Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Removing the Braken Bat Cave Meshweaver From the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife, 54145-54148 [2021-20911]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 187 / Thursday, September 30, 2021 / Proposed Rules Members of the public should note that all ex parte contacts are prohibited from the time a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is issued to the time the matter is no longer subject to Commission consideration or court review, see 47 CFR 1.1208. There are, however, exceptions to this prohibition, which can be found in Section 1.1204(a) of the Commission’s rules, 47 CFR 1.1204(a). See Sections 1.415 and 1.420 of the Commission’s rules for information regarding the proper filing procedures for comments, 47 CFR 1.415 and 1.420. List of Subjects in 47 CFR Part 73 Federal Communications Commission. Thomas Horan, Chief of Staff, Media Bureau. Proposed Rule For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Federal Communications Commission proposes to amend 47 CFR part 73 as follows: PART 73—RADIO BROADCAST SERVICE 1. The authority citation for part 73 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 47 U.S.C. 154, 155, 301, 303, 307, 309, 310, 334, 336, 339. [Amended] 2. In § 73.622(i), amend the table ‘‘Post-Transition Table of DTV Allotments’’ under California by revising the entry for Fort Bragg to read as follows: ■ § 73.622 Digital television table of allotments. * * * (i) * * * * * Community * * Channel No. * * * LOTTER on DSK11XQN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 CALIFORNIA * * * Fort Bragg ............................. * * * * * * 4, 8 * [FR Doc. 2021–20636 Filed 9–29–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712–01–P VerDate Sep<11>2014 Fish and Wildlife Service 50 CFR Part 17 [Docket No. FWS–R2–ES–2021–0054; FF09E22000 FXES11130900000 212] RIN 1018–BE43 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Removing the Braken Bat Cave Meshweaver From the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Proposed rule. AGENCY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), propose to remove the Braken Bat Cave meshweaver (Cicurina venii), an arachnid, from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife (i.e., ‘‘delist’’ the species) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act), because of a taxonomic revision. The proposed delisting is based on our evaluation of the best available scientific and commercial information, which indicates that Braken Bat Cave meshweaver is not a discrete taxonomic entity and does not meet the definition of a species as defined by the Act. Cicurina venii has been synonymized with Cicurina madla, the Madla Cave meshweaver. Therefore, due to a taxonomic revision, C. venii is no longer a scientifically accepted species and cannot be listed under the Act. However, because the Braken Bat Cave meshweaver has been synonymized under the Madla Cave meshweaver, its status, and thus its protections under the Act, would remain the same because the Madla Cave meshweaver is listed as endangered under the Act. DATES: We will accept comments received or postmarked on or before November 29, 2021. Comments submitted electronically using the Federal eRulemaking Portal (see ADDRESSES, below) must be received by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the closing date. We must receive requests for public hearings, in writing, at the address shown in FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT by November 15, 2021. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by one of the following methods: (1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: https://www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter FWS–R2–ES–2021– 0054, which is the docket number for this rulemaking. Then, click on the SUMMARY: Television. § 73.622 DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR 17:59 Sep 29, 2021 Jkt 253001 * PO 00000 Frm 00022 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 54145 Search button. On the resulting page, in the Search panel on the left side of the screen, under the Document Type heading, check the Proposed Rule box to locate this document. You may submit a comment by clicking on ‘‘Comment.’’ (2) By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–R2–ES–2021–0054, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MS: PRB/3W, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041– 3803. We request that you send comments only by the methods described above. We will post all comments on https:// www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we will post any personal information you provide us (see Information Requested, below, for more information). Document availability: This proposed rule and supporting documents including the 5-year review and the Recovery Plan are available at https:// www.fws.gov/southwest/es/ AustinTexas/, at https:// www.regulations.gov under Docket No. FWS–R2–ES–2021–0054, and at the Austin Ecological Services Field Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Adam Zerrenner, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 10711 Burnet Road, Suite 200, Austin, TX 78758; telephone 512–490–0057. Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Relay Service at 800–877–8339. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Information Requested We intend that any final action resulting from this proposed rule will be based on the best scientific and commercial data available and be as accurate and as effective as possible. Therefore, we request comments or information from other concerned governmental agencies, Native American Tribes, the scientific community, industry, or any other interested parties concerning this proposed rule. We particularly seek comments concerning: (1) Reasons we should or should not remove the Braken Bat Cave meshweaver from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. (2) New information on the historical and current status, range, distribution, and population size of the Braken Bat Cave meshweaver. (3) Additional taxonomic or other relevant data concerning the Braken Bat Cave meshweaver. Please include sufficient information with your submission (such as scientific E:\FR\FM\30SEP1.SGM 30SEP1 54146 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 187 / Thursday, September 30, 2021 / Proposed Rules LOTTER on DSK11XQN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 journal articles or other publications) to allow us to verify any scientific or commercial information you include. Please note that submissions merely stating support for, or opposition to, the action under consideration without providing supporting information, although noted, will not be considered in making a determination, as section 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act directs that determinations as to whether any species is an endangered or a threatened species must be made ‘‘solely on the basis of the best scientific and commercial data available.’’ You may submit your comments and materials concerning this proposed rule by one of the methods listed in ADDRESSES. We request that you send comments only by the methods described in ADDRESSES. If you submit information via https:// www.regulations.gov, your entire submission—including any personal identifying information—will be posted on the website. If your submission is made via a hardcopy that includes personal identifying information, you may request at the top of your document that we withhold this information from public review. However, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. We will post all hardcopy submissions on https://www.regulations.gov. Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting documentation we used in preparing this proposed rule, will be available for public inspection on https://www.regulations.gov. Because we will consider all comments and information we receive during the comment period, our final determination may differ from this proposal. Based on the new information we receive (and any comments on that new information), we may conclude that the Braken Bat Cave meshweaver (Cicurina venii) should remain listed as endangered, if the best available information regarding its validity as a taxon changes before our final determination. Public Hearing Section 4(b)(5) of the Act provides for a public hearing on this proposal, if requested. Requests must be received by the date specified in DATES. Such requests must be sent to the address shown in FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. We will schedule a public hearing on this proposal, if requested, and announce the date, time, and place of the hearing, as well as how to obtain reasonable accommodations, in the Federal Register and local newspapers at least 15 days before the hearing. For the immediate future, we will provide these public hearings using webinars VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:59 Sep 29, 2021 Jkt 253001 that will be announced on the Service’s website, in addition to the Federal Register. The use of these virtual public hearings is consistent with our regulations at 50 CFR 424.16(c)(3). Peer Review In accordance with our policy, ‘‘Notice of Interagency Cooperative Policy for Peer Review in Endangered Species Act Activities,’’ which was published on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 34270) and our August 22, 2016, Director’s Memorandum ‘‘Peer Review Process,’’ we will seek the expert opinion of at least three appropriate and independent specialists regarding scientific data and interpretations contained in this proposed rule. We will send copies of this proposed rule to the peer reviewers immediately following publication in the Federal Register. We will ensure that the opinions of peer reviewers are objective and unbiased by following the guidelines set forth in the Director’s Memo, which updates and clarifies Service policy on peer review (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2016). The purpose of such review is to ensure that our decisions are based on scientifically sound data, assumptions, and analysis. Accordingly, our final decision may differ from this proposal. Previous Federal Actions On December 26, 2000, we published a final rule listing the nine Bexar County karst invertebrates, including Braken Bat Cave meshweaver, as endangered species (65 FR 81419). On April 8, 2003, we designated 1,063 acres (431 hectares) in 22 units as critical habitat for the nine karst invertebrates (68 FR 17156). Of this, one unit (Unit 15) on 217 acres (88 hectares) in western Bexar County, Texas was designated as critical habitat for the Braken Bat Cave meshweaver. Following litigation (CBD v. FWS, case number 1:09–cv–00031– LY), we entered into a settlement agreement to revise the critical habitat designation. On February 14, 2012, we finalized a critical habitat determination (77 FR 8450), designating in one unit (Unit 15) on 217 acres (88 hectares) in western Bexar County, Texas as critical habitat for the Braken Bat Cave meshweaver. We completed a recovery plan for the Bexar County karst invertebrates, including the Braken Bat Cave meshweaver, on September 12, 2011 (Service 2011a). Our most recent 5-year review for the Madla Cave meshweaver (Service 2019) discusses the synonymization of the Braken Bat Cave meshweaver with the Madla Cave meshweaver. PO 00000 Frm 00023 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Background Species Information and Biology The Braken Bat Cave meshweaver is a small, troglobitic (cave-dwelling) spider that inhabits caves and mesocaverns (humanly impassable voids in karst limestone) in Bexar County, Texas. Because the species is restricted to the subterranean environment, individuals exhibit morphological adaptations to that environment, such as elongated appendages and loss or reduction of eyes and pigment (Service 2011b, p. 2). Habitat and Distribution Habitat for the Braken Bat Cave meshweaver includes karst-forming rock containing subterranean spaces (caves and connected mesocaverns) with stable temperatures, high humidities (near saturation), and suitable substrates (for example, spaces between and underneath rocks for foraging and sheltering) that are free of contaminants (Service 2011b, p. 2). Although this species spends its entire life underground, its ecosystem is dependent on the overlying surface