[Federal Register Volume 75, Number 124 (Tuesday, June 29, 2010)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 37353-37358]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2010-15583]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[Docket No. FWS-R6-ES-2010-0038]
[MO 92210-0-0008-B2]
RIN 1018-AX26


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Listing the 
Mountain Plover as Threatened

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for public comments.

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SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), notify the 
public that we are reinstating that portion of our December 5, 2002, 
proposed rule that concerns the listing of the mountain plover 
(Charadrius montanus) as threatened under the Endangered Species Act of 
1973, as amended (Act). We are not reinstating the portion of that 
proposed rule that concerned a proposed special rule under section 4(d) 
of the Act. We invite public comments on the proposed listing and 
announce the availability of new information relevant to our 
consideration of the status of the mountain plover. We encourage those 
who may have commented previously to submit additional comments, if 
appropriate, in light of this new information.

DATES: To ensure that we are able to consider your comments and 
information, we request that we receive them no later than August 30, 
2010. Please note that we may not be able to address or incorporate 
information that we receive after the above requested date. We must 
receive requests for public hearings, in writing, at the address shown 
in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section by August 13, 2010.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by one of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 
Search for Docket No. FWS-R6-ES-2010-0038 and then follow the 
instructions for submitting comments.
     U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, 
Attn: FWS-R6-ES-2010-0038; Division of Policy and Directives 
Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, 
Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203.
    We will post all information 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 details).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Susan Linner, Field Supervisor, 
Colorado Ecological Services Office; mailing address: P.O. Box 25486, 
DFC (MS 65412), Denver, CO 80225; telephone: 303-236-4773; office 
location: 134 Union Boulevard, Suite 670, Lakewood, CO 80228. If you 
use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), call the Federal 
Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Previous Federal Actions

    For a detailed description of Federal actions concerning the 
mountain plover, please refer to the February 16, 1999, proposed rule 
to list the species (64 FR 7587); the December 5, 2002, proposed rule 
to list the species with a special rule under section 4(d) of the Act 
(16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) (67 FR 72396); and the September 9, 2003, 
withdrawal of the proposed rule to list the species (68 FR 53083).
    The document we published on September 9, 2003 (68 FR 53083), 
withdrew the entire proposed rule we published on December 5, 2002 (67 
FR 72396), including our proposal to list the species as a threatened 
species and our proposed special 4(d) rule. The September 9, 2003, 
document also addressed comments we received on both the 1999 and 2002 
proposals to list the mountain plover and summarized threat factors 
affecting the species. The withdrawal of the proposed rule was based on 
our conclusion that the threats to the mountain plover identified in 
the proposed rule were not as significant as previously believed and 
that currently available data did not indicate that threats to the 
species and its habitat, as

[[Page 37354]]

analyzed under the five listing factors described in section 4(a)(1) of 
the Act, were likely to endanger the species in the foreseeable future 
throughout all or a significant portion of its range.
    On November 16, 2006, Forest Guardians (now WildEarth Guardians) 
and the Biological Conservation Alliance filed a complaint in the 
District Court for the Southern District of California challenging the 
withdrawal of the proposal to list the mountain plover. A settlement 
agreement between the plaintiffs and the Service was entered by the 
court on August 28, 2009. As part of the settlement agreement, the 
Service agreed to reconsider its September 9, 2003, decision to 
withdraw the proposed listing of the mountain plover (68 FR 53083) and 
to submit to the Federal Register by July 31, 2010, a document 
reopening the proposal to list the mountain plover that would also 
request public comment. It was agreed, that upon publication of the 
document, the 2003 withdrawal of the proposed rule would be vacated. 
The Service further agreed to submit a final listing determination for 
the mountain plover to the Federal Register no later than May 1, 2011.
    This document notifies the public that we are reinstating that 
portion of our December 5, 2002 (67 FR 72396), proposed rule that 
concerns the listing of the mountain plover (Charadrius montanus) as 
threatened under the Act. We are not reinstating that portion of the 
proposed rule regarding a proposed special rule under section 4(d) of 
the Act. We invite public comments on the proposed listing, new 
information relevant to our consideration of the status of the mountain 
plover, and comments and information regarding threats to the species 
and its habitat.

