Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Reclassification of the Humpback Chub From Endangered to Threatened With a Section 4(d) Rule, 3586-3601 [2020-00512]

Download as PDF 3586 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 14 / Wednesday, January 22, 2020 / Proposed Rules 10. In § 97.303, revise paragraphs (b) and (f) and remove and reserve paragraph (q) as follows: ACTION: ■ § 97.303 Frequency sharing requirements. * * * * (b) Amateur stations transmitting in the 70 cm band, the 33 cm band, the 23 cm band, the 5 cm band, the 3 cm band, or the 24.05–24.25 GHz segment must not cause harmful interference to, and must accept interference from, stations authorized by the United States Government in the radiolocation service. * * * * * (f) Amateur stations transmitting in the following segments must not cause harmful interference to radio astronomy stations: 76–81 GHz, 136–141 GHz, 241– 248 GHz, 275–323 GHz, 327–371 GHz, 388–424 GHz, 426–442 GHz, 453–510 GHz, 623–711 GHz, 795–909 GHz, or 926–945 GHz. In addition, amateur stations transmitting in the following segments must not cause harmful interference to stations in the Earth exploration-satellite service (passive) or the space research service (passive): 275–286 GHz, 296–306 GHz, 313–356 GHz, 361–365 GHz, 369–392 GHz, 397– 399 GHz, 409–411 GHz, 416–434 GHz, 439–467 GHz, 477–502 GHz, 523–527 GHz, 538–581 GHz, 611–630 GHz, 634– 654 GHz, 657–692 GHz, 713–718 GHz, 729–733 GHz, 750–754 GHz, 771–776 GHz, 823–846 GHz, 850–854 GHz, 857– 862 GHz, 866–882 GHz, 905–928 GHz, 951–956 GHz, 968–973 GHz and 985– 990 GHz. * * * * * (q) [Reserved] * * * * * [Amended] 11. In § 97.305, amend the SHF portion of the table in paragraph (c) by removing the entry of ‘‘9 cm band’’. ■ [FR Doc. 2020–00535 Filed 1–21–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712–01–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS 50 CFR Part 17 [Docket No. FWS–R6–ES–2018–0081; 4500030113] RIN 1018–BD47 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Reclassification of the Humpback Chub From Endangered to Threatened With a Section 4(d) Rule AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:12 Jan 21, 2020 Jkt 250001 We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), propose to reclassify the humpback chub (Gila cypha) from an endangered species to a threatened species on the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife, due to partial recovery. Based on the best available scientific and commercial data, threats to the humpback chub identified at the time of listing have been eliminated or reduced to the point that the species no longer meets the definition of an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act), but is likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future. We also propose a rule issued under section 4(d) of the Act that is necessary and advisable to provide for the conservation of the humpback chub. DATES: We will accept comments received or postmarked on or before March 23, 2020. Comments submitted electronically using the Federal eRulemaking Portal (see ADDRESSES, below) must be received by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the closing date. We must receive requests for a public hearing, in writing, at the address shown in FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT by March 9, 2020. ADDRESSES: Written comments: You may submit comments by one of the following methods: (1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http:// www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter FWS–R6–ES–2018–0081, which is the docket number for this rulemaking. Then, click on the Search button. On the resulting page, in the Search panel on the left side of the screen, under the Document Type heading, click on the Proposed Rule box to locate this document. You may submit a comment by clicking on ‘‘Comment Now!’’ (2) By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–R6–ES–2018– 0081; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MS: BPHC, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041–3803. We request that you send comments only by the methods described above. We will post all comments on http:// www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we will post any personal information you provide us (see Public Comments, below, for more information). Document availability: Supporting documentation used to prepare this proposed rule, including the 5-year review and the species status assessment (SSA) report, are available on the internet at http:// SUMMARY: * § 97.305 Proposed rule. PO 00000 Frm 00036 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 www.regulations.gov under Docket No. FWS–R6–ES–2018–0081. Additionally, supporting documentation is available for public inspection by appointment at our Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Tom Chart, Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program, P.O. Box 25486, DFC, Lakewood, CO 80225; telephone: 303–236–9885. Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Relay Service at 800–877–8339. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Executive Summary Why we need to publish a rule. Under the Act, if a species is determined to be an endangered or threatened species throughout all or a significant portion of its range, we are required to publish a proposal in the Federal Register and make a determination on our proposal within 1 year. Reclassifying a species as an endangered or threatened species can only be completed by issuing a rule. This rule proposes to reclassify the humpback chub from endangered to threatened (i.e., to ‘‘downlist’’ the species) on the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife, with a rule issued under section 4(d) of the Act, based on the species’ current status, which has been improved through implementation of conservation actions. This proposed rule and the associated species status assessment (SSA) report reassess all available information regarding the status of and threats to the humpback chub. The basis for our action. Under the Act, we determine whether a species is an ‘‘endangered species’’ or ‘‘threatened species’’ based on any of five factors: (A) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range; (B) overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes; (C) disease or predation; (D) the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or (E) other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence. We may reclassify a species if the best available commercial and scientific data indicate the species no longer meets the applicable definition in the Act. For the reasons discussed below, we believe the humpback chub no longer meets the Act’s definition of an endangered species, but does meet the Act’s definition of a threatened species. The actions of multiple conservation partners over the past 30 years have improved the condition of humpback E:\FR\FM\22JAP1.SGM 22JAP1 khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 14 / Wednesday, January 22, 2020 / Proposed Rules chub and reduced the threats to the species. Over the last few decades, management programs implemented by a variety of partners and stakeholders in the Colorado River basin delivered natural flow regimes; provided suitable water temperatures; and managed predatory, nonnative fish species to improve habitat conditions for the humpback chub. These programs improved habitat resource conditions such that the humpback chub now has multiple, resilient populations, including a large, stable population in the Grand Canyon and four persisting populations upstream of Lake Powell. Therefore, conditions have improved, and the species now has sufficient resiliency, redundancy, and representation such that it is not currently at risk of extinction throughout its range (i.e., it does not meet the Act’s definition of an endangered species). However, in the future, management of the species and the conditions of the resources required by the species are likely to change such that the species is likely to become an endangered species in the foreseeable future (i.e., the species meets the Act’s definition of threatened). Supporting analyses. We conducted an SSA for the humpback chub, with input and information provided by a variety of partners and stakeholders. The results of this assessment are contained in an SSA report, which represents a compilation of the best scientific and commercial data available concerning the status of the species, including the past, present, and future stressors to this species (Service 2018b, entire). Additionally, the SSA report contains our analysis of required habitat and the existing conditions of that habitat. Peer review. We sought comments from independent specialists on our SSA report for the humpback chub to ensure that we based our listing determination on scientifically sound data, assumptions, and analyses. We received feedback from three experts that have knowledge and/or experience with the species or similar species biology as peer review of the SSA report. The reviewers were generally supportive of our approach and made suggestions and comments that strengthened our analysis. We incorporated these comments into the SSA report, which can be found at http://www.regulations.gov under Docket No. FWS–R6–ES–2018–0081. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:12 Jan 21, 2020 Jkt 250001 Information Requested Public Comments Any final action resulting from this proposed rule will be based on the best scientific and commercial data available and be as accurate as possible. Therefore, we request comments or information from other concerned governmental agencies, Native American Tribes, the scientific community, industry, or other interested parties concerning this proposed rule. The comments that will be most useful and likely to inform our decisions are those supported by data or peer-reviewed studies and those that include citations to, and analyses of, applicable laws and regulations. Because we will consider all comments and information we receive during the comment period, our final determination may differ from this proposal. We particularly seek comments concerning: (1) Reasons we should or should not reclassify the humpback chub as a threatened species. (2) New information on the historical and current status, range, distribution, and population size of the humpback chub. (3) New information on the known and potential threats to the humpback chub, including flow regimes and predatory, nonnative fish. (4) New information regarding the life history, ecology, and habitat use of the humpback chub. (5) Current or planned activities within the geographic range of the humpback chub that may impact or benefit the species. (6) The appropriateness of a rule issued under section 4(d) of the Act (a ‘‘4(d) rule’’) to allow certain actions to take humpback chub. (7) Any additional actions that we should consider for inclusion in a 4(d) rule, especially research, monitoring, and additional management and restoration activities. (8) Any additional information pertaining to the promulgation of a 4(d) rule to allow certain actions that may take humpback chub. Please include sufficient information with your submission (such as scientific journal articles or other publications) to allow us to verify any scientific or commercial information you include. Please note that submissions merely stating support for or opposition to the action under consideration without providing supporting information, although noted, will not be considered in making a determination, as section 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) directs that determinations as to PO 00000 Frm 00037 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 3587 whether any species is an endangered or a threatened species must be made ‘‘solely on the basis of the best scientific and commercial data available.’’ You may submit your comments and materials concerning this proposed rule by one of the methods listed in ADDRESSES. We request that you send comments only by the methods described in ADDRESSES. If you submit information via http:// www.regulations.gov, your entire submission—including any personal identifying information—will be posted on the website. If your submission is made via a hardcopy that includes personal identifying information, you may request at the top of your document that we withhold this information from public review. However, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. We will post all hardcopy submissions on http://www.regulations.gov. Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting documentation we used in preparing this proposed rule, will be available for public inspection on http://www.regulations.gov, or by appointment, during normal business hours, at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Public Hearing Section 4(b)(5) of the Act provides for a public hearing on this proposal, if requested. Requests must be received within 45 days after the date of publication of this proposed rule in the Federal Register (see DATES, above). Such requests must be sent to the address shown in FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. We will schedule a public hearing on this proposal, if requested, and announce the date, time, and place of the hearing, as well as how to obtain reasonable accommodations, in the Federal Register and local newspapers at least 15 days before the hearing. Peer Review In accordance with our July 1, 1994, peer review policy (59 FR 34270; July 1, 1994), the Service’s August 22, 2016, Director’s Memo on the Peer Review Process, and the Office of Management and Budget’s December 16, 2004, Final Information Quality Bulletin for Peer Review (revised June 2012), we solicited independent scientific reviews of the information contained in the humpback chub SSA report. Results of this structured peer review process can be found at https://www.fws.gov/mountainprairie/science/peerReview.php. The SSA report was also submitted to our E:\FR\FM\22JAP1.SGM 22JAP1 3588 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 14 / Wednesday, January 22, 2020 / Proposed Rules khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Federal, State, and Tribal partners for scientific review. In preparing this proposed rule, we incorporated the results of these reviews in the final SSA report, as appropriate, which is the foundation for this proposed rule. Previous Federal Actions By the time the humpback chub was scientifically described between the 1940s and 1970s, the Colorado River ecosystem supporting the species had been greatly altered by large dams; smaller agricultural irrigation diversions; substantial water depletions for municipal and agricultural uses; and predatory, nonnative fish species. By the 1960s, researchers concluded that the humpback chub was likely in decline; they suspected extirpation of a population near Hoover Dam, constructed in the 1930s, and they predicted possible extirpation resulting from the construction of Glen Canyon and Flaming Gorge Dams in the 1960s. Therefore, on March 11, 1967, the Secretary of the Interior published a final rule (32 FR 4001) listing the humpback chub as an endangered species in accordance with the Endangered Species Preservation Act of 1966 (80 Stat. 926; 16 U.S.C. 668aa(c)). Subsequently, the humpback chub retained classification as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Conservation Act of 1969 (16 U.S.C. 668aa) and the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), and on January 4, 1974, the species was included in a final rule (39 FR 1158) establishing a list of endangered native wildlife at 50 CFR part 17. We issued the first recovery plan for humpback chub on August 22, 1979; that document described the primary reasons for the decline of humpback chub as numerous flow and habitat alterations caused by the construction and operation of several large Colorado River basin dams, including the Flaming Gorge, Glen Canyon, and Hoover Dams. The 1979 recovery plan also recognized the possible impacts to humpback chub from hybridization with other native chub species and from competition with nonnative fish species. We revised the recovery plan on September 19, 1990, and we further amended and supplemented the 1990 revised plan with new recovery goals on August 1, 2002. The 2002 recovery goals provided objective and measurable demographic and threats-based recovery criteria, site specific recovery actions, and estimates of time needed to implement the recovery actions for two recovery units, the upper and lower basins, which are physically demarcated by Glen Canyon VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:12 Jan 21, 2020 Jkt 250001 Dam and have unique demographic trends and management actions. The 2002 recovery goals lacked estimates of cost needed for recovery, and were withdrawn by court order on January 18, 2006, (Grand Canyon Trust et al. v. Gale Norton et al., No. 04–CV–636– PHX–FJM). The adequacy of the recovery goals, however, was not reviewed by the court, because the court found that the plaintiffs could not challenge an alleged failure for a recovery plan to provide for the conservation of the species. The recovery criteria presented in the 2002 recovery plan remain reasonable measures to gauge progress towards recovery and a valuable reference as we refine our vision of recovery for the humpback chub, and work to update the recovery plan. Humpback chub inhabit discrete canyon areas of the Colorado River basin characterized by swift currents and rocky habitats, including portions of the Yampa, Green, and Colorado rivers. On March 21, 1994, we designated critical habitat for the species along 610 kilometers (km) (379 miles (mi)) of the Colorado River basin (59 FR 13374). Designated critical habitat units include Dinosaur National Monument (the Yampa and Green rivers in Utah and Colorado), Desolation and Gray Canyons (the Green River in Utah), Black Rocks, and Westwater Canyon (the Colorado River in Utah and Colorado), Cataract Canyon (the Colorado River in Utah), and Grand Canyon (the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers in Arizona). We completed a status review (‘‘5year review’’) under section 4(c)(2)(A) of the Act for humpback chub on March 19, 2018 (Service 2018a). The 5-year review recommended that the humpback chub be downlisted (i.e., reclassified from an endangered to a threatened species), which prompted this proposed rule. Background A thorough review of the taxonomy, range and distribution, life history, and ecology of the humpback chub is presented in the SSA report (Service 2018b, pp. 5–12; available at http:// www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS–R6–ES–2018–0081), and is briefly summarized here. The humpback chub is a fish endemic to the warm-water portions of the Colorado River basin of the southwestern United States. Humpback chub live in discrete, rocky, canyon-bound river reaches characterized by swift currents in portions of Utah, Colorado, and Arizona. Multiple adaptations allow humpback chub to survive the highly PO 00000 Frm 00038 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 variable flow conditions of these desert river ecosystems, such as a long lifespan of approximately 20 to 40 years, large body size up to 480 millimeters (mm) (19 inches (in)), high reproductive potential by producing up to 2,500 eggs per year, tolerance to a wide range of water qualities, and a variable diet. The species is known from eight historical canyon locations. Two populations, Hideout Canyon (the Green River in Utah) and Black Canyon (the Colorado River in Arizona and Nevada), were extirpated following the construction of Flaming Gorge and Hoover Dams, and their associated reservoirs, respectively. The continued operation of these dams make these habitats currently inhospitable to humpback chub. An additional population, Dinosaur National Monument (the Yampa and Green rivers in Utah and Colorado), declined after the construction of Flaming Gorge Dam and became extirpated in the mid2000s. Although the species is considered extirpated, or absent from this geographic location, Dinosaur National Monument could possibly still support humpback chub and therefore the SSA report considered the area as an unoccupied habitat unit. The species is currently monitored at the remaining five extant, or occupied, locations: Desolation and Gray Canyons (the Green River in Utah), Black Rocks (the Colorado River in Colorado), Westwater Canyon (the Colorado River in Utah), Cataract Canyon (the Colorado River in Utah), and Grand Canyon (the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers in Arizona). The Dinosaur National Monument, Desolation and Gray Canyons, Black Rocks, Westwater Canyon, and Cataract Canyon populations are the ‘‘upper basin populations,’’ and the Grand Canyon population is the ‘‘lower basin population.’’ Summary of Biological Status and Threats The Act directs us to determine whether any species is an endangered species or a threatened species because of any of the factors set forth at section 4(a)(1) of the Act affecting the species’ continued existence. The SSA report provides a thorough account of the species’ overall viability (Service 2018b, entire). The SSA report documents the results of the comprehensive biological status review for the humpback chub and provides an account of the species’ overall viability through forecasting of the species’ condition in the future (Service 2018b, entire). In the SSA report, we summarized the relevant biological data and a description of past, present, and likely future stressors and E:\FR\FM\22JAP1.SGM 22JAP1 khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 14 / Wednesday, January 22, 2020 / Proposed Rules conducted an analysis of the viability of the species. In the SSA, we define viability as the ability of the species to persist over the long term and, conversely, to avoid extinction. In this discussion, we summarize the conclusions of that assessment, which can be accessed at Docket No. FWS–R6– ES–2018–0081 on http:// www.regulations.gov. To evaluate the biological status of the humpback chub both currently and into the future, we evaluated the overall viability of the humpback chub in the context of resiliency, redundancy, and representation (Smith et al. 2018, p. 306). Species viability, or the species’ ability to sustain populations over time, is related to the species’ ability to withstand catastrophic events (redundancy), the ability to adapt to changing environmental conditions (representation), and the ability of populations to withstand stochastic disturbances of varying magnitude and duration (resiliency). Species viability also depends on the likelihood of stressors that act to reduce a species’ redundancy, representation, and resiliency and the species’ overall ability to withstand such stressors in the future. Having a greater number (redundancy) of self-sustaining populations (resiliency) that are distributed (redundancy and representation) across the known range of the humpback chub would be associated with an overall higher viability of the species into the future. Individual humpback chub need diverse, rocky, canyon river habitat for spawning, rearing, feeding, and sheltering; suitable river flow and water temperature regimes for spawning, egg incubation, larval development, and growth; and an adequate and reliable food supply, including aquatic and terrestrial insects, crustaceans, and plant material (Service 2018b, pp. 15– 33). Populations of humpback chub need habitats with few predatory, nonnative fish species that allow the young to survive and recruit; suitable water quality with few toxic inputs, such as fire ash or other contaminants, to allow for survival of all life stages; and unimpeded range and connectivity between discrete canyon habitats that provides free movement of individuals among populations. At the species level, humpback chub needs multiple populations to provide adequate redundancy against potential catastrophic events and genetic diversity (representation) to ensure adaptive traits of the species (Service 2018b, pp. 15–33). To evaluate the condition of humpback chub populations, we VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:12 Jan 21, 2020 Jkt 250001 evaluated a number of stressors that influence the resiliency of humpback chub populations, such as river flows and predatory, nonnative fish in the upper basin populations, and river flows, water temperature, food supply, and predatory nonnative fish in the lower basin population (Service 2018b, pp. 34–100). Some stressors, such as low river flows and warm water temperatures, may also act cumulatively to increase predatory, nonnative fish. Additionally, certain needs or stressors require continued management, such as river flow and nonnative fish in all five extant populations, and water temperature and food supply in the Grand Canyon population. Ongoing management actions are primarily undertaken by two multi-stakeholder management programs, the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program (Upper Basin Recovery Program) and the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program (Glen Canyon Dam AMP). Below, we summarize the conditions for the upper and lower basins. The Upper Basin—In the upper basin, the four extant populations (Desolation and Gray Canyons, Black Rocks, Westwater Canyon, and Cataract Canyon) and one extirpated population (Dinosaur National Monument) currently have high-quality rocky canyon habitat, an adequate food base, and unimpeded connectivity. Federal, State, and tribal land ownership largely protects humpback chub’s canyon habitats in the upper basin, and recreation is the primary activity in these canyons. Water temperature is suitable and unaltered by reservoir releases in the four extant populations, but a portion of the extirpated Dinosaur National Monument population in the Green River is cooled by releases from the Flaming Gorge Dam. Fish passage structures ensure that there are no impediments to movement between populations. The resources of highest concern in the upper basin are river flows. Dam installations in the 20th century altered river flow regimes by reducing spring peak flows. Additionally, large municipal and agricultural depletions reduced the amount of water in the rivers. Since the early 2000s, management of river flows has restored much of the important intra- and interannual variability of river flow that the humpback chub needs to breed, feed, and shelter. Human demand for water has remained relatively the same over the last 20 years, but recent and ongoing drought has reduced river flows. Another primary stressor in the upper basin is predatory, nonnative fish. Over PO 00000 Frm 00039 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 3589 50 nonnative fish species have been introduced into the upper basin, some of which prey on or compete with young humpback chub, effectively reducing juvenile survival rates. Smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu) are the largest concern because they prey on native fish (Johnson et al. 2008, p. 1946) and colonize humpback chub habitats. However, nearby populations of smallmouth bass have not colonized Black Rocks, Westwater Canyon, or Cataract Canyon. Smallmouth bass do inhabit Dinosaur National Monument and Desolation and Gray Canyons, and periodically increase in density by dispersing from nearby production areas. Low river flows and warm water temperatures may also act cumulatively to promote the expansion and establishment of predatory, nonnative fish. The Upper Basin Recovery Program is responsible for overseeing the management actions needed to improve conditions for the humpback chub in the upper basin. Actions that the Upper Basin Recovery Program implements to support recovery of humpback chub include, but are not limited to: Providing and protecting river flows; managing and removing predatory, nonnative fish; and installing and operating fish passage structures. For example, within the past 15 years, both Flaming Gorge Dam (the Green River) and the Aspinall Unit (the Colorado River) changed release patterns to provide downstream flows to benefit the humpback chub. The Upper Basin Recovery Program also acquired water stored in reservoirs in the Yampa and Colorado rivers to support the humpback chub when needed, such as during low flow periods during the summer. The Upper Basin Recovery Program also implements nonnative fish management actions, such as removing predatory fish from approximately 966 km (600 mi) of river and screening reservoirs to prevent predators from escaping into the downstream habitats used by humpback chub. State partners in the Upper Basin Recovery Program no longer stock certain nonnative predators and instead implement harvest regulations that promote the removal of predatory fish throughout the upper basin. Finally, fish passage structures installed over the last 20 years in the Colorado and Green rivers allow the humpback chub to move between habitats. Upper basin populations have been monitored using catch per unit effort (CPUE) protocols since the mid-1980s, but more rigorous mark-recapture population estimation techniques began E:\FR\FM\22JAP1.SGM 22JAP1 khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS 3590 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 14 / Wednesday, January 22, 2020 / Proposed Rules in some populations in the late 1990s. Abundance