Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12-Month Finding for the Northern Spotted Owl, 81144-81152 [2020-27198]

Download as PDF 81144 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 241 / Tuesday, December 15, 2020 / Rules and Regulations Community No. State and location Region VII Iowa: Aplington, City of, Butler County ............................... 190335 Aredale, City of, Butler County ................................. 190035 Butler County, Unincorporated Areas ....................... 190850 Clarksville, City of, Butler County ............................. 190336 Dumont, City of, Butler County ................................. 190036 Greene, City of, Butler County .................................. 190037 New Hartford, City of, Butler County ........................ 190038 Parkersburg, City of, Butler County .......................... 190337 Sheldon, City of, O’Brien County .............................. 190216 Shell Rock, City of, Butler County ............................ 190338 Effective date authorization/cancellation of sale of flood insurance in community September 3, 2010, Emerg; September 16, 2011, Reg; December 17, 2020, Susp. November 3, 1975, Emerg; August 19, 1986, Reg; December 17, 2020, Susp. July 5, 1994, Emerg; November 6, 2000, Reg; December 17, 2020, Susp. October 28, 1985, Emerg; September 6, 1989, Reg; December 17, 2020, Susp. July 21, 1975, Emerg; August 1, 1986, Reg; December 17, 2020, Susp. July 8, 1975, Emerg; October 15, 1982, Reg; December 17, 2020, Susp. November 6, 1974, Emerg; September 29, 1986, Reg; December 17, 2020, Susp. N/A, Emerg; February 21, 2014, Reg; December 17, 2020, Susp. July 25, 1975, Emerg; September 18, 1985, Reg; December 17, 2020, Susp. October 1, 1991, Emerg; May 1, 1992, Reg; December 17, 2020, Susp. Current effective map date Date certain Federal assistance no longer available in SFHAs ......do ................... Do. ......do ................... Do. ......do ................... Do. ......do ................... Do. ......do ................... Do. ......do ................... Do. ......do ................... Do. ......do ................... Do. ......do ................... Do. ......do ................... Do. *......do = Ditto. Code for reading third column: Emerg.—Emergency; Reg.—Regular; Susp.—Suspension. Katherine B. Fox, Assistant Administrator for Mitigation, Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration—FEMA Resilience, Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency. ask the public to submit to us any new information relevant to the status of the subspecies or its habitat at any time. DATES: The finding in this document was made on December 15, 2020. ADDRESSES: A detailed description of the basis for this finding is available on the internet at http:// www.regulations.gov under docket number FWS–R1–ES–2014–0061. Supporting information used to prepare this finding is available by contacting the appropriate person as specified under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. Please submit any new information, materials, comments, or questions concerning this finding to the appropriate person, as specified under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. [FR Doc. 2020–27340 Filed 12–14–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110–12–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service 50 CFR Part 17 [Docket No. FWS–R1–ES–2014–0061; FF09E21000 FXES11110900000 212] Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12-Month Finding for the Northern Spotted Owl We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 12-month finding on a petition to list the northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina) as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). After a thorough review of the best available scientific and commercial information, we find that reclassification of the northern spotted owl from a threatened species to an endangered species is warranted but precluded by higher priority actions to amend the Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. We will develop a proposed rule to reclassify the northern spotted owl as our priorities allow. However, we SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:21 Dec 14, 2020 Jkt 253001 Paul Henson, State Supervisor, Oregon Fish and Wildlife Office, telephone: 503– 231–6179, email: paul_henson@fws.gov. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), please call the Federal Relay Service at 800–877–8339. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Notice of 12-month finding. AGENCY: Background Under section 4(b)(3)(B) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), we are required to make a finding on 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) PO 00000 Frm 00060 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 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 petitioned action is warranted but precluded, we treat the petition as though it is 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 the implementing regulations at part 424 of title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations (50 CFR part 424) set forth procedures for adding species to, removing species from, or reclassifying species on the Lists. The Act defines ‘‘endangered species’’ as any species that is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range (16 U.S.C. 1532(6)), and ‘‘threatened species’’ as any species that is likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range (16 U.S.C. 1532(20)). Under E:\FR\FM\15DER1.SGM 15DER1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 241 / Tuesday, December 15, 2020 / Rules and Regulations section 4(a)(1) of the Act, a species may be determined to be an endangered species or a threatened species because of any of the following five factors: (A) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range; (B) Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes; (C) Disease or predation; (D) The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or (E) Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence. 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 VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:21 Dec 14, 2020 Jkt 253001 effect on the species now and in the foreseeable future. In conducting our evaluation of the five factors provided in section 4(a)(1) of the Act to determine whether the northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina) meets the definition of an ‘‘endangered species,’’ we considered and thoroughly evaluated the best scientific and commercial information available regarding the past, present, and future threats to the subspecies. 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; foreign governments; private entities; and other members of the public. The species assessment for the northern spotted owl contains more detailed biological information, a thorough analysis of the listing factors, and an explanation of why we determined that this subspecies meets the definition of an endangered species. This supporting information can be found on the internet at http:// www.regulations.gov under docket number FWS–R1–ES–2014–0061. The following is an informational summary of the finding in this document. Previous Federal Actions On June 26, 1990, we published in the Federal Register (55 FR 26114) a final rule listing the northern spotted owl as a threatened species. On August 21, 2012, we received a petition dated August 15, 2012, from the Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) requesting that the northern spotted owl be listed as an endangered species pursuant to the Act. On April 10, 2015, we published a 90day finding (80 FR 19259), in which we announced that the petition presented substantial information indicating that reclassification may be warranted for the northern spotted owl and that our status review will also constitute our 5year review for the northern spotted owl. Summary of Finding The northern spotted owl is the largest of three subspecies of spotted owls, and inhabits structurally complex forests from southwestern British Columbia through Washington and Oregon, and into northern California. The northern spotted owl is relatively long-lived, has a long reproductive life span, invests significantly in parental care, and exhibits high adult survivorship relative to other North American owls. The historical range of PO 00000 Frm 00061 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 81145 the northern spotted owl included most mature forests or stands throughout the Pacific Northwest, from southwestern British Columbia to as far south as Marin County, California. The current range of the northern spotted owl is smaller than the historical range, as the northern spotted owl is extirpated or very uncommon in certain areas such as southwestern Washington and British Columbia. Habitat loss was the primary factor leading to the listing of the northern spotted owl as a threatened species, and it continues to be a stressor on the subspecies due to the lag effects of past habitat loss, continued timber harvest, wildfire, and a minor amount from insect and forest disease outbreaks. The most recent rangewide northern spotted owl demographic study (Dugger et al. 2016, entire) found that nonnative barred owls are currently the stressor with the largest negative impact on northern spotted owls through competition of resources. The study also found a significant rate of decline in northern spotted owl populations (3.8 percent per year for all study areas combined but as high as 8.4 percent per year in one study area in Washington), and the rate of decline has increased noticeably since the 2011 5-year Review for the Northern Spotted Owl (USFWS 2011b, p. 3). Populations of northern spotted owls in several long-term demographic monitoring areas have declined more than 70 percent since the early 1990s, and the extinction risk for northern spotted owl populations has increased, particularly in Washington and Oregon. We have carefully assessed the best scientific and commercial information available regarding the past, present, and future threats to the northern spotted owl, and we evaluated all relevant factors under the five listing factors, including any regulatory mechanisms and conservation measures addressing these stressors. On nonFederal lands, State regulatory mechanisms have not prevented the continued decline of nesting/roosting and foraging habitat; the amount of northern spotted owl habitat on these lands has decreased considerably over the past two decades, including in geographic areas where Federal lands are lacking. On Federal lands, the Northwest Forest Plan has reduced habitat loss and allowed for the development of new northern spotted owl habitat; however, the combined effects of climate change, high-severity wildfire, and past management practices are changing forest ecosystem processes and dynamics, and the expansion of barred owl populations is altering the E:\FR\FM\15DER1.SGM 15DER1 81146 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 241 / Tuesday, December 15, 2020 / Rules and Regulations capacity of intact habitat to support northern spotted owls. Based on our review of the best available scientific and commercial information pertaining to the factors affecting the northern spotted owl, we find that the stressors acting on the subspecies and its habitat, particularly rangewide competition from the nonnative barred owl and high-severity wildfire, are of such imminence, intensity, and magnitude to indicate that the northern spotted owl is now in danger of extinction throughout all of its range. Our status review indicates that the northern spotted owl meets the definition of an endangered species. Therefore, in accordance with sections 3(6) and 4(a)(1) of the Act, we find that listing the northern spotted owl as an endangered species is warranted throughout all of its range. However, work on a reclassification for the northern spotted owl has been, and continues to be, precluded by work on higher-priority actions—which includes listing actions with statutory, courtordered, or court-approved deadlines and final listing determinations. This work includes all the actions listed in the National Listing Workplan discussed below under Preclusion and in the tables below under Expeditious Progress, as well as other actions at various stages of completion, such as 90-day findings for new petitions. Preclusion and Expeditious Progress To make a finding that a particular action is warranted but precluded, the Service must make two determinations: (1) That the immediate proposal and timely promulgation of a final regulation is precluded by pending proposals to determine whether any species is endangered or threatened; and (2) that expeditious progress is being made to add qualified species to either of the Lists and to remove species from the Lists (16 U.S.C. 1533(b)(3)(B)(iii)). Preclusion A listing proposal is precluded if the Service does not have sufficient resources available to complete the proposal, because there are competing demands for those resources, and the relative priority of those competing demands is higher. Thus, in any given fiscal year (FY), multiple factors dictate whether it will be possible to undertake work on a proposed listing regulation or whether promulgation of such a proposal is precluded by higher priority listing actions—(1) The amount of resources available for completing the listing function, (2) the estimated cost of completing the proposed listing regulation, and (3) the Service’s VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:21 Dec 14, 2020 Jkt 253001 workload, along with the Service’s prioritization of the proposed listing regulation, in relation to other actions in its workload. Available Resources The resources available for listing actions are determined through the annual Congressional appropriations process. In FY 1998 and for each fiscal year since then, Congress has placed a statutory cap on funds that may be expended for the Listing Program (spending cap). This spending cap was designed to prevent the listing function from depleting funds needed for other functions under the Act (for example, recovery functions, such as removing species from the Lists), or for other Service programs (see House Report 105–163, 105th Congress, 1st Session, July 1, 1997). The funds within the spending cap are available to support work involving the following listing actions: Proposed and final rules to add species to the Lists or to change the status of species from threatened to endangered; 90-day and 12-month findings on petitions to add species to the Lists or to change the status of a species from threatened to endangered; annual ‘‘resubmitted’’ petition findings on prior warranted-but-precluded petition findings as required under section 4(b)(3)(C)(i) of the Act; critical habitat petition findings; proposed rules designating critical habitat or final critical habitat determinations; and litigation-related, administrative, and