Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12-Month Finding on a Petition To List Eriogonum kelloggii (Red Mountain buckwheat) and Sedum eastwoodiae (Red Mountain stonecrop) as Endangered or Threatened Species, 56029-56040 [2014-22224]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 181 / Thursday, September 18, 2014 / Proposed Rules VIII. Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 This proposed order establishes special controls that refer to previously approved collections of information found in other FDA regulations. These collections of information are subject to review by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501– 3520). The collections of information in part 807, subpart E have been approved under OMB control number 0910–0120. IX. Proposed Effective Date FDA proposes that any final order based on this proposal become effective 30 days after the date of publication in the Federal Register. X. Comments Interested persons may submit either electronic comments regarding this document to http://www.regulations.gov or written comments to the Division of Dockets Management (see ADDRESSES). It is only necessary to send one set of comments. Identify comments with the docket number found in brackets in the heading of this document. Received comments may be seen in the Division of Dockets Management between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, and will be posted to the docket at http:// www.regulations.gov. List of Subjects in 21 CFR Part 872 Medical devices. Therefore, under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. 321 et seq., as amended) and under authority delegated to the Commissioner of Food and Drugs, it is proposed that 21 CFR part 872 be amended as follows: PART 872—DENTAL DEVICES 1. The authority citation for 21 CFR part 872 continues to read as follows: Authority: 21 U.S.C. 351, 360, 360c, 360e, 360j, 371. ■ 2. Add § 872.5560 to subpart F to read as follows: asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Electrical salivary stimulatory (a) Identification. An electrical salivary stimulatory system is a prescription intraoral device that is intended to electrically stimulate a relative increase in saliva production. (b) Classification. Class II (special controls). The special controls for this device are: (1) The design characteristics of the device must ensure that the geometry, material composition, and electrical output characteristics are consistent with the intended use; VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:14 Sep 17, 2014 Jkt 232001 Dated: September 12, 2014. Leslie Kux, Assistant Commissioner for Policy. [FR Doc. 2014–22255 Filed 9–17–14; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4164–01–P www.regulations.gov under Docket No. FWS–R8–ES–2014–0034 and at http:// www.fws.gov/arcata/. Supporting documentation we used in preparing this finding is available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Arcata Fish and Wildlife Office, 1655 Heindon Road, Arcata, CA 95521; telephone 707–822– 7201; facsimile 707–822–8411. Please submit any new information, materials, or questions concerning this finding to the above street address. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Bruce Bingham, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Arcata Fish and Wildlife Office, 1655 Heindon Road, Arcata, CA 95521; telephone 707– 822–7201; facsimile 707–822–8411. Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800–877–8339. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Background Fish and Wildlife Service Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae were first identified as candidate species for Federal listing on July 1, 1975 (40 FR 27823), and December 15, 1980 (45 FR 82479), respectively. The two species remained candidates, and information on their status and threats facing the two species were summarized in our annual candidate notices of review (CNORs). See the Species Profiles for Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae on our Environmental Conservation Online System (ECOS) at http://ecos.fws.gov/ ecos/home for additional information on the history of candidate assessments for the two species. In 2011, in resolution of litigation brought by WildEarth Guardians and the Center for Biological Diversity, we agreed to submit either a proposed rule or a not-warranted finding for 251 candidate species no later than September 30, 2016 (re Endangered Species Act Section 4 Deadline Litigation, Misc. Action No. 10–377 (EGS), MDL Docket No. 2165 (D.D.C., September 9, 2011)). This determination regarding whether Eriogonum kelloggii or Sedum eastwoodiae should be proposed for listing is made in compliance with the 2011 settlement. Section 4(b)(3)(B) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) requires that, for any petition to revise the Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants that contains substantial scientific or commercial information that listing the species may be warranted, we make a finding within 12 months of the date of receipt of the 50 CFR Part 17 [Docket No. FWS–R8–ES–2014–0034; 4500030113] Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12-Month Finding on a Petition To List Eriogonum kelloggii (Red Mountain buckwheat) and Sedum eastwoodiae (Red Mountain stonecrop) as Endangered or Threatened Species Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Notice of 12-month petition finding. AGENCY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 12-month finding on a petition to list Eriogonum kelloggii (Red Mountain buckwheat) and Sedum eastwoodiae (Red Mountain stonecrop) as endangered or threatened species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). After a review of the best available scientific and commercial information, we find that listing Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae is not warranted at this time. However, we ask the public to submit to us any new information that becomes available concerning threats to the two species or their habitat at any time. DATES: The finding announced in this document was made on September 18, 2014. ADDRESSES: This finding is available on the internet at http:// SUMMARY: ■ § 872.5560 system. (2) Any element of the device that contacts the patient must be demonstrated to be biocompatible; (3) Appropriate analysis and/or testing must validate electromagnetic compatibility and electrical safety, including the safety of any battery used in the device; (4) Software validation, verification, and hazard testing must be performed; and (5) Documented clinical experience must demonstrate safe and effective use for stimulating saliva production by addressing the risks of damage to intraoral tissue and of ineffective treatment and must capture any adverse events observed during clinical use. 56029 PO 00000 Frm 00010 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\18SEP1.SGM 18SEP1 56030 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 181 / Thursday, September 18, 2014 / Proposed Rules asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS petition. As discussed above, in this finding, we have determined that adding Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae to the Federal List of Endangered or Threatened Plants is not warranted. This finding is based upon the Species Report for Two Red Mountain Plants: Red Mountain Buckwheat (Eriogonum kelloggii) and Red Mountain Stonecrop (Sedum eastwoodiae) (Service 2014, entire) (Species Report) and scientific analyses of available information prepared by Service biologists from the Service’s Arcata Fish and Wildlife Office, the Pacific Southwest Regional Office, and the Headquarters Office. The Species Report contains the best scientific and commercial data available concerning the status of E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae, including the past, present, and future threats to the species. As such, the Species Report provides the scientific basis that informs our regulatory decision in this document, which involves the further application of standards within the Act and its regulations and policies. For a detailed discussion of Eriogonum kelloggii’s or Sedum eastwoodiae’s description, taxonomy, life history, habitat, soils, distribution, and abundance, please see the Species Report for Two Red Mountain Plants: Red Mountain Buckwheat (Eriogonum kelloggii) and Red Mountain Stonecrop (Sedum eastwoodiae) (Species Report, Service 2014, entire) available for review under Docket No. FWS–R8–ES– 2014–0034 at http:// www.regulations.gov. Also refer to the most recent species assessment forms for both species at http://ecos.fws.gov/ ecos/home for a summary of additional species information (Service 2012a and 2012b, entire). Previous Federal Action On January 9, 1974, as directed by the Act, the Secretary for the Smithsonian Institution submitted a report to Congress on potential endangered and threatened plant species of the United States (Smithsonian 1975, entire). The report identified 1,999 plant species as either endangered or threatened, including Eriogonum kelloggii (Smithsonian 1975, p. 92). On July 1, 1975, we published in the Federal Register (40 FR 27823) our notification that we considered this report to be a petition to list E. kelloggii as either endangered or threatened under the Act. The notice solicited information from Federal and State agencies, and the public, on the status of the species. In 1978, the Smithsonian Institution submitted an additional report (Ayensu VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:14 Sep 17, 2014 Jkt 232001 and DeFilipps 1978, entire) that revised the list of plant species to be considered as endangered or threatened. We considered this revised report as a supplement to the original 1975 petition. The revised report identified Sedum eastwoodiae [as Sedum laxum ssp. eastwoodiae] as a potential endangered or threatened species (Ayensu and DeFilipps 1978, p. 106). On December 15, 1980, we published in the Federal Register (45 FR 82479) our notice of review of plant taxa for listing as endangered or threatened species. Both E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae were identified as Category 1 species (taxa for which we had enough biological information to support listing as either endangered or threatened). As a result, we considered E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae to be candidates for addition to the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Plants. The December 15, 1980, Federal Register notice (45 FR 82479) again solicited information from Federal and State agencies, and the public, on the status of the two species (Service 1981, pp. 1, 4–5). Both species were included in our annual candidate notices of review (CNORs) between 1983 (48 FR 53640; November 28, 1983) and 2013 (78 FR 70103; November 22, 2013) for Eriogonum kelloggii; and between 1985 (50 FR 39525; September 27, 1985) and 2013, for Sedum eastwoodiae. In our September 19, 1997, CNOR (62 FR 49397), which identified listing priority numbers for candidate species, these two species were assigned priority numbers of 5 (threats facing the two species were of high magnitude but nonimminent) as outlined in our Listing Priority Guidance (48 FR 43098; September 21, 1983). We were petitioned to list both species by the Center for Biological Diversity and others on May 11, 2004 (Center for Biological Diversity, et al., 2004). In the November 22, 2013, CNOR, we stated that we would be conducting a review of the two species for listing under the Act (78 FR 70103). This notice constitutes our review and final action regarding the petitions to list E. kelloggii or S. eastwoodiae as endangered or threatened under the Act. Taxonomy Eriogonum kelloggii: Gray (1870, p. 293) described this taxon from specimens collected in 1869, by Dr. A. Kellogg from the type locality at Red Mountain, Mendocino County, California. The species is sometimes known as Kellogg’s buckwheat (Hickman 1993, p. 874; CDFG 2005, unpaginated; CDFW 2013, p. 9). PO 00000 Frm 00011 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Sedum eastwoodiae: Nathaniel Britton first described this taxon as Gormania eastwoodiae in 1903, based on specimens from Red Mountain, Mendocino County, California, collected by Alice Eastwood (Britton and Rose 1903, p. 31). Nomenclatural changes followed, and in 1975, the taxon was reduced to the sub-specific level by Robert Clausen, renaming it S. laxum ssp. eastwoodiae (Clausen 1975, pp. 399–403). Melinda Denton returned the species to S. eastwoodiae (Denton 1982, p. 65; Denton 1993, pp. 531–533). Distribution The Red Mountain buckwheat (Eriogonum kelloggii) and Red Mountain stonecrop (Sedum eastwoodiae) are plant species endemic to serpentine habitat of lower montane forest in the northern Coast Range at Red Mountain in Mendocino County, California (Kruckeberg 1984, pp. 113, 121). Eriogonum kelloggii is found on dry ridges in rocky barren openings associated with serpentine habitat between 1,900 and 4,100 ft (580 and 1,250 m) in elevation (Munz and Keck 1973, p. 339; Jennings 2003, pp. 1–8). Sedum eastwoodiae occupies relatively barren rocky openings and cliffs, generally on west-faced slopes associated with serpentine habitats between 1,900 to 4,100 ft (580 to 1,250 m) in elevation (Jennings 2003, p. 2). Serpentine habitats are thinly soiled and usually contain high levels of heavy metals and other minerals and often support plant species which have become uniquely adapted to this harsher environment (Kruckeberg as cited in Whittaker 1954, pp. 258–288; Kruckeberg 1984, pp. 6–12, 18–21, 34– 35, 48–50; University of California 1993, pp. 1–3). The majority of the range of both species overlap except where E. kelloggii extends farther south than S. eastwoodiae to a 900-square-foot (ft2) (84-square-meter (m2)) area on adjacent Little Red Mountain. The area occupied by both species at Red Mountain is scattered over approximately 4 square miles (mi2) (10.4 square kilometers (km2)). Limited monitoring indicates that both species have fairly stable populations relative to their distribution. The exact lifespans of E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae are not known. Other Eriogonum species occupying similar restricted habitats and which are adapted to similar environmental and ecological conditions (e.g., xeric conditions, limited resources, tolerance of unique soils) have long lifespans and tend to grow slowly and favor individual persistence (Anderson 2006, pp. 1–73). Based on the persistence of monitored E:\FR\FM\18SEP1.SGM 18SEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 181 / Thursday, September 18, 2014 / Proposed Rules asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae populations we would expect the lifespan of plants to be long. Land Ownership and Management The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW; formerly known as the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG)) are the two largest land managers in the Red Mountain area. Both agencies support plant conservation and have participated in monitoring and reducing threats on the two species and their habitat. In 1979, BLM designated 6,173 acres (ac) (2,498 hectares (ha)) of BLM land at Red Mountain as a wilderness study area (WSA). In 1984 (updated in 1989), BLM also designated 6,895 ac (2,790 ha) of the area as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern and Research Natural Area (ACEC/RNA). These designations provide protection and focused management direction toward conservation of the unique botanical and soils values of the Red Mountain area (BLM 1995, pp. 3–6 to 3–9). As a result of these designations, BLM developed a resource management plan (RMP) for the area (BLM 1995, pp. 2–32 to 2–37). The Red Mountain ACEC/RMP is site-specific and excludes livestock grazing and off-road vehicle use from the area and guides overall management activities within BLM’s Arcata Field Office’s jurisdiction. In addition, the BLM lands in the Red Mountain area (including those identified above) have also been designated by Congress as part of the South Fork Eel River Wilderness Area through the Northern California Coastal Wild Heritage Wilderness Act of October 17, 2006 (Pub. L. 109–362). The designation removed the WSA status for the area and officially designated the area as wilderness. Under the designation, BLM is directed to manage designated wilderness in a manner that retains the wilderness character for future generations. Within wilderness areas, no new roads can be developed and no mechanical equipment can be used. The BLM has acquired and is working to acquire additional private lands from willing landowners within the area that would help consolidate its ownership. The majority of areas containing Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae populations are within the Red Mountain ACEC and South Fork Eel River Wilderness Area (see Figure 5 of the Species Report (Service 2014)). The portion of Little Red Mountain containing one population of Eriogonum kelloggii is owned and managed by VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:14 Sep 17, 2014 Jkt 232001 CDFW as an ecological reserve (Little Red Mountain Ecological Reserve). State ecological reserves are established to provide protection for rare, endangered, or threatened native plants, wildlife, aquatic organisms and specialized terrestrial or aquatic habitat types. The CDFW designated E. kelloggii as a State endangered plant in April of 1982 (CDFG 2005, unpaginated; CDFW 2013, p. 9). Public entry and use of ecological reserves are to be compatible with the primary purposes of the reserve, and subject to the applicable general rules and regulations for conservation of the area as outlined in Title 14 of the California Code of Regulations at section 630 (CDFW 2014, pp. 1–14). Summary of Factors Affecting the Species Section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533) and implementing regulations (50 CFR 424) set forth procedures for adding species to, removing species from, or reclassifying species on the Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. Under section 4(a)(1) of the Act, a species may be determined to be endangered or threatened based on any of the following five factors: (A) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range; (B) Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes; (C) Disease or predation; (D) The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or (E) Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence. In making this finding, information pertaining to Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae in relation to the five factors provided in section 4(a)(1) of the Act is discussed below. In considering what factors might constitute threats, we must look beyond the mere exposure of the species to the factor to determine whether the species responds to the factor in a way that causes actual impacts to the species. If there is exposure to a factor, but no response, or only a positive response, that factor is not a threat. If there is exposure and the species responds negatively, the factor may be a threat and we then attempt to determine how significant a threat it is. If the threat is significant, it may drive or contribute to the risk of extinction of the species such that the species warrants listing as endangered or threatened as those terms are defined by the Act. This does not necessarily require empirical proof of a threat. The combination of exposure and PO 00000 Frm 00012 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 56031 some corroborating evidence of how the species is likely impacted could suffice. The mere identification of factors that could impact a species negatively is not sufficient to compel a finding that listing is appropriate; we require evidence that these factors are operative threats that act on the species to the point that the species meets the definition of an endangered or threatened species under the Act. In making our 12-month finding on the petition we considered and evaluated the best available scientific and commercial information. The primary stressor identified as impacting Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae and their habitat at the time the species were first considered as candidates was the potential for surface mining for chromium, nickel, and potentially cobalt. Other stressors identified throughout our CNORs between 1983 and 2013 consisted of unauthorized offhighway vehicle (OHV) use, illegal marijuana cultivation, wildfire, wildfire suppression, vegetation encroachment, small population size, and the effects of climate change. The potential threat of large-scale surface mining has greatly diminished. The following sections provide a summary of the current stressors impacting E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae. Stressors previously identified as impacting Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae include mining activities (Factors A and E); habitat disturbance activities (unauthorized OHV use (Factors A and E), trail construction (Factor A), illegal marijuana cultivation (Factors A and E)); wildfire and wildfire management (alteration of the fire regime or fire suppression activities) (Factors A and E); vegetation encroachment (competition with native plant species (Factors A and E)); climate change (Factor A and E); small population size (Factor E); and the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms (Factor D). Listing actions may be warranted based on any of the above factors, singly or in combination. The information pertaining to the two species organized by the five factors is discussed for the two species below. In addition, Table 1 below summarizes the stressors identified for both species over time since the two species were first identified as candidates for listing, and compares these with the situation today. A complete characterization and discussion of the stressors impacting these two species is in the Species Report (Service 2014, pp. 10–28). E:\FR\FM\18SEP1.SGM 18SEP1 56032 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 181 / Thursday, September 18, 2014 / Proposed Rules TABLE 1—STRESSORS IDENTIFIED AS IMPACTING ERIOGONUM KELLOGGII AND SEDUM EASTWOODIAE OVER TIME Stressor At time of petitions 1974/1978 As candidates 1980–2012 Present 2013–2014 Mining ..................................................... Yes ............................... Ongoing ....................... OHV Use ................................................ Road Construction .................................. Trail Construction (authorized) ............... Illegal Marijuana Cultivation ................... Wildfire (Mgt. and Suppression) ............. Vegetation Encroachment/Mgt. .............. Effects of Climate Change ..................... Not Not Not Not Not Not Not ............... ............... ............... ............... ............... ............... ............... Yes ............................... Yes ............................... Potential ....................... Yes ............................... Yes ............................... Yes ............................... Yes ............................... Small Population Size ............................ Yes ............................... Yes ............................... Inadequacy of Regulatory Mechanisms Yes ............................... Yes ............................... Greatly Reduced or Eliminated. Decreased ................... Decreased ................... Potential ....................... Decreased ................... Stable ........................... Potential ....................... Stable (changes may offset each other). Stable (adapted to small population size). No ................................ asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Factor A. The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment of Its Habitat or Range Some of the same potential activities that affect the habitat of Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae can also affect individual E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae plants. While these impacts to E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae fit under Factor E (Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued Existence), they are included here in the Factor A discussion for ease of analysis. Mining Mining activities that occur, have occurred, or potentially could occur at Red Mountain include recreational, small-scale, and potential commercial (large-scale) mining operations. The historical mining activity that has occurred has been minimal (BLM 1994, pp. 1–2). Recreational and Small-Scale Mining: Recreational mining includes individuals with hand equipment (e.g., shovels, picks), mostly collecting rocks or looking for other mineral deposits and would involve digging and movement of rocks and other smallimpact disturbance. Such activity could also destroy or trample individual plants if it occurred within an area occupied by Eriogonum kelloggii or Sedum eastwoodiae. This type of recreational mining activity has occurred in the past but most likely has diminished due to designation of most of the Red Mountain area as an ACEC and Wilderness Area. Mining activity has also included small-scale mining efforts using mechanical equipment that have been conducted in the past by individuals prior to the area being designated as an ACEC or Wilderness Area or currently on private lands by individual landowners. These areas are typically localized and limited in scope. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:14 Sep 17, 2014 Jkt 232001 Identified Identified Identified Identified Identified Identified Identified According to U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) information on mine locations at Red Mountain, 13 mine locations have been identified within the area (USGS-Mineral Resource On-line Spatial Data 2014). Of these mine sites, only two are located within the areas known to contain E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae. This type of activity if it was to occur within an area occupied by E. kelloggii or S. eastwoodiae, would most likely destroy individual plants by direct removal, crushing, or burying. Review of aerial imagery of these two mine sites shows very limited habitat disturbance of the two areas and no recent activity. In order for mining activities to resume at these small-scale mining sites, they would require authorization by BLM within the ACEC and Wilderness Area. See Figure 6 in the Species Report for mine sites identified in the Red Mountain area (Service 2014, entire). If recreational or small-scale mining activities occur in areas occupied by Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae, there may be some limited destruction of plants and habitat. However, the amount of wide-scale recreational and small-scale mining activity on Red Mountain is minimal due to access constraints and these activities have not impacted E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae populations or habitat to a large degree since they were identified as candidate species. Commercial Mining: Commercial mining activity has not occurred on Red Mountain to date, although the potential for large-scale mining activity exists for the entire Red Mountain area, as it contains widespread deposits of chromium, nickel, and potentially cobalt. The entire known distribution of Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae at Red Mountain is held under unpatented lode or placer mining claims, or occurs on privately owned PO 00000 Frm 00013 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Current scope Red Mountain. Red Mountain. Red Mountain. Red Mountain. Lower Elevations. Everywhere. Portions of Range. Entire Range. Entire Range. Entire Range. lands owned by individuals with past or current mining interests (BLM 2009, unpaginated). The one population of E. kelloggii at Little Red Mountain within the Little Red Mountain Ecological Reserve is protected from any mining activity (recreational or commercial) through State regulation (CDFW 2014, pp. 1–14). Commercial mining on Red Mountain would most likely be an open-face bench type mining that would involve removal and processing of the mineralbearing ore containing nickel, chromium, and possibly cobalt (Service 1990, p. 14). Commercial mining activities would remove plants, degrade habitat, alter drainage, compact soils, and introduce contaminants in the affected area. Although an operation plan for such mining activities would require restoration of the affected areas, plant species composition would undoubtedly be altered. Moreover, there is no evidence in the literature indicating Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae are able to recolonize soils once they are disturbed. With regard to the potential for Red Mountain to be commercially mined, a Bureau of Mines Preliminary Feasibility Study conducted at Red Mountain in 1978 concluded the nickel deposits met the minimum tonnage grade test at the time (i.e., 35 million short tons of material containing an average 0.8 percent nickel) (K. Geer, Service, pers. comm. 1995). However, commercial mining at Red Mountain was not considered economically feasible at the time due to the relatively low grade of the resource (low metal concentrations) and the high cost of mining the material (Geer, pers. comm. 1995). According to current USGS data (Kelly and Matos 2013 [Comps.], entire) on nickel and chromium production and pricing between 1900 and 2014, the unit value (as calculated in 1998 dollars) of both E:\FR\FM\18SEP1.SGM 18SEP1 asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 181 / Thursday, September 18, 2014 / Proposed Rules nickel and chromium has not increased significantly since the values reported in 1978 (USGS 2014a, pp. 1–7; USGS 2014b, pp. 1–8). The unit value (1998 dollars) for cobalt as of 2012 has decreased since the values reported in 1978 (USGS 2014c, pp. 1–6). The likelihood and extent of future mining will depend on the future economic feasibility and demand for minerals found in the area. The economic feasibility of mining will be determined by the current market value of the mined ore, as well as cost of extraction, processing, and transportation. As discussed above, over the past 35 years since the last economic feasibility report, the price of nickel, chromium, and cobalt has either risen only slightly or decreased. In addition, because Red Mountain is within designated wilderness, avoidance and mitigation measures to reduce or offset impacts to wilderness characteristics may be added to the cost of extraction and feasibility of mining the area. The majority of Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae occurrences are within the South Fork Eel River Wilderness Area. The legislation designating the wilderness area specifically retained valid land rights, such as mining claims, in existence on the date of enactment (October 17, 2006). However, the area was withdrawn from all new forms of: (1) Entry to, appropriation, or disposal of lands under the public land laws; (2) locating, entering, and establishing new patents under Federal Mining Law; and (3) disposition under all laws pertaining to mineral and geothermal leasing or mining of materials. Consequently, no new mining claims can be established within the South Fork Eel River Wilderness Area. For the existing mining claims within the South Fork Eel River Wilderness Area, a plan of operation must be developed and approved by the BLM before any permitting of operations can take place (43 CFR 3809.11). Before BLM may approve a mining plan of operations on existing claims, it must conduct a validity examination to determine if the claim is valid and if so develop a Mineral Examination Report (S. Flanagan, BLM, pers. comm., 2014; 43 CFR 3809.100). The validity examination includes a determination of whether the mining claim was valid before the wilderness withdrawal, and whether it remains valid. Because there are different claimholders on Red Mountain that likely filed claims at different times, separate validity exams would need to be performed for each claim, raising the cost of conducting the examination. Due to the high cost of the VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:14 Sep 17, 2014 Jkt 232001 validity examinations, BLM typically only does them when a plan of operations is filed by a claimholder (S. Flanagan, BLM, pers. comm., 2014). The BLM has 60 days to determine if sufficient information was provided to conduct a validity examination, and then 2 years to complete the examination. If the validity examination fails, the claim is cancelled. If the claim is determined to be valid, the claimant may file patent to gain ownership to the land, although for short-lived mining operations a patent is often not filed. The BLM does not have the right to deny such a patent; however, it can impose protective measures that avoid or reduce impacts to wilderness characteristics. However, the majority of recently conducted validity examinations in California have failed, and BLM does not expect any new validity examinations to be conducted within the area (S. Flanagan, BLM, pers. comm., 2014). Currently, no small-scale or commercial mining activities are being conducted on BLM or adjacent private lands, and no validity exams have been conducted on any of the mining claims within the Red Mountain area. Some recreational mining activities have occurred in the area in the past; however, with the designation of the majority of the area as an ACEC and Wilderness Area, we do not expect these types of activities to be a major concern for Eriogonum kelloggii or Sedum eastwoodiae or their habitat now or in the future. As discussed above and in the Species Report, the majority of private lands where E. kelloggii or S. eastwoodiae occur has been acquired by BLM and are within designated wilderness, and subject to BLM’s management. As a result of land use designation and management changes and continued economic infeasibility, we also do not consider large-scale mining to be a threat to E. kelloggii or S. eastwoodiae or their habitat now or in the future. Habitat Disturbance Activities Activities associated with habitat disturbance in the Red Mountain area other than those discussed above under mining include: Road construction, wildfire management construction activities, unauthorized off-highway vehicle (OHV) use, illegal marijuana cultivation, and trail development. The majority of past habitat disturbance in the Red Mountain area has been caused by road construction, both for access and fire control (Imper and Wheeler, unpubl. data 2009). However, due to the designation of the Red Mountain area as an ACEC and part of the South Fork Eel PO 00000 Frm 00014 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 56033 River Wilderness Area and Little Red Mountain as a State ecological reserve, no new road construction or use of mechanical equipment is permitted in the area. One exception that would still be permitted in the area is for the purpose of wildfire management activities (which may include presuppression, fire-break construction, and access road construction) (16 U.S.C. 1133(d)(1)). See the Wildfire and Wildfire Management section, below, for further discussion of these activities and how they may affect Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae and their habitat. The current unauthorized OHV use and associated habitat disturbance at Red Mountain is largely related to illegal marijuana cultivation. Unauthorized OHV use by illegal marijuana growers crushes vegetation and loosens soil, making it more likely to erode during a rain event. Clearing of vegetation, creation of water impoundments, and diversion of streams can also greatly alter local site conditions. These types of activities should they occur in occupied areas would remove, crush, or destroy individual Eriogonum kelloggii or Sedum eastwoodiae plants and disturb or alter their habitat. However, currently the majority of known sites on Red Mountain where marijuana cultivation has occurred are at the lower elevation areas adjacent to private lands, near existing roads, or with access to streams, and not near locations where E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae occur (J. Knisley, BLM, pers. comm. 2014). The Red Mountain area where E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae occur is more open to observation and has less forest or vegetation cover, and as a result is most likely less desirable for illegal marijuana cultivation sites. BLM, CDFW, and County law enforcement officials have been working with a local nonprofit organization to remove the growing infrastructure (i.e., irrigation, planting materials, and other debris) from the area (Eel River Recovery Project 2014, pp. 1–6). General public access to the area by vehicle is controlled. Considering the extent of illegal marijuana cultivation in northern California, the potential for these activities to be a threat to E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae and their habitat is a concern. However, based on the current extent of these activities within the Red Mountain area and the best available scientific and commercial information, we do not consider these activities to result in significant impacts to E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae as a whole, or to their habitat, nor do we E:\FR\FM\18SEP1.SGM 18SEP1 56034 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 181 / Thursday, September 18, 2014 / Proposed Rules asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS expect them to become significant in the future. A proposal to enhance recreational use of the South Fork Eel River Wilderness Area through construction of a foot or horse trail would encourage public use and likely discourage marijuana growing and unauthorized vehicle use (J. Wheeler, pers. comm. 2009). Trail construction will be considered once a wilderness management plan is developed for Red Mountain, and would likely be simple delineation using posts rather than soil disturbance (J. Wheeler, pers. comm. 2013). Habitat for Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae could also potentially be impacted by logging operations, such as cable logging (C. Golec, CDFW, pers. comm. 2005); however, logging of any kind in the absence of a wilderness management plan will not occur. BLM currently does not have a specific timeline for development of a wilderness management plan for the area, and as a result, no trail or logging activities will be authorized for the area in the near future. Due to the tendency of E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae to occur on rock outcrops and rocky slopes, none of the above activities is expected to impact a significant portion of the two species’ habitat now or in the future. Wildfire and Wildfire Management Fire has been shown to be an important factor affecting vegetation patterns and maintenance of many open habitats, similar to the habitat of Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae, across the Klamath Bioregion (Skinner et al. 2006, pp. 175– 178; Skinner et al. 2009, pp. 76–98). Historically in California, frequent natural and cultural ignitions maintained these disturbance-prone ecosystems dependent on recurrent fire (Holmes et al. 2008, pp. 551–552). PreEuropean settlement fire-return intervals for mixed conifer stands are thought to have been variable and in some cases ranged as little as 6 to 8 years between events (Skinner et al. 2009, pp. 83–84). A decline in fire frequency since European settlement has allowed conifer encroachment or establishment of dense shrub stands in many areas of the region. BLM’s general policy is to restore fire to its natural role in the ecosystem (BLM 2012a, pp. 1– 25—1–27), except where these activities threaten human life, property, or high value resources on adjacent nonwilderness lands, or where these would result in unacceptable change to the wilderness resource. Wildfire or prescribed burning under certain specific conditions may be used as a VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:14 Sep 17, 2014 Jkt 232001 wildlife management tool if carefully designed to maintain or enhance the wilderness resource (BLM 2012a, pp. 1– 25—1–27). BLM may conduct fire suppression activities within wilderness areas. Fire suppression activities involving uses generally prohibited in wilderness areas (use of motorized equipment or motor vehicles, mechanical transport, construction of roads, and construction of structures or installations) can only occur if authorized by the applicable BLM State Director, unless this authority has been delegated to the District or Field Manager (BLM 2012a, pp. 1–12—1–15, 1–26). These types of activities may have a direct impact on Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae by removing or crushing plants and their habitat. Indirectly, fire suppression impacts Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae by allowing vegetation to encroach and to become decadent. Relatively dense growth adjacent to areas occupied by E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae can lead to shading, changing the micro-climate around plant clusters, and using moisture in a xeric landscape. Another consequence of long-term fire suppression is the increase in fire hazards when vegetation is permitted to become relatively dense in a dry environment. This could lead to a potential for more severe fire events, which may lead to greater habitat destruction. The threat of fire is lessened for E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae in that the plants occur mostly in rocky areas, which in most cases do not contain large build-ups of vegetation. Natural and prescribed fires will be supervised and may be allowed to burn under certain conditions. When fire threatens human life or property, motorized equipment may be used to eliminate or minimize the threat. However, in all cases, the equipment and tactics used to manage fires are designed to minimize the impact to wilderness values (BLM 2012a, pp. 1– 25—1–27). Two recorded fires appear to have influenced the Red Mountain area over the past 90 years: The 1952 Lynch Fire and the 2008 Red Mountain Fire (Baad 202, pp. 6–7; California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection 2009). An undocumented fire also occurred in the area and may have influenced localized vegetation patterns at Red Mountain (Goforth 1980, pp. 16–19; Service 2013, p. 18) (see Vegetation Encroachment section below). The 1952 Lynch Fire was the only fire included in the Fire and Resource Map Project’s (FRAP) online historical fire database (California Department of Forestry and PO 00000 Frm 00015 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Fire Protection 2009) for the immediate area of Red Mountain since the 1920s. Evidence suggests the Lynch Fire may have stimulated germination and growth of Pinus attenuata (knobcone pine) in some areas within the distribution of Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae on the mountain, which has encroached on their habitat (Service 2013, p. 18), but only in a few cases (Goforth 1980, pp. 16–19). See the Vegetation Encroachment section, below, for further discussion of the potential effects of vegetation encroachment. The 2008 Red Mountain fire, which was caused by lightning, burned approximately 3,000 ac (1,214 ha) within the South Fork Eel River Wilderness Area (BLM 2008, p. 1). The fire burned some 1,000 ac (405 ha) at the top of Red Mountain, with reportedly 80 percent mortality of brush and 10 percent tree mortality (J. Wheeler, BLM, pers. comm. 2008). The actual burn footprint was highly irregular, and the majority of the burned habitat appeared to have experienced a relatively lowintensity ground fire, with little crowning (Imper and Wheeler, unpublished data 2009). The fire also extended to Little Red Mountain and burned to near the boundary of one of the populations of Eriogonum kelloggii; the population may have been impacted by the fire control efforts, but no survey of the area was completed (S. Koller, CDFW, pers. comm. 2009). Regardless, in an attempt to restore the impacts of the fire suppression activities, CDFW staff worked extensively with California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire) to redistribute the pushed up earth material back over the disturbed areas that had been created for safety zones during the 2008 fires (S. Koller, CDFW, pers. comm. 2014). Some 25 percent of the polygons occupied by Sedum eastwoodiae and 42 percent of the polygons occupied by E. kelloggii mapped by Jennings (2003, pp. 2 and 8) occur within the boundary of 2008 fire, but the extent to which habitat occupied by either species was directly affected by the fire is unknown. The effects of climate change may also impact habitat conditions and fire frequency and intensity for the Red Mountain area. Changes to wildfire regimes (frequency and intensity) and factors influencing fire (temperature, precipitation, vegetation) have been predicted as a result of climate change (Lenihan et al. 2003, pp. 1678–1680; Fried et al. 2004, pp. 177–188; Westerling and Bryant 2008, pp. 244– 248; Krawchuk et al. 2009, pp. 8–10; Cornwell et al. 2012, pp. 1–89). However, the results of fire modeling E:\FR\FM\18SEP1.SGM 18SEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 181 / Thursday, September 18, 2014 / Proposed Rules asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS are variable, as the likelihood of future fires and wildfire severity depend on many factors, including pre-suppression activities, fire suppression strategies, human settlement patterns, ignition sources, variability of local climatic conditions, vegetation type, and fuel loading (Fried et al. 2004, p. 185; Westerling and