habitat (Service 2011b, p. 2). Examples of nutrient sources include leaf litter that has fallen or washed in, animal droppings, and animal carcasses. Individuals require surface and subsurface sources (such as plants and their roots, fruits, and leaves, and animal (e.g., cave cricket) eggs, feces, and carcasses) that provide nutrient input into the karst ecosystem (Service 2011a, p. 6). The Braken Bat Cave meshweaver is known from only two caves in the Culebra Anticline karst fauna region. One is located on private property, and the other occurs on a highway right-ofway. The species was first collected in 1980 and 1983 in Braken Bat Cave, but the cave itself was not initially described until 1988 (Reddell 1993, entire). The cave entrance was filled during construction of a home in 1990. Without excavation, it is difficult to determine what effect this incident had on the species; however, there may still be some nutrient input, from a reported small side passage. The remaining location was discovered in 2012, during construction of State Highway 151 in San Antonio, Texas. Originally a void with no entrance, that feature was capped with concrete and the soil and vegetation above it was restored to the extent possible. Threats to the species and its habitat include destruction and/or deterioration of habitat by construction; filling of caves and karst features; increase of impermeable cover; contamination from E:\FR\FM\30SEP1.SGM 30SEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 187 / Thursday, September 30, 2021 / Proposed Rules LOTTER on DSK11XQN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 septic effluent, sewer leaks, run-off, pesticides, and other sources; predation by and competition with nonnative fire ants; and vandalism (65 FR 81419; December 26, 2000). Taxonomy Spider taxonomy generally relies largely on genitalic differences in adult specimens to delimit species (Paquin and Hedin 2004, p. 3240; Paquin et al. 2008, p. 139; Paquin and Dupe´rre´ 2009, p. 5). Delimiting troglobitic Cicurina species in particular is difficult not only because of the inaccessibility of their habitat for gathering adequate samples (Moseley 2009, pp. 47–48), but because most collections return immature specimens (Gertsch 1992, p. 80; Cokendolpher 2004, p. 15; Paquin and Hedin, 2004, p. 3240; Paquin et al. 2008, p. 140; Paquin and Dupe´rre´ 2009, p. 5). In addition, the few adults that are collected are disproportionately female (Cokendolpher 2004, pp. 14, 15, 17–18; Paquin and Dupe´rre´ 2009, p. 5). As females of troglobitic Cicurina exhibit variability in genitalic characters within and between caves, this makes it difficult to determine whether an individual represents a distinct species or intraspecific variation based on morphology alone (Cokendolpher 2004a, pp. 30–32; Paquin and Duperre 2009, pp. 5–6; Paquin et al. 2008, pp. 140, 143, 147; Paquin and Dupe´rre´ 2009, pp. 4–6, 63–64). The Braken Bat Cave meshweaver and Madla Cave meshweaver were originally described in 1992, from single female specimens found in Braken Bat Cave and Madla’s Cave, respectively (Gertsch 1992, pp. 109, 111). These species were two of only four cave-dwelling spiders of the genus Cicurina described from Bexar County at the time (Gertsch 1992, p. 98) and were differentiated based on their geographic location and specific morphological characters of the females (Gertsch 1992, pp. 84, 109, 111; Cokendolpher 2004, pp. 26, 43, 52). Various genetic data were combined to address species delimitation questions in troglobitic Cicurina species, including the Braken Bat Cave meshweaver (Hedin et al. 2018, entire). Analysis of the evolutionary history of the species using genetics (phylogenomics) revealed two lines of ancestry, both of which are eyeless and correspond to groups previously described based on female morphology and troglobitic (cave-dwelling) adaptations, specifically the shape of the female sperm storage organ and the ratio of leg length to body length (Hedin et al. 2018, pp. 55, 61, 63–64; Cokendolpher 2004, p. 18; Paquin and Dupe´rre´ 2009, p. 9). Although the type VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:59 Sep 29, 2021 Jkt 253001 specimen for the Braken Bat Cave meshweaver was not included in the genetics portion of the study because DNA could not be collected due to age, newly discovered specimens from the same geographic region with similar morphology to the Braken Bat Cave meshweaver placed it in the Madla Cave meshweaver clade genetically (Hedin et al. 2018, pp. 56–57; Hedin et al. 2018, p. 67). Therefore, based on similarity of morphologic characteristics and mitochondrial and nuclear DNA results, Braken Bat Cave meshweaver was synonomized under Madla Cave meshweaver (Hedin et al. 2018, p. 68). This synonomy was accepted by the World Spider Catalog (World Spider Catalog 2019). Please refer to the Bexar County Karst Invertebrates Recovery Plan (2011), the Bexar County Karst Invertebrates 5-year Review (2011), and the Madla Cave Meshweaver 5-year Review (2019) for more information. Delisting Proposal Section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533) and its implementing regulations (50 CFR part 424) set forth the procedures for listing species on, reclassifying species on, or removing species from the Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. The Act defines ‘‘species’’ as including any species or subspecies of fish or wildlife or plants, and any distinct population segment of vertebrate fish or wildlife that interbreeds when mature (16 U.S.C. 1532(16)). We may delist a species according to 50 CFR 424.11(e) if the best available scientific and commercial data indicate that the species is neither endangered nor threatened for one or more of the following reasons: (1) The species is extinct; (2) the species does not meet the definition of an endangered species or a threatened species; or (3) the listed entity does not meet the statutory definition of a species. For the Braken Bat Cave meshweaver, we conclude that the existing scientific information demonstrates that Braken Bat Cave meshweaver is not a discrete taxonomic entity and, therefore, does not meet the Act’s definition of ‘‘species’’ (16 U.S.C. 1532(16)). Therefore, we