Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12-Month Finding for Purple Lilliput; Threatened Species Status With Section 4(d) Rule for Longsolid and Round Hickorynut and Designation of Critical Habitat, 61384-61458 [2020-17015]

Download as PDF 61384 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service 50 CFR Part 17 [Docket No. FWS–R4–ES–2020–0010; FF09E21000 FXES11110900000 201] RIN 1018–BD32 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12-Month Finding for Purple Lilliput; Threatened Species Status With Section 4(d) Rule for Longsolid and Round Hickorynut and Designation of Critical Habitat Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Proposed rule; announcement of 12-month findings. AGENCY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce 12month findings on a petition to list the purple lilliput (Toxolasma lividum), longsolid (Fusconaia subrotunda), and round hickorynut (Obovaria subrotunda) freshwater mussels as endangered or threatened species and to designate critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). We find that listing the longsolid and round hickorynut is warranted. Accordingly, we propose to list the longsolid and round hickorynut as threatened species with a rule issued under section 4(d) of the Act (‘‘4(d) rule’’). If we finalize this rule as proposed, it would add these species to the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and extend the Act’s protections to the species. We also propose to designate critical habitat for the longsolid and round hickorynut under the Act. For the longsolid, approximately 1,115 river miles (1,794 kilometers), all of which is occupied by the species, in Pennsylvania, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, and Alabama fall within the boundaries of the proposed critical habitat designation. For the round hickorynut, approximately 921 river miles (1,482 kilometers), all of which is occupied by the species, in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi fall within the boundaries of the proposed critical habitat designation. Finally, we announce the availability of a draft economic analysis of the proposed designation of critical habitat for the longsolid and round hickorynut. After a thorough review of the best available scientific and commercial information, we find that it is not warranted at this time to list the purple lilliput. We ask the public to submit to jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 us at any time new information relevant to the status of purple lilliput or its habitat. DATES: For the proposed rule to list and designate critical habitat for the longsolid and round hickorynut, we will accept comments received or postmarked on or before December 28, 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 November 13, 2020. Petition finding for the purple lilliput: For the purple lilliput, the finding in this document was made on September 29, 2020. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by one of the following methods: (1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http:// www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter FWS–R4–ES–2020–0010, 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, check 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 to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–R4–ES–2020–0010, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MS: PRB/3W, 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 Information Requested, below, for more information). Availability of supporting materials: For the critical habitat designation, the coordinates or plot points or both from which the maps are generated are included in the administrative record and are available at https:// www.fws.gov/Asheville/ and at http:// www.regulations.gov under Docket No. FWS–R4–ES–2020–0010. Any additional tools or supporting information that we may develop for the critical habitat designation will also be available at the Service website set out above, and may also be included in the preamble and/or at http:// www.regulations.gov. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Janet Mizzi, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Asheville PO 00000 Frm 00002 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 Ecological Services Field Office, 160 Zillicoa St., Asheville, NC 28801; telephone 828–258–3939. 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 we determine that a species is an endangered or threatened species throughout all or a significant portion of its range, we are required to promptly publish a proposal in the Federal Register and make a determination on our proposal within one year. To the maximum extent prudent and determinable, we must designate critical habitat for any species that we determine to be an endangered or threatened species under the Act. Listing a species as an endangered or threatened species and designation of critical habitat can only be completed by issuing a rule. What this document does. We find that listing the purple lilliput as an endangered or threatened species is not warranted. We propose to list the longsolid and round hickorynut as threatened species with a rule under section 4(d) of the Act, and we propose the designation of critical habitat for these two species. The basis for our action. Under the Act, we may determine that a species is an endangered or threatened species because of any of five factors: (A) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range; (B) overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes; (C) disease or predation; (D) the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or (E) other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence. We have determined that threats to the longsolid and round hickorynut include habitat degradation or loss from a variety of sources (e.g., dams and other barriers, resource extraction); degraded water quality from chemical contamination and erosion from development, agriculture, mining, and timber operations; direct mortality from dredging; residual impacts (reduced population size) from historical harvest; and the proliferation of invasive, nonnative species. These threats also contribute to the negative effects associated with the species’ small population size. Section 4(a)(3) of the Act requires the Secretary of the Interior (Secretary) to designate critical habitat concurrent with listing to the maximum extent prudent and determinable. Section E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules 3(5)(A) of the Act defines critical habitat as (i) the specific areas within the geographical area occupied by the species, at the time it is listed, on which are found those physical or biological features (I) essential to the conservation of the species and (II) which may require special management considerations or protections; and (ii) specific areas outside the geographical area occupied by the species at the time it is listed, upon a determination by the Secretary that such areas are essential for the conservation of the species. Section 4(b)(2) of the Act states that the Secretary must make the designation on the basis of the best scientific data available and after taking into consideration the economic impact, the impact on national security, and any other relevant impacts of specifying any particular area as critical habitat. Peer review. In accordance with our joint policy on peer review published in the Federal Register on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 34270), and our August 22, 2016, memorandum updating and clarifying the role of peer review of listing actions under the Act, we sought the expert opinions of 10 appropriate specialists regarding the purple lilliput species status assessment (SSA) report, 11 regarding the longsolid SSA report, and 10 regarding the round hickorynut SSA report. We received responses from three, none, and one specialists, respectively; feedback we received informed our findings and this proposed rule. The purpose of peer review is to ensure that our listing determinations, critical habitat designations, and 4(d) rules are based on scientifically sound data, assumptions, and analyses. The peer reviewers have expertise in the biology, habitat, and threats to the species. Because we will consider all comments and information we receive during the comment period, our final determinations for the longsolid and round hickorynut may differ from this proposal. Based on the new information we receive (and any comments on that new information), we may conclude that either the longsolid or round hickorynut are endangered instead of threatened, or we may conclude that either species does not warrant listing as either an endangered species or a threatened species. Such final decisions would be a logical outgrowth of this proposal, as long as we: (1) Base the decisions on the best scientific and commercial data available after considering all of the relevant factors; (2) do not rely on factors Congress has not intended us to consider; and (3) articulate a rational connection between the facts found and VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 the conclusions made, including why we changed our conclusion. Acronyms and Abbreviations Used We use several acronyms and abbreviations throughout the preamble of this finding and proposed rule. To assist the reader, we list them here: Act = Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) AMD = acid mine and saline drainage BMP = best management practice CBD = Center for Biological Diversity DEA = draft economic analysis IEM = incremental effects memorandum HUC = hydrologic unit code LS = longsolid ppm = parts per million RFA = Regulatory Flexibility Act RH = round hickorynut SSA = species status assessment TDEC = Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation TVA = Tennessee Valley Authority Information Requested For the purple lilliput, we ask the public to submit to us at any time new information relevant to the species’ status or its habitat. For the longsolid and round hickorynut, we intend that any final action resulting from this proposed rule will be based on the best scientific and commercial data available and be as accurate and as effective as possible. Therefore, we request comments or information from other concerned governmental agencies, Native American tribes, the scientific community, industry, or any other interested parties concerning this proposed rule. We particularly seek comments concerning: (1) The species’ biology, range, and population trends, including: (a) Biological or ecological requirements of the species, including habitat requirements for feeding, breeding, and sheltering; (b) Genetics and taxonomy; (c) Historical and current range, including distribution patterns; (d) Historical and current population levels, and current and projected trends; and (e) Past and ongoing conservation measures for the species, their habitats, or both. (2) Factors that may affect the continued existence of the species, which may include habitat modification or destruction, overutilization, disease, predation, the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms, or other natural or manmade factors. (3) Biological, commercial trade, or other relevant data concerning any threats (or lack thereof) to the species PO 00000 Frm 00003 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 61385 and existing regulations that may be addressing those threats. (4) Additional information concerning the historical and current status, range, distribution, and population size of this species, including the locations of any additional populations of this species. (5) Information on regulations that are necessary and advisable to provide for the conservation of the longsolid and round hickorynut, and that the Service can consider in developing a 4(d) rule for the species. In particular, we seek information concerning the extent to which we should include any of the section 9 prohibitions in the 4(d) rule or whether any other forms of take should be excepted from the prohibitions in the 4(d) rule. (6) The reasons why we should or should not designate habitat as ‘‘critical habitat’’ under section 4 of the Act, including information to inform the following factors that the regulations identify as reasons why designation of critical habitat may be not prudent: (a) The species is threatened by taking or other human activity and identification of critical habitat can be expected to increase the degree of such threat to the species; (b) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of a species’ habitat or range is not a threat to the species, or threats to the species’ habitat stem solely from causes that cannot be addressed through management actions resulting from consultations under section 7(a)(2) of the Act; (c) Areas within the jurisdiction of the United States provide no more than negligible conservation value, if any, for a species occurring primarily outside the jurisdiction of the United States; or (d) No areas meet the definition of critical habitat. (7) Specific information on: (a) The amount and distribution of longsolid or round hickorynut habitat; (b) What areas, that were occupied at the time of listing and that contain the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the species, should be included in the designation and why; (c) Special management considerations or protection that may be needed in critical habitat areas we are proposing, including managing for the potential effects of climate change; and (d) What areas not occupied at the time of listing are essential for the conservation of the species. We particularly seek comments: (i) Regarding whether occupied areas are inadequate for the conservation of the species; and E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 61386 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules (ii) Providing specific information regarding whether or not unoccupied areas would, with reasonable certainty, contribute to the conservation of the species and contain at least one physical or biological feature essential to the conservation of the species. (8) Land use designations and current or planned activities in the subject areas and their possible impacts on proposed critical habitat. (9) Any probable economic, national security, or other relevant impacts of designating any area that may be included in the final designation, and the related benefits of including or excluding specific areas. (10) Information on the extent to which the description of probable economic impacts in the draft economic analysis is a reasonable estimate of the likely economic impacts (i.e., incremental impacts estimated to be less than $327,000 per year for the next 10 years). (11) Whether any specific areas we are proposing for critical habitat designation should be considered for exclusion under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, and whether the benefits of potentially excluding any specific area outweigh the benefits of including that area under section 4(b)(2) of the Act. (12) Whether we could improve or modify our approach to designating critical habitat in any way to provide for greater public participation and understanding, or to better accommodate public concerns and comments. Please include sufficient information with your submission (such as scientific journal articles or other publications) to allow us to verify any scientific or commercial information you include. Please note that submissions merely stating support for, or opposition to, the action under consideration without providing supporting information, although noted, will not be considered in making a determination, as section 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act directs that determinations as to whether any species is an endangered or 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 VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 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. Public Hearing Section 4(b)(5) of the Act provides for a public hearing on this proposal for the longsolid and round hickorynut, if requested. We must receive requests for a public hearing, in writing, at 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. For the immediate future, we will provide these public hearings using webinars that will be announced on the Service’s website, in addition to the Federal Register. The use of these virtual public hearings is consistent with our regulations at 50 CFR 424.16(c)(3). Previous Federal Actions On April 20, 2010, we received a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), Alabama Rivers Alliance, Clinch Coalition, Dogwood Alliance, Gulf Restoration Network, Tennessee Forests Council, and West Virginia Highlands Conservancy (referred to below as the CBD petition) to list 404 aquatic, riparian, and wetland species, including the purple lilliput, longsolid, and round hickorynut, as endangered or threatened species under the Act. On September 27, 2011, we published a 90-day finding that the petition contained substantial information indicating listing may be warranted for these three species (76 FR 59836). On April 17, 2019, CBD filed a complaint challenging the Service’s failure to complete 12-month findings for these species within the statutory deadline. The Service and CBD reached a stipulated settlement agreement whereby the Service agreed to deliver 12-month findings for purple lilliput, longsolid, and round hickorynut to the Office of the Federal Register by June 30, 2020. Subsequently, we requested a 30-day extension that was approved by CBD and granted by the Court on May 12, 2020, whereby the Service would PO 00000 Frm 00004 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 deliver 12-month findings to the Office of the Federal Register by July 30, 2020. This document constitutes our 12month finding on the April 20, 2010, petition to list the purple lilliput, longsolid, and round hickorynut under the Act, and complies with the October 11, 2019, stipulated settlement agreement and May 12, 2020, extension. Supporting Documents An SSA team prepared SSA reports for the purple lilliput, longsolid, and round hickorynut. The SSA team was composed of Service biologists, in consultation with other species experts. The SSA reports represent a compilation of the best scientific and commercial data available concerning the status of these species, including the impacts of past, present, and future factors (both negative and beneficial) affecting these species. As discussed above under Peer review, we solicited appropriate peer review of all three of the species’ SSA reports. In addition, we sent the draft SSA reports for review to Federal partners, State partners, and scientists with expertise in aquatic ecology and freshwater mussel biology, taxonomy, and conservation. Although we notified tribal nations early in the SSA process for these species, we did not receive any information or comments regarding these species on tribal lands in the United States. The round hickorynut SSA report was also shared with the Canadian government and the Walpole Islands First National Indian Reservation in Canada. I. Finding for Purple Lilliput Under section 4(b)(3)(B) of the Act, we are required to make a finding whether or not a petitioned action is warranted within 12 months after receiving any petition that we have determined contains substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted (‘‘12-month finding’’). We must make a finding that the petitioned action is: (1) Not warranted; (2) warranted; or (3) warranted but precluded. ‘‘Warranted but precluded’’ means that (a) the petitioned action is warranted, but the immediate proposal of a regulation implementing the petitioned action is precluded by other pending proposals to determine whether species are endangered or threatened species, and (b) expeditious progress is being made to add qualified species to the Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants (Lists) and to remove from the Lists species for which the protections of the Act are no longer necessary. Section 4(b)(3)(C) of the Act requires that, when we find that a E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 petitioned action is warranted but precluded, we treat the petition as though resubmitted on the date of such finding, that is, requiring that a subsequent finding be made within 12 months of that date. We must publish these 12-month findings in the Federal Register. Summary of Information Pertaining to the Five Factors 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 is an ‘‘endangered species’’ or a ‘‘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 any species is an ‘‘endangered species’’ or a ‘‘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. These factors represent broad categories of natural or human-caused actions or conditions that could have an effect on a species’ continued existence. In evaluating these actions and conditions, we look for those that may have a negative effect on individuals of the species, as well as other actions or conditions that may ameliorate any negative effects or may have positive effects. We use the term ‘‘threat’’ to refer in general to actions or conditions that are known to or are reasonably likely to negatively affect individuals of a species. The term ‘‘threat’’ includes actions or conditions that have a direct impact on individuals (direct impacts), as well as those that affect individuals through alteration of their habitat or required resources (stressors). The term ‘‘threat’’ may encompass—either together or separately—the source of the action or condition or the action or condition itself. However, the mere identification of any threat(s) does not necessarily mean that the species meets the statutory definition of an ‘‘endangered species’’ or VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 a ‘‘threatened species.’’ In determining whether a species meets either definition, we must evaluate all identified threats by considering the expected response by the species, and the effects of the threats—in light of those actions and conditions that will ameliorate the threats—on an individual, population, and species level. We evaluate each threat and its expected effects on the species, then analyze the cumulative effect of all of the threats on the species as a whole. We also consider the cumulative effect of the threats in light of those actions and conditions that will have positive effects on the species, such as any existing regulatory mechanisms or conservation efforts. The Secretary determines whether the species meets the definition of an ‘‘endangered species’’ or a ‘‘threatened species’’ only after conducting this cumulative analysis and describing the expected effect on the species now and in the foreseeable future. The Act does not define the term ‘‘foreseeable future,’’ which appears in the statutory definition of ‘‘threatened species.’’ Our implementing regulations at 50 CFR 424.11(d) set forth a framework for evaluating the foreseeable future on a case-by-case basis. The term ‘‘foreseeable future’’ extends only so far into the future as the Services can reasonably determine that both the future threats and the species’ responses to those threats are likely. In other words, the foreseeable future is the period of time in which we can make reliable predictions. ‘‘Reliable’’ does not mean ‘‘certain’’; it means sufficient to provide a reasonable degree of confidence in the prediction. Thus, a prediction is reliable if it is reasonable to depend on it when making decisions. It is not always possible or necessary to define foreseeable future as a particular number of years. Analysis of the foreseeable future uses the best scientific and commercial data available and should consider the timeframes applicable to the relevant threats and to the species’ likely responses to those threats in view of its life-history characteristics. Data that are typically relevant to assessing the species’ biological response include speciesspecific factors such as lifespan, reproductive rates or productivity, certain behaviors, and other demographic factors. In conducting our evaluation of the five factors provided in section 4(a)(1) of the Act to determine whether the purple lilliput (Toxolasma lividum; Service 2020a, entire) currently meets the definition of ‘‘endangered species’’ or ‘‘threatened species,’’ we considered PO 00000 Frm 00005 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 61387 and thoroughly evaluated the best scientific and commercial data available regarding the past, present, and future stressors and threats. We reviewed the petition, information available in our files, and other available published and unpublished information. This evaluation may include information from recognized experts; Federal, State, and tribal governments; academic institutions; private entities; and other members of the public. After comprehensive assessment of the best scientific and commercial data available, we determined that the purple lilliput does not meet the definition of an endangered or a threatened species. The species assessment for the purple lilliput contains more detailed biological information, a thorough analysis of the listing factors, and an explanation of why we determined that this species does not meet the definition of an endangered species or a threatened species. This supporting information can be found on the internet at http:// www.regulations.gov under docket number FWS–R4–ES–2020–0010. The following is an informational summary for the purple lilliput finding in this document. Summary of Finding The purple lilliput is a freshwater mussel that belongs to the order Unionida, also known as the naiads and pearly mussels. Purple lilliput adult mussels are small, with a relatively thick, inflated, oval shell (up to 1.5 inches (in) (38 millimeters (mm)) (Williams et al. 2008, p. 719), and the shell typically darkens with age. The species is currently found in the Great Lakes, Ohio, Cumberland, Tennessee, Arkansas-White-Red, and Lower Mississippi major river basins, within the States of Alabama, Kentucky, Missouri, Arkansas, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Tennessee. It is considered extirpated from North Carolina and Georgia, and potentially extirpated from Oklahoma and Virginia. Although it has never been collected within the State of Kansas, it occurs in the Spring River drainage nearby in Missouri, and thus potentially occurs in Kansas, and may eventually be discovered there (Obermeyer et al. 1997, p. 49; Angelo et al. 2009, p. 95). Little information is known specific to purple lilliput; thus, we relied on surrogate life-history information for closely related species when necessary, including for sex-specific information, for information on reproduction, and for determining appropriate temperatures for glochidia metamorphosis. For example, the purple lilliput is a shortlived species, estimated to live 5 to 10 E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 61388 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules years (possibly up to 15 years), based on the life expectancy of the Savannah lilliput (Toxolasma pullus) (9 years; Hanlon and Levine 2004, p. 294), lilliput (T. parvum) (at least 5 years; Haag and Rypel 2011, p. 229), and Texas lilliput (T. texasiense) (11 years; Haag and Rypel 2011, p. 229). The purple lilliput can be found in a wide range of habitats and a variety of substrates in rivers and streams at depths less than 3.3 feet (ft) (1 meter (m)) (Gordon and Layzer 1989, p. 34). It may be located in coarse substrates such as cobble and gravel, or fine-particle substrates such as packed sand, silty clay, and mud. It is commonly collected in and near shorelines, in backwaters, and in vegetation and root masses in waters just a few centimeters deep. Purple lilliput also exhibits some ability to inhabit lentic (still water) environments (Roe 2002, p. 5). In unimpounded reaches, the species commonly occurs in a range of slow to swift currents, and from shallow, rocky gravel points, mud, and sandbars in overbank areas and embayments (Parmalee and Bogan 1998, p. 231; Williams et al. 2008, p. 720). The purple lilliput is a suspensionfeeder that filters water and nutrients to eat. Its diet consists of a mixture of algae, bacteria, detritus, and microscopic animals (Gatenby et al. 1996, p. 606; Strayer et al. 2004, p. 430). It has also been surmised that dissolved organic matter may be a significant source of nutrition (Strayer et al. 2004, p. 431). For their first several months, juvenile mussels ingest food through their foot and are thus deposit feeders, although they may also filter interstitial pore water and soft sediments (Yeager et al. 1994, p. 221; Haag 2012, p. 26). Due to the mechanisms by which food and nutrients are taken in, freshwater mussels collect and absorb toxins (Service 2020a, pp. 54–57). The purple lilliput has a complex life cycle that relies on fish hosts for successful reproduction, similar to other mussels (Service 2020a, pp. 23–25, 29). This complex life history involves an obligate parasitic larval life stage, called glochidia, which are wholly dependent on host fish, including the longear sunfish (Lepomis megalotis) and green sunfish (L. cyanellus) (Hill 1986, p. 5). Additional resource needs of the purple lilliput include appropriate water quality and temperatures, and connectivity of aquatic habitat that facilitates dispersal and an abundance of multiple age classes to ensure recruitment. VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 Status Throughout All of Its Range We have carefully assessed the best scientific and commercial data available regarding the past, present, and future threats to the purple lilliput, and we evaluated all relevant factors under the five listing factors, including any regulatory mechanisms and conservation measures addressing these stressors. The primary stressors (which are pervasive across the species’ range) affecting the purple lilliput’s biological status include habitat degradation or loss (i.e., declines in water quality; reduced water levels; riparian and instream fragmentation; and genetic isolation from development, urbanization, contaminants, agricultural activities, impoundments, changing climate conditions, resource extraction, and forest conversion), and impacts associated with invasive and nonnative species. While threats have acted on the species to reduce available habitat, the purple lilliput persists in 145 of 272 (53 percent) of its historically occupied populations, and its distribution continues to be represented within the six major river basins that it is historically known to occupy. Our projections of purple lilliput viability into the foreseeable future (i.e., approximately 20 to 30 years, which takes into account available climate modeling projections that inform future conditions) suggest that between 10 and 30 populations have a high risk of extirpation, or could become functionally extirpated. However, the purple lilliput is expected to maintain resilient populations (i.e., able to withstand stochastic events arising from random factors) across the six major river basins in which it historically and currently occurs. In other words, we estimate between 116 and 136 populations would continue to be resilient (or between 79 and 93 percent of the currently known populations) into the future. Additionally, we note that the species’ host fish has a broad range, and the purple lilliput has the capability to adapt to lentic habitats in certain situations, which is a life-history trait that suggests it may be less susceptible to some potential habitat changes. Thus, after assessing the best available information, we determine that the purple lilliput is not in danger of extinction now or likely to become so in 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 PO 00000 Frm 00006 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 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. Having determined that the purple lilliput is not in danger of extinction or likely to become so in the foreseeable future throughout all of its range, we now consider whether it may be in danger of extinction or likely to become so in the foreseeable future in a significant portion of its range—that is, whether there is any portion of the species’ range for which it is true that both (1) the portion is significant; and, (2) the species is in danger of extinction now or likely to become so in the foreseeable future in that portion. Depending on the case, it might be more efficient for us to address the ‘‘significance’’ question or the ‘‘status’’ question first. We can choose to address either question first. Regardless of which question we address first, if we reach a negative answer with respect to the first question that we address, we do not need to evaluate the other question for that portion of the species’ range. In undertaking this analysis for the purple lilliput, we choose to address the status question first—we consider information pertaining to the geographic distribution of both the species and the threats that the species faces to identify any portions of the range where the species is endangered or threatened. We found two areas (Great Lakes and Cumberland River basins) where there may be a concentration of threats acting on the species such that the species in these portions of the range may be endangered or threatened, but we did not find that these areas constituted significant portions of the species’ range. Accordingly, we found that the purple lilliput is not in danger of extinction now and is not likely to become so within the foreseeable future in any significant portion of its range. This is consistent with the courts’ holdings in Desert Survivors v. Department of the Interior, No. 16–cv– 01165–JCS, 2018 WL 4053447 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 24, 2018), and Center for Biological Diversity v. Jewell, 248 F. Supp. 3d, 946, 959 (D. Ariz. 2017). Determination of Status Our review of the best available scientific and commercial information indicates that the purple lilliput does not meet the definition of an endangered species or a threatened species in accordance with sections 3(6) and 3(20) of the Act. Therefore, we find that listing the purple lilliput is not warranted at this time. A detailed discussion of the basis for this finding can be found in the purple lilliput species assessment form, and other E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules supporting documents, such as the accompanying SSA report (Service 2020a, entire) (see http:// www.regulations.gov under docket number FWS–R4–ES–2020–0010). II. Proposed Listing Determination for Longsolid and Round Hickorynut Background jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 The longsolid (Fusconaia subrotunda) is a freshwater river mussel belonging to the Unionidae family, also known as the naiads and pearly mussels. Longsolid VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 adults are light brown in color, darkening with age. The shell is thick and medium-sized (up to 5 inches (in) (125 millimeters (mm)), and typically has a dull sheen (Williams et al. 2008, p. 322). There is variability in the inflation of the shell depending on population and latitudinal location (Ortmann 1920, p. 272; Watters et al. 2009, p. 130). The longsolid is currently found in the Ohio, Cumberland, and Tennessee River basins, overlapping within the States of Alabama, Kentucky, New York, PO 00000 Frm 00007 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 61389 North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia (Service 2018, Appendix A; Figure 1, below). It is considered extirpated from Georgia, Indiana, and Illinois. Additionally, it is classified as an endangered species by the State of Ohio, and considered to have various levels of concern, imperilment, or vulnerability (see Table 1–1 in the SSA report) by the States of Alabama, Kentucky, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. BILLING CODE 4333–15–P E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules BILLING CODE 4333–15–C Similar to the longsolid, the round hickorynut also belongs to the VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 Unionidae family of naiads and pearly mussels. Round hickorynut adult PO 00000 Frm 00008 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 mussels are greenish-olive to dark or chestnut brown, sometimes blackish in E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 EP29SE20.033</GPH> jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 61390 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 older individuals, and may have a yellowish band dorsally (Parmalee and Bogan 1998, p. 168). Inflation of the shell is variable depending on population and latitudinal location (Ortmann 1920, p. 272; Williams et al. 2008, p. 474). The shell is thick, solid, and up to 3 in (75 mm) in length, but usually is less than 2.4 in. (60 mm) (Williams et al. 2008, p. 473; Watters et al. 2009, p. 209). A distinctive characteristic is that the shell is round in shape, nearly circular, and the umbo (the raised portion of the dorsal margin of a shell) is centrally located. VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 Within the United States, the round hickorynut is currently found in the Great Lakes, Ohio, Cumberland, Tennessee, and Lower Mississippi River basins, overlapping within the States of Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and West Virginia (Service 2019, Appendix A; Figure 2, below). It is considered extirpated from Georgia, Illinois, and New York. Additionally, it has State-level conservation status, ranging across various levels of concern, imperilment, or vulnerability (see Table 1–1 in the SSA report), in the States of PO 00000 Frm 00009 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 61391 Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. The round hickorynut also occurs within the Canadian Province of Ontario, where it was listed as an endangered species in 2005, due to the loss of and significant declines in populations (Committee on the Status of Species at Risk in Ontario 2013, p. 4); a single remaining population (showing no recruitment (Morris 2018, pers. comm.)) occurs in Lake St. Clair and the East Sydenham River. BILLING CODE 4333–15–P E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules BILLING CODE 4333–15–C Thorough reviews of the taxonomy, life history, ecology and State listing VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 status of the longsolid and round hickorynut are presented in detail in the PO 00000 Frm 00010 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 SSA reports (Service 2018, pp. 14, 15, 22–30; Service 2019, pp. 14, 15, 22–29). E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 EP29SE20.034</GPH> jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 61392 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 Regulatory and Analytical Framework Regulatory Framework 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 is an ‘‘endangered species’’ or a ‘‘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 any species is an ‘‘endangered species’’ or a ‘‘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. These factors represent broad categories of natural or human-caused actions or conditions that could have an effect on a species’ continued existence. In evaluating these actions and conditions, we look for those that may have a negative effect on individuals of the species, as well as other actions or conditions that may ameliorate any negative effects or may have positive effects. We use the term ‘‘threat’’ to refer in general to actions or conditions that are known to or are reasonably likely to negatively affect individuals of a species. The term ‘‘threat’’ includes actions or conditions that have a direct impact on individuals (direct impacts), as well as those that affect individuals through alteration of their habitat or required resources (stressors). The term ‘‘threat’’ may encompass—either together or separately—the source of the action or condition or the action or condition itself. However, the mere identification of any threat(s) does not necessarily mean that the species meets the statutory definition of an ‘‘endangered species’’ or a ‘‘threatened species.’’ In determining whether a species meets either definition, we must evaluate all identified threats by considering the expected response by the species, and the effects of the threats—in light of those actions and conditions that will ameliorate the threats—on an VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 individual, population, and species level. We evaluate each threat and its expected effects on the species, then analyze the cumulative effect of all of the threats on the species as a whole. We also consider the cumulative effect of the threats in light of those actions and conditions that will have positive effects on the species, such as any existing regulatory mechanisms or conservation efforts. The Secretary determines whether the species meets the definition of an ‘‘endangered species’’ or a ‘‘threatened species’’ only after conducting this cumulative analysis and describing the expected effect on the species now and in the foreseeable future. The Act does not define the term ‘‘foreseeable future,’’ which appears in the statutory definition of ‘‘threatened species.’’ Our implementing regulations at 50 CFR 424.11(d) set forth a framework for evaluating the foreseeable future on a case-by-case basis. The term ‘‘foreseeable future’’ extends only so far into the future as the Services can reasonably determine that both the future threats and the species’ responses to those threats are likely. In other words, the foreseeable future is the period of time in which we can make reliable predictions. ‘‘Reliable’’ does not mean ‘‘certain’’; it means sufficient to provide a reasonable degree of confidence in the prediction. Thus, a prediction is reliable if it is reasonable to depend on it when making decisions. It is not always possible or necessary to define foreseeable future as a particular number of years. Analysis of the foreseeable future uses the best scientific and commercial data available and should consider the timeframes applicable to the relevant threats and to the species’ likely responses to those threats in view of its life-history characteristics. Data that are typically relevant to assessing the species’ biological response include speciesspecific factors such as lifespan, reproductive rates or productivity, certain behaviors, and other demographic factors. Analytical Framework The SSA reports document the results of our comprehensive biological review of the best scientific and commercial data regarding the status of both species, including an assessment of potential threats to the species. The SSA reports do not represent a decision by the Service on whether either species should be proposed for listing as an endangered or threatened species under the Act. They do, however, provide the scientific basis that informs our regulatory decisions, which involve the PO 00000 Frm 00011 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 61393 further application of standards within the Act and its implementing regulations and policies. The following is a summary of the key results and conclusions from the SSA reports for the longsolid and round hickorynut; the full SSA reports can be found in docket number FWS–R4–ES–2020–0010 on http://www.regulations.gov, and on our internet site https://www.fws.gov/ Asheville/. To assess the longsolid’s and round hickorynut’s viability, we used the three conservation biology principles of resiliency, redundancy, and representation (Shaffer and Stein 2000, pp. 306–310). Briefly, resiliency supports the ability of the species to withstand environmental and demographic stochasticity (for example, wet or dry, warm or cold years), redundancy supports the ability of the species to withstand catastrophic events (for example, droughts, large pollution events), and representation supports the ability of the species to adapt over time to long-term changes in the environment (for example, climate changes). In general, the more resilient and redundant a species is and the more representation it has, the more likely it is to sustain populations over time, even under changing environmental conditions. Using these principles, we identified the species’ ecological requirements for survival and reproduction at the individual, population, and species levels, and described the beneficial and risk factors influencing the species’ viability. The SSA process can be categorized into three sequential stages. During the first stage, we evaluated the individual species’ life-history needs. The next stage involved an assessment of the historical and current condition of the species’ demographics and habitat characteristics, including an explanation of how the species arrived at its current condition. The final stage of the SSA involved making predictions about the species’ responses to positive and negative environmental and anthropogenic influences. Throughout all of these stages, we used the best available information to characterize viability as the ability of a species to sustain populations in the wild over time. We use this information to inform our regulatory decision. Summary of Biological Status and Threats In this discussion, we review the biological condition of the longsolid and round hickorynut, their resources, and the threats that influence both species’ current and future condition, in order to E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 61394 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 assess each species’ overall viability and the risks to that viability. Species Needs We assessed the best available information to identify the physical and biological needs to support individual fitness at all life stages for the longsolid and round hickorynut. Full descriptions of all needs are available in chapter 4 of the SSA reports (Service 2018, pp. 25– 30; Service 2019, pp. 30–36), which can be found in docket number FWS–R4– ES–2020–0010 on http:// www.regulations.gov, and on our internet site https://www.fws.gov/ Asheville/. Based upon the best available scientific and commercial information, and acknowledging existing ecological uncertainties (see section 4.3 in the SSA reports), the resource and demographic needs for both the longsolid and round hickorynut are characterized as: • Clean, flowing water with appropriate water quality and temperate conditions, such as (but not limited to) dissolved oxygen above 2 to 3 parts per million (ppm), ammonia generally below 0.5 ppm total ammonia-nitrogen, temperatures generally below 86 degrees Fahrenheit (°F) (30 degrees Celsius (°C)), and (ideally) an absence of excessive total suspended solids and other pollutants. • Natural flow regimes that vary with respect to timing, magnitude, duration, and frequency of river discharge events. • Predominantly silt-free, stable sand, gravel, and cobble substrates. • Suspended food and nutrients in the water column including (but not limited to) phytoplankton, zooplankton, protozoans, detritus, and dissolved organic matter. • Availability of sufficient host fish numbers to provide for glochidia infestation and dispersal. Host fish species for the longsolid include (but may not be limited to): Minnows of the family Cyprinidae and stonerollers (genera Campostoma sp.), satinfin shiners (Cyprinella sp.), eastern shiners (Notropis sp.), and highscale shiners (Luxilus sp.), as well as potentially freshwater sculpins of the genus Cottus. Host fish species documented for the round hickorynut include the banded sculpin (Cottus carolinae), eastern sand darter (Ammocrypta pellucida), emerald darter (Etheostoma baileyi), greenside darter (Etheostoma blennioides), Iowa darter (Etheostoma exile), fantail darter (Etheostoma flabellare), Cumberland darter (Etheostoma gore), spangled darter (Etheostoma obama), variegate darter (Etheostoma variatum), blackside darter (Percina maculata), and frecklebelly darter (Percina stictogaster). VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 • Connectivity among populations. Although the species’ capability to disperse is evident through historical occurrence of a wide range of rivers and streams, the fragmentation of populations by small and large impoundments has resulted in isolation and only patches of what once was occupied contiguous river and stream habitat. Genetic exchange occurs between and among mussel beds via sperm drift, host fish movement, and movement of mussels during high flow events. For genetic exchange to occur, connectivity must be maintained. Most freshwater mussels, including the longsolid and round hickorynut, are found in mussel beds that vary in size and are often separated by stream reaches in which mussels are absent or rare (Vaughn 2012, p. 983). The species is often a component of a large healthy mussel assemblage within optimal mussel habitats; therefore, the beds in which they occur are necessary for the species to be resilient over time. Current Conditions Current (and future) conditions are described using categories that estimate the overall condition (resiliency) of the longsolid and round hickorynut mussel populations. These categories include: • High—Resilient populations with evidence of recruitment and multiple age classes represented. They are likely to maintain viability and connectivity among populations, and populations are not linearly distributed (i.e., occur in tributary streams within a management unit). Populations are expected to persist in 20 to 30 years and beyond, and withstand stochastic events. (Thriving; capable of expanding range.) • Medium—Spatially restricted populations with limited levels of recruitment or age class structure. Resiliency is less than under high conditions, but the majority of populations (approximately 75 percent) are expected to persist beyond 20 to 30 years. (Stable; not necessarily thriving or expanding its range.) • Low—Small and highly restricted populations, with no evidence of recent recruitment or age class structure, and limited detectability. These populations have low resiliency, are not likely to withstand stochastic events, and potentially will no longer persist in 20 to 30 years. Populations are linearly distributed within a management unit. (Surviving and observable, but population likely declining.) Given the longsolid’s and round hickorynut’s ranges include lengthy rivers, such as the Ohio, Allegheny, Cumberland, and Tennessee Rivers, all of which include populations PO 00000 Frm 00012 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 fragmented primarily by dams, we identified separate populations for each hydrologic unit code (HUC) (Seaber et al. 1987, entire; U.S. Geological Survey 2018, entire) at the fourth of 12 levels (i.e., HUC–8 watershed). The HUC–8 watersheds are analogous to mediumsized river basins across the United States. Our analysis describes conditions relevant to longsolid and round hickorynut populations and the overarching HUC–8 watersheds, identified herein as a ‘‘management unit.’’ A management unit could harbor one or more populations. See chapter 2 in the SSA reports for further explanation of the analysis methodology (Service 2018, pp. 15–19; Service 2019, pp. 17–22). Longsolid The longsolid’s current range extends over nine States, including New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Alabama; the species is now considered extirpated in Georgia, Illinois, and Indiana. This range encompasses three major river basins (the Ohio, Cumberland, and Tennessee basins); the species now no longer exists in the Great Lakes basin (loss of six historical populations and four management units). In addition, its representation in the Cumberland River basin is currently within a single population and management unit (loss of nine historical populations and eight management units). Overall, the longsolid is presumed extirpated from 63 percent (102 of 162 populations) of its historically occupied populations, including 6 populations (the entirety) in the Great Lakes basin, 65 populations in the Ohio River basin, 9 populations in the Cumberland River basin, and 26 populations in the Tennessee River basin (see Appendix B in the SSA report (Service 2018, pp. 131–154)). Of the current populations, 3 (5 percent) are estimated to be highly resilient, 9 (15 percent) are estimated to be moderately resilient, and 48 (80 percent) are estimated to have low resiliency. The longsolid was once a common, occasionally abundant component of the mussel assemblage in rivers and streams where it is now extirpated. Examples include the Beaver River, Pennsylvania (Ortmann 1920, p. 276); Ohio River, Pennsylvania (Tolin 1987, p. 11); Mahoning River, Pennsylvania (Ortmann 1920 p. 276); Wabash River, Indiana/Illinois (Cummings et al. 1992, p. 46); Nolin River, Kentucky (Taylor 1983a, p. 111); and the South Fork Holston River, Virginia/Tennessee (Parmalee and Pohemus 2004, p. 234). Significant declines of the longsolid E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 have been observed and documented in the Ohio and Cumberland Rivers, and in the Muskingum River system, which harbors the last remaining populations (Muskingum, Tuscarawas, and Walhonding) in Ohio (Neel and Allen 1964, p. 434; Watters and Dunn 1993– 94, p. 252; Watters et al. 2009, p. 131; Haag and Cicerello 2016, p. 139). Round Hickorynut The current range of the round hickorynut extends over nine States, including Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and West Virginia; the species is now considered extirpated in Georgia, Illinois, and New York. This range encompasses five major river basins (Great Lakes, Ohio River, Cumberland River, Tennessee River, and Lower Mississippi River). Round hickorynut representation in the Cumberland River basin is restricted to two linear populations within two management units, while it exists in the Lower Mississippi River basin in a single population. Therefore, while the species currently maintains representation from historical conditions, it is at immediate risk of losing 40 percent (2 of 5 basins) of its representation due to these small, isolated populations under a high degree of threats that have resulted from habitat loss and water quality degradation. Overall, the round hickorynut has lost an approximate 232 of 297 known populations (78 percent), and 104 of 138 management units (75 percent). This includes 25 populations in the Great Lakes basin, 150 populations in the Ohio River basin, 23 populations in the Cumberland River basin, 29 populations in the Tennessee River basin, and 9 populations in the Lower Mississippi River basin (see Appendix B in the SSA report (Service 2019, pp. 191–212)). Of the current populations, 4 (6 percent) are estimated to be highly resilient, 16 (23 percent) are estimated to be moderately resilient, and 45 (69 percent) are estimated to have low resiliency. The round hickorynut was once a much more common, occasionally abundant, component of the mussel assemblage in rivers and streams across much of the eastern United States. Population extirpations have been extensive and widespread within every major river basin where the round hickorynut is found. Surveys throughout eastern North America have not targeted the round hickorynut specifically, and as a result, there could have been additional population losses or declines that have gone undocumented. Conversely, it is VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 possible that there are populations that have gone undetected. However, the majority of the species’ range has been relatively well-surveyed for freshwater mussel communities, and the likelihood is small that there are substantial or stronghold populations that are undetected. Patterns of population extirpation and declines are pronounced particularly in the Ohio River basin, which appears to be the basin most important for redundancy and representation for the species, due to its documented historical distribution and remaining concentration of populations within the basin. Populations of the round hickorynut have been apparently lost from entire watersheds and management units in which the species once occupied multiple tributaries, such as the Allegheny, Coal, Little Scioto, Miami, and Vermilion River management units in the Ohio River basin. The State of Ohio, for example, has lost 53 populations of round hickorynut, along with 19 management units (Watters et al. 2009, p. 210). The species is also critically imperiled in Canada, and as a result, the future of the species in Canada may be reliant on hatcherysupported activities or augmentation activities coordinated with the United States. Precipitous declines and extirpations of round hickorynut populations have been documented in the Great Lakes, Ohio, Cumberland, Tennessee, and Lower Mississippi basins. These declines and extirpations are exhibited in museum collections and reported in published literature accounts of the species (see Appendix D in the SSA report (Service 2019, pp. 214–238)). While this documentation could be a result of more intensive survey effort in the core of the species’ distribution, regardless, the extirpation of formerly abundant and extensive populations is a cautionary note for current and future condition projections, and has been most pronounced in the Ohio and Cumberland basins. Examples of rivers where the round hickorynut is extirpated within these basins include: Crooked Creek, Pennsylvania (Ortmann 1913, p. 298); West Branch Mahoning River, Ohio (Swart 1940, p. 42); Coal River, West Virginia (Carnegie Museum and University of Michigan Museum of Zoology records); Olentangy River, Ohio (Stein 1963, p. 109); Alum Creek, Ohio (Ohio State University, Marion records); Blaine Creek, Kentucky (Bay and Winford 1984, p. 19); Embarras River, Illinois (Parmalee 1967, p. 80); Big Vermilion River, Illinois (Parmalee 1967, p. 80); Cumberland River, PO 00000 Frm 00013 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 61395 Kentucky (Neel and Allen 1964, p. 442); Stones River, Tennessee (Ohio State University, Marion records); and Red River, Tennessee/Kentucky (Ohio State University, Marion records). Threats Analysis The following discussions include evaluations of three threats and associated sources that are affecting the longsolid and round hickorynut, and their habitats: (1) Habitat degradation or loss, (2) invasive and nonnative species, and (3) negative effects associated with small population size (Service 2018 and 2019, chapter 6). We note that potential impacts associated with overutilization were evaluated, but we found no evidence of current effects on the species’ viability (noting historical effects from harvest on the longsolid that no longer occur). In addition, potential impacts from disease, parasites, and predation, as well as potential impacts to host species, were evaluated but were found to have minimal effects on viability of either species based on current knowledge (Service 2018, pp. 70, 73–74; Service 2019, pp. 91–95). Finally, we also considered effects associated with enigmatic population declines, which have been documented in fresh water river mussel populations since the 1960s; despite speculation and repeated aquatic organism surveys and water quality monitoring, the causes of these events are unknown (Haag 2019, p. 43). In some cases, the instream habitat often remains basically intact and continues to support other aquatic organisms such as fish and crayfish. Full descriptions of each of the threats and their sources, including specific examples across the species’ range where threats are impacting the species or its habitat, are available in chapter 6 and Appendix A of the SSA reports (Service 2018, pp. 43–76, 134–157; Service 2019, pp. 58– 96, 169–187). Habitat Degradation or Loss Development/Urbanization Development and urbanization activities that may contribute to longsolid and round hickorynut habitat degradation and loss, including reduced water quality, occur throughout the species’ range. The term ‘‘development’’ refers to urbanization of the landscape, including (but not limited to) land conversion for residential, commercial, and industrial uses and the accompanying infrastructure. The effects of urbanization may include alterations to water quality, water quantity, and habitat (both in-stream and streamside) (Ren et al. 2003, p. 649; E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 61396 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules Wilson 2015, p. 424). Urban development can lead to increased variability in streamflow, typically increasing the extent and volume of water entering a stream after a storm and decreasing the time it takes for the water to travel over the land before entering the stream (Giddings et al. 2009, p. 1). Deleterious effects on streams (i.e., water collection on impervious surfaces that rapidly flows into storm drains and local streams), including those that may be occupied by the longsolid and round hickorynut include: (1) Water Quantity: Storm drains deliver large volumes of water to streams much faster than would naturally occur, often resulting in flooding and bank erosion that reshapes the channel and causes substrate instability, resulting in destabilization of bottom sediments. Increased, highvelocity discharges can cause species living in streams (including mussels) to become stressed, displaced, or killed by fast moving water and the debris and sediment carried in it. Displaced individuals may be left stranded out of the water once floodwaters recede. (2) Water Quality: Pollutants (e.g., gasoline, oil drips, fertilizers) that accumulate on impervious surfaces may be washed directly into streams during storm events. Contaminants contained in point and non-point source discharges degrade water and substrate quality, and can result in reduced survival, growth, and reproduction of mussels. (3) Water Temperature: During warm weather, rain that falls on impervious surfaces becomes superheated and can stress or kill freshwater species when it enters streams. Other development-related impacts to the longsolid and round hickorynut, or their habitat, may occur as a result of: • Water infrastructure. This includes water supply, reclamation, and wastewater treatment, which results in pollution point discharges to streams. Concentrations of contaminants (including nitrogen, phosphorus, chloride, insecticides, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and personal care products) increase with urban development (Giddings et al. 2009, p. 2; Bringolf et al. 2010, p. 1,311). • Utility crossings and right-of-way maintenance. Direct impacts from utility crossings include direct exposure or crushing of individuals, sedimentation, and habitat disturbance. The greatest cumulative impact involves cleared rights-of-way that result in direct runoff and increased stream temperature at the crossing location, and potentially promote maintenance utility and all- VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 terrain vehicle access from the rights-ofway (which destroys banks and instream habitat, and thus can lead to increased erosion (see also Service 2017, pp. 48–49)). • Anthropogenic activities. These types of activities may act to lower water tables, making the longsolid or round hickorynut susceptible to depressed flow levels. Water withdrawals for irrigation, municipal, and industrial water supplies are an increasing concern due to expanding human populations. Water infrastructure development, including water supply, reclamation, and wastewater treatment, results in pollution point discharges to streams. Concentrations of contaminants (including nitrogen, phosphorus, chloride, insecticides, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and personal care products) increase with urban development (Giddings et al. 2009, p. 2; Bringolf et al. 2010, p. 1,311). It is currently unknown whether anthropogenic effects of development and urbanization are likely to impact the longsolid or round hickorynut at the individual or population level. However, secondary impacts such as the increased likelihood of potential contaminant introduction, stream disturbance caused by impervious surfaces, barrier construction, and forest conversion are likely to act cumulatively on longsolid and round hickorynut populations. Agricultural activities are pervasive across the range of the longsolid and round hickorynut. Examples include (but are not limited to): • Longsolid: Agricultural erosion is listed among the factors affecting the Clinch and Powell Rivers (Ahlstedt et al. 2016, p. 8). • Longsolid: Sedimentation and other non-point source pollution, primarily of agricultural origin, are identified as a primary threat to aquatic fauna of the Nolichucky River (The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) 2006, p. 11). • Longsolid: Agricultural impacts have been noted to take a toll on mussel fauna in the Goose Creek watershed on the South Fork Kentucky River (Evans 2010, p. 15). • Longsolid and round hickorynut: The Elk River in Tennessee is a watershed with significant agricultural activity (Woodside et al. 2004, p. 10). • Round hickorynut: Water withdrawals for irrigation for agricultural uses have increased recently in the Tippecanoe River (Fisher 2019, pers. comm.) • Round hickorynut: Sedimentation and other point and non-point source pollution, primarily of agricultural PO 00000 Frm 00014 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 origin, are identified as a primary threat to aquatic fauna of Big Darby Creek and Killbuck Creek, Ohio (Ohio Department of the Environmental Protection Agency 2004, p. 1; Ohio Department of the Environmental Protection Agency 2011, p. 31). • Round hickorynut: Approximately 25 percent of the land use area in the West Fork River management unit in West Virginia is in agriculture, and has increased by as much as 9 percent in recent years (U.S. Department of Agriculture 2010, p. 8). • Round hickorynut: Large-scale mechanized agricultural practices threaten the last remaining population in the Lower Mississippi River basin, in the Big Black River, where the species has already undergone range reduction (Peacock and James 2002, p. 123). • Round hickorynut: The Duck, Buffalo, and Elk Rivers in Tennessee are watersheds with significant agricultural activity in their headwaters and tributaries, and are a suspected cause for mussel community declines throughout those rivers (Reed 2014, p. 4). Transportation Transportation-related impacts include both road development and river navigation. By its nature, road development increases impervious surfaces as well as land clearing and habitat fragmentation. Roads are generally associated with negative effects on the biotic integrity of aquatic ecosystems, including changes in surface water temperatures and patterns of runoff, changes in sedimentation levels, and increased heavy metals (especially lead), salts, organics, and nutrients to stream systems (Trombulak and Frissell 2000, p. 18). The adding of salts through road de-icing results in high salinity runoff, which is toxic to freshwater mussels. In addition, a major impact of road development is improperly constructed culverts at stream crossings, which can act as barriers if flow through the culvert varies significantly from the rest of the stream, or if the culvert ends up becoming perched (i.e., sitting above the downstream streambed), and fishes that serve as mussel hosts cannot pass through them. With regard to river navigation, dredging and channelization activities (as a means of maintaining waterways) have altered riverine habitats nationwide (Ebert 1993, p. 157). Channelization affects many physical characteristics of streams through accelerated erosion, increased bed load, reduced depth, decreased habitat diversity, geomorphic instability, and riparian canopy loss (Hartfield 1993, p. E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules 139). All of these impacts contribute to loss of habitat for the longsolid and round hickorynut, and alter habitats for host fish. Changes in both the water velocity and deposition of sediments not only alters physical habitat, but the associated increases in turbulence, suspended sediment, and turbidity affect mussel feeding and respiration (Aldridge et al. 1987, p. 25). The scope of channel maintenance activities over extensive areas alters physical habitat and degrades water quality. In addition to dredging and channel maintenance, impacts associated with barge traffic, which includes construction of fleeting areas, mooring cells, docking facilities, and propeller wash, also destroy and disrupt mussel habitat (see Miller et al. (1989, pp. 48–49) as an example for disturbance from barges). Transportation-related impacts across the range of the longsolid and round hickorynut include (but are not limited to) the following examples: • Channelization and dredging— Longsolid populations in the Eel, Vermilion, and Embarras Rivers and Killbuck Creek are extirpated. Round hickorynut populations in the Vermilion and Embarras Rivers are extirpated, while populations in the Eel and Killbuck Creek management units are in low condition; these streams have been extensively dredged and channelized (Butler 2007, p. 63; Appendix B). Additionally, dredging is identified by Taylor (1983b, p. 3) as the primary cause for suitable habitat loss in the Kanawha River (below river mile 79) in West Virginia. • Barge traffic, which includes construction of fleeting areas, mooring cells, docking facilities, and propeller wash, destroys and disrupts mussel habitat, currently affecting at least 15 (25 percent) of the longsolid populations in the Ohio, Cumberland, and Tennessee River basins (Hubbs et al. 2006, p. 169; Hubbs 2012, p. 3; Smith and Meyer 2010, p. 555; Sickel and Burnett 2005, p. 7; Taylor 1983b, p. 5). All six of the Ohio River mainstem longsolid populations that are considered in low condition are affected by channel maintenance and navigation operations; at least five (8 percent) of the round hickorynut populations in the Ohio basin are affected. • Channel maintenance and navigation are affecting the low condition populations in the lower Allegheny and Tennessee Rivers due to their clustered distribution and proximity to locks and dams. For the longsolid, these include two Allegheny River populations below Redbank, Pennsylvania (Smith and Meyer 2010, p. 556), and three low condition VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 populations in the Tennessee River main stem above Kentucky Dam. • Although most prevalent on the mainstem Ohio and Tennessee Rivers, commerce and commercial navigation currently affect round hickorynut populations in the Black and Muskingum Rivers. Contaminants Contaminants contained in point and non-point discharges can degrade water and substrate quality and adversely impact mussel populations. Although chemical spills and other point sources of contaminants may directly result in mussel mortality, widespread decreases in density and diversity may result in part from the subtle, pervasive effects of chronic, low-level contamination (Naimo 1995, p. 354). The effects of heavy metals, ammonia, and other contaminants on freshwater mussels were reviewed by Mellinger (1972), Fuller (1974), Havlik and Marking (1987), Naimo (1995), Keller and Lydy (1997), and Newton et al. (2003). The effects of contaminants such as metals, chlorine, and ammonia are profound on juvenile mussels (Augspurger et al. 2003, p. 2,571; Bartsch et al. 2003, p. 2,566). Juvenile mussels may readily ingest contaminants adsorbed to sediment particles while pedal feeding (Newton and Cope 2007, p. 276). These contaminants also affect mussel glochidia, which are sensitive to some toxicants (Goudreau et al. 1993, p. 221; Jacobson et al. 1997, p. 2,386; Valenti et al. 2005, p. 1,243). Mussels are noticeably intolerant of heavy metals (Havlik and Marking 1987, p. 4). Even at low levels, certain heavy metals may inhibit glochidial attachment to fish hosts. Cadmium appears to be the heavy metal most toxic to mussels (Havlik and Marking 1987, pp. 4–9), although chromium, copper, mercury, and zinc also negatively affect biological processes (Naimo 1995, p. 355; Jacobson et al. 1997, p. 2,389; Valenti et al. 2005, p. 1,243). Chronic mercury contamination from a chemical plant on the North Fork Holston River, Virginia, destroyed a diverse mussel fauna downstream of Saltville, Virginia, and potentially contributed to the extirpation of the longsolid from that river (Brown et al. 2005, p. 1,459). An example of long-term declines and extirpation of mussels attributed to copper and zinc contamination originating from wastewater discharges at electric power plants includes the Clinch River in Virginia (a portion of which the longsolid currently occupies) (Zipper et al. 2014, p. 9). This highlights that, despite localized improvements, PO 00000 Frm 00015 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 61397 these metals can stay bound in sediments, affecting recruitment and densities of the mussel fauna for decades (Price et al. 2014, p. 12; Zipper et al. 2014, p. 9). Examples of contaminant-related impacts across the range of longsolid and/or round hickorynut include (but are not limited to): • Contaminants have affected mussel glochidia on the Clinch River, which is a stronghold population for the longsolid (Goudreau et al. 1993, p. 221; Jacobson et al. 1997, p. 2,386; Valenti et al. 2005, p. 1,243); round hickorynut is now considered extirpated in the Tennessee section of the river. • The toxic effects of high salinity wastewater from oil and natural gas drilling on juvenile and adult freshwater mussels were observed in the Allegheny River, Pennsylvania, and in the Ohio River basin (Patnode et al. 2015, p. 55). • Numerous streams throughout both species’ ranges have experienced mussel and fish kills from toxic chemical spills, such as Fish Creek in Indiana for the round hickorynut (Sparks et al. 1999, p. 12), and the upper Tennessee River system in Virginia for the longsolid (Ahlstedt et al. 2016, p. 8; Neves 1987, p. 9; Jones et al. 2001, p. 20; Schmerfeld 2006, p. 12). Also in the Tennessee River basin, high counts of coliform bacteria originating from wastewater treatment plants have been documented, contributing to degradation of water quality being a primary threat to aquatic fauna (Neves and Angermeier 1990, p. 50). • Heavy metals and their toxicity to mussels have been documented in the Great Lakes, Clinton, Muskingum, Ohio, Fox, Powell, Clinch, and Tennessee Rivers where one or both of these species occur (Havlik and Marking 1987, pp. 4–9; van Hees et al. 2010, p. 606). Coal plants are also located on the Kanawha, Green, and Cumberland Rivers, and the effects of these facilities on water quality and the freshwater mussel fauna, including the longsolid and round hickorynut, are likely similar. The degradation of water quality as a result of land-based oil and gas drilling activities is a significant adverse effect on freshwater mussels, and specifically on longsolid in the Ohio River basin and populations in the Allegheny River, as well as the in Kanawha, Little Kanawha, and Elk Rivers. Agricultural Activities The advent of intensive row crop agricultural practices has been cited as a potential factor in freshwater mussel decline and species extirpation in the eastern United States (Peacock et al. E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 61398 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules 2005, p. 550). Nutrient enrichment and water withdrawals, which are threats commonly associated with agricultural activities, are most likely to affect individual longsolid and round hickorynut mussels, although in some instances may be localized and limited in scope. However, chemical control using pesticides, including herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, and their surfactants and adjuvants, are highly toxic to juvenile and adult freshwater mussels (Bringolf et al. 2007, p. 2,092). Waste from confined animal feeding and commercial livestock operations is another potential source of contaminants that comes from agricultural runoff. The concentrations of these contaminants that emanate from fields or pastures may be at levels that can affect an entire population, especially given the highly fragmented distributions of the longsolid and round hickorynut (also see Contaminants, above). Agencies such as the Natural Resources Conservation Service and Soil and Water Conservation Districts provide technical and financial assistance to farmers and private landowners. Additionally, county resource development councils and university agricultural extension services disseminate information on the importance of minimizing land use impacts, specifically agriculture, on aquatic resources. These programs help identify opportunities for conservation through projects such as exclusion fencing and alternate water supply sources, which help decrease nutrient inputs and water withdrawals, and help keep livestock off of stream banks and shorelines, thus reducing erosion. However, the overall effectiveness of these programs over a large scale is unknown given the longsolid’s and round hickorynut’s wide distribution and varying agricultural intensities. Given the large extent of private land and agricultural activities within the ranges of the longsolid and round hickorynut, the effects of agricultural activities that degrade water quality and result in habitat deterioration are not frequently detected until after the event(s) occur. In summary, agricultural activities are pervasive across the ranges of the longsolid and round hickorynut. The effects of agricultural activities on the longsolid and round hickorynut are a factor in their historical decline and localized extirpations. Agricultural activities are pervasive across the range of the longsolid and round hickorynut. Specifically, agricultural impacts have affected and continue to affect high, medium, and VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 low condition longsolid populations within these basins, including: • Longsolid only: French Creek and Allegheny River (Pennsylvania), Hughes River (West Virginia), Tuscawaras River (Ohio), Rolling Fork River (Kentucky), Little River and Valley River (North Carolina), Nolichucky River (Tennessee), Clinch and Powell Rivers (Tennessee and Virginia), and Estill Fork (Alabama). • Round hickorynut only: Pine, Belle, and Black Rivers (Michigan). • Both species: Shenango River (Pennsylvania); Elk, Little Kanawha, and North Fork Hughes Rivers (West Virginia); Licking and Kentucky Rivers (Kentucky); Elk and Buffalo Rivers (Tennessee); and Paint Rock River (Alabama). Dams and Barriers The effects of impoundments and barriers on aquatic habitats and freshwater mussels are relatively welldocumented (Watters 2000, p. 261). Dams alter and disrupt connectivity, and alter water quality, which affect longsolid and round hickorynut species. Extinction/extirpation of North American freshwater mussels can be traced to impoundment and inundation of riffle habitats in all major river basins of the central and eastern United States (Haag 2009, p. 107). Humans have constructed dams for a variety of reasons: flood prevention, water storage, electricity generation, irrigation, recreation, and navigation (Eissa and Zaki 2011, p. 253). Dams, either natural (by beavers or by aggregations of woody debris) or manmade, have many impacts on stream ecosystems. Reductions in the diversity and abundance of mussels are primarily attributed to habitat shifts caused by impoundments (Neves et al. 1997, p. 63). The survival of mussels and their overall reproductive success are influenced: • Upstream of dams, by the change from flowing to impounded waters, increased depths, increased buildup of sediments, decreased dissolved oxygen, and the drastic alteration in resident fish populations. • Downstream of dams, by fluctuations in flow regimes, minimal releases and scouring flows, seasonal depletion of dissolved oxygen, reduced or increased water temperatures, and changes in fish assemblages. Additionally, improperly constructed culverts at stream crossings may act as barriers and have some similar negative effects as dams on stream systems. Fluctuating flows through the culvert can vary significantly from the rest of the stream, preventing fish passage and scouring downstream habitats. For PO 00000 Frm 00016 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 example, if a culvert sits above the streambed, aquatic organisms cannot pass through it. These barriers fragment habitats along a stream course and contribute to genetic isolation of the aquatic species inhabiting the streams. Whether constructed for purposes such as flood control, navigation, hydropower, water supply or multipurpose uses, the construction and continued operation of dams (per existing licensing schedules) is a pervasive negative influence on the longsolid, round hickorynut, and their habitats throughout their ranges. Although there are recent efforts to remove older, failing dams within the ranges of the longsolid and round hickorynut, such as Lock and Dam 6 on the Green River, and current plans to remove others, such as Six Mile Dam on the Walhonding River, dams and their effects on longsolid and round hickorynut population distributions have had perhaps the greatest documented negative influence on these species (Hardison and Layzer 2001, p. 79; Layzer et al. 1993, p. 68; Parmalee and Polhemus 2004, p. 239; Smith and Meyer 2010, p. 543; Hubbs 2012, p. 8; Watters and Flaute 2010, p. 2). Over 20 of the rivers and streams currently occupied by the longsolid are directly affected by dams, thus directly influencing the species’ distribution rangewide. For the round hickorynut, all occupied rivers and streams are directly or indirectly affected by dams. See section 6.1.5 of the SSA reports for specific areas where dams and other impoundments occur within the range of the species (Service 2018, pp. 59–63; Service 2019, pp. 73–77). Changing Climate Conditions Changing climate conditions that can influence freshwater mussels include increasing or decreasing water temperatures and precipitation patterns that result in increased flooding, prolonged droughts, or reduced stream flows, as well as changes in salinity levels (Nobles and Zhang 2011, pp. 147– 148). An increase in the number of days with heavy precipitation over the next 25 to 35 years is expected across the longsolid’s range (U.S. Global Climate Change Research Program 2017, p. 207). Although changing climate conditions have potentially affected the longsolid to date, the timing, frequency, and extent of these effects is currently unknown. Possible impacts to the species could include alteration of the fundamental ecological processes, such as thermal suitability; changes in seasonal patterns of precipitation and runoff, which could alter the hydrology of streams; and changes in the presence E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 or combinations of invasive, native or nonnative species. We examined information on anticipated climate effects to wideranging mussels, which included a study that used RCP 2.6 and 8.5 and was conducted on the federally endangered spectaclecase (Cumberlandia monodonta). Our analysis of the best available climate change information revealed that within the range of both the longsolid and round hickorynut, shifts in the species-specific physiological thresholds in response to altered precipitation patterns and resulting thermal regimes are possible. Additionally, the expansion of invasive, nonnative species because of climatic changes has the potential for long-term detriments to the mussels and their habitats. Other potential impacts are associated with changes in food web dynamics and the genetic bottleneck that can occur with low effective population sizes (Nobles and Zhang 2011, p. 148). The influences of these changes on the longsolid and round hickorynut are possible in the future (see Scenario 3, Future Conditions, below). Multi-scale climate models that can be interpreted at both the rangewide and population levels, and are tailored to benthic invertebrates, which incorporate genetic and life-history information, are needed before the longsolid and round hickorynut declines can be correlated with climate change. At this time, the best available information indicates that climate change is considered a secondary factor influencing the viability of the longsolid and round hickorynut and is not currently thought to be a primary factor in the longsolid’s or round hickorynut’s occurrence and distribution across their ranges. Resource Extraction The most intensive resource extraction activities affecting the longsolid, round hickorynut, and their habitats are coal mining and oil and gas exploration, which are summarized here. Additional less intensive resource extraction activities affecting the species include gravel mining/dredging, which is detailed in the SSA reports (Service 2018, pp. 64–65; Service 2019, pp. 79– 83). Activities associated with coal mining and oil and gas drilling can contribute chemical pollutants to streams. Acid mine and saline drainage (AMD) is created from the oxidation of ironsulfide minerals such as pyrite, forming sulfuric acid (Sams and Beer 2000, p. 3). This AMD may be associated with high concentrations of aluminum, manganese, zinc, and other constituents VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 (Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) 2014, p. 72). These metals, and the high acidity typically associated with AMD, can be acutely and chronically toxic to aquatic life (Jones 1964, p. 96). Natural gas extraction has negatively affected water quality through accidental spills and discharges, as well as increased sedimentation due to increases in impervious surface and tree removal for drill pads and pipelines (Vidic et al. 2013, p. 6). Disposal of insufficiently treated brine wastewater is known to adversely affect freshwater mussels (Patnode et al. 2015, p. 62). Contaminant spills are also a concern. Sediment appears to be the largest impact to mussel physical habitat in streams as a result of gas extraction activities (Clayton 2018, pers. comm.). Excessive suspended sediments can impair feeding processes, leading to acute short-term or chronic long-term stress. Both excessive sedimentation and excessive suspended sediments can lead to reduced mussel fitness (Ellis 1936, p. 29; Anderson and Kreeger 2010, p. 2). This sediment is generated by construction of the well pads, access roads, and pipelines (for both gas and water). Examples of the variety of resource extraction activities (coal, oil, gas, and gravel mining) that occur across the range of the longsolid and round hickorynut include (but are not limited to): • Longsolid: The Cumberland Plateau and Central Appalachian regions of Tennessee and Kentucky (upper Cumberland River system and upper Tennessee River system) continue to experience mining activity that impairs water quality in streams (TDEC 2014, p. 62). • Longsolid: High levels of copper, manganese, and zinc, metals toxic to freshwater mussels, were found in sediment samples from both the Clinch and Powell Rivers, and mining impacts close to Big Stone Gap, Virginia, have almost eliminated the mussel fauna in the upper Powell River. The longsolid is considered extirpated from the South Fork Powell River and Cane Creek, both tributaries to the upper portion of the Powell River (Ahlstedt and Tuberville 1997, p. 75; Appendix D). • Round hickorynut: Although populations persist in the Rockcastle River and Buck Creek in the Cumberland basin, coal and gravel mining continues to occur in these watersheds. • Round hickorynut: The extensive mining of gravel in riparian zones reduces vegetative buffers and causes channel instability, and has been PO 00000 Frm 00017 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 61399 implicated in mussel declines in the Walhonding River, Ohio, which harbors a low condition population (Hoggarth 1995–96, p. 150). • Both species: Impacts from natural gas pipelines have a high potential to occur in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Tank trucks hauling such fluids can overturn into mussel streams, which recently occurred in Meathouse Fork of Middle Island Creek (Clayton 2018, pers. comm.). • Both species: Natural gas extraction in the Marcellus Shale region (the largest natural gas field in the United States that runs through northern Appalachia) has negatively affected water quality through accidental spills and discharges in populations in the Shenango, Elk, Little Kanawha, and Kanawha management units. • Both species: Coal mining has been implicated in sediment and water chemistry impacts in the Kanawha River in West Virginia, potentially limiting the Elk River populations of both species (Morris and Taylor 1978, p. 153). • Both species: Resource extraction and AMD have been cited as contributors to the loss of mussel species in the Cumberland basin (Haag and Cicerello 2016, p. 15), including the loss of longsolid from Rockcastle and Caney Fork Rivers, and the loss of round hickorynut in the Caney Fork, Little South Fork, Big South Fork, and Cumberland Rivers (Anderson et al. 1991, p. 6; Layzer and Anderson 1992, p. 97; Warren and Haag 2005, p. 1,383). • Both species: In the upper Kentucky River watershed, where both species exhibit a lack of recruitment (and also the Red River for round hickorynut), historical un-reclaimed mines and active coal mines are prevalent (Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection 2015, p. 66). Forest Conversion Silvicultural activities, when performed according to strict forest practices guidelines or best management practices (BMPs), can retain adequate conditions for aquatic ecosystems; however, when forest practices guidelines or BMPs are not followed, these activities can also cause measurable impacts and contribute to the myriad of stressors facing aquatic systems throughout the eastern United States (Warrington et al. 2017, p. 8). Both small- and large-scale forestry activities have an impact depending on the physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of adjacent streams (Allan and Castillo 2007, p. 107). Clearing large areas of forested wetlands and riparian systems E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 61400 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 eliminates shade once provided by tree canopies, exposing streams to more sunlight and increasing the in-stream water temperature (Wenger 1999, p. 35). The increase in stream temperature and light after deforestation alters macroinvertebrate (and other aquatic species) richness, abundance, and composition in streams to various degrees depending a species’ tolerance to temperature change and increased light in the aquatic system (Kishi et al. 2004, p. 283; Couceiro et al. 2007, p. 272; Caldwell et al. 2014, p. 2,196). Sediment runoff from cleared forested areas is a known stressor to aquatic systems (e.g., Webster et al. 1992, p. 232; Jones III et al. 1999, p. 1,455; Broadmeadow and Nisbet 2004, p. 286; Aust et al. 2011, p. 123). The physical characteristics of stream channels are affected when large quantities of sediment are added or removed (Watters 2000, p. 263). Mussels and fishes are potentially affected by changes in suspended and bed material load, changes in bed sediment composition associated with increased sediment production and runoff, changes in channel formation, stream crossings, and inadequately buffered clear-cut areas, all of which can be sources of sediment entering streams (Taylor et al. 1999, p. 13). Forest conversion has occurred across the range of the longsolid and round hickorynut. Siltation and erosion from natural forest conversion to monoculture and intensive forestry practices without BMPs is a welldocumented stressor to aquatic systems throughout the eastern United States (Warrington et al. 2017, p. 8). Forest conversion has been documented in all basins in which these species occur. Invasive and Nonnative Species When a nonnative species is introduced into an ecosystem, it may have many advantages over native species, such as easy adaptation to varying environments and a high tolerance of living conditions that allow it to thrive in its new habitat. There may not be natural predators to keep the nonnative species in check; therefore, it can potentially live longer and reproduce more often, further reducing the biodiversity in the system. The native species may become an easy food source for invasive, nonnative species, or the invasive species may carry diseases that extirpate populations of native species. Invasive, nonnative species are pervasive across the longsolid’s and round hickorynut’s ranges. Examples of invasive, nonnative species that affect freshwater mussels like the longsolid and round hickorynut VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 are the Asian clam (Corbicula fluminea), zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha), quagga mussel (Dreissena bugensis), black carp (Mylopharyngodon piceus), didymo (also known as rock snot; Didymosphenia geminata), and hydrilla (also known as water-thyme; Hydrilla verticillata). • The Asian clam alters benthic substrates, may filter mussel sperm or glochidia, competes with native species for limited resources, and causes ammonia spikes in surrounding water when they die off en masse (Scheller 1997, p. 2). • Dreissenid mollusks, such as the zebra mussel and quagga mussel, adversely affect native species through direct colonization, reduction of available habitat, changes in the biotic environment, or a reduction in food sources (MacIsaac 1996, p. 292). Zebra mussels are also known to alter the nutrient cycle in aquatic habitats, affecting other mollusks and fish species (Strayer 1999, p. 22). • Given their size and diet preferences, black carp have the potential to restructure benthic communities by direct predation and removal of algae-grazing snails. Mussel beds consisting of smaller individuals and juvenile recruits are probably most vulnerable to being consumed by black carp (Nico et al. 2005, p. 192). Furthermore, because black carp attain a large size (well over 3.28-ft (1-m) long), and their life span is reportedly over 15 years, they are expected to persist for many years. Therefore, they have the potential to cause harm to native mollusks by way of predation on multiple age classes (Nico et al. 2005, p. 77). • The two nonnative plant species that are most problematic for the longsolid and round hickorynut (i.e., impacting the species throughout their ranges) are hydrilla and didymo. Hydrilla is an aquatic plant that alters stream habitat, decreases flows, and contributes to sediment buildup in streams (National Invasive Species Council Management Plan 2018, p. 2). High sedimentation can cause suffocation, reduce stream flow, and make it difficult for mussels’ interactions with host fish necessary for development. Didymo can alter the habitat and change the flow dynamics of a site (Jackson et al. 2016, p. 970). Invasive plants grow uncontrolled and can smother habitat, affect flow dynamics, alter water chemistry, and increase water temperatures, especially in drought conditions (Colle et al. 1987, p. 416). PO 00000 Frm 00018 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 Effects Associated With Small Population Size Without the level of population connectedness that the species experienced historically (i.e., without barriers such as reservoirs), small isolated populations that may now be comprised predominantly of adult individuals could be slowly dying out. Even given the very improbable absence of other anthropogenic threats, these disjunct populations could be lost simply due to the consequences of below-threshold effective population sizes. Because only 60 primarily disjunct streams among 162 historically occupied areas continue to harbor populations of the longsolid, and 65 primarily disjunct streams of 298 historically occupied areas continue to harbor populations of the round hickorynut, this is likely partial testimony to the principle of effective population size and its role in population loss. The longsolid and round hickorynut exhibit several traits that influence population viability, including relatively small population size and low fecundity at many locations compared to other mussels (see Appendix A in Service 2018 and 2019). Small population size puts the species at greater risk of extirpation from stochastic events (e.g., drought) or anthropomorphic changes and management activities that affect habitat. In addition, small longsolid or round hickorynut populations may have reduced genetic diversity, be less genetically fit, and be more susceptible to disease during extreme environmental conditions compared to large populations (Frankham 1996, p. 1,505). Genetic drift occurs in all species, but the lack of drift is more likely to negatively affect populations that have a smaller effective population size (number of breeding individuals) and populations that are geographically spread out and isolated from one another. Relatively low fecundity, commonly observed in species of Fusconaia, is another inherent factor that could influence population viability (Geist 2010, p. 91). Survival of juveniles in the wild is already low, and females produce fewer offspring than other mussel species (Haag and Staton 2003, p. 2,125). Factors such as low effective population size, genetic isolation, relatively low levels of fecundity and recruitment, and limited juvenile survival could all affect the ability of these species to maintain current population levels and to rebound if a reduction in population E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 occurs (e.g., through predation, toxic releases or spills, or poor environmental conditions that inhibit successful reproduction). Additionally, based on our presumption of fish hosts of the longsolid and the known species of fish hosts for the round hickorynut, they are small-bodied fishes that have comparatively limited movement (Vaughn 2012, p. 6); therefore, natural expansion of longsolid and round hickorynut populations is limited. Dendritic (branched) streams and rivers are highly susceptible to fragmentation and may result in multiple habitat fragments and isolated populations of variable size (Fagan 2002, p. 3,247). In contrast to landscapes where multiple routes of movement among patches are possible, pollution or other habitat degradation at specific points in dendritic landscapes can completely isolate portions of the system (Fagan 2002, p. 3,246). Cumulative/Synergistic Effects Populations that have a small effective population size (number of breeding individuals) and that are geographically spread out and isolated from one another are more vulnerable than more robust populations. Factors such as low effective population size, genetic isolation, relatively low levels of fecundity and recruitment, and limited juvenile survival could all affect the ability of these species to maintain current population levels and to rebound if a reduction in population occurs (e.g., through predation, toxic releases or spills, or poor environmental conditions that inhibit successful reproduction). Additionally, fragmentation (i.e., the breaking apart of habitat segments, independent of habitat loss (Fahrig 2003; p. 299)) and isolation contribute to the extinction risk that mussel populations face from stochastic events (see Haag 2012, pp. 336–338). Impoundments result in the genetic isolation of mussel populations as well as fishes that act as hosts (Vaughn 2012, p. 6; Service 2018, pp. 59–60; Service 2019, p. 74). A culvert that is perched (i.e., sitting above the downstream streambed) or improperly maintained at stream crossings can also act as barriers (Service 2018, pp. 50–54, 59–60; Service 2019, pp. 63, 90), and have similar effects as dams on stream systems. Fluctuating flows through a culvert can differ significantly from the rest of the stream, preventing fish passage and scouring downstream habitats. Future Conditions In the SSA reports, we forecast the longsolid’s and round hickorynut’s response to plausible future scenarios of VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 environmental conditions and conservation efforts. The future scenarios project the threats into the future and consider the impacts those threats could have on the viability of the longsolid and round hickorynut. We apply the concepts of resiliency, redundancy, and representation to the future scenarios to describe possible future conditions of the longsolid and round hickorynut. The scenarios described in the SSA reports represent only three possible future conditions for each of the species. Uncertainty is inherent in any risk assessment, so we must consider plausible conditions to make our determinations. When assessing the future, viability is not a specific state, but rather a continuous measure of the likelihood that the species will sustain populations over time. In the SSA reports, we considered three future scenarios. Scenario 1 assesses the species’ response to factors influencing current longsolid and round hickorynut populations and management units, assuming the current level of impacts remain constant into the future. Scenario 2 assesses the species’ response when factors that negatively influence most of the extant populations and management units are reduced by additional conservation, beyond the continued implementation of existing regulatory measures or voluntary conservation actions. Scenario 3 assesses the species’ response to worsening conditions of the factors that most influence the species due to the implementation of known existing and projected development, resource extraction, hydroelectric projects, etc. An important assumption of the predictive analysis presented herein is that future population resiliency for each species is largely dependent on water quality, water flow, instream habitat conditions, and condition of riparian vegetation (see Species Needs, above). The future conditions timeframe for our analysis is different for each species. A timeframe of 50 to 70 years into the future is evaluated for the longsolid, and 20 to 30 years into the future is evaluated for the round hickorynut. We selected these timeframes based on the availability of trends and threat information, planning documents, and climate modeling that could be reasonably projected into the future, and also the consideration of at least two generations for each species (i.e., 25 to 35 years for the long-lived longsolid, and on average 12–13 years (Shepard 2006, p. 7; Ehlo and Layzer 2014, p. 11) for the round hickorynut). PO 00000 Frm 00019 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 61401 Longsolid Our assessment predicts that if conditions remain the same or worsen into the future, all 60 populations would experience negative changes to the species’ important habitat requisites (see Species Needs, above), including the loss of the single remaining population in the Cumberland River basin, and potentially resulting in no highly resilient populations (Scenario 3). Alternatively, the scenario that suggests additive conservation measures beyond those currently implemented (Scenario 2) could result in the continued persistence of all 60 populations in the future. However, we note that approximately 30 of 60 (50 percent) of these are currently low condition populations, based on either surveys that pre-date 2000 or on the collection of only five or fewer older, non-reproducing individuals. Some of these populations may already be extirpated. The risks facing the longsolid populations varied among scenarios and are summarized below (see Table 8–1 and Table ES–1 in the SSA report). Under Scenario 1, lowered resiliency, representation, and redundancy are expected. Under this scenario, we predict that 1 population of the current 3 high condition populations would remain in high condition, 8 populations (13 percent) in medium condition, and 33 populations (55 percent) in low condition. Redundancy would be reduced with likely extirpation of 18 out of 60 (30 percent) currently extant populations; only the Ohio River basin (one of the three basins currently occupied by the species) would retain one highly resilient population (i.e., the Green River population in the Upper Green management unit). Representation would be reduced, with two of the three currently occupied river basins continuing to harbor longsolid populations. Under Scenario 2, we predict higher levels of resiliency in some areas of the longsolid’s range than was estimated for Scenario 1; representation and redundancy would remain the same level as current conditions, with the species continuing to occur within all currently occupied management units and States across its range. Nine populations (15 percent) are predicted to be in high condition, compared to the current four populations in high condition. Scenario 2 also predicts 24 populations (40 percent) in medium condition and 27 populations (45 percent) in low condition; no populations would become extirpated. All three currently occupied major river E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 61402 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules basins would remain occupied, and the existing levels of redundancy and representation would improve. It is possible that this scenario is the least likely to occur in the future as compared to Scenario 1 or 3 only because it will take many years (potentially beyond the 50- to 70-year timeframe analyzed in the SSA report) for all of the beneficial effects of management actions that are necessary to be implemented and realized on the landscape. Under Scenario 3, we predict a significant decrease in resiliency, representation, and redundancy across the species’ range. Redundancy would be reduced from three major river basins to two basins with no high condition populations remaining, and the likely extirpation of 44 (73 percent) of the currently extant populations. The resiliency of the remaining 16 populations is expected to be reduced to 3 populations (5 percent) in medium condition and 13 (22 percent) in low condition. In addition to the loss of 44 populations, 32 (29 percent) of the management units are predicted to become extirpated. Representation would be reduced to 13 management units, 2 major river basins, and 3 States (as compared to the current 9 States) occupied by the species. jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 Round Hickorynut Our assessment predicts that if conditions remain the same (Scenario 1), 40 of 65 populations (62 percent) would experience negative changes to the important habitat requisites, including the potential loss of 23 populations. This includes the predicted extirpation of the two populations in the Cumberland River basin and the population in the Lower Mississippi River basin. Additionally, under Scenario 3, no highly resilient populations are able to persist, and 90 percent of remaining populations are in low condition. Alternatively, the scenario that suggests additive conservation measures beyond those currently implemented (Scenario 2) could result in the continued persistence of all 65 populations in the future. However, approximately 40 of 65 (62 percent) of these populations are currently in low condition. Many of the known populations of the round hickorynut have been collected as 10 or fewer individuals, with limited extent information available, due to the lack of survey effort targeting the species (Service 2019, Appendix A). The risks facing round hickorynut populations varied among scenarios and are summarized below (see also Table 8–1 and Table ES–1 in the SSA report). VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 Under Scenario 1, lowered resiliency, representation, and redundancy are expected. We predict that only one of the current four high condition populations would remain in high condition. Under this scenario, only the Great Lakes basin (one of the five basins currently occupied by the species) would retain a highly resilient population (i.e., the Grand River). Of the 65 extant populations, 13 (20 percent) would be in medium condition and 28 (43 percent) would be in low condition. We estimate extirpation of 23 out of 65 (35 percent) populations. Redundancy would decline due to these population and management unit losses, resulting in a loss of the species from Pennsylvania and Mississippi. Representation would be reduced through extirpation of populations and management units in the Cumberland and Great Lakes basins, a 40 percent loss of redundancy compared to current conditions. Under this scenario, only three of the five currently occupied river basins (Great Lakes, Ohio, and Tennessee) continue to harbor round hickorynut populations. Under Scenario 2, we predict higher levels of resiliency in some areas of the round hickorynut’s range than is estimated for Scenario 1; representation and redundancy would remain the same level as current conditions with the species continuing to occur within all currently occupied management units and States across the species’ 9-State range. Up to 15 populations (23 percent) are predicted to be high condition compared to the current 4 populations in high condition. Scenario 2 also predicts 37 populations (57 percent) in medium condition and 13 populations (20 percent) in low condition. All currently occupied major river basins would remain occupied, and the existing levels of redundancy and representation would improve. There are sufficient population sizes within each basin to facilitate augmentation and restoration efforts, whether it be within-basin translocations or captive propagation techniques. It is possible that this scenario is the least likely to occur in the future as compared to Scenario 1 or 3. This is because it will take many years (potentially beyond the 20- to 30-year time frame analyzed in the SSA report) for all of the beneficial effects of management actions that are necessary to be implemented on the landscape. Under Scenario 3, we predict a significant decrease in resiliency, representation, and redundancy across the species’ range. Redundancy would be reduced from five major river basins to three basins, with extirpations PO 00000 Frm 00020 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 expected to occur in the Cumberland and Lower Mississippi River basins. No high condition populations would remain, and 46 (71 percent) of the 65 extant populations are likely to become extirpated. The resiliency of the remaining 19 populations is expected to be reduced to 2 populations (10 percent) in medium condition and 17 (90 percent) in low condition. In addition to the potential loss of 46 populations, 20 (59 percent) of the extant 34 management units are predicted to no longer harbor the species. Representation could be reduced to 14 management units across 3 major river basins. Extirpations are expected from the States of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Mississippi, leaving 6 States (as compared to the current 9, and historically 12) occupied by the species. 