Background

    The mountain plover is a small terrestrial shorebird inhabiting 
open, flat lands with sparse vegetation. It averages 8 inches (21 
centimeters) in length. Mountain plovers are light brown above and 
white below, but lack the contrasting dark breast band common to most 
other plovers such as the killdeer (C. vociferus). Sexes are similar in 
appearance. Mountain plovers feed on insects, primarily beetles, 
crickets, and ants. They forage with a series of short runs and stops, 
feeding opportunistically as they encounter prey. Mountain plovers are 
migratory, and form pairs and begin courtship on arrival at their 
breeding grounds. Nests consist of a simple ground scrape. The female 
usually splits the clutch, typically six eggs, between two nests. The 
first nest is incubated by the male, the second by the female. Chicks 
leave the nest within hours of hatching and obtain their own food. 
Parents stay with chicks until they fledge, which occurs at about 5 
weeks of age.
    The mountain plover is found on xeric (extremely dry) shrublands, 
shortgrass prairie, barren agricultural fields, and other sparsely 
vegetated areas. On grasslands they often inhabit areas with a history 
of disturbance by burrowing rodents such as prairie dogs (Cynomys 
spp.), native herbivores, or domestic livestock. Mountain plovers breed 
in the western Great Plains and Rocky Mountain States from the Canadian 
border to northern Mexico. Most breeding occurs in Montana, Wyoming, 
and Colorado. They winter in similar habitat in California, southern 
Arizona, Texas, and Mexico. While California's Sacramento, San Joaquin, 
and Imperial Valleys are believed to support the greatest number of 
wintering mountain plovers, relatively little is known about their 
winter distribution in other areas. For additional background on the 
natural history of the mountain plover, see the account of the species 
in The Birds of North America (Knopf and Wunder 2006) and our previous 
Federal Register notices.
    The February 16, 1999 (64 FR 7587), proposed rule to list the 
mountain plover described the life history, ecology, and habitat use of 
the species; discussed abundance and trend estimates; and provided a 
description of threats affecting the mountain plover under the five 
listing factors identified in section 4(a)(1) of the Act. The December 
5, 2002 (67 FR 72396), proposal, described as a ``supplemental 
proposal,'' provided pertinent new information. Both of the proposed 
rules concluded that the mountain plover was likely to become an 
endangered species in the foreseeable future unless measures were taken 
to reverse its decline. Conservation measures to reverse the decline 
were discussed in both of the proposals.
    The proposals addressed elements contributing to the proposed 
threatened status of the species, including the following:
    (1) Historical and ongoing conversion of grassland in the breeding 
range;
    (2) Cultivated areas in the breeding range acting as potential 
population sinks;
    (3) Historical conversion of grasslands and changing agricultural 
practices in the winter range;
    (4) Effects of range management on mountain plover habitat;
    (5) Declines in burrowing mammals and the effect on mountain plover 
habitat;
    (6) Oil, gas, and mineral development in mountain plover habitat;
    (7) Federal and State protection and management of the mountain 
plover;
    (8) Mountain plover lifespan and breeding site fidelity as related 
to persistence of local populations;
    (9) Influences of annual weather variation on habitat and breeding 
success;
    (10) Human disturbance;
    (11) Control of grasshoppers and other insects that provide a food 
resource; and
    (12) Exposure of mountain plover to pesticides.
    Since the closure of the last comment period, new information has 
become available that is relevant to the status of the mountain plover 
and its proposed listing as a threatened species. To ensure that our 
review of the species' status is complete and based on the best 
available scientific and commercial information available, we request 
comments on the proposal to list the mountain plover as a threatened 
species, including all information that relates to the species' status 
and the proposed listing.