propose to delist the Braken Bat Cave meshweaver. The Braken Bat Cave meshweaver does not require a post-delisting monitoring (PDM) plan because the monitoring plan does not apply to delisting species due to taxonomic change. Effects of This Proposed Rule This proposal, if made final, would revise 50 CFR 17.11(h) by removing the Braken Bat Cave meshweaver from the PO 00000 Frm 00024 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 54147 Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. However, because the Braken Bat Cave meshweaver has been synonymized under the Madla Cave meshweaver, its status, and thus its protections under the Act, would remain the same because the Madla Cave meshweaver is listed as endangered under the Act. This additional locality was included in the Madla Cave meshweaver 5-year review and did not change the status of the species (Service 2019, p.17). Unit 15, the area surrounding Braken Bat Cave, was designated as critical habitat for Braken Bat Cave meshweaver in 2012. Because Braken Bat Cave meshweaver had designated critical habitat, this rule would also amend 50 CFR 17.95(g) to remove the Braken Bat Cave meshweaver’s designated critical habitat. This area has not yet been evaluated to determine if it is essential to the conservation of the Madla Cave meshweaver. Should we evaluate it in the future, proposing this unit as critical habitat for Madla Cave meshweaver would be completed in a subsequent rulemaking. Unit 15, however, is also critical habitat for an endangered beetle with no common name, Rhadine infernalis. Therefore, if we adopt this action as proposed, Unit 15 would retain the protections of the Act as designated critical habitat for R. infernalis. Required Determinations Clarity of the Rule We are required by Executive Orders 12866 and 12988 and by the Presidential Memorandum of June 1, 1998, to write all rules in plain language. This means that each rule we publish must: (1) Be logically organized; (2) Use the active voice to address readers directly; (3) Use clear language rather than jargon; (4) Be divided into short sections and sentences; and (5) Use lists and tables wherever possible. If you feel that we have not met these requirements, send us comments by one of the methods listed in ADDRESSES. To better help us revise the rule, your comments should be as specific as possible. For example, you should tell us the numbers of the sections or paragraphs that are unclearly written, which sections or sentences are too long, the sections where you feel lists or tables would be useful, etc. E:\FR\FM\30SEP1.SGM 30SEP1 54148 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 187 / Thursday, September 30, 2021 / Proposed Rules National Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) We have determined that environmental assessments and environmental impact statements, as defined under the authority of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), need not be prepared in connection with determining a species’ listing status under the Endangered Species Act. We published a notice outlining our reasons for this determination in the Federal Register on October 25, 1983 (48 FR 49244). LOTTER on DSK11XQN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 Government-to-Government Relationship With Tribes In accordance with the President’s memorandum of April 29, 1994 (Government-to-Government Relations with Native American Tribal Governments; 59 FR 22951), Executive Order 13175 (Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments), and the Department of the Interior’s manual at 512 DM 2, we readily acknowledge our responsibility to communicate meaningfully with recognized Federal Tribes on a government-to-government basis. In accordance with Secretarial Order 3206 of June 5, 1997 (American Indian Tribal Rights, Federal-Tribal Trust VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:59 Sep 29, 2021 Jkt 253001 Responsibilities, and the Endangered Species Act), we readily acknowledge our responsibilities to work directly with Tribes in developing programs for healthy ecosystems, to acknowledge that Tribal lands are not subject to the same controls as Federal public lands, to remain sensitive to Indian culture, and to make information available to Tribes. We do not expect any Tribes would be affected by this proposed delisting because there are no Tribal lands in the range of the species. References Cited A complete list of references cited in this rulemaking is available on the internet at https://www.regulations.gov and upon request from the Austin Ecological Services Field Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Authors The primary authors of this proposed rule are the staff members of the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Species Assessment Team and the Austin Ecological Services Field Office. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17 Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Transportation. PO 00000 Frm 00025 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 Proposed Regulation Promulgation Accordingly, we propose to amend part 17, subchapter B of chapter I, title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations, as set forth below: PART 17—ENDANGERED AND THREATENED WILDLIFE AND PLANTS 1. The authority citation for part 17 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1361–1407; 1531– 1544; and 4201–4245, unless otherwise noted. § 17.11 [Amended] 2. Amend § 17.11(h) by removing the entry for ‘‘Meshweaver, Braken Bat Cave’’ under ARACHNIDS from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. ■ § 17.95 [Amended] 3. In § 17.95, amend paragraph (g) by removing the entry for ‘‘Braken Bat Cave Meshweaver (Cicurina venii)’’. ■ Martha Williams, Principal Deputy Director, Exercising the Delegated Authority of the Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. [FR Doc. 2021–20911 Filed 9–29–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P E:\FR\FM\30SEP1.SGM 30SEP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 187 (Thursday, September 30, 2021)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 54145-54148]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2021-20911]


