, during a 4-year investigation, special agents 
of the Service's Office of Law Enforcement executed warrants and seized 
over 30,000 endangered and protected butterflies and beetles, with a 
total wholesale commercial market value of about $90,000 in the United 
States (USDJ 1995, pp. 1-4). In another case, special agents found at 
least 13 species protected under the Act, and another 130 species 
illegally taken from lands administered by the Department of the 
Interior and other State lands (USDC 1993, pp. 1-86; Service 1995, pp. 
1-2).
    Several listings of butterflies as endangered or threatened species 
under the Act have been based, at least partially, on intense 
collection pressure. Notably, the Saint Francis' satyr (Neonympha 
mitchellii francisci) was emergency-listed as an endangered species on 
April 18, 1994 (59 FR 18324). The Saint Francis' satyr was demonstrated 
to have been significantly impacted by collectors in just a 3-year 
period (59 FR 18324). The Callippe and Behren's silverspot butterflies 
(Speyeria callippe callippe and Speyeria zerene behrensii) were listed 
as endangered species on December 5, 1997 (62 FR 64306), partially due 
to overcollection. The Blackburn's sphinx moth (Manduca blackburni) was 
listed as an endangered species on February 1, 2000 (65 FR 4770), 
partially due to overcollection by private and commercial collectors. 
Most recently, the Miami blue butterfly (Cyclargus thomasi 
bethunebakeri) was emergency-listed as an endangered species (76 FR 
49542; August 10, 2011), with collection being one of the primary 
threats.
    Butterflies in small populations are vulnerable to harm from 
collection (Gall 1984, p. 133). A population may be reduced to below 
sustainable numbers by removal of females, reducing the probability 
that new colonies will be founded. Collectors can pose threats to 
butterflies because they may be unable to recognize when they are 
depleting colonies below the thresholds of survival or recovery 
(Collins and Morris 1985, pp. 162-165). There is ample evidence of 
collectors impacting other imperiled and endangered butterflies

[[Page 59529]]

(Gochfeld and Burger 1997, pp. 208-209), host plants (Cech and Tudor 
2005, p. 55), and even contributing to extirpations (Duffey 1968, p. 
94). For example, the federally endangered Mitchell's satyr (Neonympha 
mitchellii mitchellii) is believed to have been extirpated from New 
Jersey due to overcollection (57 FR 21567; Gochfeld and Burger 1997, p. 
209).
    Rare butterflies can be highly prized by insect collectors, and 
collection is a known threat to some butterfly species, such as the 
Fender's blue butterfly (65 FR 3882; January 25, 2000). In particular, 
small colonies and populations are at the highest risk. Overcollection 
or repeated handling and marking of females in years of low abundance 
can seriously damage populations through loss of reproductive 
individuals and genetic variability (65 FR 3882; January 25, 2000). 
Since the publication of the 12-month finding (76 FR 12667) in 2011, we 
have discovered information that indicates butterfly collecting is a 
threat for the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly and that collectors seek 
diminutive butterflies. In areas of the southwestern United States 
surrounding the range of the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly, other 
diminutive lycaenid butterflies such as Western-tailed blue butterfly 
(Everes amyntula), Pygmy blue butterfly (Brephidium exilis), Ceraunus 
blue butterfly (Hemiargus ceraunus), and Boisduval's blue butterfly 
(Plebejus icariodes ssp.) have been confiscated from commercial traders 
who illegally collected them (U.S. Attorney's Office 1994, pp. 4, 8, 
16; Alexander 1996, pp. 1-6). Furthermore, we have information that 
diminutive butterfly collecting is occurring within the Spring 
Mountains (Service 2012, pp. 1-4). Because diminutive butterflies are 
sought, the inadvertent collection of Mt. Charleston blue butterflies 
has likely occurred and is expected to continue.
    When Austin first described the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly in 
1980 (Austin 1980, p. 22), he indicated that collectors regularly 
visited areas close to the known collection sites of the Mt. Charleston 
blue butterfly. Records indicate collection has occurred in several 
locations within the Spring Mountains, with Lee Canyon being among the 
most popular areas for butterfly collecting (Table 2; Austin 1980, p. 
22; Service 2012, p. 2). Butterfly collectors may sometimes remove the 
only individual of a subspecies observed during collecting trips, even 
if it is known to be a unique specimen (Service 2012, p. 3). In many 
instances, a collector may not know he has a particularly rare or 
scarce species until after collection and subsequent identification 
takes place. The best available information indicates that Mt. 
Charleston blue butterflies have been collected for personal use 
(Service 2012, p. 2).

          Table 2--Numbers of Mt. Charleston Blue Butterfly Specimens Collected by Area, Year, and Sex
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
         Collection area               Year            Male           Female          Unknown          Total
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mt. Charleston..................            1928  ..............  ..............           *~700           *~700
Willow Creek....................            1928              15              19  ..............              34
Lee Canyon......................            1963               8               6               8              22
                                            1976               1  ..............  ..............               1
                                            2002               1  ..............  ..............               1
Kyle Canyon.....................            1965               3  ..............  ..............               3
Cathedral Rock..................            1972  ..............  ..............               1               1
Deer Creek Rd...................            1950               2  ..............  ..............               2
South Loop......................            2007  ..............  ..............               1               1
                                                 ---------------------------------------------------------------
    Total.......................  ..............              30              25              10              65
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
References: Garth 1928, p. 93; Howe 1975, Plate 59; Austin 1980, p. 22; Austin and Austin 1980, p. 30; Kingsley
  2007, p. 4; Service 2012, p. 2
* = Collections by Frank Morand as reported in Garth 1928, p. 93. Not included in totals.

    In some cases, private collectors often have more extensive 
collections of particular butterfly species than museums (Alexander 
1996, p. 2). Butterfly collecting (except those with protected status) 
for noncommercial (recreational and personal) purposes does not require 
a special use authorization (Forest Service 1998b, p. 1; Joslin 1998, 
p. 74). However, within the SMNRA, Lee Canyon, Cold Creek, Willow 
Creek, and upper Kyle Canyon have been identified since 1996 as areas 
where permits are required for any butterfly collecting (Forest Service 
1998, pp. 28, E9). However, no permits have been issued for collecting 
in these areas.
    On Forest Service-administered lands, a special use permit is 
required for the commercial collection of butterflies (36 CFR 251.50), 
which would include collections for research, museums, universities, or 
professional societies (Forest Service 2003, pp. 2-3). There are no 
records indicating that special use permits have been issued for 
commercial collecting of Mt. Charleston blue butterflies in the Spring 
Mountains (S. Hinman 2011, pers. comm.); however, as discussed above, 
unauthorized commercial collecting has occurred in the past.
    For most butterfly species, collecting is generally thought to have 
less of an impact on butterfly populations compared to other threats. 
Weiss et al. (1997, p. 29) indicated that, in general, responsible 
collecting posed little harm to populations. However, when a butterfly 
population is very small, any collection of butterflies results in the 
direct mortality of individuals and may greatly affect the population's 
viability and ability to recover. Populations already stressed by other 
factors may be severely threatened by intensive collecting (Thomas 
1984, p. 345; Miller 1994, pp. 76, 83; New et al. 1995, p. 62). Thomas 
1984 (p. 345) suggested that closed, sedentary populations of less than 
250 adults are most likely to be at risk from overcollection.
    In summary, due to the small number of discrete populations, 
overall small metapopulation size, close proximity to roads and trails, 
restricted range, and evidence of ongoing collection, we have 
determined that collection is a threat to the subspecies now and will 
continue to be in the future.

