[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 44 (Tuesday, March 6, 2012)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 13393-13447]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-3903]



[[Page 13393]]

Vol. 77

Tuesday,

No. 44

March 6, 2012

Part II





Department of the Interior





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Fish and Wildlife Service





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50 CFR Chapter 17





 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Revised Endangered 
Status, Revised Critical Habitat Designation, and Taxonomic Revision 
for Monardella linoides ssp. viminea; Final Rule

Federal Register / Vol. 77 , No. 44 / Tuesday, March 6, 2012 / Rules 
and Regulations

[[Page 13394]]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2010-0076; 4500030114]
RIN 1018-AX18


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Revised Endangered 
Status, Revised Critical Habitat Designation, and Taxonomic Revision 
for Monardella linoides ssp. viminea

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), recognize 
the recent change to the taxonomy of the currently endangered plant 
taxon, Monardella linoides ssp. viminea, in which the subspecies was 
split into two distinct full species, Monardella viminea (willowy 
monardella) and Monardella stoneana (Jennifer's monardella). Because 
the original subspecies, Monardella linoides ssp. viminea, was listed 
as endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended 
(Act), we reviewed and updated the threats analysis that we completed 
for the taxon in 1998, when it was listed as a subspecies. We also 
reviewed the status of the new species, Monardella stoneana. We retain 
the listing status of Monardella viminea as endangered, and we remove 
protections afforded by the Act from those individuals now recognized 
as the separate species, Monardella stoneana, because the new species 
does not meet the definition of endangered or threatened under the Act. 
We also revise designated critical habitat for Monardella viminea. In 
total, approximately 122 acres (50 hectares) in San Diego County, 
California, fall within the boundaries of the critical habitat 
designation. We are not designating critical habitat for Monardella 
stoneana because this species does not warrant listing under the Act.

DATES: This rule becomes effective on April 5, 2012.

ADDRESSES: This final rule and the associated final economic analysis 
are available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov. Comments 
and materials received, as well as supporting documentation used in 
preparing this final rule, are available for public inspection, by 
appointment, during normal business hours, at the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, 6010 Hidden Valley 
Road, Suite 101, Carlsbad, CA 92011; telephone 760-431-9440; facsimile 
760-431-5901.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jim Bartel, Field Supervisor, U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, 6010 
Hidden Valley Road, Suite 101, Carlsbad, CA 92011; telephone 760-431-
9440; facsimile 760-431-5901. If you use a telecommunications device 
for the deaf (TDD), call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) 
at 800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    It is our intent to discuss only those topics directly relevant to 
our recognition of the taxonomic split of Monardella linoides ssp. 
viminea into two distinct taxa: Monardella viminea (willowy monardella) 
and Monardella stoneana (Jennifer's monardella), the retention of M. 
viminea as endangered, the designation of critical habitat for M. 
viminea under the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), and our conclusion that 
M. stoneana does not meet the definition of endangered or threatened 
under the Act. For more information on the biology and ecology of M. 
viminea and M. stoneana, refer to the final listing rule published in 
the Federal Register on October 13, 1998 (63 FR 54938) and the critical 
habitat rule published November 8, 2006 (71 FR 65662). For new 
information specific to M. viminea and M. stoneana, including species 
descriptions, distributions, taxonomic ranks, and nomenclature, as well 
as new information on soils, potential pollinators, and current threats 
to the two species not included in our original listing or critical 
habitat rules for M. linoides ssp. viminea, refer to the proposed rule 
to designate revised critical habitat for M. viminea published in the 
Federal Register on June 9, 2011 (76 FR 33880). For information on the 
associated draft economic analysis for the proposed rule to designate 
revised critical habitat, refer to the document published in the 
Federal Register on September 28, 2011 (76 FR 59990).

Procedural Aspects of This Rule

    In 2003, Elvin and Sanders proposed a taxonomic split of the 
previously listed entity Monardella linoides ssp. viminea into two 
distinct species. The Service initially disagreed with the segregation 
and classification of M. stoneana as a distinct species due to lack of 
sufficient supportive evidence presented by Elvin and Sanders (Bartel 
and Wallace 2004, pp. 1-3), but upon review of corroborating genetic 
analysis by Prince (2009), we accept the treatment of Elvin and Sanders 
(2003). This treatment found that some discrete occurrences that were 
previously identified as the listed entity Monardella linoides ssp. 
viminea do not in fact represent that entity, but rather a separate 
taxon. We also accept, and will use here, the scientific name 
Monardella viminea for the listed willowy monardella. Elvin and Sanders 
(2003, p. 426) provided the name Monardella stoneana for plants they 
determined were sufficiently distinct from willowy monardella to 
warrant recognition at the species rank. These authors returned willowy 
monardella to species status as M. viminea, the name under which it was 
originally described. In addition, Elvin and Sanders (2003, p. 431) 
point out its distinctiveness from M. linoides taxa in San Diego 
County, California.
    Several consequences result from the change in taxonomy and 
recognition of the species split. First, we will refer to willowy 
monardella as Monardella viminea. Second, the range, description, and 
the magnitude and immediacy of threats to the listed entity (now M. 
viminea) have changed. A map of the distributions of the two species, 
M. viminea and M. stoneana, is provided in Figure 1, below. Third, 
those individuals now recognized as M. stoneana, which are identified 
as morphologically and ecologically distinct from the listed entity (M. 
viminea), are no longer afforded protections by the Act under the name 
M. viminea.
    In this final rule, we present the results of a status review for 
Monardella viminea in consideration of its changed morphological and 
ecological description and diminished range. We also present our 
revised designation of critical habitat for M. viminea. Finally, we 
present the results of our status review for those plants previously 
protected under the Act as M. viminea, and that are now identified as 
M. stoneana, and conclude M. stoneana does not meet the definition of 
endangered or threatened under the Act.
    We first proposed recognizing the taxonomic classification of 
Monardella linoides ssp. viminea as a distinct species (M. viminea) and 
reclassifying a portion of Monardella linoides ssp. viminea as a 
separate species (M. stoneana) in the proposed listing and revised 
critical habitat rule published in the Federal Register on June 9, 2011 
(76 FR 33880). Based on the information presented in the proposed rule 
(see Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Changes Affecting Monardella linoides 
ssp. viminea of the

[[Page 13395]]

proposed rule (76 FR 33880, June 9, 2011)), and acceptance by the 
scientific community, we finalize the taxonomic change and amend the 
List of Endangered and Threatened Plants at 50 Code of Federal 
Regulations (CFR) 17.12(h) to identify the listed entity as 
``Monardella viminea (willowy monardella).''
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR06MR12.000

BILLING CODE 4310-55-C

New Information on Occurrences of Monardella viminea and Monardella 
stoneana

    In this document we use the word ``occurrence'' when describing the 
location of Monardella viminea plants. In this context, we are 
referring to point locations that contain one or more M. viminea 
individuals or to polygons representing the boundaries of clumps of 
plants. These point locations or polygons may include one or more of 
the ``element occurrences'' (EOs) as described by the California 
Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) in the California Natural Diversity 
Database (CNDDB). Utilizing EOs to describe locations of M. viminea 
plants in our listing and critical habitat analyses is

[[Page 13396]]

consistent with terminology used by the Service in previous rules for 
this species. It also provides clarity in referencing clumps of plants 
in canyons that may be referred to by multiple or changing names. In 
all other respects in this document, ``element occurrence'' or 
``occurrence'' references are those from the cumulative data of the 
CNDDB (2011a, EOs 1-31).
    As discussed in the June 9, 2011, proposed rule (76 FR 33880), when 
we listed Monardella linoides ssp. viminea, we considered 20 
occurrences to be extant in the United States (see Table 1) (63 FR 
54938, October 13, 1998). As of 2008, 9 occurrences were considered 
extirpated, leaving 11 extant occurrences (Service 2008, p. 5). All 
nine extirpated occurrences were in central San Diego County in the 
range of what is now considered to be M. viminea. Based on updated 
information from Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Miramar (Kassebaum 
2010, pers. comm.), 2 additional occurrences of those 11 extant 
occurrences have since been extirpated, again in the range of M. 
viminea. Additionally, as a result of taxonomic changes, the two 
southernmost element occurrences previously considered M. linoides ssp. 
viminea were reclassified as M. stoneana after the 2008 5-year review, 
leaving seven extant occurrences of M. viminea (see Table 1). We now 
consider an eighth occurrence to be extant, as described in the 
following paragraphs.

 Table 1--List of Element Occurrences of Monardella viminea and Monardella stoneana by Location, and When Those
                                       Occurrences Were Known To Be Extant
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                                   CNDDB Element       Known and
            Location              Occurrence  No.      extant at      Extant at 2008       Currently extant
                                        (EO)            listing        5-yr review
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Monardella viminea:
    Lopez Canyon...............  1................               X                X   X
    Cemetery Canyon............  3................               X   ...............  ..........................
    Carroll Canyon.............  4................               X   ...............  ..........................
    Sycamore Canyon............  8................               X                X   X
    San Clemente Canyon........  11...............               X   ...............  ..........................
    San Clemente Canyon........  12...............               X   ...............  X
    San Clemente Canyon........  13...............               X   ...............  ..........................
    Murphy Canyon..............  14...............               X   ...............  ..........................
    Murphy Canyon..............  15...............               X                X   ..........................
    San Clemente Canyon........  16...............               X   ...............  ..........................
    San Clemente Canyon........  17...............               X   ...............  ..........................
    West Sycamore Canyon.......  21...............               X                X   X
    Elanus Canyon..............  24...............               X                X   X
    Carroll Canyon.............  25...............               X   ...............  ..........................
    Spring Canyon..............  26...............               X                X   X
    San Clemente Canyon........  27...............               X                X   X
    Otay Lakes.................  28...............               X                X   Now considered
                                                                                      M. stoneana EO4
    Sycamore Canyon............  29...............               X                X   X
    Miramar NAS................  31...............               X                X   ..........................
    Marron Valley..............  none.............               X                X   Now considered
                                                                                      M. stoneana EO1
Monardella stoneana:
    Marron Valley..............  1................               X                X   X
    NW Otay Mountain...........  2................  ...............               X   X
    NW Otay Mountain...........  3................  ...............               X   X
    Otay Lakes.................  4................               X                X    X
    Buschalaugh Cove...........  5................  ...............               X   X
    Cottonwood Creek...........  6................  ...............               X   X
    Copper Canyon..............  7................  ...............               X   X
    S. of Otay Mountain........  8................  ...............               X   X
    Tecate Peak................  9................  ...............               X   X
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sources: CNDDB 1998, 2007, 2011a, 2011b; Service 2008, Table 1; Kassebaum 2010, pers. comm.

    After a new review of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) data 
and the most recent survey report from MCAS Miramar, we found that an 
occurrence of M. viminea in San Clemente Canyon had incorrectly been 
reported as extirpated both in the 2008 5-year review and the June 9, 
2011, proposed rule. Further reviews of data from MCAS Miramar showed 
that plants have continuously been present in the location that was 
incorrectly considered extirpated (Rebman and Dossey 2006, Map 10; 
Tierra Data 2011, Map 6). Therefore, we now recognize EO 12 as extant. 
We believe there are now eight element occurrences of M. viminea, and 
that these eight EOs were extant at the time of listing. Therefore, we 
currently consider only 10 occurrences to be extirpated rather than 11. 
We are not aware of any new occurrences of M. viminea, other than those 
planted in 2007, as a conservation measure to offset impacts associated 
with the development of the Carroll Canyon Business Park. More 
information on four translocated occurrences is discussed in the 
Geographic Range and Status section in the proposed rule (76 FR 33880, 
June 9, 2011).
    In addition to two occurrences now considered to be Monardella 
stoneana (but considered at listing to be M. linoides ssp. viminea), we 
now know of an additional seven occurrences of M. stoneana, all in what 
was once the southern range of M. linoides ssp. viminea (Figure 1, 
above). We presume those occurrences were extant at the time M. 
linoides ssp. viminea was listed. Although we reported in the June 9, 
2011, proposed rule that the single plant in the M. stoneana occurrence 
at Otay

[[Page 13397]]

Lakes (M. stoneana EO 4, formerly M. viminea EO 28) was extirpated by 
the 2007 Harris Fire, 2011 surveys by the City of San Diego reported a 
single plant had resprouted in the same location (City of San Diego 
2011a, p. 229). The monitor for the city reported that the plant was of 
robust size and height, making it more likely to be a resprout than a 
juvenile or seedling (Miller 2011, pers. comm.). Therefore, in this 
final rule, we now consider nine occurrences of M. stoneana to be 
extant.
    Throughout this document we refer to previous reports and 
documents, including Federal Register publications. Information 
contained in documents issued prior to the present document may 
reference Monardella viminea as M. linoides ssp. viminea, and may 
include statements or data referring to plants or populations now known 
as M. stoneana.

Summary of Changes From Proposed Rule

    In preparing this final listing rule and critical habitat 
designation, we reviewed and considered comments from the public on the 
proposed listing of Monardella viminea, proposed removal of plants now 
recognized as M. stoneana from the listed entity, and proposed 
designation of critical habitat for M. viminea published on June 9, 
2011 (76 FR 33880). As a result of public comments and peer review, we 
made slight changes to our analysis of threats for both species and the 
revised designation of critical habitat for M. viminea. These changes 
are as follows:
    (1) We added information from a Monardella viminea habitat study 
conducted by researchers at MCAS Miramar. The study examined three 
different treatments for enhancing habitat conditions for M. viminea: 
hand removal of nonnative grasses, herbicide application to nonnative 
grasses, and application of cobble to provide rock mulch (AMEC 2011, p. 
1-1). We also added findings from the study to the Factor A and Factor 
C analyses for M. viminea, and to the Special Management Considerations 
or Protection section. Additionally, we added information on habitat 
fragmentation to the Factor A analysis for M. viminea.
    (2) Based on information submitted by commenters, we added 
information to the five-factor analyses for both species, such as the 
effects of trampling on Monardella viminea, the effects of road 
construction on M. stoneana, and factors influencing the lack of 
recruitment for M. viminea.
    (3) Based on a suggestion we received from a commenter, we added a 
discussion of protections afforded by the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. 
1251 et seq.) to the five-factor analyses for both species.
    (4) Based on information presented by a commenter, we revised the 
list of activities requiring consultation for critical habitat, 
including removal of activities that have previously had no detrimental 
effect on Monardella viminea (such as fire retardant use). We also 
removed mention of herbicide application as an activity that requires 
consultation because small-scale application of herbicide on weeds in 
direct proximity to M. viminea has a demonstrated benefit to the 
species.
    (5) We updated this final rule to include information about 
protections afforded to Monardella viminea by the newly approved 
integrated natural resources management plan (INRMP) for MCAS Miramar.
    (6) Based on information submitted by commenters, we updated the 
Special Management Considerations or Protection section with measures 
on how to manage and protect essential habitat that supports Monardella 
viminea.
    (7) Based on further communication with managers of Otay Mountain 
Ecological Reserve, we updated the management policies and guidelines 
for the Reserve in the Factor D discussion for Monardella stoneana.
    (8) We added further information on possible threats posed by 
illegal border crossings to Factor A for Monardella stoneana.
    (9) As requested by a commenter, we revised the Altered Hydrology 
section in the Factor A analysis for Monardella viminea to address 
changing watershed conditions in the range of the species.
    (10) The areas designated as critical habitat in this final rule 
constitute a slight revision of the critical habitat for Monardella 
viminea we proposed on June 9, 2011 (76 FR 33880). During the first 
public comment period, we received notification from MCAS Miramar that 
we were not using the most recent boundaries in the proposed rule 
(Dept. of Environmental Management, MCAS Miramar 2011, p. 3). While 
there was no change in the total area identified as critical habitat, 
ownership area totals in some areas did change, as shown in Table 2.

                                       Table 2--Changes in Ownership Area Totals Between Proposed and Final Rules
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                                                                     Proposed critical habitat                        Final critical habitat
                                                         -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                            Federal ac    State/local ac    Private ac      Federal ac    State/local ac    Private ac
                                                               (ha)            (ha)            (ha)            (ha)            (ha)            (ha)
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Unit 1--Sycamore Canyon.................................        156 (63)         25 (10)        170 (69)        153 (62)          22 (8)        175 (70)
Unit 2--West Sycamore Canyon............................       550 (222)         27 (11)           0 (0)       551 (223)         26 (11)           0 (0)
Unit 3--Spring Canyon...................................        176 (71)           5 (2)         92 (37)        170 (69)           5 (2)         98 (40)
Unit 4--East San Clemente Canyon........................       454 (184)          13 (5)           0 (0)       462 (187)           5 (2)           0 (0)
Unit 5--West San Clemente Canyon........................        210 (85)          16 (7)          1 (<1)        227 (92)           0 (0)           0 (0)
                                                         -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total...............................................     1,546 (626)         86 (35)       263 (106)     1,563 (663)         58 (24)       273 (111)
                                                         -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total Essential Habitat.............................  ..............  ..............     1,895 (767)  ..............  ..............     1,895 (767)
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                                                             Exempted        Proposed        Proposed        Exempted       Excluded **     Designated
                                                                             excluded      designation *
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                                                             1,546 (626)        208 (84)       348 (141)     1,563 (663)        210 (85)        122 (50)
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Values in this table may not sum due to rounding.
* ``Proposed designation'' includes acreages proposed for exclusion.
** Excluded acreages include private lands covered by the City of San Diego and County of San Diego Subarea Plans under the San Diego Multiple Species
  Conservation Program (MSCP).


[[Page 13398]]

    (11) Table 3 of the proposed rule incorrectly listed Unit 1 as 
consisting of 158 ac (64 ha) of private land and 36 ac (15 ha) of state 
and local land. The table should have shown 170 ac (69 ha) of private 
land and 25 ac (10 ha) of state and local land.
    (12) In the June 9, 2011, proposed revised rule, we stated that we 
were considering lands owned by or under the jurisdiction of the City 
of San Diego Subarea Plan and the County of San Diego Subarea Plan 
under the San Diego Multiple Species Conservation Program (MSCP) for 
exclusion under section 4(b)(2) of the Act. We have now made a final 
determination that the benefits of exclusion outweigh the benefits of 
inclusion of lands covered by the City and County Subarea Plans and 
that exclusion of these lands will not result in extinction of the 
species. Therefore, the Secretary is exercising his discretion to 
exclude approximately 177 acres (ac) (72 hectares (ha)) of land within 
the boundaries of the City of San Diego Subarea Plan and 32 ac (13 ha) 
within the County of San Diego Subarea Plan from this final 
designation. For a complete discussion of the benefits of inclusion and 
exclusion, see the Exclusions section below.
    Only information relevant to actions described in this final rule 
is provided below. For additional information on Monardella viminea, 
including a detailed description of its life history and habitat, refer 
to the final listing rule published in the Federal Register on October 
13, 1998 (63 FR 54938), the final rule designating critical habitat 
published in the Federal Register on November 8, 2006 (71 FR 65662), 
the 5-year review completed in March 2008 (Service 2008), and the 
proposed rule published on June 9, 2011 (76 FR 33880). Actions 
described below include status reviews of M. viminea and M. stoneana 
and a revision of the critical habitat designation for M. viminea.

Previous Federal Actions

    Monardella linoides ssp. viminea was listed as endangered in 1998 
(63 FR 54938, October 13, 1998). An account of Federal actions prior to 
listing may be found in the listing rule (63 FR 54938, October 13, 
1998). On November 9, 2005, we published a proposed rule to designate 
critical habitat for M. linoides ssp. viminea (70 FR 67956). On 
November 8, 2006 (71 FR 65662), we published our final rule designating 
critical habitat for M. linoides ssp. viminea. On January 14, 2009, the 
Center for Biological Diversity filed a complaint in the U.S. District 
Court for the Southern District of California challenging our 
designation of critical habitat for M. linoides ssp. viminea (Center 
for Biological Diversity v. United States Fish and Wildlife Service and 
Dirk Kempthorne, Secretary of the Interior, Case No. 3:09-CV-0050-MMA-
AJB). A settlement agreement was reached with the plaintiffs dated 
November 14, 2009, in which we agreed to submit a proposed revised 
critical habitat designation to the Federal Register for publication by 
February 18, 2011, and a final revised critical habitat designation to 
the Federal Register for publication by February 17, 2012. By order 
dated February 10, 2011, the district court approved a modification to 
the settlement agreement that extended the deadline for Federal 
Register submission to June 18, 2011, for the proposed revised critical 
habitat designation; we published the proposed rule in the Federal 
Register on June 9, 2011 (76 FR 33880). The deadline for submission of 
a final revised critical habitat designation to the Federal Register 
remains February 17, 2012. This rule complies with the conditions of 
the settlement agreement.

Summary of Factors Affecting Monardella viminea

    Section 4 of the Act and its implementing regulations (50 CFR part 
424) set forth the procedures for adding species to the Federal Lists 
of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. A species may be 
determined to be an endangered or threatened species due to one or more 
of the five factors described in section 4(a)(1) of the Act: (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. Listing actions may 
be warranted based on any of the above threat factors, singly or in 
combination. Each of these factors for Monardella viminea is discussed 
below.

A. The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment 
of Its Habitat or Range

Urbanization/Development
    The original listing rule identified urban and residential 
development as a threat to Monardella linoides ssp. viminea (63 FR 
54938, October 13, 1998). Prior to 1992, San Diego had grown by ``a 
factor of 10 over the last 50 years'' (Soule et al. 1992, p. 39). At 
the time of listing, two large occurrences were located on private 
property, and development proposals existed for one of the parcels. 
Since listing, one of those two occurrences, EO 25 from the Carroll 
Canyon Business Park (CNDDB 2011a), has been extirpated due to 
construction activities. Additionally, EO 14 in Murphy Canyon was 
believed extirpated after listing due to lingering impacts from 
construction activity near Highway 15 (CNDDB 2011a).
    The Cities of San Diego and Santee have purchased private property 
as reserve land for Monardella viminea. Most occurrences are now found 
on land conserved or owned by MCAS Miramar, the City of San Diego, and 
the County of San Diego. Lands owned by the City and County of San 
Diego are covered by the MSCP, which is a habitat conservation plan 
(HCP) intended to maintain and enhance biological diversity in the San 
Diego region, and to conserve viable populations of endangered, 
threatened, and key sensitive species and their habitats (including M. 
viminea). The MSCP designates lands to be set aside for biological 
preserves. However, 10 percent of habitat for M. viminea occurs on 
privately owned land outside of the reserve areas. This land includes 
areas in the City of Santee outside of the purchased reserve land, and 
one of the four transplanted occurrences in Carroll Canyon within the 
boundaries of the City of San Diego (Ince and Krantz 2008, p. 1). Any 
sites outside of the MSCP reserve areas are vulnerable to development. 
Portions of Sycamore Canyon where M. viminea occurs were previously 
slated for development (Service 2003a, pp. 1-23), although the project 
has been put on hold due to bankruptcy issues, and no development is 
currently scheduled (San Diego Business Journal 2011, pp. 1-3).
    Another potential impact of increased urbanization is habitat 
fragmentation. As noted in the New Information on Occurrences of 
Monardella viminea and Monardella stoneana section above, 11 
occurrences of Monardella viminea have been extirpated since listing. 
To some extent, M. viminea evolved in a naturally fragmented landscape, 
as it occurs in individual drainages. In natural conditions, some 
habitat connectivity could be provided through pollinator movement 
between occurrences in close proximity to each other. Uninterrupted 
habitat within canyons is also important for maintaining the downstream 
flows that create secondary benches and sandbars upon which M. viminea 
grows, and for scouring nonnative grasses from those areas. Thus, under 
unaltered conditions, habitat fragmentation is not a threat to

[[Page 13399]]

M. viminea. However, urbanization (particularly in areas surrounding 
occurrences of M. viminea in Carroll and Lopez Canyons) interrupts 
pollinator movement and natural streamflow in the canyons, and 
urbanization could prevent movement and decrease genetic diversity of 
the species. Additionally, in San Clemente Canyon, the Sim J. Harris 
aggregate mine acts as a barrier to the physical and biotic continuity, 
and as a barrier to natural water flow between the east and west halves 
of the canyon, although natural habitat for pollinators remains.
    The occurrences discussed above represent only a small proportion 
of habitat that contains clumps of Monardella viminea. Seventy percent 
of land where M. viminea occurs is owned and managed by MCAS Miramar, 
and most remaining large occurrences (with more than 100 clumps of M. 
viminea) are found on MCAS Miramar, with the exception of Spring Canyon 
(CNPS 2011, p. 7). All M. viminea on MCAS Miramar occurs within Level I 
or II management areas (see Exemptions below for explanation of the two 
levels of management). Management areas on MCAS Miramar provide a guide 
for mitigation actions for development on the base, and are organized 
based ``on differing resource conservation requirements and management 
concerns'' (Gene Stout and Associates et al. 2011, p. 5-2). Level I and 
II management areas are those that contain sensitive species. Specific 
mitigation measures within Level I and II management areas depend on 
the surrounding habitat type. For temporary habitat loss in riparian 
corridors, all actions must include measures to minimize direct impact 
to the habitat, decrease erosion and runoff, and provide for a 2:1 
ratio of habitat enhancement and restoration for endangered and 
threatened plants. For permanent habitat loss within riparian areas 
where listed species are present, the following actions occur: Creation 
of a corridor for wildlife movement of 500 feet (ft) (150 meters (m)) 
or less, assurance of no net loss of wetland habitat, and suitable 
compensation for occupied habitat at a 2:1 ratio (Gene Stout and 
Associates et al. 2011, Tables 6.2.2.2a, 6.2.2.2b). Therefore, although 
urbanization does threaten some occurrences of Monardella viminea, and 
effects from habitat fragmentation may occur on the edge of the 
species' range, the threat to the species' habitat is not significant 
across the range of the species.
Sand and Gravel Mining
    Sand and gravel mining was identified at the time of listing as 
adversely affecting Monardella linoides ssp.  viminea (63 FR 54938, 
October 13, 1998). Sand and gravel mining has broad-scale disruptive 
qualities to native ecosystems (Kondolf et al. 2002, p. 56). The larger 
(340 individuals) of two occurrences found on private land at the time 
of listing was identified as being threatened by sand and gravel 
mining, which had the potential to eliminate or disrupt these local 
populations through changes in hydrology and elimination of individual 
plants. Since listing, all occurrences vulnerable to mining impacts 
have been extirpated, either by altered drainage patterns or 
construction unrelated to mining operations (CNDDB 2011a, EOs 3 and 
25). Currently, we are not aware of any ongoing mining activities or 
plans for future mining activities that would impact the species. While 
we may not be fully aware of all potential gravel mining activities on 
private lands, few M. viminea occurrences are on private land. 
Therefore, we do not consider sand and gravel mining to be a threat to 
M. viminea now or in the future.
Altered Hydrology
    The original listing rule identified altered hydrology as a threat 
to Monardella linoides ssp. viminea, particularly in those portions of 
the habitat now considered to be in the range of M. viminea (63 FR 
54938, October 13, 1998). Monardella viminea requires a natural 
hydrological system to maintain and deposit material for the secondary 
benches and streambeds on which the species grows (Scheid 1985, pp. 30-
31, 34-35). Upstream development can disrupt this regime, increasing 
storm runoff that can erode, rather than establish, the sandy banks and 
secondary benches upon which M. viminea grows. White and Greer (2006, 
p. 131) found that streamflow conditions in the Los Pe[ntilde]asquitos 
Creek system, which includes M. viminea occurrences in Carroll and 
Lopez Canyons, have changed drastically from historical conditions. 
Their study estimated that urbanization of the area increased from 9 
percent in 1973, to 37 percent in 2000, and that, correspondingly, 
runoff in the canyons increased by 200 percent over that same period 
(White and Greer 2006, p. 134). Further, strong floods within the 
watershed have increased from 350 to 700 percent over the same time 
period, with no corresponding increase in rainfall (White and Greer 
2006, pp. 134-135). Such watershed changes can alter the riparian 
vegetation community through changes in median and minimum daily 
discharges, dry season runoff, and flood magnitudes (White and Greer 
2006, pp. 133-136). Increased strong floods also have the potential to 
wash away plants as large as or larger than M. viminea, as has occurred 
in Lopez Canyon during heavy runoff following winter storms (Kelly and 
Burrascano 2001, pp. 2-3), where flooding severely impacted the M. 
viminea occurrences (Kelly and Burrascano 2006, pp. 65-69).
    Additionally, increases in surface and subsurface soil moisture 
(via direct effects to the water table associated with watershed 
urbanization), and changes in streamflow from ephemeral to perennial, 
adversely affect native plants, such as Monardella viminea, that are 
adapted to a drier Mediterranean climate (cool moist winters and hot 
dry summers). Monardella viminea has been unable to adapt to the 
increased soil moisture and nonnative species incursion has been 
exacerbated by the changing water regime (underground hydrology) 
(Burrascano 2007, pers. comm.). Nonnative species can smother seedling 
and mature plants and prevent natural growth of M. viminea (Rebman and 
Dossey 2006, p. 12).
    Since listing, three occurrences have been extirpated due to 
altered hydrological patterns: Cemetery Canyon, Carroll Canyon, and 
western San Clemente Canyon (CNDDB 2011a, EOs 3, 4, 11). All three of 
these occurrences are on city-owned or private land. On MCAS Miramar, 
watersheds on the undeveloped eastern half of the base, where over 80 
percent of Monardella viminea plants are found, appear to have retained 
their natural hydrological regime (Rebman and Dossey 2006, p. 37).
    Considering the synergistic and cumulative effects of these 
combined hydrological threats exacerbated by heavy development 
surrounding several canyons, we expect that altered hydrology will 
continue to pose a significant threat to habitats that support 
Monardella viminea, particularly outside the border of MCAS Miramar. We 
anticipate that this threat will continue into the future.
Fire and Type Conversion
    The listing rule mentioned that fuel modification to exclude fire 
could affect Monardella linoides ssp. viminea (63 FR 54938, October 13, 
1998); the same is true of the reclassified M. viminea and its habitat. 
Otherwise, fire was not considered a severe threat to the species at 
the time of listing.