=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[Docket No. FWS-R2-ES-2021-0054; FF09E22000 FXES11130900000 212]
RIN 1018-BE43


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Removing the 
Braken Bat Cave Meshweaver From the List of Endangered and Threatened 
Wildlife

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), propose to 
remove the Braken Bat Cave meshweaver (Cicurina venii), an arachnid, 
from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife (i.e., 
``delist'' the species) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as 
amended (Act), because of a taxonomic revision. The proposed delisting 
is based on our evaluation of the best available scientific and 
commercial information, which indicates that Braken Bat Cave meshweaver 
is not a discrete taxonomic entity and does not meet the definition of 
a species as defined by the Act. Cicurina venii has been synonymized 
with Cicurina madla, the Madla Cave meshweaver. Therefore, due to a 
taxonomic revision, C. venii is no longer a scientifically accepted 
species and cannot be listed under the Act. However, because the Braken 
Bat Cave meshweaver has been synonymized under the Madla Cave 
meshweaver, its status, and thus its protections under the Act, would 
remain the same because the Madla Cave meshweaver is listed as 
endangered under the Act.

DATES: We will accept comments received or postmarked on or before 
November 29, 2021. Comments submitted electronically using the Federal 
eRulemaking Portal (see ADDRESSES, below) must be received by 11:59 
p.m. Eastern Time on the closing date. We must receive requests for 
public hearings, in writing, at the address shown in FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT by November 15, 2021.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by one of the following methods:
    (1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal:
    https://www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter FWS-R2-ES-
2021-0054, which is the docket number for this rulemaking. Then, click 
on the Search button. On the resulting page, in the Search panel on the 
left side of the screen, under the Document Type heading, check the 
Proposed Rule box to locate this document. You may submit a comment by 
clicking on ``Comment.''
    (2) By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail to: Public Comments 
Processing, Attn: FWS-R2-ES-2021-0054, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 
MS: PRB/3W, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803.
    We request that you send comments only by the methods described 
above. We will post all comments on https://www.regulations.gov. This 
generally means that we will post any personal information you provide 
us (see Information Requested, below, for more information).
    Document availability: This proposed rule and supporting documents 
including the 5-year review and the Recovery Plan are available at 
https://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/AustinTexas/, at https://www.regulations.gov under Docket No. FWS-R2-ES-2021-0054, and at the 
Austin Ecological Services Field Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
CONTACT).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Adam Zerrenner, Field Supervisor, U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, 10711 Burnet Road, Suite 200, Austin, TX 
78758; telephone 512-490-0057. Persons who use a telecommunications 
device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Relay Service at 800-
877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Information Requested

    We intend that any final action resulting from this proposed rule 
will be based on the best scientific and commercial data available and 
be as accurate and as effective as possible. Therefore, we request 
comments or information from other concerned governmental agencies, 
Native American Tribes, the scientific community, industry, or any 
other interested parties concerning this proposed rule.
    We particularly seek comments concerning:
    (1) Reasons we should or should not remove the Braken Bat Cave 
meshweaver from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife.
    (2) New information on the historical and current status, range, 
distribution, and population size of the Braken Bat Cave meshweaver.
    (3) Additional taxonomic or other relevant data concerning the 
Braken Bat Cave meshweaver.
    Please include sufficient information with your submission (such as 
scientific