program-management functions (including preparing and allocating budgets, responding to Congressional and public inquiries, and conducting public outreach regarding listing and critical habitat). For more than two decades the size and cost of the workload in these categories of actions have far exceeded the amount of funding available to the Service under the spending cap for completing listing and critical habitat actions under the Act. Since we cannot exceed the spending cap without violating the Anti-Deficiency Act (31 U.S.C. 1341(a)(1)(A)), each year we have been compelled to determine that work on at least some actions was precluded by work on higher-priority actions. We make our determinations of preclusion on a nationwide basis to ensure that the species most in need of listing will be addressed first, and because we allocate our listing budget on a nationwide basis. Through the listing cap and the amount of funds needed to complete courtmandated actions within the cap, Congress and the courts have in effect determined the amount of money remaining (after completing court- PO 00000 Frm 00062 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 mandated actions) for listing activities nationwide. Therefore, the funds that remain within the listing cap—after paying for work needed to comply with court orders or court-approved settlement agreements—set the framework within which we make our determinations of preclusion and expeditious progress. For FY 2019, through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2019, (Pub. L. 116–6, February 15, 2019), Congress appropriated the Service $18,318,000 under a consolidated cap for all domestic and foreign listing work, including status assessments, listings, domestic critical habitat determinations, and related activities. For FY 2020, through the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020 (Pub. L. 116–94, December 20, 2019), Congress appropriated $20,318,000 for all domestic and foreign listing work. The amount of funding Congress will appropriate in future years is uncertain. Costs of Listing Actions The work involved in preparing various listing documents can be extensive, and may include, but is not limited to: Gathering and assessing the best scientific and commercial data available and conducting analyses used as the basis for our decisions; writing and publishing documents; and obtaining, reviewing, and evaluating public comments and peer-review comments on proposed rules and incorporating relevant information from those comments into final rules. The number of listing actions that we can undertake in a given year also is influenced by the complexity of those listing actions; that is, more complex actions generally are more costly. Our practice of proposing to designate critical habitat concurrent with listing species requires additional coordination and an analysis of the economic impacts of the designation, and thus adds to the complexity and cost of our work. Since completing all of the work for outstanding listing and critical habitat actions has for so long required more funding than has been available within the spending cap, the Service has developed several ways to determine the relative priorities of the actions within its workload to identify the work it can complete with the funding it has available for listing and critical habitat actions each year. Prioritizing Listing Actions The Service’s Listing Program workload is broadly composed of four types of actions, which the Service prioritizes as follows: (1) Compliance E:\FR\FM\15DER1.SGM 15DER1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 241 / Tuesday, December 15, 2020 / Rules and Regulations with court orders and court-approved settlement agreements requiring that petition findings or listing or critical habitat determinations be completed by a specific date; (2) essential litigationrelated, administrative, and listing program-management functions; (3) section 4 (of the Act) listing and critical habitat actions with absolute statutory deadlines; and (4) section 4 listing actions that do not have absolute statutory deadlines. In previous years, the Service received many new petitions, including multiple petitions to list numerous species—a single petition even sought to list 404 domestic species. The emphasis that petitioners placed on seeking listing for hundreds of species at a time through the petition process significantly increased the number of actions within the third category of our workload—actions that have absolute statutory deadlines for making findings on those petitions. In addition, the necessity of dedicating all of the Listing Program funding towards determining the status of 251 candidate species and complying with other court-ordered requirements between 2011 and 2016 added to the number of petition findings awaiting action. Because we are not able to work on all of these at once, the Service’s most recent effort to prioritize its workload focuses on addressing the backlog in petition findings that has resulted from the influx of large multispecies petitions and the 5-year period in which the Service was compelled to suspend making 12-month findings for most of those petitions. The number of petitions that are awaiting status reviews and accompanying 12-month findings illustrates the considerable extent of this backlog: As a result of the outstanding petitions to list hundreds of species, and our efforts to make initial petition findings within 90 days of receiving the petition to the maximum extent practicable, at the beginning of FY 2020 we had 422 12-month petition findings for domestic species yet to be initiated and completed. To determine the relative priorities of the outstanding 12-month petition findings, the Service developed a prioritization methodology (methodology) (81 FR 49248; July 27, 2016), after providing the public with notice and an opportunity to comment on the draft methodology (81 FR 2229; January 15, 2016). Under the methodology, we assign each 12-month finding to one of five priority bins: (1) The species is critically imperiled; (2) strong data are already available about the status of the species; (3) new science is underway that would inform key uncertainties about the status of the VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:21 Dec 14, 2020 Jkt 253001 species; (4) conservation efforts are in development or underway and likely to address the status of the species; or (5) the available data on the species are limited. As a general rule, 12-month findings with a lower bin number have a higher priority than, and are scheduled before, 12-month findings with a higher bin number. However, we make some exceptions—for example, we may schedule a lower-priority finding earlier if batching it with a higherpriority finding would generate efficiencies. We may also consider where there are any special circumstances that affect the timing for completion of an action. One circumstance that might result in divergence from priority order is when the current highest priorities are clustered in a geographic area, such that the field office where the highestpriority work is clustered has reached capacity; in such a circumstance, other field offices would continue to work on their highest-priority actions even if those actions are relatively lower in priority than the previously mentioned at-capacity field office. In other words, we recognize that the geographic distribution of our scientific expertise will in some cases require us to balance workload across geographic areas. This approach also results in efficiencies from having listing work completed by biologists in the field office who have the scientific expertise on the ecosystems, species, and threats within that geographic area. Since before Congress first established the spending cap for the Listing Program in 1998, the Listing Program workload has required considerably more resources than the amount of funds Congress has allowed for the Listing Program. Therefore, it is important that we be as efficient as possible in our listing process. After finalizing the prioritization methodology, we then applied that methodology to develop a multi-year National Listing Workplan (Workplan) for completing the outstanding status assessments and accompanying 12month findings. The purpose of the Workplan is provide transparency and predictability to the public about when the Service anticipates completing specific 12-month findings while allowing for flexibility to update the Workplan when new information changes the priorities. In May 2019, the Service released its updated Workplan for addressing the Act’s domestic listing and critical habitat decisions over the subsequent 5 years. The updated Workplan identified the Service’s schedule for addressing all domestic species on the candidate list and PO 00000 Frm 00063 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 81147 conducting 267 status reviews and accompanying 12-month findings by FY 2023 for domestic species that have been petitioned for Federal protections under the Act. As we implement our Workplan and work on proposed rules for the highest-priority species, we increase efficiency by preparing multispecies proposals when appropriate, and these may include species with lower priority if they overlap geographically or have the same threats as one of the highest-priority species. The National Listing Workplan is available online at: https:// www.fws.gov/endangered/what-we-do/ listing-workplan.html. An additional way in which we determine relative priorities of outstanding actions in the section 4 program is application of the listing priority guidelines (48 FR 43098; September 21, 1983). Under those guidelines, which apply primarily to candidate species, we assign each candidate a listing priority number (LPN) of 1 to 12, depending on the magnitude of threats (high or moderate to low), immediacy of threats (imminent or nonimminent), and taxonomic status of the species (in order of priority: Monotypic genus (a species that is the sole member of a genus), a species, or a part of a species (subspecies or distinct population segment)). The lower the listing priority number, the higher the listing priority (that is, a species with an LPN of 1 would have the highest listing priority). A species with a higher LPN would generally be precluded from listing by species with lower LPNs, unless work on a proposed rule for the species with the higher LPN can be combined for efficiency with work on a proposed rule for other highpriority species. Finally, proposed rules for reclassification of threatened species status to endangered species status are generally lower in priority because, as listed species, they are already afforded the protections of the Act and implementing regulations. However, for efficiency reasons, we may choose to work on a proposed rule to reclassify a species to endangered species status if we can combine this with higherpriority work. Based on our listing priority system, we are assigning an LPN of 3 to this reclassification of the northern spotted owl. This priority number indicates the magnitude of threat is high and those threats are imminent. As explained above, proposed rules to reclassify threatened species to endangered species status are a lower priority than listing currently unprotected species, so listing a candidate species with a higher E:\FR\FM\15DER1.SGM 15DER1 81148 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 241 / Tuesday, December 15, 2020 / Rules and Regulations LPN number would generally be a higher priority action than reclassification of an already listed species such as the northern spotted owl. As such, we will continue to monitor the threats to the northern spotted owl and the subspecies’ status on an annual basis, and should the magnitude or the imminence of the threats change, we will revisit our assessment of the LPN. Listing Program Workload The National Listing Workplan that the Service released in 2019 outlined work for domestic species over the period from 2019 to 2023. Tables 1 and 2 under Expeditious Progress, below, identify the higher-priority listing actions that we completed through FY 2020 (September 30, 2020), as well as those we have been working on in FY 2020 but have not yet completed. For FY 2020, our National Listing Workplan includes 74 12-month findings or proposed listing actions that are at various stages of completion at the time of this finding. In addition to the actions scheduled in the National Listing Workplan, the overall Listing Program workload also includes the development and revision of listing regulations that are required by new court orders or settlement agreements, or to address the repercussions of any new court decisions, as well as proposed and final critical habitat designations or revisions for species that have already been listed. The Service’s highest priorities for spending its funding in FY 2019 and FY 2020 are actions included in the Workplan and actions required to address court decisions. As described in ‘‘Prioritizing Listing Actions,’’ above, reclassification of the northern spotted owl is a lower-priority action than these types of work. Therefore, these higherpriority actions precluded reclassifying the owl in FY 2019, and the Service anticipates that they will continue to preclude work on reclassifying the owl in FY 2020 and the near future. Expeditious Progress As explained above, a determination that listing is warranted but precluded must also demonstrate that expeditious progress is being made to add and remove qualified species to and from the Lists. Please note that in the Code of Federal Regulations, the ‘‘Lists’’ are grouped as one list of endangered and threatened wildlife (50 CFR 17.11(h)) and one list of endangered and threatened plants (50 CFR 17.12(h)). However, the ‘‘Lists’’ referred to in the Act mean one list of endangered species (wildlife and plants) and one list of threatened species (wildlife and plants). VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:21 Dec 14, 2020 Jkt 253001 Therefore, under the Act, expeditious progress includes actions to reclassify species—that is, either remove them from the list of threatened species and add them to the list of endangered species, or remove them from the list of endangered species and add them to the list of threatened species. As with our ‘‘precluded’’ finding, the evaluation of whether expeditious progress is being made is a function of the resources available and the competing demands for those funds. As discussed earlier, the FY 2020 appropriations law included a spending cap of $20,318,000 for listing activities, and the FY 2019 appropriations law included a spending cap of $18,318,000 for listing activities. As discussed below, given the limited resources available for listing, the competing demands for those funds, and the completed work catalogued in the tables below, we find that we are making expeditious progress in adding qualified species to the Lists. The work of the Service’s domestic listing program