Factor C. Disease or Predation

    We are not aware of any information regarding impacts from either 
disease or predation on the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly. Therefore, 
we do not find that disease or predation is a threat to the Mt. 
Charleston blue butterfly or likely to become a threat.

[[Page 59530]]

Factor D. The Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    Under this factor, we examine whether existing regulatory 
mechanisms are inadequate to address the threats to the species 
discussed under the other factors. Section 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act 
requires the Service to take into account ``those efforts, if any, 
being made by any State or foreign nation, or any political subdivision 
of a State or foreign nation, to protect such species * * *.'' In 
relation to Factor D under the Act, we interpret this language to 
require the Service to consider relevant Federal, State, and tribal 
laws, regulations, and other such mechanisms that may minimize any of 
the threats we describe in threat analyses under the other four 
factors, or otherwise enhance conservation of the species. We give 
strongest weight to statutes and their implementing regulations and to 
management direction that stems from those laws and regulations. An 
example would be State governmental actions enforced under a State 
statute or constitution, or Federal action under statute.
    Having evaluated the significance of the threat as mitigated by any 
such conservation efforts, we analyze under Factor D the extent to 
which existing regulatory mechanisms are inadequate to address the 
specific threats to the species. Regulatory mechanisms, if they exist, 
may reduce or eliminate the impacts from one or more identified 
threats. In this section, we review existing State and Federal 
regulatory mechanisms to determine whether they effectively reduce or 
remove threats to the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly.
    The Mt. Charleston blue butterfly occurs primarily on Federal land 
under the jurisdiction of the Forest Service; therefore, the discussion 
below focuses on Federal laws. There is no available information 
regarding local land use laws and ordinances that have been issued by 
Clark County or other local government entities for the protection of 
the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly. Nevada Revised Statutes sections 503 
and 527 offer protective measures to wildlife and plants, but do not 
include invertebrate species such as the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly. 
Therefore, no regulatory protection is offered under Nevada State law. 
Please note that actions adopted by local groups, States, or Federal 
entities that are discretionary, including conservation strategies and 
guidance, are not regulatory mechanisms and were discussed above in the 
Conservation Agreement and Plans That May Offset Habitat Threats 
section in Factor A, above.
    Mt. Charleston blue butterflies have been detected in only two 
general areas in recent years--the South Loop Trail area, where adult 
butterflies were recently detected during the summer of 2010 and 2011, 
and at LVSSR in 2010. The Forest Service manages lands designated as 
wilderness under the Wilderness Act of 1964 (16 U.S.C. 1131-1136). With 
respect to these areas, the Wilderness Act states the following: (1) 
New or temporary roads cannot be built; (2) there can be no use of 
motor vehicles, motorized equipment, or motorboats; (3) there can be no 
landing of aircraft; (4) there can be no other form of mechanical 
transport; and (5) no structure or installation may be built. As such, 
Mt. Charleston blue butterfly habitat in the South Loop Trail area is 
protected from direct loss or degradation by the prohibitions of the 
Wilderness Act. Mt. Charleston blue butterfly habitat at LVSSR and 
elsewhere in Lee Canyon and Kyle Canyon is located outside of the Mt. 
Charleston Wilderness, and thus is not subject to protections afforded 
by the Wilderness Act.
    The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, as amended 
(42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), requires Federal agencies, such as the Forest 
Service, to describe proposed agency actions, consider alternatives, 
identify and disclose potential environmental impacts of each 
alternative, and involve the public in the decisionmaking process. 
Federal agencies are not required to select the NEPA alternative having 
the least significant environmental impacts. A Federal agency may 
select an action that will adversely affect sensitive species provided 
that these effects are identified in a NEPA document. The NEPA itself 
is a disclosure law, and does not require subsequent minimization or 
mitigation of actions taken by Federal agencies. Although Federal 
agencies may include conservation measures for the Mt. Charleston blue 
butterfly as a result of the NEPA process, such measures are not 
required by the statute. The Forest Service is required to analyze its 
projects, listed under Factor A, above, in accordance with the NEPA.
    The SMNRA is one of 10 districts of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National 
Forest and was established by Public Law 103-63, dated August 4, 1993 
(the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area Act, 16 U.S. C. 460hhh 
et seq.). The Federal lands of the SMNRA are managed by the Forest 
Service in Clark and Nye Counties, Nevada, for the following purposes:
    (1) To preserve the scenic, scientific, historic, cultural, 
natural, wilderness, watershed, riparian, wildlife, threatened and 
endangered species, and other values contributing to public enjoyment 
and biological diversity in the Spring Mountains of Nevada;
    (2) To ensure appropriate conservation and management of natural 
and recreational resources in the Spring Mountains; and
    (3) To provide for the development of public recreational 
opportunities in the Spring Mountains for the enjoyment of present and 
future generations. Habitat of the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly is 
predominantly in the SMNRA and one of several resources considered by 
the Forest Service under the guidance of its land management plans.
    The National Forest Management Act (NFMA) of 1976, as amended (16 
U.S.C. 1600 et seq.), provides the principal guidance for the 
management of activities on lands under Forest Service jurisdiction 
through associated land and resource management plans for each forest 
unit. Under NFMA and other Federal laws, the Forest Service has 
authority to regulate recreation, vehicle travel and other human 
disturbance, livestock grazing, fire management, energy development, 
and mining on lands within its jurisdiction. Current guidance for the 
management of Forest Service lands in the SMNRA is under the Toiyabe 
National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan and the Spring 
Mountains National Recreation Area General Management Plan (Forest 
Service 1996). In June 2006, the Forest Service added the Mt. 
Charleston blue butterfly, and three other endemic butterflies, to the 
Regional Forester's Sensitive Species List, in accordance with Forest 
Service Manual 2670. The Forest Service's objective in managing 
sensitive species is to prevent listing of species under the Act, 
maintain viable populations of native species, and develop and 
implement management objectives for populations and habitat of 
sensitive species. Projects listed in Factor A, above, have been guided 
by these Forest Service plans, policies, and guidance. These plans, 
policies, and guidance notwithstanding, removal or degradation of known 
occupied and presumed occupied butterfly habitat has occurred as a 
result of projects approved by the Forest Service in Upper Lee Canyon. 
Additionally, this guidance has not been effective in reducing other 
threats to the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly (for example, invasion of 
nonnative plant species and commercial and personal collection 
activities) (Weiss et al. 1995, pp. 5-6, Titus and Landau 2003, p. 1; 
Boyd and Murphy 2008, p. 6; Service 2012, pp. 1-4).