[[Page 13400]]

    Our understanding of fire in fire-dependent habitats has changed 
since Monardella linoides ssp. viminea was listed in 1998 (Dyer 2002, 
pp. 295-296). Fire is a natural component for regeneration and 
maintenance of M. viminea habitat. The species' habitat needs 
concerning fire seem contradictory; a total lack of fire for long 
periods is undesirable, because the fires that eventually occur can be 
catastrophic, yet re-introduction of fire (either accidentally or 
purposefully) is also undesirable, because such fire often becomes 
catastrophic (megafire) as a result of high fuel loads due to previous 
lack of fire. This paradox has resulted from a disruption of the 
natural fire regime.
    Fire frequency has increased in North American Mediterranean 
shrublands since about the 1950s, and studies indicate that southern 
California has the greatest increase in wildfire ignitions, primarily 
due to an increase in population density beginning in the 1960s, thus 
increasing the number of human-caused fires (Keeley and Fotheringham 
2003, p. 240). Increased wildfire frequency and decreased fire return 
interval, in conjunction with other effects of urbanization, such as 
increased nitrogen deposition and habitat disturbance due to foot and 
vehicle traffic, are believed to have resulted in the conversion of 
large areas of coastal sage scrub to nonnative grasslands in southern 
California (Service 2003b, pp. 57-62; Brooks et al. 2004, p. 677; 
Keeley et al. 2005, p. 2109; Marschalek and Klein 2010, p. 8). This 
type conversion (conversion of one type of habitat to another) produces 
a positive feedback mechanism resulting in more frequent fires and 
increasing nonnative plant cover (Brooks et al. 2004, p. 677; Keeley et 
al. 2005, p. 2109).
    Threats to the habitat from fire exclusion, which impact processes 
that historically created and maintained suitable habitat for 
Monardella viminea, may make the species even more vulnerable to 
extinction. The long-term ecological effects of fire exclusion have not 
been specifically detailed for M. viminea; however, we believe the 
effects of fire, fire suppression, and fire management in southern 
California habitats will be similar to those at locations in the Rocky, 
Cascade, and Sierra Nevada mountain ranges (Keane et al. 2002, pp. 15-
16). Fire exclusion in southern California habitat likely affects: (1) 
Nutrient recycling, (2) natural regulation of succession via selecting 
and regenerating plants, (3) biological diversity, (4) biomass, (5) 
insect and disease populations, (6) interaction between plants and 
animals, and (7) biological and biogeochemical processes (soil property 
alteration) (Keane et al. 2002, p. 8). Where naturally occurring fire 
is excluded, species adapted to fire (such as M. viminea) are often 
replaced by nonnative invasive species better suited to the new fire 
regime (Keane et al. 2002, p. 9).
    Some fire management is provided by California Department of 
Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), which is both an emergency 
response and resource protection agency. Though CAL FIRE has signed a 
document to assist in management of backcountry areas in San Diego 
County, including Sycamore Canyon Preserve with its Monardella viminea 
occurrence (Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) 2009, p. 14; 
County of San Diego 2011a, p. 1), the land protected under this 
agreement makes up only 2 percent of all M. viminea habitat. Therefore, 
although CAL FIRE provides a benefit to Sycamore Canyon Preserve and M. 
viminea habitat, it does not alleviate the threat to the species from 
type conversion due to frequent fire.
    Therefore, given the conversion of coastal sage scrub to nonnative 
grasses and the changing fire regime of southern California, we 
consider type conversion and the habitat effects of altered fire 
regime, particularly from increased frequency of fire, to be a 
significant threat to habitat supporting Monardella viminea both now 
and in the future.
Summary of Factor A
    Monardella viminea continues to be threatened by habitat loss and 
degradation by altered hydrological regimes that can result in 
uncontrollable flood events that negatively impact M. viminea by 
washing away plants, increasing erosion of sandbars and secondary 
benches where M. viminea grows, and increasing nonnative plant 
establishment. Habitat of this species is also threatened by an 
unnatural fire regime resulting from manmade disturbances and 
activities, which in turn can accelerate invasion of the area by 
nonnative plants. Of the eight natural and four transplanted 
occurrences of M. viminea, those in areas where continued development 
is anticipated may experience further alterations to their hydrology 
and unnatural fire regimes. These threats to M. viminea habitat are 
occurring now and are expected to continue into the future.

B. Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or 
Educational Purposes

    To our knowledge, no commercial use of Monardella viminea exists. 
The listing rule suggested that professional and private botanical 
collecting could exacerbate the extirpation threat to the species due 
to botanists favoring rare or declining species (63 FR 54938, October 
13, 1998). However, we are not currently aware of any interest by 
botanists in collecting M. viminea. Therefore, we do not believe that 
overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes constitutes a threat to this species now or in the 
future.

C. Disease or Predation

    Neither disease nor predation was known to be a threat affecting 
Monardella linoides ssp. viminea at the time of listing (63 FR 54938, 
October 13, 1998). Volunteers have since noted browsing impacts to 
occurrences of M. viminea in Lopez Canyon by rabbits and deer (Kelly 
and Burrascano 2001, p. 5). Monitors at MCAS Miramar reported heavy 
herbivory in multiple canyons later in the season after much of the 
species' growth had occurred (AMEC 2011, p. 4-9). Many or most seed 
heads were consumed by herbivores in Spring Canyon. However, as M. 
viminea resprouts from perennial root crowns each year, herbivory is 
not likely to impact its survival or vigor (AMEC 2011, p. 5-1). 
Therefore, based on the best available scientific and commercial 
information, neither disease nor herbivory constitutes a threat to M. 
viminea now or in the future.

D. The Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    At the time of listing, regulatory mechanisms that provided some 
protection for Monardella linoides ssp. viminea that now apply to M. 
viminea included: (1) The Act, in cases where M. viminea co-occurred 
with a federally listed species; (2) the California Endangered Species 
Act (CESA); (3) the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA); (4) 
conservation plans pursuant to California's Natural Community 
Conservation Planning (NCCP) Act; (5) land acquisition and management 
by Federal, State, or local agencies, or by private groups and 
organizations; (6) The Clean Water Act (CWA); and (7) local laws and 
regulations. The listing rule analyzed the potential level of 
protection provided by these regulatory mechanisms (63 FR 54938, 
October 13, 1998).

[[Page 13401]]

    Currently, Monardella linoides ssp. viminea is listed as endangered 
under the Act (63 FR 54938, October 13, 1998). Provisions for its 
protection and recovery are outlined in sections 4, 7, 9 and 10 of the 
Act. This law is the primary mechanism for protecting M. viminea, 
which, as part of the original listed entity, currently retains 
protection under the Act. However, the protections afforded to M. 
viminea under the Act as part of M. linoides ssp. viminea, the 
currently listed entity, would continue to apply only if we determine 
to retain listed status for M. viminea. Therefore, for purposes of our 
analysis, we do not include the Act as an existing regulatory mechanism 
that protects M. viminea. We do note that M. viminea would likely 
continue to receive protection indirectly through HCPs approved under 
section 10 of the Act and Natural Community Conservation Plans (NCCPs) 
approved by the State of California that will cover M. viminea even if 
the species is not federally listed.
Federal Protections
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
    All Federal agencies are required to adhere to the National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) for 
projects they fund, authorize, or carry out. The Council on 
Environmental Quality's regulations for implementing NEPA (40 CFR 1500-
1518) state that in their environmental impact statements, agencies 
shall include a discussion on the environmental impacts of the various 
project alternatives (including the proposed action), any adverse 
environmental effects that cannot be avoided, and any irreversible or 
irretrievable commitments of resources involved (40 CFR 1502). NEPA 
itself is a disclosure law that provides an opportunity for the public 
to submit comments on a particular project and propose other 
conservation measures that may directly benefit listed species; 
however, it does not impose substantive environmental mitigation 
obligations on Federal agencies. Any such measures are typically 
voluntary in nature and are not required by the statute. Activities on 
non-Federal lands are also subject to NEPA if there is a Federal nexus.
Sikes Act
    In 1997, section 101 of the Sikes Act (16 U.S.C. 670a(a)) was 
revised by the Sikes Act Improvement Act to authorize the Secretary of 
Defense to implement a program to provide for the conservation and 
rehabilitation of natural resources on military installations. To do 
so, the Department of Defense was required to work with Federal and 
State fish and wildlife agencies to prepare an integrated natural 
resources management plan (INRMP) for each facility with significant 
natural resources. The INRMPs provide a planning tool for future 
improvements; provide for sustainable multipurpose use of the 
resources, including activities such as hunting, fishing, trapping, and 
non-consumptive uses; and allow some public access to military 
installations. At MCAS Miramar and other military installations, INRMPs 
provide direction for project development and for the management, 
conservation, and rehabilitation of natural resources, including 
Monardella viminea and its habitat.
    Approximately 70 percent of the remaining habitat for Monardella 
viminea occurs within MCAS Miramar. The Marine Corps completed an INRMP 
(2011-2015) with input from the Service (Gene Stout and Associates et 
al. 2011, p. ES-2). This new INRMP, which replaces the 2006-2010 
version, continues to benefit the species by spatially and temporally 
protecting known populations on MCAS Miramar, most of which are not 
fragmented. Over 99 percent of all M. viminea occurrences on the base 
occur in Level I or II management areas, where conservation of listed 
species, including M. viminea, is a priority (Gene Stout and Associates 
et al. 2011, pp. 5-2, Table 5-1). It should also be noted that Table 5-
1 states that only 85 percent of areas identified as essential habitat 
in the 2006 critical habitat rule for M. viminea (71 FR 65662, November 
8, 2006) fall within Level I and Level II management areas; however, 
this may be due to mapping techniques used by the Service in that rule. 
We acknowledge that MCAS Miramar does protect virtually all known 
occurrences in Level I or II management areas and that our mapping 
techniques occur on a broad scale. Further, we believe our revised 
critical habitat boundaries described in this rule better represent 
habitat essential to M. viminea (see Criteria Used to Identify Critical 
Habitat below).
    MCAS Miramar manages invasive species, a significant threat to 
Monardella viminea, in compliance with Executive Order 13112, which 
states that Federal agencies must provide for the control of invasive 
species (Gene Stout and Associates et al. 2011, p. 7-3). Invasive 
species management is a must-fund project to be carried out annually, 
following guidelines established in the National Invasive Species 
Management Plan (Gene Stout and Associates et al. 2011, p. 7-8). This 
plan mandates control measures for invasive species through a 
combination of measures, including pesticides and mechanical removal 
(National Invasive Species Council 2001, p. 37), thus providing a 
benefit by addressing type conversion that results following fires (see 
Factor A above). It also provides wildland fire management, including 
creation of fuelbreaks, a prescribed burning plan, and research on the 
effects of wildfire on local habitat types (Gene Stout and Associates 
2011, pp. 7-9-7-10). As a result, MCAS Miramar is addressing threats 
related to the potential stress of fire on individual plants (see 
Factor E discussion, below). Despite the benefits to M. viminea 
provided through the INRMP, the species continues to decline on MCAS 
Miramar, likely due to the synergistic effects of flood, reduced shrub 
numbers, and exotic species encroachment (type conversion) following 
the 2003 Cedar Fire (Tierra Data 2011, p. 26).
Clean Water Act (CWA)
    Under section 404 of the CWA (33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.), the U.S. 
Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) regulates the discharge of fill 
material into waters of the United States, which include navigable and 
isolated waters, headwaters, and adjacent wetlands (33 U.S.C. 1344). In 
general, the term ``wetlands'' refers to areas meeting the Corps' 
criteria of hydric soils, hydrology (either sufficient annual flooding 
or water on the soil surface), and hydrophytic vegetation (plants 
specifically adapted to growing in wetlands). Monardella viminea occurs 
exclusively in ephemeral streambeds, which episodically experience 
seasonal flows that typically create the conditions that meet the 
Corps' criteria for wetlands.
    Any human activity resulting in discharge of dredged or fill 
material into waters of the United States, including wetlands, requires 
a permit from the Corps. These include individual permits that are 
issued following a review of an individual application and general 
permits that authorize a category or categories of activities in a 
specific geographical location or nationwide (33 CFR parts 320-330). As 
Monardella viminea requires a natural hydrological regime to grow and 
persist, the regulation of discharge could prevent those flows from 
being interrupted or altered, thus providing a benefit to the species 
and its habitat.

[[Page 13402]]

State and Local Regulations
California's Native Plant Protection Act (NPPA) and Endangered Species 
Act (CESA)
    Under provisions of the California Native Plant Protection Act 
(NPPA) (California Fish and Game (CFG) Code, division 2, chapter 10, 
section 1900 et seq.) and CESA (CFG code, division 3, chapter 1.5, 
section 2050 et seq.), the CDFG Commission listed Monardella linoides 
ssp. viminea as endangered in 1979. Currently, the State of California 
recognizes the State-listed entity as M. viminea.
    Both CESA and NPPA include prohibitions forbidding the ``take'' of 
State endangered and threatened species (CFG code, chapter 10, section 
1908 and chapter 1.5, section 2080). Under NPPA, landowners are exempt 
from this prohibition for take of plants in the process of habitat 
modification. When landowners are notified by the State that a rare or 
endangered plant is growing on their land, the landowners are required 
to notify CDFG 10 days in advance of changing land use in order to 
allow salvage of listed plants. Sections 2081(b) and (c) of CESA allow 
CDFG to issue incidental take permits (ITPs) for State-listed 
threatened species if:
    (1) The authorized take is incidental to an otherwise lawful 
activity;
    (2) The impacts of the authorized take are minimized and fully 
mitigated;
    (3) The measures required to minimize and fully mitigate the 
impacts of the authorized take are roughly proportional in extent to 
the impact of the taking of the species, maintain the applicant's 
objectives to the greatest extent possible, and are capable of 
successful implementation;
    (4) Adequate funding is provided to implement the required 
minimization and mitigation measures and to monitor compliance with and 
the effectiveness of the measures; and
    (5) Issuance of the permit will not jeopardize the continued 
existence of a State-listed species.
    The relationship between NPPA and CESA has not been clearly defined 
under State law. NPPA, which has been characterized as an exception to 
the take prohibitions of CESA, exempts a number of activities from 
regulation, including clearing land for agricultural practices or fire 
control measures; removing endangered or rare plants when done in 
association with an approved timber harvesting plan, or mining work 
performed pursuant to Federal or State mining laws or by a public 
utility providing service to the public; or changing land use in a 
manner that could result in take, provided the landowner notifies CDFG 
at least 10 days in advance of the change. These exemptions indicate 
that CESA and NPPA may be inadequate to protect Monardella viminea and 
its habitat, including from activities such as development or 
urbanization, altered hydrology, or fuel modification.
California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)
    CEQA (Public Resources Code 21000-21177) and the CEQA Guidelines 
(California Code of Regulations, title 14, division 6, chapter 3, 
sections 15000-15387) require State and local agencies to identify the 
significant environmental impacts of their actions and to avoid or 
mitigate those impacts, if feasible. CEQA applies to projects proposed 
to be undertaken or requiring approval by State and local government 
agencies. The lead agency must complete the environmental review 
process required by CEQA, including conducting an initial study to 
identify the environmental impacts of the project and determine whether 
the identified impacts are significant. If significant impacts are 
determined, then an environmental impact report must be prepared to 
provide State and local agencies and the general public with detailed 
information about the potentially significant environmental effects 
(California Environmental Resources Evaluation System 2010). 
``Thresholds of Significance'' are comprehensive criteria used to 
define environmentally significant impacts based on quantitative and 
qualitative standards, and include impacts to biological resources such 
as candidate, sensitive, or special status species in local or regional 
plans, policies, or regulations, or by CDFG or the Service; or any 
riparian habitat or other sensitive natural community identified in 
local or regional plans, policies, regulations, or by CDFG or the 
Service (CEQA Handbook, Appendix G, 2010). Defining these significance 
thresholds helps ensure a ``rational basis for significance 
determinations'' and provides support for the final determination and 
appropriate revisions or mitigation actions to a project in order to 
develop a mitigated negative declaration rather than an environmental 
impact report (Governor's Office of Planning and Research 1994, p. 5). 
Under CEQA, projects may move forward if there is a statement of 
overriding consideration. If significant effects are identified, the 
lead agency has the option of requiring mitigation through changes in 
the project or deciding that overriding considerations make mitigation 
infeasible (CEQA section 21002). Protection of listed species through 
CEQA is, therefore, dependent upon the discretion of the lead agency 
involved.
California's Natural Community Conservation Planning (NCCP) Act
    The NCCP program is a cooperative effort between the State of 
California and numerous private and public partners with the goal of 
protecting habitats and species. An NCCP document identifies and 
provides for the regional or areawide protection of plants, animals, 
and their habitats, while allowing compatible and appropriate economic 
activity. The program began in 1991, under the State's NCCP Act (CFG 
Code 2800-2835). The primary objective of the NCCP program is to 
conserve natural communities at the ecosystem scale while accommodating 
compatible land uses (http://www.dfg.ca.gov/habcon/nccp/). Regional 
NCCPs provide protection to federally listed species, and often 
unlisted species, by conserving native habitats upon which the species 
depend. Many NCCPs are developed in conjunction with HCPs prepared 
pursuant to the Act. The City and County of San Diego Subarea Plans 
under the MSCP are discussed below.
City of San Diego and County of San Diego Subarea Plans Under the 
Multiple Species Conservation Plan (MSCP)
    The MSCP is a regional HCP and NCCP that has been in place for over 
14 years. Under the umbrella of the MSCP, each of the 12 participating 
jurisdictions, including the City of San Diego and the County of San 
Diego, is required to prepare a subarea plan that implements the goals 
of the MSCP within that particular jurisdiction. The MSCP covers 
582,243 ac (235,625 ha) within the county of San Diego. Habitat 
conservation plans and multiple species conservation plans approved 
under section 10 of the Act are intended to protect covered species by 
avoidance, minimization, and mitigation of impacts.
    The MSCP Subarea Plan for the City of San Diego includes Monardella 
viminea (referred to as M. linoides ssp. viminea) as a covered species. 
Furthermore, the most recent revision of the rare plant monitoring 
review lists M. viminea as a recognized narrow endemic (McEachern et 
al. 2007, p. 33). The changes mentioned in that report have been 
adopted into the City of San Diego's monitoring plan. The City of San 
Diego Subarea Plan affords additional protections to narrow endemic 
species beyond those provided generally for all covered species (City 
of San Diego 1997, p. 100). Impacts to

[[Page 13403]]

narrow endemic species within the plan's Multi-Habitat Planning Area 
(MHPA) are avoided, while outside the MHPA, impacts to narrow endemic 
species are addressed through avoidance, management, enhancement, or 
transplantation to areas identified for preservation (City of San Diego 
1997, p. 100). The MHPA was developed by the City of San Diego in 
cooperation with partners to target core biological resource areas for 
conservation (City of San Diego 1997, p. 1). Currently, all M. viminea 
occurrences within the City of San Diego, with the exception of one 
transplanted occurrence, are within the boundaries of the MHPA. 
However, as of January 2011, less than 20 percent of all M. viminea 
occurrences were in the City of San Diego MSCP plan area (Service 2008, 
p. 10).
    The majority of the other extant occurrences of Monardella viminea 
are on lands owned by MCAS Miramar, with small numbers of clumps 
occurring on private and county-owned lands. Occurrences in Lopez and 
Sycamore Canyons have been protected in MSCP reserves and are annually 
monitored (City of San Diego 2010a, p. 1). However, the management plan 
for the City of San Diego MSCP Subarea Plan has not been finalized; 
thus, long-term management and monitoring provisions for M. viminea are 
not in place for all areas where the species occurs. A draft plan was 
previously created for West Sycamore Canyon, and a draft plan for 
Spring Canyon is currently in development. The plan for West Sycamore 
Canyon was not finalized because construction and subsequent impacts 
did not take place. Should construction go forward, which is not 
anticipated at this time, the same restrictions would still apply and 
assist in reducing any impacts posed by construction activities. 
Additionally, a Natural Resource Management Plan has been finalized for 
Los Pe[ntilde]asquitos Canyon Preserve (EO 1) (City of San Diego 1998). 
However, even though this plan and the monitoring reports frequently 
identify management needs for M. viminea, the actions are not carried 
out on a regular basis to decrease threats to the plants such as 
nonnative vegetation encroachment and altered hydrology.
    Within the City of San Diego MSCP Subarea Plan, further protections 
are afforded by the Environmentally Sensitive Lands (ESL) ordinance. 
The ESL provides protection for sensitive biological resources 
(including Monardella viminea and its habitat) by ensuring that 
development occurs, ``in a manner that protects the overall quality of 
the resources and the natural and topographic character of the area, 
encourages a sensitive form of development, retains biodiversity and 
interconnected habitats, maximizes physical and visual public access to 
and along the shoreline, and reduces hazards due to flooding in 
specific areas while minimizing the need for construction of flood 
control facilities,'' thus providing protection against alteration of 
hydrology, a significant threat to M. viminea. The ESL was designed as 
an implementing tool for the City of San Diego Subarea Plan (City of 
San Diego 1997, p. 98).
    A monitoring plan was developed for the city-owned land within West 
Sycamore Canyon. This land, a total of 21 ac (9 ha), was included in 
the Sycamore Estates development project. This plan included monitoring 
of Monardella viminea occurrences within West Sycamore Canyon and 
provisions to prevent altered hydrology to areas containing M. viminea 
through construction of silt fences to prevent erosion and subsequent 
alteration of channel structure (T&B Planning Consultants 2001, pp. 
136, 166). However, Sycamore Estates was never completed (see Factor 
A), and no monitoring has taken place yet in West Sycamore Canyon. 
Therefore, the plan addressing construction on Sycamore Estates is not 
currently protecting M. viminea.
    The County of San Diego MSCP Subarea Plan covers 252,132 ac 
(102,035 ha) of unincorporated county lands in the southwestern portion 
of the MSCP plan area. Only 2 percent of Monardella viminea habitat 
occurs on lands within the boundaries of the County of San Diego 
Subarea Plan. The entirety of this habitat is included within the 
Sycamore Canyon Preserve established under the County of San Diego MSCP 
Subarea Plan. In 2009, a management plan was published for the 
preserve, with monitoring anticipated to begin in 2013 (County of San 
Diego 2011b, pp. 4-5). The plan specifically addresses M. viminea 
through removal of nonnative vegetation, habitat restoration, and 
implementation of a managed fire regime with a priority of protecting 
biological resources (DPR 2009, pp. 71, 76-77). Additionally, the plan 
mandates management to address the ``natural history of the species and 
to reduce the risk of catastrophic fire,'' possibly including 
prescribed fire (DPR 2009, p. 71). These measures address the stressor 
of fire on individual plants (Factor E) and the threat of type 
conversion due to frequent fire (Factor A).
Summary of Factor D
    In determining whether Monardella viminea should be retained as a 
listed species under the Act, we analyzed the adequacy of existing 
regulatory mechanisms without regard to current protections afforded 
under the Act. The majority (greater than 70 percent) of M. viminea 
occurrences are on MCAS Miramar. The base has developed and is 
implementing an INRMP under the Sikes Act that provides a benefit to M. 
viminea by protecting these occurrences (see discussion under Factor 
E), and addressing threats from type conversion due to increased fire 
frequency from historical conditions (see discussion under Factor A). 
However, notwithstanding the benefit to M. viminea provided by the 
INRMP, the synergistic effects of flood, reduced shrub numbers, 
increased fire frequency, and nonnative species encroachment are 
resulting in a decline of M. viminea on the base (see discussion under 
Factor E). While the INRMP does not eliminate threats to the species 
from megafire, we do not believe that megafire can be eliminated 
through regulatory mechanisms.
    The majority of Monardella viminea occurrences outside of MCAS 
Miramar are located on land owned by the City of San Diego and receive 
protection under the City of San Diego Subarea Plan under the MSCP, 
which was approved under CESA and the NCCP Act. The City of San Diego 
Subarea Plan provides protective mechanisms for M. viminea for proposed 
projects; these protective mechanisms are intended to address potential 
impacts that could threaten the species, such as development or actions 
that could result in altered hydrology. The City of San Diego Subarea 
Plan also includes provisions for monitoring and management through 
development of location-specific management plans for preserve land. 
However, the City of San Diego Subarea Plan has not developed final 
monitoring and management plans for Monardella viminea. As a result, 
even though occurrences of M. viminea are monitored on a yearly basis 
and management needs for M. viminea habitat are identified, 
conservation measures to ameliorate immediate and significant threats 
from nonnative species and alteration of hydrology are not actively 
being implemented because the management plans are not yet in place. 
With regard to lands covered by the County of San Diego Subarea Plan (2 
percent of the species' habitat), regulatory mechanisms are in place to 
conserve and manage M. viminea.

[[Page 13404]]

    Despite the protections afforded to Monardella viminea under the 
Sikes Act through the INRMP for MCAS Miramar and the protections 
afforded by the City and County of San Diego Subarea plans under the 
MSCP, we conclude that existing regulatory mechanisms at this time are 
inadequate to alleviate the threats to this species in the absence of 
the protections afforded by the Act.

E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued Existence

Trampling
    Trampling was identified as a threat to Monardella linoides ssp. 
viminea in the listing rule (63 FR 54938, October 13, 1998). Trampling 
of M. viminea occurs via human travel through the species' habitat. 
Monitors have noted impacts to M. viminea in Spring Canyon from hikers 
and off-road vehicles (Friends of Los Pe[ntilde]asquitos Canyon 
Preserve, Inc. 2011, p. 4), and from mountain bike trails (AMEC 2011, 
p. 2-5). However, these reports are only from Spring Canyon, and there 
is no evidence that this threat is impacting the species on a 
population level. Therefore, we do not consider trampling to be a 
significant threat across the range of the species now or into the 
future.
Nonnative Plant Species
    The listing rule identifies nonnative plants as a threat to 
Monardella linoides ssp. viminea (63 FR 54938, October 13, 1998). This 
threat is ongoing for the occurrences now considered to be M. viminea. 
San Diego County habitats have been altered by invasion of nonnative 
species (Soule et al. 1992, p. 43). Nonnative grasses, which frequently 
out-compete native species for limited resources and grow more quickly, 
can smother seedling and mature M. viminea and prevent natural growth 
(Rebman and Dossey 2006, p. 12). Nonnative plants also have the 
potential to lower water tables and alter rates of sedimentation and 
erosion by altering soil chemistry, nutrient levels, and the physical 
structure of soil. As such, they can often out-compete native species 
such as M. viminea (Kassebaum 2007, pers. comm.). Nonnative plants also 
alter the frequency, size, and intensity of fires, including flame 
duration and length, soil temperature during a fire, and after-effects 
of long-term porosity and soil glassification (high heat causes silica 
particles in the soil to fuse together to form an impermeable barrier) 
(Vitousek et al. 1997, pp. 8-9; Arno and Fiedler 2005, p. 19).
    When natural disturbance processes, such as fire regime and storm 
flow events, are altered, native and nonnative plants can overcrowd 
otherwise suitable habitat for Monardella viminea (Kassebaum 2007, 
pers. comm.). At least four occurrences of M. viminea are believed to 
have been extirpated since listing, due in part to invasion by native 
and nonnative plant species (CNDDB 2011a; EOs 11, 12, 13, and 15). 
Nonnative plants are present throughout all canyons on MCAS Miramar 
where M. viminea occurs, occupying areas that could instead be 
colonized by M. viminea seedlings (Tierra Data 2011, p. 29). Areas 
heavily invaded by nonnative grasses have fewer adult M. viminea plants 
than areas free from invasion, and areas that support adult plants have 
been reduced in size after the encroachment of nonnative species 
(Tierra Data 2011, p. 29). Additionally, an area where one occurrence 
monitored by the City of San Diego is located has undergone a rapid 
increase in nonnative plant cover from 26 percent in 2008, to 71 
percent in 2010 (City of San Diego 2008, p. 1; City of San Diego 2010a, 
p. 11).
    A recent study found that seedling establishment was highest in 
areas where nonnative vegetation was reduced through management, 
demonstrating that increased nonnative ground cover can prevent the 
establishment of Monardella viminea seedlings (AMEC 2011, p. ES-1).
    Due to the absence or alteration of natural disturbance processes 
within the range of Monardella viminea resulting in competition for 
space and nutrients, increased fire intensity, and extirpation of M. 
viminea occurrences since listing, we consider nonnative plant species 
to be a significant factor threatening the continued existence of the 
species, both now and in the future.
Small Population Size and Restricted Range
    The listing rule identifies the restricted range and small 
population size of Monardella linoides ssp. viminea as threats (63 FR 
54938, October 13, 1998). These conditions increase the possibility of 
extinction due to stochastic (random) events that are beyond the 
natural variability of the ecosystem, such as floods, fires, or drought 
(Lande 1993, p. 912; 60 FR 40549, August 9, 1995). Chance or stochastic 
events have occurred in the range of M. viminea, and may continue to 
make M. viminea vulnerable to extinction due to its small numbers and 
limited range. Of the 20 occurrences of M. viminea known at the time of 
listing, 5 had fewer than 100 individuals. None of those smallest 
populations were protected at the time of listing, and all have since 
been extirpated due to competition with nonnative grasses, 
construction, or unknown reasons (CNDDB 2011a). As stated earlier, only 
eight occurrences remain. Currently, despite their protection on 
reserve lands, many of the largest occurrences with multiple clumps and 
the healthiest-looking leaves and flowers continue to decline in 
number.
    In particular, small population size makes it difficult for 
Monardella viminea to persist while sustaining the impacts of fire, 
altered hydrological regimes, and competition with nonnative plants. 
Prior to the 2008 5-year review, monitoring of the MCAS Miramar 
occurrences indicated that the population had declined significantly 
for unknown reasons that could not be clearly linked to the cumulative 
impacts of fire, herbivory, or hydrological regimes (Rebman and Dossey 
2006, p. 14). Since the 2006 surveys by Rebman and Dossey at MCAS 
Miramar, plants damaged in the 2003 Cedar Fire have resprouted from the 
root. Despite the fact that plants have resprouted, biological monitors 
at MCAS Miramar report that the decline continues and the cause is 
unknown, with 45 percent of the population on MCAS Miramar lost since 
2002 (Kassebaum 2010, pers. comm.; Tierra Data 2011, p. 12), although 
some of this decline may be attributed to changes in survey methods 
(Tierra Data 2011, pp. 20, 22). No empirical information is readily 
available to estimate the rate of population decrease or time to 
extinction for M. viminea; however, both its habitat and population 
have decreased in size since the time of listing. Therefore, based on 
the best available scientific information, we consider that small 
population size and the declining trend of M. viminea exacerbate the 
threats attributable to other factors.
Fire
    Although the habitat occupied by Monardella viminea is dependent 
upon some form of disturbance (such as periodic fire and scouring 
floods) to reset succession processes, we considered whether megafire 
events have the potential to severely impact or eliminate populations 
by killing large numbers of individual plants, their underground 
rhizomes (stems), and the soil seed bank. Also, severe fire could leave 
the soil under hydrophobic (water repellent) conditions, resulting in 
plants receiving an inadequate amount of water (Agee 1996, pp. 157-158; 
Keeley 2001, p. 87; Keane et al. 2002, p. 8; Arno and Fiedler 2005, p. 
19).

