Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12-Month Finding on a Petition to Downlist Hesperocyparis abramsiana (=Cupressus abramsiana), and Proposed Rule to Reclassify H. abramsiana as Threatened, 54221-54231 [2013-21313]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 170 / Tuesday, September 3, 2013 / Proposed Rules pmangrum on DSK3VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS-1 coverage of a comprehensive, regional, or local conservation program under the 4(d) special rule being considered, the program must provide a conservation benefit to Mazama pocket gophers. Conservation, as defined in section 3(3) of the Act, means ‘‘to use and the use of all methods and procedures which are necessary to bring any endangered species or threatened species to the point at which the measures provided pursuant to the Act are no longer necessary.’’ The program may also be periodically reviewed by the Service to determine that it continues to provide the intended conservation benefit to the Mazama pocket gophers. As a result of this provision, the Service expects that conservation actions will be implemented with a high level of certainty that the program will lead to the long-term conservation of the four subspecies of Mazama pocket gopher. Agricultural and Ranching Activities The Service is considering exempting take of Mazama pocket gopher on nonFederal lands when those lands are managed following technical guidelines that have been developed in coordination with a State or Federal agency or agencies responsible for the management and conservation of fish and wildlife, or their agent(s), and that has been determined by the Service to provide a conservation benefit to Mazama pocket gophers. Individual non-Federal landowners following these specific technical guidelines may be exempted from take prohibitions. Guidelines should incorporate procedures, practice standards, and conservation measures that promote the continued existence of the four subspecies of Mazama pocket gopher. Ideally, appropriate guidelines would be associated with a program that would provide financial and technical assistance to participating landowners to implement specific conservation measures beneficial to the Mazama pocket gophers that also contribute to the sustainability of landowners’ agricultural or ranching operations. Conservation measures encompassed by such a program should be consistent with management or restoration of prairie habitats for Mazama pocket gophers and include brush management, prescribed grazing, range planting, prescribed burning, and set asides for conservation areas. We believe including such a provision in a 4(d) special rule for agricultural and ranching activities will promote conservation of the species by encouraging agricultural landowners and ranchers with Mazama pocket gophers to continue managing the VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:11 Aug 30, 2013 Jkt 229001 remaining landscape in ways that meet the needs of their operations while simultaneously supporting suitable habitat for the gophers as well as other prairie-dependent species. We will consider all comments and information received during our preparation of a final determination on the status of the four subspecies and the 4(d) special rule, and, if appropriate, a final designation of critical habitat. Accordingly, the final decision may differ from our original proposal. If you previously submitted comments or information on the proposed rule during the two previously open comment periods, please do not resubmit them. We have incorporated them into the public record, and we will fully consider them in the preparation of our final determination. Our final determination concerning the proposed listing and proposed designation of critical habitat will take into consideration all written comments and any additional information we received. You may submit your comments and materials concerning the proposed rule by one of the methods listed in ADDRESSES. We request that you send comments only by the methods described in ADDRESSES. If you submit a comment via http:// www.regulations.gov, your entire comment—including any personal identifying information—will be posted on the Web site. We will post all hardcopy comments on http:// www.regulations.gov as well. If you submit a hardcopy comment 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. Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting documentation we used in preparing the proposed rule, will be available for public inspection on http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS–R1–ES–2012–0088 and FWS– R1–ES–2013–0021, or by appointment, during normal business hours, at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). You may obtain copies of the proposed rule on the Internet at http:// www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS–R1–ES–2012–0088, or by mail from the Washington Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Authors The primary authors of this notice are the staff members of the Washington PO 00000 Frm 00025 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 54221 Fish and Wildlife Office, Pacific Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Authority The authority for this action is the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). Dated: August 21, 2013. Stephen Guertin, Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. [FR Doc. 2013–21376 Filed 8–30–13; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–55–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service 50 CFR Part 17 [Docket No. FWS–R8–ES–2013–0092; 4500030113] RIN 1018–AY77 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12-Month Finding on a Petition to Downlist Hesperocyparis abramsiana (=Cupressus abramsiana), and Proposed Rule to Reclassify H. abramsiana as Threatened Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Proposed rule and 12-month petition finding. AGENCY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announce a 12-month finding on a petition to reclassify Hesperocyparis abramsiana (=Cupressus abramsiana) (Santa Cruz cypress) as threatened under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). After review of all available scientific and commercial information, we find that reclassifying Santa Cruz cypress as threatened is warranted, and therefore, we propose to reclassify Santa Cruz cypress as threatened under the Act. We also propose to correct the scientific name of Santa Cruz cypress on the List of Endangered and Threatened Plants. We are seeking information and comments from the public regarding this proposed rule and 12-month finding. DATES: We will accept comments received or postmarked on or before November 4, 2013. We must receive requests for public hearings, in writing, at the address shown in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section by October 18, 2013. ADDRESSES: Comment submission: You may submit comments by one of the following methods: (1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http:// SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\03SEP1.SGM 03SEP1 54222 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 170 / Tuesday, September 3, 2013 / Proposed Rules www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter FWS–R8–ES–2013–0092, which is the docket number for this rulemaking. Then, in the Search panel on the left side of the screen, under the Document Type heading, click on the Proposed Rules link to locate this document. You may submit a comment by clicking on ‘‘Comment Now!’’ (2) By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–R8–ES–2013– 0092; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042–PDM; Arlington, VA 22203. We request that you send comments only by the methods described above. We will post all comments on http:// www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we will post any personal information you provide us (see the Information Requested section below for more information). Document availability: A copy of the Species Report referenced throughout this document can be viewed at http:// ecos.fws.gov/speciesProfile/profile/ speciesProfile.action?spcode=R005, at http://www.regulations.gov under Docket No. FWS–R8–ES–2013–0092, or at the Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office’s Web site at http://www.fws.gov/ventura/ . FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Stephen P. Henry, Deputy Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office, 2493 Portola Road, Suite B, Ventura, CA 93003; telephone 805–644– 1766; facsimile 805–644–3958. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800–877–8339. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: pmangrum on DSK3VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS-1 Information Requested We intend any final action resulting from this proposal will be based on the best scientific and commercial data available, and be as accurate and as effective as possible. Therefore, we request comments or information from other governmental agencies, tribes, the scientific community, industry, or other interested parties concerning this proposed rule. We particularly seek comments concerning: (1) Reasons why we should or should not reclassify Santa Cruz cypress under the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). (2) New biological or other relevant data concerning any threat (or lack thereof) to this species. (3) New information concerning the population size or trends of this species. (4) New information on how Santa Cruz cypress responds to fire, especially VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:11 Aug 30, 2013 Jkt 229001 as it pertains to prescribed fire and alternatives to prescribed fire (e.g., mechanical disturbance) that would support increased recruitment for this species. (5) New information on the current or planned activities within the range of the species that may adversely affect or benefit the species. (6) New information or data on the projected and reasonably likely impacts to Santa Cruz cypress or its habitat associated with climate change. 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 an endangered or threatened species must be made ‘‘solely on the basis of the best scientific and commercial data available.’’ You may submit your comments and materials concerning this proposed rule by one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. We request that you send comments only by the methods described in the ADDRESSES section. If you submit information via http:// www.regulations.gov, your entire submission—including any personal identifying information—will be posted on the Web site. If your submission is made via a hardcopy that includes personal identifying information, you may request at the top of your document that we withhold this information from public review. However, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. We will post all hardcopy submissions on http://www.regulations.gov. 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, Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Public Hearings Section 4(b)(5) of the Act provides for one or more public hearings on this proposal, if requested. We must receive your request within 45 days after the date of this Federal Register publication. Send your request to the address shown in FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. We will schedule PO 00000 Frm 00026 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 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. Peer Review In accordance with our joint policy on peer review published in the Federal Register on July 1, 1994 (50 FR 34270), we will seek the expert opinions of at least three appropriate and independent specialists regarding this proposed rule. A thorough review of information that we relied on in preparing this proposed rule—including information on taxonomy, life-history, ecology, population distribution and abundance, and potential threats—is presented in the Santa Cruz Cypress Species Report (Service 2013) available at www.regulations.gov (Docket Number FWS–R8–ES–2013–0092). The purpose of peer review is to ensure that decisions are based on scientifically sound data, assumptions, and analyses. A peer review panel will conduct an assessment of the proposed rule, and the specific assumptions and conclusions regarding the proposed downlisting. This assessment will be completed during the public comment period. We will consider all comments and information we receive during the comment period on this proposed rule as we prepare the final determination. Accordingly, the final decision may differ from this proposal. Previous Federal Action We proposed to list Santa Cruz cypress (as Cupressus abramsiana) as an endangered species under the Act on September 12, 1985 (50 FR 37249), based on threats from residential development, agricultural conversion, logging, oil and gas drilling, and the alteration of the natural fire regime that maintains the stands. We published a final rule listing Santa Cruz cypress as an endangered species (which included an additional threat, genetic introgression, not listed in the proposed rule) in the Federal Register on January 8, 1987 (52 FR 675). We finalized a recovery plan for Santa Cruz cypress (Recovery Plan) in September 1998 (Service 1998). Under the Act, we maintain the Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants at 50 CFR 17.11 (for animals) and 17.12 (for plants) (Lists). We amend the Lists by publishing final rules in the Federal Register. Section 4(c)(2)(A) of the Act requires that we conduct a review of listed species at least once every 5 years. Section 4(c)(2)(B) requires E:\FR\FM\03SEP1.SGM 03SEP1 pmangrum on DSK3VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS-1 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 170 / Tuesday, September 3, 2013 / Proposed Rules that we determine: (1) Whether a species no longer meets the definition of endangered or threatened and should be removed from the Lists (delisted), (2) whether a species listed as endangered more properly meets the definition of threatened and should be reclassified to threatened (downlisted), or (3) whether a species listed as threatened more properly meets the definition of endangered and should be reclassified to endangered (uplisted). In accordance with 50 CFR 424.11(d), using the best scientific and commercial data available, we will consider a species for delisting only if the data substantiate that the species is neither endangered nor threatened for one or more of the following reasons: (1) The species is considered extinct; (2) the species is considered recovered; or (3) the original data available when the species was listed, or the interpretation of such data, were in error. We published a notice announcing active review and requested public comments concerning the status of Santa Cruz cypress under section 4(c)(2) of the Act on February 14, 2007 (72 FR 7064). We notified the public of completion of the 5-year review on May 21, 2010 (75 FR 28636). The 5-year review, completed on August 17, 2009 (Service 2009), resulted in a recommendation to change the status of the species from endangered to threatened. A copy of the 2009 5-year review for Santa Cruz cypress is available on the Service’s Environmental Conservation Online System (http://ecos.fws.gov/docs/five_ year_review/doc2551.pdf). On December 21, 2011, we received a petition dated December 19, 2011, from the Pacific Legal Foundation, requesting the Service to delist the Inyo California towhee (Pipilo crissalis eremophilus), and to reclassify from endangered to threatened the arroyo toad (Anaxyrus californicus), Modoc sucker (Catostomus microps), Eriodictyon altissimum (Indian Knob mountainbalm), Astragalus jaegerianus (Lane Mountain milk-vetch), and Santa Cruz cypress. The petition was based on the analysis and recommendations contained in the most recent 5-year reviews for these taxa. On June 4, 2012 (77 FR 32922), we published in the Federal Register a 90-day finding for the 2011 petition to reclassify these six taxa. In our 90-day finding, we determined the 2011 petition provided substantial information indicating the petitioned actions may be warranted, and we initiated status reviews for each species. This proposed downlisting rule constitutes the 12-month finding and our 5-year status review for Santa Cruz VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:11 Aug 30, 2013 Jkt 229001 cypress; 12-month findings for the other petitioned species will be addressed separately and published in the Federal Register in the future. Background A scientific analysis was completed and presented in detail within the Santa Cruz Cypress Species Report (Service 2013, entire), which is available at http://www.regulations.gov at Docket Number FWS–R8–ES–2013–0092. The Species Report was prepared by Service biologists to provide thorough discussion of the species ecology, biological needs, and analysis of the threats that may be impacting the species. The Species Report includes discussion of the following: species description, taxonomy, life history, habitat, distribution, abundance, population descriptions, age and size class distribution, threats analysis, progress towards recovery, and research needs. This detailed information is summarized in the following paragraphs of this Background section and the Summary of Factors Affecting the Species section. Santa Cruz cypress is a small-statured tree in the cypress family (Cupressaceae), with mature trees averaging 20 to 33 feet (6 to 10 meters) in height (Bartel 2012, p. 138). Reproductive maturity is reached at an average age of 11 years, although some individuals produce cones earlier (Kuhlmann 1986, p. 8). The potential lifespan of the Santa Cruz cypress is approximately 100 years or longer (Service 2013, p. 9). The taxonomy of and relationships among members of the cypress family (Cupressaceae) have undergone many revisions, as described in greater detail in the Species Report (Service 2013, pp. 8–9). Most recently, a new genus, Hesperocyparis Bartel and Price, was described to recognize that the western hemisphere Cupressus taxa, including Santa Cruz cypress, comprise a group quite separate from the eastern hemisphere taxa (Adams et al. 2009, p. 180). This taxonomic revision, published since listing, changed the name of the listed entity from Cupressus abramsiana to Hesperocyparis abramsiana, but did not alter the definition, distribution, or range of the species from what it was at the time of listing. Based on this revision, we include in this document a proposed correction to this taxon’s scientific name, to list it as Hesperocyparis abramsiana on the List of Endangered and Threatened Plants at 50 CFR 17.12(h). Recent taxonomic evaluations of Hesperocyparis abramsiana have PO 00000 Frm 00027 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 54223 identified two varieties of the species: H. a. var. abramsiana and H. a. var. butanoensis (San Mateo cypress) (Adams and Bartel 2009). The listed entity includes all members of this species (i.e., both varieties currently have the same protections under the Act), which are represented by one population in San Mateo County, California (H. a. var. butanoensis; known as the Butano Ridge population), and four populations in Santa Cruz County, California (H. a. var. abramsiana; known as the Eagle Rock, Bracken Brae, Bonny Doon, and Majors Creek populations). These five populations comprise eight distinct stands (trees with similar species composition, age, and condition considered to be a homogeneous unit). Hesperocyparis abramsiana var. butanoensis is distinguished from H. a. var. abramsiana by its longer seed cones (Bartel 2012, p. 138). Both varieties are collectively referred to as Santa Cruz cypress for the remainder of this document unless otherwise noted. At the time of listing, population estimates for Santa Cruz cypress were based on field reconnaissance rather than systematic observations of stand area and density. These estimates did not differ greatly from the estimates used in the 1998 Recovery Plan (Service 1998), which used numbers from a demographic report (Lyons 1988) of the species from 1988. In 2007, we funded a directed study of three populations (Butano Ridge, Majors Creek, and Eagle Rock) to obtain more accurate estimates on population numbers and area (McGraw 2007, entire), and we derived updated estimates for the remaining two populations from McGraw (2007) and Taylor (in litt. 2005). McGraw (2007) and Taylor (in litt. 2005) represent the best currently available scientific and commercial information regarding number of individual trees, coverage area (acreage) for all populations, reproduction, and recruitment. Survey data indicate the estimated number of individual trees for all 5 populations ranges from approximately 2,786 individuals in the Butano Ridge population to approximately 10,000 to 20,000 individuals in the Bracken Brae population (Table 2 in Service 2013, p. 13). The five populations range in size from approximately 8 to 128 acres (ac) (3 to 52 hectares (ha)) (Table 2 in Service 2013, p. 13). McGraw’s (2007, p. 20) study at the Butano Ridge, Eagle Rock, and Majors Creek populations showed high levels of new cone formation (also expected to be similar at the Bonny Doon and Bracken Brae populations), which is an indicator of E:\FR\FM\03SEP1.SGM 03SEP1 54224 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 170 / Tuesday, September 3, 2013 / Proposed Rules pmangrum on DSK3VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS-1 reproductive vigor. Santa Cruz cypress, like most cypress species, are obligate seeders; the trees do not resprout after a disturbance event such as a fire, and are thus totally dependent on seed establishment for post-disturbance regeneration (Bartel and Knudsen 1983, p. 3). While seed production appears to be strong, recruitment—which depends more on the availability of habitat—is more variable between stands (Service 2013, p. 45). For a detailed discussion of Santa Cruz cypress’s description, taxonomy, life history, habitat, soils, distribution, abundance, age and size distribution, and role of fire in regeneration, please see the Species Report available for review at http://www.regulations.gov under Docket No. FWS–R8–ES–2013– 0092. Recovery and Recovery Plan Implementation Section 4(f) of the Act directs us to develop and implement recovery plans for the conservation and survival of endangered and threatened species unless we determine that such a plan will not promote the conservation of the species. Under section 4(f)(1)(B)(ii), recovery plans must, to the maximum extent practicable, include: ‘‘Objective, measurable criteria which, when met, would result in a determination, in accordance with the provisions of [section 4 of the Act], that the species be removed from the list.’’ However, revisions to the list (adding, removing, or reclassifying a species) must reflect determinations made in accordance with sections 4(a)(1) and 4(b) of the Act. Section 4(a)(1) requires that the Secretary determine whether a species is endangered or threatened (or not) because of one or more of five threat factors. Section 4(b) of the Act requires that the determination be made ‘‘solely on the basis of the best scientific and commercial data available.’’ Therefore, recovery criteria should indicate when a species is no longer an endangered species or threatened species because of any of the five statutory factors. Thus, while recovery plans provide important guidance to the Service, States, and other partners on methods of minimizing threats to listed species and measurable objectives against which to measure progress towards recovery, they are not regulatory documents and cannot substitute for the determinations and promulgation of regulations required under section 4(a)(1) of the Act. A decision to revise the status of or remove a species from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Plants (50 CFR 17.12) is ultimately based on an analysis of the best scientific and VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:11 Aug 30, 2013 Jkt 229001 commercial data then available to determine whether a species is no longer an endangered species or a threatened species, regardless of whether that information differs from the recovery plan. In 1998, we finalized a recovery plan for Santa Cruz cypress (Recovery Plan; Service 1998). The Recovery Plan states that Santa Cruz cypress can be reclassified to threatened status when protection is secured for all five populations and their habitat from the primary threats of logging, agricultural conversion, and development (Service 1998, p. 30). This criterion was intended to address the point at which imminent threats to the species had been ameliorated so that the populations were no longer in immediate risk of extirpation. Because of its limited range and distribution, we determined that essentially all of the known habitat is necessary to conserve the species. At the time the Recovery Plan was prepared, we estimated that areal extent totaled 356 ac (144 ha). After more accurate mapping (McGraw 2007, entire), we now estimate that areal extent totals approximately 188 ac (76 ha) (Service 2013, p. 43). Additionally, estimated abundance of individuals in all populations has changed over time, from approximately 2,300 individuals at the time of listing in 1987, to a current range of 33,000 to 44,000 individuals (although the latter estimate is variable due to mortality and regeneration following the 2008 Martin Fire that burned 520 ac (210 ha) of land and a portion of the Bonny Doon population) (see Table 1 and the Bonny Doon population discussion under the ‘‘Population Descriptions’’ section of the Species Report (Service 2013, pp. 6, 15– 17)). It is important to note that the updated estimates for species abundance and areal extent do not illustrate trends but rather improved information about the species over time. As explained in more detail in the Species Report (Service 2013, p. 43), three of five populations occur primarily or entirely on lands that are being managed for conservation purposes, including the Butano Ridge population at Pescadero Creek County Park, the Bonny Doon population at Bonny Doon Ecological Reserve managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), and the Eagle Rock population at Big Basin State Park managed the California Department of Parks and Recreation (CDPR). A fourth population (Majors Creek) is primarily on lands at Gray Whale Ranch State Park, with a small portion on privately owned land. The fifth population (Bracken Brae) is entirely on PO 00000 Frm 00028 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 private lands owned by a conservationoriented landowner. This land is also designated by the County of Santa Cruz as environmentally sensitive habitat, which places restrictions on most development. Because four of the five populations, either wholly or primarily, occur on park or reserve lands, most of the individuals in the Bonny Doon, Butano Ridge, Majors Creek, and Eagle Rock populations are protected against the threats identified as imminent (logging, agricultural conversion, and development) at the time of listing and in the Recovery Plan. Because the Bracken Brae population is being managed by a conservation-oriented landowner and county restrictions are in place that would restrict most development, development-related threats to this population appear negligible compared to other active threats. Therefore, we conclude that the downlisting criterion has been substantially met. The Recovery Plan also states that Santa Cruz cypress can be delisted when all five populations are assured of long-term reproductive success, with insurance against failure provided by the availability of banked seed (Service 1998, p. 45). This criterion was intended to address the point at which long-term threats to the species’ persistence had been addressed and its persistence ensured. As explained in more detail in the Species Report (Service 2013, pp. 18–20), Santa Cruz cypress requires fire or other disturbance for germination of seeds and recruitment of new individuals into the populations. As detailed below in the Summary of Factors Affecting the Species section and in the Species Report (Service 2013, pp. 23–25), alteration of fire regime and lack of management are likely to significantly impact the long-term persistence of the species. Additionally, only seed for the Bonny Doon, Majors Creek, and Bracken Brae populations is stored in a conservation bank; no seed has been banked for the Eagle Rock or Butano Ridge populations. Therefore, based on our analysis of the best available information, we conclude that the delisting criterion for the species has not been met. In addition to the significant protections now afforded to Santa Cruz cypress as outlined above, various studies have occurred since development of the Recovery Plan that aid in our understanding of the status of Santa Cruz cypress. For example: • Recent surveys indicate that four of the five stands of Santa Cruz cypress contain a larger number of individuals than was estimated at the time of listing E:\FR\FM\03SEP1.SGM 03SEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 170 / Tuesday, September 3, 2013 / Proposed Rules pmangrum on DSK3VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS-1 and in the Recovery Plan (Service 2013, p. 43). • Although data indicate the majority of trees are reproductive, many trees (as indicated by surveys conducted specifically at Butano Ridge and Majors Creek populations) are even-aged (occur in stands or populations with individuals all of approximately the same age). Even-aged stands indicate that vigorous recruitment (survival of seedlings to reproductive age and into the adult population) is not evident (McGraw 2011, p. 26). In contrast, vigorous recruitment would be indicated by stands or populations including individuals of multiple sizes or age classes representing various life stages of the species. • While seed production appears to be strong at each of the sampled populations, recruitment, which depends more on extrinsic factors such as the availability of appropriate habitat for seedling survival, is more variable among stands even within a population. These and other data that we have analyzed indicate that most threats identified at listing and during the development of the Recovery Plan are reduced in areas occupied by Santa Cruz cypress and that the status of Santa Cruz cypress has improved, primarily due to the habitat protection provided by CDFW, CDPR, the County of San Mateo, and the County of Santa Cruz. However, threats associated with alteration of fire regime and lack of habitat management continue to impede the species’ ability to recover. Additional information on recovery and recovery plan implementation are described in the ‘‘Progress Toward Recovery’’ section of the Species Report (Service 2013, pp. 39–43). Summary of Factors Affecting the Species Section 4 of the Act and its implementing regulations (50 CFR part 424) set forth the procedures for listing species, reclassifying species, or removing species from listed status. ‘‘Species’’ is defined by the Act as including any species or subspecies of fish or wildlife or plants, and any distinct population segment of any species of vertebrate fish or wildlife which interbreeds when mature (16 U.S.C. 1532(16)). A species may be determined to be an endangered or threatened species because of any one or a combination of the five factors described in section 4(a)(1) of the Act: (A) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range; (B) overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:11 Aug 30, 2013 Jkt 229001 purposes; (C) disease or predation; (D) the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or (E) other natural or human made factors affecting its continued existence. A species may be reclassified on the same basis. Determining whether the status of a species has improved to the point that it can be downlisted requires consideration of whether the species is endangered or threatened because of the same five categories of threats specified in section 4(a)(1) of the Act. For species that are already listed as endangered or threatened, this analysis of threats is an evaluation of both the threats currently facing the species and the threats that are reasonably likely to affect the species in the foreseeable future following the delisting or downlisting and the removal or reduction of the Act’s protections. A species is an ‘‘endangered species’’ for purposes of the Act if it is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range and is a ‘‘threatened species’’ if it is likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range. The word ‘‘range’’ in the significant portion of its range phrase refers to the range in which the species currently exists. For the purposes of this analysis, we first evaluate the status of the species throughout all its range, then consider whether the species is in danger of extinction or likely to become so in any significant portion of its range. At the time of listing, the primary threats to Santa Cruz cypress were residential development, agricultural conversion, logging, oil and gas drilling, genetic introgression, and alteration of the natural frequency of fires that threatened to destroy portions of each population (52 FR 675; January 8, 1987). Other (secondary) threats in 1987 included vandalism, disease, and inadequate regulatory mechanisms (52 FR 675). Of the primary threats in 1987, residential development, agricultural conversion, and logging threatened individual Santa Cruz cypress trees and stands with imminent destruction. By the time the Recovery Plan was developed in 1998 (Service 1998, p.1), threats to Santa Cruz cypress from residential development, agricultural conversion, oil and gas drilling, and logging were still a concern but had already substantially decreased. The other (secondary) threats identified at the time of listing had not been ameliorated by the time the Recovery Plan was developed, particularly alteration of the natural fire frequency because fire exclusion activities still occurred on nearby properties (Service PO 00000 Frm 00029 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 54225 1998, pp. 20–25). Additionally, the Recovery Plan included a discussion of threats to Santa Cruz cypress posed by nonnative species, reproductive isolation, and predation (Service 1998, pp. 22, 23). Subsequently, we conducted a 5-year status review (which included an analysis of threats that affect the species) in 2009 (Service 2009, pp. 7– 11). By this point in time, much of the existing habitat for Santa Cruz cypress had been acquired by the State of California; thus, many impacts previously considered significant to the species were of a lesser concern, with the exception of residential development and agricultural conversion at portions of populations that were not yet conserved. Our review concluded that the impacts from alteration of the fire regime, disease or predation, reproductive isolation, genetic introgression, and competition with nonnative species remained at the same level as identified in the Recovery Plan. A thorough analysis and discussion of the current status review initiated with our 2012 90-day finding (77 FR 32922) is detailed in the Species Report (Service 2013, entire). In the Species Report, we identified levels of threats using a scale of low, moderate, or high (see Service 2013, Appendix 1, for a description of the methodology). As used in this Species Report, a low-level threat has the potential to occur at any time, but is unlikely to affect the species across its entire range or preclude its persistence into the future; a moderatelevel threat is currently affecting the long-term persistence of a particular population or across the species’ range, but does not pose an imminent threat to the persistence of the species; and a high-level threat is a well-documented imminent threat to a large number of individuals that has the potential to disrupt the long-term persistence of the species in a particular population or across its entire range. Current or potential future threats to Santa Cruz cypress include alteration of the fire regime (Factors A and E; high-level threat), competition with nonnative species (Factors A and E; moderate-level threat), climate change (Factor A; moderate-level threat), genetic introgression (Factor E; low-level threat), and vandalism and unauthorized recreational activities (Factors A and E; low-level threat). The existing regulatory mechanisms are inadequate to protect the species from these threats (Factor D; low-level threat). Other potential impacts evaluated and found to either be of no concern, insignificant concern, or negligible at E:\FR\FM\03SEP1.SGM 03SEP1 pmangrum on DSK3VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS-1 54226 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 170 / Tuesday, September 3, 2013 / Proposed Rules this time include residential development, agricultural conversion, logging, and oil and gas drilling (Factor A); overutilization (Factor B); disease or predation (Factor C); and reproductive isolation (Factor E). Please see Table 1, Table 4, and the ‘‘Discussion of Threats to the Species’’ section of the Species Report for a thorough discussion of all potential and current threats (Service 2013, pp. 3, 22–40). We note, however, that, although the threats of residential development and agricultural conversion to Santa Cruz cypress have been ameliorated considerably compared to the time of listing (to the point that we consider them insignificant at this time), they remain a concern at two of the populations (i.e., the Bracken Brae and Bonny Doon populations) to a lesser degree than previously identified in the Recovery Plan. Specifically, while the land is not in permanent conservation ownership, the likelihood of potential residential development is reduced at the Bracken Brae population because the land is owned by a conservationoriented landowner (Service 2013, p. 45) and county designation of these lands as a sensitive area places a restriction on certain kinds of development. We do not expect this county designation as a sensitive area to change in the future, even if the species is reclassified to threatened or eventually delisted. Additionally, agricultural conversion is currently reduced (to an insignificant level) at the Bonny Doon population as a result of a large proportion of the population (i.e., approximately 70 percent) now occurring on lands designated as a reserve (Service 2013, pp. 15, 16, 45). The portion