Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Proposed Designation of Critical Habitat for Diplacus vandenbergensis (Vandenberg Monkeyflower), 64446-64466 [2013-25399]

Download as PDF 64446 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 209 / Tuesday, October 29, 2013 / Proposed Rules PROPOSAL ADEQUACY CHECKLIST—Continued Proposal page No. References Submission item 29. FAR 15.408, Table 15–2, Section III Paragraph B. If not provided explain (may use continuation pages traceable to this checklist) If the proposal is for a modification or change order, have cost of work deleted (credits) and cost of work added (debits) been provided in the format described in FAR 15.408, Table 15–2.III.B? For price revisions/redeterminations, does the proposal follow the format in FAR 15.408, Table 15–2.III.C? 30. FAR 15.408, Table 15–2, Section III Paragraph C. Other 31. FAR 16.4 .................................. 32. FAR 16.203–4 and FAR 15.408 Table 15–2, Section II, Paragraphs A, B, C, and D. 33. FAR 52.232–28 ........................ 34. FAR 15.408(n), FAR 52.215– 22, FAR 52.215–23. If an incentive contract type, does the proposal include offeror proposed target cost, target profit or fee, share ratio, and, when applicable, minimum/maximum fee, ceiling price? If Economic Price Adjustments are being proposed, does the proposal show the rationale and application for the economic price adjustment? If the offeror is proposing Performance-Based Payments did the offeror comply with FAR 52.232–28? Excessive Pass-through Charges-Identification of Subcontract Effort: If the offeror intends to subcontract more than 70% of the total cost of work to be performed, does the proposal identify: (i) the amount of the offeror’s indirect costs and profit applicable to the work to be performed by the proposed subcontractor(s); and (ii) a description of the added value provided by the offeror as related to the work to be performed by the proposed subcontractor(s)? (End of provision) [FR Doc. 2013–25287 Filed 10–28–13; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 7510–01–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service [Docket No. FWS–R8–ES–2013–0049; 4500030113] 50 CFR Part 17 RIN 1018–AZ33 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Proposed Designation of Critical Habitat for Diplacus vandenbergensis (Vandenberg Monkeyflower) Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Proposed rule. AGENCY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, propose to designate critical habitat for Diplacus vandenbergensis (Vandenberg monkeyflower) under the Endangered Species Act. If we finalize this rule as proposed, it would extend the Act’s protections to this species’ critical habitat. The effect of this regulation is to conserve Vandenberg monkeyflower’s habitat under the Endangered Species Act. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS SUMMARY: We will accept comments received or postmarked on or before DATES: VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:26 Oct 28, 2013 Jkt 232001 December 30, 2013. Comments submitted electronically using the Federal eRulemaking Portal (see ADDRESSES section below) must be received by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the closing date. We must receive requests for public hearings, in writing, at the address shown in FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT by December 13, 2013. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by one of the following methods: (1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http:// www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter Docket No. FWS–R8–ES–2013– 0049, which is the docket number for this rulemaking. You may submit a comment by clicking on ‘‘Comment Now!’’ (2) By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–R8–ES–2013– 0049; 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). FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Stephen P. Henry, Acting Field Supervisor, Ventura Fish and Wildlife PO 00000 Frm 00039 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 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: Executive Summary Why we need to publish a rule. Critical habitat shall be designated, to the maximum extent prudent and determinable, for any species determined to be an endangered or threatened species under the Act. Designations and revisions of critical habitat can only be completed by issuing a rule. Elsewhere in today’s Federal Register, we propose to list the Diplacus vandenbergensis (hereafter referred to as Vandenberg monkeyflower) as an endangered species under the Act. This document consists of a proposed rule for designation of critical habitat for Vandenberg monkeyflower. The basis for our action. Under the Act, when a species is proposed for listing, to the maximum extent prudent and determinable, we must designate critical habitat for the species. The species has been proposed for listing as endangered, and therefore, we also propose to designate approximately 5,785 acres (ac) (2,341 hectares (ha)) of habitat as critical habitat in Santa Barbara County, California. E:\FR\FM\29OCP1.SGM 29OCP1 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 209 / Tuesday, October 29, 2013 / Proposed Rules We will seek peer review. We are seeking comments from knowledgeable individuals with scientific expertise to review our analysis of the best available science and application of that science and to provide any additional scientific information to improve this proposed rule. Because we will consider all comments and information received during the comment period, our final determination may differ from this proposal. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Information Requested We intend that any final action resulting from this proposed rule will be based on the best scientific data available and be as accurate and as effective as possible. Therefore, we request comments or information from the public, other concerned governmental agencies, Native American tribes, the scientific community, industry, or any other interested parties concerning this proposed rule. We particularly seek comments concerning: (1) The reasons why we should or should not designate habitat as ‘‘critical habitat’’ under section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), including whether there are threats to the species from human activity, the degree of which can be expected to increase due to the designation, and whether that increase in threats outweighs the benefit of designation such that the designation of critical habitat is not prudent. (2) Specific information on: (a) The amount and distribution of Vandenberg monkeyflower and its habitat; (b) What may constitute ‘‘physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the species,’’ within the geographical range currently occupied by the species; (c) Where these features are currently found; (d) Whether any of these features may require special management considerations or protection; (e) What areas that are currently occupied by the species contain features essential to the conservation of the species that should be included in the designation and why; and (f) What areas not occupied at the time of listing are essential for the conservation of the species and why. (3) Land use designations and current or planned activities in the areas occupied by the species or proposed to be designated as critical habitat, and possible impacts of these activities on this species and proposed critical habitat. VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:26 Oct 28, 2013 Jkt 232001 (4) Comments or information that may assist us in identifying or clarifying the primary constituent elements (PCEs). (5) Information on the projected and reasonably likely impacts of climate change on Vandenberg monkeyflower and proposed critical habitat. (6) Any probable economic, national security, or other relevant impacts of designating any area that may be included in the final designation. We are particularly interested in any impacts on small entities, and the benefits of including or excluding areas from the proposed designation that are subject to these impacts. (7) Any foreseeable impacts on energy supplies, distribution, and use resulting from the proposed designation and, in particular, any impacts on electricity production, and the benefits of including or excluding any particular areas that exhibit these impacts. (8) Whether any specific areas we are proposing for critical habitat designation should be considered for exclusion under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, and whether the benefits of potentially excluding any specific area outweigh the benefits of including that area under section 4(b)(2) of the Act. We specifically seek comments on whether the existing management plans for Burton Mesa Ecological Reserve and La Purisima Mission State Historic Park (SHP), respectively, provide a conservation benefit to Vandenberg monkeyflower and its habitat. We also seek comments on whether there is a reasonable expectation that the conservation management strategies and actions in these management plans will be implemented into the future. (9) Whether our approach to designating critical habitat could be improved or modified in any way to provide for greater public participation and understanding, or to assist us in accommodating public concerns and comments. (10) The likelihood of adverse social reactions to the designation of critical habitat and how the consequences of such reactions, if likely to occur, would relate to the conservation and regulatory benefits of the proposed critical habitat designation. 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. We will post your entire comment— including your personal identifying information—on http:// www.regulations.gov. You may request at the top of your document that we withhold personal information such as PO 00000 Frm 00040 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 64447 your street address, phone number, or email address 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 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 (Service), Ventura Field Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Previous Federal Actions All previous Federal actions are described in the proposal to list Vandenberg monkeyflower as an endangered species under the Act published elsewhere in today’s Federal Register. Background In this proposed rule, we intend to discuss only those topics directly relevant to the designation of critical habitat. Additional information pertaining to Vandenberg monkeyflower description, taxonomy, life history, geographic setting, climate, and habitat can be found in the proposed listing rule published elsewhere in today’s Federal Register. Critical Habitat Background Critical habitat is defined in section 3 of the Act as: (1) The specific areas within the geographical area occupied by the species, at the time it is listed in accordance with the Act, on which are found those physical or biological features: (a) Essential to the conservation of the species, and (b) Which may require special management considerations or protection; and (2) Specific areas outside the geographical area occupied by the species at the time it is listed, upon a determination that such areas are essential for the conservation of the species. Conservation, as defined under section 3 of the Act, means to use and the use of all methods and procedures that are necessary to bring an endangered or threatened species to the point at which the measures provided pursuant to the Act are no longer necessary. Such methods and procedures include, but are not limited to, all activities associated with scientific resources management such as research, census, law enforcement, habitat acquisition and maintenance, E:\FR\FM\29OCP1.SGM 29OCP1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 64448 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 209 / Tuesday, October 29, 2013 / Proposed Rules propagation, live trapping, and transplantation, and, in the extraordinary case where population pressures within a given ecosystem cannot be otherwise relieved, may include regulated taking. Critical habitat receives protection under section 7 of the Act through the requirement that Federal agencies ensure, in consultation with the Service, that any action they authorize, fund, or carry out is not likely to result in the destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat. The designation of critical habitat does not affect land ownership or establish a refuge, wilderness, reserve, preserve, or other conservation area. Such designation does not allow the government or public to access private lands. Such designation does not require implementation of restoration, recovery, or enhancement measures by nonFederal landowners. Where a landowner requests Federal agency funding or authorization for an action that may affect a listed species or critical habitat, the consultation requirements of section 7(a)(2) of the Act would apply, but even in the event of a destruction or adverse modification finding, the obligation of the Federal action agency and the landowner is not to restore or recover the species, but to implement reasonable and prudent alternatives to avoid destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat. Under the first prong of the Act’s definition of critical habitat, areas within the geographic area occupied by the species at the time it is listed are included in a critical habitat designation if they contain physical or biological features (1) which are essential to the conservation of the species and (2) which may require special management considerations or protection. For these areas, critical habitat designations identify, to the extent known using the best scientific and commercial data available, those physical or biological features that are essential to the conservation of the species (such as space, food, cover, and protected habitat). In identifying those physical and biological features within an area, we focus on the principal biological or physical constituent elements (primary constituent elements (PCEs) such as roost sites, nesting grounds, seasonal wetlands, water quality, tide, soil type) that are essential to the conservation of the species. We consider PCEs to be those specific elements of the physical or biological features that provide for a species’ life history processes and, under the appropriate conditions, are essential to the conservation of the species. VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:26 Oct 28, 2013 Jkt 232001 Under the second prong of the Act’s definition of critical habitat, we can designate critical habitat in areas outside the geographic area occupied by the species at the time it is listed, upon a determination that such areas are essential for the conservation of the species. We designate critical habitat in areas outside the geographic area occupied by a species only when a designation limited to its range would be inadequate to ensure the conservation of the species. Section 4 of the Act requires that we designate critical habitat on the basis of the best scientific data available. Further, our Policy on Information Standards Under the Endangered Species Act (published in the Federal Register on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 34271)), the Information Quality Act (section 515 of the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2001 (Pub. L. 106–554; H.R. 5658)), and our associated Information Quality Guidelines, provide criteria and guidance and establish procedures to ensure that our decisions are based on the best scientific data available. They require our biologists, to the extent consistent with the Act and with the use of the best scientific data available, to use primary and original sources of information as the basis for recommendations to designate critical habitat. When we are determining which areas should be designated as critical habitat, our primary source of information is generally the information developed during the listing process for the species. Additional information sources may include the recovery plan for the species, articles in peer-reviewed journals, conservation plans developed by States and counties, scientific status surveys and studies, biological assessments, other unpublished materials, or experts’ opinions or personal knowledge. Habitat is dynamic, and species may move from one area to another over time. Therefore, we recognize that critical habitat designated at a particular point in time may not include all of the habitat areas that we may later determine are necessary for the recovery of the species. For these reasons, a critical habitat designation does not signal that habitat outside the designated area is unimportant or may not be needed for recovery of the species. Areas that are important to the conservation of the species, both inside and outside the critical habitat designation, will be subject to: (1) Conservation actions implemented under section 7(a)(1) of the Act, (2) regulatory protections afforded by the PO 00000 Frm 00041 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 requirement in section 7(a)(2) of the Act for Federal agencies to ensure their actions are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered or threatened species, and (3) the prohibitions of section 9 of the Act if actions occurring in these areas may affect the species. Federally funded or permitted projects affecting listed species outside their designated critical habitat areas may still result in jeopardy findings in some cases. These protections and conservation tools will contribute to recovery of this species. Similarly, critical habitat designations made on the basis of the best available information at the time of designation will not control the direction and substance of future recovery plans, habitat conservation plans (HCPs), or other species conservation planning efforts if new information available at the time of these planning efforts calls for a different outcome. Prudency Determination Section 4(a)(3) of the Act, as amended, and implementing regulations (50 CFR 424.12), require that, to the maximum extent prudent and determinable, the Secretary designate critical habitat at the time the species is determined to be an endangered or threatened species. Our regulations (50 CFR 424.12(a)(1)) state that the designation of critical habitat is not prudent when one or both of the following situations exist: (1) The species is threatened by taking or other activity and the identification of critical habitat can be expected to increase the degree of threat to the species; or (2) the designation of critical habitat would not be beneficial to the species. As discussed in the Factor B discussion of our proposed listing rule (published elsewhere in today’s Federal Register), there is currently no indication that collection or vandalism is a threat to Vandenberg monkeyflower, and identification and mapping of critical habitat is not expected to initiate such threat. Most of the areas proposed for critical habitat either have restricted public access (Burton Mesa Ecological Reserve) or are already open to the public (hiking trails in the Reserve and La Purisima Mission SHP). The degree of threat from casual human access, or any other identified threat (see the listing rule published elsewhere in today’s Federal Register), is not expected to increase as a result of critical habitat designation. In the absence of finding that the designation of critical habitat would increase threats to a species, if there are any benefits to a critical habitat designation, then a prudent finding is E:\FR\FM\29OCP1.SGM 29OCP1 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 209 / Tuesday, October 29, 2013 / Proposed Rules warranted. Here, the potential benefits of designating critical habitat for Vandenberg monkeyflower include, but are not limited, to: (1) Focusing conservation activities on the most essential features and areas; (2) providing educational benefits to State or county governments, private entities, and the public; and (3) reducing the potential for the public to cause inadvertent harm to the species. Therefore, because we have determined that the designation of critical habitat will not likely increase the degree of threat to the species and may provide some measure of benefit, we find that designation of critical habitat is prudent for Vandenberg monkeyflower. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Critical Habitat Determinability Having determined that designation is prudent, under section 4(a)(3) of the Act we must find whether critical habitat for the Vandenberg monkeyflower is determinable. Our regulations at 50 CFR 424.12(a)(2) state that critical habitat is not determinable when one or both of the following situations exist: (i) Information sufficient to perform required analyses of the impacts of the designation is lacking, or (ii) The biological needs of the species are not sufficiently well known to permit identification of an area as critical habitat. When critical habitat is not determinable, the Act allows the Service an additional year to publish a critical habitat designation (16 U.S.C. 1533(b)(6)(C)(ii)). We reviewed the available information pertaining to the biological needs of the species, habitat characteristics where this species is located, and potential impacts of designation. This and other information represent the best scientific data available and led us to conclude that the designation of critical habitat is determinable for Vandenberg monkeyflower. Climate Change and Critical Habitat Climate change will be a particular challenge for biodiversity because the interaction of additional stressors associated with climate change and current stressors may push species beyond their ability to survive (Lovejoy 2005, pp. 325–326). The synergistic implications of climate change and habitat fragmentation are the most threatening facet of climate change for biodiversity (Hannah and Lovejoy 2005, p. 4). Current climate change predictions for terrestrial areas in the Northern Hemisphere indicate warmer air temperatures, more intense precipitation events, and increased VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:26 Oct 28, 2013 Jkt 232001 summer continental drying (Field et al. 1999, pp. 1–3; Hayhoe et al. 2004, p. 12422; Cayan et al. 2005, p. 6; Seager et al. 2007, p. 1181). Climate change may lead to increased frequency and duration of severe storms and droughts (McLaughlin et al. 2002, p. 6074; Golladay et al. 2004, p. 504; Cook et al. 2004, p. 1015). Documentation of climate-related changes that have already occurred in California (Bell et al. 2004; Snyder et al. 2004; PRBO Conservation Science 2011; Lenihan et al. 2008), and predictions of changes in temperature and precipitation for the Santa Barbara County area (such as an increase in temperature of approximately 2.5 °F (1.4 °C) and a decrease in precipitation of approximately 10 percent (ClimateWizard 2012)) and North America (IPCC 2007, p. 9) indicate climate-related changes will continue in the future. We anticipate these changes could affect Vandenberg monkeyflower by reducing suitable habitat; however, because of the influence of the ocean temperatures, the effect of climate change on Burton Mesa may be moderated (see also ‘‘Factor A—Climate Change’’ section of the proposed listing rule published elsewhere in today’s Federal Register). Physical or Biological Features In accordance with section 3(5)(A)(i) and 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act and regulations at 50 CFR 424.12, in determining which areas within the geographic area occupied by the species at the time of listing to designate as critical habitat, we consider the physical or biological features that are essential to the conservation of the species and which may require special management considerations or protection. These include, but are not limited to: (1) Space for individual and population growth and for normal behavior; (2) Food, water, air, light, minerals, or other nutritional or physiological requirements; (3) Cover or shelter; (4) Sites for breeding, reproduction, or rearing (or development) of offspring; and (5) Habitats that are protected from disturbance or are representative of the historical, geographic, and ecological distributions of a species. We derive the specific physical or biological features required for Vandenberg monkeyflower from studies of this species’ habitat, ecology, and life history as described below. Additional information can be found in the proposed listing rule published elsewhere in today’s Federal Register. PO 00000 Frm 00042 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 64449 We have determined that the following physical or biological features are essential for Vandenberg monkeyflower: Space for Reproduction, Dispersal, and Individual and Population Growth Canopy Openings Vandenberg monkeyflower only occurs in sandy openings (canopy gaps) within dominant vegetation consisting of Burton Mesa chaparral (see the ‘‘Background’’ section in the proposed listing rule published elsewhere in today’s Federal Register). The sunny openings provide the space needed for individual and population growth, including sites for germination, reproduction, seed dispersal, seed banks, and pollination. Canopy gaps are important for seed germination and seedling establishment, and for maintaining the seed banks of many chaparral species (Davis et al. 1989, pp. 60–64; Zammit and Zedler 1994, pp. 11–13). As the canopy closes and grows in height, the understory is generally bare, with most herbs restricted to remaining canopy gaps (Van Dyke et al. 2001, p. 9). Because gaps receive more light, soil temperatures may be as much as 23 °C (73 °F) higher than under the surrounding shrub canopy (Christensen and Muller 1975b, p. 50). Such temperatures are high enough to stimulate seed germination in many species (for example, Helianthemum scoparium (rush-rose)) (Christensen and Muller 1975a, p. 77). Additionally, herbivory is less pronounced in openings than under or near the canopy (Halligan 1973, pp. 430–432; Christensen and Muller 1975b, p. 53; Davis and Mooney 1985, p. 528). Furthermore, allelopathic (biochemical) effects of the shrub canopy are probably reduced in openings (Muller et al. 1968, pp. 227–230). Numerous studies have recognized canopy gaps in mature chaparral as important microhabitats where some subshrubs and herbs [such as Vandenberg monkeyflower] persist between fires (Horton and Kraebel 1955, pp. 258–261; Vogl and Schorr 1972, pp. 1182–1187; Keeley et al. 1981, pp. 1615–1617; Davis et al. 1989, p. 64). Additionally, many chaparral plants have characteristics that promote reestablishment after fires. Thus, fire plays a significant role in maintaining chaparral community heterogeneity and in nutrient cycling, and its role has been extensively documented (see Christensen and Muller 1975a, b; Keeley 1987) (See ‘‘Factor A—Anthropogenic Fire’’ section in the proposed listing E:\FR\FM\29OCP1.SGM 29OCP1 64450 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 209 / Tuesday, October 29, 2013 / Proposed Rules mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS rule published elsewhere in today’s Federal Register). When fire occurs, it clears out aboveground living vegetation and dead wood, deposits nutrient-rich ash, and makes space and sunlight available for seedling establishment. High numbers of herbaceous annuals and perennials appear shortly after fire has cleared away the tall, dense shrubs (Gevirtz et al. 2007, p. 58). Many of these firefollowers decline over time after a fire, although some persist in small numbers for decades after their peak post-fire densities (Gevirtz et al. 2007, p. 103). In the first few years, habitat may appear as coastal scrub rather than chaparral, both in structure and in the species present (e.g., (Salvia mellifera) black sage, (Artemisia californica) California sagebrush, (Frangula californica) coffee berry, (Baccharis pilularis) coyote brush, Toxicodendron pubescens (poison oak)). Gradually, however, (Arctostaphylos spp.) manzanita, (Ceanothus spp.) ceanothus, (Adenostoma fasciculatum) chamise, and other species overtop the early species and come to dominate the landscape. The response of Vandenberg monkeyflower to fire is not currently known; however, because this species occurs within maritime chaparral, it is likely adapted to a naturally occurring fire regime of the Burton Mesa. Because Vandenberg monkeyflower occurs within the canopy gaps of Burton Mesa chaparral, these gaps are important for the plants’ persistence between fire events. As the canopy closes with dominant vegetation, the gaps provide the space for annuals small in stature, such as Vandenberg monkeyflower, to grow and reproduce. Therefore, we identify canopy gaps to be a physical or biological feature for Vandenberg monkeyflower. Loose Sandy Soils The gaps in the canopy where this species occurs consist of loose, sandy soils. The Burton Mesa dune sheet is the largest exposure of mid-Pleistocene sands in the Santa Maria Basin (Hunt 1993, p. 14). These dunes are old enough to have developed a soil profile, classified as Tangair and Narlon soils (Soil Conservation Service 1972). Subsurface soils are typically hardened by iron oxides; however, surface exposures are commonly composed of loose sand (Hunt 1993, p. 15). The oldest dune deposits lie beneath dunes that were wind-deposited approximately 10,000 to 25,000 to as much as 125,000 years ago (Orme and Tchakerian 1986, pp. 155–156; Johnson 1983, in Hunt 1993, p. 15). Contributing to the formation of these vast dune systems was a rapid fall in sea level approximately 18,000 years ago, perhaps as much as 300 ft (91 m) below the present shoreline, which exposed vast quantities of sediment that were later transported miles inland by onshore winds (Hunt 1993, p. 16). The more recent dune deposits (i.e., 10,000 to 125,000 years ago) comprise the bulk of the dunes found on Burton Mesa. These newer dunes on Burton Mesa are composed of poorly consolidated to unconsolidated red to yellow sands with a clay-enriched Bhorizon profile; the substratum is generally a dense, cemented sand layer (Hunt 1993, p. 16). This cemented layer may contribute to the water-holding capacity of the soil, which in turn affects the types of plants and vegetation communities observed. Additionally, both the older and newer dune deposits have substrates with significantly higher proportions of fine sands relative to even more recent sand deposits, thus forming a dense soil (Hunt 1993, p. 16). Topsoil in Burton Mesa is uniformly medium sand, but the depth of soil to bedrock varies throughout the mesa, and several soil types are present (Davis et al. 1988, pp. 170–171). The most widespread soils are Marina, Tangair, and