[[Page 13405]]

    Recently, San Diego County has been impacted by multiple large fire 
events, a trend that is expected to continue due to climate change. A 
model by Snyder et al. (2002, p. 9-3) predicts higher average 
temperatures for every month in every part of California, which would 
create drier, more combustible fuel types. Also, Miller and Schlegel 
(2006, p. 6) suggest that Santa Ana conditions (characterized by hot 
dry winds and low humidity) may significantly increase during fire 
season under global climate change scenarios. Small escaped fires have 
the potential to turn into large fires due to wind, weather conditions 
of temperature and humidity, lack of low-intensity fires to reduce 
fuels, invasive vegetation, and inadequate wildfire control or 
prevention. For example, the October 2007 Harris Fire in San Diego 
County burned 20,000 ac (8,100 ha) within 4 hours of ignition 
(California Department of Forestry 2007, p. 57). Another fire near 
Orange, California, turned into a large fire in less than 12 hours, and 
an unattended campfire set off the June 2007 Angora Fire near Lake 
Tahoe in northern California, which spread 4 miles (6.4 kilometers) in 
its first 3 hours, burned over 3,000 ac (1,200 ha) (USDA 2007, p. 1).
    A narrow endemic (a species that occurs only in a very limited 
geographic region), such as Monardella viminea, could be especially 
sensitive to megafire events. One large fire could impact all or a 
large proportion of the entire area where the species is found, as 
occurred in the 2003 Cedar Fire, where 98 percent of M. viminea 
occurrences on MCAS Miramar and portions of the privately owned 
occurrences of Sycamore Canyon burned. However, despite the overlap of 
the Cedar Fire with M. viminea occurrences on MCAS Miramar, the decline 
of the burned occurrences was not as severe as initially expected, as 
plants were later able to resprout from the root. Additionally, new 
juveniles and seedlings occurred primarily on lands burned by the 2003 
Cedar Fire (Tierra Data 2011, p. 16).
    Given the increased frequency of megafire within southern 
California ecosystems, and the inability of regulatory mechanisms to 
prevent or control these fires, we find that megafire has the potential 
to impact occurrences of Monardella viminea. However, given M. 
viminea's persistence through past fires and its ability to recover 
from direct impact by fire, we do not find that megafire is a 
significant threat to individual M. viminea plants now, nor is it 
likely to become a significant threat in the future. However, as noted 
in the Factor A discussion above, we do find that type conversion due 
to altered fire regime and megafire is a threat to the habitat that 
supports M. viminea.
Climate Change
    Consideration of climate change is a component of our analyses 
under the Act. In general terms, ``climate'' refers to the mean and 
variability of various weather conditions such as temperature or 
precipitation, over a long period of time (e.g., decades, centuries, or 
thousands of years). The term ``climate change'' thus refers to a 
change in the state of the climate (whether due to natural variability, 
human activity, or both) that can be identified by changes in the mean 
or variability of its properties and that persists for an extended 
period--typically decades or longer (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate 
Change (IPCC) 2007a, p. 78).
    Changes in climate are occurring. The global mean surface air 
temperature is the most widely used measure of climate change, and 
based on extensive analyses, the IPCC concluded that warming of the 
global climate system over the past several decades is ``unequivocal'' 
(IPCC 2007a, p. 2). Other examples of climate change include 
substantial increases in precipitation in some regions of the world and 
decreases in other regions (for these and other examples, see IPCC 
2007a, p. 30; Solomon et al. 2007, pp. 35-54, 82-85). Various 
environmental changes are occurring in association with changes in 
climate (for global and regional examples, see IPCC 2007a, pp. 2-4, 30-
33; for U.S. examples, see Global Climate Change Impacts in the United 
States by Karl et al. 2009, pp. 27, 79-88).
    Most of the observed increase in global average temperature since 
the mid-20th century cannot be explained by natural variability in 
climate, and is very likely due to the observed increase in greenhouse 
gas concentrations in the atmosphere as a result of human activities, 
particularly emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel use (IPCC 
2007a, p. 5 and Figure SPM.3; Solomon et al. 2007, pp. 21-35). 
Therefore, to project future changes in temperature and other climate 
conditions, scientists use a variety of climate models (which include 
consideration of natural processes and variability) in conjunction with 
various scenarios of potential levels and timing of greenhouse gas 
emissions (e.g., Meehl et al. 2007 entire; Ganguly et al. 2009, pp. 
11555, 15558; Prinn et al. 2011, pp. 527, 529).
    The projected magnitude of average global warming for this century 
is very similar under all combinations of models and emissions 
scenarios until about 2030. Thereafter, the projections show greater 
divergence across scenarios. Despite these differences in projected 
magnitude, however, the overall trajectory is one of increased warming 
throughout this century under all scenarios, including those which 
assume a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (Meehl et al. 2007, pp. 
760-764; Ganguly et al. 2009, pp. 15555-15558; Prinn et al. 2011, pp. 
527, 529). Some of the IPCC's other key global climate projections, 
which they expressed using a framework for treatment of uncertainties 
(e.g., ``very likely'' is >90 percent probability; see Solomon et al. 
2007, pp. 22-23) include the following: (1) It is virtually certain 
there will be warmer and more frequent hot days and nights over most of 
the earth's land areas; (2) it is very likely there will be increased 
frequency of warm spells and heat waves over most land areas; (3) it is 
very likely that the frequency of heavy precipitation events, or the 
proportion of total rainfall from heavy falls, will increase over most 
areas; (4) it is likely the area affected by droughts will increase, 
that intense tropical cyclone activity will increase, and that there 
will be increased incidence of extreme high sea level (IPCC 2007b, p. 
8, Table SPM.2).
    Various types of changes in climate can have direct or indirect 
effects on species, and these may be positive or negative depending on 
the species and other relevant considerations, including interacting 
effects with habitat fragmentation or other non-climate variables 
(e.g., Franco et al. 2006; Forister et al. 2010; Galbraith et al. 2010; 
Chen et al. 2011). Scientists are projecting possible impacts and 
responses of ecological systems, habitat conditions, groups of species, 
and individual species related to changes in climate (e.g., Deutsch et 
al. 2008; Berg et al. 2009; Euskirchen et al. 2009; McKechnie and Wolf 
2009; Williams et al., 2009; Sinervo et al. 2010; Beaumont et al. 
2011). These and many other studies generally entail consideration of 
information regarding the following three main components of 
vulnerability to climate change: Exposure to changes in climate, 
sensitivity to such changes, and adaptive capacity (IPCC 2007a, p. 89; 
Glick et al. 2011, pp. 19-22). Because aspects of these components can 
vary by species and situation, as can interactions among climate and 
non-climate conditions, there is no single way to conduct our analyses. 
We use the best scientific and commercial data available to identify 
potential impacts and responses by species that may arise

[[Page 13406]]

in association with different components of climate change, including 
interactions with non-climate conditions as appropriate.
    Projected changes in climate and related impacts can vary 
substantially across and within different regions of the world (e.g., 
IPCC 2007a, pp. 8-12). Thus, although global climate projections are 
informative and in some cases are the only or the best scientific 
information available, to the extent possible we use ``downscaled'' 
climate projections that provide higher-resolution information that is 
more relevant to the spatial scales used to assess impacts to a given 
species (see Glick et al. 2011, pp. 58-61 for a discussion of 
downscaling). With regard to the area of analysis for Monardella 
viminea, downscaled projections are not available, but many scientists 
believe warmer, wetter winters and warmer, drier summers will occur 
within the next century (Field et al. 1999, pp. 2-3, 20). The impacts 
on species like M. viminea, which depend on specific hydrological 
regimes, may be more severe (Graham 1997, p. 2).
    Since approximately the time of listing in 1998, an extended 
drought in the region (San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA) 2011, 
p. 2) has created unusually dry habitat conditions. From 2001 to 2010, 
at one of the closer precipitation gauges to the species' range 
(Lindberg Field, San Diego County, California), 7 of 10 years had 
precipitation significantly below normal (SDCWA 2011, p. 2). This 
extended drought has cumulatively affected moisture regimes, riparian 
habitat, and vegetative conditions in and around suitable habitat for 
Monardella viminea, and thus increased the stress on individual plants. 
As stated above, predictions indicate that future climate change may 
lead to similar, if not more severe, drought conditions.
    The predicted future drought could impact the dynamic of the 
streambeds where Monardella viminea grows. Soil moisture and 
transportation of sediments by downstream flow have been identified as 
key habitat features required by M. viminea. The species is 
characterized as being associated with areas of standing water after 
rainfall (Elvin and Sanders 2003, p. 426). Monitors for the City of San 
Diego have observed decreased plant health and increased dormancy of 
Monardella species in years with low rainfall (City of San Diego 2003, 
p. 3; City of San Diego 2004, p. 3). Specific analyses of population 
trends as correlated to rainfall are difficult due to inconsistent 
plant count methods (City of San Diego 2004, p. 67).
    Additionally, drier conditions may result in increased fire 
frequency. As discussed under Factors A and E, this could make the 
ecosystems in which Monardella viminea currently grows more vulnerable 
to the threats of subsequent erosion and invasive species. In a 
changing climate, conditions could change in a way that would allow 
both native and nonnative plants to invade the habitat where M. viminea 
currently occurs (Graham 1997, p. 10).
    While we recognize that climate change and increased drought 
associated with climate change are important issues with potential 
effects to listed species and their habitats, the best available 
scientific information does not currently give evidence specific enough 
for us to formulate accurate predictions regarding climate change's 
effects on particular species, including Monardella viminea. Therefore, 
we do not consider global climate change a threat to M. viminea, now or 
in the future.
Summary of Factor E
    Based on a review of the best available scientific and commercial 
data regarding trampling, nonnative plant species, megafire, climate 
change, and small population size and restricted range, we find that 
nonnative plant species pose a significant threat to Monardella 
viminea. Additionally, the small population size and restricted range 
of M. viminea could exacerbate threats to the species. We find no 
evidence that trampling or other natural or manmade factors pose a 
significant threat to M. viminea, either now or into the future. We 
conclude, based on the best available scientific information, that M. 
viminea could be affected by fire impacts associated with the death of 
individual plants; however, we do not consider this a significant 
threat to the continued existence of the species. Finally, with regard 
to the direct and indirect effects of climate change on individual M. 
viminea plants and its habitat, we have no information at this point to 
demonstrate that predicted climate change poses a significant threat to 
the species either now or in the future.
Cumulative Impacts
    Several of the threats discussed in this finding have the potential 
to work in concert with each other. For example, as discussed under 
Factor A, increased fire frequency in habitats supporting Monardella 
viminea can lead to an increased density of nonnative vegetation. 
Furthermore, nonnative density can become more severe if natural flows 
within a hydrological system decrease to the point where they no longer 
scour nonnative grasses from secondary benches and sandbanks. We find 
that the synergistic effects of these threats combined with reduced 
shrub numbers have resulted in a population decline across the range of 
Monardella viminea and the continued population decline on MCAS 
Miramar. Therefore, the cumulative impacts of these threats may be even 
greater than the sum of their individual impacts and are a likely 
factor in the decline of this species.

Determination

    We have carefully assessed the best scientific and commercial 
information available regarding the past, present, and future threats 
to Monardella viminea. In our analysis, we find that threats 
attributable to Factor A (The Present or Threatened Destruction, 
Modification, or Curtailment of Its Habitat or Range) pose significant 
threats to the species, particularly through severe alteration of 
hydrology in Carroll Canyon, Lopez Canyon, and western portions of San 
Clemente Canyon. Type conversion and habitat degradation due to 
frequent fire represent significant and immediate threats to the 
species across its range. Finally, we find that threats attributable to 
Factor E (Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued 
Existence) represent significant threats to the species throughout its 
range, particularly impacts from nonnative plant species invading 
canyons where M. viminea exists. Additionally, the small population 
size of M. viminea could exacerbate the threats to the species. 
Finally, despite protections afforded to M. viminea by the City and 
County of San Diego Subarea Plans under the MSCP and the INRMP at MCAS 
Miramar, we find that other existing regulatory mechanisms as described 
under Factor D (The Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms) would 
not provide protections adequate to alleviate threats to M. viminea in 
the absence of the Act. We find no threats attributable to Factor B 
(Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or 
Educational Purposes), or Factor C (Disease or Predation) impacting the 
species.
    All threats impacting the species could be exacerbated by the 
ongoing decline of the species and the small size of the few 
occurrences that remain. Since the recent taxonomic revision of 
Monardella linoides ssp. viminea into two separate species, we now know 
that both the number of clumps and the

[[Page 13407]]

limited geographic range of M. viminea are substantially smaller than 
originally thought, as two occurrences known at the time of listing are 
now considered to be M. stoneana. Natural occurrences of M. viminea now 
occur in only six watersheds in a very limited area of San Diego 
County.
    The Act defines an endangered species as any species that is ``in 
danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its 
range'' and a threatened species as any species ``that is likely to 
become endangered throughout all or a significant portion of its range 
within the foreseeable future.'' Given the immediacy and magnitude of 
continuing significant threats, the rapid population decline 
(particularly the decline of approximately 45 percent of the population 
on MCAS Miramar since 2002), and the species' limited range and small 
population size, we find that Monardella viminea continues to be in 
danger of extinction throughout its range. Therefore, M. viminea will 
continue to be listed as an endangered species under the Act.

Significant Portion of Range

    The Act defines ``endangered species'' as any species which is ``in 
danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its 
range,'' and ``threatened species'' as any species which is ``likely to 
become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout 
all or a significant portion of its range.'' The definition of 
``species'' is also relevant to this discussion. The Act defines the 
term ``species'' as follows: ``The term `species' includes any 
subspecies of fish or wildlife or plants, and any distinct population 
segment [DPS] of any species of vertebrate fish or wildlife which 
interbreeds when mature.'' The phrase ``significant portion of its 
range'' (SPR) is not defined by the statute, and we have never 
addressed in our regulations: (1) The consequences of a determination 
that a species is either endangered or likely to become so throughout a 
significant portion of its range, but not throughout all of its range; 
or (2) what qualifies a portion of a range as ``significant.'' In this 
rule, we list Monardella viminea throughout its entire range; 
therefore, a discussion of significant portion of its range is 
unnecessary.

Summary of Factors Affecting Monardella stoneana

    As stated above in the Summary of Factors Affecting Monardella 
viminea section, the original listing rule for M. linoides ssp. viminea 
contained a discussion of these five factors, as did the 2008 5-year 
review. However, both of these documents included discussions regarding 
M. linoides ssp. viminea, without separation or recognition of M. 
stoneana or M. viminea. Below, each of the five listing factors is 
discussed for M. stoneana specifically.

A. The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment 
of Its Habitat or Range

Urbanization/Development
    The original listing rule identified urban development as one of 
the most important threats to Monardella linoides ssp. viminea (63 FR 
54938, October 13, 1998). However, the urbanization and development 
threats described in the 1998 listing rule apply only to those 
occurrences now attributable to M. viminea.
    Within the United States, Monardella stoneana occurs almost 
entirely on publicly owned land managed by the Bureau of Land 
Management (BLM) (approximately 34 percent), CDFG (approximately 55 
percent), and the City of San Diego (approximately 7 percent). The last 
4 percent (6 acres (2 hectares)) of habitat supporting M. stoneana is 
privately owned land within the boundaries of the County of San Diego's 
MSCP subarea plan and is slated for inclusion in the Otay Ranch 
Preserve. These occurrences are collectively protected from habitat 
destruction or modification due to urban development because they are 
conserved and managed within the BLM's Otay Mountain Wilderness and the 
City of San Diego's or CDFG's preserves under the MSCP, or they will be 
conserved as part of the Otay Ranch Preserve under the County of San 
Diego's MSCP subarea plan. This situation contrasts with M. viminea 
occurrences conserved by the City of San Diego that do not have 
management plans (see also Factor D discussion for M. stoneana below 
and Factor D discussion for M. viminea above). We have no information 
about the distribution, land ownership, or status of M. stoneana 
populations in Mexico.
    Based on the lack of threats from development on land currently 
occupied by M. stoneana, we do not believe that urban development is a 
threat to this species now or in the future, within the United States. 
While we are not aware of any proposed development in areas occupied by 
M. stoneana in Mexico, we are also not aware of the extent of the 
species' distribution there.
Sand and Gravel Mining
    Sand and gravel mining activities were identified as threats to 
Monardella linoides ssp. viminea in the 1998 listing rule and the 
recent 5-year review (63 FR 54938, October 13, 1998; Service 2008). As 
was the case for urban development, the threats described in the 1998 
listing rule apply only to those occurrences now attributable to M. 
viminea. We are not aware of any historical mining that has impacted 
occurrences of M. stoneana, nor are we aware of any plans for future 
mining activities that may impact the species. Therefore, we believe 
that sand and gravel mining activities do not pose a threat to the 
continued persistence of M. stoneana.
Altered Hydrology
    The original listing rule identified altered hydrology as a threat 
to Monardella linoides ssp. viminea (63 FR 54938, October 13, 1998). 
Monardella viminea depends on a natural hydrological regime to maintain 
the secondary alluvial benches and streambeds on which it grows (Scheid 
1985, pp. 30-31, 34-35); we believe the closely related M. stoneana 
does as well. Upstream development can disrupt this regime by 
increasing storm runoff, which can result in erosion of the stream 
banks and rocky cobble upon which M. stoneana grows. Floods also have 
the potential to wash away plants as large as and much larger than M. 
stoneana, as has occurred with M. viminea in Lopez Canyon (Kelly and 
Burrascano 2001, pp. 2-3). On the other hand, decreased flows increase 
the possibility of invasion by nonnative species into the creek bed, 
which can smother seedling and mature plants and disrupt growth 
processes (Rebman and Dossey 2006, p. 12).
    Habitat characteristics for Monardella stoneana have not been 
described in detail, but, as with M. viminea, alteration of hydrology 
may disrupt the natural processes and habitat characteristics that 
support M. stoneana. Monardella stoneana reportedly, ``most often grows 
among boulders, stones, and in cracks of the bedrock of these 
intermittent streams in rocky gorges'' (Elvin and Sanders 2003, p. 
429), which suggests the habitat of M. stoneana may be largely 
resistant to erosion events. More importantly, given the lack of urban 
development in the Otay area where the majority of the plants occur, 
substantial alteration of hydrology has not occurred to date and is not 
expected to occur in the future, and thus is not a threat to M. 
stoneana.

[[Page 13408]]

Fire and Type Conversion
    As discussed under Factor A for Monardella viminea, our 
understanding of the role of fire in fire-dependent habitat has changed 
since the time of listing, and the intensity of wildfire and frequency 
of megafire has increased compared to historical regimes. However, M. 
stoneana is associated with different habitat types than M. viminea. 
While M. viminea occurs in coastal sage scrub and riparian scrub, M. 
stoneana is found primarily in chaparral habitats.
    Chaparral is more resilient to the effects of frequent fire than 
coastal sage scrub, due to strong recruitment and effective germination 
after repeated fire events (Keeley 1987, p. 439; Tyler 1995, p. 1009). 
According to Keane et al. (2008, p. 702), chaparral is considered a 
crown-fire ecosystem, meaning an ecosystem that has ``mechanisms for 
recovery that include resprouting from basal burrs and long-lived seed 
banks that are stimulated to germinate by fire.'' These ecosystems are 
also resilient to high-intensity burns (Keeley et al. 2008, p. 1545).
    The fire regime in Baja California, Mexico, where some Monardella 
stoneana occurs, has not been altered by the fire suppression 
activities that have occurred in the United States. Some researchers 
claim that the chaparral habitat in Baja California is thus not 
affected by megafires that result from fire suppression activities 
(Minnich and Chou 1997, pp. 244-245; Minnich 2001, pp. 1549-1552). 
Nevertheless, Keeley and Zedler (2009, p. 86) believe that the fire 
regime in Baja California mirrors that of Southern California, 
similarly consisting of ``small fires punctuated at periodic intervals 
by large fire events.'' Therefore, we expect that impacts from fire in 
Baja California will be similar to those in San Diego County.
    Despite the resiliency of chaparral ecosystems to fire events, 
chaparral, like coastal sage scrub, has been experiencing type 
conversion in many areas of southern California. As with coastal sage 
scrub, chaparral habitat is also being invaded by nonnative species 
(Keeley 2006, p. 379). Nonnative grasses sprout more quickly after a 
fire than chaparral species, and when fire occurs more frequently than 
the natural historic regime, nonnative grasses have a greater chance to 
become established and outcompete native vegetation (Keeley 2001, pp. 
84-85).
    Monitoring data from the MSCP Rare Plant Field Surveys by the City 
of San Diego indicate that type conversion is not taking place in 
chaparral habitats surrounding occurrences of Monardella stoneana. For 
the past decade, the City of San Diego has been monitoring the 
occurrences of M. stoneana on City lands, documenting their general 
habitats, and assessing disturbances and threats. In the City of San 
Diego 2006 report, the Otay Lakes occurrence of M. stoneana (one clump 
comprised of two individuals) was reported as having ``fair to good'' 
habitat, with monitors noting that threats occurred, such as 
encroachment of tamarisk (Tamarisk spp.) and other nonnative plants (10 
percent cover), and paths created and used by illegal immigrants (City 
of San Diego 2006, p. 8). This occurrence was lost after the 2006 
survey, as described in the New Information on Occurrences of 
Monardella viminea and Monardella stoneana section of this final rule. 
Although the 2008 and 2010 survey reports for the Otay Lakes site 
describe habitat disturbances such as type conversion due to increased 
fire frequency and invasive species (particularly nonnative grasses) 
(City of San Diego 2008, p. 2; City of San Diego 2010a, p. 5), the 
surveys also indicate that the percent cover of native species has 
increased from 2008 to 2010 (from 23 to 42 percent) and the percent 
cover of nonnative species has increased (from 30 to 44 percent) (City 
of San Diego 2008, p. 1; City of San Diego 2010a; p. 5). The most 
recent survey report (2010) described the habitat at this site as 
``fair to good'' (City of San Diego 2010a, p. 254).
    For the Marron Valley site, the MSCP Rare Plant Field Surveys 
conducted by the City of San Diego recorded 95 individuals of 
Monardella linoides ssp. viminea (now M. stoneana) in its 2006 survey 
report; survey results from 2008 to 2010 were unchanged (City of San 
Diego 2010b, p. 2). Habitat at the Marron Valley site was characterized 
as ``fair to good'' from 2008 through 2010 (City of San Diego 2008, p. 
2; City of San Diego 2010a, p. 11), and improving to ``good to very 
good'' in 2011 (City of San Diego 2011a, p. 217). As with the Otay 
Lakes location, type conversion due to frequent fire (as described in 
Factor A) and invasion of nonnative grasses was described as a 
disturbance or stressor to the M. stoneana habitat (City of San Diego 
2008, p. 2; City of San Diego 2009, p. 2). Nonetheless, recent surveys 
indicate that the ground cover by native species at the Marron Valley 
site (EO 1) has increased from 2008 to 2010 (from 26 to 32 percent), 
while the ground cover by nonnative species has also increased (from 15 
to 22 percent) (City of San Diego 2008, p. 1; City of San Diego 2010a, 
p. 5). While no habitat assessment surveys are available for other M. 
stoneana occurrences on Otay Mountain or near Tecate Peak, we would 
expect the results to be similar to those from the Marron Valley and 
Otay Lakes occurrences, as they occur in the same or similar habitat 
types (San Diego Association of Government (SANDAG) 1995).
    Zedler et al. (1983, p. 816) concluded that short-interval fires on 
Otay Mountain will lead to an increase in herbs and subshrubs, such as 
Monardella stoneana, given that the ``common pattern after chaparral 
fires, like that of 1979 [on Otay Mountain], is for native and 
introduced annual herbs to dominate for the 1st yr [sic] and then 
gradually decline as the cover of shrub and subshrubs inceases [sic].'' 
Additionally, monitoring data for M. stoneana have not recorded the 
same rapid increases in nonnative vegetation as have occurred in 
habitat where M. viminea grows (City of San Diego 2008, p. 1; City of 
San Diego 2009, p. 1). While several M. viminea occurrences have been 
extirpated due to invasion of nonnative vegetation (see Factor A 
discussion for M. viminea above), no occurrences of M. stoneana have 
been similarly affected.
    Illegal immigration is another potential source of fire within 
Monardella stoneana habitat. However, the Otay Mountain area is 
predominantly wilderness area and preserve, and is unlikely to receive 
an increase in visitors. Furthermore, in 2007, construction of the 
fence along the U.S. and Mexico border and other enforcement activities 
in the Otay Mountain Wilderness area have reduced illegal immigrant 
activity in this area to near zero (Ford 2011, pers. comm.), thereby 
reducing the likelihood of fire ignition by this source. Therefore, 
fire ignition due to illegal immigrant activities is not a significant 
threat to M. stoneana now, nor is it likely to become so in the future.
    Fire remains a stressor to Monardella stoneana habitat and many 
other sensitive habitats throughout southern California. On land owned 
and managed by the CDFG and BLM, which contain approximately 88 percent 
of all occurrences of M. stoneana, fire management is provided by CAL 
FIRE. CAL FIRE's mission is the protection of lives, property, and 
natural resources from fire, and the preservation of timberlands, 
wildlands, and urban forests. CAL FIRES's protection strategies 
incorporate concepts of the National Fire Plan, the California Fire 
Plan, individual CAL FIRE Unit Fire Plans, and Community Wildfire 
Protection Plans (CWPPs). Fire Protection Plans outline the fire

[[Page 13409]]

situation within each CAL FIRE Unit with descriptions of water 
supplies, fire safety, and vegetation management, while CWPPs make the 
same assessment on the community level (CAL FIRE 2011, p. 1; County of 
San Diego Fire Safe Council, 2011). Planning includes other State, 
Federal, and local government agencies as well as Fire Safe Councils 
(CAL FIRE 2011, p. 1). CAL FIRE typically takes the lead with regard to 
planning for megafire prevention, management, and suppression, and is 
in charge of incident command during a wildfire.
    The San Diego County Fire Authority (SDCFA), local governments, and 
CAL FIRE cooperatively protect 1.42 million ac (0.6 million ha) of land 
with 54 fire stations throughout San Diego County (County of San Diego 
2011a, p. 1). Wildfire management plans and associated actions can help 
to reduce the impacts of type conversion due to frequent fire on 
natural resources, including Monardella stoneana.
    Therefore, based on the best available scientific and commercial 
information, type conversion due to more frequent fire does not pose a 
threat to Monardella stoneana or its associated plant communities now 
or in the future. The potential threat of frequent fire on M. stoneana 
is further alleviated by management actions undertaken by CAL FIRE. 
More intense fire, however, could pose a threat to individual clumps of 
M. stoneana; these impacts are discussed below under Factor E.
Summary of Factor A
    We evaluated several factors that have the potential to destroy, 
modify, or curtail habitat or range of Monardella stoneana, including 
urban development, sand and gravel mining, altered hydrology, and type 
conversion due to frequent fire. Based on our review of the best 
available scientific and commercial information, we conclude that M. 
stoneana is not threatened by the present or threatened destruction, 
modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range, either now or in 
the future.

B. Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or 
Educational Purposes

    To our knowledge, no commercial use exists for Monardella stoneana. 
The 1998 listing rule for M. linoides ssp. viminea suggested that 
professional and private botanical collecting could exacerbate the 
extirpation threat to the subspecies due to botanists favoring rare or 
declining species (63 FR 54938, October 13, 1998). However, we are not 
currently aware of any interest by botanists in collecting M. stoneana. 
Therefore, we do not believe that overutilization for commercial, 
recreational, scientific, or educational purposes constitutes a threat 
to this species, either now or in the future.

C. Disease or Predation

    Neither disease nor predation was known to be a threat affecting 
Monardella linoides ssp. viminea at the time of listing (63 FR 54938, 
October 13, 1998). Data from the CNDDB (CNDDB 2011b) list herbivory as 
a potential threat to the M. stoneana occurrence located on the Otay 
Ranch Preserve (EO 4). However, we have no other information 
quantifying the extent of this herbivory or its impact on the M. 
stoneana occurrence. Like M. viminea, M. stoneana resprouts from a 
perennial root crown each year, a trait that allows it to persist 
through herbivory events (AMEC 2011, p. 5-1). Therefore, based on the 
best available scientific and commercial information, neither disease 
nor herbivory constitutes a threat to M. stoneana.