estimates generally have some uncertainty, with wide confidence intervals in older estimates. Despite the uncertainty associated with population monitoring techniques, these abundance estimates and associated CPUE data provide important demographic information about humpback chub populations. The Black Rocks and Westwater Canyon populations declined from around 2000, when they were first estimated, through about 2006 (Service 2018b, p. 101). However, over the past 10 years both of these populations have stopped declining and have stabilized (Service 2018b, p. 101). The most recent preliminary estimates of the Black Rocks population, for years 2016 and 2017, indicate a stable population of around 425 to 450 adults (Francis et al. 2018, p. 21). The most recent preliminary estimates of the Westwater Canyon population, for years 2016 and 2017, indicate a stable population of around 2,800 adults (Hines 2017, p. 4; Hines 2018, pp. 12, 14). The preliminary estimates for both of these populations were released after the SSA report was complete, and although they have not yet undergone peer review, they are based on previously used and widely accepted modeling techniques, so are the best available science. Adult abundance trends in Desolation and Gray Canyons are generally similar to those for Westwater and Black Rocks because they were highest around year 2000 and subsequently declined through about 2006 (Service 2018b, p. 101). However, estimates from 2001 to 2003 have low precision and are unreliable due to the difficulty of surveying these canyons. Using estimates from 2006 to 2015, the adult abundance estimates for Desolation and Gray Canyons show no conclusive pattern because estimates are too variable (Service 2018b, p. 109). Abundance estimates for the Desolation and Gray Canyons population were approximately 1,750 adults in 2014 and 2015 (Howard and Caldwell 2018, p. 18). The Cataract Canyon population is small, with fewer than approximately 500 adults and swift currents make this population difficult to monitor. Abundance of humpback chub in Cataract Canyon is estimated by CPUE rather than more robust mark-recapture techniques, which makes estimating a population trend for Cataract Canyon difficult. Consistent catches of adult and young life stages indicate that this population persists. Monitoring efforts from 2017 documented the highest annual CPUE for humpback chub in VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:12 Jan 21, 2020 Jkt 250001 Cataract Canyon over the last 26 years (Ahrens 2017, p. 7). New sampling techniques documented an unprecedented number of juvenile chubs in Cataract Canyon, further indicating that this population persists (Ahrens 2017, p. 2). Although humpback chub and roundtail chub cannot be distinguished in the field when they are small, researchers assume that a meaningful amount of these young fish are humpback chub. Unlike the other four populations in the upper basin, the Dinosaur National Monument population is currently below detection limits and is now considered functionally extirpated. By 1998, humpback chub were absent or rare in habitats where the species was likely common in the 1940s (Tyus 1998, p. 192), and the decline in the Dinosaur National Monument population likely was the result of the construction of the Flaming Gorge Dam. Humpback chub in the Green River portion of the Dinosaur National Monument population were negatively affected by the cold releases from the Flaming Gorge Dam starting in 1963, and the Yampa River portion was negatively affected by low river flows, especially in the early 2000s. Operational changes since 2006 at Flaming Gorge Dam have improved the water temperature and flow conditions in the Green River, and releases from Elkhead Reservoir since 2006 support improved flow conditions in the Yampa River. Furthermore, the rocky canyon habitats that the humpback chub rely on in Dinosaur National Monument are still present. Although management actions have improved resource conditions in Dinosaur National Monument, immigration from other humpback chub populations is too low for the species to recolonize naturally, and the population is considered extirpated. Because habitats could potentially support a population, the Upper Basin Recovery Program is considering translocation or stocking to restore humpback chub to Dinosaur National Monument. Dinosaur National Monument may now have suitable resource conditions to support a re-establishment effort. Summary of the Upper Basin—There are currently four extant populations of humpback chub in the upper basin and one extirpated population at Dinosaur National Monument. The Upper Basin Recovery Program’s conservation and management actions have maintained and improved resource conditions for the four extant populations in the upper basin over the last 15 years. Monitoring data indicate that Black Rocks and Westwater Canyons have stabilized over the past decade and that the Cataract Canyon population persists and is likely PO 00000 Frm 00040 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 also stable. But the trend of the Desolation and Gray Canyons population is uncertain, with conflicting data indicating that the population is either stable or declining. In terms of habitats, improved river flows in the upper basin indicate that resource conditions are now of adequate quantity and quality to support populations. Although nonnative smallmouth bass have been documented near multiple populations of humpback chub, smallmouth bass have yet to establish in most humpback chub habitats. The Lower Basin—Although the Grand Canyon population is the only population of humpback chub in the lower basin, this population includes: A core population area in the Little Colorado River and nearby mainstem Colorado River; multiple aggregations of humpback chub in the Colorado River downstream; and individuals translocated into tributary habitats in Havasu Creek and the upper Little Colorado River. The Grand Canyon population has high-quality canyon reaches that foster unimpeded connectivity between habitats. In this population, there are no barriers to movement except for those created by natural falls or chutes, and translocated humpback chub placed above these natural barriers helped improve connectivity. Landownership surrounding the Grand Canyon population is Federal and tribal, so access and use are well-regulated. Releases from the Glen Canyon Dam alter the flow and temperature regimes of the Colorado River throughout much of the Grand Canyon population. The Long-Term Experimental and Management Plan prescribes the release patterns from the Glen Canyon Dam, helping to reduce and minimize impacts to Grand Canyon habitats. Starting in 2004, the temperature of water released through the Glen Canyon Dam increased in the summer and fall periods to 16 degrees Celsius (°C) (61 degrees Fahrenheit (°F)). Warmer temperatures generally allow individual humpback chub to grow larger and more quickly, but warmer water may also allow predatory warm-water, nonnative fish to invade and expand into humpback chub habitats. Nonnative fish in the lower basin, primarily cold-water brown trout (Salmo trutta) and rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), mostly live in the colder water immediately below Glen Canyon Dam and tributaries of the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, and not in humpback chub habitat. These two species do overlap with humpback chub in portions of the mainstem Colorado River. However, the majority of the areas inhabited by E:\FR\FM\22JAP1.SGM 22JAP1 khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 14 / Wednesday, January 22, 2020 / Proposed Rules humpback chub, including the Little Colorado River and western Grand Canyon, are dominated by native fish (van Haverbeke et al. 2018, p. 8; Pillow et al. 2018, p. 7). In the lower basin, the Glen Canyon Dam AMP coordinates the protection of natural resources of the Colorado River flowing through the Grand Canyon, including the humpback chub, from Glen Canyon Dam to the Lake Mead inflow. Actions undertaken to support recovery of humpback chub include, but are not limited to, removal of nonnative trout; altering dam releases to study possible improvements of important food sources such as mayflies, stoneflies, and caddisflies; and the translocation of humpback chub to new tributary habitats. The Grand Canyon population of humpback chub is the largest and most extensively distributed population of all the populations across the species’ range, with broadly distributed groups of humpback chub in mainstem and tributary habitats between Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Mead. The core area includes the Little Colorado River and nearby portions of the mainstem Colorado River. This core group has likely remained relatively stable since 2008, with a high abundance of approximately 11,500 to 12,000 adults. Monitoring documented a substantial population decline in this area during the 1990s from unknown causes, but most likely due to limited recruitment, followed by a strong increase in the 2000s (Service 2018b, pp. 117–119). The subsequent increases in adult abundance were likely due to increased recruitment corresponding with warmer temperatures of released water and reduced nonnative, predatory trout numbers near the confluence with the Little Colorado River. In addition to the core population in and near the Little Colorado River, the Grand Canyon population also has multiple aggregations of adult and subadult humpback chub distributed in the mainstem Colorado River. Recent monitoring efforts up to 2017 documented increases in relative abundance of these aggregations and associated catch rates since 2014 (Pillow et al. 2018, p. 8). In fact, preliminary abundance estimates were approximately 1,500 adult humpback chub in 2017, for a 6-km (4-mi) long reach in the vicinity of Fall Canyon and Pumpkin Spring in western Grand Canyon (Pillow et al. 2018, p. 8). Length frequencies for the humpback chub from these aggregation sites indicate that there are four distinct size groups, suggesting there is local, natural recruitment. Evidence of natural VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:12 Jan 21, 2020 Jkt 250001 recruitment indicates that the western Grand Canyon aggregations could be an extension of the core Grand Canyon population, or potentially a second, reproducing population in the Colorado River. Since 2003, young humpback chub have been translocated from the Little Colorado River to tributaries in the Grand Canyon above natural barriers, such as chutes and waterfalls. Many of the translocated fish have either remained resident in new habitats or moved into the mainstem. Successful translocation efforts into Havasu Creek and upstream portions of the Little Colorado River have expanded the range of the species into new habitats. Translocated humpback chub have spawned in Havasu Creek, which increased the distribution of the humpback chub in the Grand Canyon population. Unfortunately, fish that were translocated into Shinumo Creek, a third site, were killed or displaced to the mainstem by a series of large, ashladen floods after a wildfire burned in the drainage. These translocation efforts demonstrate that given suitable, available habitats, humpback chub can establish residency and reproduce in new locations. Summary of the Lower Basin—The large population of humpback chub in the Grand Canyon, which includes a dense core population in the Little Colorado River, multiple downstream aggregations in the mainstem Colorado, and successful translocation efforts, indicates that resource conditions in the lower basin are of sufficient quality and quantity to support population resiliency. Individuals are reproducing in many of these broadly distributed areas, demonstrating that the species can complete its entire life history in multiple, diverse locations within the Grand Canyon. The humpback chub has many traits that enable individuals to be resilient in the face of environmental or demographic stochasticity, including a long life span, high reproductive potential, use of habitats and water quality that are arduous to other species, adaptation to a wide variety of flow and thermal regimes, and a variable omnivorous diet. Population resiliency is demonstrated by the persistence of small populations (Cataract Canyon), population increases after previous declines (Grand Canyon), population establishment after translocations (Havasu Creek), and potential stabilization after previous declines (Black Rocks and Westwater Canyon). In addition, the large, current population size of the Grand Canyon population PO 00000 Frm 00041 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 3591 buffers it from a variety of threats and environmental stochasticity. The current distribution of the humpback chub in five extant populations across the upper and lower basins provides redundancy, although at a low level. Existing populations in the upper basin are mostly independently susceptible to catastrophe because they are located in different river basins and are many miles apart. Black Rocks and Westwater Canyon are the only two populations in close proximity. In the lower basin, where we define only one extant population, the population is widespread. New locations of humpback chub are being discovered (western Grand Canyon) or established (Havasu Creek) in the lower basin, providing resiliency to the large Little Colorado River core area. Humpback chub populations also have adequate representation, as the multiple populations distributed across the range support the genetic diversity of the humpback chub. A preliminary technical report that is currently undergoing peer review recommends that genetic diversity of the species be managed as three units: Black Rocks & Westwater Canyon, Desolation and Gray Canyons and Cataract Canyons, and the Grand Canyon (Bohn et al. 2019, p. 8). These three units support the genetic diversity of the species and there is adequate exchange of individuals between populations in the upper basin. We predicted the resiliency, redundancy, and representation of the humpback chub under three plausible future scenarios. The future scenarios we used to evaluate the future condition of the humpback chub are summarized below and are discussed in greater detail in the SSA report (Service 2018b, pp. 134–135). Scenario 1 describes a reduction or elimination in current voluntary management actions for the species, but recognizes that conservation actions established under binding operational plans and agreements would continue; as such, Scenario 1 can be considered a future with reduced conservation actions. Scenarios 2 and 3 include the established management actions undertaken in Scenario 1, along with currently implemented voluntary management actions, and additional proactive and adaptive management actions that may be needed in the future; both Scenario 2 and 3 can be considered as futures with continued commitment to conservation actions. Scenario 2 and 3 differ in their confidence in the effectiveness of the conservation actions. Scenario 2 considers that implemented actions are not fully effective to mitigate impacts of E:\FR\FM\22JAP1.SGM 22JAP1 khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS 3592 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 14 / Wednesday, January 22, 2020 / Proposed Rules drought, future water development, nonnative fishes, or other threats, whereas Scenario 3 considers that implemented actions are sufficient to mitigate impacts of drought, future water development, nonnative fishes, and other threats. Scenarios 2 and 3 were developed to recognize the uncertainty concerning management actions’ ability to mitigate stressors impacting humpback chub, especially future water availability and presence of nonnative fish. We evaluated each of these scenarios in terms of how it would be expected to impact resiliency, redundancy, and representation of the species by the years 2034 and 2058 (16 and 40 years into the future). We selected the years 2034 and 2058 for our evaluation of future scenarios because they account for multiple generations of humpback chub. Under Scenario 1, conditions would severely degrade within both 16 and 40 years, primarily in the Upper Basin. However, if collaborative partnerships remain in place and their conservation actions are effective as described under Scenario 3, resource conditions improve at 16- and 40-year timeframes. Under Scenario 2, degradation of resources takes place, even as conservation actions continue, resulting in neutral conditions within 16 years, but poor conditions within 40 years. Although there is large uncertainty of resource conditions under Scenario 2 at 40 years, extrapolation of the conditions demonstrates a continuing decline in resource conditions. The potential extirpation of multiple populations could most likely occur in the upper basin under the short 16-year timeframe in Scenario 1 and the longer 40-year timeframe under Scenario 2. Under Scenario 3, ongoing threat management proves successful in the long term, improving resource conditions. The health (resiliency) and distribution (redundancy) of all five extant populations reduces the risk from a potential catastrophic event under Scenario 3. Based on the uncertain trajectory of several of the upper basin populations; the uncertainty associated with certain resource conditions, including nonnative fish, river flow, and food supply in the Grand Canyon; and the unresolved future of the Upper Basin Recovery Program, the future conditions for the populations and overall species viability is at increased risk and could decline within 40 years under Scenarios 1 and 2. Future conditions would only improve under Scenario 3 if long-term management actions are successful. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:12 Jan 21, 2020 Jkt 250001 The SSA report (Service 2018b, entire) contains a more detailed discussion of our evaluation of the biological status of the humpback chub and the influences that may affect its continued existence. Our evaluations are based upon the best available scientific and commercial data. Recovery Planning and Recovery Criteria Section 4(f) of the Act directs us to develop and implement recovery plans for the conservation and survival of endangered and threatened species unless we determine that such a plan will not promote the conservation of the species. Under section 4(f)(1)(B)(ii), recovery plans must, to the maximum extent practicable, include ‘‘objective, measurable criteria which, when met, would result in a determination, in accordance with the provisions of [section 4 of the Act], that the species be removed from the list.’’ However, revisions to the Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants (adding, removing, or reclassifying a species) must be based on determinations made in accordance with sections 4(a)(1) and 4(b) of the Act. Section 4(a)(1) requires that the Secretary determine whether a species is endangered or threatened (or not) because of one or more of five threat factors. Section 4(b) of the Act requires that the determination be made ‘‘solely on the basis of the best scientific and commercial data available.’’ While recovery plans provide important guidance to the Service, States, and other partners on methods of enhancing conservation and minimizing threats to listed species, as well as measurable criteria against which to measure progress towards recovery, they are not regulatory documents and cannot substitute for the determinations and promulgation of regulations required under section 4(a)(1) of the Act. A decision to revise the status of a species on, or to remove a species from, the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife (50 CFR 17.11) is ultimately based on an analysis of the best scientific and commercial data then available to determine whether a species is no longer an endangered species or a threatened species, regardless of whether that information differs from the recovery plan. Below, we summarize recovery planning efforts for the humpback chub for informational purposes only. We published the first recovery plan for the humpback chub in 1979, and published an updated plan in 1990. Many of the recovery actions in the first two recovery plans included assessing species needs, clarifying taxonomic PO 00000 Frm 00042 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 status, defining humpback chub populations, and establishing monitoring programs in order to more fully understand the status and needs of the species (Service 1979; Service 1990). In 2002, the humpback chub recovery goals supplemented and amended the 1990 recovery plan, and provided objective and measurable demographic criteria and recommendations for sitespecific management actions needed for recovery (Service 2002). The six populations described in this proposed rule and the SSA report, including the now extirpated Dinosaur National Monument, were considered extant in the 2002 recovery goals. Today, five populations are extant and the Dinosaur National Monument population is considered extirpated. Furthermore, when the recovery goals were approved, a minimum viable population (MVP) was estimated to be at least 2,100 adults. When the 2002 recovery goals were published, robust mark/recapture population monitoring efforts had just begun in the upper basin. The recovery goals include the following demographic reclassification criteria (summarized for brevity): Downlisting could occur if, over a 5year period, all of the following criteria are met: Criterion 1: Adult abundances for each of the six populations does not decline significantly. Criterion 2: Natural mean recruitment equals or exceeds mean adult mortality in each of the six populations. Criterion 3: Two core populations exist that exceed 2,100 adults. Criterion 4: Site-specific management actions are identified, developed, and implemented. For downlisting criterion 4, the recovery goals described the following management actions needed to support the species (summarized for brevity): (1) Provide, and legally protect, habitat and flow regimes. (2) Investigate the mainstem Colorado River’s role in the Grand Canyon population. (3) Investigate warmer water temperatures in the mainstem Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. (4) Ensure adequate protection from overutilization. (5) Ensure adequate protection from diseases and parasites. (6) Regulate nonnative fish releases and escapement. (7) Control problematic nonnative fishes as needed. (8) Minimize the risk of increased hybridization among Gila spp. (9) Minimize the risk of hazardousmaterials spills in critical habitat. (10) Provide for the long-term management and protection of E:\FR\FM\22JAP1.SGM 22JAP1 khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 14 / Wednesday, January 22, 2020 / Proposed Rules populations and their habitats if the species were delisted. (11) The recovery goals further describe that delisting could occur if, 3 years after the downlisting criteria are met, downlisting criteria 1, 2, and 4 continue to be met (described above), and a third core population is added under downlisting criterion 3. The current status of the humpback chub partially meets the 2002 recovery criteria. Although five of the extant populations of humpback chub have not declined significantly over the past decade, criterion 1 has not been fully met because the adult population of Dinosaur National Monument declined and the population is now considered extirpated. Criterion 2 has been partially met in the five extant populations, as those populations are largely stable over the past decade, but not in the extirpated Dinosaur National Monument population. Criterion 3 is met for downlisting, because the Little Colorado River core area in the Grand Canyon population contain approximately 11,500 adults (Service 2018b, p. 77) and the most recent preliminary estimate for Westwater Canyon is a mean of approximately 2,800 adults in 2016 and 2017 (Hines 2018, p. 12). Criterion 3 is not met for delisting because the next largest population, Desolation and Gray Canyons, was last estimated as approximately 1,700 adults in 2015 (Howard and Caldwell 2018, p. 18). Regarding the first and second recovery criteria, we now expect that a 5-year period may not be adequate to consider the demographic variability of humpback chub populations resulting from substantial environmental variability in the Colorado River ecosystem. Humpback chub evolved in and are adapted to a highly variable ecosystem with fluctuating levels of drought and flood. Consequently, the life history of the species is one in which reproductive success and mortality rates can fluctuate greatly from year to year. Certainly, over longterm time frames, the species needs a stable adult population and adequate recruitment, but these conditions are not likely to occur every year. Consequently, recovery criteria specifying little to no change in demographics for a five year period may not be appropriate for the species. Regarding downlisting criterion 3, the MVP was established without considering each individual population’s characteristics, such as river-miles and resource conditions. For example, the core Little Colorado River area in the Grand Canyon population currently supports as many as 5 times the MVP, with additional humpback VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:12 Jan 21, 2020 Jkt 250001 chub residing in other areas. Other habitats, such as Cataract Canyon, likely could not support the MVP. This demonstrates that considering each population’s resources and conditions is a more useful tool than considering one single MVP. Finally, regarding downlisting criterion 4, a number of the management actions have been achieved, such as items (2), (3), and (6); a number of the actions are ongoing and still needed, such as items (1), (7), and (10); and a number of the actions are no longer considered needed for the species, such as items (4), (5), (8), and (9). Based on the updated scientific knowledge of humpback chub, the 2002 recovery goals should be reviewed and updated. As such, the 2018, 5-year review of the status of the species recommended revising the 2002 recovery goals to incorporate new information about the species. We expect to revise the recovery plan for humpback chub when this rulemaking process is complete. Determination of Humpback Chub Status Section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533) and its implementing regulations (50 CFR part 424) set forth the procedures for determining whether a species meets the definition of ‘‘endangered species’’ or ‘‘threatened species.’’ The Act defines an ‘‘endangered species’’ as a species that is ‘‘in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range,’’ and a ‘‘threatened species’’ as a species that is ‘‘likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.’’ The Act requires that we determine whether a species meets the definition of ‘‘endangered species’’ or ‘‘threatened species’’ because of any of the following 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. Status Throughout All of Its Range After evaluating threats to the species and assessing the cumulative effect of the threats under the section 4(a)(1) factors, we identified changes to water flow and temperature (Factor A), food availability (Factor A), and predatory, nonnative fish (Factor C) as potential stressors to the humpback chub (Service 2018b, pp. 126–133). There is no evidence that overutilization (Factor B) PO 00000 Frm 00043 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 3593 of humpback chub, disease (Factor C), or other natural and manmade factors affecting the species (Factor E) are occurring. Existing regulatory mechanisms (Factor D) are discussed below. We evaluated each potential stressor, including its source, affected resources, exposure, immediacy, geographic scope, magnitude, and impacts on individuals and populations, and our level of certainty regarding this information, to determine which stressors were likely to be drivers of the species’ current and future conditions (Service 2018b, pp. 126–133). We also evaluated the effects of stressors that may operate cumulatively, such as low river flows and warm water temperatures that may act cumulatively to increase predation by nonnative predators. We note that by using the SSA framework to guide our analysis of the scientific information documented in the SSA report, we have not only analyzed individual effects on the species, but we have also analyzed their potential cumulative effects. We incorporate the cumulative effects into our analysis when we characterize the current and future condition of the species. Our assessment of the current and future conditions encompasses and incorporates the threats individually and cumulatively. Our current and future condition assessment is iterative because it accumulates and evaluates the effects of all the factors that may be influencing the species, including threats and conservation efforts. Because the SSA framework considers not just the presence of the factors, but to what degree they collectively influence risk to the entire species, our assessment integrates the cumulative effects of the factors and replaces a standalone cumulative effects analysis. Our analysis found that the primary drivers for the humpback chub’s current and future condition are diminishing river flow, increasing water temperature, expanding populations of nonnative fish, and food availability in the Grand Canyon. Low river flows and warm water temperatures may also act cumulatively to increase predation by nonnative predators. We summarize these stressors below, with more detail provided in the SSA report (Service 2018b, pp. 126–133). River flow and temperature—The presence and operation of large dams alter suitable river flow and temperatures. Historical dam operations did not always provide river flow conditions that supported humpback chub, but recent modifications to operations have reduced some impacts from the presence of dams. We E:\FR\FM\22JAP1.SGM 22JAP1 khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS 3594 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 14 / Wednesday, January 22, 2020 / Proposed Rules evaluated how the effects of global climate change could impact river flows and water temperatures using hydroclimate projections of future water resources in the Colorado River basin. Hydroclimate projections predict that decreased warm-season runoff will reduce river flows, primarily from increased frequency and severity of drought, which further result in warmer water temperatures (U.S. Bureau of Reclamation 2016, i–ii). Warmer, lower flows in the upper basin increase the risk of nonnative fish species impacting humpback chub populations. Warmer releases from Lake Powell could also impact abundance and distribution of nonnative fish in the Grand Canyon. However, current river flow conditions and temperatures are largely adequate for humpback chub in both basins because reservoir operations have had the flexibility and commitment to support humpback chub when making dam releases. Future conditions of river flow and temperature are uncertain because conditions are shaped by regional climatic patterns and water availability, and regulated by the operation of large dams. Food availability—Humpback chub require an adequate and reliable food supply, which can consist of a variety of insects, crustaceans, and plants. Food is supplied by the instream production of invertebrates, insect emergences, and floods laden with debris. In the upper basin, food supply has not been measured, but is not believed to be a limiting factor. Conversely, below Glen Canyon Dam in the lower basin, the condition of the humpback chub populations has decreased due to low aquatic insect diversity and declining stream productivity. It is unclear if management could improve food availability below the Glen Canyon Dam, but altered release patterns from the dam could potentially increase instream production of food resources for humpback chub. Predation—Predation and competition by nonnative fish are stressors to humpback chub in both the upper and lower basins. Because of the species’ slow growth and late sexual maturity, juvenile humpback chub are vulnerable to predation from predatory, nonnative fish during the first few years of life. Nonnative fish can also compete for resources with adult humpback chub, reducing the species breeding, feeding, and sheltering. The humpback chub evolved in an environment relatively free of predators and competitors. Therefore, it is ill-adapted to living with the many nonnative fish that have been introduced into the Colorado River basin because it is a soft- VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:12 Jan 21, 2020 Jkt 250001 rayed fish with no defense mechanisms for protection from predators. Although the species has no natural defense mechanisms, the habitats occupied by humpback chub may limit impacts from nonnative species because of the more arduous hydrological conditions of canyons. Predation from nonnative fish may also increase when warm water temperatures act cumulatively with low flows. Predation from nonnative fish, particularly smallmouth bass in the upper basin, is a potential threat to the viability of humpback chub. Currently, through active flow management and nonnative predator removal, nonnative predators are not limiting four of the five extant humpback chub populations, but are moderately impacting two (one extant and one extirpated) populations. Although current resource conditions are acceptable in the upper basin, the risk for substantial and rapid degradation is present. In the lower basin, current densities of nonnative predators are low, and management actions are in place to prevent establishment of new species. However, recent increases in brown trout density in the Lees Ferry reach of the Colorado River and the discovery of green sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus) immediately below Glen Canyon Dam demonstrate that risks do exist in the lower basin, primarily related to operations of Glen Canyon Dam and escapement from Lake Powell. Lower elevations of Lake Powell enhance risk of nonnative predator establishment in the Grand Canyon via increased risk of fish escaping through Glen Canyon Dam and warmer water releases that support nonnative predators. All upper basin humpback chub populations have dense nonnative predator populations nearby, but only one of the four extant populations and the site of the extirpated population currently undergo periodic increases in densities of nonnative predators within humpback chub habitats. Those two populations, Dinosaur National Monument (extirpated) and Desolation and Gray Canyons (extant), experience periodic fluctuations in smallmouth bass density, demonstrating the latent risk. If environmental conditions change, such as reduced river flow or increased water temperature from longterm drought, nearby populations of nonnative predators could rapidly colonize upper basin humpback chub habitats. Similarly, if management of nonnative predators is reduced or eliminated, nonnative predators could rapidly colonize humpback chub habitats. Smallmouth bass colonization of multiple humpback chub populations PO 00000 Frm 00044 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 would significantly decrease the viability of the species, especially in the upper basin. Therefore, although current resource conditions related to nonnative predatory fish are acceptable, there is risk associated with predators in the future. Regulatory mechanisms—Regulatory mechanisms (Factor D) and other management efforts benefit the humpback chub. Most resources affecting humpback chub are strictly regulated through Federal, State, and tribal mechanisms. The humpback chub’s canyon habitats are largely protected by Federal, State, and tribal land ownership, and humans primarily use humpback chub habitats for recreation. Releases from large dams, primarily operated by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, are now operated to promote river function and fish habitat under binding operational and management plans described in the Records of Decision for the Aspinall Unit (U.S. Bureau of Reclamation 2012, pp. 1), Flaming Gorge Dam (US Bureau of Reclamation 2006, pp. 1–2), and Glen Canyon Dam (U.S. Department of the Interior 2016, pp. 1–2). Water use and delivery in the Colorado River basin is strictly regulated under existing Federal, State, and tribal laws commonly referred to as the ‘‘Law of the River’’, including, but not limited to, the Colorado River Compact of 1922, the Upper Colorado River Basin Compact of 1948, the Colorado River Storage Project Act of 1956, the Colorado River Basin Project Act of 1968, and individual state and tribal statutes that regulate water appropriation. The Upper Basin Recovery Program coordinates and implements the majority of management actions for the four extant and one extirpated upper basin populations, while the Glen Canyon Dam AMP undertakes management actions for the mainstem Colorado River in the lower basin. These programs are considered regulatory mechanisms because they are authorized through or comply with Federal legislation. The Upper Basin Recovery Program was authorized under Public Law 106–392 and has been renewed on a periodic basis by acts of Congress. The Glen Canyon Dam AMP was established under the Record of Decision to operate Glen Canyon Dam needed to comply with the Grand Canyon Protection Act of 1992 (U.S. Bureau of Reclamation 1996, pp. G–3 to G–4). Commitment to management actions for the benefit of humpback chub is strong among the various partnerships; nevertheless, uncertainty of continued implementation does exist. For E:\FR\FM\22JAP1.SGM 22JAP1 khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 14 / Wednesday, January 22, 2020 / Proposed Rules example, the cooperative agreement establishing the Upper Basin Recovery Program expires in 2023. Elimination of the Upper Basin Recovery Program would introduce severe uncertainty about continued implementation of important management actions for humpback chub in the upper basin. In the lower basin, the Long-Term Experimental and Management Plan and other legally binding mechanisms provide more certainty for humpback chub conservation actions, but additional adaptive actions are still likely needed to respond to changing resource conditions (Service 2018b, pp. 12–14). The Upper Basin Recovery Program and Glen Canyon Dam AMP are key regulatory mechanisms that shape the current and future condition of humpback chub. Both programs implement management actions that benefit all resource needs of the humpback chub. For example, both programs provide adequate habitat conditions by managing river flow and water temperature and by managing nonnative fish species. Although it is likely that both programs will continue to implement management actions, there is uncertainty regarding the status of the Upper Basin Recovery Program over the next 16 to 40 years. Currently, resource conditions are adequate and support a large, stable population in the lower basin and multiple persistent populations in the upper basin. Although the current risk of extinction is low, there is enough risk associated with the potential loss of important management actions such that the species is vulnerable and likely to become endangered throughout all of its range within the foreseeable future. We find that endangered species status is not appropriate for the humpback chub because the species currently demonstrates sufficient individual and population resiliency, redundancy, and representation across both the upper basin and lower basin populations, such that the potential extirpation of multiple populations is not likely to occur now or in the short term. The current resiliency of the large core population in the lower basin and the current resiliency and redundancy of the four populations in the upper basin decrease the risk to the species from stochastic and catastrophic events, such that the species currently has a low risk of extinction. Therefore, the risk of extinction is currently low, and therefore the species is not in danger of extinction. Thus, after assessing the best available information, we conclude that the humpback chub is not currently in VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:12 Jan 21, 2020 Jkt 250001 danger of extinction, but is likely to become in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future throughout all of its range. Status Throughout a Significant Portion of Its Range Under the Act and our implementing regulations, a species may warrant listing if it is in danger of extinction or likely to become so in the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range. Because we have determined that the humpback chub is likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all of its range, we find it unnecessary to proceed to an evaluation of potentially significant portions of the range. Where the best available information allows the Services to determine a status for the species rangewide, that determination should be given conclusive weight because a rangewide determination of status more accurately reflects the species’ degree of imperilment and better promotes the purposes of the Act. Under this reading, we should first consider whether the species warrants listing ‘‘throughout all’’ of its range and proceed to conduct a ‘‘significant portion of its range’’ analysis if, and only if, a species does not qualify for listing as either an endangered or a threatened species according to the ‘‘throughout all’’ language. We note that the court in Desert Survivors v. Department of the Interior, No. 16–cv–01165–JCS, 2018 WL 4053447 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 24, 2018), did not address this issue, and our conclusion is therefore consistent with the opinion in that case. Determination of Status Our review of the best available scientific and commercial information indicates that the humpback chub meets the definition of a threatened species. Therefore, we propose to reclassify the humpback chub as a threatened species in accordance with sections 3(20) and 4(a)(1) of the Act. Proposed 4(d) Rule Background Section 4(d) of the Act states that the ‘‘Secretary shall issue such regulations as he deems necessary and advisable to provide for the conservation’’ of species listed as threatened. The U.S. Supreme Court has noted that very similar statutory language demonstrates a large degree of deference to the agency (see Webster v. Doe, 486 U.S. 592 (1988)). Conservation is defined in the Act to mean ‘‘the use of all methods and procedures which are necessary to bring any endangered species or threatened PO 00000 Frm 00045 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 3595 species to the point at which the measures provided pursuant to [the Act] are no longer necessary.’’ Additionally, section 4(d) of the Act states that the Secretary ‘‘may by regulation prohibit with respect to any threatened species any act prohibited under section 9(a)(1), in the case of fish or wildlife, or section 9(a)(2), in the case of plants.’’ Thus, regulations promulgated under section 4(d) of the Act provide the Secretary with wide latitude of discretion to select appropriate provisions tailored to the specific conservation needs of the threatened species. The statute grants particularly broad discretion to the Service when adopting the prohibitions under section 9. The courts have recognized the extent of the Secretary’s discretion under this standard to develop rules that are appropriate for the conservation of a species. For example, courts have approved rules developed under section 4(d) that include a taking prohibition for threatened wildlife, or include a limited taking prohibition (see Alsea Valley Alliance v. Lautenbacher, 2007 U.S. Dist. Lexis 60203 (D. Or. 2007); Washington Environmental Council v. National Marine Fisheries Service, 2002 U.S. Dist. Lexis 5432 (W.D. Wash. 2002)). Courts have also approved 4(d) rules that do not address all of the threats a species faces (see State of Louisiana v. Verity, 853 F.2d 322 (5th Cir. 1988)). As noted in the legislative history when the Act was initially enacted, ‘‘once an animal is on the threatened list, the Secretary has an almost infinite number of options available to him with regard to the permitted activities for those species. He may, for example, permit taking, but not importation of such species or he may choose to forbid both taking and importation but allow the transportation of such species’’ (H.R. Rep. No. 412, 93rd Cong., 1st Sess. 1973). The Service has developed a speciesspecific 4(d) rule that is designed to address the humpback chub’s specific threats and conservation needs. Although the statute does not require the Service to make a ‘‘necessary and advisable’’ finding with respect to the adoption of specific prohibitions under section 9, we find that this regulation is necessary and advisable to provide for the conservation of the humpback chub. As discussed in the Summary of Biological Status and Threats section, the Service has concluded that the humpback chub is at risk of extinction within the foreseeable future primarily due to changes to water flow and temperature, food availability, and predatory, non-native fish. The provisions of this proposed 4(d) rule E:\FR\FM\22JAP1.SGM 22JAP1 khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS 3596 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 14 / Wednesday, January 22, 2020 / Proposed Rules would promote the conservation of the humpback chub by providing continued protection from take and to facilitate the expansion of the species’ range by increasing flexibility in management activities. The provisions of this rule are one of many tools that the Service will use to promote the conservation of the humpback chub. This proposed 4(d) rule would apply only if and when the Service makes final the listing of the humpback chub as a threatened species. activity in question; using methods and techniques that result in the least harm, injury, or death, as feasible; undertaking activities at the least impactful times and locations, as feasible; ensuring the number of individuals removed or sampled minimally impacts existing extant wild population; ensuring no disease or parasites are introduced into existing extant wild humpback chub populations; and preserving the genetic diversity of extant wild populations. Provisions of the Proposed 4(d) Rule This proposed 4(d) rule would provide for the conservation of the humpback chub by prohibiting the following activities, except as otherwise authorized or permitted: Importing or exporting; possession and other acts with unlawfully taken specimens; delivering, receiving, transporting, or shipping in interstate or foreign commerce in the course of commercial activity; or selling or offering for sale in interstate or foreign commerce. This proposed 4(d) rule includes actions to facilitate conservation and management of humpback chub where they currently occur, and may occur in the future, by eliminating the Act’s take prohibition for certain activities. These activities are intended to encourage support for the conservation of humpback chub. Under this proposed 4(d) rule, take will continue to be prohibited, except for the following forms of take that would be excepted under the Act: • Take resulting from creating and maintaining humpback chub refuge populations; • Take resulting from expanding the range of the species, including translocating wild fish and stocking hatchery-reared fish; • Incidental take from reducing or eliminating nonnative fish from habitats adjacent to, or occupied by, humpback chub; • Take resulting from catch-andrelease angling activities associated with humpback chub, including incidental take from non-humpback chub-targeted angling in the six core populations and take from humpback chub-targeted angling in any newly established areas; and • Take associated with chemical treatments in support of the recovery of humpback chub. Under this proposed 4(d) rule, take resulting from these activities would not be prohibited as long as reasonable care is practiced to minimize the effects of such taking. Reasonable care includes limiting the impacts to humpback chub individuals and populations by complying with all applicable Federal, State, and tribal regulations for the Creation and Maintenance of Refuge Populations Establishing and maintaining humpback chub refuge populations is an important consideration for longterm humpback chub viability because refuge populations safeguard genetic diversity against catastrophic declines in wild populations and can be necessary to protect a population from extirpation. In the case of declining wild populations, refuge populations provide the flexibility to perform supplemental stocking into existing populations or reintroduction of individuals to extirpated areas. Refuge populations may also allow for stocking of individuals into new areas that expand the range of the species (see Translocation or Stocking of Humpback Chub, below). The process of establishing and supplementing refuge populations requires take in the form of collection of wild individuals of various life stages. Furthermore, the long-term care and maintenance of refuge populations will result in take, including death of individuals held in captivity. However, preservation of genetic diversity in refuge populations outweighs any losses to wild populations if performed in a deliberate, well-designed process. Currently, some, but not all, of the genetic diversity of humpback chub exists in captive refuge populations. Approximately 1,000 individuals from the Grand Canyon population are managed as a refuge population at the Southwestern Native Aquatic Resources and Recovery Center (SNARRC) in Dexter, New Mexico; additionally, a small number of adults from the Black Rocks population reside at the Horsethief ponds near Grand Junction, Colorado. In order to preserve the full breath of genetic diversity of humpback chub, creation of additional refuge populations could be suggested in the revised humpback chub recovery plan, by the Service, or in other proceedings, such as section 7 consultations between the Service and Federal agencies. We expect to revise the recovery plan for humpback chub when this rulemaking process is complete. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:12 Jan 21, 2020 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00046 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 This proposed 4(d) rule describes creation and maintenance of humpback chub refuge populations excepted from take as activities undertaken for the long-term protection of humpback chub genetic diversity. Refuge populations must include specific genetic groupings of humpback chub as defined by the best available science and must be managed to maintain the genetic diversity of the species. Refuge populations can occur at both captive and wild locations. The Service must approve in writing the designation of a refuge population, and any removal of individuals from wild populations. Subsequent to those approvals, under this proposed 4(d) rule, the Service would no longer regulate the take associated with maintenance of that population. Take associated with refuge populations could include harvest of wild individuals from extant populations; incidental take during the long-term care of individuals in captivity; take related to disease, parasite, genetic assessment, and management of captive populations; and natural mortality of individuals existing in refuge populations. Translocation and Stocking of Humpback Chub Translocating wild humpback chub and stocking hatchery-reared humpback are important management actions supporting the long-term viability of the species. Introducing individuals into new areas can provide increased redundancy and decreased risk to catastrophic events by expanding the range of the species. Introducing individuals into wild populations can provide increased resiliency for extant populations by potentially offsetting population declines or increasing genetic diversity. The process of translocating wild individuals can result in take to wild individuals, including possible mortality to fish that are moved. The process of culturing and stocking individuals can also result in take via hatchery methods or incidental mortality of stocked individuals. However, if the translocation or stocking program is performed under a deliberate, well-designed program, the benefits to the species can greatly outweigh the losses. Translocations of wild humpback to new locations have demonstrated success in the Grand Canyon. Between 2003 and 2015, juvenile humpback chub were translocated from the Little Colorado River to Shinumo Creek, Havasu Creek, and the Little Colorado River above Chute Falls. At all three locations, translocated fish established E:\FR\FM\22JAP1.SGM 22JAP1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 14 / Wednesday, January 22, 2020 / Proposed Rules khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS residency, increasing the range of the species (although the Shinumo Creek population was later extirpated via ashladen floods following a wildfire). The Havasu Creek population also demonstrated wild reproduction and recruitment, further supporting the management action of translocations for expanding the range of the humpback chub. Based on these successes, translocation appears to be a possible tool to reintroduce individuals into the Dinosaur National Monument population or to expand the range of humpback chub into other areas. Currently, humpback chub are not cultured in hatcheries, nor are any broodstock fish maintained at a hatchery. However, in the future, hatchery production and culture may be a necessary tool either to supplement existing populations or to introduce individuals to new locations without harvesting wild fish. This proposed 4(d) rule describes translocation and stocking of humpback chub excepted from take as any activity undertaken to expand the range of humpback chub or to supplement existing wild populations. Take from translocation could include harvest and movement of wild individuals from extant populations to new areas and subsequent mortality of fish in new locations. Any translocation program must be approved in writing by the Service. Take from stocking programs could include take during the long-term care of individuals in captivity; take related to disease, parasite, genetic assessment, and management of captive populations while they are in captivity; and take from stocking, including subsequent mortality of stocked individuals. Any harvest of wild fish to support a stocking program must comply with the conditions described above under Creation and Maintenance of Refuge Populations. Any stocking of humpback must follow best hatchery and fishery management practices as described in the American Fisheries Society’s Fish Hatchery Management (Wedemeyer 2002, entire) and be approved by the Service. Any stocking of individuals outside the six core populations must comply with State stocking regulations. Nonnative Fish Removal Control of nonnative fishes is vital for the continued recovery of humpback chub because predatory, nonnative fishes are a principal threat to humpback chub (see Summary of Biological Status and Threats, above). Removal of nonnative fishes reduces predation and competition pressure on humpback chub, increasing humpback VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:12 Jan 21, 2020 Jkt 250001 chub survival, recruitment, and access to resources. During the course of removing nonnative fishes, take of humpback chub may occur from incidental captures resulting in capture, handling, injury, or possible mortality. However, nonnative removal activities in humpback chub habitats are designed to be selective, allowing for the removal of predatory, nonnative fish while humpback chub are returned safely to the river. Therefore, if nonnative fish removal is performed under deliberate, well-designed programs, the benefits to humpback chub can greatly outweigh losses. Currently, active nonnative fish removal is widespread in the upper basin, but is less common in the lower basin. Control of nonnative fishes is conducted by qualified personnel in the upper basin via mechanical removal using boat-mounted electrofishing, nets, and seines, primarily focusing on removal of smallmouth bass, northern pike (Esox lucius), and walleye (Sander vitreus). Removal of nonnative fishes in the upper basin is performed under strict standardized protocols to limit impacts to humpback chub. In the lower basin, nonnative fish actions primarily focus on preventing establishment of new species (such as removal of green sunfish below Glen Canyon Dam) and controlling populations of trout in tributary habitats (such as removal of brown trout in Bright Angel Creek). New techniques, as available and feasible, may also need to be implemented in the future. This proposed 4(d) rule describes nonnative fish removal excepted from take prohibitions as any action with the primary or secondary purpose of mechanically removing nonnative fishes that compete with, predate, or degrade the habitat of humpback chub, and that is approved in writing by the Service for that purpose. These methods include mechanical removal within occupied humpback chub habitats, including, but not limited to, electrofishing, seining, netting, and angling, or other ecosystem modifications such as altered flow regimes or habitat modifications. All methods must be conducted by qualified personnel and used in compliance with applicable Federal, State, and tribal regulations. Whenever possible, humpback chub that are caught alive as part of nonnative fish removal should be returned to their capture location as quickly as possible. Catch-and-Release Angling of Humpback Chub Recreational angling is an important consideration for management of all fisheries, as recreational angling is the PO 00000 Frm 00047 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 3597 primary mechanism by which the public interacts with fishes. Furthermore, angling regulations are an important communication tool. While the humpback chub is not currently a species that is prized for its recreational or commercial value, the species is a large-bodied, catchable-sized fish that could offer potential recreational value in certain situations. Conservation value from public support for humpback chub could arise through newly established fishing locations and public engagement with this species. Furthermore, anglers do target species that co-occur with humpback chub at some locations. As a result, otherwise legal angling activity in humpback chub habitats could result in the unintentional