Narlon sands; however, other soil types, such as Arnold Sand, Botella Loam, Terrace Escarpments, and Gullied Land, are present on Burton Mesa where Vandenberg monkeyflower grows (Soil Conservation Service 1972). This species appears more closely tied to loose, sandy soil than to a specific soil type. Therefore, because Vandenberg monkeyflower occurs on all soil types listed above, but appears to be more closely associated with loose, sandy soils regardless of the soil type, we identify loose, sandy soils on Burton Mesa as a physical or biological feature for Vandenberg monkeyflower. Contiguous Chaparral Habitat The structure of the chaparral habitat on Burton Mesa is a mosaic of maritime chaparral vegetation (which includes maritime chaparral and maritime chaparral mixed with coastal scrub, oak woodland, and small patches of native grasslands (Wilken and Wardlaw 2010, p. 2)) and sandy openings (canopy gaps) that varies from place to place (see Background—Habitat in the proposed Listing rule, published elsewhere in today’s Federal Register). The invasion of nonnative plants can directly alter the structure of this habitat by displacing native vegetation, including individuals of Vandenberg monkeyflower (see ‘‘Factor A—Invasive, Nonnative Species’’ section in the listing rule published elsewhere in today’s Federal VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:26 Oct 28, 2013 Jkt 232001 PO 00000 Frm 00043 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Register). Fragmentation of the habitat (due to invasive, nonnative plants) has negative effects on rare plant populations (Aguilar et al. 2008, pp. 5177–5186). Therefore, the presence of contiguous chaparral habitat on Burton Mesa is important for population growth of Vandenberg monkeyflower because it provides available habitat for seed dispersal and establishment. Gene flow occurs through movement of seeds and pollen within and between occurrences of Vandenberg monkeyflower. Seeds of this species are small and light in weight and are dispersed primarily by gravity but also by wind and water over relatively short distances (Fraga in litt. 2012; Thompson 2005, p. 130). A small fraction of wind-dispersed seeds, however, may be caught in updrafts and would be expected to travel longer distances (Greene and Johnson 1995, p. 1036). The principal wind direction in all seasons is north-northwest (Bowen and Inman 1966, p. 3; Cooper 1967, pp. 73–74; Hunt 1993, p. 27), which would aid local dispersal of seeds after falling from the parent plant. Long-distance dispersal occurs in numerous ways, including vertebrate dispersal (by adhesion or ingestion), wind dispersal of seeds (in updrafts and storms, or by secondary dispersal over the substrate), wind dispersal of plants (tumble-plant dispersal), and water dispersal (Cain et al. 2000, p. 1218). Landscape fragmentation over time may reduce the ability of seeds to move longer distances (Cain et al. 2000, p. 1223). Contiguous chaparral habitat on Burton Mesa is important for population growth of Vandenberg monkeyflower because it also provides habitat for insect pollinators. Pollinators move pollen from one flower to another predominantly within the same plant population, but they can move pollen to another plant population if it is close enough and the pollinator is capable of carrying the pollen across that distance. Annual Diplacus species have a variety of visitors, including insects, bees, and butterflies. Although no research has been done to determine the effectiveness of various pollinators for Vandenberg monkeyflower (Fraga in litt. 2012), based on observations of other small annual Diplacus species, small solitary bees are likely an important class of pollinator. Therefore, because contiguous chaparral habitat on Burton Mesa provides habitat connectivity that ensures space for seed dispersal and establishment and movement of pollinators, we identify contiguous chaparral habitat as a physical or biological feature for Vandenberg monkeyflower. E:\FR\FM\29OCP1.SGM 29OCP1 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 209 / Tuesday, October 29, 2013 / Proposed Rules Primary Constituent Elements (PCEs) for Vandenberg Monkeyflower Under the Act and its implementing regulations, we are required to identify the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of Vandenberg monkeyflower in areas occupied at the time of listing, focusing on the features’ PCEs. We consider PCEs to be the elements of physical or biological features that provide for a species’ life history processes and, under the appropriate conditions, are essential to the conservation of the species. Based on our current knowledge of the physical or biological features and habitat characteristics required to sustain the species’ life-history processes, we determine that the PCEs specific to Vandenberg monkeyflower are: (1) Native maritime chaparral communities of Burton Mesa comprising maritime chaparral and maritime chaparral mixed with coastal scrub, oak woodland, and small patches of native grasslands. The mosaic structure of the native plant communities (arranged in a mosaic of dominant vegetation and sandy openings (canopy gaps)), may change spatially as a result of succession, and physical processes such as windblown sand and wildfire. (2) Loose sandy soils on Burton Mesa. As mapped by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), these could include the following soil series: Arnold Sand, Marina Sand, Narlon Sand, Tangair Sand, Botella Loam, Terrace Escarpments, and Gullied Land. With this proposed designation of critical habitat, we intend to identify the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the species, through the identification of the features’ PCEs sufficient to support the life-history processes of the species. All units and subunits proposed to be designated as critical habitat are currently occupied by Vandenberg monkeyflower and contain the PCEs. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Special Management Considerations or Protection When designating critical habitat, we assess whether the specific areas within the geographic area occupied by the species at the time of listing contain physical and biological features that are essential to the conservation of the species and that may require special management considerations or protection. All areas proposed as critical habitat will require some level of management to address the current and future threats to the physical and VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:26 Oct 28, 2013 Jkt 232001 biological features essential to the conservation of Vandenberg monkeyflower. In all areas, special management is needed to ensure that the habitat is able to provide for the growth and reproduction of the species. The habitat where Vandenberg monkeyflower occurs faces threats from urban development, maintenance of existing utility pipelines, anthropogenic fire, unauthorized recreational activities, and most substantially the expansion of invasive, nonnative plants (see Factors A and E in the proposed listing rule). Management activities that may reduce these threats include, but are not limited to: (1) Protecting from development lands that provide suitable habitat; (2) minimizing habitat fragmentation; (3) minimizing the spread of invasive, nonnative plants; (4) limiting authorized casual recreational use to existing paths and trails (as opposed to off-trail use that can spread invasive species to unaffected areas); (5) controlled burning; and (6) encouraging habitat restoration. These management activities would limit the impact to the physical or biological features for Vandenberg monkeyflower by decreasing the direct loss of habitat, maintaining the appropriate vegetation structure that provides the sandy openings that are necessary components of Vandenberg monkeyflower habitat, and minimizing invasive, nonnative plants spreading to areas where they currently do not exist. Preserving large areas of contiguous suitable habitat throughout the range of the species should maintain the mosaic structure of the Burton Mesa chaparral that may be present at any given time, and maintain the genetic and demographic diversity of Vandenberg monkeyflower. Criteria Used To Identify Critical Habitat As required by section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we use the best scientific data available to designate critical habitat. We review available information pertaining to the habitat requirements of the species. In accordance with the Act and its implementing regulation at 50 CFR 424.12(e), we consider whether designating additional areas—outside those occupied at the time of listing— are necessary to ensure the conservation of the species. We are proposing to designate critical habitat in areas within the geographic area occupied by Vandenberg monkeyflower at the time of listing and that contain sufficient elements of the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the species. We are not currently proposing to designate any areas outside the geographic area occupied by the PO 00000 Frm 00044 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 64451 species at the time of listing because the area within Burton Mesa that encompasses the extant occurrences would be sufficient for the conservation of the species. We used data from research published in peer-reviewed articles; reports and survey forms prepared for Federal, State, and local agencies and private corporations; site visits; regional Geographic Information Systems (GIS) layers, including soil and land use coverage; and data submitted to the California Natural Diversity Database (CNDDB). We also reviewed available information that pertains to the ecology, life history, and habitat requirements of this species. This material included information and data in peer-reviewed articles, reports of monitoring and habitat characterizations, reports submitted during section 7 consultations, and information received from local experts regarding Burton Mesa or Vandenberg monkeyflower. Determining specific areas that Vandenberg monkeyflower occupies is challenging because areas may be occupied by the species even if no plants appear above ground (i.e., resident seed banks may be present with little or no visible aboveground expression of the species) (see ‘‘Background—Life History’’ section of the listing rule published elsewhere in today’s Federal Register). Additionally, depending upon the climate and other annual variations in habitat conditions, the observed distribution of the species may shrink, temporarily disappear, or enlarge to encompass more locations on Burton Mesa. Because Vandenberg monkeyflower occurs in sandy soils within canopy gaps, and plant communities may undergo changes in which the gaps may shift spatially over time, the degree of cover that is provided by a vegetation type may favor the presence of Vandenberg monkeyflower or not. Furthermore, the way the current distribution of Vandenberg monkeyflower is mapped by the various agencies, organizations, or surveyors has varied depending on the scale at which occurrences of individuals were recorded (such as many small occurrences versus one large occurrence). Therefore, we considered areas as occupied where suitable habitat is present and contiguous with an extant occurrence of Vandenberg monkeyflower, but which may not currently contain aboveground individuals. We used a multistep process to delineate critical habitat boundaries. (1) Using Burton Mesa as a palette, we placed a minimum convex polygon around all nine extant occurrences and E:\FR\FM\29OCP1.SGM 29OCP1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 64452 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 209 / Tuesday, October 29, 2013 / Proposed Rules one potentially extirpated occurrence (Lower Santa Lucia Canyon) of Vandenberg monkeyflower based on CNDDB and herbarium records, as well as survey information not yet formalized in a database. This resulted in a data layer of Vandenberg monkeyflower’s current and historical range on Burton Mesa (see ‘‘Distribution of Vandenberg Monkeyflower’’ section of the proposed listing rule published elsewhere in today’s Federal Register). We eliminated the 1931 occurrence that was identified approximately 5 mi (8 km) downwind and to the east in the Santa Rita Valley because there is no suitable habitat remaining at this site; thus, we consider this occurrence to be extirpated (see ‘‘Historical Locations’’ section in the proposed listing rule published elsewhere in today’s Federal Register). (2) We used GIS to overlay soil data (NRCS) across Burton Mesa, not excluding any soil types at this time because Vandenberg monkeyflower appears to be tied more closely to loose sandy soil than to a specific soil type. Therefore, to define suitable sandy soil where Vandenberg monkeyflower may occur, we included all soil types where the species is currently extant. These soil types include Arnold Sand, Marina Sand, Narlon Sand, Tangair Sand, Botella Loam, Terrace Escarpments, and Gullied Land. Additionally, we did not remove areas that comprise a small percentage of a different soil type if it was within a larger polygon of a suitable soil type because these areas were below the mapping resolution of the NRCS soil data we utilized. (3) We expanded the distance from each extant occurrence and one potentially extirpated occurrence up to 1 mi (1.6 km) beyond the known outer edge of each occurrence of Vandenberg monkeyflower for the following reasons: (a) We sought to maintain connectivity between occurrences of Vandenberg monkeyflower because seeds are primarily dispersed by gravity, along with wind, water, and small mammals. Habitat connectivity, especially canopy gaps where the species occurs, provides the necessary space needed for reproduction, dispersal, and individual and population growth (see ‘‘Physical and Biological Features’’ section above). (b) A 1-mi (1.6-km) distance from each extant occurrence provides space for pollinator habitat. Vandenberg monkeyflower has a mixed mating system, and is dependent on pollinators to achieve seed production (see ‘‘Life History’’ section of the proposed listing rule published elsewhere in today’s Federal Register). We used general VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:26 Oct 28, 2013 Jkt 232001 pollinator travel distances described in the literature to help determine a distance that would capture pollinator habitat most representative of invertebrate species that visit annual Diplacus flowers. Typically, pollinators fly distances that are in proportion to their body sizes, with larger pollinators flying longer distances (Greenleaf et al. 2007, pp. 593–596). Therefore, if a pollinator can fly long distances, pollen transfer is also possible across these distances. Pollinators often focus on small, nearby areas where floral resources are abundant; however, occasional longer distance pollination may occur. Studies by Steffan-Dewenter and Tscharntke (2000, pp. 288–296) demonstrated that it is possible for bees to fly as far as 3,280 ft (1,000 m) to pollinate flowers. Walther-Hellwig and Frankl (2000, p. 303) showed Bombus terrestris (bumblebee) foraging distances from 0.93 to 1.1 mi (1.5 to 1.8 km). Heinrich (1979, pp. 109–122) assumed that Bombus species forage flights of 3.1 mi (5 km) could be effective, if the foraging habitats visited are more rewarding than others close by. Bumblebees, however, are not a likely pollinator of Vandenberg monkeyflower. Based on observations of other small annual Diplacus species, small solitary bees, which have shorter foraging distances than wild social bees such as bumblebees, are likely an important class of pollinator; therefore, we are using shorter foraging distances of the smaller solitary bees. See additional discussion in this section under (d) below for a rationale of why other distance values are inappropriate. (c) Providing a critical habitat boundary that is 1 mi (1.6 km) from the nine extant occurrences and one potentially extirpated occurrence of Vandenberg monkeyflower captures most of the remaining native vegetation on Burton Mesa, from east of the developed area on Vandenberg AFB through La Purisima Mission SHP (see ‘‘Distribution of Vandenberg Monkeyflower’’ section of proposed listing rule). In some instances, we expanded critical habitat farther than 1 mi (1.6 km) if the PCEs were contiguously present up-canyon. Expanding the boundary to 1 mi (1.6 km) created larger and contiguous blocks of suitable habitat, which have the highest likelihood of persisting through the environmental extremes that characterize California’s climate, and of retaining the genetic variability to withstand future stressors (such as invasive, nonnative species or climate change). Additionally, contiguous blocks of habitat maintain connectivity, PO 00000 Frm 00045 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 which is important because habitat fragmentation can result in loss of genetic variation (Young et al. 1996, pp. 413–417), have negative effects on biological populations (especially rare plants), and affect survival and recovery (Aguilar et al. 2008, pp. 5177–5186). Furthermore, fragmentation has been shown to disrupt plant-pollinator interactions and predator-prey interactions (Steffan-Dewenter and Tscharntke 1999, p. 437), alter seed germination percentages (Menges 1991, pp. 158–164), and result in low fruit set (Jennerston 1988, pp. 359–366; Cunningham 2000, pp. 1149–1152). Fragments are often not of sufficient size to support the natural diversity prevalent in an area and thus exhibit a decline in biodiversity (Noss and Cooperrider 1994, pp. 50–54). (d) We considered a critical habitat boundary at a distance of 0.5 mi (0.8 km) from the nine extant locations and one potentially extirpated location. This shorter distance, however, did not maintain connectivity of occurrences, did not encompass the remaining native vegetation of Burton Mesa, and did not represent a sufficient distance to encompass long-distance seed dispersal or the distance that pollinators may travel. Except as described above in (c), we did not consider any distance larger than 1 mi (1.6 km) because the 1-mile distance captures the remaining native vegetation and the distribution of Vandenberg monkeyflower, and any distance greater than 1 mi (1.6 km) also captured habitat that is not suitable for this species. Therefore, the areas within our critical habitat boundaries include the range of plant communities and soil types in which Vandenberg monkeyflower is found, maintain connectivity of occurrences, and provide for the sandy openings mixed within the dominant vegetation. The delineated critical habitat contains the elements of physical and biological features that are essential to the conservation of the species. We did not include agricultural areas because, while the underlying dune sheet may be present depending on the land use practices, the topsoil would most likely not consist of loose sandy soil and the associated vegetation community would not exist. A few smaller agriculture and grazing plots exist within the Burton Mesa Ecological Reserve, but agricultural lands mostly occur to the south and east of the Reserve and La Purisima Mission SHP. When determining proposed critical habitat boundaries, we made every effort to avoid including developed areas such as lands covered by buildings, pavement, and other E:\FR\FM\29OCP1.SGM 29OCP1 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 209 / Tuesday, October 29, 2013 / Proposed Rules structures because such lands lack physical or biological features necessary for Vandenberg monkeyflower. The scale of the maps we prepared under the parameters for publication within the Code of Federal Regulations may not reflect the exclusion of such developed lands. Any such lands inadvertently left inside critical habitat boundaries shown on the maps of this proposed rule have been excluded by text in the proposed rule and are not proposed for designation as critical habitat. Therefore, if the critical habitat is finalized as proposed, a Federal action involving these lands would not trigger section 7 consultation with respect to critical habitat and the requirement of no adverse modification unless the specific action would affect the physical or biological features in the adjacent critical habitat. We are proposing to designate critical habitat on lands that we have determined are within the geographical area occupied by the species at the time of listing (occupied at the time of listing) and contain the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the species and which may require special management considerations or protection. One unit (including four subunits) is proposed for designation based on sufficient elements of physical or biological features being present to support Vandenberg monkeyflower lifehistory processes. All of the subunits contain all of the identified elements of physical or biological features and support multiple life-history processes. The critical habitat designation is defined by the map or maps, as modified by any accompanying regulatory text, presented at the end of this document in the rule portion. We include more detailed information on the boundaries of the critical habitat designation in the unit descriptions section of this document. We will make the coordinates or plot points or both on which each map is based available to the public on http:// www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS–R8–ES–2013–0049, on our Internet site http://www.fws.gov/ ventura/, and at the field office responsible for the designation (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT above). 64453 Proposed Critical Habitat Designation We are proposing one unit consisting of four subunits as critical habitat for Vandenberg monkeyflower. The critical habitat areas we describe below constitute our best assessment of areas that meet the definition of critical habitat for Vandenberg monkeyflower. The unit we propose as critical habitat is Burton Mesa, which contains four subunits: (1) Vandenberg, (2) Santa Lucia, (3) Encina, and (4) La Purisima (see Table 1 below). The critical habitat areas described below are within the geographical area occupied by the species at the time of listing, contain the physical and biological features essential to the conservation of the species, and may require special management considerations or protections. We are not proposing to designate any critical habitat in areas outside the geographical area occupied by the species at the time of listing. Table 1 includes the approximate area included within each proposed critical habitat subunit. TABLE 1—PROPOSED CRITICAL HABITAT SUBUNITS FOR VANDENBERG MONKEYFLOWER [Area estimates reflect all land within critical habitat unit boundaries] Critical habitat unit Area proposed for critical habitat in acres (hectares) Land ownership by type Burton Mesa Unit: 1. Vandenberg Subunit .................................... 2. Santa Lucia Subunit .................................... Federal ................................................................... State ....................................................................... Local Agency .......................................................... Private .................................................................... State ....................................................................... Local Agency .......................................................... Private .................................................................... State ....................................................................... Local Agency .......................................................... Private .................................................................... 277 (112) 1,422 (576) 10 (4) 52 (21) 1,460 (591) 24 (10) 516 (209) 1,792 (725) 4 (2) 228 (92) Subtotals ................................................... Federal ................................................................... State ....................................................................... Local Agency .......................................................... Private .................................................................... 277 (112) 4,674 (1,892) 38 (16) 796 (322) Total 1 ................................................ ................................................................................. 5,785 (2,341) Total size of unit in acres (hectares) 3. Encina Subunit ............................................ 4. La Purisima Subunit .................................... 277 (112) 1,484 (601) 2,000 (810) 2,024 (819) 5,785 (2,341) mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Note: Area sizes may not sum due to rounding. 1 This total does not include 4,159 ac (1,683 ha) of lands within Vandenberg AFB that were identified as areas that meet the definition of critical habitat but are exempt from critical habitat designation under section 4(a)(3)(B) of the Act (see Exemptions section below). We present brief descriptions of the Burton Mesa Unit and the four subunits, and reasons why they meet the definition of critical habitat for Vandenberg monkeyflower below. Burton Mesa Unit The Burton Mesa Unit contains most of the remaining native maritime VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:24 Oct 28, 2013 Jkt 232001 chaparral vegetation on Burton Mesa, roughly from the eastern boundary of Vandenberg AFB; to the eastern boundary of La Purisima Mission SHP; to the Purisima Hills in the north; and to the agricultural fields south of the Burton Mesa Ecological Reserve and north of the Santa Ynez River. The vegetation is structured in a mosaic that PO 00000 Frm 00046 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 contains canopy gaps mixed with dominant woody and herbaceous vegetation (PCE 1), and the unit contains the loose, sandy soils on which Vandenberg monkeyflower occurs (PCE 2). Therefore, the Burton Mesa Unit provides all of the basic requirements for Vandenberg monkeyflower individual and population growth and E:\FR\FM\29OCP1.SGM 29OCP1 64454 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 209 / Tuesday, October 29, 2013 / Proposed Rules mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS contains the physical and biological features essential to the conservation of the species. The Burton Mesa Unit is within the geographical area occupied at the time of listing and is comprised of the four subunits described below. Subunit 1: Vandenberg Subunit Subunit 1 is within the geographical area occupied by Vandenberg monkeyflower at the time of listing and consists of 277 ac (112 ha). Subunit 1 is located adjacent to and between two extant occurrences (Oak Canyon and Pine Canyon, which are located on Vandenberg AFB) and is known to support suitable habitat for Vandenberg monkeyflower. Although Vandenberg monkeyflower plants have not yet been documented within this subunit, the area harbors the PCEs, and is contiguous with and between Vandenberg AFB lands that are known to be occupied; thus, this area within the proposed subunit (and the adjacent, contiguous land on Vandenberg AFB) is considered to be within the geographical area occupied by the species at the time of listing. The adjacent land on Vandenberg AFB is essential to the conservation of the species; however, we are not proposing to designate Vandenberg AFB as critical habitat within this subunit because we have exempted Vandenberg AFB from critical habitat designation under section 4(a)(3)(B) of the Act (see Exemptions section below). Therefore, subunit 1 is composed entirely of Federal land (100 percent) exclusively owned and managed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and which contains the U.S. Bureau of Prisons Federal Penitentiary Complex at Lompoc (Lompoc Penitentiary). The subunit consists of the westernmost portion of DOJ lands, from the Vandenberg AFB boundary line to roughly the bottom slope of Santa Lucia Canyon. Subunit 1 contains the appropriate vegetation structure of contiguous chaparral habitat with canopy gaps (PCE 1) and loose, sandy soils (PCE 2) that support Vandenberg monkeyflower. Subunit 1 provides connectivity of habitat between occurrences, habitat for pollinators, and space for establishment of new plants from seeds that are dispersed from adjacent extant occurrences of Vandenberg monkeyflower. The features essential to the conservation of the species may require special management considerations or protection due to threats from invasion of nonnative plants. Ground disturbance within this subunit could remove suitable habitat and create additional openings for nonnative plants to invade and degrade the quality of the habitat. VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:26 Oct 28, 2013 Jkt 232001 Subunit 2: Santa Lucia Subunit Subunit 2 is within the geographical area occupied by Vandenberg monkeyflower at the time of listing, is currently occupied by the species, and consists of 1,484 ac (601 ha). This subunit includes State lands (96 percent) within Burton Mesa Ecological Reserve, relatively small portions of local agency lands (for example, school districts, water districts, community services districts) (less than 1 percent) and private lands (3 percent). Subunit 2 contains the appropriate vegetation structure of contiguous chaparral habitat with canopy gaps (PCE 1) and loose, sandy soils (PCE 2) that support Vandenberg monkeyflower. The eastern boundary of Vandenberg AFB delineates the western boundary of this subunit. Subunit 2 includes most of the Vandenberg and Santa Lucia Management Units of the Reserve. Subunit 2 extends from Purisima Hills at the northern extent through the width of Burton Mesa to the agricultural lands south of the Reserve, and to the eastern boundary of the Vandenberg and Santa Lucia Management Units where these units abut Vandenberg Village. Subunit 2 supports one extant occurrence (Volans Avenue) and one potentially extirpated occurrence (Lower Santa Lucia Canyon) of Vandenberg monkeyflower. Between 2006 and 2011, the Volans Avenue occurrence has consisted of no more than 25 individuals; the potentially extirpated occurrence was last observed in 1985 (see the ‘‘Distribution of Vandenberg Monkeyflower—Historical Locations’’ section of the proposed listing rule published elsewhere in today’s Federal Register). Subunit 2 provides connectivity of habitat between occurrences within this subunit, habitat for pollinators, space for establishment of seeds blown from upwind seed sources, and space for establishment of new plants from seeds that are dispersed from existing Vandenberg monkeyflower plants within the subunit. The features essential to the conservation of the species may require special management considerations or protection due to threats from invasion of nonnative plants, and activities such as utility maintenance, and ORV and casual