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 SSA 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. Determination of Longsolid and Round Hickorynut Status Introduction 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 E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 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. In conducting our status assessment of the longsolid and round hickorynut, we evaluated all identified threats under the Act’s section 4(a)(1) factors and assessed how the cumulative impact of all threats acts on the viability of the species as a whole. That is, all the anticipated effects from both habitatbased and direct mortality-based threats are examined in total and then evaluated in the context of what those combined negative effects will mean to the future condition of the longsolid and round hickorynut. However, for the vast majority of potential threats, the effect on the longsolid and round hickorynut (e.g., total losses of individual mussels or their habitat) cannot be quantified with available information. Instead, we use the best available information to gauge the magnitude of each individual threat on the longsolid and round hickorynut, and then assess how those effects combined (and as may be ameliorated by any existing regulatory mechanisms or conservation efforts) will impact the longsolid’s or round hickorynut’s future viability. Longsolid—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 determined that the species’ distribution and abundance has been reduced across its range as demonstrated by both the number of occupied management units and the number of populations where it historically occurred. Historically, the species occurred within 162 populations and 105 management units across 12 States; currently, the species occurs in 60 populations and 45 management units across 9 States, which represents a 63 percent reduction of its historically occupied populations (although we note that the remaining populations are well-distributed as opposed to concentrated within its range). The conditions of the remaining 60 extant populations vary between being highly resilient, moderately resilient, or having low resiliency (see Current Conditions above, and section 5.2 in the SSA report (Service 2018, pp. 34–37)). VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 Currently, 3 populations (5 percent) are highly resilient, 9 (15 percent) are moderately resilient, and 48 (80 percent) have low resiliency. Although downward trends are evident compared to historical information, the 12 highlyto moderately-resilient populations continue to persist within three of the four major river basins the species is historically known to occupy. Current and ongoing threats from habitat degradation or loss (Factor A), residual impacts from past harvest and overutilization (Factor B), and invasive, nonnative species (Factor E) contribute to the species’ negative effects associated with small population size (Factor E). The persistence of these 12 populations (in addition to some survey information) implies that recent recruitment is occurring in some populations to help maintain a level of resiliency, redundancy, and representation. Thus, after assessing the best available information, we conclude that the longsolid is not currently in danger of extinction throughout all of its range. We, therefore, proceed with determining whether the longsolid is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future throughout all of its range. At this point in time, and as noted above, the threats currently acting on the species include habitat degradation or loss from a variety of sources and invasive, nonnative species, all of which contribute to the negative effects associated with the species’ small population size. Our analysis revealed that these threats are likely to continue into the foreseeable future, or approximately 30 to 50 years. This timeframe accounts for reasonable predictions of threats continuing into the future based on our examination of empirical data available over the last 30 years (e.g., survey data, how threats are manifesting themselves on the landscape and the species, implementation of management plans and voluntary conservation actions), and also takes into consideration the biology of the species (multiple generations of a long-lived species) and the licensing schedules of dams within the species’ range. The best available information suggests that the threats currently acting upon the longsolid are expected to continue into the foreseeable future, some of which (e.g., water quality and habitat degradation, and invasive, nonnative species) are reasonably expected to worsen over time, including concurrent with increasing human population trends and thus further reducing the species’ resiliency, redundancy, and representation across PO 00000 Frm 00021 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 61403 its range. Our analysis reveals the potential for either none or a single population (i.e., the Green River in Kentucky) to persist as highly resilient (i.e., continued reproduction with varied age classes present) in the foreseeable future, assuming threats remain or worsen on the landscape. Additionally, the majority of the remaining populations would exhibit low resiliency, while many (between 30 and 73 percent of the current low condition populations) would potentially become extinct or functionally extinct (e.g., significant habitat degradation, no reproduction due to highly isolated, non-recruiting individuals). Our future analysis also reveals a high risk that the species would become extirpated in one of the four historically occupied river basins (i.e., Cumberland River basin); it has already been lost from the Great Lakes basin. Overall, the current threats acting on the species and its habitat are expected to continue, and there are no indications that these threats would lessen or that declining population trends would be reversed. Thus, after assessing the best available information, we conclude that the longsolid is likely to become in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future throughout all of its range. Longsolid—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. The court in Center for Biological Diversity v. Everson, 2020 WL 437289 (D.D.C. Jan. 28, 2020) (Everson), vacated the aspect of the 2014 Significant Portion of its Range Policy that provided that the Services do not undertake an analysis of significant portions of a species’ range if the species warrants listing as threatened throughout all of its range. Therefore, we proceed to evaluating whether the species is endangered in a significant portion of its range—that is, whether there is any portion of the species’ range for which both (1) the portion is significant; and, (2) the species is in danger of extinction in that portion. Depending on the case, it might be more efficient for us to address the ‘‘significance’’ question or the ‘‘status’’ question first. We can choose to address either question first. Regardless of which question we address first, if we reach a negative answer with respect to the first question that we address, we do not need to evaluate the other question for that portion of the species’ range. E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 61404 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules Following the court’s holding in Everson, we now consider whether there are any significant portions of the species’ range where the species is in danger of extinction now (i.e., endangered). In undertaking this analysis for the longsolid, we choose to address the status question first—we consider information pertaining to the geographic distribution of both the species and the threats that the species faces to identify any portions of the range where the species is endangered. We examined the following threats: Habitat degradation or loss; invasive, nonnative species; effects associated with small population size; and the potential for cumulative effects. We also considered whether these threats may be exacerbated by small population size (or low condition). Overall, we found that threats are likely acting on individuals or populations, or even basins, similarly across the species’ range. These threats are certain to occur, and in those basins with few populations that are predominantly in low condition, these populations are facing the same threats. One basin—the Cumberland River— has been reduced by 91 percent with one remaining low condition population. Although there are low condition populations in all three basins in which the species occurs, since this basin has seen its populations significantly reduced to a single population currently in low condition, this circumstance—in combination with the other threats acting on the species throughout its range—may indicate there is a concentration of threats in this basin such that the species may be in danger of extinction in this portion of the range. Small, isolated populations often exhibit reduced levels of genetic variability, which diminishes the species’ capacity to adapt and respond to environmental changes, thereby decreasing the probability of long-term persistence. Small populations may experience reduced reproductive vigor, for example, due to inbreeding depression. Isolated individuals may have difficulty reproducing. The problems associated with small population size and vulnerability to random demographic fluctuations or natural catastrophes are further magnified by synergistic interactions with other threats, such as those discussed above. Based on our review of information and the synergistic effects of threats exacerbated by a single lowcondition population in the Cumberland River basin, we find that this basin is a portion of the range where the species may be in danger of extinction. VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 Because we have determined the Cumberland River basin is a portion of the range that may be in danger of extinction, we next evaluate whether this portion may be significant. As an initial note, the Service’s most recent definition of ‘‘significant’’ within agency policy guidance has been invalidated by court order (see Desert Survivors v. Dep’t of the Interior, No. 16–cv–01165 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 24, 2018)). Therefore, for purposes of this analysis, the Service is evaluating potentially significant portions of the range by applying any reasonable definition of ‘‘significant’’ in terms of its biological importance. We first examined the question of whether this portion could be a significant portion of the longsolid’s range by examining its contribution to the resiliency, redundancy, and representation of the species. We determined that this basin contains 1 of 60 populations (1.7 percent) identified in the SSA report. Therefore, this single population does not contribute significantly, either currently or in the foreseeable future, to the species’ total resiliency at a biologically meaningful scale compared to other representative areas. The overall representation described herein would likely be the same under two of the three scenarios. We conclude that the Cumberland River basin population does not contribute meaningfully to the species’ viability overall. We evaluated the best available information for the Cumberland River basin in this context, assessing its significance in terms of these conservation concepts, and determined that this single population is not biologically significant to the species. Longsolid populations are widely distributed over nine States and three major river basins, and we considered geographic range as a surrogate for geographic variation and proxy for potential local adaptation and adaptive capacity. A river basin is any area of land where precipitation collects and drains off into a common outlet, such as into a river, bay, or other body of water. The river basin includes all the surface water from precipitation runoff and nearby streams that run downslope towards the shared outlet, as well as the groundwater underneath the earth’s surface. River basins connect into other drainage basins at lower elevations in a hierarchical pattern, with smaller subdrainage basins. There are no data indicating genetic or morphological differentiation between the three major river basins for the species. Further, the longsolid occurs in similar aquatic habitats and does not use unique observable environmental or behavioral PO 00000 Frm 00022 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 characteristics attributable to any of the basins. Therefore, it exhibits similar basin-scale use of habitat. At a population level, the Cumberland River basin population occurs in stream habitat comprised of similar substrate types to the other basins where the longsolid performs the important lifehistory functions of breeding, feeding, and sheltering, and occurs in areas with water quality sufficient to sustain these essential life-history traits. The single population in the Cumberland River basin does not act as a refugia for the species or as an important spawning ground. In addition, the water quality is similar throughout the species’ range with impaired water quality occurring in all three basins. Since the longsolid occurs in similar aquatic habitats, the Cumberland River basin population exhibits similar habitat use as populations in the remainder of the range. Therefore, there is no unique, observable environmental usage or behavioral characteristics attributable to just the Cumberland River basin population. Overall, we found no substantial information that would indicate the Cumberland River basin is a portion of the range that may be significant in terms of its overall contribution to the species’ resiliency, redundancy, and representation, or that it may be significant in terms of high-quality habitat or habitat that is otherwise important for the species’ life history. As a result, we determined there is no portion of the longsolid’s range that constitutes a significant portion of the range. Accordingly, we determine that the species is likely to become in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future throughout all of its range. This is consistent with the courts’ holdings in Desert Survivors v. Department of the Interior, No. 16–cv–01165–JCS, 2018 WL 4053447 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 24, 2018), and Center for Biological Diversity v. Jewell, 248 F. Supp. 3d, 946, 959 (D. Ariz. 2017). Longsolid—Determination of Status Our review of the best available scientific and commercial information indicates that the longsolid meets the definition of a threatened species. Therefore, we propose to list the longsolid as a threatened species in accordance with sections 3(20) and 4(a)(1) of the Act. Round Hickorynut—Status Throughout All of Its Range After evaluating threats to the species and assessing the cumulative effect of the threats under the Act’s section 4(a)(1) factors, we determined that the E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules round hickorynut’s abundance has been reduced across its range as demonstrated by both number of occupied management units and the number of populations where the species has historically occurred. Historically, the species occurred within 297 populations and 138 management units across 12 States (plus at least 10 populations and 8 management units within the Canadian Province of Ontario); currently, the species occurs in 65 populations and 34 management units across 9 States, which represents a 78 percent reduction of its historically occupied populations (although we note that the remaining populations are widely distributed as opposed to concentrated within its range). The species also continues to occur in Canada, although it is estimated to have declined by greater than 92 percent, as reported in 2013 (Committee on the Status of Species at Risk in Ontario 2013, p. 4). The condition of the remaining 65 currently extant populations in the United States are categorized as either high, moderate, or low (see the applicable condition description above under Longsolid— Status Throughout All of Its Range, and section 5.2 in the round hickorynut’s SSA report (Service 2019, pp. 43–47)). Currently, 4 round hickorynut populations (6 percent) are highly resilient, 16 (25 percent) are moderately resilient, and 45 (69 percent) have low resiliency. Although downward trends are evident compared to historical information, the 20 highly to moderately resilient populations in the United States continue to persist within 4 of the 5 major river basins where the species is historically known to occur. Current and ongoing threats from habitat degradation or loss (Factor A), and invasive, nonnative species (Factor E), contribute to the negative effects associated with the species’ small population size (Factor E). The persistence of these 20 populations (in addition to some survey information) implies that recent recruitment is occurring in some populations, and they maintain a level of resiliency, redundancy, and representation. Thus, after assessing the best available information, we conclude that the round hickorynut is not currently in danger of extinction throughout all of its range. We, therefore, proceed with determining whether the round hickorynut is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future throughout all of its range. As noted above, the threats acting on the species include habitat degradation or loss from a variety of sources and invasive, nonnative species, both of VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 which contribute to the negative effects associated with the species’ small population size. Our analysis revealed that these threats are likely to continue into the foreseeable future, or approximately 20 to 40 years. This timeframe accounts for reasonable predictions of threats continuing into the future based on our examination of empirical data in our files (e.g., survey data, how threats are manifesting themselves on the landscape and the species, implementation of management plans and voluntary conservation actions), and also takes into consideration the biology of the species and the licensing schedules of dams within the species’ range. The best available information suggests that the threats currently acting upon the round hickorynut are expected to continue into the foreseeable future. The effects of water quality and habitat degradation, and invasive, nonnative species are reasonably expected to worsen over time, including concurrent with increasing human population trends and thus further reducing the species’ resiliency, redundancy, and representation across its range. Our analysis reveals the potential for either none or a single population (i.e., the Grand River in Ohio) to persist as highly resilient (i.e., continued reproduction with varied age classes present) in the foreseeable future, assuming threats remain or worsen on the landscape. Additionally, the majority of the remaining populations would exhibit low resiliency, while many (between 35 and 62 percent of the current low conditions populations) would potentially become extinct or functionally extinct (e.g., significant habitat degradation, no reproduction due to highly isolated, non-recruiting individuals). Our future analysis also reveals a high risk that the species would become extirpated in two of the five historically occupied river basins (i.e., Cumberland River basin and Lower Mississippi River basin). Overall, the current threats acting on the species and its habitat are expected to continue, and there are no indications that these threats would be lessened or that declining population trends would be reverted. Thus, after assessing the best available information, we conclude that the round hickorynut is likely to become in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future throughout all of its range. Round Hickorynut—Status Throughout a Significant Portion of Its Range See above, under Longsolid—Status Throughout a Significant Portion of Its Range, for a description of our PO 00000 Frm 00023 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 61405 evaluation methods and our policy application. In undertaking the analysis for the round hickorynut, we choose to address the status question first—we consider information pertaining to the geographic distribution of both the species and the threats that the species faces to identify any portions of the range where the species is endangered. We examined the following threats: Habitat degradation or loss; invasive, nonnative species; negative effects associated with small population size; and the potential for cumulative effects. We also considered whether these threats may be exacerbated by small population size (or low condition). Overall, we found that threats are likely acting on individuals or populations, or even basins, similarly across the species’ range. These threats are certain to occur, and in those basins with few populations that are predominantly in low condition, these populations are facing the same threats. Three of five basins where round hickorynut has historically occurred (Great Lakes, Cumberland River, and Lower Mississippi River basins) have been reduced to predominantly low condition populations. Specifically, the Great Lakes basin has been reduced from 25 populations to 5 low condition populations, 1 medium condition population, and 1 high condition population; the Cumberland River basin has been reduced from 23 populations to 2 low condition populations; and the Lower Mississippi River basin has been reduced from 9 populations to a single remaining low condition population. Although there are low condition populations in every basin in which the species occurs, since these three basins have seen their populations significantly reduced and a predominance of the Great Lakes basin populations and the remaining populations for the other two basins are currently in low condition, these circumstances—in combination with the other threats acting on the species throughout its range—may indicate there is a concentration of threats in these areas such that the species may be in danger of extinction in these portions of the range. As similarly described above for the longsolid, small, isolated populations often exhibit reduced levels of genetic variability, which diminishes the species’ capacity to adapt and respond to environmental changes, thereby decreasing the probability of long-term persistence. Small populations may experience reduced reproductive vigor, for example, due to inbreeding depression. Isolated individuals may have difficulty reproducing. The E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 61406 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules problems associated with small population size and vulnerability to random demographic fluctuations or natural catastrophes are further magnified by synergistic interactions with other threats, such as those discussed above. Based on our review of information and the synergistic effects of threats exacerbated by a predominance of populations in low condition within the Great Lakes, Cumberland, and Lower Mississippi River basins (where populations have been significantly extirpated), we find that these three basins are portions of the range where the species may be in danger of extinction. Because we have determined the Great Lakes, Cumberland, and Lower Mississippi River basins are portions of the range where the species may be in danger of extinction, we next evaluate whether those portions may be significant (see additional discussion above for the longsolid). Therefore, for purposes of this analysis, the Service is evaluating potentially significant portions of the range by applying any reasonable definition of ‘‘significant’’ in terms of its biological importance. We first examined the question of whether these portions could be a significant portion of the round hickorynut’s range by examining their contribution to the resiliency, redundancy, and representation of the species. Although these basins contain 10 of 65 populations (15 percent) identified in the SSA report, the Great Lakes basin consists of 1 population currently with moderate resiliency and 1 with high resiliency, and the remaining 5 populations demonstrate low resiliency; the remaining 3 populations in the Cumberland River basin and the Lower Mississippi River basin are all low condition populations. These low condition populations do not contribute significantly, either currently or in the foreseeable future, to the species’ total resiliency at a biologically meaningful scale compared to other representative areas. Although the low condition populations in these basins are relatively small, the current and future redundancy suggests that threats would be unlikely to extirpate round hickorynut in the Great Lakes basin, but there is potential to lose the remaining three low condition populations under the current level of threats scenario (Scenario 1). Overall representation would be modified through loss of two currently occupied basins. We evaluated the best available information for the Great Lakes, Cumberland River, and Lower Mississippi River basins in this context, assessing its significance in terms of these conservation concepts, VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 and determined that there is not substantial information to indicate that any of these areas may be significant. Round hickorynut populations are widely distributed over nine States and five major river basins, and we considered geographic range as a surrogate for geographic variation and proxy for potential local adaptation and adaptive capacity. A river basin is any area of land where precipitation collects and drains off into a common outlet, such as into a river, bay, or other body of water. The river basin includes all the surface water from precipitation runoff and nearby streams that run downslope towards the shared outlet, as well as the groundwater underneath the earth’s surface. River basins connect into other drainage basins at lower elevations in a hierarchical pattern, with smaller subdrainage basins. There are no data indicating genetic or morphological differentiation between the five major river basins for the species. Further, the round hickorynut occurs in similar aquatic habitats and does not use unique observable environmental or behavioral characteristics attributable to just the Great Lakes, Cumberland River, or Lower Mississippi River basin populations. Therefore, the species exhibits similar basin-scale use of habitat. At a population level, the Great Lakes, Cumberland River, and Lower Mississippi River basin populations occur in stream habitat comprised of substrate types similar to the other basins where the round hickorynut performs the important life-history functions of breeding, feeding, and sheltering, and occurs in areas with water quality sufficient to sustain these essential life-history traits. Populations in these three basins do not act as refugia for the species or as an important spawning ground. In addition, the water quality is similar throughout the species’ range with impaired water quality occurring in all basins. Since the round hickorynut occurs in similar aquatic habitats, the Great Lakes, Cumberland River, and Lower Mississippi River basin populations exhibit similar habitat use as the remainder of the species’ range. Therefore, there is no unique observable environmental usage or behavioral characteristics attributable to just these basins. Overall, we found no substantial information that would indicate the Great Lakes, Cumberland, or Lower Mississippi River basins constitute portions of the range that may be significant in terms of their contribution to the species’ resiliency, redundancy, and representation, or that they may be PO 00000 Frm 00024 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 significant in terms of high-quality habitat or habitat that is otherwise important for the species’ life history. As a result, we determined there is no portion of the round hickorynut’s range that constitutes a significant portion of the range. Accordingly, we determine that the round hickorynut is likely to become in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future throughout all of its range. This is consistent with the courts’ holdings in Desert Survivors v. Department of the Interior, No. 16–cv– 01165–JCS, 2018 WL 4053447 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 24, 2018), and Center for Biological Diversity v. Jewell, 248 F. Supp. 3d, 946, 959 (D. Ariz. 2017). Round Hickorynut—Determination of Status Our review of the best available scientific and commercial information indicates that the round hickorynut meets the definition of a threatened species. Therefore, we propose to list the round hickorynut as a threatened species in accordance with sections 3(20) and 4(a)(1) of the Act. Available Conservation Measures Conservation measures provided to species listed as endangered or threatened species under the Act include recognition, recovery actions, requirements for Federal protection, and prohibitions against certain practices. Recognition through listing results in public awareness, and conservation by Federal, State, tribal, and local agencies, private organizations, and individuals. The Act encourages cooperation with the States and other countries and calls for recovery actions to be carried out for listed species. The protection required by Federal agencies and the prohibitions against certain activities are discussed, in part, below. The primary purpose of the Act is the conservation of endangered and threatened species and the ecosystems upon which they depend. The ultimate goal of such conservation efforts is the recovery of these listed species, so that they no longer need the protective measures of the Act. Section 4(f) of the Act calls for the Service to develop and implement recovery plans for the conservation of endangered and threatened species. The recovery planning process involves the identification of actions that are necessary to halt or reverse the species’ decline by addressing the threats to its survival and recovery. The goal of this process is to restore listed species to a point where they are secure, selfsustaining, and functioning components of their ecosystems. E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules Recovery planning consists of preparing draft and final recovery plans, beginning with the development of a recovery outline and making it available to the public within 30 days of a final listing determination. The recovery outline guides the immediate implementation of urgent recovery actions and describes the process to be used to develop a recovery plan. Revisions of the plan may be done to address continuing or new threats to the species, as new substantive information becomes available. The recovery plan also identifies recovery criteria for review of when a species may be ready for reclassification from endangered to threatened (‘‘downlisting’’) or removal from protected status (‘‘delisting’’), and methods for monitoring recovery progress. Recovery plans also establish a framework for agencies to coordinate their recovery efforts and provide estimates of the cost of implementing recovery tasks. Recovery teams (composed of species experts, Federal and State agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and stakeholders) are often established to develop recovery plans. When completed, the recovery outline, draft recovery plan, and the final recovery plan will be available on our website (http://www.fws.gov/ endangered). Implementation of recovery actions generally requires the participation of a broad range of partners, including other Federal agencies, States, Tribes, nongovernmental organizations, businesses, and private landowners. Examples of recovery actions include habitat restoration (e.g., restoration of native vegetation), research, captive propagation and reintroduction, and outreach and education. The recovery of many listed species cannot be accomplished solely on Federal lands because their range may occur primarily or solely on non-Federal lands. To achieve recovery of these species requires cooperative conservation efforts on private, State, and tribal lands. If these species are listed, funding for recovery actions will be available from a variety of sources, including Federal budgets, State programs, and cost-share grants for non-Federal landowners, the academic community, and nongovernmental organizations. In addition, pursuant to section 6 of the Act, the States of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi would be eligible for Federal funds to implement management actions that promote the protection or recovery of the longsolid or round hickorynut or both species. VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 Information on our grant programs that are available to aid species recovery can be found at: http://www.fws.gov/grants. Although the longsolid and round hickorynut are only proposed for listing under the Act at this time, please let us know if you are interested in participating in recovery efforts for these species. Additionally, we invite you to submit any new information on these species whenever it becomes available and any information you may have for recovery planning purposes (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Section 7(a) of the Act requires Federal agencies to evaluate their actions with respect to any species that is proposed or listed as an endangered or threatened species and with respect to its critical habitat, if any is designated. Regulations implementing this interagency cooperation provision of the Act are codified at 50 CFR part 402. Section 7(a)(4) of the Act requires Federal agencies to confer with the Service on any action that is likely to jeopardize the continued existence of a species proposed for listing or result in destruction or adverse modification of proposed critical habitat. If a species is listed subsequently, section 7(a)(2) of the Act requires Federal agencies to ensure that activities they authorize, fund, or carry out are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the species or destroy or adversely modify its critical habitat. If a Federal action may affect a listed species or its critical habitat, the responsible Federal agency must enter into consultation with the Service. Federal agency actions within the species’ range that may require conference or consultation or both as described in the preceding paragraph include actions that fund, authorize, or carry out management and any other landscape-altering activities administered by the following agencies: (1) U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (channel dredging and maintenance; dam projects including flood control, navigation, hydropower, bridge projects, stream restoration, and Clean Water Act permitting). (2) U.S. Department of Agriculture, including the Natural Resources Conservation Service and Farm Service Agency (technical and financial assistance for projects) and the Forest Service (aquatic habitat restoration, fire management plans, fire suppression, fuel reduction treatments, forest plans, mining permits). (3) U.S. Department of Energy (renewable and alternative energy projects). (4) Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (interstate pipeline PO 00000 Frm 00025 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 61407 construction and maintenance, dam relicensing, and hydrokinetics). (5) U.S. Department of Transportation (highway and bridge construction and maintenance). (6) U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (issuance of section 10 permits for enhancement of survival, habitat conservation plans, and safe harbor agreements; National Wildlife Refuge planning and refuge activities; Partners for Fish and Wildlife program projects benefiting these species or other listed species; Wildlife and Sportfish Restoration program sportfish stocking). (7) Environmental Protection Agency (water quality criteria, permitting). (8) Tennessee Valley Authority (flood control, navigation, hydropower, and land management for the Tennessee River system). (9) Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (land resource management plans, mining permits, oil and natural gas permits, abandoned mine land projects, and renewable energy development). (10) National Park Service (aquatic habitat restoration, fire management plans, fire suppression, fuel reduction treatments, land management plans, mining permits). It is our policy, as published in the Federal Register on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 34272), to identify to the maximum extent practicable at the time a species is listed, those activities that would or would not constitute a violation of section 9 of the Act. The intent of this policy is to increase public awareness of the effect of a proposed listing on proposed and ongoing activities within the range of the species proposed for listing. The discussion below regarding protective regulations under section 4(d) of the Act complies with our policy. III. Proposed Rule Issued Under Section 4(d) of the Act for the Longsolid and Round Hickorynut Background Section 4(d) of the Act contains two sentences. The first sentence 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 statutory language like ‘‘necessary and advisable’’ 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 E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 61408 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules are no longer necessary.’’ Additionally, the second sentence of 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, the combination of the two sentences of section 4(d) provides the Secretary with wide latitude of discretion to select and promulgate appropriate regulations tailored to the specific conservation needs of the threatened species. The second sentence 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 upheld rules developed under section 4(d) as a valid exercise of agency authority where they prohibited take of 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 upheld 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). Exercising this authority under section 4(d), we have developed a proposed rule that is designed to address the longsolid’s and round hickorynut’s specific threats and conservation needs. Although the statute does not require us to make a ‘‘necessary and advisable’’ finding with respect to the adoption of specific prohibitions under section 9, we find that this rule as a whole satisfies the requirement in section 4(d) of the Act to issue regulations deemed necessary and advisable to provide for the conservation of the longsolid and round hickorynut. As discussed above under Summary of Biological Status and Threats, we have concluded that the longsolid and round hickorynut are likely to become in danger of extinction VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 within the foreseeable future primarily due to declines in water quality, loss of stream flow, fragmentation, alteration and deterioration of instream habitats, and nonnative species. These threats, which are expected to be exacerbated by continued urbanization and the effects of climate change, were central to our assessment of the future viability of the longsolid and round hickorynut. The provisions of this proposed 4(d) rule would promote conservation of the longsolid and round hickorynut by encouraging management of the landscape in ways that meet the conservation needs of the longsolid and round hickorynut, and are consistent with land management considerations. This proposed 4(d) rule would apply only if and when we make final the listing of the longsolid and round hickorynut as threatened species. Provisions of the Proposed 4(d) Rule This proposed 4(d) rule would provide for the conservation of the longsolid and round hickorynut by prohibiting the following activities, except as otherwise authorized or permitted: Importing or exporting; take; 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. As discussed above under Summary of Biological Status and Threats, multiple factors are affecting the status of the longsolid and round hickorynut. A range of activities have the potential to affect these species, including declines in water quality, loss of stream flow, riparian and instream fragmentation, alteration and deterioration of instream habitats, and nonnative species. These threats, which are expected to be exacerbated by continued urbanization and the effects of climate change, were central to our assessment of the future viability of the longsolid and round hickorynut. Therefore, we prohibit actions resulting in the incidental take of longsolid and round hickorynut by altering or degrading the habitat. Regulating incidental take resulting from these activities would help preserve the species’ remaining populations, slow their rate of decline, and decrease synergistic, negative effects from other stressors. Under the Act, ‘‘take’’ means to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct. Some of these provisions have been further defined in regulation at 50 PO 00000 Frm 00026 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 CFR 17.3. Take can result knowingly or otherwise, by direct and indirect impacts, intentionally or incidentally. Regulating incidental and/or intentional take would help preserve the species’ remaining populations, slow their rate of decline, and decrease synergistic, negative effects from other stressors. Therefore, we propose to prohibit intentional take of the longsolid and round hickorynut. 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 longsolid or round hickorynut. However, interagency cooperation may be further streamlined through planned programmatic consultations for the species’ between Federal agencies and the Service, where appropriate. 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). The proposed 4(d) rule would also provide for the conservation of the species by allowing exceptions to actions and activities that, while they may have some minimal level of disturbance to the longsolid and round hickorynut, are not expected to negatively impact the species’ conservation and recovery efforts. The proposed exceptions to these prohibitions include (1) conservation efforts by the Service or State wildlife agencies, (2) channel restoration projects, and (3) bank restoration projects. The first exception is for conservation and restoration efforts for listed species by the Service or State wildlife agencies, and including, but not limited to, collection of broodstock, tissue collection for genetic analysis, captive propagation, and subsequent stocking into unoccupied areas within the historical range of the species. The Service recognizes our 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 E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules 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 the longsolid and round hickorynut that may result in otherwise prohibited take for wildlife without additional authorization. The second and third exceptions are for channel and bank restoration projects for creation of natural, physically stable, ecologically functioning streams, taking into consideration connectivity with floodplain and groundwater aquifers. These exceptions include a requirement that bank restoration projects require planting appropriate native vegetation, including woody species appropriate for the region and habitat. We also propose language that would require surveys and relocation prior to commencement of restoration actions for longsolid and round hickorynut that would otherwise be negatively affected by the actions. We reiterate that these actions and activities may have some minimal level of take of the longsolid and round hickorynut, but any such take is expected to be rare and insignificant, and is not expected to negatively impact the species’ conservation and recovery efforts. Rather, we expect they would have a net beneficial effect on the species. Across the species’ range, instream habitats have been degraded physically by sedimentation and by direct and indirect channel disturbance. The habitat restoration activities in the proposed 4(d) rule are intended to improve habitat conditions for the species in the long term. Regulations governing permits for threatened wildlife are codified at 50 CFR 17.32. With regard to threatened wildlife, a permit may be issued for the following purposes: for scientific purposes, to enhance the propagation or survival of the species, for economic hardship, for zoological exhibition, for educational purposes, for incidental taking, or for special purposes consistent with the purposes of the Act. Finally, the proposed 4(d) rule would allow take of the longsolid and round hickorynut without a permit by any employee or agent of the Service or a State conservation agency designated by VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 the agency for such purposes and when acting in the course of their official duties if such action is necessary to aid a sick, injured, or orphaned specimen; to dispose of a dead specimen; or to salvage a dead specimen which may be useful for scientific study. In addition, Federal and State wildlife law enforcement officers, working in coordination with Service field office personnel, may possess, deliver, carry, transport, or ship longsolid and round hickorynut taken in violation of the Act as necessary. IV. Critical Habitat for the Longsolid and Round Hickorynut Background Critical habitat is defined in section 3 of the Act as: (1) The specific areas within the geographical area occupied by the species, at the time it is listed in accordance with the Act, on which are found those physical or biological features (a) Essential to the conservation of the species, and (b) Which may require special management considerations or protection; and (2) Specific areas outside the geographical area occupied by the species at the time it is listed, upon a determination that such areas are essential for the conservation of the species. Our regulations at 50 CFR 424.02 define the geographical area occupied by the species as an area that may generally be delineated around species’ occurrences, as determined by the Secretary (i.e., range). Such areas may include those areas used throughout all or part of the species’ life cycle, even if not used on a regular basis (e.g., migratory corridors, seasonal habitats, and habitats used periodically, but not solely by vagrant individuals). Conservation, as defined under section 3 of the Act, means to use and the use of all methods and procedures that are necessary to bring an endangered or threatened species to the point at which the measures provided pursuant to the Act are no longer necessary. Such methods and procedures include, but are not limited to, all activities associated with scientific resources management such as research, census, law enforcement, habitat acquisition and maintenance, habitat restoration, propagation, live trapping, and transplantation, and, in the extraordinary case where population pressures within a given ecosystem cannot be otherwise relieved, may include regulated taking. PO 00000 Frm 00027 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 61409 Critical habitat receives protection under section 7 of the Act through the requirement that Federal agencies ensure, in consultation with the Service, that any action they authorize, fund, or carry out is not likely to result in the destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat. The designation of critical habitat does not affect land ownership or establish a refuge, wilderness, reserve, preserve, or other conservation area. Designation also does not allow the government or public to access private lands, nor does designation require implementation of restoration, recovery, or enhancement measures by non-Federal landowners. Where a landowner requests Federal agency funding or authorization for an action that may affect a listed species or critical habitat, the Federal agency would be required to consult with the Service under section 7(a)(2) of the Act. However, even if the Service were to conclude that the proposed activity would result in destruction or adverse modification of the critical habitat, the Federal action agency and the landowner are not required to abandon the proposed activity, or to restore or recover the species; instead, they must implement ‘‘reasonable and prudent alternatives’’ to avoid destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat. Under the first prong of the Act’s definition of critical habitat, areas within the geographical area occupied by the species at the time it was listed are included in a critical habitat designation if they contain physical or biological features (1) which are essential to the conservation of the species and (2) which may require special management considerations or protection. For these areas, critical habitat designations identify, to the extent known using the best scientific and commercial data available, those physical or biological features that are essential to the conservation of the species (such as space, food, cover, and protected habitat). In identifying those physical or biological features that occur in specific occupied areas, we focus on the specific features that are essential to support the life-history needs of the species, including, but not limited to, water characteristics, soil type, geological features, prey, vegetation, symbiotic species, or other features. A feature may be a single habitat characteristic or a more complex combination of habitat characteristics. Features may include habitat characteristics that support ephemeral or dynamic habitat conditions. Features may also be expressed in terms relating to principles of conservation biology, E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 61410 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules such as patch size, distribution distances, and connectivity. Under the second prong of the Act’s definition of critical habitat, we can designate critical habitat in areas outside the geographical area occupied by the species at the time it is listed, upon a determination that such areas are essential for the conservation of the species. When designating critical habitat, the Secretary will first evaluate areas occupied by the species. The Secretary will only consider unoccupied areas to be essential where a critical habitat designation limited to geographical areas occupied by the species would be inadequate to ensure the conservation of the species. In addition, for an unoccupied area to be considered essential, the Secretary must determine that there is a reasonable certainty both that the area will contribute to the conservation of the species and that the area contains one or more of those physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the species. Section 4 of the Act requires that we designate critical habitat on the basis of the best scientific data available. Further, our Policy on Information Standards Under the Endangered Species Act (published in the Federal Register on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 34271)), the Information Quality Act (section 515 of the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2001 (Pub. L. 106–554; H.R. 5658)), and our associated Information Quality Guidelines provide criteria, establish procedures, and provide guidance to ensure that our decisions are based on the best scientific data available. They require our biologists, to the extent consistent with the Act and with the use of the best scientific data available, to use primary and original sources of information as the basis for recommendations to designate critical habitat. When we are determining which areas should be designated as critical habitat, our primary source of information is generally the information from the SSA report and information developed during the listing process for the species. Additional information sources may include any generalized conservation strategy, criteria, or outline that may have been developed for the species; the recovery plan for the species; articles in peer-reviewed journals; conservation plans developed by States and counties; scientific status surveys and studies; biological assessments; other unpublished materials; or experts’ opinions or personal knowledge. VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 Habitat is dynamic, and species may move from one area to another over time. We recognize that critical habitat designated at a particular point in time may not include all of the habitat areas that we may later determine are necessary for the recovery of the species. For these reasons, a critical habitat designation does not signal that habitat outside the designated area is unimportant or may not be needed for recovery of the species. Areas that are important to the conservation of the species, both inside and outside the critical habitat designation, will continue to be subject to: (1) Conservation actions implemented under section 7(a)(1) of the Act; (2) regulatory protections afforded by the requirement in section 7(a)(2) of the Act for Federal agencies to ensure their actions are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered or threatened species; and (3) the prohibitions found in section 9 of the Act. Federally funded or permitted projects affecting listed species outside their designated critical habitat areas may still result in jeopardy findings in some cases. These protections and conservation tools will continue to contribute to recovery of this species. Similarly, critical habitat designations made on the basis of the best available information at the time of designation will not control the direction and substance of future recovery plans, habitat conservation plans, or other species conservation planning efforts if new information available at the time of these planning efforts calls for a different outcome. Prudency Determination Section 4(a)(3) of the Act, as amended, and implementing regulations (50 CFR 424.12) require that, to the maximum extent prudent and determinable, the Secretary shall designate critical habitat at the time the species is determined to be an endangered or threatened species. Our regulations (50 CFR 424.12(a)(1)) state that the Secretary may, but is not required to, determine that a designation would not be prudent in the following circumstances: (i) The species is threatened by taking or other human activity and identification of critical habitat can be expected to increase the degree of such threat to the species; (ii) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of a species’ habitat or range is not a threat to the species, or threats to the species’ habitat stem solely from causes that cannot be addressed through management actions resulting from PO 00000 Frm 00028 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 consultations under section 7(a)(2) of the Act; (iii) Areas within the jurisdiction of the United States provide no more than negligible conservation value, if any, for a species occurring primarily outside the jurisdiction of the United States; (iv) No areas meet the definition of critical habitat; or (v) The Secretary otherwise determines that designation of critical habitat would not be prudent based on the best scientific data available. As discussed earlier in this document, there is currently no imminent threat of collection or vandalism identified under Factor B for these species, and identification and mapping of critical habitat is not expected to initiate any such threat. In our SSA reports and the proposed listing determination for the longsolid and round hickorynut, we determined that the present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of habitat or range is a threat to the longsolid and round hickorynut, and that those threats in some way can be addressed by section 7(a)(2) consultation measures. The species occur wholly in the jurisdiction of the United States (with the exception of one remnant, small population of round hickorynut in the Ontario Province of Canada, which Canada has listed as an endangered species and designated critical habitat in the East Syndenham River), and we are able to identify areas that meet the definition of critical habitat. Therefore, because none of the circumstances enumerated in our regulations at 50 CFR 424.12(a)(1) have been met and because there are no other circumstances the Secretary has identified for which this designation of critical habitat would be not prudent, we have determined that the designation of critical habitat is prudent for the longsolid and round hickorynut. Critical Habitat Determinability Having determined that designation is prudent, under section 4(a)(3) of the Act we must find whether critical habitat for the longsolid and round hickorynut is determinable. Our regulations at 50 CFR 424.12(a)(2) state that critical habitat is not determinable when one or both of the following situations exist: (i) Data sufficient to perform required analyses are lacking, or (ii) The biological needs of the species are not sufficiently well known to identify any area that meets the definition of ‘‘critical habitat.’’ When critical habitat is not determinable, the Act allows the Service an additional year to publish a critical habitat designation (16 U.S.C. 1533(b)(6)(C)(ii)). E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules We reviewed the available information pertaining to the biological needs of the species and habitat characteristics where these species are located. Our review of the best scientific data available led us to conclude that the designation of critical habitat is determinable for the longsolid and round hickorynut. Physical or Biological Features Essential to the Conservation of the Species In accordance with section 3(5)(A)(i) of the Act and regulations at 50 CFR 424.12(b), in determining which areas we will designate as critical habitat from within the geographical area occupied by the species at the time of listing, we consider the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the species and that may require special management considerations or protection. The regulations at 50 CFR 424.02 define ‘‘physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the species’’ as the features that occur in specific areas that are essential to support the life-history needs of the species, including, but not limited to, water characteristics, soil type, geological features, sites, prey, vegetation, symbiotic species, or other features. A feature may be a single habitat characteristic or a more complex combination of habitat characteristics. Features may include habitat characteristics that support ephemeral or dynamic habitat conditions. Features may also be expressed in terms relating to principles of conservation biology, such as patch size, distribution distances, and connectivity. For example, physical features essential to the conservation of the species might include gravel of a particular size required for spawning, alkali soil for seed germination, protective cover for migration, or susceptibility to flooding or fire that maintains necessary earlysuccessional habitat characteristics. Biological features might include prey species, forage grasses, specific kinds or ages of trees for roosting or nesting, symbiotic fungi, or a particular level of nonnative species consistent with conservation needs of the listed species. The features may also be combinations of habitat characteristics and may encompass the relationship between characteristics or the necessary amount of a characteristic essential to support the life history of the species. In considering whether features are essential to the conservation of the species, the Service may consider an appropriate quality, quantity, and spatial and temporal arrangement of habitat characteristics in the context of the life-history needs, condition, and status of the species. These characteristics include, but are not limited to, space for individual and population growth and for normal behavior; food, water, air, light, minerals, or other nutritional or 61411 physiological requirements; cover or shelter; sites for breeding, reproduction, or rearing (or development) of offspring; and habitats that are protected from disturbance. As described above under Summary of Biological Status and Threats, longsolid and round hickorynut mussels occur in river or stream reaches. Occasional or regular interaction among individuals in different reaches not interrupted by a barrier likely occurs, but in general, interaction is strongly influenced by habitat fragmentation and distance between occupied river or stream reaches. Once released from their fish host, freshwater mussels are benthic, generally sedentary aquatic organisms and closely associated with appropriate habitat patches within a river or stream. We derive the specific physical or biological features essential for the longsolid and round hickorynut from studies of these species’ (or appropriate surrogate species’) habitat, ecology, and life history. The primary habitat elements that influence resiliency of the longsolid and round hickorynut include water quality, water quantity, substrate, habitat connectivity, and the presence of host fish species to ensure recruitment. These features are also described above as resource needs under Summary of Biological Status and Threats, and a full description is available in the SSA reports; the individuals’ needs are summarized below in Table 1. TABLE 1—REQUIREMENTS FOR EACH LIFE STAGE OF THE LONGSOLID AND ROUND HICKORYNUT MUSSELS Life stage Resources needed to complete life stage 1 Fertilized eggs—early spring • Clear, flowing water ..................................................... • Sexually mature males upstream from sexually mature females. • Appropriate spawning temperatures. • Clear, flowing water ..................................................... • Enough flow to keep glochidia or conglutinates adrift and to attract drift-feeding host fish. • Presence of host fish for attachment. • Clear, flowing water ..................................................... • Host fish dispersal. • Appropriate interstitial chemistry; low salinity, low ammonia, low copper and other contaminants, high dissolved oxygen. • Appropriate substrate (clean gravel/sand/cobble) for settlement. • Clear, flowing water ..................................................... • Appropriate substrate (stable gravel and coarse sand free from excessive silt). • Adequate food availability (phytoplankton and detritus). • High dissolved oxygen. • Appropriate water temperature. Glochidia—late spring to early summer. Juveniles—excystment from host fish to approx. 0.8 in (∼20 mm) shell length. jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 Adults—greater than 0.8 in (20 mm) shell length. Source Berg et al. 2008, p. 397; Haag 2012, pp. 38–39. Strayer 2008, p. 65; Haag 2012, pp. 41–42. Dimock and Wright 1993, pp. 188–190; Sparks and Strayer 1998, p. 132; Augspurger et al. 2003, p. 2,574; Augspurger et al. 2007, p. 2,025; Strayer and Malcom 2012, pp. 1,787–1,788. Yeager et al. 1994, p. 221; Nichols and Garling 2000, p. 881; Chen et al. 2001, p. 214; Spooner and Vaughn 2008, p. 308. 1 These resource needs are common among North American freshwater mussels; however, due to lack of species-specific research, parameters specific to longsolid and round hickorynut are unavailable. VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00029 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 61412 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules Summary of Essential Physical or Biological Features We derive the specific physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the longsolid and round hickorynut from studies of the species’ habitat, ecology, and life history as described below. Additional information can be found in chapter 4 of the SSA reports (Service 2018, pp. 27–32; Service 2019, pp. 30–39), both of which are available on http:// www.regulations.gov under Docket No. FWS–R4–ES–2020–0010. We have determined that the following physical or biological features are essential to the conservation of the longsolid and round hickorynut: (1) Adequate flows, or a hydrologic flow regime (magnitude, timing, frequency, duration, rate of change, and overall seasonality of discharge over time), necessary to maintain benthic habitats where the species are found and to maintain stream connectivity, specifically providing for the exchange of nutrients and sediment for maintenance of the mussels’ and fish host’s habitat and food availability, maintenance of spawning habitat for native fishes, and the ability for newly transformed juveniles to settle and become established in their habitats. Adequate flows ensure delivery of oxygen, enable reproduction, deliver food to filter-feeding mussels, and reduce contaminants and fine sediments from interstitial spaces. Stream velocity is not static over time, and variations may be attributed to seasonal changes (with higher flows in winter/spring and lower flows in summer/fall), extreme weather events (e.g., drought or floods), or anthropogenic influence (e.g., flow regulation via impoundments). (2) Suitable substrates and connected instream habitats, characterized by geomorphically stable stream channels and banks (i.e., channels that maintain lateral dimensions, longitudinal profiles, and sinuosity patterns over time without an aggrading or degrading bed elevation) with habitats that support a diversity of freshwater mussel and native fish (such as, stable riffle-runpool habitats that provide flow refuges consisting of predominantly silt-free, stable sand, gravel, and cobble substrates). (3) Water and sediment quality necessary to sustain natural physiological processes for normal behavior, growth, and viability of all life stages, including (but not limited to): dissolved oxygen (generally above 2 to 3 parts per million (ppm)), salinity (generally below 2 to 4 ppm), and temperature (generally below VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 86 °Fahrenheit (°F) (30 °Celsius (°C)). Additionally, water and sediment should be low in ammonia (generally below 0.5 ppm total ammonia-nitrogen) and heavy metal concentrations, and lack excessive total suspended solids and other pollutants (see Threats Analysis, above). (4) The presence and abundance of fish hosts necessary for recruitment of the longsolid (currently unknown, likely includes minnows of the family Cyprinidae and banded sculpin (Cottus carolinae)) and the round hickorynut (i.e., eastern sand darter (Ammocrypta pellucida), emerald darter (Etheostoma baileyi), greenside darter (E. blennioides), Iowa darter (E. exile), fantail darter (E. flabellare), Cumberland darter (E. susanae), spangled darter (E. obama), variegate darter (E. variatum), blackside darter (Percina maculata), frecklebelly darter (P. stictogaster), and banded sculpin). Special Management Considerations or Protection When designating critical habitat, we assess whether the specific areas within the geographical area occupied by the species at the time of listing contain features which are essential to the conservation of the species and which may require special management considerations or protection. The features essential to the conservation of the longsolid and round hickorynut may require special management considerations or protections to reduce the following threats: (1) Alteration of the natural flow regime (modifying the natural hydrograph and seasonal flows), including water withdrawals, resulting in flow reduction and available water quantity; (2) urbanization of the landscape, including (but not limited to) land conversion for urban and commercial use, infrastructure (pipelines, roads, bridges, utilities), and urban water uses (resource extraction activities, water supply reservoirs, wastewater treatment, etc.); (3) significant alteration of water quality and nutrient pollution from a variety of activities, such as mining and agricultural activities; (4) impacts from invasive species; (5) land use activities that remove large areas of forested wetlands and riparian systems; (6) culvert and pipe installation that creates barriers to movement for the longsolid and round hickorynut, or their host fishes; (7) changes and shifts in seasonal precipitation patterns as a result of climate change; and (8) other watershed and floodplain disturbances that release sediments, pollutants, or nutrients into the water. PO 00000 Frm 00030 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 Management activities that could ameliorate these threats include, but are not limited to: Use of best management practices designed to reduce sedimentation, erosion, and bank destruction; protection of riparian corridors and woody vegetation; moderation of surface and ground water withdrawals to maintain natural flow regimes; improved stormwater management; and reduction of other watershed and floodplain disturbances that release sediments, pollutants, or nutrients into the water. In summary, we find that the occupied areas we are proposing to designate as critical habitat contain the physical or biological features that are essential to the conservation of the species and that may require special management considerations or protection. Special management considerations or protection may be required of the Federal action agency to eliminate, or to reduce to negligible levels, the threats affecting the physical and biological features of each unit. Criteria Used To Identify Critical Habitat As required by section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we use the best scientific data available to designate critical habitat. In accordance with the Act and our implementing regulations at 50 CFR 424.12(b), we review available information pertaining to the habitat requirements of the species and identify specific areas within the geographical area occupied by the species at the time of listing and any specific areas outside the geographical area occupied by the species to be considered for designation as critical habitat. We are not currently proposing to designate any areas outside the geographical area occupied by the longsolid or round hickorynut because we have determined that occupied areas are sufficient to conserve these two species. Methodology Used for Selection of Proposed Units First, we included stronghold (high) or medium condition populations (resiliency) remaining from historical conditions. These populations show recruitment or varied age class structure, and could be used for recovery actions to re-establish populations within basins through propagation activities or augment other populations through direct translocations within their basins. Second, we evaluated spatial representation and redundancy across the species range, to include last remaining consistently observable population(s) in major river basins and E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules the last remaining population(s) in states if necessary, as states are crucial partners in monitoring and recovery efforts. Third, we examined the overall contribution of medium condition populations and threats to those populations. Adjacency and connectivity to stronghold and medium populations was considered, and we did not include populations that have potentially low likelihood of recovery due to limited abundances or populations currently under a high level of threats. Finally, we evaluated overlap of longsolid and round hickorynut occurrences, as well as other listed aquatic species and designated critical habitat, to see if there are ongoing conservation and monitoring efforts that can be capitalized on for efficiency. Rangewide recovery considerations, such as maintaining existing genetic diversity and striving for representation of all major portions of the species’ current range, were considered in formulating this proposed critical habitat. For example, in the Cumberland River basin, there is only one remaining population of the longsolid (mainstem Cumberland River) and only two populations remaining of the round hickorynut (Buck Creek and Rockcastle River). In addition, in the Mississippi River basin, only one population of the round hickorynut remains (Big Black River). The distribution of the longsolid and round hickorynut in these basins is substantially reduced when compared to historical data that indicates these species were formerly much more widespread within these drainages. Therefore, these rivers and streams were included to maintain basin representation. The proposed critical habitat designation does not include all rivers and streams currently occupied by the species, nor all rivers and streams known to have been occupied by the species historically. Instead, it includes only the occupied rivers and streams within the current range that we determined are critical to the conservation of these species. These rivers and streams contain populations large and dense enough and most likely to be self-sustaining over time (despite fluctuations in local conditions), and also have retained the physical or biological features that will allow for the maintenance and expansion of existing populations. These units also represent populations that are stable and distributed over a wide geographic area. We are not proposing to designate any areas outside the geographical area currently occupied by either the VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 longsolid or round hickorynut because we did not find any unoccupied areas that are essential to the conservation of these species, and we determined that occupied areas are sufficient to conserve the two species. Sources of data for this proposed critical habitat include multiple databases maintained by universities, information from State agencies throughout the species’ ranges, and numerous survey reports on streams throughout the species’ ranges (see SSA reports (Service 2018, entire; Service 2019, entire)). We have also reviewed available information that pertains to the habitat requirements of these species. Sources of information on habitat requirements include studies conducted at occupied sites and published in peer-reviewed articles, agency reports, and data collected during monitoring efforts (Service 2018, entire; Service 2019, entire). In summary, for areas within the geographic area occupied by these species at the time of listing, we delineated critical habitat unit boundaries using a precise set of criteria. Specifically, we identified river and stream reaches with observations from 2000 to present, given the variable data associated with timing and frequency of mussel surveys conducted throughout the species’ ranges. We determined it is reasonable to find these areas occupied due to the longevity of the longsolid, the potential for incomplete survey detections for the round hickorynut, highly variable recent survey information across both species’ ranges, and available State heritage databases and information support for the likelihood of both species’ continued presence in these areas within this timeframe. Specific habitat areas were delineated based on Natural Heritage Element Occurrences, and unpublished survey data provided by States, universities, and nongovernmental organizations. These areas provide habitat for longsolid and round hickorynut populations and are large enough to be self-sustaining over time, despite fluctuations in local conditions. The areas within the proposed units represent continuous river and stream reaches of free-flowing habitat patches capable of sustaining host fishes and allowing for seasonal transport of glochidia, which are essential for reproduction and dispersal of longsolid and round hickorynut. We consider portions of the following rivers and streams to be occupied by the species at the time of proposed listing, and appropriate for critical habitat designation: PO 00000 Frm 00031 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 61413 (1) Longsolid—French Creek, Allegheny River, Shenango River, Middle Island Creek, Little Kanawha River, Elk River, Kanawha River, Licking River, Green River, Cumberland River, Clinch River, and Paint Rock River (see Unit Descriptions, below). (2) Round hickorynut—Shenango River, Grand River, Tippecanoe River, Middle Island Creek, Little Kanawha River, Elk River, Kanawha River, Licking River, Rockcastle River, Buck Creek, Green River, Paint Rock River, Duck River, and Big Black River (see Unit Descriptions, below). When determining proposed critical habitat boundaries, we made every effort to avoid including developed areas such as lands covered by buildings, pavement, and other structures because such lands lack physical or biological features necessary for the longsolid and round hickorynut. The scale of the maps we prepared under the parameters for publication within the Code of Federal Regulations may not reflect the exclusion of such developed lands. Any such lands inadvertently left inside critical habitat boundaries shown on the maps of this proposed rule have been excluded by text in the proposed rule and are not proposed for designation as critical habitat. Therefore, if the critical habitat is finalized as proposed, a Federal action involving these lands would not trigger section 7 consultation with respect to critical habitat and the requirement of no adverse modification unless the specific action would affect the physical or biological features in the adjacent critical habitat. We propose to designate as critical habitat lands that we have determined are occupied at the time of listing (i.e., currently occupied) and that contain one or more of the physical or biological features that are essential to support life-history processes of the species. Twelve units for the longsolid and 14 units for the round hickorynut are proposed for designation based on the presence of the physical or biological features being present that support the longsolid’s or round hickorynut’s lifehistory processes. All of the units for both species contain all of the identified physical or biological features and support multiple life-history processes. The critical habitat designation is defined by the map or maps, as modified by any accompanying regulatory text, presented at the end of this document under Proposed Regulation Promulgation. We include more detailed information on the boundaries of the critical habitat designation in the preamble of this document. We will make the E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 61414 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules coordinates or plot points or both on which each map is based available to the public on http:// www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS–R4–ES–2020–0010 and on our internet site https://www.fws.gov/ Asheville/. Proposed Critical Habitat Designation We propose designating a total of 1,115 river mi (1,794 km) in 12 units as occupied critical habitat for the longsolid and a total of 921 river mi (1,482 km) in 14 units as occupied critical habitat for the round hickorynut. All or portions of some of these units overlap, and all 26 units are occupied by one or both species. The critical habitat areas we describe below constitute our current best assessment of areas that meet the definition of critical habitat for the longsolid and round hickorynut. The 12 areas we propose as critical habitat for the longsolid are: French Creek, Allegheny River, Shenango River, Middle Island Creek, Little Kanawha River, Elk River, Kanawha River, Licking River, Green River, Cumberland River, Clinch River, and Paint Rock River. The 14 areas we propose as critical habitat for the round hickorynut are: Shenango River, Grand River, Tippecanoe River, Middle Island Creek, Little Kanawha River, Elk River, Kanawha River, Licking River, Rockcastle River, Buck Creek, Green River, Paint Rock River, Duck River, and Big Black River. Tables 2 and 3 show the proposed critical habitat units and the approximate river miles of each unit. TABLE 2—PROPOSED CRITICAL HABITAT UNITS FOR THE LONGSOLID. ALL UNITS ARE OCCUPIED BY THE SPECIES [Area estimates reflect all land within critical habitat unit boundaries] Critical habitat unit (state) Adjacent riparian land ownership by type LS 1. French Creek (Pennsylvania) ................................ Public (Federal, State); ................................................... Private ............................................................................. LS 2. Allegheny River (Pennsylvania) ............................. Public (Federal, State); ................................................... Private ............................................................................. LS 3. Shenango River (Pennsylvania) ............................ Public (Federal, State); ................................................... Private ............................................................................. LS 4. Middle Island Creek (West Virginia) ...................... Public (Local); ................................................................. Private ............................................................................. LS 5. Little Kanawha River (West Virginia) ..................... Public (Federal, State); ................................................... Private ............................................................................. LS 6. Elk River (West Virginia) ........................................ Public (Federal, State, Local); ........................................ Private ............................................................................. LS 7. Kanawha River (West Virginia) .............................. Public (Federal, State, Local); ........................................ Private ............................................................................. LS 8. Licking River (Kentucky) ........................................ Public (Federal, State, Local); ........................................ Private ............................................................................. LS 9. Green River (Kentucky) ......................................... Public (Federal, State, Local); ........................................ Private ............................................................................. LS 10. Cumberland River (Tennessee) ........................... LS 11. Clinch River (Virginia and Tennessee) ................ Public (Federal) ............................................................... Public (Federal, State); ................................................... Private ............................................................................. LS 12. Paint Rock River (Alabama) ................................ Public (Federal, State); ................................................... Private ............................................................................. Public ............................................................................... Private ............................................................................. Total ......................................................................... Approximate river miles (kilometers) 14 (22.1) 106 (170.6) Total = 120 (191.5) 84 (135.8) 15 (24.1) Total = 99 (159.3) 7 (11.3) 15 (24.3) Total = 22 (35.5) 0.13 (0.2) 14 (23.5) Total = 14 (23.7) 0.53 (0.9) 122 (197.2) Total = 123 (198) 7 (12.7) 93 (150.3) Total = 101 (163) 2 (4.6) 18 (29.3) Total = 21 (33.9) 19 (31.7) 161 (259.7) Total = 181 (291.5) 51 (82.4) 105 (169.2) Total = 156 (251.6) Total = 48 (77.5) 17 (27.3) 160 (258.8) Total = 177 (286.1) 56 (90.4) 2 (4.1) Total = 58 (94.5) 305 (491) 810 (1,304) 1,115 (1,794) jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 Note: River miles may not sum due to rounding. TABLE 3—PROPOSED CRITICAL HABITAT UNITS FOR THE ROUND HICKORYNUT. ALL UNITS ARE OCCUPIED BY THE SPECIES [Area estimates reflect all land within critical habitat unit boundaries] Critical habitat unit Adjacent riparian land ownership by type RH 1. Shenango River (Pennsylvania) ............................ Public (Federal, State); ................................................... Private ............................................................................. VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00032 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 Approximate river miles (kilometers) 7 (11.1) 15 (24.3) Total = 22 (35.5) Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules 61415 TABLE 3—PROPOSED CRITICAL HABITAT UNITS FOR THE ROUND HICKORYNUT. ALL UNITS ARE OCCUPIED BY THE SPECIES—Continued [Area estimates reflect all land within critical habitat unit boundaries] Approximate river miles (kilometers) Critical habitat unit Adjacent riparian land ownership by type RH 2. Grand River (Ohio) ................................................ Public (State, Local); ....................................................... Private ............................................................................. RH 3. Tippecanoe River (Indiana) ................................... Public (State, Easement); ............................................... Private ............................................................................. RH 4. Middle Island Creek (West Virginia) ..................... Public (Federal, State); ................................................... Private ............................................................................. RH 5. Little Kanawha River (West Virginia) .................... Public (Federal, State, Local); ........................................ Private ............................................................................. RH 6. Elk River (West Virginia) ....................................... Public (Federal, State, Local); ........................................ Private ............................................................................. RH 7. Kanawha River (West Virginia) ............................. Public (Federal, State, Local); ........................................ Private ............................................................................. RH 8. Licking River (Kentucky) ....................................... Public (Federal, State, Local); ........................................ Private ............................................................................. RH 9. Rockcastle River (Kentucky) ................................. Public (Federal); .............................................................. Private ............................................................................. RH 10. Buck Creek (Kentucky) ....................................... Public (State, Local); ....................................................... Private ............................................................................. RH 11. Green River (Kentucky) ....................................... Public (Federal, State); ................................................... Private ............................................................................. RH 12. Paint Rock River (Alabama) ................................ Public (Federal, State); ................................................... Private ............................................................................. RH 13. Duck River (Tennessee) ..................................... Public (State, Local); ....................................................... Private ............................................................................. RH 14. Big Black River (Mississippi) ............................... Private ............................................................................. 33 (53) 59 (95.2) Total = 92 (148.2) 9 (14.5) 66 (105.6) Total = 75 (120.8) 0.2 (0.4) 74.8 (120.4) Total = 75 (120.8) 0.7 (1.2) 109 (175.4) Total = 110 (176.6) 7 (12.7) 93 (150.3) Total = 101 (163) 4 (7.2) 33 (53.2) Total = 37.5 (60.4) 18 (30) 131 (211.8) Total = 150 (241.9) 15 (24.2) 0.3 (0.4) Total = 15.3 (24.6) 3 (5.5) 33 (52.6) Total = 36 (58.1) 37 (59.4) 61 (98.4) Total = 98 (157.7) 46 (73.4) 2 (4.1) Total = 48 (77.5) 32 (51.1) 27 (43.7) Total = 59 (94.8) Total = 4 (7) Public ............................................................................... Private ............................................................................. 212 (341) 709 (1,141) Total ......................................................................... 921 (1,482) jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 Note: River miles may not sum due to rounding. We present brief descriptions of all units, and reasons why they meet the definition of critical habitat for the longsolid and round hickorynut, below. There are a total of 12 units for the longsolid and 14 units for round hickorynut, 8 of which overlap in part or whole for both species, and all of which contain all of the physical and biological features essential to the conservation of both species. Also, the majority of proposed units overlap in part or whole with existing critical habitat designated for other federally endangered species (i.e., diamond darter (Crystallaria cincotta), Short’s bladderpod (Physaria globosa), purple bean (Villosa perpurpurea), rough rabbitsfoot (Quadrula cylindrica strigillata), Cumberlandian combshell VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 (Epioblasma brevidens), oyster mussel (Epioblasma capsaeformis), slabside pearlymussel (Pleuronaia (=Lexingtonia) dolabelloides), and fluted kidneyshell (Ptychobranchus subtentus)) or federally threatened species (i.e., rabbitsfoot (Quadrula cylindrica cylindrica), yellowfin madtom (Noturus flavipinnis), and slender chub (Hybopsis cahni, listed as Erimystax cahni)), as specified below. LS 1: French Creek Unit LS 1 consists of 120 stream mi (191.5 km) of French Creek in Crawford, Erie, Mercer, and Venango Counties, Pennsylvania, from Union City Dam west of Union City, Erie County, downstream to its confluence with the Allegheny River near the City of PO 00000 Frm 00033 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 Franklin, Venango County. Riparian lands that border the unit include approximately 106 stream mi (170.6 km; 76 percent) in private ownership and 14 stream mi (22.1 km; 24 percent) in public (Federal or State) ownership. General land use on adjacent riparian lands and the surrounding HUC 8-level management unit includes agriculture, several State-managed game lands, the communities of Cambridge Springs and Venango, and the cities of Meadville and Franklin. Union City Dam is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Unit LS 1 is occupied by the species and contains all of the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the species. The entire 120 stream mi (191.5 km) of this unit overlaps with designated critical habitat E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 61416 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 for the federally threatened rabbitsfoot mussel (80 FR 24692; April 30, 2015). Threats identified within this unit include the degradation of habitat and water quality from impoundments, siltation and pollution due to resource extraction, agriculture, timbering practices, and human development; flow reduction and water quality degradation due to water withdrawals and wastewater treatment plants; and the presence of invasive, nonnative species. Special management considerations or protection measures to reduce or alleviate the threats may include monitoring water quality degradation within the species’ range resulting from row crop agriculture and oil and gas development, and efforts to prevent the spread of invasive, nonnative species (see Special Management Considerations or Protection, above). LS 2: Allegheny River Unit LS 2 consists of 99 river mi (159.3 km) of the Allegheny River in Warren, Crawford, Forest, Venango, and Clarion Counties, Pennsylvania, from Kinzua Dam east of Warren, Warren County, downstream to the Pennsylvania Route 58 crossing at Foxburg, Clarion County, Pennsylvania. Riparian lands that border the unit include approximately 15 river mi (24.1 km; 14 percent) in private ownership and 84 river mi (135.8 km; 86 percent) in public (Federal or State government) ownership. General land use on adjacent riparian lands and the surrounding HUC 8-level management unit includes forestry, agriculture, and State-managed game lands. The public land ownership for this unit is a combination of Allegheny National Forest lands and State lands, and the Kinzua Dam is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Unit LS 2 is occupied by the species and contains all of the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the species. There is overlap of approximately 35 river mi (57 km) of this unit with designated critical habitat for the federally threatened rabbitsfoot mussel (80 FR 24692; April 30, 2015). Threats identified within Unit LS 2 include the degradation of habitat and water quality from impoundments, channelization, siltation and pollution due to improper timbering practices, resource extraction, water withdrawals, development, and wastewater treatment plants, and the presence of invasive, nonnative species. Special management considerations or protection measures to reduce or alleviate the threats may include modifying dam releases from Kinzua Dam to mimic the natural VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 hydrograph, improvements to water quality to reverse degradation resulting from row crop agriculture and oil and gas development, and efforts to prevent the spread of invasive, nonnative species (see Special Management Considerations or Protection, above). LS 3: Shenango River Unit LS 3 is the same as Unit RH 1, described below for the round hickorynut. Unit LS 3 consists of 22 river mi (35.5 km) of the Shenango River in Crawford County, Pennsylvania, from Pymatuning Dam downstream to the point of inundation by Shenango River Lake near Big Bend, Mercer County, Pennsylvania. Riparian lands that border the unit include approximately 15 river mi (24.3 km; 32 percent) in private ownership and 7 river mi (11.3 km; 68 percent) in public (Federal or State) ownership. General land use on adjacent riparian lands and the surrounding HUC 8-level management unit includes the City of Greenville and its associated industry, and the unincorporated communities of Jamestown and New Harrisburg. Pymatuning Dam is owned by the State of Pennsylvania. Unit LS 3 is occupied by the species and contains all of the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the species. There is overlap of approximately 14.5 river mi (23.4 km) of this unit with designated critical habitat for the federally threatened rabbitsfoot mussel (80 FR 24692; April 30, 2015). Threats identified within Unit LS 3 include the degradation of habitat and water quality from impoundments, domestic and industrial pollution due to human development, resource extraction, water withdrawals, and wastewater treatment plants, and the presence of invasive, nonnative species. Special management considerations or protection measures to reduce or alleviate the threats may include modifying dam releases from Pytmatuning Dam to mimic the natural hydrograph, and efforts to prevent the spread of invasive, nonnative species (see Special Management Considerations or Protection, above). LS 4: Middle Island Creek Unit LS 4 partially overlaps with Unit RH 4 for the round hickorynut, described below. Unit LS 4 consists of 14 stream mi (23.7 km) of Middle Island Creek in Doddridge and Tyler Counties, West Virginia, from the mouth of Meathouse Fork south of Smithburg, Doddridge County, downstream to its confluence with Arnold Creek at the Tyler/Doddridge County line. Riparian lands that border the unit include PO 00000 Frm 00034 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 approximately 14 stream mi (23.5 km; 99 percent) in private ownership and 0.13 river mi (0.2 km; less than 1 percent) in public (local government) ownership. General land use on adjacent riparian lands and the surrounding HUC 8-level management unit includes forestry and the communities of Smithburg, Avondale, and West Union. Unit LS 4 is occupied by the species and contains all of the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the species. Threats identified within Unit LS 4 include degradation of habitat and water quality from impoundments, siltation and pollution due to improper timbering practices, resource extraction, water withdrawals, development, and wastewater treatment plants, and the presence of invasive, nonnative species. Special management considerations or protection measures to reduce or alleviate the threats may include actions to alleviate the threats of water quality and habitat degradation from hydrofracking wastewater discharges and impoundments downstream on the Ohio River, and efforts to prevent the spread of invasive, nonnative species (see Special Management Considerations or Protection, above). LS 5: Little Kanawha River Unit LS 5 partially overlaps with Unit RH 5 for the round hickorynut, described below. Unit LS 5 consists of 123 river mi (198 km) of the Little Kanawha River in Calhoun, Gilmer, Ritchie, and Wood Counties, West Virginia, from Burnsville Dam in Braxton County downstream to its confluence with the Ohio River in Parkersburg, Wood County, West Virginia. Riparian lands that border the unit include approximately 122 river mi (197.2 km; 99 percent) in private ownership and 0.53 river mi (0.9 km; less than 1 percent) in public (Federal or State government) ownership. General land use on adjacent riparian lands and the surrounding HUC 8-level management unit includes forestry, agriculture, industry, and numerous cities and municipalities. Burnsville Dam is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Unit LS 5 is occupied by the species and contains all of the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the species. Threats identified within Unit LS 5 include the degradation of habitat and water quality from impoundments, siltation and pollution due to improper timbering practices, resource extraction, water withdrawals, development, and wastewater treatments plants, and the presence of invasive, nonnative species. Special management considerations or E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules protection measures to reduce or alleviate the threats may include modifying dam releases from Burnsville Dam to mimic the natural hydrograph, and efforts to prevent the spread of invasive, nonnative species (see Special Management Considerations or Protection, above). jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 LS 6: Elk River Unit LS 6 is the same as Unit RH 6, described below for the round hickorynut. Unit LS 6 consists of 101 river mi (163 km) of the Elk River in Braxton, Clay, and Kanawha Counties, West Virginia, from Sutton Dam in Braxton County downstream to its confluence with the Kanawha River at Charleston, Kanawha County, West Virginia. Riparian lands that border the unit include approximately 93 river mi (150.3 km; 92 percent) in private ownership and 7 river mi (12.7 km; 8 percent) in public (Federal, State, and local government) ownership. General land use on adjacent riparian lands and the surrounding HUC–8 level management unit includes forestry, agriculture, industry, and numerous cities and municipalities. Sutton Dam is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Unit LS 6 is occupied by the species and contains all of the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the species. There is overlap of approximately 28 river mi (44.6 km) of this unit with designated critical habitat for the federally endangered diamond darter (78 FR 52364; August 22, 2013). Threats identified within Unit LS 6 include the degradation of habitat and water quality from impoundments, siltation and pollution due to improper timbering practices, resource extraction, water withdrawals, development, and wastewater treatment plants, and the presence of invasive, nonnative species. Special management considerations or protection measures to reduce or alleviate the threats may include modifying dam releases from Sutton Dam to mimic the natural hydrograph and efforts to prevent the spread of invasive, nonnative species (see Special Management Considerations or Protection, above). LS 7: Kanawha River Unit LS 7 partially overlaps with Unit RH 7 for the round hickorynut, described below. Unit LS 7 consists of 21 river mi (33.9 km) of the Kanawha River in Fayette and Kanawha Counties, West Virginia, from Kanawha Falls in Fayette County downstream to its confluence with Cabin Creek at Chelyan, Kanawha County, West Virginia. Riparian lands that border the VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 unit include approximately 18 river mi (29.3 km; 90 percent) in private ownership and 2 river mi (4.6 km; 10 percent) in public (Federal, State, and local government) ownership. General land use on adjacent riparian lands and the surrounding HUC 8-level management unit includes forestry, agriculture, industry, and numerous cities and municipalities. London and Marmet locks and dams within this unit are operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Unit LS 7 is occupied by the species and contains all of the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the species. Threats identified within Unit LS 7 include the degradation of habitat and water quality from impoundments, siltation and pollution due to improper timbering practices, resource extraction, water withdrawals, development, and wastewater treatment plants, and the presence of invasive, nonnative species. Special management considerations or protection measures to reduce or alleviate the threats may include modifying dam releases from London and Marmet locks and dams to mimic the natural hydrograph, and efforts to prevent the spread of invasive, nonnative species (see Special Management Considerations or Protection, above). LS 8: Licking River Unit LS 8 partially overlaps with Unit RH 8 for the round hickorynut, described below. Unit LS 8 consists of 181 river mi (291.5 km) of the Licking River in Bath, Campbell, Fleming, Harrison, Kenton, Morgan, Nicholas, Pendleton, Robertson, and Rowan Counties, Kentucky, from Cave Run Dam in Bath/Rowan Counties downstream to its confluence with the Ohio River at Newport, Campbell/ Kenton County, Kentucky. Riparian lands that border the unit include approximately 161 river mi (259.7 km; 90 percent) in private ownership and 19 river mi (31.7 km; 10 percent) in public (Federal, State, and local government) ownership. General land use on adjacent riparian lands and the surrounding HUC 8-level management unit includes forestry, agriculture industry, and numerous cities and municipalities. The Cave Run Dam is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Unit LS 8 is occupied by the species and contains all of the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the species. Threats identified within Unit LS 8 include the degradation of habitat and water quality from impoundments and associated cold water discharges, siltation and pollution due to improper PO 00000 Frm 00035 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 61417 timbering practices, resource extraction, water withdrawals, development, and wastewater treatment plants, and the presence of invasive, nonnative species. Special management considerations or protection measures to reduce or alleviate the threats may include modifying dam releases from Cave Run Dam to mimic the natural hydrograph and efforts to prevent the spread of invasive, nonnative species (see Special Management Considerations or Protection, above). LS 9: Green River Unit LS 9 partially overlaps with Unit RH 11 for the round hickorynut, described below. Unit LS 9 consists of 156 river mi (251.6 km) of the Green River in Butler/Warren, Edmonson, Green, Hart, and Taylor Counties, Kentucky, from Green River Lake Dam south of Campbellsville in Taylor County downstream to its confluence with the Barren River at Woodbury, Warren/Butler County, Kentucky. Riparian lands that border the unit include approximately 105 river mi (169.2 km; 67 percent) in private ownership and 51 river mi (82.4 km; 33 percent) in public (Federal, State, and local government) ownership; Federal lands include a portion of Mammoth Cave National Park. General land use on adjacent riparian lands and the surrounding HUC 8-level management unit includes forestry, agriculture, industry, and numerous cities and municipalities, and Cave Run Dam is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Unit LS 9 is occupied by the species and contains all of the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the species. The entire approximately 156-river-mi (252-km) unit overlaps with designated critical habitat for the federally endangered diamond darter (78 FR 52364; August 22, 2013) and the federally threatened rabbitsfoot mussel (80 FR 24692; April 30, 2015). Threats identified within Unit LS 9 include the degradation of habitat and water quality from impoundments and associated cold water discharges, siltation and pollution due to improper timbering and agricultural practices, resource extraction, water withdrawals, and development, all of which affect channel stability; wastewater treatment plants; and the presence of invasive, nonnative species. Special management considerations or protection measures may be needed to reduce or alleviate habitat degradation such as channelization and channel instability. Additional special management considerations or protection measures may be needed to address thermal and E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 61418 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules flow regimes associated with tail water releases from the Green River Lake Dam, and efforts to prevent the spread of invasive, nonnative species (see Special Management Considerations or Protection, above). jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 LS 10: Cumberland River Unit LS 10 consists of 48 river mi (77.5 km) of the Cumberland River in Smith, Trousdale, and Wilson Counties, Tennessee, from Cordell Hull Dam north of Carthage in Smith County downstream to reservoir influence of Old Hickory Reservoir at U.S. Route 231 north of Lebanon, Wilson County, Tennessee. Riparian lands that border the unit are all public (Federal) ownership. General land use on adjacent riparian lands and the surrounding HUC 8-level management unit includes forestry, agriculture, and the municipalities of Carthage and Rome, Tennessee; both Cordell Hull and Old Hickory Dams upstream and downstream of this unit are operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Unit LS 10 is occupied by the species and contains all of the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the species. There is overlap of approximately 1 river mi (1.7 km) of this unit with designated critical habitat for the federally endangered Short’s bladderpod (79 FR 50990; August 26, 2014). Threats identified within Unit LS 10 include the degradation of habitat and water quality from upstream and downstream impoundments and associated cold water discharges, siltation and pollution due to improper timbering practices, resource extraction, water withdrawals, development, and wastewater treatment plants, and the presence of invasive, nonnative species. Special management considerations or protection measures to reduce or alleviate the threats may include channel stability, thermal regimes, altered flow regimes associated with tail water releases from Cordell Hull Reservoir, actions to address channelization, and efforts to prevent the spread of invasive, nonnative species (see Special Management Considerations or Protection, above). LS 11: Clinch River Unit LS 11 consists of 177 river mi (286.1 km) of the Clinch River in Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise Counties in Virginia, and Claiborne, Hancock, and Hawkins Counties in Tennessee. This unit extends from Secondary Highway 637 west of Pounding Mill in Tazewell County, Virginia, downstream to County Highway 25, Claiborne County, VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 Tennessee, northwest of Thorn Hill. The Tennessee portion of this unit is also encompassed by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s Clinch River Sanctuary. Riparian lands that border the unit include approximately 160 river mi (258.8 km; 90 percent) in private ownership and 17 river mi (27.3 km; 10 percent) in public (Federal and State) ownership. General land use on adjacent riparian lands and the surrounding HUC 8-level management unit includes forestry, agriculture, industry, and numerous cities and municipalities. Unit LS 11 is occupied by the species and contains all of the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the species. There is overlap of approximately 171 river mi (274.4 km) of this unit with designated critical habitat for the federally endangered purple bean, oyster mussel, rough rabbitsfoot, and Cumberlandian combshell (69 FR 53136; August 31, 2004); the federally endangered slabside pearlymussel and fluted kidneyshell (78 FR 59556; September 26, 2013); and with the federally threatened yellowfin madtom and slender chub (42 FR 45526; September 9, 1977). Threats identified within Unit LS 11 include the degradation of habitat and water quality from downstream impoundment, mining discharges, siltation and pollution due to improper timbering practices, resource extraction, water withdrawals, development, and wastewater treatment plants, and the presence of invasive, nonnative species. Special management considerations or protection measures to reduce or alleviate the threats may include management of the Norris Reservoir downstream to provide additional riverine habitat, and efforts to prevent the spread of invasive, nonnative species (see Special Management Considerations or Protection, above). LS 12: Paint Rock River Unit LS 12 partially overlaps with Unit RH 12 for the round hickorynut, described below. Unit LS 12 consists of 58 river mi (94.5 km) of the Paint Rock River in Jackson and Madison/Marshall Counties, Alabama, from the confluence of Hurricane Creek and Estill Fork in Jackson County, Alabama, downstream to its confluence with the Tennessee River west of Hebron, Madison/Marshall County, Alabama. Riparian lands that border the unit include approximately 2 river mi (4.1 km; 3 percent) in private ownership and 56 river mi (90.4 km; 97 percent) in public (Federal and State) ownership. General land use on adjacent riparian lands and the surrounding HUC 8-level management unit includes forestry, agriculture, and PO 00000 Frm 00036 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 several small municipalities (Princeton, Hollytree, Trenton, and Paint Rock). Unit LS 12 is occupied by the species and contains all of the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the species. There is overlap of approximately 53 river mi (85 km) of this unit with designated critical habitat for the federally endangered slabside pearlymussel (78 FR 59556; September 26, 2013) and the federally threatened rabbitsfoot mussel (80 FR 24692; April 30, 2015). Threats identified within Unit LS 12 include the degradation of habitat and water quality from downstream impoundment, siltation and pollution due to improper agricultural and timbering practices, resource extraction, water withdrawals, development, and wastewater treatment plants, and the presence of invasive, nonnative species. Special management considerations or protection measures to reduce or alleviate the threats may include management of Wheeler Reservoir downstream to provide additional riverine habitat, working with landowners to implement best management practices to reduce erosion and sedimentation associated with agricultural lands, and efforts to prevent the spread of invasive, nonnative species (see Special Management Considerations or Protection, above). RH 1: Shenango River Unit RH 1 is the same as Unit LS 3 for the longsolid, described above. It consists of 22 river mi (35.5 km) of the Shenango River in Crawford County, Pennsylvania, from Pymatuning Dam downstream to the point of inundation by Shenango River Lake near Big Bend, Mercer County, Pennsylvania. Riparian lands that border the unit include approximately 15 river mi (24.3 km; 32 percent) in private ownership and 7 river mi (11.1 km; 68 percent) in public (Federal or State) ownership. General land use on adjacent riparian lands and the surrounding HUC 8-level management unit includes the City of Greenville and its associated industry, and the unincorporated communities of Jamestown and New Harrisburg. Pymatuning Dam is owned by the State of Pennsylvania. Unit RH 1 is occupied by the species and contains all of the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the species. There is overlap of approximately 14.5 river mi (23.4 km) of this unit with designated critical habitat for the federally threatened rabbitsfoot mussel (80 FR 24692; April 30, 2015). Threats identified within Unit RH 1 include the degradation of habitat and water quality from impoundments, E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules domestic and industrial pollution due to human development, resource extraction, water withdrawals, and wastewater treatment plants, and the presence of invasive, nonnative species. Special management considerations or protection measures to reduce or alleviate the threats may include modifying dam releases from Pytmatuning Dam to mimic the natural hydrograph, and efforts to prevent the spread of invasive, nonnative species (see Special Management Considerations or Protection, above). jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 RH 2: Grand River Unit RH 2 consists of 92 river mi (148.2 km) of the Grand River in Ashtabula, Lake, and Trumbull Counties, Ohio, from the Trumbull/ Geauga County line south of Lake County, Ohio State Route 88, downstream to the mouth of the Grand River at its confluence with Lake Erie. Riparian lands that border the unit include approximately 59 river mi (95.2 km; 64 percent) in private ownership and 33 river mi (53 km; 36 percent) in public (State and local government) ownership. The Grand River is a State Wild and Scenic River, with a ‘‘Wild River’’ designation for approximately 23 river mi (37 km) from the Harpersfield Covered Bridge downstream to the Norfolk and Western Railroad Trestle in Lake County, and ‘‘Scenic River’’ designation for approximately 33 river mi (53 km) from the U.S. 322 Bridge in Ashtabula County downstream to the Harpersfield Covered Bridge. General lands use on adjacent riparian lands and the surrounding HUC 8-level management unit includes forestry, agriculture, and several municipalities (West Farmington, Windsor, Rock Creek, and Perry). Harpersfield Dam is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Unit RH 2 is occupied by the species and contains all of the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the species. Threats identified within Unit RH 2 include degradation of habitat and water quality from impoundments, domestic and industrial pollution due to human development, resource extraction, water withdrawals, and wastewater treatment plants, and the presence of invasive, nonnative species. Special management considerations or protection measures to reduce or alleviate the threats may include modifying dam releases from the Harpersfield Dam to mimic the natural hydrograph, and efforts to prevent the spread of invasive, nonnative species (see Special Management Considerations or Protection, above). VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 RH 3: Tippecanoe River Unit RH 3 consists of 75 river mi (120.8 km) of the Tippecanoe River in Fulton, Marshall, Pulaski, and Starke Counties, Indiana, from the railroad crossing west of the communities of Tippecanoe, Marshall County, downstream to the Pulaski/White County line, southwest of the community of Star City, Indiana. Riparian lands that border the unit include approximately 66 river mi (105.6 km; 89 percent) in private ownership and 9 river mi (14.5 km; 11 percent) in public ownership. General land use on adjacent riparian lands and the surrounding HUC 8-level management unit includes agriculture and the communities of Tippecanoe, Pershing, and Ora. Unit RH 3 is occupied by the species and contains all of the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the species. There is overlap of approximately 19 river mi (29.9 km) of this unit with designated critical habitat for the federally threatened rabbitsfoot mussel (80 FR 24692; April 30, 2015). Threats identified within Unit RH 3 include the degradation of habitat and water quality from impoundments, domestic and industrial pollution due to human development, resource extraction, water withdrawals, and wastewater treatment plants, and the presence of invasive, nonnative species. Special management considerations or protection measures to reduce or alleviate the threats may include modifying operations of downstream impoundments to provide additional riverine habitats, and efforts to prevent the spread of invasive, nonnative species (see Special Management Considerations or Protection, above). RH 4: Middle Island Creek Unit RH 4 partially overlaps with Unit LS 4 for the longsolid, described above. Unit RH 4 consists of 75 stream mi (120.8 km) of the Middle Island Creek in Doddridge, Pleasants, and Tyler Counties, West Virginia, from the Tyler/ Doddridge County line northeast of Deep Valley downstream to the confluence with the Ohio River, at St. Mary’s, Pleasants County, West Virginia. Riparian lands that border the unit include approximately 74.8 stream mi (120.4 km; 99 percent) in private ownership and 0.2 stream mi (0.4 km; less than 1 percent) in public (Federal and State) ownership. General land use on adjacent riparian lands and the surrounding HUC 8-level management unit includes the communities of Smithburg, Avondale, West Union, Alma, and Centerville. Unit RH 4 is PO 00000 Frm 00037 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 61419 occupied by the species and contains all of the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the species. Threats identified within Unit RH 4 include the degradation of habitat and water quality from siltation and pollution due to improper timbering practices, resource extraction, water withdrawals, development, and wastewater treatment plants, and the presence of invasive, nonnative species. Special management considerations or protection measures to reduce or alleviate the threats may include monitoring hydrofracking wastewater discharges and impoundments downstream on the Ohio River, and implementing efforts to prevent the spread of invasive, nonnative species (see Special Management Considerations or Protection, above). RH 5: Little Kanawha River Unit RH 5 partially overlaps with Unit LS 5 for the longsolid, also described above. Unit RH 5 consists of 110 river mi (176.6 km) of the Little Kanawha River in Calhoun, Gilmer, Ritchie, and Wood Counties, West Virginia, from Burnsville Dam in Braxton County downstream to West Virginia Route 47 at Parkersburg, Wood County, West Virginia. Riparian lands that border the unit include approximately 109 river mi (175.4 km; 99 percent) in private ownership and 0.7 river mi (1.2 km; 1 percent) in public (Federal, State, and local government) ownership. General land use on adjacent riparian lands and the surrounding HUC 8-level management unit includes forestry, agriculture, industry, and numerous cities and municipalities. Burnsville Dam is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Unit RH 5 is occupied by the species and contains all of the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the species. Threats identified within Unit RH 5 include the degradation of habitat from impoundments, siltation and pollution due to improper timbering practices, resource extraction, water withdrawals, development, and wastewater treatment plants, and the presence of invasive, nonnative species. Special management considerations or protection measures to reduce or alleviate the threats may include modifying dam releases from Burnsville Dam to mimics the natural hydrograph, and efforts to prevent the spread of invasive, nonnative species (see Special Management Considerations or Protection, above). RH 6: Elk River Unit RH 6 is the same as Unit LS 6 for the longsolid, described above. Unit E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 61420 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 RH 6 consists of 101 river mi (163 km) of the Elk River in Braxton, Clay, and Kanawha Counties, West Virginia, from the Sutton Dam in Braxton County downstream to its confluence with the Kanawha River at Charleston, Kanawha County, West Virginia. Riparian lands that border the unit include approximately 93 river mi (150.3 km; 92 percent) in private ownership and 7 river mi (12.7 km; 8 percent) in public (Federal, State, and local government) ownership. General land use on adjacent riparian lands and the surrounding HUC 8-level management unit includes forestry, agriculture, industry, and numerous cities and municipalities. Sutton Dam is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Unit RH 6 is occupied by the species and contains all of the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the species. There is overlap of approximately 28 river mi (44.6 km) of this unit with the designated critical habitat for the federally endangered diamond darter (78 FR 52364; August 22, 2013). Threats identified within Unit RH 6 include the degradation of habitat and water quality from impoundments, siltation and pollution due to improper timbering practices, resource extraction, water withdrawals, development, and wastewater treatment plants, and the presence of invasive, nonnative species. Special management considerations or protection measures to reduce or alleviate the threats may include modifying dam releases from Sutton Dam to mimic the natural hydrograph, and efforts to prevent the spread of invasive, nonnative species (see Special Management Considerations or Protection, above). RH 7: Kanawha River Unit RH 7 partially overlaps with Unit LS 7 for the longsolid, described above. Unit RH 7 consists of 37.5 river mi (60.4 km) of the Kanawha River in Fayette and Kanawha Counties, West Virginia, from Kanawha Falls in Fayette County downstream to its confluence with the Elk River at Charleston, Kanawha County, West Virginia. Riparian lands that border the unit include approximately 33 river mi (53.2 km; 90 percent) in private ownership and 4 river mi (7.2 km; 10 percent) in public (Federal, State, and local government) ownership. General land use on adjacent riparian lands and the surrounding HUC 8-level management unit includes forestry, agriculture, industry, and numerous cities and municipalities. London and Marmet locks and dams within this unit are operated by the U.S. Army Corps of VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 Engineers. Unit RH 7 is occupied by the species and contains all of the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the species. Threats identified within Unit RH 7 include the degradation of habitat and water quality from impoundments, siltation and pollution due to improper timbering practices, resource extraction, water withdrawals, development, and wastewater treatment plants, and the presence of invasive, nonnative species. Special management considerations or protection measures to reduce or alleviate the threats may include modifying dam releases from London and Marmet locks and dams to mimic the natural hydrograph, and efforts to prevent the spread of invasive, nonnative species (see Special Management Considerations or Protection, above). RH 8: Licking River Unit RH 8 partially overlaps with Unit LS 8 for the longsolid, described above. Unit RH 8 consists of 150 mi (241.9 km) of the Licking River in Bath, Campbell, Fleming, Harrison, Kenton, Morgan, Nicholas, Pendleton, Robertson, and Rowan Counties, Kentucky, from Cave Run Dam in Bath/Rowan Counties downstream to the Railroad crossing at the Campbell/Kenton/Pendleton County line at De Mossville, northwest of Butler, Pendleton County, Kentucky. Riparian lands that border the unit include approximately 131 river mi (211.8 km; 87 percent) in private ownership and 18 river mi (30 km; 13 percent) in public (Federal, State, and local government) ownership. General land use on adjacent riparian lands and the surrounding HUC 8-level management unit includes forestry, agriculture industry, and numerous cities and municipalities. Cave Run Dam is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Unit RH 8 is occupied by the species and contains all of the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the species. Threats identified within Unit RH 8 include the degradation of habitat and water quality from impoundments and associated cold water discharges, siltation and pollution due to improper timbering practices, resource extraction, water withdrawals, development, and wastewater treatment plants, and the presence of invasive, nonnative species. Special management considerations or protection measures to reduce or alleviate the threats may include modifying dam releases from Cave Run Dam to mimic the natural hydrograph, and efforts to prevent the spread of invasive, nonnative species (see Special PO 00000 Frm 00038 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 Management Considerations or Protection, above). RH 9: Rockcastle River Unit RH 9 consists of 15.3 river mi (24.6 km) of the Rockcastle River in Laurel, Pulaski, and Rockcastle Counties, Kentucky, from Kentucky Route 1956 at Billows downstream to Kentucky Route 192, near its confluence with Cane Creek along the Laurel/ Pulaski County line, northwest of Baldrock, Laurel County, Kentucky. Riparian lands that border the unit include approximately 0.3 river mi (0.4 km; less than 1 percent) in private ownership and 15 river mi (24.2 km; 99 percent) in public (Federal) ownership. Federal ownership is the Daniel Boone National Forest. General land use on adjacent riparian lands and the surrounding HUC 8-level management unit is predominantly forestry. Unit RH 9 is occupied by the species and contains all of the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the species. There is overlap of approximately 15 river mi (23.7 km) of this unit with designated critical habitat for the federally endangered fluted kidneyshell (78 FR 59556; September 26, 2013). Threats identified within Unit RH 9 include the degradation of habitat and water quality from siltation and pollution due to improper timbering practices and resource extraction, and the presence of invasive, nonnative species. Special management considerations or protection measures to reduce or alleviate the threats may include management of Lake Cumberland, located downstream, to provide more riverine habitat upstream, and efforts to prevent the spread of invasive, nonnative species (see Special Management Considerations or Protection, above). RH 10: Buck Creek Unit RH 10 consists of 36 stream mi (58.1 km) of Buck Creek in Pulaski County, Kentucky, from its confluence with Glade Fork Creek northeast of Goochtown, downstream to its confluence with Whetstone Creek, northeast of Dykes, Pulaski County, Kentucky. Riparian lands that border the unit include approximately 33 stream mi (52.6 km; 92 percent) in private ownership and 3 stream mi (5.5 km; 8 percent) in public (State and local government) ownership. General land use on adjacent riparian lands and the surrounding HUC 8-level management unit includes forestry, agriculture, and several small communities. Unit RH 10 is occupied by the species and contains all of the physical or biological features E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 essential to the conservation of the species. There is overlap of approximately 35 stream mi (56.7 km) with designated critical habitat for the federally endangered Cumberlandian combshell and oyster mussel (69 FR 53136; August 31, 2004), and the federally endangered fluted kidneyshell (78 FR 59556; September 26, 2013). Threats identified within Unit RH 10 include the degradation of habitat and water quality from instream gravel mining, silviculture-related activities, illegal off-road vehicle use, nonpoint source pollution from agriculture, and development activities, and the presence of invasive, nonnative species. Special management considerations or protection measures to reduce or alleviate the threats may include management of Lake Cumberland, located downstream, to provide more riverine habitat upstream, and efforts to prevent the spread of invasive, nonnative species (see Special Management Considerations or Protection, above). RH 11: Green River Unit RH 11 partially overlaps with Unit LS 9 for the longsolid, described above. Unit RH 11 consists of 98 river mi (157.7 km) of the Green River in Butler/Warren, Edmonson, Green, and Hart Counties, Kentucky, from the mouth of Lynn Camp Creek east of Linwood in Hart County downstream to its confluence with the Barren River at Woodbury, Warrant/Butler Counties, Kentucky. Riparian lands that border the unit include approximately 61 river mi (98.4 km; 62 percent) in private ownership and 37 river mi (59.4 km; 38 percent) in public (Federal and State) ownership; Federal lands include a portion of Mammoth Cave National Park. General land use on adjacent riparian lands and the surrounding HUC 8-level management unit includes forestry, agriculture, industry, and numerous cities and municipalities, and Green River Lake Dam (located upstream of this unit) is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Unit RH 11 is occupied by the species and contains all of the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the species. The entire 98-river-mi (157.7-km) unit overlaps with designated critical habitat for the federally endangered diamond darter (78 FR 52364; August 22, 2013) and the federally threatened rabbitsfoot mussel (80 FR 24692; April 30, 2015). Threats identified within Unit RH 11 include the degradation of habitat and water quality from Green River Lake Dam and associated cold water discharges, siltation and pollution due VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 to improper timbering and agricultural practices, resource extraction, water withdrawals, and development, all of which affect channel stability; wastewater treatment plants; and the presence of invasive, nonnative species. Special management considerations or protection measures may be needed to reduce or alleviate habitat degradation such as channelization and channel instability. Additional special management considerations or protection measures may be needed to address thermal and flow regimes associated with tail water releases from the Green River Lake Dam, and efforts to prevent the spread of invasive, nonnative species (see Special Management Considerations or Protection, above). RH 12: Paint Rock River Unit RH 12 partially overlaps with Unit LS 12 for the longsolid, described above. Unit RH 12 consists of 48 river mi (77.5 km) of the Paint Rock River in Jackson and Madison/Marshall Counties, Alabama, from the confluence of Hurricane Creek and Estill Fork in Jackson County, Alabama, downstream to U.S. Route 431, south of New Hope, Madison/Marshall Counties, Alabama. Riparian lands that border the unit include approximately 2 river mi (4.1 km; 2 percent) in private ownership and 46 river mi (73.4 km; 98 percent) in public (Federal and State) ownership. General land use on adjacent riparian lands and the surrounding HUC 8-level management unit includes forestry, agriculture, and several small municipalities (Princeton, Hollytree, Trenton, and Paint Rock). Unit RH 12 is occupied by the species and contains all of the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the species. The entire approximately 48river-mi (77.5-km) unit overlaps with designated critical habitat for the federally endangered slabside pearlymussel (78 FR 59556; September 26, 2013), and the federally threatened rabbitsfoot mussel (80 FR 24692; April 30, 2015). Threats identified within Unit RH 12 include the degradation of habitat and water quality from impoundments, siltation and pollution due to improper timbering practices, resource extraction, water withdrawals, development, and wastewater treatment plants, and the presence of invasive, nonnative species. Special management considerations or protection measures to reduce or alleviate the threats may include management of Wheeler Reservoir downstream to provide additional riverine habitat, working with landowners to implement best PO 00000 Frm 00039 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 61421 management practices to reduce erosion and sedimentation associated with agricultural lands, and efforts to prevent the spread of invasive, nonnative species (see Special Management Considerations or Protection, above). RH 13: Duck River Unit RH 13 consists of 59 river mi (94.8 km) of the Duck River in Bedford, Marshall, and Maury Counties, Tennessee, from its confluence with Sinking Creek in Bedford County, downstream to the mouth of Goose Creek, east of Columbia, Maury County, Tennessee. Riparian lands that border the unit include approximately 27 river mi (43.7 km; 47 percent) in private ownership and 32 river mi (51.1 km; 53 percent) in public (State and local government) ownership. General land use on adjacent riparian lands and the surrounding HUC 8-level management unit includes forestry, agriculture, and several municipalities (Milltown, Leftwich, and Philadelphia). Normandy Dam is operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority. Unit RH 13 is occupied by the species and contains all of the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the species. There is overlap of approximately 55 river mi (88.9 km) of this unit with designated critical habitat for the federally endangered slabside pearlymussel and fluted kidneyshell (78 FR 59556; September 26, 2013), and the federally endangered Cumberlandian combshell and oyster mussel (69 FR 53136; August 31, 2004). Threats identified within Unit RH 13 include the degradation of habitat and water quality from impoundments, siltation and pollution due to improper timbering practices, agricultural activities (livestock), row crop agriculture and channelization, resource extraction, water withdrawals, and wastewater treatment plants, and the presence of invasive, nonnative species. Special management considerations or protection measures to reduce or alleviate the threats may include seasonally adjusted flow regimes associated with tail water releases from Normandy Dam, working with landowners to implement best management practices to reduce erosion and sedimentation associated with agricultural lands, planting adequate riparian buffers to minimize agriculture impacts, and implementing efforts to prevent the spread of invasive, nonnative species (see Special Management Considerations or Protection, above). E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 61422 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules RH 14: Big Black River Unit RH 14 consists of 4 river mi (7 km) of the Big Black River in Montgomery County, Mississippi, from its confluence with Poplar Creek in Bedford County, downstream to its confluence with Lewis Creek, Mississippi. Riparian lands that border the unit are all (100 percent) in private ownership. General land use on adjacent riparian lands and the surrounding HUC 8-level management unit is predominantly agricultural activities. Unit RH 14 is occupied by the species and contains all of the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the species. Threats identified within Unit RH 14 include degradation of habitat and water quality from impoundments, siltation and pollution due to improper agricultural activities, row crop agriculture and channelization, and water withdrawals, and the presence of invasive, nonnative species. Special management considerations or protection measures to reduce or alleviate the threats may include working with landowners to implement best management practices to reduce erosion and sedimentation associated with agricultural lands and water quality degradation, and efforts to prevent the spread of invasive, nonnative species (see Special Management Considerations or Protection, above). jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 Effects of Critical Habitat Designation Section 7 Consultation Section 7(a)(2) of the Act requires Federal agencies, including the Service, to ensure that any action they fund, authorize, or carry out is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered species or threatened species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of designated critical habitat of such species. In addition, section 7(a)(4) of the Act requires Federal agencies to confer with the Service on any agency action which is likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any species proposed to be listed under the Act or result in the destruction or adverse modification of proposed critical habitat. We published a final rule revising the definition of destruction or adverse modification on August 27, 2019 (84 FR 44976). Destruction or adverse modification means a direct or indirect alteration that appreciably diminishes the value of critical habitat as a whole for the conservation of a listed species. If a Federal action may affect a listed species or its critical habitat, the responsible Federal agency (action VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 agency) must enter into consultation with us. Examples of actions that are subject to the section 7 consultation process are actions on State, tribal, local, or private lands that require a Federal permit (such as a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers under section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.) or a permit from the Service under section 10 of the Act) or that involve some other Federal action (such as funding from the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Aviation Administration, or the Federal Emergency Management Agency). Federal actions not affecting listed species or critical habitat—and actions on State, tribal, local, or private lands that are not federally funded, authorized, or carried out by a Federal agency—do not require section 7 consultation. Compliance with the requirements of section 7(a)(2) is documented through our issuance of: (1) A concurrence letter for Federal actions that may affect, but are not likely to adversely affect, listed species or critical habitat; or (2) A biological opinion for Federal actions that may affect, and are likely to adversely affect, listed species or critical habitat. When we issue a biological opinion concluding that a project is likely to jeopardize the continued existence of a listed species and/or destroy or adversely modify critical habitat, we provide reasonable and prudent alternatives to the project, if any are identifiable, that would avoid the likelihood of jeopardy and/or destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat. We define ‘‘reasonable and prudent alternatives’’ (at 50 CFR 402.02) as alternative actions identified during consultation that: (1) Can be implemented in a manner consistent with the intended purpose of the action, (2) Can be implemented consistent with the scope of the Federal agency’s legal authority and jurisdiction, (3) Are economically and technologically feasible, and (4) Would, in the Service Director’s opinion, avoid the likelihood of jeopardizing the continued existence of the listed species and/or avoid the likelihood of destroying or adversely modifying critical habitat. Reasonable and prudent alternatives can vary from slight project modifications to extensive redesign or relocation of the project. Costs associated with implementing a reasonable and prudent alternative are similarly variable. PO 00000 Frm 00040 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 Regulations at 50 CFR 402.16 set forth requirements for Federal agencies to reinitiate formal consultation on previously reviewed actions. These requirements apply when the Federal agency has retained discretionary involvement or control over the action (or the agency’s discretionary involvement or control is authorized by law) and, subsequent to the previous consultation, we have listed a new species or designated critical habitat that may be affected by the Federal action, the amount or extent of taking specified in the incidental take statement is exceeded, new information reveals effects of the action that may affect listed species or critical habitat in a manner or to an extent not previously considered, or the action has been modified in a manner that affects the species or critical habitat in a way not considered in the previous consultation. In such situations, Federal agencies sometimes may need to request reinitiation of consultation with us, but the regulations also specify some exceptions to the requirement to reinitiate consultation on specific land management plans after subsequently listing a new species or designating new critical habitat. See the regulations for a description of those exceptions. Application of the ‘‘Destruction or Adverse Modification’’ Standard The key factor related to the destruction or adverse modification determination is whether implementation of the proposed Federal action directly or indirectly alters the designated critical habitat in a way that appreciably diminishes the value of the critical habitat as a whole for the conservation of the listed species. As discussed above, the role of critical habitat is to support physical or biological features essential to the conservation of a listed species and provide for the conservation of the species. Section 4(b)(8) of the Act requires us to briefly evaluate and describe, in any proposed or final regulation that designates critical habitat, activities involving a Federal action that may violate section 7(a)(2) of the Act by destroying or adversely modifying such habitat, or that may be affected by such designation. Activities that the Services may, during a consultation under section 7(a)(2) of the Act, find are likely to destroy or adversely modify critical habitat include, but are not limited to, actions that would: (1) Alter the geomorphology of their stream and river habitats (e.g., instream excavation or dredging, impoundment, E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules channelization, sand and gravel mining, clearing riparian vegetation, and discharge of fill materials); (2) significantly alter the existing flow regime where these species occur (e.g., impoundment, urban development, water diversion, water withdrawal, water draw-down, and hydropower generation); (3) significantly alter water chemistry or water quality (e.g., hydropower discharges, or the release of chemicals, biological pollutants, or heated effluents into surface water or connected groundwater at a point source or by dispersed release (nonpoint source)); and (4) significantly alter stream bed material composition and quality by increasing sediment deposition or filamentous algal growth (e.g., construction projects, gravel and sand mining, oil and gas development, coal mining, livestock grazing, timber harvest, and other watershed and floodplain disturbances that release sediments or nutrients into the water). Consulting agencies and such activities could include, but are not limited to: (1) U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (channel dredging and maintenance; dam projects including flood control, navigation, hydropower, and water supply; and Clean Water Act permitting including bridge projects and stream restoration activities). (2) U.S. Department of Agriculture, including the Natural Resources Conservation Service and Farm Service Agency (technical and financial assistance for projects) and the Forest Service (aquatic habitat restoration, fire management plans, fire suppression, fuel reduction treatments, forest plans, and mining permits). (3) U.S. Department of Energy (renewable and alternative energy projects). (4) Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (interstate pipeline construction and maintenance, dam relicensing, and hydrokinetics). (5) U.S. Department of Transportation (highway and bridge construction and maintenance). (6) U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (issuance of section 10 permits for enhancement of survival, habitat conservation plans, and safe harbor agreements; Partners for Fish and Wildlife program projects benefiting these species or other listed species; and Wildlife and Sportfish Restoration program sportfish stocking). (7) Environmental Protection Agency (water quality criteria and permitting). (8) Tennessee Valley Authority (flood control, navigation, hydropower, and land management for the Tennessee River system). VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 (9) Office of Surface Mining (land resource management plans, mining permits, oil and natural gas permits, abandoned mine land projects, and renewable energy development). (10) National Park Service (land management plans and permitting). Exemptions Application of Section 4(a)(3) of the Act Section 4(a)(3)(B)(i) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533(a)(3)(B)(i)) provides that: ‘‘The Secretary shall not designate as critical habitat any lands or other geographical areas owned or controlled by the Department of Defense, or designated for its use, that are subject to an integrated natural resources management plan [INRMP] prepared under section 101 of the Sikes Act (16 U.S.C. 670a), if the Secretary determines in writing that such plan provides a benefit to the species for which critical habitat is proposed for designation.’’ There are no Department of Defense (DoD) lands within the proposed critical habitat designation. Consideration of Impacts Under Section 4(b)(2) of the Act Section 4(b)(2) of the Act states that the Secretary shall designate and make revisions to critical habitat on the basis of the best available scientific data after taking into consideration the economic impact, national security impact, and any other relevant impact of specifying any particular area as critical habitat. The Secretary may exclude an area from critical habitat if he determines that the benefits of such exclusion outweigh the benefits of specifying such area as part of the critical habitat, unless he determines, based on the best scientific data available, that the failure to designate such area as critical habitat will result in the extinction of the species. In making the determination to exclude a particular area, the statute on its face, as well as the legislative history, are clear that the Secretary has broad discretion regarding which factor(s) to use and how much weight to give to any factor. The first sentence in section 4(b)(2) of the Act requires that we take into consideration the economic, national security, or other relevant impacts of designating any particular area as critical habitat. We describe below the process that we undertook for taking into consideration each category of impacts and our analyses of the relevant impacts. Consideration of Economic Impacts Section 4(b)(2) of the Act and its implementing regulations require that PO 00000 Frm 00041 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 61423 we consider the economic impact that may result from a designation of critical habitat. To assess the probable economic impacts of a designation, we must first evaluate specific land uses or activities and projects that may occur in the area of the critical habitat. We then must evaluate the impacts that a specific critical habitat designation may have on restricting or modifying specific land uses or activities for the benefit of the species and their habitat within the areas proposed. We then identify which conservation efforts may be the result of the species being listed under the Act versus those attributed solely to the designation of critical habitat for these particular species. The probable economic impact of a proposed critical habitat designation is analyzed by comparing scenarios both ‘‘with critical habitat’’ and ‘‘without critical habitat.’’ The ‘‘without critical habitat’’ scenario represents the baseline for the analysis, which includes the existing regulatory and socio-economic burden imposed on landowners, managers, or other resource users potentially affected by the designation of critical habitat (e.g., under the Federal listing as well as other Federal, State, and local regulations). The baseline, therefore, represents the costs of all efforts attributable to the listing of the species under the Act (i.e., conservation of the species and its habitat incurred regardless of whether critical habitat is designated). The ‘‘with critical habitat’’ scenario describes the incremental impacts associated specifically with the designation of critical habitat for the species. The incremental conservation efforts and associated impacts would not be expected without the designation of critical habitat for the species. In other words, the incremental costs are those attributable solely to the designation of critical habitat, above and beyond the baseline costs. These are the costs we use when evaluating the benefits of inclusion and exclusion of particular areas from the final designation of critical habitat should we choose to conduct a discretionary 4(b)(2) exclusion analysis. For these particular designations, we developed an incremental effects memorandum (IEM; Service 2020b, entire) considering the probable incremental economic impacts that may result from this proposed designation of critical habitat. The information contained in our IEM was then used to develop a screening analysis of the probable effects of the designation of critical habitat for the longsolid and round hickorynut (Industrial Economics, Inc. 2020, entire). We began by conducting a screening analysis of E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 61424 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules the proposed critical habitat designation in order to filter out particular geographic areas of critical habitat that are already subject to such protections and are, therefore, unlikely to incur incremental economic impacts. In particular, the screening analysis considers baseline costs (i.e., absent critical habitat designation) and includes probable economic impacts where land and water use may be subject to conservation plans, land management plans, best management practices, or regulations that protect the habitat area as a result of the Federal listing status of the species. Ultimately, the screening analysis allows us to focus our analysis on evaluating the specific areas or sectors that may incur probable incremental economic impacts as a result of the designation. The screening analysis also assesses whether units are unoccupied by the species and thus may require additional management or conservation efforts as a result of the critical habitat designation for the species; these additional efforts may incur incremental economic impacts. This screening analysis combined with the information contained in our IEM are what we consider our draft economic analysis (DEA) of the proposed critical habitat designation for the longsolid and round hickorynut; our DEA is summarized in the narrative below. Executive Orders (E.O.s) 12866 and 13563 direct Federal agencies to assess the costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives in quantitative (to the extent feasible) and qualitative terms. Consistent with the E.O. regulatory analysis requirements, our effects analysis under the Act may take into consideration impacts to both directly and indirectly affected entities, where practicable and reasonable. If sufficient data are available, we assess, to the extent practicable, the probable impacts to both directly and indirectly affected entities. As part of our screening analysis, we considered the types of economic activities that are likely to occur within the areas likely affected by the critical habitat designation. In our evaluation of the probable incremental economic impacts that may result from the proposed designation of critical habitat for the longsolid and round hickorynut, first we identified, in the IEM dated February 13, 2020 (Service 2020b, entire), probable incremental economic impacts associated with the following categories of activities: Instream excavation or dredging; impoundments; channelization; sand and gravel mining; clearing riparian vegetation; discharge VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 of fill materials; urban development; water diversion; water withdrawal; water draw-down; hydropower generation and discharges; release of chemicals, biological pollutants, or heated effluents into surface water or connected ground water at a point source or by dispersed release (nonpoint); construction projects; oil and gas development; coal mining; livestock grazing; timber harvest; and other watershed or floodplain activities that release sediments or nutrients into the water. We considered each industry or category individually. Additionally, we considered whether their activities have any Federal involvement. Critical habitat designation generally will not affect activities that do not have any Federal involvement; under the Act, designation of critical habitat only affects activities conducted, funded, permitted, or authorized by Federal agencies. If we list these species, in areas where the longsolid or round hickorynut are present, Federal agencies would be required to consult with the Service under section 7 of the Act on activities they authorize, fund, or carry out that may affect the species. If, when we list these species, we also finalize this proposed critical habitat designation, consultations to avoid the destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat would be incorporated into the existing consultation process. In our IEM, we attempted to clarify the distinction between the effects that would result from the species being listed and those attributable to the critical habitat designation (i.e., difference between the jeopardy and adverse modification standards) for the longsolid’s and round hickorynut’s critical habitat. Because the designation of critical habitat for the longsolid and round hickorynut is proposed concurrently with the listings, it has been our experience that it is more difficult to discern which conservation efforts are attributable to the species’ being listed and those which would result solely from the designation of critical habitat; this is particularly difficult where there is no unoccupied critical habitat and, thus, there would already be consultations for all areas. However, the following specific circumstances in this case help to inform our evaluation: (1) The essential physical or biological features identified for critical habitat are the same features essential for the life requisites of the species, and (2) any actions that would result in sufficient harm or harassment to constitute jeopardy to the longsolid or round hickorynut would also likely adversely affect the essential physical or PO 00000 Frm 00042 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 biological features of critical habitat. The IEM outlines our rationale concerning this limited distinction between baseline conservation efforts and incremental impacts of the designation of critical habitat for this species. This evaluation of the incremental effects has been used as the basis to evaluate the probable incremental economic impacts of this proposed designation of critical habitat. The proposed critical habitat designation for the longsolid includes 12 units, all of which are occupied by the species. Ownership of riparian lands adjacent to the proposed units includes 810 river mi (1,304 km; 74 percent) in private ownership and 305 river mi (491 km; 26 percent) in public (Federal, State, or local government) ownership. The proposed critical habitat designation for the round hickorynut includes 14 units, all of which are occupied by the species. Ownership of riparian lands adjacent to the proposed units includes 709 river mi (1,141 km; 77 percent) in private ownership and 212 river mi (341 km; 23 percent) in public (Federal, State, or local government) ownership. Total incremental costs of critical habitat designation for the longsolid and round hickorynut are anticipated to be approximately $327,000 (2020 dollars) per year for the next 10 years. The costs are reflective of the proposed critical habitat area (i.e., 1,115 river mi (1,794 km) for the longsolid and 921 river mi (1,482 km) for the round hickorynut (some of which overlap each other)), the presence of the species (i.e., already occupied) in these areas, and the presence of other federally listed species and designated critical habitats. Since consultation is already required in these areas as a result of the presence of other listed species and critical habitats and would be required as a result of the listing of the longsolid and round hickorynut, the economic costs of the critical habitat designation would likely be primarily limited to additional administrative efforts to consider adverse modification for these two species in section 7 consultations. In total, 159 section 7 consultation actions (approximately 3 formal consultations, 114 informal consultations, and 38 technical assistance efforts) are anticipated to occur annually in proposed critical habitat areas. Critical habitat may also trigger additional regulatory changes. For example, the designation may cause other Federal, State, or local permitting or regulatory agencies to expand or change standards or requirements. Regulatory uncertainty generated by critical habitat may also have impacts. For example, landowners E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 or buyers may perceive that the rule would restrict land or water use activities in some way and therefore value the use of the land less than they would have absent critical habitat. This is a perception, or stigma, effect of critical habitat on markets. We are soliciting data and comments from the public on the DEA discussed above, as well as all aspects of this proposed rule and our required determinations. During the development of a final designation, we will consider the information presented in the DEA and any additional information on economic impacts we receive during the public comment period to determine whether any specific areas should be excluded from the final critical habitat designations under authority of section 4(b)(2) and our implementing regulations at 50 CFR 424.19. In particular, we may exclude an area from critical habitat if we determine that the benefits of excluding the area outweigh the benefits of including the area, provided the exclusion will not result in the extinction of either species. Exclusions Under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we consider any other relevant impacts, in addition to economic impacts and impacts on national security discussed above. We consider a number of factors including whether there are permitted conservation plans covering the species in the area, such as habitat conservation plans, safe harbor agreements, or candidate conservation agreements with assurances, or whether there are nonpermitted conservation agreements and partnerships that would be encouraged by designation of, or exclusion from, critical habitat. In addition, we look at the existence of tribal conservation plans and partnerships and consider the government-to-government relationship of the United States with tribal entities. We also consider any social impacts that might occur because of the designation. In preparing this proposal, we have determined that there are currently no habitat conservation plans or other management plans for the longsolid or round hickorynut, and the proposed designations do not include any tribal lands or trust resources. Thus, we anticipate no impact on tribal lands, partnerships, or habitat conservation plans from these proposed critical habitat designations. During the development of a final designation, we will consider any additional information we receive during the public comment period regarding other relevant impacts to determine whether any specific areas should be excluded from the final critical habitat VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 designation under authority of section 4(b)(2) and our implementing regulations at 50 CFR 424.19. Consideration of National Security Impacts In preparing this proposal, we have determined that the lands within the proposed designation of critical habitat for longsolid or round hickorynut are not owned, managed, or used by the DoD or DHS, and, therefore, we anticipate no impact on national security or homeland security. However, during the development of a final designation we will consider any additional information received through the public comment period on the impacts of the proposed designation on national security or homeland security to determine whether any specific areas should be excluded from the final critical habitat designation under authority of section 4(b)(2) and our implementing regulations at 50 CFR 424.19. Required Determinations Clarity of the Rule We are required by Executive Orders 12866 and 12988 and by the Presidential Memorandum of June 1, 1998, to write all rules in plain language. This means that each rule we publish must: (1) Be logically organized; (2) Use the active voice to address readers directly; (3) Use clear language rather than jargon; (4) Be divided into short sections and sentences; and (5) Use lists and tables wherever possible. If you feel that we have not met these requirements, send us comments by one of the methods listed in 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. Regulatory Planning and Review (Executive Orders 12866 and 13563) Executive Order 12866 provides that the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) in the Office of Management and Budget will review all significant rules. The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs has waived their review regarding their significance determination of this proposed rule. Executive Order 13563 reaffirms the principles of E.O. 12866 while calling PO 00000 Frm 00043 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 61425 for improvements in the nation’s regulatory system to promote predictability, to reduce uncertainty, and to use the best, most innovative, and least burdensome tools for achieving regulatory ends. The executive order directs agencies to consider regulatory approaches that reduce burdens and maintain flexibility and freedom of choice for the public where these approaches are relevant, feasible, and consistent with regulatory objectives. E.O. 13563 emphasizes further that regulations must be based on the best available science and that the rulemaking process must allow for public participation and an open exchange of ideas. We have developed this proposed rule in a manner consistent with these requirements. Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA; 5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.), as amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (SBREFA; 5 U.S.C. 801 et seq.), whenever an agency is required to publish a notice of rulemaking for any proposed or final rule, it must prepare and make available for public comment a regulatory flexibility analysis that describes the effects of the rule on small entities (i.e., small businesses, small organizations, and small government jurisdictions). However, no regulatory flexibility analysis is required if the head of the agency certifies the rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The SBREFA amended the RFA to require Federal agencies to provide a certification statement of the factual basis for certifying that the rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. According to the Small Business Administration, small entities include small organizations such as independent nonprofit organizations; small governmental jurisdictions, including school boards and city and town governments that serve fewer than 50,000 residents; and small businesses (13 CFR 121.201). Small businesses include manufacturing and mining concerns with fewer than 500 employees, wholesale trade entities with fewer than 100 employees, retail and service businesses with less than $5 million in annual sales, general and heavy construction businesses with less than $27.5 million in annual business, special trade contractors doing less than $11.5 million in annual business, and agricultural businesses with annual sales less than $750,000. To determine if potential economic impacts to these E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 61426 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 small entities are significant, we considered the types of activities that might trigger regulatory impacts under this designation as well as types of project modifications that may result. In general, the term ‘‘significant economic impact’’ is meant to apply to a typical small business firm’s business operations. Under the RFA, as amended, and as understood in the light of recent court decisions, Federal agencies are required to evaluate the potential incremental impacts of rulemaking on those entities directly regulated by the rulemaking itself; in other words, the RFA does not require agencies to evaluate the potential impacts to indirectly regulated entities. The regulatory mechanism through which critical habitat protections are realized is section 7 of the Act, which requires Federal agencies, in consultation with the Service, to ensure that any action authorized, funded, or carried out by the agency is not likely to destroy or adversely modify critical habitat. Therefore, under section 7, only Federal action agencies are directly subject to the specific regulatory requirement (avoiding destruction and adverse modification) imposed by critical habitat designation. Consequently, it is our position that only Federal action agencies would be directly regulated if we adopt the proposed critical habitat designations. There is no requirement under the RFA to evaluate the potential impacts to entities not directly regulated. Moreover, Federal agencies are not small entities. Therefore, because no small entities would be directly regulated by this rulemaking, the Service certifies that, if made final as proposed, the proposed critical habitat designations will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. In summary, we have considered whether the proposed designations would result in a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. For the above reasons and based on currently available information, we certify that, if made final, the proposed critical habitat designations will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small business entities. Therefore, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not required. Executive Order 13771 We do not believe this proposed rule is an E.O. 13771 (‘‘Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs’’) (82 FR 9339, February 3, 2017) regulatory action because we believe this rule is not significant under E.O. 12866; VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 however, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs has waived their review regarding their E.O. 12866 significance determination of this proposed rule. Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use— Executive Order 13211 Executive Order 13211 (Actions Concerning Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use) requires agencies to prepare Statements of Energy Effects when undertaking certain actions. Facilities that provide energy supply, distribution, or use occur within some units of the proposed critical habitat designations (e.g., dams, pipelines) and may potentially be affected. We determined that consultations, technical assistance, and requests for species lists may be necessary in some instances. However, in our economic analysis, we did not find that these proposed critical habitat designations would significantly affect energy supplies, distribution, or use. Therefore, this action is not a significant energy action, and no Statement of Energy Effects is required. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (2 U.S.C. 1501 et seq.) In accordance with the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (2 U.S.C. 1501 et seq.), we make the following finding: (1) This proposed rule would not produce a Federal mandate. In general, a Federal mandate is a provision in legislation, statute, or regulation that would impose an enforceable duty upon State, local, or tribal governments, or the private sector, and includes both ‘‘Federal intergovernmental mandates’’ and ‘‘Federal private sector mandates.’’ These terms are defined in 2 U.S.C. 658(5)–(7). ‘‘Federal intergovernmental mandate’’ includes a regulation that ‘‘would impose an enforceable duty upon State, local, or tribal governments’’ with two exceptions. It excludes ‘‘a condition of Federal assistance.’’ It also excludes ‘‘a duty arising from participation in a voluntary Federal program,’’ unless the regulation ‘‘relates to a then-existing Federal program under which $500,000,000 or more is provided annually to State, local, and tribal governments under entitlement authority,’’ if the provision would ‘‘increase the stringency of conditions of assistance’’ or ‘‘place caps upon, or otherwise decrease, the Federal Government’s responsibility to provide funding,’’ and the State, local, or tribal governments ‘‘lack authority’’ to adjust accordingly. At the time of enactment, these entitlement programs were: Medicaid; Aid to Families with Dependent Children work programs; PO 00000 Frm 00044 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 Child Nutrition; Food Stamps; Social Services Block Grants; Vocational Rehabilitation State Grants; Foster Care, Adoption Assistance, and Independent Living; Family Support Welfare Services; and Child Support Enforcement. ‘‘Federal private sector mandate’’ includes a regulation that ‘‘would impose an enforceable duty upon the private sector, except (i) a condition of Federal assistance or (ii) a duty arising from participation in a voluntary Federal program.’’ The designation of critical habitat does not impose a legally binding duty on non-Federal Government entities or private parties. Under the Act, the only regulatory effect is that Federal agencies must ensure that their actions do not destroy or adversely modify critical habitat under section 7. While nonFederal entities that receive Federal funding, assistance, or permits, or that otherwise require approval or authorization from a Federal agency for an action, may be indirectly impacted by the designation of critical habitat, the legally binding duty to avoid destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat rests squarely on the Federal agency. Furthermore, to the extent that non-Federal entities are indirectly impacted because they receive Federal assistance or participate in a voluntary Federal aid program, the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act would not apply, nor would critical habitat shift the costs of the large entitlement programs listed above onto State governments. (2) We do not believe that this rule would significantly or uniquely affect small governments because it will not produce a Federal mandate of $100 million or greater in any year, that is, it is not a ‘‘significant regulatory action’’ under the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act. The designation of critical habitat imposes no obligations on State or local governments and, as such, a Small Government Agency Plan is not required. Therefore, a Small Government Agency Plan is not required. Takings—Executive Order 12630 In accordance with E.O. 12630 (Government Actions and Interference with Constitutionally Protected Private Property Rights), we have analyzed the potential takings implications of designating critical habitat for the longsolid and round hickorynut in a takings implications assessment. The Act does not authorize the Service to regulate private actions on private lands or confiscate private property as a result of critical habitat designation. Designation of critical habitat does not E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 affect land ownership, or establish any closures, or restrictions on use of or access to the designated areas. Furthermore, the designation of critical habitat does not affect landowner actions that do not require Federal funding or permits, nor does it preclude development of habitat conservation programs or issuance of incidental take permits to permit actions that do require Federal funding or permits to go forward. However, Federal agencies are prohibited from carrying out, funding, or authorizing actions that would destroy or adversely modify critical habitat. A takings implications assessment has been completed for the proposed designations of critical habitat for the longsolid and round hickorynut, and it concludes that, if adopted, these designations of critical habitat do not pose significant takings implications for lands within or affected by the designations. Federalism—Executive Order 13132 In accordance with E.O. 13132 (Federalism), this proposed rule does not have significant Federalism effects. A federalism summary impact statement is not required. In keeping with Department of the Interior and Department of Commerce policy, we requested information from, and coordinated development of these proposed critical habitat designations with, appropriate State resource agencies. From a federalism perspective, the designation of critical habitat directly affects only the responsibilities of Federal agencies. The Act imposes no other duties with respect to critical habitat, either for States and local governments, or for anyone else. As a result, the proposed rule does not have substantial direct effects either on the States, or on the relationship between the national government and the States, or on the distribution of powers and responsibilities among the various levels of government. The proposed designations may have some benefit to these governments because the areas that contain the features essential to the conservation of the species are more clearly defined, and the physical or biological features of the habitat necessary for the conservation of the species are specifically identified. This information does not alter where and what federally sponsored activities may occur. However, it may assist State and local governments in long-range planning because they no longer have to wait for case-by-case section 7 consultations to occur. Where State and local governments require approval or authorization from a Federal agency for actions that may VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 affect critical habitat, consultation under section 7(a)(2) of the Act would be required. While non-Federal entities that receive Federal funding, assistance, or permits, or that otherwise require approval or authorization from a Federal agency for an action, may be indirectly impacted by the designation of critical habitat, the legally binding duty to avoid destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat rests squarely on the Federal agency. Civil Justice Reform—Executive Order 12988 In accordance with Executive Order 12988 (Civil Justice Reform), the Office of the Solicitor has determined that the rule would not unduly burden the judicial system and that it meets the requirements of sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of the Order. We have proposed designating critical habitat in accordance with the provisions of the Act. To assist the public in understanding the habitat needs of the species, this proposed rule identifies the elements of physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the species. The proposed areas of designated critical habitat are presented on maps, and the proposed rule provides several options for the interested public to obtain more detailed location information, if desired. Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.) This rule does not contain information collection requirements, and a submission to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.) is not required. We may not conduct or sponsor and you are not required to respond to a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number. National Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) It is our position that, outside the jurisdiction of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, we do not need to prepare environmental analyses pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) in connection with designating critical habitat under the Act. We published a notice outlining our reasons for this determination in the Federal Register on October 25, 1983 (48 FR 49244). This position was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Douglas County v. Babbitt, 48 F.3d 1495 (9th Cir. 1995), cert. denied 516 U.S. 1042 (1996)). PO 00000 Frm 00045 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 61427 Government-to-Government Relationship With Tribes In accordance with the President’s memorandum of April 29, 1994 (Government-to-Government Relations with Native American Tribal Governments; 59 FR 22951), Executive Order 13175 (Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments), and the Department of the Interior’s manual at 512 DM 2, we readily acknowledge our responsibility to communicate meaningfully with recognized Federal Tribes on a government-to-government basis. In accordance with Secretarial Order 3206 of June 5, 1997 (American Indian Tribal Rights, Federal-Tribal Trust Responsibilities, and the Endangered Species Act), we readily acknowledge our responsibilities to work directly with tribes in developing programs for healthy ecosystems, to acknowledge that tribal lands are not subject to the same controls as Federal public lands, to remain sensitive to Indian culture, and to make information available to tribes. We have determined that no tribal lands fall within the boundaries of the proposed critical habitat designations for the longsolid and round hickorynut, so no tribal lands would be affected by the proposed designations. References Cited A complete list of references cited in the petition finding for the purple lilliput and this rulemaking for the longsolid and round hickorynut is available on the internet at http:// www.regulations.gov and upon request from the Asheville Ecological Services Field Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Authors The primary authors of this document are the staff members of the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Species Assessment Team, Ecological Services Program, and the Service’s Asheville Ecological Services Field Office. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17 Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Transportation. Proposed Regulation Promulgation Accordingly, we propose to amend part 17, subchapter B of chapter I, title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations, as set forth below: E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 61428 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules PART 17—ENDANGERED AND THREATENED WILDLIFE AND PLANTS Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1361–1407; 1531– 1544; and 4201–4245, unless otherwise noted. order under CLAMS to read as set forth below: 1. The authority citation for part 17 continues to read as follows: ■ 2. Amend § 17.11(h) by adding entries for ‘‘Hickorynut, round’’ and ‘‘Longsolid’’ to the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife in alphabetical § 17.11 Endangered and threatened wildlife. ■ Common name Scientific name * Where listed * * * * * * (h) * * * * * Listing citations and applicable rules Status * * * CLAMS Hickorynut, round ............ * * Obovaria subrotunda ...... * * Wherever found .............. * T * * [Federal Register citation when published as a final rule]; 50 CFR 17.45(d);4d 50 CFR 17.95(f).CH Longsolid ......................... * * Fusconaia subrotunda .... * * Wherever found .............. * T * * [Federal Register citation when published as a final rule]; 50 CFR 17.45(d);4d 50 CFR 17.95(f).CH * ■ 3. Revise § 17.45 to read as follows: § 17.45 jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 * Special rules—snails and clams. (a)–(c) [Reserved] (d) Longsolid (Fusconaia subrotunda) and round hickorynut (Obovaria subrotunda). (1) Prohibitions. The following prohibitions that apply to endangered wildlife also apply to the longsolid and round hickorynut. Except as provided under paragraph (d)(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 these species: (i) Import or export, as set forth at § 17.21(b) for endangered wildlife. (ii) Take, as set forth at § 17.21(c)(1) for endangered wildlife. (iii) Possession and other acts with unlawfully taken specimens, as set forth at § 17.21(d)(1) for endangered wildlife. (iv) Interstate or foreign commerce in the course of a commercial activity, as set forth at § 17.21(e) for endangered wildlife. (v) Sale or offer for sale, as set forth at § 17.21(f) for endangered wildlife. (2) Exceptions from prohibitions. In regard to these species, you may: (i) Conduct activities as authorized by a permit under § 17.32. (ii) Take, as set forth at § 17.21(c)(2) through (c)(4) for endangered wildlife. (iii) Take as set forth at § 17.31(b). (iv) Take incidental to an otherwise lawful activity caused by: VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 * * * (A) Conservation and restoration efforts for listed species by the Service or State wildlife agencies, including, but not limited to, collection of broodstock, tissue collection for genetic analysis, captive propagation, and subsequent stocking into unoccupied areas within the historical range of the species. (B) Channel restoration projects that create natural, physically stable, ecologically functioning streams (or stream and wetland systems). These projects can be accomplished using a variety of methods, but the desired outcome is a natural channel with low shear stress (force of water moving against the channel); bank heights that enable reconnection to the floodplain; connection of surface and groundwater systems, resulting in perennial flows in the channel; riffles and pools comprised of existing soil, rock, and wood instead of large imported materials; low compaction of soils within adjacent riparian areas; and inclusion of riparian wetlands. Streams reconstructed in this way would offer suitable habitats for the longsolid and round hickorynut and contain stable channel features, such as pools, glides, runs, and riffles, which could be used by the species and its host fish for spawning, rearing, growth, feeding, migration, and other normal behaviors. Prior to commencement of restoration actions, surveys to determine presence of the longsolid and round hickorynut must be performed, and if located, in coordination with the local Service field office, mussels must be relocated prior to project PO 00000 Frm 00046 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 * * implementation, and monitored postimplementation. To qualify under this exemption, a channel restoration project must satisfy all Federal, State, and local permitting requirements. (C) Bank restoration projects that use bioengineering methods to replace preexisting, bare, eroding stream banks with vegetated, stable stream banks, thereby reducing bank erosion and instream sedimentation and improving habitat conditions for the species. Following these bioengineering methods, stream banks may be stabilized using native species live stakes (live, vegetative cuttings inserted or tamped into the ground in a manner that allows the stake to take root and grow), native species live fascines (live branch cuttings, usually willows, bound together into long, cigar-shaped bundles), or native species brush layering (cuttings or branches of easily rooted tree species layered between successive lifts of soil fill). Bank restoration projects would require planting appropriate native vegetation, including woody species appropriate for the region and habitat. These methods will not include the sole use of quarried rock (rip-rap) or the use of rock baskets or gabion structures. Prior to commencement of bank stabilization actions, surveys to determine presence of longsolid and round hickorynut must be performed, and if located, in coordination with the local Service field office, mussels must be relocated prior to project implementation, and monitored post-implementation. To E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules qualify under this exemption, a bank restoration project must satisfy all Federal, State, and local permitting requirements. (v) Possess and engage in other acts with unlawfully taken wildlife, as set forth at § 17.21(d)(2) for endangered wildlife. ■ 4. Amend § 17.95(f) by: ■ a. Adding, immediately following the entry for ‘‘Carolina Heelsplitter (Lasmigona decorata),’’ an entry for ‘‘Round Hickorynut (Obovaria subrotunda)’’; and ■ b. Adding, immediately following the new entry for ‘‘Round Hickorynut (Obovaria subrotunda),’’ an entry for ‘‘Longsolid (Fusconaia subrotunda)’’. The additions read as follows: § 17.95 Critical habitat—fish and wildlife. * * * * (f) Clams and Snails. * * * * * Round Hickorynut (Obovaria subrotunda) (1) Critical habitat units for the round hickorynut are depicted on the maps in this entry for Jackson, Madison, and Marshall Counties, Alabama; Fulton, Marshall, Pulaski, and Starke Counties, Indiana; Bath, Butler, Campbell, Edmonson, Fleming, Green, Harrison, Hart, Kenton, Laurel, Morgan, Nicholas, Pendleton, Pulaski, Rockcastle, Robertson, Rowan, and Warren Counties, Kentucky; Montgomery County, Mississippi; Bedford, Marshall, and Maury Counties, Tennessee; Ashtabula, Lake, and Trumbull Counties, Ohio; Crawford and Mercer Counties, Pennsylvania; and Braxton, Calhoun, Clay, Doddridge, Fayette, Gilmer, Kanawha, Pleasants, Ritchie, Tyler, and Wood Counties, West Virginia. (2) Within these areas, the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the round hickorynut consist of the following components: (i) Adequate flows, or a hydrologic flow regime (magnitude, timing, frequency, duration, rate of change, and overall seasonality of discharge over time), necessary to maintain benthic habitats where the species are found jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 * VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 and to maintain stream connectivity, specifically providing for the exchange of nutrients and sediment for maintenance of the mussel’s and fish host’s habitat and food availability, maintenance of spawning habitat for native fishes, and the ability for newly transformed juveniles to settle and become established in their habitats. Adequate flows ensure delivery of oxygen, enable reproduction, deliver food to filter-feeding mussels, and reduce contaminants and fine sediments from interstitial spaces. Stream velocity is not static over time, and variations may be attributed to seasonal changes (with higher flows in winter/spring and lower flows in summer/fall), extreme weather events (e.g., drought or floods), or anthropogenic influence (e.g., flow regulation via impoundments). (ii) Suitable substrates and connected instream habitats, characterized by geomorphically stable stream channels and banks (i.e., channels that maintain lateral dimensions, longitudinal profiles, and sinuosity patterns over time without an aggrading or degrading bed elevation) with habitats that support a diversity of freshwater mussel and native fish (such as, stable riffle-runpool habitats that provide flow refuges consisting of predominantly silt-free, stable sand, gravel, and cobble substrates). (iii) Water and sediment quality necessary to sustain natural physiological processes for normal behavior, growth, and viability of all life stages, including (but not limited to): Dissolved oxygen (generally above 2 to 3 parts per million (ppm)), salinity (generally below 2 to 4 ppm), and temperature (generally below 86 °Fahrenheit (°F) (30 °Celsius (°C)). Additionally, water and sediment should be low in ammonia (generally below 0.5 ppm total ammonia-nitrogen) and heavy metal concentrations, and lack excessive total suspended solids and other pollutants. (iv) The presence and abundance of fish hosts necessary for recruitment of the round hickorynut (i.e., eastern sand darter (Ammocrypta pellucida), emerald darter (Etheostoma baileyi), greenside PO 00000 Frm 00047 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 61429 darter (E. blennioides), Iowa darter (E. exile), fantail darter (E. flabellare), Cumberland darter (E. susanae), spangled darter (E. obama), variegate darter (E. variatum), blackside darter (Percina maculata), frecklebelly darter (P. stictogaster), and banded sculpin (Cottus carolinae)). (3) Critical habitat does not include manmade structures (such as buildings, aqueducts, runways, roads, and other paved areas) and the land on which they are located existing within the legal boundaries on the effective date of this rule. (4) Critical habitat map units. Data layers defining map units were created by overlaying Natural Heritage Element Occurrence data and U.S. Geological Survey hydrologic data for stream reaches. The hydrologic data used in the critical habitat maps were extracted from the U.S. Geological Survey 1:1M scale nationwide hydrologic layer (https://www.usgs.gov/core-sciencesystems/ngp/national-hydrography) with a projection of EPSG:4269— NAD83 Geographic. Natural Heritage program and State mussel database species presence data from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi were used to select specific river and stream segments for inclusion in the critical habitat layer. The maps in this entry, as modified by any accompanying regulatory text, establish the boundaries of the critical habitat designation. The coordinates or plot points or both on which each map is based are available to the public at the Service’s internet site at https://www.fws.gov/Asheville/, at http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS–R4–ES–2020–0010, and at the field office responsible for this designation. You may obtain field office location information by contacting one of the Service regional offices, the addresses of which are listed at 50 CFR 2.2. (5) Note: Index map for the round hickorynut follows: BILLING CODE 4333–15–P E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules (6) Unit RH 1: Shenango River; Crawford and Mercer Counties, Pennsylvania. (i) General description: Unit RH 1 consists of 22 river miles (mi) (35.5 kilometers (km)) of the Shenango River in Crawford County, Pennsylvania, from VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 Pymatuning Dam downstream to the point of inundation by Shenango River Lake near Big Bend, Mercer County, Pennsylvania. Approximately 15 river mi (24.3 km; 68 percent) of riparian lands that border the unit are private ownership, and 7 river mi (11.1 km; 32 PO 00000 Frm 00048 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 percent) are public (Federal or State) ownership. This unit is immediately downstream from Pymatuning Dam, which is owned by the State of Pennsylvania. (ii) Map of Unit RH 1 follows: E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 EP29SE20.035</GPH> jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 61430 (7) Unit RH 2: Grand River; Ashtabula, Lake, and Trumbull Counties, Ohio. (i) General description: Unit RH 2 consists of 92 river mi (148.2 km) of the Grand River in Ashtabula, Lake, and Trumbull Counties, Ohio. Approximately 59 river mi (95.2 km; 64 percent) of riparian lands that border VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 the unit are private ownership, and 33 river mi (53 km; 36 percent) are public (State or local) ownership. The Grand River is a State Wild and Scenic River. The Wild River designation includes approximately 23 river mi (37 km) from the Harpersfield Covered Bridge downstream to the Norfolk and Western Railroad Trestle in Lake County, and PO 00000 Frm 00049 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 61431 approximately 33 mi (53 km) from the U.S. Route 322 Bridge in Ashtabula County downstream to the Harpersfield Covered Bridge. Harpersfield Dam within this unit is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. (ii) Map of Unit RH 2 follows: E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 EP29SE20.036</GPH> jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules (8) Unit RH 3: Tippecanoe River; Fulton, Marshall, Pulaski, and Starke Counties, Indiana. (i) General description: Unit RH 3 consists of 75 river mi (120.8 km) of the VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 Tippecanoe River in Fulton, Marshall, Pulaski, and Starke Counties, Indiana. Approximately 66 river mi (105.6 km; 89 percent) of riparian lands that border the unit are private ownership, and 9 PO 00000 Frm 00050 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 river mi (14.5 km; 11 percent) are public (State or easement) ownership. (ii) Map of Unit RH 3 follows: E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 EP29SE20.037</GPH> jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 61432 (9) Unit RH 4: Middle Island Creek; Doddridge, Pleasants, and Tyler Counties, West Virginia. (i) General description: Unit RH 4 consists of 75 stream mi (120.8 km) of VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 Middle Island Creek in Doddridge, Pleasants, and Tyler Counties, West Virginia. Approximately 74.8 stream mi (120.4 km; 99 percent) of riparian lands that border the unit are private PO 00000 Frm 00051 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 61433 ownership, and 0.2 stream mi (0.4 km; less than 1 percent) is public ownership. (ii) Map of Unit RH 4 follows: E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 EP29SE20.038</GPH> jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules (10) Unit RH 5: Little Kanawha River; Calhoun, Gilmer, Ritchie, and Wood Counties, West Virginia. (i) General description: Unit RH 5 consists of 110 stream mi (176.6 km) of the Little Kanawha River in Calhoun, VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 Gilmer, Ritchie, and Wood Counties, West Virginia. Approximately 109 river mi (175.4 km; 99 percent) of riparian lands that border the unit are private ownership, and 0.7 river mi (1.2 km; 1 percent) are public (Federal, State, or PO 00000 Frm 00052 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 local) ownership. This unit is directly below Burnsville Dam, which is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. (ii) Map of Unit RH 5 follows: E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 EP29SE20.039</GPH> jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 61434 (11) Unit RH 6: Elk River; Braxton, Clay, and Kanawha Counties, West Virginia. (i) General description: Unit RH 6 consists of 101 river mi (163 km) of the Elk River in Braxton, Clay, and VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 Kanawha Counties, West Virginia. Approximately 93 river mi (150.3 km; 92 percent) of riparian lands that border the unit are private ownership, and 7 river mi (12.7 km; 8 percent) are public (Federal, State, or local) ownership. PO 00000 Frm 00053 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 61435 This unit is immediately below Sutton Dam, which is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. (ii) Map of Unit RH 6 follows: E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 EP29SE20.040</GPH> jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules (12) Unit RH 7: Kanawha River; Fayette and Kanawha Counties, West Virginia. (i) General description: Unit RH 7 consists of 37.5 river mi (60.4 km) of the Kanawha River in Fayette and Kanawha VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 Counties, West Virginia. Approximately 33 river mi (53.2 km; 90 percent) of riparian lands that border the unit are private ownership, and 4 river mi (7.2 km; 10 percent) are public (Federal, State, or local) ownership. London and PO 00000 Frm 00054 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 Marmet locks and dams within this unit are operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. (ii) Map of Unit RH 7 follows: E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 EP29SE20.041</GPH> jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 61436 (13) Unit RH 8: Licking River; Bath, Campbell, Fleming, Harrison, Kenton, Morgan, Nicholas, Pendleton, Robertson, and Rowan Counties, Kentucky. (i) General description: Unit RH 8 consists of 150 river mi (241.9 km) of VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 the Licking River in Bath, Campbell, Fleming, Harrison, Kenton, Morgan, Nicholas, Pendleton, Robertson, and Rowan Counties, Kentucky. Approximately 131 river mi (211.8 km; 87 percent) of riparian lands that border the unit are private ownership, and 18 PO 00000 Frm 00055 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 61437 river mi (30 km; 13 percent) are public (Federal, State, or local) ownership. This unit is directly below Cave Run Dam, which is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. (ii) Map of Unit RH 8 follows: E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 EP29SE20.042</GPH> jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules (14) Unit RH 9: Rockcastle River; Laurel, Pulaski, and Rockcastle Counties, Kentucky. (i) General description: Unit RH 9 consists of 15.3 river mi (24.6 km) of the VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 Rockcastle River in Laurel, Pulaski, and Rockcastle Counties, Kentucky. Approximately 0.3 river mi (0.4 km; 1 percent) of riparian lands that border the unit is private ownership, and 15 PO 00000 Frm 00056 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 river mi (24.2 km; 99 percent) are public (Federal; Daniel Boone National Forest) ownership. (ii) Map of Unit RH 9 follows: E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 EP29SE20.043</GPH> jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 61438 (15) Unit RH 10: Buck Creek, Pulaski County, Kentucky. (i) General description: Unit RH 10 consists of 36 stream mi (58.1 km) of VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 Buck Creek in Pulaski County, Kentucky. Approximately 33 stream mi (52.6 km; 92 percent) of riparian lands that border the unit are private PO 00000 Frm 00057 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 61439 ownership, and 3 stream mi (5.5 km; 8 percent) are public (State or local) ownership. (ii) Map of Unit RH 10 follows: E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 EP29SE20.044</GPH> jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules (16) Unit RH 11: Green River; Hart, Edmonson, Green, Butler, and Warren Counties, Kentucky. (i) General description: Unit RH 11 consists of 98 river mi (157.7 km) of the Green River in Butler, Edmonson, VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 Green, Hart, and Warren Counties, Kentucky. Approximately 61 river mi (98.4 km; 62 percent) of riparian lands that border the unit are private ownership, and 37 river mi (59.4 km; 38 percent) are public (Federal or State) PO 00000 Frm 00058 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 ownership, including portions of Mammoth Cave National Park. This unit is located directly below Green River Lake Dam, which is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. (ii) Map of Unit RH 11 follows: E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 EP29SE20.045</GPH> jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 61440 (17) Unit RH 12: Paint Rock River; Jackson, Madison, and Marshall Counties, Alabama. (i) General description: Unit RH 12 consists of 48 river mi (77.5 km) of the VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 Paint Rock River in Jackson, Madison, and Marshall Counties, Alabama. Approximately 2 river mi (4.1 km; 2 percent) of riparian lands that border the unit are private ownership, and 46 PO 00000 Frm 00059 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 61441 river mi (73.4 km; 98 percent) are public (Federal or State) ownership. (ii) Map of Unit RH 12 follows: E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 EP29SE20.046</GPH> jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules (18) Unit RH 13: Duck River; Bedford, Marshall, and Maury Counties, Tennessee. (i) General description: Unit RH 13 consists of 59 river mi (94.8 km) of the VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 Duck River in Bedford, Marshall, and Maury Counties, Tennessee. Approximately 27 river mi (43.7 km; 47 percent) of riparian lands that border the unit are private ownership, and 32 PO 00000 Frm 00060 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 river mi (51.1 km; 53 percent) are public (State or local) ownership. (ii) Map of Unit RH 13 follows: E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 EP29SE20.047</GPH> jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 61442 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 (i) General description: Unit RH 14 consists of 4 river mi (7 km) of the Big Black River in Montgomery County, PO 00000 Frm 00061 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 Mississippi. All of riparian lands that border the unit are private ownership. (ii) Map of Unit RH 14 follows: E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 EP29SE20.048</GPH> jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 (19) Unit RH 14: Big Black River, Montgomery County, Mississippi. 61443 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 BILLING CODE 4333–15–C? * * * * * Longsolid (Fusconaia subrotunda) (1) Critical habitat units for the longsolid are depicted on the maps in this entry for Jackson, Madison, and Marshall Counties, Alabama; Bath, Butler, Campbell, Edmonson, Fleming, Green, Harrison, Hart, Kenton, Morgan, Nicholas, Pendleton, Robertson, Rowan, VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 Taylor, and Warren Counties, Kentucky; Clarion, Crawford, Erie, Forest, Mercer, Venango, and Warren Counties, Pennsylvania; Claiborne, Hancock, Hawkins, Smith, Trousdale, and Wilson Counties, Tennessee; Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise Counties, Virginia; and Braxton, Calhoun, Clay, Doddridge, Fayette, Gilmer, Kanawha, Ritchie, PO 00000 Frm 00062 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 Tyler, and Wood Counties, West Virginia. (2) Within these areas, the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the longsolid consist of the following components: (i) Adequate flows, or a hydrologic flow regime (magnitude, timing, frequency, duration, rate of change, and overall seasonality of discharge over E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 EP29SE20.049</GPH> 61444 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 time), necessary to maintain benthic habitats where the species are found and to maintain stream connectivity, specifically providing for the exchange of nutrients and sediment for maintenance of the mussel’s and fish host’s habitat and food availability, maintenance of spawning habitat for native fishes, and the ability for newly transformed juveniles to settle and become established in their habitats. Adequate flows ensure delivery of oxygen, enable reproduction, deliver food to filter-feeding mussels, and reduce contaminants and fine sediments from interstitial spaces. Stream velocity is not static over time, and variations may be attributed to seasonal changes (with higher flows in winter/spring and lower flows in summer/fall), extreme weather events (e.g., drought or floods), or anthropogenic influence (e.g., flow regulation via impoundments). (ii) Suitable substrates and connected instream habitats, characterized by geomorphically stable stream channels and banks (i.e., channels that maintain lateral dimensions, longitudinal profiles, and sinuosity patterns over time without an aggrading or degrading bed elevation) with habitats that support a diversity of freshwater mussel and native fish (such as, stable riffle-runpool habitats that provide flow refuges consisting of predominantly silt-free, VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 stable sand, gravel, and cobble substrates). (iii) Water and sediment quality necessary to sustain natural physiological processes for normal behavior, growth, and viability of all life stages, including (but not limited to): Dissolved oxygen (generally above 2 to 3 parts per million (ppm)), salinity (generally below 2 to 4 ppm), and temperature (generally below 86 °Fahrenheit (°F) (30 °Celsius (°C)). Additionally, water and sediment should be low in ammonia (generally below 0.5 ppm total ammonia-nitrogen) and heavy metal concentrations, and lack excessive total suspended solids and other pollutants. (iv) The presence and abundance of fish hosts necessary for recruitment of the longsolid (currently unknown, likely includes the minnows of the family Cyprinidae, and banded sculpin (Cottus carolinae)). (3) Critical habitat does not include manmade structures (such as buildings, aqueducts, runways, roads, and other paved areas) and the land on which they are located existing within the legal boundaries on the effective date of the rule. (4) Critical habitat map units. Data layers defining map units were created by overlaying Natural Heritage Element Occurrence data and U.S. Geological PO 00000 Frm 00063 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 61445 Survey hydrologic data for stream reaches. The hydrologic data used in the critical habitat maps were extracted from the U.S. Geological Survey 1:1M scale nationwide hydrologic layer (https://www.usgs.gov/core-sciencesystems/ngp/national-hydrography) with a projection of EPSG:4269— NAD83 Geographic. Natural Heritage program and State mussel database species presence data from Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Alabama were used to select specific river and stream segments for inclusion in the critical habitat layer. The maps in this entry, as modified by any accompanying regulatory text, establish the boundaries of the critical habitat designation. The coordinates or plot points or both on which each map is based are available to the public at the Service’s internet site at https://www.fws.gov/Asheville/, at http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS–R4–ES–2020–0010, and at the field office responsible for this designation. You may obtain field office location information by contacting one of the Service regional offices, the addresses of which are listed at 50 CFR 2.2. (5) Note: Index map for the longsolid follows: BILLING CODE 4333–15–P E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules (6) Unit LS 1: French Creek; Crawford, Erie, Mercer, and Venango Counties, Pennsylvania. (i) General description: Unit LS 1 consists of 120 stream mi (191.5 km) of French Creek in Crawford, Erie, Mercer, VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 and Venango Counties, Pennsylvania. Approximately 106 stream mi (170.6 km; 76 percent) of riparian lands that border the unit are private ownership, and 14 stream mi (22.1 km; 24 percent) are public (Federal or State) ownership. PO 00000 Frm 00064 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 This unit begins immediately downstream of the Union City Dam, which is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. (ii) Map of Unit LS 1 follows: E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 EP29SE20.050</GPH> jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 61446 (7) Unit LS 2: Allegheny River; Clarion, Crawford, Forest, Venango, and Warren Counties, Pennsylvania. (i) General description: Unit LS 2 consists of 99 river mi (159.3 km) of the Allegheny River in Clarion, Crawford, VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 Forest, Venango, and Warren Counties, Pennsylvania. Approximately 15 river mi (24.1 km; 14 percent) of riparian lands that border the unit are private ownership, and 84 river mi (135.8 km; 86 percent) are public (Federal or State; PO 00000 Frm 00065 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 61447 primarily Allegheny National Forest) ownership. This unit is immediately downstream of Kinzua Dam, which is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. (ii) Map of Unit LS 2 follows: E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 EP29SE20.051</GPH> jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules (8) Unit LS 3: Shenango River, Crawford and Mercer Counties, Pennsylvania. (i) General description: Unit LS 3 consists of 22 river miles (mi) (35.5 kilometers (km)) of the Shenango River in Crawford County, Pennsylvania, from VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 Pymatuning Dam downstream to the point of inundation by Shenango River Lake near Big Bend, Mercer County, Pennsylvania. Approximately 15 river mi (24.3 km; 68 percent) of riparian lands that border the unit are private ownership, and 7 river mi (11.3 km; 32 PO 00000 Frm 00066 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 percent) are public (Federal or State) ownership. This unit is immediately downstream from the Pymatuning Dam, which is owned by the State of Pennsylvania. (ii) Map of Unit LS 3 follows: E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 EP29SE20.052</GPH> jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 61448 (9) Unit LS 4: Middle Island Creek; Doddridge and Tyler Counties, West Virginia. (i) General description: Unit LS 4 consists of 14 stream mi (23.7 km) of VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 Middle Island Creek in Doddridge and Tyler Counties, West Virginia. Approximately 14 stream mi (23.5 km; 99 percent) of riparian lands that border the unit are private ownership, and 0.1 PO 00000 Frm 00067 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 61449 stream mi (0.2 km; less than 1 percent) are public (local) ownership. (ii) Map of Unit LS 4 follows: E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 EP29SE20.053</GPH> jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules (10) Unit LS 5: Little Kanawha River; Calhoun, Gilmer, Ritchie, and Wood Counties, West Virginia. (i) General description: Unit LS 5 consists of 123 river mi (198 km) of the VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 Little Kanawha River in Calhoun, Gilmer, Ritchie, and Wood Counties, West Virginia. Approximately 122 river mi (197.2 km; 99 percent) are private ownership, and 0.5 river mi (0.9 km; 1 PO 00000 Frm 00068 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 percent) are public (Federal or State) ownership. This unit is directly below the Burnsville Dam, which is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. (ii) Map of Unit LS 5 follows: E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 EP29SE20.054</GPH> jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 61450 (11) Unit LS 6: Elk River; Braxton, Clay, and Kanawha Counties, West Virginia. (i) General description: Unit LS 6 consists of 101 river mi (163 km) of the Elk River in Braxton, Clay, and VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 Kanawha Counties, West Virginia. Approximately 93 river mi (150.3 km; 92 percent) of riparian lands that border the unit are private ownership, and 7 river mi (12.7 km; 8 percent) are public (Federal, State, or local) ownership. PO 00000 Frm 00069 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 61451 This unit is directly below Sutton Dam, which is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. (ii) Map of Unit LS 6 follows: E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 EP29SE20.055</GPH> jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules (12) Unit LS 7: Kanawha River; Fayette and Kanawha Counties, West Virginia. (i) General description: Unit LS 7 consists of 21 river mi (33.9 km) of the Kanawha River in Fayette and Kanawha VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 Counties, West Virginia. Approximately 18 river mi (29.3 km; 90 percent) of riparian lands that border the unit are private ownership, and 2 river mi (4.6 km; 10 percent) are public (Federal, State, or local) ownership. London and PO 00000 Frm 00070 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 Marmet locks and dams within this unit are operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. (ii) Map of Unit LS 7 follows: E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 EP29SE20.056</GPH> jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 61452 (13) Unit LS 8: Licking River; Bath, Campbell, Fleming, Harrison, Kenton, Morgan, Nicholas, Pendleton, Robertson, and Rowan Counties, Kentucky. (i) General description: Unit LS 8 consists of 181 river mi (291.5 km) of VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 the Licking River in Bath, Campbell, Fleming, Harrison, Kenton, Morgan, Nicholas, Pendleton, Robertson, and Rowan Counties, Kentucky. Approximately 161 river mi (259.7 km; 90 percent) of riparian lands that border the unit are private ownership, and 19 PO 00000 Frm 00071 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 61453 river mi (31.7 km; 10 percent) are public (Federal, State, or local) ownership. This unit is directly below Cave Run Dam, which is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. (ii) Map of Unit LS 8 follows: E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 EP29SE20.057</GPH> jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules (14) Unit LS 9: Green River; Butler, Edmonson, Green, Hart, Taylor, and Warren Counties, Kentucky. (i) General description: Unit LS 9 consists of 156 river mi (251.6 km) of the Green River in Butler, Edmonson, VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 Green, Hart, Taylor, and Warren Counties, Kentucky. Approximately 105 river mi (169.2 km; 67 percent) of riparian lands that border the unit are private ownership, and 51 river mi (82.4 km; 33 percent) are public (Federal, PO 00000 Frm 00072 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 State, or local) ownership, including Mammoth Cave National Park. This unit is directly below Green River Dam, which is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. (ii) Map of Unit LS 9 follows: E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 EP29SE20.058</GPH> jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 61454 (15) Unit LS 10: Cumberland River; Smith, Trousdale, and Wilson Counties, Tennessee. (i) General description: Unit LS 10 consists of 48 river mi (77.5 km) of the Cumberland River in Smith, Trousdale, VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 and Wilson Counties, Tennessee. All riparian lands that border the river are owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Federal; 48 river mi (77.5 km)). This unit also falls within the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency PO 00000 Frm 00073 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 61455 Rome Landing Sanctuary. Cordell Hull and Old Hickory Dams, upstream and downstream of this unit, respectively, are operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. (ii) Map of Unit LS 10 follows: E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 EP29SE20.059</GPH> jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules (16) Unit LS 11: Clinch River; Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise Counties, Virginia; Claiborne, Hancock, and Hawkins Counties, Tennessee. (i) General description: Unit LS 11 consists of 177 river mi (286.1 km) of the Clinch River in Russell, Scott, VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 Tazewell, and Wise Counties, Virginia, and Claiborne, Hancock, and Hawkins Counties, Tennessee. Approximately 160 river mi (258.8 km; 90 percent) of riparian lands that border the unit are private ownership, and 17 river mi (27.3 km; 10 percent) are public (Federal or PO 00000 Frm 00074 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 State) ownership. The Tennessee portion of this unit is encompassed by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Clinch River Sanctuary. (ii) Map of Unit LS 11 follows: E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 EP29SE20.060</GPH> jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 61456 (17) Unit LS 12: Paint Rock River; Jackson, Madison, and Marshall Counties, Alabama. (i) General description: Unit LS 12 consists of 58 river mi (94.5 km) of the VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 Paint Rock River in Jackson, Madison, and Marshall Counties, Alabama. Approximately 2 river mi (4.1 km; 3 percent) of riparian lands that border the unit are private ownership, and 56 PO 00000 Frm 00075 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 61457 river mi (90.4 km; 97 percent) are public (Federal or State) ownership. (ii) Map of Unit LS 12 follows: E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 EP29SE20.061</GPH> jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules 61458 * * * * Aurelia Skipwith, Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. [FR Doc. 2020–17015 Filed 9–28–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–C VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:20 Sep 28, 2020 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00076 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 9990 E:\FR\FM\29SEP2.SGM 29SEP2 EP29SE20.062</GPH> jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS2 * Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / Proposed Rules