[[Page 59531]]

    Since the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly is designated a sensitive 
species, Standard 0.28 of the Land and Resource Management Plan for the 
Spring Mountains requires a collecting permit issued by the Regional 
Forester (except for traditional use by American Indians) (Forest 
Service 1996, p. 18). Furthermore, Standard 11.6 indicates that 
collecting, regardless of species, in specific areas, including Cold 
Creek, Lee Canyon, upper Kyle Canyon, and Willow Creek, also requires a 
permit (Forest Service 1996, p. 31). These items, identified as 
``standards,'' are constraints or mitigation measures that must be 
followed as directed by the General Management Plan (Forest Service 
1996, p. 2). Collection permits are not required for activities 
contracted by, or performed under, agreement with the Forest Service. 
Additional information obtained since publication of the 12-month 
finding indicates that collecting has occurred before and after the Mt. 
Charleston blue butterfly was designated a sensitive species (see 
Factor B); however, no permits have been issued to date (Service 2012, 
p. 1-4; Shawnee Hinman, pers. comm. March 22, 2012).
Summary of Factor D
    Although Mt. Charleston blue butterfly habitat at the South Loop 
Trail area is to be afforded protection by prohibitions of the 
Wilderness Act from many types of habitat-disturbing actions, in fact, 
habitat-disturbance activities (such as those associated with 
recreation) have occurred in other locations and may continue to occur. 
Projects conducted under the current management plans have disturbed 
habitat, and may occur again in the future.
    The current existing regulatory mechanism designed to regulate the 
collection of Mt. Charleston blue butterflies is not effectively 
addressing or ameliorating the threat of collection to the Mt. 
Charleston blue butterfly, because of inadequate enforcement. 
Specifically, the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly is designated a 
sensitive species by the Forest Service, and, since 2006, a permit has 
been required for the noncommercial collection of this subspecies. This 
requirement provides limited protection, however, because collections 
of this and other species of butterflies have taken place without 
permits being issued. As discussed above, we have evidence of 
nonpermitted collection. Therefore, existing law, regulation, and 
policy have not prevented the collection of Mt. Charleston blue 
butterflies (see Factor B, Table 2).
    In addition, Mt. Charleston blue butterflies occur in extremely 
small populations that are limited in distribution and are vulnerable 
to collections, projects, or actions that impact populations or even 
relatively small areas of occupied or suitable habitat. Therefore, we 
conclude that there is an inadequacy in the existing regulatory 
mechanisms designed to protect the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly from 
threats discussed in this finding (Factor A and B above).

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

    Our analyses under the Endangered Species 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 (e.g., 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 (e.g., 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.
    Global climate projections are informative, and, in some cases, the 
only or the best scientific information available for us to use. 
However, projected changes in climate and related impacts can vary 
substantially across and within different regions of the world (e.g., 
IPCC 2007a, pp. 8-12). Therefore, we use ``downscaled'' projections 
when they are available and have been developed through appropriate 
scientific procedures, because such projections provide higher 
resolution information that is more relevant to spatial scales used for 
analyses of a given species (see Glick et al. 2011, pp. 58-61, for a 
discussion of downscaling). IPCC models are at a landscape scale and 
project that precipitation will decrease in the southwestern United 
States (IPCC 2007b, p. 8, Table SPM.2). The IPCC reports that 
temperature increases and rising air and ocean temperature is 
unquestionable (IPCC 2007a, p. 4). Site-specific models project 
temperatures in Nevada are likely to increase as much as 2.8 degrees 
Celsius (5 degrees Fahrenheit) by the 2050s (TNC 2011, p. 1). 
Precipitation variability in the Mojave Desert region is linked 
spatially and temporally with events in the tropical and northern 
Pacific Oceans (El Ni[ntilde]o and La Ni[ntilde]a) (USGS 2004, pp. 2-
3). In our analyses, we use our expert judgment to weigh relevant 
information, including uncertainty, in our consideration of various 
aspects of climate change as it affects the Mt. Charleston blue 
butterfly.
    The Mt. Charleston blue butterfly population has declined since the 
last high-population year in 1995 (a total of 121 butterflies were 
counted during surveys of 2 areas at LVSSR on 2 separate dates (Weiss 
1996, p. 4)). This subspecies has a limited distribution, and 
population numbers are likely small. Small butterfly populations have a 
higher risk of extinction due to random environmental events (Shaffer 
1981, p. 131; Shaffer 1987, pp. 69-75; Gilpin and Soule 1986, pp. 24-
28). Weather extremes can cause severe butterfly population reductions 
or extinctions (Murphy et al. 1990, p. 43; Weiss et al. 1987, pp. 164-
167; Thomas et al. 1996, pp. 964-969). Given the limited distribution 
and likely low population numbers of the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly, 
late-season snowstorms, severe summer monsoon thunderstorms, and 
drought have the potential to adversely impact the subspecies.
    Late-season snowstorms have caused alpine butterfly extirpations 
(Ehrlich et al. 1972, pp. 101-105), and false spring conditions 
followed by normal winter snowstorms have caused adult and pre-diapause 
larvae mortality (Parmesan 2005, pp. 56-60). In addition, high rainfall 
years have been associated with butterfly population declines (Dobkin 
et al. 1987, pp. 161-176). Extended periods of rainy weather can also 
slow larval development and reduce overwintering survival (Weiss et al. 
1993, pp. 261-270). Weiss et al. (1997, p. 32) suggested that heavy 
summer monsoon thunderstorms adversely impacted Mt. Charleston blue 
butterflies during the 1996 flight season. During the 2006 and 2007 
flight season, severe summer thunderstorms may have affected the flight 
season at LVSSR and the South Loop Trail (Newfields 2006,