in FY 2019 and FY 2020 (as of September 30, 2020) includes all three of the steps necessary for adding species to the Lists: (1) Identifying species that may warrant listing (90-day petition findings); (2) undertaking an evaluation of the best available scientific data about those species and the threats they face to determine whether or not listing is warranted (a status review and accompanying 12month finding); and (3) adding qualified species to the Lists (by publishing proposed and final listing rules). We explain in more detail how we are making expeditious progress in all three of the steps necessary for adding qualified species to the Lists (identifying, evaluating, and adding species). Subsequent to discussing our expeditious progress in adding qualified species to the Lists, we explain our expeditious progress in removing from the Lists species that no longer require the protections of the Act. First, we are making expeditious progress in identifying species that may warrant listing. In FY 2019 and FY 2020 (as of September 30, 2020), we completed 90-day findings on petitions to list 14 species. Second, we are making expeditious progress in evaluating the best scientific and commercial data available about species and threats they face (status reviews) to determine whether or not listing is warranted. In FY 2019 and FY 2020 (as of September 30, 2020), we completed 12-month findings for 69 species. In addition, we funded and worked on the development of 12month findings for 34 species and PO 00000 Frm 00064 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 proposed listing determinations for 9 candidates. Although we did not complete those actions during FY 2019 or FY 2020 (as of September 30, 2020), we made expeditious progress towards doing so by initiating and making progress on the status reviews to determine whether adding the species to the Lists is warranted. Third, we are making expeditious progress in adding qualified species to the Lists. In FY 2019 and FY 2020 (as of September 30, 2020), we published final listing rules for 7 species, including final critical habitat designations for 1 of those species and final protective regulations under the Act’s section 4(d) for 2 of the species. In addition, we published proposed rules to list an additional 20 species (including concurrent proposed critical habitat designations for 13 species and concurrent protective regulations under the Act’s section 4(d) for 14 species). The Act also requires that we make expeditious progress in removing species from the Lists that no longer require the protections of the Act. Specifically, we are making expeditious progress in removing (delisting) domestic species, as well as reclassifying endangered species to threatened species status (downlisting). This work is being completed under the Recovery program in light of the resources available for recovery actions, which are funded through the recovery line item in the budget of the Endangered Species Program. Because recovery actions are funded separately from listing actions, they do not factor into our assessment of preclusion; that is, work on recovery actions does not preclude the availability of resources for completing new listing work. However, work on recovery actions does count towards our assessment of making expeditious progress because the Act states that expeditious progress includes both adding qualified species to, and removing qualified species from, the Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. During FY 2019 and FY 2020 (as of September 30, 2020), we finalized downlisting of 1 species, finalized delisting rules for 7 species, proposed downlisting of 7 species, and proposed delisting of 11 species. The rate at which the Service has completed delisting and downlisting actions in FY 2019 and FY 2020 (as of September 30, 2020) is higher than any point in the history of the Act. The tables below catalog the Service’s progress in FY 2019 and FY 2020 (as of September 30, 2020) as it pertains to our evaluation of making expeditious progress. Table 1 includes completed and published domestic listing actions; E:\FR\FM\15DER1.SGM 15DER1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 241 / Tuesday, December 15, 2020 / Rules and Regulations Table 2 includes domestic listing actions funded and initiated in previous fiscal years and in FY 2020 that are not yet complete as of September 30, 2020; and Table 3 includes completed and published proposed and final 81149 downlisting and delisting actions for domestic species. TABLE 1—COMPLETED DOMESTIC LISTING ACTIONS IN FY 2019 AND FY 2020 [As of September 30, 2020] Publication date Title Action(s) 10/9/2018 ....... Threatened Species Status for Coastal Distinct Population Segment of the Pacific Marten. Threatened Species Status for Black-Capped Petrel With a Section 4(d) Rule. 12-Month Petition Finding and Threatened Species Status for Eastern Black Rail With a Section 4(d) Rule. Threatened Species Status With Section 4(d) Rule and Critical Habitat Designation for Slenderclaw Crayfish. Threatened Species Status With Section 4(d) Rule and Critical Habitat Designation for Atlantic Pigtoe. Endangered Species Status for the Candy Darter. 12-Month Findings on Petitions to List 13 Species as Endangered or Threatened Species. Threatened Species Status for Trispot Darter .. 12-Month Findings on Petitions to List Eight Species as Endangered or Threatened Species. 12-Month Petition Finding and Endangered Species Status for the Missouri Distinct Population Segment of Eastern Hellbender. 90-Day Findings for Four Species (3 domestic species and 1 foreign species)*. Threatened Species Status with Section 4(d) Rule for Neuse River Waterdog and Endangered Species Status for Carolina Madtom and Proposed Designations of Critical Habitat. Endangered Species Status for Franklin’s Bumble Bee. 12-Month Findings on Petitions to List Eight Species as Endangered or Threatened Species. 90-Day Findings for Three Species ................... 90-Day Findings for Three Species ................... Twelve Species Not Warranted for Listing as Endangered or Threatened Species. Endangered Species Status for Barrens Topminnow. 12-Month Finding for the California Spotted Owl. Threatened Species Status for Meltwater Lednian Stonefly and Western Glacier Stonefly With a Section 4(d) Rule. Endangered Species Status for Beardless Chinchweed With Designation of Critical Habitat, and Threatened Species Status for Bartram’s Stonecrop With Section 4(d) Rule. Five Species Not Warranted for Listing as Endangered or Threatened Species. 90-Day Findings for Two Species ..................... Threatened Species Status for the Hermes Copper Butterfly With 4(d) Rule and Designation of Critical Habitat. Endangered Status for the Sierra Nevada Distinct Population Segment of the Sierra Nevada Red Fox. Endangered Status for the Island Marble Butterfly and Designation of Critical Habitat. Endangered Species Status for Southern Sierra Nevada Distinct Population Segment of Fisher. Proposed Listing— Threatened with Section 4(d) Rule and 12-Month Petition Finding. Proposed Listing— Threatened with Section 4(d) Rule and 12-Month Petition Finding. Proposed Listing— Threatened with Section 4(d) Rule and 12-Month Petition Finding. 83 FR 50574–50582 Proposed Listing— Threatened with Section 4(d) Rule and Critical Habitat and 12-Month Finding. Proposed Listing— Threatened with Section 4(d) Rule and Critical Habitat and 12-Month Finding. Final Listing—Endangered ................................ 83 FR 50582–50610 12-Month Petition Findings ................................ 83 FR 65127–65134 Final Listing—Threatened .................................. 12-Month Petition Findings ................................ 83 FR 67131–67140 84 FR 13237–13242 Proposed Listing— Endangered and 12-Month Petition Finding. 84 FR 13223–13237 90-Day Petition Findings ................................... 84 FR 17768–17771 Proposed Listings—Threatened Status with Section 4(d) Rule with Critical Habitat; Endangered Status with Critical Habitat and 12Month Petition Findings. 84 FR 23644–23691 Proposed Listing—Endangered and 12-Month Petition Finding. 12-Month Petition Findings ................................ 84 FR 40006–40019 90-Day Petition Findings ................................... 90-Day Petition Findings ................................... 12-Month Petition Findings ................................ 84 FR 41691–41694 84 FR 46927–46931 84 FR 53336–53343 Final Listing—Endangered ................................ 84 FR 56131–56136 12-Month Petition Finding .................................. 84 FR 60371–60372 Final Listing—Threatened with Section 4(d) Rule. 84 FR 64210–64227 Proposed Listings —Endangered with Critical Habitat; Threatened with Section 4(d) Rule and 12-Month Petition Findings. 84 FR 67060–67104 12-Month Petition Findings ................................ 84 FR 69707–69712 90-Day Petition Findings ................................... Proposed Listing—Threatened with Section 4(d) Rule and Critical Habitat. 84 FR 69713–69715 85 FR 1018–1050 Proposed Listing—Endangered ......................... 85 FR 862–872 Final Listing—Endangered with Critical Habitat 85 FR 26786–26820 Final Listing—Endangered ................................ 85 FR 29532–29589 10/9/2018 ....... 10/9/2018 ....... 10/9/2018 ....... 10/11/2018 ..... 11/21/2018 ..... 12/19/2018 ..... 12/28/2018 ..... 4/4/2019 ......... 4/4/2019 ......... 4/26/2019 ....... 5/22/2019 ....... 8/13/2019 ....... 8/15/2019 ....... 8/15/2019 ....... 9/6/2019 ......... 10/07/2019 ..... 10/21/2019 ..... 11/08/2019 ..... 11/21/2019 ..... 12/06/2019 ..... 12/19/2019 ..... 12/19/2019 ..... 01/08/2020 ..... 01/08/2020 ..... 05/05/2020 ..... 05/15/2020 ..... VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:21 Dec 14, 2020 Jkt 253001 PO 00000 Frm 00065 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\15DER1.SGM Federal Register citation 15DER1 83 FR 50560–50574 83 FR 50610–50630 83 FR 51570–51609 83 FR 58747–58754 84 FR 41694–41699 81150 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 241 / Tuesday, December 15, 2020 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 1—COMPLETED DOMESTIC LISTING ACTIONS IN FY 2019 AND FY 2020—Continued [As of September 30, 2020] Publication date Title Action(s) 7/16/2020 ....... 90-Day Finding for the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard. 90-Day Findings for Two Species ..................... Four Species Not Warranted for Listing as Endangered or Threatened Species. Endangered Species Status for Marron Bacora and Designation of Critical Habitat. Two Species Not Warranted for Listing as Endangered or Threatened Species. Findings on a Petition To Delist the Distinct Population Segment of the Western YellowBilled Cuckoo and a Petition To List the U.S. Population of Northwestern Moose**. Threatened Species Status for Chapin Mesa milkvetch and Section 4(d) Rule with Designation of Critical Habitat. Threatened Species Status for Big Creek crayfish and St. Francis River Crayfish and With Section 4(d) Rule with Designation of Critical Habitat. Threatened Species Status for longsolid and round hickorynut mussel and Section 4(d) Rule With Designation of Critical Habitat, Not Warranted 12-Month Finding for purple Lilliput. Threatened Species Status for Wright’s Marsh Thistle and Section 4(d) Rule With Designation of Critical Habitat. 90-Day Petition Finding ..................................... 85 FR 43203–43204 90-Day Petition Findings ................................... 12-Month Petition Findings ................................ 85 FR 44265–44267 85 FR 44478–44483 Proposed Listing-Endangered with Critical Habitat and 12-Month Petition Finding. 12-Month Petition Findings ................................ 85 FR 52516–52540 12-Month Petition Finding .................................. 85 FR 57816–57818 Proposed Listing-Threatened With Section 4(d) Rule and Critical Habitat. 85 FR 58224–58250 Proposed Listings-Threatened With Section 4(d) Rule and Critical Habitat. 85 FR 58192–58222 Proposed Listings-Threatened With Section 4(d) Rule and Critical Habitat; 12-Month Petition Findings. 85 FR 61384–61458 Proposed Listing-Threatened With Section (4) Rule and Critical Habitat. 85 FR 61460–61498 7/22/2020 ....... 7/23/2020 ....... 8/26/2020 ....... 9/1/2020 ......... 9/16/2020 ....... 9/17/2020 ....... 9/17/2020 ....... 9/29/2020 ....... 9/29/2020 ....... Federal Register citation 85 FR 54339–54342 * 90-day finding batches may include findings regarding both domestic and foreign species. The total number of 90-day findings reported in this assessment of expeditious progress pertains to domestic species only. ** Batched 12-month findings may include findings regarding listing and delisting petitions. The total number of 12-month findings reported in this assessment of expeditious progress pertains to listing petitions only. TABLE 2—DOMESTIC LISTING ACTIONS FUNDED AND INITIATED IN PREVIOUS FYS AND IN FY 2020 THAT ARE NOT YET COMPLETE AS OF SEPTEMBER 30, 2020 Species Action northern spotted owl ................................................................................. false spike ................................................................................................. Guadalupe fatmucket ............................................................................... Guadalupe orb .......................................................................................... Texas fatmucket ....................................................................................... Texas fawnsfoot ....................................................................................... Texas pimpleback ..................................................................................... South Llano Springs moss ....................................................................... peppered chub .......................................................................................... whitebark pine .......................................................................................... Key ringneck snake .................................................................................. Rimrock crowned snake ........................................................................... Euphilotes ancilla cryptica ........................................................................ Euphilotes ancilla purpura ........................................................................ Hamlin Valley pyrg ................................................................................... longitudinal gland pyrg ............................................................................. sub-globose snake pyrg ........................................................................... Louisiana pigtoe ....................................................................................... Texas heelsplitter ..................................................................................... triangle pigtoe ........................................................................................... prostrate milkweed ................................................................................... alligator snapping turtle ............................................................................ Black Creek crayfish ................................................................................. bracted twistflower .................................................................................... Canoe Creek clubshell ............................................................................. Clear Lake hitch ....................................................................................... Doll’s daisy ............................................................................................... frecklebelly madtom .................................................................................. longfin smelt (San Francisco Bay-Delta DPS) ......................................... magnificent Ramshorn .............................................................................. Mt. Rainier white-tailed ptarmigan ............................................................ VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:21 Dec 14, 2020 Jkt 253001 PO 00000 Frm 00066 Fmt 4700 12-month finding. 12-month finding. 12-month finding. 12-month finding. Proposed listing determination Proposed listing determination Proposed listing determination 12-month finding. 12-month finding. Proposed listing determination 12-month finding. 12-month finding. 12-month finding. 12-month finding. 12-month finding. 12-month finding. 12-month finding. 12-month finding. 12-month finding. 12-month finding. 12-month finding. 12-month finding. 12-month finding. Proposed listing determination 12-month finding. 12-month finding. 12-month finding. 12-month finding. Proposed listing determination Proposed listing determination 12-month finding. Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\15DER1.SGM or not warranted finding. or not warranted finding. or not warranted finding. or not warranted finding. or not warranted finding. or not warranted finding. or not warranted finding. 15DER1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 241 / Tuesday, December 15, 2020 / Rules and Regulations 81151 TABLE 2—DOMESTIC LISTING ACTIONS FUNDED AND INITIATED IN PREVIOUS FYS AND IN FY 2020 THAT ARE NOT YET COMPLETE AS OF SEPTEMBER 30, 2020—Continued Species Action Ocmulgee skullcap ................................................................................... Penasco least chipmunk .......................................................................... Puerto Rico harlequin butterfly ................................................................. Puget oregonian snail ............................................................................... relict dace ................................................................................................. Rocky Mountain monkeyflower ................................................................ sickle darter .............................................................................................. southern elktoe ......................................................................................... southern white-tailed ptarmigan ............................................................... tidewater amphipod .................................................................................. tufted puffin ............................................................................................... western spadefoot .................................................................................... 12-month finding. Proposed listing determination or not warranted finding. Proposed listing determination or not warranted finding. 12-month finding. 12-month finding. 12-month finding. 12-month finding. 12-month finding. 12-month finding. 12-month finding. 12-month finding. 12-month finding. TABLE 3—COMPLETED DOMESTIC RECOVERY ACTIONS (PROPOSED AND FINAL DOWNLISTINGS AND DELISTINGS) IN FY 2019 AND FY 2020 [As of September 30, 2020] Publication date Title Action(s) 10/18/2018 ...... Removing Deseret Milkvetch (Astragalus desereticus) From the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Plants. Removing the Borax Lake Chub From the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. Removing the Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) From the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. Reclassifying the American Burying Beetle From Endangered to Threatened on the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife With a 4(d) Rule. Removing Trifolium stoloniferum (Running Buffalo Clover) From the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Plants. Removing the Foskett Speckled Dace From the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. Removal of the Monito Gecko (Sphaerodactylus micropithecus) From the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. Removal of Howellia aquatilis (Water Howellia) From the List of Endangered and Threatened Plants. Removing the Kirtland’s Warbler From the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. Removal of the Interior Least Tern From the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. Removing Oenothera coloradensis (Colorado Butterfly Plant) From the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Plants. Removing Bradshaw’s Lomatium From the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Plants. Removal of the Nashville Crayfish From the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. Reclassification of the Endangered June Sucker to Threatened With a Section 4(d) Rule. Reclassifying the Hawaiian Goose From Endangered to Threatened With a Section 4(d) Rule. Removing the Hawaiian Hawk From the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. Removing the Kanab Ambersnail From the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. Reclassification of the Humpback Chub From Endangered to Threatened With a Section 4(d) Rule. Removing Lepanthes eltoroensis From the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Plants. Removing Arenaria cumberlandensis (Cumberland Sandwort) From the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Plants. Removing San Benito Evening-Primrose (Camissonia benitensis) From the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Plants. Removing the Borax Lake Chub From the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. Reclassification of Morro Shoulderband Snail (Helminthoglypta walkeriana) From Endangered to Threatened With a 4(d) Rule. Reclassification of Stephens’ Kangaroo Rat From Endangered To Threatened With a Section 4(d) Rule. Final Rule—Delisting ..................... 83 FR 52775–52786 Proposed Rule—Delisting ............. 84 FR 6110–6126 Proposed Rule—Delisting ............. 84 FR 9648–9687 Proposed Rule—Downlisting ......... 84 FR 19013–19029 Proposed Rule—Delisting ............. 84 FR 44832–44841 Final Rule—Delisting ..................... 84 FR 48290–48308 Final Rule—Delisting ..................... 84 FR 52791–52800 Proposed Rule—Delisting ............. 84 FR 53380–53397 Final Rule—Delisting ..................... 84 FR 54436–54463 Proposed Rule—Delisting ............. 84 FR 56977–56991 Final Rule—Delisting ..................... 84 FR 59570–59588 Proposed Rule—Delisting ............. 84 FR 65067–65080 Proposed Rule—Delisting ............. 84 FR 65098–65112 Proposed Rule—Downlisting ......... 84 FR 65080–65098 Final Rule—Downlisting ................ 84 FR 69918–69947 Final Rule—Delisting ..................... 85 FR 164–189 Proposed Rule—Delisting ............. 85 FR 487–492 Proposed Rule—Downlisting ......... 85 FR 3586–3601 Proposed Rule—Delisting ............. 85 FR 13844–13856 Proposed Rule—Delisting ............. 85 FR 23302–23315 Proposed Rule—Delisting ............. 85 FR 33060–33078 Final Rule—Delisting ..................... 85 FR 35574–35594 Proposed Rule—Downlisting ......... 85 FR 44821–44835 Proposed Rule—Downlisting ......... 85 FR 50991–51006 02/26/2019 ...... 03/15/2019 ...... 05/03/2019 ...... 08/27/2019 ...... 09/13/2019 ...... 10/03/2019 ...... 10/07/2019 ...... 10/09/2019 ...... 10/24/2019 ...... 11/05/2019 ...... 11/26/2019 ...... 11/26/2019 ...... 11/26/2019 ...... 12/19/2019 ...... 01/02/2020 ...... 01/06/2020 ...... 01/22/2020 ...... 03/10/2020 ...... 04/27/2020 ...... 06/01/2020 ...... 06/11/2020 ...... 7/24/2020 ........ 8/19/2020 ........ VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:21 Dec 14, 2020 Jkt 253001 PO 00000 Frm 00067 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\15DER1.SGM 15DER1 Federal Register citation 81152 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 241 / Tuesday, December 15, 2020 / Rules and Regulations TABLE 3—COMPLETED DOMESTIC RECOVERY ACTIONS (PROPOSED AND FINAL DOWNLISTINGS AND DELISTINGS) IN FY 2019 AND FY 2020—Continued [As of September 30, 2020] Publication date Title Action(s) 9/30/2020 ........ Reclassficiation of beach layia (Layia carnosa) From Endangered To Threatened With a Section 4(d) Rule. Reclassification of Virgin Islands Tree Boa From Endangered to Threatened With a Section 4(d) Rule. Proposed Rule—Downlisting ......... 85 FR 61684–61700 Proposed Rule—Downlisting ......... 85 FR 61700–61717 9/30/2020 ........ When a petitioned action is found to be warranted but precluded, the Service is required by the Act to treat the petition as resubmitted on an annual basis until a proposal or withdrawal is published. If the petitioned species is not already listed under the Act, the species becomes a ‘‘candidate’’ and is reviewed annually in the ‘‘candidate notice of review’’ (CNOR). The number of candidate species remaining in FY 2020 is the lowest it has been since 1975. For these species, we are working on developing a species status assessment, preparing proposed listing determinations, or preparing notwarranted 12-month findings. Another way that we have been expeditious in making progress in adding and removing qualified species to and from the Lists is that we have made our actions as efficient and timely as possible, given the requirements of the Act and regulations and constraints relating to workload and personnel. We are continually seeking ways to streamline processes or achieve economies of scale, such as batching related actions together for publication. Given our limited budget for implementing section 4 of the Act, these efforts also contribute toward our expeditious progress in adding and removing qualified species to and from the Lists. The northern spotted owl will remain listed as a threatened species, and we will continue to evaluate this subspecies as new information becomes available. Continuing review will determine if a change in status is warranted, including the need to make prompt use of emergency listing procedures. Under 50 CFR 17.31(a), threatened wildlife added to the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife on or prior to September 26, 2019, are provided all provisions of 50 CFR 17.21 for endangered wildlife, except 50 CFR 17.21(c)(5). The northern spotted owl was granted the protections of an endangered species at the time it was listed as a threatened species in 1990 (55 FR 26114–26194). Therefore, we conclude that reclassification will not provide any additional protections for VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:21 Dec 14, 2020 Jkt 253001 the species as it already receives the protections of the provisions of 50 CFR 17.21 for endangered wildlife. A detailed discussion of the basis for this finding can be found in the northern spotted owl species status report and other supporting documents (see ADDRESSES, above). A detailed discussion of the basis for this finding can be found in the northern spotted owl species assessment and other supporting documents (see ADDRESSES, above). New Information We intend that any proposed reclassification for the northern spotted owl will be as accurate as possible. Therefore, we will continue to accept additional information and comments from all concerned governmental agencies, the scientific community, industry, or any other interested party concerning this finding. We request that you submit any new information concerning the taxonomy of, biology of, ecology of, status of, or threats to the northern spotted owl to the person specified under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT, whenever it becomes available. New information will help us monitor this subspecies and make appropriate decisions about its conservation and status. We encourage local agencies and stakeholders to continue cooperative monitoring and conservation efforts. Authors The primary authors of this document are the staff members of the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Species Assessment Team. Authority The authority for this action is section 4 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). Aurelia Skipwith, Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. [FR Doc. 2020–27198 Filed 12–14–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P PO 00000 Frm 00068 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Federal Register citation DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 648 [Docket No.: 201209–0334] RIN 0648–BK05 Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Omnibus Framework Adjustment To Modify the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s Risk Policy National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Final rule. AGENCY: NMFS approves and implements changes to the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s Risk Policy. This action is intended to adjust the Council’s risk policy by accepting a higher level of risk for stocks at or above biomass targets. These adjustments could lead to increases in catch limits for healthy fisheries managed by the Council. SUMMARY: Effective December 15, 2020. The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council developed an environmental assessment (EA) for this action that describes and analyzes these measures and other considered alternatives. Copies of the Risk Policy Omnibus Framework Adjustment, including the EA and information on the economic impacts of this rulemaking, are available upon request from Dr. Christopher M. Moore, Executive Director, Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, Suite 201, 800 North State Street, Dover, DE 19901. These documents are also accessible via the internet at http://www.mafmc.org. Copies of the small entity compliance guide are available from Michael Pentony, Regional Administrator, NMFS, Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930–2298, or DATES: ADDRESSES: E:\FR\FM\15DER1.SGM 15DER1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 241 (Tuesday, December 15, 2020)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 81144-81152]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-27198]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[Docket No. FWS-R1-ES-2014-0061; FF09E21000 FXES11110900000 212]