catch of humpback chub by the angling public. Catch-andrelease angling, both intentional and incidental, can result in take of humpback chub through handling, injury, and potential mortality. However, the conservation support that angling provides can outweigh losses to humpback chub, if the angling program is designed appropriately. Currently, State angling regulations require the release of all incidental catches of humpback chub and do not allow anglers to target the species. Therefore, current angling regulations for humpback chub by the States of Arizona, Colorado, and Utah demonstrate a willingness to enact appropriate regulations for the protection of the humpback chub. It is important to continue to protect humpback chub from intentional angling pressure in the six core populations (five extant and one extirpated) because of their importance to the recovery of the species. These populations, as described in Tables 1 and 7 of the SSA report, are Desolation and Gray Canyons (Green River, Utah), Dinosaur National Monument (Green and Yampa rivers, Colorado and Utah), Black Rocks (Colorado River, Colorado), Westwater Canyon (Colorado River, Utah), Cataract Canyon (Colorado River, Utah), and Grand Canyon (Colorado and Little Colorado rivers, Arizona). Supporting recreational fishing access to these areas for species other than humpback chub is an important economic consideration for State and tribal entities. We propose to allow incidental take of humpback chub from angling activities that are in accordance with State and tribal fishing regulations in the six core humpback chub populations, but that do not target humpback chub. That is, incidental take associated with incidental catch-andrelease of humpback chub in the core populations would not be prohibited. E:\FR\FM\22JAP1.SGM 22JAP1 khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS 3598 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 14 / Wednesday, January 22, 2020 / Proposed Rules Reasonable consideration by the States and tribes for incidental catch of humpback chub in the six core populations include: (1) Regulating tactics to minimize potential injury and death to humpback chub if caught; (2) communicating the potential for catching humpback chub in these areas; and (3) promoting the importance of the six core populations. Outside of the six core populations, we foresee that Federal, State, or tribal governments may want to establish a new recovery location where humpback chub could be targeted for catch-andrelease angling or a new location without recovery value, where the sole purpose is recreational angling for humpback chub. Newly established locations could offer a genetic refuge for core populations of humpback chub (see Creation and Maintenance of Refuge Populations, above), provide a location for hatchery-reared fish (see Translocation and Stocking of Humpback Chub, above), and offer the public a chance to interact with the species in the wild. Therefore, we propose to allow take of humpback chub from catch-and-release angling activities that target humpback chub and are in accordance with State and tribal fishing regulations in areas outside of the six core humpback chub populations. Sport fishing for humpback chub would only be allowed through the 4(d) rule and subsequent State or tribal regulations created in collaboration with the Service. This rule would allow recreational catch-and-release fishing of humpback chub in specified waters, not including the six core populations. Management as a recreational species would be conducted after completion of, and consistent with the goals within, a revised recovery plan for the species. The principal effect of this 4(d) rule would be to allow take in accordance with fishing regulations enacted by States or tribes, in collaboration with the Service. Recreational opportunities may be developed by the States and tribes in new waters following careful consideration of the locations and impacts to the species. Reasonable consideration for establishing new recreational locations for humpback chub include, but are not limited to: (1) Carefully evaluating each water body and determining whether the water body can sustain angling; (2) ensuring the population does not detrimentally impact core populations of humpback chub through such factors as disease or genetic drift; (3) ensuring adequate availability of humpback chub to support angling; and (4) monitoring to ensure there are no detrimental effects VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:12 Jan 21, 2020 Jkt 250001 to the population from angling. If monitoring indicates that angling has a negative effect on the conservation of humpback chub in the opinion of the Service, the fishing regulations must be amended or the fishery could be closed by the appropriate State. Chemical Treatments Supporting Humpback Chub Chemical treatments of water bodies are an important fisheries management tool because they are the principal method used to remove all fishes from a defined area. That is, chemical treatments provide more certainty of complete removal than other methods, such as mechanical removal. Therefore, chemical treatments are used for a variety of restoration and conservation purposes, such as preparing areas for stocking efforts, preventing nonnative fishes from colonizing downstream areas, and resetting locations after failed management efforts. Chemical treatments of water bodies could take humpback chub if individuals reside in the locations that are treated and cannot be salvaged completely prior to treatment. However, the overall benefit of conservation actions implemented using chemical treatment can outweigh the losses of humpback chub, if careful planning is taken prior to treatments. Chemical piscicides (chemicals that are poisonous to fish) have been used in the upper and lower basin to remove upstream sources of nonnative fishes in support of humpback chub. For example, Red Fleet Reservoir (Green River, Utah) was treated by Utah Division of Wildlife Resources to remove walleye that were escaping downstream, and a slough downstream of Glen Canyon Dam (Colorado River, Arizona) was treated by the National Park Service to remove green sunfish before they could invade humpback chub habitat. At Red Fleet Reservoir, chemical treatment also provided the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources with the ability to establish a new fish community that supported angling interests and provided greater compatibility with downstream conservation efforts. Chemical treatments could support a variety of activities to assist in the conservation of humpback chub, including certain other actions described in this proposed 4(d) rule. For example, chemical treatments could be used prior to introducing humpback chub to a wild refuge population, a translocation site, or a sport fishing location. Nonnative fishes can also be removed using chemical treatments, providing a faster and more complete removal than mechanical removal. PO 00000 Frm 00048 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Furthermore, chemical treatments offer the ability to fully restore a location after a failed introduction effort. For example, if humpback chub were stocked into a new area, but did not successfully establish, landowners may want to restore this location for another purpose. Chemical treatments would be allowed under this proposed 4(d) rule. Necessary precautions and planning should be applied to avoid impacts to humpback chub. For example, treatments upstream of occupied humpback chub habitats should adhere to all protocols to limit the potential for fish toxicants and piscicides travelling beyond treatment boundaries. Chemical treatments that take place in locations where humpback chub occur, or may occur, must take place only after a robust salvage effort takes place to remove humpback chub in the area. Whenever possible, humpback chub that are salvaged should be moved to a location that supports recovery of the species. Any chemical treatment that takes place in an area where humpback chub may reside would need written approval from the Service, but treatments of unoccupied habitat would not need to be approved. Once the location of a chemical treatment is approved in writing by the Service, the take of humpback chub by qualified personnel associated with performing a chemical treatment would not be regulated by the Service. Reporting and Disposal of Humpback Chub Under the proposed 4(d) rule, if humpback chub are killed during actions described in the 4(d) rule, the Service must be notified of the death and may request to take possession of the animal. Notification should be given to the appropriate Regional Law Enforcement Office Service or associated management office. Information on the offices to contact is set forth under Proposed Regulation Promulgation, below. Law enforcement offices must be notified within 72 hours of the death, unless special conditions warrant an extension. The Service may allow additional reasonable time for reporting if access to these offices is limited due to closure or if the activity was conducted in area without sufficient communication access. Permits We may issue permits to carry out otherwise prohibited activities, including those described above, involving threatened wildlife under certain circumstances. Regulations governing permits are codified at 50 E:\FR\FM\22JAP1.SGM 22JAP1 khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 14 / Wednesday, January 22, 2020 / Proposed Rules 3599 CFR 17.32. With regard to threatened wildlife, a permit may be issued for the following purposes: scientific purposes, to enhance propagation or survival, for economic hardship, for zoological exhibition, for educational purposes, for incidental taking, or for special purposes consistent with the purposes of the Act. There are also certain statutory exemptions from the prohibitions, which are found in sections 9 and 10 of the Act. This proposed 4(d) rule would not impact existing or future permits issued by the Service for take of humpback chub. Any person with a valid permit issued by the Service under § 17.22 or § 17.32 may take humpback chub, subject to all take limitations and other special terms and conditions of the permit. The Service recognizes the special and unique relationship with our state natural resource agency partners in contributing to conservation of listed species. State agencies often possess scientific data and valuable expertise on the status and distribution of endangered, threatened, and candidate species of wildlife and plants. State agencies, because of their authorities and their close working relationships with local governments and landowners, are in a unique position to assist the Services in implementing all aspects of the Act. In this regard, section 6 of the Act provides that the Services shall cooperate to the maximum extent practicable with the States in carrying out programs authorized by the Act. Therefore, any qualified employee or agent of a State conservation agency that is a party to a cooperative agreement with the Service in accordance with section 6(c) of the Act, who is designated by his or her agency for such purposes, would be able to conduct activities designed to conserve humpback chub that may result in otherwise prohibited take for wildlife without additional authorization. Nothing in this proposed 4(d) rule would change in any way the recovery planning provisions of section 4(f) of the Act, the consultation requirements under section 7 of the Act, or the ability of the Service to enter into partnerships for the management and protection of the humpback chub. However, interagency cooperation may be further streamlined through planned programmatic consultations for the species between Federal agencies and the Service. We ask the public, particularly State agencies and other interested stakeholders that may be affected by the proposed 4(d) rule, to provide comments and suggestions regarding additional guidance and methods that the Service could provide or use, respectively, to streamline the implementation of this proposed 4(d) rule (see Information Requested, above). Government-to-Government Relationship With Tribes Required Determinations A complete list of references cited in this rulemaking is available on the internet at http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS–R6–ES–2018–0081, and upon request from the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Proposed 4(d) Rule We believe the actions and activities that would be allowed under this proposed 4(d) rule, while they may cause some level of harm to individual humpback chub, would not negatively affect efforts to conserve and recover humpback chub, and would facilitate these efforts by increasing educational opportunities and public support for the conservation of humpback chub and by providing more efficient implementation of recovery actions. This proposed 4(d) rule would not be made final until we have reviewed and fully considered comments from the public. National Environmental Policy Act We determined that we do not need to prepare an environmental assessment or an environmental impact statement, as defined under the authority of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), in connection with regulations adopted pursuant to section 4(a) of the Act. We published a notice outlining our reasons for this determination in the Federal Register on October 25, 1983 (48 FR 49244). We also determine that 4(d) rules that accompany regulations adopted pursuant to section 4(a) of the Act are not subject to the National Environmental Policy Act. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:12 Jan 21, 2020 Jkt 250001 Clarity of This Proposed Rule We are required by Executive Orders 12866 and 12988 and by the Presidential Memorandum of June 1, 1998, to write all rules in plain language. This means that each rule we publish must: (a) Be logically organized; (b) Use the active voice to address readers directly; (c) Use clear language rather than jargon; (d) Be divided into short sections and sentences; and (e) Use lists and tables wherever possible. If you feel that we have not met these requirements, send us comments by one of the methods listed in ADDRESSES. To better help us revise the rule, your comments should be as specific as possible. For example, you should tell us the numbers of the sections or paragraphs that are unclearly written, which sections or sentences are too long, the sections where you feel lists or tables would be useful, etc. PO 00000 Frm 00049 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 In accordance with the President’s memorandum of April 29, 1994, ‘‘Government-to-Government Relations with Native American Tribal Governments’’ (59 FR 22951), Executive Order 13175, Secretarial Order 3206, the Department of the Interior’s manual at 512 DM 2, and the Native American Policy of the Service (January 20, 2016), we readily acknowledge our responsibility to communicate meaningfully with recognized Federal Tribes on a government-to-government basis. We will coordinate with tribes in the range of the humpback chub and request their input on this proposed rule. References Cited Authors The primary authors of this final rule are the staff members of the Service’s Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program Office. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17 Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Transportation. Proposed Regulation Promulgation Accordingly, we hereby propose to amend part 17, subchapter B of chapter I, title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations, as set forth below: PART 17—ENDANGERED AND THREATENED WILDLIFE AND PLANTS 1. The authority citation for part 17 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1361–1407; 1531– 1544; and 4201–4245, unless otherwise noted. 2. Amend § 17.11(h) by revising the entry for ‘‘Chub, humpback’’ under FISHES on the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife to read as follows: ■ § 17.11 Endangered and threatened wildlife. * * * (h) * * * E:\FR\FM\22JAP1.SGM 22JAP1 * * 3600 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 14 / Wednesday, January 22, 2020 / Proposed Rules Common name Scientific name Where listed * FISHES * * * Chub, humpback * Gila cypha ............... * Wherever found * * * 3. Amend § 17.44 by adding a paragraph (cc) to read as follows: ■ khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS § 17.44 Special rules—fishes. (cc) Humpback chub (Gila cypha). (1) Prohibitions. Except as provided under paragraph (cc)(2) of this section and §§ 17.4 and 17.5, it is unlawful for any person subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to commit, to attempt to commit, to solicit another to commit, or cause to be committed, any of the following acts in regard to this species: (i) Import or export, as set forth at § 17.21(b). (ii) Take, unless excepted as outlined in paragraphs (cc)(2)(i) through (iv) of this section. (iii) Possession and other acts with unlawfully taken specimens, as set forth at § 17.21(d)(1). (iv) Interstate or foreign commerce in the course of commercial activity, as set forth at § 17.21(e). (v) Sale or offer for sale, as set forth at § 17.21(f). (2) Exceptions from prohibitions. In regard to this species, you may: (i) Conduct activities as authorized by an existing permit under § 17.32. (ii) Conduct activities as authorized by a permit issued prior to [effective date of the rule] under § 17.22 for the duration of the permit. (iii) Take, as set forth at § 17.21(c)(2) through (c)(4). (iv) Take humpback chub while carrying out the following legally conducted activities in accordance with this paragraph: (A) Definitions. For the purposes of this paragraph: (1) Person means a person as defined by section 3(13) of the Act. (2) Qualified person means a full-time fish biologist or aquatic resources manager employed by any of the Colorado River Basin state wildlife agencies, the Department of Interior bureaus offices located within the Colorado River basin, or fish biologist or aquatic resource manager employed by a private consulting firm, provided the firm has received a scientific collecting permit from the appropriate state agency. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:12 Jan 21, 2020 Jkt 250001 Status Listing citations and applicable rules * * T ............ * * Frm 00050 Fmt 4702 * * * * 32 FR 4001, 3/11/1967; [Federal Register citation when published as a final rule]; 50 CFR 17.44(cc); 4d 50 CFR 17.95(e).CH * (3) The six core populations means the following populations of the humpback chub: Desolation and Gray Canyons (Green River, Utah), Dinosaur National Monument (Green and Yampa rivers, Colorado and Utah; currently extirpated), Black Rocks (Colorado River, Colorado), Westwater Canyon (Colorado River, Utah), Cataract Canyon (Colorado River, Utah), and Grand Canyon (Colorado and Little Colorado rivers, Arizona). (4) Reasonable care means limiting the impacts to humpback chub individuals and populations by complying with all applicable Federal, State, and tribal regulations for the activity in question; using methods and techniques that result in the least harm, injury, or death, as feasible; undertaking activities at the least impactful times and locations, as feasible; ensuring the number of individuals removed or sampled minimally impacts existing extant wild population; ensuring no disease or parasites are introduced into existing extant wild humpback chub populations; and preserving the genetic diversity of extant wild populations. (B) Creation and maintenance of refuge populations. A qualified person may take humpback chub in order to create or maintain a captive or wild refuge population that protects the longterm genetic diversity of humpback chub, provided that reasonable care is practiced to minimize the effects of that taking. (1) Methods of allowable take under this paragraph (cc)(2)(iv)(B) include, but are not limited to: (i) Removing wild individuals via electrofishing, nets, and seines from the six core populations; (ii) Managing captive populations, including handling, rearing, and spawning of captive fish; (iii) Sacrificing individuals for hatchery management, such as parasite and disease certification; and (iv) Eliminating wild refuge populations if conditions are deemed inadequate for conservation of the species or are deemed detrimental to the six core populations. PO 00000 * Sfmt 4702 * * (2) Before the establishment of any captive or wild refuge population, the Service must approve, in writing, the designation of the refuge population, and any removal of humpback chub individuals from wild populations. Subsequent to a written approval for the establishment of a refuge population, take associated with the maintenance of the refuge population would not be prohibited under the Act. (C) Translocation and stocking of humpback chub. A qualified person may take humpback chub in order to introduce individuals into areas outside of the six core populations. Humpback chub individuals may be introduced to new areas by translocating wild individuals to additional locations or by stocking individuals from captivity. All translocations of wild individuals and stocking of individuals from captivity must involve reasonable care to minimize the effects of that taking. Translocations of wild individuals and stocking of individuals from captivity must be undertaken to expand the range of humpback chub or to supplement existing populations. (1) Methods of allowable take under this paragraph (cc)(2)(iv)(C) include, but are not limited to: (i) Removing wild individuals via electrofishing, nets, and seines; (ii) Managing captive populations, including handling, rearing, and spawning; (iii) Sacrificing individuals for hatchery management, such as parasite and disease certification; and (iv) Removing or eliminating all humpback chub from failed introduction areas via mechanical or chemical methods. (2) The Service must approve, in advance and in writing: (i) Any translocation program; and (ii) Any stocking of humpback chub into any of the six core populations. (D) Nonnative fish removal. A qualified person may take humpback chub in order to perform nonnative fish removal for conservation purposes if reasonable care is practiced to minimize effects to humpback chub. For this paragraph (cc)(2)(iv)(D), nonnative fish E:\FR\FM\22JAP1.SGM 22JAP1 khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 14 / Wednesday, January 22, 2020 / Proposed Rules removal for conservation purposes means any action with the primary or secondary purpose of mechanically removing nonnative fishes that compete with, predate, or degrade the habitat of humpback chub. (1) Methods of allowable take under this paragraph (cc)(2)(iv)(D) include, but are not limited to: (i) Mechanical removal of nonnative fish within occupied humpback chub habitats, including, but not limited to, electrofishing, seining, netting, and angling; and (ii) The use of other ecosystem modifications, such as altered flow regimes or habitat modifications. (2) The Service and all applicable landowners must approve, in advance and in writing, any nonnative fish removal activities under this paragraph. (E) Catch-and-release angling of humpback chub. States and tribes may enact Federal, State, and tribal fishing regulations that address catch-andrelease angling. (1) In the six core populations, angling activities may include nontargeted (incidental) catch and release of humpback chub when targeting other species in accordance with Federal, State, and tribal fishing regulations. (2) In areas outside of the six core populations, angling activities may include targeted catch and release of humpback chub in accordance with Federal, State, and tribal fishing regulations. (3) Angling activities may cause take via: (i) Handling of humpback chub caught via angling; (ii) Injury to humpback chub caught via angling; and (iii) Unintentional death to humpback chub caught via angling. (4) Reasonable consideration by the Federal, State, and tribal agencies for incidental catch and release of humpback chub in the six core populations include: (i) Regulating tactics to minimize potential injury and death to humpback chub if caught; (ii) Communicating the potential for catching humpback chub in these areas; and (iii) Promoting the importance of the six core populations. (5) Reasonable consideration for establishing new recreational angling locations for humpback chub include, but are not limited to: (i) Evaluating each water body’s ability to support humpback chub and sustain angling; (ii) Ensuring the recreational fishing population does not detrimentally impact the six core populations of VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:12 Jan 21, 2020 Jkt 250001 humpback chub through such factors as disease or genetic drift; and (iii) Monitoring to ensure there are no detrimental effects to the humpback chub population from angling. (6) The Service and all applicable State, Federal, and tribal landowners must approve, in advance and in writing, any new recreational fishery for humpback chub. (F) Chemical treatments to support humpback chub. A qualified person may take humpback chub by performing a chemical treatment in accordance with Federal, State, and tribal regulations that would support the conservation and recovery of humpback chub, provided that reasonable care is practiced to minimize the effects of such taking. (1) For treatments upstream of occupied humpback chub habitat: (i) Service approval is not required; and (ii) Care should be taken to limit the potential for fish toxicants and piscicides travelling beyond treatment boundaries and impacting humpback chub. (2) For treatments in known or potentially occupied humpback chub habitat: (i) The Service must approve, in advance and in writing, any treatment; and (ii) Care should be taken to perform robust salvage efforts to remove any humpback chub that may occur in the treatment area before the treatment is conducted. (3) Whenever possible, humpback chub that are salvaged should be moved to a location that supports recovery of the species. (G) Reporting and disposal requirements. Any mortality of humpback chub associated with the actions authorized under this special rule must be reported to the Service within 72 hours, and specimens may be disposed of only in accordance with directions from the Service. Reports in the upper basin (upstream of Glen Canyon Dam) must be made to the Service’s Mountain-Prairie Region Law Enforcement Office, or the Service’s Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Office. Reports in the lower basin (downstream Glen Canyon Dam) must be made to the Service’s Southwest Region Law Enforcement Office, or the Service’s Arizona Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office. Contact information for the Service’s regional offices is set forth at 50 CFR 2.2. The Service may allow additional reasonable time for reporting if access to these offices is limited due to office closure or if the activity was conducted in area PO 00000 Frm 00051 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 3601 without sufficient communication access. * * * * * Dated: December 10, 2019. Margaret E. Everson, Principle Deputy Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Exercising the Authority of the Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. [FR Doc. 2020–00512 Filed 1–21–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service 50 CFR Part 21 [Docket No. FWS–HQ–MB–2019–0103; FF09M29000–190–FXMB1232090000] RIN 1018–BE67 Migratory Bird Permits; Management of Double-Crested Cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus) Throughout the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Advance notice of proposed rulemaking; intent to prepare a National Environmental Policy Act document. AGENCY: This document advises the public that we, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, intends to gather information necessary to develop a proposed rule to expand management of double-crested cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus) throughout the United States, and prepare a draft environmental review pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended. We are furnishing this advance notice of proposed rulemaking to advise other agencies and the public of our intentions; obtain suggestions and information on the scope of issues to include in the environmental review; and announce public scoping webinars to occur in 2020. DATES: Comment submission: Public scoping will begin with the publication of this document in the Federal Register and will continue through March 9, 2020. We will consider all comments on the scope of the draft environmental review that are received or postmarked by that date. Comments received or postmarked after that date will be considered to the extent practicable. Scoping meetings: We will hold public scoping meetings in the form of multiple webinars that will occur in February 2020. We will announce exact webinar dates, times, and registration SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\22JAP1.SGM 22JAP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 14 (Wednesday, January 22, 2020)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 3586-3601]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-00512]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[Docket No. FWS-R6-ES-2018-0081; 4500030113]
RIN 1018-BD47