Bryant 2008, pp. 231– 235; Krawchuk et al. 2009, p. 1; Point Reyes Bird Observatory (PRBO) Conservation Science 2011, pp. 1–59). A 2004 modeling study on the effects of climate change and fire frequency for northern California suggested that there may be an increase in fire risk for northern California as a whole (Fried et al. 2004, pp. 177–188), but that northern coastal areas (as represented by the CalFire Humboldt Ranger District and including Red Mountain and Little Red Mountain) would not change. This was attributed to the model’s prediction of slower winds and higher humidity offsetting any temperature increases (Fried et al. 2004, p. 177). The researchers stated that the majority of fires under both present and predicted future climate scenarios would be of moderate intensity and rates of spread, and are unlikely to become large, damaging fires (Fried et al. 2004, p. 177). Consequently, we do not currently consider climate change and its potential effects on fire frequency to be a significant threat to the habitat of Eriogonum kelloggii or Sedum eastwoodiae now or into the future. With the history of only two recorded fires over the past 90 years, with one of those fires being a low-intensity ground fire with little crowning, the Red Mountain area being more open and less vegetated than surrounding areas, and management focus increased as a result of its designation as wilderness in part for the conservation of rare plants, we do not currently consider wildfire or wildfire suppression to be a significant threat to Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae or their habitat, and do not expect the fire conditions or management to change significantly in the near future. are not suitable for populations of E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae and may lead to loss of individual plants for both species. As stated above, an undocumented fire may have stimulated germination and growth of Pinus attenuata (knobcone pine) in some areas within the distribution of Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae on the mountain and encroached on their habitat, but only in a few cases (Goforth 1980, pp. 16–19; Service 2013, p. 18). In addition, Baad (2002, pp. 6–7) recognized suppressed reproductive output in E. kelloggii at one site on Red Mountain, and attributed the impact to conifer invasion following a fire that occurred 40 years previously. Baad’s monitoring efforts (2002, entire) did not observe specific impacts from vegetation encroachment on S. eastwoodiae, but the study was not designed to provide that information. In absence of fire, Baad concluded that S. eastwoodiae located on rocky ridge tops and with little woody vegetation appeared relatively stable, but populations situated on deeper soils in more sheltered sites are more vulnerable to shading by competing vegetation (Baad 2002, pp. 6–7). The manner and degree to which the 2008 Red Mountain Fire affected E. kelloggii or S. eastwoodiae, either positively, by setting back natural succession within their habitat, or negatively, by killing plants, is not known. Although vegetation encroachment is a concern for both Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae, based on the extent of observed effects, persistence of known populations, and increased management of the area, we do not consider vegetation encroachment to be a significant threat to E. kelloggii or S. eastwoodiae or to their habitat now or into the future. Vegetation Encroachment Habitat modification as a result of natural vegetation changes in the absence of, or as a result of, fire is a stressor to Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae. Encroachment of vegetation into E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae habitat results in the modification of ecological conditions through shading, competition for resources (light, water, nutrients), and greater susceptibility to the effects of fire due to increased fuel. These habitat changes may result in conditions that Due to the remoteness of the area and access constraints, little visitor use occurs in the area. As a result there is a low potential for collection or overutilization for any purpose. Status surveys and other informal monitoring have not shown that overutilization is a concern. As a result, the best available scientific and commercial information does not indicate that overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes is now, or will be in the future, a threat to Eriogonum kelloggii or Sedum eastwoodiae. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:14 Sep 17, 2014 Jkt 232001 Factor B. Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or Educational Purposes PO 00000 Frm 00016 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 56035 Factor C. Disease or Predation It is likely that predation from invertebrates, insects, and animals on Eriogonum kelloggii’s and Sedum eastwoodiae’s seeds, vegetative tissue, and roots is occurring on an ongoing basis. Service biologists have documented severed flowering stems, which most likely occurred from small mammal predation (Ken Fuller, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, pers. comm. 1994). Because E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae have evolved within this habitat, both species have adapted to some level of predation. There is no evidence from observations of predation on E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae that individuals have been killed from this activity. It is more likely that predation reduces the vigor, including reproductive output, of the two species. However, the best available scientific and commercial information indicates that this level of predation is not a current or expected future threat to E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae. In addition, disease is not known to be a current or expected future threat to E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae. Factor D. The Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms The Act requires that the Secretary assess available regulatory mechanisms in order to determine whether existing regulatory mechanisms are adequate to address threats to the species (Factor D). The Species Report includes a discussion of applicable regulatory mechanisms that apply to Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae (Service 2014, entire). In the Species Report, the Service examines the applicable Federal, State, and other statutory and regulatory mechanisms to determine whether these mechanisms provide protections to E. kelloggii or S. eastwoodiae. As described in the Species Report and outlined below, several Federal and State statutes provide protections to E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae and their habitat. Under this factor, we examine whether existing regulatory mechanisms are inadequate to address the potential threats to E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae discussed under other factors. We give strongest weight to statutes and their implementing regulations, and management direction that stems from those laws and regulations. Such laws and regulations are nondiscretionary and enforceable, and are considered a regulatory mechanism under this analysis. Examples include State government actions enforced under a State statute or E:\FR\FM\18SEP1.SGM 18SEP1 56036 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 181 / Thursday, September 18, 2014 / Proposed Rules asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS constitution, or Federal action under statute. Some other programs are more voluntary in nature or dependent upon available funding (see Conservation Measures Planned or Implemented, discussed below); in those cases, we analyze the specific facts for that effort to ascertain its effectiveness at mitigating the threat and the extent to which it can be relied upon in the future. Having evaluated the significance of the threat as mitigated by any such conservation efforts, we analyze under Factor D the extent to which existing regulatory mechanisms adequately address the specific threats identified for the species. We consider relevant Federal, State, and tribal laws and regulations when evaluating the status of a species. Regulatory mechanisms, if they exist, may preclude the need for listing if we determine that such mechanisms adequately address the threats to the species such that listing is not warranted. Only existing ordinances, regulations, and laws that have a direct connection to a stressor are applicable. Federal Protections Special Status Species Management: BLM’s policy for Special Status Species Management (BLM Manual 6840) includes guidance for the conservation of BLM special status species and their habitat on BLM-administered lands. BLM special status plant species include federally endangered or threatened species and species requiring special management (as determined by BLM State Directors). Management actions are to promote the special status plant conservation for recovery and reduce the likelihood and need for any potential future listing under the Act. Species with ‘‘Special Status’’ receive a higher level of scrutiny on proposed projects with a greater emphasis on species conservation under existing environmental laws and implementing regulations. BLM accomplishes this by implementing proactive conservation measures that reduce or eliminate threats to species BLM has categorized as sensitive. These measures include: (1) Development of rangewide and or sitespecific management plans; (2) implementation of BLM actions that are consistent with objectives for management of those species; (3) actions that at least maintain or improve the species and its habitat at each occurrence; and (4) monitoring populations to determine whether management objectives are being met (BLM 2012b, entire; BLM 2012c, entire). The California Native Plant Society has ranked plant species according to their VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:14 Sep 17, 2014 Jkt 232001 conservation status and considers Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae as 1B species (endemic species considered rare throughout their range) (Smith and Berg 1988, pp. XV, 49, 104). The BLM California State Director has identified California 1B ranked species (including Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae) as BLM Special Status Plants for management and conservation purposes (BLM 2013, pp. 1–6). Areas of Critical Environmental Concern: As stated above, BLM designated the Red Mountain Area as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) Research Natural Area (RNA) in 1984. The area was established in part to protect and conserve sensitive animal and plant species on the specialized habitat at Red Mountain (BLM 1989, p. 2). The management objectives include: (1) Protect and monitor existing populations of E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae; (2) acquire private lands from willing sellers to consolidate and enhance land management within the Red Mountain area; (3) develop a fire management plan and implement measures to reduce the impacts of suppression activities on sensitive species and their habitat; (4) close the area to public vehicle use and limit private vehicle access to existing roads; (5) close the area to grazing activities; and (6) post boundary signs to assist in appropriate visitor access (BLM 1989, pp. 1–17; BLM 1995, pp. 2–32 to 2–37). South Fork Eel River Wilderness Area Designation: As stated above, the Red Mountain Area was designated as part of the South Fork Eel River Wilderness Area in 2006. Wilderness areas are those Federal lands recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by human activity and retain their primeval character and influence, without permanent improvements or human habitation. These areas are protected and managed so as to preserve their natural conditions and (1) generally appear to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprint of man’s work substantially unnoticeable; (2) have outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation; (3) have at least 5,000 ac (2,023 ha) of land or are of sufficient size as to make practicable their preservation and use in an unimpaired condition; and (4) may also contain ecological, geological, or other features of scientific, educational, scenic, or historical value. Under the designation, BLM is directed to manage the designated wilderness at Red Mountain in a manner that retains the wilderness PO 00000 Frm 00017 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 character for future generations. Within wilderness areas, there shall be no commercial enterprise, no permanent roads, and except as necessary to meet minimum requirements for the administration of the area, there shall be no temporary roads, no use of motor vehicles, no use of motorized equipment, no landing of aircraft, no other form of mechanical transport, and no structure or installation within any such area. State Protections California Endangered Species Act: The California Endangered Species Act (CESA) makes it illegal to import, export, ‘‘take,’’ possess, purchase, sell, or attempt to do any of those actions to species that are designated as endangered, threatened, or candidates for listing, unless permitted by CDFW. ‘‘Take’’ is defined as ‘‘hunt, pursue, catch, capture, or kill, or attempt to hunt, pursue, catch, capture, or kill.’’ Under CESA, CDFW may permit take or possession of endangered, threatened, or candidate species for scientific, educational, or management purposes, and may also permit take of these species that is incidental to otherwise lawful activities if certain conditions are met. Some of the conditions for incidental take are that the take is minimized and fully mitigated, adequate funding is ensured for this mitigation, and that the activity will not jeopardize the continued existence of the species. California Native Plant Protection Act: The California Native Plant Protection Act (NPPA) was enacted in 1977, and allows the California Fish and Game Commission to designate plants as rare or endangered. The NPPA prohibits take of rare or endangered native plants, but includes some exceptions for agricultural, nursery, and timber operations; emergencies; mining assessments; and after properly notifying CDFW for vegetation removal from canals, roads, and other sites, changes in land use, and in certain other situations. Section 1911 of the NPPA requires that all State departments and agencies to consult with the CDFW, and use their authorities to carry out programs for the conservation of rare or endangered native plants. Such programs include, but are not limited to, the identification, delineation, and protection of habitat critical to the continued survival of rare or endangered native plants (California Fish and Game Code section 1900 et seq.). California Environmental Quality Act: The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is a law that requires public E:\FR\FM\18SEP1.SGM 18SEP1 asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 181 / Thursday, September 18, 2014 / Proposed Rules agencies to analyze and publicly disclose the environmental impacts from projects they approve, and adopt feasible alternatives and mitigation measures to mitigate for the significant impacts they identify. During CEQA review, State public agencies must evaluate and disclose impacts to plant species protected under CESA, and in most cases must mitigate all significant impacts to these species to a level of less than significant. In addition, during the CEQA process, public agencies must also address plant species that may not be listed under CESA, but that may nevertheless meet the definition of rare or endangered provided in CEQA. The CDFW advises public agencies during the CEQA process to help ensure that the actions they approve do not significantly impact such resources and often advises that plant species with an appropriate California Rare Plant Rank (as identified by the State or California Native Plant Society) be properly analyzed by the lead agency during project review to ensure compliance with CEQA. The State of California listed Eriogonum kelloggii as endangered under CESA in 1982 (CDFG 2005, unpaginated; CDFW 2014, p. 4). As a State-listed species, E. kelloggii is subject to the conservation provisions of CESA and NPPA, and to the provisions of CEQA. Sedum eastwoodiae is not listed by the State of California as an endangered, threatened, or candidate species, but it is identified as a 1B species (rare throughout its range) by the California Native Plant Society (CNPS) (Smith and Berg (eds.) 1988, pp. 49, 104). Therefore, impacts to S. eastwoodiae are evaluated by the lead agency under CEQA, and the lead agency must adopt feasible mitigation measures to mitigate for any significant impacts that they identify. Based on the analyses contained within the Species Report and outlined above on the existing regulatory mechanisms for Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae, we conclude that the best available scientific and commercial information does not indicate that the existing regulatory mechanisms are inadequate to address impacts to E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae from the identified potential threats, and these mechanisms provide protections to these two species that were not available when the species were first identified as Federal candidate species. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:14 Sep 17, 2014 Jkt 232001 Factor E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued Existence For ease of discussion, the impacts to individual Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae plants from mining, habitat disturbance activities (unauthorized OHV use, illegal marijuana cultivation, and trail development), wildfire suppression and management, and vegetation encroachment associated with this factor are discussed under Factor A. For a complete discussion of potential impacts to both habitat and individual plants from these activities, see our Factor A discussion, above. Small Population Size Other natural or human-caused stressors for Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae are related to its small distribution and overall population size, and the potential impacts of climate change on the species and its habitat. Generally, small populations are more prone to impacts from random environmental events, and from genetic impoverishment as a result of habitat fragmentation, genetic isolation, and declining effective population size (Saunders et al. 1991, pp. 18–32; Meffe and Carroll 1997, pp. 269–304). General conservation principles indicate that endemic species limited to small areas are inherently more vulnerable to extinction than are widespread species, because of the increased risk of genetic bottlenecks; random demographic fluctuations; climate change effects; and localized catastrophes, such as drought and fire due to changes in demography, the environment, genetics, or other factors ´ (Gilpin and Soule 1986, pp. 24–34; Pimm et al. 1988, p. 757; Mangel and Tier 1994, p. 607). These problems are further magnified when these geographically restricted and small numbers of populations contain small numbers of individuals in these populations. Small, isolated populations can often also exhibit reduced levels of genetic variability, which diminishes the species’ capacity to adapt and respond to environmental changes, thereby lessening the probability of long-term persistence (Barrett and Kohn 1991, p. 4; Newman and Pilson 1997, p. 361). Small, isolated populations are also more susceptible to reduced reproductive vigor due to ineffective pollination and inbreeding depression. Although a tenet of conservation biology is that larger, well-distributed populations of species are less vulnerable and insure persistence, many PO 00000 Frm 00018 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 56037 narrow endemic plants combine small population ranges and sizes with longterm persistence, depending on how they have adapted to their unique environments (Lavergne et al. 2004, pp. 505–518; Matthies et al. 2004, pp. 481– ´ 488; Garcıa 2008, pp. 106–113). For Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae, their small population size and the extent of stress factors impacting the two species were among the primary reasons they were first identified as Federal candidate species. As stated above, the distribution of the two species is extremely limited, and the identified potential threats facing the two species occur throughout their distribution. However, the known distribution and population size of the species has always been limited and small in size. Eriogonum kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae are narrow endemic species that have evolved and adapted to the particular serpentine habitats in which they occur. Although there are stressors acting on the two species, their populations are dispersed throughout the Red Mountain area, making it less likely for a single or multiple single events to significantly impact the species. In addition, the populations of E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae have persisted and remained stable since the two species were first identified as Federal candidate species. As a result, we do not consider small population size a threat to E. kelloggii or S. eastwoodiae now or in the near future. The Effects of Climate Change The effects of climate change may be affecting both Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae’s habitat (Factor A) and individual plants (Factor E) through several means. For the ease of analysis, the discussion of the effects of climate change has been included with discussion of each applicable threat or is discussed below. The terms ‘‘climate’’ and ‘‘climate change’’ are defined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The term ‘‘climate’’ refers to the mean and variability of different types of weather conditions over time, with 30 years being a typical period for such measurements (IPCC 2013a, p. 1450). The term ‘‘climate change’’ thus refers to a change in the mean or variability of one or more measures of climate (for example, temperature or precipitation) that persists for an extended period, whether the change is due to natural variability or human activity (IPCC 2013a, p. 1450). Various types of changes in climate can have direct or indirect effects on species. Scientific measurements spanning several decades demonstrate E:\FR\FM\18SEP1.SGM 18SEP1 asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 56038 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 181 / Thursday, September 18, 2014 / Proposed Rules that changes in climate are occurring, and that the rate of change has increased since the 1950s. Examples include warming of the global climate system, and substantial increases in precipitation in some regions of the world and decreases in other regions (for these and other examples, see Solomon et al. 2007, pp. 35–54, 82–85; IPCC 2013b, pp. 3–29; IPCC 2014, pp. 1– 32). Climate change predictions are variable for the area within the range of Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae. 