[[Page 59532]]

pp. 11 and 14; Kingsley 2007, p. 8). Additionally, drought has been 
shown to lower butterfly populations (Ehrlich et al. 1980, pp. 101-105; 
Thomas 1984, p. 344). Drought can cause butterfly host plants to mature 
early and reduce larval food availability (Ehrlich et al. 1980, pp. 
101-105; Weiss 1987, p. 165). This has likely affected the Mt. 
Charleston blue butterfly. Murphy (2006, p. 3) and Boyd (2006, p. 1) 
both assert a series of drought years, followed by a season of above-
average snowfall and then more drought, could be a reason for the lack 
of butterfly sightings in 2006. Continuing drought could be responsible 
for the lack of sightings in 2007 and 2008 (Datasmiths 2007, p. 1; Boyd 
2008, p. 2). Based on this evidence, we believe that the Mt. Charleston 
blue butterfly has likely been affected by unfavorable climatic changes 
in precipitation and temperature that are both ongoing and projected to 
continue into the future.
    High-elevation species like the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly may 
be particularly susceptible to some level of habitat loss due to global 
climate change exacerbating threats already impacting the subspecies 
(Peters and Darling 1985, p. 714; Hill et al. 2002, p. 2170). The 
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has high confidence in 
predictions that extreme weather events, warmer temperatures, and 
regional drought are very likely to increase in the northern hemisphere 
as a result of climate change (IPCC 2007, pp. 15-16). Climate models 
show the southwestern United States has transitioned into a more arid 
climate of drought that is predicted to continue into the next century 
(Seager et al. 2007, p. 1181). In the past 60 years, the frequency of 
storms with extreme precipitation has increased in Nevada by 29 percent 
(Madsen and Figdor 2007, p. 37). Changes in local southern Nevada 
climatic patterns cannot be definitively tied to global climate change; 
however, they are consistent with IPCC-predicted patterns of extreme 
precipitation, warmer than average temperatures, and drought (Redmond 
2007, p. 1). Therefore, we think it likely that climate change will 
impact the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly and its high-elevation habitat 
through predicted increases in extreme precipitation and drought. 
Alternating extreme precipitation and drought may exacerbate threats 
already facing the subspecies as a result of its small population size 
and threats to its habitat.
Summary of Factor E
    Small butterfly populations have a higher risk of extinction due to 
random environmental events (Shaffer 1981, p. 131; Gilpin and Soule 
1986, pp. 24-28; Shaffer 1987, pp. 69-75). Because of its small 
population and restricted range, the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly is 
vulnerable to random environmental events; in particular, the Mt. 
Charleston blue butterfly is threatened by extreme precipitation events 
and drought. In the past 60 years, the frequency of storms with extreme 
precipitation has increased in Nevada by 29 percent (Madsen and Figdor 
2007, p. 37), and it is predicted that altered regional patterns of 
temperature and precipitation as a result of global climate change will 
continue (IPCC 2007, pp. 15-16). Throughout the entire range of the Mt. 
Charleston blue butterfly, altered climate patterns could increase the 
potential for extreme precipitation events and drought, and may 
exacerbate the threats the subspecies already faces given its small 
population size and the threats to the alpine environment where it 
occurs. Based on this information, we find that other natural or 
manmade factors are affecting the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly such 
that these factors are a threat to the subspecies' continued existence.

Proposed Determination

    We have carefully assessed the best scientific and commercial 
information available regarding the past, present, and future threats 
to the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly. The Mt. Charleston blue butterfly 
is sensitive to environmental variability with the butterfly population 
rising and falling in response to environmental conditions (see Status 
and Trends section). The best available information suggests the Mt. 
Charleston blue butterfly population has been in decline since 1995, 
the last year the subspecies was observed in high numbers, and that the 
population is now likely extremely small (see Status and Trends 
section). To some extent, the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly, like most 
butterflies, has evolved to survive periods of unfavorable 
environmental conditions as diapausing larvae or pupae (Scott 1986, pp. 
26-30). The pupae of some butterfly species are known to persist in 
diapause up to 5 to 7 years (Scott 1986, p. 28). The number of years 
the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly can remain in diapause is unknown. It 
has been speculated that the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly may only be 
able to diapause for two seasons in a row (Murphy 2006, p. 1; Boyd and 
Murphy 2008, p. 21); however, a longer diapause period may be possible 
(Murphy 2006, p. 1; Datasmiths 2007, p. 6; Boyd and Murphy 2008, p. 
22). The best available information suggests environmental conditions 
from 2006 to 2009 have not been favorable to the Mt. Charleston blue 
butterfly (see Status and Trends section).
    Surveys are planned for 2012 to further determine the status and 
provide more knowledge about the ecology of the Mt. Charleston blue 
butterfly. Threats facing the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly, discussed 
above under listing Factors A, B, D, and E, increase the risk of 
extinction of the subspecies, given its few occurrences in a small 
area. The loss and degradation of habitat due to fire suppression and 
succession; the implementation of recreational development projects and 
fuels reduction projects; and the increases in nonnative plants (see 
Factor A), along with the persistent, ongoing threat of collection of 
the subspecies for commercial and noncommercial purposes (see Factor B) 
and the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms to prevent these 
impacts (see Factor D), will increase the inherent risk of extinction 
of the remaining few occurrences of the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly. 
These threats are likely to be exacerbated by the impact of climate 
change, which is anticipated to increase drought and extreme 
precipitation events (see Factor E). The Mt. Charleston blue butterfly 
is currently in danger of extinction because only small populations are 
known to occupy 2 of 18 historical locations, its status at 8 other 
locations where it is presumed to be occupied may be nearing 
extirpation, and the threats are ongoing and persistent at all known 
and presumed occupied locations.
    The Act defines an endangered species as any species that is ``in 
danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its 
range'' and a threatened species as any species ``that is likely to 
become endangered throughout all or a significant portion of its range 
within the foreseeable future.'' We find that the Mt. Charleston blue 
butterfly is presently in danger of extinction throughout its entire 
range, based on the immediacy, severity, and scope of the threats 
described above and its limited distribution of two known occupied 
locations and eight presumed occupied locations nearing extirpation. 
The Mt. Charleston blue butterfly thus meets the definition of an 
endangered species rather than threatened species because (1) It has 
been extirpated from six locations and eight others are imminently near 
extirpation; (2) it is limited to only two small populations; and (3) 
these small populations are facing severe and imminent threats. 
Therefore, on the basis of the best

[[Page 59533]]

available scientific and commercial information, we propose listing the 
Mt. Charleston blue butterfly as endangered 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 a threatened or endangered species throughout 
all or a significant portion of its range. The Mt. Charleston blue 
butterfly 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 subspecies throughout its entire range. The 
threats to the survival of the subspecies occur throughout the 
subspecies' range and are not restricted to any particular significant 
portion of that range. Accordingly, our assessment and proposed 
determination applies to the subspecies throughout its entire range, 
and we did not further evaluate a significant portion of the 
subspecies' range.