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Reclassification 
of the Humpback Chub From Endangered to Threatened With a Section 4(d) 
Rule

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), propose to 
reclassify the humpback chub (Gila cypha) from an endangered species to 
a threatened species on the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened 
Wildlife, due to partial recovery. Based on the best available 
scientific and commercial data, threats to the humpback chub identified 
at the time of listing have been eliminated or reduced to the point 
that the species no longer meets the definition of an endangered 
species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act), but 
is likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable 
future. We also propose a rule issued under section 4(d) of the Act 
that is necessary and advisable to provide for the conservation of the 
humpback chub.

DATES: We will accept comments received or postmarked on or before 
March 23, 2020. Comments submitted electronically using the Federal 
eRulemaking Portal (see ADDRESSES, below) must be received by 11:59 
p.m. Eastern Time on the closing date. We must receive requests for a 
public hearing, in writing, at the address shown in FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT by March 9, 2020.

ADDRESSES: Written comments: You may submit comments by one of the 
following methods:
    (1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter FWS-R6-ES-2018-0081, 
which is the docket number for this rulemaking. Then, click on the 
Search button. On the resulting page, in the Search panel on the left 
side of the screen, under the Document Type heading, click on the 
Proposed Rule box to locate this document. You may submit a comment by 
clicking on ``Comment Now!''
    (2) By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public 
Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R6-ES-2018-0081; U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, MS: BPHC, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803.
    We request that you send comments only by the methods described 
above. We will post all comments on http://www.regulations.gov. This 
generally means that we will post any personal information you provide 
us (see Public Comments, below, for more information).
    Document availability: Supporting documentation used to prepare 
this proposed rule, including the 5-year review and the species status 
assessment (SSA) report, are available on the internet at http://www.regulations.gov under Docket No. FWS-R6-ES-2018-0081. Additionally, 
supporting documentation is available for public inspection by 
appointment at our Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery 
Program Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Tom Chart, Director, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery 
Program, P.O. Box 25486, DFC, Lakewood, CO 80225; telephone: 303-236-
9885. Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) 
may call the Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Executive Summary

    Why we need to publish a rule. Under the Act, if a species is 
determined to be an endangered or threatened species throughout all or 
a significant portion of its range, we are required to publish a 
proposal in the Federal Register and make a determination on our 
proposal within 1 year. Reclassifying a species as an endangered or 
threatened species can only be completed by issuing a rule.
    This rule proposes to reclassify the humpback chub from endangered 
to threatened (i.e., to ``downlist'' the species) on the Federal List 
of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife, with a rule issued under section 
4(d) of the Act, based on the species' current status, which has been 
improved through implementation of conservation actions. This proposed 
rule and the associated species status assessment (SSA) report reassess 
all available information regarding the status of and threats to the 
humpback chub.
    The basis for our action. Under the Act, we determine whether a 
species is an ``endangered species'' or ``threatened species'' based on 
any of five factors: (A) The present or threatened destruction, 
modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range; (B) 
overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes; (C) disease or predation; (D) the inadequacy of 
existing regulatory mechanisms; or (E) other natural or manmade factors 
affecting its continued existence. We may reclassify a species if the 
best available commercial and scientific data indicate the species no 
longer meets the applicable definition in the Act. For the reasons 
discussed below, we believe the humpback chub no longer meets the Act's 
definition of an endangered species, but does meet the Act's definition 
of a threatened species. The actions of multiple conservation partners 
over the past 30 years have improved the condition of humpback

[[Page 3587]]

chub and reduced the threats to the species.
    Over the last few decades, management programs implemented by a 
variety of partners and stakeholders in the Colorado River basin 
delivered natural flow regimes; provided suitable water temperatures; 
and managed predatory, nonnative fish species to improve habitat 
conditions for the humpback chub. These programs improved habitat 
resource conditions such that the humpback chub now has multiple, 
resilient populations, including a large, stable population in the 
Grand Canyon and four persisting populations upstream of Lake Powell. 
Therefore, conditions have improved, and the species now has sufficient 
resiliency, redundancy, and representation such that it is not 
currently at risk of extinction throughout its range (i.e., it does not 
meet the Act's definition of an endangered species). However, in the 
future, management of the species and the conditions of the resources 
required by the species are likely to change such that the species is 
likely to become an endangered species in the foreseeable future (i.e., 
the species meets the Act's definition of threatened).
    Supporting analyses. We conducted an SSA for the humpback chub, 
with input and information provided by a variety of partners and 
stakeholders. The results of this assessment are contained in an SSA 
report, which represents a compilation of the best scientific and 
commercial data available concerning the status of the species, 
including the past, present, and future stressors to this species 
(Service 2018b, entire). Additionally, the SSA report contains our 
analysis of required habitat and the existing conditions of that 
habitat.
    Peer review. We sought comments from independent specialists on our 
SSA report for the humpback chub to ensure that we based our listing 
determination on scientifically sound data, assumptions, and analyses. 
We received feedback from three experts that have knowledge and/or 
experience with the species or similar species biology as peer review 
of the SSA report. The reviewers were generally supportive of our 
approach and made suggestions and comments that strengthened our 
analysis. We incorporated these comments into the SSA report, which can 
be found at http://www.regulations.gov under Docket No. FWS-R6-ES-2018-
0081.

Information Requested

Public Comments

    Any final action resulting from this proposed rule will be based on 
the best scientific and commercial data available and be as accurate as 
possible. Therefore, we request comments or information from other 
concerned governmental agencies, Native American Tribes, the scientific 
community, industry, or other interested parties concerning this 
proposed rule. The comments that will be most useful and likely to 
inform our decisions are those supported by data or peer-reviewed 
studies and those that include citations to, and analyses of, 
applicable laws and regulations. Because we will consider all comments 
and information we receive during the comment period, our final 
determination may differ from this proposal. We particularly seek 
comments concerning:
    (1) Reasons we should or should not reclassify the humpback chub as 
a threatened species.
    (2) New information on the historical and current status, range, 
distribution, and population size of the humpback chub.
    (3) New information on the known and potential threats to the 
humpback chub, including flow regimes and predatory, nonnative fish.
    (4) New information regarding the life history, ecology, and 
habitat use of the humpback chub.
    (5) Current or planned activities within the geographic range of 
the humpback chub that may impact or benefit the species.
    (6) The appropriateness of a rule issued under section 4(d) of the 
Act (a ``4(d) rule'') to allow certain actions to take humpback chub.
    (7) Any additional actions that we should consider for inclusion in 
a 4(d) rule, especially research, monitoring, and additional management 
and restoration activities.
    (8) Any additional information pertaining to the promulgation of a 
4(d) rule to allow certain actions that may take humpback chub.
    Please include sufficient information with your submission (such as 
scientific journal articles or other publications) to allow us to 
verify any scientific or commercial information you include.
    Please note that submissions merely stating support for or 
opposition to the action under consideration without providing 
supporting information, although noted, will not be considered in 
making a determination, as section 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 
1531 et seq.) directs that determinations as to whether any species is 
an endangered or a threatened species must be made ``solely on the 
basis of the best scientific and commercial data available.''
    You may submit your comments and materials concerning this proposed 
rule by one of the methods listed in ADDRESSES. We request that you 
send comments only by the methods described in ADDRESSES.
    If you submit information via http://www.regulations.gov, your 
entire submission--including any personal identifying information--will 
be posted on the website. If your submission is made via a hardcopy 
that includes personal identifying information, you may request at the 
top of your document that we withhold this information from public 
review. However, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. We 
will post all hardcopy submissions on http://www.regulations.gov.
    Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting 
documentation we used in preparing this proposed rule, will be 
available for public inspection on http://www.regulations.gov, or by 
appointment, during normal business hours, at the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program 
Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

Public Hearing

    Section 4(b)(5) of the Act provides for a public hearing on this 
proposal, if requested. Requests must be received within 45 days after 
the date of publication of this proposed rule in the Federal Register 
(see DATES, above). Such requests must be sent to the address shown in 
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. We will schedule a public hearing on 
this proposal, if requested, and announce the date, time, and place of 
the hearing, as well as how to obtain reasonable accommodations, in the 
Federal Register and local newspapers at least 15 days before the 
hearing.

Peer Review

    In accordance with our July 1, 1994, peer review policy (59 FR 
34270; July 1, 1994), the Service's August 22, 2016, Director's Memo on 
the Peer Review Process, and the Office of Management and Budget's 
December 16, 2004, Final Information Quality Bulletin for Peer Review 
(revised June 2012), we solicited independent scientific reviews of the 
information contained in the humpback chub SSA report. Results of this 
structured peer review process can be found at https://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/science/peerReview.php. The SSA report was also 
submitted to our

[[Page 3588]]

Federal, State, and Tribal partners for scientific review. In preparing 
this proposed rule, we incorporated the results of these reviews in the 
final SSA report, as appropriate, which is the foundation for this 
proposed rule.

Previous Federal Actions

    By the time the humpback chub was scientifically described between 
the 1940s and 1970s, the Colorado River ecosystem supporting the 
species had been greatly altered by large dams; smaller agricultural 
irrigation diversions; substantial water depletions for municipal and 
agricultural uses; and predatory, nonnative fish species. By the 1960s, 
researchers concluded that the humpback chub was likely in decline; 
they suspected extirpation of a population near Hoover Dam, constructed 
in the 1930s, and they predicted possible extirpation resulting from 
the construction of Glen Canyon and Flaming Gorge Dams in the 1960s. 
Therefore, on March 11, 1967, the Secretary of the Interior published a 
final rule (32 FR 4001) listing the humpback chub as an endangered 
species in accordance with the Endangered Species Preservation Act of 
1966 (80 Stat. 926; 16 U.S.C. 668aa(c)). Subsequently, the humpback 
chub retained classification as an endangered species under the 
Endangered Species Conservation Act of 1969 (16 U.S.C. 668aa) and the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), 
and on January 4, 1974, the species was included in a final rule (39 FR 
1158) establishing a list of endangered native wildlife at 50 CFR part 
17.
    We issued the first recovery plan for humpback chub on August 22, 
1979; that document described the primary reasons for the decline of 
humpback chub as numerous flow and habitat alterations caused by the 
construction and operation of several large Colorado River basin dams, 
including the Flaming Gorge, Glen Canyon, and Hoover Dams. The 1979 
recovery plan also recognized the possible impacts to humpback chub 
from hybridization with other native chub species and from competition 
with nonnative fish species. We revised the recovery plan on September 
19, 1990, and we further amended and supplemented the 1990 revised plan 
with new recovery goals on August 1, 2002. The 2002 recovery goals 
provided objective and measurable demographic and threats-based 
recovery criteria, site specific recovery actions, and estimates of 
time needed to implement the recovery actions for two recovery units, 
the upper and lower basins, which are physically demarcated by Glen 
Canyon Dam and have unique demographic trends and management actions. 
The 2002 recovery goals lacked estimates of cost needed for recovery, 
and were withdrawn by court order on January 18, 2006, (Grand Canyon 
Trust et al. v. Gale Norton et al., No. 04-CV-636-PHX-FJM). The 
adequacy of the recovery goals, however, was not reviewed by the court, 
because the court found that the plaintiffs could not challenge an 
alleged failure for a recovery plan to provide for the conservation of 
the species. The recovery criteria presented in the 2002 recovery plan 
remain reasonable measures to gauge progress towards recovery and a 
valuable reference as we refine our vision of recovery for the humpback 
chub, and work to update the recovery plan.
    Humpback chub inhabit discrete canyon areas of the Colorado River 
basin characterized by swift currents and rocky habitats, including 
portions of the Yampa, Green, and Colorado rivers. On March 21, 1994, 
we designated critical habitat for the species along 610 kilometers 
(km) (379 miles (mi)) of the Colorado River basin (59 FR 13374). 
Designated critical habitat units include Dinosaur National Monument 
(the Yampa and Green rivers in Utah and Colorado), Desolation and Gray 
Canyons (the Green River in Utah), Black Rocks, and Westwater Canyon 
(the Colorado River in Utah and Colorado), Cataract Canyon (the 
Colorado River in Utah), and Grand Canyon (the Colorado and Little 
Colorado rivers in Arizona).
    We completed a status review (``5-year review'') under section 
4(c)(2)(A) of the Act for humpback chub on March 19, 2018 (Service 
2018a). The 5-year review recommended that the humpback chub be 
downlisted (i.e., reclassified from an endangered to a threatened 
species), which prompted this proposed rule.

Background

    A thorough review of the taxonomy, range and distribution, life 
history, and ecology of the humpback chub is presented in the SSA 
report (Service 2018b, pp. 5-12; available at http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-R6-ES-2018-0081), and is briefly 
summarized here. The humpback chub is a fish endemic to the warm-water 
portions of the Colorado River basin of the southwestern United States. 
Humpback chub live in discrete, rocky, canyon-bound river reaches 
characterized by swift currents in portions of Utah, Colorado, and 
Arizona. Multiple adaptations allow humpback chub to survive the highly 
variable flow conditions of these desert river ecosystems, such as a 
long lifespan of approximately 20 to 40 years, large body size up to 
480 millimeters (mm) (19 inches (in)), high reproductive potential by 
producing up to 2,500 eggs per year, tolerance to a wide range of water 
qualities, and a variable diet.
    The species is known from eight historical canyon locations. Two 
populations, Hideout Canyon (the Green River in Utah) and Black Canyon 
(the Colorado River in Arizona and Nevada), were extirpated following 
the construction of Flaming Gorge and Hoover Dams, and their associated 
reservoirs, respectively. The continued operation of these dams make 
these habitats currently inhospitable to humpback chub. An additional 
population, Dinosaur National Monument (the Yampa and Green rivers in 
Utah and Colorado), declined after the construction of Flaming Gorge 
Dam and became extirpated in the mid-2000s. Although the species is 
considered extirpated, or absent from this geographic location, 
Dinosaur National Monument could possibly still support humpback chub 
and therefore the SSA report considered the area as an unoccupied 
habitat unit. The species is currently monitored at the remaining five 
extant, or occupied, locations: Desolation and Gray Canyons (the Green 
River in Utah), Black Rocks (the Colorado River in Colorado), Westwater 
Canyon (the Colorado River in Utah), Cataract Canyon (the Colorado 
River in Utah), and Grand Canyon (the Colorado and Little Colorado 
rivers in Arizona). The Dinosaur National Monument, Desolation and Gray 
Canyons, Black Rocks, Westwater Canyon, and Cataract Canyon populations 
are the ``upper basin populations,'' and the Grand Canyon population is 
the ``lower basin population.''

Summary of Biological Status and Threats

    The Act directs us to determine whether any species is an 
endangered species or a threatened species because of any of the 
factors set forth at section 4(a)(1) of the Act affecting the species' 
continued existence. The SSA report provides a thorough account of the 
species' overall viability (Service 2018b, entire). The SSA report 
documents the results of the comprehensive biological status review for 
the humpback chub and provides an account of the species' overall 
viability through forecasting of the species' condition in the future 
(Service 2018b, entire). In the SSA report, we summarized the relevant 
biological data and a description of past, present, and likely future 
stressors and

[[Page 3589]]

conducted an analysis of the viability of the species. In the SSA, we 
define viability as the ability of the species to persist over the long 
term and, conversely, to avoid extinction. In this discussion, we 
summarize the conclusions of that assessment, which can be accessed at 
Docket No. FWS-R6-ES-2018-0081 on http://www.regulations.gov.
    To evaluate the biological status of the humpback chub both 
currently and into the future, we evaluated the overall viability of 
the humpback chub in the context of resiliency, redundancy, and 
representation (Smith et al. 2018, p. 306). Species viability, or the 
species' ability to sustain populations over time, is related to the 
species' ability to withstand catastrophic events (redundancy), the 
ability to adapt to changing environmental conditions (representation), 
and the ability of populations to withstand stochastic disturbances of 
varying magnitude and duration (resiliency). Species viability also 
depends on the likelihood of stressors that act to reduce a species' 
redundancy, representation, and resiliency and the species' overall 
ability to withstand such stressors in the future. Having a greater 
number (redundancy) of self-sustaining populations (resiliency) that 
are distributed (redundancy and representation) across the known range 
of the humpback chub would be associated with an overall higher 
viability of the species into the future.
    Individual humpback chub need diverse, rocky, canyon river habitat 
for spawning, rearing, feeding, and sheltering; suitable river flow and 
water temperature regimes for spawning, egg incubation, larval 
development, and growth; and an adequate and reliable food supply, 
including aquatic and terrestrial insects, crustaceans, and plant 
material (Service 2018b, pp. 15-33). Populations of humpback chub need 
habitats with few predatory, nonnative fish species that allow the 
young to survive and recruit; suitable water quality with few toxic 
inputs, such as fire ash or other contaminants, to allow for survival 
of all life stages; and unimpeded range and connectivity between 
discrete canyon habitats that provides free movement of individuals 
among populations. At the species level, humpback chub needs multiple 
populations to provide adequate redundancy against potential 
catastrophic events and genetic diversity (representation) to ensure 
adaptive traits of the species (Service 2018b, pp. 15-33).
    To evaluate the condition of humpback chub populations, we 
evaluated a number of stressors that influence the resiliency of 
humpback chub populations, such as river flows and predatory, nonnative 
fish in the upper basin populations, and river flows, water 
temperature, food supply, and predatory nonnative fish in the lower 
basin population (Service 2018b, pp. 34-100). Some stressors, such as 
low river flows and warm water temperatures, may also act cumulatively 
to increase predatory, nonnative fish. Additionally, certain needs or 
stressors require continued management, such as river flow and 
nonnative fish in all five extant populations, and water temperature 
and food supply in the Grand Canyon population. Ongoing management 
actions are primarily undertaken by two multi-stakeholder management 
programs, the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program 
(Upper Basin Recovery Program) and the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive 
Management Program (Glen Canyon Dam AMP). Below, we summarize the 
conditions for the upper and lower basins.
    The Upper Basin--In the upper basin, the four extant populations 
(Desolation and Gray Canyons, Black Rocks, Westwater Canyon, and 
Cataract Canyon) and one extirpated population (Dinosaur National 
Monument) currently have high-quality rocky canyon habitat, an adequate 
food base, and unimpeded connectivity. Federal, State, and tribal land 
ownership largely protects humpback chub's canyon habitats in the upper 
basin, and recreation is the primary activity in these canyons. Water 
temperature is suitable and unaltered by reservoir releases in the four 
extant populations, but a portion of the extirpated Dinosaur National 
Monument population in the Green River is cooled by releases from the 
Flaming Gorge Dam. Fish passage structures ensure that there are no 
impediments to movement between populations.
    The resources of highest concern in the upper basin are river 
flows. Dam installations in the 20th century altered river flow regimes 
by reducing spring peak flows. Additionally, large municipal and 
agricultural depletions reduced the amount of water in the rivers. 
Since the early 2000s, management of river flows has restored much of 
the important intra- and inter-annual variability of river flow that 
the humpback chub needs to breed, feed, and shelter. Human demand for 
water has remained relatively the same over the last 20 years, but 
recent and ongoing drought has reduced river flows.
    Another primary stressor in the upper basin is predatory, nonnative 
fish. Over 50 nonnative fish species have been introduced into the 
upper basin, some of which prey on or compete with young humpback chub, 
effectively reducing juvenile survival rates. Smallmouth bass 
(Micropterus dolomieu) are the largest concern because they prey on 
native fish (Johnson et al. 2008, p. 1946) and colonize humpback chub 
habitats. However, nearby populations of smallmouth bass have not 
colonized Black Rocks, Westwater Canyon, or Cataract Canyon. Smallmouth 
bass do inhabit Dinosaur National Monument and Desolation and Gray 
Canyons, and periodically increase in density by dispersing from nearby 
production areas. Low river flows and warm water temperatures may also 
act cumulatively to promote the expansion and establishment of 
predatory, nonnative fish.
    The Upper Basin Recovery Program is responsible for overseeing the 
management actions needed to improve conditions for the humpback chub 
in the upper basin. Actions that the Upper Basin Recovery Program 
implements to support recovery of humpback chub include, but are not 
limited to: Providing and protecting river flows; managing and removing 
predatory, nonnative fish; and installing and operating fish passage 
structures. For example, within the past 15 years, both Flaming Gorge 
Dam (the Green River) and the Aspinall Unit (the Colorado River) 
changed release patterns to provide downstream flows to benefit the 
humpback chub. The Upper Basin Recovery Program also acquired water 
stored in reservoirs in the Yampa and Colorado rivers to support the 
humpback chub when needed, such as during low flow periods during the 
summer. The Upper Basin Recovery Program also implements nonnative fish 
management actions, such as removing predatory fish from approximately 
966 km (600 mi) of river and screening reservoirs to prevent predators 
from escaping into the downstream habitats used by humpback chub. State 
partners in the Upper Basin Recovery Program no longer stock certain 
nonnative predators and instead implement harvest regulations that 
promote the removal of predatory fish throughout the upper basin. 
Finally, fish passage structures installed over the last 20 years in 
the Colorado and Green rivers allow the humpback chub to move between 
habitats.
    Upper basin populations have been monitored using catch per unit 
effort (CPUE) protocols since the mid-1980s, but more rigorous mark-
recapture population estimation techniques began