D. The Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    At the time of listing, regulatory mechanisms identified as 
providing some level of protection for Monardella linoides ssp. viminea 
included: (1) The Act, in cases where M. linoides ssp. viminea co-
occurred with a federally listed species; (2) CESA, as the species was 
listed as endangered in California in 1979; (3) CEQA; (4) conservation 
plans pursuant to California's NCCP Act; (5) land acquisition and 
management by Federal, State, or local agencies, or by private groups 
and organizations; (6) local laws and regulations; (7) CWA; and (8) 
enforcement of Mexican laws (63 FR 54938, October 13, 1998). The 
listing rule provided an analysis of the potential level of protection 
provided by these regulatory mechanisms (63 FR 54938, October 13, 
1998). With the separation of M. viminea from M. stoneana, we have re-
evaluated current protective regulatory mechanisms for M. stoneana, as 
discussed below. However, as with M. viminea, protections afforded to 
M. stoneana under the Act as part of M. linoides ssp. viminea, the 
currently listed entity, would continue to apply only if we determine 
to retain listed status for M. stoneana. Therefore, for purposes of our 
analysis, we do not include the Act as an existing regulatory mechanism 
that protects M. stoneana. We do note that M. stoneana would likely 
continue to receive protection indirectly through habitat conservation 
plans approved under section 10 of the Act and NCCPs approved under the 
State of California that will cover M. stoneana even if the species is 
not federally listed.
Federal Regulations
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
    All Federal agencies are required to adhere to NEPA for projects 
they fund, authorize, or carry out. The Council on Environmental 
Quality's regulations for implementing NEPA (40 CFR 1500-1518) state 
that in their environmental impact statements agencies shall include a 
discussion on the environmental impacts of the various project 
alternatives (including the proposed action), any adverse environmental 
effects which cannot be avoided, and any irreversible or irretrievable 
commitments of resources involved (40 CFR 1502). NEPA itself is a 
disclosure law that provides an opportunity for the public to submit 
comments on a particular project and propose other conservation 
measures that may directly benefit listed species; however, it does not 
impose substantive environmental mitigation obligations on Federal 
agencies. Any such measures are typically voluntary in nature and are 
not required by the statute. Activities on non-Federal lands are also 
subject to NEPA if there is a Federal nexus.
Clean Water Act (CWA)
    Under section 404 of the CWA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 
(Corps) regulates the discharge of fill material into waters of the 
United States, which include navigable and isolated waters, headwaters, 
and adjacent wetlands (33 U.S.C. 1344). In general, the term 
``wetlands'' refers to areas meeting the Corps' criteria of hydric 
soils, hydrology (either sufficient annual flooding or water on the 
soil surface), and hydrophytic vegetation (plants specifically adapted 
to growing in wetlands). Monardella stoneana occurs exclusively in 
ephemeral streambeds, which episodically experience seasonal flows that 
typically create the conditions that meet the Corps' criteria for 
wetlands.
    Any human activity resulting in discharge of dredged or fill 
material into waters of the United States, including wetlands, requires 
a permit from the Corps. These include individual permits that are 
issued following a review of an individual application and general 
permits that authorize a category or categories of activities in a 
specific geographical location or nationwide (33 CFR parts 320-330). As 
Monardella

[[Page 13410]]

stoneana requires a natural hydrological regime to grow and persist, 
the regulation of discharge could prevent those flows from being 
interrupted or altered, thus providing a benefit to the species and its 
habitat.
Wilderness Act and Federal Land Policy and Management Act
    Monardella stoneana is a BLM-designated sensitive species (BLM 
2010, pp. 29-30). BLM-designated sensitive species are those species 
that require special management consideration to promote their 
conservation and reduce the likelihood and need for future listing 
under the Act. This status makes conservation of M. stoneana a 
management priority in the Otay Mountain Wilderness, where 
approximately 34 percent of M. stoneana occurs.
    The Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA) (43 
U.S.C. 1701 et seq.) governs the management of public lands under the 
jurisdiction of BLM. The legislative goals of FLPMA are to establish 
public land policy; to establish guidelines for its [BLM's] 
administration; and to provide for the management, protection, 
development, and enhancement of public lands. While FLPMA generally 
directs that public lands be managed on the basis of multiple use, the 
statute also directs that such lands be managed to ``protect the 
quality of scientific, scenic, historical, ecological, environmental, 
air and atmospheric, water resource, and archeological values; [to] 
preserve and protect certain public lands in their natural condition; 
[and to] provide food and habitat for fish and wildlife'' (43 U.S.C. 
1701(a)(8)). Although BLM has a multiple-use mandate under the FLPMA, 
which allows for grazing, mining, and off-road vehicle use, BLM also 
has the ability under the FLPMA to establish and implement special 
management areas such as Areas of Critical Environmental Concern, 
wilderness areas, and research areas. BLM's South Coast Resource 
Management Plan (SCRMP) covers the San Diego County area.
    The Otay Mountain Wilderness Act (1999) (Pub. L. 106-145) and BLM 
management policies provide protection for all Monardella stoneana 
occurrences within the Otay Mountain Wilderness. The Otay Mountain 
Wilderness Act provides that the Otay Mountain designated wilderness 
area (Otay Mountain Wilderness; 18,500 ac (7,486 ha)) will be managed 
in accordance with the provisions of the Wilderness Act of 1964 (16 
U.S.C. 1131 et seq.). The Wilderness Act of 1964 strictly limits the 
use of wilderness areas, imposing restrictions on vehicle use, new 
developments, chainsaw use, mountain bikes, leasing, and mining, in 
order to protect the natural habitats of the areas, maintain species 
diversity, and enhance biological values. Lands acquired by BLM within 
the Otay Mountain Wilderness boundaries become part of the designated 
wilderness area and are managed in accordance with all provisions of 
the Wilderness Act and regulations pertaining to the Wilderness Act 
(see 43 CFR 6301-6305).
    The memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Service, BLM, the 
County of San Diego, the City of San Diego, SANDAG, and CDFG was issued 
in 1994, in conjunction with the development of the County of San Diego 
Subarea Plan under the MSCP for cooperation in habitat conservation 
planning and management (BLM 1994, pp. 1-8). The Otay Mountain 
Wilderness falls entirely within the boundary of this subarea plan. The 
MOU (BLM 1994, p. 3) details BLM's commitment to manage lands to 
``conform with'' the County of San Diego Subarea Plan, which in turn 
requires protection of Monardella stoneana (see City and County of San 
Diego Subarea Plans under the Multiple Species Conservation Plan (MSCP) 
section below). Additionally, pursuant to the MOU, private lands 
acquired by BLM will be evaluated for inclusion within the designated 
wilderness area, and if the lands do not meet wilderness qualifications 
they will be included in the MSCP conservation system (BLM 1994, p. 3). 
Therefore, protections provided by the County of San Diego Subarea Plan 
under the MSCP (see City and County of San Diego Subarea Plans under 
the Multiple Species Conservation Plan (MSCP) section below) also apply 
to the Otay Mountain Wilderness.
    Protections for Monardella stoneana are also included in BLM's 
draft SCRMP. Fire management activities occur on Otay Mountain as part 
of the current (1994) SCRMP. At some point in the future, on an as-
needed basis, additional brush clearing and other fuels modifications, 
including burning, may occur.
    BLM is collaborating with the Service to revise the SCRMP, which 
covers the Otay Mountain Wilderness. The draft revised plan 
specifically includes a goal of restoring fire frequency to 50 years 
through fire prevention or suppression and prescribed burns. Once an 
area has not burned for 50 years, the plan allows for annual prescribed 
burning of up to 500 ac (200 ha) in the Otay Mountain Wilderness (BLM 
2009, pp. 4-171--4-172). We believe the management regime undertaken by 
BLM under both the current and the draft SCRMP is adequate to protect 
the species and its habitat from the threat of type conversion due to 
frequent fire (Factor A).
State and Local Regulations
Native Plant Protection Act (NPPA) and California Endangered Species 
Act (CESA)
    Under provisions of NPPA (division 2, chapter 10, section 1900 et 
seq. of the CFG code) and CESA (Division 3, chapter 1.5, section 2050 
et seq. of the CFG code), the CDFG Commission listed Monardella 
linoides ssp. viminea as endangered in 1979. Currently, the State of 
California recognizes the State-listed entity as M. viminea. No such 
recognition is afforded M. stoneana under CESA. Although not listed 
under CESA, CDFG does recognize M. stoneana as a rare and imperiled 
plant (lists S1.2 and 1B.2). Researchers working on plants identified 
on these lists must apply to CDFG's Rare Plant Program to receive 
research permits to study or collect rare plants.
California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)
    CEQA (Public Resources Code 21000-21177) and the CEQA Guidelines 
(California Code of Regulations (CCR) title 14, division 6, chapter 3, 
sections 15000-15387) require State and local agencies to identify the 
significant environmental impacts of their actions and avoid or 
mitigate those impacts, if feasible. CEQA applies to projects proposed 
to be undertaken or requiring approval by State and local government 
agencies. The lead agency must complete the environmental review 
process required by CEQA, including conducting an initial study to 
identify the environmental impacts of the project and determine whether 
the identified impacts are significant. If significant impacts are 
determined, then an environmental impact report must be prepared to 
provide State and local agencies and the general public with detailed 
information on the potentially significant environmental effects 
(California Environmental Resources Evaluation System 2010). 
``Thresholds of Significance'' are comprehensive criteria used to 
define environmentally significant impacts based on quantitative and 
qualitative standards, and include impacts to biological resources such 
as candidate, sensitive, or special status species in local or regional 
plans, policies, or regulations, or by CDFG or the Service; or any 
riparian habitat or other sensitive

[[Page 13411]]

natural community identified in local or regional plans, policies, 
regulations, or by CDFG or the Service (CEQA Handbook, Appendix G, 
2010). Defining these significance thresholds helps ensure a ``rational 
basis for significance determinations'' and provides support for the 
final determination and appropriate revisions or mitigation actions to 
a project in order to develop a mitigated negative declaration rather 
than an environmental impact report (Governor's Office of Planning and 
Research 1994, p. 5). Under CEQA, projects may move forward if there is 
a statement of overriding consideration. If significant effects are 
identified, the lead agency has the option of requiring mitigation 
through changes in the project or deciding that overriding 
considerations make mitigation infeasible (CEQA section 21002). 
Protection of listed species through CEQA is, therefore, dependent upon 
the discretion of the lead agency involved.
Otay Mountain Ecological Reserve
    Fifty-five percent of Monardella stoneana occurrences are found on 
the Otay Mountain Ecological Reserve, which is owned by the State of 
California and managed by CDFG. The Reserve is managed in accordance 
with California Administrative Code 14 CCR S 630 (Nelson 2011, pers. 
comm.), which prohibits development and includes protection of 
resources, including prohibitions against take of plants, introduction 
of nonnative species, and use of pesticides. Such management prevents 
M. stoneana from mortality due to increased density of nonnative 
species (see Factor E discussion below).
The Natural Community Conservation Planning (NCCP) Act
    The NCCP program is a cooperative effort between the State of 
California and numerous private and public partners with the goal of 
protecting habitats and species. An NCCP document identifies and 
provides for the regional or areawide protection of plants, animals, 
and their habitats, while allowing compatible and appropriate economic 
activity. The program began in 1991 under the State's NCCP Act (CFG 
Code 2800-2835). The primary objective of the NCCP program is to 
conserve natural communities at the ecosystem scale while accommodating 
compatible land uses (http://www.dfg.ca.gov/habcon/nccp/). Regional 
NCCPs provide protection to federally listed species, and often 
unlisted species, by conserving native habitats upon which the species 
depend. Many NCCPs are developed in conjunction with HCPs prepared 
pursuant to the Act. The City and County of San Diego Subarea Plans 
under the MSCP are discussed below.
City and County of San Diego Subarea Plans Under the Multiple Species 
Conservation Plan (MSCP)
    As discussed under Factor D for Monardella viminea, the MSCP is a 
regional HCP and NCCP that has been in place for over 14 years. Habitat 
conservation plans and multiple species conservation plans approved 
under section 10 of the Act are intended to protect covered species by 
avoidance, minimization, and mitigation of impacts. Monardella linoides 
ssp. viminea is a covered species under the San Diego MSCP (City of San 
Diego 1997, Table 3-5). The most recent revision of the rare plant 
monitoring review lists M. stoneana as a recognized narrow endemic 
(McEachern et al. 2007, p. 33). The changes mentioned in this report 
have been adopted into the City of San Diego's monitoring plan. The 
City of San Diego Subarea Plan affords additional protections to narrow 
endemic species beyond those provided for all covered species (City of 
San Diego 1997, p. 100). Impacts to narrow endemic species within the 
MHPA are avoided, while outside the MHPA, impacts to narrow endemic 
species are addressed through avoidance, management, enhancement, or 
transplantation to areas identified for preservation (City of San Diego 
1997, p. 100). Currently, all M. stoneana occurrences within the City 
of San Diego are within the boundaries of the MHPA.
    Two known occurrences of Monardella stoneana are located within the 
City of San Diego Subarea Plan under the MSCP. These include the 
occurrence just east of Buschalaugh Cove on the lower Otay Reservoir 
(EO 5) and a portion of the occurrence in an unnamed tributary of 
Cottonwood Creek east of Marron Valley (EO 6). These two occurrences 
make up a total of 7 percent of the habitat for M. stoneana, and the 
City of San Diego Subarea Plan requires preservation of 100 percent of 
this habitat. As discussed above, additional impact avoidance and other 
measures under the City's Subarea Plan will protect narrow endemic 
species such as M. stoneana. The subarea plan also includes area-
specific management directives designed to maintain long-term survival 
of narrow endemics (Service 1997, pp. 104-105). Additionally, the City 
has completed a fire management plan for the Marron Valley area. This 
plan includes addressing unnaturally short fire return intervals as a 
major goal. It also provides for protection of native plant community 
structure and biodiversity, including protection for M. stoneana and 
the canyon where it is found (EO 1) (Tierra Data 2006, pp. 4-1--4-2).
    The County of San Diego Subarea Plan under the San Diego MSCP 
covers 252,132 ac (102,035 ha) in the southwestern portion of the 
County's unincorporated lands, and is implemented in part by the 
Biological Mitigation Ordinance (BMO). A total of 6 ac (2 ha) of 
privately owned land occupied by Monardella stoneana occurs within the 
County on lands covered by the County's MSCP subarea plan. As discussed 
in the Wilderness Act and Federal Land Policy and Management Act 
section above, protections provided by the County of San Diego Subarea 
Plan under the MSCP also apply to the Otay Mountain Wilderness. The 
County of San Diego Subarea Plan outlines the specific criteria and 
requirements for projects within the MSCP Subarea Plan's boundaries to 
alleviate threats from development and increased fire frequency (see 
MSCP, County of San Diego Subarea Plan (1997) and County of San Diego 
Biological Mitigation Ordinance (Ord. Nos. 8845, 9246) 2007). The BMO 
requires that all impacts to narrow endemic plant species, including M. 
stoneana, be avoided to the maximum extent practicable (County of San 
Diego 2010, p. 11). All projects within the County's MSCP subarea plan 
boundaries must comply with both the MSCP requirements and the County's 
policies under CEQA.
    Apart from the coverage provided by the County of San Diego Subarea 
Plan, the 6 ac (2 ha) of private land on Otay Mountain where Monardella 
stoneana is known to occur is part of Otay Ranch, which is zoned as 
``Open Space'' by the County of San Diego and identified as part of the 
County preserve for the MSCP. Additionally, this land is covered by the 
Otay Ranch Phase 2 Resource Management Plan (Otay Ranch 2002), which 
was approved by the County in 2002, and provides for the phased 
conservation and development of lands in southern San Diego County. A 
large portion of land is identified for conservation and will be 
dedicated as associated development occurs. The Otay Ranch Phase 2 
Management Plan provides protection for 100 percent of M. stoneana 
occurring on the preserve, providing additional protection beyond that 
already provided by the County of San Diego Subarea Plan (Otay Ranch 
2002, p. 144). The plan includes provisions to manage M. stoneana 
habitat in a way that will benefit this

[[Page 13412]]

species (Otay Ranch 2002, pp. 18-19, 52-53).
    The County of San Diego Resource Protection Ordinance (RPO) (County 
of San Diego 2007) applies to unincorporated lands in the County, both 
within and outside of the MSCP subarea plan boundaries. The RPO 
identifies restrictions on development to reduce or eliminate impacts 
to natural resources, including wetlands, wetland buffers, floodplains, 
steep slope lands, and sensitive habitat lands. Sensitive habitat lands 
are those that support unique vegetation communities or are necessary 
to support a viable population of sensitive species (such as Monardella 
stoneana), are critical to the proper functioning of a balanced natural 
ecosystem, or serve as a functioning wildlife corridor (County of San 
Diego, 2007, p. 3). These can include areas that contain maritime 
succulent scrub, southern coastal bluff scrub, coastal and desert 
dunes, calcicolous scrub, and maritime chaparral, among others. Impacts 
to RPO sensitive habitat lands are only allowed when all feasible 
measures have been applied to reduce impacts and when mitigation 
provides an equal or greater benefit to the affected species (County of 
San Diego 2007, p. 13).
Summary of Factor D
    On City and County lands occupied by Monardella stoneana or 
containing its habitat, we believe the County of San Diego RPO, the 
BMO, and the Subarea Plans for the City and County of San Diego provide 
adequate mechanisms to conserve M. stoneana in association with new 
development or other proposed projects, and for the creation of 
biological reserves. The County of San Diego Subarea Plan provides 
protection from new development or other proposed projects for the 
small percentage of M. stoneana on private land, and includes 
provisions for monitoring and management through development of 
location-specific management plans. The City of San Diego has developed 
final monitoring and management plans for M. stoneana. Conservation 
measures addressing stressors from type conversion due to frequent fire 
are thus identified and are being carried out at the Marron Valley 
occurrence, the only city-owned land where M. stoneana is extant. 
However, as only a small percentage of M. stoneana occurs on city-owned 
lands, these actions, although providing a benefit to the one 
occurrence on city-owned land, are not enough to protect the species as 
a whole.
    On land owned and managed by CDFG and BLM, which includes 
approximately 89 percent of all occurrences of Monardella stoneana, 
fire management is provided by CAL FIRE. Further protection of natural 
resources on State lands is provided by management consistent with the 
Wilderness Act.
    Based on our review of the best available scientific and commercial 
information, we conclude that Monardella stoneana is not threatened by 
inadequate existing regulatory mechanisms. Federal, State, and local 
regulatory mechanisms help reduce wildfire impacts, primarily to 
property and human safety, but they do not adequately protect M. 
stoneana from direct mortality caused by megafire, as discussed below 
under Factor E. However, the impact of megafire on wildlands is not a 
threat that can be eliminated by regulatory mechanisms. Therefore, we 
do not find existing regulations inadequate to protect M. stoneana, now 
or in the future.

E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued Existence

Trampling
    Trampling was identified as a threat to Monardella linoides ssp. 
viminea in the original listing rule (63 FR 54938, October 13, 1998). 
Trampling by pedestrians may result in damage or death to M. stoneana 
plants. The City of San Diego MSCP previously identified off-highway 
vehicle (OHV) activity and disturbance due to illegal immigrant 
activity as major management issues (City of San Diego 1997, p. 52). 
All M. stoneana clusters occur in close proximity to the Mexico border, 
where historically many illegal immigrants crossed on foot. Monitoring 
reports previously noted immigrant trails through M. stoneana habitat 
at the Otay Lakes location (City of San Diego 2006, p. 8). However, the 
recent border fence construction and other enforcement activities in 
the Otay Mountain Wilderness area have reduced illegal immigrant 
traffic (Ford 2011, pers. comm.) and thus potential impacts of 
trampling at the Otay Lakes, Marron Valley, and Otay Mountain 
locations. While there may be some impacts from trampling to individual 
plants, it is unlikely to occur at levels that would affect the status 
of the species as a whole. Based on the best scientific information, we 
believe that trampling (human disturbance activities) does not pose a 
significant risk to the persistence of M. stoneana now or in the 
future.
Nonnative Plant Species
    The listing rule identified nonnative plants as a threat to 
Monardella linoides ssp. viminea (63 FR 54938, October 13, 1998). San 
Diego County habitats have been altered by invasion of nonnative 
species (Soule et al. 1992, p. 43). Nonnative grasses, which frequently 
grow more quickly than native species, can smother seedling and mature 
M. viminea and prevent natural growth (Rebman and Dossey 2006, p. 12). 
The same effect is likely for M. stoneana. Monitors for the City of San 
Diego MSCP recorded invasive plants at the Marron Valley location in 
the 2008 and 2009 survey reports (City of San Diego 2008, p. 2; City of 
San Diego 2009, p. 1). At the Otay Lakes location, the invasive plant 
tamarisk was documented in 2006 (City of San Diego 2006, p. 8), and 
nonnative grasses were documented in 2008 and 2009 (City of San Diego 
2008, p. 2; City of San Diego 2009, p. 2).
    However, despite the presence of nonnative plants in the range of 
Monardella stoneana, monitoring reports have not recorded the same 
level of invasion by nonnative grasses as has occurred in the vicinity 
of M. viminea. As discussed under Factor A, the ground cover of both 
nonnative and native plant species has increased between 2008 and 2010 
at both Otay Lakes and Marron Valley. Additionally, the number of 
individual plants of M. stoneana at Marron Valley has not changed since 
2006 (City of San Diego 2006, p. 1; City of San Diego 2008, p. 1; City 
of San Diego 2009, p. 1; City of San Diego 2010a, p. 11). These 
observations are consistent with those of Minnich and Bahre (1995, p. 
17), who found that ground cover of all herbaceous plants, including 
nonnative grasses, was generally absent or consisted of thinly 
scattered plants within the chaparral along the California-Baja 
California boundary. Therefore, based on the best available scientific 
information, we find that nonnative species do not constitute a threat 
to the continued existence of M. stoneana.
Small Population Size
    The original listing rule identified the restricted range and small 
population size of Monardella linoides ssp. viminea as a threat because 
it increases the possibility of extinction due to chance events, such 
as floods, fires, or drought, outside the natural variability of the 
ecosystem (Lande 1993, p. 912; 63 FR 54938, October 13, 1998). With the 
split of M. linoides ssp. viminea into two entities, the magnitude of 
this threat would likely increase. However, we note that several 
additional M. stoneana occurrences have been discovered. Additionally, 
Prince (2009, p. 2) suggests that multiple undiscovered occurrences of 
M. stoneana may exist in

[[Page 13413]]

the vicinity of Tecate Peak. This area has not been extensively 
surveyed because it is difficult to access. Additional habitat may 
exist in Mexico; however, we are unaware of any surveys confirming the 
presence or absence of M. stoneana there, apart from plants seen 
directly across the border. Based on information in our files, these 
are the only occurrences in Mexico of which we are aware. However, 
suitable habitat and landscape conditions exist in Mexico, close to the 
current range of the species in the United States.
    Of the 20 known occurrences of Monardella linoides ssp. viminea at 
the time of listing, only 2 were later considered to be M. stoneana. 
Subsequent surveys have identified additional occurrences, and, 
currently, approximately eight occurrences of M. stoneana are known in 
the Otay Mountain area (CNDDB 2011b). The number of plants in Mexico is 
unknown and has been minimally investigated. Plants across the border 
in Mexico are visible from at least two occurrences south of Otay 
Mountain, but these have not been formally surveyed (EOs 7 and 8). 
Additionally, the most recent survey for this area was in 2005 (CNDDB 
2011b), so the continued existence of the Mexico occurrences and number 
of clumps present cannot be confirmed.
    Any decrease in occurrences may result in decreased reproductive 
opportunities due to decreased pollination events, and thus decreased 
genetic exchange between canyons. However, we do not consider small 
population size alone sufficient to meet the information threshold 
indicating that the species warrants listing. In the absence of 
information identifying threats to the species and linking those 
threats to the rarity of the species, the Service does not consider 
rarity or small population size alone to be a threat. For example, the 
habitat supporting Monardella viminea faces significant threats from 
the impacts of fire, altered hydrological regimes, and competition with 
nonnative plants. As discussed above, M. stoneana does not face such 
threats. Many naturally rare species have persisted for long periods 
within small geographic areas, and many naturally rare species exhibit 
traits that allow them to persist despite their small population sizes. 
Monardella stoneana appears to have persisted for over 2 decades in the 
two occurrences known since the 1970s and 1980s, respectively (CNDDB 
2011b; EOs 1 and 4). This is in contrast to M. viminea occurrences, 
many of which have undergone population declines during the same time 
period. The other seven occurrences of M. stoneana were discovered in 
2003 or later, so long-term data are not available for this species. 
One of those seven occurrences (EO 5) was considered extirpated after 
the 2007 Harris Fire, but has since resprouted (City of San Diego 
2011a, p. 229). Monardella stoneana has not experienced a significant 
population decline since listing, nor have multiple occurrences been 
extirpated. One of two occurrences monitored by the City of San Diego 
(EO 1) has remained stable throughout the past decade, although the 
other occurrence (EO 5) containing one clump was extirpated (the EO 5 
occurrence contained a maximum of only two clumps since monitoring 
began in 2000). This is in contrast to M. viminea, which has 
experienced a loss of several populations since listing. Consequently, 
the fact that M. stoneana is rare and has small populations does not 
indicate that it is in danger of extinction now or in the future. 
Therefore, although small population size may have the potential to 
pose a threat to M. stoneana, we do not find it to be a threat now or 
in the future.
Fire
    As discussed under Factor E for Monardella viminea, fire can impact 
individual plants. This is especially true of megafire events that 
cannot be controlled or ameliorated through management efforts. A 
narrow endemic, such as M. stoneana, could be especially sensitive to 
megafire events. One large fire could impact all or a large proportion 
of the entire area where the species is found, as occurred for M. 
viminea in the 2003 Cedar Fire. However, as discussed in Factor E for 
M. viminea, the decline of the burned occurrences was not as severe as 
initially thought. We expect that M. stoneana would experience the same 
ability to sprout from the roots, as it is closely related to M. 
viminea.
    Furthermore, despite the increased frequency of fire, Monardella 
stoneana has persisted through all large fires in the region. The GIS 
fire boundaries show that each occurrence of M. stoneana has been 
burned at least once in the past decade. In the past two decades, eight 
of nine EOs burned two or more times, and four occurrences burned three 
or more times. The only reports of damage are from EO 5, which lost its 
one remaining plant, and EO 4, which was ``damaged'' in a recent 
(unspecified) fire, but not extirpated (CNDDB 2011b). In the event of a 
fire that impacts all of the occurrences, we anticipate that the 
effects to M. stoneana individuals would be comparable to M. viminea, 
where the best available information shows that individuals are 
recovering from 98 percent of the occurrences on MCAS Miramar being 
burned in the 2003 Cedar Fire.
    Given the increased frequency of megafire within southern 
California ecosystems and the inability of regulatory mechanisms to 
prevent or control megafire, we find that megafire does have the 
potential to impact occurrences of Monardella stoneana. However, given 
the species persistence through past fires, and the ability of a 
closely related species to recover from direct impact by fire, we do 
not expect that megafire is a significant threat to individual M. 
stoneana plants now, nor is it likely to become a threat in the future.
Climate Change
    Please see discussion above in Factor E for Monardella viminea 
regarding background on how the Service evaluates the possible threat 
of climate change. With regard to the area of analysis for Monardella 
stoneana, downscaled projections are not available, but many scientists 
believe warmer, wetter winters and warmer, drier summers will occur 
within the next century (Field et al. 1999, pp. 2-3, 20). The impacts 
on species like M. stoneana, which depend on specific hydrological 
regimes, may be more severe (Graham 1997, p. 2).
    Since approximately the time of listing in 1998, an extended 
drought in the region (SDCWA 2011, p. 2) created unusually dry habitat 
conditions. From 2001 to 2010, at one of the precipitation gauges close 
to the Monardella stoneana occurrences (Lindberg Field, San Diego 
County, California), precipitation measured significantly below normal 
in 7 out of 10 years (SDCWA 2011, p. 2). This extended drought has 
cumulatively affected moisture regimes, riparian habitat, and 
vegetative conditions in and around suitable habitat for M. stoneana, 
increasing the stress on individual plants. As stated above, future 
climate changes may lead to similar, if not more severe, conditions.
    The predicted drought could impact the dynamics of the streambeds 
where Monardella stoneana grows. Soil moisture and transportation of 
sediments by downstream flow have been identified as key habitat 
features required by M. stoneana. The species is characterized as being 
associated with areas of standing water after rainfall (Elvin and 
Sanders 2003, p. 426). Monitors for the City of San Diego have observed 
decreased plant health and increased dormancy of Monardella species in 
years with low rainfall (City of San Diego 2003, p. 3; City of San 
Diego 2004, p. 3). However, specific

[[Page 13414]]

analyses of population trends as correlated to rainfall are difficult 
due to inconsistent plant count methods (City of San Diego 2004, p. 
67).
    While drier conditions associated with climate change may result in 
increased fire frequency within some plant communities, as discussed 
under Factor A, the effect of more arid conditions on chaparral, the 
plant community associated with Monardella stoneana, is not known. 
According to Minnich and Bahre (1997, p. 20), fires in the chaparral of 
northern Baja California, Mexico, are smaller and more frequent than 
those observed across the border in southern California. Despite these 
differences in the present fire regimes between chaparral in California 
and Mexico, Minnich and Bahre (1997, p. 20) found that ``repeat 
photographs of the monument markers, field samples, repeat aerial 
photography, and fire history maps show that chaparral succession is 
similar across the international boundary between Jacumba [in 
California] and Tecate [in Mexico] and that chaparral succession along 
the border is similar to that found elsewhere in California.'' Except 
for a statistically significant correlation that early autumn rains cut 
short the fire season at its peak, Keeley and Fotheringham (2003, p. 
235) did not find patterns between rainfall and burning for chaparral 
and coastal sage shrublands. Therefore, increased aridity may have 
little effect on chaparral.
    Preliminary information for Monardella stoneana does show that the 
effects of climate change on chaparral may be less than the effects on 
coastal sage scrub (see Climate Change section for M. viminea above). 
While we recognize that climate change and increased drought associated 
with climate change are important issues with potential impacts to 
listed species and their habitats, the best available scientific data 
do not give specific evidence for us to formulate accurate predictions 
regarding the effects of climate change on particular species, 
including M. stoneana, at this time. Therefore, at this time we do not 
consider climate change a current threat to M. stoneana, either now or 
in the future.
Summary of Factor E
    We found no evidence that other natural or manmade factors pose a 
significant threat to Monardella stoneana. Based on a review of the 
best available scientific and commercial data, trampling and nonnative 
invasive plant species are not significant threats. We conclude, based 
on the best available scientific information, that M. stoneana could be 
affected temporarily by fire impacts associated with the death of 
individual plants; however, we do not consider this a threat to the 
continued existence of the species. Small population size could 
exacerbate other threats, but as there are none, this is not a factor; 
small population size in itself does not cause M. stoneana to be 
warranted for listing. In addition, BLM conducts ongoing management 
that provides a benefit to M. stoneana. Finally, with regard to the 
direct and indirect effects of climate change on individual M. stoneana 
plants, we have no information at this point to demonstrate that 
predicted climate change poses a significant threat to the species now 
or in the future.
Cumulative Impacts
    As discussed in the Cumulative Impacts analysis for Monardella 
viminea, type conversion due to frequent fire, nonnative grasses, and 
altered hydrological regimes can work in concert to result in the 
decline of the species. However, based on the best available scientific 
information, we did not find that invasion by nonnative grasses or type 
conversion due to frequent fire are occurring in habitats that support 
M. stoneana, nor did we find that hydrology was altered from its 
natural regime to the point where it threatens the continued survival 
of the species. Therefore, we do not find evidence that any of the 
potential threats discussed in this finding pose additional stress to 
M. stoneana by acting in concert with one another.