recreational uses. These activities could remove suitable habitat and Vandenberg monkeyflower individuals, and create additional openings for nonnative plants to invade and degrade the quality of the habitat. We are considering to exclude from the Santa Lucia Subunit approximately 1,422 ac (576 ha) of lands within the Burton PO 00000 Frm 00047 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Mesa Ecological Reserve pursuant to section 4(b)(2) of the Act (see Exclusions section below). Subunit 3: Encina Subunit Subunit 3 is within the geographical area occupied by Vandenberg monkeyflower at the time of listing and consists of 2,000 ac (809 ha). This subunit contains State-owned lands (73 percent), including most of the Encina Management Unit of the Burton Mesa Ecological Reserve, local agency lands (1.2 percent), and privately owned lands such as areas adjacent to the Clubhouse Estates residential development (26 percent) (see Table 1 above). Subunit 3 contains the appropriate vegetation structure of contiguous chaparral habitat with canopy gaps (PCE 1) and loose, sandy soils (PCE 2) that support Vandenberg monkeyflower. Subunit 3 extends from approximately the Purisima Hills to the north, through the Reserve and to the agricultural lands just south of the Reserve boundary, and is between Vandenberg Village and State Route 1 to the east and the residential communities of Mesa Oaks and Mission Hills to the west. Subunit 3 supports two extant occurrences of Vandenberg monkeyflower (Clubhouse Estates and Davis Creek). Between 2006 and 2011, hundreds of individuals have been observed on more than one occasion at each of these occurrences (see ‘‘Current Status of Vandenberg Monkeyflower’’ section of the proposed listing rule published elsewhere in today’s Federal Register). Subunit 3 provides connectivity of habitat between occurrences within this subunit, habitat for pollinators, space for establishment of seeds blown from upwind seed sources, and space for establishment of new plants from seeds that are dispersed from existing Vandenberg monkeyflower plants within the subunit. The features essential to the conservation of the species may require special management considerations or protection due to threats from invasion of nonnative plants, development, utility maintenance, and OHV and casual recreational uses. These activities could remove suitable habitat and Vandenberg monkeyflower individuals, result in trampling of individual plants, and create additional openings for nonnatives to invade and degrade the quality of the habitat. We are considering to exclude from the Encina Subunit approximately 1,460 ac (591 ha) of lands within the Burton Mesa Ecological Reserve (see Exclusions section below) pursuant to section 4(b)(2) of the Act. E:\FR\FM\29OCP1.SGM 29OCP1 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 209 / Tuesday, October 29, 2013 / Proposed Rules mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Subunit 4: La Purisima Subunit Effects of Critical Habitat Designation Subunit 4 is within the geographical area occupied by Vandenberg monkeyflower at the time of listing and consists of 2,024 ac (819 ha). Subunit 4 contains mostly State-owned lands (89 percent) consisting of most of La Purisima Mission SHP and a small portion of the La Purisima Management Unit of the Burton Mesa Ecological Reserve that is north of La Purisima Mission SHP. This subunit also contains private land to the east of La Purisima Mission SHP (11 percent), and a small portion of local agency lands (less than 1 percent) (see Table 1 above). Subunit 4 contains the appropriate vegetation structure of contiguous chaparral habitat with canopy gaps (PCE 1) and loose, sandy soils (PCE 2) that support Vandenberg monkeyflower. This subunit extends approximately from the Purisima Hills in the north to the southern boundary of La Purisima Mission SHP, and between the residential communities of Mesa Oaks and Mission Hills to the west and to just east of, and outside, the State Park’s eastern boundary. Subunit 4 supports two extant occurrences of Vandenberg monkeyflower in La Purisima Mission SHP (La Purisima East and La Purisima West). Between 2006 and 2011, more than 2,000 individuals of Vandenberg monkeyflower have been observed among the sites on both the east and west side of Purisima Canyon (see ‘‘Current Status of Vandenberg Monkeyflower’’ section of the proposed listing rule published elsewhere in today’s Federal Register). This subunit provides connectivity of habitat between occurrences within this subunit, habitat for pollinators, space for establishment of seeds blown from upwind seed sources, and space for establishment of new plants from seeds that are dispersed from existing Vandenberg monkeyflower plants within the subunit. The features essential to the conservation of the species may require special management considerations or protection due to threats from invasion of nonnative plants that could reduce the amount and quality of suitable habitat. We are considering to exclude from the La Purisima Subunit approximately 1,792 ac (725 ha) of State lands—250 ac (101 ha) of Reserve lands managed by California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and 1,542 ac (624 ha) of La Purisima Mission SHP lands managed by California State Parks (see Exclusions section below) pursuant to section 4(b)(2) of the Act. Section 7 Consultation VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:26 Oct 28, 2013 Jkt 232001 Section 7(a)(2) of the Act requires Federal agencies, including the Service, to ensure that any action they fund, authorize, or carry out is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered species or threatened species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of designated critical habitat of such species. In addition, section 7(a)(4) of the Act requires Federal agencies to confer with the Service on any agency action which is likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any species proposed to be listed under the Act or result in the destruction or adverse modification of proposed critical habitat. Decisions by the 5th and 9th Circuit Courts of Appeals have invalidated our regulatory definition of ‘‘destruction or adverse modification’’ (50 CFR 402.02) (see Gifford Pinchot Task Force v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 378 F. 3d 1059 (9th Cir. 2004) and Sierra Club v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service et al., 245 F.3d 434, 442 (5th Cir. 2001)), and we do not rely on this regulatory definition when analyzing whether an action is likely to destroy or adversely modify critical habitat. Under the statutory provisions of the Act, we determine destruction or adverse modification on the basis of whether, with implementation of the proposed Federal action, the affected critical habitat would continue to serve its intended conservation role for the species. If a Federal action may affect a listed species or its critical habitat, the responsible Federal agency (action agency) must enter into consultation with us. Examples of actions that are subject to the section 7 consultation process are actions on State, tribal, local, or private lands that require a Federal permit (such as a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers under section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.) or a permit from the Service under section 10 of the Act) or that involve some other Federal action (such as funding from the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Aviation Administration, or the Federal Emergency Management Agency). Federal actions not affecting listed species or critical habitat, and actions on State, tribal, local, or private lands that are not federally funded or authorized, do not require section 7 consultation. As a result of section 7 consultation, we document compliance with the requirements of section 7(a)(2) through our issuance of: PO 00000 Frm 00048 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 64455 (1) A concurrence letter for Federal actions that may affect, but are not likely to adversely affect, listed species or critical habitat; or (2) A biological opinion for Federal actions that may affect, or are likely to adversely affect, listed species or critical habitat. When we issue a biological opinion concluding that a project is likely to jeopardize the continued existence of a listed species or destroy or adversely modify critical habitat, we provide reasonable and prudent alternatives to the project, if any are identifiable, that would avoid the likelihood of jeopardy and/or destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat. We define ‘‘reasonable and prudent alternatives’’ (at 50 CFR 402.02) as alternative actions identified during consultation that: (1) Can be implemented in a manner consistent with the intended purpose of the action, (2) Can be implemented consistent with the scope of the Federal agency’s legal authority and jurisdiction, (3) Are economically and technologically feasible, and (4) Would, in the Director’s opinion, avoid the likelihood of jeopardizing the continued existence of the listed species and/or avoid the likelihood of destroying or adversely modifying critical habitat. Reasonable and prudent alternatives can vary from slight project modifications to extensive redesign or relocation of the project. Costs associated with implementing a reasonable and prudent alternative are similarly variable. Regulations at 50 CFR 402.16 require Federal agencies to reinitiate consultation on previously reviewed actions in instances where we have listed a new species or subsequently designated critical habitat that may be affected and the Federal agency has retained discretionary involvement or control over the action (or the agency’s discretionary involvement or control is authorized by law). Consequently, Federal agencies sometimes may need to request reinitiation of consultation with us on actions for which formal consultation has been completed, if those actions with discretionary involvement or control may affect subsequently listed species or designated critical habitat. Application of the ‘‘Adverse Modification’’ Standard The key factor related to the adverse modification determination is whether, with implementation of the proposed Federal action, the affected critical E:\FR\FM\29OCP1.SGM 29OCP1 64456 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 209 / Tuesday, October 29, 2013 / Proposed Rules habitat would continue to serve its intended conservation role for the species. Activities that may destroy or adversely modify critical habitat are those that alter the physical or biological features to an extent that appreciably reduces the conservation value of critical habitat for Vandenberg monkeyflower. As discussed above, the role of critical habitat is to support lifehistory needs of the species and provide for the conservation of the species. Section 4(b)(8) of the Act requires us to briefly evaluate and describe, in any proposed or final regulation that designates critical habitat, activities involving a Federal action that may destroy or adversely modify such habitat, or that may be affected by such designation. Activities that may affect critical habitat, when carried out, funded, or authorized by a Federal agency, should result in consultation for Vandenberg monkeyflower. These activities include, but are not limited to: (1) Actions that would lead to the destruction or alteration of Vandenberg monkeyflower habitat. Such activities could include, but are not limited to, development, road and utility repairs and maintenance, anthropogenic fires, and some casual recreational uses. These activities could lead to loss of habitat; removal of the seed bank; introduction and proliferation of invasive, nonnative plants; reduction of pollinators; and habitat fragmentation. (2) Actions that create ground disturbance and would lead to significant invasive, nonnative plant competition. Such activities could include, but are not limited to, any activity that results in ground disturbance and creates additional open areas for invasive, nonnative plants to invade Vandenberg monkeyflower habitat. Invasive, nonnative plants quickly establish in disturbed areas and outcompete native vegetation, including Vandenberg monkeyflower in the sandy openings (see Factor A—Invasive, Nonnative Species in the proposed listing rule). Exemptions mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Application of Section 4(a)(3)(B) of the Act The Sikes Act Improvement Act of 1997 (Sikes Act) (16 U.S.C. 670a) required each military installation that includes land and water suitable for the conservation and management of natural resources to complete an integrated natural resource management plan (INRMP) by November 17, 2001. An INRMP integrates implementation of the military mission of the installation VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:26 Oct 28, 2013 Jkt 232001 with stewardship of the natural resources found on the base. Each INRMP includes: (1) An assessment of the ecological needs on the installation, including the need to provide for the conservation of listed species; (2) A statement of goals and priorities; (3) A detailed description of management actions to be implemented to provide for these ecological needs; and (4) A monitoring and adaptive management plan. Among other things, each INRMP must, to the extent appropriate and applicable, provide for fish and wildlife management; fish and wildlife habitat enhancement or modification; wetland protection, enhancement, and restoration where necessary to support fish and wildlife; and enforcement of applicable natural resource laws. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004 (Pub. L. 108– 136) amended the Act to limit areas eligible for designation as critical habitat. Specifically, section 4(a)(3)(B)(i) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533(a)(3)(B)(i)) now provides: ‘‘The Secretary shall not designate as critical habitat any lands or other geographic areas owned or controlled by the Department of Defense, or designated for its use, that are subject to an integrated natural resources management plan prepared under section 101 of the Sikes Act (16 U.S.C. 670a), if the Secretary determines in writing that such plan provides a benefit to the species for which critical habitat is proposed for designation.’’ We consult with the military on the development and implementation of INRMPs for installations with listed species. We analyzed INRMPs developed by military installations located within the range of the proposed critical habitat designation for Vandenberg monkeyflower to determine if they are exempt under section 4(a)(3) of the Act. Vandenberg AFB is the only Department of Defense land with a completed, Service-approved INRMP within the proposed critical habitat designation. Approved INRMPs—Vandenberg Air Force Base (Vandenberg AFB) Vandenberg AFB has a Serviceapproved INRMP. The U.S. Air Force (on Vandenberg AFB) committed to working closely with us and CDFW to continually refine the existing INRMP as part of the Sikes Act’s INRMP review process. Based on our review of the INRMP for this military installation, and in accordance with section 4(a)(3)(B)(i) of the Act, we have determined that certain lands within this installation PO 00000 Frm 00049 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 meet the definition of critical habitat, and that conservation efforts identified in this INRMP, as modified by the 2012 Addendum, will provide a benefit to Vandenberg monkeyflower (see the following sections that detail this determination for the installation). Therefore, lands within this installation are exempt from critical habitat designation under section 4(a)(3)(B) of the Act. In summary, we are not including as proposed critical habitat approximately 4,159 ac (1,683 ha) on Vandenberg AFB that meet the definition of critical habitat but are exempt from designation under section 4(a)(3)(B) of the Act. Vandenberg Air Force Base Vandenberg AFB is headquarters for the 30th Space Wing, the Air Force’s Space Command unit that operates Vandenberg AFB and the Western Test Range and Pacific Missile Range. Vandenberg AFB operates as an aerospace center supporting west coast launch activities for the Air Force, Department of Defense, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and commercial contractors. The three primary operational missions of Vandenberg AFB are to launch, place, and track satellites in near-polar orbit; to test and evaluate the Intercontinental ballistic missile systems; and to support aircraft operations in the western range. Vandenberg AFB lies on the southcentral California coast, approximately 275 mi (442 km) south of San Francisco, 140 mi (225 km) northwest of Los Angeles, and 55 mi (88 km) northwest of Santa Barbara. The 99,100-ac (40,104ha) base extends along approximately 42 mi (67 km) of Santa Barbara County coast, and varies in width from 5 to 15 mi (8 to 24 km). The Vandenberg AFB INRMP was prepared to provide strategic direction to ecosystem and natural resources management on the Base. The long-term goal of the INRMP is to integrate all management activities in a manner that sustains, promotes, and restores the health and integrity of ecosystems using an adaptive management approach. The INRMP was designed to: (1) Summarize existing management plans and natural resources literature pertaining to Vandenberg AFB, (2) identify and analyze management goals in existing plans, (3) integrate the management goals and objectives of individual plans, (4) support Base compliance with applicable regulatory requirements, (5) support the integration of natural resource stewardship with the Air Force mission, and (6) provide direction for monitoring strategies. E:\FR\FM\29OCP1.SGM 29OCP1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 209 / Tuesday, October 29, 2013 / Proposed Rules Vandenberg AFB completed an INRMP in May 2011 (Air Force 2011c). The INRMP includes chapters that identify invasive, nonnative plants on the Base as well as step-down goals for the management of threatened and endangered species on the Base. However, since Vandenberg monkeyflower was not a listed species at that time, specific goals for this plant were not included. In 2012, the Air Force approved an addendum to the May 2011 INRMP that addresses specific goals for Vandenberg monkeyfower (Air Force 2012). Management considerations that provide a conservation benefit to Vandenberg monkeyflower in the addendum are: (1) Avoiding Vandenberg monkeyflower and its habitat to the maximum extent practicable by relocating and redesigning proposed projects, and using biological monitors during project activities. (2) Conducting nonnative species control efforts that target veldt grass across Vandenberg AFB. The Air Force has programmed more than $500,000 to treat veldt grass, with funding that started in 2009 and would continue through 2019. (3) Training Base personnel in the identification of sensitive species and their habitats, including Vandenberg monkeyflower, prior to implementing nonnative species control actions. (4) Implementing a fire response program, such as a Burned Area Emergency Response project, which includes post-fire monitoring, habitat restoration, erosion control, and nonnative species management. (5) Developing a controlled burning program that would include portions of Vandenberg monkeyflower habitat. (6) Conducting habitat and threat assessments to help decide the best approach for restoration actions. (7) Periodic surveys of Vandenberg monkeyflower populations on the Base. Vandenberg AFB supports four extant occurrences of Vandenberg monkeyflower located in Oak, Pine, Lakes, and Santa Lucia Canyons. Between 2006 and 2011, these four locations contained multiple occurrences; in 2010 specifically, more than 5,000 individuals were observed amongst all occurrences (see ‘‘Occurrences Located on Vandenberg AFB’’ section of the proposed listing rule published elsewhere in today’s Federal Register). Vandenberg AFB provides approximately half of the available suitable habitat (Burton Mesa chaparral) for Vandenberg monkeyflower and has four out of nine extant occurrences. However, based on VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:26 Oct 28, 2013 Jkt 232001 the considerations above, and in accordance with section 4(a)(3)(B)(i) of the Act, we have determined that the identified lands are subject to the Vandenberg AFB INRMP and addendum, and the conservation efforts identified in the INRMP addendum will provide a conservation benefit to Vandenberg monkeyflower. Therefore, lands within this installation are exempt from critical habitat designation under section 4(a)(3) of the Act. We are not including approximately 4,159 ac (1,683 ha) of habitat in this proposed critical habitat designation because of this exemption. Exclusions Application of Section 4(b)(2) of the Act Section 4(b)(2) of the Act states that the Secretary shall designate and make revisions to critical habitat on the basis of the best available scientific data after taking into consideration the economic impact, national security impact, and any other relevant impact of specifying any particular area as critical habitat. The Secretary may exclude an area from critical habitat if she determines that the benefits of such exclusion outweigh the benefits of specifying such area as part of the critical habitat, unless she determines, based on the best scientific data available, that the failure to designate such area as critical habitat will result in the extinction of the species. In making that determination, the statute on its face, as well as the legislative history, are clear that the Secretary has broad discretion regarding which factor(s) to use and how much weight to give to any factor. In considering whether to exclude a particular area from the designation, we identify the benefits of including the area in the designation, identify the benefits of excluding the area from the designation, and evaluate whether the benefits of exclusion outweigh the benefits of inclusion. If the analysis indicates that the benefits of exclusion outweigh the benefits of inclusion, the Secretary may exercise her discretion to exclude the area only if such exclusion would not result in the extinction of the species. When identifying the benefits of inclusion for an area, we consider the additional regulatory benefits that area would receive from the protection from adverse modification or destruction as a result of actions with a Federal nexus; the educational benefits of mapping essential habitat for recovery of the listed species; and any benefits that may result from a designation due to State or Federal laws that may apply to critical habitat. PO 00000 Frm 00050 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 64457 When identifying the benefits of exclusion, we consider, among other things, whether exclusion of a specific area is likely to result in conservation; the continuation, strengthening, or encouragement of partnerships; or implementation of a management plan that provides equal to or more conservation than a critical habitat designation would provide. In the case of Vandenberg monkeyflower, the benefits of critical habitat include public awareness of the presence of Vandenberg monkeyflower, the importance of habitat protection, and in cases where a Federal nexus exists, the potential increased habitat protection for Vandenberg monkeyflower due to the protection from adverse modification or destruction of critical habitat. When we evaluate the existence of a conservation plan (or similar management plan) when considering the benefits of exclusion, we consider a variety of factors, including but not limited to, whether the plan is finalized, how it provides for the conservation of the essential physical or biological features, whether there is a reasonable expectation that the conservation management strategies and actions contained in a management plan will be implemented into the future, whether the conservation strategies in the plan are likely to be effective, and whether the plan contains a monitoring program or adaptive management to ensure that the conservation measures are effective and can be adapted in the future in response to new information. After identifying the benefits of inclusion and the benefits of exclusion, we carefully weigh the two sides to evaluate whether the benefits of exclusion outweigh those of inclusion. If our analysis indicates that the benefits of exclusion outweigh the benefits of inclusion, we then determine whether exclusion would result in extinction. If exclusion of an area from critical habitat will result in extinction, we will not exclude it from the designation. Based on the information provided by entities seeking exclusion, as well as any additional public comments received, we will evaluate whether certain lands in the proposed critical habitat Subunits 2, 3, and 4 are appropriate for exclusion from the final designation pursuant to section 4(b)(2) of the Act. If the analysis indicates that the benefits of excluding lands from the final designation outweigh the benefits of designating those lands as critical habitat, then the Secretary may exercise her discretion to exclude the lands from the final designation. E:\FR\FM\29OCP1.SGM 29OCP1 64458 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 209 / Tuesday, October 29, 2013 / Proposed Rules After considering the following areas under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we are considering excluding them from the critical habitat designation for Vandenberg monkeyflower. These areas include lands proposed for critical habitat within the Burton Mesa Ecological Reserve (including a portion of lands in Subunit 2—Santa Lucia, a portion of lands in Subunit 3—Encina, and a portion of lands in Subunit 4—La Purisima) and lands proposed for critical habitat within La Purisima Mission SHP (a portion of lands in Subunit 4—La Purisima). Table 2 below provides approximate areas (ac, ha) of these lands that meet the definition of critical habitat and are under our consideration for possible exclusion under section 4(b)(2) of the Act. TABLE 2—AREAS CONSIDERED FOR EXCLUSION BY CRITICAL HABITAT UNIT Subunit Specific area Areas meeting the definition of critical habitat in acres (hectares) Areas considered for exclusion in acres (hectares) Subunit 2—Santa Lucia .......................................... Subunit 3—Encina .................................................. Subunit 4—La Purisima .......................................... Burton Mesa Ecological Reserve ........................... Burton Mesa Ecological Reserve ........................... La Purisima Mission SHP ...................................... Burton Mesa Ecological Reserve ........................... 1,484 (601) 2,000 (810) 2,024 (819) .............................. 1,422 1,460 1,542 250 Total ................................................................. ................................................................................. 5,508 (2,230) designation of critical habitat for the species are not owned or managed by the Department of Defense or Department of Homeland Security, and, therefore, we anticipate no impact on national security. Exclusions Based on Economic Impacts Under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we consider the economic impacts of specifying any particular area as critical habitat. In order to consider economic impacts, we are preparing an analysis of the economic impacts of the proposed critical habitat designation and related factors. The critical habitat subunits, as proposed, include Federal lands under the jurisdiction of the Department of Justice for the Lompoc Penitentiary, State lands with recreational uses, and private lands. During the development of a final designation, we will consider economic impacts based on information in our economic analysis, public comments, and other new information, and areas may be excluded from the final critical habitat designation under section 4(b)(2) of the Act and our implementing regulations at 50 CFR 424.19. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS However, we specifically solicit comments on the inclusion or exclusion of these areas. In the paragraphs below, we provide a detailed analysis of our consideration to exclude these lands under section 4(b)(2) of the Act. Exclusions Based on Other Relevant Impacts Under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we consider any other relevant impacts in addition to economic impacts and impacts on national security. We consider a number of factors, including whether the landowners have developed any HCPs or other management plans for the area, or whether there are conservation partnerships that would be encouraged by designation of, or exclusion from, critical habitat. In addition, we look at any tribal issues, and consider the government-togovernment relationship of the United States with tribal entities. We also consider any social impacts that might occur because of the designation. We consider a current land management or conservation plan (HCPs as well as other types) to provide adequate management or protection if it meets the following criteria: (1) The plan is complete and provides a conservation benefit for the species and its habitat; (2) there is a reasonable expectation that the conservation management strategies and actions will be implemented into the future, based on past practices, written guidance, or regulations; and (3) the plan provides conservation strategies and measures consistent with currently accepted principles of conservation biology. Portions of the proposed critical habitat subunits may warrant exclusion from designation as critical habitat Exclusions Based on National Security Impacts Under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we consider whether there are lands owned or managed by the Department of Defense or Department of Homeland Security where a national security impact might exist. As discussed above under the Exemptions section, we are exempting Department of Defense lands at Vandenberg AFB because we have determined that the INRMP and addendum provide a conservation benefit to Vandenberg monkeyflower. We have also determined that the remaining lands within the proposed VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:26 Oct 28, 2013 Jkt 232001 PO 00000 Frm 00051 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 (576) (591) (624) (101) 4,674 (1,892) under section 4(b)(2) of the Act based on partnerships with the State for management of the Burton Mesa Ecological Reserve and La Purisima Mission SHP, and the management and protection afforded by the general management plans the State has developed for the Reserve and the La Purisima Mission SHP, as discussed below. Burton Mesa Ecological Reserve. The State Lands Commission signed a 49year lease of the Burton Mesa Ecological Reserve on January 20, 2000. The purpose of the lease is to manage, operate, and maintain these sovereign lands for the sensitive species and habitats they support (Gevirtz et al. 2007, p. 3). The CDFW developed a management plan for the Reserve. This plan guides management of habitats, species, and programs to achieve the mission of CDFW to protect and enhance wildlife values (Gevirtz et al. 2007, p. 1). Management objectives that provide a conservation benefit to Vandenberg monkeyflower include: (1) Minimizing damage to sensitive natural resources from ground disturbance. (2) Minimizing the presence and impact of invasive, nonnative species. (3) Maintaining a network of trails for public use while protecting resources and preventing unauthorized uses. (4) Maintaining habitat continuity around the Reserve to limit the fragmentation of native vegetation on Burton Mesa. (5) Restoring native areas that have been altered by humans to natural habitats. (6) Monitoring the effectiveness and validity of the management actions. (7) Encouraging public education about the ecosystem of the Reserve. E:\FR\FM\29OCP1.SGM 29OCP1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 209 / Tuesday, October 29, 2013 / Proposed Rules (8) Developing a fire (fuel) management plan to provide for public safety of nearby residential areas and to protect the numerous special status plants and animals on the Reserve (Gevirtz et al. 2007, pp. 229–265). These management objectives would benefit Vandenberg monkeyflower by reducing the loss of suitable habitat; minimizing the presence and expansion of invasive, nonnative plants; minimizing the pathways for nonnative plants to invade suitable habitat; reducing potential trampling of individual plants during casual recreational use; and maintaining an adequate fire regime for the benefit of the native Burton Mesa chaparral vegetation. Although aspects of this general management plan address to some degree the above criteria for exclusion of lands from critical habitat designation (for instance, it provides a conservation benefit and strategies and measures consistent with currently accepted principles of conservation biology), we have concerns whether funding and staffing will be available to adequately implement this plan to protect Vandenberg monkeyflower in the future. We are considering the exclusion of State lands covered by the Reserve’s plan that provide for the conservation of Vandenberg monkeyflower. We are requesting comments on the benefit to Vandenberg monkeyflower from this plan and our consideration to exclude these lands from the final designation under section 4(b)(2) of the Act (see the Information Requested section). La Purisima Mission State Historical Park (SHP). California State Parks has guidelines for the management of natural resources and sensitive species. Based on measures included in a general management plan for La Purisima Mission SHP that was completed in 1991 (California State Parks 1991), we are considering lands covered by the plan for exclusion under section 4(b)(2) of the Act. General plans for State Parks are prepared to guide future management and development of State Park System units (California State Parks 1991, p. 10). The goal of the State Parks natural resource management program is to protect, restore, and maintain the natural resources in the State Park System. Additionally, broad resource management policies concerning State Historic Parks are stated in the Public Resources Code, the California Code of Regulations, and the Department’s Resource Management Directives (California State Parks 1991, p. 54). Although the primary goal of the La Purisima Mission SHP plan is historical VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:26 Oct 28, 2013 Jkt 232001 preservation, there are resource management directives specific to La Purisima Mission SHP that would include the habitat where Vandenberg monkeyflower occurs, which include: (1) Preserving Burton Mesa chaparral. (2) Protecting and managing rare and endangered plants in perpetuity. (3) Maintaining a network of trails for public use while protecting resources and preventing unauthorized uses. (4) Controlling nonnative plants that have become established in La Purisima Mission SHP. (5) Developing a wildfire management plan (Cox 2013, pers. comm.). These management objectives would benefit Vandenberg monkeyflower by reducing the loss of suitable habitat; minimizing the presence and expansion of invasive, nonnative plants; minimizing the pathways for nonnative plants to invade suitable habitat; reducing potential trampling of individual plants during casual recreational use; and implementing wildfire management guidelines to minimize the potential impact to natural resources while suppressing fires. Although there are aspects of this general management plan that address to some degree the above criteria for exclusion of lands from critical habitat designation (for instance, it provides a conservation benefit and strategies and measures consistent with currently accepted principles of conservation biology), we have concerns whether funding and staffing will be available to adequately implement this plan to protect Vandenberg monkeyflower in the future. We are considering the exclusion of State lands covered by this general management plan that provide for the conservation of Vandenberg monkeyflower. We are requesting comments on the benefit to Vandenberg monkeyflower from La Purisima Mission SHP’s general management plan (see the Information Requested section). In preparing this proposal, we have determined that there are currently no HCPs or other management plans for Vandenberg monkeyflower, and the proposed designation does not include any tribal lands. We anticipate no impact on tribal lands, partnerships, or HCPs from this proposed critical habitat designation. Peer Review In accordance with our joint policy on peer review published in the Federal Register on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 34270), we will seek the expert opinions of at least three appropriate and independent specialists regarding this proposed rule. The purpose of peer review is to ensure PO 00000 Frm 00052 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 64459 that our critical habitat designation is based on scientifically sound data, assumptions, and analyses. We have invited these peer reviewers to comment during this public comment period. We will consider all comments and information received during this comment period on this proposed rule during our preparation of a final determination. Accordingly, the final decision may differ from this proposal. Public Hearings Section 4(b)(5) of the Act provides for one or more public hearings on this proposal, if requested. Requests must be received within 45 days after the date of publication of this proposed rule in the Federal Register. Such requests must be sent to the address shown in 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. Required Determinations Regulatory Planning and Review— Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 Executive Order 12866 provides that the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) will review all significant rules. The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs has determined that this rule is not significant. Executive Order 13563 reaffirms the principles of E.O. 12866 while calling for improvements in the nation’s regulatory system to promote predictability, to reduce uncertainty, and to use the best, most innovative, and least burdensome tools for achieving regulatory ends. The executive order directs agencies to consider regulatory approaches that reduce burdens and maintain flexibility and freedom of choice for the public where these approaches are relevant, feasible, and consistent with regulatory objectives. E.O. 13563 emphasizes further that regulations must be based on the best available science and that the rulemaking process must allow for public participation and an open exchange of ideas. We have developed this rule in a manner consistent with these requirements. Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA; 5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) as amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) of 1996 (5 U.S.C. 801 et seq.), whenever an E:\FR\FM\29OCP1.SGM 29OCP1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 64460 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 209 / Tuesday, October 29, 2013 / Proposed Rules agency is required to publish a notice of rulemaking for any proposed or final rule, it must prepare and make available for public comment a regulatory flexibility analysis that describes the effects of the rule on small entities (small businesses, small organizations, and small government jurisdictions). However, no regulatory flexibility analysis is required if the head of the agency certifies the rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The SBREFA amended the RFA to require Federal agencies to provide a certification statement of the factual basis for certifying that the rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. According to the Small Business Administration, small entities include small organizations such as independent nonprofit organizations; small governmental jurisdictions, including school boards and city and town governments that serve fewer than 50,000 residents; and small businesses (13 CFR 121.201). Small businesses include such businesses as manufacturing and mining concerns with fewer than 500 employees, wholesale trade entities with fewer than 100 employees, retail and service businesses with less than $5 million in annual sales, general and heavy construction businesses with less than $27.5 million in annual business, special trade contractors doing less than $11.5 million in annual business, and forestry and logging operations with fewer than 500 employees and annual business less than $7 million. To determine whether small entities may be affected, we will consider the types of activities that might trigger regulatory impacts under this designation as well as types of project modifications that may result. In general, the term ‘‘significant economic impact’’ is meant to apply to a typical small business firm’s business operations. Importantly, the incremental impacts of a rule must be both significant and substantial to prevent certification of the rule under the RFA and to require the preparation of an initial regulatory flexibility analysis. If a substantial number of small entities are affected by the proposed critical habitat designation, but the per-entity economic impact is not significant, the Service may certify. Likewise, if the per-entity economic impact is likely to be significant, but the number of affected entities is not substantial, the Service may also certify. Under the RFA, as amended, and following recent court decisions, Federal agencies are only required to VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:26 Oct 28, 2013 Jkt 232001 evaluate the potential incremental impacts of rulemaking on those entities directly regulated by the rulemaking itself, and not the potential impacts to indirectly affected entities. The regulatory mechanism through which critical habitat protections are realized is section 7 of the Act, which requires Federal agencies, in consultation with the Service, to ensure that any action authorized, funded, or carried by the Agency is not likely to adversely modify critical habitat. Therefore, only Federal action agencies are directly subject to the specific regulatory requirement (avoiding destruction and adverse modification) imposed by critical habitat designation. Under these circumstances, it is our position that only Federal action agencies will be directly regulated by this designation. Therefore, because Federal agencies are not small entities, the Service may certify that the proposed critical habitat rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. We acknowledge, however, that in some cases, third-party proponents of the action subject to permitting or funding may participate in a section 7 consultation, and thus may be indirectly affected. We believe it is good policy to assess these impacts if we have sufficient data before us to complete the necessary analysis, whether or not this analysis is strictly required by the RFA. While this regulation does not directly regulate these entities, in our draft economic analysis we will conduct a brief evaluation of the potential number of third parties participating in consultations on an annual basis in order to ensure a more complete examination of the incremental effects of this proposed rule in the context of the RFA. In conclusion, we believe that, based on our interpretation of directly regulated entities under the RFA and relevant case law, this designation of critical habitat will only directly regulate Federal agencies which are not by definition small business entities. Therefore, we certify that, if promulgated, this designation of critical habitat would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small business entities. Therefore, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not required. However, though not necessarily required by the RFA, in our draft economic analysis for this proposal we will consider and evaluate the potential effects to third parties that may be involved with consultations with Federal action agencies related to this action. PO 00000 Frm 00053 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use— Executive Order 13211 Executive Order 13211 (Actions Concerning Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use) requires agencies to prepare Statements of Energy Effects when undertaking certain actions. Oil extraction is still occurring on the oil field to the north of the Burton Mesa Ecological Reserve that is operated by Plains Exploration and Production Company (PXP). Multiple remnant pipelines associated with oil production remain in several locations just outside of the Reserve’s boundaries (Gevirtz et al. 2007, p. 57). A triplet pipeline runs from the Lompoc Oil and Gas Plant to the offshore oil platform Irene, crossing Vandenberg AFB. Therefore, a Federal nexus with the Air Force or the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission may exist; however, Vandenberg AFB is not proposed as critical habitat. We do not expect the designation of this proposed critical habitat to significantly affect energy supplies, distribution, or use. This is because, under section 7 of the Act, the lead agency for a proposed project would need to consider substantial project modifications only if the project were to reach a threshold of jeopardizing the continued existence of the species or destroy or adversely modify its critical habitat, a scenario that is unlikely with Vandenberg monkeyflower. Therefore, this action is not a significant energy action, and no Statement of Energy Effects is required. However, we will further evaluate this issue as we conduct our economic analysis, and review and revise this assessment if warranted. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (2 U.S.C. 1501 et seq.) In accordance with the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (2 U.S.C. 1501 et seq.), we make the following findings: (1) This rule will not produce a Federal mandate. In general, a Federal mandate is a provision in legislation, statute, or regulation that would impose an enforceable duty upon State, local, or tribal governments, or the private sector, and includes both ‘‘Federal intergovernmental mandates’’ and ‘‘Federal private sector mandates.’’ These terms are defined in 2 U.S.C. 658(5)–(7). ‘‘Federal intergovernmental mandate’’ includes a regulation that ‘‘would impose an enforceable duty upon State, local, or tribal governments’’ with two exceptions. It excludes ‘‘a condition of Federal assistance.’’ It also excludes ‘‘a duty arising from participation in a voluntary Federal program,’’ unless the regulation ‘‘relates E:\FR\FM\29OCP1.SGM 29OCP1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 209 / Tuesday, October 29, 2013 / Proposed Rules to a then-existing Federal program under which $500,000,000 or more is provided annually to State, local, and tribal governments under entitlement authority,’’ if the provision would ‘‘increase the stringency of conditions of assistance’’ or ‘‘place caps upon, or otherwise decrease, the Federal Government’s responsibility to provide funding,’’ and the State, local, or tribal governments ‘‘lack authority’’ to adjust accordingly. At the time of enactment, these entitlement programs were: Medicaid; Aid to Families with Dependent Children work programs; Child Nutrition; Food Stamps; Social Services Block Grants; Vocational Rehabilitation State Grants; Foster Care, Adoption Assistance, and Independent Living; Family Support Welfare Services; and Child Support Enforcement. ‘‘Federal private sector mandate’’ includes a regulation that ‘‘would impose an enforceable duty upon the private sector, except (i) a condition of Federal assistance or (ii) a duty arising from participation in a voluntary Federal program.’’ The designation of critical habitat does not impose a legally binding duty on non-Federal Government entities or private parties. Under the Act, the only regulatory effect is that Federal agencies must ensure that their actions do not destroy or adversely modify critical habitat under section 7. While nonFederal entities that receive Federal funding, assistance, or permits, or that otherwise require approval or authorization from a Federal agency for an action, may be indirectly impacted by the designation of critical habitat, the legally binding duty to avoid destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat rests squarely on the Federal agency. Furthermore, to the extent that non-Federal entities are indirectly impacted because they receive Federal assistance or participate in a voluntary Federal aid program, the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act would not apply, nor would critical habitat shift the costs of the large entitlement programs listed above onto State governments. (2) We do not believe that this rule will significantly or uniquely affect small governments because approximately 85 percent of the lands being proposed for Vandenberg monkeyflower critical habitat are on lands managed by State agencies, primarily CDFW and California State Parks. A small percentage of land (38 ac (15 ha), or 0.7 percent) proposed as critical habitat falls within the land use jurisdiction of local agencies (such as special-use districts, water districts, and community service districts). The local- VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:26 Oct 28, 2013 Jkt 232001 64461 agency lands proposed as critical habitat are a small percentage of the total land area proposed. Small governments would be affected only to the extent that any programs having Federal funds, permits, or other authorized activities must ensure that their actions would not adversely affect critical habitat. Moreover, these agencies would be required to meet other regulatory mechanisms (such as CEQA) in addition to compliance with the Act. Therefore, a Small Government Agency Plan is not required. However, we will further evaluate this issue as we conduct our economic analysis, and review and revise this assessment if appropriate. by-case section 7 consultations to occur). Where State and local governments require approval or authorization from a Federal agency for actions that may affect critical habitat, consultation under section 7(a)(2) would be required. While non-Federal entities that receive Federal funding, assistance, or permits, or that otherwise require approval or authorization from a Federal agency for an action, may be indirectly impacted by the designation of critical habitat, the legally binding duty to avoid destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat rests squarely on the Federal agency. Takings—Executive Order 12630 Civil Justice Reform—Executive Order 12988 In accordance with Executive Order 12988 (Civil Justice Reform), the Office of the Solicitor has determined that the rule does not unduly burden the judicial system and that it meets the requirements of sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of the Order. We have proposed designating critical habitat in accordance with the provisions of the Act. To assist the public in understanding the habitat needs of the species, the proposed rule identifies the elements of physical or biological features essential to the conservation of Vandenberg monkeyflower. The areas of proposed critical habitat are presented on maps, and the rule provides several options for the interested public to obtain more detailed location information, if desired. In accordance with Executive Order 12630 (‘‘Government Actions and Interference with Constitutionally Protected Private Property Rights’’), this rule is not anticipated to have significant takings implications. As discussed above, the designation of critical habitat affects only Federal actions. Critical habitat designation does not affect landowner actions that do not require Federal funding or permits, nor does it preclude development of habitat conservation programs or issuance of incidental take permits to permit actions that do require Federal funding or permits to go forward. We have not yet completed the economic analysis for this proposed rule. Once the economic analysis is available, we will review and revise this preliminary assessment as warranted, and prepare a Takings Implication Assessment. Federalism—Executive Order 13132 In accordance with Executive Order 13132 (Federalism), this proposed rule does not have significant Federalism effects. A Federalism summary impact statement is not required. In keeping with Department of the Interior and Department of Commerce policy, we requested information from, and coordinated development of, this proposed listing and critical habitat designation with appropriate State resource agencies in California. The designation may have some benefit to these governments because the areas that contain the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the species are more clearly defined, and the elements of the features necessary to the conservation of the species are specifically identified. This information does not alter where and what federally sponsored activities may occur. However, it may assist local governments in long-range planning (rather than having them wait for case- PO 00000 Frm 00054 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.) This rule does not contain any new collections of information that require approval by OMB under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.). This rule will not impose recordkeeping or reporting requirements on State or local governments, individuals, businesses, or organizations. An agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number. National Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) It is our position that, outside the jurisdiction of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, we do not need to prepare environmental analyses pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) in connection with designating critical habitat under the Act. We published a notice outlining our reasons for this determination in the Federal E:\FR\FM\29OCP1.SGM 29OCP1 64462 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 209 / Tuesday, October 29, 2013 / Proposed Rules Register on October 25, 1983 (48 FR 49244). This position was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Douglas County v. Babbitt, 48 F.3d 1495 (9th Cir. 1995), cert. denied 516 U.S. 1042 (1996)). Government-to-Government Relationship With Tribes In accordance with the President’s memorandum of April 29, 1994 (Government-to-Government Relations with Native American Tribal Governments; 59 FR 22951), Executive Order 13175 (Consultation and Coordination With Indian Tribal Governments), and the Department of the Interior’s manual at 512 DM 2, we readily acknowledge our responsibility to communicate meaningfully with recognized Federal Tribes on a government-to-government basis. In accordance with Secretarial Order 3206 of June 5, 1997 (American Indian Tribal Rights, Federal-Tribal Trust Responsibilities, and the Endangered Species Act), we readily acknowledge our responsibilities to work directly with tribes in developing programs for healthy ecosystems, to acknowledge that tribal lands are not subject to the same controls as Federal public lands, to remain sensitive to Indian culture, and to make information available to tribes. We determined that there are no tribal lands that are within the geographical area occupied by Vandenberg monkeyflower at the time of listing that contain the features essential to the conservation of the species, and no tribal lands outside the geographical area occupied by Vandenberg monkeyflower at the time of listing that are essential for the conservation of the species. Therefore, we are not proposing to designate critical habitat for Vandenberg monkeyflower on tribal lands. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 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: VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:26 Oct 28, 2013 Jkt 232001 (1) Be logically organized; (2) Use the active voice to address readers directly; (3) Use clear language rather than jargon; (4) Be divided into short sections and sentences; and (5) Use lists and tables wherever possible. If you feel that we have not met these requirements, send us comments by one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. To better help us revise the rule, your comments should be as specific as possible. For example, you should tell us the numbers of the sections or paragraphs that are unclearly written, which sections or sentences are too long, the sections where you feel lists or tables would be useful, etc. References Cited A complete list of references cited in this rulemaking is available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS–R8–ES–2013–0049 and upon request from the Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Authors The primary authors of this package are the staff members of the Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17 Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Transportation. Proposed Regulation Promulgation Accordingly, we propose to amend part 17, subchapter B of chapter I, title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations, as set forth below: PART 17—[AMENDED] 1. The authority citation for part 17 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1361–1407; 1531– 1544; 4201–4245; unless otherwise noted. 2. In § 17.96, amend paragraph (a) by adding the family Phrymaceae and an entry for ‘‘Diplacus vandenbergensis ■ PO 00000 Frm 00055 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 (Vandenberg monkeyflower)’’ in alphabetical order to read as follows: § 17.96 Critical habitat—plants. (a) Flowering plants. * * * * Family Phrymaceae: Diplacus vandenbergensis (Vandenberg monkeyflower) (1) Critical habitat units are depicted for Santa Barbara County, California, on the maps below. (2) Within these areas, the primary constituent elements of the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of Vandenberg monkeyflower consist of two components: (i) Native maritime chaparral communities of Burton Mesa comprised of maritime chaparral and maritime chaparral mixed with coastal scrub, oak woodland, and small patches of native grasslands. The mosaic structure of the native plant communities (arranged in a mosaic of dominant vegetation and sandy openings (canopy gaps)), may change spatially as a result of succession, and physical processes such as windblown sand and wildfire. (ii) Loose sandy soils on Burton Mesa. As mapped by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), these could include the following soil series: Arnold Sand, Marina Sand, Narlon Sand, Tangair Sand, Botella Loam, Terrace Escarpments, and Gullied Land. (3) Critical habitat does not include manmade structures (such as buildings, aqueducts, runways, roads, and other paved areas) and the land on which they are located existing within the legal boundaries on the effective date of any final rule designating critical habitat for Vandenberg monkeyflower. (4) Critical habitat map units. Data layers defining map units were created on a base of USGS 1:24,000 maps, and critical habitat units were then mapped using Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) Zone 15N coordinates. * BILLING CODE 4310–55–P E:\FR\FM\29OCP1.SGM 29OCP1 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 209 / Tuesday, October 29, 2013 / Proposed Rules 64463 VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:26 Oct 28, 2013 Jkt 232001 PO 00000 Frm 00056 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\29OCP1.SGM 29OCP1 EP29OC13.000</GPH> mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS (5) Note: Index map follows: Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 209 / Tuesday, October 29, 2013 / Proposed Rules mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS (6) Unit 1, Subunit 1 (Vandenberg) and Subunit 2 (Santa Lucia): Santa VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:26 Oct 28, 2013 Jkt 232001 Barbara County, California. Map of Unit 1, Subunits 1 and 2 follows. PO 00000 Frm 00057 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\29OCP1.SGM 29OCP1 EP29OC13.001</GPH> 64464 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 209 / Tuesday, October 29, 2013 / Proposed Rules VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:26 Oct 28, 2013 Jkt 232001 County, California. Map of Unit 1, Subunits 3 and 4, follows: PO 00000 Frm 00058 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\29OCP1.SGM 29OCP1 EP29OC13.002</GPH> mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS (7) Unit 1, Subunit 3 (Encina) and Subunit 4 (La Purisima): Santa Barbara 64465 64466 * * Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 209 / Tuesday, October 29, 2013 / Proposed Rules * * Dated: October 21, 2013. Rachel Jacobson, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks. * [FR Doc. 2013–25399 Filed 10–28–13; 8:45 am] mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS BILLING CODE 4310–55–C VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:26 Oct 28, 2013 Jkt 232001 PO 00000 Frm 00059 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 E:\FR\FM\29OCP1.SGM 29OCP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 209 (Tuesday, October 29, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 64446-64466]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-25399]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

[Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2013-0049; 4500030113]

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AZ33


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Proposed 
Designation of Critical Habitat for Diplacus vandenbergensis 
(Vandenberg Monkeyflower)

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, propose to designate 
critical habitat for Diplacus vandenbergensis (Vandenberg monkeyflower) 
under the Endangered Species Act. If we finalize this rule as proposed, 
it would extend the Act's protections to this species' critical 
habitat. The effect of this regulation is to conserve Vandenberg 
monkeyflower's habitat under the Endangered Species Act.

DATES: We will accept comments received or postmarked on or before 
December 30, 2013. Comments submitted electronically using the Federal 
eRulemaking Portal (see ADDRESSES section below) must be received by 
11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the closing date. We must receive requests 
for public hearings, in writing, at the address shown in FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT by December 13, 2013.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by one of the following methods:
    (1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-
2013-0049, which is the docket number for this rulemaking. You may 
submit a comment by clicking on ``Comment Now!''
    (2) By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public 
Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R8-ES-2013-0049; 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).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Stephen P. Henry, Acting Field 
Supervisor, Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, 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:

Executive Summary

    Why we need to publish a rule. Critical habitat shall be 
designated, to the maximum extent prudent and determinable, for any 
species determined to be an endangered or threatened species under the 
Act. Designations and revisions of critical habitat can only be 
completed by issuing a rule. Elsewhere in today's Federal Register, we 
propose to list the Diplacus vandenbergensis (hereafter referred to as 
Vandenberg monkeyflower) as an endangered species under the Act. This 
document consists of a proposed rule for designation of critical 
habitat for Vandenberg monkeyflower.
    The basis for our action. Under the Act, when a species is proposed 
for listing, to the maximum extent prudent and determinable, we must 
designate critical habitat for the species. The species has been 
proposed for listing as endangered, and therefore, we also propose to 
designate approximately 5,785 acres (ac) (2,341 hectares (ha)) of 
habitat as critical habitat in Santa Barbara County, California.

[[Page 64447]]

    We will seek peer review. We are seeking comments from 
knowledgeable individuals with scientific expertise to review our 
analysis of the best available science and application of that science 
and to provide any additional scientific information to improve this 
proposed rule. Because we will consider all comments and information 
received during the comment period, our final determination may differ 
from this proposal.

Information Requested

    We intend that any final action resulting from this proposed rule 
will be based on the best scientific data available and be as accurate 
and as effective as possible. Therefore, we request comments or 
information from the public, other concerned governmental agencies, 
Native American tribes, the scientific community, industry, or any 
other interested parties concerning this proposed rule. We particularly 
seek comments concerning:
    (1) The reasons why we should or should not designate habitat as 
``critical habitat'' under section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et 
seq.), including whether there are threats to the species from human 
activity, the degree of which can be expected to increase due to the 
designation, and whether that increase in threats outweighs the benefit 
of designation such that the designation of critical habitat is not 
prudent.
    (2) Specific information on:
    (a) The amount and distribution of Vandenberg monkeyflower and its 
habitat;
    (b) What may constitute ``physical or biological features essential 
to the conservation of the species,'' within the geographical range 
currently occupied by the species;
    (c) Where these features are currently found;
    (d) Whether any of these features may require special management 
considerations or protection;
    (e) What areas that are currently occupied by the species contain 
features essential to the conservation of the species that should be 
included in the designation and why; and
    (f) What areas not occupied at the time of listing are essential 
for the conservation of the species and why.
    (3) Land use designations and current or planned activities in the 
areas occupied by the species or proposed to be designated as critical 
habitat, and possible impacts of these activities on this species and 
proposed critical habitat.
    (4) Comments or information that may assist us in identifying or 
clarifying the primary constituent elements (PCEs).
    (5) Information on the projected and reasonably likely impacts of 
climate change on Vandenberg monkeyflower and proposed critical 
habitat.
    (6) Any probable economic, national security, or other relevant 
impacts of designating any area that may be included in the final 
designation. We are particularly interested in any impacts on small 
entities, and the benefits of including or excluding areas from the 
proposed designation that are subject to these impacts.
    (7) Any foreseeable impacts on energy supplies, distribution, and 
use resulting from the proposed designation and, in particular, any 
impacts on electricity production, and the benefits of including or 
excluding any particular areas that exhibit these impacts.
    (8) Whether any specific areas we are proposing for critical 
habitat designation should be considered for exclusion under section 
4(b)(2) of the Act, and whether the benefits of potentially excluding 
any specific area outweigh the benefits of including that area under 
section 4(b)(2) of the Act. We specifically seek comments on whether 
the existing management plans for Burton Mesa Ecological Reserve and La 
Purisima Mission State Historic Park (SHP), respectively, provide a 
conservation benefit to Vandenberg monkeyflower and its habitat. We 
also seek comments on whether there is a reasonable expectation that 
the conservation management strategies and actions in these management 
plans will be implemented into the future.
    (9) Whether our approach to designating critical habitat could be 
improved or modified in any way to provide for greater public 
participation and understanding, or to assist us in accommodating 
public concerns and comments.
    (10) The likelihood of adverse social reactions to the designation 
of critical habitat and how the consequences of such reactions, if 
likely to occur, would relate to the conservation and regulatory 
benefits of the proposed critical habitat designation.
    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.
    We will post your entire comment--including your personal 
identifying information--on http://www.regulations.gov. You may request 
at the top of your document that we withhold personal information such 
as your street address, phone number, or email address 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 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 (Service), Ventura Field Office (see FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT).

Previous Federal Actions

    All previous Federal actions are described in the proposal to list 
Vandenberg monkeyflower as an endangered species under the Act 
published elsewhere in today's Federal Register.

Background

    In this proposed rule, we intend to discuss only those topics 
directly relevant to the designation of critical habitat. Additional 
information pertaining to Vandenberg monkeyflower description, 
taxonomy, life history, geographic setting, climate, and habitat can be 
found in the proposed listing rule published elsewhere in today's 
Federal Register.

Critical Habitat

Background

    Critical habitat is defined in section 3 of the Act as:
    (1) The specific areas within the geographical area occupied by the 
species, at the time it is listed in accordance with the Act, on which 
are found those physical or biological features:
    (a) Essential to the conservation of the species, and
    (b) Which may require special management considerations or 
protection; and
    (2) Specific areas outside the geographical area occupied by the 
species at the time it is listed, upon a determination that such areas 
are essential for the conservation of the species.
    Conservation, as defined under section 3 of the Act, means to use 
and the use of all methods and procedures that are necessary to bring 
an endangered or threatened species to the point at which the measures 
provided pursuant to the Act are no longer necessary. Such methods and 
procedures include, but are not limited to, all activities associated 
with scientific resources management such as research, census, law 
enforcement, habitat acquisition and maintenance,

[[Page 64448]]

propagation, live trapping, and transplantation, and, in the 
extraordinary case where population pressures within a given ecosystem 
cannot be otherwise relieved, may include regulated taking.
    Critical habitat receives protection under section 7 of the Act 
through the requirement that Federal agencies ensure, in consultation 
with the Service, that any action they authorize, fund, or carry out is 
not likely to result in the destruction or adverse modification of 
critical habitat. The designation of critical habitat does not affect 
land ownership or establish a refuge, wilderness, reserve, preserve, or 
other conservation area. Such designation does not allow the government 
or public to access private lands. Such designation does not require 
implementation of restoration, recovery, or enhancement measures by 
non-Federal landowners. Where a landowner requests Federal agency 
funding or authorization for an action that may affect a listed species 
or critical habitat, the consultation requirements of section 7(a)(2) 
of the Act would apply, but even in the event of a destruction or 
adverse modification finding, the obligation of the Federal action 
agency and the landowner is not to restore or recover the species, but 
to implement reasonable and prudent alternatives to avoid destruction 
or adverse modification of critical habitat.
    Under the first prong of the Act's definition of critical habitat, 
areas within the geographic area occupied by the species at the time it 
is listed are included in a critical habitat designation if they 
contain physical or biological features (1) which are essential to the 
conservation of the species and (2) which may require special 
management considerations or protection. For these areas, critical 
habitat designations identify, to the extent known using the best 
scientific and commercial data available, those physical or biological 
features that are essential to the conservation of the species (such as 
space, food, cover, and protected habitat). In identifying those 
physical and biological features within an area, we focus on the 
principal biological or physical constituent elements (primary 
constituent elements (PCEs) such as roost sites, nesting grounds, 
seasonal wetlands, water quality, tide, soil type) that are essential 
to the conservation of the species. We consider PCEs to be those 
specific elements of the physical or biological features that provide 
for a species' life history processes and, under the appropriate 
conditions, are essential to the conservation of the species.
    Under the second prong of the Act's definition of critical habitat, 
we can designate critical habitat in areas outside the geographic area 
occupied by the species at the time it is listed, upon a determination 
that such areas are essential for the conservation of the species. We 
designate critical habitat in areas outside the geographic area 
occupied by a species only when a designation limited to its range 
would be inadequate to ensure the conservation of the species.
    Section 4 of the Act requires that we designate critical habitat on 
the basis of the best scientific data available. Further, our Policy on 
Information Standards Under the Endangered Species Act (published in 
the Federal Register on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 34271)), the Information 
Quality Act (section 515 of the Treasury and General Government 
Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2001 (Pub. L. 106-554; H.R. 5658)), 
and our associated Information Quality Guidelines, provide criteria and 
guidance and establish procedures to ensure that our decisions are 
based on the best scientific data available. They require our 
biologists, to the extent consistent with the Act and with the use of 
the best scientific data available, to use primary and original sources 
of information as the basis for recommendations to designate critical 
habitat.
    When we are determining which areas should be designated as 
critical habitat, our primary source of information is generally the 
information developed during the listing process for the species. 
Additional information sources may include the recovery plan for the 
species, articles in peer-reviewed journals, conservation plans 
developed by States and counties, scientific status surveys and 
studies, biological assessments, other unpublished materials, or 
experts' opinions or personal knowledge.
    Habitat is dynamic, and species may move from one area to another 
over time. Therefore, we recognize that critical habitat designated at 
a particular point in time may not include all of the habitat areas 
that we may later determine are necessary for the recovery of the 
species. For these reasons, a critical habitat designation does not 
signal that habitat outside the designated area is unimportant or may 
not be needed for recovery of the species. Areas that are important to 
the conservation of the species, both inside and outside the critical 
habitat designation, will be subject to: (1) Conservation actions 
implemented under section 7(a)(1) of the Act, (2) regulatory 
protections afforded by the requirement in section 7(a)(2) of the Act 
for Federal agencies to ensure their actions are not likely to 
jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered or threatened 
species, and (3) the prohibitions of section 9 of the Act if actions 
occurring in these areas may affect the species. Federally funded or 
permitted projects affecting listed species outside their designated 
critical habitat areas may still result in jeopardy findings in some 
cases. These protections and conservation tools will contribute to 
recovery of this species. Similarly, critical habitat designations made 
on the basis of the best available information at the time of 
designation will not control the direction and substance of future 
recovery plans, habitat conservation plans (HCPs), or other species 
conservation planning efforts if new information available at the time 
of these planning efforts calls for a different outcome.

Prudency Determination

    Section 4(a)(3) of the Act, as amended, and implementing 
regulations (50 CFR 424.12), require that, to the maximum extent 
prudent and determinable, the Secretary designate critical habitat at 
the time the species is determined to be an endangered or threatened 
species. Our regulations (50 CFR 424.12(a)(1)) state that the 
designation of critical habitat is not prudent when one or both of the 
following situations exist: (1) The species is threatened by taking or 
other activity and the identification of critical habitat can be 
expected to increase the degree of threat to the species; or (2) the 
designation of critical habitat would not be beneficial to the species.
    As discussed in the Factor B discussion of our proposed listing 
rule (published elsewhere in today's Federal Register), there is 
currently no indication that collection or vandalism is a threat to 
Vandenberg monkeyflower, and identification and mapping of critical 
habitat is not expected to initiate such threat. Most of the areas 
proposed for critical habitat either have restricted public access 
(Burton Mesa Ecological Reserve) or are already open to the public 
(hiking trails in the Reserve and La Purisima Mission SHP). The degree 
of threat from casual human access, or any other identified threat (see 
the listing rule published elsewhere in today's Federal Register), is 
not expected to increase as a result of critical habitat designation.
    In the absence of finding that the designation of critical habitat 
would increase threats to a species, if there are any benefits to a 
critical habitat designation, then a prudent finding is

[[Page 64449]]

warranted. Here, the potential benefits of designating critical habitat 
for Vandenberg monkeyflower include, but are not limited, to: (1) 
Focusing conservation activities on the most essential features and 
areas; (2) providing educational benefits to State or county 
governments, private entities, and the public; and (3) reducing the 
potential for the public to cause inadvertent harm to the species. 
Therefore, because we have determined that the designation of critical 
habitat will not likely increase the degree of threat to the species 
and may provide some measure of benefit, we find that designation of 
critical habitat is prudent for Vandenberg monkeyflower.

Critical Habitat Determinability

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

Climate Change and Critical Habitat

    Climate change will be a particular challenge for biodiversity 
because the interaction of additional stressors associated with climate 
change and current stressors may push species beyond their ability to 
survive (Lovejoy 2005, pp. 325-326). The synergistic implications of 
climate change and habitat fragmentation are the most threatening facet 
of climate change for biodiversity (Hannah and Lovejoy 2005, p. 4). 
Current climate change predictions for terrestrial areas in the 
Northern Hemisphere indicate warmer air temperatures, more intense 
precipitation events, and increased summer continental drying (Field et 
al. 1999, pp. 1-3; Hayhoe et al. 2004, p. 12422; Cayan et al. 2005, p. 
6; Seager et al. 2007, p. 1181). Climate change may lead to increased 
frequency and duration of severe storms and droughts (McLaughlin et al. 
2002, p. 6074; Golladay et al. 2004, p. 504; Cook et al. 2004, p. 
1015).
    Documentation of climate-related changes that have already occurred 
in California (Bell et al. 2004; Snyder et al. 2004; PRBO Conservation 
Science 2011; Lenihan et al. 2008), and predictions of changes in 
temperature and precipitation for the Santa Barbara County area (such 
as an increase in temperature of approximately 2.5 [deg]F (1.4 [deg]C) 
and a decrease in precipitation of approximately 10 percent 
(ClimateWizard 2012)) and North America (IPCC 2007, p. 9) indicate 
climate-related changes will continue in the future. We anticipate 
these changes could affect Vandenberg monkeyflower by reducing suitable 
habitat; however, because of the influence of the ocean temperatures, 
the effect of climate change on Burton Mesa may be moderated (see also 
``Factor A--Climate Change'' section of the proposed listing rule 
published elsewhere in today's Federal Register).

Physical or Biological Features

    In accordance with section 3(5)(A)(i) and 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act and 
regulations at 50 CFR 424.12, in determining which areas within the 
geographic area occupied by the species at the time of listing to 
designate as critical habitat, we consider the physical or biological 
features that are essential to the conservation of the species and 
which may require special management considerations or protection. 
These include, but are not limited to:
    (1) Space for individual and population growth and for normal 
behavior;
    (2) Food, water, air, light, minerals, or other nutritional or 
physiological requirements;
    (3) Cover or shelter;
    (4) Sites for breeding, reproduction, or rearing (or development) 
of offspring; and
    (5) Habitats that are protected from disturbance or are 
representative of the historical, geographic, and ecological 
distributions of a species.
    We derive the specific physical or biological features required for 
Vandenberg monkeyflower from studies of this species' habitat, ecology, 
and life history as described below. Additional information can be 
found in the proposed listing rule published elsewhere in today's 
Federal Register. We have determined that the following physical or 
biological features are essential for Vandenberg monkeyflower:
Space for Reproduction, Dispersal, and Individual and Population Growth

Canopy Openings

    Vandenberg monkeyflower only occurs in sandy openings (canopy gaps) 
within dominant vegetation consisting of Burton Mesa chaparral (see the 
``Background'' section in the proposed listing rule published elsewhere 
in today's Federal Register). The sunny openings provide the space 
needed for individual and population growth, including sites for 
germination, reproduction, seed dispersal, seed banks, and pollination.
    Canopy gaps are important for seed germination and seedling 
establishment, and for maintaining the seed banks of many chaparral 
species (Davis et al. 1989, pp. 60-64; Zammit and Zedler 1994, pp. 11-
13). As the canopy closes and grows in height, the understory is 
generally bare, with most herbs restricted to remaining canopy gaps 
(Van Dyke et al. 2001, p. 9). Because gaps receive more light, soil 
temperatures may be as much as 23 [deg]C (73 [deg]F) higher than under 
the surrounding shrub canopy (Christensen and Muller 1975b, p. 50). 
Such temperatures are high enough to stimulate seed germination in many 
species (for example, Helianthemum scoparium (rush-rose)) (Christensen 
and Muller 1975a, p. 77). Additionally, herbivory is less pronounced in 
openings than under or near the canopy (Halligan 1973, pp. 430-432; 
Christensen and Muller 1975b, p. 53; Davis and Mooney 1985, p. 528). 
Furthermore, allelopathic (biochemical) effects of the shrub canopy are 
probably reduced in openings (Muller et al. 1968, pp. 227-230).
    Numerous studies have recognized canopy gaps in mature chaparral as 
important microhabitats where some subshrubs and herbs [such as 
Vandenberg monkeyflower] persist between fires (Horton and Kraebel 
1955, pp. 258-261; Vogl and Schorr 1972, pp. 1182-1187; Keeley et al. 
1981, pp. 1615-1617; Davis et al. 1989, p. 64). Additionally, many 
chaparral plants have characteristics that promote reestablishment 
after fires. Thus, fire plays a significant role in maintaining 
chaparral community heterogeneity and in nutrient cycling, and its role 
has been extensively documented (see Christensen and Muller 1975a, b; 
Keeley 1987) (See ``Factor A--Anthropogenic Fire'' section in the 
proposed listing

[[Page 64450]]

rule published elsewhere in today's Federal Register).
    When fire occurs, it clears out aboveground living vegetation and 
dead wood, deposits nutrient-rich ash, and makes space and sunlight 
available for seedling establishment. High numbers of herbaceous 
annuals and perennials appear shortly after fire has cleared away the 
tall, dense shrubs (Gevirtz et al. 2007, p. 58). Many of these fire-
followers decline over time after a fire, although some persist in 
small numbers for decades after their peak post-fire densities (Gevirtz 
et al. 2007, p. 103). In the first few years, habitat may appear as 
coastal scrub rather than chaparral, both in structure and in the 
species present (e.g., (Salvia mellifera) black sage, (Artemisia 
californica) California sagebrush, (Frangula californica) coffee berry, 
(Baccharis pilularis) coyote brush, Toxicodendron pubescens (poison 
oak)). Gradually, however, (Arctostaphylos spp.) manzanita, (Ceanothus 
spp.) ceanothus, (Adenostoma fasciculatum) chamise, and other species 
overtop the early species and come to dominate the landscape. The 
response of Vandenberg monkeyflower to fire is not currently known; 
however, because this species occurs within maritime chaparral, it is 
likely adapted to a naturally occurring fire regime of the Burton Mesa. 
Because Vandenberg monkeyflower occurs within the canopy gaps of Burton 
Mesa chaparral, these gaps are important for the plants' persistence 
between fire events. As the canopy closes with dominant vegetation, the 
gaps provide the space for annuals small in stature, such as Vandenberg 
monkeyflower, to grow and reproduce. Therefore, we identify canopy gaps 
to be a physical or biological feature for Vandenberg monkeyflower.

