Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Draft Recovery Plan for the Gulf of Maine Distinct Population Segment of Atlantic Salmon, 18639-18642 [2016-07227]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 62 / Thursday, March 31, 2016 / Notices Alternative B complies with all major Federal laws that apply to this type of Federal action. The final CCP/EIS was developed to comply with NEPA. The CCP/EIS was developed with sufficient detail to account for the greatest potential impacts that could result from proposed actions identified under all alternatives. However, additional NEPA analysis will be necessary for certain types of actions, even once we adopt a final CCP. We identified some of the actions we anticipate will require further NEPA analysis and public involvement in chapter 3 of the final CCP/EIS. Appendix M in the CCP includes documentation of compliance with the Coastal Zone Management Act (Public Law 92–583, as amended); Endangered Species Act (Public Law 93–205, as amended); and National Historic Preservation Act (Public Law 89–665). In summary, we selected alternative B for implementation because it best meets the factors identified above when compared to alternatives A and C. Alternative B provides the greatest number of opportunities for Monomoy NWR to contribute to the conservation of fish, wildlife, habitat, and wilderness resources at local, regional, and national levels. It will also increase our capacity to meet refuge purposes, contribute to the Refuge System mission, and enhance visitor use and enjoyment, and it will provide the means to better respond to changing ecological conditions within the surrounding environment. Public Availability of Documents You can view or obtain the final CCP and ROD as indicated under ADDRESSES. Dated: March 23, 2016. Kenneth Elowe, Acting Regional Director, Northeast Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. [FR Doc. 2016–07158 Filed 3–30–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES [FWS–R5–ES–2015–N021; FXES11130500000–167–FF05E00000] Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Draft Recovery Plan for the Gulf of Maine Distinct Population Segment of Atlantic Salmon Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Notice of availability and request for public comment. AGENCY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:09 Mar 30, 2016 Jkt 238001 We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the availability of a draft recovery plan for the endangered Gulf of Maine Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of Atlantic salmon. This draft plan has been prepared jointly by the Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). The draft recovery plan includes specific recovery objectives and a set of criteria that, when met, would allow us to consider reclassifying the DPS from endangered to threatened under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act), and, ultimately, to remove the GOM DPS of Atlantic salmon from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. We request review of and comment on this draft recovery plan from Federal, State, and local agencies; Tribes; nongovernmental organizations; and the public. DATES: Submitting Comments: In order to be considered, comments on the draft recovery plan must be received by May 31, 2016. Public Information Meetings: Informational meetings in Maine have been scheduled for April 19, 2016, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in Brewer, and for April 20, 2016, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in Waterville (see ADDRESSES). Each meeting will include a presentation on the draft recovery proposals and a question and answer period with staff from the Service and NMFS. ADDRESSES: Obtaining Documents: If you wish to review the draft recovery plan or have questions, you may contact Steve Shepard, via U.S. mail at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Maine Field Office, 17 Godfrey Drive, Suite 2, Orono, ME 04473; via telephone at 207–866– 3344 x1116; or via email at steve_ shepard@fws.gov; or Dan Kircheis, National Marine Fisheries Service, 17 Godfrey Drive, Orono, ME 04473; via telephone at 207–866–7320; or via email at dan.kircheis@noaa.gov. You can also download a copy by visiting http:// atlanticsalmonrestoration.org/ resources/documents/atlantic-salmonrecovery-plan-2015. Submitting Comments: If you wish to comment, you may submit your comments by one of the following methods: 1. You may mail written comments and materials to Steve Shepard, at the above address. 2. You may hand-deliver written comments to Steve Shepard at the above address, or fax them to 207–866–3351. 3. You may send comments by email to steve_shepard@fws.gov. 4. You may submit handwritten comments at either of the two public SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00076 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 18639 information meetings announced in this notice. For additional information about submitting comments, see Request for Public Comments. Public Information Meetings: Meetings will be held in the following Maine locations: at Jeff’s Catering, East/ West Industrial Park, 15 Littlefield Way in Brewer, and at the Best Western PLUS Motel, 375 Main Street, Exit 130 in Waterville. See DATES above for the date and time of each meeting. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Shepard, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; or Dan Kircheis, National Marine Fisheries Service (see ADDRESSES). SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the availability of a draft recovery plan for the endangered Gulf of Maine (GOM) Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar). This draft plan has been prepared jointly by the Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The draft recovery plan includes specific recovery objectives and a set of criteria that, when met, would allow us to consider reclassifying the DPS from endangered to threatened under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.; Act), and, ultimately, to remove the GOM DPS of Atlantic salmon from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. The plan also includes site-specific management actions and time and cost estimates, as required by the Act. We request review of and comment on this draft recovery plan from Federal, State, and local agencies; Tribes; nongovernmental organizations; and the public. Background The GOM DPS of Atlantic salmon was originally listed as an endangered species under the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) on November 17, 2000 (65 FR 69459), and a recovery plan for the DPS was approved on December 2, 2005. Based on a second status review, the DPS listing was revised on June 19, 2009 (74 FR 29344), to cover an expanded range that encompassed additional large river systems in Maine found to contain Atlantic salmon population genetically similar to those in the previously listed coastal river populations. Critical habitat for the GOM DPS was also designated at this time (June 19, 2009; 74 FR 29300). The expanded DPS includes all anadromous Atlantic salmon in a E:\FR\FM\31MRN1.SGM 31MRN1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 18640 