[[Page 54146]]

journal articles or other publications) to allow us to verify any 
scientific or commercial information you include.
    Please note that submissions merely stating support for, or 
opposition to, the action under consideration without providing 
supporting information, although noted, will not be considered in 
making a determination, as section 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act directs that 
determinations as to whether any species is an endangered or a 
threatened species must be made ``solely on the basis of the best 
scientific and commercial data available.''
    You may submit your comments and materials concerning this proposed 
rule by one of the methods listed in ADDRESSES. We request that you 
send comments only by the methods described in ADDRESSES.
    If you submit information via https://www.regulations.gov, your 
entire submission--including any personal identifying information--will 
be posted on the website. If your submission is made via a hardcopy 
that includes personal identifying information, you may request at the 
top of your document that we withhold this information from public 
review. However, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. We 
will post all hardcopy submissions on https://www.regulations.gov.
    Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting 
documentation we used in preparing this proposed rule, will be 
available for public inspection on https://www.regulations.gov.
    Because we will consider all comments and information we receive 
during the comment period, our final determination may differ from this 
proposal. Based on the new information we receive (and any comments on 
that new information), we may conclude that the Braken Bat Cave 
meshweaver (Cicurina venii) should remain listed as endangered, if the 
best available information regarding its validity as a taxon changes 
before our final determination.

Public Hearing

    Section 4(b)(5) of the Act provides for a public hearing on this 
proposal, if requested. Requests must be received by the date specified 
in DATES. Such requests must be sent to the address shown in FOR 
FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. We will schedule a public hearing on this 
proposal, if requested, and announce the date, time, and place of the 
hearing, as well as how to obtain reasonable accommodations, in the 
Federal Register and local newspapers at least 15 days before the 
hearing. For the immediate future, we will provide these public 
hearings using webinars that will be announced on the Service's 
website, in addition to the Federal Register. The use of these virtual 
public hearings is consistent with our regulations at 50 CFR 
424.16(c)(3).

Peer Review

    In accordance with our policy, ``Notice of Interagency Cooperative 
Policy for Peer Review in Endangered Species Act Activities,'' which 
was published on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 34270) and our August 22, 2016, 
Director's Memorandum ``Peer Review Process,'' we will seek the expert 
opinion of at least three appropriate and independent specialists 
regarding scientific data and interpretations contained in this 
proposed rule. We will send copies of this proposed rule to the peer 
reviewers immediately following publication in the Federal Register. We 
will ensure that the opinions of peer reviewers are objective and 
unbiased by following the guidelines set forth in the Director's Memo, 
which updates and clarifies Service policy on peer review (U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service 2016). The purpose of such review is to ensure 
that our decisions are based on scientifically sound data, assumptions, 
and analysis. Accordingly, our final decision may differ from this 
proposal.

Previous Federal Actions

    On December 26, 2000, we published a final rule listing the nine 
Bexar County karst invertebrates, including Braken Bat Cave meshweaver, 
as endangered species (65 FR 81419). On April 8, 2003, we designated 
1,063 acres (431 hectares) in 22 units as critical habitat for the nine 
karst invertebrates (68 FR 17156). Of this, one unit (Unit 15) on 217 
acres (88 hectares) in western Bexar County, Texas was designated as 
critical habitat for the Braken Bat Cave meshweaver. Following 
litigation (CBD v. FWS, case number 1:09-cv-00031-LY), we entered into 
a settlement agreement to revise the critical habitat designation. On 
February 14, 2012, we finalized a critical habitat determination (77 FR 
8450), designating in one unit (Unit 15) on 217 acres (88 hectares) in 
western Bexar County, Texas as critical habitat for the Braken Bat Cave 
meshweaver.
    We completed a recovery plan for the Bexar County karst 
invertebrates, including the Braken Bat Cave meshweaver, on September 
12, 2011 (Service 2011a). Our most recent 5-year review for the Madla 
Cave meshweaver (Service 2019) discusses the synonymization of the 
Braken Bat Cave meshweaver with the Madla Cave meshweaver.

Background

Species Information and Biology

    The Braken Bat Cave meshweaver is a small, troglobitic (cave-
dwelling) spider that inhabits caves and mesocaverns (humanly 
impassable voids in karst limestone) in Bexar County, Texas. Because 
the species is restricted to the subterranean environment, individuals 
exhibit morphological adaptations to that environment, such as 
elongated appendages and loss or reduction of eyes and pigment (Service 
2011b, p. 2).