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; Cayan et al. 2005; IPCC 2007). According to one downscaled climate model (California Natural Resources Agency 2012, pp. 7– 12) for northern California, temperatures and drought intensity would increase. The effects of climate change can impact and influence any one of the stressors impacting E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae and outside the threat of large-scale mining may be the greatest influence on the two species. The effects of climate change may result in shifts in vegetation types, increased competition between species like E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae and other native and nonnative species (Loarie et al. 2008, pp. 1–10), or result in habitat changes resulting from altered fire frequency as discussed above. However, another study found that the area would experience slower winds (less drying effect) and higher humidity, thereby offsetting any temperature increases and limiting the effects of climate change (Fried et al. 2004, p. 177). Predicting how Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae may react to the effects of climate change is difficult. The majority of the distribution of E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae occurs in upland, often exposed, xeric habitats that are expected to offer less refuge under drying or warming conditions. The distribution of both species is also limited to specific edaphic and geologic features on the landscape, which would limit the two plants’ ability to spread to more hospitable or suitable habitat over time. Despite these concerns, the populations of both species have remained stable based on the limited survey information available. Although more recent modeling shows the area may be affected by climate change, without long-term information or observed population declines the impacts of such climate change are difficult to determine or predict. Based on the best available information, we do VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:14 Sep 17, 2014 Jkt 232001 not find that the effects of climate change are negatively impacting populations of E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae now or into the foreseeable future. Combination of Threats and Cumulative Threats When conducting our analysis about the potential threats affecting Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae, we also assessed whether the two species may be affected by a combination of factors (see ‘‘Combination of Threats and Cumulative Threats’’ section of the Species Report (Service 2014, entire)). In the Species Report (Service 2014, entire), we identified multiple potential threats that may have interrelated impacts on E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae or their habitat. For example, mining activities and exploration may result in the loss of habitat. Depending on the nature of mining activities, these impacts can be permanent and irreversible (conversion to land uses unsuitable to the species) or less so (minor ground-disturbance and loss of individual plants) (Factors A and E). When mineral development and exploration occurs in-between (but not within) populations, this can eliminate corridors for pollinator movement, seed dispersal, and population expansion. Fire suppression activities, such as grading fire breaks and maintaining access roads, may have direct impacts by removing and crushing plants and eliminating suitable habitat. Indirectly, fire suppression impacts Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae by allowing other vegetation to encroach and to become dominant. Relatively dense growth can lead to shading of E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae, changing the micro-climate around plant clusters, and can also result in competition for space, moisture, nutrients, and light with other plant species in a xeric (dry) landscape. Another consequence of long-term fire suppression is the increase in fire hazards when vegetation is permitted to become relatively dense in a dry environment, thereby leading to a potential of more severe or frequent fire events, which may lead to greater habitat destruction or alteration. Off highway vehicle and other road corridors can exacerbate habitat loss and fragmentation, and tend to be associated with (accompanying or following) fire suppression, recreational, or illegal marijuana cultivation activities (Factors A and E). Off highway vehicle and road corridors tend to create conditions that favor increased habitat disturbance beyond the footprint of the road or OHV corridor, leading to further deterioration PO 00000 Frm 00019 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 of habitat because of increased access (Factors A and E). Climate change has the potential to alter landscape features and conditions, including precipitation and temperature regimes that in turn influence the establishment and persistence of vegetation, which then may influence the frequency and intensity of wildfire (Factors A and E). Because of the limited distribution and restricted nature of the habitat available to the two species, climate change and altered precipitation and temperature regimes may interfere with seedling recruitment and persistence of the two species on the landscape (Factors A and E). However, the current best available scientific and commercial information does not show that these combined impacts are resulting in significant impacts to either species as a whole. Therefore, we do not consider the cumulative impact of threats to Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae to be substantial at this time, nor into the future. All or some of the potential stressors could also act in concert to result as a cumulative threat to Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae. However, the best available scientific and commercial information currently does not indicate that these stressors singularly or cumulatively are causing now or will cause in the future a substantial decline of the total extant population of the species or have large impacts to E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae at the species level. Therefore, we do not consider the cumulative impact of these stressors to E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae to be a substantial threat at this time, nor into the future. Conservation Measures Planned or Implemented The designation of 6,173 ac (2,498 ha) of BLM land at Red Mountain as a wilderness study area (WSA) in 1979, and 6,895 ac (2,790 ha) as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC)/ Research Natural Area (RNA) in 1984 (updated in 1989), and the recent designation of the area as a Wilderness Area has focused management concern and direction toward conservation of the unique botanical and soils values of the Red Mountain area, including conservation of Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae (BLM 1995, pp. 3– 6 to 3–9). Site visits to Red Mountain are generally conducted annually by BLM staff to ensure that no new road construction occurs (J. Wheeler, BLM, pers. comm. 2014). Most, or all, of the occupied or suitable habitat for E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae in the E:\FR\FM\18SEP1.SGM 18SEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 181 / Thursday, September 18, 2014 / Proposed Rules vicinity of the South Fork Eel River Wilderness Area was recommended for acquisition (willing landowners) in the resource management plan (RMP) for the area (BLM 1995, pp. 2–32 to 2–37), and several parcels have been acquired. The RMP excludes livestock grazing and off-road vehicle use from the area, guides overall BLM management activities, and is site-specific. There is overlap with the management designations of the Red Mountain ACEC/RNA and the South Fork Eel River Wilderness Area as the entire ACEC/RNA is encompassed by the Wilderness Area designation (J. Wheeler, BLM, pers. comm. 2013). Conservation measures implemented in 2009 for Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae included only a visual inspection and photodocumentation of a portion of their habitat. Previous conservation measures included initiation of the long-term life history and population monitoring in 1987 (Baad 2002, pp. 2–8); field mapping of occupied habitat on public lands in 2003 (Jennings 2003, pp. 1–8); and general ongoing public outreach activities, such as public field trips and academic visitation. BLM staff applied for grant funding in 2010, to conduct an ecological assessment for the two species. That effort was unsuccessful, but both Service and BLM staff will continue to seek funding to implement complete population inventories, and ecological assessments of the two species and their habitat. asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS South Fork Eel River Wilderness Area The designation of the area as the South Fork Eel River Wilderness Area has invoked numerous conservation measures related to maintaining and protecting Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae and their habitat. Signs indicating the wilderness boundary have been posted in many locations. Mechanized or motorized vehicles are not allowed in the wilderness area. Camping is allowed but limited to 14 days. Campfires are allowed unless prohibited during seasonal fire restrictions. Gathering wood for campfires, when permitted, is limited to dead and down materials, and cutting live vegetation is prohibited. Finding The Act defines an endangered species as any species that is ‘‘in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range’’ and a threatened species as any species ‘‘that is likely to become endangered throughout all or a significant portion of its range within the foreseeable future.’’ After review of the best available VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:14 Sep 17, 2014 Jkt 232001 scientific and commercial information pertaining to Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae and their habitat, we have determined that the ongoing threats are not of sufficient imminence, intensity, or magnitude to indicate that E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae are presently in danger of extinction throughout all of their range or likely to become so in the foreseeable future. As stated in the Species Report (Service 2014, p. 11), the location, distribution, and abundance of E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae populations coincide with their known historical distribution and have remained stable relative to their distribution over at least the past 30 years. Both species have a relatively long lifespan, and thus their stable distribution and the persistence of the populations over time (1975–2014) allow us to predict to some degree their persistence into the future. We have determined that the risk of threats acting on these populations are minimal: The fire frequency for the area is low (2 recorded and one unrecorded fire over the past 90 years) and the impacts of those fires have been minimal due to the open nature of the habitat being less prone to intense habitat destruction (Service 2014, pp. 23–25). OHV use has decreased due to the designation of the area as ACEC and Wilderness. Mining interests have also greatly diminished due to numerous factors and no existing claims are currently active or anticipated in the future. If the two species continue to persist in their current distribution, we conclude that they will have sufficient resiliency, redundancy, and representation to persist now and into the future. For E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae, we define foreseeable future as approximately 20 to 30 years. This period is based on the timeframes associated with population studies and informal monitoring for the two species (1986–2014) and the persistence of the populations over time (1975–2014), which demonstrate stable populations over time that are likely to persist over a similar time frame into the future. The period is also based on the minimal fire frequency for the area, the future management of the area as an ACEC and Wilderness, and the relatively long lifespan of individual plants, all of which lead us to conclude that 20–30 years is a time period in which we can reasonably rely on predictions regarding the future populations, status, trends, and threats to each species. Although some stressors still impact the two species and will continue to do so into the foreseeable future, these threats have either not materialized PO 00000 Frm 00020 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 56039 (commercial mining), or they are not of such magnitude to have populationlevel impacts. In addition, the implementation of conservation measures and regulatory actions has greatly reduced the imminence and severity of these stressors on Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae and their habitat. Significant Portion of the Range Determination Under the Act and our implementing regulations, a species may warrant listing if it is an endangered or a threatened species throughout all or a significant portion of its range. The Act defines ‘‘endangered species’’ as any species which is ‘‘in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range,’’ and ‘‘threatened species’’ as any species which is ‘‘likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.’’ The term ‘‘species’’ includes ‘‘any subspecies of fish or wildlife or plants, and any distinct population segment [DPS] of any species of vertebrate fish or wildlife which interbreeds when mature.’’ On July 1, 2014, we published a final policy interpreting the phrase ‘‘significant portion of its range’’ (SPR) (79 FR 37578). The final policy states that (1) if a species is found to be an endangered or a threatened species throughout a significant portion of its range, the entire species is listed as an endangered or a threatened species, respectively, and the Act’s protections apply to all individuals of the species wherever found; (2) a portion of the range of a species is ‘‘significant’’ if the species is not currently an endangered or a threatened species throughout all of its range, but the portion’s contribution to the viability of the species is so important that, without the members in that portion, the species would be in danger of extinction, or likely to become so in the foreseeable future, throughout all of its range; (3) the range of a species is considered to be the general geographical area within which that species can be found at the time the Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service makes any particular status determination; and (4) if a vertebrate species is an endangered or a threatened species throughout an SPR, and the population in that significant portion is a valid DPS, we will list the DPS rather than the entire taxonomic species or subspecies. The SPR policy is applied to all status determinations, including analyses for the purposes of making listing, delisting, and reclassification determinations. The procedure for E:\FR\FM\18SEP1.SGM 18SEP1 asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 56040 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 181 / Thursday, September 18, 2014 / Proposed Rules analyzing whether any portion is an SPR is similar, regardless of the type of status determination we are making. The first step in our analysis of the status of a species is to determine its status throughout all of its range. If we determine that the species is in danger of extinction, or likely to become so in the foreseeable future, throughout all of its range, we list the species as an endangered (or threatened) species, and no SPR analysis will be required. If the species is neither an endangered nor a threatened species throughout all of its range, we determine whether the species is an endangered or a threatened species throughout a significant portion of its range. If it is, we list the species as an endangered or a threatened species, respectively; if it is not, we conclude that listing the species is not warranted. When we conduct an SPR analysis, we first identify any portions of the species’ range that warrant further consideration. The range of a species can theoretically be divided into portions in an infinite number of ways. However, there is no purpose to analyzing portions of the range that are not reasonably likely to be significant and either an endangered or a threatened species. To identify only those portions that warrant further consideration, we determine whether there is substantial information indicating that (1) the portions may be significant and (2) the species may be in danger of extinction in those portions or likely to become so within the foreseeable future. We emphasize that answering these questions in the affirmative is not a determination that the species is an endangered or a threatened species throughout a significant portion of its range—rather, it is a step in determining whether a more detailed analysis of the issue is required. In practice, a key part of this analysis is whether the threats are geographically concentrated in some way. If the threats to the species are affecting it uniformly throughout its range, no portion is likely to warrant further consideration. Moreover, if any concentration of threats apply only to portions of the range that clearly do not meet the biologically based definition of ‘‘significant’’ (i.e., the loss of that portion clearly would not be expected to increase the vulnerability to extinction of the entire species), those portions will not warrant further consideration. If we identify any portions that may be both (1) significant and (2) endangered or threatened, we engage in a more detailed analysis to determine whether these standards are indeed met. The identification of an SPR does not VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:14 Sep 17, 2014 Jkt 232001 create a presumption, prejudgment, or other determination as to whether the species in that identified SPR is an endangered or a threatened species. We must go through a separate analysis to determine whether the species is an endangered or a threatened species in the SPR. To determine whether a species is an endangered or a threatened species throughout an SPR, we will use the same standards and methodology that we use to determine if a species is an endangered or a threatened species throughout its range. Depending on the biology of the species, its range, and the threats it faces, it may be more efficient to address the ‘‘significant’’ question first, or the status question first. Thus, if we determine that a portion of the range is not ‘‘significant,’’ we do not need to determine whether the species is an endangered or a threatened species there; if we determine that the species is not an endangered or a threatened species in a portion of its range, we do not need to determine if that portion is ‘‘significant.’’ We consider the ‘‘range’’ of Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae to include all populations within the Red Mountain area in Mendocino County, California. The range of the populations of E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae overlap, except for the one population of E. kelloggii on adjacent Little Red Mountain. These populations account for the current and known historical distribution of the two species. In considering any significant portion of the range of the two species, we considered whether the threats facing Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae might be different at any of the locations where the two species have been found. Our evaluation of the best available information indicates that the overall level of threats is not significantly different at any of the areas where the two species occur (Service 2014, entire), and that the threats that are impacting or have the potential to impact the range of the two species are widespread across the two species’ ranges (Service 2014, entire). Therefore, it is our conclusion, based on our evaluation of the current potential threats to E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae at each of the locations where the two species occur (see Summary of Factors Affecting the Species section of this finding and the ‘‘Discussion of Threats to the Species’’ section of the Species Report (Service 2014, entire)), that threats are neither sufficiently concentrated nor of sufficient magnitude to indicate that either of the two species are in danger PO 00000 Frm 00021 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 of extinction at any of the areas that support populations. Our review of the best available scientific and commercial information indicates that neither Eriogonum kelloggii nor Sedum eastwoodiae is in danger of extinction (an endangered species) or likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future (a threatened species), throughout all or a significant portion of their ranges. Therefore, we find that listing either of these plant species as an endangered or threatened species under the Act is not warranted at this time. We request that you submit any new information concerning the status of, or threats to, Eriogonum kelloggii or Sedum eastwoodiae to our Arcata Fish and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES) whenever it becomes available. New information will help us monitor these two species and encourage their conservation. If an emergency situation develops for either of these plant species, we will act to provide immediate protection. References Cited A complete list of all references cited in this final rule is available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov under Docket No. FWS–R8–ES–2014– 0034 or upon request from the Field Supervisor, Arcata Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Authors The primary authors of this finding are staff from the Pacific Southwest Regional Office in Sacramento, California, in coordination with staff from the Arcata Fish and Wildlife Office in Arcata, California. Authority The authority for this section is section 4 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). Dated: September 8, 2014. Stephen Guertin, Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. [FR Doc. 2014–22224 Filed 9–17–14; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–55–P E:\FR\FM\18SEP1.SGM 18SEP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 181 (Thursday, September 18, 2014)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 56029-56040]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-22224]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2014-0034; 4500030113]