New Information Available for Review

    Pertinent information received, developed, or analyzed since the 
public comment period closed on our December 5, 2002, proposed rule (67 
FR 72396) is available for review at the following website: http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/birds/mountainplover/, or by 
contacting the Field Supervisor, Colorado Ecological Services Office 
(see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT above). Information cited below 
includes scientific publications, graduate theses and dissertations, 
and selected unpublished reports that are available on the website 
referenced above. Additional reports, compilations of data, 
correspondence, and information also are available on the website. See 
the website http://www.regulations.gov (Docket No. FWS-R6-ES-2010-0038) 
for additional comments and information received during the comment 
period for this proposal.
    Three documents provide extensive reviews of the mountain plover 
and its conservation status:
    (1) Mountain Plover (Charadrius montanus): a technical conservation 
assessment (Dinsmore 2003);
    (2) Mountain Plover (Charadrius montanus) in Birds of North America 
(Knopf and Wunder 2006); and
    (3) Conservation Plan for the Mountain Plover (Charadrius

[[Page 37355]]

montanus), Version 1.0 (Andres and Stone 2009).
    The majority of relevant information that has become available 
since our 2002 proposal to list the mountain plover has resulted from 
local or Statewide studies on the mountain plover's breeding range. The 
new information is summarized below.
Colorado
    For Colorado, newly available information includes results from a 
study that mapped habitat and surveyed breeding adults in a discrete 
mountain plover population in South Park, Park County (Wunder et al. 
2003). The density of mountain plover in occupied habitat in South Park 
was shown to be high compared to other sites, and the population was 
estimated at 2,310 adults (Wunder et al. 2003, p. 661). In another Park 
County study, vegetation structure and forage available in habitat used 
by mountain plover were assessed (Schneider et al. 2006). Researchers 
documented differential habitat use between adults with and without 
broods (Schneider et al. 2006, p. 199), and proposed shrub-grassland 
edge and insect availability as factors that influence habitat use 
(Schneider et al. 2006, pp. 200-202).
    A study on the plains of eastern Colorado looked at movements and 
home range sizes of adult mountain plover with broods across three 
habitat types (Drietz et al. 2005). Results proved similar for black-
tailed prairie dog (C. ludovicianus) towns, rangeland, and agricultural 
fields (Drietz et al. 2005, pp. 129-131). A study of mountain plover 
nesting success in eastern Colorado found that hatching success was 
similar in native grasslands and agricultural fields, although causes 
of nest mortality differed between the two habitats (Drietz and Knopf 
2007, pp. 684-685).
    Another eastern Colorado study investigated types of habitat and 
habitat quality as related to chick survival and brood movements in 
mountain plover (Drietz 2009). Chick survival over 30 days was found to 
be higher on shortgrass habitat occupied by black-tailed prairie dogs 
than on shortgrass without prairie dogs or on agricultural lands 
(Drietz 2009, p. 875). Also in the Colorado shortgrass prairie 
ecosystem, mountain plover numbers were estimated in three habitats: 
black-tailed prairie dog colonies, grasslands without prairie dogs, and 
dryland agriculture (Tipton et al. 2009). Mountain plover densities 
observed on prairie dog colonies were approximately 5 times higher than 
those found on agriculture and 10 times higher than those found on 
grasslands without prairie dogs (Tipton et al. 2009, p. 496). The study 
estimated that there were 8,577 mountain plover in eastern Colorado 
(Tipton et al. 2009, p. 497).
    Knopf (2009) provided an overview of mountain plover studies on the 
Pawnee National Grasslands (PNG), Weld County, from 1986 to 2007. He 
described annual population surveys, breeding studies, a burning 
program designed to enhance habitat, a historical account of mountain 
plover populations on PNG, and discussed the future of mountain plover 
on the area. Knopf suggested that mountain plover numbers on the PNG 