Habitat and Distribution

    Habitat for the Braken Bat Cave meshweaver includes karst-forming 
rock containing subterranean spaces (caves and connected mesocaverns) 
with stable temperatures, high humidities (near saturation), and 
suitable substrates (for example, spaces between and underneath rocks 
for foraging and sheltering) that are free of contaminants (Service 
2011b, p. 2). Although this species spends its entire life underground, 
its ecosystem is dependent on the overlying surface habitat (Service 
2011b, p. 2). Examples of nutrient sources include leaf litter that has 
fallen or washed in, animal droppings, and animal carcasses. 
Individuals require surface and subsurface sources (such as plants and 
their roots, fruits, and leaves, and animal (e.g., cave cricket) eggs, 
feces, and carcasses) that provide nutrient input into the karst 
ecosystem (Service 2011a, p. 6).
    The Braken Bat Cave meshweaver is known from only two caves in the 
Culebra Anticline karst fauna region. One is located on private 
property, and the other occurs on a highway right-of-way. The species 
was first collected in 1980 and 1983 in Braken Bat Cave, but the cave 
itself was not initially described until 1988 (Reddell 1993, entire). 
The cave entrance was filled during construction of a home in 1990. 
Without excavation, it is difficult to determine what effect this 
incident had on the species; however, there may still be some nutrient 
input, from a reported small side passage. The remaining location was 
discovered in 2012, during construction of State Highway 151 in San 
Antonio, Texas. Originally a void with no entrance, that feature was 
capped with concrete and the soil and vegetation above it was restored 
to the extent possible.
    Threats to the species and its habitat include destruction and/or 
deterioration of habitat by construction; filling of caves and karst 
features; increase of impermeable cover; contamination from

[[Page 54147]]

septic effluent, sewer leaks, run-off, pesticides, and other sources; 
predation by and competition with nonnative fire ants; and vandalism 
(65 FR 81419; December 26, 2000).

Taxonomy

    Spider taxonomy generally relies largely on genitalic differences 
in adult specimens to delimit species (Paquin and Hedin 2004, p. 3240; 
Paquin et al. 2008, p. 139; Paquin and Dup[eacute]rr[eacute] 2009, p. 
5). Delimiting troglobitic Cicurina species in particular is difficult 
not only because of the inaccessibility of their habitat for gathering 
adequate samples (Moseley 2009, pp. 47-48), but because most 
collections return immature specimens (Gertsch 1992, p. 80; 
Cokendolpher 2004, p. 15; Paquin and Hedin, 2004, p. 3240; Paquin et 
al. 2008, p. 140; Paquin and Dup[eacute]rr[eacute] 2009, p. 5). In 
addition, the few adults that are collected are disproportionately 
female (Cokendolpher 2004, pp. 14, 15, 17-18; Paquin and 
Dup[eacute]rr[eacute] 2009, p. 5). As females of troglobitic Cicurina 
exhibit variability in genitalic characters within and between caves, 
this makes it difficult to determine whether an individual represents a 
distinct species or intraspecific variation based on morphology alone 
(Cokendolpher 2004a, pp. 30-32; Paquin and Duperre 2009, pp. 5-6; 
Paquin et al. 2008, pp. 140, 143, 147; Paquin and Dup[eacute]rr[eacute] 
2009, pp. 4-6, 63-64).
    The Braken Bat Cave meshweaver and Madla Cave meshweaver were 
originally described in 1992, from single female specimens found in 
Braken Bat Cave and Madla's Cave, respectively (Gertsch 1992, pp. 109, 
111). These species were two of only four cave-dwelling spiders of the 
genus Cicurina described from Bexar County at the time (Gertsch 1992, 
p. 98) and were differentiated based on their geographic location and 
specific morphological characters of the females (Gertsch 1992, pp. 84, 
109, 111; Cokendolpher 2004, pp. 26, 43, 52).
    Various genetic data were combined to address species delimitation 
questions in troglobitic Cicurina species, including the Braken Bat 
Cave meshweaver (Hedin et al. 2018, entire). Analysis of the 
evolutionary history of the species using genetics (phylogenomics) 
revealed two lines of ancestry, both of which are eyeless and 
correspond to groups previously described based on female morphology 
and troglobitic (cave-dwelling) adaptations, specifically the shape of 
the female sperm storage organ and the ratio of leg length to body 
length (Hedin et al. 2018, pp. 55, 61, 63-64; Cokendolpher 2004, p. 18; 
Paquin and Dup[eacute]rr[eacute] 2009, p. 9). Although the type 
specimen for the Braken Bat Cave meshweaver was not included in the 
genetics portion of the study because DNA could not be collected due to 
age, newly discovered specimens from the same geographic region with 
similar morphology to the Braken Bat Cave meshweaver placed it in the 
Madla Cave meshweaver clade genetically (Hedin et al. 2018, pp. 56-57; 
Hedin et al. 2018, p. 67).
    Therefore, based on similarity of morphologic characteristics and 
mitochondrial and nuclear DNA results, Braken Bat Cave meshweaver was 
synonomized under Madla Cave meshweaver (Hedin et al. 2018, p. 68). 
This synonomy was accepted by the World Spider Catalog (World Spider 
Catalog 2019). Please refer to the Bexar County Karst Invertebrates 
Recovery Plan (2011), the Bexar County Karst Invertebrates 5-year 
Review (2011), and the Madla Cave Meshweaver 5-year Review (2019) for 
more information.