Available Conservation Measures

    Conservation measures provided to species listed as an endangered 
or threatened species 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, preparation of a draft and final 
recovery plan, and revisions to the plan as significant new information 
becomes available. The recovery outline guides the immediate 
implementation of urgent recovery actions and describes the process to 
be used to develop a recovery plan. The recovery plan identifies site-
specific management actions that are designed to achieve recovery of 
the species, objective, measurable criteria that determine when a 
species may be downlisted or delisted, and methods for monitoring 
recovery progress. Additionally, recovery plans contain estimated time 
and costs to carry out measures that are needed to achieve the goal and 
intermediate steps toward that goal. 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 
(comprising species experts, Federal and State agencies, 
nongovernmental 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 the Nevada Fish and 
Wildlife 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, Tribes, 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.
    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, 
pursuant to section 6 of the Act, the State of Nevada would be eligible 
for Federal funds to implement management actions that promote the 
protection and recovery of the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly. 
Information on our grant programs that are available to aid species 
recovery can be found at: http://www.fws.gov/grants.
    Although the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly 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 an 
endangered or threatened species 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 Forest Service.
    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

[[Page 59534]]

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 collecting, handling, possessing, selling, 
delivering, carrying, or transporting of the species, including import 
or export across State lines and international boundaries, except for 
properly documented antique specimens of the species at least 100 years 
old, as defined by section 10(h)(1) of the Act;
    (2) Introduction of nonnative species or the unauthorized release 
of biological control agents that compete with or attack any life stage 
of the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly, such as the introduction of 
nonnative ant, wasp, fly, beetle, or other insect species to the State 
of Nevada; or
    (3) Unauthorized modification of known occupied or presumed 
occupied habitats of the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly that support 
larval host and nectar plants.
    Questions regarding whether specific activities would constitute a 
violation of section 9 of the Act should be directed to the Nevada Fish 
and Wildlife 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, 2800 
Cottage Way, Suite W-2606, Sacramento, California, 95825-1846 
(telephone 916-414-6464; facsimile 916-414-6486).

Critical Habitat and Prudency Determination for the Mt. Charleston Blue 
Butterfly

    Critical habitat is defined in section 3 of the Act as:
    (1) The specific areas within the geographical area occupied by the 
species, at the time it is listed in accordance with the Act, on which 
are found those physical or biological features
    (a) Essential to the conservation of the species and
    (b) Which may require special management considerations or 
protection; and
    (2) Specific areas outside the geographical area occupied by the 
species at the time it is listed, upon a determination that such areas 
are essential for the conservation of the species.
    Conservation, as defined under section 3 of the Act, means to use 
and the use of all methods and procedures that are necessary to bring 
an endangered or threatened species to the point at which the measures 
provided pursuant to the Act are no longer necessary. Such methods and 
procedures include, but are not limited to, all activities associated 
with scientific resources management such as research, census, law 
enforcement, habitat acquisition and maintenance, propagation, live 
trapping, and transplantation, and, in the extraordinary case where 
population pressures within a given ecosystem cannot be otherwise 
relieved, may include regulated taking.
    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, we designate critical habitat at the time we 
determine that a species is 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. 
We have determined that both circumstances apply to the Mt Charleston 
blue butterfly. This determination involves a weighing of the expected 
increase in threats associated with a critical habitat designation 
against the benefits gained by a critical habitat designation. An 
explanation of this ``balancing'' evaluation follows.

Increased Threat to the Subspecies by Designating Critical Habitat

    Designation of critical habitat requires the publication of maps 
and a narrative description of specific critical habitat areas in the 
Federal Register. The degree of detail in those maps and boundary 
descriptions is greater than the general location descriptions provided 
in this proposal to list the species as endangered. We are concerned 
that designation of critical habitat would more widely announce the 
exact location of the butterflies to poachers, collectors, and vandals 
and further facilitate unauthorized collection and trade. Due to its 
extreme rarity (a low number of individuals, combined with small areas 
inhabited by the remaining metapopulation), this butterfly is highly 
vulnerable to collection. Disturbance and other harm from humans are 
also serious threats to the butterfly and its habitat (see Factor B 
above). At this time, removal of any individuals or damage to habitat 
would have devastating consequences for the survival of the subspecies. 
These threats would be exacerbated by the publication of maps and 
descriptions in the Federal Register and local newspapers outlining the 
specific locations of this critically imperiled butterfly. Maps and 
descriptions of critical habitat, such as those that would appear in 
the Federal Register if critical habitat were designated, are not now 
available to the general public. Please note that while we have listed 
area and trail names of historically occupied, presumed occupied, and 
currently occupied locations, these lists do not indicate specific 
locations, and the actual currently known occupied locations are a 
portion of the much larger-scale areas listed in the tables in this 
document.
    We have specific evidence of taking for this subspecies, and the 
noncommercial collection of butterflies from the Spring Mountains in 
Nevada is ongoing (Service 2012, pp. 1-5). As a subspecies endemic to 
the Spring Mountains, the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly is sought by 
collectors who may not be aware of specific locations where it is found 
(Service 2012, pp. 1-5). While we are not aware of a specific market 
for butterflies from the Spring Mountains, there have been collections 
documented (collected, collected and sold, and collected with intent to 
sell) in nearby surrounding areas such as the Death Valley National 
Park, Grand Canyon National Park, and Kaibab National Forest (U.S. 
Attorney's Office, 1993, pp. 2-3). A great deal of effort is made by 
collectors to conceal collection activities that may be legal or 
illegal, so as not to draw attention to the collectors (U.S. Attorney's 
Office, 1993, pp. 1-86). Some collections in nearby areas have been for 
commercial purposes (U.S. Attorney's Office, 1993, pp. 1-86).

[[Page 59535]]

    Additionally, we are aware of a market for butterflies that look 
similar to the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly, including one of the 
species proposed for listing due to similarity of appearance. It is 
clear that a demand currently exists for both imperiled butterflies and 
those similar in appearance to the Mt. Charleston blue. Due to the 
small number of discrete populations, overall small metapopulation 
size, accessibility of some occupied habitats, and restricted range, we 
find that collection is a threat to the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly 
and could occur at any time. Even limited collection from the remaining 
metapopulation would have deleterious effects on the reproductive and 
genetic viability of the subspecies and thus could contribute to its 
extinction. Identification of critical habitat would increase the 
severity of this threat by depicting the exact locations where the 
subspecies may occur and more widely publicizing this information, 
exposing the fragile population and its habitat to greater risks.
    Identification and publication of critical habitat maps would also 
likely increase enforcement problems. Although take prohibitions exist, 
effective enforcement is difficult. As discussed in Factors B, D, and 
elsewhere above, the threat of collection exists, and areas are already 
difficult to patrol. Areas within the Mt. Charleston Wilderness are 
remote and accessible mainly by a steep and long ascent, making the 
areas difficult for law enforcement personnel to patrol and monitor. 
Designation of critical habitat could facilitate further use and misuse 
of sensitive habitats and resources, and create additional difficulty 
for law enforcement personnel in an already challenging environment. 
Overall, we find that designation of critical habitat will increase the 
likelihood and severity of the threats of unauthorized collection of 
the subspecies and destruction of sensitive habitat, as well as 
exacerbate enforcement issues.