[[Page 3590]]

in some populations in the late 1990s. Abundance estimates generally 
have some uncertainty, with wide confidence intervals in older 
estimates. Despite the uncertainty associated with population 
monitoring techniques, these abundance estimates and associated CPUE 
data provide important demographic information about humpback chub 
populations.
    The Black Rocks and Westwater Canyon populations declined from 
around 2000, when they were first estimated, through about 2006 
(Service 2018b, p. 101). However, over the past 10 years both of these 
populations have stopped declining and have stabilized (Service 2018b, 
p. 101). The most recent preliminary estimates of the Black Rocks 
population, for years 2016 and 2017, indicate a stable population of 
around 425 to 450 adults (Francis et al. 2018, p. 21). The most recent 
preliminary estimates of the Westwater Canyon population, for years 
2016 and 2017, indicate a stable population of around 2,800 adults 
(Hines 2017, p. 4; Hines 2018, pp. 12, 14). The preliminary estimates 
for both of these populations were released after the SSA report was 
complete, and although they have not yet undergone peer review, they 
are based on previously used and widely accepted modeling techniques, 
so are the best available science.
    Adult abundance trends in Desolation and Gray Canyons are generally 
similar to those for Westwater and Black Rocks because they were 
highest around year 2000 and subsequently declined through about 2006 
(Service 2018b, p. 101). However, estimates from 2001 to 2003 have low 
precision and are unreliable due to the difficulty of surveying these 
canyons. Using estimates from 2006 to 2015, the adult abundance 
estimates for Desolation and Gray Canyons show no conclusive pattern 
because estimates are too variable (Service 2018b, p. 109). Abundance 
estimates for the Desolation and Gray Canyons population were 
approximately 1,750 adults in 2014 and 2015 (Howard and Caldwell 2018, 
p. 18).
    The Cataract Canyon population is small, with fewer than 
approximately 500 adults and swift currents make this population 
difficult to monitor. Abundance of humpback chub in Cataract Canyon is 
estimated by CPUE rather than more robust mark-recapture techniques, 
which makes estimating a population trend for Cataract Canyon 
difficult. Consistent catches of adult and young life stages indicate 
that this population persists. Monitoring efforts from 2017 documented 
the highest annual CPUE for humpback chub in Cataract Canyon over the 
last 26 years (Ahrens 2017, p. 7). New sampling techniques documented 
an unprecedented number of juvenile chubs in Cataract Canyon, further 
indicating that this population persists (Ahrens 2017, p. 2). Although 
humpback chub and roundtail chub cannot be distinguished in the field 
when they are small, researchers assume that a meaningful amount of 
these young fish are humpback chub.
    Unlike the other four populations in the upper basin, the Dinosaur 
National Monument population is currently below detection limits and is 
now considered functionally extirpated. By 1998, humpback chub were 
absent or rare in habitats where the species was likely common in the 
1940s (Tyus 1998, p. 192), and the decline in the Dinosaur National 
Monument population likely was the result of the construction of the 
Flaming Gorge Dam. Humpback chub in the Green River portion of the 
Dinosaur National Monument population were negatively affected by the 
cold releases from the Flaming Gorge Dam starting in 1963, and the 
Yampa River portion was negatively affected by low river flows, 
especially in the early 2000s. Operational changes since 2006 at 
Flaming Gorge Dam have improved the water temperature and flow 
conditions in the Green River, and releases from Elkhead Reservoir 
since 2006 support improved flow conditions in the Yampa River. 
Furthermore, the rocky canyon habitats that the humpback chub rely on 
in Dinosaur National Monument are still present. Although management 
actions have improved resource conditions in Dinosaur National 
Monument, immigration from other humpback chub populations is too low 
for the species to recolonize naturally, and the population is 
considered extirpated. Because habitats could potentially support a 
population, the Upper Basin Recovery Program is considering 
translocation or stocking to restore humpback chub to Dinosaur National 
Monument. Dinosaur National Monument may now have suitable resource 
conditions to support a re-establishment effort.
    Summary of the Upper Basin--There are currently four extant 
populations of humpback chub in the upper basin and one extirpated 
population at Dinosaur National Monument. The Upper Basin Recovery 
Program's conservation and management actions have maintained and 
improved resource conditions for the four extant populations in the 
upper basin over the last 15 years. Monitoring data indicate that Black 
Rocks and Westwater Canyons have stabilized over the past decade and 
that the Cataract Canyon population persists and is likely also stable. 
But the trend of the Desolation and Gray Canyons population is 
uncertain, with conflicting data indicating that the population is 
either stable or declining. In terms of habitats, improved river flows 
in the upper basin indicate that resource conditions are now of 
adequate quantity and quality to support populations. Although 
nonnative smallmouth bass have been documented near multiple 
populations of humpback chub, smallmouth bass have yet to establish in 
most humpback chub habitats.
    The Lower Basin--Although the Grand Canyon population is the only 
population of humpback chub in the lower basin, this population 
includes: A core population area in the Little Colorado River and 
nearby mainstem Colorado River; multiple aggregations of humpback chub 
in the Colorado River downstream; and individuals translocated into 
tributary habitats in Havasu Creek and the upper Little Colorado River. 
The Grand Canyon population has high-quality canyon reaches that foster 
unimpeded connectivity between habitats. In this population, there are 
no barriers to movement except for those created by natural falls or 
chutes, and translocated humpback chub placed above these natural 
barriers helped improve connectivity. Landownership surrounding the 
Grand Canyon population is Federal and tribal, so access and use are 
well-regulated.
    Releases from the Glen Canyon Dam alter the flow and temperature 
regimes of the Colorado River throughout much of the Grand Canyon 
population. The Long-Term Experimental and Management Plan prescribes 
the release patterns from the Glen Canyon Dam, helping to reduce and 
minimize impacts to Grand Canyon habitats. Starting in 2004, the 
temperature of water released through the Glen Canyon Dam increased in 
the summer and fall periods to 16 degrees Celsius ([deg]C) (61 degrees 
Fahrenheit ([deg]F)). Warmer temperatures generally allow individual 
humpback chub to grow larger and more quickly, but warmer water may 
also allow predatory warm-water, nonnative fish to invade and expand 
into humpback chub habitats. Nonnative fish in the lower basin, 
primarily cold-water brown trout (Salmo trutta) and rainbow trout 
(Oncorhynchus mykiss), mostly live in the colder water immediately 
below Glen Canyon Dam and tributaries of the Colorado River in the 
Grand Canyon, and not in humpback chub habitat. These two species do 
overlap with humpback chub in portions of the mainstem Colorado River. 
However, the majority of the areas inhabited by

[[Page 3591]]

humpback chub, including the Little Colorado River and western Grand 
Canyon, are dominated by native fish (van Haverbeke et al. 2018, p. 8; 
Pillow et al. 2018, p. 7).
    In the lower basin, the Glen Canyon Dam AMP coordinates the 
protection of natural resources of the Colorado River flowing through 
the Grand Canyon, including the humpback chub, from Glen Canyon Dam to 
the Lake Mead inflow. Actions undertaken to support recovery of 
humpback chub include, but are not limited to, removal of nonnative 
trout; altering dam releases to study possible improvements of 
important food sources such as mayflies, stoneflies, and caddisflies; 
and the translocation of humpback chub to new tributary habitats.
    The Grand Canyon population of humpback chub is the largest and 
most extensively distributed population of all the populations across 
the species' range, with broadly distributed groups of humpback chub in 
mainstem and tributary habitats between Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Mead. 
The core area includes the Little Colorado River and nearby portions of 
the mainstem Colorado River. This core group has likely remained 
relatively stable since 2008, with a high abundance of approximately 
11,500 to 12,000 adults. Monitoring documented a substantial population 
decline in this area during the 1990s from unknown causes, but most 
likely due to limited recruitment, followed by a strong increase in the 
2000s (Service 2018b, pp. 117-119). The subsequent increases in adult 
abundance were likely due to increased recruitment corresponding with 
warmer temperatures of released water and reduced nonnative, predatory 
trout numbers near the confluence with the Little Colorado River.
    In addition to the core population in and near the Little Colorado 
River, the Grand Canyon population also has multiple aggregations of 
adult and sub-adult humpback chub distributed in the mainstem Colorado 
River. Recent monitoring efforts up to 2017 documented increases in 
relative abundance of these aggregations and associated catch rates 
since 2014 (Pillow et al. 2018, p. 8). In fact, preliminary abundance 
estimates were approximately 1,500 adult humpback chub in 2017, for a 
6-km (4-mi) long reach in the vicinity of Fall Canyon and Pumpkin 
Spring in western Grand Canyon (Pillow et al. 2018, p. 8). Length 
frequencies for the humpback chub from these aggregation sites indicate 
that there are four distinct size groups, suggesting there is local, 
natural recruitment. Evidence of natural recruitment indicates that the 
western Grand Canyon aggregations could be an extension of the core 
Grand Canyon population, or potentially a second, reproducing 
population in the Colorado River.
    Since 2003, young humpback chub have been translocated from the 
Little Colorado River to tributaries in the Grand Canyon above natural 
barriers, such as chutes and waterfalls. Many of the translocated fish 
have either remained resident in new habitats or moved into the 
mainstem. Successful translocation efforts into Havasu Creek and 
upstream portions of the Little Colorado River have expanded the range 
of the species into new habitats. Translocated humpback chub have 
spawned in Havasu Creek, which increased the distribution of the 
humpback chub in the Grand Canyon population. Unfortunately, fish that 
were translocated into Shinumo Creek, a third site, were killed or 
displaced to the mainstem by a series of large, ash-laden floods after 
a wildfire burned in the drainage. These translocation efforts 
demonstrate that given suitable, available habitats, humpback chub can 
establish residency and reproduce in new locations.
    Summary of the Lower Basin--The large population of humpback chub 
in the Grand Canyon, which includes a dense core population in the 
Little Colorado River, multiple downstream aggregations in the mainstem 
Colorado, and successful translocation efforts, indicates that resource 
conditions in the lower basin are of sufficient quality and quantity to 
support population resiliency. Individuals are reproducing in many of 
these broadly distributed areas, demonstrating that the species can 
complete its entire life history in multiple, diverse locations within 
the Grand Canyon.
    The humpback chub has many traits that enable individuals to be 
resilient in the face of environmental or demographic stochasticity, 
including a long life span, high reproductive potential, use of 
habitats and water quality that are arduous to other species, 
adaptation to a wide variety of flow and thermal regimes, and a 
variable omnivorous diet. Population resiliency is demonstrated by the 
persistence of small populations (Cataract Canyon), population 
increases after previous declines (Grand Canyon), population 
establishment after translocations (Havasu Creek), and potential 
stabilization after previous declines (Black Rocks and Westwater 
Canyon). In addition, the large, current population size of the Grand 
Canyon population buffers it from a variety of threats and 
environmental stochasticity.
    The current distribution of the humpback chub in five extant 
populations across the upper and lower basins provides redundancy, 
although at a low level. Existing populations in the upper basin are 
mostly independently susceptible to catastrophe because they are 
located in different river basins and are many miles apart. Black Rocks 
and Westwater Canyon are the only two populations in close proximity. 
In the lower basin, where we define only one extant population, the 
population is widespread. New locations of humpback chub are being 
discovered (western Grand Canyon) or established (Havasu Creek) in the 
lower basin, providing resiliency to the large Little Colorado River 
core area.
    Humpback chub populations also have adequate representation, as the 
multiple populations distributed across the range support the genetic 
diversity of the humpback chub. A preliminary technical report that is 
currently undergoing peer review recommends that genetic diversity of 
the species be managed as three units: Black Rocks & Westwater Canyon, 
Desolation and Gray Canyons and Cataract Canyons, and the Grand Canyon 
(Bohn et al. 2019, p. 8). These three units support the genetic 
diversity of the species and there is adequate exchange of individuals 
between populations in the upper basin.
    We predicted the resiliency, redundancy, and representation of the 
humpback chub under three plausible future scenarios. The future 
scenarios we used to evaluate the future condition of the humpback chub 
are summarized below and are discussed in greater detail in the SSA 
report (Service 2018b, pp. 134-135).
    Scenario 1 describes a reduction or elimination in current 
voluntary management actions for the species, but recognizes that 
conservation actions established under binding operational plans and 
agreements would continue; as such, Scenario 1 can be considered a 
future with reduced conservation actions. Scenarios 2 and 3 include the 
established management actions undertaken in Scenario 1, along with 
currently implemented voluntary management actions, and additional 
proactive and adaptive management actions that may be needed in the 
future; both Scenario 2 and 3 can be considered as futures with 
continued commitment to conservation actions. Scenario 2 and 3 differ 
in their confidence in the effectiveness of the conservation actions. 
Scenario 2 considers that implemented actions are not fully effective 
to mitigate impacts of

[[Page 3592]]

drought, future water development, nonnative fishes, or other threats, 
whereas Scenario 3 considers that implemented actions are sufficient to 
mitigate impacts of drought, future water development, nonnative 
fishes, and other threats. Scenarios 2 and 3 were developed to 
recognize the uncertainty concerning management actions' ability to 
mitigate stressors impacting humpback chub, especially future water 
availability and presence of nonnative fish.
    We evaluated each of these scenarios in terms of how it would be 
expected to impact resiliency, redundancy, and representation of the 
species by the years 2034 and 2058 (16 and 40 years into the future). 
We selected the years 2034 and 2058 for our evaluation of future 
scenarios because they account for multiple generations of humpback 
chub.
    Under Scenario 1, conditions would severely degrade within both 16 
and 40 years, primarily in the Upper Basin. However, if collaborative 
partnerships remain in place and their conservation actions are 
effective as described under Scenario 3, resource conditions improve at 
16- and 40-year timeframes. Under Scenario 2, degradation of resources 
takes place, even as conservation actions continue, resulting in 
neutral conditions within 16 years, but poor conditions within 40 
years. Although there is large uncertainty of resource conditions under 
Scenario 2 at 40 years, extrapolation of the conditions demonstrates a 
continuing decline in resource conditions. The potential extirpation of 
multiple populations could most likely occur in the upper basin under 
the short 16-year timeframe in Scenario 1 and the longer 40-year 
timeframe under Scenario 2. Under Scenario 3, ongoing threat management 
proves successful in the long term, improving resource conditions. The 
health (resiliency) and distribution (redundancy) of all five extant 
populations reduces the risk from a potential catastrophic event under 
Scenario 3.
    Based on the uncertain trajectory of several of the upper basin 
populations; the uncertainty associated with certain resource 
conditions, including nonnative fish, river flow, and food supply in 
the Grand Canyon; and the unresolved future of the Upper Basin Recovery 
Program, the future conditions for the populations and overall species 
viability is at increased risk and could decline within 40 years under 
Scenarios 1 and 2. Future conditions would only improve under Scenario 
3 if long-term management actions are successful.
    The SSA report (Service 2018b, entire) contains a more detailed 
discussion of our evaluation of the biological status of the humpback 
chub and the influences that may affect its continued existence. Our 
evaluations are based upon the best available scientific and commercial 
data.

Recovery Planning and Recovery Criteria

    Section 4(f) of the Act directs us to develop and implement 
recovery plans for the conservation and survival of endangered and 
threatened species unless we determine that such a plan will not 
promote the conservation of the species. Under section 4(f)(1)(B)(ii), 
recovery plans must, to the maximum extent practicable, include 
``objective, measurable criteria which, when met, would result in a 
determination, in accordance with the provisions of [section 4 of the 
Act], that the species be removed from the list.'' However, revisions 
to the Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants (adding, 
removing, or reclassifying a species) must be based on determinations 
made in accordance with sections 4(a)(1) and 4(b) of the Act. Section 
4(a)(1) requires that the Secretary determine whether a species is 
endangered or threatened (or not) because of one or more of five threat 
factors. Section 4(b) of the Act requires that the determination be 
made ``solely on the basis of the best scientific and commercial data 
available.'' While recovery plans provide important guidance to the 
Service, States, and other partners on methods of enhancing 
conservation and minimizing threats to listed species, as well as 
measurable criteria against which to measure progress towards recovery, 
they are not regulatory documents and cannot substitute for the 
determinations and promulgation of regulations required under section 
4(a)(1) of the Act. A decision to revise the status of a species on, or 
to remove a species from, the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened 
Wildlife (50 CFR 17.11) is ultimately based on an analysis of the best 
scientific and commercial data then available to determine whether a 
species is no longer an endangered species or a threatened species, 
regardless of whether that information differs from the recovery plan. 
Below, we summarize recovery planning efforts for the humpback chub for 
informational purposes only.
    We published the first recovery plan for the humpback chub in 1979, 
and published an updated plan in 1990. Many of the recovery actions in 
the first two recovery plans included assessing species needs, 
clarifying taxonomic status, defining humpback chub populations, and 
establishing monitoring programs in order to more fully understand the 
status and needs of the species (Service 1979; Service 1990). In 2002, 
the humpback chub recovery goals supplemented and amended the 1990 
recovery plan, and provided objective and measurable demographic 
criteria and recommendations for site-specific management actions 
needed for recovery (Service 2002). The six populations described in 
this proposed rule and the SSA report, including the now extirpated 
Dinosaur National Monument, were considered extant in the 2002 recovery 
goals. Today, five populations are extant and the Dinosaur National 
Monument population is considered extirpated. Furthermore, when the 
recovery goals were approved, a minimum viable population (MVP) was 
estimated to be at least 2,100 adults. When the 2002 recovery goals 
were published, robust mark/recapture population monitoring efforts had 
just begun in the upper basin. The recovery goals include the following 
demographic reclassification criteria (summarized for brevity):
    Downlisting could occur if, over a 5-year period, all of the 
following criteria are met:
    Criterion 1: Adult abundances for each of the six populations does 
not decline significantly.
    Criterion 2: Natural mean recruitment equals or exceeds mean adult 
mortality in each of the six populations.
    Criterion 3: Two core populations exist that exceed 2,100 adults.
    Criterion 4: Site-specific management actions are identified, 
developed, and implemented.
    For downlisting criterion 4, the recovery goals described the 
following management actions needed to support the species (summarized 
for brevity):
    (1) Provide, and legally protect, habitat and flow regimes.
    (2) Investigate the mainstem Colorado River's role in the Grand 
Canyon population.
    (3) Investigate warmer water temperatures in the mainstem Colorado 
River through the Grand Canyon.
    (4) Ensure adequate protection from overutilization.
    (5) Ensure adequate protection from diseases and parasites.
    (6) Regulate nonnative fish releases and escapement.
    (7) Control problematic nonnative fishes as needed.
    (8) Minimize the risk of increased hybridization among Gila spp.
    (9) Minimize the risk of hazardous-materials spills in critical 
habitat.
    (10) Provide for the long-term management and protection of

[[Page 3593]]

populations and their habitats if the species were delisted.
    (11) The recovery goals further describe that delisting could occur 
if, 3 years after the downlisting criteria are met, downlisting 
criteria 1, 2, and 4 continue to be met (described above), and a third 
core population is added under downlisting criterion 3.
    The current status of the humpback chub partially meets the 2002 
recovery criteria. Although five of the extant populations of humpback 
chub have not declined significantly over the past decade, criterion 1 
has not been fully met because the adult population of Dinosaur 
National Monument declined and the population is now considered 
extirpated. Criterion 2 has been partially met in the five extant 
populations, as those populations are largely stable over the past 
decade, but not in the extirpated Dinosaur National Monument 
population. Criterion 3 is met for downlisting, because the Little 
Colorado River core area in the Grand Canyon population contain 
approximately 11,500 adults (Service 2018b, p. 77) and the most recent 
preliminary estimate for Westwater Canyon is a mean of approximately 
2,800 adults in 2016 and 2017 (Hines 2018, p. 12). Criterion 3 is not 
met for delisting because the next largest population, Desolation and 
Gray Canyons, was last estimated as approximately 1,700 adults in 2015 
(Howard and Caldwell 2018, p. 18).
    Regarding the first and second recovery criteria, we now expect 
that a 5-year period may not be adequate to consider the demographic 
variability of humpback chub populations resulting from substantial 
environmental variability in the Colorado River ecosystem. Humpback 
chub evolved in and are adapted to a highly variable ecosystem with 
fluctuating levels of drought and flood. Consequently, the life history 
of the species is one in which reproductive success and mortality rates 
can fluctuate greatly from year to year. Certainly, over long-term time 
frames, the species needs a stable adult population and adequate 
recruitment, but these conditions are not likely to occur every year. 
Consequently, recovery criteria specifying little to no change in 
demographics for a five year period may not be appropriate for the 
species.
    Regarding downlisting criterion 3, the MVP was established without 
considering each individual population's characteristics, such as 
river-miles and resource conditions. For example, the core Little 
Colorado River area in the Grand Canyon population currently supports 
as many as 5 times the MVP, with additional humpback chub residing in 
other areas. Other habitats, such as Cataract Canyon, likely could not 
support the MVP. This demonstrates that considering each population's 
resources and conditions is a more useful tool than considering one 
single MVP.
    Finally, regarding downlisting criterion 4, a number of the 
management actions have been achieved, such as items (2), (3), and (6); 
a number of the actions are ongoing and still needed, such as items 
(1), (7), and (10); and a number of the actions are no longer 
considered needed for the species, such as items (4), (5), (8), and 
(9). Based on the updated scientific knowledge of humpback chub, the 
2002 recovery goals should be reviewed and updated. As such, the 2018, 
5-year review of the status of the species recommended revising the 
2002 recovery goals to incorporate new information about the species. 
We expect to revise the recovery plan for humpback chub when this 
rulemaking process is complete.

Determination of Humpback Chub Status

    Section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533) and its implementing 
regulations (50 CFR part 424) set forth the procedures for determining 
whether a species meets the definition of ``endangered species'' or 
``threatened species.'' The Act defines an ``endangered species'' as a 
species that is ``in danger of extinction throughout all or a 
significant portion of its range,'' and a ``threatened species'' as a 
species that is ``likely to become an endangered species within the 
foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its 
range.'' The Act requires that we determine whether a species meets the 
definition of ``endangered species'' or ``threatened species'' because 
of any of the following 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.

