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UFWDA Community Forum  |  Regional Focus - News and Local Events  |  South Central  |  Topic: Lesser Prairie-Chicken Proposed rule; revision and reopening of comment period. « previous next »
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Author Topic: Lesser Prairie-Chicken Proposed rule; revision and reopening of comment period.  (Read 798 times)
Peter Vahry
UFWDA International Vice-President
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« on: December 11, 2013, 01:55:17 am »

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Listing the Lesser
Prairie-Chicken as a Threatened Species With a Special Rule

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule; revision and reopening of comment period.

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

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, propose a revised
special rule under authority of section 4(d) of the Endangered Species
Act of 1973, as amended (Act), that provides measures that are
necessary and advisable to provide for the conservation of the lesser
prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus). In addition, we announce
the reopening of the public comment period on the December 11, 2012,
proposed rule to list the lesser prairie-chicken as a threatened
species under the Act. We also announce the availability of the final
Lesser Prairie-Chicken Range-Wide Conservation Plan, which has been
prepared by the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Interstate Working Group, and
our endorsement of the plan, and request comments on the plan as it
relates to our determination of status under section 4(a)(1) of the
Act.

DATES: We will accept comments on this proposed rule received or
postmarked on or before January 10, 2014
. In addition, the comment
period on the proposed rule published December 11, 2012 (77 FR 73828)
is reopened until January 10, 2014. 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 ADDRESSES by January 10, 2014.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by one of the following methods:
    (1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter FWS-R2-ES-2012-0071,
which is the docket number for this rulemaking
. You may submit a
comment by clicking on ``Comment Now!''
    (2) By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public
Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R2-ES-2012-0071; Division of Policy and
Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax
Drive, MS 2042-PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.
    We request that you send comments only by one of the methods
described above. We will post all comments on http://www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we will post any
personal information you provide us (see the Public Comments section
below for more information).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jontie Aldrich, Field Supervisor,
Oklahoma Ecological Services Field Office, 9014 East 21st Street,
Tulsa, OK 74129; by telephone 918-581-7458 or by facsimile 918-581-
7467. Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD)
may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Public Comments

    To allow the public to comment simultaneously on this revised
proposed 4(d) special rule and the proposed listing rule, we also
announce the reopening of the comment period on the Service's December
11, 2012, proposed rule to list the lesser prairie-chicken as a
threatened species under the Act. We intend to finalize the revised
proposed 4(d) special rule concurrent with the final listing rule, if
the results of our final listing determination conclude that threatened
species status is appropriate and if we determine that this revised
proposed 4(d) special rule is appropriate following public comment. Any
final action resulting from the proposed rules 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, general public, and other interested
parties concerning the proposed listing rule and revised proposed 4(d)
special rule. We particularly seek comments regarding:
    (1) The historical and current status and distribution of the
lesser prairie-chicken, its biology and ecology, specific threats (or
lack thereof) and regulations that may be addressing those threats and
ongoing conservation measures for the species and its habitat.
    (2) Information relevant to the factors that are the basis for
making a listing determination for a species under section 4(a) of the
Act, which are:
    (a) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or
curtailment of the species' 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 and threats to the species or its habitat.
    (3) Application of the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Interstate Working
Group's final Lesser Prairie-Chicken Range-Wide Conservation Plan to
our determination of status under section 4(a)(1) of the Act,
particularly comments or information to help us assess the certainty
that the plan will be effective in conserving the lesser prairie-
chicken and will be implemented.
    (4) Which areas would be appropriate as critical habitat for the
species and why areas should or should not be proposed for designation
as critical habitat, including whether any threats to the species from
human activity would be expected to increase due to the designation and
whether that increase in threat would outweigh the benefit of
designation such that the designation of critical habitat may not be
prudent.
    (5) Specific information on:
    (a) The amount and distribution of habitat for the lesser prairie-
chicken;
    (b) What may constitute ``physical or biological features essential
to the conservation of the species,'' within the geographical range
currently occupied by the species;
    (c) Where these features are currently found;
    (d) Whether any of these features may require special management
considerations or protection;
    (e) What areas, that were occupied at the time of listing (or are
currently occupied) and that contain features essential to the
conservation of the species, should be included in the designation and
why; and
    (f) What areas not occupied at the time of listing are essential
for the conservation of the species and why.
    (6) Information on the projected and reasonably likely impacts of
climate change on the lesser prairie-chicken and its habitat.
    (7) Whether measures outlined in this revised proposed 4(d) special
rule are necessary and advisable for the conservation and management of
the lesser prairie-chicken.
    (Cool Whether the provision related to the continuation of routine
agricultural practices on existing cultivated lands should more clearly
differentiate between row crop agriculture and other cropped areas,
such as managed grasslands, forage, or other untilled crops.
    (9) Whether the provision related to the continuation of routine
agricultural practices on existing cultivated lands should be revised
to include spatial or temporal restrictions or deferments.
    (10) Additional provisions the Service may wish to consider for a
4(d) special rule in order to conserve, recover, and manage the lesser
prairie-chicken.
    We will consider all comments and information received during our
preparation of a final determination on the status of the species and
the 4(d) special rule. Accordingly, the final decision may differ from
this proposal.
    Please note that comments merely stating support for or opposition
to the actions 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 a threatened
or endangered 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 revised
proposed rule by one of the methods listed in ADDRESSES. We request
that you send comments only by the methods described in ADDRESSES.
    If you submit information via http://www.regulations.gov, your
entire submission--including any personal identifying information--will
be posted on the Web site. If your submission is made via a hardcopy
that includes personal identifying information, you may request at the
top of your document that we withhold this information from public
review. However, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. We
will post all hardcopy submissions on http://www.regulations.gov.
Please include sufficient information with your comments to allow us to
verify any scientific or commercial information you include.
    Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting
documentation we used in preparing this revised proposed rule, will be
available for public inspection on http://www.regulations.gov, or by
appointment, during normal business hours, at the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service, Oklahoma Ecological Services Field Office (see FOR
FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