Benefits to the Subspecies From Critical Habitat Designation

    It is true that designation of critical habitat for the Mt. 
Charleston blue butterfly within the Spring Mountains would have some 
beneficial effects. Section 7(a)(2) of the Act requires Federal 
agencies, including the Service, to ensure that actions they fund, 
authorize, or carry out are not likely to jeopardize the continued 
existence of any endangered or threatened species or result in the 
destruction or adverse modification of that species' critical habitat. 
Critical habitat only provides protections where there is a Federal 
nexus; that is, those actions that come under the purview of section 7 
of the Act. Critical habitat designation has no application to actions 
that do not have a Federal nexus. Section 7(a)(2) of the Act mandates 
that Federal agencies, in consultation with the Service, evaluate the 
effects of their proposed actions on any designated critical habitat. 
Similar to the Act's requirement that a Federal agency action not 
jeopardize the continued existence of listed species, Federal agencies 
have the responsibility not to implement actions that would destroy or 
adversely modify designated critical habitat. Critical habitat 
designation alone, however, does not require that a Federal action 
agency implement specific steps toward species recovery.
    All areas known to support the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly since 
1995 are or have been on Federal lands; these areas are currently being 
managed for multiple uses. Management efforts are reviewed by the 
Forest Service and the Service to consider Mt. Charleston blue 
butterfly conservation needs. Because the butterfly exists only as two 
occupied and eight presumed occupied, small metapopulations, any future 
activity involving a Federal action that would destroy or adversely 
modify occupied critical habitat would also likely jeopardize the 
subspecies' continued existence. Consultation with respect to critical 
habitat would provide additional protection to a species only if the 
agency action would result in the destruction or adverse modification 
of the critical habitat but would not jeopardize the continued 
existence of the species. In the absence of a critical habitat 
designation, areas that support the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly will 
continue to be subject to conservation actions implemented under 
section 7(a)(1) of the Act and to the regulatory protections afforded 
by the section 7(a)(2) jeopardy standard, as appropriate. Federal 
actions affecting the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly, even in the 
absence of designated critical habitat areas, will still benefit from 
consultation pursuant to section 7(a)(2) of the Act and may still 
result in jeopardy findings. Another potential benefit to the Mt. 
Charleston blue butterfly from designating critical habitat is that it 
could serve to educate landowners, State and local government agencies, 
and the general public regarding the potential conservation value of 
the area. In addition, designation of critical habitat could inform 
State agencies and local governments about areas that could be 
conserved under State laws or local ordinances. However, since 
awareness and education involving the Mt. Charleston blue is already 
well underway, designation of critical habitat would likely provide 
only minimal incremental benefits. Therefore, designation of specific 
areas as critical habitat that are currently occupied or recently 
occupied is unlikely to provide measurable benefit to the subspecies.

Increased Threat to the Subspecies Outweighs the Benefits of Critical 
Habitat Designation

    Upon reviewing the available information, we have determined that 
the designation of critical habitat would increase the threat to the 
Mt. Charleston blue butterfly from unauthorized collection. At the same 
time, we have determined that a designation of critical habitat is 
likely to confer little measurable benefit to the subspecies beyond 
that provided by listing. Results of consultations on Federal actions 
affecting the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly, should it be listed under 
the Act, would likely be no different with critical habitat than 
without its designation. Overall, we find that the risk of increasing 
significant threats to the subspecies by publishing location 
information in a critical habitat designation greatly outweighs the 
benefits of designating critical habitat.
    In conclusion, we find that the designation of critical habitat is 
not prudent, in accordance with 50 CFR 424.12(a)(1), because the Mt. 
Charleston blue butterfly is threatened by collection, and designation 
can reasonably be expected to increase the degree of these threats to 
the subspecies and its habitat. Critical habitat designation could 
provide some benefit to the subspecies, but these benefits are 
significantly outweighed by the increased risk of collection pressure 
and enforcement problems that could result from depicting, through 
publicly available maps and descriptions, exactly where this extremely 
rare butterfly and its habitat occurs.

Similarity of Appearance

    Section 4(e) of the Act authorizes the treatment of a species, 
subspecies, or population segment as an endangered or threatened 
species if: ``(a) Such species so closely resembles in appearance, at 
the point in question, a species which has been listed pursuant to such 
section that enforcement personnel would have substantial difficulty in 
attempting to differentiate between the listed and unlisted species; 
(b) the effect of this substantial difficulty is an additional threat 
to an endangered or threatened

[[Page 59536]]

species; and (c) such treatment of an unlisted species will 
substantially facilitate the enforcement and further the policy of this 
Act.'' Listing a species as an endangered or threatened species under 
the similarity of appearance provisions of the Act extends the take 
prohibitions of section 9 of the Act to cover the species. A 
designation of an endangered or threatened species due to similarity of 
appearance under section 4(e) of the Act, however, does not extend 
other protections of the Act, such as consultation requirements for 
Federal agencies under section 7 and the recovery planning provisions 
under section 4(f), that apply to species that are listed as an 
endangered or threatened species under section 4(a). All applicable 
prohibitions and exceptions for species listed under section 4(e) of 
the Act due to similarity of appearance to a threatened or endangered 
species will be set forth in a special rule under section 4(d) of the 
Act.
    There are only slight morphological differences between the Mt. 
Charleston blue and the lupine blue, Reakirt's blue, Spring Mountains 
icarioides blue, and the two Spring Mountains dark blue butterflies, 
making it difficult to differentiate between the species, especially 
due to their small size. This poses a problem for Federal and State law 
enforcement agents trying to stem unauthorized collection of the Mt. 
Charleston blue. It is quite possible that collectors authorized to 
collect similar species may inadvertently (or purposefully) collect the 
Mt. Charleston blue butterfly, thinking it to be the lupine blue, 
Reakirt's blue, Spring Mountains icarioides blue, or one of the two 
Spring Mountains dark blue butterflies, which also occur in the same 
geographical area and habitat type and have overlapping flight periods. 
The listing of these similar blue butterflies as threatened species due 
to similarity of appearance eliminates the ability of amateur butterfly 
enthusiasts and private and commercial collectors to purposefully or 
accidentally misrepresent the Mt. Charleston blue as one of these other 
species.
    The listing will facilitate Federal and State law enforcement 
agents' efforts to curtail unauthorized possession, collection, and 
trade in the Mt. Charleston blue. At this time, the five similar 
butterflies are not protected by the State. Extending the prohibition 
of collection to the five similar butterflies through this listing of 
these species due to similarity of appearance under section 4(e) of the 
Act and providing applicable prohibitions and exceptions in a special 
rule under section 4(d) of the Act will provide greater protection to 
the Mt. Charleston blue. For these reasons, we are proposing to list 
the lupine blue butterfly (Plebejus lupini texanus), Reakirt's blue 
butterfly (Echinargus isola), Spring Mountains icarioides blue 
butterfly (Plebejus icarioides austinorum), and the two Spring 
Mountains dark blue butterflies (Euphilotes ancilla cryptica and E. a. 
purpura) as threatened species due to similarity of appearance to the 
Mt. Charleston blue, pursuant to section 4(e) of the Act on private and 
public lands within the District Boundary for the Spring Mountains 
National Recreation Area of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest and 
north of Nevada State Highway 160 (commonly referred to as the Spring 
Mountains and Mt. Charleston) (see Figure 1).
    Figure 1. Map of the area where the proposed special rule for the 
Mt. Charleston blue butterfly applies to the five similarity of 
appearance butterflies.
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP27SE12.007