that is not part of the reserve (i.e., approximately 30 percent) is still subject to potential agricultural conversion, although potential loss of even this area outside the reserve is relatively unlikely due to the county’s designation of these lands as a sensitive area (thus a low magnitude threat overall for the population and the species as a whole). The increased level of conservation afforded to these two populations as compared to the time of listing has been achieved primarily through the acquisition of lands for conservation by CDPR and CDFW. The following sections provide a summary of the current threats impacting the Santa Cruz cypress. As identified above, these threats include alteration of the fire regime (Factors A and E), competition with nonnative species (Factors A and E), climate change (Factor A), genetic introgression (Factor E), vandalism and unauthorized recreational activities (Factors A and E), VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:11 Aug 30, 2013 Jkt 229001 and the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms (Factor D). Alteration of Fire Regime The long-term persistence of Santa Cruz cypress populations can be affected by the disruption of the natural fire frequency because Santa Cruz cypress requires fire (or potentially mechanical disturbance in lieu of, or in combination with, fire) to reproduce. Most Santa Cruz cypress populations are located close to residential areas, where natural fires are excluded from surrounding wildland areas by the creation of fire breaks and fuels reduction projects. Both fire exclusion and fire suppression lengthen the interval between fires, thus altering the natural fire regime and increasing the risk of extirpation from senescence (growth phase from full maturity to death). Conversely, human ignitions contribute to fire intervals that are too short, which in turn can inhibit Santa Cruz cypress from reaching its reproductive potential if stands burn prior to trees reaching reproductive age. The altered fire regime presents a high-level threat to the long-term persistence of all of the Santa Cruz cypress populations and their habitat. Santa Cruz cypress depends on fire to maintain appropriate habitat conditions and to release many of the seeds stored in cones in the canopy. As adult trees senesce and die, seed production decreases, such that there is insufficient seed available to regenerate the stand (McGraw 2007, p. 24). In the absence of fire, recruitment still occurs, but at a low level that is likely not sufficient for stand replacement (McGraw 2011, p. 2). To germinate in large numbers, the species requires open soil and canopy conditions created by fires intense enough to kill the parent tree; in the absence of fire the species is only able to germinate opportunistically in rock outcroppings or small disturbance areas. Without appropriate disturbance from fire, the stands could eventually senesce, resulting in minimal reproduction in small rock outcrops that may be inadequate to maintain population viability. Within the range of the Santa Cruz cypress, fire has been documented at the Bonny Doon and Eagle Rock populations, although even-aged stands at the Butano Ridge, Bracken Brae, and Majors Creek populations suggest that past fires have occurred. However, McGraw (2011, p. 2) states that the current demographics and natural recruitment rates observed in the Majors Creek, Eagle Rock, and Butano Ridge populations appear to be insufficient to maintain the populations in the absence PO 00000 Frm 00030 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 of fire. Additionally, active management to address this concern is not occurring at this time. See additional discussion in the ‘‘Alteration of Fire Regime’’ section of the Species Report (Service 2013, pp. 23–25). Competition With Nonnative Species The presence of nonnative, invasive species impacts the long-term persistence of Santa Cruz cypress and its habitat both currently and in the future through competition and habitat modification. Many nonnative species have been introduced into Santa Cruz cypress habitat through a variety of past impacts (e.g., development, infrastructure). Significant impacts result from Acacia dealbata (silver wattle) and Genista monspessulana (French broom). Silver wattle is significantly impacting the Majors Creek population and its habitat by creating dense canopies, which can inhibit seedlings by blocking sunlight needed for cypress growth (McGraw 2007, p. 23). French broom is one of the most prevalent invasive species in Santa Cruz County, located at elevations where all but a portion of one Santa Cruz cypress population occurs (Moore 2002, p. 6). French broom is significantly impacting the Bonny Doon population and its habitat by inhibiting Santa Cruz cypress seedling establishment through competition for open, recently disturbed soils that have access to abundant sunlight. Additionally, European annual grasses (present at all populations) are known to impact Santa Cruz cypress by precluding the establishment of seedlings, but these grasses do not impact Santa Cruz cypress as significantly as silver wattle or French broom, which are currently impacting two populations (i.e., Majors Creek and Bonny Doon) and likely to impact, at minimum, two additional populations (i.e., Eagle Rock and Bracken Brae) due to the cypress’s proximity to residential areas where ground disturbance activities promote nonnative plant invasions. We consider competition with nonnative species to be a moderate-level threat to the Santa Cruz cypress. See additional discussion in the ‘‘Competition With Nonnative Plant Species’’ section of the Species Report (Service 2013, pp. 31–33). Climate Change The term ‘‘climate change’’ 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, usually decades or longer, whether the change is due to natural variability, human activity, or both (IPCC 2007, p. 78). E:\FR\FM\03SEP1.SGM 03SEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 170 / Tuesday, September 3, 2013 / Proposed Rules pmangrum on DSK3VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS-1 Various types of changes in climate can have direct or indirect effects on species, including Santa Cruz cypress. Scientific measurements spanning several decades demonstrate that changes in climate are occurring, and the rate of change has increased since the 1950s (e.g., IPCC 2007, p. 30; Solomon et al. 2007, pp. 35–54, 82–85). Within central-western California (i.e., California coastal counties from San Francisco south to Santa Barbara, including the range of the Santa Cruz cypress), predictions indicate warmer winter temperatures, earlier warming in the spring, and increased summer temperatures (PRBO Conservation Science 2011, p. 35), all of which will likely result in shifts in vegetation types. This can, for example, result in increased competition between species like Santa Cruz cypress and other native and nonnative species (Loarie et al. 2008), or result in habitat changes resulting from altered fire frequency and water availability (Service 2013, p. 28– 29). We consider climate change to be a moderate-level threat to the Santa Cruz cypress. See additional discussion in the ‘‘Climate Change’’ section of the Species Report (Service 2013, pp. 26– 29). Genetic Introgression If individuals of different cypress species are planted in close proximity, they can exchange pollen and may produce fertile hybrid offspring, as has been documented in a number of plant species (Rhymer and Simberloff 1996, pp. 98–99). By this means, genes from one species can infiltrate into another, which is a process called genetic introgression. Santa Cruz cypress may be affected by introgression from residential plantings of Hesperocyparis macrocarpa (Monterey cypress) near the Bonny Doon population (Haley 1993, pers. obs.), plantings of Cupressus glabra (Arizona cypress) near the Eagle Rock population, and potentially plantings near other populations due to their close proximity to residential areas where plantings of other cypress species could occur. Because considerable genetic variation exists among Santa Cruz cypress populations (Miller and Westfall 1992, p. 350), it is probable that, in the absence of geographical barriers, hybridization may occur among the different populations of Santa Cruz cypress as well as between Santa Cruz cypress and the neighboring species. We consider genetic introgression to be a low-level threat to the Santa Cruz cypress. See additional discussion in the ‘‘Genetic Introgression’’ section of the Species Report (Service 2013, pp. 30–31). VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:11 Aug 30, 2013 Jkt 229001 Vandalism and Unauthorized Recreational Activities Vandalism and unauthorized recreational activities have been documented to impact multiple Santa Cruz cypress populations and their habitat. These activities result in construction of unauthorized trails (such as those within the Majors Creek population at Wilder Creek State Park) (CDPR 2000; Barry 2012, pers. obs.), which in turn result in erosion (McGraw 2007, p. 22) and potentially prevention of seedling establishment. Additionally, trails wear away substrate from the base of mature cypress trees. Although vandalism and unauthorized recreational activities are not considered to significantly impact the populations at this time (considered a low-level threat), they remain a concern due to the likelihood of increased inhabitants in the urban-wildland interface where Santa Cruz cypress occurs. See additional discussion in the ‘‘Vandalism and Unauthorized Recreational Activities’’ section of the Species Report (Service 2013, p. 33). Existing Regulatory Mechanisms Reclassifying Santa Cruz cypress from endangered to threatened would not significantly change the protections afforded to this species under the Act. Santa Cruz cypress conservation has been addressed in some local, State, and Federal plans, laws, regulations, and policies. Now that most of the trees reside in fully protected areas on State or County park lands, the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms is considered a low-level threat to Santa Cruz cypress. However, the main concern currently and into the future is the lack of ongoing management to prevent senescence and ensure population persistence. While we recognize the benefits of management flexibility, we also recognize that such flexibility with regard to implementation of land use plans can result in land use decisions that negatively affect Santa Cruz cypress or its habitat. See additional discussion in the ‘‘Legal Protection’’ section of the Species Report (Service 2013, pp. 34– 37). Combination of Threats The threat to the long-term persistence of Santa Cruz cypress is compounded by multiple interacting factors, specifically: (1) The alteration of fire regimes and lack of species management; and (2) human activities, nonnative species, and fire. With the prevalence of fire exclusion and suppression near residential PO 00000 Frm 00031 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 54227 communities within the range of the species, the opportunity for Santa Cruz cypress to regenerate in large pulses following fire is reduced. This fire suppression coupled with the lack of species-specific management is resulting in minimal regeneration for the species as a whole, which could be exacerbated if this continues into the future. The ability of land managers to adequately maintain cypress populations on public lands is subject to constraints and physical barriers. Additionally, human intrusion into previously undisturbed areas contributes to colonization of nonnative plant species in the remote areas of Santa Cruz cypress forests (see the ‘‘Competition with Nonnative Plant Species’’ section of the Species Report (Service 2013, pp. 31–33)). This activity exacerbates the likelihood for the creation of open conditions (e.g., bike trails, road cuts, firebreaks), allowing nonnative plants to proliferate and compete with the cypress for soil, nutrients, and light. If a wildfire is then introduced into these new (open) conditions, nonnative species that compete with Santa Cruz cypress could then easily spread. The presence or increase in nonnative species can inhibit cypress seedlings by blocking the sunlight they need to grow (McGraw 2007, p. 23). See ‘‘Compounding Threats’’ section of the Species Report (Service 2013, pp. 37–38). Overall Summary of Factors Affecting Santa Cruz Cypress Impacts to the long-term persistence of Santa Cruz cypress populations from alteration of the fire regime (Factors A and E) remains a significant concern currently and in the future (i.e., at least approximately 100 years, based on the potential lifespan of individual Santa Cruz cypress trees per Lyons (1988) estimate). Because the germination and establishment of new seedlings depends on either fire or a managed substitute (e.g., controlled burns or mechanical disturbance), appropriate fire or disturbance regimes are needed to manage the demographic profile of the five populations. Lack of fire or other disturbance to promote germination and seedling establishment poses a senescence risk to the stands and populations of Santa Cruz cypress (Service 2013, p. 30). Without recruitment of new individuals, trees in the current even-aged stands may become senescent (or no longer reproductive) and no longer produce cones and seeds necessary for long-term reproductive success and persistence of the populations (which has been observed in Santa Cruz cypress E:\FR\FM\03SEP1.SGM 03SEP1 pmangrum on DSK3VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS-1 54228 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 170 / Tuesday, September 3, 2013 / Proposed Rules populations by McGraw (2007, pp. 20– 21)). While most of the populations have been protected through acquisition of lands for conservation, no active management is currently occurring to manage the demographic profile of the populations. Research on suitable management methods has only begun recently at Bonny Doon Ecological Reserve (McGraw 2011); future management of this population is expected to provide additional understanding of conditions that would promote regeneration, thus providing beneficial management recommendations that could be applied to all populations. Although the fire regime is identified as a significant impact to Santa Cruz cypress at this time, the level of impact does not currently place the species in danger of extinction because of the expected continued presence of the populations into the future, the recruitment (albeit minimal overall) that has been observed to date, and probable additional recruitment that can be expected once effective management (potentially canopy thinning combined with vegetation clearance) is implemented (see ‘‘Research Needs’’ section of the Species Report (Service 2013, p. 46)). In addition to altered fire regime, other impacts to Santa Cruz cypress and its habitat are currently occurring or potentially occurring in the future, but to a lesser degree than the overall impact from an altered fire regime. These include competition with nonnative, invasive species (Factors A and E); climate change (Factor A); genetic introgression (Factor E); and vandalism or unauthorized recreational activities (Factors A and E). Nonnative plants are competing with Santa Cruz cypress by invading open areas where cypress seedlings could become established, thus competing for soil, nutrients, and light (Service 2013, pp. 31–33). Climate change may cause vegetation shifts and promote more and larger wildfires (Service 2013, pp. 26– 29). Genetic introgression of Santa Cruz cypress with at least two different cypress species could result in hybridization and result in the loss of Santa Cruz cypress’s competitive advantage in its preferred habitat (Service 2013, pp. 31–31). Vandalism and unauthorized recreational activities may inhibit seedling establishment and increase erosion (Service 2013 p. 33). Additionally, although substantial mechanisms are currently in place to protect Santa Cruz cypress and its habitat, the existing regulatory mechanisms are inadequate to fully protect the species from these threats VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:11 Aug 30, 2013 Jkt 229001 (Factor D). Based on our current analysis and the current level of management being implemented, the remaining impacts are expected to influence Santa Cruz cypress’s habitat suitability and its ability to reproduce and survive in the future. In summary, impacts from development, agricultural conversion, logging, and oil and gas development, which were considered imminent at the time of listing, have been substantially reduced or ameliorated. Other impacts identified at or since listing (i.e., alteration of fire regime; competition with nonnative, invasive species; climate change; genetic introgression; and vandalism (including unauthorized recreational activities)) continue to impact Santa Cruz cypress or are expected to impact the species in the future. Although individually these impacts (with the exception of altered fire regime) are of low or moderate concern to the species, their cumulative impact can promote and accelerate unnatural conditions (Service 2013, pp. 37–38). For example, human intrusion into previously undisturbed areas contributes to colonization of nonnative plant species in the remote areas of Santa Cruz cypress forests, which in turn may result in increased wildfires and potentially increased community concern for wildfire suppression activities. These types of interactions could become a greater concern to Santa Cruz cypress in the future if restricted management leads to increased human activity in cypress forests. The high-level impact to Santa Cruz cypress and its habitat that is of greatest concern at this time is an altered fire regime. The long-term persistence of Santa Cruz cypress posed by this highlevel impact is exacerbated by the lack of species management, resulting in continued affects to the age structure and demographic profile of the species. Although operating on the species currently, the impacts from an altered fire regime, either alone or in combination with the other impacts identified above, do not place the species at immediate risk of extinction. Reproduction and recruitment is evident (although not at a level sufficient for long-term persistence) based on recent data in at least four populations (i.e., the portion of the Bonny Doon population that burned in the 2008 Martin Fire, and at the Eagle Rock, Butano Ridge, and Majors Creek populations) (Service 2013, p. 46); insufficient recruitment is also likely the case at the Bracken Brae population and the portion of the Bonny Doon population that did not burn in the 2008 Martin fire, although these data are PO 00000 Frm 00032 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 unavailable. However, if fire or other disturbance in the future does not occur to promote germination and seedling establishment (whether through a natural fire event or active management), population effects that may result from senescence are likely to place the species in danger of extinction. Distinguishing Threats for Both Cypress Varieties As described above in the Background section, recent taxonomic evaluations of Hesperocyparis abramsiana identified two varieties: H. a. var. butanoensis (Butano