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 189 (Tuesday, September 29, 2020)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 61384-61458]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-17015]



[[Page 61383]]

Vol. 85

Tuesday,

No. 189

September 29, 2020

Part III





Department of the Interior





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Fish and Wildlife Service





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50 CFR Part 17





Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12-Month Finding for 
Purple Lilliput; Threatened Species Status With Section 4(d) Rule for 
Longsolid and Round Hickorynut and Designation of Critical Habitat; 
Proposed Rule

Federal Register / Vol. 85 , No. 189 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 / 
Proposed Rules

[[Page 61384]]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[Docket No. FWS-R4-ES-2020-0010; FF09E21000 FXES11110900000 201]
RIN 1018-BD32


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12-Month Finding 
for Purple Lilliput; Threatened Species Status With Section 4(d) Rule 
for Longsolid and Round Hickorynut and Designation of Critical Habitat

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule; announcement of 12-month findings.

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SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce 12-
month findings on a petition to list the purple lilliput (Toxolasma 
lividum), longsolid (Fusconaia subrotunda), and round hickorynut 
(Obovaria subrotunda) freshwater mussels as endangered or threatened 
species and to designate critical habitat under the Endangered Species 
Act of 1973, as amended (Act). We find that listing the longsolid and 
round hickorynut is warranted. Accordingly, we propose to list the 
longsolid and round hickorynut as threatened species with a rule issued 
under section 4(d) of the Act (``4(d) rule''). If we finalize this rule 
as proposed, it would add these species to the List of Endangered and 
Threatened Wildlife and extend the Act's protections to the species. We 
also propose to designate critical habitat for the longsolid and round 
hickorynut under the Act. For the longsolid, approximately 1,115 river 
miles (1,794 kilometers), all of which is occupied by the species, in 
Pennsylvania, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, and Alabama 
fall within the boundaries of the proposed critical habitat 
designation. For the round hickorynut, approximately 921 river miles 
(1,482 kilometers), all of which is occupied by the species, in 
Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee, 
Alabama, and Mississippi fall within the boundaries of the proposed 
critical habitat designation. Finally, we announce the availability of 
a draft economic analysis of the proposed designation of critical 
habitat for the longsolid and round hickorynut. After a thorough review 
of the best available scientific and commercial information, we find 
that it is not warranted at this time to list the purple lilliput. We 
ask the public to submit to us at any time new information relevant to 
the status of purple lilliput or its habitat.

DATES: For the proposed rule to list and designate critical habitat for 
the longsolid and round hickorynut, we will accept comments received or 
postmarked on or before December 28, 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 November 13, 2020. 
Petition finding for the purple lilliput: For the purple lilliput, the 
finding in this document was made on September 29, 2020.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by one of the following methods:
    (1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter FWS-R4-ES-2020-0010, 
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, check 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 to: Public Comments 
Processing, Attn: FWS-R4-ES-2020-0010, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 
MS: PRB/3W, 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 Information Requested, below, for more information).
    Availability of supporting materials: For the critical habitat 
designation, the coordinates or plot points or both from which the maps 
are generated are included in the administrative record and are 
available at https://www.fws.gov/Asheville/ and at http://www.regulations.gov under Docket No. FWS-R4-ES-2020-0010. Any 
additional tools or supporting information that we may develop for the 
critical habitat designation will also be available at the Service 
website set out above, and may also be included in the preamble and/or 
at http://www.regulations.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Janet Mizzi, Field Supervisor, U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, Asheville Ecological Services Field Office, 
160 Zillicoa St., Asheville, NC 28801; telephone 828-258-3939. 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 we determine that 
a species is an endangered or threatened species throughout all or a 
significant portion of its range, we are required to promptly publish a 
proposal in the Federal Register and make a determination on our 
proposal within one year. To the maximum extent prudent and 
determinable, we must designate critical habitat for any species that 
we determine to be an endangered or threatened species under the Act. 
Listing a species as an endangered or threatened species and 
designation of critical habitat can only be completed by issuing a 
rule.
    What this document does. We find that listing the purple lilliput 
as an endangered or threatened species is not warranted. We propose to 
list the longsolid and round hickorynut as threatened species with a 
rule under section 4(d) of the Act, and we propose the designation of 
critical habitat for these two species.
    The basis for our action. Under the Act, we may determine that a 
species is an endangered or threatened species because of any of five 
factors: (A) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or 
curtailment of its habitat or range; (B) overutilization for 
commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes; (C) 
disease or predation; (D) the inadequacy of existing regulatory 
mechanisms; or (E) other natural or manmade factors affecting its 
continued existence. We have determined that threats to the longsolid 
and round hickorynut include habitat degradation or loss from a variety 
of sources (e.g., dams and other barriers, resource extraction); 
degraded water quality from chemical contamination and erosion from 
development, agriculture, mining, and timber operations; direct 
mortality from dredging; residual impacts (reduced population size) 
from historical harvest; and the proliferation of invasive, nonnative 
species. These threats also contribute to the negative effects 
associated with the species' small population size.
    Section 4(a)(3) of the Act requires the Secretary of the Interior 
(Secretary) to designate critical habitat concurrent with listing to 
the maximum extent prudent and determinable. Section

[[Page 61385]]

3(5)(A) of the Act defines critical habitat as (i) the specific areas 
within the geographical area occupied by the species, at the time it is 
listed, on which are found those physical or biological features (I) 
essential to the conservation of the species and (II) which may require 
special management considerations or protections; and (ii) specific 
areas outside the geographical area occupied by the species at the time 
it is listed, upon a determination by the Secretary that such areas are 
essential for the conservation of the species. Section 4(b)(2) of the 
Act states that the Secretary must make the designation on the basis of 
the best scientific data available and after taking into consideration 
the economic impact, the impact on national security, and any other 
relevant impacts of specifying any particular area as critical habitat.
    Peer review. In accordance with our joint policy on peer review 
published in the Federal Register on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 34270), and 
our August 22, 2016, memorandum updating and clarifying the role of 
peer review of listing actions under the Act, we sought the expert 
opinions of 10 appropriate specialists regarding the purple lilliput 
species status assessment (SSA) report, 11 regarding the longsolid SSA 
report, and 10 regarding the round hickorynut SSA report. We received 
responses from three, none, and one specialists, respectively; feedback 
we received informed our findings and this proposed rule. The purpose 
of peer review is to ensure that our listing determinations, critical 
habitat designations, and 4(d) rules are based on scientifically sound 
data, assumptions, and analyses. The peer reviewers have expertise in 
the biology, habitat, and threats to the species.
    Because we will consider all comments and information we receive 
during the comment period, our final determinations for the longsolid 
and round hickorynut may differ from this proposal. Based on the new 
information we receive (and any comments on that new information), we 
may conclude that either the longsolid or round hickorynut are 
endangered instead of threatened, or we may conclude that either 
species does not warrant listing as either an endangered species or a 
threatened species. Such final decisions would be a logical outgrowth 
of this proposal, as long as we: (1) Base the decisions on the best 
scientific and commercial data available after considering all of the 
relevant factors; (2) do not rely on factors Congress has not intended 
us to consider; and (3) articulate a rational connection between the 
facts found and the conclusions made, including why we changed our 
conclusion.