[[Page 59537]]



Special Rule Under Section 4(d) of the Act

    Whenever a species is listed as a threatened species under the Act, 
the Secretary may specify regulations that he deems necessary and 
advisable to provide for the conservation of that species under the 
authorization of section 4(d) of the Act. These rules, commonly 
referred to as ``special rules,'' are found in part 17 of title 50 of 
the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) in sections 17.40-17.48. This 
special rule to be promulgated under the designation 50 CFR 17.47, will 
establish prohibitions on collection of the lupine blue butterfly 
(Plebejus lupini texanus), Reakirt's blue butterfly (Echinargus isola), 
Spring Mountains icarioides blue butterfly (Plebejus icarioides 
austinorum), and two Spring Mountains dark blue butterflies (Euphilotes 
ancilla cryptica and E. a. purpura), or their immature stages, where 
their ranges overlap with the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly, in order 
to protect the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly from collection, 
possession, and trade. In this context, collection is defined as any 
activity where lupine blue butterfly, Reakirt's blue butterfly, Spring 
Mountains icarioides blue butterfly, and the two Spring Mountains dark 
blue butterflies or their immature stages are, or are attempted to be, 
collected.
    Capture of the lupine blue butterfly, Reakirt's blue butterfly, 
Spring Mountains icarioides blue butterfly, and the two Spring 
Mountains dark blue butterflies, or their immature stages, is not 
prohibited if it is accidental, such as during research, provided the 
animal is released immediately upon discovery at the point of capture. 
Scientific activities involving collection or propagation of these 
similarity-of-appearance butterflies are not prohibited provided there 
is prior written authorization from the Service. All otherwise legal 
activities involving the lupine blue butterfly, Reakirt's blue 
butterfly, Spring Mountains icarioides blue butterfly, and the two 
Spring Mountains dark blue butterflies that are conducted in accordance 
with applicable State, Federal, Tribal, and local laws and regulations 
are not considered to be take under this proposed rule.

Effects of These Rules

    Listing the lupine blue butterfly, Reakirt's blue butterfly, Spring 
Mountains icarioides blue butterfly, and the two Spring Mountains dark 
blue butterflies as threatened species under the ``similarity of 
appearance'' provisions of the Act, and the promulgation of a special 
rule under section 4(d) of the Act, extend take prohibitions to these 
species and their immature stages. Capture of these species, including 
their immature stages, is not prohibited if it is accidental, such as 
during research, provided the animal is released immediately upon 
discovery, at the point of capture.
    There are over 100 species and subspecies of butterflies within the 
10 genera, occurring domestically and internationally, that could be 
confused with the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly, or the 4 similarity of 
appearance butterflies. We are aware that legal trade in some of these 
other blue butterflies exists. To avoid confusion and delays in legal 
trade, we strongly recommend maintaining the appropriate documentation 
and declarations with legal specimens at all times, especially when 
importing them into the United States. Legal trade of other species 
that may be confused with the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly or the five 
similarity of appearance butterflies should also comply with the 
import/export transfer regulations under 50 CFR 14, where applicable.
    All otherwise legal activities that may involve what we would 
normally define as incidental take (take that results from, but is not 
the purpose of, carrying out an otherwise lawful activity) of these 
similar butterflies, and which are conducted in accordance with 
applicable State, Federal, Tribal, and local laws and regulations, will 
not be considered take under this regulation. For example, this special 
4(d) rule exempts legal application of pesticides, grounds maintenance, 
recreational facilities maintenance, vehicle use, vegetation 
management, exotic plant removal, and burning. These actions will not 
be considered as violations of section 9 of the Act if they result in 
incidental take of any of the similarity of appearance butterflies. We 
think that not applying take prohibitions for those otherwise legal 
activities to these five similar butterflies (lupine blue butterfly, 
Reakirt's blue butterfly, Spring Mountains icarioides blue butterfly, 
and the two Spring Mountains dark blue butterflies) will not pose a 
threat to the Mt. Charleston blue because: (1) Activities such as 
grounds maintenance and vegetation control in developed or commercial 
areas are not likely to affect the Mt. Charleston blue, and (2) the 
primary threat to the Mt. Charleston blue comes from collection and 
commercial trade. Listing the lupine blue butterfly, Reakirt's blue 
butterfly, Spring Mountains icarioides blue butterfly, and the two 
Spring Mountains dark blue butterflies under the similarity of 
appearance provision of the Act, coupled with this special 4(d) rule, 
will help minimize enforcement problems related to collection, and 
enhance conservation of the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly.

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 listing decision is based on scientifically sound data, 
assumptions, and analyses. We have invited these peer reviewers to 
comment during this public comment period on our specific proposed 
listing, prudency determination, and similarity of appearance proposal.
    We will consider all comments and information received 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 accommodation to attend and participate 
in a public hearing should contact the Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office 
at 775-861-6300, as soon as possible. To allow sufficient time to 
process requests, please call no later than 1 week before the hearing 
date. Information regarding this proposed rule is available in 
alternative formats upon request.

Nonsubstantive Administrative Action

    Included in this proposed rule is text to correct errors in a 
previously issued rule. When we published the final rule to list the 
Miami blue butterfly (Cyclargus thomasi bethunebakeri) as endangered 
and to list three additional butterflies as threatened by similarity of 
appearance (77 FR 20948; April 6, 2012), the last column in the table 
at 50 CFR 17.11(h) was inadvertently omitted

[[Page 59538]]

from the published rule. This column indicates where the public may 
locate a special rule pertaining to the three species that were listed 
as threatened by similarity of appearance (cassius blue butterfly, 
ceraunus blue butterfly, and nickerbean blue butterfly) in title 50 of 
the Code of Federal Regulations. Therefore, we are providing that 
information in this proposed rule. We are also proposing a revision to 
paragraph (a) of that special rule, which is found in 50 CFR 17.47, to 
make the format of that special rule consistent with this proposed 
special rule, which will be located immediately following, at 50 CFR 
17.47(b). These changes are administrative and nonsubstantive.