had been in decline since the late 1930s and early 1940s, and that the 
dramatic decline in the mid-1990s was the abrupt end point of a process 
of deteriorating habitat, exacerbated by other factors such as wet 
spring weather and the relocation of breeding mountain plovers to 
better habitats elsewhere (Knopf 2008, p. 61).
Montana
    A number of recent breeding studies of mountain plover have been 
conducted in Montana. Capture-recapture techniques were employed to 
study the demographics of mountain plover in Phillips County, Montana 
(Dinsmore et al. 2003). Estimated annual survival rate for juveniles 
was 0.46 to 0.49 and for adults 0.68; estimated mean life span was 1.92 
years (Dinsmore et al. 2003, pp. 1020-1021). The size of the adult 
mountain plover population closely tracked annual changes in the area 
occupied by black-tailed prairie dogs (Dinsmore et al. 2003, p. 1024).
    A study of the same Phillips County population estimated annual 
rates of recruitment and population change (Dinsmore et al. 2005). 
Prairie dog numbers declined sharply in the mid-1990s in response to an 
outbreak of sylvatic plague (Dinsmore et al. 2005, pp. 1550-1551). 
Mountain plover numbers decreased significantly, then increased in 
concert with increases in prairie dogs (Dinsmore et al. 2005, p. 1552).
    Childers and Dinsmore (2008) reported results of estimates of 
density and abundance from 2004 of mountain plover in Phillips and 
Valley Counties in north-central Montana. The density of mountain 
plovers was much greater on black-tailed prairie dog colonies than on 
other habitats. An estimated 1,028 mountain plovers inhabited the 
region in 2004 (95-percent confidence interval of 903 to 1,153), most 
on prairie dog colonies (Childers and Dinsmore 2008, p. 706).
    A study that included Phillips County, as well as two sites in 
Colorado, looked at mountain plover nesting in black-tailed prairie dog 
colonies during recovery from plague and following plague outbreaks 
(Augustine et al. 2008). Findings indicated that nesting habitat 
closely tracked the area actively occupied by prairie dogs in a given 
year. Mountain plover nested within 1 or 2 years after areas were 
colonized by prairie dogs and nest numbers declined rapidly after 
prairie dog numbers declined on plague-affected colonies (Augustine et 
al. 2008, p.7).
    Additional studies in north-central Montana examined the influence 
of various factors on the annual survival of mountain plovers (Dinsmore 
2008). The annual survival rate for a juvenile mountain plover was 0.06 
at hatching, but it increased with age and increased body mass 
(Dinsmore 2008, p. 51). The annual survival rate of adults of both 
sexes ranged from 0.74 to 0.96 yearly (Dinsmore 2008, p. 50). Annual 
survival proved higher during periods of drought (Dinsmore 2008, p. 
52).
    Skrade (2008) examined dispersal of juvenile (natal dispersal) and 
adult mountain plovers (both within-year and between years) in Phillips 
County. Mean dispersal of adult mountain plovers in consecutive years 
was 1.71 miles (2.75 kilometers) in males and 2.88 miles (4.64 
kilometers) in females (Skrade 2008, pp. 14-15). Plovers with 
unsuccessful previous nesting attempts moved further on average than 
birds where previous nesting was successful (Skrade 2008, p. 18).
Wyoming
    A Wyoming study located 55 mountain plover nests in grassland or 
desert scrub habitat in 6 counties (Plumb et al. 2005a). All nest sites 
were grazed by ungulates and prairie dogs were present at 36 percent of 
nest sites (Plumb et al. 2005a, pp. 226-227). Nest sites had less grass 
coverage and shorter vegetation height compared to random plots. Half 
of the nests were located on elevated plateaus.
    Another Wyoming study estimated minimum mountain plover population 
size in 2003 (Plumb et al. 2005b). Distance sampling was used to 
estimate breeding mountain plover density in five areas and results 
were applied to the minimum occupied range Statewide. The minimum 
population estimate for mountain plover in Wyoming was 3,393 birds 
(Plumb et al. 2005b, p. 19-20).
    Beauvais and Smith (2003) developed a model of mountain plover 
breeding habitat in shrub-steppe habitat of western Wyoming. They 
reported that mountain plover presence was negatively related to degree 
of slope and had a weak positive relationship to