Determination

    We have carefully assessed the best scientific and commercial 
information available regarding the past, present, and future threats 
to Monardella stoneana. We found no significant threats to M. stoneana 
related to Factors A, B, C, D, or E, as described above. After an 
assessment of potential threats including urban development, altered 
hydrology, and type conversion due to frequent fire as attributable to 
Factor A (The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or 
Curtailment of Its Habitat or Range), we find that none poses a 
significant threat to the species. We found no available information 
concerning Factors B (Overutilization) and C (Disease or Predation) to 
indicate that listing M. stoneana as endangered or threatened under the 
Act is warranted. We find that the best available information 
concerning Factor D (Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms) 
indicates that listing M. stoneana as endangered or threatened under 
the Act is not warranted. We find that the best available information 
concerning Factor E (Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its 
Continued Existence) indicates that trampling and nonnative plants are 
not currently threats to the continued existence of M. stoneana, nor 
are they expected to be in the future. Additionally, we have no 
information to demonstrate that predicted climate change or megafire 
will result in a significant threat to the species now or in the 
future.
    Although Monardella stoneana has a similar life history to M. 
viminea, based on differences in location, land ownership and use, and 
habitat type, we find that potential threats impact the species 
differently. Monardella stoneana does face some stressors; however, the 
species is found primarily on protected (i.e., Federal and State) 
lands. To the extent that the species may be experiencing localized 
impacts, analysis of recent and current surveys of M. stoneana habitat 
in the Otay Mountain locations indicates that its habitat is under 
protective status and remains in relatively good condition. 
Furthermore, unlike M. viminea, M. stoneana has not undergone a 
documented decline in population size. While megafire and small 
population size may impact M. stoneana, these factors do not pose a 
threat to the continued existence of the species. Finally, we do not 
consider M. stoneana's small population size in and of itself a threat 
such that the species warrants listing, now or in the future.
    In conclusion, we have carefully assessed the best scientific and 
commercial information available regarding the past, present, and 
future threats faced by Monardella stoneana. Our review of the 
information pertaining to the five threat factors does not support a 
conclusion that threats of sufficient imminence, intensity, or 
magnitude exist--either singly or in combination--to the extent that 
the species is in danger of extinction (endangered), or likely to 
become endangered (threatened) throughout its range now or within the 
foreseeable future. Therefore, based on the best available scientific 
information, we find M. stoneana does not warrant listing at this time. 
However, if we receive new information that alters our analysis, we 
will revisit and re-evaluate the status of M. stoneana.

Significant Portion of Range

    The Act defines ``endangered species'' as any species which is ``in 
danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its 
range,'' and ``threatened

[[Page 13415]]

species'' as any species which is ``likely to become an endangered 
species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant 
portion of its range.'' The definition of ``species'' is also relevant 
to this discussion. The Act defines the term ``species'' as follows: 
``The term `species' includes any subspecies of fish or wildlife or 
plants, and any distinct population segment [DPS] of any species of 
vertebrate fish or wildlife which interbreeds when mature.'' The phrase 
``significant portion of its range'' (SPR) is not defined by the 
statute, and we have never addressed in our regulations: (1) The 
consequences of a determination that a species is either endangered or 
likely to become so throughout a significant portion of its range, but 
not throughout all of its range; or (2) what qualifies a portion of a 
range as ``significant.''
    Two recent district court decisions have addressed whether the SPR 
language allows the Service to list or protect less than all members of 
a defined ``species'': Defenders of Wildlife v. Salazar, 729 F. Supp. 
2d 1207 (D. Mont. 2010), concerning the Service's delisting of the 
Northern Rocky Mountain gray wolf (74 FR 15123, April 2, 2009); and 
WildEarth Guardians v. Salazar, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 105253 (D. Ariz. 
Sept. 30, 2010), concerning the Service's 2008 finding on a petition to 
list the Gunnison's prairie dog (73 FR 6660, February 5, 2008). The 
Service had asserted in both of these determinations that it had 
authority, in effect, to protect only some members of a ``species,'' as 
defined by the Act (i.e., species, subspecies, or DPS), under the Act. 
Both courts ruled that the determinations were arbitrary and capricious 
on the grounds that this approach violated the plain and unambiguous 
language of the Act. The courts concluded that reading the SPR language 
to allow protecting only a portion of a species' range is inconsistent 
with the Act's definition of ``species.'' The courts concluded that 
once a determination is made that a species (i.e., species, subspecies, 
or DPS) meets the definition of ``endangered species'' or ``threatened 
species,'' it must be placed on the list in its entirety and the Act's 
protections applied consistently to all members of that species 
(subject to modification of protections through special rules under 
sections 4(d) and 10(j) of the Act).
    Consistent with that interpretation, and for the purposes of this 
rule, we interpret the phrase ``significant portion of its range'' in 
the Act's definitions of ``endangered species'' and ``threatened 
species'' to provide an independent basis for listing; thus there are 
two situations (or factual bases) under which a species would qualify 
for listing: (1) A species may be endangered or threatened throughout 
all of its range; or (2) a species may be endangered or threatened in 
only a significant portion of its range. If a species is in danger of 
extinction throughout an SPR, it, the species, is an ``endangered 
species.'' The same analysis applies to ``threatened species.'' 
Therefore, the consequence of finding that a species is endangered or 
threatened in only a significant portion of its range is that the 
entire species will be listed as endangered or threatened, 
respectively, and the Act's protections will be applied across the 
species' entire range.
    We conclude, for the purposes of this rule, that interpreting the 
SPR phrase as providing an independent basis for listing is the best 
interpretation of the Act because it is consistent with the purposes 
and the plain meaning of the key definitions of the Act; it does not 
conflict with established past agency practice (i.e., prior to the 2007 
Solicitor's Opinion), as no consistent, long-term agency practice has 
been established, and it is consistent with the judicial opinions that 
have most closely examined this issue. Having concluded that the phrase 
``significant portion of its range'' provides an independent basis for 
listing and protecting the entire species, we next turn to the meaning 
of ``significant'' to determine the threshold for when such an 
independent basis for listing exists.
    Although there are potentially many ways to determine whether a 
portion of a species' range is ``significant,'' we conclude, for the 
purposes of this rule, that the significance of the portion of the 
range should be determined based on its biological contribution to the 
conservation of the species. For this reason, we describe the threshold 
for ``significant'' in terms of an increase in the risk of extinction 
for the species. We conclude that a biologically based definition of 
``significant'' best conforms to the purposes of the Act, is consistent 
with judicial interpretations, and best ensures species' conservation. 
Thus, for the purposes of this rule, a portion of the range of a 
species is ``significant'' if its contribution to the viability of the 
species is so important that, without that portion, the species would 
be in danger of extinction.
    We evaluate biological significance based on the principles of 
conservation biology using the concepts of resiliency, redundancy, and 
representation. Resiliency describes the characteristics of a species 
that allow it to recover from periodic disturbance. Redundancy (having 
multiple populations distributed across the landscape) may be needed to 
provide a margin of safety for the species to withstand catastrophic 
events. Representation (the range of variation found in a species) 
ensures that the species' adaptive capabilities are conserved. 
Redundancy, resiliency, and representation are not independent of each 
other, and some characteristic of a species or area may contribute to 
all three. For example, distribution across a wide variety of habitats 
is an indicator of representation, but it may also indicate a broad 
geographic distribution contributing to redundancy (decreasing the 
chance that any one event affects the entire species), and the 
likelihood that some habitat types are less susceptible to certain 
threats, contributing to resiliency (the ability of the species to 
recover from disturbance). None of these concepts is intended to be 
mutually exclusive, and a portion of a species' range may be determined 
to be ``significant'' due to its contributions under any one of these 
concepts.
    For the purposes of this rule, we determine if a portion's 
biological contribution is so important that the portion qualifies as 
``significant'' by asking whether, without that portion, the 
representation, redundancy, or resiliency of the species would be so 
impaired that the species would have an increased vulnerability to 
threats to the point that the overall species would be in danger of 
extinction (i.e., would be ``endangered''). Conversely, we would not 
consider the portion of the range at issue to be ``significant'' if 
there is sufficient resiliency, redundancy, and representation 
elsewhere in the species' range that the species would not be in danger 
of extinction throughout its range if the population in that portion of 
the range in question became extirpated (extinct locally).
    We recognize that this definition of ``significant'' establishes a 
threshold that is relatively high. On the one hand, given that the 
consequences of finding a species to be endangered or threatened in an 
SPR would be listing the species throughout its entire range, it is 
important to use a threshold for ``significant'' that is robust. It 
would not be meaningful or appropriate to establish a very low 
threshold whereby a portion of the range can be considered 
``significant'' even if only a negligible increase in extinction risk 
would result from its loss. Because nearly any portion of a species' 
range can be said to contribute some increment to a species' viability, 
use of such a low threshold would require us to impose restrictions and 
expend conservation resources disproportionately to conservation 
benefit: listing would be rangewide,

[[Page 13416]]

even if only a portion of the range of minor conservation importance to 
the species is imperiled. On the other hand, it would be inappropriate 
to establish a threshold for ``significant'' that is too high. This 
would be the case if the standard were, for example, that a portion of 
the range can be considered ``significant'' only if threats in that 
portion result in the entire species' being currently endangered or 
threatened. Such a high bar would not give the SPR phrase independent 
meaning, as the Ninth Circuit held in Defenders of Wildlife v. Norton, 
258 F.3d 1136 (9th Cir. 2001).
    The definition of ``significant'' used in this rule carefully 
balances these concerns. By setting a relatively high threshold, we 
minimize the degree to which restrictions will be imposed or resources 
expended that do not contribute substantially to species conservation. 
But we have not set the threshold so high that the phrase ``in a 
significant portion of its range'' loses independent meaning. 
Specifically, we have not set the threshold as high as it was under the 
interpretation presented by the Service in the Defenders litigation. 
Under that interpretation, the portion of the range would have to be so 
important that current imperilment there would mean that the species 
would be currently imperiled everywhere. Under the definition of 
``significant'' used in this final rule, the portion of the range need 
not rise to such an exceptionally high level of biological 
significance. (We recognize that if the species is imperiled in a 
portion that rises to that level of biological significance, then we 
should conclude that the species is in fact imperiled throughout all of 
its range, and that we would not need to rely on the SPR language for 
such a listing.) Rather, under this interpretation we ask whether the 
species would be endangered everywhere without that portion, i.e., if 
that portion were completely extirpated. In other words, the portion of 
the range need not be so important that even being in danger of 
extinction in that portion would be sufficient to cause the species in 
the remainder of the range to be endangered; rather, the complete 
extirpation (in a hypothetical future) of the species in that portion 
would be required to cause the species in the remainder of the range to 
be endangered.
    The range of a species can theoretically be divided into portions 
in an infinite number of ways. However, there is no purpose to 
analyzing portions of the range that have no reasonable potential to be 
significant and threatened or endangered. To identify only those 
portions that warrant further consideration, we determine whether there 
is substantial information indicating that: (1) The portions may be 
``significant,'' and (2) the species may be in danger of extinction 
there or likely to become so within the foreseeable future. Depending 
on the biology of the species, its range, and the threats it faces, it 
might be more efficient for us to address the significance question 
first or the status question first. Thus, if we determine that a 
portion of the range is not ``significant,'' we do not need to 
determine whether the species is endangered or threatened there; if we 
determine that the species is not endangered or threatened in a portion 
of its range, we do not need to determine if that portion is 
``significant.'' In practice, a key part of the portion status analysis 
is whether the threats are geographically concentrated in some way. If 
the threats to the species are essentially uniform throughout its 
range, no portion is likely to warrant further consideration. Moreover, 
if any concentration of threats applies only to portions of the 
species' range that clearly would not meet the biologically based 
definition of ``significant'', such portions will not warrant further 
consideration.
    As described in the Determination section above, we find that the 
stressors affecting Monardella stoneana are not of sufficient 
imminence, intensity, magnitude, or geographic concentration such that 
M. stoneana warrants listing under the Act. The stressors affecting M. 
stoneana, including megafire, occur across the species' entire range. 
Additionally, factors that might be limited to individual drainages, 
such as altered hydrology or urban development, do not threaten M. 
stoneana. Therefore, because M. stoneana has no geographical 
concentration of threats, it does not qualify for listing based on 
threats to the species in a significant portion of its range.
    Decisions by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Defenders of 
Wildlife v. Norton, 258 F.3d 1136 (2001) and Tucson Herpetological 
Society v. Salazar, 566 F.3d 870 (2009) found that the Act requires the 
Service, in determining whether a species is endangered or threatened 
throughout a significant portion of its range, to consider whether lost 
historical range of a species (as opposed to its current range) 
constitutes a significant portion of the range of that species. While 
this is not our interpretation of the statute, we will consider whether 
the lost historical range might qualify as an SPR for Monardella 
stoneana.
    We evaluated whether the best available information indicates that 
the range of Monardella stoneana has contracted over time. We have 
little information on the historical range of M. stoneana. However, 
unlike M. viminea, M. stoneana has not undergone a dramatic decline in 
population size. Monardella stoneana appears to have persisted for over 
2 decades in the two occurrences known in the United States since the 
1970s and 1980s, respectively (see proposed rule at 76 FR 33880, June 
9, 2011). The other seven occurrences of M. stoneana in the United 
States were discovered in 2003 or later, so long-term data on M. 
stoneana are not available; only one of those seven occurrences has 
since been extirpated. We have almost no information about the range of 
M. stoneana in Mexico other than observations of plants directly across 
the Mexican border from occurrences in the United States. Because the 
best available information indicates that M. stoneana has not 
experienced a significant population decline, nor have multiple 
occurrences been extirpated within its known range, we are unable to 
find that a significant amount of historical range has been lost. 
Therefore, we conclude that there has not been a loss of historical 
habitat that represents a significant portion of the range of M. 
stoneana.

Critical Habitat

    Due to the taxonomic split of Monardella linoides ssp. viminea into 
two distinct taxa, Monardella viminea (willowy monardella) and 
Monardella stoneana (Jennifer's monardella) (see Procedural Aspects of 
this Rule section above), and due to our conclusion that M. viminea is 
endangered, we are designating critical habitat for M. viminea. Because 
we have determined that M. stoneana does not meet the definition of 
endangered or threatened under the Act, we are not designating critical 
habitat for this species.

Background

    Critical habitat is defined in section 3 of the Act as:
    (1) The specific areas within the geographical area occupied by the 
species, at the time it is listed in accordance with the Act, on which 
are found those physical or biological features
    (a) Essential to the conservation of the species and
    (b) Which may require special management considerations or 
protection; and

[[Page 13417]]

    (2) Specific areas outside the geographical area occupied by the 
species at the time it is listed, upon a determination that such areas 
are essential for the conservation of the species.
    Conservation, as defined under section 3 of the Act, means to use 
and the use of all methods and procedures that are necessary to bring 
an endangered or threatened species to the point at which the measures 
provided pursuant to the Act are no longer necessary. Such methods and 
procedures include, but are not limited to, all activities associated 
with scientific resources management such as research, census, law 
enforcement, habitat acquisition and maintenance, propagation, live 
trapping, and transplantation, and, in the extraordinary case where 
population pressures within a given ecosystem cannot be otherwise 
relieved, may include regulated taking.
    Critical habitat receives protection under section 7 of the Act 
through the requirement that Federal agencies ensure, in consultation 
with the Service, that any action they authorize, fund, or carry out is 
not likely to result in the destruction or adverse modification of 
critical habitat. The designation of critical habitat does not affect 
land ownership or establish a refuge, wilderness, reserve, preserve, or 
other conservation area. Such designation does not allow the government 
or public to access private lands. Such designation does not require 
implementation of restoration, recovery, or enhancement measures by 
non-Federal landowners. Where a landowner requests Federal agency 
funding or authorization for an action that may affect a listed species 
or critical habitat, the consultation requirements of section 7(a)(2) 
of the Act would apply, but even in the event of a destruction or 
adverse modification finding, the obligation of the Federal action 
agency and the landowner is not to restore or recover the species, but 
to implement reasonable and prudent alternatives to avoid destruction 
or adverse modification of critical habitat.
    Under the first prong of the Act's definition of critical habitat, 
areas within the geographical area occupied by the species at the time 
it was listed are included in a critical habitat designation if they 
contain physical or biological features (1) which are essential to the 
conservation of the species and (2) which may require special 
management considerations or protection. For these areas, critical 
habitat designations identify, to the extent known using the best 
scientific and commercial data available, those physical or biological 
features that are essential to the conservation of the species (such as 
space, food, cover, and protected habitat). In identifying those 
physical or biological features within an area, we focus on the 
principal biological or physical constituent elements (primary 
constituent elements such as roost sites, nesting grounds, seasonal 
wetlands, water quality, tide, soil type) that are essential to the 
conservation of the species. Primary constituent elements are the 
elements of physical or biological features that are essential to the 
conservation of the species.
    Under the second prong of the Act's definition of critical habitat, 
we can designate critical habitat in areas outside the geographical 
area occupied by the species at the time it is listed, upon a 
determination that such areas are essential for the conservation of the 
species. For example, an area currently occupied by the species but 
that was not occupied at the time of listing may be essential to the 
conservation of the species and may be included in the critical habitat 
designation. We designate critical habitat in areas outside the 
geographical area occupied by a species at the time of listing when a 
designation limited to the geographical area occupied at the time of 
listing would be inadequate to ensure the conservation of the species.
    Section 4 of the Act requires that we designate critical habitat on 
the basis of the best scientific and commercial data available. 
Further, our Policy on Information Standards Under the Endangered 
Species Act (published in the Federal Register on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 
34271)), the Information Quality Act (section 515 of the Treasury and 
General Government Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2001 (Pub. L. 
106-554; H.R. 5658)), and our associated Information Quality 
Guidelines, provide criteria, establish procedures, and provide 
guidance to ensure that our decisions are based on the best scientific 
data available. They require our biologists, to the extent consistent 
with the Act and with the use of the best scientific data available, to 
use primary and original sources of information as the basis for 
recommendations to designate critical habitat.
    When we are determining which areas should be designated as 
critical habitat, our primary source of information is generally the 
information developed during the listing process for the species. 
Additional information sources may include the recovery plan for the 
species, articles in peer-reviewed journals, conservation plans 
developed by States and counties, scientific status surveys and 
studies, biological assessments, other unpublished materials, or 
experts' opinions or personal knowledge.
    Habitat is dynamic, and species may move from one area to another 
over time. We recognize that critical habitat designated at a 
particular point in time may not include all of the habitat areas that 
we may later determine are necessary for the recovery of the species. 
For these reasons, a critical habitat designation does not signal that 
habitat outside the designated area is unimportant or may not be needed 
for recovery of the species. Areas that are important to the 
conservation of the species, both inside and outside the critical 
habitat designation, will continue to be subject to: (1) Conservation 
actions implemented under section 7(a)(1) of the Act, (2) regulatory 
protections afforded by the requirement in section 7(a)(2) of the Act 
for Federal agencies to insure their actions are not likely to 
jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered or threatened 
species, and (3) the prohibitions of section 9 of the Act if actions 
occurring in these areas may affect the species. Federally funded or 
permitted projects affecting listed species outside their designated 
critical habitat areas may still result in jeopardy findings in some 
cases. These protections and conservation tools will continue to 
contribute to recovery of this species. Similarly, critical habitat 
designations made on the basis of the best available information at the 
time of designation will not control the direction and substance of 
future recovery plans, habitat conservation plans (HCPs), or other 
species conservation planning efforts if new information available at 
the time of these planning efforts calls for a different outcome.

Physical or Biological Features

    In accordance with section 3(5)(A)(i) and 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act and 
regulations at 50 CFR 424.12, in determining which areas within the 
geographical area occupied by the species at the time of listing to 
designate as critical habitat, we consider the physical or biological 
features essential to the conservation of the species and which may 
require special management considerations or protection. These include, 
but are not limited to:
    (1) Space for individual and population growth and for normal 
behavior;
    (2) Food, water, air, light, minerals, or other nutritional or 
physiological requirements;

[[Page 13418]]

    (3) Cover or shelter;
    (4) Sites for breeding, reproduction, or rearing (or development) 
of offspring; and
    (5) Habitats that are protected from disturbance or are 
representative of the historical, geographical, and ecological 
distributions of a species.
    We derive the specific physical or biological features essential 
for Monardella viminea from studies of this species' habitat, ecology, 
and life history as described in the Critical Habitat section of the 
proposed rule to designate critical habitat published in the Federal 
Register on June 9, 2011 (76 FR 33880), and in the information 
presented below. We also reviewed monitoring reports from private 
firms, the City of San Diego, Friends of Los Pe[ntilde]asquitos Canyon, 
the Service, and MCAS Miramar; technical reports; the CNDDB; GIS data 
(such as species occurrence data, soil data, land use, topography, 
aerial imagery, and ownership maps); correspondence to the Service from 
recognized experts; and other information as available. Additional 
information can be found in the final listing rule published in the 
Federal Register on October 13, 1998 (63 FR 54938). We have determined 
that M. viminea requires the physical or biological features described 
below.
Space for Individual and Population Growth and for Normal Behavior
    Habitats that provide space for growth and persistence of 
Monardella viminea include: (1) Washes in coastal sage scrub or 
riparian scrub vegetation; (2) terraced secondary benches, channel 
banks, and stabilized sand bars; (3) soils with a high content of 
coarse-grained sand and low content of silt and clay; and (4) open 
ground cover, less than half of which is herbaceous vegetation cover 
(Scheid 1985, pp. 30-35; Service 1998, p. 54938; Elvin and Sanders 
2003, pp. 426, 430; Kelly and Burrascano 2006, p. 51).
Food, Water, Air, Light, Minerals, or Other Nutritional or 
Physiological Requirements
    Monardella viminea is most often found on the first above-water 
sandbar in intermittent streambeds where water runs for 24 to 48 hours 
after heavy rain events (Elvin and Sanders 2003, p. 430; Kelly and 
Burrascano 2006, p. 51). It can also be found within the streambed if 
flow is infrequent enough and the soil is stable (Scheid 1985, pp. 3, 
38-39). The most robust M. viminea individuals tend to occur in wide, 
open canyons with broad channels and secondary benches, as opposed to 
narrow, graded canyons (Kassebaum 2010, pers. comm.).
    Monardella viminea plants are found on soil where subsurface layers 
stay relatively moist throughout the year and water accumulates after 
rainstorms, such as north-facing slopes or canyon bottoms (Elvin and 
Sanders 2003, pp. 426, 430). Plants with inadequate soil moisture dry 
out during the summer months and do not survive (Kelly and Burrascano 
2006, p. 5). The species does not occur on soils that are permanently 
wet (Elvin and Sanders 2003, p. 425). Monardella viminea occurrences 
have been lost from areas where wetter soils result in an increase in 
density of surrounding vegetation (Kelly and Burrascano 2001, p. 4).
    Monardella viminea most generally occurs on soil types with high 
sand content, often characterized by sediment and cobble deposited by 
flood events (Scheid 1985, p. 35; Rebman and Dossey 2006, pp. 5-6). The 
Natural Resources Conservation Service soil series where M. viminea is 
known to occur includes (but may not be limited to): Stony Land, 
Redding Gravelly Loam, Visalia Sandy Loam, and Riverwash (Rebman and 
Dossey 2006, p. 6).
Cover or Shelter
    Monardella viminea requires open to semi-open, foliar (canopy) 
cover consisting of coastal sage and riparian scrub with limited 
herbaceous understory. Monardella viminea plants usually occur in areas 
with an average of 75 percent ground cover, of which approximately 65 
percent is woody cover and less than 10 percent herbaceous cover 
(Scheid 1985, pp. 32, 37-38). The species is most commonly associated 
with Eriogonum fasciculatum (California buckwheat) and Baccharis 
sarothroides (Scheid 1985, pp. 38-39; Rebman and Dossey 26, p. 22; Ince 
2010, p. 3). Herbaceous cover, such as annual grasses, can grow in 
greater density than native riparian and chaparral species, and, 
through resource competition and shading, herbaceous cover would likely 
prevent natural growth and reproduction of M. viminea (Rebman and 
Dossey 2006, p. 12). Therefore, suitable habitat for the species is not 
dominated by herbaceous cover.
Sites for Breeding, Reproduction, and Rearing (or Development) of 
Offspring
    Monardella viminea is visited by numerous bees and butterflies, and 
is likely pollinated by a diverse array of insects, each of which has 
its own habitat requirements; however, we are currently unaware of 
which insect species pollinate M. viminea. Pollinators facilitate 
mixing of genes within and among plant populations, without which 
inbreeding and reduced fitness may occur (Widen and Widen 1990, p. 
191). Native sand wasps within the range of M. viminea (such as those 
from the Bembicine family) require sandy areas (such as dunes or sandy 
washes) to nest, while solitary bees (Andrenidae family) nest in upland 
areas (Kelly and Burrascano 2001, p. 8). Native bees typically are more 
efficient pollinators than introduced European honeybees (Apis 
mellifera) (Javorek et al. 2002, p. 345). Therefore, populations 
serviced by a higher proportion of native pollinator species are likely 
to maintain higher reproductive output and persist for more generations 
than populations served by fewer native pollinators or with pollination 
limitations of any kind (Javorek et al. 2002, p. 350). Pollinators also 
require space for individual and population growth, so adequate habitat 
should be preserved for pollinators in addition to the habitat 
necessary for M. viminea plants. In this final critical habitat rule, 
we acknowledge the importance of pollinators to M. viminea. However, we 
do not include pollinators and their habitats as a primary constituent 
element (PCE), because: (1) Meaningful data on specific pollinators and 
their habitat needs are lacking; and (2) we were not able to quantify 
the amount of habitat needed for pollinators, given the lack of 
information on the specific pollinators of M. viminea.
Habitats Protected From Disturbance or Representative of the 
Historical, Geographical, and Ecological Distributions of the Species
    The long-term conservation of Monardella viminea is dependent on 
several factors, including, but not limited to, maintenance of areas 
necessary to sustain natural ecosystem components, functions, and 
processes (such as full sun exposure and natural hydrological regimes) 
and sufficient adjacent suitable habitat for vegetative reproduction, 
population expansion, and pollination.
    Open or semi-open, rocky, sandy alluvium on terraced floodplains, 
benches, stabilized sandbars, channel banks, and sandy washes along 
ephemeral streams, washes, and floodplains is needed for individual and 
population growth of Monardella viminea (Scheid 1985, pp. 30-31, 34-
35). Within those areas, M. viminea requires adequate sunlight to grow. 
Woody overgrowth is common and can help to maintain adequate soil 
moisture, but areas crowded with herbaceous

[[Page 13419]]

understory may not provide adequate light for M. viminea.
    The 2008 5-year review (Service 2008, p. 7) concluded that 
Monardella viminea requires a natural hydrological regime to maintain 
or create suitable habitat conditions, including the floodplains, 
benches, and sandbars where M. viminea grows. Characteristics of 
riparian channels and seasonal streamflow determine timing, pattern, 
and depth of deposition of alluvial materials and formation of sandbars 
and channel banks, which in turn determine location of plants within 
the streambed and suitable habitat to support individuals and clumps of 
M. viminea (Scheid 1985, pp. 30-31 and 36-37). Decreases in flows, 
which would otherwise scour annual grasses and seeds from the area, 
result in increased cover of nonnative grasses and decreased light and 
moisture availability for M. viminea. Rapidly growing nonnative grasses 
can smother seedling and mature M. viminea and prevent natural growth 
(Rebman and Dossey 2006, p. 12). Additionally, increased flows can 
result in erosion that may alter floodplains and erode banks, channel 
bars, and sandy washes where M. viminea occurs (Kelly and Burrascano 
2006, pp. 65-69).
Primary Constituent Elements for Monardella viminea
    Under the Act and its implementing regulations, we are required to 
identify the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of Monardella viminea in areas occupied at the time of 
listing, focusing on the features' primary constituent elements (PCEs). 
We consider PCEs to be the specific elements of physical or biological 
features that provide for a species' life-history processes and are 
essential to the conservation of the species.
    Based on our current knowledge of the physical or biological 
features and habitat characteristics required to sustain the species' 
life-history processes, we determine that the PCE specific to 
Monardella viminea is riparian channels with ephemeral drainages and 
adjacent floodplains:
    (a) With a natural hydrological regime, in which:
    (1) Water flows only after peak seasonal rainstorms;
    (2) High runoff events periodically scour riparian vegetation and 
redistribute alluvial material to create new stream channels, benches, 
and sandbars; and
    (3) Water flows for usually less than 48 hours after a rain event, 
without long-term standing water;
    (b) With surrounding vegetation that provides semi-open, foliar 
cover with:
    (1) Little or no herbaceous understory;
    (2) Little to no canopy cover;
    (3) Open ground cover, less than half of which is herbaceous 
vegetation
    cover;
    (4) Some shrub cover; and
    (5) An association of other plants, including Eriogonum 
fasciculatum
    (California buckwheat) and Baccharis sarothroides (broom 
baccharis);
    (c) That contain ephemeral drainages that:
    (1) Are made up of coarse, rocky, or sandy alluvium; and
    (2) Contain terraced floodplains, terraced secondary benches, 
stabilized sandbars, channel banks, or sandy washes; and
    (d) That have soil with high sand content, typically characterized 
by sediment and cobble deposits, and further characterized by a high 
content of coarse, sandy grains and low content of silt and clay.
    All units designated as critical habitat are currently occupied by 
Monardella viminea and contain the PCE.

Special Management Considerations or Protection

    When designating critical habitat, we assess whether the physical 
or biological features within the geographical area occupied by the 
species at the time of listing that are essential to the conservation 
of the species may require special management considerations or 
protection.
    The areas designated as critical habitat will require some level of 
management or protection to address the current and future threats to 
the physical or biological features. In all units, special management 
considerations or protection may be required to provide for the 
sustained function of the ephemeral washes on which Monardella viminea 
depends.
    The features essential to the conservation of Monardella viminea 
may require special management considerations or protection to reduce 
the following threats, among others: Cover by nonnative plant species 
that crowds, shades, or competes for resources; habitat alteration due 
to altered hydrology from urbanization and associated infrastructure; 
and any actions that alter the natural channel structure or course, 
particularly increased water flow that could erode soils inhabited by 
M. viminea or cover them with sediment deposits.
    Special management considerations or protection are required within 
critical habitat areas to address these threats. Management activities 
that could ameliorate these threats include, but are not limited to: 
Removal of nonnative vegetation by weeding, planting of native species 
along stream courses in canyons to help control erosion, use of silt 
fences to control erosion, restriction of development that alters 
natural hydrological characteristics of stream courses in canyons, and 
implementation of prescribed burns. Additionally, specialized dams and 
smaller barriers could be installed in canyons to help address 
floodwater runoff that results from upstream development (which can 
cause erosion and loss of clumps of Monardella viminea), although these 
dams must be of adequate size and strength to withstand increased storm 
flow caused by urbanization.