Acronyms and Abbreviations Used

    We use several acronyms and abbreviations throughout the preamble 
of this finding and proposed rule. To assist the reader, we list them 
here:

Act = Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et 
seq.)
AMD = acid mine and saline drainage
BMP = best management practice
CBD = Center for Biological Diversity
DEA = draft economic analysis
IEM = incremental effects memorandum
HUC = hydrologic unit code
LS = longsolid
ppm = parts per million
RFA = Regulatory Flexibility Act
RH = round hickorynut
SSA = species status assessment
TDEC = Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation
TVA = Tennessee Valley Authority

Information Requested

    For the purple lilliput, we ask the public to submit to us at any 
time new information relevant to the species' status or its habitat.
    For the longsolid and round hickorynut, we intend that any final 
action resulting from this proposed rule will be based on the best 
scientific and commercial data available and be as accurate and as 
effective as possible. Therefore, we request comments or information 
from other concerned governmental agencies, Native American tribes, the 
scientific community, industry, or any other interested parties 
concerning this proposed rule.
    We particularly seek comments concerning:
    (1) The species' biology, range, and population trends, including:
    (a) Biological or ecological requirements of the species, including 
habitat requirements for feeding, breeding, and sheltering;
    (b) Genetics and taxonomy;
    (c) Historical and current range, including distribution patterns;
    (d) Historical and current population levels, and current and 
projected trends; and
    (e) Past and ongoing conservation measures for the species, their 
habitats, or both.
    (2) Factors that may affect the continued existence of the species, 
which may include habitat modification or destruction, overutilization, 
disease, predation, the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms, 
or other natural or manmade factors.
    (3) Biological, commercial trade, or other relevant data concerning 
any threats (or lack thereof) to the species and existing regulations 
that may be addressing those threats.
    (4) Additional information concerning the historical and current 
status, range, distribution, and population size of this species, 
including the locations of any additional populations of this species.
    (5) Information on regulations that are necessary and advisable to 
provide for the conservation of the longsolid and round hickorynut, and 
that the Service can consider in developing a 4(d) rule for the 
species. In particular, we seek information concerning the extent to 
which we should include any of the section 9 prohibitions in the 4(d) 
rule or whether any other forms of take should be excepted from the 
prohibitions in the 4(d) rule.
    (6) The reasons why we should or should not designate habitat as 
``critical habitat'' under section 4 of the Act, including information 
to inform the following factors that the regulations identify as 
reasons why designation of critical habitat may be not prudent:
    (a) The species is threatened by taking or other human activity and 
identification of critical habitat can be expected to increase the 
degree of such threat to the species;
    (b) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or 
curtailment of a species' habitat or range is not a threat to the 
species, or threats to the species' habitat stem solely from causes 
that cannot be addressed through management actions resulting from 
consultations under section 7(a)(2) of the Act;
    (c) Areas within the jurisdiction of the United States provide no 
more than negligible conservation value, if any, for a species 
occurring primarily outside the jurisdiction of the United States; or
    (d) No areas meet the definition of critical habitat.
    (7) Specific information on:
    (a) The amount and distribution of longsolid or round hickorynut 
habitat;
    (b) What areas, that were occupied at the time of listing and that 
contain the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of the species, should be included in the designation and 
why;
    (c) Special management considerations or protection that may be 
needed in critical habitat areas we are proposing, including managing 
for the potential effects of climate change; and
    (d) What areas not occupied at the time of listing are essential 
for the conservation of the species. We particularly seek comments:
    (i) Regarding whether occupied areas are inadequate for the 
conservation of the species; and

[[Page 61386]]

    (ii) Providing specific information regarding whether or not 
unoccupied areas would, with reasonable certainty, contribute to the 
conservation of the species and contain at least one physical or 
biological feature essential to the conservation of the species.
    (8) Land use designations and current or planned activities in the 
subject areas and their possible impacts on proposed critical habitat.
    (9) Any probable economic, national security, or other relevant 
impacts of designating any area that may be included in the final 
designation, and the related benefits of including or excluding 
specific areas.
    (10) Information on the extent to which the description of probable 
economic impacts in the draft economic analysis is a reasonable 
estimate of the likely economic impacts (i.e., incremental impacts 
estimated to be less than $327,000 per year for the next 10 years).
    (11) Whether any specific areas we are proposing for critical 
habitat designation should be considered for exclusion under section 
4(b)(2) of the Act, and whether the benefits of potentially excluding 
any specific area outweigh the benefits of including that area under 
section 4(b)(2) of the Act.
    (12) Whether we could improve or modify our approach to designating 
critical habitat in any way to provide for greater public participation 
and understanding, or to better accommodate public concerns and 
comments.
    Please include sufficient information with your submission (such as 
scientific journal articles or other publications) to allow us to 
verify any scientific or commercial information you include.
    Please note that submissions merely stating support for, or 
opposition to, the action under consideration without providing 
supporting information, although noted, will not be considered in 
making a determination, as section 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act directs that 
determinations as to whether any species is an endangered or 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.

Public Hearing

    Section 4(b)(5) of the Act provides for a public hearing on this 
proposal for the longsolid and round hickorynut, if requested. We must 
receive requests for a public hearing, in writing, at 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. For the immediate future, we will provide these public 
hearings using webinars that will be announced on the Service's 
website, in addition to the Federal Register. The use of these virtual 
public hearings is consistent with our regulations at 50 CFR 
424.16(c)(3).

Previous Federal Actions

    On April 20, 2010, we received a petition from the Center for 
Biological Diversity (CBD), Alabama Rivers Alliance, Clinch Coalition, 
Dogwood Alliance, Gulf Restoration Network, Tennessee Forests Council, 
and West Virginia Highlands Conservancy (referred to below as the CBD 
petition) to list 404 aquatic, riparian, and wetland species, including 
the purple lilliput, longsolid, and round hickorynut, as endangered or 
threatened species under the Act. On September 27, 2011, we published a 
90-day finding that the petition contained substantial information 
indicating listing may be warranted for these three species (76 FR 
59836).
    On April 17, 2019, CBD filed a complaint challenging the Service's 
failure to complete 12-month findings for these species within the 
statutory deadline. The Service and CBD reached a stipulated settlement 
agreement whereby the Service agreed to deliver 12-month findings for 
purple lilliput, longsolid, and round hickorynut to the Office of the 
Federal Register by June 30, 2020. Subsequently, we requested a 30-day 
extension that was approved by CBD and granted by the Court on May 12, 
2020, whereby the Service would deliver 12-month findings to the Office 
of the Federal Register by July 30, 2020. This document constitutes our 
12-month finding on the April 20, 2010, petition to list the purple 
lilliput, longsolid, and round hickorynut under the Act, and complies 
with the October 11, 2019, stipulated settlement agreement and May 12, 
2020, extension.

Supporting Documents

    An SSA team prepared SSA reports for the purple lilliput, 
longsolid, and round hickorynut. The SSA team was composed of Service 
biologists, in consultation with other species experts. The SSA reports 
represent a compilation of the best scientific and commercial data 
available concerning the status of these species, including the impacts 
of past, present, and future factors (both negative and beneficial) 
affecting these species. As discussed above under Peer review, we 
solicited appropriate peer review of all three of the species' SSA 
reports. In addition, we sent the draft SSA reports for review to 
Federal partners, State partners, and scientists with expertise in 
aquatic ecology and freshwater mussel biology, taxonomy, and 
conservation. Although we notified tribal nations early in the SSA 
process for these species, we did not receive any information or 
comments regarding these species on tribal lands in the United States. 
The round hickorynut SSA report was also shared with the Canadian 
government and the Walpole Islands First National Indian Reservation in 
Canada.

I. Finding for Purple Lilliput

    Under section 4(b)(3)(B) of the Act, we are required to make a 
finding whether or not a petitioned action is warranted within 12 
months after receiving any petition that we have determined contains 
substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the 
petitioned action may be warranted (``12-month finding''). We must make 
a finding that the petitioned action is: (1) Not warranted; (2) 
warranted; or (3) warranted but precluded. ``Warranted but precluded'' 
means that (a) the petitioned action is warranted, but the immediate 
proposal of a regulation implementing the petitioned action is 
precluded by other pending proposals to determine whether species are 
endangered or threatened species, and (b) expeditious progress is being 
made to add qualified species to the Lists of Endangered and Threatened 
Wildlife and Plants (Lists) and to remove from the Lists species for 
which the protections of the Act are no longer necessary. Section 
4(b)(3)(C) of the Act requires that, when we find that a

[[Page 61387]]

petitioned action is warranted but precluded, we treat the petition as 
though resubmitted on the date of such finding, that is, requiring that 
a subsequent finding be made within 12 months of that date. We must 
publish these 12-month findings in the Federal Register.

Summary of Information Pertaining to the Five Factors

    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 is an ``endangered species'' or a ``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 any species is an ``endangered species'' or a 
``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.
    These factors represent broad categories of natural or human-caused 
actions or conditions that could have an effect on a species' continued 
existence. In evaluating these actions and conditions, we look for 
those that may have a negative effect on individuals of the species, as 
well as other actions or conditions that may ameliorate any negative 
effects or may have positive effects.
    We use the term ``threat'' to refer in general to actions or 
conditions that are known to or are reasonably likely to negatively 
affect individuals of a species. The term ``threat'' includes actions 
or conditions that have a direct impact on individuals (direct 
impacts), as well as those that affect individuals through alteration 
of their habitat or required resources (stressors). The term ``threat'' 
may encompass--either together or separately--the source of the action 
or condition or the action or condition itself.
    However, the mere identification of any threat(s) does not 
necessarily mean that the species meets the statutory definition of an 
``endangered species'' or a ``threatened species.'' In determining 
whether a species meets either definition, we must evaluate all 
identified threats by considering the expected response by the species, 
and the effects of the threats--in light of those actions and 
conditions that will ameliorate the threats--on an individual, 
population, and species level. We evaluate each threat and its expected 
effects on the species, then analyze the cumulative effect of all of 
the threats on the species as a whole. We also consider the cumulative 
effect of the threats in light of those actions and conditions that 
will have positive effects on the species, such as any existing 
regulatory mechanisms or conservation efforts. The Secretary determines 
whether the species meets the definition of an ``endangered species'' 
or a ``threatened species'' only after conducting this cumulative 
analysis and describing the expected effect on the species now and in 
the foreseeable future.
    The Act does not define the term ``foreseeable future,'' which 
appears in the statutory definition of ``threatened species.'' Our 
implementing regulations at 50 CFR 424.11(d) set forth a framework for 
evaluating the foreseeable future on a case-by-case basis. The term 
``foreseeable future'' extends only so far into the future as the 
Services can reasonably determine that both the future threats and the 
species' responses to those threats are likely. In other words, the 
foreseeable future is the period of time in which we can make reliable 
predictions. ``Reliable'' does not mean ``certain''; it means 
sufficient to provide a reasonable degree of confidence in the 
prediction. Thus, a prediction is reliable if it is reasonable to 
depend on it when making decisions.
    It is not always possible or necessary to define foreseeable future 
as a particular number of years. Analysis of the foreseeable future 
uses the best scientific and commercial data available and should 
consider the timeframes applicable to the relevant threats and to the 
species' likely responses to those threats in view of its life-history 
characteristics. Data that are typically relevant to assessing the 
species' biological response include species-specific factors such as 
lifespan, reproductive rates or productivity, certain behaviors, and 
other demographic factors.
    In conducting our evaluation of the five factors provided in 
section 4(a)(1) of the Act to determine whether the purple lilliput 
(Toxolasma lividum; Service 2020a, entire) currently meets the 
definition of ``endangered species'' or ``threatened species,'' we 
considered and thoroughly evaluated the best scientific and commercial 
data available regarding the past, present, and future stressors and 
threats. We reviewed the petition, information available in our files, 
and other available published and unpublished information. This 
evaluation may include information from recognized experts; Federal, 
State, and tribal governments; academic institutions; private entities; 
and other members of the public. After comprehensive assessment of the 
best scientific and commercial data available, we determined that the 
purple lilliput does not meet the definition of an endangered or a 
threatened species.
    The species assessment for the purple lilliput contains more 
detailed biological information, a thorough analysis of the listing 
factors, and an explanation of why we determined that this species does 
not meet the definition of an endangered species or a threatened 
species. This supporting information can be found on the internet at 
http://www.regulations.gov under docket number FWS-R4-ES-2020-0010. The 
following is an informational summary for the purple lilliput finding 
in this document.

Summary of Finding

    The purple lilliput is a freshwater mussel that belongs to the 
order Unionida, also known as the naiads and pearly mussels. Purple 
lilliput adult mussels are small, with a relatively thick, inflated, 
oval shell (up to 1.5 inches (in) (38 millimeters (mm)) (Williams et 
al. 2008, p. 719), and the shell typically darkens with age. The 
species is currently found in the Great Lakes, Ohio, Cumberland, 
Tennessee, Arkansas-White-Red, and Lower Mississippi major river 
basins, within the States of Alabama, Kentucky, Missouri, Arkansas, 
Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Tennessee. It is considered 
extirpated from North Carolina and Georgia, and potentially extirpated 
from Oklahoma and Virginia. Although it has never been collected within 
the State of Kansas, it occurs in the Spring River drainage nearby in 
Missouri, and thus potentially occurs in Kansas, and may eventually be 
discovered there (Obermeyer et al. 1997, p. 49; Angelo et al. 2009, p. 
95).
    Little information is known specific to purple lilliput; thus, we 
relied on surrogate life-history information for closely related 
species when necessary, including for sex-specific information, for 
information on reproduction, and for determining appropriate 
temperatures for glochidia metamorphosis. For example, the purple 
lilliput is a short-lived species, estimated to live 5 to 10

[[Page 61388]]

years (possibly up to 15 years), based on the life expectancy of the 
Savannah lilliput (Toxolasma pullus) (9 years; Hanlon and Levine 2004, 
p. 294), lilliput (T. parvum) (at least 5 years; Haag and Rypel 2011, 
p. 229), and Texas lilliput (T. texasiense) (11 years; Haag and Rypel 
2011, p. 229).
    The purple lilliput can be found in a wide range of habitats and a 
variety of substrates in rivers and streams at depths less than 3.3 
feet (ft) (1 meter (m)) (Gordon and Layzer 1989, p. 34). It may be 
located in coarse substrates such as cobble and gravel, or fine-
particle substrates such as packed sand, silty clay, and mud. It is 
commonly collected in and near shorelines, in backwaters, and in 
vegetation and root masses in waters just a few centimeters deep. 
Purple lilliput also exhibits some ability to inhabit lentic (still 
water) environments (Roe 2002, p. 5). In unimpounded reaches, the 
species commonly occurs in a range of slow to swift currents, and from 
shallow, rocky gravel points, mud, and sandbars in overbank areas and 
embayments (Parmalee and Bogan 1998, p. 231; Williams et al. 2008, p. 
720).
    The purple lilliput is a suspension-feeder that filters water and 
nutrients to eat. Its diet consists of a mixture of algae, bacteria, 
detritus, and microscopic animals (Gatenby et al. 1996, p. 606; Strayer 
et al. 2004, p. 430). It has also been surmised that dissolved organic 
matter may be a significant source of nutrition (Strayer et al. 2004, 
p. 431). For their first several months, juvenile mussels ingest food 
through their foot and are thus deposit feeders, although they may also 
filter interstitial pore water and soft sediments (Yeager et al. 1994, 
p. 221; Haag 2012, p. 26). Due to the mechanisms by which food and 
nutrients are taken in, freshwater mussels collect and absorb toxins 
(Service 2020a, pp. 54-57).
    The purple lilliput has a complex life cycle that relies on fish 
hosts for successful reproduction, similar to other mussels (Service 
2020a, pp. 23-25, 29). This complex life history involves an obligate 
parasitic larval life stage, called glochidia, which are wholly 
dependent on host fish, including the longear sunfish (Lepomis 
megalotis) and green sunfish (L. cyanellus) (Hill 1986, p. 5).
    Additional resource needs of the purple lilliput include 
appropriate water quality and temperatures, and connectivity of aquatic 
habitat that facilitates dispersal and an abundance of multiple age 
classes to ensure recruitment.

Status Throughout All of Its Range

    We have carefully assessed the best scientific and commercial data 
available regarding the past, present, and future threats to the purple 
lilliput, and we evaluated all relevant factors under the five listing 
factors, including any regulatory mechanisms and conservation measures 
addressing these stressors. The primary stressors (which are pervasive 
across the species' range) affecting the purple lilliput's biological 
status include habitat degradation or loss (i.e., declines in water 
quality; reduced water levels; riparian and instream fragmentation; and 
genetic isolation from development, urbanization, contaminants, 
agricultural activities, impoundments, changing climate conditions, 
resource extraction, and forest conversion), and impacts associated 
with invasive and nonnative species.
    While threats have acted on the species to reduce available 
habitat, the purple lilliput persists in 145 of 272 (53 percent) of its 
historically occupied populations, and its distribution continues to be 
represented within the six major river basins that it is historically 
known to occupy. Our projections of purple lilliput viability into the 
foreseeable future (i.e., approximately 20 to 30 years, which takes 
into account available climate modeling projections that inform future 
conditions) suggest that between 10 and 30 populations have a high risk 
of extirpation, or could become functionally extirpated. However, the 
purple lilliput is expected to maintain resilient populations (i.e., 
able to withstand stochastic events arising from random factors) across 
the six major river basins in which it historically and currently 
occurs. In other words, we estimate between 116 and 136 populations 
would continue to be resilient (or between 79 and 93 percent of the 
currently known populations) into the future. Additionally, we note 
that the species' host fish has a broad range, and the purple lilliput 
has the capability to adapt to lentic habitats in certain situations, 
which is a life-history trait that suggests it may be less susceptible 
to some potential habitat changes. Thus, after assessing the best 
available information, we determine that the purple lilliput is not in 
danger of extinction now or likely to become so in 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. Having determined that the purple lilliput is not in danger 
of extinction or likely to become so in the foreseeable future 
throughout all of its range, we now consider whether it may be in 
danger of extinction or likely to become so in the foreseeable future 
in a significant portion of its range--that is, whether there is any 
portion of the species' range for which it is true that both (1) the 
portion is significant; and, (2) the species is in danger of extinction 
now or likely to become so in the foreseeable future in that portion. 
Depending on the case, it might be more efficient for us to address the 
``significance'' question or the ``status'' question first. We can 
choose to address either question first. Regardless of which question 
we address first, if we reach a negative answer with respect to the 
first question that we address, we do not need to evaluate the other 
question for that portion of the species' range.
    In undertaking this analysis for the purple lilliput, we choose to 
address the status question first--we consider information pertaining 
to the geographic distribution of both the species and the threats that 
the species faces to identify any portions of the range where the 
species is endangered or threatened.
    We found two areas (Great Lakes and Cumberland River basins) where 
there may be a concentration of threats acting on the species such that 
the species in these portions of the range may be endangered or 
threatened, but we did not find that these areas constituted 
significant portions of the species' range. Accordingly, we found that 
the purple lilliput is not in danger of extinction now and is not 
likely to become so within the foreseeable future in any significant 
portion of its range. This is consistent with the courts' holdings in 
Desert Survivors v. Department of the Interior, No. 16-cv-01165-JCS, 
2018 WL 4053447 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 24, 2018), and Center for Biological 
Diversity v. Jewell, 248 F. Supp. 3d, 946, 959 (D. Ariz. 2017).

Determination of Status

    Our review of the best available scientific and commercial 
information indicates that the purple lilliput does not meet the 
definition of an endangered species or a threatened species in 
accordance with sections 3(6) and 3(20) of the Act. Therefore, we find 
that listing the purple lilliput is not warranted at this time. A 
detailed discussion of the basis for this finding can be found in the 
purple lilliput species assessment form, and other

[[Page 61389]]

supporting documents, such as the accompanying SSA report (Service 
2020a, entire) (see http://www.regulations.gov under docket number FWS-
R4-ES-2020-0010).

II. Proposed Listing Determination for Longsolid and Round Hickorynut

Background

    The longsolid (Fusconaia subrotunda) is a freshwater river mussel 
belonging to the Unionidae family, also known as the naiads and pearly 
mussels. Longsolid adults are light brown in color, darkening with age. 
The shell is thick and medium-sized (up to 5 inches (in) (125 
millimeters (mm)), and typically has a dull sheen (Williams et al. 
2008, p. 322). There is variability in the inflation of the shell 
depending on population and latitudinal location (Ortmann 1920, p. 272; 
Watters et al. 2009, p. 130).
    The longsolid is currently found in the Ohio, Cumberland, and 
Tennessee River basins, overlapping within the States of Alabama, 
Kentucky, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, 
Virginia, and West Virginia (Service 2018, Appendix A; Figure 1, 
below). It is considered extirpated from Georgia, Indiana, and 
Illinois. Additionally, it is classified as an endangered species by 
the State of Ohio, and considered to have various levels of concern, 
imperilment, or vulnerability (see Table 1-1 in the SSA report) by the 
States of Alabama, Kentucky, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, 
Virginia, and West Virginia.
BILLING CODE 4333-15-P

[[Page 61390]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP29SE20.033

BILLING CODE 4333-15-C
    Similar to the longsolid, the round hickorynut also belongs to the 
Unionidae family of naiads and pearly mussels. Round hickorynut adult 
mussels are greenish-olive to dark or chestnut brown, sometimes 
blackish in

[[Page 61391]]

older individuals, and may have a yellowish band dorsally (Parmalee and 
Bogan 1998, p. 168). Inflation of the shell is variable depending on 
population and latitudinal location (Ortmann 1920, p. 272; Williams et 
al. 2008, p. 474). The shell is thick, solid, and up to 3 in (75 mm) in 
length, but usually is less than 2.4 in. (60 mm) (Williams et al. 2008, 
p. 473; Watters et al. 2009, p. 209). A distinctive characteristic is 
that the shell is round in shape, nearly circular, and the umbo (the 
raised portion of the dorsal margin of a shell) is centrally located.
    Within the United States, the round hickorynut is currently found 
in the Great Lakes, Ohio, Cumberland, Tennessee, and Lower Mississippi 
River basins, overlapping within the States of Alabama, Indiana, 
Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and 
West Virginia (Service 2019, Appendix A; Figure 2, below). It is 
considered extirpated from Georgia, Illinois, and New York. 
Additionally, it has State-level conservation status, ranging across 
various levels of concern, imperilment, or vulnerability (see Table 1-1 
in the SSA report), in the States of Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, 
Michigan, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. The 
round hickorynut also occurs within the Canadian Province of Ontario, 
where it was listed as an endangered species in 2005, due to the loss 
of and significant declines in populations (Committee on the Status of 
Species at Risk in Ontario 2013, p. 4); a single remaining population 
(showing no recruitment (Morris 2018, pers. comm.)) occurs in Lake St. 
Clair and the East Sydenham River.
BILLING CODE 4333-15-P

[[Page 61392]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP29SE20.034

BILLING CODE 4333-15-C
    Thorough reviews of the taxonomy, life history, ecology and State 
listing status of the longsolid and round hickorynut are presented in 
detail in the SSA reports (Service 2018, pp. 14, 15, 22-30; Service 
2019, pp. 14, 15, 22-29).

[[Page 61393]]

Regulatory and Analytical Framework

Regulatory Framework

    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 is an ``endangered species'' or a ``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 any species is an ``endangered species'' or a 
``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.
    These factors represent broad categories of natural or human-caused 
actions or conditions that could have an effect on a species' continued 
existence. In evaluating these actions and conditions, we look for 
those that may have a negative effect on individuals of the species, as 
well as other actions or conditions that may ameliorate any negative 
effects or may have positive effects.
    We use the term ``threat'' to refer in general to actions or 
conditions that are known to or are reasonably likely to negatively 
affect individuals of a species. The term ``threat'' includes actions 
or conditions that have a direct impact on individuals (direct 
impacts), as well as those that affect individuals through alteration 
of their habitat or required resources (stressors). The term ``threat'' 
may encompass--either together or separately--the source of the action 
or condition or the action or condition itself.
    However, the mere identification of any threat(s) does not 
necessarily mean that the species meets the statutory definition of an 
``endangered species'' or a ``threatened species.'' In determining 
whether a species meets either definition, we must evaluate all 
identified threats by considering the expected response by the species, 
and the effects of the threats--in light of those actions and 
conditions that will ameliorate the threats--on an individual, 
population, and species level. We evaluate each threat and its expected 
effects on the species, then analyze the cumulative effect of all of 
the threats on the species as a whole. We also consider the cumulative 
effect of the threats in light of those actions and conditions that 
will have positive effects on the species, such as any existing 
regulatory mechanisms or conservation efforts. The Secretary determines 
whether the species meets the definition of an ``endangered species'' 
or a ``threatened species'' only after conducting this cumulative 
analysis and describing the expected effect on the species now and in 
the foreseeable future.
    The Act does not define the term ``foreseeable future,'' which 
appears in the statutory definition of ``threatened species.'' Our 
implementing regulations at 50 CFR 424.11(d) set forth a framework for 
evaluating the foreseeable future on a case-by-case basis. The term 
``foreseeable future'' extends only so far into the future as the 
Services can reasonably determine that both the future threats and the 
species' responses to those threats are likely. In other words, the 
foreseeable future is the period of time in which we can make reliable 
predictions. ``Reliable'' does not mean ``certain''; it means 
sufficient to provide a reasonable degree of confidence in the 
prediction. Thus, a prediction is reliable if it is reasonable to 
depend on it when making decisions.
    It is not always possible or necessary to define foreseeable future 
as a particular number of years. Analysis of the foreseeable future 
uses the best scientific and commercial data available and should 
consider the timeframes applicable to the relevant threats and to the 
species' likely responses to those threats in view of its life-history 
characteristics. Data that are typically relevant to assessing the 
species' biological response include species-specific factors such as 
lifespan, reproductive rates or productivity, certain behaviors, and 
other demographic factors.

Analytical Framework

    The SSA reports document the results of our comprehensive 
biological review of the best scientific and commercial data regarding 
the status of both species, including an assessment of potential 
threats to the species. The SSA reports do not represent a decision by 
the Service on whether either species should be proposed for listing as 
an endangered or threatened species under the Act. They do, however, 
provide the scientific basis that informs our regulatory decisions, 
which involve the further application of standards within the Act and 
its implementing regulations and policies. The following is a summary 
of the key results and conclusions from the SSA reports for the 
longsolid and round hickorynut; the full SSA reports can be found in 
docket number FWS-R4-ES-2020-0010 on http://www.regulations.gov, and on 
our internet site https://www.fws.gov/Asheville/.
    To assess the longsolid's and round hickorynut's viability, we used 
the three conservation biology principles of resiliency, redundancy, 
and representation (Shaffer and Stein 2000, pp. 306-310). Briefly, 
resiliency supports the ability of the species to withstand 
environmental and demographic stochasticity (for example, wet or dry, 
warm or cold years), redundancy supports the ability of the species to 
withstand catastrophic events (for example, droughts, large pollution 
events), and representation supports the ability of the species to 
adapt over time to long-term changes in the environment (for example, 
climate changes). In general, the more resilient and redundant a 
species is and the more representation it has, the more likely it is to 
sustain populations over time, even under changing environmental 
conditions. Using these principles, we identified the species' 
ecological requirements for survival and reproduction at the 
individual, population, and species levels, and described the 
beneficial and risk factors influencing the species' viability.
    The SSA process can be categorized into three sequential stages. 
During the first stage, we evaluated the individual species' life-
history needs. The next stage involved an assessment of the historical 
and current condition of the species' demographics and habitat 
characteristics, including an explanation of how the species arrived at 
its current condition. The final stage of the SSA involved making 
predictions about the species' responses to positive and negative 
environmental and anthropogenic influences. Throughout all of these 
stages, we used the best available information to characterize 
viability as the ability of a species to sustain populations in the 
wild over time. We use this information to inform our regulatory 
decision.

Summary of Biological Status and Threats

    In this discussion, we review the biological condition of the 
longsolid and round hickorynut, their resources, and the threats that 
influence both species' current and future condition, in order to

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assess each species' overall viability and the risks to that viability.

Species Needs

    We assessed the best available information to identify the physical 
and biological needs to support individual fitness at all life stages 
for the longsolid and round hickorynut. Full descriptions of all needs 
are available in chapter 4 of the SSA reports (Service 2018, pp. 25-30; 
Service 2019, pp. 30-36), which can be found in docket number FWS-R4-
ES-2020-0010 on http://www.regulations.gov, and on our internet site 
https://www.fws.gov/Asheville/. Based upon the best available 
scientific and commercial information, and acknowledging existing 
ecological uncertainties (see section 4.3 in the SSA reports), the 
resource and demographic needs for both the longsolid and round 
hickorynut are characterized as:
     Clean, flowing water with appropriate water quality and 
temperate conditions, such as (but not limited to) dissolved oxygen 
above 2 to 3 parts per million (ppm), ammonia generally below 0.5 ppm 
total ammonia-nitrogen, temperatures generally below 86 degrees 
Fahrenheit ([deg]F) (30 degrees Celsius ([deg]C)), and (ideally) an 
absence of excessive total suspended solids and other pollutants.
     Natural flow regimes that vary with respect to timing, 
magnitude, duration, and frequency of river discharge events.
     Predominantly silt-free, stable sand, gravel, and cobble 
substrates.
     Suspended food and nutrients in the water column including 
(but not limited to) phytoplankton, zooplankton, protozoans, detritus, 
and dissolved organic matter.
     Availability of sufficient host fish numbers to provide 
for glochidia infestation and dispersal. Host fish species for the 
longsolid include (but may not be limited to): Minnows of the family 
Cyprinidae and stonerollers (genera Campostoma sp.), satinfin shiners 
(Cyprinella sp.), eastern shiners (Notropis sp.), and highscale shiners 
(Luxilus sp.), as well as potentially freshwater sculpins of the genus 
Cottus. Host fish species documented for the round hickorynut include 
the banded sculpin (Cottus carolinae), eastern sand darter (Ammocrypta 
pellucida), emerald darter (Etheostoma baileyi), greenside darter 
(Etheostoma blennioides), Iowa darter (Etheostoma exile), fantail 
darter (Etheostoma flabellare), Cumberland darter (Etheostoma gore), 
spangled darter (Etheostoma obama), variegate darter (Etheostoma 
variatum), blackside darter (Percina maculata), and frecklebelly darter 
(Percina stictogaster).
     Connectivity among populations. Although the species' 
capability to disperse is evident through historical occurrence of a 
wide range of rivers and streams, the fragmentation of populations by 
small and large impoundments has resulted in isolation and only patches 
of what once was occupied contiguous river and stream habitat. Genetic 
exchange occurs between and among mussel beds via sperm drift, host 
fish movement, and movement of mussels during high flow events. For 
genetic exchange to occur, connectivity must be maintained. Most 
freshwater mussels, including the longsolid and round hickorynut, are 
found in mussel beds that vary in size and are often separated by 
stream reaches in which mussels are absent or rare (Vaughn 2012, p. 
983). The species is often a component of a large healthy mussel 
assemblage within optimal mussel habitats; therefore, the beds in which 
they occur are necessary for the species to be resilient over time.

Current Conditions

    Current (and future) conditions are described using categories that 
estimate the overall condition (resiliency) of the longsolid and round 
hickorynut mussel populations. These categories include:
     High--Resilient populations with evidence of recruitment 
and multiple age classes represented. They are likely to maintain 
viability and connectivity among populations, and populations are not 
linearly distributed (i.e., occur in tributary streams within a 
management unit). Populations are expected to persist in 20 to 30 years 
and beyond, and withstand stochastic events. (Thriving; capable of 
expanding range.)
     Medium--Spatially restricted populations with limited 
levels of recruitment or age class structure. Resiliency is less than 
under high conditions, but the majority of populations (approximately 
75 percent) are expected to persist beyond 20 to 30 years. (Stable; not 
necessarily thriving or expanding its range.)
     Low--Small and highly restricted populations, with no 
evidence of recent recruitment or age class structure, and limited 
detectability. These populations have low resiliency, are not likely to 
withstand stochastic events, and potentially will no longer persist in 
20 to 30 years. Populations are linearly distributed within a 
management unit. (Surviving and observable, but population likely 
declining.)
    Given the longsolid's and round hickorynut's ranges include lengthy 
rivers, such as the Ohio, Allegheny, Cumberland, and Tennessee Rivers, 
all of which include populations fragmented primarily by dams, we 
identified separate populations for each hydrologic unit code (HUC) 
(Seaber et al. 1987, entire; U.S. Geological Survey 2018, entire) at 
the fourth of 12 levels (i.e., HUC-8 watershed). The HUC-8 watersheds 
are analogous to medium-sized river basins across the United States. 
Our analysis describes conditions relevant to longsolid and round 
hickorynut populations and the overarching HUC-8 watersheds, identified 
herein as a ``management unit.'' A management unit could harbor one or 
more populations. See chapter 2 in the SSA reports for further 
explanation of the analysis methodology (Service 2018, pp. 15-19; 
Service 2019, pp. 17-22).
Longsolid
    The longsolid's current range extends over nine States, including 
New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia, 
Tennessee, North Carolina, and Alabama; the species is now considered 
extirpated in Georgia, Illinois, and Indiana. This range encompasses 
three major river basins (the Ohio, Cumberland, and Tennessee basins); 
the species now no longer exists in the Great Lakes basin (loss of six 
historical populations and four management units). In addition, its 
representation in the Cumberland River basin is currently within a 
single population and management unit (loss of nine historical 
populations and eight management units). Overall, the longsolid is 
presumed extirpated from 63 percent (102 of 162 populations) of its 
historically occupied populations, including 6 populations (the 
entirety) in the Great Lakes basin, 65 populations in the Ohio River 
basin, 9 populations in the Cumberland River basin, and 26 populations 
in the Tennessee River basin (see Appendix B in the SSA report (Service 
2018, pp. 131-154)). Of the current populations, 3 (5 percent) are 
estimated to be highly resilient, 9 (15 percent) are estimated to be 
moderately resilient, and 48 (80 percent) are estimated to have low 
resiliency.
    The longsolid was once a common, occasionally abundant component of 
the mussel assemblage in rivers and streams where it is now extirpated. 
Examples include the Beaver River, Pennsylvania (Ortmann 1920, p. 276); 
Ohio River, Pennsylvania (Tolin 1987, p. 11); Mahoning River, 
Pennsylvania (Ortmann 1920 p. 276); Wabash River, Indiana/Illinois 
(Cummings et al. 1992, p. 46); Nolin River, Kentucky (Taylor 1983a, p. 
111); and the South Fork Holston River, Virginia/Tennessee (Parmalee 
and Pohemus 2004, p. 234). Significant declines of the longsolid

[[Page 61395]]

have been observed and documented in the Ohio and Cumberland Rivers, 
and in the Muskingum River system, which harbors the last remaining 
populations (Muskingum, Tuscarawas, and Walhonding) in Ohio (Neel and 
Allen 1964, p. 434; Watters and Dunn 1993-94, p. 252; Watters et al. 
2009, p. 131; Haag and Cicerello 2016, p. 139).
Round Hickorynut
    The current range of the round hickorynut extends over nine States, 
including Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, 
Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and West Virginia; the species is now 
considered extirpated in Georgia, Illinois, and New York. This range 
encompasses five major river basins (Great Lakes, Ohio River, 
Cumberland River, Tennessee River, and Lower Mississippi River). Round 
hickorynut representation in the Cumberland River basin is restricted 
to two linear populations within two management units, while it exists 
in the Lower Mississippi River basin in a single population. Therefore, 
while the species currently maintains representation from historical 
conditions, it is at immediate risk of losing 40 percent (2 of 5 
basins) of its representation due to these small, isolated populations 
under a high degree of threats that have resulted from habitat loss and 
water quality degradation.
    Overall, the round hickorynut has lost an approximate 232 of 297 
known populations (78 percent), and 104 of 138 management units (75 
percent). This includes 25 populations in the Great Lakes basin, 150 
populations in the Ohio River basin, 23 populations in the Cumberland 
River basin, 29 populations in the Tennessee River basin, and 9 
populations in the Lower Mississippi River basin (see Appendix B in the 
SSA report (Service 2019, pp. 191-212)). Of the current populations, 4 
(6 percent) are estimated to be highly resilient, 16 (23 percent) are 
estimated to be moderately resilient, and 45 (69 percent) are estimated 
to have low resiliency.
    The round hickorynut was once a much more common, occasionally 
abundant, component of the mussel assemblage in rivers and streams 
across much of the eastern United States. Population extirpations have 
been extensive and widespread within every major river basin where the 
round hickorynut is found. Surveys throughout eastern North America 
have not targeted the round hickorynut specifically, and as a result, 
there could have been additional population losses or declines that 
have gone undocumented. Conversely, it is possible that there are 
populations that have gone undetected. However, the majority of the 
species' range has been relatively well-surveyed for freshwater mussel 
communities, and the likelihood is small that there are substantial or 
stronghold populations that are undetected. Patterns of population 
extirpation and declines are pronounced particularly in the Ohio River 
basin, which appears to be the basin most important for redundancy and 
representation for the species, due to its documented historical 
distribution and remaining concentration of populations within the 
basin.
    Populations of the round hickorynut have been apparently lost from 
entire watersheds and management units in which the species once 
occupied multiple tributaries, such as the Allegheny, Coal, Little 
Scioto, Miami, and Vermilion River management units in the Ohio River 
basin. The State of Ohio, for example, has lost 53 populations of round 
hickorynut, along with 19 management units (Watters et al. 2009, p. 
210). The species is also critically imperiled in Canada, and as a 
result, the future of the species in Canada may be reliant on hatchery-
supported activities or augmentation activities coordinated with the 
United States.
    Precipitous declines and extirpations of round hickorynut 
populations have been documented in the Great Lakes, Ohio, Cumberland, 
Tennessee, and Lower Mississippi basins. These declines and 
extirpations are exhibited in museum collections and reported in 
published literature accounts of the species (see Appendix D in the SSA 
report (Service 2019, pp. 214-238)). While this documentation could be 
a result of more intensive survey effort in the core of the species' 
distribution, regardless, the extirpation of formerly abundant and 
extensive populations is a cautionary note for current and future 
condition projections, and has been most pronounced in the Ohio and 
Cumberland basins.
    Examples of rivers where the round hickorynut is extirpated within 
these basins include: Crooked Creek, Pennsylvania (Ortmann 1913, p. 
298); West Branch Mahoning River, Ohio (Swart 1940, p. 42); Coal River, 
West Virginia (Carnegie Museum and University of Michigan Museum of 
Zoology records); Olentangy River, Ohio (Stein 1963, p. 109); Alum 
Creek, Ohio (Ohio State University, Marion records); Blaine Creek, 
Kentucky (Bay and Winford 1984, p. 19); Embarras River, Illinois 
(Parmalee 1967, p. 80); Big Vermilion River, Illinois (Parmalee 1967, 
p. 80); Cumberland River, Kentucky (Neel and Allen 1964, p. 442); 
Stones River, Tennessee (Ohio State University, Marion records); and 
Red River, Tennessee/Kentucky (Ohio State University, Marion records).

Threats Analysis

    The following discussions include evaluations of three threats and 
associated sources that are affecting the longsolid and round 
hickorynut, and their habitats: (1) Habitat degradation or loss, (2) 
invasive and nonnative species, and (3) negative effects associated 
with small population size (Service 2018 and 2019, chapter 6). We note 
that potential impacts associated with overutilization were evaluated, 
but we found no evidence of current effects on the species' viability 
(noting historical effects from harvest on the longsolid that no longer 
occur). In addition, potential impacts from disease, parasites, and 
predation, as well as potential impacts to host species, were evaluated 
but were found to have minimal effects on viability of either species 
based on current knowledge (Service 2018, pp. 70, 73-74; Service 2019, 
pp. 91-95). Finally, we also considered effects associated with 
enigmatic population declines, which have been documented in fresh 
water river mussel populations since the 1960s; despite speculation and 
repeated aquatic organism surveys and water quality monitoring, the 
causes of these events are unknown (Haag 2019, p. 43). In some cases, 
the instream habitat often remains basically intact and continues to 
support other aquatic organisms such as fish and crayfish. Full 
descriptions of each of the threats and their sources, including 
specific examples across the species' range where threats are impacting 
the species or its habitat, are available in chapter 6 and Appendix A 
of the SSA reports (Service 2018, pp. 43-76, 134-157; Service 2019, pp. 
58-96, 169-187).

Habitat Degradation or Loss

Development/Urbanization

    Development and urbanization activities that may contribute to 
longsolid and round hickorynut habitat degradation and loss, including 
reduced water quality, occur throughout the species' range. The term 
``development'' refers to urbanization of the landscape, including (but 
not limited to) land conversion for residential, commercial, and 
industrial uses and the accompanying infrastructure. The effects of 
urbanization may include alterations to water quality, water quantity, 
and habitat (both in-stream and streamside) (Ren et al. 2003, p. 649;

[[Page 61396]]

Wilson 2015, p. 424). Urban development can lead to increased 
variability in streamflow, typically increasing the extent and volume 
of water entering a stream after a storm and decreasing the time it 
takes for the water to travel over the land before entering the stream 
(Giddings et al. 2009, p. 1). Deleterious effects on streams (i.e., 
water collection on impervious surfaces that rapidly flows into storm 
drains and local streams), including those that may be occupied by the 
longsolid and round hickorynut include:
    (1) Water Quantity: Storm drains deliver large volumes of water to 
streams much faster than would naturally occur, often resulting in 
flooding and bank erosion that reshapes the channel and causes 
substrate instability, resulting in destabilization of bottom 
sediments. Increased, high-velocity discharges can cause species living 
in streams (including mussels) to become stressed, displaced, or killed 
by fast moving water and the debris and sediment carried in it. 
Displaced individuals may be left stranded out of the water once 
floodwaters recede.
    (2) Water Quality: Pollutants (e.g., gasoline, oil drips, 
fertilizers) that accumulate on impervious surfaces may be washed 
directly into streams during storm events. Contaminants contained in 
point and non-point source discharges degrade water and substrate 
quality, and can result in reduced survival, growth, and reproduction 
of mussels.
    (3) Water Temperature: During warm weather, rain that falls on 
impervious surfaces becomes superheated and can stress or kill 
freshwater species when it enters streams.
    Other development-related impacts to the longsolid and round 
hickorynut, or their habitat, may occur as a result of:
     Water infrastructure. This includes water supply, 
reclamation, and wastewater treatment, which results in pollution point 
discharges to streams. Concentrations of contaminants (including 
nitrogen, phosphorus, chloride, insecticides, polycyclic aromatic 
hydrocarbons, and personal care products) increase with urban 
development (Giddings et al. 2009, p. 2; Bringolf et al. 2010, p. 
1,311).
     Utility crossings and right-of-way maintenance. Direct 
impacts from utility crossings include direct exposure or crushing of 
individuals, sedimentation, and habitat disturbance. The greatest 
cumulative impact involves cleared rights-of-way that result in direct 
runoff and increased stream temperature at the crossing location, and 
potentially promote maintenance utility and all-terrain vehicle access 
from the rights-of-way (which destroys banks and instream habitat, and 
thus can lead to increased erosion (see also Service 2017, pp. 48-49)).
     Anthropogenic activities. These types of activities may 
act to lower water tables, making the longsolid or round hickorynut 
susceptible to depressed flow levels. Water withdrawals for irrigation, 
municipal, and industrial water supplies are an increasing concern due 
to expanding human populations. Water infrastructure development, 
including water supply, reclamation, and wastewater treatment, results 
in pollution point discharges to streams. Concentrations of 
contaminants (including nitrogen, phosphorus, chloride, insecticides, 
polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and personal care products) increase 
with urban development (Giddings et al. 2009, p. 2; Bringolf et al. 
2010, p. 1,311). It is currently unknown whether anthropogenic effects 
of development and urbanization are likely to impact the longsolid or 
round hickorynut at the individual or population level. However, 
secondary impacts such as the increased likelihood of potential 
contaminant introduction, stream disturbance caused by impervious 
surfaces, barrier construction, and forest conversion are likely to act 
cumulatively on longsolid and round hickorynut populations.
    Agricultural activities are pervasive across the range of the 
longsolid and round hickorynut. Examples include (but are not limited 
to):
     Longsolid: Agricultural erosion is listed among the 
factors affecting the Clinch and Powell Rivers (Ahlstedt et al. 2016, 
p. 8).
     Longsolid: Sedimentation and other non-point source 
pollution, primarily of agricultural origin, are identified as a 
primary threat to aquatic fauna of the Nolichucky River (The Tennessee 
Valley Authority (TVA) 2006, p. 11).
     Longsolid: Agricultural impacts have been noted to take a 
toll on mussel fauna in the Goose Creek watershed on the South Fork 
Kentucky River (Evans 2010, p. 15).
     Longsolid and round hickorynut: The Elk River in Tennessee 
is a watershed with significant agricultural activity (Woodside et al. 
2004, p. 10).
     Round hickorynut: Water withdrawals for irrigation for 
agricultural uses have increased recently in the Tippecanoe River 
(Fisher 2019, pers. comm.)
     Round hickorynut: Sedimentation and other point and non-
point source pollution, primarily of agricultural origin, are 
identified as a primary threat to aquatic fauna of Big Darby Creek and 
Killbuck Creek, Ohio (Ohio Department of the Environmental Protection 
Agency 2004, p. 1; Ohio Department of the Environmental Protection 
Agency 2011, p. 31).
     Round hickorynut: Approximately 25 percent of the land use 
area in the West Fork River management unit in West Virginia is in 
agriculture, and has increased by as much as 9 percent in recent years 
(U.S. Department of Agriculture 2010, p. 8).
     Round hickorynut: Large-scale mechanized agricultural 
practices threaten the last remaining population in the Lower 
Mississippi River basin, in the Big Black River, where the species has 
already undergone range reduction (Peacock and James 2002, p. 123).
     Round hickorynut: The Duck, Buffalo, and Elk Rivers in 
Tennessee are watersheds with significant agricultural activity in 
their headwaters and tributaries, and are a suspected cause for mussel 
community declines throughout those rivers (Reed 2014, p. 4).

Transportation

    Transportation-related impacts include both road development and 
river navigation. By its nature, road development increases impervious 
surfaces as well as land clearing and habitat fragmentation. Roads are 
generally associated with negative effects on the biotic integrity of 
aquatic ecosystems, including changes in surface water temperatures and 
patterns of runoff, changes in sedimentation levels, and increased 
heavy metals (especially lead), salts, organics, and nutrients to 
stream systems (Trombulak and Frissell 2000, p. 18). The adding of 
salts through road de-icing results in high salinity runoff, which is 
toxic to freshwater mussels. In addition, a major impact of road 
development is improperly constructed culverts at stream crossings, 
which can act as barriers if flow through the culvert varies 
significantly from the rest of the stream, or if the culvert ends up 
becoming perched (i.e., sitting above the downstream streambed), and 
fishes that serve as mussel hosts cannot pass through them.
    With regard to river navigation, dredging and channelization 
activities (as a means of maintaining waterways) have altered riverine 
habitats nationwide (Ebert 1993, p. 157). Channelization affects many 
physical characteristics of streams through accelerated erosion, 
increased bed load, reduced depth, decreased habitat diversity, 
geomorphic instability, and riparian canopy loss (Hartfield 1993, p.

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139). All of these impacts contribute to loss of habitat for the 
longsolid and round hickorynut, and alter habitats for host fish. 
Changes in both the water velocity and deposition of sediments not only 
alters physical habitat, but the associated increases in turbulence, 
suspended sediment, and turbidity affect mussel feeding and respiration 
(Aldridge et al. 1987, p. 25). The scope of channel maintenance 
activities over extensive areas alters physical habitat and degrades 
water quality. In addition to dredging and channel maintenance, impacts 
associated with barge traffic, which includes construction of fleeting 
areas, mooring cells, docking facilities, and propeller wash, also 
destroy and disrupt mussel habitat (see Miller et al. (1989, pp. 48-49) 
as an example for disturbance from barges).
    Transportation-related impacts across the range of the longsolid 
and round hickorynut include (but are not limited to) the following 
examples:
     Channelization and dredging--Longsolid populations in the 
Eel, Vermilion, and Embarras Rivers and Killbuck Creek are extirpated. 
Round hickorynut populations in the Vermilion and Embarras Rivers are 
extirpated, while populations in the Eel and Killbuck Creek management 
units are in low condition; these streams have been extensively dredged 
and channelized (Butler 2007, p. 63; Appendix B). Additionally, 
dredging is identified by Taylor (1983b, p. 3) as the primary cause for 
suitable habitat loss in the Kanawha River (below river mile 79) in 
West Virginia.
     Barge traffic, which includes construction of fleeting 
areas, mooring cells, docking facilities, and propeller wash, destroys 
and disrupts mussel habitat, currently affecting at least 15 (25 
percent) of the longsolid populations in the Ohio, Cumberland, and 
Tennessee River basins (Hubbs et al. 2006, p. 169; Hubbs 2012, p. 3; 
Smith and Meyer 2010, p. 555; Sickel and Burnett 2005, p. 7; Taylor 
1983b, p. 5). All six of the Ohio River mainstem longsolid populations 
that are considered in low condition are affected by channel 
maintenance and navigation operations; at least five (8 percent) of the 
round hickorynut populations in the Ohio basin are affected.
     Channel maintenance and navigation are affecting the low 
condition populations in the lower Allegheny and Tennessee Rivers due 
to their clustered distribution and proximity to locks and dams. For 
the longsolid, these include two Allegheny River populations below 
Redbank, Pennsylvania (Smith and Meyer 2010, p. 556), and three low 
condition populations in the Tennessee River main stem above Kentucky 
Dam.
     Although most prevalent on the mainstem Ohio and Tennessee 
Rivers, commerce and commercial navigation currently affect round 
hickorynut populations in the Black and Muskingum Rivers.

Contaminants

    Contaminants contained in point and non-point discharges can 
degrade water and substrate quality and adversely impact mussel 
populations. Although chemical spills and other point sources of 
contaminants may directly result in mussel mortality, widespread 
decreases in density and diversity may result in part from the subtle, 
pervasive effects of chronic, low-level contamination (Naimo 1995, p. 
354). The effects of heavy metals, ammonia, and other contaminants on 
freshwater mussels were reviewed by Mellinger (1972), Fuller (1974), 
Havlik and Marking (1987), Naimo (1995), Keller and Lydy (1997), and 
Newton et al. (2003).
    The effects of contaminants such as metals, chlorine, and ammonia 
are profound on juvenile mussels (Augspurger et al. 2003, p. 2,571; 
Bartsch et al. 2003, p. 2,566). Juvenile mussels may readily ingest 
contaminants adsorbed to sediment particles while pedal feeding (Newton 
and Cope 2007, p. 276). These contaminants also affect mussel 
glochidia, which are sensitive to some toxicants (Goudreau et al. 1993, 
p. 221; Jacobson et al. 1997, p. 2,386; Valenti et al. 2005, p. 1,243).
    Mussels are noticeably intolerant of heavy metals (Havlik and 
Marking 1987, p. 4). Even at low levels, certain heavy metals may 
inhibit glochidial attachment to fish hosts. Cadmium appears to be the 
heavy metal most toxic to mussels (Havlik and Marking 1987, pp. 4-9), 
although chromium, copper, mercury, and zinc also negatively affect 
biological processes (Naimo 1995, p. 355; Jacobson et al. 1997, p. 
2,389; Valenti et al. 2005, p. 1,243). Chronic mercury contamination 
from a chemical plant on the North Fork Holston River, Virginia, 
destroyed a diverse mussel fauna downstream of Saltville, Virginia, and 
potentially contributed to the extirpation of the longsolid from that 
river (Brown et al. 2005, p. 1,459). An example of long-term declines 
and extirpation of mussels attributed to copper and zinc contamination 
originating from wastewater discharges at electric power plants 
includes the Clinch River in Virginia (a portion of which the longsolid 
currently occupies) (Zipper et al. 2014, p. 9). This highlights that, 
despite localized improvements, these metals can stay bound in 
sediments, affecting recruitment and densities of the mussel fauna for 
decades (Price et al. 2014, p. 12; Zipper et al. 2014, p. 9).
    Examples of contaminant-related impacts across the range of 
longsolid and/or round hickorynut include (but are not limited to):
     Contaminants have affected mussel glochidia on the Clinch 
River, which is a stronghold population for the longsolid (Goudreau et 
al. 1993, p. 221; Jacobson et al. 1997, p. 2,386; Valenti et al. 2005, 
p. 1,243); round hickorynut is now considered extirpated in the 
Tennessee section of the river.
     The toxic effects of high salinity wastewater from oil and 
natural gas drilling on juvenile and adult freshwater mussels were 
observed in the Allegheny River, Pennsylvania, and in the Ohio River 
basin (Patnode et al. 2015, p. 55).
     Numerous streams throughout both species' ranges have 
experienced mussel and fish kills from toxic chemical spills, such as 
Fish Creek in Indiana for the round hickorynut (Sparks et al. 1999, p. 
12), and the upper Tennessee River system in Virginia for the longsolid 
(Ahlstedt et al. 2016, p. 8; Neves 1987, p. 9; Jones et al. 2001, p. 
20; Schmerfeld 2006, p. 12). Also in the Tennessee River basin, high 
counts of coliform bacteria originating from wastewater treatment 
plants have been documented, contributing to degradation of water 
quality being a primary threat to aquatic fauna (Neves and Angermeier 
1990, p. 50).
     Heavy metals and their toxicity to mussels have been 
documented in the Great Lakes, Clinton, Muskingum, Ohio, Fox, Powell, 
Clinch, and Tennessee Rivers where one or both of these species occur 
(Havlik and Marking 1987, pp. 4-9; van Hees et al. 2010, p. 606). Coal 
plants are also located on the Kanawha, Green, and Cumberland Rivers, 
and the effects of these facilities on water quality and the freshwater 
mussel fauna, including the longsolid and round hickorynut, are likely 
similar.
    The degradation of water quality as a result of land-based oil and 
gas drilling activities is a significant adverse effect on freshwater 
mussels, and specifically on longsolid in the Ohio River basin and 
populations in the Allegheny River, as well as the in Kanawha, Little 
Kanawha, and Elk Rivers.

Agricultural Activities

    The advent of intensive row crop agricultural practices has been 
cited as a potential factor in freshwater mussel decline and species 
extirpation in the eastern United States (Peacock et al.

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2005, p. 550). Nutrient enrichment and water withdrawals, which are 
threats commonly associated with agricultural activities, are most 
likely to affect individual longsolid and round hickorynut mussels, 
although in some instances may be localized and limited in scope. 
However, chemical control using pesticides, including herbicides, 
fungicides, insecticides, and their surfactants and adjuvants, are 
highly toxic to juvenile and adult freshwater mussels (Bringolf et al. 
2007, p. 2,092). Waste from confined animal feeding and commercial 
livestock operations is another potential source of contaminants that 
comes from agricultural runoff. The concentrations of these 
contaminants that emanate from fields or pastures may be at levels that 
can affect an entire population, especially given the highly fragmented 
distributions of the longsolid and round hickorynut (also see 
Contaminants, above).
    Agencies such as the Natural Resources Conservation Service and 
Soil and Water Conservation Districts provide technical and financial 
assistance to farmers and private landowners. Additionally, county 
resource development councils and university agricultural extension 
services disseminate information on the importance of minimizing land 
use impacts, specifically agriculture, on aquatic resources. These 
programs help identify opportunities for conservation through projects 
such as exclusion fencing and alternate water supply sources, which 
help decrease nutrient inputs and water withdrawals, and help keep 
livestock off of stream banks and shorelines, thus reducing erosion. 
However, the overall effectiveness of these programs over a large scale 
is unknown given the longsolid's and round hickorynut's wide 
distribution and varying agricultural intensities.
    Given the large extent of private land and agricultural activities 
within the ranges of the longsolid and round hickorynut, the effects of 
agricultural activities that degrade water quality and result in 
habitat deterioration are not frequently detected until after the 
event(s) occur. In summary, agricultural activities are pervasive 
across the ranges of the longsolid and round hickorynut. The effects of 
agricultural activities on the longsolid and round hickorynut are a 
factor in their historical decline and localized extirpations.
    Agricultural activities are pervasive across the range of the 
longsolid and round hickorynut. Specifically, agricultural impacts have 
affected and continue to affect high, medium, and low condition 
longsolid populations within these basins, including:
     Longsolid only: French Creek and Allegheny River 
(Pennsylvania), Hughes River (West Virginia), Tuscawaras River (Ohio), 
Rolling Fork River (Kentucky), Little River and Valley River (North 
Carolina), Nolichucky River (Tennessee), Clinch and Powell Rivers 
(Tennessee and Virginia), and Estill Fork (Alabama).
     Round hickorynut only: Pine, Belle, and Black Rivers 
(Michigan).
     Both species: Shenango River (Pennsylvania); Elk, Little 
Kanawha, and North Fork Hughes Rivers (West Virginia); Licking and 
Kentucky Rivers (Kentucky); Elk and Buffalo Rivers (Tennessee); and 
Paint Rock River (Alabama).

Dams and Barriers

    The effects of impoundments and barriers on aquatic habitats and 
freshwater mussels are relatively well-documented (Watters 2000, p. 
261). Dams alter and disrupt connectivity, and alter water quality, 
which affect longsolid and round hickorynut species. Extinction/
extirpation of North American freshwater mussels can be traced to 
impoundment and inundation of riffle habitats in all major river basins 
of the central and eastern United States (Haag 2009, p. 107). Humans 
have constructed dams for a variety of reasons: flood prevention, water 
storage, electricity generation, irrigation, recreation, and navigation 
(Eissa and Zaki 2011, p. 253). Dams, either natural (by beavers or by 
aggregations of woody debris) or manmade, have many impacts on stream 
ecosystems. Reductions in the diversity and abundance of mussels are 
primarily attributed to habitat shifts caused by impoundments (Neves et 
al. 1997, p. 63). The survival of mussels and their overall 
reproductive success are influenced:
     Upstream of dams, by the change from flowing to impounded 
waters, increased depths, increased buildup of sediments, decreased 
dissolved oxygen, and the drastic alteration in resident fish 
populations.
     Downstream of dams, by fluctuations in flow regimes, 
minimal releases and scouring flows, seasonal depletion of dissolved 
oxygen, reduced or increased water temperatures, and changes in fish 
assemblages.
    Additionally, improperly constructed culverts at stream crossings 
may act as barriers and have some similar negative effects as dams on 
stream systems. Fluctuating flows through the culvert can vary 
significantly from the rest of the stream, preventing fish passage and 
scouring downstream habitats. For example, if a culvert sits above the 
streambed, aquatic organisms cannot pass through it. These barriers 
fragment habitats along a stream course and contribute to genetic 
isolation of the aquatic species inhabiting the streams.
    Whether constructed for purposes such as flood control, navigation, 
hydropower, water supply or multi-purpose uses, the construction and 
continued operation of dams (per existing licensing schedules) is a 
pervasive negative influence on the longsolid, round hickorynut, and 
their habitats throughout their ranges. Although there are recent 
efforts to remove older, failing dams within the ranges of the 
longsolid and round hickorynut, such as Lock and Dam 6 on the Green 
River, and current plans to remove others, such as Six Mile Dam on the 
Walhonding River, dams and their effects on longsolid and round 
hickorynut population distributions have had perhaps the greatest 
documented negative influence on these species (Hardison and Layzer 
2001, p. 79; Layzer et al. 1993, p. 68; Parmalee and Polhemus 2004, p. 
239; Smith and Meyer 2010, p. 543; Hubbs 2012, p. 8; Watters and Flaute 
2010, p. 2).
    Over 20 of the rivers and streams currently occupied by the 
longsolid are directly affected by dams, thus directly influencing the 
species' distribution rangewide. For the round hickorynut, all occupied 
rivers and streams are directly or indirectly affected by dams. See 
section 6.1.5 of the SSA reports for specific areas where dams and 
other impoundments occur within the range of the species (Service 2018, 
pp. 59-63; Service 2019, pp. 73-77).

Changing Climate Conditions

    Changing climate conditions that can influence freshwater mussels 
include increasing or decreasing water temperatures and precipitation 
patterns that result in increased flooding, prolonged droughts, or 
reduced stream flows, as well as changes in salinity levels (Nobles and 
Zhang 2011, pp. 147-148). An increase in the number of days with heavy 
precipitation over the next 25 to 35 years is expected across the 
longsolid's range (U.S. Global Climate Change Research Program 2017, p. 
207). Although changing climate conditions have potentially affected 
the longsolid to date, the timing, frequency, and extent of these 
effects is currently unknown. Possible impacts to the species could 
include alteration of the fundamental ecological processes, such as 
thermal suitability; changes in seasonal patterns of precipitation and 
runoff, which could alter the hydrology of streams; and changes in the 
presence

[[Page 61399]]

or combinations of invasive, native or nonnative species.
    We examined information on anticipated climate effects to wide-
ranging mussels, which included a study that used RCP 2.6 and 8.5 and 
was conducted on the federally endangered spectaclecase (Cumberlandia 
monodonta). Our analysis of the best available climate change 
information revealed that within the range of both the longsolid and 
round hickorynut, shifts in the species-specific physiological 
thresholds in response to altered precipitation patterns and resulting 
thermal regimes are possible. Additionally, the expansion of invasive, 
nonnative species because of climatic changes has the potential for 
long-term detriments to the mussels and their habitats. Other potential 
impacts are associated with changes in food web dynamics and the 
genetic bottleneck that can occur with low effective population sizes 
(Nobles and Zhang 2011, p. 148). The influences of these changes on the 
longsolid and round hickorynut are possible in the future (see Scenario 
3, Future Conditions, below). Multi-scale climate models that can be 
interpreted at both the rangewide and population levels, and are 
tailored to benthic invertebrates, which incorporate genetic and life-
history information, are needed before the longsolid and round 
hickorynut declines can be correlated with climate change. At this 
time, the best available information indicates that climate change is 
considered a secondary factor influencing the viability of the 
longsolid and round hickorynut and is not currently thought to be a 
primary factor in the longsolid's or round hickorynut's occurrence and 
distribution across their ranges.

Resource Extraction

    The most intensive resource extraction activities affecting the 
longsolid, round hickorynut, and their habitats are coal mining and oil 
and gas exploration, which are summarized here. Additional less 
intensive resource extraction activities affecting the species include 
gravel mining/dredging, which is detailed in the SSA reports (Service 
2018, pp. 64-65; Service 2019, pp. 79-83).
    Activities associated with coal mining and oil and gas drilling can 
contribute chemical pollutants to streams. Acid mine and saline 
drainage (AMD) is created from the oxidation of iron-sulfide minerals 
such as pyrite, forming sulfuric acid (Sams and Beer 2000, p. 3). This 
AMD may be associated with high concentrations of aluminum, manganese, 
zinc, and other constituents (Tennessee Department of Environment and 
Conservation (TDEC) 2014, p. 72). These metals, and the high acidity 
typically associated with AMD, can be acutely and chronically toxic to 
aquatic life (Jones 1964, p. 96).
    Natural gas extraction has negatively affected water quality 
through accidental spills and discharges, as well as increased 
sedimentation due to increases in impervious surface and tree removal 
for drill pads and pipelines (Vidic et al. 2013, p. 6). Disposal of 
insufficiently treated brine wastewater is known to adversely affect 
freshwater mussels (Patnode et al. 2015, p. 62). Contaminant spills are 
also a concern.
    Sediment appears to be the largest impact to mussel physical 
habitat in streams as a result of gas extraction activities (Clayton 
2018, pers. comm.). Excessive suspended sediments can impair feeding 
processes, leading to acute short-term or chronic long-term stress. 
Both excessive sedimentation and excessive suspended sediments can lead 
to reduced mussel fitness (Ellis 1936, p. 29; Anderson and Kreeger 
2010, p. 2). This sediment is generated by construction of the well 
pads, access roads, and pipelines (for both gas and water).
    Examples of the variety of resource extraction activities (coal, 
oil, gas, and gravel mining) that occur across the range of the 
longsolid and round hickorynut include (but are not limited to):
     Longsolid: The Cumberland Plateau and Central Appalachian 
regions of Tennessee and Kentucky (upper Cumberland River system and 
upper Tennessee River system) continue to experience mining activity 
that impairs water quality in streams (TDEC 2014, p. 62).
     Longsolid: High levels of copper, manganese, and zinc, 
metals toxic to freshwater mussels, were found in sediment samples from 
both the Clinch and Powell Rivers, and mining impacts close to Big 
Stone Gap, Virginia, have almost eliminated the mussel fauna in the 
upper Powell River. The longsolid is considered extirpated from the 
South Fork Powell River and Cane Creek, both tributaries to the upper 
portion of the Powell River (Ahlstedt and Tuberville 1997, p. 75; 
Appendix D).
     Round hickorynut: Although populations persist in the 
Rockcastle River and Buck Creek in the Cumberland basin, coal and 
gravel mining continues to occur in these watersheds.
     Round hickorynut: The extensive mining of gravel in 
riparian zones reduces vegetative buffers and causes channel 
instability, and has been implicated in mussel declines in the 
Walhonding River, Ohio, which harbors a low condition population 
(Hoggarth 1995-96, p. 150).
     Both species: Impacts from natural gas pipelines have a 
high potential to occur in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Tank trucks 
hauling such fluids can overturn into mussel streams, which recently 
occurred in Meathouse Fork of Middle Island Creek (Clayton 2018, pers. 
comm.).
     Both species: Natural gas extraction in the Marcellus 
Shale region (the largest natural gas field in the United States that 
runs through northern Appalachia) has negatively affected water quality 
through accidental spills and discharges in populations in the 
Shenango, Elk, Little Kanawha, and Kanawha management units.
     Both species: Coal mining has been implicated in sediment 
and water chemistry impacts in the Kanawha River in West Virginia, 
potentially limiting the Elk River populations of both species (Morris 
and Taylor 1978, p. 153).
     Both species: Resource extraction and AMD have been cited 
as contributors to the loss of mussel species in the Cumberland basin 
(Haag and Cicerello 2016, p. 15), including the loss of longsolid from 
Rockcastle and Caney Fork Rivers, and the loss of round hickorynut in 
the Caney Fork, Little South Fork, Big South Fork, and Cumberland 
Rivers (Anderson et al. 1991, p. 6; Layzer and Anderson 1992, p. 97; 
Warren and Haag 2005, p. 1,383).
     Both species: In the upper Kentucky River watershed, where 
both species exhibit a lack of recruitment (and also the Red River for 
round hickorynut), historical un-reclaimed mines and active coal mines 
are prevalent (Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection 2015, 
p. 66).