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cover type (Beauvais and Smith 2003, pp. 92-94). They related favored 
patches of breeding habitat to poor soil, low precipitation, and wind 
scour, features that they speculated would be persistent over time, 
especially on public lands.
    Smith and Keinath (2004) provided a species assessment of mountain 
plover in Wyoming. They reviewed the species' natural history and 
discussed conservation measures, threats, and future conservation 
strategies.
    In Carbon County, Wyoming, studies since 1994 have documented 
mountain plover presence at the Foote Creek Rim wind power facility 
(Young et al. 2007). Mountain plover numbers declined during the 1997 
to 2000 period, when 1,333 wind turbines were erected on the area, but 
have since largely recovered (Young et al. 2007, pp. 16-17). It is not 
known whether the decline was attributable to displacement caused by 
the construction work. Carcass searches documented no mountain plover 
mortalities attributed to turbines. The lowest point of rotor sweep on 
site (57 feet (17 meters)) was above the typical heights flown by 
mountain plovers during courtship and breeding (Young et al. 2007, p. 
18). Except in migration, mountain plover flights are of low altitude; 
in a common courtship display, a male flies to a height of 
approximately 16 to 33 feet (5 to 10 meters) and calls as he floats 
downward (Knopf and Wunder 2006, unpaginated, ``Behavior'' article).
Nebraska
    Recent Nebraska studies addressed the mountain plover's nesting 
ecology, and attempted to identify the extent of breeding distribution 
and population size in Nebraska (Bly et al. 2008). Monitoring over the 
course of the study yielded a total of 278 nests, all but 6 on 
agricultural fields (Bly et al. 2008, p. 7). Most nests and the bulk of 
nest distribution were in Kimball County, in extreme southwestern 
Nebraska. The minimum breeding population was estimated to be 80 adults 
in 2007, based on nests found, with the range of the population 
estimate up to 360 birds (Bly et al. 2008, pp. 11-12).
Oklahoma
    Studies similar to those conducted in Nebraska were designed to 
determine the breeding distribution and population size in Oklahoma 
(McConnell et al. 2009). Mountain plovers were found in Cimarron and 
Texas Counties in the Oklahoma panhandle. Randomized point counts were 
used to derive a Statewide population estimate of 68 to 91 birds 
(McConnell et al. 2009, pp. 32-33). Mapped mountain plover locations 
were largely in bare agricultural fields (90 percent), with 5 percent 
associated with prairie dog towns (McConnell et al. 2009, pp. 31-32).
Canada and Mexico
    A review of breeding records for Canada concluded that the mountain 
plover is a peripheral species in Canada with no evidence that it was 
ever a common or regular breeder (Knapton et al. 2005, p. 32). The 
authors recommended additional searches in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
    The first breeding record of mountain plover in Mexico was 
documented in Nuevo Leon (Gonzalez-Rojas 2006), following a history of 
breeding season observations in Mexican prairie dog (C. mexicanus) 
colonies.
Wintering Range
    Relatively few recent studies have addressed the mountain plover on 
its wintering range. A survey of mountain plover and their use of 
cultivated fields in the Imperial Valley of California in 2001 found 
4,037 birds (Wunder and Knopf 2003, p. 75). Grazed alfalfa fields and 
burned Bermudagrass fields were heavily utilized by mountain plover. 
The importance of the Imperial Valley to mountain plover, where the 
authors suggested half of the continental population of mountain 
plovers may winter, is linked to losses of wintering habitat in coastal 
and Central Valley, California (Wunder and Knopf 2003, pp. 77-78). 
Mountain plovers wintering in the Imperial Valley were surveyed in 2003 
and 2004, in an attempt to develop a statistically reliable estimate of 
numbers (Knopf and Wunder 2004). Flocking behavior, mobility, and 
weather were among factors limiting the reliability of Imperial Valley 
surveys as an indicator of population trends.
    Hunting and Edson (2008, pp. 180-186) provided a species account of 
mountain plover in California, where it is considered a bird species of 
special concern. They surveyed existing information, provided 
management recommendations for grassland and cultivated habitats, and 
suggested research into mountain plover use, movements, and survival as 
related to habitat type (Hunting and Edson 2008, pp. 184-185). 
Information gained from their suggested research may be particularly 
important given the dynamic, market-driven nature of agricultural 
production and the dependence of agricultural activity, especially in 
California and the arid Southwest, on irrigation water imported from 
other areas. Moreover, the changes in the availability of irrigation 
water that might result from the effects of global climate change and 
changes in the characteristics of agricultural lands as a result of 
improved or more broadly implemented water conservation techniques, or 
changes in cultivation practices could further affect the availability 
and quality of wintering habitat for the species.
    Wunder (2007) studied geographic population structure in mountain 
plover through color-banding and stable isotope concentrations in 
feathers. He concluded that there is widespread mixing of mountain 
plover populations in winter and that birds may use alternate wintering 
sites in different years (Wunder 2007, p. 118). There was evidence that 
recruitment may be linked to regional patterns of climate, with highest 
recruitment coming from breeding areas with low precipitation (Wunder 
2007, pp. 119-121).
Other Research
    A genetic study using nuclear microsatellites concluded that 
mountain plover across sampled breeding locations in Colorado and 
Montana comprised a single, relatively homogenous gene pool (Oyler-
McCance et al. 2008). Results suggested that there was sufficient gene 
flow among breeding areas to offset genetic effects of small 
populations and reported adult fidelity to breeding areas (Oyler-
McCance et al. 2008, 496-497). From a genetic perspective this suggests 
that no single breeding population requires special conservation or 
protection.