Criteria Used To Identify Critical Habitat

    As required by section 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act, we use the best 
scientific and commercial data available to designate critical habitat. 
We review available information pertaining to the habitat requirements 
of the species. In accordance with the Act and its implementing 
regulation at 50 CFR 424.12(e), we consider whether designating 
additional areas--outside those currently occupied as well as those 
occupied at the time of listing--is necessary to ensure the 
conservation of the species. We are not designating any areas outside 
the geographical area occupied by the species at the time of listing, 
because currently occupied areas (which are within the area occupied by 
the species at the time of listing) are sufficient for the conservation 
of the species.
    This final rule updates the information used in our 2006 final 
designation of critical habitat for Monardella linoides ssp. viminea 
(71 FR 65662, November 8, 2006) with the best available data, including 
new information not available when the 2006 rule was completed.
    This section provides details of the process we used to delineate 
the critical habitat designation. This final critical habitat 
designation is based on the best scientific data available, including 
our analysis of the distribution and ecology of Monardella viminea as 
identified in the 1998 final listing rule, the 2008 5-year review, new 
information on the species' distribution and ecology made available 
since listing, reclassification of M. viminea as a species, and State 
and local measures in place for the conservation of M. viminea. 
Specific differences from the 2006 designation of critical habitat are 
described in the Summary of Changes from Previously

[[Page 13420]]

Designated Critical Habitat section in the proposed rule that was 
published on June 9, 2011 (76 FR 33880).
    The areas in this final designation of critical habitat for 
Monardella viminea were occupied by the species at the time of listing 
and remain occupied today, and they possess those specific physical or 
biological features identified in the PCE that are essential to the 
conservation of the species and which may require special management 
considerations or protection. For this final rule, we completed the 
following steps to delineate critical habitat: (1) Compiled all 
available data from observations of M. viminea into a GIS database; (2) 
identified occurrences that were extant at the time of listing and 
those occurrences that are currently extant or contain transplanted M. 
viminea; (3) identified areas containing all the components that make 
up the PCE that may require special management considerations or 
protection; (4) circumscribed boundaries of potential critical habitat 
units based on the above information; and (5) removed all areas that 
did not have the PCE and, therefore, are not considered essential to 
the conservation of M. viminea, and areas that are exempt from critical 
habitat under section 4(a)(3)(B)(i) of the Act. These steps are 
described in detail below.
    (1) We compiled observational data from the following sources to 
include in our GIS database for Monardella viminea: (a) CNDDB data and 
supporting observation documentation on M. viminea; (b) monitoring 
reports from MCAS Miramar; and (c) monitoring reports from private and 
local government organizations, such as the Carroll Canyon Business 
Park and the City of San Diego Subarea Plan under the MSCP. No 
monitoring reports from the County of San Diego were available.
    (2) We considered extant all occurrences where presence of living 
plants has been confirmed within the past 10 years. Using this 
information, we determined that eight occurrences are currently extant. 
Based on data from the CNDDB, we confirmed that all eight occurrences 
were known and extant at the time of listing. We also documented the 
presence of transplanted individual plants in Carroll, San Clemente, 
and Lopez Canyons, and included them in our analysis.
    (3) To identify areas containing all the components that make up 
the PCE for Monardella viminea that may require special management 
considerations or protection, we conducted the following steps:
    (a) We determined occurrence locations likely to belong to the same 
population. Regardless of observation date, all occurrence locations 
downstream from an extant occurrence, and which would be connected to 
the upstream occurrence during runoff events (that could transport 
seeds downstream), were considered part of the same extant occurrence. 
This was accomplished by examining survey reports from MCAS Miramar, 
the City of San Diego, and the Friends of Los Pe[ntilde]asquitos 
Canyon.
    (b) In order to create a scientifically based approach to drawing 
critical habitat units, we first examined the GIS vegetation data 
polygons containing Monardella viminea occurrences (SANDAG 1995), 
because the species is frequently associated with coastal sage scrub 
and riparian scrub habitats (Scheid 1985, p. 3; Elvin and Sanders 2003, 
p. 430; Kelly and Burrascano 2006, p. 51). In an attempt to better 
distinguish the width of the specific areas within drainages that 
contain the PCE, we searched for a correlation between habitat type and 
clumps of M. viminea. We found M. viminea occurred in areas mapped as 
11 different vegetation types, with the greatest number (45 percent) 
located within Diegan Coastal Sage Scrub. We noted that mapped polygons 
of this vegetation type and some other vegetation types were relatively 
large and did not correspond well with the drainage areas where M. 
viminea and the PCE were likely to occur, indicating that they were 
poor predictors for areas that contain the physical or biological 
features essential to the conservation of M. viminea.
    (c) We examined polygons that were labeled as riparian vegetation 
for possible useful information to assist in delineating potential 
critical habitat areas because Monardella viminea is generally 
described as a riparian-associated species. We found that, although 
southern sycamore-alder riparian woodland is rare in canyons where M. 
viminea exists, where it is present it closely corresponds to areas 
that contain M. viminea and the physical or biological features 
essential to its conservation. Because of this close correlation, we 
used the southern sycamore-alder riparian woodland habitat type to 
identify the widest distance of a riparian vegetation type polygon from 
an occupied streambed line; we found this distance to be 490 ft (150 
m).
    (d) We then tested the 490-ft (150-m) value as an estimate of the 
distance from the streambed most likely to capture the PCE throughout 
the species' range. We used the widest distance from the streambed to 
help identify areas that meet the definition of critical habitat, 
rather than the median (or another value). We wanted to ensure that we 
captured all potential areas that have the physical or biological 
features essential to the conservation of Monardella viminea versus 
those areas that only contain occurrences of the species. We found that 
this 490-ft (150-m) distance, when applied to all streambeds where M. 
viminea occurred, captured all clumps of M. viminea except two in the 
southern end of West Sycamore Canyon. The two southern clumps are 
located in an area that appears to be a remnant habitat wash at the end 
of West Sycamore Canyon, which likely received additional streamflow 
during storm events longer than 48 hours after a rain event (or more 
frequently than just after a peak seasonal rainstorm), and thus does 
not likely support occupancy long term or significantly contribute to 
population persistence.
    The conservation of Monardella viminea depends on preservation of 
habitat containing the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of the species. Like most plants, M. viminea is 
occasionally found in areas considered atypical for the species. For 
example, a plant was once found growing in mesa-top habitat along a 
tributary of Rose Canyon (Rebman and Dossey 2006, p. 24, no EO number). 
We considered that the habitat areas outlined using the method 
described above will capture only the habitat that contains the 
physical or biological features essential to the conservation of M. 
viminea. We determined the distance of 490 ft (150 m) was appropriate 
to capture areas surrounding occupied streambeds that contain the 
physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the 
species and that meet the definition of critical habitat, and we 
applied it across the species' range.
    (4) We removed all areas not containing the physical or biological 
features essential to the conservation of the species. Monardella 
viminea requires all components of the PCE for growth and reproduction; 
thus, only areas that contained all components of the PCE were 
considered as critical habitat. We removed areas in Rose Canyon (no EO 
number), Elanus Canyon (EO 24), and Lopez Canyon (EO 1), and all four 
transplanted occurrences. All of these areas are characterized by dense 
urban development on at least one border. As discussed under Factor A 
for M. viminea, urbanization results in increased frequency and 
intensity of

[[Page 13421]]

storm flow events that wash away sandbars rather than scouring them of 
vegetation. Further discussion of why we did not include these 
occurrences as critical habitat appears in the Summary of Changes from 
Previously Designated Critical Habitat section in the proposed rule to 
designate critical habitat (76 FR 33880, June 9, 2011). We also removed 
areas within the boundaries of MCAS Miramar for this final rule because 
these areas are exempt from critical habitat designation under section 
4(a)(3)(B)(i) of the Act (see Exemptions section below).
    When determining critical habitat boundaries within this final 
rule, we made every effort to avoid including developed areas, such as 
lands covered by buildings, pavement, and other structures, because 
such lands lack physical or biological features for Monardella viminea. 
The scale of the maps we prepared under the parameters for publication 
in the Code of Federal Regulations may not reflect the exclusion of 
such developed lands. Any such lands inadvertently left inside critical 
habitat boundaries shown on the maps of this final rule have been 
excluded by text in the rule and are not designated as critical 
habitat. Therefore, a Federal action involving these lands will not 
trigger section 7 consultation with respect to critical habitat and the 
requirement of no adverse modification unless the specific action would 
affect the physical or biological features in the adjacent critical 
habitat.
    We are designating as critical habitat lands that we have 
determined are occupied at the time of listing and that contain 
sufficient physical or biological features to support the life-history 
processes essential for the conservation of the species. All units 
contain the PCE essential to support Monardella viminea life processes.

Final Critical Habitat Designation

    In the proposed rule published June 9, 2011 (76 FR 33880), we 
proposed designating five units as critical habitat for Monardella 
viminea. Within the five proposed units, we identified essential 
habitat located on MCAS Miramar that is exempt from designation under 
4(a)(3)(B)(i) of the Act. Based on the updated boundaries of MCAS 
Miramar (see Summary of Changes from Proposed Rule above and 
Application of Section 4(a)(3) of the Act below), we have determined 
that additional portions of Units 3 and 4, and all of Unit 5 are exempt 
under section 4(a)(3)(B)(i) of the Act. We are excluding the remaining 
portions of Unit 3 and Unit 4 under section 4(b)(2) of the Act (see 
Summary of Changes from Proposed Rule above and Application of Section 
4(b)(2) of the Act below). Thus, in this final rule, we designate two 
critical habitat units. The critical habitat identified in each unit is 
shown in Table 3, and the changes of ownership due to the changed MCAS 
Miramar boundaries are shown in Table 4.

 Table 3--Comparison of the 2006 Final Critical Habitat Designation for Monardella linoides ssp. Viminea, the 2011 Proposed Critical Habitat Designation
                                     for M. viminea, and the 2012 Final Critical Habitat Designation for M. viminea
     [Note: This table does not include the 255 ac (103 ha) of habitat now identified as occupied by M. stoneana. Further details on land ownership,
                                        exclusions and exemptions in this final rule are given in Tables 4 and 5]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                        2006 Final critical habitat           2011 Proposed critical habitat            2012 Final critical habitat
                                 -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Location                                    Area containing                         Area containing                         Area containing
                                       Unit name      essential features       Unit name      essential features       Unit name      essential features
                                                            ac (ha)                                 ac (ha)                                 ac (ha)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sycamore Canyon.................  Unit 1 Partial      373 (151).........  Unit 1 Partial      350 (142).........  Unit 1 Partial      350 (142).
                                   4(a)(3)(B)(i)                           4(a)(3)(B)(i)                           4(a)(3)(B)(i)
                                   exemption.                              exemption.                              exemption.
West Sycamore Canyon............  ..................  529 (214).........  Unit 2 Partial      577 (233).........  Unit 2 Partial      577 (234).
                                                                           4(a)(3)(B)(i)                           4(a)(3)(B)(i)
                                                                           exemption.                              exemption.
Spring Canyon...................  ..................  245 (99)..........  Unit 3 Partial      273 (111).........  No name; all acres  273 (111).
                                                                           4(a)(3)(B)(i)                           exempt or
                                                                           exemption.                              excluded.
East San Clemente Canyon........  ..................  638 (258).........  Unit 4 Partial      467 (189).........  No name; all acres  467 (189).
                                                                           4(a)(3)(B)(i)                           exempt or
                                                                           exemption.                              excluded.
West San Clemente Canyon........  ..................  114 (46)..........  Unit 5 Partial      227 (92)..........  No name; complete   227 (92).
                                                                           4(a)(3)(B)(i)                           exemption.
                                                                           exemption.
Lopez Canyon....................  ..................  77 (31)...........  ..................  0 (0).............  ..................  0 (0).
Elanus Canyon...................  ..................  82 (33)...........  ..................  0 (0).............  ..................  0 (0).
Rose Canyon.....................  ..................  185 (75)..........  ..................  0 (0).............  ..................  0 (0).
                                 -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Total Habitat Containing          ..................  2,242 (907).......  ..................  1,894 (767).......  ..................  1,894 (767).
 Essential Features **.
                                 -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total Exempt................  ..................  1,863 (754).......  ..................  1,546 (626).......  ..................  1,563 (633)
                                 -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total Excluded **...........  ..................  306 (124)           ..................  208 (84)            ..................  210 (85)
                                                       (excluded in                            (considered for                         (excluded).
                                                       2006).                                  exclusion).
                                 -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total Critical Habitat......  ..................  73 (30) Designated  ..................  348 (141) Proposed  ..................  122 (50)
                                                                                                                                       Designated.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Note: Values in this table may not sum due to rounding.
** See Table 4 for acreages considered for exclusion in each unit.


[[Page 13422]]

    The critical habitat areas described below constitute our best 
assessment at this time of areas that meet the definition of critical 
habitat. The two units we are designating as critical habitat are: (1) 
Sycamore Canyon, and (2) West Sycamore Canyon. Both units are currently 
occupied by the species. Both units are also specific areas within the 
geographic area occupied by the species at the time it was listed. The 
approximate area of each critical habitat unit is shown in Table 4, 
along with ownership acreages for all of the units described in the 
proposed rule and acreages exempt or excluded in this final rule.

Table 4--Critical Habitat Units for Monardella viminea, Showing Estimated Area in Acres (Hectares), Land Ownership, Areas Excluded Under Section 4(b)(2)
                                           of the Act, and Areas Exempt Under Section 4(a)(3)(B)(i) of the Act
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                            Total area
                                                                                            containing                                    Final critical
                Location                    Federal ac       State and      Private ac       essential     Area excluded   Areas exempt     habitat  ac
                                               (ha)        local ac (ha)       (ha)         features ac     ac (ha) **        ac (ha)          (ha)
                                                                                               (ha)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Unit 1. Sycamore Canyon.................        153 (62)          22 (9)        175 (71)       350 (142)         80 (32)        153 (62)        118 (48)
Unit 2. West Sycamore Canyon............       551 (222)         26 (11)           0 (0)       577 (234)          22 (9)       551 (222)           4 (2)
Unit 3. Spring Canyon...................        170 (69)           5 (2)         98 (40)       273 (111)        103 (42)        170 (69)           0 (0)
Unit 4. East San Clemente Canyon........       462 (187)           5 (2)           0 (0)       467 (189)           5 (2)       462 (187)           0 (0)
Unit 5. West San Clemente Canyon........        227 (92)           0 (0)           0 (0)        227 (92)           0 (0)        227 (92)           0 (0)
                                         ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total Habitat Area..................     1,563 (633)         57 (23)       273 (111)     1,894 (767)        210 (85)     1,563 (633)        122 (50)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Note: Values in this table may not sum due to rounding.
** See Exclusions section for details of acreages excluded in each unit.

    We present brief descriptions of the two critical habitat units 
below, and reasons why they meet the definition of critical habitat for 
Monardella viminea.

Unit 1: Sycamore Canyon

    Unit 1 consists of 118 ac (48 ha), and is located in Sycamore 
Canyon at the northeastern boundary of MCAS Miramar, north of Santee 
Lakes in San Diego County, California. These acres fall within the 
boundaries of the City of Santee, which has no approved MSCP. This 
canyon is the only place where Monardella viminea is found in oak 
woodland habitat, and is one of the few areas in the range of M. 
viminea with mature riparian habitat (Rebman and Dossey 2006, p. 23). 
Sycamore Canyon is essential to the recovery of the species because it 
supports over 350 individual plants, or approximately 18 percent of the 
species' total population (City of San Diego 2010a, p. 257; Tierra Data 
2011, p. 12), meaning this is an important unit that supports genotypes 
and diversity not found among the more impoverished occurrences. 
Additionally, this canyon is one of few that contains seedlings and 
juveniles (Tierra Data 2011, pp. 16-17), demonstrating that 
reproduction is occurring and the habitat in this unit is currently 
suitable to support all life-history phases of this declining species. 
The habitat in this unit provides redundancy and resiliency for M. 
viminea and, since there are areas of suitable habitat within the 
canyon where plants are not currently growing, the unit provides space 
for the growth and expansion of the species. This unit contains the 
physical or biological features essential to the conservation of M. 
viminea, including riparian channels with a natural hydrological 
regime, ephemeral drainages made up of rocky or sandy alluvium, sandy 
soil with sediment and cobble deposits, and surrounding vegetation that 
provides semi-open foliar cover. The PCE may require special management 
considerations or protection to address threats from nonnative plant 
species and erosion of the canyon (City of San Diego 2005, p. 68; 2006, 
p. 10; 2009, p. 2). Please see the Special Management Considerations or 
Protection section of this final rule for a discussion of the threats 
to M. viminea habitat and potential management considerations.

Unit 2: West Sycamore Canyon

    Unit 2 consists of 4 ac (2 ha) of land owned by water districts, 
and is located in West Sycamore Canyon adjacent to the eastern section 
of MCAS Miramar, in San Diego County, California. The northernmost 
point of the unit is just outside the boundary of MCAS Miramar. West 
Sycamore Canyon, in which Unit 2 is found, is essential to the recovery 
of Monardella viminea because it contains the largest number of M. 
viminea individuals of any canyon in the species' range and over 25 
percent of the species' total population (Tierra Data 2011, p. 12), 
meaning this is an important unit that supports genotypes and diversity 
not found among the more impoverished occurrences. Additionally, this 
canyon is one of few that contains seedlings and juveniles (Tierra Data 
2011, pp. 16-17), demonstrating that reproduction is occurring and the 
habitat in this unit is currently suitable to support all life-history 
phases of this declining species. The plants in this canyon were 
recently observed to be in good health with little to no pressure from 
herbivores, in contrast to many other areas such as San Clemente or 
Carroll Canyon, where individuals are declining or are in poor health 
(Tierra Data 2011, p. 25; Ince 2010, Table 3). The habitat in this unit 
provides redundancy and resiliency for M. viminea, and because there 
are areas of suitable habitat within the canyon where plants are not 
currently growing, the unit provides space for the growth and expansion 
of the species. Unit 2, which contains critical habitat for M. viminea 
in that portion of West Sycamore Canyon located outside of MCAS 
Miramar, includes the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of M. viminea, including riparian channels with a natural 
hydrological regime, ephemeral drainages made up of rocky or sandy 
alluvium, sandy soil with sediment and cobble deposits, and surrounding

[[Page 13423]]

vegetation that provides semi-open foliar cover. The PCE in this unit 
may require special management considerations or protection to address 
threats associated with erosion from heavy rainfall events. Please see 
the Special Management Considerations or Protection section of this 
final rule for a discussion of the threats to M. viminea habitat and 
potential management considerations.

Effects of Critical Habitat Designation

Section 7 Consultation

    Section 7(a)(2) of the Act requires Federal agencies, including the 
Service, to ensure that any action they fund, authorize, or carry out 
is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered 
species or threatened species or result in the destruction or adverse 
modification of designated critical habitat of such species. In 
addition, section 7(a)(4) of the Act requires Federal agencies to 
confer with the Service on any agency action which is likely to 
jeopardize the continued existence of any species proposed to be listed 
under the Act or result in the destruction or adverse modification of 
critical habitat.
    Decisions by the 5th and 9th Circuit Courts of Appeals have 
invalidated our regulatory definition of ``destruction or adverse 
modification'' (50 CFR 402.02) (see Gifford Pinchot Task Force v. U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, 378 F. 3d 1059 (9th Cir. 2004) and Sierra 
Club v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service et al., 245 F.3d 434, 442 (5th 
Cir. 2001)), and we do not rely on this regulatory definition when 
analyzing whether an action is likely to destroy or adversely modify 
critical habitat. Under the statutory provisions of the Act, we 
determine destruction or adverse modification on the basis of whether, 
with implementation of the proposed Federal action, the affected 
critical habitat would continue to serve its intended conservation role 
for the species.
    If a Federal action may affect a listed species or its critical 
habitat, the responsible Federal agency (action agency) must enter into 
consultation with us. Examples of actions that are subject to the 
section 7 consultation process are actions on State, tribal, local, or 
private lands that require a Federal permit (such as a permit from the 
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers under section 404 of the Clean Water Act 
(33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.) or a permit from the Service under section 10 
of the Act) or that involve some other Federal action (such as funding 
from the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Aviation 
Administration, or the Federal Emergency Management Agency). Federal 
actions not affecting listed species or critical habitat, and actions 
on State, tribal, local, or private lands that are not federally funded 
or authorized, do not require section 7 consultation.
    As a result of section 7 consultation, we document compliance with 
the requirements of section 7(a)(2) through our issuance of:
    (1) A concurrence letter for Federal actions that may affect, but 
are not likely to adversely affect, listed species or critical habitat; 
or
    (2) A biological opinion for Federal actions that may affect, or 
are likely to adversely affect, listed species or critical habitat.
    When we issue a biological opinion concluding that a project is 
likely to jeopardize the continued existence of a listed species and/or 
destroy or adversely modify critical habitat, we provide reasonable and 
prudent alternatives to the project, if any are identifiable, that 
would avoid the likelihood of jeopardy and/or destruction or adverse 
modification of critical habitat. We define ``reasonable and prudent 
alternatives'' (at 50 CFR 402.02) as alternative actions identified 
during consultation that:
    (1) Can be implemented in a manner consistent with the intended 
purpose of the action,
    (2) Can be implemented consistent with the scope of the Federal 
agency's legal authority and jurisdiction,
    (3) Are economically and technologically feasible, and
    (4) Would, in the Director's opinion, avoid the likelihood of 
jeopardizing the continued existence of the listed species and/or avoid 
the likelihood of destroying or adversely modifying critical habitat.
    Reasonable and prudent alternatives can vary from slight project 
modifications to extensive redesign or relocation of the project. Costs 
associated with implementing a reasonable and prudent alternative are 
similarly variable.
    Regulations at 50 CFR 402.16 require Federal agencies to reinitiate 
consultation on previously reviewed actions in instances where we have 
listed a new species or subsequently designated critical habitat that 
may be affected and the Federal agency has retained discretionary 
involvement or control over the action (or the agency's discretionary 
involvement or control is authorized by law). Consequently, Federal 
agencies sometimes may need to request reinitiation of consultation 
with us on actions for which formal consultation has been completed, if 
those actions with discretionary involvement or control may affect 
subsequently listed species or designated critical habitat.

Application of the ``Adverse Modification'' Standard

    The key factor related to the adverse modification determination is 
whether, with implementation of the proposed Federal action, the 
affected critical habitat would continue to serve its intended 
conservation role for the species. Activities that may destroy or 
adversely modify critical habitat are those that alter the physical or 
biological features to an extent that appreciably reduces the 
conservation value of critical habitat for Monardella viminea. As 
discussed above, the role of critical habitat is to support life-
history needs of the species and provide for the conservation of the 
species.
    Section 4(b)(8) of the Act requires us to briefly evaluate and 
describe, in any proposed or final regulation that designates critical 
habitat, activities involving a Federal action that may destroy or 
adversely modify such habitat, or that may be affected by such 
designation.
    Activities that may affect critical habitat, when carried out, 
funded, or authorized by a Federal agency, should result in 
consultation for Monardella viminea. These activities include, but are 
not limited to:
    (1) Actions that would alter channel morphology or geometry and 
resultant hydrology to a degree that appreciably reduces the value of 
critical habitat for either the long-term survival or recovery of the 
species. Such activities could include, but are not limited to: Water 
impoundment, channelization, or diversion; road and bridge construction 
(including instream structures); licensing, relicensing, or operation 
of dams or other water impoundments; and mining and other removal or 
deposition of materials. Examples of effects these activities may have 
on Monardella viminea habitat include, but are not limited to: A 
permanent removal or reduction of suitable space for individual and 
population growth, or an increase in woody or herbaceous ground cover 
(due to increased moisture levels in soil occupied by the species) that 
affects the availability of suitable habitat for reproduction and 
survival of M. viminea.
    (2) Actions that would significantly affect pollinator abundance or 
efficacy, directly or indirectly, to a degree that appreciably reduces 
the value of the critical habitat for the long-term survival or 
recovery of the species. Such activities include, but are not limited 
to:

[[Page 13424]]

Destruction of critical habitat that contains pollinators, introduction 
of nonnative insects into designated critical habitat that could 
compete with native pollinators, clearing or trimming of other native 
vegetation in designated critical habitat in a manner that diminishes 
appreciably its utility to support Monardella viminea pollinators (such 
as clearing vegetation for fuels control), and application of 
pesticides.
    (3) Actions that would significantly alter sediment deposition 
patterns and rates within a stream channel to a degree that appreciably 
reduces the value of the critical habitat for the long-term survival or 
recovery of the species. Such activities include, but are not limited 
to: Excessive sedimentation from road construction; excessive 
recreational trail use; residential, commercial, and industrial 
development; aggregate mining; and other watershed and floodplain 
disturbances. These activities may reduce the amount and distribution 
of suitable habitat for individual and population growth, and reduce or 
change habitat quality for reproduction, germination, and development.
    (4) Actions that would significantly alter biotic features to a 
degree that appreciably reduces the value of the critical habitat for 
both the long-term survival or the recovery of the species. Such 
activities include, but are not limited to: Modifying the habitats that 
support Monardella viminea, including coastal sage scrub, riparian 
scrub, and (in some areas) riparian oak woodland. These activities may 
include large-scale application of herbicides, release of chemicals or 
other toxic substances, or activities that increase the possibility of 
accidental sewage outflows. These activities may reduce the amount or 
quality of suitable habitat for individuals and populations; reduce or 
change sites for reproduction and development; or reduce the quality of 
water, light, minerals, or other nutritional or physiological 
requirements.
    (5) Actions that could contribute to the introduction or support of 
nonnative species into critical habitat to a degree that could 
appreciably reduce the value of the critical habitat for the long-term 
survival or recovery of Monardella viminea. Such activities include, 
but are not limited to: Landscape disturbance or plant introductions 
that result in increased numbers of individuals and taxa of nonnative 
species for landscape or erosion control purposes, or addition of 
nutrients that would fertilize nonnative plant taxa. These activities 
may reduce the suitable space for individual and population growth, 
reduce or change sites for reproduction and development of offspring, 
and introduce or support nonnative plant taxa that compete with M. 
viminea.

Exemptions

Application of Section 4(a)(3) of the Act

    The Sikes Act Improvement Act of 1997 (Sikes Act) (16 U.S.C. 670a) 
required each military installation that includes land and water 
suitable for the conservation and management of natural resources to 
complete an integrated natural resources management plan (INRMP) by 
November 17, 2001. An INRMP integrates implementation of the military 
mission of the installation with stewardship of the natural resources 
found on the base. Each INRMP includes:
    (1) An assessment of the ecological needs on the installation, 
including the need to provide for the conservation of listed species;
    (2) A statement of goals and priorities;
    (3) A detailed description of management actions to be implemented 
to provide for these ecological needs; and
    (4) A monitoring and adaptive management plan.
    Among other things, each INRMP must, to the extent appropriate and 
applicable, provide for fish and wildlife management; fish and wildlife 
habitat enhancement or modification; wetland protection, enhancement, 
and restoration where necessary to support fish and wildlife; and 
enforcement of applicable natural resource laws.
    The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004 (Pub. 
L. 108-136) amended the Act to limit areas eligible for designation as 
critical habitat. Specifically, section 4(a)(3)(B)(i) of the Act (16 
U.S.C. 1533(a)(3)(B)(i)) now provides: ``The Secretary shall not 
designate as critical habitat any lands or other geographical areas 
owned or controlled by the Department of Defense, or designated for its 
use, that are subject to an integrated natural resources management 
plan prepared under section 101 of the Sikes Act (16 U.S.C. 670a), if 
the Secretary determines in writing that such plan provides a benefit 
to the species for which critical habitat is proposed for 
designation.''
    We consult with the military on the development and implementation 
of INRMPs for installations with federally listed species. We analyzed 
the INRMP developed by MCAS Miramar, the only military installation 
located within the range of the critical habitat designation for 
Monardella viminea, to determine if the military lands are exempt under 
section 4(a)(3) of the Act.
Marine Corps Air Station Miramar (MCAS Miramar)
    Marine Corps Air Station Miramar has an approved INRMP (Gene Stout 
and Associates et al. 2011) that addresses Monardella viminea, and the 
Marine Corps has committed to working closely with the Service and CDFG 
to continually refine the existing INRMP as part of the Sikes Act's 
INRMP review process. In accordance with section 4(a)(3)(B) of the Act, 
the Secretary has determined that conservation efforts identified in 
the INRMP provide a benefit to M. viminea occurring on MCAS Miramar 
(see the following section that details this determination). Therefore, 
the 1,563 ac (633 ha) of habitat occupied by M. viminea at the time of 
listing, on which are found the physical or biological features 
essential to its conservation and thus are qualified for consideration 
as critical habitat on MCAS Miramar, are exempt from this critical 
habitat designation for M. viminea under section 4(a)(3)(B)(i) of the 
Act. The rationale for this exemption is the same as it was for the 
2006 designation (71 FR 65662, November 8, 2006).
    In the previous final critical habitat designation for Monardella 
viminea, we determined that essential habitat on MCAS Miramar is exempt 
from the designation of critical habitat (71 FR 65662, November 8, 
2006), and we do so again in this revised designation. We base this 
decision on the conservation benefits to M. viminea identified in the 
INRMP developed by MCAS Miramar in May 2000 and the updated INRMP 
prepared by MCAS Miramar in April 2011 (Gene Stout and Associates et 
al. 2011). We determined that conservation efforts identified in the 
INRMP provide a benefit to M. viminea on MCAS Miramar (Gene Stout and 
Associates et al. 2011, section 7-19). We reaffirm that continued 
conservation efforts on MCAS Miramar provide a benefit to M. viminea. 
Therefore, lands containing features essential to the conservation of 
M. viminea on this installation are exempt from this critical habitat 
designation for M. viminea under section 4(a)(3)(B)(i) of the Act.
    Provisions in the INRMP for MCAS Miramar benefit Monardella viminea 
by requiring efforts to avoid and minimize impacts to this species and 
riparian watersheds. All suitable habitat for M. viminea is managed as 
specified for Level I or Level II Habitat Management Areas defined by 
the INRMP (Kassebaum 2010, pers. comm.). Under the INRMP, Level I 
Management Areas receive the highest conservation priority of the 
various management areas on

[[Page 13425]]

MCAS Miramar. The conservation of watersheds in the Level I Management 
Areas is achieved through:
    (1) Education of base personnel,
    (2) Implementation of proactive measures that help avoid accidental 
impacts (such as signs and fencing),
    (3) Development of procedures to respond to and restore accidental 
impacts, and
    (4) Monitoring of M. viminea occurrences on MCAS Miramar (Gene 
Stout and Associates et al. 2011, p. 7-19).
    Additionally, MCAS Miramar's environmental security staff reviews 
projects and enforces existing regulations and base orders that avoid 
and minimize impacts to natural resources, including Monardella viminea 
and its habitat. The INRMP for MCAS Miramar provides a benefit to M. 
viminea and includes measures designed to prevent degradation or 
destruction of the species' riparian habitat.
    Based on the above considerations, and in accordance with section 
4(a)(3)(B)(i) of the Act, we have determined that Monardella viminea, 
habitat on MCAS Miramar is subject to the MCAS Miramar INRMP, and that 
conservation efforts identified in the INRMP provide and will continue 
to provide a benefit to M. viminea occurring in habitats within and 
adjacent to MCAS Miramar. Therefore, lands within this installation are 
exempt from critical habitat designation under section 4(a)(3) of the 
Act. We are not including approximately 1,563 ac (633 ha) of habitat in 
this critical habitat designation because of this exemption.