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 62 / Thursday, March 31, 2016 / Notices freshwater range covering the watersheds from the Androscoggin River northward along the Maine coast to the Dennys River. The listing includes all associated conservation hatchery populations used to supplement these natural populations. The critical habitat rule divided the DPS range into three recovery units, termed Salmon Habitat Recovery Units, or SHRUs: (1) The Merrymeeting Bay SHRU, which covers the Androscoggin and Kennebec basins, and extends east to include the Sheepscot, Pemaquid, Medomak, and St. George watersheds; (2) the Penobscot Bay SHRU, which covers the entire Penobscot basin and extends west to and includes the Ducktrap watershed; and (3) the Downeast SHRU, including all coastal watersheds from the Union River east to the Dennys River. The 2009 listing rule recognized three primary threats to Atlantic salmon: Dams, inadequacy of regulatory mechanisms related to dams, and marine survival. In addition, numerous secondary threats were identified, including habitat quality and accessibility, commercial and recreational fisheries, disease and predation, inadequacy of regulatory mechanisms related to water withdrawal and water quality, aquaculture, artificial propagation, climate change, competition, and depleted diadromous fish communities. Collectively, these stressors were deemed a fourth major threat. Since listing, our understanding of threats to the DPS has continued to grow. New and emerging threats, all of which are considered to constitute significant impediments to recovery, include road stream crossings that impede fish passage, international intercept fisheries, and the effects of climate change. Restoring an endangered or threatened animal or plant to the point where it is again a secure, selfsustaining member of its ecosystem is a primary goal of our endangered species program. To help guide the recovery effort, we prepare recovery plans for most listed species. Under the Act, to the maximum extent practicable, recovery plans must describe site-specific actions considered necessary for conservation of the species, establish criteria for delisting the species, and provide time and cost estimates for taking the actions necessary to recover the species to the point where it can be delisted. The Act requires the development of recovery plans for listed species, unless such a plan would not promote the conservation of a particular species. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:09 Mar 30, 2016 Jkt 238001 Section 4(f) of the Act requires us to provide public notice and an opportunity for public review and comment during recovery plan development. We will consider all input provided during the public comment period prior to approval of each new or revised recovery plan. We and other Federal agencies will also take these comments into account in the course of implementing approved recovery plans. Recovery of the GOM DPS of Atlantic salmon has been designated a joint responsibility of the Service and NMFS, with lead responsibility for this recovery plan assigned to the Service. We note that this draft recovery plan for the GOM DPS of Atlantic salmon follows a new planning approach endorsed by the Service and, for this plan, by NMFS. The new approach, termed the Recovery Enhancement Vision (REV), focuses on the three recovery plan elements required by the Act: Site-specific management actions; objective, measurable criteria for delisting; and the estimated time and costs needed to achieve delisting and intermediate steps toward that goal. The recovery actions are presented at the scale of the SHRUs. These actions address both survival and recovery needs and are site-specific as required by section 4(f)(1)(B)(i) of the Act, taking into account both the comprehensive nature and long timeframe needed to reach reclassification and delisting objectives. All relevant supporting information and analyses, as well as short-term implementation strategies for the recovery actions in the plan, are posted on the Atlantic Salmon Restoration Web site, at http:// atlanticsalmonrestoration.org/ resources/documents/atlantic-salmonrecovery-plan-2015. The draft plan contains hyperlinks that allow readers to readily access additional supporting information, including SHRU-level workplans, which can be updated as needed. The SHRU-level workplans will step down from the actions in the recovery plan to address geographically based needs in the short term. DPS-wide or nonspatial actions (e.g., genetic research) will also be stepped down to short-term workplans. It is important to note that while these workplans will link back to the recovery plan, they are not considered part of the recovery plan itself. Although REV recovery plans focus on the Act’s statutory requirements, any given plan may include additional information deemed necessary by the lead U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Region. For the Atlantic salmon recovery plan, we have added PO 00000 Frm 00077 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 background information that is highly relevant to the long-term recovery vision, as well as an implementation table that outlines responsibilities and costs for the actions described in the plan. The various components contained in the draft plan document are briefly described below. Recovery Plan Components The draft recovery plan for GOM DPS of Atlantic salmon focuses on the following components: The recovery strategy, recovery objectives and criteria, recovery actions, and time and cost estimates. The long-term recovery strategy for the endangered Atlantic salmon is based on two premises: First, that recovery must focus on rivers and estuaries located in the GOM DPS until we better understand threats in the marine environment, and second, that survival of Atlantic salmon in the GOM DPS will be dependent on conservation hatcheries throughout much of the recovery process. In addition, the scientific foundation for the recovery strategy includes conservation biology principles regarding population viability, our understanding of freshwater habitat viability, and our understanding of current and emerging extinction risks. Other components of the recovery strategy include adaptive management, phasing of recovery actions, a geographic framework based upon the three SHRUs, and a collaborative approach that focuses on full inclusion of partners in implementing recovery actions. Finally, as previously described, short-term recovery priorities stepping down from the recovery plan will be formulated in SHRU-level workplans; these are found on the Web site and are not part of the plan itself. The recovery objectives and criteria in the draft plan address biological recovery needs, threats identified at the time of listing, and newly emerging threats. The reclassification objectives are to maintain sustainable, naturally reared populations with access to sufficient suitable habitat in each SHRU, to ensure that management options for marine survival are better understood, and to reduce or eliminate those threats that either individually or in combination pose a risk of imminent extinction to the DPS. The delisting objectives are to maintain selfsustaining, wild