Delisting Proposal

    Section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533) and its implementing 
regulations (50 CFR part 424) set forth the procedures for listing 
species on, reclassifying species on, or removing species from the 
Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. The Act 
defines ``species'' as including any species or subspecies of fish or 
wildlife or plants, and any distinct population segment of vertebrate 
fish or wildlife that interbreeds when mature (16 U.S.C. 1532(16)). We 
may delist a species according to 50 CFR 424.11(e) if the best 
available scientific and commercial data indicate that the species is 
neither endangered nor threatened for one or more of the following 
reasons: (1) The species is extinct; (2) the species does not meet the 
definition of an endangered species or a threatened species; or (3) the 
listed entity does not meet the statutory definition of a species. For 
the Braken Bat Cave meshweaver, we conclude that the existing 
scientific information demonstrates that Braken Bat Cave meshweaver is 
not a discrete taxonomic entity and, therefore, does not meet the Act's 
definition of ``species'' (16 U.S.C. 1532(16)). Therefore, we propose 
to delist the Braken Bat Cave meshweaver. The Braken Bat Cave 
meshweaver does not require a post-delisting monitoring (PDM) plan 
because the monitoring plan does not apply to delisting species due to 
taxonomic change.

Effects of This Proposed Rule

    This proposal, if made final, would revise 50 CFR 17.11(h) by 
removing the Braken Bat Cave meshweaver from the Federal List of 
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. However, because the Braken Bat 
Cave meshweaver has been synonymized under the Madla Cave meshweaver, 
its status, and thus its protections under the Act, would remain the 
same because the Madla Cave meshweaver is listed as endangered under 
the Act. This additional locality was included in the Madla Cave 
meshweaver 5-year review and did not change the status of the species 
(Service 2019, p.17).
    Unit 15, the area surrounding Braken Bat Cave, was designated as 
critical habitat for Braken Bat Cave meshweaver in 2012. Because Braken 
Bat Cave meshweaver had designated critical habitat, this rule would 
also amend 50 CFR 17.95(g) to remove the Braken Bat Cave meshweaver's 
designated critical habitat. This area has not yet been evaluated to 
determine if it is essential to the conservation of the Madla Cave 
meshweaver. Should we evaluate it in the future, proposing this unit as 
critical habitat for Madla Cave meshweaver would be completed in a 
subsequent rulemaking. Unit 15, however, is also critical habitat for 
an endangered beetle with no common name, Rhadine infernalis. 
Therefore, if we adopt this action as proposed, Unit 15 would retain 
the protections of the Act as designated critical habitat for R. 
infernalis.

Required Determinations

Clarity of the Rule

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

[[Page 54148]]

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

    We have determined that environmental assessments and environmental 
impact statements, as defined under the authority of the National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), need not be 
prepared in connection with determining a species' listing status under 
the Endangered Species Act. We published a notice outlining our reasons 
for this determination in the Federal Register on October 25, 1983 (48 
FR 49244).

Government-to-Government Relationship With Tribes

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

References Cited

    A complete list of references cited in this rulemaking is available 
on the internet at https://www.regulations.gov and upon request from 
the Austin Ecological Services Field Office (see FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT).

Authors

    The primary authors of this proposed rule are the staff members of 
the Fish and Wildlife Service's Species Assessment Team and the Austin 
Ecological Services Field Office.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

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

Proposed Regulation Promulgation

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

PART 17--ENDANGERED AND THREATENED WILDLIFE AND PLANTS

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

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


Sec.  17.11   [Amended]

0
2. Amend Sec.  17.11(h) by removing the entry for ``Meshweaver, Braken 
Bat Cave'' under ARACHNIDS from the List of Endangered and Threatened 
Wildlife.


Sec.  17.95   [Amended]

0
3. In Sec.  17.95, amend paragraph (g) by removing the entry for 
``Braken Bat Cave Meshweaver (Cicurina venii)''.

Martha Williams,
Principal Deputy Director, Exercising the Delegated Authority of the 
Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2021-20911 Filed 9-29-21; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4333-15-P