Status Throughout All of Its Range

    After evaluating threats to the species and assessing the 
cumulative effect of the threats under the section 4(a)(1) factors, we 
identified changes to water flow and temperature (Factor A), food 
availability (Factor A), and predatory, nonnative fish (Factor C) as 
potential stressors to the humpback chub (Service 2018b, pp. 126-133). 
There is no evidence that overutilization (Factor B) of humpback chub, 
disease (Factor C), or other natural and manmade factors affecting the 
species (Factor E) are occurring. Existing regulatory mechanisms 
(Factor D) are discussed below. We evaluated each potential stressor, 
including its source, affected resources, exposure, immediacy, 
geographic scope, magnitude, and impacts on individuals and 
populations, and our level of certainty regarding this information, to 
determine which stressors were likely to be drivers of the species' 
current and future conditions (Service 2018b, pp. 126-133). We also 
evaluated the effects of stressors that may operate cumulatively, such 
as low river flows and warm water temperatures that may act 
cumulatively to increase predation by nonnative predators.
    We note that by using the SSA framework to guide our analysis of 
the scientific information documented in the SSA report, we have not 
only analyzed individual effects on the species, but we have also 
analyzed their potential cumulative effects. We incorporate the 
cumulative effects into our analysis when we characterize the current 
and future condition of the species. Our assessment of the current and 
future conditions encompasses and incorporates the threats individually 
and cumulatively. Our current and future condition assessment is 
iterative because it accumulates and evaluates the effects of all the 
factors that may be influencing the species, including threats and 
conservation efforts. Because the SSA framework considers not just the 
presence of the factors, but to what degree they collectively influence 
risk to the entire species, our assessment integrates the cumulative 
effects of the factors and replaces a standalone cumulative effects 
analysis.
    Our analysis found that the primary drivers for the humpback chub's 
current and future condition are diminishing river flow, increasing 
water temperature, expanding populations of nonnative fish, and food 
availability in the Grand Canyon. Low river flows and warm water 
temperatures may also act cumulatively to increase predation by 
nonnative predators. We summarize these stressors below, with more 
detail provided in the SSA report (Service 2018b, pp. 126-133).
    River flow and temperature--The presence and operation of large 
dams alter suitable river flow and temperatures. Historical dam 
operations did not always provide river flow conditions that supported 
humpback chub, but recent modifications to operations have reduced some 
impacts from the presence of dams. We

[[Page 3594]]

evaluated how the effects of global climate change could impact river 
flows and water temperatures using hydroclimate projections of future 
water resources in the Colorado River basin. Hydroclimate projections 
predict that decreased warm-season runoff will reduce river flows, 
primarily from increased frequency and severity of drought, which 
further result in warmer water temperatures (U.S. Bureau of Reclamation 
2016, i-ii). Warmer, lower flows in the upper basin increase the risk 
of nonnative fish species impacting humpback chub populations. Warmer 
releases from Lake Powell could also impact abundance and distribution 
of nonnative fish in the Grand Canyon. However, current river flow 
conditions and temperatures are largely adequate for humpback chub in 
both basins because reservoir operations have had the flexibility and 
commitment to support humpback chub when making dam releases. Future 
conditions of river flow and temperature are uncertain because 
conditions are shaped by regional climatic patterns and water 
availability, and regulated by the operation of large dams.
    Food availability--Humpback chub require an adequate and reliable 
food supply, which can consist of a variety of insects, crustaceans, 
and plants. Food is supplied by the instream production of 
invertebrates, insect emergences, and floods laden with debris. In the 
upper basin, food supply has not been measured, but is not believed to 
be a limiting factor. Conversely, below Glen Canyon Dam in the lower 
basin, the condition of the humpback chub populations has decreased due 
to low aquatic insect diversity and declining stream productivity. It 
is unclear if management could improve food availability below the Glen 
Canyon Dam, but altered release patterns from the dam could potentially 
increase instream production of food resources for humpback chub.
    Predation--Predation and competition by nonnative fish are 
stressors to humpback chub in both the upper and lower basins. Because 
of the species' slow growth and late sexual maturity, juvenile humpback 
chub are vulnerable to predation from predatory, nonnative fish during 
the first few years of life. Nonnative fish can also compete for 
resources with adult humpback chub, reducing the species breeding, 
feeding, and sheltering. The humpback chub evolved in an environment 
relatively free of predators and competitors. Therefore, it is ill-
adapted to living with the many nonnative fish that have been 
introduced into the Colorado River basin because it is a soft-rayed 
fish with no defense mechanisms for protection from predators. Although 
the species has no natural defense mechanisms, the habitats occupied by 
humpback chub may limit impacts from nonnative species because of the 
more arduous hydrological conditions of canyons. Predation from 
nonnative fish may also increase when warm water temperatures act 
cumulatively with low flows.
    Predation from nonnative fish, particularly smallmouth bass in the 
upper basin, is a potential threat to the viability of humpback chub. 
Currently, through active flow management and nonnative predator 
removal, nonnative predators are not limiting four of the five extant 
humpback chub populations, but are moderately impacting two (one extant 
and one extirpated) populations. Although current resource conditions 
are acceptable in the upper basin, the risk for substantial and rapid 
degradation is present.
    In the lower basin, current densities of nonnative predators are 
low, and management actions are in place to prevent establishment of 
new species. However, recent increases in brown trout density in the 
Lees Ferry reach of the Colorado River and the discovery of green 
sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus) immediately below Glen Canyon Dam 
demonstrate that risks do exist in the lower basin, primarily related 
to operations of Glen Canyon Dam and escapement from Lake Powell. Lower 
elevations of Lake Powell enhance risk of nonnative predator 
establishment in the Grand Canyon via increased risk of fish escaping 
through Glen Canyon Dam and warmer water releases that support 
nonnative predators.
    All upper basin humpback chub populations have dense nonnative 
predator populations nearby, but only one of the four extant 
populations and the site of the extirpated population currently undergo 
periodic increases in densities of nonnative predators within humpback 
chub habitats. Those two populations, Dinosaur National Monument 
(extirpated) and Desolation and Gray Canyons (extant), experience 
periodic fluctuations in smallmouth bass density, demonstrating the 
latent risk. If environmental conditions change, such as reduced river 
flow or increased water temperature from long-term drought, nearby 
populations of nonnative predators could rapidly colonize upper basin 
humpback chub habitats. Similarly, if management of nonnative predators 
is reduced or eliminated, nonnative predators could rapidly colonize 
humpback chub habitats. Smallmouth bass colonization of multiple 
humpback chub populations would significantly decrease the viability of 
the species, especially in the upper basin. Therefore, although current 
resource conditions related to nonnative predatory fish are acceptable, 
there is risk associated with predators in the future.
    Regulatory mechanisms--Regulatory mechanisms (Factor D) and other 
management efforts benefit the humpback chub. Most resources affecting 
humpback chub are strictly regulated through Federal, State, and tribal 
mechanisms. The humpback chub's canyon habitats are largely protected 
by Federal, State, and tribal land ownership, and humans primarily use 
humpback chub habitats for recreation. Releases from large dams, 
primarily operated by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, are now operated 
to promote river function and fish habitat under binding operational 
and management plans described in the Records of Decision for the 
Aspinall Unit (U.S. Bureau of Reclamation 2012, pp. 1), Flaming Gorge 
Dam (US Bureau of Reclamation 2006, pp. 1-2), and Glen Canyon Dam (U.S. 
Department of the Interior 2016, pp. 1-2). Water use and delivery in 
the Colorado River basin is strictly regulated under existing Federal, 
State, and tribal laws commonly referred to as the ``Law of the 
River'', including, but not limited to, the Colorado River Compact of 
1922, the Upper Colorado River Basin Compact of 1948, the Colorado 
River Storage Project Act of 1956, the Colorado River Basin Project Act 
of 1968, and individual state and tribal statutes that regulate water 
appropriation.
    The Upper Basin Recovery Program coordinates and implements the 
majority of management actions for the four extant and one extirpated 
upper basin populations, while the Glen Canyon Dam AMP undertakes 
management actions for the mainstem Colorado River in the lower basin. 
These programs are considered regulatory mechanisms because they are 
authorized through or comply with Federal legislation. The Upper Basin 
Recovery Program was authorized under Public Law 106-392 and has been 
renewed on a periodic basis by acts of Congress. The Glen Canyon Dam 
AMP was established under the Record of Decision to operate Glen Canyon 
Dam needed to comply with the Grand Canyon Protection Act of 1992 (U.S. 
Bureau of Reclamation 1996, pp. G-3 to G-4).
    Commitment to management actions for the benefit of humpback chub 
is strong among the various partnerships; nevertheless, uncertainty of 
continued implementation does exist. For

[[Page 3595]]

example, the cooperative agreement establishing the Upper Basin 
Recovery Program expires in 2023. Elimination of the Upper Basin 
Recovery Program would introduce severe uncertainty about continued 
implementation of important management actions for humpback chub in the 
upper basin. In the lower basin, the Long-Term Experimental and 
Management Plan and other legally binding mechanisms provide more 
certainty for humpback chub conservation actions, but additional 
adaptive actions are still likely needed to respond to changing 
resource conditions (Service 2018b, pp. 12-14).
    The Upper Basin Recovery Program and Glen Canyon Dam AMP are key 
regulatory mechanisms that shape the current and future condition of 
humpback chub. Both programs implement management actions that benefit 
all resource needs of the humpback chub. For example, both programs 
provide adequate habitat conditions by managing river flow and water 
temperature and by managing nonnative fish species. Although it is 
likely that both programs will continue to implement management 
actions, there is uncertainty regarding the status of the Upper Basin 
Recovery Program over the next 16 to 40 years.
    Currently, resource conditions are adequate and support a large, 
stable population in the lower basin and multiple persistent 
populations in the upper basin. Although the current risk of extinction 
is low, there is enough risk associated with the potential loss of 
important management actions such that the species is vulnerable and 
likely to become endangered throughout all of its range within the 
foreseeable future.
    We find that endangered species status is not appropriate for the 
humpback chub because the species currently demonstrates sufficient 
individual and population resiliency, redundancy, and representation 
across both the upper basin and lower basin populations, such that the 
potential extirpation of multiple populations is not likely to occur 
now or in the short term. The current resiliency of the large core 
population in the lower basin and the current resiliency and redundancy 
of the four populations in the upper basin decrease the risk to the 
species from stochastic and catastrophic events, such that the species 
currently has a low risk of extinction. Therefore, the risk of 
extinction is currently low, and therefore the species is not in danger 
of extinction.
    Thus, after assessing the best available information, we conclude 
that the humpback chub is not currently in danger of extinction, but is 
likely to become in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future 
throughout all of its range.

Status Throughout a Significant Portion of Its Range

    Under the Act and our implementing regulations, a species may 
warrant listing if it is in danger of extinction or likely to become so 
in the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of 
its range. Because we have determined that the humpback chub is likely 
to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future 
throughout all of its range, we find it unnecessary to proceed to an 
evaluation of potentially significant portions of the range. Where the 
best available information allows the Services to determine a status 
for the species rangewide, that determination should be given 
conclusive weight because a rangewide determination of status more 
accurately reflects the species' degree of imperilment and better 
promotes the purposes of the Act. Under this reading, we should first 
consider whether the species warrants listing ``throughout all'' of its 
range and proceed to conduct a ``significant portion of its range'' 
analysis if, and only if, a species does not qualify for listing as 
either an endangered or a threatened species according to the 
``throughout all'' language. We note that the court in Desert Survivors 
v. Department of the Interior, No. 16-cv-01165-JCS, 2018 WL 4053447 
(N.D. Cal. Aug. 24, 2018), did not address this issue, and our 
conclusion is therefore consistent with the opinion in that case.

Determination of Status

    Our review of the best available scientific and commercial 
information indicates that the humpback chub meets the definition of a 
threatened species. Therefore, we propose to reclassify the humpback 
chub as a threatened species in accordance with sections 3(20) and 
4(a)(1) of the Act.

Proposed 4(d) Rule

Background

    Section 4(d) of the Act states that the ``Secretary shall issue 
such regulations as he deems necessary and advisable to provide for the 
conservation'' of species listed as threatened. The U.S. Supreme Court 
has noted that very similar statutory language demonstrates a large 
degree of deference to the agency (see Webster v. Doe, 486 U.S. 592 
(1988)). Conservation is defined in the Act to mean ``the use of all 
methods and procedures which are necessary to bring any endangered 
species or threatened species to the point at which the measures 
provided pursuant to [the Act] are no longer necessary.'' Additionally, 
section 4(d) of the Act states that the Secretary ``may by regulation 
prohibit with respect to any threatened species any act prohibited 
under section 9(a)(1), in the case of fish or wildlife, or section 
9(a)(2), in the case of plants.'' Thus, regulations promulgated under 
section 4(d) of the Act provide the Secretary with wide latitude of 
discretion to select appropriate provisions tailored to the specific 
conservation needs of the threatened species. The statute grants 
particularly broad discretion to the Service when adopting the 
prohibitions under section 9.
    The courts have recognized the extent of the Secretary's discretion 
under this standard to develop rules that are appropriate for the 
conservation of a species. For example, courts have approved rules 
developed under section 4(d) that include a taking prohibition for 
threatened wildlife, or include a limited taking prohibition (see Alsea 
Valley Alliance v. Lautenbacher, 2007 U.S. Dist. Lexis 60203 (D. Or. 
2007); Washington Environmental Council v. National Marine Fisheries 
Service, 2002 U.S. Dist. Lexis 5432 (W.D. Wash. 2002)). Courts have 
also approved 4(d) rules that do not address all of the threats a 
species faces (see State of Louisiana v. Verity, 853 F.2d 322 (5th Cir. 
1988)). As noted in the legislative history when the Act was initially 
enacted, ``once an animal is on the threatened list, the Secretary has 
an almost infinite number of options available to him with regard to 
the permitted activities for those species. He may, for example, permit 
taking, but not importation of such species or he may choose to forbid 
both taking and importation but allow the transportation of such 
species'' (H.R. Rep. No. 412, 93rd Cong., 1st Sess. 1973).
    The Service has developed a species-specific 4(d) rule that is 
designed to address the humpback chub's specific threats and 
conservation needs. Although the statute does not require the Service 
to make a ``necessary and advisable'' finding with respect to the 
adoption of specific prohibitions under section 9, we find that this 
regulation is necessary and advisable to provide for the conservation 
of the humpback chub. As discussed in the Summary of Biological Status 
and Threats section, the Service has concluded that the humpback chub 
is at risk of extinction within the foreseeable future primarily due to 
changes to water flow and temperature, food availability, and 
predatory, non-native fish. The provisions of this proposed 4(d) rule

[[Page 3596]]

would promote the conservation of the humpback chub by providing 
continued protection from take and to facilitate the expansion of the 
species' range by increasing flexibility in management activities. The 
provisions of this rule are one of many tools that the Service will use 
to promote the conservation of the humpback chub. This proposed 4(d) 
rule would apply only if and when the Service makes final the listing 
of the humpback chub as a threatened species.

Provisions of the Proposed 4(d) Rule

    This proposed 4(d) rule would provide for the conservation of the 
humpback chub by prohibiting the following activities, except as 
otherwise authorized or permitted: Importing or exporting; possession 
and other acts with unlawfully taken specimens; delivering, receiving, 
transporting, or shipping in interstate or foreign commerce in the 
course of commercial activity; or selling or offering for sale in 
interstate or foreign commerce. This proposed 4(d) rule includes 
actions to facilitate conservation and management of humpback chub 
where they currently occur, and may occur in the future, by eliminating 
the Act's take prohibition for certain activities. These activities are 
intended to encourage support for the conservation of humpback chub. 
Under this proposed 4(d) rule, take will continue to be prohibited, 
except for the following forms of take that would be excepted under the 
Act:
     Take resulting from creating and maintaining humpback chub 
refuge populations;
     Take resulting from expanding the range of the species, 
including translocating wild fish and stocking hatchery-reared fish;
     Incidental take from reducing or eliminating nonnative 
fish from habitats adjacent to, or occupied by, humpback chub;
     Take resulting from catch-and-release angling activities 
associated with humpback chub, including incidental take from non-
humpback chub-targeted angling in the six core populations and take 
from humpback chub-targeted angling in any newly established areas; and
     Take associated with chemical treatments in support of the 
recovery of humpback chub.
    Under this proposed 4(d) rule, take resulting from these activities 
would not be prohibited as long as reasonable care is practiced to 
minimize the effects of such taking. Reasonable care includes limiting 
the impacts to humpback chub individuals and populations by complying 
with all applicable Federal, State, and tribal regulations for the 
activity in question; using methods and techniques that result in the 
least harm, injury, or death, as feasible; undertaking activities at 
the least impactful times and locations, as feasible; ensuring the 
number of individuals removed or sampled minimally impacts existing 
extant wild population; ensuring no disease or parasites are introduced 
into existing extant wild humpback chub populations; and preserving the 
genetic diversity of extant wild populations.

Creation and Maintenance of Refuge Populations

    Establishing and maintaining humpback chub refuge populations is an 
important consideration for long-term humpback chub viability because 
refuge populations safeguard genetic diversity against catastrophic 
declines in wild populations and can be necessary to protect a 
population from extirpation. In the case of declining wild populations, 
refuge populations provide the flexibility to perform supplemental 
stocking into existing populations or reintroduction of individuals to 
extirpated areas. Refuge populations may also allow for stocking of 
individuals into new areas that expand the range of the species (see 
Translocation or Stocking of Humpback Chub, below). The process of 
establishing and supplementing refuge populations requires take in the 
form of collection of wild individuals of various life stages. 
Furthermore, the long-term care and maintenance of refuge populations 
will result in take, including death of individuals held in captivity. 
However, preservation of genetic diversity in refuge populations 
outweighs any losses to wild populations if performed in a deliberate, 
well-designed process.
    Currently, some, but not all, of the genetic diversity of humpback 
chub exists in captive refuge populations. Approximately 1,000 
individuals from the Grand Canyon population are managed as a refuge 
population at the Southwestern Native Aquatic Resources and Recovery 
Center (SNARRC) in Dexter, New Mexico; additionally, a small number of 
adults from the Black Rocks population reside at the Horsethief ponds 
near Grand Junction, Colorado. In order to preserve the full breath of 
genetic diversity of humpback chub, creation of additional refuge 
populations could be suggested in the revised humpback chub recovery 
plan, by the Service, or in other proceedings, such as section 7 
consultations between the Service and Federal agencies. We expect to 
revise the recovery plan for humpback chub when this rulemaking process 
is complete.
    This proposed 4(d) rule describes creation and maintenance of 
humpback chub refuge populations excepted from take as activities 
undertaken for the long-term protection of humpback chub genetic 
diversity. Refuge populations must include specific genetic groupings 
of humpback chub as defined by the best available science and must be 
managed to maintain the genetic diversity of the species. Refuge 
populations can occur at both captive and wild locations.
    The Service must approve in writing the designation of a refuge 
population, and any removal of individuals from wild populations. 
Subsequent to those approvals, under this proposed 4(d) rule, the 
Service would no longer regulate the take associated with maintenance 
of that population. Take associated with refuge populations could 
include harvest of wild individuals from extant populations; incidental 
take during the long-term care of individuals in captivity; take 
related to disease, parasite, genetic assessment, and management of 
captive populations; and natural mortality of individuals existing in 
refuge populations.

Translocation and Stocking of Humpback Chub

    Translocating wild humpback chub and stocking hatchery-reared 
humpback are important management actions supporting the long-term 
viability of the species. Introducing individuals into new areas can 
provide increased redundancy and decreased risk to catastrophic events 
by expanding the range of the species. Introducing individuals into 
wild populations can provide increased resiliency for extant 
populations by potentially offsetting population declines or increasing 
genetic diversity. The process of translocating wild individuals can 
result in take to wild individuals, including possible mortality to 
fish that are moved. The process of culturing and stocking individuals 
can also result in take via hatchery methods or incidental mortality of 
stocked individuals. However, if the translocation or stocking program 
is performed under a deliberate, well-designed program, the benefits to 
the species can greatly outweigh the losses.
    Translocations of wild humpback to new locations have demonstrated 
success in the Grand Canyon. Between 2003 and 2015, juvenile humpback 
chub were translocated from the Little Colorado River to Shinumo Creek, 
Havasu Creek, and the Little Colorado River above Chute Falls. At all 
three locations, translocated fish established

[[Page 3597]]

residency, increasing the range of the species (although the Shinumo 
Creek population was later extirpated via ash-laden floods following a 
wildfire). The Havasu Creek population also demonstrated wild 
reproduction and recruitment, further supporting the management action 
of translocations for expanding the range of the humpback chub. Based 
on these successes, translocation appears to be a possible tool to 
reintroduce individuals into the Dinosaur National Monument population 
or to expand the range of humpback chub into other areas.
    Currently, humpback chub are not cultured in hatcheries, nor are 
any broodstock fish maintained at a hatchery. However, in the future, 
hatchery production and culture may be a necessary tool either to 
supplement existing populations or to introduce individuals to new 
locations without harvesting wild fish.
    This proposed 4(d) rule describes translocation and stocking of 
humpback chub excepted from take as any activity undertaken to expand 
the range of humpback chub or to supplement existing wild populations. 
Take from translocation could include harvest and movement of wild 
individuals from extant populations to new areas and subsequent 
mortality of fish in new locations. Any translocation program must be 
approved in writing by the Service. Take from stocking programs could 
include take during the long-term care of individuals in captivity; 
take related to disease, parasite, genetic assessment, and management 
of captive populations while they are in captivity; and take from 
stocking, including subsequent mortality of stocked individuals. Any 
harvest of wild fish to support a stocking program must comply with the 
conditions described above under Creation and Maintenance of Refuge 
Populations. Any stocking of humpback must follow best hatchery and 
fishery management practices as described in the American Fisheries 
Society's Fish Hatchery Management (Wedemeyer 2002, entire) and be 
approved by the Service. Any stocking of individuals outside the six 
core populations must comply with State stocking regulations.

Nonnative Fish Removal

    Control of nonnative fishes is vital for the continued recovery of 
humpback chub because predatory, nonnative fishes are a principal 
threat to humpback chub (see Summary of Biological Status and Threats, 
above). Removal of nonnative fishes reduces predation and competition 
pressure on humpback chub, increasing humpback chub survival, 
recruitment, and access to resources. During the course of removing 
nonnative fishes, take of humpback chub may occur from incidental 
captures resulting in capture, handling, injury, or possible mortality. 
However, nonnative removal activities in humpback chub habitats are 
designed to be selective, allowing for the removal of predatory, 
nonnative fish while humpback chub are returned safely to the river. 
Therefore, if nonnative fish removal is performed under deliberate, 
well-designed programs, the benefits to humpback chub can greatly 
outweigh losses.
    Currently, active nonnative fish removal is widespread in the upper 
basin, but is less common in the lower basin. Control of nonnative 
fishes is conducted by qualified personnel in the upper basin via 
mechanical removal using boat-mounted electrofishing, nets, and seines, 
primarily focusing on removal of smallmouth bass, northern pike (Esox 
lucius), and walleye (Sander vitreus). Removal of nonnative fishes in 
the upper basin is performed under strict standardized protocols to 
limit impacts to humpback chub. In the lower basin, nonnative fish 
actions primarily focus on preventing establishment of new species 
(such as removal of green sunfish below Glen Canyon Dam) and 
controlling populations of trout in tributary habitats (such as removal 
of brown trout in Bright Angel Creek). New techniques, as available and 
feasible, may also need to be implemented in the future.
    This proposed 4(d) rule describes nonnative fish removal excepted 
from take prohibitions as any action with the primary or secondary 
purpose of mechanically removing nonnative fishes that compete with, 
predate, or degrade the habitat of humpback chub, and that is approved 
in writing by the Service for that purpose. These methods include 
mechanical removal within occupied humpback chub habitats, including, 
but not limited to, electrofishing, seining, netting, and angling, or 
other ecosystem modifications such as altered flow regimes or habitat 
modifications. All methods must be conducted by qualified personnel and 
used in compliance with applicable Federal, State, and tribal 
regulations. Whenever possible, humpback chub that are caught alive as 
part of nonnative fish removal should be returned to their capture 
location as quickly as possible.