populations with access to sufficient suitable habitat in each SHRU, to ensure that necessary management options for marine survival are in place, and to sufficiently reduce or eliminate all threats that either individually or in combination pose a risk of endangerment to the DPS. E:\FR\FM\31MRN1.SGM 31MRN1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 62 / Thursday, March 31, 2016 / Notices The biological criteria for meeting the reclassification objectives include: • A total annual escapement of at least 1,500 naturally reared adults spawning in the wild, with at least 2 of the 3 SHRUs having at least 500 naturally reared adults. Annual escapement refers to salmon that return to the river and successfully reproduce on the spawning grounds in a given year. For the purposes of this plan, naturally reared adults are individuals originating from wild spawners and hatchery eggs, fry, and parr. Egg and fry stocked salmon are not given an external mark, so when they return as adults, it is not possible (except with genetic testing) to differentiate them from wild salmon; • A population growth rate in each of at least two of the three SHRUs of greater than 1.0 in the 10-year period preceding reclassification, with adults originating from hatchery-stocked eggs, fry, and parr included in population growth rates; and • Sufficient spawning and rearing habitat for the offspring of the 1,500 naturally reared adults distributed throughout designated Atlantic salmon critical habitat, with at least 7,500 accessible and suitable habitat units (HUs) in each of at least 2 of the 3 SHRUs, located according to the known and potential migratory patterns of returning salmon. The biological criteria for meeting the delisting objectives include: • A self-sustaining annual escapement of at least 2,000 wild adults in each SHRU, for a DPS-wide total of at least 6,000 wild adults. For the purposes of this plan, wild salmon are individuals that have spent their entire life cycle in the wild and originate from parents that were also spawned and continuously lived in the wild; • A population growth rate in each SHRU of greater than 1.0 in the 10-year period preceding delisting and, at the time of delisting, demonstrable selfsustaining persistence; and • Sufficient suitable spawning and rearing habitat for the offspring of the 6,000 wild adults distributed throughout the designated Atlantic salmon critical habitat, with at least 30,000 accessible and suitable HUs in each SHRU, located according to the known migratory patterns of returning wild adult salmon. In addition to the biological recovery criteria, the draft plan identifies several criteria for abating both primary and secondary threats to the DPS. Overall, threats to the GOM DPS identified both at the time of listing and since then must be diminished prior to reclassification and, to a greater extent, VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:09 Mar 30, 2016 Jkt 238001 prior to delisting. All primary threats must be individually abated according to stated criteria, although recognition of which threats are primary may change over time. For secondary threats, tradeoffs may be made in terms of which criteria are met, as long as the degree to which these threats are collectively reduced sufficiently diminishes the likelihood of extinction and, ultimately, endangerment. Adaptive management and collaborative partnerships will be essential for determining to what extent secondary threats must be resolved in association with abatement of primary threats. To meet the recovery criteria and achieve the recovery objectives for the GOM DPS of Atlantic salmon, this draft recovery plan focuses on the actions necessary to achieve long-term viability of DPS Atlantic salmon populations. We note that these actions address both short-term survival needs and long-term recovery needs. Geographically based actions will be further specified in SHRU work plans, while research and genetics management actions will be addressed in rangewide implementation strategies. The seven categories of recovery actions for the DPS include: 1. Habitat Connectivity: Actions for enhancing connectivity between the ocean and freshwater habitats important for salmon recovery. 2. Genetic Diversity: Actions for maintaining the genetic diversity of Atlantic salmon populations over time. 3. Conservation Hatchery: Actions for increasing numbers of adult spawners through the conservation hatchery program. 4. Freshwater Conservation: Actions for increasing numbers of adult spawners through the freshwater production of smolts. 5. Marine and Estuary: Actions for increasing Atlantic salmon survival through increased understanding of these ecosystems and identification of spatial and temporal constraints to salmon marine productivity in order to identify management actions that are likely to increase marine survival rates. 6. Federal/Tribal Coordination: Actions for consulting with all involved Tribes on a government-to-government basis. 7. Outreach, Education, and Engagement: Actions for collaborating with partners and engaging interested parties in recovery efforts for the GOM DPS. The estimated time for fully implementing all recovery actions and achieving the goal of delisting the Gulf of Maine DPS of Atlantic salmon is, very roughly, 75 years from the present time. This time frame accounts for PO 00000 Frm 00078 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 18641 approximately 15 generations of salmon and assumes a full investment of resources into the recovery program for the DPS. Over the 75-year time frame, the total cost of recovery is projected to be approximately $350 million; again, this is an extremely speculative estimate, particularly given the uncertainties surrounding recovery of this DPS. The estimate assumes that costs of the various actions will accrue unevenly and that costs will diminish over time as projects are completed and best management practices are implemented. It is equally difficult to estimate a time and cost for reclassification because of uncertainties associated with the current significant threats to the species, especially marine survival, and impacts of climate change. A best-case scenario based on the current reclassification criteria is roughly 10 years. Under this scenario, the estimated cost for reclassification is estimated at $140,428,000. We emphasize that these time and cost estimates are highly subject to change and are not intended to serve any purpose other than addressing our obligation to provide the public with our best understanding of the general level of effort and expense that might be needed to meet the ultimate recovery goal of delisting. It is also important to note the costs involved in implementing recovery actions for the GOM DPS of Atlantic salmon will provide other vital ancillary benefits. These include but are not limited to conservation of other diadromous species in the Gulf of Maine, improved water quality and flow in salmon rivers, an enhanced understanding of sustainable management for numerous aquatic resources, and a reduction of stressors that affect not only Atlantic salmon but general environmental quality. Request for Public Comments We request written comments on the draft recovery plan. We will consider all comments we receive by the date specified in DATES prior to final approval of the plan. Public Availability of Comments Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comments, you should be aware that your entire submission—including your personal identifying information—may be made publicly available at any time. Although you can request in your comment that we withhold your personal information from public examination, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. E:\FR\FM\31MRN1.SGM 31MRN1 18642 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 62 / Thursday, March 31, 2016 / Notices Authority I. Abstract The authority for this action is section 4(f) of the Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. 