Forest Conversion

    Silvicultural activities, when performed according to strict forest 
practices guidelines or best management practices (BMPs), can retain 
adequate conditions for aquatic ecosystems; however, when forest 
practices guidelines or BMPs are not followed, these activities can 
also cause measurable impacts and contribute to the myriad of stressors 
facing aquatic systems throughout the eastern United States (Warrington 
et al. 2017, p. 8). Both small- and large-scale forestry activities 
have an impact depending on the physical, chemical, and biological 
characteristics of adjacent streams (Allan and Castillo 2007, p. 107).
    Clearing large areas of forested wetlands and riparian systems

[[Page 61400]]

eliminates shade once provided by tree canopies, exposing streams to 
more sunlight and increasing the in-stream water temperature (Wenger 
1999, p. 35). The increase in stream temperature and light after 
deforestation alters macroinvertebrate (and other aquatic species) 
richness, abundance, and composition in streams to various degrees 
depending a species' tolerance to temperature change and increased 
light in the aquatic system (Kishi et al. 2004, p. 283; Couceiro et al. 
2007, p. 272; Caldwell et al. 2014, p. 2,196).
    Sediment runoff from cleared forested areas is a known stressor to 
aquatic systems (e.g., Webster et al. 1992, p. 232; Jones III et al. 
1999, p. 1,455; Broadmeadow and Nisbet 2004, p. 286; Aust et al. 2011, 
p. 123). The physical characteristics of stream channels are affected 
when large quantities of sediment are added or removed (Watters 2000, 
p. 263). Mussels and fishes are potentially affected by changes in 
suspended and bed material load, changes in bed sediment composition 
associated with increased sediment production and runoff, changes in 
channel formation, stream crossings, and inadequately buffered clear-
cut areas, all of which can be sources of sediment entering streams 
(Taylor et al. 1999, p. 13).
    Forest conversion has occurred across the range of the longsolid 
and round hickorynut. Siltation and erosion from natural forest 
conversion to monoculture and intensive forestry practices without BMPs 
is a well-documented stressor to aquatic systems throughout the eastern 
United States (Warrington et al. 2017, p. 8). Forest conversion has 
been documented in all basins in which these species occur.

Invasive and Nonnative Species

    When a nonnative species is introduced into an ecosystem, it may 
have many advantages over native species, such as easy adaptation to 
varying environments and a high tolerance of living conditions that 
allow it to thrive in its new habitat. There may not be natural 
predators to keep the nonnative species in check; therefore, it can 
potentially live longer and reproduce more often, further reducing the 
biodiversity in the system. The native species may become an easy food 
source for invasive, nonnative species, or the invasive species may 
carry diseases that extirpate populations of native species. Invasive, 
nonnative species are pervasive across the longsolid's and round 
hickorynut's ranges. Examples of invasive, nonnative species that 
affect freshwater mussels like the longsolid and round hickorynut are 
the Asian clam (Corbicula fluminea), zebra mussel (Dreissena 
polymorpha), quagga mussel (Dreissena bugensis), black carp 
(Mylopharyngodon piceus), didymo (also known as rock snot; 
Didymosphenia geminata), and hydrilla (also known as water-thyme; 
Hydrilla verticillata).
     The Asian clam alters benthic substrates, may filter 
mussel sperm or glochidia, competes with native species for limited 
resources, and causes ammonia spikes in surrounding water when they die 
off en masse (Scheller 1997, p. 2).
     Dreissenid mollusks, such as the zebra mussel and quagga 
mussel, adversely affect native species through direct colonization, 
reduction of available habitat, changes in the biotic environment, or a 
reduction in food sources (MacIsaac 1996, p. 292). Zebra mussels are 
also known to alter the nutrient cycle in aquatic habitats, affecting 
other mollusks and fish species (Strayer 1999, p. 22).
     Given their size and diet preferences, black carp have the 
potential to restructure benthic communities by direct predation and 
removal of algae-grazing snails. Mussel beds consisting of smaller 
individuals and juvenile recruits are probably most vulnerable to being 
consumed by black carp (Nico et al. 2005, p. 192). Furthermore, because 
black carp attain a large size (well over 3.28-ft (1-m) long), and 
their life span is reportedly over 15 years, they are expected to 
persist for many years. Therefore, they have the potential to cause 
harm to native mollusks by way of predation on multiple age classes 
(Nico et al. 2005, p. 77).
     The two nonnative plant species that are most problematic 
for the longsolid and round hickorynut (i.e., impacting the species 
throughout their ranges) are hydrilla and didymo. Hydrilla is an 
aquatic plant that alters stream habitat, decreases flows, and 
contributes to sediment buildup in streams (National Invasive Species 
Council Management Plan 2018, p. 2). High sedimentation can cause 
suffocation, reduce stream flow, and make it difficult for mussels' 
interactions with host fish necessary for development. Didymo can alter 
the habitat and change the flow dynamics of a site (Jackson et al. 
2016, p. 970). Invasive plants grow uncontrolled and can smother 
habitat, affect flow dynamics, alter water chemistry, and increase 
water temperatures, especially in drought conditions (Colle et al. 
1987, p. 416).

Effects Associated With Small Population Size

    Without the level of population connectedness that the species 
experienced historically (i.e., without barriers such as reservoirs), 
small isolated populations that may now be comprised predominantly of 
adult individuals could be slowly dying out. Even given the very 
improbable absence of other anthropogenic threats, these disjunct 
populations could be lost simply due to the consequences of below-
threshold effective population sizes. Because only 60 primarily 
disjunct streams among 162 historically occupied areas continue to 
harbor populations of the longsolid, and 65 primarily disjunct streams 
of 298 historically occupied areas continue to harbor populations of 
the round hickorynut, this is likely partial testimony to the principle 
of effective population size and its role in population loss.
    The longsolid and round hickorynut exhibit several traits that 
influence population viability, including relatively small population 
size and low fecundity at many locations compared to other mussels (see 
Appendix A in Service 2018 and 2019). Small population size puts the 
species at greater risk of extirpation from stochastic events (e.g., 
drought) or anthropomorphic changes and management activities that 
affect habitat. In addition, small longsolid or round hickorynut 
populations may have reduced genetic diversity, be less genetically 
fit, and be more susceptible to disease during extreme environmental 
conditions compared to large populations (Frankham 1996, p. 1,505).
    Genetic drift occurs in all species, but the lack of drift is more 
likely to negatively affect populations that have a smaller effective 
population size (number of breeding individuals) and populations that 
are geographically spread out and isolated from one another. Relatively 
low fecundity, commonly observed in species of Fusconaia, is another 
inherent factor that could influence population viability (Geist 2010, 
p. 91). Survival of juveniles in the wild is already low, and females 
produce fewer offspring than other mussel species (Haag and Staton 
2003, p. 2,125). Factors such as low effective population size, genetic 
isolation, relatively low levels of fecundity and recruitment, and 
limited juvenile survival could all affect the ability of these species 
to maintain current population levels and to rebound if a reduction in 
population

[[Page 61401]]

occurs (e.g., through predation, toxic releases or spills, or poor 
environmental conditions that inhibit successful reproduction). 
Additionally, based on our presumption of fish hosts of the longsolid 
and the known species of fish hosts for the round hickorynut, they are 
small-bodied fishes that have comparatively limited movement (Vaughn 
2012, p. 6); therefore, natural expansion of longsolid and round 
hickorynut populations is limited.
    Dendritic (branched) streams and rivers are highly susceptible to 
fragmentation and may result in multiple habitat fragments and isolated 
populations of variable size (Fagan 2002, p. 3,247). In contrast to 
landscapes where multiple routes of movement among patches are 
possible, pollution or other habitat degradation at specific points in 
dendritic landscapes can completely isolate portions of the system 
(Fagan 2002, p. 3,246).

Cumulative/Synergistic Effects

    Populations that have a small effective population size (number of 
breeding individuals) and that are geographically spread out and 
isolated from one another are more vulnerable than more robust 
populations. Factors such as low effective population size, genetic 
isolation, relatively low levels of fecundity and recruitment, and 
limited juvenile survival could all affect the ability of these species 
to maintain current population levels and to rebound if a reduction in 
population occurs (e.g., through predation, toxic releases or spills, 
or poor environmental conditions that inhibit successful reproduction). 
Additionally, fragmentation (i.e., the breaking apart of habitat 
segments, independent of habitat loss (Fahrig 2003; p. 299)) and 
isolation contribute to the extinction risk that mussel populations 
face from stochastic events (see Haag 2012, pp. 336-338). Impoundments 
result in the genetic isolation of mussel populations as well as fishes 
that act as hosts (Vaughn 2012, p. 6; Service 2018, pp. 59-60; Service 
2019, p. 74). A culvert that is perched (i.e., sitting above the 
downstream streambed) or improperly maintained at stream crossings can 
also act as barriers (Service 2018, pp. 50-54, 59-60; Service 2019, pp. 
63, 90), and have similar effects as dams on stream systems. 
Fluctuating flows through a culvert can differ significantly from the 
rest of the stream, preventing fish passage and scouring downstream 
habitats.

Future Conditions

    In the SSA reports, we forecast the longsolid's and round 
hickorynut's response to plausible future scenarios of environmental 
conditions and conservation efforts. The future scenarios project the 
threats into the future and consider the impacts those threats could 
have on the viability of the longsolid and round hickorynut. We apply 
the concepts of resiliency, redundancy, and representation to the 
future scenarios to describe possible future conditions of the 
longsolid and round hickorynut. The scenarios described in the SSA 
reports represent only three possible future conditions for each of the 
species. Uncertainty is inherent in any risk assessment, so we must 
consider plausible conditions to make our determinations. When 
assessing the future, viability is not a specific state, but rather a 
continuous measure of the likelihood that the species will sustain 
populations over time.
    In the SSA reports, we considered three future scenarios. Scenario 
1 assesses the species' response to factors influencing current 
longsolid and round hickorynut populations and management units, 
assuming the current level of impacts remain constant into the future. 
Scenario 2 assesses the species' response when factors that negatively 
influence most of the extant populations and management units are 
reduced by additional conservation, beyond the continued implementation 
of existing regulatory measures or voluntary conservation actions. 
Scenario 3 assesses the species' response to worsening conditions of 
the factors that most influence the species due to the implementation 
of known existing and projected development, resource extraction, 
hydroelectric projects, etc. An important assumption of the predictive 
analysis presented herein is that future population resiliency for each 
species is largely dependent on water quality, water flow, instream 
habitat conditions, and condition of riparian vegetation (see Species 
Needs, above).
    The future conditions timeframe for our analysis is different for 
each species. A timeframe of 50 to 70 years into the future is 
evaluated for the longsolid, and 20 to 30 years into the future is 
evaluated for the round hickorynut. We selected these timeframes based 
on the availability of trends and threat information, planning 
documents, and climate modeling that could be reasonably projected into 
the future, and also the consideration of at least two generations for 
each species (i.e., 25 to 35 years for the long-lived longsolid, and on 
average 12-13 years (Shepard 2006, p. 7; Ehlo and Layzer 2014, p. 11) 
for the round hickorynut).
Longsolid
    Our assessment predicts that if conditions remain the same or 
worsen into the future, all 60 populations would experience negative 
changes to the species' important habitat requisites (see Species 
Needs, above), including the loss of the single remaining population in 
the Cumberland River basin, and potentially resulting in no highly 
resilient populations (Scenario 3). Alternatively, the scenario that 
suggests additive conservation measures beyond those currently 
implemented (Scenario 2) could result in the continued persistence of 
all 60 populations in the future. However, we note that approximately 
30 of 60 (50 percent) of these are currently low condition populations, 
based on either surveys that pre-date 2000 or on the collection of only 
five or fewer older, non-reproducing individuals. Some of these 
populations may already be extirpated. The risks facing the longsolid 
populations varied among scenarios and are summarized below (see Table 
8-1 and Table ES-1 in the SSA report).
    Under Scenario 1, lowered resiliency, representation, and 
redundancy are expected. Under this scenario, we predict that 1 
population of the current 3 high condition populations would remain in 
high condition, 8 populations (13 percent) in medium condition, and 33 
populations (55 percent) in low condition. Redundancy would be reduced 
with likely extirpation of 18 out of 60 (30 percent) currently extant 
populations; only the Ohio River basin (one of the three basins 
currently occupied by the species) would retain one highly resilient 
population (i.e., the Green River population in the Upper Green 
management unit). Representation would be reduced, with two of the 
three currently occupied river basins continuing to harbor longsolid 
populations.
    Under Scenario 2, we predict higher levels of resiliency in some 
areas of the longsolid's range than was estimated for Scenario 1; 
representation and redundancy would remain the same level as current 
conditions, with the species continuing to occur within all currently 
occupied management units and States across its range. Nine populations 
(15 percent) are predicted to be in high condition, compared to the 
current four populations in high condition. Scenario 2 also predicts 24 
populations (40 percent) in medium condition and 27 populations (45 
percent) in low condition; no populations would become extirpated. All 
three currently occupied major river

[[Page 61402]]

basins would remain occupied, and the existing levels of redundancy and 
representation would improve. It is possible that this scenario is the 
least likely to occur in the future as compared to Scenario 1 or 3 only 
because it will take many years (potentially beyond the 50- to 70-year 
timeframe analyzed in the SSA report) for all of the beneficial effects 
of management actions that are necessary to be implemented and realized 
on the landscape.
    Under Scenario 3, we predict a significant decrease in resiliency, 
representation, and redundancy across the species' range. Redundancy 
would be reduced from three major river basins to two basins with no 
high condition populations remaining, and the likely extirpation of 44 
(73 percent) of the currently extant populations. The resiliency of the 
remaining 16 populations is expected to be reduced to 3 populations (5 
percent) in medium condition and 13 (22 percent) in low condition. In 
addition to the loss of 44 populations, 32 (29 percent) of the 
management units are predicted to become extirpated. Representation 
would be reduced to 13 management units, 2 major river basins, and 3 
States (as compared to the current 9 States) occupied by the species.
Round Hickorynut
    Our assessment predicts that if conditions remain the same 
(Scenario 1), 40 of 65 populations (62 percent) would experience 
negative changes to the important habitat requisites, including the 
potential loss of 23 populations. This includes the predicted 
extirpation of the two populations in the Cumberland River basin and 
the population in the Lower Mississippi River basin. Additionally, 
under Scenario 3, no highly resilient populations are able to persist, 
and 90 percent of remaining populations are in low condition. 
Alternatively, the scenario that suggests additive conservation 
measures beyond those currently implemented (Scenario 2) could result 
in the continued persistence of all 65 populations in the future. 
However, approximately 40 of 65 (62 percent) of these populations are 
currently in low condition. Many of the known populations of the round 
hickorynut have been collected as 10 or fewer individuals, with limited 
extent information available, due to the lack of survey effort 
targeting the species (Service 2019, Appendix A). The risks facing 
round hickorynut populations varied among scenarios and are summarized 
below (see also Table 8-1 and Table ES-1 in the SSA report).
    Under Scenario 1, lowered resiliency, representation, and 
redundancy are expected. We predict that only one of the current four 
high condition populations would remain in high condition. Under this 
scenario, only the Great Lakes basin (one of the five basins currently 
occupied by the species) would retain a highly resilient population 
(i.e., the Grand River). Of the 65 extant populations, 13 (20 percent) 
would be in medium condition and 28 (43 percent) would be in low 
condition. We estimate extirpation of 23 out of 65 (35 percent) 
populations. Redundancy would decline due to these population and 
management unit losses, resulting in a loss of the species from 
Pennsylvania and Mississippi. Representation would be reduced through 
extirpation of populations and management units in the Cumberland and 
Great Lakes basins, a 40 percent loss of redundancy compared to current 
conditions. Under this scenario, only three of the five currently 
occupied river basins (Great Lakes, Ohio, and Tennessee) continue to 
harbor round hickorynut populations.
    Under Scenario 2, we predict higher levels of resiliency in some 
areas of the round hickorynut's range than is estimated for Scenario 1; 
representation and redundancy would remain the same level as current 
conditions with the species continuing to occur within all currently 
occupied management units and States across the species' 9-State range. 
Up to 15 populations (23 percent) are predicted to be high condition 
compared to the current 4 populations in high condition. Scenario 2 
also predicts 37 populations (57 percent) in medium condition and 13 
populations (20 percent) in low condition. All currently occupied major 
river basins would remain occupied, and the existing levels of 
redundancy and representation would improve. There are sufficient 
population sizes within each basin to facilitate augmentation and 
restoration efforts, whether it be within-basin translocations or 
captive propagation techniques. It is possible that this scenario is 
the least likely to occur in the future as compared to Scenario 1 or 3. 
This is because it will take many years (potentially beyond the 20- to 
30-year time frame analyzed in the SSA report) for all of the 
beneficial effects of management actions that are necessary to be 
implemented on the landscape.
    Under Scenario 3, we predict a significant decrease in resiliency, 
representation, and redundancy across the species' range. Redundancy 
would be reduced from five major river basins to three basins, with 
extirpations expected to occur in the Cumberland and Lower Mississippi 
River basins. No high condition populations would remain, and 46 (71 
percent) of the 65 extant populations are likely to become extirpated. 
The resiliency of the remaining 19 populations is expected to be 
reduced to 2 populations (10 percent) in medium condition and 17 (90 
percent) in low condition. In addition to the potential loss of 46 
populations, 20 (59 percent) of the extant 34 management units are 
predicted to no longer harbor the species. Representation could be 
reduced to 14 management units across 3 major river basins. 
Extirpations are expected from the States of Pennsylvania, Michigan, 
and Mississippi, leaving 6 States (as compared to the current 9, and 
historically 12) occupied by the species.
    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 SSA 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.

Determination of Longsolid and Round Hickorynut Status

Introduction

    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

[[Page 61403]]

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.
    In conducting our status assessment of the longsolid and round 
hickorynut, we evaluated all identified threats under the Act's section 
4(a)(1) factors and assessed how the cumulative impact of all threats 
acts on the viability of the species as a whole. That is, all the 
anticipated effects from both habitat-based and direct mortality-based 
threats are examined in total and then evaluated in the context of what 
those combined negative effects will mean to the future condition of 
the longsolid and round hickorynut. However, for the vast majority of 
potential threats, the effect on the longsolid and round hickorynut 
(e.g., total losses of individual mussels or their habitat) cannot be 
quantified with available information. Instead, we use the best 
available information to gauge the magnitude of each individual threat 
on the longsolid and round hickorynut, and then assess how those 
effects combined (and as may be ameliorated by any existing regulatory 
mechanisms or conservation efforts) will impact the longsolid's or 
round hickorynut's future viability.

Longsolid--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 
determined that the species' distribution and abundance has been 
reduced across its range as demonstrated by both the number of occupied 
management units and the number of populations where it historically 
occurred. Historically, the species occurred within 162 populations and 
105 management units across 12 States; currently, the species occurs in 
60 populations and 45 management units across 9 States, which 
represents a 63 percent reduction of its historically occupied 
populations (although we note that the remaining populations are well-
distributed as opposed to concentrated within its range). The 
conditions of the remaining 60 extant populations vary between being 
highly resilient, moderately resilient, or having low resiliency (see 
Current Conditions above, and section 5.2 in the SSA report (Service 
2018, pp. 34-37)).
    Currently, 3 populations (5 percent) are highly resilient, 9 (15 
percent) are moderately resilient, and 48 (80 percent) have low 
resiliency. Although downward trends are evident compared to historical 
information, the 12 highly- to moderately-resilient populations 
continue to persist within three of the four major river basins the 
species is historically known to occupy. Current and ongoing threats 
from habitat degradation or loss (Factor A), residual impacts from past 
harvest and overutilization (Factor B), and invasive, nonnative species 
(Factor E) contribute to the species' negative effects associated with 
small population size (Factor E). The persistence of these 12 
populations (in addition to some survey information) implies that 
recent recruitment is occurring in some populations to help maintain a 
level of resiliency, redundancy, and representation. Thus, after 
assessing the best available information, we conclude that the 
longsolid is not currently in danger of extinction throughout all of 
its range. We, therefore, proceed with determining whether the 
longsolid is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future 
throughout all of its range.
    At this point in time, and as noted above, the threats currently 
acting on the species include habitat degradation or loss from a 
variety of sources and invasive, nonnative species, all of which 
contribute to the negative effects associated with the species' small 
population size. Our analysis revealed that these threats are likely to 
continue into the foreseeable future, or approximately 30 to 50 years. 
This timeframe accounts for reasonable predictions of threats 
continuing into the future based on our examination of empirical data 
available over the last 30 years (e.g., survey data, how threats are 
manifesting themselves on the landscape and the species, implementation 
of management plans and voluntary conservation actions), and also takes 
into consideration the biology of the species (multiple generations of 
a long-lived species) and the licensing schedules of dams within the 
species' range.
    The best available information suggests that the threats currently 
acting upon the longsolid are expected to continue into the foreseeable 
future, some of which (e.g., water quality and habitat degradation, and 
invasive, nonnative species) are reasonably expected to worsen over 
time, including concurrent with increasing human population trends and 
thus further reducing the species' resiliency, redundancy, and 
representation across its range. Our analysis reveals the potential for 
either none or a single population (i.e., the Green River in Kentucky) 
to persist as highly resilient (i.e., continued reproduction with 
varied age classes present) in the foreseeable future, assuming threats 
remain or worsen on the landscape. Additionally, the majority of the 
remaining populations would exhibit low resiliency, while many (between 
30 and 73 percent of the current low condition populations) would 
potentially become extinct or functionally extinct (e.g., significant 
habitat degradation, no reproduction due to highly isolated, non-
recruiting individuals). Our future analysis also reveals a high risk 
that the species would become extirpated in one of the four 
historically occupied river basins (i.e., Cumberland River basin); it 
has already been lost from the Great Lakes basin. Overall, the current 
threats acting on the species and its habitat are expected to continue, 
and there are no indications that these threats would lessen or that 
declining population trends would be reversed. Thus, after assessing 
the best available information, we conclude that the longsolid is 
likely to become in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future 
throughout all of its range.

Longsolid--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. The court in Center for Biological Diversity v. Everson, 
2020 WL 437289 (D.D.C. Jan. 28, 2020) (Everson), vacated the aspect of 
the 2014 Significant Portion of its Range Policy that provided that the 
Services do not undertake an analysis of significant portions of a 
species' range if the species warrants listing as threatened throughout 
all of its range. Therefore, we proceed to evaluating whether the 
species is endangered in a significant portion of its range--that is, 
whether there is any portion of the species' range for which both (1) 
the portion is significant; and, (2) the species is in danger of 
extinction in that portion. Depending on the case, it might be more 
efficient for us to address the ``significance'' question or the 
``status'' question first. We can choose to address either question 
first. Regardless of which question we address first, if we reach a 
negative answer with respect to the first question that we address, we 
do not need to evaluate the other question for that portion of the 
species' range.

[[Page 61404]]

    Following the court's holding in Everson, we now consider whether 
there are any significant portions of the species' range where the 
species is in danger of extinction now (i.e., endangered). In 
undertaking this analysis for the longsolid, we choose to address the 
status question first--we consider information pertaining to the 
geographic distribution of both the species and the threats that the 
species faces to identify any portions of the range where the species 
is endangered. We examined the following threats: Habitat degradation 
or loss; invasive, nonnative species; effects associated with small 
population size; and the potential for cumulative effects. We also 
considered whether these threats may be exacerbated by small population 
size (or low condition). Overall, we found that threats are likely 
acting on individuals or populations, or even basins, similarly across 
the species' range. These threats are certain to occur, and in those 
basins with few populations that are predominantly in low condition, 
these populations are facing the same threats.
    One basin--the Cumberland River--has been reduced by 91 percent 
with one remaining low condition population. Although there are low 
condition populations in all three basins in which the species occurs, 
since this basin has seen its populations significantly reduced to a 
single population currently in low condition, this circumstance--in 
combination with the other threats acting on the species throughout its 
range--may indicate there is a concentration of threats in this basin 
such that the species may be in danger of extinction in this portion of 
the range.
    Small, isolated populations often exhibit reduced levels of genetic 
variability, which diminishes the species' capacity to adapt and 
respond to environmental changes, thereby decreasing the probability of 
long-term persistence. Small populations may experience reduced 
reproductive vigor, for example, due to inbreeding depression. Isolated 
individuals may have difficulty reproducing. The problems associated 
with small population size and vulnerability to random demographic 
fluctuations or natural catastrophes are further magnified by 
synergistic interactions with other threats, such as those discussed 
above. Based on our review of information and the synergistic effects 
of threats exacerbated by a single low-condition population in the 
Cumberland River basin, we find that this basin is a portion of the 
range where the species may be in danger of extinction.
    Because we have determined the Cumberland River basin is a portion 
of the range that may be in danger of extinction, we next evaluate 
whether this portion may be significant. As an initial note, the 
Service's most recent definition of ``significant'' within agency 
policy guidance has been invalidated by court order (see Desert 
Survivors v. Dep't of the Interior, No. 16-cv-01165 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 24, 
2018)). Therefore, for purposes of this analysis, the Service is 
evaluating potentially significant portions of the range by applying 
any reasonable definition of ``significant'' in terms of its biological 
importance.
    We first examined the question of whether this portion could be a 
significant portion of the longsolid's range by examining its 
contribution to the resiliency, redundancy, and representation of the 
species. We determined that this basin contains 1 of 60 populations 
(1.7 percent) identified in the SSA report. Therefore, this single 
population does not contribute significantly, either currently or in 
the foreseeable future, to the species' total resiliency at a 
biologically meaningful scale compared to other representative areas. 
The overall representation described herein would likely be the same 
under two of the three scenarios. We conclude that the Cumberland River 
basin population does not contribute meaningfully to the species' 
viability overall. We evaluated the best available information for the 
Cumberland River basin in this context, assessing its significance in 
terms of these conservation concepts, and determined that this single 
population is not biologically significant to the species.
    Longsolid populations are widely distributed over nine States and 
three major river basins, and we considered geographic range as a 
surrogate for geographic variation and proxy for potential local 
adaptation and adaptive capacity. A river basin is any area of land 
where precipitation collects and drains off into a common outlet, such 
as into a river, bay, or other body of water. The river basin includes 
all the surface water from precipitation runoff and nearby streams that 
run downslope towards the shared outlet, as well as the groundwater 
underneath the earth's surface. River basins connect into other 
drainage basins at lower elevations in a hierarchical pattern, with 
smaller sub-drainage basins. There are no data indicating genetic or 
morphological differentiation between the three major river basins for 
the species. Further, the longsolid occurs in similar aquatic habitats 
and does not use unique observable environmental or behavioral 
characteristics attributable to any of the basins. Therefore, it 
exhibits similar basin-scale use of habitat.
    At a population level, the Cumberland River basin population occurs 
in stream habitat comprised of similar substrate types to the other 
basins where the longsolid performs the important life-history 
functions of breeding, feeding, and sheltering, and occurs in areas 
with water quality sufficient to sustain these essential life-history 
traits. The single population in the Cumberland River basin does not 
act as a refugia for the species or as an important spawning ground. In 
addition, the water quality is similar throughout the species' range 
with impaired water quality occurring in all three basins. Since the 
longsolid occurs in similar aquatic habitats, the Cumberland River 
basin population exhibits similar habitat use as populations in the 
remainder of the range. Therefore, there is no unique, observable 
environmental usage or behavioral characteristics attributable to just 
the Cumberland River basin population.
    Overall, we found no substantial information that would indicate 
the Cumberland River basin is a portion of the range that may be 
significant in terms of its overall contribution to the species' 
resiliency, redundancy, and representation, or that it may be 
significant in terms of high-quality habitat or habitat that is 
otherwise important for the species' life history. As a result, we 
determined there is no portion of the longsolid's range that 
constitutes a significant portion of the range. Accordingly, we 
determine that the species is likely to become in danger of extinction 
within the foreseeable future throughout all of its range. This is 
consistent with the courts' holdings in Desert Survivors v. Department 
of the Interior, No. 16-cv-01165-JCS, 2018 WL 4053447 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 
24, 2018), and Center for Biological Diversity v. Jewell, 248 F. Supp. 
3d, 946, 959 (D. Ariz. 2017).

Longsolid--Determination of Status

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

Round Hickorynut--Status Throughout All of Its Range

    After evaluating threats to the species and assessing the 
cumulative effect of the threats under the Act's section 4(a)(1) 
factors, we determined that the

[[Page 61405]]

round hickorynut's abundance has been reduced across its range as 
demonstrated by both number of occupied management units and the number 
of populations where the species has historically occurred. 
Historically, the species occurred within 297 populations and 138 
management units across 12 States (plus at least 10 populations and 8 
management units within the Canadian Province of Ontario); currently, 
the species occurs in 65 populations and 34 management units across 9 
States, which represents a 78 percent reduction of its historically 
occupied populations (although we note that the remaining populations 
are widely distributed as opposed to concentrated within its range). 
The species also continues to occur in Canada, although it is estimated 
to have declined by greater than 92 percent, as reported in 2013 
(Committee on the Status of Species at Risk in Ontario 2013, p. 4). The 
condition of the remaining 65 currently extant populations in the 
United States are categorized as either high, moderate, or low (see the 
applicable condition description above under Longsolid--Status 
Throughout All of Its Range, and section 5.2 in the round hickorynut's 
SSA report (Service 2019, pp. 43-47)).
    Currently, 4 round hickorynut populations (6 percent) are highly 
resilient, 16 (25 percent) are moderately resilient, and 45 (69 
percent) have low resiliency. Although downward trends are evident 
compared to historical information, the 20 highly to moderately 
resilient populations in the United States continue to persist within 4 
of the 5 major river basins where the species is historically known to 
occur. Current and ongoing threats from habitat degradation or loss 
(Factor A), and invasive, nonnative species (Factor E), contribute to 
the negative effects associated with the species' small population size 
(Factor E). The persistence of these 20 populations (in addition to 
some survey information) implies that recent recruitment is occurring 
in some populations, and they maintain a level of resiliency, 
redundancy, and representation. Thus, after assessing the best 
available information, we conclude that the round hickorynut is not 
currently in danger of extinction throughout all of its range. We, 
therefore, proceed with determining whether the round hickorynut is 
likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future throughout 
all of its range.
    As noted above, the threats acting on the species include habitat 
degradation or loss from a variety of sources and invasive, nonnative 
species, both of which contribute to the negative effects associated 
with the species' small population size. Our analysis revealed that 
these threats are likely to continue into the foreseeable future, or 
approximately 20 to 40 years. This timeframe accounts for reasonable 
predictions of threats continuing into the future based on our 
examination of empirical data in our files (e.g., survey data, how 
threats are manifesting themselves on the landscape and the species, 
implementation of management plans and voluntary conservation actions), 
and also takes into consideration the biology of the species and the 
licensing schedules of dams within the species' range.
    The best available information suggests that the threats currently 
acting upon the round hickorynut are expected to continue into the 
foreseeable future. The effects of water quality and habitat 
degradation, and invasive, nonnative species are reasonably expected to 
worsen over time, including concurrent with increasing human population 
trends and thus further reducing the species' resiliency, redundancy, 
and representation across its range. Our analysis reveals the potential 
for either none or a single population (i.e., the Grand River in Ohio) 
to persist as highly resilient (i.e., continued reproduction with 
varied age classes present) in the foreseeable future, assuming threats 
remain or worsen on the landscape. Additionally, the majority of the 
remaining populations would exhibit low resiliency, while many (between 
35 and 62 percent of the current low conditions populations) would 
potentially become extinct or functionally extinct (e.g., significant 
habitat degradation, no reproduction due to highly isolated, non-
recruiting individuals). Our future analysis also reveals a high risk 
that the species would become extirpated in two of the five 
historically occupied river basins (i.e., Cumberland River basin and 
Lower Mississippi River basin). Overall, the current threats acting on 
the species and its habitat are expected to continue, and there are no 
indications that these threats would be lessened or that declining 
population trends would be reverted. Thus, after assessing the best 
available information, we conclude that the round hickorynut is likely 
to become in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future 
throughout all of its range.

Round Hickorynut--Status Throughout a Significant Portion of Its Range

    See above, under Longsolid--Status Throughout a Significant Portion 
of Its Range, for a description of our evaluation methods and our 
policy application.
    In undertaking the analysis for the round hickorynut, we choose to 
address the status question first--we consider information pertaining 
to the geographic distribution of both the species and the threats that 
the species faces to identify any portions of the range where the 
species is endangered. We examined the following threats: Habitat 
degradation or loss; invasive, nonnative species; negative effects 
associated with small population size; and the potential for cumulative 
effects. We also considered whether these threats may be exacerbated by 
small population size (or low condition). Overall, we found that 
threats are likely acting on individuals or populations, or even 
basins, similarly across the species' range. These threats are certain 
to occur, and in those basins with few populations that are 
predominantly in low condition, these populations are facing the same 
threats.
    Three of five basins where round hickorynut has historically 
occurred (Great Lakes, Cumberland River, and Lower Mississippi River 
basins) have been reduced to predominantly low condition populations. 
Specifically, the Great Lakes basin has been reduced from 25 
populations to 5 low condition populations, 1 medium condition 
population, and 1 high condition population; the Cumberland River basin 
has been reduced from 23 populations to 2 low condition populations; 
and the Lower Mississippi River basin has been reduced from 9 
populations to a single remaining low condition population. Although 
there are low condition populations in every basin in which the species 
occurs, since these three basins have seen their populations 
significantly reduced and a predominance of the Great Lakes basin 
populations and the remaining populations for the other two basins are 
currently in low condition, these circumstances--in combination with 
the other threats acting on the species throughout its range--may 
indicate there is a concentration of threats in these areas such that 
the species may be in danger of extinction in these portions of the 
range.
    As similarly described above for the longsolid, small, isolated 
populations often exhibit reduced levels of genetic variability, which 
diminishes the species' capacity to adapt and respond to environmental 
changes, thereby decreasing the probability of long-term persistence. 
Small populations may experience reduced reproductive vigor, for 
example, due to inbreeding depression. Isolated individuals may have 
difficulty reproducing. The

[[Page 61406]]

problems associated with small population size and vulnerability to 
random demographic fluctuations or natural catastrophes are further 
magnified by synergistic interactions with other threats, such as those 
discussed above. Based on our review of information and the synergistic 
effects of threats exacerbated by a predominance of populations in low 
condition within the Great Lakes, Cumberland, and Lower Mississippi 
River basins (where populations have been significantly extirpated), we 
find that these three basins are portions of the range where the 
species may be in danger of extinction.
    Because we have determined the Great Lakes, Cumberland, and Lower 
Mississippi River basins are portions of the range where the species 
may be in danger of extinction, we next evaluate whether those portions 
may be significant (see additional discussion above for the longsolid). 
Therefore, for purposes of this analysis, the Service is evaluating 
potentially significant portions of the range by applying any 
reasonable definition of ``significant'' in terms of its biological 
importance.
    We first examined the question of whether these portions could be a 
significant portion of the round hickorynut's range by examining their 
contribution to the resiliency, redundancy, and representation of the 
species. Although these basins contain 10 of 65 populations (15 
percent) identified in the SSA report, the Great Lakes basin consists 
of 1 population currently with moderate resiliency and 1 with high 
resiliency, and the remaining 5 populations demonstrate low resiliency; 
the remaining 3 populations in the Cumberland River basin and the Lower 
Mississippi River basin are all low condition populations. These low 
condition populations do not contribute significantly, either currently 
or in the foreseeable future, to the species' total resiliency at a 
biologically meaningful scale compared to other representative areas. 
Although the low condition populations in these basins are relatively 
small, the current and future redundancy suggests that threats would be 
unlikely to extirpate round hickorynut in the Great Lakes basin, but 
there is potential to lose the remaining three low condition 
populations under the current level of threats scenario (Scenario 1). 
Overall representation would be modified through loss of two currently 
occupied basins. We evaluated the best available information for the 
Great Lakes, Cumberland River, and Lower Mississippi River basins in 
this context, assessing its significance in terms of these conservation 
concepts, and determined that there is not substantial information to 
indicate that any of these areas may be significant.
    Round hickorynut populations are widely distributed over nine 
States and five major river basins, and we considered geographic range 
as a surrogate for geographic variation and proxy for potential local 
adaptation and adaptive capacity. A river basin is any area of land 
where precipitation collects and drains off into a common outlet, such 
as into a river, bay, or other body of water. The river basin includes 
all the surface water from precipitation runoff and nearby streams that 
run downslope towards the shared outlet, as well as the groundwater 
underneath the earth's surface. River basins connect into other 
drainage basins at lower elevations in a hierarchical pattern, with 
smaller sub-drainage basins. There are no data indicating genetic or 
morphological differentiation between the five major river basins for 
the species. Further, the round hickorynut occurs in similar aquatic 
habitats and does not use unique observable environmental or behavioral 
characteristics attributable to just the Great Lakes, Cumberland River, 
or Lower Mississippi River basin populations. Therefore, the species 
exhibits similar basin-scale use of habitat.
    At a population level, the Great Lakes, Cumberland River, and Lower 
Mississippi River basin populations occur in stream habitat comprised 
of substrate types similar to the other basins where the round 
hickorynut performs the important life-history functions of breeding, 
feeding, and sheltering, and occurs in areas with water quality 
sufficient to sustain these essential life-history traits. Populations 
in these three basins do not act as refugia for the species or as an 
important spawning ground. In addition, the water quality is similar 
throughout the species' range with impaired water quality occurring in 
all basins. Since the round hickorynut occurs in similar aquatic 
habitats, the Great Lakes, Cumberland River, and Lower Mississippi 
River basin populations exhibit similar habitat use as the remainder of 
the species' range. Therefore, there is no unique observable 
environmental usage or behavioral characteristics attributable to just 
these basins.
    Overall, we found no substantial information that would indicate 
the Great Lakes, Cumberland, or Lower Mississippi River basins 
constitute portions of the range that may be significant in terms of 
their contribution to the species' resiliency, redundancy, and 
representation, or that they may be significant in terms of high-
quality habitat or habitat that is otherwise important for the species' 
life history. As a result, we determined there is no portion of the 
round hickorynut's range that constitutes a significant portion of the 
range. Accordingly, we determine that the round hickorynut is likely to 
become in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future throughout 
all of its range. This is consistent with the courts' holdings in 
Desert Survivors v. Department of the Interior, No. 16-cv-01165-JCS, 
2018 WL 4053447 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 24, 2018), and Center for Biological 
Diversity v. Jewell, 248 F. Supp. 3d, 946, 959 (D. Ariz. 2017).

Round Hickorynut--Determination of Status

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

Available Conservation Measures

    Conservation measures provided to species listed as endangered or 
threatened species under the Act include recognition, recovery actions, 
requirements for Federal protection, and prohibitions against certain 
practices. Recognition through listing results in public awareness, and 
conservation by Federal, State, tribal, and local agencies, private 
organizations, and individuals. The Act encourages cooperation with the 
States and other countries and calls for recovery actions to be carried 
out for listed species. The protection required by Federal agencies and 
the prohibitions against certain activities are discussed, in part, 
below.
    The primary purpose of the Act is the conservation of endangered 
and threatened species and the ecosystems upon which they depend. The 
ultimate goal of such conservation efforts is the recovery of these 
listed species, so that they no longer need the protective measures of 
the Act. Section 4(f) of the Act calls for the Service to develop and 
implement recovery plans for the conservation of endangered and 
threatened species. The recovery planning process involves the 
identification of actions that are necessary to halt or reverse the 
species' decline by addressing the threats to its survival and 
recovery. The goal of this process is to restore listed species to a 
point where they are secure, self-sustaining, and functioning 
components of their ecosystems.

[[Page 61407]]

    Recovery planning consists of preparing draft and final recovery 
plans, beginning with the development of a recovery outline and making 
it available to the public within 30 days of a final listing 
determination. The recovery outline guides the immediate implementation 
of urgent recovery actions and describes the process to be used to 
develop a recovery plan. Revisions of the plan may be done to address 
continuing or new threats to the species, as new substantive 
information becomes available. The recovery plan also identifies 
recovery criteria for review of when a species may be ready for 
reclassification from endangered to threatened (``downlisting'') or 
removal from protected status (``delisting''), and methods for 
monitoring recovery progress. Recovery plans also establish a framework 
for agencies to coordinate their recovery efforts and provide estimates 
of the cost of implementing recovery tasks. Recovery teams (composed of 
species experts, Federal and State agencies, nongovernmental 
organizations, and stakeholders) are often established to develop 
recovery plans. When completed, the recovery outline, draft recovery 
plan, and the final recovery plan will be available on our website 
(http://www.fws.gov/endangered).
    Implementation of recovery actions generally requires the 
participation of a broad range of partners, including other Federal 
agencies, States, Tribes, nongovernmental organizations, businesses, 
and private landowners. Examples of recovery actions include habitat 
restoration (e.g., restoration of native vegetation), research, captive 
propagation and reintroduction, and outreach and education. The 
recovery of many listed species cannot be accomplished solely on 
Federal lands because their range may occur primarily or solely on non-
Federal lands. To achieve recovery of these species requires 
cooperative conservation efforts on private, State, and tribal lands.
    If these species are listed, funding for recovery actions will be 
available from a variety of sources, including Federal budgets, State 
programs, and cost-share grants for non-Federal landowners, the 
academic community, and nongovernmental organizations. In addition, 
pursuant to section 6 of the Act, the States of New York, Pennsylvania, 
Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, North 
Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi would be eligible for 
Federal funds to implement management actions that promote the 
protection or recovery of the longsolid or round hickorynut or both 
species. Information on our grant programs that are available to aid 
species recovery can be found at: http://www.fws.gov/grants.
    Although the longsolid and round hickorynut are only proposed for 
listing under the Act at this time, please let us know if you are 
interested in participating in recovery efforts for these species. 
Additionally, we invite you to submit any new information on these 
species whenever it becomes available and any information you may have 
for recovery planning purposes (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).
    Section 7(a) of the Act requires Federal agencies to evaluate their 
actions with respect to any species that is proposed or listed as an 
endangered or threatened species and with respect to its critical 
habitat, if any is designated. Regulations implementing this 
interagency cooperation provision of the Act are codified at 50 CFR 
part 402. Section 7(a)(4) of the Act requires Federal agencies to 
confer with the Service on any action that is likely to jeopardize the 
continued existence of a species proposed for listing or result in 
destruction or adverse modification of proposed critical habitat. If a 
species is listed subsequently, section 7(a)(2) of the Act requires 
Federal agencies to ensure that activities they authorize, fund, or 
carry out are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the 
species or destroy or adversely modify its critical habitat. If a 
Federal action may affect a listed species or its critical habitat, the 
responsible Federal agency must enter into consultation with the 
Service.
    Federal agency actions within the species' range that may require 
conference or consultation or both as described in the preceding 
paragraph include actions that fund, authorize, or carry out management 
and any other landscape-altering activities administered by the 
following agencies:
    (1) U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (channel dredging and maintenance; 
dam projects including flood control, navigation, hydropower, bridge 
projects, stream restoration, and Clean Water Act permitting).
    (2) U.S. Department of Agriculture, including the Natural Resources 
Conservation Service and Farm Service Agency (technical and financial 
assistance for projects) and the Forest Service (aquatic habitat 
restoration, fire management plans, fire suppression, fuel reduction 
treatments, forest plans, mining permits).
    (3) U.S. Department of Energy (renewable and alternative energy 
projects).
    (4) Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (interstate pipeline 
construction and maintenance, dam relicensing, and hydrokinetics).
    (5) U.S. Department of Transportation (highway and bridge 
construction and maintenance).
    (6) U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (issuance of section 10 permits 
for enhancement of survival, habitat conservation plans, and safe 
harbor agreements; National Wildlife Refuge planning and refuge 
activities; Partners for Fish and Wildlife program projects benefiting 
these species or other listed species; Wildlife and Sportfish 
Restoration program sportfish stocking).
    (7) Environmental Protection Agency (water quality criteria, 
permitting).
    (8) Tennessee Valley Authority (flood control, navigation, 
hydropower, and land management for the Tennessee River system).
    (9) Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (land 
resource management plans, mining permits, oil and natural gas permits, 
abandoned mine land projects, and renewable energy development).
    (10) National Park Service (aquatic habitat restoration, fire 
management plans, fire suppression, fuel reduction treatments, land 
management plans, mining permits).
    It is our policy, as published in the Federal Register on July 1, 
1994 (59 FR 34272), to identify to the maximum extent practicable at 
the time a species is listed, those activities that would or would not 
constitute a violation of section 9 of the Act. The intent of this 
policy is to increase public awareness of the effect of a proposed 
listing on proposed and ongoing activities within the range of the 
species proposed for listing. The discussion below regarding protective 
regulations under section 4(d) of the Act complies with our policy.

III. Proposed Rule Issued Under Section 4(d) of the Act for the 
Longsolid and Round Hickorynut

Background

    Section 4(d) of the Act contains two sentences. The first sentence 
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 statutory 
language like ``necessary and advisable'' 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

[[Page 61408]]

are no longer necessary.'' Additionally, the second sentence of 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, the combination of the two sentences of section 
4(d) provides the Secretary with wide latitude of discretion to select 
and promulgate appropriate regulations tailored to the specific 
conservation needs of the threatened species. The second sentence 
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 upheld rules 
developed under section 4(d) as a valid exercise of agency authority 
where they prohibited take of 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 upheld 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).
    Exercising this authority under section 4(d), we have developed a 
proposed rule that is designed to address the longsolid's and round 
hickorynut's specific threats and conservation needs. Although the 
statute does not require us to make a ``necessary and advisable'' 
finding with respect to the adoption of specific prohibitions under 
section 9, we find that this rule as a whole satisfies the requirement 
in section 4(d) of the Act to issue regulations deemed necessary and 
advisable to provide for the conservation of the longsolid and round 
hickorynut. As discussed above under Summary of Biological Status and 
Threats, we have concluded that the longsolid and round hickorynut are 
likely to become in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future 
primarily due to declines in water quality, loss of stream flow, 
fragmentation, alteration and deterioration of instream habitats, and 
nonnative species. These threats, which are expected to be exacerbated 
by continued urbanization and the effects of climate change, were 
central to our assessment of the future viability of the longsolid and 
round hickorynut. The provisions of this proposed 4(d) rule would 
promote conservation of the longsolid and round hickorynut by 
encouraging management of the landscape in ways that meet the 
conservation needs of the longsolid and round hickorynut, and are 
consistent with land management considerations. This proposed 4(d) rule 
would apply only if and when we make final the listing of the longsolid 
and round hickorynut as threatened species.

Provisions of the Proposed 4(d) Rule

    This proposed 4(d) rule would provide for the conservation of the 
longsolid and round hickorynut by prohibiting the following activities, 
except as otherwise authorized or permitted: Importing or exporting; 
take; 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.
    As discussed above under Summary of Biological Status and Threats, 
multiple factors are affecting the status of the longsolid and round 
hickorynut. A range of activities have the potential to affect these 
species, including declines in water quality, loss of stream flow, 
riparian and instream fragmentation, alteration and deterioration of 
instream habitats, and nonnative species. These threats, which are 
expected to be exacerbated by continued urbanization and the effects of 
climate change, were central to our assessment of the future viability 
of the longsolid and round hickorynut. Therefore, we prohibit actions 
resulting in the incidental take of longsolid and round hickorynut by 
altering or degrading the habitat. Regulating incidental take resulting 
from these activities would help preserve the species' remaining 
populations, slow their rate of decline, and decrease synergistic, 
negative effects from other stressors.
    Under the Act, ``take'' means to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, 
wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any 
such conduct. Some of these provisions have been further defined in 
regulation at 50 CFR 17.3. Take can result knowingly or otherwise, by 
direct and indirect impacts, intentionally or incidentally. Regulating 
incidental and/or intentional take would help preserve the species' 
remaining populations, slow their rate of decline, and decrease 
synergistic, negative effects from other stressors. Therefore, we 
propose to prohibit intentional take of the longsolid and round 
hickorynut. 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 longsolid or round hickorynut. However, interagency 
cooperation may be further streamlined through planned programmatic 
consultations for the species' between Federal agencies and the 
Service, where appropriate. 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).
    The proposed 4(d) rule would also provide for the conservation of 
the species by allowing exceptions to actions and activities that, 
while they may have some minimal level of disturbance to the longsolid 
and round hickorynut, are not expected to negatively impact the 
species' conservation and recovery efforts. The proposed exceptions to 
these prohibitions include (1) conservation efforts by the Service or 
State wildlife agencies, (2) channel restoration projects, and (3) bank 
restoration projects.
    The first exception is for conservation and restoration efforts for 
listed species by the Service or State wildlife agencies, and 
including, but not limited to, collection of broodstock, tissue 
collection for genetic analysis, captive propagation, and subsequent 
stocking into unoccupied areas within the historical range of the 
species. The Service recognizes our 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

[[Page 61409]]

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 the longsolid and round hickorynut that may result 
in otherwise prohibited take for wildlife without additional 
authorization.
    The second and third exceptions are for channel and bank 
restoration projects for creation of natural, physically stable, 
ecologically functioning streams, taking into consideration 
connectivity with floodplain and groundwater aquifers. These exceptions 
include a requirement that bank restoration projects require planting 
appropriate native vegetation, including woody species appropriate for 
the region and habitat. We also propose language that would require 
surveys and relocation prior to commencement of restoration actions for 
longsolid and round hickorynut that would otherwise be negatively 
affected by the actions.
    We reiterate that these actions and activities may have some 
minimal level of take of the longsolid and round hickorynut, but any 
such take is expected to be rare and insignificant, and is not expected 
to negatively impact the species' conservation and recovery efforts. 
Rather, we expect they would have a net beneficial effect on the 
species. Across the species' range, instream habitats have been 
degraded physically by sedimentation and by direct and indirect channel 
disturbance. The habitat restoration activities in the proposed 4(d) 
rule are intended to improve habitat conditions for the species in the 
long term.
    Regulations governing permits for threatened wildlife are codified 
at 50 CFR 17.32. With regard to threatened wildlife, a permit may be 
issued for the following purposes: for scientific purposes, to enhance 
the propagation or survival of the species, for economic hardship, for 
zoological exhibition, for educational purposes, for incidental taking, 
or for special purposes consistent with the purposes of the Act.
    Finally, the proposed 4(d) rule would allow take of the longsolid 
and round hickorynut without a permit by any employee or agent of the 
Service or a State conservation agency designated by the agency for 
such purposes and when acting in the course of their official duties if 
such action is necessary to aid a sick, injured, or orphaned specimen; 
to dispose of a dead specimen; or to salvage a dead specimen which may 
be useful for scientific study. In addition, Federal and State wildlife 
law enforcement officers, working in coordination with Service field 
office personnel, may possess, deliver, carry, transport, or ship 
longsolid and round hickorynut taken in violation of the Act as 
necessary.

IV. Critical Habitat for the Longsolid and Round Hickorynut

Background

    Critical habitat is defined in section 3 of the Act as:
    (1) The specific areas within the geographical area occupied by the 
species, at the time it is listed in accordance with the Act, on which 
are found those physical or biological features
    (a) Essential to the conservation of the species, and
    (b) Which may require special management considerations or 
protection; and
    (2) Specific areas outside the geographical area occupied by the 
species at the time it is listed, upon a determination that such areas 
are essential for the conservation of the species.
    Our regulations at 50 CFR 424.02 define the geographical area 
occupied by the species as an area that may generally be delineated 
around species' occurrences, as determined by the Secretary (i.e., 
range). Such areas may include those areas used throughout all or part 
of the species' life cycle, even if not used on a regular basis (e.g., 
migratory corridors, seasonal habitats, and habitats used periodically, 
but not solely by vagrant individuals).
    Conservation, as defined under section 3 of the Act, means to use 
and the use of all methods and procedures that are necessary to bring 
an endangered or threatened species to the point at which the measures 
provided pursuant to the Act are no longer necessary. Such methods and 
procedures include, but are not limited to, all activities associated 
with scientific resources management such as research, census, law 
enforcement, habitat acquisition and maintenance, habitat restoration, 
propagation, live trapping, and transplantation, and, in the 
extraordinary case where population pressures within a given ecosystem 
cannot be otherwise relieved, may include regulated taking.
    Critical habitat receives protection under section 7 of the Act 
through the requirement that Federal agencies ensure, in consultation 
with the Service, that any action they authorize, fund, or carry out is 
not likely to result in the destruction or adverse modification of 
critical habitat. The designation of critical habitat does not affect 
land ownership or establish a refuge, wilderness, reserve, preserve, or 
other conservation area. Designation also does not allow the government 
or public to access private lands, nor does designation require 
implementation of restoration, recovery, or enhancement measures by 
non-Federal landowners. Where a landowner requests Federal agency 
funding or authorization for an action that may affect a listed species 
or critical habitat, the Federal agency would be required to consult 
with the Service under section 7(a)(2) of the Act. However, even if the 
Service were to conclude that the proposed activity would result in 
destruction or adverse modification of the critical habitat, the 
Federal action agency and the landowner are not required to abandon the 
proposed activity, or to restore or recover the species; instead, they 
must implement ``reasonable and prudent alternatives'' to avoid 
destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat.
    Under the first prong of the Act's definition of critical habitat, 
areas within the geographical area occupied by the species at the time 
it was listed are included in a critical habitat designation if they 
contain physical or biological features (1) which are essential to the 
conservation of the species and (2) which may require special 
management considerations or protection. For these areas, critical 
habitat designations identify, to the extent known using the best 
scientific and commercial data available, those physical or biological 
features that are essential to the conservation of the species (such as 
space, food, cover, and protected habitat). In identifying those 
physical or biological features that occur in specific occupied areas, 
we focus on the specific features that are essential to support the 
life-history needs of the species, including, but not limited to, water 
characteristics, soil type, geological features, prey, vegetation, 
symbiotic species, or other features. A feature may be a single habitat 
characteristic or a more complex combination of habitat 
characteristics. Features may include habitat characteristics that 
support ephemeral or dynamic habitat conditions. Features may also be 
expressed in terms relating to principles of conservation biology,

[[Page 61410]]

such as patch size, distribution distances, and connectivity.
    Under the second prong of the Act's definition of critical habitat, 
we can designate critical habitat in areas outside the geographical 
area occupied by the species at the time it is listed, upon a 
determination that such areas are essential for the conservation of the 
species. When designating critical habitat, the Secretary will first 
evaluate areas occupied by the species. The Secretary will only 
consider unoccupied areas to be essential where a critical habitat 
designation limited to geographical areas occupied by the species would 
be inadequate to ensure the conservation of the species. In addition, 
for an unoccupied area to be considered essential, the Secretary must 
determine that there is a reasonable certainty both that the area will 
contribute to the conservation of the species and that the area 
contains one or more of those physical or biological features essential 
to the conservation of the species.
    Section 4 of the Act requires that we designate critical habitat on 
the basis of the best scientific data available. Further, our Policy on 
Information Standards Under the Endangered Species Act (published in 
the Federal Register on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 34271)), the Information 
Quality Act (section 515 of the Treasury and General Government 
Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2001 (Pub. L. 106-554; H.R. 5658)), 
and our associated Information Quality Guidelines provide criteria, 
establish procedures, and provide guidance to ensure that our decisions 
are based on the best scientific data available. They require our 
biologists, to the extent consistent with the Act and with the use of 
the best scientific data available, to use primary and original sources 
of information as the basis for recommendations to designate critical 
habitat.
    When we are determining which areas should be designated as 
critical habitat, our primary source of information is generally the 
information from the SSA report and information developed during the 
listing process for the species. Additional information sources may 
include any generalized conservation strategy, criteria, or outline 
that may have been developed for the species; the recovery plan for the 
species; articles in peer-reviewed journals; conservation plans 
developed by States and counties; scientific status surveys and 
studies; biological assessments; other unpublished materials; or 
experts' opinions or personal knowledge.
    Habitat is dynamic, and species may move from one area to another 
over time. We recognize that critical habitat designated at a 
particular point in time may not include all of the habitat areas that 
we may later determine are necessary for the recovery of the species. 
For these reasons, a critical habitat designation does not signal that 
habitat outside the designated area is unimportant or may not be needed 
for recovery of the species. Areas that are important to the 
conservation of the species, both inside and outside the critical 
habitat designation, will continue to be subject to: (1) Conservation 
actions implemented under section 7(a)(1) of the Act; (2) regulatory 
protections afforded by the requirement in section 7(a)(2) of the Act 
for Federal agencies to ensure their actions are not likely to 
jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered or threatened 
species; and (3) the prohibitions found in section 9 of the Act. 
Federally funded or permitted projects affecting listed species outside 
their designated critical habitat areas may still result in jeopardy 
findings in some cases. These protections and conservation tools will 
continue to contribute to recovery of this species. Similarly, critical 
habitat designations made on the basis of the best available 
information at the time of designation will not control the direction 
and substance of future recovery plans, habitat conservation plans, or 
other species conservation planning efforts if new information 
available at the time of these planning efforts calls for a different 
outcome.

Prudency Determination

    Section 4(a)(3) of the Act, as amended, and implementing 
regulations (50 CFR 424.12) require that, to the maximum extent prudent 
and determinable, the Secretary shall designate critical habitat at the 
time the species is determined to be an endangered or threatened 
species. Our regulations (50 CFR 424.12(a)(1)) state that the Secretary 
may, but is not required to, determine that a designation would not be 
prudent in the following circumstances:
    (i) The species is threatened by taking or other human activity and 
identification of critical habitat can be expected to increase the 
degree of such threat to the species;
    (ii) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or 
curtailment of a species' habitat or range is not a threat to the 
species, or threats to the species' habitat stem solely from causes 
that cannot be addressed through management actions resulting from 
consultations under section 7(a)(2) of the Act;
    (iii) Areas within the jurisdiction of the United States provide no 
more than negligible conservation value, if any, for a species 
occurring primarily outside the jurisdiction of the United States;
    (iv) No areas meet the definition of critical habitat; or
    (v) The Secretary otherwise determines that designation of critical 
habitat would not be prudent based on the best scientific data 
available.
    As discussed earlier in this document, there is currently no 
imminent threat of collection or vandalism identified under Factor B 
for these species, and identification and mapping of critical habitat 
is not expected to initiate any such threat. In our SSA reports and the 
proposed listing determination for the longsolid and round hickorynut, 
we determined that the present or threatened destruction, modification, 
or curtailment of habitat or range is a threat to the longsolid and 
round hickorynut, and that those threats in some way can be addressed 
by section 7(a)(2) consultation measures. The species occur wholly in 
the jurisdiction of the United States (with the exception of one 
remnant, small population of round hickorynut in the Ontario Province 
of Canada, which Canada has listed as an endangered species and 
designated critical habitat in the East Syndenham River), and we are 
able to identify areas that meet the definition of critical habitat. 
Therefore, because none of the circumstances enumerated in our 
regulations at 50 CFR 424.12(a)(1) have been met and because there are 
no other circumstances the Secretary has identified for which this 
designation of critical habitat would be not prudent, we have 
determined that the designation of critical habitat is prudent for the 
longsolid and round hickorynut.

Critical Habitat Determinability

    Having determined that designation is prudent, under section 
4(a)(3) of the Act we must find whether critical habitat for the 
longsolid and round hickorynut is determinable. Our regulations at 50 
CFR 424.12(a)(2) state that critical habitat is not determinable when 
one or both of the following situations exist:
    (i) Data sufficient to perform required analyses are lacking, or
    (ii) The biological needs of the species are not sufficiently well 
known to identify any area that meets the definition of ``critical 
habitat.''
    When critical habitat is not determinable, the Act allows the 
Service an additional year to publish a critical habitat designation 
(16 U.S.C. 1533(b)(6)(C)(ii)).

[[Page 61411]]

    We reviewed the available information pertaining to the biological 
needs of the species and habitat characteristics where these species 
are located. Our review of the best scientific data available led us to 
conclude that the designation of critical habitat is determinable for 
the longsolid and round hickorynut.

Physical or Biological Features Essential to the Conservation of the 
Species

    In accordance with section 3(5)(A)(i) of the Act and regulations at 
50 CFR 424.12(b), in determining which areas we will designate as 
critical habitat from within the geographical area occupied by the 
species at the time of listing, we consider the physical or biological 
features essential to the conservation of the species and that may 
require special management considerations or protection. The 
regulations at 50 CFR 424.02 define ``physical or biological features 
essential to the conservation of the species'' as the features that 
occur in specific areas that are essential to support the life-history 
needs of the species, including, but not limited to, water 
characteristics, soil type, geological features, sites, prey, 
vegetation, symbiotic species, or other features. A feature may be a 
single habitat characteristic or a more complex combination of habitat 
characteristics. Features may include habitat characteristics that 
support ephemeral or dynamic habitat conditions. Features may also be 
expressed in terms relating to principles of conservation biology, such 
as patch size, distribution distances, and connectivity. For example, 
physical features essential to the conservation of the species might 
include gravel of a particular size required for spawning, alkali soil 
for seed germination, protective cover for migration, or susceptibility 
to flooding or fire that maintains necessary early-successional habitat 
characteristics. Biological features might include prey species, forage 
grasses, specific kinds or ages of trees for roosting or nesting, 
symbiotic fungi, or a particular level of nonnative species consistent 
with conservation needs of the listed species. The features may also be 
combinations of habitat characteristics and may encompass the 
relationship between characteristics or the necessary amount of a 
characteristic essential to support the life history of the species.
    In considering whether features are essential to the conservation 
of the species, the Service may consider an appropriate quality, 
quantity, and spatial and temporal arrangement of habitat 
characteristics in the context of the life-history needs, condition, 
and status of the species. These characteristics include, but are not 
limited to, space for individual and population growth and for normal 
behavior; food, water, air, light, minerals, or other nutritional or 
physiological requirements; cover or shelter; sites for breeding, 
reproduction, or rearing (or development) of offspring; and habitats 
that are protected from disturbance.
    As described above under Summary of Biological Status and Threats, 
longsolid and round hickorynut mussels occur in river or stream 
reaches. Occasional or regular interaction among individuals in 
different reaches not interrupted by a barrier likely occurs, but in 
general, interaction is strongly influenced by habitat fragmentation 
and distance between occupied river or stream reaches. Once released 
from their fish host, freshwater mussels are benthic, generally 
sedentary aquatic organisms and closely associated with appropriate 
habitat patches within a river or stream.
    We derive the specific physical or biological features essential 
for the longsolid and round hickorynut from studies of these species' 
(or appropriate surrogate species') habitat, ecology, and life history. 
The primary habitat elements that influence resiliency of the longsolid 
and round hickorynut include water quality, water quantity, substrate, 
habitat connectivity, and the presence of host fish species to ensure 
recruitment. These features are also described above as resource needs 
under Summary of Biological Status and Threats, and a full description 
is available in the SSA reports; the individuals' needs are summarized 
below in Table 1.