Catch-and-Release Angling of Humpback Chub

    Recreational angling is an important consideration for management 
of all fisheries, as recreational angling is the primary mechanism by 
which the public interacts with fishes. Furthermore, angling 
regulations are an important communication tool. While the humpback 
chub is not currently a species that is prized for its recreational or 
commercial value, the species is a large-bodied, catchable-sized fish 
that could offer potential recreational value in certain situations. 
Conservation value from public support for humpback chub could arise 
through newly established fishing locations and public engagement with 
this species. Furthermore, anglers do target species that co-occur with 
humpback chub at some locations. As a result, otherwise legal angling 
activity in humpback chub habitats could result in the unintentional 
catch of humpback chub by the angling public. Catch-and-release 
angling, both intentional and incidental, can result in take of 
humpback chub through handling, injury, and potential mortality. 
However, the conservation support that angling provides can outweigh 
losses to humpback chub, if the angling program is designed 
appropriately.
    Currently, State angling regulations require the release of all 
incidental catches of humpback chub and do not allow anglers to target 
the species. Therefore, current angling regulations for humpback chub 
by the States of Arizona, Colorado, and Utah demonstrate a willingness 
to enact appropriate regulations for the protection of the humpback 
chub. It is important to continue to protect humpback chub from 
intentional angling pressure in the six core populations (five extant 
and one extirpated) because of their importance to the recovery of the 
species. These populations, as described in Tables 1 and 7 of the SSA 
report, are Desolation and Gray Canyons (Green River, Utah), Dinosaur 
National Monument (Green and Yampa rivers, Colorado and Utah), Black 
Rocks (Colorado River, Colorado), Westwater Canyon (Colorado River, 
Utah), Cataract Canyon (Colorado River, Utah), and Grand Canyon 
(Colorado and Little Colorado rivers, Arizona). Supporting recreational 
fishing access to these areas for species other than humpback chub is 
an important economic consideration for State and tribal entities. We 
propose to allow incidental take of humpback chub from angling 
activities that are in accordance with State and tribal fishing 
regulations in the six core humpback chub populations, but that do not 
target humpback chub. That is, incidental take associated with 
incidental catch-and-release of humpback chub in the core populations 
would not be prohibited.

[[Page 3598]]

Reasonable consideration by the States and tribes for incidental catch 
of humpback chub in the six core populations include: (1) Regulating 
tactics to minimize potential injury and death to humpback chub if 
caught; (2) communicating the potential for catching humpback chub in 
these areas; and (3) promoting the importance of the six core 
populations.
    Outside of the six core populations, we foresee that Federal, 
State, or tribal governments may want to establish a new recovery 
location where humpback chub could be targeted for catch-and-release 
angling or a new location without recovery value, where the sole 
purpose is recreational angling for humpback chub. Newly established 
locations could offer a genetic refuge for core populations of humpback 
chub (see Creation and Maintenance of Refuge Populations, above), 
provide a location for hatchery-reared fish (see Translocation and 
Stocking of Humpback Chub, above), and offer the public a chance to 
interact with the species in the wild. Therefore, we propose to allow 
take of humpback chub from catch-and-release angling activities that 
target humpback chub and are in accordance with State and tribal 
fishing regulations in areas outside of the six core humpback chub 
populations.
    Sport fishing for humpback chub would only be allowed through the 
4(d) rule and subsequent State or tribal regulations created in 
collaboration with the Service. This rule would allow recreational 
catch-and-release fishing of humpback chub in specified waters, not 
including the six core populations. Management as a recreational 
species would be conducted after completion of, and consistent with the 
goals within, a revised recovery plan for the species. The principal 
effect of this 4(d) rule would be to allow take in accordance with 
fishing regulations enacted by States or tribes, in collaboration with 
the Service.
    Recreational opportunities may be developed by the States and 
tribes in new waters following careful consideration of the locations 
and impacts to the species. Reasonable consideration for establishing 
new recreational locations for humpback chub include, but are not 
limited to: (1) Carefully evaluating each water body and determining 
whether the water body can sustain angling; (2) ensuring the population 
does not detrimentally impact core populations of humpback chub through 
such factors as disease or genetic drift; (3) ensuring adequate 
availability of humpback chub to support angling; and (4) monitoring to 
ensure there are no detrimental effects to the population from angling. 
If monitoring indicates that angling has a negative effect on the 
conservation of humpback chub in the opinion of the Service, the 
fishing regulations must be amended or the fishery could be closed by 
the appropriate State.

Chemical Treatments Supporting Humpback Chub

    Chemical treatments of water bodies are an important fisheries 
management tool because they are the principal method used to remove 
all fishes from a defined area. That is, chemical treatments provide 
more certainty of complete removal than other methods, such as 
mechanical removal. Therefore, chemical treatments are used for a 
variety of restoration and conservation purposes, such as preparing 
areas for stocking efforts, preventing nonnative fishes from colonizing 
downstream areas, and resetting locations after failed management 
efforts. Chemical treatments of water bodies could take humpback chub 
if individuals reside in the locations that are treated and cannot be 
salvaged completely prior to treatment. However, the overall benefit of 
conservation actions implemented using chemical treatment can outweigh 
the losses of humpback chub, if careful planning is taken prior to 
treatments.
    Chemical piscicides (chemicals that are poisonous to fish) have 
been used in the upper and lower basin to remove upstream sources of 
nonnative fishes in support of humpback chub. For example, Red Fleet 
Reservoir (Green River, Utah) was treated by Utah Division of Wildlife 
Resources to remove walleye that were escaping downstream, and a slough 
downstream of Glen Canyon Dam (Colorado River, Arizona) was treated by 
the National Park Service to remove green sunfish before they could 
invade humpback chub habitat. At Red Fleet Reservoir, chemical 
treatment also provided the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources with 
the ability to establish a new fish community that supported angling 
interests and provided greater compatibility with downstream 
conservation efforts.
    Chemical treatments could support a variety of activities to assist 
in the conservation of humpback chub, including certain other actions 
described in this proposed 4(d) rule. For example, chemical treatments 
could be used prior to introducing humpback chub to a wild refuge 
population, a translocation site, or a sport fishing location. 
Nonnative fishes can also be removed using chemical treatments, 
providing a faster and more complete removal than mechanical removal. 
Furthermore, chemical treatments offer the ability to fully restore a 
location after a failed introduction effort. For example, if humpback 
chub were stocked into a new area, but did not successfully establish, 
landowners may want to restore this location for another purpose.
    Chemical treatments would be allowed under this proposed 4(d) rule. 
Necessary precautions and planning should be applied to avoid impacts 
to humpback chub. For example, treatments upstream of occupied humpback 
chub habitats should adhere to all protocols to limit the potential for 
fish toxicants and piscicides travelling beyond treatment boundaries. 
Chemical treatments that take place in locations where humpback chub 
occur, or may occur, must take place only after a robust salvage effort 
takes place to remove humpback chub in the area. Whenever possible, 
humpback chub that are salvaged should be moved to a location that 
supports recovery of the species. Any chemical treatment that takes 
place in an area where humpback chub may reside would need written 
approval from the Service, but treatments of unoccupied habitat would 
not need to be approved. Once the location of a chemical treatment is 
approved in writing by the Service, the take of humpback chub by 
qualified personnel associated with performing a chemical treatment 
would not be regulated by the Service.

Reporting and Disposal of Humpback Chub

    Under the proposed 4(d) rule, if humpback chub are killed during 
actions described in the 4(d) rule, the Service must be notified of the 
death and may request to take possession of the animal. Notification 
should be given to the appropriate Regional Law Enforcement Office 
Service or associated management office. Information on the offices to 
contact is set forth under Proposed Regulation Promulgation, below. Law 
enforcement offices must be notified within 72 hours of the death, 
unless special conditions warrant an extension. The Service may allow 
additional reasonable time for reporting if access to these offices is 
limited due to closure or if the activity was conducted in area without 
sufficient communication access.

Permits

    We may issue permits to carry out otherwise prohibited activities, 
including those described above, involving threatened wildlife under 
certain circumstances. Regulations governing permits are codified at 50

[[Page 3599]]

CFR 17.32. With regard to threatened wildlife, a permit may be issued 
for the following purposes: scientific purposes, to enhance propagation 
or survival, for economic hardship, for zoological exhibition, for 
educational purposes, for incidental taking, or for special purposes 
consistent with the purposes of the Act. There are also certain 
statutory exemptions from the prohibitions, which are found in sections 
9 and 10 of the Act.
    This proposed 4(d) rule would not impact existing or future permits 
issued by the Service for take of humpback chub. Any person with a 
valid permit issued by the Service under Sec.  17.22 or Sec.  17.32 may 
take humpback chub, subject to all take limitations and other special 
terms and conditions of the permit.
    The Service recognizes the special and unique relationship with our 
state natural resource agency partners in contributing to conservation 
of listed species. State agencies often possess scientific data and 
valuable expertise on the status and distribution of endangered, 
threatened, and candidate species of wildlife and plants. State 
agencies, because of their authorities and their close working 
relationships with local governments and landowners, are in a unique 
position to assist the Services in implementing all aspects of the Act. 
In this regard, section 6 of the Act provides that the Services shall 
cooperate to the maximum extent practicable with the States in carrying 
out programs authorized by the Act. Therefore, any qualified employee 
or agent of a State conservation agency that is a party to a 
cooperative agreement with the Service in accordance with section 6(c) 
of the Act, who is designated by his or her agency for such purposes, 
would be able to conduct activities designed to conserve humpback chub 
that may result in otherwise prohibited take for wildlife without 
additional authorization.

Proposed 4(d) Rule

    We believe the actions and activities that would be allowed under 
this proposed 4(d) rule, while they may cause some level of harm to 
individual humpback chub, would not negatively affect efforts to 
conserve and recover humpback chub, and would facilitate these efforts 
by increasing educational opportunities and public support for the 
conservation of humpback chub and by providing more efficient 
implementation of recovery actions. This proposed 4(d) rule would not 
be made final until we have reviewed and fully considered comments from 
the public.
    Nothing in this proposed 4(d) rule would change in any way the 
recovery planning provisions of section 4(f) of the Act, the 
consultation requirements under section 7 of the Act, or the ability of 
the Service to enter into partnerships for the management and 
protection of the humpback chub. However, interagency cooperation may 
be further streamlined through planned programmatic consultations for 
the species between Federal agencies and the Service. We ask the 
public, particularly State agencies and other interested stakeholders 
that may be affected by the proposed 4(d) rule, to provide comments and 
suggestions regarding additional guidance and methods that the Service 
could provide or use, respectively, to streamline the implementation of 
this proposed 4(d) rule (see Information Requested, above).

Required Determinations

Clarity of This Proposed Rule

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

National Environmental Policy Act

    We determined that we do not need to prepare an environmental 
assessment or an environmental impact statement, as defined under the 
authority of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 
4321 et seq.), in connection with regulations adopted pursuant to 
section 4(a) of the Act. We published a notice outlining our reasons 
for this determination in the Federal Register on October 25, 1983 (48 
FR 49244). We also determine that 4(d) rules that accompany regulations 
adopted pursuant to section 4(a) of the Act are not subject to the 
National Environmental Policy Act.

Government-to-Government Relationship With Tribes

    In accordance with the President's memorandum of April 29, 1994, 
``Government-to-Government Relations with Native American Tribal 
Governments'' (59 FR 22951), Executive Order 13175, Secretarial Order 
3206, the Department of the Interior's manual at 512 DM 2, and the 
Native American Policy of the Service (January 20, 2016), we readily 
acknowledge our responsibility to communicate meaningfully with 
recognized Federal Tribes on a government-to-government basis. We will 
coordinate with tribes in the range of the humpback chub and request 
their input on this proposed rule.

References Cited

    A complete list of references cited in this rulemaking is available 
on the internet at http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-R6-ES-
2018-0081, and upon request from the Upper Colorado River Endangered 
Fish Recovery Program Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

Authors

    The primary authors of this final rule are the staff members of the 
Service's Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program Office.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

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

Proposed Regulation Promulgation

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

PART 17--ENDANGERED AND THREATENED WILDLIFE AND PLANTS

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

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

0
2. Amend Sec.  17.11(h) by revising the entry for ``Chub, humpback'' 
under FISHES on the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife to read 
as follows:


Sec.  17.11   Endangered and threatened wildlife.

* * * * *
    (h) * * *

[[Page 3600]]



----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                           Listing citations and
          Common name              Scientific name      Where listed          Status         applicable rules
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
                                                  * * * * * * *
             Fishes
 
                                                  * * * * * * *
Chub, humpback.................  Gila cypha........  Wherever found....  T..............  32 FR 4001, 3/11/1967;
                                                                                           [Federal Register
                                                                                           citation when
                                                                                           published as a final
                                                                                           rule]; 50 CFR
                                                                                           17.44(cc); 4d 50 CFR
                                                                                           17.95(e).\CH\
 
                                                  * * * * * * *
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

0
3. Amend Sec.  17.44 by adding a paragraph (cc) to read as follows:


Sec.  17.44   Special rules--fishes.

    (cc) Humpback chub (Gila cypha).
    (1) Prohibitions. Except as provided under paragraph (cc)(2) of 
this section and Sec. Sec.  17.4 and 17.5, it is unlawful for any 
person subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to commit, to 
attempt to commit, to solicit another to commit, or cause to be 
committed, any of the following acts in regard to this species:
    (i) Import or export, as set forth at Sec.  17.21(b).
    (ii) Take, unless excepted as outlined in paragraphs (cc)(2)(i) 
through (iv) of this section.
    (iii) Possession and other acts with unlawfully taken specimens, as 
set forth at Sec.  17.21(d)(1).
    (iv) Interstate or foreign commerce in the course of commercial 
activity, as set forth at Sec.  17.21(e).
    (v) Sale or offer for sale, as set forth at Sec.  17.21(f).
    (2) Exceptions from prohibitions. In regard to this species, you 
may:
    (i) Conduct activities as authorized by an existing permit under 
Sec.  17.32.
    (ii) Conduct activities as authorized by a permit issued prior to 
[effective date of the rule] under Sec.  17.22 for the duration of the 
permit.
    (iii) Take, as set forth at Sec.  17.21(c)(2) through (c)(4).
    (iv) Take humpback chub while carrying out the following legally 
conducted activities in accordance with this paragraph:
    (A) Definitions. For the purposes of this paragraph:
    (1) Person means a person as defined by section 3(13) of the Act.
    (2) Qualified person means a full-time fish biologist or aquatic 
resources manager employed by any of the Colorado River Basin state 
wildlife agencies, the Department of Interior bureaus offices located 
within the Colorado River basin, or fish biologist or aquatic resource 
manager employed by a private consulting firm, provided the firm has 
received a scientific collecting permit from the appropriate state 
agency.
    (3) The six core populations means the following populations of the 
humpback chub: Desolation and Gray Canyons (Green River, Utah), 
Dinosaur National Monument (Green and Yampa rivers, Colorado and Utah; 
currently extirpated), Black Rocks (Colorado River, Colorado), 
Westwater Canyon (Colorado River, Utah), Cataract Canyon (Colorado 
River, Utah), and Grand Canyon (Colorado and Little Colorado rivers, 
Arizona).
    (4) Reasonable care means limiting the impacts to humpback chub 
individuals and populations by complying with all applicable Federal, 
State, and tribal regulations for the activity in question; using 
methods and techniques that result in the least harm, injury, or death, 
as feasible; undertaking activities at the least impactful times and 
locations, as feasible; ensuring the number of individuals removed or 
sampled minimally impacts existing extant wild population; ensuring no 
disease or parasites are introduced into existing extant wild humpback 
chub populations; and preserving the genetic diversity of extant wild 
populations.
    (B) Creation and maintenance of refuge populations. A qualified 
person may take humpback chub in order to create or maintain a captive 
or wild refuge population that protects the long-term genetic diversity 
of humpback chub, provided that reasonable care is practiced to 
minimize the effects of that taking.
    (1) Methods of allowable take under this paragraph (cc)(2)(iv)(B) 
include, but are not limited to:
    (i) Removing wild individuals via electrofishing, nets, and seines 
from the six core populations;
    (ii) Managing captive populations, including handling, rearing, and 
spawning of captive fish;
    (iii) Sacrificing individuals for hatchery management, such as 
parasite and disease certification; and
    (iv) Eliminating wild refuge populations if conditions are deemed 
inadequate for conservation of the species or are deemed detrimental to 
the six core populations.
    (2) Before the establishment of any captive or wild refuge 
population, the Service must approve, in writing, the designation of 
the refuge population, and any removal of humpback chub individuals 
from wild populations. Subsequent to a written approval for the 
establishment of a refuge population, take associated with the 
maintenance of the refuge population would not be prohibited under the 
Act.
    (C) Translocation and stocking of humpback chub. A qualified person 
may take humpback chub in order to introduce individuals into areas 
outside of the six core populations. Humpback chub individuals may be 
introduced to new areas by translocating wild individuals to additional 
locations or by stocking individuals from captivity. All translocations 
of wild individuals and stocking of individuals from captivity must 
involve reasonable care to minimize the effects of that taking. 
Translocations of wild individuals and stocking of individuals from 
captivity must be undertaken to expand the range of humpback chub or to 
supplement existing populations.
    (1) Methods of allowable take under this paragraph (cc)(2)(iv)(C) 
include, but are not limited to:
    (i) Removing wild individuals via electrofishing, nets, and seines;
    (ii) Managing captive populations, including handling, rearing, and 
spawning;
    (iii) Sacrificing individuals for hatchery management, such as 
parasite and disease certification; and
    (iv) Removing or eliminating all humpback chub from failed 
introduction areas via mechanical or chemical methods.
    (2) The Service must approve, in advance and in writing:
    (i) Any translocation program; and
    (ii) Any stocking of humpback chub into any of the six core 
populations.
    (D) Nonnative fish removal. A qualified person may take humpback 
chub in order to perform nonnative fish removal for conservation 
purposes if reasonable care is practiced to minimize effects to 
humpback chub. For this paragraph (cc)(2)(iv)(D), nonnative fish

[[Page 3601]]

removal for conservation purposes means any action with the primary or 
secondary purpose of mechanically removing nonnative fishes that 
compete with, predate, or degrade the habitat of humpback chub.
    (1) Methods of allowable take under this paragraph (cc)(2)(iv)(D) 
include, but are not limited to:
    (i) Mechanical removal of nonnative fish within occupied humpback 
chub habitats, including, but not limited to, electrofishing, seining, 
netting, and angling; and
    (ii) The use of other ecosystem modifications, such as altered flow 
regimes or habitat modifications.
    (2) The Service and all applicable landowners must approve, in 
advance and in writing, any nonnative fish removal activities under 
this paragraph.
    (E) Catch-and-release angling of humpback chub. States and tribes 
may enact Federal, State, and tribal fishing regulations that address 
catch-and-release angling.
    (1) In the six core populations, angling activities may include 
non-targeted (incidental) catch and release of humpback chub when 
targeting other species in accordance with Federal, State, and tribal 
fishing regulations.
    (2) In areas outside of the six core populations, angling 
activities may include targeted catch and release of humpback chub in 
accordance with Federal, State, and tribal fishing regulations.
    (3) Angling activities may cause take via:
    (i) Handling of humpback chub caught via angling;
    (ii) Injury to humpback chub caught via angling; and
    (iii) Unintentional death to humpback chub caught via angling.
    (4) Reasonable consideration by the Federal, State, and tribal 
agencies for incidental catch and release of humpback chub in the six 
core populations include:
    (i) Regulating tactics to minimize potential injury and death to 
humpback chub if caught;
    (ii) Communicating the potential for catching humpback chub in 
these areas; and
    (iii) Promoting the importance of the six core populations.
    (5) Reasonable consideration for establishing new recreational 
angling locations for humpback chub include, but are not limited to:
    (i) Evaluating each water body's ability to support humpback chub 
and sustain angling;
    (ii) Ensuring the recreational fishing population does not 
detrimentally impact the six core populations of humpback chub through 
such factors as disease or genetic drift; and
    (iii) Monitoring to ensure there are no detrimental effects to the 
humpback chub population from angling.
    (6) The Service and all applicable State, Federal, and tribal 
landowners must approve, in advance and in writing, any new 
recreational fishery for humpback chub.
    (F) Chemical treatments to support humpback chub. A qualified 
person may take humpback chub by performing a chemical treatment in 
accordance with Federal, State, and tribal regulations that would 
support the conservation and recovery of humpback chub, provided that 
reasonable care is practiced to minimize the effects of such taking.
    (1) For treatments upstream of occupied humpback chub habitat:
    (i) Service approval is not required; and
    (ii) Care should be taken to limit the potential for fish toxicants 
and piscicides travelling beyond treatment boundaries and impacting 
humpback chub.
    (2) For treatments in known or potentially occupied humpback chub 
habitat:
    (i) The Service must approve, in advance and in writing, any 
treatment; and
    (ii) Care should be taken to perform robust salvage efforts to 
remove any humpback chub that may occur in the treatment area before 
the treatment is conducted.
    (3) Whenever possible, humpback chub that are salvaged should be 
moved to a location that supports recovery of the species.
    (G) Reporting and disposal requirements. Any mortality of humpback 
chub associated with the actions authorized under this special rule 
must be reported to the Service within 72 hours, and specimens may be 
disposed of only in accordance with directions from the Service. 
Reports in the upper basin (upstream of Glen Canyon Dam) must be made 
to the Service's Mountain-Prairie Region Law Enforcement Office, or the 
Service's Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Office. Reports 
in the lower basin (downstream Glen Canyon Dam) must be made to the 
Service's Southwest Region Law Enforcement Office, or the Service's 
Arizona Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office. Contact information for 
the Service's regional offices is set forth at 50 CFR 2.2. The Service 
may allow additional reasonable time for reporting if access to these 
offices is limited due to office closure or if the activity was 
conducted in area without sufficient communication access.
* * * * *

    Dated: December 10, 2019.
Margaret E. Everson,
Principle Deputy Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Exercising 
the Authority of the Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2020-00512 Filed 1-21-20; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4333-15-P