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12-Month Finding 
for the Northern Spotted Owl

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of 12-month finding.

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SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 
12-month finding on a petition to list the northern spotted owl (Strix 
occidentalis caurina) as an endangered species under the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). After a thorough review of the 
best available scientific and commercial information, we find that 
reclassification of the northern spotted owl from a threatened species 
to an endangered species is warranted but precluded by higher priority 
actions to amend the Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and 
Plants. We will develop a proposed rule to reclassify the northern 
spotted owl as our priorities allow. However, we ask the public to 
submit to us any new information relevant to the status of the 
subspecies or its habitat at any time.

DATES: The finding in this document was made on December 15, 2020.

ADDRESSES: A detailed description of the basis for this finding is 
available on the internet at http://www.regulations.gov under docket 
number FWS-R1-ES-2014-0061.
    Supporting information used to prepare this finding is available by 
contacting the appropriate person as specified under FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT. Please submit any new information, materials, 
comments, or questions concerning this finding to the appropriate 
person, as specified under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Paul Henson, State Supervisor, Oregon 
Fish and Wildlife Office, telephone: 503-231-6179, email: 
[email protected]. If you use a telecommunications device for the 
deaf (TDD), please call the Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    Under section 4(b)(3)(B) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), we 
are required to make a finding on 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 petitioned action is warranted but precluded, we treat 
the petition as though it is 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 the implementing 
regulations at part 424 of title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations 
(50 CFR part 424) set forth procedures for adding species to, removing 
species from, or reclassifying species on the Lists. The Act defines 
``endangered species'' as any species that is in danger of extinction 
throughout all or a significant portion of its range (16 U.S.C. 
1532(6)), and ``threatened species'' as any species that is likely to 
become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout 
all or a significant portion of its range (16 U.S.C. 1532(20)). Under

[[Page 81145]]

section 4(a)(1) of the Act, a species may be determined to be an 
endangered species or a threatened species because of any of the 
following five factors:
    (A) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or 
curtailment of its habitat or range;
    (B) Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes;
    (C) Disease or predation;
    (D) The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or
    (E) Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued 
existence.
    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.
    In conducting our evaluation of the five factors provided in 
section 4(a)(1) of the Act to determine whether the northern spotted 
owl (Strix occidentalis caurina) meets the definition of an 
``endangered species,'' we considered and thoroughly evaluated the best 
scientific and commercial information available regarding the past, 
present, and future threats to the subspecies. 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; foreign governments; private 
entities; and other members of the public.
    The species assessment for the northern spotted owl contains more 
detailed biological information, a thorough analysis of the listing 
factors, and an explanation of why we determined that this subspecies 
meets the definition of an endangered species. This supporting 
information can be found on the internet at http://www.regulations.gov 
under docket number FWS-R1-ES-2014-0061. The following is an 
informational summary of the finding in this document.

Previous Federal Actions

    On June 26, 1990, we published in the Federal Register (55 FR 
26114) a final rule listing the northern spotted owl as a threatened 
species. On August 21, 2012, we received a petition dated August 15, 
2012, from the Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) 
requesting that the northern spotted owl be listed as an endangered 
species pursuant to the Act. On April 10, 2015, we published a 90-day 
finding (80 FR 19259), in which we announced that the petition 
presented substantial information indicating that reclassification may 
be warranted for the northern spotted owl and that our status review 
will also constitute our 5-year review for the northern spotted owl.

Summary of Finding

    The northern spotted owl is the largest of three subspecies of 
spotted owls, and inhabits structurally complex forests from 
southwestern British Columbia through Washington and Oregon, and into 
northern California. The northern spotted owl is relatively long-lived, 
has a long reproductive life span, invests significantly in parental 
care, and exhibits high adult survivorship relative to other North 
American owls. The historical range of the northern spotted owl 
included most mature forests or stands throughout the Pacific 
Northwest, from southwestern British Columbia to as far south as Marin 
County, California. The current range of the northern spotted owl is 
smaller than the historical range, as the northern spotted owl is 
extirpated or very uncommon in certain areas such as southwestern 
Washington and British Columbia.
    Habitat loss was the primary factor leading to the listing of the 
northern spotted owl as a threatened species, and it continues to be a 
stressor on the subspecies due to the lag effects of past habitat loss, 
continued timber harvest, wildfire, and a minor amount from insect and 
forest disease outbreaks. The most recent rangewide northern spotted 
owl demographic study (Dugger et al. 2016, entire) found that nonnative 
barred owls are currently the stressor with the largest negative impact 
on northern spotted owls through competition of resources. The study 
also found a significant rate of decline in northern spotted owl 
populations (3.8 percent per year for all study areas combined but as 
high as 8.4 percent per year in one study area in Washington), and the 
rate of decline has increased noticeably since the 2011 5-year Review 
for the Northern Spotted Owl (USFWS 2011b, p. 3). Populations of 
northern spotted owls in several long-term demographic monitoring areas 
have declined more than 70 percent since the early 1990s, and the 
extinction risk for northern spotted owl populations has increased, 
particularly in Washington and Oregon.
    We have carefully assessed the best scientific and commercial 
information available regarding the past, present, and future threats 
to the northern spotted owl, and we evaluated all relevant factors 
under the five listing factors, including any regulatory mechanisms and 
conservation measures addressing these stressors. On non-Federal lands, 
State regulatory mechanisms have not prevented the continued decline of 
nesting/roosting and foraging habitat; the amount of northern spotted 
owl habitat on these lands has decreased considerably over the past two 
decades, including in geographic areas where Federal lands are lacking. 
On Federal lands, the Northwest Forest Plan has reduced habitat loss 
and allowed for the development of new northern spotted owl habitat; 
however, the combined effects of climate change, high-severity 
wildfire, and past management practices are changing forest ecosystem 
processes and dynamics, and the expansion of barred owl populations is 
altering the

[[Page 81146]]

capacity of intact habitat to support northern spotted owls.
    Based on our review of the best available scientific and commercial 
information pertaining to the factors affecting the northern spotted 
owl, we find that the stressors acting on the subspecies and its 
habitat, particularly rangewide competition from the nonnative barred 
owl and high-severity wildfire, are of such imminence, intensity, and 
magnitude to indicate that the northern spotted owl is now in danger of 
extinction throughout all of its range. Our status review indicates 
that the northern spotted owl meets the definition of an endangered 
species. Therefore, in accordance with sections 3(6) and 4(a)(1) of the 
Act, we find that listing the northern spotted owl as an endangered 
species is warranted throughout all of its range. However, work on a 
reclassification for the northern spotted owl has been, and continues 
to be, precluded by work on higher-priority actions--which includes 
listing actions with statutory, court-ordered, or court-approved 
deadlines and final listing determinations. This work includes all the 
actions listed in the National Listing Workplan discussed below under 
Preclusion and in the tables below under Expeditious Progress, as well 
as other actions at various stages of completion, such as 90-day 
findings for new petitions.

Preclusion and Expeditious Progress

    To make a finding that a particular action is warranted but 
precluded, the Service must make two determinations: (1) That the 
immediate proposal and timely promulgation of a final regulation is 
precluded by pending proposals to determine whether any species is 
endangered or threatened; and (2) that expeditious progress is being 
made to add qualified species to either of the Lists and to remove 
species from the Lists (16 U.S.C. 1533(b)(3)(B)(iii)).

Preclusion

    A listing proposal is precluded if the Service does not have 
sufficient resources available to complete the proposal, because there 
are competing demands for those resources, and the relative priority of 
those competing demands is higher. Thus, in any given fiscal year (FY), 
multiple factors dictate whether it will be possible to undertake work 
on a proposed listing regulation or whether promulgation of such a 
proposal is precluded by higher priority listing actions--(1) The 
amount of resources available for completing the listing function, (2) 
the estimated cost of completing the proposed listing regulation, and 
(3) the Service's workload, along with the Service's prioritization of 
the proposed listing regulation, in relation to other actions in its 
workload.
Available Resources
    The resources available for listing actions are determined through 
the annual Congressional appropriations process. In FY 1998 and for 
each fiscal year since then, Congress has placed a statutory cap on 
funds that may be expended for the Listing Program (spending cap). This 
spending cap was designed to prevent the listing function from 
depleting funds needed for other functions under the Act (for example, 
recovery functions, such as removing species from the Lists), or for 
other Service programs (see House Report 105-163, 105th Congress, 1st 
Session, July 1, 1997). The funds within the spending cap are available 
to support work involving the following listing actions: Proposed and 
final rules to add species to the Lists or to change the status of 
species from threatened to endangered; 90-day and 12-month findings on 
petitions to add species to the Lists or to change the status of a 
species from threatened to endangered; annual ``resubmitted'' petition 
findings on prior warranted-but-precluded petition findings as required 
under section 4(b)(3)(C)(i) of the Act; critical habitat petition 
findings; proposed rules designating critical habitat or final critical 
habitat determinations; and litigation-related, administrative, and 
program-management functions (including preparing and allocating 
budgets, responding to Congressional and public inquiries, and 
conducting public outreach regarding listing and critical habitat).
    For more than two decades the size and cost of the workload in 
these categories of actions have far exceeded the amount of funding 
available to the Service under the spending cap for completing listing 
and critical habitat actions under the Act. Since we cannot exceed the 
spending cap without violating the Anti-Deficiency Act (31 U.S.C. 
1341(a)(1)(A)), each year we have been compelled to determine that work 
on at least some actions was precluded by work on higher-priority 
actions. We make our determinations of preclusion on a nationwide basis 
to ensure that the species most in need of listing will be addressed 
first, and because we allocate our listing budget on a nationwide 
basis. Through the listing cap and the amount of funds needed to 
complete court-mandated actions within the cap, Congress and the courts 
have in effect determined the amount of money remaining (after 
completing court-mandated actions) for listing activities nationwide. 
Therefore, the funds that remain within the listing cap--after paying 
for work needed to comply with court orders or court-approved 
settlement agreements--set the framework within which we make our 
determinations of preclusion and expeditious progress.
    For FY 2019, through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2019, 
(Pub. L. 116-6, February 15, 2019), Congress appropriated the Service 
$18,318,000 under a consolidated cap for all domestic and foreign 
listing work, including status assessments, listings, domestic critical 
habitat determinations, and related activities. For FY 2020, through 
the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020 (Pub. L. 116-94, 
December 20, 2019), Congress appropriated $20,318,000 for all domestic 
and foreign listing work. The amount of funding Congress will 
appropriate in future years is uncertain.
Costs of Listing Actions
    The work involved in preparing various listing documents can be 
extensive, and may include, but is not limited to: Gathering and 
assessing the best scientific and commercial data available and 
conducting analyses used as the basis for our decisions; writing and 
publishing documents; and obtaining, reviewing, and evaluating public 
comments and peer-review comments on proposed rules and incorporating 
relevant information from those comments into final rules. The number 
of listing actions that we can undertake in a given year also is 
influenced by the complexity of those listing actions; that is, more 
complex actions generally are more costly. Our practice of proposing to 
designate critical habitat concurrent with listing species requires 
additional coordination and an analysis of the economic impacts of the 
designation, and thus adds to the complexity and cost of our work. 
Since completing all of the work for outstanding listing and critical 
habitat actions has for so long required more funding than has been 
available within the spending cap, the Service has developed several 
ways to determine the relative priorities of the actions within its 
workload to identify the work it can complete with the funding it has 
available for listing and critical habitat actions each year.
Prioritizing Listing Actions
    The Service's Listing Program workload is broadly composed of four 
types of actions, which the Service prioritizes as follows: (1) 
Compliance

