Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Anticipated Delisting of Astragalus desereticus
We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce our intention to conduct rulemaking under the Endangered Species Act (Act) of 1973 as amended (Act) (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) for the purpose of removing Astragalus desereticus (Deseret milk-vetch) from the List of Endangered and Threatened Plants in the near future. Specifically, we intend to propose delisting A. desereticus because threats to the species as identified in the final listing rule (64 FR 56590, October 20, 1999) are not as significant as earlier believed and are managed such that the species is not likely to become in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range in the foreseeable future. Upon delisting, A. desereticus would be managed pursuant to a Conservation Agreement among the Service and Utah State agencies. In response to a stipulated settlement agreement we have reconsidered whether designating critical habitat for Astragalus desereticus would be prudent based on this species' current status. We have determined that such a designation is not prudent because, as described in this advanced notice, we believe that designating critical habitat would not be beneficial to the species (50 CFR 424.12). This is because no area meets the definition of ``critical habitat'' (i.e., there are no areas essential to the conservation of the species which require special management considerations, and protections afforded by the species' current listing status appear to be no longer necessary).