Loose Sandy Soils

    The gaps in the canopy where this species occurs consist of loose, 
sandy soils. The Burton Mesa dune sheet is the largest exposure of mid-
Pleistocene sands in the Santa Maria Basin (Hunt 1993, p. 14). These 
dunes are old enough to have developed a soil profile, classified as 
Tangair and Narlon soils (Soil Conservation Service 1972). Subsurface 
soils are typically hardened by iron oxides; however, surface exposures 
are commonly composed of loose sand (Hunt 1993, p. 15). The oldest dune 
deposits lie beneath dunes that were wind-deposited approximately 
10,000 to 25,000 to as much as 125,000 years ago (Orme and Tchakerian 
1986, pp. 155-156; Johnson 1983, in Hunt 1993, p. 15). Contributing to 
the formation of these vast dune systems was a rapid fall in sea level 
approximately 18,000 years ago, perhaps as much as 300 ft (91 m) below 
the present shoreline, which exposed vast quantities of sediment that 
were later transported miles inland by onshore winds (Hunt 1993, p. 
16).
    The more recent dune deposits (i.e., 10,000 to 125,000 years ago) 
comprise the bulk of the dunes found on Burton Mesa. These newer dunes 
on Burton Mesa are composed of poorly consolidated to unconsolidated 
red to yellow sands with a clay-enriched B-horizon profile; the 
substratum is generally a dense, cemented sand layer (Hunt 1993, p. 
16). This cemented layer may contribute to the water-holding capacity 
of the soil, which in turn affects the types of plants and vegetation 
communities observed. Additionally, both the older and newer dune 
deposits have substrates with significantly higher proportions of fine 
sands relative to even more recent sand deposits, thus forming a dense 
soil (Hunt 1993, p. 16). Topsoil in Burton Mesa is uniformly medium 
sand, but the depth of soil to bedrock varies throughout the mesa, and 
several soil types are present (Davis et al. 1988, pp. 170-171). The 
most widespread soils are Marina, Tangair, and Narlon sands; however, 
other soil types, such as Arnold Sand, Botella Loam, Terrace 
Escarpments, and Gullied Land, are present on Burton Mesa where 
Vandenberg monkeyflower grows (Soil Conservation Service 1972).
    This species appears more closely tied to loose, sandy soil than to 
a specific soil type. Therefore, because Vandenberg monkeyflower occurs 
on all soil types listed above, but appears to be more closely 
associated with loose, sandy soils regardless of the soil type, we 
identify loose, sandy soils on Burton Mesa as a physical or biological 
feature for Vandenberg monkeyflower.

Contiguous Chaparral Habitat

    The structure of the chaparral habitat on Burton Mesa is a mosaic 
of maritime chaparral vegetation (which includes maritime chaparral and 
maritime chaparral mixed with coastal scrub, oak woodland, and small 
patches of native grasslands (Wilken and Wardlaw 2010, p. 2)) and sandy 
openings (canopy gaps) that varies from place to place (see 
Background--Habitat in the proposed Listing rule, published elsewhere 
in today's Federal Register). The invasion of nonnative plants can 
directly alter the structure of this habitat by displacing native 
vegetation, including individuals of Vandenberg monkeyflower (see 
``Factor A--Invasive, Nonnative Species'' section in the listing rule 
published elsewhere in today's Federal Register). Fragmentation of the 
habitat (due to invasive, nonnative plants) has negative effects on 
rare plant populations (Aguilar et al. 2008, pp. 5177-5186). Therefore, 
the presence of contiguous chaparral habitat on Burton Mesa is 
important for population growth of Vandenberg monkeyflower because it 
provides available habitat for seed dispersal and establishment. Gene 
flow occurs through movement of seeds and pollen within and between 
occurrences of Vandenberg monkeyflower. Seeds of this species are small 
and light in weight and are dispersed primarily by gravity but also by 
wind and water over relatively short distances (Fraga in litt. 2012; 
Thompson 2005, p. 130). A small fraction of wind-dispersed seeds, 
however, may be caught in updrafts and would be expected to travel 
longer distances (Greene and Johnson 1995, p. 1036). The principal wind 
direction in all seasons is north-northwest (Bowen and Inman 1966, p. 
3; Cooper 1967, pp. 73-74; Hunt 1993, p. 27), which would aid local 
dispersal of seeds after falling from the parent plant. Long-distance 
dispersal occurs in numerous ways, including vertebrate dispersal (by 
adhesion or ingestion), wind dispersal of seeds (in updrafts and 
storms, or by secondary dispersal over the substrate), wind dispersal 
of plants (tumble-plant dispersal), and water dispersal (Cain et al. 
2000, p. 1218). Landscape fragmentation over time may reduce the 
ability of seeds to move longer distances (Cain et al. 2000, p. 1223).
    Contiguous chaparral habitat on Burton Mesa is important for 
population growth of Vandenberg monkeyflower because it also provides 
habitat for insect pollinators. Pollinators move pollen from one flower 
to another predominantly within the same plant population, but they can 
move pollen to another plant population if it is close enough and the 
pollinator is capable of carrying the pollen across that distance. 
Annual Diplacus species have a variety of visitors, including insects, 
bees, and butterflies. Although no research has been done to determine 
the effectiveness of various pollinators for Vandenberg monkeyflower 
(Fraga in litt. 2012), based on observations of other small annual 
Diplacus species, small solitary bees are likely an important class of 
pollinator. Therefore, because contiguous chaparral habitat on Burton 
Mesa provides habitat connectivity that ensures space for seed 
dispersal and establishment and movement of pollinators, we identify 
contiguous chaparral habitat as a physical or biological feature for 
Vandenberg monkeyflower.

[[Page 64451]]

Primary Constituent Elements (PCEs) for Vandenberg Monkeyflower

    Under the Act and its implementing regulations, we are required to 
identify the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of Vandenberg monkeyflower in areas occupied at the time 
of listing, focusing on the features' PCEs. We consider PCEs to be the 
elements of physical or biological features that provide for a species' 
life history processes and, under the appropriate conditions, are 
essential to the conservation of the species.
    Based on our current knowledge of the physical or biological 
features and habitat characteristics required to sustain the species' 
life-history processes, we determine that the PCEs specific to 
Vandenberg monkeyflower are:
    (1) Native maritime chaparral communities of Burton Mesa comprising 
maritime chaparral and maritime chaparral mixed with coastal scrub, oak 
woodland, and small patches of native grasslands. The mosaic structure 
of the native plant communities (arranged in a mosaic of dominant 
vegetation and sandy openings (canopy gaps)), may change spatially as a 
result of succession, and physical processes such as windblown sand and 
wildfire.
    (2) Loose sandy soils on Burton Mesa. As mapped by the Natural 
Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), these could include the 
following soil series: Arnold Sand, Marina Sand, Narlon Sand, Tangair 
Sand, Botella Loam, Terrace Escarpments, and Gullied Land.
    With this proposed designation of critical habitat, we intend to 
identify the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of the species, through the identification of the 
features' PCEs sufficient to support the life-history processes of the 
species. All units and subunits proposed to be designated as critical 
habitat are currently occupied by Vandenberg monkeyflower and contain 
the PCEs.

Special Management Considerations or Protection

    When designating critical habitat, we assess whether the specific 
areas within the geographic area occupied by the species at the time of 
listing contain physical and biological features that are essential to 
the conservation of the species and that may require special management 
considerations or protection. All areas proposed as critical habitat 
will require some level of management to address the current and future 
threats to the physical and biological features essential to the 
conservation of Vandenberg monkeyflower. In all areas, special 
management is needed to ensure that the habitat is able to provide for 
the growth and reproduction of the species.
    The habitat where Vandenberg monkeyflower occurs faces threats from 
urban development, maintenance of existing utility pipelines, 
anthropogenic fire, unauthorized recreational activities, and most 
substantially the expansion of invasive, nonnative plants (see Factors 
A and E in the proposed listing rule). Management activities that may 
reduce these threats include, but are not limited to: (1) Protecting 
from development lands that provide suitable habitat; (2) minimizing 
habitat fragmentation; (3) minimizing the spread of invasive, nonnative 
plants; (4) limiting authorized casual recreational use to existing 
paths and trails (as opposed to off-trail use that can spread invasive 
species to unaffected areas); (5) controlled burning; and (6) 
encouraging habitat restoration. These management activities would 
limit the impact to the physical or biological features for Vandenberg 
monkeyflower by decreasing the direct loss of habitat, maintaining the 
appropriate vegetation structure that provides the sandy openings that 
are necessary components of Vandenberg monkeyflower habitat, and 
minimizing invasive, nonnative plants spreading to areas where they 
currently do not exist. Preserving large areas of contiguous suitable 
habitat throughout the range of the species should maintain the mosaic 
structure of the Burton Mesa chaparral that may be present at any given 
time, and maintain the genetic and demographic diversity of Vandenberg 
monkeyflower.

Criteria Used To Identify Critical Habitat

    As required by section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we use the best 
scientific data available to designate critical habitat. We review 
available information pertaining to the habitat requirements of the 
species. In accordance with the Act and its implementing regulation at 
50 CFR 424.12(e), we consider whether designating additional areas--
outside those occupied at the time of listing--are necessary to ensure 
the conservation of the species. We are proposing to designate critical 
habitat in areas within the geographic area occupied by Vandenberg 
monkeyflower at the time of listing and that contain sufficient 
elements of the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of the species. We are not currently proposing to 
designate any areas outside the geographic area occupied by the species 
at the time of listing because the area within Burton Mesa that 
encompasses the extant occurrences would be sufficient for the 
conservation of the species.
    We used data from research published in peer-reviewed articles; 
reports and survey forms prepared for Federal, State, and local 
agencies and private corporations; site visits; regional Geographic 
Information Systems (GIS) layers, including soil and land use coverage; 
and data submitted to the California Natural Diversity Database 
(CNDDB). We also reviewed available information that pertains to the 
ecology, life history, and habitat requirements of this species. This 
material included information and data in peer-reviewed articles, 
reports of monitoring and habitat characterizations, reports submitted 
during section 7 consultations, and information received from local 
experts regarding Burton Mesa or Vandenberg monkeyflower.
    Determining specific areas that Vandenberg monkeyflower occupies is 
challenging because areas may be occupied by the species even if no 
plants appear above ground (i.e., resident seed banks may be present 
with little or no visible aboveground expression of the species) (see 
``Background--Life History'' section of the listing rule published 
elsewhere in today's Federal Register). Additionally, depending upon 
the climate and other annual variations in habitat conditions, the 
observed distribution of the species may shrink, temporarily disappear, 
or enlarge to encompass more locations on Burton Mesa. Because 
Vandenberg monkeyflower occurs in sandy soils within canopy gaps, and 
plant communities may undergo changes in which the gaps may shift 
spatially over time, the degree of cover that is provided by a 
vegetation type may favor the presence of Vandenberg monkeyflower or 
not. Furthermore, the way the current distribution of Vandenberg 
monkeyflower is mapped by the various agencies, organizations, or 
surveyors has varied depending on the scale at which occurrences of 
individuals were recorded (such as many small occurrences versus one 
large occurrence). Therefore, we considered areas as occupied where 
suitable habitat is present and contiguous with an extant occurrence of 
Vandenberg monkeyflower, but which may not currently contain 
aboveground individuals.
    We used a multistep process to delineate critical habitat 
boundaries.
    (1) Using Burton Mesa as a palette, we placed a minimum convex 
polygon around all nine extant occurrences and

[[Page 64452]]

one potentially extirpated occurrence (Lower Santa Lucia Canyon) of 
Vandenberg monkeyflower based on CNDDB and herbarium records, as well 
as survey information not yet formalized in a database. This resulted 
in a data layer of Vandenberg monkeyflower's current and historical 
range on Burton Mesa (see ``Distribution of Vandenberg Monkeyflower'' 
section of the proposed listing rule published elsewhere in today's 
Federal Register). We eliminated the 1931 occurrence that was 
identified approximately 5 mi (8 km) downwind and to the east in the 
Santa Rita Valley because there is no suitable habitat remaining at 
this site; thus, we consider this occurrence to be extirpated (see 
``Historical Locations'' section in the proposed listing rule published 
elsewhere in today's Federal Register).
    (2) We used GIS to overlay soil data (NRCS) across Burton Mesa, not 
excluding any soil types at this time because Vandenberg monkeyflower 
appears to be tied more closely to loose sandy soil than to a specific 
soil type. Therefore, to define suitable sandy soil where Vandenberg 
monkeyflower may occur, we included all soil types where the species is 
currently extant. These soil types include Arnold Sand, Marina Sand, 
Narlon Sand, Tangair Sand, Botella Loam, Terrace Escarpments, and 
Gullied Land. Additionally, we did not remove areas that comprise a 
small percentage of a different soil type if it was within a larger 
polygon of a suitable soil type because these areas were below the 
mapping resolution of the NRCS soil data we utilized.
    (3) We expanded the distance from each extant occurrence and one 
potentially extirpated occurrence up to 1 mi (1.6 km) beyond the known 
outer edge of each occurrence of Vandenberg monkeyflower for the 
following reasons:
    (a) We sought to maintain connectivity between occurrences of 
Vandenberg monkeyflower because seeds are primarily dispersed by 
gravity, along with wind, water, and small mammals. Habitat 
connectivity, especially canopy gaps where the species occurs, provides 
the necessary space needed for reproduction, dispersal, and individual 
and population growth (see ``Physical and Biological Features'' section 
above).
    (b) A 1-mi (1.6-km) distance from each extant occurrence provides 
space for pollinator habitat. Vandenberg monkeyflower has a mixed 
mating system, and is dependent on pollinators to achieve seed 
production (see ``Life History'' section of the proposed listing rule 
published elsewhere in today's Federal Register). We used general 
pollinator travel distances described in the literature to help 
determine a distance that would capture pollinator habitat most 
representative of invertebrate species that visit annual Diplacus 
flowers. Typically, pollinators fly distances that are in proportion to 
their body sizes, with larger pollinators flying longer distances 
(Greenleaf et al. 2007, pp. 593-596). Therefore, if a pollinator can 
fly long distances, pollen transfer is also possible across these 
distances. Pollinators often focus on small, nearby areas where floral 
resources are abundant; however, occasional longer distance pollination 
may occur. Studies by Steffan-Dewenter and Tscharntke (2000, pp. 288-
296) demonstrated that it is possible for bees to fly as far as 3,280 
ft (1,000 m) to pollinate flowers. Walther-Hellwig and Frankl (2000, p. 
303) showed Bombus terrestris (bumblebee) foraging distances from 0.93 
to 1.1 mi (1.5 to 1.8 km). Heinrich (1979, pp. 109-122) assumed that 
Bombus species forage flights of 3.1 mi (5 km) could be effective, if 
the foraging habitats visited are more rewarding than others close by. 
Bumblebees, however, are not a likely pollinator of Vandenberg 
monkeyflower. Based on observations of other small annual Diplacus 
species, small solitary bees, which have shorter foraging distances 
than wild social bees such as bumblebees, are likely an important class 
of pollinator; therefore, we are using shorter foraging distances of 
the smaller solitary bees. See additional discussion in this section 
under (d) below for a rationale of why other distance values are 
inappropriate.
    (c) Providing a critical habitat boundary that is 1 mi (1.6 km) 
from the nine extant occurrences and one potentially extirpated 
occurrence of Vandenberg monkeyflower captures most of the remaining 
native vegetation on Burton Mesa, from east of the developed area on 
Vandenberg AFB through La Purisima Mission SHP (see ``Distribution of 
Vandenberg Monkeyflower'' section of proposed listing rule). In some 
instances, we expanded critical habitat farther than 1 mi (1.6 km) if 
the PCEs were contiguously present up-canyon. Expanding the boundary to 
1 mi (1.6 km) created larger and contiguous blocks of suitable habitat, 
which have the highest likelihood of persisting through the 
environmental extremes that characterize California's climate, and of 
retaining the genetic variability to withstand future stressors (such 
as invasive, nonnative species or climate change). Additionally, 
contiguous blocks of habitat maintain connectivity, which is important 
because habitat fragmentation can result in loss of genetic variation 
(Young et al. 1996, pp. 413-417), have negative effects on biological 
populations (especially rare plants), and affect survival and recovery 
(Aguilar et al. 2008, pp. 5177-5186). Furthermore, fragmentation has 
been shown to disrupt plant-pollinator interactions and predator-prey 
interactions (Steffan-Dewenter and Tscharntke 1999, p. 437), alter seed 
germination percentages (Menges 1991, pp. 158-164), and result in low 
fruit set (Jennerston 1988, pp. 359-366; Cunningham 2000, pp. 1149-
1152). Fragments are often not of sufficient size to support the 
natural diversity prevalent in an area and thus exhibit a decline in 
biodiversity (Noss and Cooperrider 1994, pp. 50-54).
    (d) We considered a critical habitat boundary at a distance of 0.5 
mi (0.8 km) from the nine extant locations and one potentially 
extirpated location. This shorter distance, however, did not maintain 
connectivity of occurrences, did not encompass the remaining native 
vegetation of Burton Mesa, and did not represent a sufficient distance 
to encompass long-distance seed dispersal or the distance that 
pollinators may travel. Except as described above in (c), we did not 
consider any distance larger than 1 mi (1.6 km) because the 1-mile 
distance captures the remaining native vegetation and the distribution 
of Vandenberg monkeyflower, and any distance greater than 1 mi (1.6 km) 
also captured habitat that is not suitable for this species. Therefore, 
the areas within our critical habitat boundaries include the range of 
plant communities and soil types in which Vandenberg monkeyflower is 
found, maintain connectivity of occurrences, and provide for the sandy 
openings mixed within the dominant vegetation. The delineated critical 
habitat contains the elements of physical and biological features that 
are essential to the conservation of the species.
    We did not include agricultural areas because, while the underlying 
dune sheet may be present depending on the land use practices, the 
topsoil would most likely not consist of loose sandy soil and the 
associated vegetation community would not exist. A few smaller 
agriculture and grazing plots exist within the Burton Mesa Ecological 
Reserve, but agricultural lands mostly occur to the south and east of 
the Reserve and La Purisima Mission SHP.
    When determining proposed critical habitat boundaries, we made 
every effort to avoid including developed areas such as lands covered 
by buildings, pavement, and other

[[Page 64453]]

structures because such lands lack physical or biological features 
necessary for Vandenberg monkeyflower. The scale of the maps we 
prepared under the parameters for publication within the Code of 
Federal Regulations may not reflect the exclusion of such developed 
lands. Any such lands inadvertently left inside critical habitat 
boundaries shown on the maps of this proposed rule have been excluded 
by text in the proposed rule and are not proposed for designation as 
critical habitat. Therefore, if the critical habitat is finalized as 
proposed, a Federal action involving these lands would not trigger 
section 7 consultation with respect to critical habitat and the 
requirement of no adverse modification unless the specific action would 
affect the physical or biological features in the adjacent critical 
habitat.
    We are proposing to designate critical habitat on lands that we 
have determined are within the geographical area occupied by the 
species at the time of listing (occupied at the time of listing) and 
contain the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of the species and which may require special management 
considerations or protection.
    One unit (including four subunits) is proposed for designation 
based on sufficient elements of physical or biological features being 
present to support Vandenberg monkeyflower life-history processes. All 
of the subunits contain all of the identified elements of physical or 
biological features and support multiple life-history processes.
    The critical habitat designation is defined by the map or maps, as 
modified by any accompanying regulatory text, presented at the end of 
this document in the rule portion. We include more detailed information 
on the boundaries of the critical habitat designation in the unit 
descriptions section of this document. We will make the coordinates or 
plot points or both on which each map is based available to the public 
on http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2013-0049, on our 
Internet site http://www.fws.gov/ventura/, and at the field office 
responsible for the designation (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT 
above).

Proposed Critical Habitat Designation

    We are proposing one unit consisting of four subunits as critical 
habitat for Vandenberg monkeyflower. The critical habitat areas we 
describe below constitute our best assessment of areas that meet the 
definition of critical habitat for Vandenberg monkeyflower. The unit we 
propose as critical habitat is Burton Mesa, which contains four 
subunits: (1) Vandenberg, (2) Santa Lucia, (3) Encina, and (4) La 
Purisima (see Table 1 below). The critical habitat areas described 
below are within the geographical area occupied by the species at the 
time of listing, contain the physical and biological features essential 
to the conservation of the species, and may require special management 
considerations or protections. We are not proposing to designate any 
critical habitat in areas outside the geographical area occupied by the 
species at the time of listing. Table 1 includes the approximate area 
included within each proposed critical habitat subunit.

                     Table 1--Proposed Critical Habitat Subunits for Vandenberg Monkeyflower
                    [Area estimates reflect all land within critical habitat unit boundaries]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                            Area proposed for
                                                                             critical habitat    Total size of
           Critical habitat unit                 Land ownership by type          in acres        unit in acres
                                                                                (hectares)         (hectares)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Burton Mesa Unit:
    1. Vandenberg Subunit..................  Federal......................          277 (112)          277 (112)
    2. Santa Lucia Subunit.................  State........................        1,422 (576)        1,484 (601)
                                             Local Agency.................             10 (4)
                                             Private......................            52 (21)
    3. Encina Subunit......................  State........................        1,460 (591)        2,000 (810)
                                             Local Agency.................            24 (10)
                                             Private......................          516 (209)
    4. La Purisima Subunit.................  State........................        1,792 (725)        2,024 (819)
                                             Local Agency.................              4 (2)
                                             Private......................           228 (92)
                                                                           -------------------------------------
        Subtotals..........................  Federal......................          277 (112)  .................
                                             State........................      4,674 (1,892)
                                             Local Agency.................            38 (16)
                                             Private......................          796 (322)
                                                                           =====================================
            Total \1\......................  .............................      5,785 (2,341)      5,785 (2,341)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Note: Area sizes may not sum due to rounding.
\1\ This total does not include 4,159 ac (1,683 ha) of lands within Vandenberg AFB that were identified as areas
  that meet the definition of critical habitat but are exempt from critical habitat designation under section
  4(a)(3)(B) of the Act (see Exemptions section below).