Ridge population) and H. a. var. abramsiana (Eagle Rock, Bracken Brae, Bonny Doon, and Majors Creek populations) (Adams and Bartel 2009). Therefore, the threats analysis provided in the Species Report (Service 2013, entire) and summarized in this document includes a separate evaluation for each of the five populations, in part to distinguish the level of impact the current threats have on the two separate varieties. The information summarized below is evaluated and described in detail in the ‘‘Discussion of Threats to the Two Separate Varieties’’ section of the Species Report (Service 2013, pp. 38– 40). The Butano Ridge population (Hesperocyparis abramsiana var. butanoensis) is primarily threatened by changes in the historical fire regime (Factors A and E). The population is located away from developed areas, but because it is near a lumber operation, there likely are fire exclusion and suppression activities in the vicinity that alter the fire regime. Other impacts identified at the time of listing are no longer impacting this population or are no longer considered significant (e.g., logging, oil and gas drilling), in large part due to this population now being fully protected and managed within the boundaries of Pescadero Creek County Park. Although this variety is not considered a separate species, its status as a separate variety indicates its divergence from other populations of the species. Further divergence, and potentially the process of speciation, may continue through sustained reproductive isolation from other Santa Cruz cypress populations. Additionally, this is the only location for this variety, and it is composed of a single stand, thus making it vulnerable to an impact such as disease if exposed. However, at this time it is highly unlikely that potential impacts such as development, disease, predation, and others (as described in the Species Report (Service 2013, pp. 23–40)) would occur at the E:\FR\FM\03SEP1.SGM 03SEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 170 / Tuesday, September 3, 2013 / Proposed Rules pmangrum on DSK3VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS-1 Butano Ridge population. An altered fire regime is the main concern present at this population, with potential concerns currently or in the future related to competition with nonnative species (Factors A and E) and climate change (Factor A). Similar to the Butano Ridge population described above, the primary impact to the Eagle Rock, Bracken Brae, Bonny Doon, and Majors Creek populations (Hesperocyparis abramsiana var. abramsiana) is the alteration of the fire regime (Factors A and E), which was identified at the time of listing. This impact remains present at all populations of the Santa Cruz cypress, although management actions at the Bonny Doon Ecological Reserve have included some mechanical vegetation removal in an attempt to reduce this impact (Service 2013, pp. 39–40). Impacts from competition with nonnative species (Factors A and E) and climate change (Factor A) also threaten the long-term persistence of both varieties of Santa Cruz cypress (in addition to vandalism and unauthorized recreational activities (Factors A and E), and genetic introgression (Factor E) potentially impacting the H. a. var. abramsiana populations), and there are no management actions proposed to address these concerns. The existing regulatory mechanisms are inadequate to fully protect the species from these impacts (Factor D). Please see the ‘‘Current Threats’’ and ‘‘Discussion of Threats to the Two Separate Varieties’’ sections of the Species Report for additional discussion related to current or potential threats to these Santa Cruz cypress populations (Service 2013, pp. 23–40). Finding An assessment of the need for a species’ protection under the Act is based on whether a species is in danger of extinction or likely to become so because of 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. As required by section 4(a)(1) of the Act, we conducted a review of the status of this plant and assessed the five factors to evaluate whether Santa Cruz cypress is endangered or threatened throughout all of its range. We examined the best scientific and commercial information available regarding the past, present, and future threats faced by the species. VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:11 Aug 30, 2013 Jkt 229001 We reviewed information presented in the 2011 petition, information available in our files and gathered through our 90day finding in response to this petition, and other available published and unpublished information. We also consulted with species experts and land management staff with CDFW, CDPR, the County of San Mateo, and the County of Santa Cruz, who are actively managing for the conservation of Santa Cruz cypress. For the purposes of this discussion, we define foreseeable future as at least approximately 100 years based on the potential lifespan of individual Santa Cruz cypress trees per Lyons’ (1988) estimate (see the ‘‘Life History’’ discussion in the Species Report (Service 2013, pp. 8–9) for additional discussion). In considering what factors might constitute threats, we must look beyond the mere exposure of the species to the factor to determine whether the exposure causes actual impacts to the species. If there is exposure to a factor, but no response, or only a positive response, that factor is not a threat. If there is exposure and the species responds negatively, the factor may be a threat and we then attempt to determine how significant the threat is. If the threat is significant, it may drive, or contribute to, the risk of extinction of the species such that the species warrants listing as endangered or threatened as those terms are defined by the Act. This does not necessarily require empirical proof of a threat. The combination of exposure and some corroborating evidence of how the species is likely impacted could suffice. The mere identification of factors that could impact a species negatively is not sufficient to compel a finding that listing is appropriate; we require evidence that these factors are operative threats that act on the species to the point that the species meets the definition of endangered or threatened under the Act. As a result of recent information, we know that there are a significantly larger number of Santa Cruz cypress individuals than were known at the time of listing (Service 2013, p. 45) and that there is significant conservation of lands that support the populations. Significant impacts at the time of listing that could have resulted in the extirpation of all or parts of populations have been eliminated or reduced since listing. We conclude that the previously recognized impacts to Santa Cruz cypress from present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range (specifically, residential development, agricultural conversion, logging, and oil PO 00000 Frm 00033 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 54229 and gas drilling) (Factor A); overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educations purposes (Factor B); disease or predation (Factor C); and other natural or human made factors affecting its continued existence (specifically, reproductive isolation) (Factor E) do not rise to a level of significance, either individually or in combination, such that the species is in danger of extinction now or in the foreseeable future. However, alteration of the fire regime (Factors A and E) has the potential to disrupt the long-term persistence of the species across its entire range (resulting in the species potentially facing a senescence risk in the future) if fire continues to be excluded or suppressed near these populations. Current recruitment in at least four populations (the portion of Bonny Doon population that burned in the 2008 Martin Fire, and the Eagle Rock, Butano Ridge, and Majors Creek populations) is evident; however, the current level of recruitment is not sufficient to maintain the populations in the absence of fire (Service 2013, p. 26). This is likely also the case with the Bracken Brae population and the portion of the Bonny Doon population that did not burn. Santa Cruz cypress will continue to be impacted by competition with nonnative, invasive species (Factors A and E); genetic introgression (Factor E); vandalism and unauthorized recreational activities (Factors A and E); and potentially climate change (Factor A). Additionally, the existing regulatory mechanisms are inadequate to fully protect the species from these threats (Factor D). However, the severity and magnitude of threats, both individually and in combination, and the likelihood that any one event would affect all populations is significantly reduced as a result of the removal of multiple threats, the reduced impact of most remaining threats, and the extensive amount of conservation occurring throughout the range of the species (including, but not limited to, extensive preservation of occupied lands in perpetuity and development of management plans to enhance habitat). In conclusion, we have carefully assessed the best scientific and commercial information available regarding the past, present, and future threats faced by this species. After review of the information pertaining to the five statutory factors, we find that the ongoing threats are not of sufficient imminence, intensity, or magnitude to indicate that Santa Cruz cypress is presently in danger of extinction throughout all its range. Although E:\FR\FM\03SEP1.SGM 03SEP1 54230 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 170 / Tuesday, September 3, 2013 / Proposed Rules pmangrum on DSK3VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS-1 threats to Santa Cruz cypress still exist and will continue into the foreseeable future, CDFW, CDPR, the County of San Mateo, and the County of Santa Cruz are implementing conservation measures or regulatory actions to reduce the level of impact on Santa Cruz cypress. We therefore find that Santa Cruz cypress now meets the definition of a threatened species (i.e., is likely to become in danger of extinction in the foreseeable future throughout all of its range). Significant Portion of the Range Having examined the status of Santa Cruz cypress throughout all its range, we next examine whether the species is in danger of extinction in a significant portion of its range. The range of a species can theoretically be divided into portions in an infinite number of ways. However, there is no purpose in analyzing portions of the range that have no reasonable potential to be significant or in analyzing portions of the range in which there is no reasonable potential for the species to be endangered or threatened. To identify only those portions that warrant further consideration, we determine whether there is substantial information indicating that: (1) The portions may be ‘‘significant’’ and (2) the species may be in danger of extinction there or likely to become so within the foreseeable future. Depending on the biology of the species, its range, and the threats it faces, it might be more efficient for us to address the significance question first or the status question first. Thus, if we determine that a portion of the range is not ‘‘significant,’’ we do not need to determine whether the species is endangered or threatened there; if we determine that the species is not endangered or threatened in a portion of its range, we do not need to determine if that portion is ‘‘significant.’’ In practice, a key part of the determination that a species is in danger of extinction in a significant portion of its range is whether the threats are geographically concentrated in some way. If the threats to the species are essentially uniform throughout its range, no portion is likely to warrant further consideration. Moreover, if any concentration of threats to the species occurs only in portions of the species’ range that clearly would not meet the biologically based definition of ‘‘significant,’’ such portions will not warrant further consideration. We consider the ‘‘range’’ of Santa Cruz cypress to include five populations (Butano Ridge, Bracken Brae, Eagle Rock, Bonny Doon, and Majors Creek) that span a distance of 15 miles (24 kilometers) from north to south within VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:11 Aug 30, 2013 Jkt 229001 the Santa Cruz Mountains in San Mateo and Santa Cruz Counties, California. These five populations are all believed to be relictual islands containing representatives of what was once a widespread flora during glacial periods (Libby 1979, p. 15); historical distribution of Santa Cruz cypress beyond the five currently recognized populations is unknown. In other words, the current distribution is the only known distribution, which has remained the same throughout recorded history. We considered whether the threats facing Santa Cruz cypress might be different at any of the populations and specifically between the Butano Ridge population (Hesperocyparis abramsiana var. butanoensis) and the other four populations (H. a. var. abramsiana). The Butano Ridge population is similar to the other four populations in that it is primarily threatened by changes in the historical fire regime, as was identified as a concern for all five populations at the time of listing. Additionally, threats from competition with nonnative species and climate change exist for all populations. Current threats known only to impact the populations comprised of H. a. var. abramsiana include genetic introgression, vandalism, and unauthorized recreational use. Our evaluation of the best available information indicates that the overall level of threats is not significantly different at any of these populations (Service 2013, pp. 24–41), with the primary current threat to all populations being alteration of fire regime. Additionally, there are no threats specific to the Butano Ridge population; the threats that are impacting or have the potential to impact the Butano Ridge population are widespread across the species’ range (Service 2013, pp. 39–40). It is our conclusion, based on our evaluation of the current potential threats to Santa Cruz cypress at each of the populations in San Mateo and Santa Cruz Counties (see Summary of Factors Affecting the Species section of this proposed rule and the ‘‘Discussion of Threats to the Species’’ section of the Species Report (Service 2013, pp. 22–40)), that threats are neither sufficiently concentrated nor of sufficient magnitude to indicate that the species is in danger of extinction at any of the areas that support populations. Therefore, while no populations of Santa Cruz cypress are at imminent risk of extirpation, ongoing threats continue to affect the likelihood of long-term persistence of the populations and the species such that the Santa Cruz cypress meets the definition of a threatened PO 00000 Frm 00034 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 species under the Act. Therefore, we find that the petitioned action is warranted, and we propose to reclassify Santa Cruz cypress from endangered to threatened status. Effects of This Rule If this proposed rule is made final, it would revise 50 CFR 17.12(h) to reclassify Santa Cruz cypress from endangered to threatened on the List of Endangered and Threatened Plants. However, this reclassification does not significantly change the protections afforded this species under the Act. Pursuant to section 7 of the Act, all Federal agencies must ensure that any actions they authorize, fund, or carry out are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of Santa Cruz cypress. Whenever a species is listed as threatened, the Act allows promulgation of special rules under section 4(d) that modify the standard protections for threatened species found under section 9 of the Act and Service regulations at 50 CFR 17.31 (for wildlife) and 17.71 (for plants), when it is deemed necessary and advisable to provide for the conservation of the species. There are no 4(d) rules in place or proposed for Santa Cruz cypress, because there is currently no conservation need to do so for this species. Recovery actions directed at Santa Cruz cypress will continue to be implemented as outlined in the Recovery Plan for this species (Service 1998, entire). Required Determinations 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: (a) Be logically organized; (b) Use the active voice to address readers directly; (c) Use clear language rather than jargon; (d) Be divided into short sections and sentences; and (e) 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 names 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. E:\FR\FM\03SEP1.SGM 03SEP1 54231 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 170 / Tuesday, September 3, 2013 / Proposed Rules National Environmental Policy Act We determined we do not need to prepare an Environmental Assessment or an Environmental Impact Statement, as defined under the authority of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), in connection with regulations adopted pursuant to section 4(a) of the Act. We published a notice outlining our reasons for this determination in the Federal Register on October 25, 1983 (48 FR 49244). Supervisor, Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section). 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations, as set forth below: PART 17—ENDANGERED AND THREATENED WILDLIFE AND PLANTS Author The primary author of this proposed rule is the Pacific Southwest Regional Office in Sacramento, California, in coordination with the Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office in Ventura, California (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). 1. The authority citation for part 17 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1361–1407; 1531– 1544; 4201–4245, unless otherwise noted. References Cited A complete list of all references cited in this proposed rule is available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov under Docket No. FWS–R8–ES–2013– 0092 or upon request from the Field Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Transportation. 2. Amend § 17.12(h) as follows: a. By removing the entry for ‘‘Cupressus abramsiana’’ under CONIFERS, and ■ b. By adding an entry for ‘‘Hesperocyparis abramsiana’’ under CONIFERS to read as follows: Proposed Regulation Promulgation § 17.12 Accordingly, we propose to amend part 17, subchapter B of chapter I, title * List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17 ■ ■ Endangered and threatened plants. * * (h) * * * * Species Status When listed Critical habitat Special rules * ................................. * * .................... .................... * .................... * Cupressaceae ........ * T * 252 NA * * Historic range Family * ................................. * ................................. * Santa Cruz cypress * U.S.A. (CA) ............. Scientific name Common name * CONIFERS * Hesperocyparis abramsiana. * * * * Dated: August 13, 2013. Stephen Guertin, Acting Director, Fish and Wildlife Service. [FR Doc. 2013–21313 Filed 8–30–13; 8:45 am] pmangrum on DSK3VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS-1 BILLING CODE 4310–55–P VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:11 Aug 30, 2013 Jkt 229001 PO 00000 Frm 00035 * Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 E:\FR\FM\03SEP1.SGM 03SEP1 * NA *