1533 (f). The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) owns, operates, and maintains three electric power utilities that provide a service to the end user. The BIA also owns, operates, and maintains 15 irrigation projects that provide a service to the end user. To be able to properly bill for the services provided, the BIA must collect customer information to identify the individual responsible for repaying the government the costs of delivering the service, and billing for those costs. Additional information necessary for providing the service is the location of the service delivery. The Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 (DCIA) requires that certain information be collected from individuals and businesses doing business with the government. This information includes the taxpayer identification number for possible future use to recover delinquent debt. To implement the DCIA requirement to collect customer information, the BIA has included a section concerning the collection of information in its regulations governing its electrical power utilities (25 CFR 175) and in its regulations governing its irrigation projects (25 CFR 171). Dated: March 14, 2016. Kenneth D. Elowe, Acting Regional Director, Northeast Region. [FR Doc. 2016–07227 Filed 3–30–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Bureau of Indian Affairs [167 A2100DD/AAKC001030/A0A501010. 999900] Renewal of Agency Information Collection for Water Delivery and Electric Service Data for the Operation of Irrigation and Power Projects and Systems Bureau of Indian Affairs, Interior. ACTION: Notice of submission to OMB. AGENCY: In compliance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) has submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) a request for renewal of the collection of information for Electrical Service Application, authorized by OMB Control Number 1076–0021 and Water Request, authorized by OMB Control Number 1076–0141. These information collections expire March 31, 2016. DATES: Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before May 2, 2016. SUMMARY: You may submit comments on the information collections to the Desk Officer for the Department of the Interior at the Office of Management and Budget, by facsimile to (202) 395–5806 or you may send an email to: OIRA_ Submission@omb.eop.gov. Please send a copy of your comments to David Fisher, P.E., Branch Chief Irrigation and Power, Office of Trust Services, Division of Water and Power, Denver West Office Park Building 54, 13922 Denver West Parkway, Suite 300, Lakewood, Colorado 80401, email: david.fisher@ bia.gov. ADDRESSES: mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: David Fisher, 303–231–5225. You may review the information collection requests online at http:// www.reginfo.gov. Follow the instructions to review Department of the Interior collections under review by OMB. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:09 Mar 30, 2016 Jkt 238001 II. Request for Comments The BIA requests your comments on this collection concerning: (a) The necessity of this information collection for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility; (b) The accuracy of the agency’s estimate of the burden (hours and cost) of the collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used; (c) Ways we could enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (d) Ways we could minimize the burden of the collection of the information on the respondents. Please note that an agency may not conduct or sponsor, and an individual need not respond to, a collection of information unless it has a valid OMB Control Number. It is our policy to make all comments available to the public for review at the location listed in the ADDRESSES section. Before including your address, phone number, email address or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment—including your personal identifying information—may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we PO 00000 Frm 00079 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. III. Data OMB Control Number: 1076–0021. Title: Electrical Service Application, 25 CFR 175. Brief Description of Collection: In order for electric power consumers to be served, information is needed by the BIA to operate and maintain its electric power utilities and fulfill reporting requirements. Section 175.6 and 175.22 of 25 CFR part 175, Indian electric power utilities, specifies the information collection requirement. Power consumers must apply for electric service. The information to be collected includes: Name; electric service location; and other operational information identified in the local administrative manuals. All information is collected from each electric power consumer. Type of Review: Extension without change of currently approved collection. Respondents: BIA electric power consumers—individuals. Number of Respondents: 1,300 per year. Frequency of Response: The information is collected once, unless the respondent requests new electrical service elsewhere or if it has been disconnected for failure to pay their electric bill. Obligation to Respond: Responses are required to receive or maintain a benefit. Estimated Time per Response: 1⁄2 hour. Estimated Total Annual Hour Burden: 650 hours. Estimated Total Annual Non-Hour Dollar Cost: $0. * * * * * OMB Control Number: 1076–0141. Title: Water Request, 25 CFR 171. Brief Description of Collection: In order for irrigators to receive water deliveries, information is needed by the BIA to operate and maintain its irrigation projects and fulfill reporting requirements. Section 171.140 and other sections cited in section 171.40 of 25 CFR 171, [Irrigation] Operation and Maintenance, specifies the information collection requirement. Water users must apply for water delivery and for a number of other associated services, such as, subsidizing a farm unit, requesting leaching service, requesting water for domestic or stock purposes, building structures or fences in BIA rights-of-way, requesting payment plans on bills, establishing a carriage agreement with a third-party, negotiating irrigation incentives leases, and requesting an assessment waiver. E:\FR\FM\31MRN1.SGM 31MRN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 62 (Thursday, March 31, 2016)]
[Notices]
[Pages 18639-18642]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-07227]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R5-ES-2015-N021; FXES11130500000-167-FF05E00000]