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12-Month Finding 
on a Petition To List Eriogonum kelloggii (Red Mountain buckwheat) and 
Sedum eastwoodiae (Red Mountain stonecrop) as Endangered or Threatened 
Species

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of 12-month petition finding.

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SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 
12-month finding on a petition to list Eriogonum kelloggii (Red 
Mountain buckwheat) and Sedum eastwoodiae (Red Mountain stonecrop) as 
endangered or threatened species under the Endangered Species Act of 
1973, as amended (Act). After a review of the best available scientific 
and commercial information, we find that listing Eriogonum kelloggii 
and Sedum eastwoodiae is not warranted at this time. However, we ask 
the public to submit to us any new information that becomes available 
concerning threats to the two species or their habitat at any time.

DATES: The finding announced in this document was made on September 18, 
2014.

ADDRESSES: This finding is available on the internet at http://www.regulations.gov under Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2014-0034 and at http://www.fws.gov/arcata/. Supporting documentation we used in preparing this 
finding is available for public inspection, by appointment, during 
normal business hours at: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Arcata Fish 
and Wildlife Office, 1655 Heindon Road, Arcata, CA 95521; telephone 
707-822-7201; facsimile 707-822-8411. Please submit any new 
information, materials, or questions concerning this finding to the 
above street address.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Bruce Bingham, Field Supervisor, U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, Arcata Fish and Wildlife Office, 1655 
Heindon Road, Arcata, CA 95521; telephone 707-822-7201; facsimile 707-
822-8411. Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf 
(TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800-877-
8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae were first identified as 
candidate species for Federal listing on July 1, 1975 (40 FR 27823), 
and December 15, 1980 (45 FR 82479), respectively. The two species 
remained candidates, and information on their status and threats facing 
the two species were summarized in our annual candidate notices of 
review (CNORs). See the Species Profiles for Eriogonum kelloggii and 
Sedum eastwoodiae on our Environmental Conservation Online System 
(ECOS) at http://ecos.fws.gov/ecos/home for additional information on 
the history of candidate assessments for the two species.
    In 2011, in resolution of litigation brought by WildEarth Guardians 
and the Center for Biological Diversity, we agreed to submit either a 
proposed rule or a not-warranted finding for 251 candidate species no 
later than September 30, 2016 (re Endangered Species Act Section 4 
Deadline Litigation, Misc. Action No. 10-377 (EGS), MDL Docket No. 2165 
(D.D.C., September 9, 2011)). This determination regarding whether 
Eriogonum kelloggii or Sedum eastwoodiae should be proposed for listing 
is made in compliance with the 2011 settlement.
    Section 4(b)(3)(B) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) requires 
that, for any petition to revise the Federal Lists of Endangered and 
Threatened Wildlife and Plants that contains substantial scientific or 
commercial information that listing the species may be warranted, we 
make a finding within 12 months of the date of receipt of the

[[Page 56030]]

petition. As discussed above, in this finding, we have determined that 
adding Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae to the Federal List of 
Endangered or Threatened Plants is not warranted.
    This finding is based upon the Species Report for Two Red Mountain 
Plants: Red Mountain Buckwheat (Eriogonum kelloggii) and Red Mountain 
Stonecrop (Sedum eastwoodiae) (Service 2014, entire) (Species Report) 
and scientific analyses of available information prepared by Service 
biologists from the Service's Arcata Fish and Wildlife Office, the 
Pacific Southwest Regional Office, and the Headquarters Office. The 
Species Report contains the best scientific and commercial data 
available concerning the status of E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae, 
including the past, present, and future threats to the species. As 
such, the Species Report provides the scientific basis that informs our 
regulatory decision in this document, which involves the further 
application of standards within the Act and its regulations and 
policies.
    For a detailed discussion of Eriogonum kelloggii's or Sedum 
eastwoodiae's description, taxonomy, life history, habitat, soils, 
distribution, and abundance, please see the Species Report for Two Red 
Mountain Plants: Red Mountain Buckwheat (Eriogonum kelloggii) and Red 
Mountain Stonecrop (Sedum eastwoodiae) (Species Report, Service 2014, 
entire) available for review under Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2014-0034 at 
http://www.regulations.gov. Also refer to the most recent species 
assessment forms for both species at http://ecos.fws.gov/ecos/home for 
a summary of additional species information (Service 2012a and 2012b, 
entire).

Previous Federal Action

    On January 9, 1974, as directed by the Act, the Secretary for the 
Smithsonian Institution submitted a report to Congress on potential 
endangered and threatened plant species of the United States 
(Smithsonian 1975, entire). The report identified 1,999 plant species 
as either endangered or threatened, including Eriogonum kelloggii 
(Smithsonian 1975, p. 92). On July 1, 1975, we published in the Federal 
Register (40 FR 27823) our notification that we considered this report 
to be a petition to list E. kelloggii as either endangered or 
threatened under the Act. The notice solicited information from Federal 
and State agencies, and the public, on the status of the species. In 
1978, the Smithsonian Institution submitted an additional report 
(Ayensu and DeFilipps 1978, entire) that revised the list of plant 
species to be considered as endangered or threatened. We considered 
this revised report as a supplement to the original 1975 petition. The 
revised report identified Sedum eastwoodiae [as Sedum laxum ssp. 
eastwoodiae] as a potential endangered or threatened species (Ayensu 
and DeFilipps 1978, p. 106). On December 15, 1980, we published in the 
Federal Register (45 FR 82479) our notice of review of plant taxa for 
listing as endangered or threatened species. Both E. kelloggii and S. 
eastwoodiae were identified as Category 1 species (taxa for which we 
had enough biological information to support listing as either 
endangered or threatened). As a result, we considered E. kelloggii and 
S. eastwoodiae to be candidates for addition to the Federal List of 
Endangered and Threatened Plants. The December 15, 1980, Federal 
Register notice (45 FR 82479) again solicited information from Federal 
and State agencies, and the public, on the status of the two species 
(Service 1981, pp. 1, 4-5).
    Both species were included in our annual candidate notices of 
review (CNORs) between 1983 (48 FR 53640; November 28, 1983) and 2013 
(78 FR 70103; November 22, 2013) for Eriogonum kelloggii; and between 
1985 (50 FR 39525; September 27, 1985) and 2013, for Sedum eastwoodiae. 
In our September 19, 1997, CNOR (62 FR 49397), which identified listing 
priority numbers for candidate species, these two species were assigned 
priority numbers of 5 (threats facing the two species were of high 
magnitude but nonimminent) as outlined in our Listing Priority Guidance 
(48 FR 43098; September 21, 1983). We were petitioned to list both 
species by the Center for Biological Diversity and others on May 11, 
2004 (Center for Biological Diversity, et al., 2004). In the November 
22, 2013, CNOR, we stated that we would be conducting a review of the 
two species for listing under the Act (78 FR 70103). This notice 
constitutes our review and final action regarding the petitions to list 
E. kelloggii or S. eastwoodiae as endangered or threatened under the 
Act.

Taxonomy

    Eriogonum kelloggii: Gray (1870, p. 293) described this taxon from 
specimens collected in 1869, by Dr. A. Kellogg from the type locality 
at Red Mountain, Mendocino County, California. The species is sometimes 
known as Kellogg's buckwheat (Hickman 1993, p. 874; CDFG 2005, 
unpaginated; CDFW 2013, p. 9).
    Sedum eastwoodiae: Nathaniel Britton first described this taxon as 
Gormania eastwoodiae in 1903, based on specimens from Red Mountain, 
Mendocino County, California, collected by Alice Eastwood (Britton and 
Rose 1903, p. 31). Nomenclatural changes followed, and in 1975, the 
taxon was reduced to the sub-specific level by Robert Clausen, renaming 
it S. laxum ssp. eastwoodiae (Clausen 1975, pp. 399-403). Melinda 
Denton returned the species to S. eastwoodiae (Denton 1982, p. 65; 
Denton 1993, pp. 531-533).

Distribution

    The Red Mountain buckwheat (Eriogonum kelloggii) and Red Mountain 
stonecrop (Sedum eastwoodiae) are plant species endemic to serpentine 
habitat of lower montane forest in the northern Coast Range at Red 
Mountain in Mendocino County, California (Kruckeberg 1984, pp. 113, 
121). Eriogonum kelloggii is found on dry ridges in rocky barren 
openings associated with serpentine habitat between 1,900 and 4,100 ft 
(580 and 1,250 m) in elevation (Munz and Keck 1973, p. 339; Jennings 
2003, pp. 1-8). Sedum eastwoodiae occupies relatively barren rocky 
openings and cliffs, generally on west-faced slopes associated with 
serpentine habitats between 1,900 to 4,100 ft (580 to 1,250 m) in 
elevation (Jennings 2003, p. 2). Serpentine habitats are thinly soiled 
and usually contain high levels of heavy metals and other minerals and 
often support plant species which have become uniquely adapted to this 
harsher environment (Kruckeberg as cited in Whittaker 1954, pp. 258-
288; Kruckeberg 1984, pp. 6-12, 18-21, 34-35, 48-50; University of 
California 1993, pp. 1-3). The majority of the range of both species 
overlap except where E. kelloggii extends farther south than S. 
eastwoodiae to a 900-square-foot (ft\2\) (84-square-meter (m\2\)) area 
on adjacent Little Red Mountain. The area occupied by both species at 
Red Mountain is scattered over approximately 4 square miles (mi\2\) 
(10.4 square kilometers (km\2\)). Limited monitoring indicates that 
both species have fairly stable populations relative to their 
distribution. The exact lifespans of E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae 
are not known. Other Eriogonum species occupying similar restricted 
habitats and which are adapted to similar environmental and ecological 
conditions (e.g., xeric conditions, limited resources, tolerance of 
unique soils) have long lifespans and tend to grow slowly and favor 
individual persistence (Anderson 2006, pp. 1-73). Based on the 
persistence of monitored

[[Page 56031]]

E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae populations we would expect the 
lifespan of plants to be long.

Land Ownership and Management

    The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and California Department of 
Fish and Wildlife (CDFW; formerly known as the California Department of 
Fish and Game (CDFG)) are the two largest land managers in the Red 
Mountain area. Both agencies support plant conservation and have 
participated in monitoring and reducing threats on the two species and 
their habitat.
    In 1979, BLM designated 6,173 acres (ac) (2,498 hectares (ha)) of 
BLM land at Red Mountain as a wilderness study area (WSA). In 1984 
(updated in 1989), BLM also designated 6,895 ac (2,790 ha) of the area 
as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern and Research Natural Area 
(ACEC/RNA). These designations provide protection and focused 
management direction toward conservation of the unique botanical and 
soils values of the Red Mountain area (BLM 1995, pp. 3-6 to 3-9). As a 
result of these designations, BLM developed a resource management plan 
(RMP) for the area (BLM 1995, pp. 2-32 to 2-37). The Red Mountain ACEC/
RMP is site-specific and excludes livestock grazing and off-road 
vehicle use from the area and guides overall management activities 
within BLM's Arcata Field Office's jurisdiction. In addition, the BLM 
lands in the Red Mountain area (including those identified above) have 
also been designated by Congress as part of the South Fork Eel River 
Wilderness Area through the Northern California Coastal Wild Heritage 
Wilderness Act of October 17, 2006 (Pub. L. 109-362). The designation 
removed the WSA status for the area and officially designated the area 
as wilderness. Under the designation, BLM is directed to manage 
designated wilderness in a manner that retains the wilderness character 
for future generations. Within wilderness areas, no new roads can be 
developed and no mechanical equipment can be used. The BLM has acquired 
and is working to acquire additional private lands from willing 
landowners within the area that would help consolidate its ownership. 
The majority of areas containing Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum 
eastwoodiae populations are within the Red Mountain ACEC and South Fork 
Eel River Wilderness Area (see Figure 5 of the Species Report (Service 
2014)).
    The portion of Little Red Mountain containing one population of 
Eriogonum kelloggii is owned and managed by CDFW as an ecological 
reserve (Little Red Mountain Ecological Reserve). State ecological 
reserves are established to provide protection for rare, endangered, or 
threatened native plants, wildlife, aquatic organisms and specialized 
terrestrial or aquatic habitat types. The CDFW designated E. kelloggii 
as a State endangered plant in April of 1982 (CDFG 2005, unpaginated; 
CDFW 2013, p. 9). Public entry and use of ecological reserves are to be 
compatible with the primary purposes of the reserve, and subject to the 
applicable general rules and regulations for conservation of the area 
as outlined in Title 14 of the California Code of Regulations at 
section 630 (CDFW 2014, pp. 1-14).

Summary of Factors Affecting the Species

    Section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533) and implementing regulations 
(50 CFR 424) set forth procedures for adding species to, removing 
species from, or reclassifying species on the Federal Lists of 
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. Under section 4(a)(1) of 
the Act, a species may be determined to be endangered or threatened 
based on any of the following five factors:
    (A) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or 
curtailment of its habitat or range;
    (B) Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes;
    (C) Disease or predation;
    (D) The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or
    (E) Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued 
existence.
    In making this finding, information pertaining to Eriogonum 
kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae in relation to the five factors 
provided in section 4(a)(1) of the Act is discussed below. In 
considering what factors might constitute threats, we must look beyond 
the mere exposure of the species to the factor to determine whether the 
species responds to the factor in a way that causes actual impacts to 
the species. If there is exposure to a factor, but no response, or only 
a positive response, that factor is not a threat. If there is exposure 
and the species responds negatively, the factor may be a threat and we 
then attempt to determine how significant a threat it is. If the threat 
is significant, it may drive or contribute to the risk of extinction of 
the species such that the species warrants listing as endangered or 
threatened as those terms are defined by the Act. This does not 
necessarily require empirical proof of a threat. The combination of 
exposure and some corroborating evidence of how the species is likely 
impacted could suffice. The mere identification of factors that could 
impact a species negatively is not sufficient to compel a finding that 
listing is appropriate; we require evidence that these factors are 
operative threats that act on the species to the point that the species 
meets the definition of an endangered or threatened species under the 
Act.
    In making our 12-month finding on the petition we considered and 
evaluated the best available scientific and commercial information.
    The primary stressor identified as impacting Eriogonum kelloggii 
and Sedum eastwoodiae and their habitat at the time the species were 
first considered as candidates was the potential for surface mining for 
chromium, nickel, and potentially cobalt. Other stressors identified 
throughout our CNORs between 1983 and 2013 consisted of unauthorized 
off-highway vehicle (OHV) use, illegal marijuana cultivation, wildfire, 
wildfire suppression, vegetation encroachment, small population size, 
and the effects of climate change. The potential threat of large-scale 
surface mining has greatly diminished. The following sections provide a 
summary of the current stressors impacting E. kelloggii and S. 
eastwoodiae.
    Stressors previously identified as impacting Eriogonum kelloggii 
and Sedum eastwoodiae include mining activities (Factors A and E); 
habitat disturbance activities (unauthorized OHV use (Factors A and E), 
trail construction (Factor A), illegal marijuana cultivation (Factors A 
and E)); wildfire and wildfire management (alteration of the fire 
regime or fire suppression activities) (Factors A and E); vegetation 
encroachment (competition with native plant species (Factors A and E)); 
climate change (Factor A and E); small population size (Factor E); and 
the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms (Factor D). Listing 
actions may be warranted based on any of the above factors, singly or 
in combination. The information pertaining to the two species organized 
by the five factors is discussed for the two species below. In 
addition, Table 1 below summarizes the stressors identified for both 
species over time since the two species were first identified as 
candidates for listing, and compares these with the situation today. A 
complete characterization and discussion of the stressors impacting 
these two species is in the Species Report (Service 2014, pp. 10-28).