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 170 (Tuesday, September 3, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 54221-54231]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-21313]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2013-0092; 4500030113]
RIN 1018-AY77


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12-Month Finding 
on a Petition to Downlist Hesperocyparis abramsiana (=Cupressus 
abramsiana), and Proposed Rule to Reclassify H. abramsiana as 
Threatened

AGENCY:  Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION:  Proposed rule and 12-month petition finding.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announce a 12-month 
finding on a petition to reclassify Hesperocyparis abramsiana 
(=Cupressus abramsiana) (Santa Cruz cypress) as threatened under the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). After review of all 
available scientific and commercial information, we find that 
reclassifying Santa Cruz cypress as threatened is warranted, and 
therefore, we propose to reclassify Santa Cruz cypress as threatened 
under the Act. We also propose to correct the scientific name of Santa 
Cruz cypress on the List of Endangered and Threatened Plants. We are 
seeking information and comments from the public regarding this 
proposed rule and 12-month finding.

DATES: We will accept comments received or postmarked on or before 
November 4, 2013. We must receive requests for public hearings, in 
writing, at the address shown in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT 
section by October 18, 2013.

ADDRESSES: Comment submission: You may submit comments by one of the 
following methods:
    (1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://

[[Page 54222]]

www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter FWS-R8-ES-2013-0092, 
which is the docket number for this rulemaking. Then, in the Search 
panel on the left side of the screen, under the Document Type heading, 
click on the Proposed Rules link to locate this document. You may 
submit a comment by clicking on ``Comment Now!''
    (2) By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public 
Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R8-ES-2013-0092; Division of Policy and 
Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax 
Drive, MS 2042-PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.
    We request that you send comments only by the methods described 
above. We will post all comments on http://www.regulations.gov. This 
generally means that we will post any personal information you provide 
us (see the Information Requested section below for more information).
    Document availability: A copy of the Species Report referenced 
throughout this document can be viewed at http://ecos.fws.gov/speciesProfile/profile/speciesProfile.action?spcode=R005, at http://www.regulations.gov under Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2013-0092, or at the 
Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office's Web site at http://www.fws.gov/ventura/.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Stephen P. Henry, Deputy Field 
Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ventura Fish and Wildlife 
Office, 2493 Portola Road, Suite B, Ventura, CA 93003; telephone 805-
644-1766; facsimile 805-644-3958. If you use a telecommunications 
device for the deaf (TDD), call the Federal Information Relay Service 
(FIRS) at 800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Information Requested

    We intend any final action resulting from this proposal will be 
based on the best scientific and commercial data available, and be as 
accurate and as effective as possible. Therefore, we request comments 
or information from other governmental agencies, tribes, the scientific 
community, industry, or other interested parties concerning this 
proposed rule. We particularly seek comments concerning:
    (1) Reasons why we should or should not reclassify Santa Cruz 
cypress under the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).
    (2) New biological or other relevant data concerning any threat (or 
lack thereof) to this species.
    (3) New information concerning the population size or trends of 
this species.
    (4) New information on how Santa Cruz cypress responds to fire, 
especially as it pertains to prescribed fire and alternatives to 
prescribed fire (e.g., mechanical disturbance) that would support 
increased recruitment for this species.
    (5) New information on the current or planned activities within the 
range of the species that may adversely affect or benefit the species.
    (6) New information or data on the projected and reasonably likely 
impacts to Santa Cruz cypress or its habitat associated with climate 
change.
    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 an endangered or threatened species must be made 
``solely on the basis of the best scientific and commercial data 
available.''
    You may submit your comments and materials concerning this proposed 
rule by one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. We request 
that you send comments only by the methods described in the ADDRESSES 
section. If you submit information via http://www.regulations.gov, your 
entire submission--including any personal identifying information--will 
be posted on the Web site. If your submission is made via a hardcopy 
that includes personal identifying information, you may request at the 
top of your document that we withhold this information from public 
review. However, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. We 
will post all hardcopy submissions on http://www.regulations.gov.
    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, Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT).

Public Hearings

    Section 4(b)(5) of the Act provides for one or more public hearings 
on this proposal, if requested. We must receive your request within 45 
days after the date of this Federal Register publication. Send your 
request to the address shown in FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. 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.

Peer Review

    In accordance with our joint policy on peer review published in the 
Federal Register on July 1, 1994 (50 FR 34270), we will seek the expert 
opinions of at least three appropriate and independent specialists 
regarding this proposed rule. A thorough review of information that we 
relied on in preparing this proposed rule--including information on 
taxonomy, life-history, ecology, population distribution and abundance, 
and potential threats--is presented in the Santa Cruz Cypress Species 
Report (Service 2013) available at www.regulations.gov (Docket Number 
FWS-R8-ES-2013-0092). The purpose of peer review is to ensure that 
decisions are based on scientifically sound data, assumptions, and 
analyses. A peer review panel will conduct an assessment of the 
proposed rule, and the specific assumptions and conclusions regarding 
the proposed downlisting. This assessment will be completed during the 
public comment period.
    We will consider all comments and information we receive during the 
comment period on this proposed rule as we prepare the final 
determination. Accordingly, the final decision may differ from this 
proposal.

Previous Federal Action

    We proposed to list Santa Cruz cypress (as Cupressus abramsiana) as 
an endangered species under the Act on September 12, 1985 (50 FR 
37249), based on threats from residential development, agricultural 
conversion, logging, oil and gas drilling, and the alteration of the 
natural fire regime that maintains the stands. We published a final 
rule listing Santa Cruz cypress as an endangered species (which 
included an additional threat, genetic introgression, not listed in the 
proposed rule) in the Federal Register on January 8, 1987 (52 FR 675). 
We finalized a recovery plan for Santa Cruz cypress (Recovery Plan) in 
September 1998 (Service 1998).
    Under the Act, we maintain the Lists of Endangered and Threatened 
Wildlife and Plants at 50 CFR 17.11 (for animals) and 17.12 (for 
plants) (Lists). We amend the Lists by publishing final rules in the 
Federal Register. Section 4(c)(2)(A) of the Act requires that we 
conduct a review of listed species at least once every 5 years. Section 
4(c)(2)(B) requires

[[Page 54223]]

that we determine: (1) Whether a species no longer meets the definition 
of endangered or threatened and should be removed from the Lists 
(delisted), (2) whether a species listed as endangered more properly 
meets the definition of threatened and should be reclassified to 
threatened (downlisted), or (3) whether a species listed as threatened 
more properly meets the definition of endangered and should be 
reclassified to endangered (uplisted). In accordance with 50 CFR 
424.11(d), using the best scientific and commercial data available, we 
will consider a species for delisting only if the data substantiate 
that the species is neither endangered nor threatened for one or more 
of the following reasons: (1) The species is considered extinct; (2) 
the species is considered recovered; or (3) the original data available 
when the species was listed, or the interpretation of such data, were 
in error.
    We published a notice announcing active review and requested public 
comments concerning the status of Santa Cruz cypress under section 
4(c)(2) of the Act on February 14, 2007 (72 FR 7064). We notified the 
public of completion of the 5-year review on May 21, 2010 (75 FR 
28636). The 5-year review, completed on August 17, 2009 (Service 2009), 
resulted in a recommendation to change the status of the species from 
endangered to threatened. A copy of the 2009 5-year review for Santa 
Cruz cypress is available on the Service's Environmental Conservation 
Online System (http://ecos.fws.gov/docs/five_year_review/doc2551.pdf).
    On December 21, 2011, we received a petition dated December 19, 
2011, from the Pacific Legal Foundation, requesting the Service to 
delist the Inyo California towhee (Pipilo crissalis eremophilus), and 
to reclassify from endangered to threatened the arroyo toad (Anaxyrus 
californicus), Modoc sucker (Catostomus microps), Eriodictyon 
altissimum (Indian Knob mountainbalm), Astragalus jaegerianus (Lane 
Mountain milk-vetch), and Santa Cruz cypress. The petition was based on 
the analysis and recommendations contained in the most recent 5-year 
reviews for these taxa. On June 4, 2012 (77 FR 32922), we published in 
the Federal Register a 90-day finding for the 2011 petition to 
reclassify these six taxa. In our 90-day finding, we determined the 
2011 petition provided substantial information indicating the 
petitioned actions may be warranted, and we initiated status reviews 
for each species. This proposed downlisting rule constitutes the 12-
month finding and our 5-year status review for Santa Cruz cypress; 12-
month findings for the other petitioned species will be addressed 
separately and published in the Federal Register in the future.

Background

    A scientific analysis was completed and presented in detail within 
the Santa Cruz Cypress Species Report (Service 2013, entire), which is 
available at http://www.regulations.gov at Docket Number FWS-R8-ES-
2013-0092. The Species Report was prepared by Service biologists to 
provide thorough discussion of the species ecology, biological needs, 
and analysis of the threats that may be impacting the species. The 
Species Report includes discussion of the following: species 
description, taxonomy, life history, habitat, distribution, abundance, 
population descriptions, age and size class distribution, threats 
analysis, progress towards recovery, and research needs. This detailed 
information is summarized in the following paragraphs of this 
Background section and the Summary of Factors Affecting the Species 
section.
    Santa Cruz cypress is a small-statured tree in the cypress family 
(Cupressaceae), with mature trees averaging 20 to 33 feet (6 to 10 
meters) in height (Bartel 2012, p. 138). Reproductive maturity is 
reached at an average age of 11 years, although some individuals 
produce cones earlier (Kuhlmann 1986, p. 8). The potential lifespan of 
the Santa Cruz cypress is approximately 100 years or longer (Service 
2013, p. 9).
    The taxonomy of and relationships among members of the cypress 
family (Cupressaceae) have undergone many revisions, as described in 
greater detail in the Species Report (Service 2013, pp. 8-9). Most 
recently, a new genus, Hesperocyparis Bartel and Price, was described 
to recognize that the western hemisphere Cupressus taxa, including 
Santa Cruz cypress, comprise a group quite separate from the eastern 
hemisphere taxa (Adams et al. 2009, p. 180). This taxonomic revision, 
published since listing, changed the name of the listed entity from 
Cupressus abramsiana to Hesperocyparis abramsiana, but did not alter 
the definition, distribution, or range of the species from what it was 
at the time of listing. Based on this revision, we include in this 
document a proposed correction to this taxon's scientific name, to list 
it as Hesperocyparis abramsiana on the List of Endangered and 
Threatened Plants at 50 CFR 17.12(h).
    Recent taxonomic evaluations of Hesperocyparis abramsiana have 
identified two varieties of the species: H. a. var. abramsiana and H. 
a. var. butanoensis (San Mateo cypress) (Adams and Bartel 2009). The 
listed entity includes all members of this species (i.e., both 
varieties currently have the same protections under the Act), which are 
represented by one population in San Mateo County, California (H. a. 
var. butanoensis; known as the Butano Ridge population), and four 
populations in Santa Cruz County, California (H. a. var. abramsiana; 
known as the Eagle Rock, Bracken Brae, Bonny Doon, and Majors Creek 
populations). These five populations comprise eight distinct stands 
(trees with similar species composition, age, and condition considered 
to be a homogeneous unit). Hesperocyparis abramsiana var. butanoensis 
is distinguished from H. a. var. abramsiana by its longer seed cones 
(Bartel 2012, p. 138). Both varieties are collectively referred to as 
Santa Cruz cypress for the remainder of this document unless otherwise 
noted.
    At the time of listing, population estimates for Santa Cruz cypress 
were based on field reconnaissance rather than systematic observations 
of stand area and density. These estimates did not differ greatly from 
the estimates used in the 1998 Recovery Plan (Service 1998), which used 
numbers from a demographic report (Lyons 1988) of the species from 
1988. In 2007, we funded a directed study of three populations (Butano 
Ridge, Majors Creek, and Eagle Rock) to obtain more accurate estimates 
on population numbers and area (McGraw 2007, entire), and we derived 
updated estimates for the remaining two populations from McGraw (2007) 
and Taylor (in litt. 2005).
    McGraw (2007) and Taylor (in litt. 2005) represent the best 
currently available scientific and commercial information regarding 
number of individual trees, coverage area (acreage) for all 
populations, reproduction, and recruitment. Survey data indicate the 
estimated number of individual trees for all 5 populations ranges from 
approximately 2,786 individuals in the Butano Ridge population to 
approximately 10,000 to 20,000 individuals in the Bracken Brae 
population (Table 2 in Service 2013, p. 13). The five populations range 
in size from approximately 8 to 128 acres (ac) (3 to 52 hectares (ha)) 
(Table 2 in Service 2013, p. 13). McGraw's (2007, p. 20) study at the 
Butano Ridge, Eagle Rock, and Majors Creek populations showed high 
levels of new cone formation (also expected to be similar at the Bonny 
Doon and Bracken Brae populations), which is an indicator of

[[Page 54224]]

reproductive vigor. Santa Cruz cypress, like most cypress species, are 
obligate seeders; the trees do not resprout after a disturbance event 
such as a fire, and are thus totally dependent on seed establishment 
for post-disturbance regeneration (Bartel and Knudsen 1983, p. 3). 
While seed production appears to be strong, recruitment--which depends 
more on the availability of habitat--is more variable between stands 
(Service 2013, p. 45).
    For a detailed discussion of Santa Cruz cypress's description, 
taxonomy, life history, habitat, soils, distribution, abundance, age 
and size distribution, and role of fire in regeneration, please see the 
Species Report available for review at http://www.regulations.gov under 
Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2013-0092.