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Draft Recovery 
Plan for the Gulf of Maine Distinct Population Segment of Atlantic 
Salmon

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability and request for public comment.

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

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
availability of a draft recovery plan for the endangered Gulf of Maine 
Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of Atlantic salmon. This draft plan 
has been prepared jointly by the Service and the National Marine 
Fisheries Service (NMFS). The draft recovery plan includes specific 
recovery objectives and a set of criteria that, when met, would allow 
us to consider reclassifying the DPS from endangered to threatened 
under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act), and, 
ultimately, to remove the GOM DPS of Atlantic salmon from the Federal 
List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. We request review of and 
comment on this draft recovery plan from Federal, State, and local 
agencies; Tribes; nongovernmental organizations; and the public.

DATES: Submitting Comments: In order to be considered, comments on the 
draft recovery plan must be received by May 31, 2016.
    Public Information Meetings: Informational meetings in Maine have 
been scheduled for April 19, 2016, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in 
Brewer, and for April 20, 2016, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in 
Waterville (see ADDRESSES). Each meeting will include a presentation on 
the draft recovery proposals and a question and answer period with 
staff from the Service and NMFS.

ADDRESSES: Obtaining Documents: If you wish to review the draft 
recovery plan or have questions, you may contact Steve Shepard, via 
U.S. mail at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Maine Field Office, 17 
Godfrey Drive, Suite 2, Orono, ME 04473; via telephone at 207-866-3344 
x1116; or via email at steve_shepard@fws.gov; or Dan Kircheis, National 
Marine Fisheries Service, 17 Godfrey Drive, Orono, ME 04473; via 
telephone at 207-866-7320; or via email at dan.kircheis@noaa.gov. You 
can also download a copy by visiting http://atlanticsalmonrestoration.org/resources/documents/atlantic-salmon-recovery-plan-2015.
    Submitting Comments: If you wish to comment, you may submit your 
comments by one of the following methods:
    1. You may mail written comments and materials to Steve Shepard, at 
the above address.
    2. You may hand-deliver written comments to Steve Shepard at the 
above address, or fax them to 207-866-3351.
    3. You may send comments by email to steve_shepard@fws.gov.
    4. You may submit handwritten comments at either of the two public 
information meetings announced in this notice.
    For additional information about submitting comments, see Request 
for Public Comments.
    Public Information Meetings: Meetings will be held in the following 
Maine locations: at Jeff's Catering, East/West Industrial Park, 15 
Littlefield Way in Brewer, and at the Best Western PLUS Motel, 375 Main 
Street, Exit 130 in Waterville. See DATES above for the date and time 
of each meeting.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Shepard, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service; or Dan Kircheis, National Marine Fisheries Service (see 
ADDRESSES).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
(Service), announce the availability of a draft recovery plan for the 
endangered Gulf of Maine (GOM) Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of 
Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar). This draft plan has been prepared 
jointly by the Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) 
of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The draft 
recovery plan includes specific recovery objectives and a set of 
criteria that, when met, would allow us to consider reclassifying the 
DPS from endangered to threatened under the Endangered Species Act of 
1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.; Act), and, ultimately, to 
remove the GOM DPS of Atlantic salmon from the Federal List of 
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. The plan also includes site-
specific management actions and time and cost estimates, as required by 
the Act. We request review of and comment on this draft recovery plan 
from Federal, State, and local agencies; Tribes; nongovernmental 
organizations; and the public.

Background

    The GOM DPS of Atlantic salmon was originally listed as an 
endangered species under the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) on November 
17, 2000 (65 FR 69459), and a recovery plan for the DPS was approved on 
December 2, 2005. Based on a second status review, the DPS listing was 
revised on June 19, 2009 (74 FR 29344), to cover an expanded range that 
encompassed additional large river systems in Maine found to contain 
Atlantic salmon population genetically similar to those in the 
previously listed coastal river populations. Critical habitat for the 
GOM DPS was also designated at this time (June 19, 2009; 74 FR 29300).
    The expanded DPS includes all anadromous Atlantic salmon in a