[[Page 56032]]



         Table 1--Stressors Identified as Impacting Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae Over Time
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                      At time of
            Stressor                petitions 1974/   As candidates 1980-  Present 2013-2014     Current scope
                                         1978                2012
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mining..........................  Yes...............  Ongoing...........  Greatly Reduced or  Red Mountain.
                                                                           Eliminated.
OHV Use.........................  Not Identified....  Yes...............  Decreased.........  Red Mountain.
Road Construction...............  Not Identified....  Yes...............  Decreased.........  Red Mountain.
Trail Construction (authorized).  Not Identified....  Potential.........  Potential.........  Red Mountain.
Illegal Marijuana Cultivation...  Not Identified....  Yes...............  Decreased.........  Lower Elevations.
Wildfire (Mgt. and Suppression).  Not Identified....  Yes...............  Stable............  Everywhere.
Vegetation Encroachment/Mgt.....  Not Identified....  Yes...............  Potential.........  Portions of Range.
Effects of Climate Change.......  Not Identified....  Yes...............  Stable (changes     Entire Range.
                                                                           may offset each
                                                                           other).
Small Population Size...........  Yes...............  Yes...............  Stable (adapted to  Entire Range.
                                                                           small population
                                                                           size).
Inadequacy of Regulatory          Yes...............  Yes...............  No................  Entire Range.
 Mechanisms.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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

    Some of the same potential activities that affect the habitat of 
Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae can also affect individual E. 
kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae plants. While these impacts to E. 
kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae fit under Factor E (Other Natural or 
Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued Existence), they are included 
here in the Factor A discussion for ease of analysis.
Mining
    Mining activities that occur, have occurred, or potentially could 
occur at Red Mountain include recreational, small-scale, and potential 
commercial (large-scale) mining operations. The historical mining 
activity that has occurred has been minimal (BLM 1994, pp. 1-2).
    Recreational and Small-Scale Mining: Recreational mining includes 
individuals with hand equipment (e.g., shovels, picks), mostly 
collecting rocks or looking for other mineral deposits and would 
involve digging and movement of rocks and other small-impact 
disturbance. Such activity could also destroy or trample individual 
plants if it occurred within an area occupied by Eriogonum kelloggii or 
Sedum eastwoodiae. This type of recreational mining activity has 
occurred in the past but most likely has diminished due to designation 
of most of the Red Mountain area as an ACEC and Wilderness Area. Mining 
activity has also included small-scale mining efforts using mechanical 
equipment that have been conducted in the past by individuals prior to 
the area being designated as an ACEC or Wilderness Area or currently on 
private lands by individual landowners. These areas are typically 
localized and limited in scope. According to U.S. Geological Survey 
(USGS) information on mine locations at Red Mountain, 13 mine locations 
have been identified within the area (USGS-Mineral Resource On-line 
Spatial Data 2014). Of these mine sites, only two are located within 
the areas known to contain E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae. This type 
of activity if it was to occur within an area occupied by E. kelloggii 
or S. eastwoodiae, would most likely destroy individual plants by 
direct removal, crushing, or burying. Review of aerial imagery of these 
two mine sites shows very limited habitat disturbance of the two areas 
and no recent activity. In order for mining activities to resume at 
these small-scale mining sites, they would require authorization by BLM 
within the ACEC and Wilderness Area. See Figure 6 in the Species Report 
for mine sites identified in the Red Mountain area (Service 2014, 
entire).
    If recreational or small-scale mining activities occur in areas 
occupied by Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae, there may be 
some limited destruction of plants and habitat. However, the amount of 
wide-scale recreational and small-scale mining activity on Red Mountain 
is minimal due to access constraints and these activities have not 
impacted E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae populations or habitat to a 
large degree since they were identified as candidate species.
    Commercial Mining: Commercial mining activity has not occurred on 
Red Mountain to date, although the potential for large-scale mining 
activity exists for the entire Red Mountain area, as it contains 
widespread deposits of chromium, nickel, and potentially cobalt. The 
entire known distribution of Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae 
at Red Mountain is held under unpatented lode or placer mining claims, 
or occurs on privately owned lands owned by individuals with past or 
current mining interests (BLM 2009, unpaginated). The one population of 
E. kelloggii at Little Red Mountain within the Little Red Mountain 
Ecological Reserve is protected from any mining activity (recreational 
or commercial) through State regulation (CDFW 2014, pp. 1-14).
    Commercial mining on Red Mountain would most likely be an open-face 
bench type mining that would involve removal and processing of the 
mineral-bearing ore containing nickel, chromium, and possibly cobalt 
(Service 1990, p. 14). Commercial mining activities would remove 
plants, degrade habitat, alter drainage, compact soils, and introduce 
contaminants in the affected area. Although an operation plan for such 
mining activities would require restoration of the affected areas, 
plant species composition would undoubtedly be altered. Moreover, there 
is no evidence in the literature indicating Eriogonum kelloggii and 
Sedum eastwoodiae are able to recolonize soils once they are disturbed.
    With regard to the potential for Red Mountain to be commercially 
mined, a Bureau of Mines Preliminary Feasibility Study conducted at Red 
Mountain in 1978 concluded the nickel deposits met the minimum tonnage 
grade test at the time (i.e., 35 million short tons of material 
containing an average 0.8 percent nickel) (K. Geer, Service, pers. 
comm. 1995). However, commercial mining at Red Mountain was not 
considered economically feasible at the time due to the relatively low 
grade of the resource (low metal concentrations) and the high cost of 
mining the material (Geer, pers. comm. 1995). According to current USGS 
data (Kelly and Matos 2013 [Comps.], entire) on nickel and chromium 
production and pricing between 1900 and 2014, the unit value (as 
calculated in 1998 dollars) of both

[[Page 56033]]

nickel and chromium has not increased significantly since the values 
reported in 1978 (USGS 2014a, pp. 1-7; USGS 2014b, pp. 1-8). The unit 
value (1998 dollars) for cobalt as of 2012 has decreased since the 
values reported in 1978 (USGS 2014c, pp. 1-6). The likelihood and 
extent of future mining will depend on the future economic feasibility 
and demand for minerals found in the area. The economic feasibility of 
mining will be determined by the current market value of the mined ore, 
as well as cost of extraction, processing, and transportation. As 
discussed above, over the past 35 years since the last economic 
feasibility report, the price of nickel, chromium, and cobalt has 
either risen only slightly or decreased. In addition, because Red 
Mountain is within designated wilderness, avoidance and mitigation 
measures to reduce or offset impacts to wilderness characteristics may 
be added to the cost of extraction and feasibility of mining the area.
    The majority of Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae 
occurrences are within the South Fork Eel River Wilderness Area. The 
legislation designating the wilderness area specifically retained valid 
land rights, such as mining claims, in existence on the date of 
enactment (October 17, 2006). However, the area was withdrawn from all 
new forms of: (1) Entry to, appropriation, or disposal of lands under 
the public land laws; (2) locating, entering, and establishing new 
patents under Federal Mining Law; and (3) disposition under all laws 
pertaining to mineral and geothermal leasing or mining of materials. 
Consequently, no new mining claims can be established within the South 
Fork Eel River Wilderness Area.
    For the existing mining claims within the South Fork Eel River 
Wilderness Area, a plan of operation must be developed and approved by 
the BLM before any permitting of operations can take place (43 CFR 
3809.11). Before BLM may approve a mining plan of operations on 
existing claims, it must conduct a validity examination to determine if 
the claim is valid and if so develop a Mineral Examination Report (S. 
Flanagan, BLM, pers. comm., 2014; 43 CFR 3809.100). The validity 
examination includes a determination of whether the mining claim was 
valid before the wilderness withdrawal, and whether it remains valid. 
Because there are different claimholders on Red Mountain that likely 
filed claims at different times, separate validity exams would need to 
be performed for each claim, raising the cost of conducting the 
examination. Due to the high cost of the validity examinations, BLM 
typically only does them when a plan of operations is filed by a 
claimholder (S. Flanagan, BLM, pers. comm., 2014). The BLM has 60 days 
to determine if sufficient information was provided to conduct a 
validity examination, and then 2 years to complete the examination. If 
the validity examination fails, the claim is cancelled. If the claim is 
determined to be valid, the claimant may file patent to gain ownership 
to the land, although for short-lived mining operations a patent is 
often not filed. The BLM does not have the right to deny such a patent; 
however, it can impose protective measures that avoid or reduce impacts 
to wilderness characteristics. However, the majority of recently 
conducted validity examinations in California have failed, and BLM does 
not expect any new validity examinations to be conducted within the 
area (S. Flanagan, BLM, pers. comm., 2014).
    Currently, no small-scale or commercial mining activities are being 
conducted on BLM or adjacent private lands, and no validity exams have 
been conducted on any of the mining claims within the Red Mountain 
area. Some recreational mining activities have occurred in the area in 
the past; however, with the designation of the majority of the area as 
an ACEC and Wilderness Area, we do not expect these types of activities 
to be a major concern for Eriogonum kelloggii or Sedum eastwoodiae or 
their habitat now or in the future. As discussed above and in the 
Species Report, the majority of private lands where E. kelloggii or S. 
eastwoodiae occur has been acquired by BLM and are within designated 
wilderness, and subject to BLM's management. As a result of land use 
designation and management changes and continued economic 
infeasibility, we also do not consider large-scale mining to be a 
threat to E. kelloggii or S. eastwoodiae or their habitat now or in the 
future.
Habitat Disturbance Activities
    Activities associated with habitat disturbance in the Red Mountain 
area other than those discussed above under mining include: Road 
construction, wildfire management construction activities, unauthorized 
off-highway vehicle (OHV) use, illegal marijuana cultivation, and trail 
development. The majority of past habitat disturbance in the Red 
Mountain area has been caused by road construction, both for access and 
fire control (Imper and Wheeler, unpubl. data 2009). However, due to 
the designation of the Red Mountain area as an ACEC and part of the 
South Fork Eel River Wilderness Area and Little Red Mountain as a State 
ecological reserve, no new road construction or use of mechanical 
equipment is permitted in the area. One exception that would still be 
permitted in the area is for the purpose of wildfire management 
activities (which may include presuppression, fire-break construction, 
and access road construction) (16 U.S.C. 1133(d)(1)). See the Wildfire 
and Wildfire Management section, below, for further discussion of these 
activities and how they may affect Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum 
eastwoodiae and their habitat.
    The current unauthorized OHV use and associated habitat disturbance 
at Red Mountain is largely related to illegal marijuana cultivation. 
Unauthorized OHV use by illegal marijuana growers crushes vegetation 
and loosens soil, making it more likely to erode during a rain event. 
Clearing of vegetation, creation of water impoundments, and diversion 
of streams can also greatly alter local site conditions. These types of 
activities should they occur in occupied areas would remove, crush, or 
destroy individual Eriogonum kelloggii or Sedum eastwoodiae plants and 
disturb or alter their habitat. However, currently the majority of 
known sites on Red Mountain where marijuana cultivation has occurred 
are at the lower elevation areas adjacent to private lands, near 
existing roads, or with access to streams, and not near locations where 
E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae occur (J. Knisley, BLM, pers. comm. 
2014). The Red Mountain area where E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae 
occur is more open to observation and has less forest or vegetation 
cover, and as a result is most likely less desirable for illegal 
marijuana cultivation sites. BLM, CDFW, and County law enforcement 
officials have been working with a local nonprofit organization to 
remove the growing infrastructure (i.e., irrigation, planting 
materials, and other debris) from the area (Eel River Recovery Project 
2014, pp. 1-6). General public access to the area by vehicle is 
controlled. Considering the extent of illegal marijuana cultivation in 
northern California, the potential for these activities to be a threat 
to E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae and their habitat is a concern. 
However, based on the current extent of these activities within the Red 
Mountain area and the best available scientific and commercial 
information, we do not consider these activities to result in 
significant impacts to E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae as a whole, or 
to their habitat, nor do we

[[Page 56034]]

expect them to become significant in the future.
    A proposal to enhance recreational use of the South Fork Eel River 
Wilderness Area through construction of a foot or horse trail would 
encourage public use and likely discourage marijuana growing and 
unauthorized vehicle use (J. Wheeler, pers. comm. 2009). Trail 
construction will be considered once a wilderness management plan is 
developed for Red Mountain, and would likely be simple delineation 
using posts rather than soil disturbance (J. Wheeler, pers. comm. 
2013). Habitat for Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae could also 
potentially be impacted by logging operations, such as cable logging 
(C. Golec, CDFW, pers. comm. 2005); however, logging of any kind in the 
absence of a wilderness management plan will not occur. BLM currently 
does not have a specific timeline for development of a wilderness 
management plan for the area, and as a result, no trail or logging 
activities will be authorized for the area in the near future. Due to 
the tendency of E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae to occur on rock 
outcrops and rocky slopes, none of the above activities is expected to 
impact a significant portion of the two species' habitat now or in the 
future.
Wildfire and Wildfire Management
    Fire has been shown to be an important factor affecting vegetation 
patterns and maintenance of many open habitats, similar to the habitat 
of Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae, across the Klamath 
Bioregion (Skinner et al. 2006, pp. 175-178; Skinner et al. 2009, pp. 
76-98). Historically in California, frequent natural and cultural 
ignitions maintained these disturbance-prone ecosystems dependent on 
recurrent fire (Holmes et al. 2008, pp. 551-552). Pre-European 
settlement fire-return intervals for mixed conifer stands are thought 
to have been variable and in some cases ranged as little as 6 to 8 
years between events (Skinner et al. 2009, pp. 83-84). A decline in 
fire frequency since European settlement has allowed conifer 
encroachment or establishment of dense shrub stands in many areas of 
the region. BLM's general policy is to restore fire to its natural role 
in the ecosystem (BLM 2012a, pp. 1-25--1-27), except where these 
activities threaten human life, property, or high value resources on 
adjacent nonwilderness lands, or where these would result in 
unacceptable change to the wilderness resource. Wildfire or prescribed 
burning under certain specific conditions may be used as a wildlife 
management tool if carefully designed to maintain or enhance the 
wilderness resource (BLM 2012a, pp. 1-25--1-27).
    BLM may conduct fire suppression activities within wilderness 
areas. Fire suppression activities involving uses generally prohibited 
in wilderness areas (use of motorized equipment or motor vehicles, 
mechanical transport, construction of roads, and construction of 
structures or installations) can only occur if authorized by the 
applicable BLM State Director, unless this authority has been delegated 
to the District or Field Manager (BLM 2012a, pp. 1-12--1-15, 1-26). 
These types of activities may have a direct impact on Eriogonum 
kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae by removing or crushing plants and 
their habitat.
    Indirectly, fire suppression impacts Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum 
eastwoodiae by allowing vegetation to encroach and to become decadent. 
Relatively dense growth adjacent to areas occupied by E. kelloggii and 
S. eastwoodiae can lead to shading, changing the micro-climate around 
plant clusters, and using moisture in a xeric landscape. Another 
consequence of long-term fire suppression is the increase in fire 
hazards when vegetation is permitted to become relatively dense in a 
dry environment. This could lead to a potential for more severe fire 
events, which may lead to greater habitat destruction. The threat of 
fire is lessened for E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae in that the plants 
occur mostly in rocky areas, which in most cases do not contain large 
build-ups of vegetation. Natural and prescribed fires will be 
supervised and may be allowed to burn under certain conditions. When 
fire threatens human life or property, motorized equipment may be used 
to eliminate or minimize the threat. However, in all cases, the 
equipment and tactics used to manage fires are designed to minimize the 
impact to wilderness values (BLM 2012a, pp. 1-25--1-27).
    Two recorded fires appear to have influenced the Red Mountain area 
over the past 90 years: The 1952 Lynch Fire and the 2008 Red Mountain 
Fire (Baad 202, pp. 6-7; California Department of Forestry and Fire 
Protection 2009). An undocumented fire also occurred in the area and 
may have influenced localized vegetation patterns at Red Mountain 
(Goforth 1980, pp. 16-19; Service 2013, p. 18) (see Vegetation 
Encroachment section below). The 1952 Lynch Fire was the only fire 
included in the Fire and Resource Map Project's (FRAP) online 
historical fire database (California Department of Forestry and Fire 
Protection 2009) for the immediate area of Red Mountain since the 
1920s. Evidence suggests the Lynch Fire may have stimulated germination 
and growth of Pinus attenuata (knobcone pine) in some areas within the 
distribution of Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae on the 
mountain, which has encroached on their habitat (Service 2013, p. 18), 
but only in a few cases (Goforth 1980, pp. 16-19). See the Vegetation 
Encroachment section, below, for further discussion of the potential 
effects of vegetation encroachment.
    The 2008 Red Mountain fire, which was caused by lightning, burned 
approximately 3,000 ac (1,214 ha) within the South Fork Eel River 
Wilderness Area (BLM 2008, p. 1). The fire burned some 1,000 ac (405 
ha) at the top of Red Mountain, with reportedly 80 percent mortality of 
brush and 10 percent tree mortality (J. Wheeler, BLM, pers. comm. 
2008). The actual burn footprint was highly irregular, and the majority 
of the burned habitat appeared to have experienced a relatively low-
intensity ground fire, with little crowning (Imper and Wheeler, 
unpublished data 2009). The fire also extended to Little Red Mountain 
and burned to near the boundary of one of the populations of Eriogonum 
kelloggii; the population may have been impacted by the fire control 
efforts, but no survey of the area was completed (S. Koller, CDFW, 
pers. comm. 2009). Regardless, in an attempt to restore the impacts of 
the fire suppression activities, CDFW staff worked extensively with 
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire) to 
redistribute the pushed up earth material back over the disturbed areas 
that had been created for safety zones during the 2008 fires (S. 
Koller, CDFW, pers. comm. 2014). Some 25 percent of the polygons 
occupied by Sedum eastwoodiae and 42 percent of the polygons occupied 
by E. kelloggii mapped by Jennings (2003, pp. 2 and 8) occur within the 
boundary of 2008 fire, but the extent to which habitat occupied by 
either species was directly affected by the fire is unknown.
    The effects of climate change may also impact habitat conditions 
and fire frequency and intensity for the Red Mountain area. Changes to 
wildfire regimes (frequency and intensity) and factors influencing fire 
(temperature, precipitation, vegetation) have been predicted as a 
result of climate change (Lenihan et al. 2003, pp. 1678-1680; Fried et 
al. 2004, pp. 177-188; Westerling and Bryant 2008, pp. 244-248; 
Krawchuk et al. 2009, pp. 8-10; Cornwell et al. 2012, pp. 1-89). 
However, the results of fire modeling