Recovery and Recovery Plan Implementation

    Section 4(f) of the Act directs us to develop and implement 
recovery plans for the conservation and survival of endangered and 
threatened species unless we determine that such a plan will not 
promote the conservation of the species. Under section 4(f)(1)(B)(ii), 
recovery plans must, to the maximum extent practicable, include: 
``Objective, measurable criteria which, when met, would result in a 
determination, in accordance with the provisions of [section 4 of the 
Act], that the species be removed from the list.'' However, revisions 
to the list (adding, removing, or reclassifying a species) must reflect 
determinations made in accordance with sections 4(a)(1) and 4(b) of the 
Act. Section 4(a)(1) requires that the Secretary determine whether a 
species is endangered or threatened (or not) because of one or more of 
five threat factors. Section 4(b) of the Act requires that the 
determination be made ``solely on the basis of the best scientific and 
commercial data available.'' Therefore, recovery criteria should 
indicate when a species is no longer an endangered species or 
threatened species because of any of the five statutory factors.
    Thus, while recovery plans provide important guidance to the 
Service, States, and other partners on methods of minimizing threats to 
listed species and measurable objectives against which to measure 
progress towards recovery, they are not regulatory documents and cannot 
substitute for the determinations and promulgation of regulations 
required under section 4(a)(1) of the Act. A decision to revise the 
status of or remove a species from the Federal List of Endangered and 
Threatened Plants (50 CFR 17.12) is ultimately based on an analysis of 
the best scientific and commercial data then available to determine 
whether a species is no longer an endangered species or a threatened 
species, regardless of whether that information differs from the 
recovery plan.
    In 1998, we finalized a recovery plan for Santa Cruz cypress 
(Recovery Plan; Service 1998). The Recovery Plan states that Santa Cruz 
cypress can be reclassified to threatened status when protection is 
secured for all five populations and their habitat from the primary 
threats of logging, agricultural conversion, and development (Service 
1998, p. 30). This criterion was intended to address the point at which 
imminent threats to the species had been ameliorated so that the 
populations were no longer in immediate risk of extirpation. Because of 
its limited range and distribution, we determined that essentially all 
of the known habitat is necessary to conserve the species. At the time 
the Recovery Plan was prepared, we estimated that areal extent totaled 
356 ac (144 ha). After more accurate mapping (McGraw 2007, entire), we 
now estimate that areal extent totals approximately 188 ac (76 ha) 
(Service 2013, p. 43). Additionally, estimated abundance of individuals 
in all populations has changed over time, from approximately 2,300 
individuals at the time of listing in 1987, to a current range of 
33,000 to 44,000 individuals (although the latter estimate is variable 
due to mortality and regeneration following the 2008 Martin Fire that 
burned 520 ac (210 ha) of land and a portion of the Bonny Doon 
population) (see Table 1 and the Bonny Doon population discussion under 
the ``Population Descriptions'' section of the Species Report (Service 
2013, pp. 6, 15-17)). It is important to note that the updated 
estimates for species abundance and areal extent do not illustrate 
trends but rather improved information about the species over time.
    As explained in more detail in the Species Report (Service 2013, p. 
43), three of five populations occur primarily or entirely on lands 
that are being managed for conservation purposes, including the Butano 
Ridge population at Pescadero Creek County Park, the Bonny Doon 
population at Bonny Doon Ecological Reserve managed by the California 
Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), and the Eagle Rock population 
at Big Basin State Park managed the California Department of Parks and 
Recreation (CDPR). A fourth population (Majors Creek) is primarily on 
lands at Gray Whale Ranch State Park, with a small portion on privately 
owned land. The fifth population (Bracken Brae) is entirely on private 
lands owned by a conservation-oriented landowner. This land is also 
designated by the County of Santa Cruz as environmentally sensitive 
habitat, which places restrictions on most development. Because four of 
the five populations, either wholly or primarily, occur on park or 
reserve lands, most of the individuals in the Bonny Doon, Butano Ridge, 
Majors Creek, and Eagle Rock populations are protected against the 
threats identified as imminent (logging, agricultural conversion, and 
development) at the time of listing and in the Recovery Plan. Because 
the Bracken Brae population is being managed by a conservation-oriented 
landowner and county restrictions are in place that would restrict most 
development, development-related threats to this population appear 
negligible compared to other active threats. Therefore, we conclude 
that the downlisting criterion has been substantially met.
    The Recovery Plan also states that Santa Cruz cypress can be 
delisted when all five populations are assured of long-term 
reproductive success, with insurance against failure provided by the 
availability of banked seed (Service 1998, p. 45). This criterion was 
intended to address the point at which long-term threats to the 
species' persistence had been addressed and its persistence ensured. As 
explained in more detail in the Species Report (Service 2013, pp. 18-
20), Santa Cruz cypress requires fire or other disturbance for 
germination of seeds and recruitment of new individuals into the 
populations. As detailed below in the Summary of Factors Affecting the 
Species section and in the Species Report (Service 2013, pp. 23-25), 
alteration of fire regime and lack of management are likely to 
significantly impact the long-term persistence of the species. 
Additionally, only seed for the Bonny Doon, Majors Creek, and Bracken 
Brae populations is stored in a conservation bank; no seed has been 
banked for the Eagle Rock or Butano Ridge populations. Therefore, based 
on our analysis of the best available information, we conclude that the 
delisting criterion for the species has not been met.
    In addition to the significant protections now afforded to Santa 
Cruz cypress as outlined above, various studies have occurred since 
development of the Recovery Plan that aid in our understanding of the 
status of Santa Cruz cypress. For example:
     Recent surveys indicate that four of the five stands of 
Santa Cruz cypress contain a larger number of individuals than was 
estimated at the time of listing

[[Page 54225]]

and in the Recovery Plan (Service 2013, p. 43).
     Although data indicate the majority of trees are 
reproductive, many trees (as indicated by surveys conducted 
specifically at Butano Ridge and Majors Creek populations) are even-
aged (occur in stands or populations with individuals all of 
approximately the same age). Even-aged stands indicate that vigorous 
recruitment (survival of seedlings to reproductive age and into the 
adult population) is not evident (McGraw 2011, p. 26). In contrast, 
vigorous recruitment would be indicated by stands or populations 
including individuals of multiple sizes or age classes representing 
various life stages of the species.
     While seed production appears to be strong at each of the 
sampled populations, recruitment, which depends more on extrinsic 
factors such as the availability of appropriate habitat for seedling 
survival, is more variable among stands even within a population.
    These and other data that we have analyzed indicate that most 
threats identified at listing and during the development of the 
Recovery Plan are reduced in areas occupied by Santa Cruz cypress and 
that the status of Santa Cruz cypress has improved, primarily due to 
the habitat protection provided by CDFW, CDPR, the County of San Mateo, 
and the County of Santa Cruz. However, threats associated with 
alteration of fire regime and lack of habitat management continue to 
impede the species' ability to recover.
    Additional information on recovery and recovery plan implementation 
are described in the ``Progress Toward Recovery'' section of the 
Species Report (Service 2013, pp. 39-43).

Summary of Factors Affecting the Species

    Section 4 of the Act and its implementing regulations (50 CFR part 
424) set forth the procedures for listing species, reclassifying 
species, or removing species from listed status. ``Species'' is defined 
by the Act as including any species or subspecies of fish or wildlife 
or plants, and any distinct population segment of any species of 
vertebrate fish or wildlife which interbreeds when mature (16 U.S.C. 
1532(16)). A species may be determined to be an endangered or 
threatened species because of any one or a combination of the five 
factors described in section 4(a)(1) of the Act: (A) The present or 
threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or 
range; (B) overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes; (C) disease or predation; (D) the inadequacy of 
existing regulatory mechanisms; or (E) other natural or human made 
factors affecting its continued existence. A species may be 
reclassified on the same basis.
    Determining whether the status of a species has improved to the 
point that it can be downlisted requires consideration of whether the 
species is endangered or threatened because of the same five categories 
of threats specified in section 4(a)(1) of the Act. For species that 
are already listed as endangered or threatened, this analysis of 
threats is an evaluation of both the threats currently facing the 
species and the threats that are reasonably likely to affect the 
species in the foreseeable future following the delisting or 
downlisting and the removal or reduction of the Act's protections.
    A species is an ``endangered species'' for purposes of the Act if 
it is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion 
of its range and is a ``threatened species'' if it is likely to become 
an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a 
significant portion of its range. The word ``range'' in the significant 
portion of its range phrase refers to the range in which the species 
currently exists. For the purposes of this analysis, we first evaluate 
the status of the species throughout all its range, then consider 
whether the species is in danger of extinction or likely to become so 
in any significant portion of its range.
    At the time of listing, the primary threats to Santa Cruz cypress 
were residential development, agricultural conversion, logging, oil and 
gas drilling, genetic introgression, and alteration of the natural 
frequency of fires that threatened to destroy portions of each 
population (52 FR 675; January 8, 1987). Other (secondary) threats in 
1987 included vandalism, disease, and inadequate regulatory mechanisms 
(52 FR 675). Of the primary threats in 1987, residential development, 
agricultural conversion, and logging threatened individual Santa Cruz 
cypress trees and stands with imminent destruction.
    By the time the Recovery Plan was developed in 1998 (Service 1998, 
p.1), threats to Santa Cruz cypress from residential development, 
agricultural conversion, oil and gas drilling, and logging were still a 
concern but had already substantially decreased. The other (secondary) 
threats identified at the time of listing had not been ameliorated by 
the time the Recovery Plan was developed, particularly alteration of 
the natural fire frequency because fire exclusion activities still 
occurred on nearby properties (Service 1998, pp. 20-25). Additionally, 
the Recovery Plan included a discussion of threats to Santa Cruz 
cypress posed by nonnative species, reproductive isolation, and 
predation (Service 1998, pp. 22, 23). Subsequently, we conducted a 5-
year status review (which included an analysis of threats that affect 
the species) in 2009 (Service 2009, pp. 7-11). By this point in time, 
much of the existing habitat for Santa Cruz cypress had been acquired 
by the State of California; thus, many impacts previously considered 
significant to the species were of a lesser concern, with the exception 
of residential development and agricultural conversion at portions of 
populations that were not yet conserved. Our review concluded that the 
impacts from alteration of the fire regime, disease or predation, 
reproductive isolation, genetic introgression, and competition with 
nonnative species remained at the same level as identified in the 
Recovery Plan.
    A thorough analysis and discussion of the current status review 
initiated with our 2012 90-day finding (77 FR 32922) is detailed in the 
Species Report (Service 2013, entire). In the Species Report, we 
identified levels of threats using a scale of low, moderate, or high 
(see Service 2013, Appendix 1, for a description of the methodology). 
As used in this Species Report, a low-level threat has the potential to 
occur at any time, but is unlikely to affect the species across its 
entire range or preclude its persistence into the future; a moderate-
level threat is currently affecting the long-term persistence of a 
particular population or across the species' range, but does not pose 
an imminent threat to the persistence of the species; and a high-level 
threat is a well-documented imminent threat to a large number of 
individuals that has the potential to disrupt the long-term persistence 
of the species in a particular population or across its entire range. 
Current or potential future threats to Santa Cruz cypress include 
alteration of the fire regime (Factors A and E; high-level threat), 
competition with nonnative species (Factors A and E; moderate-level 
threat), climate change (Factor A; moderate-level threat), genetic 
introgression (Factor E; low-level threat), and vandalism and 
unauthorized recreational activities (Factors A and E; low-level 
threat). The existing regulatory mechanisms are inadequate to protect 
the species from these threats (Factor D; low-level threat). Other 
potential impacts evaluated and found to either be of no concern, 
insignificant concern, or negligible at

[[Page 54226]]

this time include residential development, agricultural conversion, 
logging, and oil and gas drilling (Factor A); overutilization (Factor 
B); disease or predation (Factor C); and reproductive isolation (Factor 
E). Please see Table 1, Table 4, and the ``Discussion of Threats to the 
Species'' section of the Species Report for a thorough discussion of 
all potential and current threats (Service 2013, pp. 3, 22-40).
    We note, however, that, although the threats of residential 
development and agricultural conversion to Santa Cruz cypress have been 
ameliorated considerably compared to the time of listing (to the point 
that we consider them insignificant at this time), they remain a 
concern at two of the populations (i.e., the Bracken Brae and Bonny 
Doon populations) to a lesser degree than previously identified in the 
Recovery Plan. Specifically, while the land is not in permanent 
conservation ownership, the likelihood of potential residential 
development is reduced at the Bracken Brae population because the land 
is owned by a conservation-oriented landowner (Service 2013, p. 45) and 
county designation of these lands as a sensitive area places a 
restriction on certain kinds of development. We do not expect this 
county designation as a sensitive area to change in the future, even if 
the species is reclassified to threatened or eventually delisted. 
Additionally, agricultural conversion is currently reduced (to an 
insignificant level) at the Bonny Doon population as a result of a 
large proportion of the population (i.e., approximately 70 percent) now 
occurring on lands designated as a reserve (Service 2013, pp. 15, 16, 
45). The portion that is not part of the reserve (i.e., approximately 
30 percent) is still subject to potential agricultural conversion, 
although potential loss of even this area outside the reserve is 
relatively unlikely due to the county's designation of these lands as a 
sensitive area (thus a low magnitude threat overall for the population 
and the species as a whole). The increased level of conservation 
afforded to these two populations as compared to the time of listing 
has been achieved primarily through the acquisition of lands for 
conservation by CDPR and CDFW.
    The following sections provide a summary of the current threats 
impacting the Santa Cruz cypress. As identified above, these threats 
include alteration of the fire regime (Factors A and E), competition 
with nonnative species (Factors A and E), climate change (Factor A), 
genetic introgression (Factor E), vandalism and unauthorized 
recreational activities (Factors A and E), and the inadequacy of 
existing regulatory mechanisms (Factor D).