[[Page 18640]]

freshwater range covering the watersheds from the Androscoggin River 
northward along the Maine coast to the Dennys River. The listing 
includes all associated conservation hatchery populations used to 
supplement these natural populations. The critical habitat rule divided 
the DPS range into three recovery units, termed Salmon Habitat Recovery 
Units, or SHRUs: (1) The Merrymeeting Bay SHRU, which covers the 
Androscoggin and Kennebec basins, and extends east to include the 
Sheepscot, Pemaquid, Medomak, and St. George watersheds; (2) the 
Penobscot Bay SHRU, which covers the entire Penobscot basin and extends 
west to and includes the Ducktrap watershed; and (3) the Downeast SHRU, 
including all coastal watersheds from the Union River east to the 
Dennys River.
    The 2009 listing rule recognized three primary threats to Atlantic 
salmon: Dams, inadequacy of regulatory mechanisms related to dams, and 
marine survival. In addition, numerous secondary threats were 
identified, including habitat quality and accessibility, commercial and 
recreational fisheries, disease and predation, inadequacy of regulatory 
mechanisms related to water withdrawal and water quality, aquaculture, 
artificial propagation, climate change, competition, and depleted 
diadromous fish communities. Collectively, these stressors were deemed 
a fourth major threat. Since listing, our understanding of threats to 
the DPS has continued to grow. New and emerging threats, all of which 
are considered to constitute significant impediments to recovery, 
include road stream crossings that impede fish passage, international 
intercept fisheries, and the effects of climate change.
    Restoring an endangered or threatened animal or plant to the point 
where it is again a secure, self-sustaining member of its ecosystem is 
a primary goal of our endangered species program. To help guide the 
recovery effort, we prepare recovery plans for most listed species.
    Under the Act, to the maximum extent practicable, recovery plans 
must describe site-specific actions considered necessary for 
conservation of the species, establish criteria for delisting the 
species, and provide time and cost estimates for taking the actions 
necessary to recover the species to the point where it can be delisted.
    The Act requires the development of recovery plans for listed 
species, unless such a plan would not promote the conservation of a 
particular species. Section 4(f) of the Act requires us to provide 
public notice and an opportunity for public review and comment during 
recovery plan development. We will consider all input provided during 
the public comment period prior to approval of each new or revised 
recovery plan. We and other Federal agencies will also take these 
comments into account in the course of implementing approved recovery 
plans.
    Recovery of the GOM DPS of Atlantic salmon has been designated a 
joint responsibility of the Service and NMFS, with lead responsibility 
for this recovery plan assigned to the Service. We note that this draft 
recovery plan for the GOM DPS of Atlantic salmon follows a new planning 
approach endorsed by the Service and, for this plan, by NMFS. The new 
approach, termed the Recovery Enhancement Vision (REV), focuses on the 
three recovery plan elements required by the Act: Site-specific 
management actions; objective, measurable criteria for delisting; and 
the estimated time and costs needed to achieve delisting and 
intermediate steps toward that goal. The recovery actions are presented 
at the scale of the SHRUs. These actions address both survival and 
recovery needs and are site-specific as required by section 
4(f)(1)(B)(i) of the Act, taking into account both the comprehensive 
nature and long timeframe needed to reach reclassification and 
delisting objectives.
    All relevant supporting information and analyses, as well as short-
term implementation strategies for the recovery actions in the plan, 
are posted on the Atlantic Salmon Restoration Web site, at http://atlanticsalmonrestoration.org/resources/documents/atlantic-salmon-recovery-plan-2015. The draft plan contains hyperlinks that allow 
readers to readily access additional supporting information, including 
SHRU-level workplans, which can be updated as needed. The SHRU-level 
workplans will step down from the actions in the recovery plan to 
address geographically based needs in the short term. DPS-wide or 
nonspatial actions (e.g., genetic research) will also be stepped down 
to short-term workplans. It is important to note that while these 
workplans will link back to the recovery plan, they are not considered 
part of the recovery plan itself.
    Although REV recovery plans focus on the Act's statutory 
requirements, any given plan may include additional information deemed 
necessary by the lead U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Region. For the 
Atlantic salmon recovery plan, we have added background information 
that is highly relevant to the long-term recovery vision, as well as an 
implementation table that outlines responsibilities and costs for the 
actions described in the plan. The various components contained in the 
draft plan document are briefly described below.