  Table 1--Requirements for Each Life Stage of the Longsolid and Round
                           Hickorynut Mussels
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                               Resources needed to
         Life stage            complete life stage         Source
                                       \1\
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Fertilized eggs--early         Clear,       Berg et al. 2008, p.
 spring.                       flowing water.        397; Haag 2012, pp.
                               Sexually      38-39.
                               mature males
                               upstream from
                               sexually mature
                               females..
                               Appropriate
                               spawning
                               temperatures..
Glochidia--late spring to      Clear,       Strayer 2008, p. 65;
 early summer.                 flowing water.        Haag 2012, pp. 41-
                               Enough flow   42.
                               to keep glochidia
                               or conglutinates
                               adrift and to
                               attract drift-
                               feeding host fish..
                               Presence of
                               host fish for
                               attachment..
Juveniles--excystment from     Clear,       Dimock and Wright
 host fish to approx. 0.8 in   flowing water.        1993, pp. 188-190;
 (~20 mm) shell length.        Host fish     Sparks and Strayer
                               dispersal..           1998, p. 132;
                               Appropriate   Augspurger et al.
                               interstitial          2003, p. 2,574;
                               chemistry; low        Augspurger et al.
                               salinity, low         2007, p. 2,025;
                               ammonia, low copper   Strayer and Malcom
                               and other             2012, pp. 1,787-
                               contaminants, high    1,788.
                               dissolved oxygen..
                               Appropriate
                               substrate (clean
                               gravel/sand/cobble)
                               for settlement..
Adults--greater than 0.8 in    Clear,       Yeager et al. 1994,
 (20 mm) shell length.         flowing water.        p. 221; Nichols and
                               Appropriate   Garling 2000, p.
                               substrate (stable     881; Chen et al.
                               gravel and coarse     2001, p. 214;
                               sand free from        Spooner and Vaughn
                               excessive silt)..     2008, p. 308.
                               Adequate
                               food availability
                               (phytoplankton and
                               detritus)..
                               High
                               dissolved oxygen..
                               Appropriate
                               water temperature..
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ These resource needs are common among North American freshwater
  mussels; however, due to lack of species-specific research, parameters
  specific to longsolid and round hickorynut are unavailable.


[[Page 61412]]

Summary of Essential Physical or Biological Features

    We derive the specific physical or biological features essential to 
the conservation of the longsolid and round hickorynut from studies of 
the species' habitat, ecology, and life history as described below. 
Additional information can be found in chapter 4 of the SSA reports 
(Service 2018, pp. 27-32; Service 2019, pp. 30-39), both of which are 
available on http://www.regulations.gov under Docket No. FWS-R4-ES-
2020-0010. We have determined that the following physical or biological 
features are essential to the conservation of the longsolid and round 
hickorynut:
    (1) Adequate flows, or a hydrologic flow regime (magnitude, timing, 
frequency, duration, rate of change, and overall seasonality of 
discharge over time), necessary to maintain benthic habitats where the 
species are found and to maintain stream connectivity, specifically 
providing for the exchange of nutrients and sediment for maintenance of 
the mussels' and fish host's habitat and food availability, maintenance 
of spawning habitat for native fishes, and the ability for newly 
transformed juveniles to settle and become established in their 
habitats. Adequate flows ensure delivery of oxygen, enable 
reproduction, deliver food to filter-feeding mussels, and reduce 
contaminants and fine sediments from interstitial spaces. Stream 
velocity is not static over time, and variations may be attributed to 
seasonal changes (with higher flows in winter/spring and lower flows in 
summer/fall), extreme weather events (e.g., drought or floods), or 
anthropogenic influence (e.g., flow regulation via impoundments).
    (2) Suitable substrates and connected instream habitats, 
characterized by geomorphically stable stream channels and banks (i.e., 
channels that maintain lateral dimensions, longitudinal profiles, and 
sinuosity patterns over time without an aggrading or degrading bed 
elevation) with habitats that support a diversity of freshwater mussel 
and native fish (such as, stable riffle-run-pool habitats that provide 
flow refuges consisting of predominantly silt-free, stable sand, 
gravel, and cobble substrates).
    (3) Water and sediment quality necessary to sustain natural 
physiological processes for normal behavior, growth, and viability of 
all life stages, including (but not limited to): dissolved oxygen 
(generally above 2 to 3 parts per million (ppm)), salinity (generally 
below 2 to 4 ppm), and temperature (generally below 86 [deg]Fahrenheit 
([deg]F) (30 [deg]Celsius ([deg]C)). Additionally, water and sediment 
should be low in ammonia (generally below 0.5 ppm total ammonia-
nitrogen) and heavy metal concentrations, and lack excessive total 
suspended solids and other pollutants (see Threats Analysis, above).
    (4) The presence and abundance of fish hosts necessary for 
recruitment of the longsolid (currently unknown, likely includes 
minnows of the family Cyprinidae and banded sculpin (Cottus carolinae)) 
and the round hickorynut (i.e., eastern sand darter (Ammocrypta 
pellucida), emerald darter (Etheostoma baileyi), greenside darter (E. 
blennioides), Iowa darter (E. exile), fantail darter (E. flabellare), 
Cumberland darter (E. susanae), spangled darter (E. obama), variegate 
darter (E. variatum), blackside darter (Percina maculata), frecklebelly 
darter (P. stictogaster), and banded sculpin).

Special Management Considerations or Protection

    When designating critical habitat, we assess whether the specific 
areas within the geographical area occupied by the species at the time 
of listing contain features which are essential to the conservation of 
the species and which may require special management considerations or 
protection.
    The features essential to the conservation of the longsolid and 
round hickorynut may require special management considerations or 
protections to reduce the following threats: (1) Alteration of the 
natural flow regime (modifying the natural hydrograph and seasonal 
flows), including water withdrawals, resulting in flow reduction and 
available water quantity; (2) urbanization of the landscape, including 
(but not limited to) land conversion for urban and commercial use, 
infrastructure (pipelines, roads, bridges, utilities), and urban water 
uses (resource extraction activities, water supply reservoirs, 
wastewater treatment, etc.); (3) significant alteration of water 
quality and nutrient pollution from a variety of activities, such as 
mining and agricultural activities; (4) impacts from invasive species; 
(5) land use activities that remove large areas of forested wetlands 
and riparian systems; (6) culvert and pipe installation that creates 
barriers to movement for the longsolid and round hickorynut, or their 
host fishes; (7) changes and shifts in seasonal precipitation patterns 
as a result of climate change; and (8) other watershed and floodplain 
disturbances that release sediments, pollutants, or nutrients into the 
water.
    Management activities that could ameliorate these threats include, 
but are not limited to: Use of best management practices designed to 
reduce sedimentation, erosion, and bank destruction; protection of 
riparian corridors and woody vegetation; moderation of surface and 
ground water withdrawals to maintain natural flow regimes; improved 
stormwater management; and reduction of other watershed and floodplain 
disturbances that release sediments, pollutants, or nutrients into the 
water.
    In summary, we find that the occupied areas we are proposing to 
designate as critical habitat contain the physical or biological 
features that are essential to the conservation of the species and that 
may require special management considerations or protection. Special 
management considerations or protection may be required of the Federal 
action agency to eliminate, or to reduce to negligible levels, the 
threats affecting the physical and biological features of each unit.

Criteria Used To Identify Critical Habitat

    As required by section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we use the best 
scientific data available to designate critical habitat. In accordance 
with the Act and our implementing regulations at 50 CFR 424.12(b), we 
review available information pertaining to the habitat requirements of 
the species and identify specific areas within the geographical area 
occupied by the species at the time of listing and any specific areas 
outside the geographical area occupied by the species to be considered 
for designation as critical habitat. We are not currently proposing to 
designate any areas outside the geographical area occupied by the 
longsolid or round hickorynut because we have determined that occupied 
areas are sufficient to conserve these two species.

Methodology Used for Selection of Proposed Units

    First, we included stronghold (high) or medium condition 
populations (resiliency) remaining from historical conditions. These 
populations show recruitment or varied age class structure, and could 
be used for recovery actions to re-establish populations within basins 
through propagation activities or augment other populations through 
direct translocations within their basins.
    Second, we evaluated spatial representation and redundancy across 
the species range, to include last remaining consistently observable 
population(s) in major river basins and

[[Page 61413]]

the last remaining population(s) in states if necessary, as states are 
crucial partners in monitoring and recovery efforts.
    Third, we examined the overall contribution of medium condition 
populations and threats to those populations. Adjacency and 
connectivity to stronghold and medium populations was considered, and 
we did not include populations that have potentially low likelihood of 
recovery due to limited abundances or populations currently under a 
high level of threats.
    Finally, we evaluated overlap of longsolid and round hickorynut 
occurrences, as well as other listed aquatic species and designated 
critical habitat, to see if there are ongoing conservation and 
monitoring efforts that can be capitalized on for efficiency. Rangewide 
recovery considerations, such as maintaining existing genetic diversity 
and striving for representation of all major portions of the species' 
current range, were considered in formulating this proposed critical 
habitat. For example, in the Cumberland River basin, there is only one 
remaining population of the longsolid (mainstem Cumberland River) and 
only two populations remaining of the round hickorynut (Buck Creek and 
Rockcastle River). In addition, in the Mississippi River basin, only 
one population of the round hickorynut remains (Big Black River). The 
distribution of the longsolid and round hickorynut in these basins is 
substantially reduced when compared to historical data that indicates 
these species were formerly much more widespread within these 
drainages. Therefore, these rivers and streams were included to 
maintain basin representation.
    The proposed critical habitat designation does not include all 
rivers and streams currently occupied by the species, nor all rivers 
and streams known to have been occupied by the species historically. 
Instead, it includes only the occupied rivers and streams within the 
current range that we determined are critical to the conservation of 
these species. These rivers and streams contain populations large and 
dense enough and most likely to be self-sustaining over time (despite 
fluctuations in local conditions), and also have retained the physical 
or biological features that will allow for the maintenance and 
expansion of existing populations. These units also represent 
populations that are stable and distributed over a wide geographic 
area. We are not proposing to designate any areas outside the 
geographical area currently occupied by either the longsolid or round 
hickorynut because we did not find any unoccupied areas that are 
essential to the conservation of these species, and we determined that 
occupied areas are sufficient to conserve the two species.
    Sources of data for this proposed critical habitat include multiple 
databases maintained by universities, information from State agencies 
throughout the species' ranges, and numerous survey reports on streams 
throughout the species' ranges (see SSA reports (Service 2018, entire; 
Service 2019, entire)). We have also reviewed available information 
that pertains to the habitat requirements of these species. Sources of 
information on habitat requirements include studies conducted at 
occupied sites and published in peer-reviewed articles, agency reports, 
and data collected during monitoring efforts (Service 2018, entire; 
Service 2019, entire).
    In summary, for areas within the geographic area occupied by these 
species at the time of listing, we delineated critical habitat unit 
boundaries using a precise set of criteria. Specifically, we identified 
river and stream reaches with observations from 2000 to present, given 
the variable data associated with timing and frequency of mussel 
surveys conducted throughout the species' ranges. We determined it is 
reasonable to find these areas occupied due to the longevity of the 
longsolid, the potential for incomplete survey detections for the round 
hickorynut, highly variable recent survey information across both 
species' ranges, and available State heritage databases and information 
support for the likelihood of both species' continued presence in these 
areas within this timeframe. Specific habitat areas were delineated 
based on Natural Heritage Element Occurrences, and unpublished survey 
data provided by States, universities, and nongovernmental 
organizations. These areas provide habitat for longsolid and round 
hickorynut populations and are large enough to be self-sustaining over 
time, despite fluctuations in local conditions. The areas within the 
proposed units represent continuous river and stream reaches of free-
flowing habitat patches capable of sustaining host fishes and allowing 
for seasonal transport of glochidia, which are essential for 
reproduction and dispersal of longsolid and round hickorynut. We 
consider portions of the following rivers and streams to be occupied by 
the species at the time of proposed listing, and appropriate for 
critical habitat designation:
    (1) Longsolid--French Creek, Allegheny River, Shenango River, 
Middle Island Creek, Little Kanawha River, Elk River, Kanawha River, 
Licking River, Green River, Cumberland River, Clinch River, and Paint 
Rock River (see Unit Descriptions, below).
    (2) Round hickorynut--Shenango River, Grand River, Tippecanoe 
River, Middle Island Creek, Little Kanawha River, Elk River, Kanawha 
River, Licking River, Rockcastle River, Buck Creek, Green River, Paint 
Rock River, Duck River, and Big Black River (see Unit Descriptions, 
below).
    When determining proposed critical habitat boundaries, we made 
every effort to avoid including developed areas such as lands covered 
by buildings, pavement, and other structures because such lands lack 
physical or biological features necessary for the longsolid and round 
hickorynut. The scale of the maps we prepared under the parameters for 
publication within the Code of Federal Regulations may not reflect the 
exclusion of such developed lands. Any such lands inadvertently left 
inside critical habitat boundaries shown on the maps of this proposed 
rule have been excluded by text in the proposed rule and are not 
proposed for designation as critical habitat. Therefore, if the 
critical habitat is finalized as proposed, a Federal action involving 
these lands would not trigger section 7 consultation with respect to 
critical habitat and the requirement of no adverse modification unless 
the specific action would affect the physical or biological features in 
the adjacent critical habitat.
    We propose to designate as critical habitat lands that we have 
determined are occupied at the time of listing (i.e., currently 
occupied) and that contain one or more of the physical or biological 
features that are essential to support life-history processes of the 
species. Twelve units for the longsolid and 14 units for the round 
hickorynut are proposed for designation based on the presence of the 
physical or biological features being present that support the 
longsolid's or round hickorynut's life-history processes. All of the 
units for both species contain all of the identified physical or 
biological features and support multiple life-history processes.
    The critical habitat designation is defined by the map or maps, as 
modified by any accompanying regulatory text, presented at the end of 
this document under Proposed Regulation Promulgation. We include more 
detailed information on the boundaries of the critical habitat 
designation in the preamble of this document. We will make the

[[Page 61414]]

coordinates or plot points or both on which each map is based available 
to the public on http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-R4-ES-
2020-0010 and on our internet site https://www.fws.gov/Asheville/.

Proposed Critical Habitat Designation

    We propose designating a total of 1,115 river mi (1,794 km) in 12 
units as occupied critical habitat for the longsolid and a total of 921 
river mi (1,482 km) in 14 units as occupied critical habitat for the 
round hickorynut. All or portions of some of these units overlap, and 
all 26 units are occupied by one or both species. The critical habitat 
areas we describe below constitute our current best assessment of areas 
that meet the definition of critical habitat for the longsolid and 
round hickorynut. The 12 areas we propose as critical habitat for the 
longsolid are: French Creek, Allegheny River, Shenango River, Middle 
Island Creek, Little Kanawha River, Elk River, Kanawha River, Licking 
River, Green River, Cumberland River, Clinch River, and Paint Rock 
River. The 14 areas we propose as critical habitat for the round 
hickorynut are: Shenango River, Grand River, Tippecanoe River, Middle 
Island Creek, Little Kanawha River, Elk River, Kanawha River, Licking 
River, Rockcastle River, Buck Creek, Green River, Paint Rock River, 
Duck River, and Big Black River. Tables 2 and 3 show the proposed 
critical habitat units and the approximate river miles of each unit.

        Table 2--Proposed Critical Habitat Units for the Longsolid. All Units Are Occupied by the Species
                    [Area estimates reflect all land within critical habitat unit boundaries]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                           Adjacent riparian land
    Critical habitat unit (state)            ownership by type           Approximate river miles (kilometers)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
LS 1. French Creek (Pennsylvania)....  Public (Federal, State);.....  14 (22.1)
                                       Private......................  106 (170.6)
                                                                      Total = 120 (191.5)
LS 2. Allegheny River (Pennsylvania).  Public (Federal, State);.....  84 (135.8)
                                       Private......................  15 (24.1)
                                                                      Total = 99 (159.3)
LS 3. Shenango River (Pennsylvania)..  Public (Federal, State);.....  7 (11.3)
                                       Private......................  15 (24.3)
                                                                      Total = 22 (35.5)
LS 4. Middle Island Creek (West        Public (Local);..............  0.13 (0.2)
 Virginia).                            Private......................  14 (23.5)
                                                                      Total = 14 (23.7)
LS 5. Little Kanawha River (West       Public (Federal, State);.....  0.53 (0.9)
 Virginia).                            Private......................  122 (197.2)
                                                                      Total = 123 (198)
LS 6. Elk River (West Virginia)......  Public (Federal, State,        7 (12.7)
                                        Local);.                      93 (150.3)
                                       Private......................  Total = 101 (163)
LS 7. Kanawha River (West Virginia)..  Public (Federal, State,        2 (4.6)
                                        Local);.                      18 (29.3)
                                       Private......................  Total = 21 (33.9)
LS 8. Licking River (Kentucky).......  Public (Federal, State,        19 (31.7)
                                        Local);.                      161 (259.7)
                                       Private......................  Total = 181 (291.5)
LS 9. Green River (Kentucky).........  Public (Federal, State,        51 (82.4)
                                        Local);.                      105 (169.2)
                                       Private......................  Total = 156 (251.6)
LS 10. Cumberland River (Tennessee)..  Public (Federal).............  Total = 48 (77.5)
LS 11. Clinch River (Virginia and      Public (Federal, State);.....  17 (27.3)
 Tennessee).                           Private......................  160 (258.8)
                                                                      Total = 177 (286.1)
LS 12. Paint Rock River (Alabama)....  Public (Federal, State);.....  56 (90.4)
                                       Private......................  2 (4.1)
                                                                      Total = 58 (94.5)
                                                                     -------------------------------------------
                                       Public.......................  305 (491)
                                       Private......................  810 (1,304)
                                                                     -------------------------------------------
                                          Total.....................  1,115 (1,794)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Note: River miles may not sum due to rounding.


    Table 3--Proposed Critical Habitat Units for the Round Hickorynut. All Units Are Occupied by the Species
                    [Area estimates reflect all land within critical habitat unit boundaries]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                           Adjacent riparian land
        Critical habitat unit                ownership by type           Approximate river miles (kilometers)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
RH 1. Shenango River (Pennsylvania)..  Public (Federal, State);.....  7 (11.1)
                                       Private......................  15 (24.3)
                                                                      Total = 22 (35.5)

[[Page 61415]]

 
RH 2. Grand River (Ohio).............  Public (State, Local);.......  33 (53)
                                       Private......................  59 (95.2)
                                                                      Total = 92 (148.2)
RH 3. Tippecanoe River (Indiana).....  Public (State, Easement);....  9 (14.5)
                                       Private......................  66 (105.6)
                                                                      Total = 75 (120.8)
RH 4. Middle Island Creek (West        Public (Federal, State);.....  0.2 (0.4)
 Virginia).                            Private......................  74.8 (120.4)
                                                                      Total = 75 (120.8)
RH 5. Little Kanawha River (West       Public (Federal, State,        0.7 (1.2)
 Virginia).                             Local);.                      109 (175.4)
                                       Private......................  Total = 110 (176.6)
RH 6. Elk River (West Virginia)......  Public (Federal, State,        7 (12.7)
                                        Local);.                      93 (150.3)
                                       Private......................  Total = 101 (163)
RH 7. Kanawha River (West Virginia)..  Public (Federal, State,        4 (7.2)
                                        Local);.                      33 (53.2)
                                       Private......................  Total = 37.5 (60.4)
RH 8. Licking River (Kentucky).......  Public (Federal, State,        18 (30)
                                        Local);.                      131 (211.8)
                                       Private......................  Total = 150 (241.9)
RH 9. Rockcastle River (Kentucky)....  Public (Federal);............  15 (24.2)
                                       Private......................  0.3 (0.4)
                                                                      Total = 15.3 (24.6)
RH 10. Buck Creek (Kentucky).........  Public (State, Local);.......  3 (5.5)
                                       Private......................  33 (52.6)
                                                                      Total = 36 (58.1)
RH 11. Green River (Kentucky)........  Public (Federal, State);.....  37 (59.4)
                                       Private......................  61 (98.4)
                                                                      Total = 98 (157.7)
RH 12. Paint Rock River (Alabama)....  Public (Federal, State);.....  46 (73.4)
                                       Private......................  2 (4.1)
                                                                      Total = 48 (77.5)
RH 13. Duck River (Tennessee)........  Public (State, Local);.......  32 (51.1)
                                       Private......................  27 (43.7)
                                                                      Total = 59 (94.8)
RH 14. Big Black River (Mississippi).  Private......................  Total = 4 (7)
                                                                     -------------------------------------------
                                       Public.......................  212 (341)
                                       Private......................  709 (1,141)
                                                                     -------------------------------------------
                                          Total.....................  921 (1,482)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Note: River miles may not sum due to rounding.

    We present brief descriptions of all units, and reasons why they 
meet the definition of critical habitat for the longsolid and round 
hickorynut, below. There are a total of 12 units for the longsolid and 
14 units for round hickorynut, 8 of which overlap in part or whole for 
both species, and all of which contain all of the physical and 
biological features essential to the conservation of both species. 
Also, the majority of proposed units overlap in part or whole with 
existing critical habitat designated for other federally endangered 
species (i.e., diamond darter (Crystallaria cincotta), Short's 
bladderpod (Physaria globosa), purple bean (Villosa perpurpurea), rough 
rabbitsfoot (Quadrula cylindrica strigillata), Cumberlandian combshell 
(Epioblasma brevidens), oyster mussel (Epioblasma capsaeformis), 
slabside pearlymussel (Pleuronaia (=Lexingtonia) dolabelloides), and 
fluted kidneyshell (Ptychobranchus subtentus)) or federally threatened 
species (i.e., rabbitsfoot (Quadrula cylindrica cylindrica), yellowfin 
madtom (Noturus flavipinnis), and slender chub (Hybopsis cahni, listed 
as Erimystax cahni)), as specified below.

LS 1: French Creek

    Unit LS 1 consists of 120 stream mi (191.5 km) of French Creek in 
Crawford, Erie, Mercer, and Venango Counties, Pennsylvania, from Union 
City Dam west of Union City, Erie County, downstream to its confluence 
with the Allegheny River near the City of Franklin, Venango County. 
Riparian lands that border the unit include approximately 106 stream mi 
(170.6 km; 76 percent) in private ownership and 14 stream mi (22.1 km; 
24 percent) in public (Federal or State) ownership. General land use on 
adjacent riparian lands and the surrounding HUC 8-level management unit 
includes agriculture, several State-managed game lands, the communities 
of Cambridge Springs and Venango, and the cities of Meadville and 
Franklin. Union City Dam is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of 
Engineers. Unit LS 1 is occupied by the species and contains all of the 
physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the 
species. The entire 120 stream mi (191.5 km) of this unit overlaps with 
designated critical habitat

[[Page 61416]]

for the federally threatened rabbitsfoot mussel (80 FR 24692; April 30, 
2015).
    Threats identified within this unit include the degradation of 
habitat and water quality from impoundments, siltation and pollution 
due to resource extraction, agriculture, timbering practices, and human 
development; flow reduction and water quality degradation due to water 
withdrawals and wastewater treatment plants; and the presence of 
invasive, nonnative species. Special management considerations or 
protection measures to reduce or alleviate the threats may include 
monitoring water quality degradation within the species' range 
resulting from row crop agriculture and oil and gas development, and 
efforts to prevent the spread of invasive, nonnative species (see 
Special Management Considerations or Protection, above).

LS 2: Allegheny River

    Unit LS 2 consists of 99 river mi (159.3 km) of the Allegheny River 
in Warren, Crawford, Forest, Venango, and Clarion Counties, 
Pennsylvania, from Kinzua Dam east of Warren, Warren County, downstream 
to the Pennsylvania Route 58 crossing at Foxburg, Clarion County, 
Pennsylvania. Riparian lands that border the unit include approximately 
15 river mi (24.1 km; 14 percent) in private ownership and 84 river mi 
(135.8 km; 86 percent) in public (Federal or State government) 
ownership. General land use on adjacent riparian lands and the 
surrounding HUC 8-level management unit includes forestry, agriculture, 
and State-managed game lands. The public land ownership for this unit 
is a combination of Allegheny National Forest lands and State lands, 
and the Kinzua Dam is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 
Unit LS 2 is occupied by the species and contains all of the physical 
or biological features essential to the conservation of the species. 
There is overlap of approximately 35 river mi (57 km) of this unit with 
designated critical habitat for the federally threatened rabbitsfoot 
mussel (80 FR 24692; April 30, 2015).
    Threats identified within Unit LS 2 include the degradation of 
habitat and water quality from impoundments, channelization, siltation 
and pollution due to improper timbering practices, resource extraction, 
water withdrawals, development, and wastewater treatment plants, and 
the presence of invasive, nonnative species. Special management 
considerations or protection measures to reduce or alleviate the 
threats may include modifying dam releases from Kinzua Dam to mimic the 
natural hydrograph, improvements to water quality to reverse 
degradation resulting from row crop agriculture and oil and gas 
development, and efforts to prevent the spread of invasive, nonnative 
species (see Special Management Considerations or Protection, above).

LS 3: Shenango River

    Unit LS 3 is the same as Unit RH 1, described below for the round 
hickorynut. Unit LS 3 consists of 22 river mi (35.5 km) of the Shenango 
River in Crawford County, Pennsylvania, from Pymatuning Dam downstream 
to the point of inundation by Shenango River Lake near Big Bend, Mercer 
County, Pennsylvania. Riparian lands that border the unit include 
approximately 15 river mi (24.3 km; 32 percent) in private ownership 
and 7 river mi (11.3 km; 68 percent) in public (Federal or State) 
ownership. General land use on adjacent riparian lands and the 
surrounding HUC 8-level management unit includes the City of Greenville 
and its associated industry, and the unincorporated communities of 
Jamestown and New Harrisburg. Pymatuning Dam is owned by the State of 
Pennsylvania. Unit LS 3 is occupied by the species and contains all of 
the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of 
the species. There is overlap of approximately 14.5 river mi (23.4 km) 
of this unit with designated critical habitat for the federally 
threatened rabbitsfoot mussel (80 FR 24692; April 30, 2015).
    Threats identified within Unit LS 3 include the degradation of 
habitat and water quality from impoundments, domestic and industrial 
pollution due to human development, resource extraction, water 
withdrawals, and wastewater treatment plants, and the presence of 
invasive, nonnative species. Special management considerations or 
protection measures to reduce or alleviate the threats may include 
modifying dam releases from Pytmatuning Dam to mimic the natural 
hydrograph, and efforts to prevent the spread of invasive, nonnative 
species (see Special Management Considerations or Protection, above).

LS 4: Middle Island Creek

    Unit LS 4 partially overlaps with Unit RH 4 for the round 
hickorynut, described below. Unit LS 4 consists of 14 stream mi (23.7 
km) of Middle Island Creek in Doddridge and Tyler Counties, West 
Virginia, from the mouth of Meathouse Fork south of Smithburg, 
Doddridge County, downstream to its confluence with Arnold Creek at the 
Tyler/Doddridge County line. Riparian lands that border the unit 
include approximately 14 stream mi (23.5 km; 99 percent) in private 
ownership and 0.13 river mi (0.2 km; less than 1 percent) in public 
(local government) ownership. General land use on adjacent riparian 
lands and the surrounding HUC 8-level management unit includes forestry 
and the communities of Smithburg, Avondale, and West Union. Unit LS 4 
is occupied by the species and contains all of the physical or 
biological features essential to the conservation of the species.
    Threats identified within Unit LS 4 include degradation of habitat 
and water quality from impoundments, siltation and pollution due to 
improper timbering practices, resource extraction, water withdrawals, 
development, and wastewater treatment plants, and the presence of 
invasive, nonnative species. Special management considerations or 
protection measures to reduce or alleviate the threats may include 
actions to alleviate the threats of water quality and habitat 
degradation from hydrofracking wastewater discharges and impoundments 
downstream on the Ohio River, and efforts to prevent the spread of 
invasive, nonnative species (see Special Management Considerations or 
Protection, above).

LS 5: Little Kanawha River

    Unit LS 5 partially overlaps with Unit RH 5 for the round 
hickorynut, described below. Unit LS 5 consists of 123 river mi (198 
km) of the Little Kanawha River in Calhoun, Gilmer, Ritchie, and Wood 
Counties, West Virginia, from Burnsville Dam in Braxton County 
downstream to its confluence with the Ohio River in Parkersburg, Wood 
County, West Virginia. Riparian lands that border the unit include 
approximately 122 river mi (197.2 km; 99 percent) in private ownership 
and 0.53 river mi (0.9 km; less than 1 percent) in public (Federal or 
State government) ownership. General land use on adjacent riparian 
lands and the surrounding HUC 8-level management unit includes 
forestry, agriculture, industry, and numerous cities and 
municipalities. Burnsville Dam is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of 
Engineers. Unit LS 5 is occupied by the species and contains all of the 
physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the 
species.
    Threats identified within Unit LS 5 include the degradation of 
habitat and water quality from impoundments, siltation and pollution 
due to improper timbering practices, resource extraction, water 
withdrawals, development, and wastewater treatments plants, and the 
presence of invasive, nonnative species. Special management 
considerations or

[[Page 61417]]

protection measures to reduce or alleviate the threats may include 
modifying dam releases from Burnsville Dam to mimic the natural 
hydrograph, and efforts to prevent the spread of invasive, nonnative 
species (see Special Management Considerations or Protection, above).

LS 6: Elk River

    Unit LS 6 is the same as Unit RH 6, described below for the round 
hickorynut. Unit LS 6 consists of 101 river mi (163 km) of the Elk 
River in Braxton, Clay, and Kanawha Counties, West Virginia, from 
Sutton Dam in Braxton County downstream to its confluence with the 
Kanawha River at Charleston, Kanawha County, West Virginia. Riparian 
lands that border the unit include approximately 93 river mi (150.3 km; 
92 percent) in private ownership and 7 river mi (12.7 km; 8 percent) in 
public (Federal, State, and local government) ownership. General land 
use on adjacent riparian lands and the surrounding HUC-8 level 
management unit includes forestry, agriculture, industry, and numerous 
cities and municipalities. Sutton Dam is operated by the U.S. Army 
Corps of Engineers. Unit LS 6 is occupied by the species and contains 
all of the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of the species. There is overlap of approximately 28 river 
mi (44.6 km) of this unit with designated critical habitat for the 
federally endangered diamond darter (78 FR 52364; August 22, 2013).
    Threats identified within Unit LS 6 include the degradation of 
habitat and water quality from impoundments, siltation and pollution 
due to improper timbering practices, resource extraction, water 
withdrawals, development, and wastewater treatment plants, and the 
presence of invasive, nonnative species. Special management 
considerations or protection measures to reduce or alleviate the 
threats may include modifying dam releases from Sutton Dam to mimic the 
natural hydrograph and efforts to prevent the spread of invasive, 
nonnative species (see Special Management Considerations or Protection, 
above).

LS 7: Kanawha River

    Unit LS 7 partially overlaps with Unit RH 7 for the round 
hickorynut, described below. Unit LS 7 consists of 21 river mi (33.9 
km) of the Kanawha River in Fayette and Kanawha Counties, West 
Virginia, from Kanawha Falls in Fayette County downstream to its 
confluence with Cabin Creek at Chelyan, Kanawha County, West Virginia. 
Riparian lands that border the unit include approximately 18 river mi 
(29.3 km; 90 percent) in private ownership and 2 river mi (4.6 km; 10 
percent) in public (Federal, State, and local government) ownership. 
General land use on adjacent riparian lands and the surrounding HUC 8-
level management unit includes forestry, agriculture, industry, and 
numerous cities and municipalities. London and Marmet locks and dams 
within this unit are operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Unit 
LS 7 is occupied by the species and contains all of the physical or 
biological features essential to the conservation of the species.
    Threats identified within Unit LS 7 include the degradation of 
habitat and water quality from impoundments, siltation and pollution 
due to improper timbering practices, resource extraction, water 
withdrawals, development, and wastewater treatment plants, and the 
presence of invasive, nonnative species. Special management 
considerations or protection measures to reduce or alleviate the 
threats may include modifying dam releases from London and Marmet locks 
and dams to mimic the natural hydrograph, and efforts to prevent the 
spread of invasive, nonnative species (see Special Management 
Considerations or Protection, above).

LS 8: Licking River

    Unit LS 8 partially overlaps with Unit RH 8 for the round 
hickorynut, described below. Unit LS 8 consists of 181 river mi (291.5 
km) of the Licking River in Bath, Campbell, Fleming, Harrison, Kenton, 
Morgan, Nicholas, Pendleton, Robertson, and Rowan Counties, Kentucky, 
from Cave Run Dam in Bath/Rowan Counties downstream to its confluence 
with the Ohio River at Newport, Campbell/Kenton County, Kentucky. 
Riparian lands that border the unit include approximately 161 river mi 
(259.7 km; 90 percent) in private ownership and 19 river mi (31.7 km; 
10 percent) in public (Federal, State, and local government) ownership. 
General land use on adjacent riparian lands and the surrounding HUC 8-
level management unit includes forestry, agriculture industry, and 
numerous cities and municipalities. The Cave Run Dam is operated by the 
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Unit LS 8 is occupied by the species and 
contains all of the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of the species.
    Threats identified within Unit LS 8 include the degradation of 
habitat and water quality from impoundments and associated cold water 
discharges, siltation and pollution due to improper timbering 
practices, resource extraction, water withdrawals, development, and 
wastewater treatment plants, and the presence of invasive, nonnative 
species. Special management considerations or protection measures to 
reduce or alleviate the threats may include modifying dam releases from 
Cave Run Dam to mimic the natural hydrograph and efforts to prevent the 
spread of invasive, nonnative species (see Special Management 
Considerations or Protection, above).

LS 9: Green River

    Unit LS 9 partially overlaps with Unit RH 11 for the round 
hickorynut, described below. Unit LS 9 consists of 156 river mi (251.6 
km) of the Green River in Butler/Warren, Edmonson, Green, Hart, and 
Taylor Counties, Kentucky, from Green River Lake Dam south of 
Campbellsville in Taylor County downstream to its confluence with the 
Barren River at Woodbury, Warren/Butler County, Kentucky. Riparian 
lands that border the unit include approximately 105 river mi (169.2 
km; 67 percent) in private ownership and 51 river mi (82.4 km; 33 
percent) in public (Federal, State, and local government) ownership; 
Federal lands include a portion of Mammoth Cave National Park. General 
land use on adjacent riparian lands and the surrounding HUC 8-level 
management unit includes forestry, agriculture, industry, and numerous 
cities and municipalities, and Cave Run Dam is operated by the U.S. 
Army Corps of Engineers. Unit LS 9 is occupied by the species and 
contains all of the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of the species. The entire approximately 156-river-mi 
(252-km) unit overlaps with designated critical habitat for the 
federally endangered diamond darter (78 FR 52364; August 22, 2013) and 
the federally threatened rabbitsfoot mussel (80 FR 24692; April 30, 
2015).
    Threats identified within Unit LS 9 include the degradation of 
habitat and water quality from impoundments and associated cold water 
discharges, siltation and pollution due to improper timbering and 
agricultural practices, resource extraction, water withdrawals, and 
development, all of which affect channel stability; wastewater 
treatment plants; and the presence of invasive, nonnative species. 
Special management considerations or protection measures may be needed 
to reduce or alleviate habitat degradation such as channelization and 
channel instability. Additional special management considerations or 
protection measures may be needed to address thermal and

[[Page 61418]]

flow regimes associated with tail water releases from the Green River 
Lake Dam, and efforts to prevent the spread of invasive, nonnative 
species (see Special Management Considerations or Protection, above).

LS 10: Cumberland River

    Unit LS 10 consists of 48 river mi (77.5 km) of the Cumberland 
River in Smith, Trousdale, and Wilson Counties, Tennessee, from Cordell 
Hull Dam north of Carthage in Smith County downstream to reservoir 
influence of Old Hickory Reservoir at U.S. Route 231 north of Lebanon, 
Wilson County, Tennessee. Riparian lands that border the unit are all 
public (Federal) ownership. General land use on adjacent riparian lands 
and the surrounding HUC 8-level management unit includes forestry, 
agriculture, and the municipalities of Carthage and Rome, Tennessee; 
both Cordell Hull and Old Hickory Dams upstream and downstream of this 
unit are operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Unit LS 10 is 
occupied by the species and contains all of the physical or biological 
features essential to the conservation of the species. There is overlap 
of approximately 1 river mi (1.7 km) of this unit with designated 
critical habitat for the federally endangered Short's bladderpod (79 FR 
50990; August 26, 2014).
    Threats identified within Unit LS 10 include the degradation of 
habitat and water quality from upstream and downstream impoundments and 
associated cold water discharges, siltation and pollution due to 
improper timbering practices, resource extraction, water withdrawals, 
development, and wastewater treatment plants, and the presence of 
invasive, nonnative species. Special management considerations or 
protection measures to reduce or alleviate the threats may include 
channel stability, thermal regimes, altered flow regimes associated 
with tail water releases from Cordell Hull Reservoir, actions to 
address channelization, and efforts to prevent the spread of invasive, 
nonnative species (see Special Management Considerations or Protection, 
above).

LS 11: Clinch River

    Unit LS 11 consists of 177 river mi (286.1 km) of the Clinch River 
in Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise Counties in Virginia, and 
Claiborne, Hancock, and Hawkins Counties in Tennessee. This unit 
extends from Secondary Highway 637 west of Pounding Mill in Tazewell 
County, Virginia, downstream to County Highway 25, Claiborne County, 
Tennessee, northwest of Thorn Hill. The Tennessee portion of this unit 
is also encompassed by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency's Clinch 
River Sanctuary. Riparian lands that border the unit include 
approximately 160 river mi (258.8 km; 90 percent) in private ownership 
and 17 river mi (27.3 km; 10 percent) in public (Federal and State) 
ownership. General land use on adjacent riparian lands and the 
surrounding HUC 8-level management unit includes forestry, agriculture, 
industry, and numerous cities and municipalities. Unit LS 11 is 
occupied by the species and contains all of the physical or biological 
features essential to the conservation of the species. There is overlap 
of approximately 171 river mi (274.4 km) of this unit with designated 
critical habitat for the federally endangered purple bean, oyster 
mussel, rough rabbitsfoot, and Cumberlandian combshell (69 FR 53136; 
August 31, 2004); the federally endangered slabside pearlymussel and 
fluted kidneyshell (78 FR 59556; September 26, 2013); and with the 
federally threatened yellowfin madtom and slender chub (42 FR 45526; 
September 9, 1977).
    Threats identified within Unit LS 11 include the degradation of 
habitat and water quality from downstream impoundment, mining 
discharges, siltation and pollution due to improper timbering 
practices, resource extraction, water withdrawals, development, and 
wastewater treatment plants, and the presence of invasive, nonnative 
species. Special management considerations or protection measures to 
reduce or alleviate the threats may include management of the Norris 
Reservoir downstream to provide additional riverine habitat, and 
efforts to prevent the spread of invasive, nonnative species (see 
Special Management Considerations or Protection, above).

LS 12: Paint Rock River

    Unit LS 12 partially overlaps with Unit RH 12 for the round 
hickorynut, described below. Unit LS 12 consists of 58 river mi (94.5 
km) of the Paint Rock River in Jackson and Madison/Marshall Counties, 
Alabama, from the confluence of Hurricane Creek and Estill Fork in 
Jackson County, Alabama, downstream to its confluence with the 
Tennessee River west of Hebron, Madison/Marshall County, Alabama. 
Riparian lands that border the unit include approximately 2 river mi 
(4.1 km; 3 percent) in private ownership and 56 river mi (90.4 km; 97 
percent) in public (Federal and State) ownership. General land use on 
adjacent riparian lands and the surrounding HUC 8-level management unit 
includes forestry, agriculture, and several small municipalities 
(Princeton, Hollytree, Trenton, and Paint Rock). Unit LS 12 is occupied 
by the species and contains all of the physical or biological features 
essential to the conservation of the species. There is overlap of 
approximately 53 river mi (85 km) of this unit with designated critical 
habitat for the federally endangered slabside pearlymussel (78 FR 
59556; September 26, 2013) and the federally threatened rabbitsfoot 
mussel (80 FR 24692; April 30, 2015).
    Threats identified within Unit LS 12 include the degradation of 
habitat and water quality from downstream impoundment, siltation and 
pollution due to improper agricultural and timbering practices, 
resource extraction, water withdrawals, development, and wastewater 
treatment plants, and the presence of invasive, nonnative species. 
Special management considerations or protection measures to reduce or 
alleviate the threats may include management of Wheeler Reservoir 
downstream to provide additional riverine habitat, working with 
landowners to implement best management practices to reduce erosion and 
sedimentation associated with agricultural lands, and efforts to 
prevent the spread of invasive, nonnative species (see Special 
Management Considerations or Protection, above).

RH 1: Shenango River

    Unit RH 1 is the same as Unit LS 3 for the longsolid, described 
above. It consists of 22 river mi (35.5 km) of the Shenango River in 
Crawford County, Pennsylvania, from Pymatuning Dam downstream to the 
point of inundation by Shenango River Lake near Big Bend, Mercer 
County, Pennsylvania. Riparian lands that border the unit include 
approximately 15 river mi (24.3 km; 32 percent) in private ownership 
and 7 river mi (11.1 km; 68 percent) in public (Federal or State) 
ownership. General land use on adjacent riparian lands and the 
surrounding HUC 8-level management unit includes the City of Greenville 
and its associated industry, and the unincorporated communities of 
Jamestown and New Harrisburg. Pymatuning Dam is owned by the State of 
Pennsylvania. Unit RH 1 is occupied by the species and contains all of 
the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of 
the species. There is overlap of approximately 14.5 river mi (23.4 km) 
of this unit with designated critical habitat for the federally 
threatened rabbitsfoot mussel (80 FR 24692; April 30, 2015).
    Threats identified within Unit RH 1 include the degradation of 
habitat and water quality from impoundments,

[[Page 61419]]

domestic and industrial pollution due to human development, resource 
extraction, water withdrawals, and wastewater treatment plants, and the 
presence of invasive, nonnative species. Special management 
considerations or protection measures to reduce or alleviate the 
threats may include modifying dam releases from Pytmatuning Dam to 
mimic the natural hydrograph, and efforts to prevent the spread of 
invasive, nonnative species (see Special Management Considerations or 
Protection, above).

RH 2: Grand River

    Unit RH 2 consists of 92 river mi (148.2 km) of the Grand River in 
Ashtabula, Lake, and Trumbull Counties, Ohio, from the Trumbull/Geauga 
County line south of Lake County, Ohio State Route 88, downstream to 
the mouth of the Grand River at its confluence with Lake Erie. Riparian 
lands that border the unit include approximately 59 river mi (95.2 km; 
64 percent) in private ownership and 33 river mi (53 km; 36 percent) in 
public (State and local government) ownership. The Grand River is a 
State Wild and Scenic River, with a ``Wild River'' designation for 
approximately 23 river mi (37 km) from the Harpersfield Covered Bridge 
downstream to the Norfolk and Western Railroad Trestle in Lake County, 
and ``Scenic River'' designation for approximately 33 river mi (53 km) 
from the U.S. 322 Bridge in Ashtabula County downstream to the 
Harpersfield Covered Bridge. General lands use on adjacent riparian 
lands and the surrounding HUC 8-level management unit includes 
forestry, agriculture, and several municipalities (West Farmington, 
Windsor, Rock Creek, and Perry). Harpersfield Dam is operated by the 
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Unit RH 2 is occupied by the species and 
contains all of the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of the species.
    Threats identified within Unit RH 2 include degradation of habitat 
and water quality from impoundments, domestic and industrial pollution 
due to human development, resource extraction, water withdrawals, and 
wastewater treatment plants, and the presence of invasive, nonnative 
species. Special management considerations or protection measures to 
reduce or alleviate the threats may include modifying dam releases from 
the Harpersfield Dam to mimic the natural hydrograph, and efforts to 
prevent the spread of invasive, nonnative species (see Special 
Management Considerations or Protection, above).

RH 3: Tippecanoe River

    Unit RH 3 consists of 75 river mi (120.8 km) of the Tippecanoe 
River in Fulton, Marshall, Pulaski, and Starke Counties, Indiana, from 
the railroad crossing west of the communities of Tippecanoe, Marshall 
County, downstream to the Pulaski/White County line, southwest of the 
community of Star City, Indiana. Riparian lands that border the unit 
include approximately 66 river mi (105.6 km; 89 percent) in private 
ownership and 9 river mi (14.5 km; 11 percent) in public ownership. 
General land use on adjacent riparian lands and the surrounding HUC 8-
level management unit includes agriculture and the communities of 
Tippecanoe, Pershing, and Ora. Unit RH 3 is occupied by the species and 
contains all of the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of the species. There is overlap of approximately 19 river 
mi (29.9 km) of this unit with designated critical habitat for the 
federally threatened rabbitsfoot mussel (80 FR 24692; April 30, 2015).
    Threats identified within Unit RH 3 include the degradation of 
habitat and water quality from impoundments, domestic and industrial 
pollution due to human development, resource extraction, water 
withdrawals, and wastewater treatment plants, and the presence of 
invasive, nonnative species. Special management considerations or 
protection measures to reduce or alleviate the threats may include 
modifying operations of downstream impoundments to provide additional 
riverine habitats, and efforts to prevent the spread of invasive, 
nonnative species (see Special Management Considerations or Protection, 
above).

RH 4: Middle Island Creek

    Unit RH 4 partially overlaps with Unit LS 4 for the longsolid, 
described above. Unit RH 4 consists of 75 stream mi (120.8 km) of the 
Middle Island Creek in Doddridge, Pleasants, and Tyler Counties, West 
Virginia, from the Tyler/Doddridge County line northeast of Deep Valley 
downstream to the confluence with the Ohio River, at St. Mary's, 
Pleasants County, West Virginia. Riparian lands that border the unit 
include approximately 74.8 stream mi (120.4 km; 99 percent) in private 
ownership and 0.2 stream mi (0.4 km; less than 1 percent) in public 
(Federal and State) ownership. General land use on adjacent riparian 
lands and the surrounding HUC 8-level management unit includes the 
communities of Smithburg, Avondale, West Union, Alma, and Centerville. 
Unit RH 4 is occupied by the species and contains all of the physical 
or biological features essential to the conservation of the species.
    Threats identified within Unit RH 4 include the degradation of 
habitat and water quality from siltation and pollution due to improper 
timbering practices, resource extraction, water withdrawals, 
development, and wastewater treatment plants, and the presence of 
invasive, nonnative species. Special management considerations or 
protection measures to reduce or alleviate the threats may include 
monitoring hydrofracking wastewater discharges and impoundments 
downstream on the Ohio River, and implementing efforts to prevent the 
spread of invasive, nonnative species (see Special Management 
Considerations or Protection, above).

RH 5: Little Kanawha River

    Unit RH 5 partially overlaps with Unit LS 5 for the longsolid, also 
described above. Unit RH 5 consists of 110 river mi (176.6 km) of the 
Little Kanawha River in Calhoun, Gilmer, Ritchie, and Wood Counties, 
West Virginia, from Burnsville Dam in Braxton County downstream to West 
Virginia Route 47 at Parkersburg, Wood County, West Virginia. Riparian 
lands that border the unit include approximately 109 river mi (175.4 
km; 99 percent) in private ownership and 0.7 river mi (1.2 km; 1 
percent) in public (Federal, State, and local government) ownership. 
General land use on adjacent riparian lands and the surrounding HUC 8-
level management unit includes forestry, agriculture, industry, and 
numerous cities and municipalities. Burnsville Dam is operated by the 
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Unit RH 5 is occupied by the species and 
contains all of the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of the species.
    Threats identified within Unit RH 5 include the degradation of 
habitat from impoundments, siltation and pollution due to improper 
timbering practices, resource extraction, water withdrawals, 
development, and wastewater treatment plants, and the presence of 
invasive, nonnative species. Special management considerations or 
protection measures to reduce or alleviate the threats may include 
modifying dam releases from Burnsville Dam to mimics the natural 
hydrograph, and efforts to prevent the spread of invasive, nonnative 
species (see Special Management Considerations or Protection, above).

RH 6: Elk River

    Unit RH 6 is the same as Unit LS 6 for the longsolid, described 
above. Unit

[[Page 61420]]

RH 6 consists of 101 river mi (163 km) of the Elk River in Braxton, 
Clay, and Kanawha Counties, West Virginia, from the Sutton Dam in 
Braxton County downstream to its confluence with the Kanawha River at 
Charleston, Kanawha County, West Virginia. Riparian lands that border 
the unit include approximately 93 river mi (150.3 km; 92 percent) in 
private ownership and 7 river mi (12.7 km; 8 percent) in public 
(Federal, State, and local government) ownership. General land use on 
adjacent riparian lands and the surrounding HUC 8-level management unit 
includes forestry, agriculture, industry, and numerous cities and 
municipalities. Sutton Dam is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of 
Engineers. Unit RH 6 is occupied by the species and contains all of the 
physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the 
species. There is overlap of approximately 28 river mi (44.6 km) of 
this unit with the designated critical habitat for the federally 
endangered diamond darter (78 FR 52364; August 22, 2013).
    Threats identified within Unit RH 6 include the degradation of 
habitat and water quality from impoundments, siltation and pollution 
due to improper timbering practices, resource extraction, water 
withdrawals, development, and wastewater treatment plants, and the 
presence of invasive, nonnative species. Special management 
considerations or protection measures to reduce or alleviate the 
threats may include modifying dam releases from Sutton Dam to mimic the 
natural hydrograph, and efforts to prevent the spread of invasive, 
nonnative species (see Special Management Considerations or Protection, 
above).

RH 7: Kanawha River

    Unit RH 7 partially overlaps with Unit LS 7 for the longsolid, 
described above. Unit RH 7 consists of 37.5 river mi (60.4 km) of the 
Kanawha River in Fayette and Kanawha Counties, West Virginia, from 
Kanawha Falls in Fayette County downstream to its confluence with the 
Elk River at Charleston, Kanawha County, West Virginia. Riparian lands 
that border the unit include approximately 33 river mi (53.2 km; 90 
percent) in private ownership and 4 river mi (7.2 km; 10 percent) in 
public (Federal, State, and local government) ownership. General land 
use on adjacent riparian lands and the surrounding HUC 8-level 
management unit includes forestry, agriculture, industry, and numerous 
cities and municipalities. London and Marmet locks and dams within this 
unit are operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Unit RH 7 is 
occupied by the species and contains all of the physical or biological 
features essential to the conservation of the species.
    Threats identified within Unit RH 7 include the degradation of 
habitat and water quality from impoundments, siltation and pollution 
due to improper timbering practices, resource extraction, water 
withdrawals, development, and wastewater treatment plants, and the 
presence of invasive, nonnative species. Special management 
considerations or protection measures to reduce or alleviate the 
threats may include modifying dam releases from London and Marmet locks 
and dams to mimic the natural hydrograph, and efforts to prevent the 
spread of invasive, nonnative species (see Special Management 
Considerations or Protection, above).

RH 8: Licking River

    Unit RH 8 partially overlaps with Unit LS 8 for the longsolid, 
described above. Unit RH 8 consists of 150 mi (241.9 km) of the Licking 
River in Bath, Campbell, Fleming, Harrison, Kenton, Morgan, Nicholas, 
Pendleton, Robertson, and Rowan Counties, Kentucky, from Cave Run Dam 
in Bath/Rowan Counties downstream to the Railroad crossing at the 
Campbell/Kenton/Pendleton County line at De Mossville, northwest of 
Butler, Pendleton County, Kentucky. Riparian lands that border the unit 
include approximately 131 river mi (211.8 km; 87 percent) in private 
ownership and 18 river mi (30 km; 13 percent) in public (Federal, 
State, and local government) ownership. General land use on adjacent 
riparian lands and the surrounding HUC 8-level management unit includes 
forestry, agriculture industry, and numerous cities and municipalities. 
Cave Run Dam is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Unit RH 8 
is occupied by the species and contains all of the physical or 
biological features essential to the conservation of the species.
    Threats identified within Unit RH 8 include the degradation of 
habitat and water quality from impoundments and associated cold water 
discharges, siltation and pollution due to improper timbering 
practices, resource extraction, water withdrawals, development, and 
wastewater treatment plants, and the presence of invasive, nonnative 
species. Special management considerations or protection measures to 
reduce or alleviate the threats may include modifying dam releases from 
Cave Run Dam to mimic the natural hydrograph, and efforts to prevent 
the spread of invasive, nonnative species (see Special Management 
Considerations or Protection, above).

RH 9: Rockcastle River

    Unit RH 9 consists of 15.3 river mi (24.6 km) of the Rockcastle 
River in Laurel, Pulaski, and Rockcastle Counties, Kentucky, from 
Kentucky Route 1956 at Billows downstream to Kentucky Route 192, near 
its confluence with Cane Creek along the Laurel/Pulaski County line, 
northwest of Baldrock, Laurel County, Kentucky. Riparian lands that 
border the unit include approximately 0.3 river mi (0.4 km; less than 1 
percent) in private ownership and 15 river mi (24.2 km; 99 percent) in 
public (Federal) ownership. Federal ownership is the Daniel Boone 
National Forest. General land use on adjacent riparian lands and the 
surrounding HUC 8-level management unit is predominantly forestry. Unit 
RH 9 is occupied by the species and contains all of the physical or 
biological features essential to the conservation of the species. There 
is overlap of approximately 15 river mi (23.7 km) of this unit with 
designated critical habitat for the federally endangered fluted 
kidneyshell (78 FR 59556; September 26, 2013).
    Threats identified within Unit RH 9 include the degradation of 
habitat and water quality from siltation and pollution due to improper 
timbering practices and resource extraction, and the presence of 
invasive, nonnative species. Special management considerations or 
protection measures to reduce or alleviate the threats may include 
management of Lake Cumberland, located downstream, to provide more 
riverine habitat upstream, and efforts to prevent the spread of 
invasive, nonnative species (see Special Management Considerations or 
Protection, above).

RH 10: Buck Creek

    Unit RH 10 consists of 36 stream mi (58.1 km) of Buck Creek in 
Pulaski County, Kentucky, from its confluence with Glade Fork Creek 
northeast of Goochtown, downstream to its confluence with Whetstone 
Creek, northeast of Dykes, Pulaski County, Kentucky. Riparian lands 
that border the unit include approximately 33 stream mi (52.6 km; 92 
percent) in private ownership and 3 stream mi (5.5 km; 8 percent) in 
public (State and local government) ownership. General land use on 
adjacent riparian lands and the surrounding HUC 8-level management unit 
includes forestry, agriculture, and several small communities. Unit RH 
10 is occupied by the species and contains all of the physical or 
biological features

[[Page 61421]]

essential to the conservation of the species. There is overlap of 
approximately 35 stream mi (56.7 km) with designated critical habitat 
for the federally endangered Cumberlandian combshell and oyster mussel 
(69 FR 53136; August 31, 2004), and the federally endangered fluted 
kidneyshell (78 FR 59556; September 26, 2013).
    Threats identified within Unit RH 10 include the degradation of 
habitat and water quality from instream gravel mining, silviculture-
related activities, illegal off-road vehicle use, nonpoint source 
pollution from agriculture, and development activities, and the 
presence of invasive, nonnative species. Special management 
considerations or protection measures to reduce or alleviate the 
threats may include management of Lake Cumberland, located downstream, 
to provide more riverine habitat upstream, and efforts to prevent the 
spread of invasive, nonnative species (see Special Management 
Considerations or Protection, above).

RH 11: Green River

    Unit RH 11 partially overlaps with Unit LS 9 for the longsolid, 
described above. Unit RH 11 consists of 98 river mi (157.7 km) of the 
Green River in Butler/Warren, Edmonson, Green, and Hart Counties, 
Kentucky, from the mouth of Lynn Camp Creek east of Linwood in Hart 
County downstream to its confluence with the Barren River at Woodbury, 
Warrant/Butler Counties, Kentucky. Riparian lands that border the unit 
include approximately 61 river mi (98.4 km; 62 percent) in private 
ownership and 37 river mi (59.4 km; 38 percent) in public (Federal and 
State) ownership; Federal lands include a portion of Mammoth Cave 
National Park. General land use on adjacent riparian lands and the 
surrounding HUC 8-level management unit includes forestry, agriculture, 
industry, and numerous cities and municipalities, and Green River Lake 
Dam (located upstream of this unit) is operated by the U.S. Army Corps 
of Engineers. Unit RH 11 is occupied by the species and contains all of 
the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of 
the species. The entire 98-river-mi (157.7-km) unit overlaps with 
designated critical habitat for the federally endangered diamond darter 
(78 FR 52364; August 22, 2013) and the federally threatened rabbitsfoot 
mussel (80 FR 24692; April 30, 2015).
    Threats identified within Unit RH 11 include the degradation of 
habitat and water quality from Green River Lake Dam and associated cold 
water discharges, siltation and pollution due to improper timbering and 
agricultural practices, resource extraction, water withdrawals, and 
development, all of which affect channel stability; wastewater 
treatment plants; and the presence of invasive, nonnative species. 
Special management considerations or protection measures may be needed 
to reduce or alleviate habitat degradation such as channelization and 
channel instability. Additional special management considerations or 
protection measures may be needed to address thermal and flow regimes 
associated with tail water releases from the Green River Lake Dam, and 
efforts to prevent the spread of invasive, nonnative species (see 
Special Management Considerations or Protection, above).

RH 12: Paint Rock River

    Unit RH 12 partially overlaps with Unit LS 12 for the longsolid, 
described above. Unit RH 12 consists of 48 river mi (77.5 km) of the 
Paint Rock River in Jackson and Madison/Marshall Counties, Alabama, 
from the confluence of Hurricane Creek and Estill Fork in Jackson 
County, Alabama, downstream to U.S. Route 431, south of New Hope, 
Madison/Marshall Counties, Alabama. Riparian lands that border the unit 
include approximately 2 river mi (4.1 km; 2 percent) in private 
ownership and 46 river mi (73.4 km; 98 percent) in public (Federal and 
State) ownership. General land use on adjacent riparian lands and the 
surrounding HUC 8-level management unit includes forestry, agriculture, 
and several small municipalities (Princeton, Hollytree, Trenton, and 
Paint Rock). Unit RH 12 is occupied by the species and contains all of 
the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of 
the species. The entire approximately 48-river-mi (77.5-km) unit 
overlaps with designated critical habitat for the federally endangered 
slabside pearlymussel (78 FR 59556; September 26, 2013), and the 
federally threatened rabbitsfoot mussel (80 FR 24692; April 30, 2015).
    Threats identified within Unit RH 12 include the degradation of 
habitat and water quality from impoundments, siltation and pollution 
due to improper timbering practices, resource extraction, water 
withdrawals, development, and wastewater treatment plants, and the 
presence of invasive, nonnative species. Special management 
considerations or protection measures to reduce or alleviate the 
threats may include management of Wheeler Reservoir downstream to 
provide additional riverine habitat, working with landowners to 
implement best management practices to reduce erosion and sedimentation 
associated with agricultural lands, and efforts to prevent the spread 
of invasive, nonnative species (see Special Management Considerations 
or Protection, above).

RH 13: Duck River

    Unit RH 13 consists of 59 river mi (94.8 km) of the Duck River in 
Bedford, Marshall, and Maury Counties, Tennessee, from its confluence 
with Sinking Creek in Bedford County, downstream to the mouth of Goose 
Creek, east of Columbia, Maury County, Tennessee. Riparian lands that 
border the unit include approximately 27 river mi (43.7 km; 47 percent) 
in private ownership and 32 river mi (51.1 km; 53 percent) in public 
(State and local government) ownership. General land use on adjacent 
riparian lands and the surrounding HUC 8-level management unit includes 
forestry, agriculture, and several municipalities (Milltown, Leftwich, 
and Philadelphia). Normandy Dam is operated by the Tennessee Valley 
Authority. Unit RH 13 is occupied by the species and contains all of 
the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of 
the species. There is overlap of approximately 55 river mi (88.9 km) of 
this unit with designated critical habitat for the federally endangered 
slabside pearlymussel and fluted kidneyshell (78 FR 59556; September 
26, 2013), and the federally endangered Cumberlandian combshell and 
oyster mussel (69 FR 53136; August 31, 2004).
    Threats identified within Unit RH 13 include the degradation of 
habitat and water quality from impoundments, siltation and pollution 
due to improper timbering practices, agricultural activities 
(livestock), row crop agriculture and channelization, resource 
extraction, water withdrawals, and wastewater treatment plants, and the 
presence of invasive, nonnative species. Special management 
considerations or protection measures to reduce or alleviate the 
threats may include seasonally adjusted flow regimes associated with 
tail water releases from Normandy Dam, working with landowners to 
implement best management practices to reduce erosion and sedimentation 
associated with agricultural lands, planting adequate riparian buffers 
to minimize agriculture impacts, and implementing efforts to prevent 
the spread of invasive, nonnative species (see Special Management 
Considerations or Protection, above).

[[Page 61422]]

RH 14: Big Black River

    Unit RH 14 consists of 4 river mi (7 km) of the Big Black River in 
Montgomery County, Mississippi, from its confluence with Poplar Creek 
in Bedford County, downstream to its confluence with Lewis Creek, 
Mississippi. Riparian lands that border the unit are all (100 percent) 
in private ownership. General land use on adjacent riparian lands and 
the surrounding HUC 8-level management unit is predominantly 
agricultural activities. Unit RH 14 is occupied by the species and 
contains all of the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of the species.
    Threats identified within Unit RH 14 include degradation of habitat 
and water quality from impoundments, siltation and pollution due to 
improper agricultural activities, row crop agriculture and 
channelization, and water withdrawals, and the presence of invasive, 
nonnative species. Special management considerations or protection 
measures to reduce or alleviate the threats may include working with 
landowners to implement best management practices to reduce erosion and 
sedimentation associated with agricultural lands and water quality 
degradation, and efforts to prevent the spread of invasive, nonnative 
species (see Special Management Considerations or Protection, above).