Exclusions

Application of Section 4(b)(2) of the Act

    Section 4(b)(2) of the Act states that the Secretary shall 
designate and make revisions to critical habitat on the basis of the 
best available scientific data after taking into consideration the 
economic impact, national security impact, and any other relevant 
impact of specifying any particular area as critical habitat. The 
Secretary may exclude an area from critical habitat if he determines 
that the benefits of such exclusion outweigh the benefits of specifying 
such area as part of the critical habitat, unless he determines, based 
on the best scientific data available, that the failure to designate 
such area as critical habitat will result in the extinction of the 
species. In making that determination, the statute on its face, as well 
as the legislative history are clear that the Secretary has broad 
discretion regarding which factor(s) to use and how much weight to give 
to any factor.
    In considering whether to exclude a particular area from the 
designation, we identify the benefits of including the area in the 
designation, identify the benefits of excluding the area from the 
designation, and evaluate whether the benefits of exclusion outweigh 
the benefits of inclusion. If the analysis indicates that the benefits 
of exclusion outweigh the benefits of inclusion, the Secretary may 
exercise his discretion to exclude the area only if such exclusion 
would not result in the extinction of the species.
    When identifying the benefits of inclusion for an area, we consider 
the additional regulatory benefits that area would receive from the 
protection from adverse modification or destruction as a result of 
actions with a Federal nexus; the educational benefits of mapping 
essential habitat for recovery of the listed species; and any benefits 
that may result from a designation due to State or Federal laws that 
may apply to critical habitat.
    When identifying the benefits of exclusion, we consider, among 
other things, whether exclusion of a specific area is likely to avoid 
concentrated economic impacts or impacts to national security, or 
whether exclusion may result in conservation; the continuation, 
strengthening, or encouragement of partnerships; or the implementation 
of a management plan that provides equal to or more conservation than a 
critical habitat designation would provide, among other factors. For 
example, we consider our continued ability to seek new partnerships 
with future plan participants including the State, counties, local 
jurisdictions, conservation organizations, and private landowners, 
which together can implement conservation actions that we would be 
unable to accomplish otherwise. If lands within approved management 
plan areas are designated as critical habitat, it would likely have a 
negative effect on our existing partnerships and negatively affect our 
ability to establish new partnerships to develop and implement these 
plans, particularly plans that address landscape-level conservation of 
species and habitats. By excluding these lands, we preserve our current 
partnerships, promote future partnerships, and encourage additional 
conservation actions in the future.
    When we evaluate conservation plans when considering the benefits 
of exclusion, we consider a variety of factors. We consider the 
benefits of working relationships we have formed with Federal, State, 
local and private entities and potential conservation agreements that 
may stem from those partnerships. Additionally, we consider factors 
including, but not limited to, whether the plan is finalized, how it 
provides for the conservation of the essential physical or biological 
features, whether there is a reasonable expectation that the 
conservation management strategies and actions contained in a 
management plan will be implemented into the future, whether the 
conservation strategies in the plan are likely to be effective, and 
whether the plan contains a monitoring program or adaptive management 
to ensure that the conservation measures are effective and can be 
adapted in the future in response to new information.
    After identifying the benefits of inclusion and the benefits of 
exclusion, we carefully weigh the two sides to evaluate whether the 
benefits of exclusion outweigh those of inclusion. If our analysis 
indicates that the benefits of exclusion outweigh the benefits of 
inclusion, we then determine whether exclusion would result in 
extinction. If exclusion of an area from critical habitat will result 
in extinction, we will not exclude it from the designation. If the 
benefits of exclusion outweigh the benefits of inclusion and exclusion 
will not result in extinction, the Secretary may exercise his 
discretion to exclude the area.

Exclusions Based on Economic Impacts

    Under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we consider the economic impacts 
of specifying any particular area as critical habitat. In order to 
consider economic impacts, we prepared a draft economic analysis of the 
proposed critical habitat designation and related factors (Industrial 
Economics Inc., 2011). The draft analysis, dated August 25, 2011, was 
made available for public review from September 28, 2011, through 
October 28, 2011 (76 FR 59990). Following the close of the comment 
period, a final analysis of the potential economic effects of the 
designation was developed, taking into consideration the public 
comments and any new information (Industrial Economics Inc., 2012).
    The intent of the final economic analysis (FEA) is to identify and 
analyze the potential economic impacts of designating critical habitat 
for Monardella viminea. Some of these costs will likely be incurred 
regardless of whether we designate critical habitat (baseline). The 
economic impact of the final critical habitat designation is analyzed 
by comparing scenarios both ``with critical habitat'' and ``without 
critical habitat.'' The ``without critical

[[Page 13426]]

habitat'' scenario represents the baseline for the analysis, 
considering protections already in place for the species (for example, 
under the Federal listing and other Federal, State, and local 
regulations). The baseline, therefore, represents the costs incurred 
regardless of whether critical habitat is designated. The ``with 
critical habitat'' scenario describes the incremental impacts 
specifically associated with the designation of critical habitat for 
the species. The incremental conservation efforts and associated 
impacts are those not expected to occur absent the designation of 
critical habitat for the species. In other words, the incremental costs 
are those attributable solely to the designation of critical habitat 
above and beyond the baseline costs; these are the costs we consider in 
the final designation of critical habitat. The analysis looks 
retrospectively at baseline impacts incurred since the species was 
listed, and forecasts both baseline and incremental impacts likely to 
occur with the designation of critical habitat.
    The FEA also addresses how potential economic impacts are likely to 
be distributed, including an assessment of any local or regional 
impacts of habitat conservation and the potential effects of 
conservation activities on government agencies, private businesses, and 
individuals. The FEA measures lost economic efficiency associated with 
residential and commercial development and public projects and 
activities, such as economic impacts on water management and 
transportation projects, Federal lands, small entities, and the energy 
industry. Decisionmakers can use this information to assess whether the 
effects of the designation might unduly burden a particular group or 
economic sector. Finally, the FEA looks retrospectively at costs that 
have been incurred since the species was listed in 1998 (63 FR 54938, 
October 13, 1998), and considers those costs that may occur in the 19 
years following the designation of critical habitat. This 19-year 
period was determined to be appropriate as it encompassed the available 
planning information for one of the two entities involved in the 
analysis, (its activities are forecast to the year 2030), and because 
limited planning information was available for most activities to 
forecast activity levels for projects beyond a 19-year timeframe 
(Industrial Economics Inc. 2011, p. 2-14). The FEA quantifies economic 
impacts of Monardella viminea conservation efforts associated with the 
following categories of activity: Transportation and construction.
    The FEA determined that only minor economic impacts are likely to 
result from critical habitat designation. This conclusion stems from 
the following factors: (1) In the proposed rule, we identified 210 ac 
(85 ha) of lands covered by HCPs that protect the species and its 
habitat within the City of San Diego and County of San Diego MSCP 
Subarea Plans, and these 210 acres (85 ha) have been excluded in this 
final rule from critical habitat due to conservation partnerships (see 
Exclusions Based on Other Relevant Impacts below)); (2) as all critical 
habitat units are occupied, consultation would occur regardless of the 
designation of critical habitat; and (3) modifications to the project 
to avoid jeopardy to Monardella viminea and those to avoid adverse 
modification of critical habitat are indistinguishable (Industrial 
Economics Inc. 2012, p. ES-2). Further, those administrative costs 
resulting from critical habitat designation are minor (total 
undiscounted costs of $10,000) (Industrial Economics Inc. 2012, Table 
ES-1). Consequently, the Secretary has determined not to exercise his 
discretion to exclude any areas from this designation of critical 
habitat for Monardella viminea based on economic impacts.
    A copy of the FEA with supporting documents may be obtained by 
contacting the Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES) or by 
downloading from the Internet at  http://www.regulations.gov.

Exclusions Based on National Security Impacts

    Under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we consider whether there are 
lands owned or managed by the Department of Defense where a national 
security impact might exist. In preparing this rule, we have exempted 
from the designation of critical habitat those lands on MCAS Miramar 
because the base has an approved INRMP that the Marine Corps is 
implementing and that we have concluded provides a benefit to 
Monardella viminea.
    In this final rule, we have determined that there are no other 
lands within the designation of critical habitat that are owned or 
managed by the Department of Defense, and, therefore, we anticipate no 
impact on national security. Consequently, the Secretary is not 
exercising his discretion to exclude any areas from this final 
designation based on impacts on national security.

Exclusions Based on Other Relevant Impacts

    Under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we consider any other relevant 
impacts in addition to economic impacts and impacts on national 
security. We consider a number of factors, including whether the 
landowners have developed any HCPs or other management plans for the 
area, or whether there are conservation partnerships that would be 
encouraged by designation of, or exclusion from, critical habitat. In 
addition, we look at any tribal issues, and consider the government-to-
government relationship of the United States with tribal entities. We 
also consider any social impacts that might occur because of the 
designation.
Land and Resource Management Plans, Conservation Plans, or Agreements 
Based on Conservation Partnerships
    Based on the information provided by entities seeking exclusion, as 
well as any additional public comments we received, we evaluated 
whether certain lands covered by existing HCPs in the critical habitat 
units were appropriate for exclusion from this final designation 
pursuant to the ``other relevant factor'' criterion of section 4(b)(2) 
of the Act. For the reasons summarized below, the Secretary determined 
to exercise his discretion to exclude essential habitat covered by the 
City of San Diego Subarea Plan and the County of San Diego Subarea Plan 
under the MSCP from the revised critical habitat designation for 
Monardella viminea. Table 5 provides approximate areas (ac, ha) of 
lands that meet the definition of critical habitat but are excluded 
under section 4(b)(2) of the Act from the final critical habitat rule.

[[Page 13427]]



Table 5--Areas Excluded Under Section 4(b)(2) of the Act From This Final
           Critical Habitat Designation for Monardella Viminea
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                    Area covered by     Area covered by
                                   City of San Diego     County of San
             Unit **               Subarea Plan (ac   Diego Subarea Plan
                                         (ha))             (ac (ha))
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1. Sycamore Canyon..............             47 (19)             32 (13)
2. West Sycamore Canyon.........              22 (9)               0 (0)
3. Spring Canyon................            103 (42)               0 (0)
4. East San Clemente Canyon.....               5 (2)               0 (0)
���������������������������������
    Total ***...................            177 (72)             32 (13)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Note: Values in this table may not sum due to rounding.
** The areas being excluded that are noted in this table are included in
  Tables 3 and 4 above.
*** All areas covered by HCPs (City of San Diego Subarea Plan under the
  MSCP and County of San Diego Subarea Plan under the MSCP) are
  excluded.

    In evaluating whether to exclude areas covered by a current land 
management or conservation plan (HCPs as well as other types), we 
consider whether:
    (1) The plan is complete and provides a level of protection from 
adverse modification or destruction similar to or greater than that 
provided through a consultation under section 7 of the Act;
    (2) There is a reasonable expectation that the conservation 
management strategies and actions will be implemented for the 
foreseeable future, based on past practices, written guidance, or 
regulations; and
    (3) The plan provides conservation strategies and measures 
consistent with currently accepted principles of conservation biology.
    In the case of plant species such as Monardella viminea, we also 
consider that including conservation measures to protect listed plant 
species and their habitats in an HCP or other conservation plan is 
voluntary. In contrast to listed wildlife species, the Act does not 
prohibit take of listed plant species. Further, an incidental take 
permit (ITP) under section 10 of the Act is not required to authorize 
impacts to listed plants. For this reason, the Service actively 
supports and encourages the voluntary inclusion of measures to protect 
listed plants and their habitats in an HCP or other conservation plan 
by plan proponents. The prospect of potentially avoiding a designation 
of critical habitat for a plant species provides a meaningful incentive 
to plan proponents to extend protections for plants and their habitat 
under a conservation plan. Achieving comprehensive, landscape-level 
protection for plant species, particularly narrow endemic plant species 
such as M. viminea, through their inclusion in regional conservation 
plans, provides a key conservation benefit for such species. Our 
consideration of the City of San Diego and County of San Diego Subarea 
Plans under section 4(b)(2) of the Act acknowledges the voluntary, 
proactive conservation measures undertaken by the City and County to 
protect M. viminea under these plans.
    Taking into account all of the above factors, we conclude that 
essential habitat covered by the City of San Diego Subarea Plan and the 
County of San Diego Subarea Plan under the San Diego MSCP warrants 
exclusion from revised critical habitat for Monardella viminea, and we 
are excluding non-Federal lands covered by these plans.
    The MSCP is a comprehensive habitat conservation planning program 
that encompasses 582,243 ac (235,626 ha) within 12 jurisdictions of 
southwestern San Diego County. The MSCP is a subregional plan that 
identifies the conservation needs of 85 federally listed and sensitive 
species, including Monardella viminea, and serves as the basis for 
development of subarea plans by each jurisdiction in support of section 
10(a)(1)(B) permits. The subregional MSCP identifies where mitigation 
activities should be focused, such that upon full implementation of the 
subarea plans approximately 171,920 ac (69,574 ha) of the 582,243-ac 
(235,626-ha) MSCP plan area will be preserved and managed for covered 
species (County of San Diego 1998, pp. 2-1, 4-2-4-4). Conservation of 
Monardella viminea is addressed in the subregional plan, and in the 
City and County of San Diego Subarea Plans. The City and County Subarea 
Plans identify areas where mitigation activities should be focused to 
create its preserve areas (Multi-Habitat Planning Area (MHPA) or Pre-
Approved Mitigation Area (PAMA)). Those areas of the MSCP preserve that 
are already conserved, as well as those designated for inclusion in the 
preserve under the plan, are referred to as the ``preserve area'' in 
this final critical habitat designation. When completed at the end of 
the 50-year permit term, the public sector (Federal, State, and local 
government, and the general public) will have contributed 108,750 ac 
(44,010 ha) (63.3 percent) to the preserve, of which 81,750 ac (33,083 
ha) (48 percent) was existing public land when the MSCP was 
established, and 27,000 ac (10,927 ha) (16 percent) will have been 
acquired. At completion, the private sector will have contributed 
63,170 ac (25,564 ha) (37 percent) to the preserve as part of the 
development process, either through avoidance of impacts or as 
compensatory mitigation for impacts to biological resources outside the 
preserve. Currently, and in the future, Federal and State governments, 
local jurisdictions and special districts, and managers of privately 
owned land will manage and monitor their land in the preserve for 
species and habitat protection (MSCP 1998, pp. 2-1, 4-2--4-4).
    The City and County Subarea Plans include multiple conservation 
measures that provide benefits to Monardella viminea. To date, the City 
of San Diego has conserved within the boundaries of the MHPA 100 
percent of M. viminea major occurrences and 100 percent habitat for M. 
viminea that we identified as essential in our critical habitat 
analysis (see the Criteria Used to Identify Critical Habitat section 
above). Additionally, 100 percent of M. viminea occurrences and 100 
percent of essential habitat for M. viminea within the boundaries of 
the County subarea plan (a total of 2 percent of all M. viminea 
habitat) has been conserved in the Sycamore Canyon Preserve.
    The MSCP requires the City and the County to develop framework and 
site-specific management plans, subject to the review and approval of 
the Service and CDFG, to guide the management of

[[Page 13428]]

all preserve land under City and County control. Currently, the 
framework plans for both the City and the County are in place. The 
County of San Diego has also developed a site-specific management plan 
for the one area under its ownership that contains Monardella viminea 
(Sycamore Canyon), which incorporates requirements to monitor and 
adaptively manage M. viminea habitat over time (City of San Diego 1997, 
p. 127). The City has not yet completed site-specific management plans 
for some preserve lands containing M. viminea, including lands we 
proposed for revised critical habitat designation on June 9, 2011 (76 
FR 33880). However, the City is in the process of drafting a management 
plan for the Mission Trails area, which includes M. viminea occurrences 
in Spring Canyon (EO 26) (Miller 2011, pers. comm.). The plan 
specifically addresses M. viminea through removal of nonnative 
vegetation, habitat restoration, and implementation of a managed fire 
regime with a priority of protecting biological resources (DPR 2009, 
pp. 71, 76-77). Additionally, the plan mandates management to address 
the ``natural history of the species and to reduce the risk of 
catastrophic fire,'' possibly including prescribed fire (DPR 2009, p. 
71). The City of San Diego has also completed a natural resource 
management plan for the Los Pe[ntilde]asquitos Canyon Preserve, which 
covers M. viminea habitat (EO 1) that does not meet the definition of 
essential habitat (see the Criteria Used to Identify Critical Habitat 
section above).
    The MSCP also provides for a biological monitoring program, and 
Monardella viminea is identified as a first priority species for field 
monitoring under both the City and County Subarea Plans. Currently, the 
County of San Diego does not monitor the one occurrence of M. viminea 
in its jurisdiction, but anticipates that monitoring will begin in 2013 
(City of San Diego 2011b, pp. 4-5). The City of San Diego monitors its 
occurrences in Sycamore Canyon and Lopez Canyon on an annual basis, 
although no monitoring has yet been completed at other locations 
including Spring Canyon (EO 26). Under the County's subarea plan, Group 
A plant species, including M. viminea, are conserved following 
guidelines outlined by the County's Biological Mitigation Ordinance, 
which uses a process that:
    (1) Requires avoidance to the maximum extent feasible,
    (2) Allows for a maximum 20 percent encroachment into a population 
if total avoidance is not feasible, and
    (3) Requires mitigation at the 1:1 to 3:1 (in kind) for impacts if 
avoidance and minimization of impacts would result in no reasonable use 
of the property.
    We are exercising our delegated discretion to exclude from critical 
habitat a portion of Unit 1 covered by the County of San Diego Subarea 
Plan under section 4(b)(2) of the Act. This area encompasses 
approximately 32 ac (13 ha) of land. We are also exercising our 
delegated discretion to exclude from critical habitat portions of Units 
1-4 covered by the City of San Diego Subarea Plan under section 4(b)(2) 
of the Act. This area encompasses 177 ac (72 ha) of land. All essential 
habitat on non-federal lands covered by HCPs (City of San Diego Subarea 
Plan under the MSCP and County of San Diego Subarea Plan under the 
MSCP) are excluded from the final critical habitat designation.

Benefits of Inclusion--City of San Diego Subarea Plan and the County of 
San Diego Subarea Plan Under the San Diego MSCP

    The principal benefit of including an area in a critical habitat 
designation is the creation of a Federal nexus through section 7(a)(2) 
of the Act. This section upholds the requirement for Federal agencies 
to ensure actions they fund, authorize, or carry out are not likely to 
result in the destruction or adverse modification of any designated 
critical habitat. Section 7(a)(2) also requires that Federal agencies 
must consult with us on actions that may affect a listed species and 
refrain from undertaking actions that are likely to jeopardize the 
continued existence of such species.
    The benefits of inclusion of habitat within the critical habitat 
involves, in part, identifying the regulatory benefit of critical 
habitat. Determining these benefits is not always straightforward. The 
analysis of effects of a proposed project on critical habitat is both 
separate from and different from that of the effects of a proposed 
project on the species itself. The jeopardy analysis evaluates the 
action's impact to survival and recovery of the species, while the 
destruction or adverse modification analysis evaluates how the action 
could affect the value of critical habitat to the listed species. 
Therefore, the difference in outcomes of these two analyses represents 
the regulatory benefit of critical habitat. The addition of this 
regulatory benefit will, in many instances, lead to different results 
and give rise to different regulatory requirements that will then apply 
to the proposed project. Thus, critical habitat designations may 
provide greater benefits to the recovery of a species than would be 
provided by listing alone.
    However, for some species, and in some locations, the outcome of 
these analyses will be similar because effects to habitat will often 
also result in effects to the species. Though a jeopardy and adverse 
modification analysis must satisfy two different standards, any 
modifications to proposed actions resulting from a section 7 
consultation to minimize or avoid impacts to Monardella viminea will be 
habitat-based. Because M. viminea requires properly functioning 
ephemeral streams, drainages, and floodplains, any alteration of that 
system will also likely be detrimental to the individual plants located 
in that system. Additionally, all lands considered for exclusion are 
currently considered occupied by M. viminea and will be subject to the 
consultation requirements of the Act in the future regardless of 
critical habitat designation. Thus, it is difficult to differentiate 
measures implemented solely to minimize impacts to the critical habitat 
from those implemented to minimize impacts to M. viminea. Therefore, in 
the case of M. viminea, we believe any additional regulatory benefits 
of critical habitat designation would be minimal because the regulatory 
benefits from designation are essentially indistinguishable from the 
benefits of listing.
    Another possible benefit of including lands in a critical habitat 
designation is that the designation can serve to educate landowners and 
the public regarding the potential conservation value of an area, and 
may help focus conservation efforts on areas of high conservation value 
for certain species. Any information about Monardella viminea and its 
habitat that reaches a wide audience, including parties engaged in 
conservation activities, is valuable. In the case of M. viminea, 
however, there have already been multiple occasions when the public has 
been educated about the species. The framework regional San Diego MSCP 
was developed over a 7-year period, while the City and County Subarea 
plans have been in place for over a decade. Implementation of the 
subarea plans is formally reviewed yearly through publicly available 
annual reports and a public meeting, again providing extensive 
opportunity to educate the public and landowners about the location of, 
and efforts to conserve, essential M viminea habitat. As discussed 
above, the permit holders of the City and County Subarea Plans are 
aware of the value of these lands to the conservation of M. viminea, 
and conservation measures are already in

[[Page 13429]]

place to protect essential M. viminea and its habitat.
    Furthermore, essential habitat covered by the City and County 
Subarea plans was included in the proposed designation published in the 
Federal Register on June 9, 2011 (76 FR 33880). This publication was 
announced in a press release and information was posted on the 
Service's Web site, which ensured that the proposal reached a wide 
audience. Therefore, the educational benefits of critical habitat 
designation (such as providing information to the City and other 
stakeholders on areas important to the long-term conservation of this 
species) have already been realized through development and ongoing 
implementation of the City and County Subarea plans, by proposing these 
areas as critical habitat, and through the Service's public outreach 
efforts.
    Critical habitat designation can also result in ancillary 
conservation benefits to Monardella viminea by triggering additional 
review and conservation through other Federal and State laws. The 
primary State laws that might be affected by critical habitat 
designation are CEQA and CESA. However, essential habitat within the 
City and County has been identified in the Subarea plans and is either 
already protected or targeted for protection under the plans. Thus 
review of development proposals affecting essential habitat under CEQA 
by the City and County already takes into account the importance of 
this habitat to the species and the protections required for the 
species and its habitat under the Subarea plans. Similarly, because M. 
viminea is a State-listed endangered species under CESA, and CDFG is a 
signatory to the MSCP and City and County Subarea plans under the NCCP 
Act, the designation of critical habitat within the City and County 
would not result in additional conservation for the species and its 
habitat than currently exists under State law. The Federal law most 
likely to afford protection to designated M. viminea habitat is the 
Clean Water Act (CWA). Projects requiring a permit under the CWA, such 
as a fill permit under section 404 of the CWA, and that are located 
within critical habitat or are likely to affect critical habitat would 
trigger section 7 consultation under the Act. However, as discussed 
above, we conclude the potential regulatory benefits resulting from 
designation of critical habitat would be negligible because the outcome 
of a future section 7 consultation would not result in greater 
conservation for essential M. viminea habitat than currently is 
provided for under the City and County Subarea plans.
    Based on the above discussion, we believe section 7 consultations 
for critical habitat designation conducted under the standards required 
by the Ninth Circuit Court in the Gifford Pinchot Task Force v. U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service decision would provide little conservation 
benefit and would be largely redundant with those benefits already 
provided by the City and County Subarea Plans. Therefore, we determine 
the regulatory benefits of designating those acres as Monardella 
viminea critical habitat, such as protection afforded through the 
section 7(a)(2) consultation process, are minimal. We also conclude 
that the educational and ancillary benefits of designating essential 
habitat covered by the City and County Subarea plans would be 
negligible because the location of essential habitat for this species 
within the City and County and the importance of conserving such 
habitat is well known through development and implementation of the 
Subarea plans and the independent regulatory protection already 
provided under CEQA, CESA, and the City and County Subarea plans.

Benefits of Exclusion--City of San Diego Subarea Plan and the County of 
San Diego Subarea Plan Under the San Diego MSCP

    The benefits of excluding from designated critical habitat the 
approximately 177 ac (72 ha) of land within the boundaries of the City 
of San Diego Subarea Plan and 32 ac (13 ha) of land within the County 
of San Diego Subarea Plan are significant. The benefits of excluding 
essential habitat covered by these plans include: (1) Continuance and 
strengthening of our effective working relationships with all MSCP 
jurisdictions and stakeholders to promote the voluntary conservation of 
Monardella viminea and its habitat; (2) allowance for continued 
meaningful collaboration and cooperation in working toward recovering 
this species, including conservation benefits that might not otherwise 
occur; (3) encouragement of other jurisdictions with completed subarea 
plans under the MSCP to amend their plans to cover and benefit M. 
viminea and its habitat; (4) encouragement of other jurisdictions to 
complete subarea plans under the MSCP (including the cities of Poway 
and Santee) that cover or are adjacent to M. viminea habitat; and (5) 
encouragement of additional HCP and other conservation plan development 
in the future on other private lands that include M. viminea and other 
federally listed plant species.
    We developed close partnerships with the City and County of San 
Diego and several other stakeholders through the development of the 
City and County Subarea Plans, which voluntarily incorporate 
appropriate protections and management for Monardella viminea, its 
habitat, and the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of this species. Those protections are consistent with 
statutory mandates under section 7 of the Act to avoid destruction or 
adverse modification of critical habitat. Furthermore, these plans go 
beyond that requirement by including active management and protection 
of essential habitat areas. By excluding the approximately 177 ac (72 
ha) of land within the boundaries of the City of San Diego Subarea Plan 
and 32 ac (13 ha) within the County of San Diego Subarea Plan from 
critical habitat designation, we are eliminating a redundant layer of 
regulatory review for projects covered by the City and County Subarea 
Plans and encouraging new voluntary partnerships with other landowners 
and jurisdictions to protect M. viminea and other listed plant species. 
As discussed above, the prospect of potentially avoiding a future 
designation of critical habitat provides a meaningful incentive to plan 
proponents to extend voluntary protections to endangered and threatened 
plants and their habitat under a conservation plan. Achieving 
comprehensive, landscape-level protection for plant species, 
particularly narrow endemic plant species such as M. viminea, through 
their inclusion in regional conservation plans, provides a key 
conservation benefit for such species. Our ongoing partnerships with 
the City and County, the larger regional MSCP participants, and the 
landscape-level multiple species conservation planning efforts they 
promote, are essential to achieve long-term conservation of M. viminea.
    As noted earlier, some HCP permittees have expressed the view that 
designation of lands covered by an HCP devalues the conservation 
efforts of plan proponents and the partnerships fostered through the 
development and implementation of the plans and would discourage 
development of additional HCPs and other conservation plans in the 
future. Where an existing HCP provides for protection for a species and 
its essential habitat within the plan area, particularly with regard to 
a listed plant species, or where the existence of a Federal nexus for 
future activities is uncertain, the benefits of preserving existing 
partnerships by excluding the

[[Page 13430]]

covered lands from critical habitat are most significant. Excluding 
lands owned by or under the jurisdiction of the permittees of an HCP, 
under these circumstances, promotes positive working relationships and 
eliminates impacts to existing and future partnerships while 
encouraging development of additional HCPs for other species.
    Large-scale HCPs, such as the regional MSCP and subarea plans 
issued under its framework, take many years to develop and foster an 
ecosystem-based approach to habitat conservation planning, by 
addressing conservation issues through a coordinated approach. If local 
jurisdictions were to require landowners to obtain ITPs under section 
10 of the Act individually prior to the issuance of a building permit, 
the local jurisdiction would incur no costs associated with the 
landowner's need for an ITP. However, this approach would result in 
uncoordinated, ``patchy'' conservation that would be less likely to 
achieve listed species recovery and almost certainly would result in 
less protection for listed plant species, which do not require an ITP. 
We, therefore, want to continue to foster partnerships with local 
jurisdictions to encourage the development of regional HCPs that afford 
proactive, landscape-level conservation for multiple species, including 
voluntary protections for covered plant species. We believe the 
exclusion from critical habitat of covered lands subject to protection 
and management under such plans will promote such partnerships and 
result in greater protection for listed species, particularly plant 
species, than would be achieved through section 7 consultation.

The Benefits of Exclusion Outweigh the Benefits of Inclusion--City of 
San Diego Subarea Plan and the County of San Diego Subarea Plan Under 
the San Diego MSCP

    We reviewed and evaluated the exclusion of approximately 177 ac (72 
ha) of land within the boundaries of the City of San Diego Subarea Plan 
and 32 ac (13 ha) within the County of San Diego Subarea Plan from our 
revised designation of critical habitat, and we determined the benefits 
of excluding these lands outweigh the benefits of including them. The 
benefits of including these lands in the designation are small because 
the regulatory, educational, and ancillary benefits that would result 
from critical habitat designation are almost entirely redundant with 
the regulatory, educational, and ancillary benefits already afforded 
through the City and County Subarea Plans and under State and Federal 
law. In contrast to the minor benefits of inclusion, the benefits of 
excluding lands covered by the City and County Subarea Plans from 
critical habitat are significant. Exclusion of these lands from 
critical habitat will help preserve the partnerships we developed with 
local jurisdictions and project proponents through the development and 
ongoing implementation of the MSCP and the City and County Subarea 
Plans, and aid in fostering future partnerships for the benefit of 
listed species. Designation of lands covered by the City and County 
Subarea Plans may discourage other partners from seeking, amending, or 
completing subarea plans under the MSCP framework plan or from pursuing 
other HCPs that cover M. viminea and other listed plant species. 
Designation of critical habitat does not require that management or 
recovery actions take place on the lands included in the designation. 
The City and County Subarea Plans, however, will provide for 
significant conservation and management of Monardella viminea habitat 
and help achieve recovery of this species through habitat enhancement 
and restoration, functional connections to adjoining habitat, and 
species monitoring efforts. Additional HCPs or other species-habitat 
plans potentially fostered by this exclusion would also help to recover 
this and other federally listed species. Therefore, in consideration of 
the relevant impact to current and future partnerships, as summarized 
in the Benefits of Exclusion section above, we determined the 
significant benefits of exclusion outweigh the minor benefits of 
critical habitat designation.