    We present brief descriptions of the Burton Mesa Unit and the four 
subunits, and reasons why they meet the definition of critical habitat 
for Vandenberg monkeyflower below.

Burton Mesa Unit

    The Burton Mesa Unit contains most of the remaining native maritime 
chaparral vegetation on Burton Mesa, roughly from the eastern boundary 
of Vandenberg AFB; to the eastern boundary of La Purisima Mission SHP; 
to the Purisima Hills in the north; and to the agricultural fields 
south of the Burton Mesa Ecological Reserve and north of the Santa Ynez 
River. The vegetation is structured in a mosaic that contains canopy 
gaps mixed with dominant woody and herbaceous vegetation (PCE 1), and 
the unit contains the loose, sandy soils on which Vandenberg 
monkeyflower occurs (PCE 2). Therefore, the Burton Mesa Unit provides 
all of the basic requirements for Vandenberg monkeyflower individual 
and population growth and

[[Page 64454]]

contains the physical and biological features essential to the 
conservation of the species. The Burton Mesa Unit is within the 
geographical area occupied at the time of listing and is comprised of 
the four subunits described below.
Subunit 1: Vandenberg Subunit
    Subunit 1 is within the geographical area occupied by Vandenberg 
monkeyflower at the time of listing and consists of 277 ac (112 ha). 
Subunit 1 is located adjacent to and between two extant occurrences 
(Oak Canyon and Pine Canyon, which are located on Vandenberg AFB) and 
is known to support suitable habitat for Vandenberg monkeyflower. 
Although Vandenberg monkeyflower plants have not yet been documented 
within this subunit, the area harbors the PCEs, and is contiguous with 
and between Vandenberg AFB lands that are known to be occupied; thus, 
this area within the proposed subunit (and the adjacent, contiguous 
land on Vandenberg AFB) is considered to be within the geographical 
area occupied by the species at the time of listing. The adjacent land 
on Vandenberg AFB is essential to the conservation of the species; 
however, we are not proposing to designate Vandenberg AFB as critical 
habitat within this subunit because we have exempted Vandenberg AFB 
from critical habitat designation under section 4(a)(3)(B) of the Act 
(see Exemptions section below). Therefore, subunit 1 is composed 
entirely of Federal land (100 percent) exclusively owned and managed by 
the Department of Justice (DOJ) and which contains the U.S. Bureau of 
Prisons Federal Penitentiary Complex at Lompoc (Lompoc Penitentiary). 
The subunit consists of the westernmost portion of DOJ lands, from the 
Vandenberg AFB boundary line to roughly the bottom slope of Santa Lucia 
Canyon. Subunit 1 contains the appropriate vegetation structure of 
contiguous chaparral habitat with canopy gaps (PCE 1) and loose, sandy 
soils (PCE 2) that support Vandenberg monkeyflower. Subunit 1 provides 
connectivity of habitat between occurrences, habitat for pollinators, 
and space for establishment of new plants from seeds that are dispersed 
from adjacent extant occurrences of Vandenberg monkeyflower.
    The features essential to the conservation of the species may 
require special management considerations or protection due to threats 
from invasion of nonnative plants. Ground disturbance within this 
subunit could remove suitable habitat and create additional openings 
for nonnative plants to invade and degrade the quality of the habitat.
Subunit 2: Santa Lucia Subunit
    Subunit 2 is within the geographical area occupied by Vandenberg 
monkeyflower at the time of listing, is currently occupied by the 
species, and consists of 1,484 ac (601 ha). This subunit includes State 
lands (96 percent) within Burton Mesa Ecological Reserve, relatively 
small portions of local agency lands (for example, school districts, 
water districts, community services districts) (less than 1 percent) 
and private lands (3 percent). Subunit 2 contains the appropriate 
vegetation structure of contiguous chaparral habitat with canopy gaps 
(PCE 1) and loose, sandy soils (PCE 2) that support Vandenberg 
monkeyflower. The eastern boundary of Vandenberg AFB delineates the 
western boundary of this subunit. Subunit 2 includes most of the 
Vandenberg and Santa Lucia Management Units of the Reserve. Subunit 2 
extends from Purisima Hills at the northern extent through the width of 
Burton Mesa to the agricultural lands south of the Reserve, and to the 
eastern boundary of the Vandenberg and Santa Lucia Management Units 
where these units abut Vandenberg Village.
    Subunit 2 supports one extant occurrence (Volans Avenue) and one 
potentially extirpated occurrence (Lower Santa Lucia Canyon) of 
Vandenberg monkeyflower. Between 2006 and 2011, the Volans Avenue 
occurrence has consisted of no more than 25 individuals; the 
potentially extirpated occurrence was last observed in 1985 (see the 
``Distribution of Vandenberg Monkeyflower--Historical Locations'' 
section of the proposed listing rule published elsewhere in today's 
Federal Register). Subunit 2 provides connectivity of habitat between 
occurrences within this subunit, habitat for pollinators, space for 
establishment of seeds blown from upwind seed sources, and space for 
establishment of new plants from seeds that are dispersed from existing 
Vandenberg monkeyflower plants within the subunit.
    The features essential to the conservation of the species may 
require special management considerations or protection due to threats 
from invasion of nonnative plants, and activities such as utility 
maintenance, and ORV and casual recreational uses. These activities 
could remove suitable habitat and Vandenberg monkeyflower individuals, 
and create additional openings for nonnative plants to invade and 
degrade the quality of the habitat. We are considering to exclude from 
the Santa Lucia Subunit approximately 1,422 ac (576 ha) of lands within 
the Burton Mesa Ecological Reserve pursuant to section 4(b)(2) of the 
Act (see Exclusions section below).
Subunit 3: Encina Subunit
    Subunit 3 is within the geographical area occupied by Vandenberg 
monkeyflower at the time of listing and consists of 2,000 ac (809 ha). 
This subunit contains State-owned lands (73 percent), including most of 
the Encina Management Unit of the Burton Mesa Ecological Reserve, local 
agency lands (1.2 percent), and privately owned lands such as areas 
adjacent to the Clubhouse Estates residential development (26 percent) 
(see Table 1 above). Subunit 3 contains the appropriate vegetation 
structure of contiguous chaparral habitat with canopy gaps (PCE 1) and 
loose, sandy soils (PCE 2) that support Vandenberg monkeyflower. 
Subunit 3 extends from approximately the Purisima Hills to the north, 
through the Reserve and to the agricultural lands just south of the 
Reserve boundary, and is between Vandenberg Village and State Route 1 
to the east and the residential communities of Mesa Oaks and Mission 
Hills to the west. Subunit 3 supports two extant occurrences of 
Vandenberg monkeyflower (Clubhouse Estates and Davis Creek). Between 
2006 and 2011, hundreds of individuals have been observed on more than 
one occasion at each of these occurrences (see ``Current Status of 
Vandenberg Monkeyflower'' section of the proposed listing rule 
published elsewhere in today's Federal Register). Subunit 3 provides 
connectivity of habitat between occurrences within this subunit, 
habitat for pollinators, space for establishment of seeds blown from 
upwind seed sources, and space for establishment of new plants from 
seeds that are dispersed from existing Vandenberg monkeyflower plants 
within the subunit.
    The features essential to the conservation of the species may 
require special management considerations or protection due to threats 
from invasion of nonnative plants, development, utility maintenance, 
and OHV and casual recreational uses. These activities could remove 
suitable habitat and Vandenberg monkeyflower individuals, result in 
trampling of individual plants, and create additional openings for 
nonnatives to invade and degrade the quality of the habitat. We are 
considering to exclude from the Encina Subunit approximately 1,460 ac 
(591 ha) of lands within the Burton Mesa Ecological Reserve (see 
Exclusions section below) pursuant to section 4(b)(2) of the Act.

[[Page 64455]]

Subunit 4: La Purisima Subunit
    Subunit 4 is within the geographical area occupied by Vandenberg 
monkeyflower at the time of listing and consists of 2,024 ac (819 ha). 
Subunit 4 contains mostly State-owned lands (89 percent) consisting of 
most of La Purisima Mission SHP and a small portion of the La Purisima 
Management Unit of the Burton Mesa Ecological Reserve that is north of 
La Purisima Mission SHP. This subunit also contains private land to the 
east of La Purisima Mission SHP (11 percent), and a small portion of 
local agency lands (less than 1 percent) (see Table 1 above). Subunit 4 
contains the appropriate vegetation structure of contiguous chaparral 
habitat with canopy gaps (PCE 1) and loose, sandy soils (PCE 2) that 
support Vandenberg monkeyflower. This subunit extends approximately 
from the Purisima Hills in the north to the southern boundary of La 
Purisima Mission SHP, and between the residential communities of Mesa 
Oaks and Mission Hills to the west and to just east of, and outside, 
the State Park's eastern boundary. Subunit 4 supports two extant 
occurrences of Vandenberg monkeyflower in La Purisima Mission SHP (La 
Purisima East and La Purisima West). Between 2006 and 2011, more than 
2,000 individuals of Vandenberg monkeyflower have been observed among 
the sites on both the east and west side of Purisima Canyon (see 
``Current Status of Vandenberg Monkeyflower'' section of the proposed 
listing rule published elsewhere in today's Federal Register). This 
subunit provides connectivity of habitat between occurrences within 
this subunit, habitat for pollinators, space for establishment of seeds 
blown from upwind seed sources, and space for establishment of new 
plants from seeds that are dispersed from existing Vandenberg 
monkeyflower plants within the subunit.
    The features essential to the conservation of the species may 
require special management considerations or protection due to threats 
from invasion of nonnative plants that could reduce the amount and 
quality of suitable habitat. We are considering to exclude from the La 
Purisima Subunit approximately 1,792 ac (725 ha) of State lands--250 ac 
(101 ha) of Reserve lands managed by California Department of Fish and 
Wildlife (CDFW) and 1,542 ac (624 ha) of La Purisima Mission SHP lands 
managed by California State Parks (see Exclusions section below) 
pursuant to section 4(b)(2) of the Act.

Effects of Critical Habitat Designation

Section 7 Consultation

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

Application of the ``Adverse Modification'' Standard

    The key factor related to the adverse modification determination is 
whether, with implementation of the proposed Federal action, the 
affected critical

[[Page 64456]]

habitat would continue to serve its intended conservation role for the 
species. Activities that may destroy or adversely modify critical 
habitat are those that alter the physical or biological features to an 
extent that appreciably reduces the conservation value of critical 
habitat for Vandenberg monkeyflower. As discussed above, the role of 
critical habitat is to support life-history needs of the species and 
provide for the conservation of the species.
    Section 4(b)(8) of the Act requires us to briefly evaluate and 
describe, in any proposed or final regulation that designates critical 
habitat, activities involving a Federal action that may destroy or 
adversely modify such habitat, or that may be affected by such 
designation.
    Activities that may affect critical habitat, when carried out, 
funded, or authorized by a Federal agency, should result in 
consultation for Vandenberg monkeyflower. These activities include, but 
are not limited to:
    (1) Actions that would lead to the destruction or alteration of 
Vandenberg monkeyflower habitat. Such activities could include, but are 
not limited to, development, road and utility repairs and maintenance, 
anthropogenic fires, and some casual recreational uses. These 
activities could lead to loss of habitat; removal of the seed bank; 
introduction and proliferation of invasive, nonnative plants; reduction 
of pollinators; and habitat fragmentation.
    (2) Actions that create ground disturbance and would lead to 
significant invasive, nonnative plant competition. Such activities 
could include, but are not limited to, any activity that results in 
ground disturbance and creates additional open areas for invasive, 
nonnative plants to invade Vandenberg monkeyflower habitat. Invasive, 
nonnative plants quickly establish in disturbed areas and outcompete 
native vegetation, including Vandenberg monkeyflower in the sandy 
openings (see Factor A--Invasive, Nonnative Species in the proposed 
listing rule).

Exemptions

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

    The Sikes Act Improvement Act of 1997 (Sikes Act) (16 U.S.C. 670a) 
required each military installation that includes land and water 
suitable for the conservation and management of natural resources to 
complete an integrated natural resource management plan (INRMP) by 
November 17, 2001. An INRMP integrates implementation of the military 
mission of the installation with stewardship of the natural resources 
found on the base. Each INRMP includes:
    (1) An assessment of the ecological needs on the installation, 
including the need to provide for the conservation of listed species;
    (2) A statement of goals and priorities;
    (3) A detailed description of management actions to be implemented 
to provide for these ecological needs; and
    (4) A monitoring and adaptive management plan.
    Among other things, each INRMP must, to the extent appropriate and 
applicable, provide for fish and wildlife management; fish and wildlife 
habitat enhancement or modification; wetland protection, enhancement, 
and restoration where necessary to support fish and wildlife; and 
enforcement of applicable natural resource laws.
    The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004 (Pub. 
L. 108-136) amended the Act to limit areas eligible for designation as 
critical habitat. Specifically, section 4(a)(3)(B)(i) of the Act (16 
U.S.C. 1533(a)(3)(B)(i)) now provides: ``The Secretary shall not 
designate as critical habitat any lands or other geographic areas owned 
or controlled by the Department of Defense, or designated for its use, 
that are subject to an integrated natural resources management plan 
prepared under section 101 of the Sikes Act (16 U.S.C. 670a), if the 
Secretary determines in writing that such plan provides a benefit to 
the species for which critical habitat is proposed for designation.''
    We consult with the military on the development and implementation 
of INRMPs for installations with listed species. We analyzed INRMPs 
developed by military installations located within the range of the 
proposed critical habitat designation for Vandenberg monkeyflower to 
determine if they are exempt under section 4(a)(3) of the Act. 
Vandenberg AFB is the only Department of Defense land with a completed, 
Service-approved INRMP within the proposed critical habitat 
designation.
Approved INRMPs--Vandenberg Air Force Base (Vandenberg AFB)
    Vandenberg AFB has a Service-approved INRMP. The U.S. Air Force (on 
Vandenberg AFB) committed to working closely with us and CDFW to 
continually refine the existing INRMP as part of the Sikes Act's INRMP 
review process. Based on our review of the INRMP for this military 
installation, and in accordance with section 4(a)(3)(B)(i) of the Act, 
we have determined that certain lands within this installation meet the 
definition of critical habitat, and that conservation efforts 
identified in this INRMP, as modified by the 2012 Addendum, will 
provide a benefit to Vandenberg monkeyflower (see the following 
sections that detail this determination for the installation). 
Therefore, lands within this installation are exempt from critical 
habitat designation under section 4(a)(3)(B) of the Act. In summary, we 
are not including as proposed critical habitat approximately 4,159 ac 
(1,683 ha) on Vandenberg AFB that meet the definition of critical 
habitat but are exempt from designation under section 4(a)(3)(B) of the 
Act.
Vandenberg Air Force Base
    Vandenberg AFB is headquarters for the 30th Space Wing, the Air 
Force's Space Command unit that operates Vandenberg AFB and the Western 
Test Range and Pacific Missile Range. Vandenberg AFB operates as an 
aerospace center supporting west coast launch activities for the Air 
Force, Department of Defense, National Aeronautics and Space 
Administration, and commercial contractors. The three primary 
operational missions of Vandenberg AFB are to launch, place, and track 
satellites in near-polar orbit; to test and evaluate the 
Intercontinental ballistic missile systems; and to support aircraft 
operations in the western range. Vandenberg AFB lies on the south-
central California coast, approximately 275 mi (442 km) south of San 
Francisco, 140 mi (225 km) northwest of Los Angeles, and 55 mi (88 km) 
northwest of Santa Barbara. The 99,100-ac (40,104-ha) base extends 
along approximately 42 mi (67 km) of Santa Barbara County coast, and 
varies in width from 5 to 15 mi (8 to 24 km).
    The Vandenberg AFB INRMP was prepared to provide strategic 
direction to ecosystem and natural resources management on the Base. 
The long-term goal of the INRMP is to integrate all management 
activities in a manner that sustains, promotes, and restores the health 
and integrity of ecosystems using an adaptive management approach. The 
INRMP was designed to: (1) Summarize existing management plans and 
natural resources literature pertaining to Vandenberg AFB, (2) identify 
and analyze management goals in existing plans, (3) integrate the 
management goals and objectives of individual plans, (4) support Base 
compliance with applicable regulatory requirements, (5) support the 
integration of natural resource stewardship with the Air Force mission, 
and (6) provide direction for monitoring strategies.

[[Page 64457]]

    Vandenberg AFB completed an INRMP in May 2011 (Air Force 2011c). 
The INRMP includes chapters that identify invasive, nonnative plants on 
the Base as well as step-down goals for the management of threatened 
and endangered species on the Base. However, since Vandenberg 
monkeyflower was not a listed species at that time, specific goals for 
this plant were not included. In 2012, the Air Force approved an 
addendum to the May 2011 INRMP that addresses specific goals for 
Vandenberg monkeyfower (Air Force 2012). Management considerations that 
provide a conservation benefit to Vandenberg monkeyflower in the 
addendum are:
    (1) Avoiding Vandenberg monkeyflower and its habitat to the maximum 
extent practicable by relocating and redesigning proposed projects, and 
using biological monitors during project activities.
    (2) Conducting nonnative species control efforts that target veldt 
grass across Vandenberg AFB. The Air Force has programmed more than 
$500,000 to treat veldt grass, with funding that started in 2009 and 
would continue through 2019.
    (3) Training Base personnel in the identification of sensitive 
species and their habitats, including Vandenberg monkeyflower, prior to 
implementing nonnative species control actions.
    (4) Implementing a fire response program, such as a Burned Area 
Emergency Response project, which includes post-fire monitoring, 
habitat restoration, erosion control, and nonnative species management.
    (5) Developing a controlled burning program that would include 
portions of Vandenberg monkeyflower habitat.
    (6) Conducting habitat and threat assessments to help decide the 
best approach for restoration actions.
    (7) Periodic surveys of Vandenberg monkeyflower populations on the 
Base.
    Vandenberg AFB supports four extant occurrences of Vandenberg 
monkeyflower located in Oak, Pine, Lakes, and Santa Lucia Canyons. 
Between 2006 and 2011, these four locations contained multiple 
occurrences; in 2010 specifically, more than 5,000 individuals were 
observed amongst all occurrences (see ``Occurrences Located on 
Vandenberg AFB'' section of the proposed listing rule published 
elsewhere in today's Federal Register). Vandenberg AFB provides 
approximately half of the available suitable habitat (Burton Mesa 
chaparral) for Vandenberg monkeyflower and has four out of nine extant 
occurrences. However, based on the considerations above, and in 
accordance with section 4(a)(3)(B)(i) of the Act, we have determined 
that the identified lands are subject to the Vandenberg AFB INRMP and 
addendum, and the conservation efforts identified in the INRMP addendum 
will provide a conservation benefit to Vandenberg monkeyflower. 
Therefore, lands within this installation are exempt from critical 
habitat designation under section 4(a)(3) of the Act. We are not 
including approximately 4,159 ac (1,683 ha) of habitat in this proposed 
critical habitat designation because of this exemption.

Exclusions

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

    Section 4(b)(2) of the Act states that the Secretary shall 
designate and make revisions to critical habitat on the basis of the 
best available scientific data after taking into consideration the 
economic impact, national security impact, and any other relevant 
impact of specifying any particular area as critical habitat. The 
Secretary may exclude an area from critical habitat if she determines 
that the benefits of such exclusion outweigh the benefits of specifying 
such area as part of the critical habitat, unless she determines, based 
on the best scientific data available, that the failure to designate 
such area as critical habitat will result in the extinction of the 
species. In making that determination, the statute on its face, as well 
as the legislative history, are clear that the Secretary has broad 
discretion regarding which factor(s) to use and how much weight to give 
to any factor.
    In considering whether to exclude a particular area from the 
designation, we identify the benefits of including the area in the 
designation, identify the benefits of excluding the area from the 
designation, and evaluate whether the benefits of exclusion outweigh 
the benefits of inclusion. If the analysis indicates that the benefits 
of exclusion outweigh the benefits of inclusion, the Secretary may 
exercise her discretion to exclude the area only if such exclusion 
would not result in the extinction of the species.
    When identifying the benefits of inclusion for an area, we consider 
the additional regulatory benefits that area would receive from the 
protection from adverse modification or destruction as a result of 
actions with a Federal nexus; the educational benefits of mapping 
essential habitat for recovery of the listed species; and any benefits 
that may result from a designation due to State or Federal laws that 
may apply to critical habitat.
    When identifying the benefits of exclusion, we consider, among 
other things, whether exclusion of a specific area is likely to result 
in conservation; the continuation, strengthening, or encouragement of 
partnerships; or implementation of a management plan that provides 
equal to or more conservation than a critical habitat designation would 
provide.
    In the case of Vandenberg monkeyflower, the benefits of critical 
habitat include public awareness of the presence of Vandenberg 
monkeyflower, the importance of habitat protection, and in cases where 
a Federal nexus exists, the potential increased habitat protection for 
Vandenberg monkeyflower due to the protection from adverse modification 
or destruction of critical habitat.
    When we evaluate the existence of a conservation plan (or similar 
management plan) when considering the benefits of exclusion, we 
consider a variety of factors, including but not limited to, whether 
the plan is finalized, how it provides for the conservation of the 
essential physical or biological features, whether there is a 
reasonable expectation that the conservation management strategies and 
actions contained in a management plan will be implemented into the 
future, whether the conservation strategies in the plan are likely to 
be effective, and whether the plan contains a monitoring program or 
adaptive management to ensure that the conservation measures are 
effective and can be adapted in the future in response to new 
information.
    After identifying the benefits of inclusion and the benefits of 
exclusion, we carefully weigh the two sides to evaluate whether the 
benefits of exclusion outweigh those of inclusion. If our analysis 
indicates that the benefits of exclusion outweigh the benefits of 
inclusion, we then determine whether exclusion would result in 
extinction. If exclusion of an area from critical habitat will result 
in extinction, we will not exclude it from the designation.
    Based on the information provided by entities seeking exclusion, as 
well as any additional public comments received, we will evaluate 
whether certain lands in the proposed critical habitat Subunits 2, 3, 
and 4 are appropriate for exclusion from the final designation pursuant 
to section 4(b)(2) of the Act. If the analysis indicates that the 
benefits of excluding lands from the final designation outweigh the 
benefits of designating those lands as critical habitat, then the 
Secretary may exercise her discretion to exclude the lands from the 
final designation.