Alteration of Fire Regime

    The long-term persistence of Santa Cruz cypress populations can be 
affected by the disruption of the natural fire frequency because Santa 
Cruz cypress requires fire (or potentially mechanical disturbance in 
lieu of, or in combination with, fire) to reproduce. Most Santa Cruz 
cypress populations are located close to residential areas, where 
natural fires are excluded from surrounding wildland areas by the 
creation of fire breaks and fuels reduction projects. Both fire 
exclusion and fire suppression lengthen the interval between fires, 
thus altering the natural fire regime and increasing the risk of 
extirpation from senescence (growth phase from full maturity to death). 
Conversely, human ignitions contribute to fire intervals that are too 
short, which in turn can inhibit Santa Cruz cypress from reaching its 
reproductive potential if stands burn prior to trees reaching 
reproductive age.
    The altered fire regime presents a high-level threat to the long-
term persistence of all of the Santa Cruz cypress populations and their 
habitat. Santa Cruz cypress depends on fire to maintain appropriate 
habitat conditions and to release many of the seeds stored in cones in 
the canopy. As adult trees senesce and die, seed production decreases, 
such that there is insufficient seed available to regenerate the stand 
(McGraw 2007, p. 24). In the absence of fire, recruitment still occurs, 
but at a low level that is likely not sufficient for stand replacement 
(McGraw 2011, p. 2). To germinate in large numbers, the species 
requires open soil and canopy conditions created by fires intense 
enough to kill the parent tree; in the absence of fire the species is 
only able to germinate opportunistically in rock outcroppings or small 
disturbance areas. Without appropriate disturbance from fire, the 
stands could eventually senesce, resulting in minimal reproduction in 
small rock outcrops that may be inadequate to maintain population 
viability.
    Within the range of the Santa Cruz cypress, fire has been 
documented at the Bonny Doon and Eagle Rock populations, although even-
aged stands at the Butano Ridge, Bracken Brae, and Majors Creek 
populations suggest that past fires have occurred. However, McGraw 
(2011, p. 2) states that the current demographics and natural 
recruitment rates observed in the Majors Creek, Eagle Rock, and Butano 
Ridge populations appear to be insufficient to maintain the populations 
in the absence of fire. Additionally, active management to address this 
concern is not occurring at this time. See additional discussion in the 
``Alteration of Fire Regime'' section of the Species Report (Service 
2013, pp. 23-25).

Competition With Nonnative Species

    The presence of nonnative, invasive species impacts the long-term 
persistence of Santa Cruz cypress and its habitat both currently and in 
the future through competition and habitat modification. Many nonnative 
species have been introduced into Santa Cruz cypress habitat through a 
variety of past impacts (e.g., development, infrastructure). 
Significant impacts result from Acacia dealbata (silver wattle) and 
Genista monspessulana (French broom). Silver wattle is significantly 
impacting the Majors Creek population and its habitat by creating dense 
canopies, which can inhibit seedlings by blocking sunlight needed for 
cypress growth (McGraw 2007, p. 23). French broom is one of the most 
prevalent invasive species in Santa Cruz County, located at elevations 
where all but a portion of one Santa Cruz cypress population occurs 
(Moore 2002, p. 6). French broom is significantly impacting the Bonny 
Doon population and its habitat by inhibiting Santa Cruz cypress 
seedling establishment through competition for open, recently disturbed 
soils that have access to abundant sunlight. Additionally, European 
annual grasses (present at all populations) are known to impact Santa 
Cruz cypress by precluding the establishment of seedlings, but these 
grasses do not impact Santa Cruz cypress as significantly as silver 
wattle or French broom, which are currently impacting two populations 
(i.e., Majors Creek and Bonny Doon) and likely to impact, at minimum, 
two additional populations (i.e., Eagle Rock and Bracken Brae) due to 
the cypress's proximity to residential areas where ground disturbance 
activities promote nonnative plant invasions. We consider competition 
with nonnative species to be a moderate-level threat to the Santa Cruz 
cypress. See additional discussion in the ``Competition With Nonnative 
Plant Species'' section of the Species Report (Service 2013, pp. 31-
33).

Climate Change

    The term ``climate change'' 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, usually decades or 
longer, whether the change is due to natural variability, human 
activity, or both (IPCC 2007, p. 78).

[[Page 54227]]

Various types of changes in climate can have direct or indirect effects 
on species, including Santa Cruz cypress. Scientific measurements 
spanning several decades demonstrate that changes in climate are 
occurring, and the rate of change has increased since the 1950s (e.g., 
IPCC 2007, p. 30; Solomon et al. 2007, pp. 35-54, 82-85). Within 
central-western California (i.e., California coastal counties from San 
Francisco south to Santa Barbara, including the range of the Santa Cruz 
cypress), predictions indicate warmer winter temperatures, earlier 
warming in the spring, and increased summer temperatures (PRBO 
Conservation Science 2011, p. 35), all of which will likely result in 
shifts in vegetation types. This can, for example, result in increased 
competition between species like Santa Cruz cypress and other native 
and nonnative species (Loarie et al. 2008), or result in habitat 
changes resulting from altered fire frequency and water availability 
(Service 2013, p. 28-29). We consider climate change to be a moderate-
level threat to the Santa Cruz cypress. See additional discussion in 
the ``Climate Change'' section of the Species Report (Service 2013, pp. 
26-29).

Genetic Introgression

    If individuals of different cypress species are planted in close 
proximity, they can exchange pollen and may produce fertile hybrid 
offspring, as has been documented in a number of plant species (Rhymer 
and Simberloff 1996, pp. 98-99). By this means, genes from one species 
can infiltrate into another, which is a process called genetic 
introgression. Santa Cruz cypress may be affected by introgression from 
residential plantings of Hesperocyparis macrocarpa (Monterey cypress) 
near the Bonny Doon population (Haley 1993, pers. obs.), plantings of 
Cupressus glabra (Arizona cypress) near the Eagle Rock population, and 
potentially plantings near other populations due to their close 
proximity to residential areas where plantings of other cypress species 
could occur. Because considerable genetic variation exists among Santa 
Cruz cypress populations (Miller and Westfall 1992, p. 350), it is 
probable that, in the absence of geographical barriers, hybridization 
may occur among the different populations of Santa Cruz cypress as well 
as between Santa Cruz cypress and the neighboring species. We consider 
genetic introgression to be a low-level threat to the Santa Cruz 
cypress. See additional discussion in the ``Genetic Introgression'' 
section of the Species Report (Service 2013, pp. 30-31).

Vandalism and Unauthorized Recreational Activities

    Vandalism and unauthorized recreational activities have been 
documented to impact multiple Santa Cruz cypress populations and their 
habitat. These activities result in construction of unauthorized trails 
(such as those within the Majors Creek population at Wilder Creek State 
Park) (CDPR 2000; Barry 2012, pers. obs.), which in turn result in 
erosion (McGraw 2007, p. 22) and potentially prevention of seedling 
establishment. Additionally, trails wear away substrate from the base 
of mature cypress trees. Although vandalism and unauthorized 
recreational activities are not considered to significantly impact the 
populations at this time (considered a low-level threat), they remain a 
concern due to the likelihood of increased inhabitants in the urban-
wildland interface where Santa Cruz cypress occurs. See additional 
discussion in the ``Vandalism and Unauthorized Recreational 
Activities'' section of the Species Report (Service 2013, p. 33).

Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    Reclassifying Santa Cruz cypress from endangered to threatened 
would not significantly change the protections afforded to this species 
under the Act. Santa Cruz cypress conservation has been addressed in 
some local, State, and Federal plans, laws, regulations, and policies. 
Now that most of the trees reside in fully protected areas on State or 
County park lands, the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms is 
considered a low-level threat to Santa Cruz cypress. However, the main 
concern currently and into the future is the lack of ongoing management 
to prevent senescence and ensure population persistence. While we 
recognize the benefits of management flexibility, we also recognize 
that such flexibility with regard to implementation of land use plans 
can result in land use decisions that negatively affect Santa Cruz 
cypress or its habitat. See additional discussion in the ``Legal 
Protection'' section of the Species Report (Service 2013, pp. 34-37).

Combination of Threats

    The threat to the long-term persistence of Santa Cruz cypress is 
compounded by multiple interacting factors, specifically: (1) The 
alteration of fire regimes and lack of species management; and (2) 
human activities, nonnative species, and fire. With the prevalence of 
fire exclusion and suppression near residential communities within the 
range of the species, the opportunity for Santa Cruz cypress to 
regenerate in large pulses following fire is reduced. This fire 
suppression coupled with the lack of species-specific management is 
resulting in minimal regeneration for the species as a whole, which 
could be exacerbated if this continues into the future. The ability of 
land managers to adequately maintain cypress populations on public 
lands is subject to constraints and physical barriers. Additionally, 
human intrusion into previously undisturbed areas contributes to 
colonization of nonnative plant species in the remote areas of Santa 
Cruz cypress forests (see the ``Competition with Nonnative Plant 
Species'' section of the Species Report (Service 2013, pp. 31-33)). 
This activity exacerbates the likelihood for the creation of open 
conditions (e.g., bike trails, road cuts, firebreaks), allowing 
nonnative plants to proliferate and compete with the cypress for soil, 
nutrients, and light. If a wildfire is then introduced into these new 
(open) conditions, nonnative species that compete with Santa Cruz 
cypress could then easily spread. The presence or increase in nonnative 
species can inhibit cypress seedlings by blocking the sunlight they 
need to grow (McGraw 2007, p. 23). See ``Compounding Threats'' section 
of the Species Report (Service 2013, pp. 37-38).

Overall Summary of Factors Affecting Santa Cruz Cypress

    Impacts to the long-term persistence of Santa Cruz cypress 
populations from alteration of the fire regime (Factors A and E) 
remains a significant concern currently and in the future (i.e., at 
least approximately 100 years, based on the potential lifespan of 
individual Santa Cruz cypress trees per Lyons (1988) estimate). Because 
the germination and establishment of new seedlings depends on either 
fire or a managed substitute (e.g., controlled burns or mechanical 
disturbance), appropriate fire or disturbance regimes are needed to 
manage the demographic profile of the five populations. Lack of fire or 
other disturbance to promote germination and seedling establishment 
poses a senescence risk to the stands and populations of Santa Cruz 
cypress (Service 2013, p. 30). Without recruitment of new individuals, 
trees in the current even-aged stands may become senescent (or no 
longer reproductive) and no longer produce cones and seeds necessary 
for long-term reproductive success and persistence of the populations 
(which has been observed in Santa Cruz cypress

[[Page 54228]]

populations by McGraw (2007, pp. 20-21)). While most of the populations 
have been protected through acquisition of lands for conservation, no 
active management is currently occurring to manage the demographic 
profile of the populations. Research on suitable management methods has 
only begun recently at Bonny Doon Ecological Reserve (McGraw 2011); 
future management of this population is expected to provide additional 
understanding of conditions that would promote regeneration, thus 
providing beneficial management recommendations that could be applied 
to all populations.
    Although the fire regime is identified as a significant impact to 
Santa Cruz cypress at this time, the level of impact does not currently 
place the species in danger of extinction because of the expected 
continued presence of the populations into the future, the recruitment 
(albeit minimal overall) that has been observed to date, and probable 
additional recruitment that can be expected once effective management 
(potentially canopy thinning combined with vegetation clearance) is 
implemented (see ``Research Needs'' section of the Species Report 
(Service 2013, p. 46)).
    In addition to altered fire regime, other impacts to Santa Cruz 
cypress and its habitat are currently occurring or potentially 
occurring in the future, but to a lesser degree than the overall impact 
from an altered fire regime. These include competition with nonnative, 
invasive species (Factors A and E); climate change (Factor A); genetic 
introgression (Factor E); and vandalism or unauthorized recreational 
activities (Factors A and E). Nonnative plants are competing with Santa 
Cruz cypress by invading open areas where cypress seedlings could 
become established, thus competing for soil, nutrients, and light 
(Service 2013, pp. 31-33). Climate change may cause vegetation shifts 
and promote more and larger wildfires (Service 2013, pp. 26-29). 
Genetic introgression of Santa Cruz cypress with at least two different 
cypress species could result in hybridization and result in the loss of 
Santa Cruz cypress's competitive advantage in its preferred habitat 
(Service 2013, pp. 31-31). Vandalism and unauthorized recreational 
activities may inhibit seedling establishment and increase erosion 
(Service 2013 p. 33). Additionally, although substantial mechanisms are 
currently in place to protect Santa Cruz cypress and its habitat, the 
existing regulatory mechanisms are inadequate to fully protect the 
species from these threats (Factor D). Based on our current analysis 
and the current level of management being implemented, the remaining 
impacts are expected to influence Santa Cruz cypress's habitat 
suitability and its ability to reproduce and survive in the future.
    In summary, impacts from development, agricultural conversion, 
logging, and oil and gas development, which were considered imminent at 
the time of listing, have been substantially reduced or ameliorated. 
Other impacts identified at or since listing (i.e., alteration of fire 
regime; competition with nonnative, invasive species; climate change; 
genetic introgression; and vandalism (including unauthorized 
recreational activities)) continue to impact Santa Cruz cypress or are 
expected to impact the species in the future. Although individually 
these impacts (with the exception of altered fire regime) are of low or 
moderate concern to the species, their cumulative impact can promote 
and accelerate unnatural conditions (Service 2013, pp. 37-38). For 
example, human intrusion into previously undisturbed areas contributes 
to colonization of nonnative plant species in the remote areas of Santa 
Cruz cypress forests, which in turn may result in increased wildfires 
and potentially increased community concern for wildfire suppression 
activities. These types of interactions could become a greater concern 
to Santa Cruz cypress in the future if restricted management leads to 
increased human activity in cypress forests.
    The high-level impact to Santa Cruz cypress and its habitat that is 
of greatest concern at this time is an altered fire regime. The long-
term persistence of Santa Cruz cypress posed by this high-level impact 
is exacerbated by the lack of species management, resulting in 
continued affects to the age structure and demographic profile of the 
species. Although operating on the species currently, the impacts from 
an altered fire regime, either alone or in combination with the other 
impacts identified above, do not place the species at immediate risk of 
extinction. Reproduction and recruitment is evident (although not at a 
level sufficient for long-term persistence) based on recent data in at 
least four populations (i.e., the portion of the Bonny Doon population 
that burned in the 2008 Martin Fire, and at the Eagle Rock, Butano 
Ridge, and Majors Creek populations) (Service 2013, p. 46); 
insufficient recruitment is also likely the case at the Bracken Brae 
population and the portion of the Bonny Doon population that did not 
burn in the 2008 Martin fire, although these data are unavailable. 
However, if fire or other disturbance in the future does not occur to 
promote germination and seedling establishment (whether through a 
natural fire event or active management), population effects that may 
result from senescence are likely to place the species in danger of 
extinction.