[[Page 56035]]

are variable, as the likelihood of future fires and wildfire severity 
depend on many factors, including pre-suppression activities, fire 
suppression strategies, human settlement patterns, ignition sources, 
variability of local climatic conditions, vegetation type, and fuel 
loading (Fried et al. 2004, p. 185; Westerling and Bryant 2008, pp. 
231-235; Krawchuk et al. 2009, p. 1; Point Reyes Bird Observatory 
(PRBO) Conservation Science 2011, pp. 1-59). A 2004 modeling study on 
the effects of climate change and fire frequency for northern 
California suggested that there may be an increase in fire risk for 
northern California as a whole (Fried et al. 2004, pp. 177-188), but 
that northern coastal areas (as represented by the CalFire Humboldt 
Ranger District and including Red Mountain and Little Red Mountain) 
would not change. This was attributed to the model's prediction of 
slower winds and higher humidity offsetting any temperature increases 
(Fried et al. 2004, p. 177). The researchers stated that the majority 
of fires under both present and predicted future climate scenarios 
would be of moderate intensity and rates of spread, and are unlikely to 
become large, damaging fires (Fried et al. 2004, p. 177). Consequently, 
we do not currently consider climate change and its potential effects 
on fire frequency to be a significant threat to the habitat of 
Eriogonum kelloggii or Sedum eastwoodiae now or into the future.
    With the history of only two recorded fires over the past 90 years, 
with one of those fires being a low-intensity ground fire with little 
crowning, the Red Mountain area being more open and less vegetated than 
surrounding areas, and management focus increased as a result of its 
designation as wilderness in part for the conservation of rare plants, 
we do not currently consider wildfire or wildfire suppression to be a 
significant threat to Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae or 
their habitat, and do not expect the fire conditions or management to 
change significantly in the near future.
Vegetation Encroachment
    Habitat modification as a result of natural vegetation changes in 
the absence of, or as a result of, fire is a stressor to Eriogonum 
kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae. Encroachment of vegetation into E. 
kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae habitat results in the modification of 
ecological conditions through shading, competition for resources 
(light, water, nutrients), and greater susceptibility to the effects of 
fire due to increased fuel. These habitat changes may result in 
conditions that are not suitable for populations of E. kelloggii and S. 
eastwoodiae and may lead to loss of individual plants for both species.
    As stated above, an undocumented fire may have stimulated 
germination and growth of Pinus attenuata (knobcone pine) in some areas 
within the distribution of Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae on 
the mountain and encroached on their habitat, but only in a few cases 
(Goforth 1980, pp. 16-19; Service 2013, p. 18). In addition, Baad 
(2002, pp. 6-7) recognized suppressed reproductive output in E. 
kelloggii at one site on Red Mountain, and attributed the impact to 
conifer invasion following a fire that occurred 40 years previously. 
Baad's monitoring efforts (2002, entire) did not observe specific 
impacts from vegetation encroachment on S. eastwoodiae, but the study 
was not designed to provide that information. In absence of fire, Baad 
concluded that S. eastwoodiae located on rocky ridge tops and with 
little woody vegetation appeared relatively stable, but populations 
situated on deeper soils in more sheltered sites are more vulnerable to 
shading by competing vegetation (Baad 2002, pp. 6-7). The manner and 
degree to which the 2008 Red Mountain Fire affected E. kelloggii or S. 
eastwoodiae, either positively, by setting back natural succession 
within their habitat, or negatively, by killing plants, is not known.
    Although vegetation encroachment is a concern for both Eriogonum 
kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae, based on the extent of observed 
effects, persistence of known populations, and increased management of 
the area, we do not consider vegetation encroachment to be a 
significant threat to E. kelloggii or S. eastwoodiae or to their 
habitat now or into the future.

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

    Due to the remoteness of the area and access constraints, little 
visitor use occurs in the area. As a result there is a low potential 
for collection or overutilization for any purpose. Status surveys and 
other informal monitoring have not shown that overutilization is a 
concern. As a result, the best available scientific and commercial 
information does not indicate that overutilization for commercial, 
recreational, scientific, or educational purposes is now, or will be in 
the future, a threat to Eriogonum kelloggii or Sedum eastwoodiae.

Factor C. Disease or Predation

    It is likely that predation from invertebrates, insects, and 
animals on Eriogonum kelloggii's and Sedum eastwoodiae's seeds, 
vegetative tissue, and roots is occurring on an ongoing basis. Service 
biologists have documented severed flowering stems, which most likely 
occurred from small mammal predation (Ken Fuller, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, pers. comm. 1994). Because E. kelloggii and S. 
eastwoodiae have evolved within this habitat, both species have adapted 
to some level of predation. There is no evidence from observations of 
predation on E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae that individuals have been 
killed from this activity. It is more likely that predation reduces the 
vigor, including reproductive output, of the two species. However, the 
best available scientific and commercial information indicates that 
this level of predation is not a current or expected future threat to 
E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae. In addition, disease is not known to 
be a current or expected future threat to E. kelloggii and S. 
eastwoodiae.

Factor D. The Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    The Act requires that the Secretary assess available regulatory 
mechanisms in order to determine whether existing regulatory mechanisms 
are adequate to address threats to the species (Factor D). The Species 
Report includes a discussion of applicable regulatory mechanisms that 
apply to Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae (Service 2014, 
entire). In the Species Report, the Service examines the applicable 
Federal, State, and other statutory and regulatory mechanisms to 
determine whether these mechanisms provide protections to E. kelloggii 
or S. eastwoodiae. As described in the Species Report and outlined 
below, several Federal and State statutes provide protections to E. 
kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae and their habitat.
    Under this factor, we examine whether existing regulatory 
mechanisms are inadequate to address the potential threats to E. 
kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae discussed under other factors. We give 
strongest weight to statutes and their implementing regulations, and 
management direction that stems from those laws and regulations. Such 
laws and regulations are nondiscretionary and enforceable, and are 
considered a regulatory mechanism under this analysis. Examples include 
State government actions enforced under a State statute or

[[Page 56036]]

constitution, or Federal action under statute.
    Some other programs are more voluntary in nature or dependent upon 
available funding (see Conservation Measures Planned or Implemented, 
discussed below); in those cases, we analyze the specific facts for 
that effort to ascertain its effectiveness at mitigating the threat and 
the extent to which it can be relied upon in the future. Having 
evaluated the significance of the threat as mitigated by any such 
conservation efforts, we analyze under Factor D the extent to which 
existing regulatory mechanisms adequately address the specific threats 
identified for the species. We consider relevant Federal, State, and 
tribal laws and regulations when evaluating the status of a species. 
Regulatory mechanisms, if they exist, may preclude the need for listing 
if we determine that such mechanisms adequately address the threats to 
the species such that listing is not warranted. Only existing 
ordinances, regulations, and laws that have a direct connection to a 
stressor are applicable.
Federal Protections
    Special Status Species Management: BLM's policy for Special Status 
Species Management (BLM Manual 6840) includes guidance for the 
conservation of BLM special status species and their habitat on BLM-
administered lands. BLM special status plant species include federally 
endangered or threatened species and species requiring special 
management (as determined by BLM State Directors). Management actions 
are to promote the special status plant conservation for recovery and 
reduce the likelihood and need for any potential future listing under 
the Act. Species with ``Special Status'' receive a higher level of 
scrutiny on proposed projects with a greater emphasis on species 
conservation under existing environmental laws and implementing 
regulations. BLM accomplishes this by implementing proactive 
conservation measures that reduce or eliminate threats to species BLM 
has categorized as sensitive. These measures include: (1) Development 
of rangewide and or site-specific management plans; (2) implementation 
of BLM actions that are consistent with objectives for management of 
those species; (3) actions that at least maintain or improve the 
species and its habitat at each occurrence; and (4) monitoring 
populations to determine whether management objectives are being met 
(BLM 2012b, entire; BLM 2012c, entire). The California Native Plant 
Society has ranked plant species according to their conservation status 
and considers Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae as 1B species 
(endemic species considered rare throughout their range) (Smith and 
Berg 1988, pp. XV, 49, 104). The BLM California State Director has 
identified California 1B ranked species (including Eriogonum kelloggii 
and Sedum eastwoodiae) as BLM Special Status Plants for management and 
conservation purposes (BLM 2013, pp. 1-6).
    Areas of Critical Environmental Concern: As stated above, BLM 
designated the Red Mountain Area as an Area of Critical Environmental 
Concern (ACEC) Research Natural Area (RNA) in 1984. The area was 
established in part to protect and conserve sensitive animal and plant 
species on the specialized habitat at Red Mountain (BLM 1989, p. 2). 
The management objectives include: (1) Protect and monitor existing 
populations of E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae; (2) acquire private 
lands from willing sellers to consolidate and enhance land management 
within the Red Mountain area; (3) develop a fire management plan and 
implement measures to reduce the impacts of suppression activities on 
sensitive species and their habitat; (4) close the area to public 
vehicle use and limit private vehicle access to existing roads; (5) 
close the area to grazing activities; and (6) post boundary signs to 
assist in appropriate visitor access (BLM 1989, pp. 1-17; BLM 1995, pp. 
2-32 to 2-37).
    South Fork Eel River Wilderness Area Designation: As stated above, 
the Red Mountain Area was designated as part of the South Fork Eel 
River Wilderness Area in 2006. Wilderness areas are those Federal lands 
recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are 
untrammeled by human activity and retain their primeval character and 
influence, without permanent improvements or human habitation. These 
areas are protected and managed so as to preserve their natural 
conditions and (1) generally appear to have been affected primarily by 
the forces of nature, with the imprint of man's work substantially 
unnoticeable; (2) have outstanding opportunities for solitude or a 
primitive and unconfined type of recreation; (3) have at least 5,000 ac 
(2,023 ha) of land or are of sufficient size as to make practicable 
their preservation and use in an unimpaired condition; and (4) may also 
contain ecological, geological, or other features of scientific, 
educational, scenic, or historical value.
    Under the designation, BLM is directed to manage the designated 
wilderness at Red Mountain in a manner that retains the wilderness 
character for future generations. Within wilderness areas, there shall 
be no commercial enterprise, no permanent roads, and except as 
necessary to meet minimum requirements for the administration of the 
area, there shall be no temporary roads, no use of motor vehicles, no 
use of motorized equipment, no landing of aircraft, no other form of 
mechanical transport, and no structure or installation within any such 
area.
State Protections
    California Endangered Species Act: The California Endangered 
Species Act (CESA) makes it illegal to import, export, ``take,'' 
possess, purchase, sell, or attempt to do any of those actions to 
species that are designated as endangered, threatened, or candidates 
for listing, unless permitted by CDFW. ``Take'' is defined as ``hunt, 
pursue, catch, capture, or kill, or attempt to hunt, pursue, catch, 
capture, or kill.'' Under CESA, CDFW may permit take or possession of 
endangered, threatened, or candidate species for scientific, 
educational, or management purposes, and may also permit take of these 
species that is incidental to otherwise lawful activities if certain 
conditions are met. Some of the conditions for incidental take are that 
the take is minimized and fully mitigated, adequate funding is ensured 
for this mitigation, and that the activity will not jeopardize the 
continued existence of the species.
    California Native Plant Protection Act: The California Native Plant 
Protection Act (NPPA) was enacted in 1977, and allows the California 
Fish and Game Commission to designate plants as rare or endangered. The 
NPPA prohibits take of rare or endangered native plants, but includes 
some exceptions for agricultural, nursery, and timber operations; 
emergencies; mining assessments; and after properly notifying CDFW for 
vegetation removal from canals, roads, and other sites, changes in land 
use, and in certain other situations. Section 1911 of the NPPA requires 
that all State departments and agencies to consult with the CDFW, and 
use their authorities to carry out programs for the conservation of 
rare or endangered native plants. Such programs include, but are not 
limited to, the identification, delineation, and protection of habitat 
critical to the continued survival of rare or endangered native plants 
(California Fish and Game Code section 1900 et seq.).
    California Environmental Quality Act: The California Environmental 
Quality Act (CEQA) is a law that requires public

[[Page 56037]]

agencies to analyze and publicly disclose the environmental impacts 
from projects they approve, and adopt feasible alternatives and 
mitigation measures to mitigate for the significant impacts they 
identify. During CEQA review, State public agencies must evaluate and 
disclose impacts to plant species protected under CESA, and in most 
cases must mitigate all significant impacts to these species to a level 
of less than significant. In addition, during the CEQA process, public 
agencies must also address plant species that may not be listed under 
CESA, but that may nevertheless meet the definition of rare or 
endangered provided in CEQA. The CDFW advises public agencies during 
the CEQA process to help ensure that the actions they approve do not 
significantly impact such resources and often advises that plant 
species with an appropriate California Rare Plant Rank (as identified 
by the State or California Native Plant Society) be properly analyzed 
by the lead agency during project review to ensure compliance with 
CEQA.
    The State of California listed Eriogonum kelloggii as endangered 
under CESA in 1982 (CDFG 2005, unpaginated; CDFW 2014, p. 4). As a 
State-listed species, E. kelloggii is subject to the conservation 
provisions of CESA and NPPA, and to the provisions of CEQA. Sedum 
eastwoodiae is not listed by the State of California as an endangered, 
threatened, or candidate species, but it is identified as a 1B species 
(rare throughout its range) by the California Native Plant Society 
(CNPS) (Smith and Berg (eds.) 1988, pp. 49, 104). Therefore, impacts to 
S. eastwoodiae are evaluated by the lead agency under CEQA, and the 
lead agency must adopt feasible mitigation measures to mitigate for any 
significant impacts that they identify.
    Based on the analyses contained within the Species Report and 
outlined above on the existing regulatory mechanisms for Eriogonum 
kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae, we conclude that the best available 
scientific and commercial information does not indicate that the 
existing regulatory mechanisms are inadequate to address impacts to E. 
kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae from the identified potential threats, and 
these mechanisms provide protections to these two species that were not 
available when the species were first identified as Federal candidate 
species.

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

    For ease of discussion, the impacts to individual Eriogonum 
kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae plants from mining, habitat disturbance 
activities (unauthorized OHV use, illegal marijuana cultivation, and 
trail development), wildfire suppression and management, and vegetation 
encroachment associated with this factor are discussed under Factor A. 
For a complete discussion of potential impacts to both habitat and 
individual plants from these activities, see our Factor A discussion, 
above.
Small Population Size
    Other natural or human-caused stressors for Eriogonum kelloggii and 
Sedum eastwoodiae are related to its small distribution and overall 
population size, and the potential impacts of climate change on the 
species and its habitat. Generally, small populations are more prone to 
impacts from random environmental events, and from genetic 
impoverishment as a result of habitat fragmentation, genetic isolation, 
and declining effective population size (Saunders et al. 1991, pp. 18-
32; Meffe and Carroll 1997, pp. 269-304).
    General conservation principles indicate that endemic species 
limited to small areas are inherently more vulnerable to extinction 
than are widespread species, because of the increased risk of genetic 
bottlenecks; random demographic fluctuations; climate change effects; 
and localized catastrophes, such as drought and fire due to changes in 
demography, the environment, genetics, or other factors (Gilpin and 
Soul[eacute] 1986, pp. 24-34; Pimm et al. 1988, p. 757; Mangel and Tier 
1994, p. 607). These problems are further magnified when these 
geographically restricted and small numbers of populations contain 
small numbers of individuals in these populations. Small, isolated 
populations can often also exhibit reduced levels of genetic 
variability, which diminishes the species' capacity to adapt and 
respond to environmental changes, thereby lessening the probability of 
long-term persistence (Barrett and Kohn 1991, p. 4; Newman and Pilson 
1997, p. 361). Small, isolated populations are also more susceptible to 
reduced reproductive vigor due to ineffective pollination and 
inbreeding depression. Although a tenet of conservation biology is that 
larger, well-distributed populations of species are less vulnerable and 
insure persistence, many narrow endemic plants combine small population 
ranges and sizes with long-term persistence, depending on how they have 
adapted to their unique environments (Lavergne et al. 2004, pp. 505-
518; Matthies et al. 2004, pp. 481-488; Garc[iacute]a 2008, pp. 106-
113).
    For Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae, their small 
population size and the extent of stress factors impacting the two 
species were among the primary reasons they were first identified as 
Federal candidate species. As stated above, the distribution of the two 
species is extremely limited, and the identified potential threats 
facing the two species occur throughout their distribution. However, 
the known distribution and population size of the species has always 
been limited and small in size. Eriogonum kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae 
are narrow endemic species that have evolved and adapted to the 
particular serpentine habitats in which they occur. Although there are 
stressors acting on the two species, their populations are dispersed 
throughout the Red Mountain area, making it less likely for a single or 
multiple single events to significantly impact the species. In 
addition, the populations of E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae have 
persisted and remained stable since the two species were first 
identified as Federal candidate species. As a result, we do not 
consider small population size a threat to E. kelloggii or S. 
eastwoodiae now or in the near future.
The Effects of Climate Change
    The effects of climate change may be affecting both Eriogonum 
kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae's habitat (Factor A) and individual 
plants (Factor E) through several means. For the ease of analysis, the 
discussion of the effects of climate change has been included with 
discussion of each applicable threat or is discussed below.
    The terms ``climate'' and ``climate change'' are defined by the 
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The term ``climate'' 
refers to the mean and variability of different types of weather 
conditions over time, with 30 years being a typical period for such 
measurements (IPCC 2013a, p. 1450). The term ``climate change'' thus 
refers to a change in the mean or variability of one or more measures 
of climate (for example, temperature or precipitation) that persists 
for an extended period, whether the change is due to natural 
variability or human activity (IPCC 2013a, p. 1450). Various types of 
changes in climate can have direct or indirect effects on species. 
Scientific measurements spanning several decades demonstrate