Special Rule Under Section 4(d) of the Act

    The December 5, 2002, proposed rule (67 FR 72396) included a 
proposal to list the species as threatened and a proposed special rule 
under section 4(d) of the Act. That proposed special rule was designed 
to help facilitate recovery of the mountain plover in the event that a 
final listing rule was enacted. We are not reinstating the proposed 
special rule now, as explained below.
    The special rule proposed to allow the incidental take of mountain 
plovers during routine farming practices on summer fallow, cropland 
idle, or cropland harvested between April 1 and June 30 in Colorado, 
Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Laramie and Goshen Counties, Wyoming. 
In the 2002 proposed rule, we specified the expiration date of the 
proposed special rule as December 31, 2004 to allow adequate time for 
research to be conducted regarding conservation of the species on 
agricultural lands. By the expiration date, we intended to decide 
whether or not to permanently adopt the

[[Page 37357]]

special rule. In the 2002 proposed rule, we suggested that the research 
results obtained might support continuation of a proposed special rule 
in the same or a modified form, or support the proposed expiration of 
the special rule. Since the publication of the 2002 proposed rule, 
several studies have been conducted; research results are reported in 
Drietz et al. (2005), Drietz and Knopf (2007), Drietz (2009), and 
Tipton et al. (2009). Additional research is ongoing.
    The special rule also proposed to allow incidental take of mountain 
plovers for activities covered under a valid permit issued by the Fish 
and Wildlife Service for conducting research, educational purposes, 
scientific purposes, enhancement of or propagation for survival of the 
mountain plover, zoological exhibition, and other conservation purposes 
in accordance with 50 CFR 17.32 and under a cooperative agreement with 
the State under section 6 of the Act, if applicable. At this time, we 
believe that the regulations at 50 CFR 17.32 adequately address the 
circumstances described above and the conservation needs of the 
mountain plover, and that a special rule under section 4(d) of the Act 
to address these circumstances may not be necessary for this species.
    Therefore, we are not reinstating that portion of the December 5, 
2002, proposed rule (67 FR 72396) regarding the proposed special rule 
under section 4(d) of the Act for the mountain plover. However, we 
invite public comments on whether a special rule under section 4(d) of 
the Act would be necessary and advisable to provide for the 
conservation of this species.
    For clarity, we are providing a Proposed Regulation Promulgation 
section in this document to specify the one regulatory change we are 
proposing: to list the mountain plover as threatened in the Federal 
List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife at 50 CFR 17.11.