Previous Federal Actions

    A settlement agreement in In re Endangered Species Act Section 4
Deadline Litigation, No. 10-377 (EGS), MDL Docket No. 2165 (D.D.C. May
10, 2011) was reached with WildEarth Guardians in which we agreed to
submit a proposed listing rule for the lesser prairie-chicken to the
Federal Register for publication by September 30, 2012. On September
27, 2012, the settlement agreement was modified to require that the
proposed listing rule be submitted to the Federal Register on or before
November 29, 2012. We submitted the proposed listing rule to the
Federal Register on November 29, 2012; on December 11, 2012, we
published in the Federal Register a proposed rule to list the lesser
prairie-chicken as a threatened species under the Act (77 FR 73828).
The proposed listing rule had a 90-day comment period, ending March 11,
2013. We held a public meeting and hearing in Woodward, Oklahoma, on
February 5, 2013; in Garden City, Kansas, on February 7, 2013; in
Lubbock, Texas, on February 11, 2013; and in Roswell, New Mexico, on
February 12, 2013. On May 6, 2013, we reopened the public comment
period on the proposed listing rule and proposed a special rule under
the authority of section 4(d) of the Act (78 FR 26302).
    Section 4(b)(6) of the Act and its implementing regulation, 50
C.F.R. 424.17(a), requires that we take one of three actions within 1
year of a proposed listing: (1) Finalize the proposed listing; (2)
withdraw the proposed listing; or (3) extend the final determination by
not more than 6 months, if there is substantial disagreement among
scientists knowledgeable about the species regarding the sufficiency or
accuracy of the available data relevant to the determination, for the
purposes of soliciting additional data. On July 9, 2013, we published
in the Federal Register an announcement of a 6-month extension of the
final determination of whether to list the lesser prairie-chicken as a
threatened species, and we reopened the public comment period on the
proposed rule to list the species (78 FR 41022). As noted in the
proposed listing rule (77 FR 73828), we were previously required by the
terms of judicially approved settlement agreement to make a final
determination on the lesser prairie-chicken proposed listing rule no
later than September 30, 2013. With the 6-month extension, we will make
a final determination on the proposed rule no later than March 31,
2014.
    For information on previous Federal actions pertaining to the
lesser prairie-chicken, please refer to the proposed listing rule,
which we published in the Federal Register on December 11, 2012 (77 FR
73828).

To read the entire notice...  http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-12-11/html/2013-29587.htm
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