Distinguishing Threats for Both Cypress Varieties

    As described above in the Background section, recent taxonomic 
evaluations of Hesperocyparis abramsiana identified two varieties: H. 
a. var. butanoensis (Butano Ridge population) and H. a. var. abramsiana 
(Eagle Rock, Bracken Brae, Bonny Doon, and Majors Creek populations) 
(Adams and Bartel 2009). Therefore, the threats analysis provided in 
the Species Report (Service 2013, entire) and summarized in this 
document includes a separate evaluation for each of the five 
populations, in part to distinguish the level of impact the current 
threats have on the two separate varieties. The information summarized 
below is evaluated and described in detail in the ``Discussion of 
Threats to the Two Separate Varieties'' section of the Species Report 
(Service 2013, pp. 38-40).
    The Butano Ridge population (Hesperocyparis abramsiana var. 
butanoensis) is primarily threatened by changes in the historical fire 
regime (Factors A and E). The population is located away from developed 
areas, but because it is near a lumber operation, there likely are fire 
exclusion and suppression activities in the vicinity that alter the 
fire regime. Other impacts identified at the time of listing are no 
longer impacting this population or are no longer considered 
significant (e.g., logging, oil and gas drilling), in large part due to 
this population now being fully protected and managed within the 
boundaries of Pescadero Creek County Park. Although this variety is not 
considered a separate species, its status as a separate variety 
indicates its divergence from other populations of the species. Further 
divergence, and potentially the process of speciation, may continue 
through sustained reproductive isolation from other Santa Cruz cypress 
populations. Additionally, this is the only location for this variety, 
and it is composed of a single stand, thus making it vulnerable to an 
impact such as disease if exposed. However, at this time it is highly 
unlikely that potential impacts such as development, disease, 
predation, and others (as described in the Species Report (Service 
2013, pp. 23-40)) would occur at the

[[Page 54229]]

Butano Ridge population. An altered fire regime is the main concern 
present at this population, with potential concerns currently or in the 
future related to competition with nonnative species (Factors A and E) 
and climate change (Factor A).
    Similar to the Butano Ridge population described above, the primary 
impact to the Eagle Rock, Bracken Brae, Bonny Doon, and Majors Creek 
populations (Hesperocyparis abramsiana var. abramsiana) is the 
alteration of the fire regime (Factors A and E), which was identified 
at the time of listing. This impact remains present at all populations 
of the Santa Cruz cypress, although management actions at the Bonny 
Doon Ecological Reserve have included some mechanical vegetation 
removal in an attempt to reduce this impact (Service 2013, pp. 39-40). 
Impacts from competition with nonnative species (Factors A and E) and 
climate change (Factor A) also threaten the long-term persistence of 
both varieties of Santa Cruz cypress (in addition to vandalism and 
unauthorized recreational activities (Factors A and E), and genetic 
introgression (Factor E) potentially impacting the H. a. var. 
abramsiana populations), and there are no management actions proposed 
to address these concerns. The existing regulatory mechanisms are 
inadequate to fully protect the species from these impacts (Factor D). 
Please see the ``Current Threats'' and ``Discussion of Threats to the 
Two Separate Varieties'' sections of the Species Report for additional 
discussion related to current or potential threats to these Santa Cruz 
cypress populations (Service 2013, pp. 23-40).

Finding

    An assessment of the need for a species' protection under the Act 
is based on whether a species is in danger of extinction or likely to 
become so because of 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. As required by section 4(a)(1) of 
the Act, we conducted a review of the status of this plant and assessed 
the five factors to evaluate whether Santa Cruz cypress is endangered 
or threatened throughout all of its range. We examined the best 
scientific and commercial information available regarding the past, 
present, and future threats faced by the species. We reviewed 
information presented in the 2011 petition, information available in 
our files and gathered through our 90-day finding in response to this 
petition, and other available published and unpublished information. We 
also consulted with species experts and land management staff with 
CDFW, CDPR, the County of San Mateo, and the County of Santa Cruz, who 
are actively managing for the conservation of Santa Cruz cypress. For 
the purposes of this discussion, we define foreseeable future as at 
least approximately 100 years based on the potential lifespan of 
individual Santa Cruz cypress trees per Lyons' (1988) estimate (see the 
``Life History'' discussion in the Species Report (Service 2013, pp. 8-
9) for additional discussion).
    In considering what factors might constitute threats, we must look 
beyond the mere exposure of the species to the factor to determine 
whether the exposure causes actual impacts to the species. If there is 
exposure to a factor, but no response, or only a positive response, 
that factor is not a threat. If there is exposure and the species 
responds negatively, the factor may be a threat and we then attempt to 
determine how significant the threat is. If the threat is significant, 
it may drive, or contribute to, the risk of extinction of the species 
such that the species warrants listing as endangered or threatened as 
those terms are defined by the Act. This does not necessarily require 
empirical proof of a threat. The combination of exposure and some 
corroborating evidence of how the species is likely impacted could 
suffice. The mere identification of factors that could impact a species 
negatively is not sufficient to compel a finding that listing is 
appropriate; we require evidence that these factors are operative 
threats that act on the species to the point that the species meets the 
definition of endangered or threatened under the Act.
    As a result of recent information, we know that there are a 
significantly larger number of Santa Cruz cypress individuals than were 
known at the time of listing (Service 2013, p. 45) and that there is 
significant conservation of lands that support the populations. 
Significant impacts at the time of listing that could have resulted in 
the extirpation of all or parts of populations have been eliminated or 
reduced since listing. We conclude that the previously recognized 
impacts to Santa Cruz cypress from present or threatened destruction, 
modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range (specifically, 
residential development, agricultural conversion, logging, and oil and 
gas drilling) (Factor A); overutilization for commercial, recreational, 
scientific, or educations purposes (Factor B); disease or predation 
(Factor C); and other natural or human made factors affecting its 
continued existence (specifically, reproductive isolation) (Factor E) 
do not rise to a level of significance, either individually or in 
combination, such that the species is in danger of extinction now or in 
the foreseeable future.
    However, alteration of the fire regime (Factors A and E) has the 
potential to disrupt the long-term persistence of the species across 
its entire range (resulting in the species potentially facing a 
senescence risk in the future) if fire continues to be excluded or 
suppressed near these populations. Current recruitment in at least four 
populations (the portion of Bonny Doon population that burned in the 
2008 Martin Fire, and the Eagle Rock, Butano Ridge, and Majors Creek 
populations) is evident; however, the current level of recruitment is 
not sufficient to maintain the populations in the absence of fire 
(Service 2013, p. 26). This is likely also the case with the Bracken 
Brae population and the portion of the Bonny Doon population that did 
not burn.
    Santa Cruz cypress will continue to be impacted by competition with 
nonnative, invasive species (Factors A and E); genetic introgression 
(Factor E); vandalism and unauthorized recreational activities (Factors 
A and E); and potentially climate change (Factor A). Additionally, the 
existing regulatory mechanisms are inadequate to fully protect the 
species from these threats (Factor D). However, the severity and 
magnitude of threats, both individually and in combination, and the 
likelihood that any one event would affect all populations is 
significantly reduced as a result of the removal of multiple threats, 
the reduced impact of most remaining threats, and the extensive amount 
of conservation occurring throughout the range of the species 
(including, but not limited to, extensive preservation of occupied 
lands in perpetuity and development of management plans to enhance 
habitat).
    In conclusion, we have carefully assessed the best scientific and 
commercial information available regarding the past, present, and 
future threats faced by this species. After review of the information 
pertaining to the five statutory factors, we find that the ongoing 
threats are not of sufficient imminence, intensity, or magnitude to 
indicate that Santa Cruz cypress is presently in danger of extinction 
throughout all its range. Although

[[Page 54230]]

threats to Santa Cruz cypress still exist and will continue into the 
foreseeable future, CDFW, CDPR, the County of San Mateo, and the County 
of Santa Cruz are implementing conservation measures or regulatory 
actions to reduce the level of impact on Santa Cruz cypress. We 
therefore find that Santa Cruz cypress now meets the definition of a 
threatened species (i.e., is likely to become in danger of extinction 
in the foreseeable future throughout all of its range).

Significant Portion of the Range

    Having examined the status of Santa Cruz cypress throughout all its 
range, we next examine whether the species is in danger of extinction 
in a significant portion of its range. The range of a species can 
theoretically be divided into portions in an infinite number of ways. 
However, there is no purpose in analyzing portions of the range that 
have no reasonable potential to be significant or in analyzing portions 
of the range in which there is no reasonable potential for the species 
to be endangered or threatened. To identify only those portions that 
warrant further consideration, we determine whether there is 
substantial information indicating that: (1) The portions may be 
``significant'' and (2) the species may be in danger of extinction 
there or likely to become so within the foreseeable future. Depending 
on the biology of the species, its range, and the threats it faces, it 
might be more efficient for us to address the significance question 
first or the status question first. Thus, if we determine that a 
portion of the range is not ``significant,'' we do not need to 
determine whether the species is endangered or threatened there; if we 
determine that the species is not endangered or threatened in a portion 
of its range, we do not need to determine if that portion is 
``significant.'' In practice, a key part of the determination that a 
species is in danger of extinction in a significant portion of its 
range is whether the threats are geographically concentrated in some 
way. If the threats to the species are essentially uniform throughout 
its range, no portion is likely to warrant further consideration. 
Moreover, if any concentration of threats to the species occurs only in 
portions of the species' range that clearly would not meet the 
biologically based definition of ``significant,'' such portions will 
not warrant further consideration.
    We consider the ``range'' of Santa Cruz cypress to include five 
populations (Butano Ridge, Bracken Brae, Eagle Rock, Bonny Doon, and 
Majors Creek) that span a distance of 15 miles (24 kilometers) from 
north to south within the Santa Cruz Mountains in San Mateo and Santa 
Cruz Counties, California. These five populations are all believed to 
be relictual islands containing representatives of what was once a 
widespread flora during glacial periods (Libby 1979, p. 15); historical 
distribution of Santa Cruz cypress beyond the five currently recognized 
populations is unknown. In other words, the current distribution is the 
only known distribution, which has remained the same throughout 
recorded history.
    We considered whether the threats facing Santa Cruz cypress might 
be different at any of the populations and specifically between the 
Butano Ridge population (Hesperocyparis abramsiana var. butanoensis) 
and the other four populations (H. a. var. abramsiana). The Butano 
Ridge population is similar to the other four populations in that it is 
primarily threatened by changes in the historical fire regime, as was 
identified as a concern for all five populations at the time of 
listing. Additionally, threats from competition with nonnative species 
and climate change exist for all populations. Current threats known 
only to impact the populations comprised of H. a. var. abramsiana 
include genetic introgression, vandalism, and unauthorized recreational 
use. Our evaluation of the best available information indicates that 
the overall level of threats is not significantly different at any of 
these populations (Service 2013, pp. 24-41), with the primary current 
threat to all populations being alteration of fire regime. 
Additionally, there are no threats specific to the Butano Ridge 
population; the threats that are impacting or have the potential to 
impact the Butano Ridge population are widespread across the species' 
range (Service 2013, pp. 39-40). It is our conclusion, based on our 
evaluation of the current potential threats to Santa Cruz cypress at 
each of the populations in San Mateo and Santa Cruz Counties (see 
Summary of Factors Affecting the Species section of this proposed rule 
and the ``Discussion of Threats to the Species'' section of the Species 
Report (Service 2013, pp. 22-40)), that threats are neither 
sufficiently concentrated nor of sufficient magnitude to indicate that 
the species is in danger of extinction at any of the areas that support 
populations.
    Therefore, while no populations of Santa Cruz cypress are at 
imminent risk of extirpation, ongoing threats continue to affect the 
likelihood of long-term persistence of the populations and the species 
such that the Santa Cruz cypress meets the definition of a threatened 
species under the Act. Therefore, we find that the petitioned action is 
warranted, and we propose to reclassify Santa Cruz cypress from 
endangered to threatened status.

Effects of This Rule

    If this proposed rule is made final, it would revise 50 CFR 
17.12(h) to reclassify Santa Cruz cypress from endangered to threatened 
on the List of Endangered and Threatened Plants. However, this 
reclassification does not significantly change the protections afforded 
this species under the Act. Pursuant to section 7 of the Act, all 
Federal agencies must ensure that any actions they authorize, fund, or 
carry out are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of Santa 
Cruz cypress. Whenever a species is listed as threatened, the Act 
allows promulgation of special rules under section 4(d) that modify the 
standard protections for threatened species found under section 9 of 
the Act and Service regulations at 50 CFR 17.31 (for wildlife) and 
17.71 (for plants), when it is deemed necessary and advisable to 
provide for the conservation of the species. There are no 4(d) rules in 
place or proposed for Santa Cruz cypress, because there is currently no 
conservation need to do so for this species.
    Recovery actions directed at Santa Cruz cypress will continue to be 
implemented as outlined in the Recovery Plan for this species (Service 
1998, entire).

Required Determinations

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:
    (a) Be logically organized;
    (b) Use the active voice to address readers directly;
    (c) Use clear language rather than jargon;
    (d) Be divided into short sections and sentences; and
    (e) 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 names of the sections or 
paragraphs that are unclearly written, which sections or sentences are 
too long, the sections where you feel lists or tables would be useful, 
etc.

[[Page 54231]]

National Environmental Policy Act

    We determined we do not need to prepare an Environmental Assessment 
or an Environmental Impact Statement, as defined under the authority of 
the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), 
in connection with regulations adopted pursuant to section 4(a) of the 
Act. We published a notice outlining our reasons for this determination 
in the Federal Register on October 25, 1983 (48 FR 49244).

References Cited

    A complete list of all references cited in this proposed rule is 
available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov under Docket 
No. FWS-R8-ES-2013-0092 or upon request from the Field Supervisor, 
Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT 
section).

Author

    The primary author of this proposed rule is the Pacific Southwest 
Regional Office in Sacramento, California, in coordination with the 
Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office in Ventura, California (see FOR 
FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

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--ENDANGERED AND THREATENED WILDLIFE AND PLANTS

0
1. The authority citation for part 17 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  16 U.S.C. 1361-1407; 1531-1544; 4201-4245, unless 
otherwise noted.

0
2. Amend Sec.  17.12(h) as follows:
0
a. By removing the entry for ``Cupressus abramsiana'' under CONIFERS, 
and
0
b. By adding an entry for ``Hesperocyparis abramsiana'' under CONIFERS 
to read as follows:


Sec.  17.12  Endangered and threatened plants.

* * * * *
    (h) * * *

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                        Species
--------------------------------------------------------    Historic range           Family            Status      When listed    Critical     Special
         Scientific name                Common name                                                                               habitat       rules
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
             Conifers              ....................  ...................  ...................  ..............  ...........  ...........  ...........
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
Hesperocyparis abramsiana........  Santa Cruz cypress..  U.S.A. (CA)........  Cupressaceae.......  T                       252           NA           NA
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Dated: August 13, 2013.
Stephen Guertin,
Acting Director, Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2013-21313 Filed 8-30-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P