Effects of Critical Habitat Designation

Section 7 Consultation

    Section 7(a)(2) of the Act requires Federal agencies, including the 
Service, to ensure that any action they fund, authorize, or carry out 
is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered 
species or threatened species or result in the destruction or adverse 
modification of designated critical habitat of such species. In 
addition, section 7(a)(4) of the Act requires Federal agencies to 
confer with the Service on any agency action which is likely to 
jeopardize the continued existence of any species proposed to be listed 
under the Act or result in the destruction or adverse modification of 
proposed critical habitat.
    We published a final rule revising the definition of destruction or 
adverse modification on August 27, 2019 (84 FR 44976). Destruction or 
adverse modification means a direct or indirect alteration that 
appreciably diminishes the value of critical habitat as a whole for the 
conservation of a listed species.
    If a Federal action may affect a listed species or its critical 
habitat, the responsible Federal agency (action agency) must enter into 
consultation with us. Examples of actions that are subject to the 
section 7 consultation process are actions on State, tribal, local, or 
private lands that require a Federal permit (such as a permit from the 
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers under section 404 of the Clean Water Act 
(33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.) or a permit from the Service under section 10 
of the Act) or that involve some other Federal action (such as funding 
from the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Aviation 
Administration, or the Federal Emergency Management Agency). Federal 
actions not affecting listed species or critical habitat--and actions 
on State, tribal, local, or private lands that are not federally 
funded, authorized, or carried out by a Federal agency--do not require 
section 7 consultation.
    Compliance with the requirements of section 7(a)(2) is documented 
through our issuance of:
    (1) A concurrence letter for Federal actions that may affect, but 
are not likely to adversely affect, listed species or critical habitat; 
or
    (2) A biological opinion for Federal actions that may affect, and 
are likely to adversely affect, listed species or critical habitat.
    When we issue a biological opinion concluding that a project is 
likely to jeopardize the continued existence of a listed species and/or 
destroy or adversely modify critical habitat, we provide reasonable and 
prudent alternatives to the project, if any are identifiable, that 
would avoid the likelihood of jeopardy and/or destruction or adverse 
modification of critical habitat. We define ``reasonable and prudent 
alternatives'' (at 50 CFR 402.02) as alternative actions identified 
during consultation that:
    (1) Can be implemented in a manner consistent with the intended 
purpose of the action,
    (2) Can be implemented consistent with the scope of the Federal 
agency's legal authority and jurisdiction,
    (3) Are economically and technologically feasible, and
    (4) Would, in the Service Director's opinion, avoid the likelihood 
of jeopardizing the continued existence of the listed species and/or 
avoid the likelihood of destroying or adversely modifying critical 
habitat.
    Reasonable and prudent alternatives can vary from slight project 
modifications to extensive redesign or relocation of the project. Costs 
associated with implementing a reasonable and prudent alternative are 
similarly variable.
    Regulations at 50 CFR 402.16 set forth requirements for Federal 
agencies to reinitiate formal consultation on previously reviewed 
actions. These requirements apply when the Federal agency has retained 
discretionary involvement or control over the action (or the agency's 
discretionary involvement or control is authorized by law) and, 
subsequent to the previous consultation, we have listed a new species 
or designated critical habitat that may be affected by the Federal 
action, the amount or extent of taking specified in the incidental take 
statement is exceeded, new information reveals effects of the action 
that may affect listed species or critical habitat in a manner or to an 
extent not previously considered, or the action has been modified in a 
manner that affects the species or critical habitat in a way not 
considered in the previous consultation. In such situations, Federal 
agencies sometimes may need to request reinitiation of consultation 
with us, but the regulations also specify some exceptions to the 
requirement to reinitiate consultation on specific land management 
plans after subsequently listing a new species or designating new 
critical habitat. See the regulations for a description of those 
exceptions.

Application of the ``Destruction or Adverse Modification'' Standard

    The key factor related to the destruction or adverse modification 
determination is whether implementation of the proposed Federal action 
directly or indirectly alters the designated critical habitat in a way 
that appreciably diminishes the value of the critical habitat as a 
whole for the conservation of the listed species. As discussed above, 
the role of critical habitat is to support physical or biological 
features essential to the conservation of a listed species and provide 
for the conservation of the species.
    Section 4(b)(8) of the Act requires us to briefly evaluate and 
describe, in any proposed or final regulation that designates critical 
habitat, activities involving a Federal action that may violate section 
7(a)(2) of the Act by destroying or adversely modifying such habitat, 
or that may be affected by such designation.
    Activities that the Services may, during a consultation under 
section 7(a)(2) of the Act, find are likely to destroy or adversely 
modify critical habitat include, but are not limited to, actions that 
would: (1) Alter the geomorphology of their stream and river habitats 
(e.g., instream excavation or dredging, impoundment,

[[Page 61423]]

channelization, sand and gravel mining, clearing riparian vegetation, 
and discharge of fill materials); (2) significantly alter the existing 
flow regime where these species occur (e.g., impoundment, urban 
development, water diversion, water withdrawal, water draw-down, and 
hydropower generation); (3) significantly alter water chemistry or 
water quality (e.g., hydropower discharges, or the release of 
chemicals, biological pollutants, or heated effluents into surface 
water or connected groundwater at a point source or by dispersed 
release (nonpoint source)); and (4) significantly alter stream bed 
material composition and quality by increasing sediment deposition or 
filamentous algal growth (e.g., construction projects, gravel and sand 
mining, oil and gas development, coal mining, livestock grazing, timber 
harvest, and other watershed and floodplain disturbances that release 
sediments or nutrients into the water). Consulting agencies and such 
activities could include, but are not limited to:
    (1) U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (channel dredging and maintenance; 
dam projects including flood control, navigation, hydropower, and water 
supply; and Clean Water Act permitting including bridge projects and 
stream restoration activities).
    (2) U.S. Department of Agriculture, including the Natural Resources 
Conservation Service and Farm Service Agency (technical and financial 
assistance for projects) and the Forest Service (aquatic habitat 
restoration, fire management plans, fire suppression, fuel reduction 
treatments, forest plans, and mining permits).
    (3) U.S. Department of Energy (renewable and alternative energy 
projects).
    (4) Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (interstate pipeline 
construction and maintenance, dam relicensing, and hydrokinetics).
    (5) U.S. Department of Transportation (highway and bridge 
construction and maintenance).
    (6) U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (issuance of section 10 permits 
for enhancement of survival, habitat conservation plans, and safe 
harbor agreements; Partners for Fish and Wildlife program projects 
benefiting these species or other listed species; and Wildlife and 
Sportfish Restoration program sportfish stocking).
    (7) Environmental Protection Agency (water quality criteria and 
permitting).
    (8) Tennessee Valley Authority (flood control, navigation, 
hydropower, and land management for the Tennessee River system).
    (9) Office of Surface Mining (land resource management plans, 
mining permits, oil and natural gas permits, abandoned mine land 
projects, and renewable energy development).
    (10) National Park Service (land management plans and permitting).

Exemptions

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

    Section 4(a)(3)(B)(i) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533(a)(3)(B)(i)) 
provides that: ``The Secretary shall not designate as critical habitat 
any lands or other geographical areas owned or controlled by the 
Department of Defense, or designated for its use, that are subject to 
an integrated natural resources management plan [INRMP] prepared under 
section 101 of the Sikes Act (16 U.S.C. 670a), if the Secretary 
determines in writing that such plan provides a benefit to the species 
for which critical habitat is proposed for designation.'' There are no 
Department of Defense (DoD) lands within the proposed critical habitat 
designation.

Consideration of Impacts Under Section 4(b)(2) of the Act

    Section 4(b)(2) of the Act states that the Secretary shall 
designate and make revisions to critical habitat on the basis of the 
best available scientific data after taking into consideration the 
economic impact, national security impact, and any other relevant 
impact of specifying any particular area as critical habitat. The 
Secretary may exclude an area from critical habitat if he determines 
that the benefits of such exclusion outweigh the benefits of specifying 
such area as part of the critical habitat, unless he determines, based 
on the best scientific data available, that the failure to designate 
such area as critical habitat will result in the extinction of the 
species. In making the determination to exclude a particular area, the 
statute on its face, as well as the legislative history, are clear that 
the Secretary has broad discretion regarding which factor(s) to use and 
how much weight to give to any factor.
    The first sentence in section 4(b)(2) of the Act requires that we 
take into consideration the economic, national security, or other 
relevant impacts of designating any particular area as critical 
habitat. We describe below the process that we undertook for taking 
into consideration each category of impacts and our analyses of the 
relevant impacts.

Consideration of Economic Impacts

    Section 4(b)(2) of the Act and its implementing regulations require 
that we consider the economic impact that may result from a designation 
of critical habitat. To assess the probable economic impacts of a 
designation, we must first evaluate specific land uses or activities 
and projects that may occur in the area of the critical habitat. We 
then must evaluate the impacts that a specific critical habitat 
designation may have on restricting or modifying specific land uses or 
activities for the benefit of the species and their habitat within the 
areas proposed. We then identify which conservation efforts may be the 
result of the species being listed under the Act versus those 
attributed solely to the designation of critical habitat for these 
particular species. The probable economic impact of a proposed critical 
habitat designation is analyzed by comparing scenarios both ``with 
critical habitat'' and ``without critical habitat.''
    The ``without critical habitat'' scenario represents the baseline 
for the analysis, which includes the existing regulatory and socio-
economic burden imposed on landowners, managers, or other resource 
users potentially affected by the designation of critical habitat 
(e.g., under the Federal listing as well as other Federal, State, and 
local regulations). The baseline, therefore, represents the costs of 
all efforts attributable to the listing of the species under the Act 
(i.e., conservation of the species and its habitat incurred regardless 
of whether critical habitat is designated). The ``with critical 
habitat'' scenario describes the incremental impacts associated 
specifically with the designation of critical habitat for the species. 
The incremental conservation efforts and associated impacts would not 
be expected without the designation of critical habitat for the 
species. In other words, the incremental costs are those attributable 
solely to the designation of critical habitat, above and beyond the 
baseline costs. These are the costs we use when evaluating the benefits 
of inclusion and exclusion of particular areas from the final 
designation of critical habitat should we choose to conduct a 
discretionary 4(b)(2) exclusion analysis.
    For these particular designations, we developed an incremental 
effects memorandum (IEM; Service 2020b, entire) considering the 
probable incremental economic impacts that may result from this 
proposed designation of critical habitat. The information contained in 
our IEM was then used to develop a screening analysis of the probable 
effects of the designation of critical habitat for the longsolid and 
round hickorynut (Industrial Economics, Inc. 2020, entire). We began by 
conducting a screening analysis of

[[Page 61424]]

the proposed critical habitat designation in order to filter out 
particular geographic areas of critical habitat that are already 
subject to such protections and are, therefore, unlikely to incur 
incremental economic impacts. In particular, the screening analysis 
considers baseline costs (i.e., absent critical habitat designation) 
and includes probable economic impacts where land and water use may be 
subject to conservation plans, land management plans, best management 
practices, or regulations that protect the habitat area as a result of 
the Federal listing status of the species. Ultimately, the screening 
analysis allows us to focus our analysis on evaluating the specific 
areas or sectors that may incur probable incremental economic impacts 
as a result of the designation. The screening analysis also assesses 
whether units are unoccupied by the species and thus may require 
additional management or conservation efforts as a result of the 
critical habitat designation for the species; these additional efforts 
may incur incremental economic impacts. This screening analysis 
combined with the information contained in our IEM are what we consider 
our draft economic analysis (DEA) of the proposed critical habitat 
designation for the longsolid and round hickorynut; our DEA is 
summarized in the narrative below.
    Executive Orders (E.O.s) 12866 and 13563 direct Federal agencies to 
assess the costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives in 
quantitative (to the extent feasible) and qualitative terms. Consistent 
with the E.O. regulatory analysis requirements, our effects analysis 
under the Act may take into consideration impacts to both directly and 
indirectly affected entities, where practicable and reasonable. If 
sufficient data are available, we assess, to the extent practicable, 
the probable impacts to both directly and indirectly affected entities. 
As part of our screening analysis, we considered the types of economic 
activities that are likely to occur within the areas likely affected by 
the critical habitat designation. In our evaluation of the probable 
incremental economic impacts that may result from the proposed 
designation of critical habitat for the longsolid and round hickorynut, 
first we identified, in the IEM dated February 13, 2020 (Service 2020b, 
entire), probable incremental economic impacts associated with the 
following categories of activities: Instream excavation or dredging; 
impoundments; channelization; sand and gravel mining; clearing riparian 
vegetation; discharge of fill materials; urban development; water 
diversion; water withdrawal; water draw-down; hydropower generation and 
discharges; release of chemicals, biological pollutants, or heated 
effluents into surface water or connected ground water at a point 
source or by dispersed release (nonpoint); construction projects; oil 
and gas development; coal mining; livestock grazing; timber harvest; 
and other watershed or floodplain activities that release sediments or 
nutrients into the water. We considered each industry or category 
individually. Additionally, we considered whether their activities have 
any Federal involvement. Critical habitat designation generally will 
not affect activities that do not have any Federal involvement; under 
the Act, designation of critical habitat only affects activities 
conducted, funded, permitted, or authorized by Federal agencies. If we 
list these species, in areas where the longsolid or round hickorynut 
are present, Federal agencies would be required to consult with the 
Service under section 7 of the Act on activities they authorize, fund, 
or carry out that may affect the species. If, when we list these 
species, we also finalize this proposed critical habitat designation, 
consultations to avoid the destruction or adverse modification of 
critical habitat would be incorporated into the existing consultation 
process.
    In our IEM, we attempted to clarify the distinction between the 
effects that would result from the species being listed and those 
attributable to the critical habitat designation (i.e., difference 
between the jeopardy and adverse modification standards) for the 
longsolid's and round hickorynut's critical habitat. Because the 
designation of critical habitat for the longsolid and round hickorynut 
is proposed concurrently with the listings, it has been our experience 
that it is more difficult to discern which conservation efforts are 
attributable to the species' being listed and those which would result 
solely from the designation of critical habitat; this is particularly 
difficult where there is no unoccupied critical habitat and, thus, 
there would already be consultations for all areas. However, the 
following specific circumstances in this case help to inform our 
evaluation: (1) The essential physical or biological features 
identified for critical habitat are the same features essential for the 
life requisites of the species, and (2) any actions that would result 
in sufficient harm or harassment to constitute jeopardy to the 
longsolid or round hickorynut would also likely adversely affect the 
essential physical or biological features of critical habitat. The IEM 
outlines our rationale concerning this limited distinction between 
baseline conservation efforts and incremental impacts of the 
designation of critical habitat for this species. This evaluation of 
the incremental effects has been used as the basis to evaluate the 
probable incremental economic impacts of this proposed designation of 
critical habitat.
    The proposed critical habitat designation for the longsolid 
includes 12 units, all of which are occupied by the species. Ownership 
of riparian lands adjacent to the proposed units includes 810 river mi 
(1,304 km; 74 percent) in private ownership and 305 river mi (491 km; 
26 percent) in public (Federal, State, or local government) ownership. 
The proposed critical habitat designation for the round hickorynut 
includes 14 units, all of which are occupied by the species. Ownership 
of riparian lands adjacent to the proposed units includes 709 river mi 
(1,141 km; 77 percent) in private ownership and 212 river mi (341 km; 
23 percent) in public (Federal, State, or local government) ownership.
    Total incremental costs of critical habitat designation for the 
longsolid and round hickorynut are anticipated to be approximately 
$327,000 (2020 dollars) per year for the next 10 years. The costs are 
reflective of the proposed critical habitat area (i.e., 1,115 river mi 
(1,794 km) for the longsolid and 921 river mi (1,482 km) for the round 
hickorynut (some of which overlap each other)), the presence of the 
species (i.e., already occupied) in these areas, and the presence of 
other federally listed species and designated critical habitats. Since 
consultation is already required in these areas as a result of the 
presence of other listed species and critical habitats and would be 
required as a result of the listing of the longsolid and round 
hickorynut, the economic costs of the critical habitat designation 
would likely be primarily limited to additional administrative efforts 
to consider adverse modification for these two species in section 7 
consultations. In total, 159 section 7 consultation actions 
(approximately 3 formal consultations, 114 informal consultations, and 
38 technical assistance efforts) are anticipated to occur annually in 
proposed critical habitat areas. Critical habitat may also trigger 
additional regulatory changes. For example, the designation may cause 
other Federal, State, or local permitting or regulatory agencies to 
expand or change standards or requirements. Regulatory uncertainty 
generated by critical habitat may also have impacts. For example, 
landowners

[[Page 61425]]

or buyers may perceive that the rule would restrict land or water use 
activities in some way and therefore value the use of the land less 
than they would have absent critical habitat. This is a perception, or 
stigma, effect of critical habitat on markets.
    We are soliciting data and comments from the public on the DEA 
discussed above, as well as all aspects of this proposed rule and our 
required determinations. During the development of a final designation, 
we will consider the information presented in the DEA and any 
additional information on economic impacts we receive during the public 
comment period to determine whether any specific areas should be 
excluded from the final critical habitat designations under authority 
of section 4(b)(2) and our implementing regulations at 50 CFR 424.19. 
In particular, we may exclude an area from critical habitat if we 
determine that the benefits of excluding the area outweigh the benefits 
of including the area, provided the exclusion will not result in the 
extinction of either species.

Exclusions

    Under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we consider any other relevant 
impacts, in addition to economic impacts and impacts on national 
security discussed above. We consider a number of factors including 
whether there are permitted conservation plans covering the species in 
the area, such as habitat conservation plans, safe harbor agreements, 
or candidate conservation agreements with assurances, or whether there 
are non-permitted conservation agreements and partnerships that would 
be encouraged by designation of, or exclusion from, critical habitat. 
In addition, we look at the existence of tribal conservation plans and 
partnerships and consider the government-to-government relationship of 
the United States with tribal entities. We also consider any social 
impacts that might occur because of the designation.
    In preparing this proposal, we have determined that there are 
currently no habitat conservation plans or other management plans for 
the longsolid or round hickorynut, and the proposed designations do not 
include any tribal lands or trust resources. Thus, we anticipate no 
impact on tribal lands, partnerships, or habitat conservation plans 
from these proposed critical habitat designations. During the 
development of a final designation, we will consider any additional 
information we receive during the public comment period regarding other 
relevant impacts to determine whether any specific areas should be 
excluded from the final critical habitat designation under authority of 
section 4(b)(2) and our implementing regulations at 50 CFR 424.19.

Consideration of National Security Impacts

    In preparing this proposal, we have determined that the lands 
within the proposed designation of critical habitat for longsolid or 
round hickorynut are not owned, managed, or used by the DoD or DHS, 
and, therefore, we anticipate no impact on national security or 
homeland security. However, during the development of a final 
designation we will consider any additional information received 
through the public comment period on the impacts of the proposed 
designation on national security or homeland security to determine 
whether any specific areas should be excluded from the final critical 
habitat designation under authority of section 4(b)(2) and our 
implementing regulations at 50 CFR 424.19.

Required Determinations

Clarity of the Rule

    We are required by Executive Orders 12866 and 12988 and by the 
Presidential Memorandum of June 1, 1998, to write all rules in plain 
language. This means that each rule we publish must:
    (1) Be logically organized;
    (2) Use the active voice to address readers directly;
    (3) Use clear language rather than jargon;
    (4) Be divided into short sections and sentences; and
    (5) Use lists and tables wherever possible.
    If you feel that we have not met these requirements, send us 
comments by one of the methods listed in 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.

Regulatory Planning and Review (Executive Orders 12866 and 13563)

    Executive Order 12866 provides that the Office of Information and 
Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) in the Office of Management and Budget will 
review all significant rules. The Office of Information and Regulatory 
Affairs has waived their review regarding their significance 
determination of this proposed rule.
    Executive Order 13563 reaffirms the principles of E.O. 12866 while 
calling for improvements in the nation's regulatory system to promote 
predictability, to reduce uncertainty, and to use the best, most 
innovative, and least burdensome tools for achieving regulatory ends. 
The executive order directs agencies to consider regulatory approaches 
that reduce burdens and maintain flexibility and freedom of choice for 
the public where these approaches are relevant, feasible, and 
consistent with regulatory objectives. E.O. 13563 emphasizes further 
that regulations must be based on the best available science and that 
the rulemaking process must allow for public participation and an open 
exchange of ideas. We have developed this proposed rule in a manner 
consistent with these requirements.

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

    Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA; 5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.), 
as amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 
1996 (SBREFA; 5 U.S.C. 801 et seq.), whenever an agency is required to 
publish a notice of rulemaking for any proposed or final rule, it must 
prepare and make available for public comment a regulatory flexibility 
analysis that describes the effects of the rule on small entities 
(i.e., small businesses, small organizations, and small government 
jurisdictions). However, no regulatory flexibility analysis is required 
if the head of the agency certifies the rule will not have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. 
The SBREFA amended the RFA to require Federal agencies to provide a 
certification statement of the factual basis for certifying that the 
rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial 
number of small entities.
    According to the Small Business Administration, small entities 
include small organizations such as independent nonprofit 
organizations; small governmental jurisdictions, including school 
boards and city and town governments that serve fewer than 50,000 
residents; and small businesses (13 CFR 121.201). Small businesses 
include manufacturing and mining concerns with fewer than 500 
employees, wholesale trade entities with fewer than 100 employees, 
retail and service businesses with less than $5 million in annual 
sales, general and heavy construction businesses with less than $27.5 
million in annual business, special trade contractors doing less than 
$11.5 million in annual business, and agricultural businesses with 
annual sales less than $750,000. To determine if potential economic 
impacts to these

[[Page 61426]]

small entities are significant, we considered the types of activities 
that might trigger regulatory impacts under this designation as well as 
types of project modifications that may result. In general, the term 
``significant economic impact'' is meant to apply to a typical small 
business firm's business operations.
    Under the RFA, as amended, and as understood in the light of recent 
court decisions, Federal agencies are required to evaluate the 
potential incremental impacts of rulemaking on those entities directly 
regulated by the rulemaking itself; in other words, the RFA does not 
require agencies to evaluate the potential impacts to indirectly 
regulated entities. The regulatory mechanism through which critical 
habitat protections are realized is section 7 of the Act, which 
requires Federal agencies, in consultation with the Service, to ensure 
that any action authorized, funded, or carried out by the agency is not 
likely to destroy or adversely modify critical habitat. Therefore, 
under section 7, only Federal action agencies are directly subject to 
the specific regulatory requirement (avoiding destruction and adverse 
modification) imposed by critical habitat designation. Consequently, it 
is our position that only Federal action agencies would be directly 
regulated if we adopt the proposed critical habitat designations. There 
is no requirement under the RFA to evaluate the potential impacts to 
entities not directly regulated. Moreover, Federal agencies are not 
small entities. Therefore, because no small entities would be directly 
regulated by this rulemaking, the Service certifies that, if made final 
as proposed, the proposed critical habitat designations will not have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.
    In summary, we have considered whether the proposed designations 
would result in a significant economic impact on a substantial number 
of small entities. For the above reasons and based on currently 
available information, we certify that, if made final, the proposed 
critical habitat designations will not have a significant economic 
impact on a substantial number of small business entities. Therefore, 
an initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not required.

Executive Order 13771

    We do not believe this proposed rule is an E.O. 13771 (``Reducing 
Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs'') (82 FR 9339, February 3, 
2017) regulatory action because we believe this rule is not significant 
under E.O. 12866; however, the Office of Information and Regulatory 
Affairs has waived their review regarding their E.O. 12866 significance 
determination of this proposed rule.

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

    Executive Order 13211 (Actions Concerning Regulations That 
Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use) requires 
agencies to prepare Statements of Energy Effects when undertaking 
certain actions. Facilities that provide energy supply, distribution, 
or use occur within some units of the proposed critical habitat 
designations (e.g., dams, pipelines) and may potentially be affected. 
We determined that consultations, technical assistance, and requests 
for species lists may be necessary in some instances. However, in our 
economic analysis, we did not find that these proposed critical habitat 
designations would significantly affect energy supplies, distribution, 
or use. Therefore, this action is not a significant energy action, and 
no Statement of Energy Effects is required.

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

    In accordance with the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (2 U.S.C. 1501 
et seq.), we make the following finding:
    (1) This proposed rule would not produce a Federal mandate. In 
general, a Federal mandate is a provision in legislation, statute, or 
regulation that would impose an enforceable duty upon State, local, or 
tribal governments, or the private sector, and includes both ``Federal 
intergovernmental mandates'' and ``Federal private sector mandates.'' 
These terms are defined in 2 U.S.C. 658(5)-(7). ``Federal 
intergovernmental mandate'' includes a regulation that ``would impose 
an enforceable duty upon State, local, or tribal governments'' with two 
exceptions. It excludes ``a condition of Federal assistance.'' It also 
excludes ``a duty arising from participation in a voluntary Federal 
program,'' unless the regulation ``relates to a then-existing Federal 
program under which $500,000,000 or more is provided annually to State, 
local, and tribal governments under entitlement authority,'' if the 
provision would ``increase the stringency of conditions of assistance'' 
or ``place caps upon, or otherwise decrease, the Federal Government's 
responsibility to provide funding,'' and the State, local, or tribal 
governments ``lack authority'' to adjust accordingly. At the time of 
enactment, these entitlement programs were: Medicaid; Aid to Families 
with Dependent Children work programs; Child Nutrition; Food Stamps; 
Social Services Block Grants; Vocational Rehabilitation State Grants; 
Foster Care, Adoption Assistance, and Independent Living; Family 
Support Welfare Services; and Child Support Enforcement. ``Federal 
private sector mandate'' includes a regulation that ``would impose an 
enforceable duty upon the private sector, except (i) a condition of 
Federal assistance or (ii) a duty arising from participation in a 
voluntary Federal program.''
    The designation of critical habitat does not impose a legally 
binding duty on non-Federal Government entities or private parties. 
Under the Act, the only regulatory effect is that Federal agencies must 
ensure that their actions do not destroy or adversely modify critical 
habitat under section 7. While non-Federal entities that receive 
Federal funding, assistance, or permits, or that otherwise require 
approval or authorization from a Federal agency for an action, may be 
indirectly impacted by the designation of critical habitat, the legally 
binding duty to avoid destruction or adverse modification of critical 
habitat rests squarely on the Federal agency. Furthermore, to the 
extent that non-Federal entities are indirectly impacted because they 
receive Federal assistance or participate in a voluntary Federal aid 
program, the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act would not apply, nor would 
critical habitat shift the costs of the large entitlement programs 
listed above onto State governments.
    (2) We do not believe that this rule would significantly or 
uniquely affect small governments because it will not produce a Federal 
mandate of $100 million or greater in any year, that is, it is not a 
``significant regulatory action'' under the Unfunded Mandates Reform 
Act. The designation of critical habitat imposes no obligations on 
State or local governments and, as such, a Small Government Agency Plan 
is not required. Therefore, a Small Government Agency Plan is not 
required.

Takings--Executive Order 12630

    In accordance with E.O. 12630 (Government Actions and Interference 
with Constitutionally Protected Private Property Rights), we have 
analyzed the potential takings implications of designating critical 
habitat for the longsolid and round hickorynut in a takings 
implications assessment. The Act does not authorize the Service to 
regulate private actions on private lands or confiscate private 
property as a result of critical habitat designation. Designation of 
critical habitat does not

[[Page 61427]]

affect land ownership, or establish any closures, or restrictions on 
use of or access to the designated areas. Furthermore, the designation 
of critical habitat does not affect landowner actions that do not 
require Federal funding or permits, nor does it preclude development of 
habitat conservation programs or issuance of incidental take permits to 
permit actions that do require Federal funding or permits to go 
forward. However, Federal agencies are prohibited from carrying out, 
funding, or authorizing actions that would destroy or adversely modify 
critical habitat. A takings implications assessment has been completed 
for the proposed designations of critical habitat for the longsolid and 
round hickorynut, and it concludes that, if adopted, these designations 
of critical habitat do not pose significant takings implications for 
lands within or affected by the designations.

Federalism--Executive Order 13132

    In accordance with E.O. 13132 (Federalism), this proposed rule does 
not have significant Federalism effects. A federalism summary impact 
statement is not required. In keeping with Department of the Interior 
and Department of Commerce policy, we requested information from, and 
coordinated development of these proposed critical habitat designations 
with, appropriate State resource agencies. From a federalism 
perspective, the designation of critical habitat directly affects only 
the responsibilities of Federal agencies. The Act imposes no other 
duties with respect to critical habitat, either for States and local 
governments, or for anyone else. As a result, the proposed rule does 
not have substantial direct effects either on the States, or on the 
relationship between the national government and the States, or on the 
distribution of powers and responsibilities among the various levels of 
government. The proposed designations may have some benefit to these 
governments because the areas that contain the features essential to 
the conservation of the species are more clearly defined, and the 
physical or biological features of the habitat necessary for the 
conservation of the species are specifically identified. This 
information does not alter where and what federally sponsored 
activities may occur. However, it may assist State and local 
governments in long-range planning because they no longer have to wait 
for case-by-case section 7 consultations to occur.
    Where State and local governments require approval or authorization 
from a Federal agency for actions that may affect critical habitat, 
consultation under section 7(a)(2) of the Act would be required. While 
non-Federal entities that receive Federal funding, assistance, or 
permits, or that otherwise require approval or authorization from a 
Federal agency for an action, may be indirectly impacted by the 
designation of critical habitat, the legally binding duty to avoid 
destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat rests squarely 
on the Federal agency.

Civil Justice Reform--Executive Order 12988

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

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

    This rule does not contain information collection requirements, and 
a submission to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under the 
Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.) is not 
required. We may not conduct or sponsor and you are not required to 
respond to a collection of information unless it displays a currently 
valid OMB control number.

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

    It is our position that, outside the jurisdiction of the U.S. Court 
of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, we do not need to prepare 
environmental analyses pursuant to the National Environmental Policy 
Act (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) in connection with designating 
critical habitat under the Act. We published a notice outlining our 
reasons for this determination in the Federal Register on October 25, 
1983 (48 FR 49244). This position was upheld by the U.S. Court of 
Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Douglas County v. Babbitt, 48 F.3d 1495 
(9th Cir. 1995), cert. denied 516 U.S. 1042 (1996)).

Government-to-Government Relationship With Tribes

    In accordance with the President's memorandum of April 29, 1994 
(Government-to-Government Relations with Native American Tribal 
Governments; 59 FR 22951), Executive Order 13175 (Consultation and 
Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments), and the Department of the 
Interior's manual at 512 DM 2, we readily acknowledge our 
responsibility to communicate meaningfully with recognized Federal 
Tribes on a government-to-government basis. In accordance with 
Secretarial Order 3206 of June 5, 1997 (American Indian Tribal Rights, 
Federal-Tribal Trust Responsibilities, and the Endangered Species Act), 
we readily acknowledge our responsibilities to work directly with 
tribes in developing programs for healthy ecosystems, to acknowledge 
that tribal lands are not subject to the same controls as Federal 
public lands, to remain sensitive to Indian culture, and to make 
information available to tribes. We have determined that no tribal 
lands fall within the boundaries of the proposed critical habitat 
designations for the longsolid and round hickorynut, so no tribal lands 
would be affected by the proposed designations.

References Cited

    A complete list of references cited in the petition finding for the 
purple lilliput and this rulemaking for the longsolid and round 
hickorynut is available on the internet at http://www.regulations.gov 
and upon request from the Asheville Ecological Services Field Office 
(see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

Authors

    The primary authors of this document are the staff members of the 
Fish and Wildlife Service's Species Assessment Team, Ecological 
Services Program, and the Service's Asheville Ecological Services Field 
Office.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

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

Proposed Regulation Promulgation

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

[[Page 61428]]

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 adding entries for ``Hickorynut, round'' and 
``Longsolid'' to the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife in 
alphabetical order under CLAMS to read as set forth below:


Sec.  17.11  Endangered and threatened wildlife.

* * * * *
    (h) * * *

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                          Listing citations and
           Common name              Scientific name      Where listed         Status         applicable rules
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
                                                  * * * * * * *
              Clams
 
                                                  * * * * * * *
Hickorynut, round...............  Obovaria            Wherever found....  T              [Federal Register
                                   subrotunda.                                            citation when
                                                                                          published as a final
                                                                                          rule];
                                                                                         50 CFR 17.45(d);\4d\
                                                                                         50 CFR 17.95(f).\CH\
 
                                                  * * * * * * *
Longsolid.......................  Fusconaia           Wherever found....  T              [Federal Register
                                   subrotunda.                                            citation when
                                                                                          published as a final
                                                                                          rule];
                                                                                         50 CFR 17.45(d);\4d\
                                                                                         50 CFR 17.95(f).\CH\
 
                                                  * * * * * * *
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

0
3. Revise Sec.  17.45 to read as follows:


Sec.  17.45  Special rules--snails and clams.

    (a)-(c) [Reserved]
    (d) Longsolid (Fusconaia subrotunda) and round hickorynut (Obovaria 
subrotunda).
    (1) Prohibitions. The following prohibitions that apply to 
endangered wildlife also apply to the longsolid and round hickorynut. 
Except as provided under paragraph (d)(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 these species:
    (i) Import or export, as set forth at Sec.  17.21(b) for endangered 
wildlife.
    (ii) Take, as set forth at Sec.  17.21(c)(1) for endangered 
wildlife.
    (iii) Possession and other acts with unlawfully taken specimens, as 
set forth at Sec.  17.21(d)(1) for endangered wildlife.
    (iv) Interstate or foreign commerce in the course of a commercial 
activity, as set forth at Sec.  17.21(e) for endangered wildlife.
    (v) Sale or offer for sale, as set forth at Sec.  17.21(f) for 
endangered wildlife.
    (2) Exceptions from prohibitions. In regard to these species, you 
may:
    (i) Conduct activities as authorized by a permit under Sec.  17.32.
    (ii) Take, as set forth at Sec.  17.21(c)(2) through (c)(4) for 
endangered wildlife.
    (iii) Take as set forth at Sec.  17.31(b).
    (iv) Take incidental to an otherwise lawful activity caused by:
    (A) Conservation and restoration efforts for listed species by the 
Service or State wildlife agencies, including, but not limited to, 
collection of broodstock, tissue collection for genetic analysis, 
captive propagation, and subsequent stocking into unoccupied areas 
within the historical range of the species.
    (B) Channel restoration projects that create natural, physically 
stable, ecologically functioning streams (or stream and wetland 
systems). These projects can be accomplished using a variety of 
methods, but the desired outcome is a natural channel with low shear 
stress (force of water moving against the channel); bank heights that 
enable reconnection to the floodplain; connection of surface and 
groundwater systems, resulting in perennial flows in the channel; 
riffles and pools comprised of existing soil, rock, and wood instead of 
large imported materials; low compaction of soils within adjacent 
riparian areas; and inclusion of riparian wetlands. Streams 
reconstructed in this way would offer suitable habitats for the 
longsolid and round hickorynut and contain stable channel features, 
such as pools, glides, runs, and riffles, which could be used by the 
species and its host fish for spawning, rearing, growth, feeding, 
migration, and other normal behaviors. Prior to commencement of 
restoration actions, surveys to determine presence of the longsolid and 
round hickorynut must be performed, and if located, in coordination 
with the local Service field office, mussels must be relocated prior to 
project implementation, and monitored post-implementation. To qualify 
under this exemption, a channel restoration project must satisfy all 
Federal, State, and local permitting requirements.
    (C) Bank restoration projects that use bioengineering methods to 
replace pre-existing, bare, eroding stream banks with vegetated, stable 
stream banks, thereby reducing bank erosion and instream sedimentation 
and improving habitat conditions for the species. Following these 
bioengineering methods, stream banks may be stabilized using native 
species live stakes (live, vegetative cuttings inserted or tamped into 
the ground in a manner that allows the stake to take root and grow), 
native species live fascines (live branch cuttings, usually willows, 
bound together into long, cigar-shaped bundles), or native species 
brush layering (cuttings or branches of easily rooted tree species 
layered between successive lifts of soil fill). Bank restoration 
projects would require planting appropriate native vegetation, 
including woody species appropriate for the region and habitat. These 
methods will not include the sole use of quarried rock (rip-rap) or the 
use of rock baskets or gabion structures. Prior to commencement of bank 
stabilization actions, surveys to determine presence of longsolid and 
round hickorynut must be performed, and if located, in coordination 
with the local Service field office, mussels must be relocated prior to 
project implementation, and monitored post-implementation. To

[[Page 61429]]

qualify under this exemption, a bank restoration project must satisfy 
all Federal, State, and local permitting requirements.
    (v) Possess and engage in other acts with unlawfully taken 
wildlife, as set forth at Sec.  17.21(d)(2) for endangered wildlife.
0
4. Amend Sec.  17.95(f) by:
0
a. Adding, immediately following the entry for ``Carolina Heelsplitter 
(Lasmigona decorata),'' an entry for ``Round Hickorynut (Obovaria 
subrotunda)''; and
0
b. Adding, immediately following the new entry for ``Round Hickorynut 
(Obovaria subrotunda),'' an entry for ``Longsolid (Fusconaia 
subrotunda)''.
    The additions read as follows:


Sec.  17.95  Critical habitat--fish and wildlife.

* * * * *
    (f) Clams and Snails.
* * * * *

Round Hickorynut (Obovaria subrotunda)

    (1) Critical habitat units for the round hickorynut are depicted on 
the maps in this entry for Jackson, Madison, and Marshall Counties, 
Alabama; Fulton, Marshall, Pulaski, and Starke Counties, Indiana; Bath, 
Butler, Campbell, Edmonson, Fleming, Green, Harrison, Hart, Kenton, 
Laurel, Morgan, Nicholas, Pendleton, Pulaski, Rockcastle, Robertson, 
Rowan, and Warren Counties, Kentucky; Montgomery County, Mississippi; 
Bedford, Marshall, and Maury Counties, Tennessee; Ashtabula, Lake, and 
Trumbull Counties, Ohio; Crawford and Mercer Counties, Pennsylvania; 
and Braxton, Calhoun, Clay, Doddridge, Fayette, Gilmer, Kanawha, 
Pleasants, Ritchie, Tyler, and Wood Counties, West Virginia.
    (2) Within these areas, the physical or biological features 
essential to the conservation of the round hickorynut consist of the 
following components:
    (i) Adequate flows, or a hydrologic flow regime (magnitude, timing, 
frequency, duration, rate of change, and overall seasonality of 
discharge over time), necessary to maintain benthic habitats where the 
species are found and to maintain stream connectivity, specifically 
providing for the exchange of nutrients and sediment for maintenance of 
the mussel's and fish host's habitat and food availability, maintenance 
of spawning habitat for native fishes, and the ability for newly 
transformed juveniles to settle and become established in their 
habitats. Adequate flows ensure delivery of oxygen, enable 
reproduction, deliver food to filter-feeding mussels, and reduce 
contaminants and fine sediments from interstitial spaces. Stream 
velocity is not static over time, and variations may be attributed to 
seasonal changes (with higher flows in winter/spring and lower flows in 
summer/fall), extreme weather events (e.g., drought or floods), or 
anthropogenic influence (e.g., flow regulation via impoundments).
    (ii) Suitable substrates and connected instream habitats, 
characterized by geomorphically stable stream channels and banks (i.e., 
channels that maintain lateral dimensions, longitudinal profiles, and 
sinuosity patterns over time without an aggrading or degrading bed 
elevation) with habitats that support a diversity of freshwater mussel 
and native fish (such as, stable riffle-run-pool habitats that provide 
flow refuges consisting of predominantly silt-free, stable sand, 
gravel, and cobble substrates).
    (iii) Water and sediment quality necessary to sustain natural 
physiological processes for normal behavior, growth, and viability of 
all life stages, including (but not limited to): Dissolved oxygen 
(generally above 2 to 3 parts per million (ppm)), salinity (generally 
below 2 to 4 ppm), and temperature (generally below 86 [deg]Fahrenheit 
([deg]F) (30 [deg]Celsius ([deg]C)). Additionally, water and sediment 
should be low in ammonia (generally below 0.5 ppm total ammonia-
nitrogen) and heavy metal concentrations, and lack excessive total 
suspended solids and other pollutants.
    (iv) The presence and abundance of fish hosts necessary for 
recruitment of the round hickorynut (i.e., eastern sand darter 
(Ammocrypta pellucida), emerald darter (Etheostoma baileyi), greenside 
darter (E. blennioides), Iowa darter (E. exile), fantail darter (E. 
flabellare), Cumberland darter (E. susanae), spangled darter (E. 
obama), variegate darter (E. variatum), blackside darter (Percina 
maculata), frecklebelly darter (P. stictogaster), and banded sculpin 
(Cottus carolinae)).
    (3) Critical habitat does not include manmade structures (such as 
buildings, aqueducts, runways, roads, and other paved areas) and the 
land on which they are located existing within the legal boundaries on 
the effective date of this rule.
    (4) Critical habitat map units. Data layers defining map units were 
created by overlaying Natural Heritage Element Occurrence data and U.S. 
Geological Survey hydrologic data for stream reaches. The hydrologic 
data used in the critical habitat maps were extracted from the U.S. 
Geological Survey 1:1M scale nationwide hydrologic layer (https://www.usgs.gov/core-science-systems/ngp/national-hydrography) with a 
projection of EPSG:4269--NAD83 Geographic. Natural Heritage program and 
State mussel database species presence data from Pennsylvania, Ohio, 
Indiana, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi 
were used to select specific river and stream segments for inclusion in 
the critical habitat layer. The maps in this entry, as modified by any 
accompanying regulatory text, establish the boundaries of the critical 
habitat designation. The coordinates or plot points or both on which 
each map is based are available to the public at the Service's internet 
site at https://www.fws.gov/Asheville/, at http://www.regulations.gov 
at Docket No. FWS-R4-ES-2020-0010, and at the field office responsible 
for this designation. You may obtain field office location information 
by contacting one of the Service regional offices, the addresses of 
which are listed at 50 CFR 2.2.
    (5) Note: Index map for the round hickorynut follows:
BILLING CODE 4333-15-P

[[Page 61430]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP29SE20.035

    (6) Unit RH 1: Shenango River; Crawford and Mercer Counties, 
Pennsylvania.
    (i) General description: Unit RH 1 consists of 22 river miles (mi) 
(35.5 kilometers (km)) of the Shenango River in Crawford County, 
Pennsylvania, from Pymatuning Dam downstream to the point of inundation 
by Shenango River Lake near Big Bend, Mercer County, Pennsylvania. 
Approximately 15 river mi (24.3 km; 68 percent) of riparian lands that 
border the unit are private ownership, and 7 river mi (11.1 km; 32 
percent) are public (Federal or State) ownership. This unit is 
immediately downstream from Pymatuning Dam, which is owned by the State 
of Pennsylvania.
    (ii) Map of Unit RH 1 follows:

[[Page 61431]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP29SE20.036

    (7) Unit RH 2: Grand River; Ashtabula, Lake, and Trumbull Counties, 
Ohio.
    (i) General description: Unit RH 2 consists of 92 river mi (148.2 
km) of the Grand River in Ashtabula, Lake, and Trumbull Counties, Ohio. 
Approximately 59 river mi (95.2 km; 64 percent) of riparian lands that 
border the unit are private ownership, and 33 river mi (53 km; 36 
percent) are public (State or local) ownership. The Grand River is a 
State Wild and Scenic River. The Wild River designation includes 
approximately 23 river mi (37 km) from the Harpersfield Covered Bridge 
downstream to the Norfolk and Western Railroad Trestle in Lake County, 
and approximately 33 mi (53 km) from the U.S. Route 322 Bridge in 
Ashtabula County downstream to the Harpersfield Covered Bridge. 
Harpersfield Dam within this unit is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of 
Engineers.
    (ii) Map of Unit RH 2 follows:

[[Page 61432]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP29SE20.037

    (8) Unit RH 3: Tippecanoe River; Fulton, Marshall, Pulaski, and 
Starke Counties, Indiana.
    (i) General description: Unit RH 3 consists of 75 river mi (120.8 
km) of the Tippecanoe River in Fulton, Marshall, Pulaski, and Starke 
Counties, Indiana. Approximately 66 river mi (105.6 km; 89 percent) of 
riparian lands that border the unit are private ownership, and 9 river 
mi (14.5 km; 11 percent) are public (State or easement) ownership.
    (ii) Map of Unit RH 3 follows:

[[Page 61433]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP29SE20.038

    (9) Unit RH 4: Middle Island Creek; Doddridge, Pleasants, and Tyler 
Counties, West Virginia.
    (i) General description: Unit RH 4 consists of 75 stream mi (120.8 
km) of Middle Island Creek in Doddridge, Pleasants, and Tyler Counties, 
West Virginia. Approximately 74.8 stream mi (120.4 km; 99 percent) of 
riparian lands that border the unit are private ownership, and 0.2 
stream mi (0.4 km; less than 1 percent) is public ownership.
    (ii) Map of Unit RH 4 follows:

[[Page 61434]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP29SE20.039

    (10) Unit RH 5: Little Kanawha River; Calhoun, Gilmer, Ritchie, and 
Wood Counties, West Virginia.
    (i) General description: Unit RH 5 consists of 110 stream mi (176.6 
km) of the Little Kanawha River in Calhoun, Gilmer, Ritchie, and Wood 
Counties, West Virginia. Approximately 109 river mi (175.4 km; 99 
percent) of riparian lands that border the unit are private ownership, 
and 0.7 river mi (1.2 km; 1 percent) are public (Federal, State, or 
local) ownership. This unit is directly below Burnsville Dam, which is 
operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
    (ii) Map of Unit RH 5 follows:

[[Page 61435]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP29SE20.040

    (11) Unit RH 6: Elk River; Braxton, Clay, and Kanawha Counties, 
West Virginia.
    (i) General description: Unit RH 6 consists of 101 river mi (163 
km) of the Elk River in Braxton, Clay, and Kanawha Counties, West 
Virginia. Approximately 93 river mi (150.3 km; 92 percent) of riparian 
lands that border the unit are private ownership, and 7 river mi (12.7 
km; 8 percent) are public (Federal, State, or local) ownership. This 
unit is immediately below Sutton Dam, which is operated by the U.S. 
Army Corps of Engineers.
    (ii) Map of Unit RH 6 follows:

[[Page 61436]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP29SE20.041

    (12) Unit RH 7: Kanawha River; Fayette and Kanawha Counties, West 
Virginia.
    (i) General description: Unit RH 7 consists of 37.5 river mi (60.4 
km) of the Kanawha River in Fayette and Kanawha Counties, West 
Virginia. Approximately 33 river mi (53.2 km; 90 percent) of riparian 
lands that border the unit are private ownership, and 4 river mi (7.2 
km; 10 percent) are public (Federal, State, or local) ownership. London 
and Marmet locks and dams within this unit are operated by the U.S. 
Army Corps of Engineers.
    (ii) Map of Unit RH 7 follows:

[[Page 61437]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP29SE20.042

    (13) Unit RH 8: Licking River; Bath, Campbell, Fleming, Harrison, 
Kenton, Morgan, Nicholas, Pendleton, Robertson, and Rowan Counties, 
Kentucky.
    (i) General description: Unit RH 8 consists of 150 river mi (241.9 
km) of the Licking River in Bath, Campbell, Fleming, Harrison, Kenton, 
Morgan, Nicholas, Pendleton, Robertson, and Rowan Counties, Kentucky. 
Approximately 131 river mi (211.8 km; 87 percent) of riparian lands 
that border the unit are private ownership, and 18 river mi (30 km; 13 
percent) are public (Federal, State, or local) ownership. This unit is 
directly below Cave Run Dam, which is operated by the U.S. Army Corps 
of Engineers.
    (ii) Map of Unit RH 8 follows:

[[Page 61438]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP29SE20.043

    (14) Unit RH 9: Rockcastle River; Laurel, Pulaski, and Rockcastle 
Counties, Kentucky.
    (i) General description: Unit RH 9 consists of 15.3 river mi (24.6 
km) of the Rockcastle River in Laurel, Pulaski, and Rockcastle 
Counties, Kentucky. Approximately 0.3 river mi (0.4 km; 1 percent) of 
riparian lands that border the unit is private ownership, and 15 river 
mi (24.2 km; 99 percent) are public (Federal; Daniel Boone National 
Forest) ownership.
    (ii) Map of Unit RH 9 follows:

[[Page 61439]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP29SE20.044

    (15) Unit RH 10: Buck Creek, Pulaski County, Kentucky.
    (i) General description: Unit RH 10 consists of 36 stream mi (58.1 
km) of Buck Creek in Pulaski County, Kentucky. Approximately 33 stream 
mi (52.6 km; 92 percent) of riparian lands that border the unit are 
private ownership, and 3 stream mi (5.5 km; 8 percent) are public 
(State or local) ownership.
    (ii) Map of Unit RH 10 follows:

[[Page 61440]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP29SE20.045

    (16) Unit RH 11: Green River; Hart, Edmonson, Green, Butler, and 
Warren Counties, Kentucky.
    (i) General description: Unit RH 11 consists of 98 river mi (157.7 
km) of the Green River in Butler, Edmonson, Green, Hart, and Warren 
Counties, Kentucky. Approximately 61 river mi (98.4 km; 62 percent) of 
riparian lands that border the unit are private ownership, and 37 river 
mi (59.4 km; 38 percent) are public (Federal or State) ownership, 
including portions of Mammoth Cave National Park. This unit is located 
directly below Green River Lake Dam, which is operated by the U.S. Army 
Corps of Engineers.
    (ii) Map of Unit RH 11 follows:

[[Page 61441]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP29SE20.046

    (17) Unit RH 12: Paint Rock River; Jackson, Madison, and Marshall 
Counties, Alabama.
    (i) General description: Unit RH 12 consists of 48 river mi (77.5 
km) of the Paint Rock River in Jackson, Madison, and Marshall Counties, 
Alabama. Approximately 2 river mi (4.1 km; 2 percent) of riparian lands 
that border the unit are private ownership, and 46 river mi (73.4 km; 
98 percent) are public (Federal or State) ownership.
    (ii) Map of Unit RH 12 follows:

[[Page 61442]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP29SE20.047

    (18) Unit RH 13: Duck River; Bedford, Marshall, and Maury Counties, 
Tennessee.
    (i) General description: Unit RH 13 consists of 59 river mi (94.8 
km) of the Duck River in Bedford, Marshall, and Maury Counties, 
Tennessee. Approximately 27 river mi (43.7 km; 47 percent) of riparian 
lands that border the unit are private ownership, and 32 river mi (51.1 
km; 53 percent) are public (State or local) ownership.
    (ii) Map of Unit RH 13 follows:

[[Page 61443]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP29SE20.048

    (19) Unit RH 14: Big Black River, Montgomery County, Mississippi.
    (i) General description: Unit RH 14 consists of 4 river mi (7 km) 
of the Big Black River in Montgomery County, Mississippi. All of 
riparian lands that border the unit are private ownership.
    (ii) Map of Unit RH 14 follows:

[[Page 61444]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP29SE20.049

BILLING CODE 4333-15-C?
* * * * *

Longsolid (Fusconaia subrotunda)

    (1) Critical habitat units for the longsolid are depicted on the 
maps in this entry for Jackson, Madison, and Marshall Counties, 
Alabama; Bath, Butler, Campbell, Edmonson, Fleming, Green, Harrison, 
Hart, Kenton, Morgan, Nicholas, Pendleton, Robertson, Rowan, Taylor, 
and Warren Counties, Kentucky; Clarion, Crawford, Erie, Forest, Mercer, 
Venango, and Warren Counties, Pennsylvania; Claiborne, Hancock, 
Hawkins, Smith, Trousdale, and Wilson Counties, Tennessee; Russell, 
Scott, Tazewell, and Wise Counties, Virginia; and Braxton, Calhoun, 
Clay, Doddridge, Fayette, Gilmer, Kanawha, Ritchie, Tyler, and Wood 
Counties, West Virginia.
    (2) Within these areas, the physical or biological features 
essential to the conservation of the longsolid consist of the following 
components:
    (i) Adequate flows, or a hydrologic flow regime (magnitude, timing, 
frequency, duration, rate of change, and overall seasonality of 
discharge over

[[Page 61445]]

time), necessary to maintain benthic habitats where the species are 
found and to maintain stream connectivity, specifically providing for 
the exchange of nutrients and sediment for maintenance of the mussel's 
and fish host's habitat and food availability, maintenance of spawning 
habitat for native fishes, and the ability for newly transformed 
juveniles to settle and become established in their habitats. Adequate 
flows ensure delivery of oxygen, enable reproduction, deliver food to 
filter-feeding mussels, and reduce contaminants and fine sediments from 
interstitial spaces. Stream velocity is not static over time, and 
variations may be attributed to seasonal changes (with higher flows in 
winter/spring and lower flows in summer/fall), extreme weather events 
(e.g., drought or floods), or anthropogenic influence (e.g., flow 
regulation via impoundments).
    (ii) Suitable substrates and connected instream habitats, 
characterized by geomorphically stable stream channels and banks (i.e., 
channels that maintain lateral dimensions, longitudinal profiles, and 
sinuosity patterns over time without an aggrading or degrading bed 
elevation) with habitats that support a diversity of freshwater mussel 
and native fish (such as, stable riffle-run-pool habitats that provide 
flow refuges consisting of predominantly silt-free, stable sand, 
gravel, and cobble substrates).
    (iii) Water and sediment quality necessary to sustain natural 
physiological processes for normal behavior, growth, and viability of 
all life stages, including (but not limited to): Dissolved oxygen 
(generally above 2 to 3 parts per million (ppm)), salinity (generally 
below 2 to 4 ppm), and temperature (generally below 86 [deg]Fahrenheit 
([deg]F) (30 [deg]Celsius ([deg]C)). Additionally, water and sediment 
should be low in ammonia (generally below 0.5 ppm total ammonia-
nitrogen) and heavy metal concentrations, and lack excessive total 
suspended solids and other pollutants.
    (iv) The presence and abundance of fish hosts necessary for 
recruitment of the longsolid (currently unknown, likely includes the 
minnows of the family Cyprinidae, and banded sculpin (Cottus 
carolinae)).
    (3) Critical habitat does not include manmade structures (such as 
buildings, aqueducts, runways, roads, and other paved areas) and the 
land on which they are located existing within the legal boundaries on 
the effective date of the rule.
    (4) Critical habitat map units. Data layers defining map units were 
created by overlaying Natural Heritage Element Occurrence data and U.S. 
Geological Survey hydrologic data for stream reaches. The hydrologic 
data used in the critical habitat maps were extracted from the U.S. 
Geological Survey 1:1M scale nationwide hydrologic layer (https://www.usgs.gov/core-science-systems/ngp/national-hydrography) with a 
projection of EPSG:4269--NAD83 Geographic. Natural Heritage program and 
State mussel database species presence data from Pennsylvania, West 
Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Alabama were used to 
select specific river and stream segments for inclusion in the critical 
habitat layer. The maps in this entry, as modified by any accompanying 
regulatory text, establish the boundaries of the critical habitat 
designation. The coordinates or plot points or both on which each map 
is based are available to the public at the Service's internet site at 
https://www.fws.gov/Asheville/, at http://www.regulations.gov at Docket 
No. FWS-R4-ES-2020-0010, and at the field office responsible for this 
designation. You may obtain field office location information by 
contacting one of the Service regional offices, the addresses of which 
are listed at 50 CFR 2.2.
    (5) Note: Index map for the longsolid follows:
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    (6) Unit LS 1: French Creek; Crawford, Erie, Mercer, and Venango 
Counties, Pennsylvania.
    (i) General description: Unit LS 1 consists of 120 stream mi (191.5 
km) of French Creek in Crawford, Erie, Mercer, and Venango Counties, 
Pennsylvania. Approximately 106 stream mi (170.6 km; 76 percent) of 
riparian lands that border the unit are private ownership, and 14 
stream mi (22.1 km; 24 percent) are public (Federal or State) 
ownership. This unit begins immediately downstream of the Union City 
Dam, which is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
    (ii) Map of Unit LS 1 follows:

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    (7) Unit LS 2: Allegheny River; Clarion, Crawford, Forest, Venango, 
and Warren Counties, Pennsylvania.
    (i) General description: Unit LS 2 consists of 99 river mi (159.3 
km) of the Allegheny River in Clarion, Crawford, Forest, Venango, and 
Warren Counties, Pennsylvania. Approximately 15 river mi (24.1 km; 14 
percent) of riparian lands that border the unit are private ownership, 
and 84 river mi (135.8 km; 86 percent) are public (Federal or State; 
primarily Allegheny National Forest) ownership. This unit is 
immediately downstream of Kinzua Dam, which is operated by the U.S. 
Army Corps of Engineers.
    (ii) Map of Unit LS 2 follows:

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    (8) Unit LS 3: Shenango River, Crawford and Mercer Counties, 
Pennsylvania.
    (i) General description: Unit LS 3 consists of 22 river miles (mi) 
(35.5 kilometers (km)) of the Shenango River in Crawford County, 
Pennsylvania, from Pymatuning Dam downstream to the point of inundation 
by Shenango River Lake near Big Bend, Mercer County, Pennsylvania. 
Approximately 15 river mi (24.3 km; 68 percent) of riparian lands that 
border the unit are private ownership, and 7 river mi (11.3 km; 32 
percent) are public (Federal or State) ownership. This unit is 
immediately downstream from the Pymatuning Dam, which is owned by the 
State of Pennsylvania.
    (ii) Map of Unit LS 3 follows:

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    (9) Unit LS 4: Middle Island Creek; Doddridge and Tyler Counties, 
West Virginia.
    (i) General description: Unit LS 4 consists of 14 stream mi (23.7 
km) of Middle Island Creek in Doddridge and Tyler Counties, West 
Virginia. Approximately 14 stream mi (23.5 km; 99 percent) of riparian 
lands that border the unit are private ownership, and 0.1 stream mi 
(0.2 km; less than 1 percent) are public (local) ownership.
    (ii) Map of Unit LS 4 follows:

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    (10) Unit LS 5: Little Kanawha River; Calhoun, Gilmer, Ritchie, and 
Wood Counties, West Virginia.
    (i) General description: Unit LS 5 consists of 123 river mi (198 
km) of the Little Kanawha River in Calhoun, Gilmer, Ritchie, and Wood 
Counties, West Virginia. Approximately 122 river mi (197.2 km; 99 
percent) are private ownership, and 0.5 river mi (0.9 km; 1 percent) 
are public (Federal or State) ownership. This unit is directly below 
the Burnsville Dam, which is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of 
Engineers.
    (ii) Map of Unit LS 5 follows:

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    (11) Unit LS 6: Elk River; Braxton, Clay, and Kanawha Counties, 
West Virginia.
    (i) General description: Unit LS 6 consists of 101 river mi (163 
km) of the Elk River in Braxton, Clay, and Kanawha Counties, West 
Virginia. Approximately 93 river mi (150.3 km; 92 percent) of riparian 
lands that border the unit are private ownership, and 7 river mi (12.7 
km; 8 percent) are public (Federal, State, or local) ownership. This 
unit is directly below Sutton Dam, which is operated by the U.S. Army 
Corps of Engineers.
    (ii) Map of Unit LS 6 follows:

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    (12) Unit LS 7: Kanawha River; Fayette and Kanawha Counties, West 
Virginia.
    (i) General description: Unit LS 7 consists of 21 river mi (33.9 
km) of the Kanawha River in Fayette and Kanawha Counties, West 
Virginia. Approximately 18 river mi (29.3 km; 90 percent) of riparian 
lands that border the unit are private ownership, and 2 river mi (4.6 
km; 10 percent) are public (Federal, State, or local) ownership. London 
and Marmet locks and dams within this unit are operated by the U.S. 
Army Corps of Engineers.
    (ii) Map of Unit LS 7 follows:

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    (13) Unit LS 8: Licking River; Bath, Campbell, Fleming, Harrison, 
Kenton, Morgan, Nicholas, Pendleton, Robertson, and Rowan Counties, 
Kentucky.
    (i) General description: Unit LS 8 consists of 181 river mi (291.5 
km) of the Licking River in Bath, Campbell, Fleming, Harrison, Kenton, 
Morgan, Nicholas, Pendleton, Robertson, and Rowan Counties, Kentucky. 
Approximately 161 river mi (259.7 km; 90 percent) of riparian lands 
that border the unit are private ownership, and 19 river mi (31.7 km; 
10 percent) are public (Federal, State, or local) ownership. This unit 
is directly below Cave Run Dam, which is operated by the U.S. Army 
Corps of Engineers.
    (ii) Map of Unit LS 8 follows:

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    (14) Unit LS 9: Green River; Butler, Edmonson, Green, Hart, Taylor, 
and Warren Counties, Kentucky.
    (i) General description: Unit LS 9 consists of 156 river mi (251.6 
km) of the Green River in Butler, Edmonson, Green, Hart, Taylor, and 
Warren Counties, Kentucky. Approximately 105 river mi (169.2 km; 67 
percent) of riparian lands that border the unit are private ownership, 
and 51 river mi (82.4 km; 33 percent) are public (Federal, State, or 
local) ownership, including Mammoth Cave National Park. This unit is 
directly below Green River Dam, which is operated by the U.S. Army 
Corps of Engineers.
    (ii) Map of Unit LS 9 follows:

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    (15) Unit LS 10: Cumberland River; Smith, Trousdale, and Wilson 
Counties, Tennessee.
    (i) General description: Unit LS 10 consists of 48 river mi (77.5 
km) of the Cumberland River in Smith, Trousdale, and Wilson Counties, 
Tennessee. All riparian lands that border the river are owned by the 
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Federal; 48 river mi (77.5 km)). This 
unit also falls within the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Rome 
Landing Sanctuary. Cordell Hull and Old Hickory Dams, upstream and 
downstream of this unit, respectively, are operated by the U.S. Army 
Corps of Engineers.
    (ii) Map of Unit LS 10 follows:

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    (16) Unit LS 11: Clinch River; Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise 
Counties, Virginia; Claiborne, Hancock, and Hawkins Counties, 
Tennessee.
    (i) General description: Unit LS 11 consists of 177 river mi (286.1 
km) of the Clinch River in Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise Counties, 
Virginia, and Claiborne, Hancock, and Hawkins Counties, Tennessee. 
Approximately 160 river mi (258.8 km; 90 percent) of riparian lands 
that border the unit are private ownership, and 17 river mi (27.3 km; 
10 percent) are public (Federal or State) ownership. The Tennessee 
portion of this unit is encompassed by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources 
Agency Clinch River Sanctuary.
    (ii) Map of Unit LS 11 follows:

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    (17) Unit LS 12: Paint Rock River; Jackson, Madison, and Marshall 
Counties, Alabama.
    (i) General description: Unit LS 12 consists of 58 river mi (94.5 
km) of the Paint Rock River in Jackson, Madison, and Marshall Counties, 
Alabama. Approximately 2 river mi (4.1 km; 3 percent) of riparian lands 
that border the unit are private ownership, and 56 river mi (90.4 km; 
97 percent) are public (Federal or State) ownership.
    (ii) Map of Unit LS 12 follows:

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* * * * *

Aurelia Skipwith,
Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2020-17015 Filed 9-28-20; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4333-15-C