[[Page 81147]]

with court orders and court-approved settlement agreements requiring 
that petition findings or listing or critical habitat determinations be 
completed by a specific date; (2) essential litigation-related, 
administrative, and listing program-management functions; (3) section 4 
(of the Act) listing and critical habitat actions with absolute 
statutory deadlines; and (4) section 4 listing actions that do not have 
absolute statutory deadlines.
    In previous years, the Service received many new petitions, 
including multiple petitions to list numerous species--a single 
petition even sought to list 404 domestic species. The emphasis that 
petitioners placed on seeking listing for hundreds of species at a time 
through the petition process significantly increased the number of 
actions within the third category of our workload--actions that have 
absolute statutory deadlines for making findings on those petitions. In 
addition, the necessity of dedicating all of the Listing Program 
funding towards determining the status of 251 candidate species and 
complying with other court-ordered requirements between 2011 and 2016 
added to the number of petition findings awaiting action. Because we 
are not able to work on all of these at once, the Service's most recent 
effort to prioritize its workload focuses on addressing the backlog in 
petition findings that has resulted from the influx of large multi-
species petitions and the 5-year period in which the Service was 
compelled to suspend making 12-month findings for most of those 
petitions. The number of petitions that are awaiting status reviews and 
accompanying 12-month findings illustrates the considerable extent of 
this backlog: As a result of the outstanding petitions to list hundreds 
of species, and our efforts to make initial petition findings within 90 
days of receiving the petition to the maximum extent practicable, at 
the beginning of FY 2020 we had 422 12-month petition findings for 
domestic species yet to be initiated and completed.
    To determine the relative priorities of the outstanding 12-month 
petition findings, the Service developed a prioritization methodology 
(methodology) (81 FR 49248; July 27, 2016), after providing the public 
with notice and an opportunity to comment on the draft methodology (81 
FR 2229; January 15, 2016). Under the methodology, we assign each 12-
month finding to one of five priority bins: (1) The species is 
critically imperiled; (2) strong data are already available about the 
status of the species; (3) new science is underway that would inform 
key uncertainties about the status of the species; (4) conservation 
efforts are in development or underway and likely to address the status 
of the species; or (5) the available data on the species are limited. 
As a general rule, 12-month findings with a lower bin number have a 
higher priority than, and are scheduled before, 12-month findings with 
a higher bin number. However, we make some exceptions--for example, we 
may schedule a lower-priority finding earlier if batching it with a 
higher-priority finding would generate efficiencies. We may also 
consider where there are any special circumstances that affect the 
timing for completion of an action. One circumstance that might result 
in divergence from priority order is when the current highest 
priorities are clustered in a geographic area, such that the field 
office where the highest-priority work is clustered has reached 
capacity; in such a circumstance, other field offices would continue to 
work on their highest-priority actions even if those actions are 
relatively lower in priority than the previously mentioned at-capacity 
field office. In other words, we recognize that the geographic 
distribution of our scientific expertise will in some cases require us 
to balance workload across geographic areas. This approach also results 
in efficiencies from having listing work completed by biologists in the 
field office who have the scientific expertise on the ecosystems, 
species, and threats within that geographic area. Since before Congress 
first established the spending cap for the Listing Program in 1998, the 
Listing Program workload has required considerably more resources than 
the amount of funds Congress has allowed for the Listing Program. 
Therefore, it is important that we be as efficient as possible in our 
listing process.
    After finalizing the prioritization methodology, we then applied 
that methodology to develop a multi-year National Listing Workplan 
(Workplan) for completing the outstanding status assessments and 
accompanying 12-month findings. The purpose of the Workplan is provide 
transparency and predictability to the public about when the Service 
anticipates completing specific 12-month findings while allowing for 
flexibility to update the Workplan when new information changes the 
priorities. In May 2019, the Service released its updated Workplan for 
addressing the Act's domestic listing and critical habitat decisions 
over the subsequent 5 years. The updated Workplan identified the 
Service's schedule for addressing all domestic species on the candidate 
list and conducting 267 status reviews and accompanying 12-month 
findings by FY 2023 for domestic species that have been petitioned for 
Federal protections under the Act. As we implement our Workplan and 
work on proposed rules for the highest-priority species, we increase 
efficiency by preparing multi-species proposals when appropriate, and 
these may include species with lower priority if they overlap 
geographically or have the same threats as one of the highest-priority 
species. The National Listing Workplan is available online at: https://www.fws.gov/endangered/what-we-do/listing-workplan.html.
    An additional way in which we determine relative priorities of 
outstanding actions in the section 4 program is application of the 
listing priority guidelines (48 FR 43098; September 21, 1983). Under 
those guidelines, which apply primarily to candidate species, we assign 
each candidate a listing priority number (LPN) of 1 to 12, depending on 
the magnitude of threats (high or moderate to low), immediacy of 
threats (imminent or nonimminent), and taxonomic status of the species 
(in order of priority: Monotypic genus (a species that is the sole 
member of a genus), a species, or a part of a species (subspecies or 
distinct population segment)). The lower the listing priority number, 
the higher the listing priority (that is, a species with an LPN of 1 
would have the highest listing priority). A species with a higher LPN 
would generally be precluded from listing by species with lower LPNs, 
unless work on a proposed rule for the species with the higher LPN can 
be combined for efficiency with work on a proposed rule for other high-
priority species.
    Finally, proposed rules for reclassification of threatened species 
status to endangered species status are generally lower in priority 
because, as listed species, they are already afforded the protections 
of the Act and implementing regulations. However, for efficiency 
reasons, we may choose to work on a proposed rule to reclassify a 
species to endangered species status if we can combine this with 
higher-priority work.
    Based on our listing priority system, we are assigning an LPN of 3 
to this reclassification of the northern spotted owl. This priority 
number indicates the magnitude of threat is high and those threats are 
imminent. As explained above, proposed rules to reclassify threatened 
species to endangered species status are a lower priority than listing 
currently unprotected species, so listing a candidate species with a 
higher

[[Page 81148]]

LPN number would generally be a higher priority action than 
reclassification of an already listed species such as the northern 
spotted owl. As such, we will continue to monitor the threats to the 
northern spotted owl and the subspecies' status on an annual basis, and 
should the magnitude or the imminence of the threats change, we will 
revisit our assessment of the LPN.
Listing Program Workload
    The National Listing Workplan that the Service released in 2019 
outlined work for domestic species over the period from 2019 to 2023. 
Tables 1 and 2 under Expeditious Progress, below, identify the higher-
priority listing actions that we completed through FY 2020 (September 
30, 2020), as well as those we have been working on in FY 2020 but have 
not yet completed. For FY 2020, our National Listing Workplan includes 
74 12-month findings or proposed listing actions that are at various 
stages of completion at the time of this finding. In addition to the 
actions scheduled in the National Listing Workplan, the overall Listing 
Program workload also includes the development and revision of listing 
regulations that are required by new court orders or settlement 
agreements, or to address the repercussions of any new court decisions, 
as well as proposed and final critical habitat designations or 
revisions for species that have already been listed. The Service's 
highest priorities for spending its funding in FY 2019 and FY 2020 are 
actions included in the Workplan and actions required to address court 
decisions. As described in ``Prioritizing Listing Actions,'' above, 
reclassification of the northern spotted owl is a lower-priority action 
than these types of work. Therefore, these higher-priority actions 
precluded reclassifying the owl in FY 2019, and the Service anticipates 
that they will continue to preclude work on reclassifying the owl in FY 
2020 and the near future.

Expeditious Progress

    As explained above, a determination that listing is warranted but 
precluded must also demonstrate that expeditious progress is being made 
to add and remove qualified species to and from the Lists. Please note 
that in the Code of Federal Regulations, the ``Lists'' are grouped as 
one list of endangered and threatened wildlife (50 CFR 17.11(h)) and 
one list of endangered and threatened plants (50 CFR 17.12(h)). 
However, the ``Lists'' referred to in the Act mean one list of 
endangered species (wildlife and plants) and one list of threatened 
species (wildlife and plants). Therefore, under the Act, expeditious 
progress includes actions to reclassify species--that is, either remove 
them from the list of threatened species and add them to the list of 
endangered species, or remove them from the list of endangered species 
and add them to the list of threatened species.
    As with our ``precluded'' finding, the evaluation of whether 
expeditious progress is being made is a function of the resources 
available and the competing demands for those funds. As discussed 
earlier, the FY 2020 appropriations law included a spending cap of 
$20,318,000 for listing activities, and the FY 2019 appropriations law 
included a spending cap of $18,318,000 for listing activities.
    As discussed below, given the limited resources available for 
listing, the competing demands for those funds, and the completed work 
catalogued in the tables below, we find that we are making expeditious 
progress in adding qualified species to the Lists.
    The work of the Service's domestic listing program in FY 2019 and 
FY 2020 (as of September 30, 2020) includes all three of the steps 
necessary for adding species to the Lists: (1) Identifying species that 
may warrant listing (90-day petition findings); (2) undertaking an 
evaluation of the best available scientific data about those species 
and the threats they face to determine whether or not listing is 
warranted (a status review and accompanying 12-month finding); and (3) 
adding qualified species to the Lists (by publishing proposed and final 
listing rules). We explain in more detail how we are making expeditious 
progress in all three of the steps necessary for adding qualified 
species to the Lists (identifying, evaluating, and adding species). 
Subsequent to discussing our expeditious progress in adding qualified 
species to the Lists, we explain our expeditious progress in removing 
from the Lists species that no longer require the protections of the 
Act.
    First, we are making expeditious progress in identifying species 
that may warrant listing. In FY 2019 and FY 2020 (as of September 30, 
2020), we completed 90-day findings on petitions to list 14 species.
    Second, we are making expeditious progress in evaluating the best 
scientific and commercial data available about species and threats they 
face (status reviews) to determine whether or not listing is warranted. 
In FY 2019 and FY 2020 (as of September 30, 2020), we completed 12-
month findings for 69 species. In addition, we funded and worked on the 
development of 12-month findings for 34 species and proposed listing 
determinations for 9 candidates. Although we did not complete those 
actions during FY 2019 or FY 2020 (as of September 30, 2020), we made 
expeditious progress towards doing so by initiating and making progress 
on the status reviews to determine whether adding the species to the 
Lists is warranted.
    Third, we are making expeditious progress in adding qualified 
species to the Lists. In FY 2019 and FY 2020 (as of September 30, 
2020), we published final listing rules for 7 species, including final 
critical habitat designations for 1 of those species and final 
protective regulations under the Act's section 4(d) for 2 of the 
species. In addition, we published proposed rules to list an additional 
20 species (including concurrent proposed critical habitat designations 
for 13 species and concurrent protective regulations under the Act's 
section 4(d) for 14 species).
    The Act also requires that we make expeditious progress in removing 
species from the Lists that no longer require the protections of the 
Act. Specifically, we are making expeditious progress in removing 
(delisting) domestic species, as well as reclassifying endangered 
species to threatened species status (downlisting). This work is being 
completed under the Recovery program in light of the resources 
available for recovery actions, which are funded through the recovery 
line item in the budget of the Endangered Species Program. Because 
recovery actions are funded separately from listing actions, they do 
not factor into our assessment of preclusion; that is, work on recovery 
actions does not preclude the availability of resources for completing 
new listing work. However, work on recovery actions does count towards 
our assessment of making expeditious progress because the Act states 
that expeditious progress includes both adding qualified species to, 
and removing qualified species from, the Lists of Endangered and 
Threatened Wildlife and Plants. During FY 2019 and FY 2020 (as of 
September 30, 2020), we finalized downlisting of 1 species, finalized 
delisting rules for 7 species, proposed downlisting of 7 species, and 
proposed delisting of 11 species. The rate at which the Service has 
completed delisting and downlisting actions in FY 2019 and FY 2020 (as 
of September 30, 2020) is higher than any point in the history of the 
Act.
    The tables below catalog the Service's progress in FY 2019 and FY 
2020 (as of September 30, 2020) as it pertains to our evaluation of 
making expeditious progress. Table 1 includes completed and published 
domestic listing actions;