[[Page 56038]]

that changes in climate are occurring, and that the rate of change has 
increased since the 1950s. Examples include warming of the global 
climate system, and substantial increases in precipitation in some 
regions of the world and decreases in other regions (for these and 
other examples, see Solomon et al. 2007, pp. 35-54, 82-85; IPCC 2013b, 
pp. 3-29; IPCC 2014, pp. 1-32).
    Climate change predictions are variable for the area within the 
range of Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae. 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; Cayan et al. 2005; IPCC 2007). 
According to one downscaled climate model (California Natural Resources 
Agency 2012, pp. 7-12) for northern California, temperatures and 
drought intensity would increase. The effects of climate change can 
impact and influence any one of the stressors impacting E. kelloggii 
and S. eastwoodiae and outside the threat of large-scale mining may be 
the greatest influence on the two species. The effects of climate 
change may result in shifts in vegetation types, increased competition 
between species like E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae and other native 
and nonnative species (Loarie et al. 2008, pp. 1-10), or result in 
habitat changes resulting from altered fire frequency as discussed 
above. However, another study found that the area would experience 
slower winds (less drying effect) and higher humidity, thereby 
offsetting any temperature increases and limiting the effects of 
climate change (Fried et al. 2004, p. 177).
    Predicting how Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae may react 
to the effects of climate change is difficult. The majority of the 
distribution of E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae occurs in upland, often 
exposed, xeric habitats that are expected to offer less refuge under 
drying or warming conditions. The distribution of both species is also 
limited to specific edaphic and geologic features on the landscape, 
which would limit the two plants' ability to spread to more hospitable 
or suitable habitat over time. Despite these concerns, the populations 
of both species have remained stable based on the limited survey 
information available. Although more recent modeling shows the area may 
be affected by climate change, without long-term information or 
observed population declines the impacts of such climate change are 
difficult to determine or predict. Based on the best available 
information, we do not find that the effects of climate change are 
negatively impacting populations of E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae now 
or into the foreseeable future.
Combination of Threats and Cumulative Threats
    When conducting our analysis about the potential threats affecting 
Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae, we also assessed whether the 
two species may be affected by a combination of factors (see 
``Combination of Threats and Cumulative Threats'' section of the 
Species Report (Service 2014, entire)). In the Species Report (Service 
2014, entire), we identified multiple potential threats that may have 
interrelated impacts on E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae or their 
habitat.
    For example, mining activities and exploration may result in the 
loss of habitat. Depending on the nature of mining activities, these 
impacts can be permanent and irreversible (conversion to land uses 
unsuitable to the species) or less so (minor ground-disturbance and 
loss of individual plants) (Factors A and E). When mineral development 
and exploration occurs in-between (but not within) populations, this 
can eliminate corridors for pollinator movement, seed dispersal, and 
population expansion. Fire suppression activities, such as grading fire 
breaks and maintaining access roads, may have direct impacts by 
removing and crushing plants and eliminating suitable habitat. 
Indirectly, fire suppression impacts Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum 
eastwoodiae by allowing other vegetation to encroach and to become 
dominant. Relatively dense growth can lead to shading of E. kelloggii 
and S. eastwoodiae, changing the micro-climate around plant clusters, 
and can also result in competition for space, moisture, nutrients, and 
light with other plant species in a xeric (dry) landscape. Another 
consequence of long-term fire suppression is the increase in fire 
hazards when vegetation is permitted to become relatively dense in a 
dry environment, thereby leading to a potential of more severe or 
frequent fire events, which may lead to greater habitat destruction or 
alteration. Off highway vehicle and other road corridors can exacerbate 
habitat loss and fragmentation, and tend to be associated with 
(accompanying or following) fire suppression, recreational, or illegal 
marijuana cultivation activities (Factors A and E). Off highway vehicle 
and road corridors tend to create conditions that favor increased 
habitat disturbance beyond the footprint of the road or OHV corridor, 
leading to further deterioration of habitat because of increased access 
(Factors A and E). Climate change has the potential to alter landscape 
features and conditions, including precipitation and temperature 
regimes that in turn influence the establishment and persistence of 
vegetation, which then may influence the frequency and intensity of 
wildfire (Factors A and E). Because of the limited distribution and 
restricted nature of the habitat available to the two species, climate 
change and altered precipitation and temperature regimes may interfere 
with seedling recruitment and persistence of the two species on the 
landscape (Factors A and E).
    However, the current best available scientific and commercial 
information does not show that these combined impacts are resulting in 
significant impacts to either species as a whole. Therefore, we do not 
consider the cumulative impact of threats to Eriogonum kelloggii and 
Sedum eastwoodiae to be substantial at this time, nor into the future.
    All or some of the potential stressors could also act in concert to 
result as a cumulative threat to Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum 
eastwoodiae. However, the best available scientific and commercial 
information currently does not indicate that these stressors singularly 
or cumulatively are causing now or will cause in the future a 
substantial decline of the total extant population of the species or 
have large impacts to E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae at the species 
level. Therefore, we do not consider the cumulative impact of these 
stressors to E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae to be a substantial threat 
at this time, nor into the future.
Conservation Measures Planned or Implemented
    The designation of 6,173 ac (2,498 ha) of BLM land at Red Mountain 
as a wilderness study area (WSA) in 1979, and 6,895 ac (2,790 ha) as an 
Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC)/Research Natural Area 
(RNA) in 1984 (updated in 1989), and the recent designation of the area 
as a Wilderness Area has focused management concern and direction 
toward conservation of the unique botanical and soils values of the Red 
Mountain area, including conservation of Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum 
eastwoodiae (BLM 1995, pp. 3-6 to 3-9). Site visits to Red Mountain are 
generally conducted annually by BLM staff to ensure that no new road 
construction occurs (J. Wheeler, BLM, pers. comm. 2014). Most, or all, 
of the occupied or suitable habitat for E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae 
in the

[[Page 56039]]

vicinity of the South Fork Eel River Wilderness Area was recommended 
for acquisition (willing landowners) in the resource management plan 
(RMP) for the area (BLM 1995, pp. 2-32 to 2-37), and several parcels 
have been acquired. The RMP excludes livestock grazing and off-road 
vehicle use from the area, guides overall BLM management activities, 
and is site-specific. There is overlap with the management designations 
of the Red Mountain ACEC/RNA and the South Fork Eel River Wilderness 
Area as the entire ACEC/RNA is encompassed by the Wilderness Area 
designation (J. Wheeler, BLM, pers. comm. 2013).
    Conservation measures implemented in 2009 for Eriogonum kelloggii 
and Sedum eastwoodiae included only a visual inspection and photo-
documentation of a portion of their habitat. Previous conservation 
measures included initiation of the long-term life history and 
population monitoring in 1987 (Baad 2002, pp. 2-8); field mapping of 
occupied habitat on public lands in 2003 (Jennings 2003, pp. 1-8); and 
general ongoing public outreach activities, such as public field trips 
and academic visitation. BLM staff applied for grant funding in 2010, 
to conduct an ecological assessment for the two species. That effort 
was unsuccessful, but both Service and BLM staff will continue to seek 
funding to implement complete population inventories, and ecological 
assessments of the two species and their habitat.

South Fork Eel River Wilderness Area

    The designation of the area as the South Fork Eel River Wilderness 
Area has invoked numerous conservation measures related to maintaining 
and protecting Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae and their 
habitat. Signs indicating the wilderness boundary have been posted in 
many locations. Mechanized or motorized vehicles are not allowed in the 
wilderness area. Camping is allowed but limited to 14 days. Campfires 
are allowed unless prohibited during seasonal fire restrictions. 
Gathering wood for campfires, when permitted, is limited to dead and 
down materials, and cutting live vegetation is prohibited.

Finding

    The Act defines an endangered species as any species that is ``in 
danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its 
range'' and a threatened species as any species ``that is likely to 
become endangered throughout all or a significant portion of its range 
within the foreseeable future.'' After review of the best available 
scientific and commercial information pertaining to Eriogonum kelloggii 
and Sedum eastwoodiae and their habitat, we have determined that the 
ongoing threats are not of sufficient imminence, intensity, or 
magnitude to indicate that E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae are 
presently in danger of extinction throughout all of their range or 
likely to become so in the foreseeable future. As stated in the Species 
Report (Service 2014, p. 11), the location, distribution, and abundance 
of E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae populations coincide with their 
known historical distribution and have remained stable relative to 
their distribution over at least the past 30 years. Both species have a 
relatively long lifespan, and thus their stable distribution and the 
persistence of the populations over time (1975-2014) allow us to 
predict to some degree their persistence into the future. We have 
determined that the risk of threats acting on these populations are 
minimal: The fire frequency for the area is low (2 recorded and one 
unrecorded fire over the past 90 years) and the impacts of those fires 
have been minimal due to the open nature of the habitat being less 
prone to intense habitat destruction (Service 2014, pp. 23-25). OHV use 
has decreased due to the designation of the area as ACEC and 
Wilderness. Mining interests have also greatly diminished due to 
numerous factors and no existing claims are currently active or 
anticipated in the future. If the two species continue to persist in 
their current distribution, we conclude that they will have sufficient 
resiliency, redundancy, and representation to persist now and into the 
future. For E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae, we define foreseeable 
future as approximately 20 to 30 years. This period is based on the 
timeframes associated with population studies and informal monitoring 
for the two species (1986-2014) and the persistence of the populations 
over time (1975-2014), which demonstrate stable populations over time 
that are likely to persist over a similar time frame into the future. 
The period is also based on the minimal fire frequency for the area, 
the future management of the area as an ACEC and Wilderness, and the 
relatively long lifespan of individual plants, all of which lead us to 
conclude that 20-30 years is a time period in which we can reasonably 
rely on predictions regarding the future populations, status, trends, 
and threats to each species.
    Although some stressors still impact the two species and will 
continue to do so into the foreseeable future, these threats have 
either not materialized (commercial mining), or they are not of such 
magnitude to have population-level impacts. In addition, the 
implementation of conservation measures and regulatory actions has 
greatly reduced the imminence and severity of these stressors on 
Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum eastwoodiae and their habitat.

Significant Portion of the Range Determination

    Under the Act and our implementing regulations, a species may 
warrant listing if it is an endangered or a threatened species 
throughout all or a significant portion of its range. The Act defines 
``endangered species'' as any species which is ``in danger of 
extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range,'' and 
``threatened species'' as any species which is ``likely to become an 
endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a 
significant portion of its range.'' The term ``species'' includes ``any 
subspecies of fish or wildlife or plants, and any distinct population 
segment [DPS] of any species of vertebrate fish or wildlife which 
interbreeds when mature.'' On July 1, 2014, we published a final policy 
interpreting the phrase ``significant portion of its range'' (SPR) (79 
FR 37578). The final policy states that (1) if a species is found to be 
an endangered or a threatened species throughout a significant portion 
of its range, the entire species is listed as an endangered or a 
threatened species, respectively, and the Act's protections apply to 
all individuals of the species wherever found; (2) a portion of the 
range of a species is ``significant'' if the species is not currently 
an endangered or a threatened species throughout all of its range, but 
the portion's contribution to the viability of the species is so 
important that, without the members in that portion, the species would 
be in danger of extinction, or likely to become so in the foreseeable 
future, throughout all of its range; (3) the range of a species is 
considered to be the general geographical area within which that 
species can be found at the time the Service or the National Marine 
Fisheries Service makes any particular status determination; and (4) if 
a vertebrate species is an endangered or a threatened species 
throughout an SPR, and the population in that significant portion is a 
valid DPS, we will list the DPS rather than the entire taxonomic 
species or subspecies.
    The SPR policy is applied to all status determinations, including 
analyses for the purposes of making listing, delisting, and 
reclassification determinations. The procedure for

[[Page 56040]]

analyzing whether any portion is an SPR is similar, regardless of the 
type of status determination we are making. The first step in our 
analysis of the status of a species is to determine its status 
throughout all of its range. If we determine that the species is in 
danger of extinction, or likely to become so in the foreseeable future, 
throughout all of its range, we list the species as an endangered (or 
threatened) species, and no SPR analysis will be required. If the 
species is neither an endangered nor a threatened species throughout 
all of its range, we determine whether the species is an endangered or 
a threatened species throughout a significant portion of its range. If 
it is, we list the species as an endangered or a threatened species, 
respectively; if it is not, we conclude that listing the species is not 
warranted.
    When we conduct an SPR analysis, we first identify any portions of 
the species' range that warrant further consideration. The range of a 
species can theoretically be divided into portions in an infinite 
number of ways. However, there is no purpose to analyzing portions of 
the range that are not reasonably likely to be significant and either 
an endangered or a threatened species. To identify only those portions 
that warrant further consideration, we determine whether there is 
substantial information indicating that (1) the portions may be 
significant and (2) the species may be in danger of extinction in those 
portions or likely to become so within the foreseeable future. We 
emphasize that answering these questions in the affirmative is not a 
determination that the species is an endangered or a threatened species 
throughout a significant portion of its range--rather, it is a step in 
determining whether a more detailed analysis of the issue is required. 
In practice, a key part of this analysis is whether the threats are 
geographically concentrated in some way. If the threats to the species 
are affecting it uniformly throughout its range, no portion is likely 
to warrant further consideration. Moreover, if any concentration of 
threats apply only to portions of the range that clearly do not meet 
the biologically based definition of ``significant'' (i.e., the loss of 
that portion clearly would not be expected to increase the 
vulnerability to extinction of the entire species), those portions will 
not warrant further consideration.
    If we identify any portions that may be both (1) significant and 
(2) endangered or threatened, we engage in a more detailed analysis to 
determine whether these standards are indeed met. The identification of 
an SPR does not create a presumption, prejudgment, or other 
determination as to whether the species in that identified SPR is an 
endangered or a threatened species. We must go through a separate 
analysis to determine whether the species is an endangered or a 
threatened species in the SPR. To determine whether a species is an 
endangered or a threatened species throughout an SPR, we will use the 
same standards and methodology that we use to determine if a species is 
an endangered or a threatened species throughout its range.
    Depending on the biology of the species, its range, and the threats 
it faces, it may be more efficient to address the ``significant'' 
question first, or the status question first. Thus, if we determine 
that a portion of the range is not ``significant,'' we do not need to 
determine whether the species is an endangered or a threatened species 
there; if we determine that the species is not an endangered or a 
threatened species in a portion of its range, we do not need to 
determine if that portion is ``significant.''
    We consider the ``range'' of Eriogonum kelloggii and Sedum 
eastwoodiae to include all populations within the Red Mountain area in 
Mendocino County, California. The range of the populations of E. 
kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae overlap, except for the one population of 
E. kelloggii on adjacent Little Red Mountain. These populations account 
for the current and known historical distribution of the two species.
    In considering any significant portion of the range of the two 
species, we considered whether the threats facing Eriogonum kelloggii 
and Sedum eastwoodiae might be different at any of the locations where 
the two species have been found. Our evaluation of the best available 
information indicates that the overall level of threats is not 
significantly different at any of the areas where the two species occur 
(Service 2014, entire), and that the threats that are impacting or have 
the potential to impact the range of the two species are widespread 
across the two species' ranges (Service 2014, entire). Therefore, it is 
our conclusion, based on our evaluation of the current potential 
threats to E. kelloggii and S. eastwoodiae at each of the locations 
where the two species occur (see Summary of Factors Affecting the 
Species section of this finding and the ``Discussion of Threats to the 
Species'' section of the Species Report (Service 2014, entire)), that 
threats are neither sufficiently concentrated nor of sufficient 
magnitude to indicate that either of the two species are in danger of 
extinction at any of the areas that support populations.
    Our review of the best available scientific and commercial 
information indicates that neither Eriogonum kelloggii nor Sedum 
eastwoodiae is in danger of extinction (an endangered species) or 
likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future (a threatened 
species), throughout all or a significant portion of their ranges. 
Therefore, we find that listing either of these plant species as an 
endangered or threatened species under the Act is not warranted at this 
time.
    We request that you submit any new information concerning the 
status of, or threats to, Eriogonum kelloggii or Sedum eastwoodiae to 
our Arcata Fish and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES) whenever it becomes 
available. New information will help us monitor these two species and 
encourage their conservation. If an emergency situation develops for 
either of these plant species, we will act to provide immediate 
protection.

References Cited

    A complete list of all references cited in this final rule is 
available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov under Docket 
No. FWS-R8-ES-2014-0034 or upon request from the Field Supervisor, 
Arcata Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

Authors

    The primary authors of this finding are staff from the Pacific 
Southwest Regional Office in Sacramento, California, in coordination 
with staff from the Arcata Fish and Wildlife Office in Arcata, 
California.

Authority

    The authority for this section is section 4 of the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).

     Dated: September 8, 2014.
Stephen Guertin,
Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2014-22224 Filed 9-17-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P