Required Determinations

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.

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 occupied by the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly at the time of 
listing. Therefore, this rulemaking, if finalized, will not affect 
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 
Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

Authors

    The primary authors of this package are the staff members of the 
Nevada Fish and Wildlife 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), the List of Endangered and Threatened 
Wildlife, by:
    a. Revising the entries for ``Butterfly, cassius blue'', 
``Butterfly, ceraunus blue'', ``Butterfly, Miami blue'', and Butterfly, 
nickerbean blue''; and
    b. Adding new entries for ``Butterfly, lupine blue'', ``Butterfly, 
Mt. Charleston blue'', ``Butterfly, Reakirt's blue'', ``Butterfly, 
Spring Mountains dark blue'', ``Butterfly, Spring Mountains dark 
blue'', and ``Butterfly, Spring Mountains icarioides blue'', in 
alphabetical order under Insects, to read as follows:


Sec.  17.11  Endangered and threatened wildlife.

* * * * *
    (h) * * *

[[Page 59539]]



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                        Species                                                    Vertebrate
--------------------------------------------------------                        population where                                  Critical     Special
                                                            Historic range       endangered or         Status      When listed    habitat       rules
           Common name                Scientific name                              threatened
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
             Insects
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
Butterfly, cassius blue..........  Leptotes cassius      U.S.A. (FL),         NA.................  T (S/A)                 801           NA     17.47(a)
                                    theonus.              Bahamas, Greater
                                                          Antilles, Cayman
                                                          Islands.
Butterfly, ceraunus blue.........  Hemiargus ceraunus    U.S.A. (FL),         NA.................  T(S/A)                  801           NA     17.47(a)
                                    antibubastus.         Bahamas.
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
Butterfly, lupine blue...........  Plebejus lupini       U.S.A. (AZ, CA, CO,  NA.................  T (S/A)         ...........           NA     17.47(b)
                                    texanus.              NE, NM, NV, TX,
                                                          UT), Mexico.
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
Butterfly, Miami blue............  Cyclargus thomasi     U.S.A. (FL),         NA.................  E                       801           NA           NA
                                    bethunebakeri.        Bahamas.
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
Butterfly, Mt. Charleston blue...  Plebejus shasta       U.S.A. (NV), Spring  NA.................  E               ...........           NA           NA
                                    charlestonensis.      Mountains.
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
Butterfly, nickerbean blue.......  Cyclargus ammon.....  U.S.A. (FL),         NA.................  T(S/A)                  801           NA     17.47(a)
                                                          Bahamas, Cuba.
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
Butterfly, Reakirt's blue........  Echinargus isola....  U.S.A. (AR, AZ, CA,  NA.................  T(S/A)          ...........           NA     17.47(b)
                                                          CO, IA, IL, IN,
                                                          KS, LA, MI, MN,
                                                          MO, MS, ND, NE,
                                                          NM, NV, OH, OK,
                                                          SD, TN, TX, UT,
                                                          WA, WI, WY),
                                                          Mexico.
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
Butterfly, Spring Mountains dark   Euphilotes ancilla    U.S.A. (NV), Spring  NA.................  T(S/A)          ...........           NA     17.47(b)
 blue.                              cryptica.             Mountains.
Butterfly, Spring Mountains dark   Euphilotes ancilla    U.S.A. (NV), Spring  NA.................  T(S/A)          ...........           NA     17.47(b)
 blue.                              purpura.              Mountains.
Butterfly, Spring Mountains        Plebejus icarioides   U.S.A. (NV), Spring  NA.................  T(S/A)          ...........           NA     17.47(b)
 icarioides blue.                   austinorum.           Mountains.
 
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    3. Amend Sec.  17.47 by revising the introductory text or paragraph 
(a) and paragraph (a)(4) and adding paragraph (b) to read as follows:


Sec.  17.47  Special rules-insects.

    (a) Cassius blue butterfly (Leptotes cassius theonus), Ceraunus 
blue butterfly (Hemiargus ceraunus antibubastus), and Nickerbean blue 
butterfly (Cyclargus ammon). The provisions of this special rule apply 
to these species only when found in coastal counties of Florida south 
of Interstate 4 and extending to the boundaries of the State at the 
endpoints of Interstate 4 at Tampa and Daytona Beach. Specifically, 
regulated activities are prohibited in the following counties: Brevard, 
Broward, Charlotte, Collier, De Soto, Hillsborough, Indian River, Lee, 
Manatee, Pinellas, Sarasota, St. Lucie, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, 
Palm Beach, and Volusia.
* * * * *
    (4) Collection of the cassius blue butterfly, ceraunus blue 
butterfly, and nickerbean blue butterfly is prohibited in the areas set 
forth in paragraph (a).
    (b) Lupine blue butterfly (Plebejus lupini texanus), Reakirt's blue 
butterfly (Echinargus isola), Spring Mountains icarioides blue 
butterfly (Plebejus icarioides austinorum), and two Spring Mountains 
dark blue butterflies (Euphilotes ancilla cryptica and E. a. purpura). 
The provisions of this special rule apply to these species only when 
found on private and public lands within the District Boundary for the 
Spring Mountains National Recreation Area of the Humboldt-Toiyabe 
National Forest and north of Nevada State Highway 160 (commonly 
referred to as the Spring Mountains and Mt. Charleston).

[[Page 59540]]

    (1) The provisions of Sec.  17.31(c) apply to these species (lupine 
blue butterfly, Reakirt's blue butterfly, Spring Mountains icarioides 
blue butterfly, and two Spring Mountains dark blue butterflies), 
regardless of whether in the wild or in captivity, and also apply to 
the progeny of any such butterfly.
    (2) Any violation of State law will also be a violation of the Act.
    (3) Incidental take, that is, take that results from, but is not 
the purpose of, carrying out an otherwise lawful activity, will not 
apply to the lupine blue butterfly, Reakirt's blue butterfly, Spring 
Mountains icarioides blue butterfly, and two Spring Mountains dark blue 
butterflies.
    (4) Collection of the lupine blue butterfly, Reakirt's blue 
butterfly, two Spring Mountains dark blue butterflies, and Spring 
Mountains icarioides blue butterfly is prohibited in the Spring 
Mountains of Nevada.
    (5) A map showing the area covered by this special rule follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP27SE12.008
    

    Dated: September 11, 2012.
Michael J. Bean,
Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and 
Parks.
[FR Doc. 2012-23747 Filed 9-26-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P