Public Comments

    We intend that any final action resulting from this proposal will 
be based on the best scientific and commercial data available and will 
be as accurate and as effective as possible. To ensure our 
determination is based on the best available scientific and commercial 
information, we request information on the mountain plover from 
governmental agencies, Native American Tribes, the scientific 
community, industry, and any other interested parties. We request 
comments or suggestions on our proposal to list the mountain plover, on 
the new information contained in the sources we have made available, 
and on any other information. We particularly seek comments and 
information on:
    (1) Life history, ecology, and habitat use of the mountain plover;
    (2) Range, distribution, population size, and population trends;
    (3) Positive and negative effects of current and foreseeable land 
management practices on the mountain plover, including conservation 
efforts; and
    (4) Current and foreseeable threats to the mountain plover and its 
habitat in relation to the factors that are the basis for making a 
listing/delisting/downlisting determination for a species under section 
4(a) of the Act, which are:
    (a) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or 
curtailment of its habitat or range;
    (b) Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes;
    (c) Disease or predation;
    (d) The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or
    (e) Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued 
existence.
    We are especially interested in obtaining comments and information 
regarding:
     New information on life span, site fidelity, dispersal, 
and genetic diversity in the mountain plover;
     New estimates of total mountain plover numbers and their 
significance to the species' status;
     New information regarding mountain plover breeding in 
agricultural areas, and whether cultivated fields are beneficial or 
harmful to mountain plover persistence;
     Current and potential future impacts of oil and gas 
development, and wind energy development, on the mountain plover and 
its habitat;
     The significance of current and potential future changes 
in mountain plover wintering habitat, including those resulting from 
changes in water use in agriculture and conversion of agriculture to 
other land uses, especially in California; and
     The potential impacts of future climate change on the 
mountain plover and its habitat.
    As noted earlier, we also invite comments on the merits of enacting 
a special rule under section 4(d) of the Act should we list the 
mountain plover as a threatened species under the Act. We specifically 
request comments on whether, following any final decision to list the 
mountain plover, a special rule would be necessary and advisable to 
provide for the conservation of the species and, if so, what form this 
rule should take and why.
    You may submit your comments and information concerning the 
proposed rule by one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. If 
you submit information via http://www.regulations.gov, your entire 
submission--including any personal identifying information--will be 
posted on the website. If you submit a hardcopy that includes personal 
identifying information, you may request at the top of your document 
that we withhold this personal identifying 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.
    Information and materials we receive, as well as supporting 
documentation we used in preparing this proposal and other listing 
determinations for the species, 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, Colorado 
Ecological Services Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). If 
you submitted comments or information previously on the proposed rule 
or during any of the previous open comment periods related to this 
proposed rule, please do not resubmit them. These comments have been 
incorporated into the public record and will be fully considered in the 
preparation of our final determination.
    The Service will finalize a new listing determination after we have 
completed our review of the best available scientific and commercial 
information, including information and comments submitted during this 
comment period.

Authors

    The primary authors of this notice are staff members of the 
Colorado Ecological Services Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
(see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

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--[AMENDED]

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

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1361-1407; 16 U.S.C. 1531-1544; 16 U.S.C. 
4201-4245; Pub. L. 99-625, 100 Stat. 3500; unless otherwise noted.


[[Page 37358]]


    2. In Sec.  17.11(h), add an entry for ``Plover, mountain'' under 
BIRDS in the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife to read as 
follows:


Sec.  17.11  Endangered and threatened wildlife.

* * * * *
    (h) * * *

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                    Species                                           Vertebrate
------------------------------------------------                   population where                                         Critical
                                                  Historic range     endangered or        Status         When listed        habitat       Special rules
         Common name            Scientific name                       threatened
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                                                                      * * * * * * *
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                                                                          BIRDS
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                      * * * * * * *
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Plover, mountain               Charadrius        U.S.A. (Western)  Entire            T                                  NA               NA
                                montanus
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                                                                      * * * * * * *
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    Dated: June 2, 2010
Daniel M. Ashe,
Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2010-15583 Filed 6-28- 10; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-S