[[Page 64458]]

    After considering the following areas under section 4(b)(2) of the 
Act, we are considering excluding them from the critical habitat 
designation for Vandenberg monkeyflower. These areas include lands 
proposed for critical habitat within the Burton Mesa Ecological Reserve 
(including a portion of lands in Subunit 2--Santa Lucia, a portion of 
lands in Subunit 3--Encina, and a portion of lands in Subunit 4--La 
Purisima) and lands proposed for critical habitat within La Purisima 
Mission SHP (a portion of lands in Subunit 4--La Purisima). Table 2 
below provides approximate areas (ac, ha) of these lands that meet the 
definition of critical habitat and are under our consideration for 
possible exclusion under section 4(b)(2) of the Act.

                        Table 2--Areas Considered for Exclusion by Critical Habitat Unit
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                            Areas meeting the
                                                                              definition of     Areas considered
                  Subunit                            Specific area           critical habitat   for exclusion in
                                                                                 in acres       acres (hectares)
                                                                                (hectares)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Subunit 2--Santa Lucia.....................  Burton Mesa Ecological               1,484 (601)        1,422 (576)
                                              Reserve.
Subunit 3--Encina..........................  Burton Mesa Ecological               2,000 (810)        1,460 (591)
                                              Reserve.
Subunit 4--La Purisima.....................  La Purisima Mission SHP......        2,024 (819)        1,542 (624)
                                             Burton Mesa Ecological         .................          250 (101)
                                              Reserve.
                                                                           -------------------------------------
    Total..................................  .............................      5,508 (2,230)      4,674 (1,892)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    However, we specifically solicit comments on the inclusion or 
exclusion of these areas. In the paragraphs below, we provide a 
detailed analysis of our consideration to exclude these lands under 
section 4(b)(2) of the Act.
Exclusions Based on Economic Impacts
    Under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we consider the economic impacts 
of specifying any particular area as critical habitat. In order to 
consider economic impacts, we are preparing an analysis of the economic 
impacts of the proposed critical habitat designation and related 
factors. The critical habitat subunits, as proposed, include Federal 
lands under the jurisdiction of the Department of Justice for the 
Lompoc Penitentiary, State lands with recreational uses, and private 
lands.
    During the development of a final designation, we will consider 
economic impacts based on information in our economic analysis, public 
comments, and other new information, and areas may be excluded from the 
final critical habitat designation under section 4(b)(2) of the Act and 
our implementing regulations at 50 CFR 424.19.
Exclusions Based on National Security Impacts
    Under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we consider whether there are 
lands owned or managed by the Department of Defense or Department of 
Homeland Security where a national security impact might exist. As 
discussed above under the Exemptions section, we are exempting 
Department of Defense lands at Vandenberg AFB because we have 
determined that the INRMP and addendum provide a conservation benefit 
to Vandenberg monkeyflower. We have also determined that the remaining 
lands within the proposed designation of critical habitat for the 
species are not owned or managed by the Department of Defense or 
Department of Homeland Security, and, therefore, we anticipate no 
impact on national security.
Exclusions Based on Other Relevant Impacts
    Under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we consider any other relevant 
impacts in addition to economic impacts and impacts on national 
security. We consider a number of factors, including whether the 
landowners have developed any HCPs or other management plans for the 
area, or whether there are conservation partnerships that would be 
encouraged by designation of, or exclusion from, critical habitat. In 
addition, we look at any tribal issues, and consider the government-to-
government relationship of the United States with tribal entities. We 
also consider any social impacts that might occur because of the 
designation.
    We consider a current land management or conservation plan (HCPs as 
well as other types) to provide adequate management or protection if it 
meets the following criteria:
    (1) The plan is complete and provides a conservation benefit for 
the species and its habitat;
    (2) there is a reasonable expectation that the conservation 
management strategies and actions will be implemented into the future, 
based on past practices, written guidance, or regulations; and
    (3) the plan provides conservation strategies and measures 
consistent with currently accepted principles of conservation biology.
    Portions of the proposed critical habitat subunits may warrant 
exclusion from designation as critical habitat under section 4(b)(2) of 
the Act based on partnerships with the State for management of the 
Burton Mesa Ecological Reserve and La Purisima Mission SHP, and the 
management and protection afforded by the general management plans the 
State has developed for the Reserve and the La Purisima Mission SHP, as 
discussed below.
    Burton Mesa Ecological Reserve. The State Lands Commission signed a 
49-year lease of the Burton Mesa Ecological Reserve on January 20, 
2000. The purpose of the lease is to manage, operate, and maintain 
these sovereign lands for the sensitive species and habitats they 
support (Gevirtz et al. 2007, p. 3). The CDFW developed a management 
plan for the Reserve. This plan guides management of habitats, species, 
and programs to achieve the mission of CDFW to protect and enhance 
wildlife values (Gevirtz et al. 2007, p. 1). Management objectives that 
provide a conservation benefit to Vandenberg monkeyflower include:
    (1) Minimizing damage to sensitive natural resources from ground 
disturbance.
    (2) Minimizing the presence and impact of invasive, nonnative 
species.
    (3) Maintaining a network of trails for public use while protecting 
resources and preventing unauthorized uses.
    (4) Maintaining habitat continuity around the Reserve to limit the 
fragmentation of native vegetation on Burton Mesa.
    (5) Restoring native areas that have been altered by humans to 
natural habitats.
    (6) Monitoring the effectiveness and validity of the management 
actions.
    (7) Encouraging public education about the ecosystem of the 
Reserve.

[[Page 64459]]

    (8) Developing a fire (fuel) management plan to provide for public 
safety of nearby residential areas and to protect the numerous special 
status plants and animals on the Reserve (Gevirtz et al. 2007, pp. 229-
265).
    These management objectives would benefit Vandenberg monkeyflower 
by reducing the loss of suitable habitat; minimizing the presence and 
expansion of invasive, nonnative plants; minimizing the pathways for 
nonnative plants to invade suitable habitat; reducing potential 
trampling of individual plants during casual recreational use; and 
maintaining an adequate fire regime for the benefit of the native 
Burton Mesa chaparral vegetation. Although aspects of this general 
management plan address to some degree the above criteria for exclusion 
of lands from critical habitat designation (for instance, it provides a 
conservation benefit and strategies and measures consistent with 
currently accepted principles of conservation biology), we have 
concerns whether funding and staffing will be available to adequately 
implement this plan to protect Vandenberg monkeyflower in the future. 
We are considering the exclusion of State lands covered by the 
Reserve's plan that provide for the conservation of Vandenberg 
monkeyflower. We are requesting comments on the benefit to Vandenberg 
monkeyflower from this plan and our consideration to exclude these 
lands from the final designation under section 4(b)(2) of the Act (see 
the Information Requested section).
    La Purisima Mission State Historical Park (SHP). California State 
Parks has guidelines for the management of natural resources and 
sensitive species. Based on measures included in a general management 
plan for La Purisima Mission SHP that was completed in 1991 (California 
State Parks 1991), we are considering lands covered by the plan for 
exclusion under section 4(b)(2) of the Act. General plans for State 
Parks are prepared to guide future management and development of State 
Park System units (California State Parks 1991, p. 10). The goal of the 
State Parks natural resource management program is to protect, restore, 
and maintain the natural resources in the State Park System. 
Additionally, broad resource management policies concerning State 
Historic Parks are stated in the Public Resources Code, the California 
Code of Regulations, and the Department's Resource Management 
Directives (California State Parks 1991, p. 54).
    Although the primary goal of the La Purisima Mission SHP plan is 
historical preservation, there are resource management directives 
specific to La Purisima Mission SHP that would include the habitat 
where Vandenberg monkeyflower occurs, which include:
    (1) Preserving Burton Mesa chaparral.
    (2) Protecting and managing rare and endangered plants in 
perpetuity.
    (3) Maintaining a network of trails for public use while protecting 
resources and preventing unauthorized uses.
    (4) Controlling nonnative plants that have become established in La 
Purisima Mission SHP.
    (5) Developing a wildfire management plan (Cox 2013, pers. comm.).
    These management objectives would benefit Vandenberg monkeyflower 
by reducing the loss of suitable habitat; minimizing the presence and 
expansion of invasive, nonnative plants; minimizing the pathways for 
nonnative plants to invade suitable habitat; reducing potential 
trampling of individual plants during casual recreational use; and 
implementing wildfire management guidelines to minimize the potential 
impact to natural resources while suppressing fires. Although there are 
aspects of this general management plan that address to some degree the 
above criteria for exclusion of lands from critical habitat designation 
(for instance, it provides a conservation benefit and strategies and 
measures consistent with currently accepted principles of conservation 
biology), we have concerns whether funding and staffing will be 
available to adequately implement this plan to protect Vandenberg 
monkeyflower in the future. We are considering the exclusion of State 
lands covered by this general management plan that provide for the 
conservation of Vandenberg monkeyflower. We are requesting comments on 
the benefit to Vandenberg monkeyflower from La Purisima Mission SHP's 
general management plan (see the Information Requested section).
    In preparing this proposal, we have determined that there are 
currently no HCPs or other management plans for Vandenberg 
monkeyflower, and the proposed designation does not include any tribal 
lands. We anticipate no impact on tribal lands, partnerships, or HCPs 
from this proposed critical habitat designation.

Peer Review

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

Public Hearings

    Section 4(b)(5) of the Act provides for one or more public hearings 
on this proposal, if requested. Requests must be received within 45 
days after the date of publication of this proposed rule in the Federal 
Register. Such requests must be sent to the address shown in 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.

Required Determinations

Regulatory Planning and Review--Executive Orders 12866 and 13563

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

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

    Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA; 5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) as 
amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act 
(SBREFA) of 1996 (5 U.S.C. 801 et seq.), whenever an

[[Page 64460]]

agency is required to publish a notice of rulemaking for any proposed 
or final rule, it must prepare and make available for public comment a 
regulatory flexibility analysis that describes the effects of the rule 
on small entities (small businesses, small organizations, and small 
government jurisdictions). However, no regulatory flexibility analysis 
is required if the head of the agency certifies the rule will not have 
a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. The SBREFA amended the RFA to require Federal agencies to 
provide a certification statement of the factual basis for certifying 
that the rule will not have a significant economic impact on a 
substantial number of small entities.
    According to the Small Business Administration, small entities 
include small organizations such as independent nonprofit 
organizations; small governmental jurisdictions, including school 
boards and city and town governments that serve fewer than 50,000 
residents; and small businesses (13 CFR 121.201). Small businesses 
include such businesses as manufacturing and mining concerns with fewer 
than 500 employees, wholesale trade entities with fewer than 100 
employees, retail and service businesses with less than $5 million in 
annual sales, general and heavy construction businesses with less than 
$27.5 million in annual business, special trade contractors doing less 
than $11.5 million in annual business, and forestry and logging 
operations with fewer than 500 employees and annual business less than 
$7 million. To determine whether small entities may be affected, we 
will consider the types of activities that might trigger regulatory 
impacts under this designation as well as types of project 
modifications that may result. In general, the term ``significant 
economic impact'' is meant to apply to a typical small business firm's 
business operations.
    Importantly, the incremental impacts of a rule must be both 
significant and substantial to prevent certification of the rule under 
the RFA and to require the preparation of an initial regulatory 
flexibility analysis. If a substantial number of small entities are 
affected by the proposed critical habitat designation, but the per-
entity economic impact is not significant, the Service may certify. 
Likewise, if the per-entity economic impact is likely to be 
significant, but the number of affected entities is not substantial, 
the Service may also certify.
    Under the RFA, as amended, and following recent court decisions, 
Federal agencies are only required to evaluate the potential 
incremental impacts of rulemaking on those entities directly regulated 
by the rulemaking itself, and not the potential impacts to indirectly 
affected entities. The regulatory mechanism through which critical 
habitat protections are realized is section 7 of the Act, which 
requires Federal agencies, in consultation with the Service, to ensure 
that any action authorized, funded, or carried by the Agency is not 
likely to adversely modify critical habitat. Therefore, only Federal 
action agencies are directly subject to the specific regulatory 
requirement (avoiding destruction and adverse modification) imposed by 
critical habitat designation. Under these circumstances, it is our 
position that only Federal action agencies will be directly regulated 
by this designation. Therefore, because Federal agencies are not small 
entities, the Service may certify that the proposed critical habitat 
rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial 
number of small entities.
    We acknowledge, however, that in some cases, third-party proponents 
of the action subject to permitting or funding may participate in a 
section 7 consultation, and thus may be indirectly affected. We believe 
it is good policy to assess these impacts if we have sufficient data 
before us to complete the necessary analysis, whether or not this 
analysis is strictly required by the RFA. While this regulation does 
not directly regulate these entities, in our draft economic analysis we 
will conduct a brief evaluation of the potential number of third 
parties participating in consultations on an annual basis in order to 
ensure a more complete examination of the incremental effects of this 
proposed rule in the context of the RFA.
    In conclusion, we believe that, based on our interpretation of 
directly regulated entities under the RFA and relevant case law, this 
designation of critical habitat will only directly regulate Federal 
agencies which are not by definition small business entities. 
Therefore, we certify that, if promulgated, this designation of 
critical habitat would not have a significant economic impact on a 
substantial number of small business entities. Therefore, an initial 
regulatory flexibility analysis is not required. However, though not 
necessarily required by the RFA, in our draft economic analysis for 
this proposal we will consider and evaluate the potential effects to 
third parties that may be involved with consultations with Federal 
action agencies related to this action.

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

    Executive Order 13211 (Actions Concerning Regulations That 
Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use) requires 
agencies to prepare Statements of Energy Effects when undertaking 
certain actions. Oil extraction is still occurring on the oil field to 
the north of the Burton Mesa Ecological Reserve that is operated by 
Plains Exploration and Production Company (PXP). Multiple remnant 
pipelines associated with oil production remain in several locations 
just outside of the Reserve's boundaries (Gevirtz et al. 2007, p. 57). 
A triplet pipeline runs from the Lompoc Oil and Gas Plant to the 
offshore oil platform Irene, crossing Vandenberg AFB. Therefore, a 
Federal nexus with the Air Force or the Federal Energy Regulatory 
Commission may exist; however, Vandenberg AFB is not proposed as 
critical habitat. We do not expect the designation of this proposed 
critical habitat to significantly affect energy supplies, distribution, 
or use. This is because, under section 7 of the Act, the lead agency 
for a proposed project would need to consider substantial project 
modifications only if the project were to reach a threshold of 
jeopardizing the continued existence of the species or destroy or 
adversely modify its critical habitat, a scenario that is unlikely with 
Vandenberg monkeyflower. Therefore, this action is not a significant 
energy action, and no Statement of Energy Effects is required. However, 
we will further evaluate this issue as we conduct our economic 
analysis, and review and revise this assessment if warranted.

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

    In accordance with the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (2 U.S.C. 1501 
et seq.), we make the following findings:
    (1) This rule will not produce a Federal mandate. In general, a 
Federal mandate is a provision in legislation, statute, or regulation 
that would impose an enforceable duty upon State, local, or tribal 
governments, or the private sector, and includes both ``Federal 
intergovernmental mandates'' and ``Federal private sector mandates.'' 
These terms are defined in 2 U.S.C. 658(5)-(7). ``Federal 
intergovernmental mandate'' includes a regulation that ``would impose 
an enforceable duty upon State, local, or tribal governments'' with two 
exceptions. It excludes ``a condition of Federal assistance.'' It also 
excludes ``a duty arising from participation in a voluntary Federal 
program,'' unless the regulation ``relates

[[Page 64461]]

to a then-existing Federal program under which $500,000,000 or more is 
provided annually to State, local, and tribal governments under 
entitlement authority,'' if the provision would ``increase the 
stringency of conditions of assistance'' or ``place caps upon, or 
otherwise decrease, the Federal Government's responsibility to provide 
funding,'' and the State, local, or tribal governments ``lack 
authority'' to adjust accordingly. At the time of enactment, these 
entitlement programs were: Medicaid; Aid to Families with Dependent 
Children work programs; Child Nutrition; Food Stamps; Social Services 
Block Grants; Vocational Rehabilitation State Grants; Foster Care, 
Adoption Assistance, and Independent Living; Family Support Welfare 
Services; and Child Support Enforcement. ``Federal private sector 
mandate'' includes a regulation that ``would impose an enforceable duty 
upon the private sector, except (i) a condition of Federal assistance 
or (ii) a duty arising from participation in a voluntary Federal 
program.''
    The designation of critical habitat does not impose a legally 
binding duty on non-Federal Government entities or private parties. 
Under the Act, the only regulatory effect is that Federal agencies must 
ensure that their actions do not destroy or adversely modify critical 
habitat under section 7. While non-Federal entities that receive 
Federal funding, assistance, or permits, or that otherwise require 
approval or authorization from a Federal agency for an action, may be 
indirectly impacted by the designation of critical habitat, the legally 
binding duty to avoid destruction or adverse modification of critical 
habitat rests squarely on the Federal agency. Furthermore, to the 
extent that non-Federal entities are indirectly impacted because they 
receive Federal assistance or participate in a voluntary Federal aid 
program, the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act would not apply, nor would 
critical habitat shift the costs of the large entitlement programs 
listed above onto State governments.
    (2) We do not believe that this rule will significantly or uniquely 
affect small governments because approximately 85 percent of the lands 
being proposed for Vandenberg monkeyflower critical habitat are on 
lands managed by State agencies, primarily CDFW and California State 
Parks. A small percentage of land (38 ac (15 ha), or 0.7 percent) 
proposed as critical habitat falls within the land use jurisdiction of 
local agencies (such as special-use districts, water districts, and 
community service districts). The local-agency lands proposed as 
critical habitat are a small percentage of the total land area 
proposed. Small governments would be affected only to the extent that 
any programs having Federal funds, permits, or other authorized 
activities must ensure that their actions would not adversely affect 
critical habitat. Moreover, these agencies would be required to meet 
other regulatory mechanisms (such as CEQA) in addition to compliance 
with the Act. Therefore, a Small Government Agency Plan is not 
required. However, we will further evaluate this issue as we conduct 
our economic analysis, and review and revise this assessment if 
appropriate.

Takings--Executive Order 12630

    In accordance with Executive Order 12630 (``Government Actions and 
Interference with Constitutionally Protected Private Property 
Rights''), this rule is not anticipated to have significant takings 
implications. As discussed above, the designation of critical habitat 
affects only Federal actions. Critical habitat designation does not 
affect landowner actions that do not require Federal funding or 
permits, nor does it preclude development of habitat conservation 
programs or issuance of incidental take permits to permit actions that 
do require Federal funding or permits to go forward. We have not yet 
completed the economic analysis for this proposed rule. Once the 
economic analysis is available, we will review and revise this 
preliminary assessment as warranted, and prepare a Takings Implication 
Assessment.

Federalism--Executive Order 13132

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

Civil Justice Reform--Executive Order 12988

    In accordance with Executive Order 12988 (Civil Justice Reform), 
the Office of the Solicitor has determined that the rule does not 
unduly burden the judicial system and that it meets the requirements of 
sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of the Order. We have proposed designating 
critical habitat in accordance with the provisions of the Act. To 
assist the public in understanding the habitat needs of the species, 
the proposed rule identifies the elements of physical or biological 
features essential to the conservation of Vandenberg monkeyflower. The 
areas of proposed critical habitat are presented on maps, and the rule 
provides several options for the interested public to obtain more 
detailed location information, if desired.

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

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

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

    It is our position that, outside the jurisdiction of the U.S. Court 
of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, we do not need to prepare 
environmental analyses pursuant to the National Environmental Policy 
Act (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) in connection with designating 
critical habitat under the Act. We published a notice outlining our 
reasons for this determination in the Federal

[[Page 64462]]

Register on October 25, 1983 (48 FR 49244). This position was upheld by 
the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Douglas County v. 
Babbitt, 48 F.3d 1495 (9th Cir. 1995), cert. denied 516 U.S. 1042 
(1996)).

Government-to-Government Relationship With Tribes

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

Clarity of the Rule

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

References Cited

    A complete list of references cited in this rulemaking is available 
on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-
2013-0049 and upon request from the Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office 
(see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

Authors

    The primary authors of this package are the staff members of the 
Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

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

Proposed Regulation Promulgation

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

PART 17--[AMENDED]

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. In Sec.  17.96, amend paragraph (a) by adding the family Phrymaceae 
and an entry for ``Diplacus vandenbergensis (Vandenberg monkeyflower)'' 
in alphabetical order to read as follows:


Sec.  17.96  Critical habitat--plants.

    (a) Flowering plants.
* * * * *
    Family Phrymaceae: Diplacus vandenbergensis (Vandenberg 
monkeyflower)
    (1) Critical habitat units are depicted for Santa Barbara County, 
California, on the maps below.
    (2) Within these areas, the primary constituent elements of the 
physical or biological features essential to the conservation of 
Vandenberg monkeyflower consist of two components:
    (i) Native maritime chaparral communities of Burton Mesa comprised 
of maritime chaparral and maritime chaparral mixed with coastal scrub, 
oak woodland, and small patches of native grasslands. The mosaic 
structure of the native plant communities (arranged in a mosaic of 
dominant vegetation and sandy openings (canopy gaps)), may change 
spatially as a result of succession, and physical processes such as 
windblown sand and wildfire.
    (ii) Loose sandy soils on Burton Mesa. As mapped by the Natural 
Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), these could include the 
following soil series: Arnold Sand, Marina Sand, Narlon Sand, Tangair 
Sand, Botella Loam, Terrace Escarpments, and Gullied Land.
    (3) Critical habitat does not include manmade structures (such as 
buildings, aqueducts, runways, roads, and other paved areas) and the 
land on which they are located existing within the legal boundaries on 
the effective date of any final rule designating critical habitat for 
Vandenberg monkeyflower.
    (4) Critical habitat map units. Data layers defining map units were 
created on a base of USGS 1:24,000 maps, and critical habitat units 
were then mapped using Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) Zone 15N 
coordinates.
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[[Page 64463]]

    (5) Note: Index map follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP29OC13.000
    

[[Page 64464]]


    (6) Unit 1, Subunit 1 (Vandenberg) and Subunit 2 (Santa Lucia): 
Santa Barbara County, California. Map of Unit 1, Subunits 1 and 2 
follows.
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP29OC13.001


[[Page 64465]]


    (7) Unit 1, Subunit 3 (Encina) and Subunit 4 (La Purisima): Santa 
Barbara County, California. Map of Unit 1, Subunits 3 and 4, follows:
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP29OC13.002


[[Page 64466]]


* * * * *

    Dated: October 21, 2013.
Rachel Jacobson,
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
[FR Doc. 2013-25399 Filed 10-28-13; 8:45 am]
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