Recovery Plan Components

    The draft recovery plan for GOM DPS of Atlantic salmon focuses on 
the following components: The recovery strategy, recovery objectives 
and criteria, recovery actions, and time and cost estimates. The long-
term recovery strategy for the endangered Atlantic salmon is based on 
two premises: First, that recovery must focus on rivers and estuaries 
located in the GOM DPS until we better understand threats in the marine 
environment, and second, that survival of Atlantic salmon in the GOM 
DPS will be dependent on conservation hatcheries throughout much of the 
recovery process. In addition, the scientific foundation for the 
recovery strategy includes conservation biology principles regarding 
population viability, our understanding of freshwater habitat 
viability, and our understanding of current and emerging extinction 
risks. Other components of the recovery strategy include adaptive 
management, phasing of recovery actions, a geographic framework based 
upon the three SHRUs, and a collaborative approach that focuses on full 
inclusion of partners in implementing recovery actions. Finally, as 
previously described, short-term recovery priorities stepping down from 
the recovery plan will be formulated in SHRU-level workplans; these are 
found on the Web site and are not part of the plan itself.
    The recovery objectives and criteria in the draft plan address 
biological recovery needs, threats identified at the time of listing, 
and newly emerging threats. The reclassification objectives are to 
maintain sustainable, naturally reared populations with access to 
sufficient suitable habitat in each SHRU, to ensure that management 
options for marine survival are better understood, and to reduce or 
eliminate those threats that either individually or in combination pose 
a risk of imminent extinction to the DPS. The delisting objectives are 
to maintain self-sustaining, wild populations with access to sufficient 
suitable habitat in each SHRU, to ensure that necessary management 
options for marine survival are in place, and to sufficiently reduce or 
eliminate all threats that either individually or in combination pose a 
risk of endangerment to the DPS.

[[Page 18641]]