[[Page 81149]]

Table 2 includes domestic listing actions funded and initiated in 
previous fiscal years and in FY 2020 that are not yet complete as of 
September 30, 2020; and Table 3 includes completed and published 
proposed and final downlisting and delisting actions for domestic 
species.

                       Table 1--Completed Domestic Listing Actions in FY 2019 and FY 2020
                                           [As of September 30, 2020]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Publication date              Title                Action(s)               Federal Register citation
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
10/9/2018................  Threatened Species     Proposed Listing--     83 FR 50574-50582
                            Status for Coastal     Threatened with
                            Distinct Population    Section 4(d) Rule
                            Segment of the         and 12-Month
                            Pacific Marten.        Petition Finding.
10/9/2018................  Threatened Species     Proposed Listing--     83 FR 50560-50574
                            Status for Black-      Threatened with
                            Capped Petrel With a   Section 4(d) Rule
                            Section 4(d) Rule.     and 12-Month
                                                   Petition Finding.
10/9/2018................  12-Month Petition      Proposed Listing--     83 FR 50610-50630
                            Finding and            Threatened with
                            Threatened Species     Section 4(d) Rule
                            Status for Eastern     and 12-Month
                            Black Rail With a      Petition Finding.
                            Section 4(d) Rule.
10/9/2018................  Threatened Species     Proposed Listing--     83 FR 50582-50610
                            Status With Section    Threatened with
                            4(d) Rule and          Section 4(d) Rule
                            Critical Habitat       and Critical Habitat
                            Designation for        and 12-Month Finding.
                            Slenderclaw Crayfish.
10/11/2018...............  Threatened Species     Proposed Listing--     83 FR 51570-51609
                            Status With Section    Threatened with
                            4(d) Rule and          Section 4(d) Rule
                            Critical Habitat       and Critical Habitat
                            Designation for        and 12-Month Finding.
                            Atlantic Pigtoe.
11/21/2018...............  Endangered Species     Final Listing--        83 FR 58747-58754
                            Status for the Candy   Endangered.
                            Darter.
12/19/2018...............  12-Month Findings on   12-Month Petition      83 FR 65127-65134
                            Petitions to List 13   Findings.
                            Species as
                            Endangered or
                            Threatened Species.
12/28/2018...............  Threatened Species     Final Listing--        83 FR 67131-67140
                            Status for Trispot     Threatened.
                            Darter.
4/4/2019.................  12-Month Findings on   12-Month Petition      84 FR 13237-13242
                            Petitions to List      Findings.
                            Eight Species as
                            Endangered or
                            Threatened Species.
4/4/2019.................  12-Month Petition      Proposed Listing--     84 FR 13223-13237
                            Finding and            Endangered and 12-
                            Endangered Species     Month Petition
                            Status for the         Finding.
                            Missouri Distinct
                            Population Segment
                            of Eastern
                            Hellbender.
4/26/2019................  90-Day Findings for    90-Day Petition        84 FR 17768-17771
                            Four Species (3        Findings.
                            domestic species and
                            1 foreign species)*.
5/22/2019................  Threatened Species     Proposed Listings--    84 FR 23644-23691
                            Status with Section    Threatened Status
                            4(d) Rule for Neuse    with Section 4(d)
                            River Waterdog and     Rule with Critical
                            Endangered Species     Habitat; Endangered
                            Status for Carolina    Status with Critical
                            Madtom and Proposed    Habitat and 12-Month
                            Designations of        Petition Findings.
                            Critical Habitat.
8/13/2019................  Endangered Species     Proposed Listing--     84 FR 40006-40019
                            Status for             Endangered and 12-
                            Franklin's Bumble      Month Petition
                            Bee.                   Finding.
8/15/2019................  12-Month Findings on   12-Month Petition      84 FR 41694-41699
                            Petitions to List      Findings.
                            Eight Species as
                            Endangered or
                            Threatened Species.
8/15/2019................  90-Day Findings for    90-Day Petition        84 FR 41691-41694
                            Three Species.         Findings.
9/6/2019.................  90-Day Findings for    90-Day Petition        84 FR 46927-46931
                            Three Species.         Findings.
10/07/2019...............  Twelve Species Not     12-Month Petition      84 FR 53336-53343
                            Warranted for          Findings.
                            Listing as
                            Endangered or
                            Threatened Species.
10/21/2019...............  Endangered Species     Final Listing--        84 FR 56131-56136
                            Status for Barrens     Endangered.
                            Topminnow.
11/08/2019...............  12-Month Finding for   12-Month Petition      84 FR 60371-60372
                            the California         Finding.
                            Spotted Owl.
11/21/2019...............  Threatened Species     Final Listing--        84 FR 64210-64227
                            Status for Meltwater   Threatened with
                            Lednian Stonefly and   Section 4(d) Rule.
                            Western Glacier
                            Stonefly With a
                            Section 4(d) Rule.
12/06/2019...............  Endangered Species     Proposed Listings --   84 FR 67060-67104
                            Status for Beardless   Endangered with
                            Chinchweed With        Critical Habitat;
                            Designation of         Threatened with
                            Critical Habitat,      Section 4(d) Rule
                            and Threatened         and 12-Month
                            Species Status for     Petition Findings.
                            Bartram's Stonecrop
                            With Section 4(d)
                            Rule.
12/19/2019...............  Five Species Not       12-Month Petition      84 FR 69707-69712
                            Warranted for          Findings.
                            Listing as
                            Endangered or
                            Threatened Species.
12/19/2019...............  90-Day Findings for    90-Day Petition        84 FR 69713-69715
                            Two Species.           Findings.
01/08/2020...............  Threatened Species     Proposed Listing--     85 FR 1018-1050
                            Status for the         Threatened with
                            Hermes Copper          Section 4(d) Rule
                            Butterfly With 4(d)    and Critical Habitat.
                            Rule and Designation
                            of Critical Habitat.
01/08/2020...............  Endangered Status for  Proposed Listing--     85 FR 862-872
                            the Sierra Nevada      Endangered.
                            Distinct Population
                            Segment of the
                            Sierra Nevada Red
                            Fox.
05/05/2020...............  Endangered Status for  Final Listing--        85 FR 26786-26820
                            the Island Marble      Endangered with
                            Butterfly and          Critical Habitat.
                            Designation of
                            Critical Habitat.
05/15/2020...............  Endangered Species     Final Listing--        85 FR 29532-29589
                            Status for Southern    Endangered.
                            Sierra Nevada
                            Distinct Population
                            Segment of Fisher.

[[Page 81150]]

 
7/16/2020................  90-Day Finding for     90-Day Petition        85 FR 43203-43204
                            the Dunes Sagebrush    Finding.
                            Lizard.
7/22/2020................  90-Day Findings for    90-Day Petition        85 FR 44265-44267
                            Two Species.           Findings.
7/23/2020................  Four Species Not       12-Month Petition      85 FR 44478-44483
                            Warranted for          Findings.
                            Listing as
                            Endangered or
                            Threatened Species.
8/26/2020................  Endangered Species     Proposed Listing-      85 FR 52516-52540
                            Status for Marron      Endangered with
                            Bacora and             Critical Habitat and
                            Designation of         12-Month Petition
                            Critical Habitat.      Finding.
9/1/2020.................  Two Species Not        12-Month Petition      85 FR 54339-54342
                            Warranted for          Findings.
                            Listing as
                            Endangered or
                            Threatened Species.
9/16/2020................  Findings on a          12-Month Petition      85 FR 57816-57818
                            Petition To Delist     Finding.
                            the Distinct
                            Population Segment
                            of the Western
                            Yellow-Billed Cuckoo
                            and a Petition To
                            List the U.S.
                            Population of
                            Northwestern Moose**.
9/17/2020................  Threatened Species     Proposed Listing-      85 FR 58224-58250
                            Status for Chapin      Threatened With
                            Mesa milkvetch and     Section 4(d) Rule
                            Section 4(d) Rule      and Critical Habitat.
                            with Designation of
                            Critical Habitat.
9/17/2020................  Threatened Species     Proposed Listings-     85 FR 58192-58222
                            Status for Big Creek   Threatened With
                            crayfish and St.       Section 4(d) Rule
                            Francis River          and Critical Habitat.
                            Crayfish and With
                            Section 4(d) Rule
                            with Designation of
                            Critical Habitat.
9/29/2020................  Threatened Species     Proposed Listings-     85 FR 61384-61458
                            Status for longsolid   Threatened With
                            and round hickorynut   Section 4(d) Rule
                            mussel and Section     and Critical
                            4(d) Rule With         Habitat; 12-Month
                            Designation of         Petition Findings.
                            Critical Habitat,
                            Not Warranted 12-
                            Month Finding for
                            purple Lilliput.
9/29/2020................  Threatened Species     Proposed Listing-      85 FR 61460-61498
                            Status for Wright's    Threatened With
                            Marsh Thistle and      Section (4) Rule and
                            Section 4(d) Rule      Critical Habitat.
                            With Designation of
                            Critical Habitat.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* 90-day finding batches may include findings regarding both domestic and foreign species. The total number of
  90-day findings reported in this assessment of expeditious progress pertains to domestic species only.
** Batched 12-month findings may include findings regarding listing and delisting petitions. The total number of
  12-month findings reported in this assessment of expeditious progress pertains to listing petitions only.