    The biological criteria for meeting the reclassification objectives 
include:
     A total annual escapement of at least 1,500 naturally 
reared adults spawning in the wild, with at least 2 of the 3 SHRUs 
having at least 500 naturally reared adults. Annual escapement refers 
to salmon that return to the river and successfully reproduce on the 
spawning grounds in a given year. For the purposes of this plan, 
naturally reared adults are individuals originating from wild spawners 
and hatchery eggs, fry, and parr. Egg and fry stocked salmon are not 
given an external mark, so when they return as adults, it is not 
possible (except with genetic testing) to differentiate them from wild 
salmon;
     A population growth rate in each of at least two of the 
three SHRUs of greater than 1.0 in the 10-year period preceding 
reclassification, with adults originating from hatchery-stocked eggs, 
fry, and parr included in population growth rates; and
     Sufficient spawning and rearing habitat for the offspring 
of the 1,500 naturally reared adults distributed throughout designated 
Atlantic salmon critical habitat, with at least 7,500 accessible and 
suitable habitat units (HUs) in each of at least 2 of the 3 SHRUs, 
located according to the known and potential migratory patterns of 
returning salmon.
    The biological criteria for meeting the delisting objectives 
include:
     A self-sustaining annual escapement of at least 2,000 wild 
adults in each SHRU, for a DPS-wide total of at least 6,000 wild 
adults. For the purposes of this plan, wild salmon are individuals that 
have spent their entire life cycle in the wild and originate from 
parents that were also spawned and continuously lived in the wild;
     A population growth rate in each SHRU of greater than 1.0 
in the 10-year period preceding delisting and, at the time of 
delisting, demonstrable self-sustaining persistence; and
     Sufficient suitable spawning and rearing habitat for the 
offspring of the 6,000 wild adults distributed throughout the 
designated Atlantic salmon critical habitat, with at least 30,000 
accessible and suitable HUs in each SHRU, located according to the 
known migratory patterns of returning wild adult salmon.
    In addition to the biological recovery criteria, the draft plan 
identifies several criteria for abating both primary and secondary 
threats to the DPS. Overall, threats to the GOM DPS identified both at 
the time of listing and since then must be diminished prior to 
reclassification and, to a greater extent, prior to delisting. All 
primary threats must be individually abated according to stated 
criteria, although recognition of which threats are primary may change 
over time. For secondary threats, tradeoffs may be made in terms of 
which criteria are met, as long as the degree to which these threats 
are collectively reduced sufficiently diminishes the likelihood of 
extinction and, ultimately, endangerment. Adaptive management and 
collaborative partnerships will be essential for determining to what 
extent secondary threats must be resolved in association with abatement 
of primary threats.
    To meet the recovery criteria and achieve the recovery objectives 
for the GOM DPS of Atlantic salmon, this draft recovery plan focuses on 
the actions necessary to achieve long-term viability of DPS Atlantic 
salmon populations. We note that these actions address both short-term 
survival needs and long-term recovery needs. Geographically based 
actions will be further specified in SHRU work plans, while research 
and genetics management actions will be addressed in rangewide 
implementation strategies. The seven categories of recovery actions for 
the DPS include:
    1. Habitat Connectivity: Actions for enhancing connectivity between 
the ocean and freshwater habitats important for salmon recovery.
    2. Genetic Diversity: Actions for maintaining the genetic diversity 
of Atlantic salmon populations over time.
    3. Conservation Hatchery: Actions for increasing numbers of adult 
spawners through the conservation hatchery program.
    4. Freshwater Conservation: Actions for increasing numbers of adult 
spawners through the freshwater production of smolts.
    5. Marine and Estuary: Actions for increasing Atlantic salmon 
survival through increased understanding of these ecosystems and 
identification of spatial and temporal constraints to salmon marine 
productivity in order to identify management actions that are likely to 
increase marine survival rates.
    6. Federal/Tribal Coordination: Actions for consulting with all 
involved Tribes on a government-to-government basis.
    7. Outreach, Education, and Engagement: Actions for collaborating 
with partners and engaging interested parties in recovery efforts for 
the GOM DPS.
    The estimated time for fully implementing all recovery actions and 
achieving the goal of delisting the Gulf of Maine DPS of Atlantic 
salmon is, very roughly, 75 years from the present time. This time 
frame accounts for approximately 15 generations of salmon and assumes a 
full investment of resources into the recovery program for the DPS.
    Over the 75-year time frame, the total cost of recovery is 
projected to be approximately $350 million; again, this is an extremely 
speculative estimate, particularly given the uncertainties surrounding 
recovery of this DPS. The estimate assumes that costs of the various 
actions will accrue unevenly and that costs will diminish over time as 
projects are completed and best management practices are implemented. 
It is equally difficult to estimate a time and cost for 
reclassification because of uncertainties associated with the current 
significant threats to the species, especially marine survival, and 
impacts of climate change. A best-case scenario based on the current 
reclassification criteria is roughly 10 years. Under this scenario, the 
estimated cost for reclassification is estimated at $140,428,000.
    We emphasize that these time and cost estimates are highly subject 
to change and are not intended to serve any purpose other than 
addressing our obligation to provide the public with our best 
understanding of the general level of effort and expense that might be 
needed to meet the ultimate recovery goal of delisting. It is also 
important to note the costs involved in implementing recovery actions 
for the GOM DPS of Atlantic salmon will provide other vital ancillary 
benefits. These include but are not limited to conservation of other 
diadromous species in the Gulf of Maine, improved water quality and 
flow in salmon rivers, an enhanced understanding of sustainable 
management for numerous aquatic resources, and a reduction of stressors 
that affect not only Atlantic salmon but general environmental quality.

Request for Public Comments

    We request written comments on the draft recovery plan. We will 
consider all comments we receive by the date specified in DATES prior 
to final approval of the plan.

Public Availability of Comments

    Before including your address, phone number, email address, or 
other personal identifying information in your comments, you should be 
aware that your entire submission--including your personal identifying 
information--may be made publicly available at any time. Although you 
can request in your comment that we withhold your personal information 
from public examination, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do 
so.

[[Page 18642]]

Authority

    The authority for this action is section 4(f) of the Endangered 
Species Act, 16 U.S.C. 1533 (f).

    Dated: March 14, 2016.
Kenneth D. Elowe,
Acting Regional Director, Northeast Region.
[FR Doc. 2016-07227 Filed 3-30-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4333-15-P