 Table 2--Domestic Listing Actions Funded and Initiated in Previous FYs
    and in FY 2020 That Are Not Yet Complete as of September 30, 2020
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                Species                               Action
------------------------------------------------------------------------
northern spotted owl...................  12-month finding.
false spike............................  12-month finding.
Guadalupe fatmucket....................  12-month finding.
Guadalupe orb..........................  12-month finding.
Texas fatmucket........................  Proposed listing determination
                                          or not warranted finding.
Texas fawnsfoot........................  Proposed listing determination
                                          or not warranted finding.
Texas pimpleback.......................  Proposed listing determination
                                          or not warranted finding.
South Llano Springs moss...............  12-month finding.
peppered chub..........................  12-month finding.
whitebark pine.........................  Proposed listing determination
                                          or not warranted finding.
Key ringneck snake.....................  12-month finding.
Rimrock crowned snake..................  12-month finding.
Euphilotes ancilla cryptica............  12-month finding.
Euphilotes ancilla purpura.............  12-month finding.
Hamlin Valley pyrg.....................  12-month finding.
longitudinal gland pyrg................  12-month finding.
sub-globose snake pyrg.................  12-month finding.
Louisiana pigtoe.......................  12-month finding.
Texas heelsplitter.....................  12-month finding.
triangle pigtoe........................  12-month finding.
prostrate milkweed.....................  12-month finding.
alligator snapping turtle..............  12-month finding.
Black Creek crayfish...................  12-month finding.
bracted twistflower....................  Proposed listing determination
                                          or not warranted finding.
Canoe Creek clubshell..................  12-month finding.
Clear Lake hitch.......................  12-month finding.
Doll's daisy...........................  12-month finding.
frecklebelly madtom....................  12-month finding.
longfin smelt (San Francisco Bay-Delta   Proposed listing determination
 DPS).                                    or not warranted finding.
magnificent Ramshorn...................  Proposed listing determination
                                          or not warranted finding.
Mt. Rainier white-tailed ptarmigan.....  12-month finding.

[[Page 81151]]

 
Ocmulgee skullcap......................  12-month finding.
Penasco least chipmunk.................  Proposed listing determination
                                          or not warranted finding.
Puerto Rico harlequin butterfly........  Proposed listing determination
                                          or not warranted finding.
Puget oregonian snail..................  12-month finding.
relict dace............................  12-month finding.
Rocky Mountain monkeyflower............  12-month finding.
sickle darter..........................  12-month finding.
southern elktoe........................  12-month finding.
southern white-tailed ptarmigan........  12-month finding.
tidewater amphipod.....................  12-month finding.
tufted puffin..........................  12-month finding.
western spadefoot......................  12-month finding.
------------------------------------------------------------------------


 Table 3--Completed Domestic Recovery Actions (Proposed and Final Downlistings and Delistings) in FY 2019 and FY
                                                      2020
                                           [As of September 30, 2020]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Publication date                Title                  Action(s)              Federal Register citation
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
10/18/2018................  Removing Deseret         Final Rule--Delisting..  83 FR 52775-52786
                             Milkvetch (Astragalus
                             desereticus) From the
                             Federal List of
                             Endangered and
                             Threatened Plants.
02/26/2019................  Removing the Borax Lake  Proposed Rule--          84 FR 6110-6126
                             Chub From the List of    Delisting.
                             Endangered and
                             Threatened Wildlife.
03/15/2019................  Removing the Gray Wolf   Proposed Rule--          84 FR 9648-9687
                             (Canis lupus) From the   Delisting.
                             List of Endangered and
                             Threatened Wildlife.
05/03/2019................  Reclassifying the        Proposed Rule--          84 FR 19013-19029
                             American Burying         Downlisting.
                             Beetle From Endangered
                             to Threatened on the
                             Federal List of
                             Endangered and
                             Threatened Wildlife
                             With a 4(d) Rule.
08/27/2019................  Removing Trifolium       Proposed Rule--          84 FR 44832-44841
                             stoloniferum (Running    Delisting.
                             Buffalo Clover) From
                             the Federal List of
                             Endangered and
                             Threatened Plants.
09/13/2019................  Removing the Foskett     Final Rule--Delisting..  84 FR 48290-48308
                             Speckled Dace From the
                             List of Endangered and
                             Threatened Wildlife.
10/03/2019................  Removal of the Monito    Final Rule--Delisting..  84 FR 52791-52800
                             Gecko (Sphaerodactylus
                             micropithecus) From
                             the Federal List of
                             Endangered and
                             Threatened Wildlife.
10/07/2019................  Removal of Howellia      Proposed Rule--          84 FR 53380-53397
                             aquatilis (Water         Delisting.
                             Howellia) From the
                             List of Endangered and
                             Threatened Plants.
10/09/2019................  Removing the Kirtland's  Final Rule--Delisting..  84 FR 54436-54463
                             Warbler From the
                             Federal List of
                             Endangered and
                             Threatened Wildlife.
10/24/2019................  Removal of the Interior  Proposed Rule--          84 FR 56977-56991
                             Least Tern From the      Delisting.
                             Federal List of
                             Endangered and
                             Threatened Wildlife.
11/05/2019................  Removing Oenothera       Final Rule--Delisting..  84 FR 59570-59588
                             coloradensis (Colorado
                             Butterfly Plant) From
                             the Federal List of
                             Endangered and
                             Threatened Plants.
11/26/2019................  Removing Bradshaw's      Proposed Rule--          84 FR 65067-65080
                             Lomatium From the        Delisting.
                             Federal List of
                             Endangered and
                             Threatened Plants.
11/26/2019................  Removal of the           Proposed Rule--          84 FR 65098-65112
                             Nashville Crayfish       Delisting.
                             From the Federal List
                             of Endangered and
                             Threatened Wildlife.
11/26/2019................  Reclassification of the  Proposed Rule--          84 FR 65080-65098
                             Endangered June Sucker   Downlisting.
                             to Threatened With a
                             Section 4(d) Rule.
12/19/2019................  Reclassifying the        Final Rule--Downlisting  84 FR 69918-69947
                             Hawaiian Goose From
                             Endangered to
                             Threatened With a
                             Section 4(d) Rule.
01/02/2020................  Removing the Hawaiian    Final Rule--Delisting..  85 FR 164-189
                             Hawk From the Federal
                             List of Endangered and
                             Threatened Wildlife.
01/06/2020................  Removing the Kanab       Proposed Rule--          85 FR 487-492
                             Ambersnail From the      Delisting.
                             List of Endangered and
                             Threatened Wildlife.
01/22/2020................  Reclassification of the  Proposed Rule--          85 FR 3586-3601
                             Humpback Chub From       Downlisting.
                             Endangered to
                             Threatened With a
                             Section 4(d) Rule.
03/10/2020................  Removing Lepanthes       Proposed Rule--          85 FR 13844-13856
                             eltoroensis From the     Delisting.
                             Federal List of
                             Endangered and
                             Threatened Plants.
04/27/2020................  Removing Arenaria        Proposed Rule--          85 FR 23302-23315
                             cumberlandensis          Delisting.
                             (Cumberland Sandwort)
                             From the Federal List
                             of Endangered and
                             Threatened Plants.
06/01/2020................  Removing San Benito      Proposed Rule--          85 FR 33060-33078
                             Evening-Primrose         Delisting.
                             (Camissonia
                             benitensis) From the
                             Federal List of
                             Endangered and
                             Threatened Plants.
06/11/2020................  Removing the Borax Lake  Final Rule--Delisting..  85 FR 35574-35594
                             Chub From the List of
                             Endangered and
                             Threatened Wildlife.
7/24/2020.................  Reclassification of      Proposed Rule--          85 FR 44821-44835
                             Morro Shoulderband       Downlisting.
                             Snail (Helminthoglypta
                             walkeriana) From
                             Endangered to
                             Threatened With a 4(d)
                             Rule.
8/19/2020.................  Reclassification of      Proposed Rule--          85 FR 50991-51006
                             Stephens' Kangaroo Rat   Downlisting.
                             From Endangered To
                             Threatened With a
                             Section 4(d) Rule.

[[Page 81152]]

 
9/30/2020.................  Reclassficiation of      Proposed Rule--          85 FR 61684-61700
                             beach layia (Layia       Downlisting.
                             carnosa) From
                             Endangered To
                             Threatened With a
                             Section 4(d) Rule.
9/30/2020.................  Reclassification of      Proposed Rule--          85 FR 61700-61717
                             Virgin Islands Tree      Downlisting.
                             Boa From Endangered to
                             Threatened With a
                             Section 4(d) Rule.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    When a petitioned action is found to be warranted but precluded, 
the Service is required by the Act to treat the petition as resubmitted 
on an annual basis until a proposal or withdrawal is published. If the 
petitioned species is not already listed under the Act, the species 
becomes a ``candidate'' and is reviewed annually in the ``candidate 
notice of review'' (CNOR). The number of candidate species remaining in 
FY 2020 is the lowest it has been since 1975. For these species, we are 
working on developing a species status assessment, preparing proposed 
listing determinations, or preparing not-warranted 12-month findings.
    Another way that we have been expeditious in making progress in 
adding and removing qualified species to and from the Lists is that we 
have made our actions as efficient and timely as possible, given the 
requirements of the Act and regulations and constraints relating to 
workload and personnel. We are continually seeking ways to streamline 
processes or achieve economies of scale, such as batching related 
actions together for publication. Given our limited budget for 
implementing section 4 of the Act, these efforts also contribute toward 
our expeditious progress in adding and removing qualified species to 
and from the Lists.
    The northern spotted owl will remain listed as a threatened 
species, and we will continue to evaluate this subspecies as new 
information becomes available. Continuing review will determine if a 
change in status is warranted, including the need to make prompt use of 
emergency listing procedures.
    Under 50 CFR 17.31(a), threatened wildlife added to the List of 
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife on or prior to September 26, 2019, 
are provided all provisions of 50 CFR 17.21 for endangered wildlife, 
except 50 CFR 17.21(c)(5). The northern spotted owl was granted the 
protections of an endangered species at the time it was listed as a 
threatened species in 1990 (55 FR 26114-26194). Therefore, we conclude 
that reclassification will not provide any additional protections for 
the species as it already receives the protections of the provisions of 
50 CFR 17.21 for endangered wildlife.
    A detailed discussion of the basis for this finding can be found in 
the northern spotted owl species status report and other supporting 
documents (see ADDRESSES, above). A detailed discussion of the basis 
for this finding can be found in the northern spotted owl species 
assessment and other supporting documents (see ADDRESSES, above).

New Information

    We intend that any proposed reclassification for the northern 
spotted owl will be as accurate as possible. Therefore, we will 
continue to accept additional information and comments from all 
concerned governmental agencies, the scientific community, industry, or 
any other interested party concerning this finding. We request that you 
submit any new information concerning the taxonomy of, biology of, 
ecology of, status of, or threats to the northern spotted owl to the 
person specified under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT, whenever it 
becomes available. New information will help us monitor this subspecies 
and make appropriate decisions about its conservation and status. We 
encourage local agencies and stakeholders to continue cooperative 
monitoring and conservation efforts.

Authors

    The primary authors of this document are the staff members of the 
Fish and Wildlife Service's Species Assessment Team.

Authority

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

Aurelia Skipwith,
Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2020-27198 Filed 12-14-20; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4333-15-P