Exclusion Will Not Result in Extinction of the Species--City of San 
Diego Subarea Plan and the County of San Diego Subarea Plan Under the 
San Diego MSCP

    We determined that the exclusion of 177 ac (72 ha) of land within 
the boundaries of the City of San Diego Subarea Plan and 32 ac (13 ha) 
of land within the boundaries of the County of San Diego Subarea Plan 
from the designation of critical habitat for Monardella viminea will 
not result in extinction of the species. The jeopardy standard of 
section 7 of the Act and routine implementation of conservation 
measures through the section 7 process due to M. viminea occupancy and 
protection provided by the City and County Subarea Plans provide 
assurances that this species will not go extinct as a result of 
excluding these lands from the critical habitat designation. Therefore, 
based on the above discussion, the Secretary is exercising his 
discretion to exclude 177 ac (72 ha) of land within the boundaries of 
the City of San Diego Subarea Plan and 32 ac (13 ha) of land within the 
boundaries of the County of San Diego Subarea Plan from this final 
critical habitat designation.

Summary of Comments and Recommendations

    We requested written comments from the public, during two comment 
periods, on: the proposed retention of the listing status of Monardella 
viminea as endangered; the proposed removal of protections afforded by 
the Act from those individual plants now recognized as a separate 
species, M. stoneana; and the proposed critical habitat for M. viminea. 
The first comment period associated with the publication of the 
proposed rule (76 FR 33880) opened on June 9, 2011, and closed on 
August 8, 2011. We also requested comments on the proposed critical 
habitat designation and associated draft economic analysis during a 
comment period that opened on September 28, 2011, and closed on October 
28, 2011 (76 FR 59990). We did not receive any requests for a public 
hearing. We also contacted appropriate Federal, State, and local 
agencies; scientific organizations; and other interested parties and 
invited them to comment on the proposed rule and draft economic 
analysis during these comment periods.
    During the first comment period, we received six comment letters 
directly addressing the actions described in the proposed rule. During 
the second comment period, we received no comment letters addressing 
the actions described in the proposed rule or the draft economic 
analysis. All substantive information provided during these comment 
periods has either been incorporated directly into this final 
determination or addressed below. Comments we received were grouped 
into three general issue categories specifically relating to: the 
proposed retention of the listing status of Monardella viminea as 
endangered; the proposed removal of protections afforded by the Act 
from those individuals now recognized as a separate species, M. 
stoneana; and the proposed critical habitat for M. viminea. These are 
addressed in the following summary and incorporated into the final rule 
as appropriate.

Peer Review

    In accordance with our peer review policy published on July 1, 1994 
(59 FR 34270), we solicited expert opinions

[[Page 13431]]

from three knowledgeable individuals with scientific expertise that 
included familiarity with the species, the geographic region in which 
the species occurs, and conservation biology principles. We received a 
response from one of the peer reviewers.
    We reviewed all comments received from the peer reviewer for 
substantive issues and new information regarding the actions described 
in this proposed rule. While the peer reviewer supported the 
determinations made by the rule, the reviewer requested clarification 
on critical habitat designation and threats to Monardella viminea and 
M. stoneana. The peer reviewer also provided suggestions on additional 
information and analysis to add to the rule. Peer reviewer comments are 
addressed in the following summary and incorporated into the final rule 
as appropriate.

Peer Reviewer Comments

Comments About Monardella viminea
    (1) Comment: The peer reviewer was supportive of the proposed rule. 
The reviewer stated that the proposed designation of critical habitat 
is important to the conservation of Monardella viminea, and that the 
Service had presented a thorough review of scientific literature 
related to the taxonomic split of M. linoides ssp. viminea.
    Our Response: We appreciate the peer reviewer's comment.
    (2) Comment: The peer reviewer recommended that we provide further 
discussions of hydrological regime in watersheds where Monardella 
viminea is found, and its influence on habitat dynamics for the 
species.
    Our Response: We have updated the Factor A analysis to include 
information on changing watershed conditions in the range of Monardella 
viminea. However, we were only able to find information on the Los 
Pe[ntilde]asquitos watershed, containing Lopez and Carroll Canyons, and 
only information current to the year 2000. We invite anyone with 
additional or more recent detailed information on hydrological regimes 
relating to M. viminea to submit it to our Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife 
Office (see the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section above).
    (3) Comment: The peer reviewer noted the dual role of scouring 
floods within drainages containing Monardella viminea; floods have the 
potential to destroy sandbars hosting M. viminea occurrences, but also 
can create new habitat and remove nonnative vegetation. The reviewer 
recommends discussing this aspect of the hydrological regime both in 
the five-factor analysis and in the description of the PCE.
    Our Response: In the description of physical or biological features 
for the proposed rule and this final rule, we included a description of 
the importance of a natural hydrological regime in creating habitat and 
removing nonnative vegetation (see the Physical or Biological Features 
section above). Additionally, we include the dual role of scouring 
floods in the PCE (see the Primary Constituent Elements for Monardella 
viminea section above). Further, in the Factor A analysis for both 
species, we stated that ``Monardella viminea requires a natural 
hydrological system to maintain the secondary benches and streambeds on 
which it grows (Scheid 1985, pp. 30-31, 34-35). Additionally, areas 
where altered hydrology caused decreased flows may experience an 
increase in invasion by nonnative species into creek beds, which can 
smother seedling and mature plants, and prevent natural growth of M. 
viminea (Rebman and Dossey 2006, p. 12). We believe this adequately 
covers the dual role of flood regime in M. viminea and M. stoneana 
habitat.
    (4) Comment: The peer reviewer recommended addressing any efforts 
to discover previously unknown Monardella viminea occurrences and an 
evaluation of the likelihood that other unknown occurrences may exist.
    Our Response: Researchers at MCAS Miramar regularly survey all 
suitable habitat on the base for Monardella viminea. The Service is 
also aware of recent surveys conducted within previously unsurveyed 
side channels of Spring Canyon. New M. viminea plants were found during 
this survey (Friends of Los Pe[ntilde]asquitos Canyon Preserve, Inc. 
2011, p. 11). Surveys have been conducted by species experts across the 
current range of the species, but have not confirmed any new 
occurrences, although a few unsurveyed canyons outside the currently 
occupied range of the species do remain (Burrascano 2011, pers. comm.; 
Kelly 2011, pers. comm.). Otherwise, most yearly monitoring focuses on 
known occurrences.
    The species is distinctive in appearance and not easily confused 
with other plants when in bloom; however, during the fall, the plant 
dies back and could be overlooked, particularly within areas with high 
nonnative plant density. Therefore, we consider the discovery of 
previously unknown Monardella viminea occurrences to be possible, but 
we have no further survey information than what is presented here, 
which is the best available scientific information.
    (5) Comment: The peer reviewer requested more information on the 
statement that ``all canyon areas on the base are protected from 
development.'' Three comment letters addressed the same sentence, 
noting that it was in error.
    Our Response: We acknowledge that our phrasing did not accurately 
convey the state of protections afforded by the INRMP. We have 
clarified the text within the Factor D analysis for Monardella viminea 
with language from the updated INRMP that better explains land 
management within canyons on MCAS Miramar. The Level 1 or Level II 
management areas where almost all M. viminea occurrences are found 
provide measures to maintain and enhance habitat for sensitive species, 
such as M. viminea, while maintaining maximum compatible use for 
operational requirements. Management measures include minimizing the 
effects of planned actions on endangered species, posting signs 
identifying sensitive habitats, and avoiding threats such as trampling.
    (6) Comment: The peer reviewer asked if protections in the canyons 
on MCAS Miramar extended upstream and would thus protect the plant from 
altered hydrology.
    Our Response: As discussed under Factor A for Monardella viminea, 
all riparian areas on the base fall within Level I or Level II 
management areas. Furthermore, the INRMP requires all construction in 
riparian areas to contain measures for impact avoidance, minimization, 
and compensation, including measures to reduce stormwater runoff and 
erosion (Gene Stout and Associates et al. 2011, Tables 6.2.2.2a and 
6.2.2.2b). Therefore, the protections do extend upstream and provide 
measures to counter altered hydrology that could impact M. viminea.
    (7) Comment: The peer reviewer recommended adding a discussion of 
threats to Monardella viminea and its habitat due to habitat 
fragmentation and edge effects. Specifically, the commenter recommended 
discussing: Barriers to seed or pollen dispersal; trampling; 
introduction of nonnative species; runoff from pesticides, herbicides, 
and fertilizers; and other results of human land use.
    Our Response: During the first open comment period, we received 
additional information on trampling and weed introductions, and we have 
added it to the rule (see the Factor E analyses for both species).
    In regard to edge effects, we do not consider edge effects in and 
of themselves as a threat, but rather as a

[[Page 13432]]

portion of fragmented habitat where threats are more likely to occur. 
One consequence of edge effects, an increased presence of nonnative 
species, is discussed in both the Factor A and Factor E analyses for 
Monardella viminea. With regard to habitat fragmentation, we have added 
a discussion of threats due to habitat fragmentation to the Factor A 
analysis for M. viminea.
    With regard to runoff from pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers, 
we have not reviewed any information that shows impacts from those 
factors on Monardella viminea or M. stoneana. We have listed runoff as 
an action that may require section 7 consultation in the Application of 
the ``Adverse Modification'' Standard section in our inclusion of 
activities that could ``significantly alter biotic features to a degree 
that appreciably reduces the value of the critical habitat for both the 
long-term survival or the recovery of the species.'' These activities 
may include large-scale application of herbicides, release of chemicals 
or other toxic substances, or activities that increase the possibility 
of accidental sewage outflows.'' However, the best available scientific 
information does not currently demonstrate that runoff is, or has 
previously been, a threat impacting either of the two species.
Comments About Monardella stoneana
    (8) Comment: The peer reviewer and three commenters requested a 
further clarification to the discussion of small population size as it 
relates to Monardella stoneana, including demographic and genetic 
consequences of reducing small populations into smaller, increasingly 
isolated populations. Two commenters further noted that a population 
the size of M. stoneana would be vulnerable to stochastic risks. 
Additionally, the peer reviewer thought the current discussion on small 
population size would be stronger if it included an expanded discussion 
of M. stoneana's habitat and demographic stability, and provided more 
specific statements on which traits may allow it to persist despite its 
small population size.
    Our Response: In regard to the peer reviewer's request to further 
discuss habitat and demographic stability, we reiterate that very 
limited information exists on habitat preferences for Monardella 
stoneana. We believe that our current analysis of known habitat 
characteristics of M. stoneana and information presented in the 
proposed rule (76 FR 33880, June 9, 2011) represent an analysis of the 
best available scientific information and all known habitat 
characteristics of the species. With regard to the peer reviewer's 
request for a discussion of traits that would allow M. stoneana to 
persist, despite its small population size, we note that one important 
trait that likely allows M. stoneana to persist is its demonstrated 
ability to resprout after fire (City of San Diego 2011a, p. 229; Miller 
2011, pers. comm.). While the best available scientific and commercial 
information does not provide further details on how M. stoneana might 
be well adapted to small population size, we reiterate that M. stoneana 
has not undergone a documented recent decline. The best available 
scientific information indicates that this species has persisted as a 
narrow endemic, and that it will continue to do so in the future. 
Recent genetic analysis has shown that M. stoneana has comparable 
genetic diversity to other rare perennial plant species, which provides 
evidence that this species has not undergone a recent genetic 
bottleneck (Prince 2009, p. 20).
    With regard to the request for a discussion of small population 
size, we do not consider rarity, in and of itself, to be a threat. 
However, we acknowledge that small population size can exacerbate 
existing threats to a species. As discussed in the five-factor analysis 
for Monardella stoneana, we concluded that stressors do not impact the 
species to the extent that they pose a threat to the current status of 
the species. See our response to comment 36 below for further 
discussion of small population size and the consequences of the split 
of M. linoides ssp. viminea into two entities.
    Further, we note that Monardella stoneana shows little evidence of 
fragmenting into smaller, more isolated populations. We acknowledge 
that one occurrence has undergone a decline (CNDDB 2011b, EO 4); 
however, we have no other data demonstrating a decrease in population 
size, and one occurrence previously thought to be extirpated has 
resprouted after fire (Miller 2011, pers. comm.).
    (9) Comment: The peer reviewer stated that a discussion of 
differing fire regimes between the Mexico and U.S. populations of 
Monardella stoneana is unnecessary given that all known occurrences are 
found directly across the border.
    Our Response: We respectfully disagree with the peer reviewer's 
comment. While it is true that all known occurrences of Monardella 
stoneana occur within sight of the Mexican border, we believe that 
there may be other unknown occurrences of M. stoneana farther south in 
Baja California. Further, an analysis found that significant 
differences in fire frequency exist immediately across the border 
(Keeley and Fotheringham 2001, p. 1540 and Figure 1b). Therefore, we 
believe that the discussion of differing fire frequency is both 
warranted and necessary.
    (10) Comment: The peer reviewer recommended a more detailed 
discussion of the possible effects of U.S. Border Patrol and illegal 
immigrant activities in areas occupied by Monardella stoneana, such as 
changing economic conditions that could cause the border fence to fall 
into disrepair. The peer reviewer also requested a discussion of any 
programs the Service is aware of to monitor those potentially changing 
conditions and their specific effects on occurrences of M. stoneana.
    Our Response: We appreciate the peer reviewer's critical review. We 
have added an expanded discussion of the effects of U.S. Border Patrol 
and illegal immigrant activities to the Factor A and Factor E 
discussions for Monardella stoneana above, and we added information 
submitted by public commenters (see comments 40 and 41 below). However, 
we do not have adequate information to make a determination on how 
changing economic conditions might affect the status of the border 
fence. It is worth noting that construction of the border fence 
occurred during times of poor economic conditions in the United States, 
so economic circumstances may not be a reliable basis upon which to 
judge public or political interest in border protection or the 
likelihood the border fence will fall into disrepair.
    With regard to the peer reviewer's query about border monitoring, 
of the four land managers who own land where Monardella stoneana occurs 
(BLM, the State of California, the County of San Diego, and the City of 
San Diego), the only regular monitoring we are aware of is conducted by 
the City of San Diego at their two occurrences (EOs 1 and 4). Temporary 
monitoring occurred during the construction of the border fence, with 
surveys conducted before construction for rare species, including 
Monardella stoneana (e2M 2008, p. 1; e2M 2009, p. 
1). We encourage all agencies and members of the public to submit any 
information on changing conditions along the border and the consequent 
impact on M. stoneana to our office (see the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
CONTACT section above).
    (11) Comment: The peer reviewer recommended discussing any 
potential changes for MSCP treatment of Monardella stoneana given the 
removal

[[Page 13433]]

of protections under the Act. First, how it would affect the continued 
protection of the species itself if M. stoneana were no longer included 
in the listed entity, and whether it would retain its status as a 
narrow endemic. Second, the reviewer recommended discussing impacts on 
lands specifically set aside for M. linoides ssp. viminea that are now 
determined to be occupied by plants identified as M. stoneana, and 
whether they could potentially be available for future development or 
other land use changes.
    Our Response: Currently, Monardella stoneana is identified as a 
narrow endemic species by the City of San Diego Subarea Plan under the 
MSCP (McEachern et al. 2007, Appendix A). The plan defines narrow 
endemic species as those with ``very limited geographic range'' and 
states that protections for narrow endemics will ``require additional 
conservation measures to assure their long-term survival'' beyond those 
afforded to covered species not recognized as narrow endemics (City of 
San Diego 1997, p. 100). Identification of a species as a narrow 
endemic is based on distribution, not on listing status; therefore, we 
do not expect the removal of M. stoneana from the listed entity to 
affect the protections afforded to it by the MSCP as a narrow endemic.
    With regard to the peer reviewer's question about protections on 
lands set aside for Monardella linoides ssp. viminea, 100 percent of 
habitat currently occupied by M. stoneana within lands covered by the 
City of San Diego Subarea Plan is within the MHPA (Multi-Habitat 
Planning Area), and all 6 ac (2 ha) on land covered by the County of 
San Diego MSCP subarea plan is within the PAMA. All areas identified 
for conservation in the MHPA and PAMA were determined based on a 
combination of factors, including conservation of covered species. No 
lands were identified and specifically set aside for one particular 
species, including Monardella linoides ssp. viminea. Lands on which the 
species occurs today will remain unavailable for future development 
regardless of the listing status of any species that occurs within 
their boundaries. Furthermore, M. stoneana habitat within the County of 
San Diego will also be conserved as part of the Otay Ranch Preserve. 
Therefore, we do not anticipate that M. stoneana or the lands on which 
it occurs will lose any protection as a result of the split of the 
species.
    (12) Comment: The peer reviewer found the June 9, 2011, proposed 
rule's statement ``a species like Monardella stoneana that has always 
had small population sizes or been rare, yet continues to survive, is 
likely well equipped to continue to exist into the future'' to be too 
general and recommended deleting it. Additionally, the peer reviewer 
found that the statement ``though small population size may pose a 
threat to M. stoneana, it is alone not enough to cause the extinction 
of the species within the foreseeable future'' seemed primarily 
directed at the Act's criterion for listing as endangered, and that we 
may wish to re-evaluate the threat of small population size in terms of 
threatened status, as defined in the Act.
    Our Response: We appreciate the peer reviewer's critical review, 
and we have made the suggested changes and re-evaluation.
Comments About Critical Habitat
    (13) Comment: The peer reviewer recommended designating areas 
upstream of Monardella viminea occurrences in order to preserve natural 
hydrological regimes.
    Our Response: We agree that natural hydrological regimes are 
important to the conservation of Monardella viminea. We made the 
decision not to designate upstream areas because there are no data to 
suggest that a quantifiable measure of land upstream would be necessary 
to preserve the natural hydrological regime specific to the needs of M. 
viminea. No data exist to accurately measure what impacts upstream 
would begin to affect this species downstream, nor do we know at what 
distance from the occurrences of essential habitat these activities 
begin to impact survival and recovery. We believe the areas we have 
designated as critical habitat in this final rule are sufficient for 
the conservation of M. viminea.
    Critical habitat creates a Federal nexus; thus, under section 
7(a)(2) of the Act, agencies must ensure that any action is not likely 
to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered species or 
result in the destruction or adverse modification of its critical 
habitat. As factors supporting a natural hydrological regime are 
included in the physical or biological factors necessary for the 
conservation of the species, agencies must consult on any action that 
could impact or adversely modify critical habitat. The critical habitat 
boundaries we are finalizing in this rule are based upon the best 
available scientific information.
    (14) Comment: The peer reviewer and two public commenters 
acknowledged the benefits that MCAS Miramar has provided to Monardella 
viminea. However, they also pointed out that, despite those 
protections, M. viminea occurrences on MCAS Miramar have still 
declined. All three comment letters suggested that designation of 
critical habitat on the base could result in improved management for M. 
viminea, and that the INRMP is inadequate to protect the species. The 
peer reviewer further requested a legal analysis of the possibility of 
designating critical habitat on the base, and whether such designation 
could indeed result in increased management.
    Our Response: The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal 
Year 2004 (Pub. L. 108-136) amended the Act to limit areas eligible for 
designation as critical habitat. Specifically, section 4(a)(3)(B)(i) of 
the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533(a)(3)(B)(i)) now states: ``The Secretary shall 
not designate as critical habitat any lands or other geographical areas 
owned or controlled by the Department of Defense, or designated for its 
use, that are subject to an integrated natural resources management 
plan [INRMP] prepared under section 101 of the Sikes Act (16 U.S.C. 
670a), if the Secretary determines in writing that such plan provides a 
benefit to the species for which critical habitat is proposed for 
designation'' (see Application of Section 4(a)(3) of the Act section 
above for further discussion). We determined the INRMP for MCAS Miramar 
(Gene Stout and Associates et al. 2011) provides a benefit to 
Monardella viminea; therefore, the Act mandates we exempt this military 
base from critical habitat designation (see Application of Section 
4(a)(3) of the Act section above for further discussion).
    As to the commenters' question as to whether designation of 
critical habitat on the base would improve management, we note that 
critical habitat does not create a requirement for management or 
monitoring. The primary benefit of a critical habitat designation is 
that it creates a Federal nexus through which Federal agencies consult 
with the Service under section 7(a)(2) of the Act. A Federal nexus 
already exists on military-owned lands, and the military consults with 
us on all actions that could impact listed species. Therefore, critical 
habitat designation on military-owned lands would not improve 
management of Monardella viminea.

Comments From Federal Agencies

    (15) Comment: A representative from MCAS Miramar stated that the 
proposed revised critical habitat and taxonomic change is a well-
written overview both of the known information acquired for Monardella 
viminea and of the critical habitat regulatory requirement.

[[Page 13434]]

    Our Response: We appreciate the commenter's feedback.
    (16) Comment: The commenter requested more information on the 
geographical location of extirpated occurrences in Sycamore Canyon, San 
Clemente Canyon, and ``Miramar NAS.'' The commenter stated that MCAS 
Miramar currently has occurrences within all the canyon drainages 
except Murphy Canyon, and asked us to clarify if the extirpated 
occurrences in the proposed rule's Table 1 were inside or outside the 
border of MCAS Miramar.
    Our Response: Regarding the occurrence named ``Miramar NAS'' in the 
CNDDB, the presence of plants there was never confirmed, as discussed 
in the New Information on Occurrences of Monardella viminea and 
Monardella stoneana section above. The CNDDB gives its location as 
``Miramar Naval Air Station, west of bend in I-15, 0.3 km northwest of 
Benchmark 462'' (CNDDB 2011a, EO 31). As recent surveys have not found 
any plants in that location, we consider the occurrence to be 
extirpated. As for the occurrences in San Clemente Canyon, all 
extirpated occurrences are west of the boundary of MCAS Miramar. 
Regarding the commenter's assertion that the proposed rule's Table 1 
listed an occurrence in Sycamore Canyon as extirpated, there is no such 
occurrence listed in the table. All occurrences in Sycamore Canyon are 
currently extant.
    (17) Comment: The commenter was concerned that we had placed too 
much emphasis on the role of coastal sage scrub for Monardella viminea 
habitat, when many different habitat types support the species. The 
commenter further noted that hydrology and soil texture appear to be 
the most important constituent elements for the species, and that so 
much focus on habitat could be misleading.
    Our Response: We agree that Monardella viminea is not limited to 
coastal sage scrub habitats, and that it can prosper in a wide variety 
of habitats. In our Criteria Used To Identify Critical Habitat section 
above, we noted that mapped polygons of coastal sage scrub were 
relatively large and did not correspond well with the drainage areas 
where M. viminea and its PCE were likely to occur. We believe this 
indicates that coastal sage scrub habitat is a poor predictor for areas 
that contain the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of M. viminea.
    However, despite the fact that coastal sage scrub may be a poor 
predictor for where Monardella viminea occurs, our vegetation mapping 
showed that 45 percent of M. viminea habitat occurs within coastal sage 
scrub (SANDAG 1995). The second most common habitat type, chaparral, 
makes up only 14 percent of M. viminea habitat, with southern mixed 
chaparral and non-vegetated channel at 12 percent. Therefore, we judged 
that, for the purposes of the five-factor analysis, coastal sage scrub 
was the best representative of habitats supporting M. viminea.
    We agree with the commenter that a natural hydrological regime is 
crucial to the survival and recovery of the species. We identify a 
natural hydrological regime as one of the physical or biological 
features essential to the conservation of Monardella viminea, and an 
altered hydrological regime as a threat to M. viminea (see the Summary 
of Factor A section for M. viminea above). Therefore, we do not believe 
that we have put undue emphasis on coastal sage scrub as habitat for M. 
viminea.
    (18) Comment: The commenter requested clarification of the 
statement in the proposed rule that ``two occurrences at MCAS Miramar 
have been partially destroyed by road construction since the time of 
listing.'' The commenter stated that no impacts to Monardella viminea 
from road construction have occurred on MCAS Miramar.
    Our Response: Upon further review, we agree that the statement was 
incorrect, and we have removed it from this final rule.
    (19) Comment: The commenter stated that drought has been one of the 
most significant factors impacting Monardella viminea occurrences on 
MCAS Miramar, and that drought has resulted in the loss of plants in 
Murphy Canyon, poor success of seedlings, and difficulty of M. viminea 
in competing for resources. The commenter stated that drought should be 
more heavily evaluated as a threat to M. viminea.
    Our Response: We have evaluated the best information available on 
the impacts of drought on Monardella viminea, which we present in the 
Factor E discussion for M. viminea. The impact of drought on riparian 
vegetation in general is well documented, including increased invasion 
of more drought-tolerant nonnative species, decreased health of native 
riparian vegetation, and decreased seedling survival (McBride and 
Strahan 1984, p. 243; Stromberg 2001, p. 18; Gitlin et al. 2006, p. 
1479). However, we were unable to find additional specific information 
relating to the potential effects of drought specific to M. viminea 
apart from what we presented in the proposed rule. Further, as we 
discuss in the Factor E analysis for M. viminea, although we expect 
that climate change may cause an increased frequency of drought, we do 
not have enough information to accurately forecast its effects.
    We appreciate the information submitted by the commenter, and 
invite anyone with detailed information on the impact of drought on 
Monardella viminea to submit it to our Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife 
Office (see ADDRESSES).
    (20) Comment: The commenter suggested analyzing the Clean Water Act 
in Factor D to assess any protections it may provide to Monardella 
viminea and M. stoneana.
    Our Response: We have added an assessment of the protections 
afforded by the Clean Water Act to the Factor D analyses for both 
species.
    (21) Comment: The commenter noted that, in the proposed rule, we 
had highlighted ``frequent'' fire as occurring on MCAS Miramar in the 
Summary of Factor D for Monardella viminea. The commenter disagreed 
that fires have occurred frequently within M. viminea habitat within 
the boundaries of MCAS Miramar and requested that we remove that 
wording.
    Our Response: The phrase that the commenter refers to was not meant 
to imply that uncontrolled fire was common on MCAS Miramar. Rather, we 
were attempting to make a distinction between habitat-based changes due 
to fire and threats to individual plants. In order to avoid confusion, 
we have revised the phrase ``frequent fire'' to ``increased fire 
frequency from historical conditions.''
    (22) Comment: The commenter pointed out that the updated INRMP will 
be available from 2011 to 2015, not 2014 as stated, and that it is 
awaiting agency letters to complete the process, not publication 
processes.
    Our Response: We appreciate the commenter's critical review. Since 
the publication of the proposed rule and the closing of the first 
comment period, the new INRMP was signed. We have updated this final 
rule with information from the new INRMP.
    (23) Comment: The commenter reported that MCAS Miramar would soon 
complete a 3-year study addressing habitat factors that promote the 
survival of seedling and juvenile Monardella viminea, and stated that 
they would send this study to us when it is completed.
    Our Response: We appreciate the additional information. Our office 
received the study during the second open comment period. We have 
updated this rule with the information submitted in the new report (see 
the Summary of

[[Page 13435]]

Changes from Proposed Rule section above).
    (24) Comment: The commenter found our criteria for drawing critical 
habitat boundaries was ``the most accurate delineation identification 
method offered to date.'' However, the commenter also worried that the 
strict delineation of 490 ft (150 m) may miss some essential habitat 
and include non-essential habitat elsewhere, that it may include too 
much upland habitat in narrower canyons, and that it ``leaves out 
drainages without trees.'' The commenter recommends that we examine 
each drainage individually, and worries that otherwise landowners may 
regard the 490 ft (150 m) as a ``magic habitat area tool.''
    Our Response: We appreciate the commenter's feedback. In reference 
to the commenter's assertion that critical habitat ``leaves our 
drainages without trees,'' we believe the commenter may have 
misunderstood our methodology. In drawing our critical habitat 
boundaries, we applied the 490-ft (150-m) guideline to all watersheds, 
even those that contained no southern sycamore-alder riparian woodland. 
Southern sycamore-alder riparian woodland, and riparian woodland in 
general, are very rare in canyons containing Monardella viminea.
    However, as described in the Criteria Used to Identify Critical 
Habitat section above, we found that where southern sycamore-alder 
riparian woodland co-occurred with Monardella viminea, the two occupied 
nearly identical portions of the canyons. This was the case even 
though, as mentioned above, the habitat type is quite rare in canyons 
containing Monardella viminea. Therefore, this habitat width appeared 
to be an accurate predictor for areas containing the physical or 
biological features necessary for the conservation of M. viminea.
    In regard to drainage width, although we agree with the commenter 
that individually based drainage assessments have the potential to very 
accurately capture the PCE for Monardella viminea, the literature on 
the species does not present any information on topography necessary 
for the conservation of the species. We lack the GIS data on which to 
base individual evaluation at each site. We are unable to visit every 
site ourselves for individual evaluation, particularly as some areas 
contain private land that we do not have permission to access (for 
example, Spring Canyon). Further, critical habitat lines must be 
unambiguous and the methods clearly defined for later evaluation of 
project effects and consultations, and we believe this habitat 
delineation method provides a clear guide to measure impacts to habitat 
supporting M. viminea.
    As to the commenter's question regarding upslope habitat, we note 
that although the basis for critical habitat was vegetation, we wanted 
to include habitat for all necessary physical or biological features, 
including habitat that supports pollinators. Although we lack data to 
provide a quantifiable estimate of how much habitat is needed by the 
diverse species suspected to pollinate Monardella viminea, we believe 
that including the projected stream width will support pollinators 
necessary for M. viminea.
    As to the commenter's concern that this number might become a 
``magic habitat area tool,'' we do not believe that this will be the 
case. We believe this rule contains adequate explanation and 
documentation of our methodology so that land managers will understand 
how we reached our habitat delineation methods.
    Therefore, we believe that our critical habitat lines are based on 
the best available scientific information, provide a clear and 
understandable boundary for projects, and provide for the conservation 
of Monardella viminea.
    (25) Comment: The commenter was concerned about listing fire 
retardant or herbicide application as an activity that could require 
section 7 consultation. The commenter has found no negative effects on 
Monardella viminea following fire retardant use. Additionally, spot 
herbicide application is frequently used for weed control on M. viminea 
with great success.
    Our Response: We appreciate the commenter's insights. Indeed, we 
submit documents for public comment in large part to solicit such 
pertinent information as provided by the commenter. The section of text 
to which the commenter refers was meant to relate to widespread general 
herbicide use upstream of Monardella viminea occurrences. However, we 
acknowledge that the language could be confusing, and have revised this 
rule to clarify this issue. We have also highlighted the use of spot 
application of herbicides within the Special Management Considerations 
or Protection section.

Comments From Local Agencies

    (26) Comment: The City of San Diego requested an exclusion from 
critical habitat. They stated that their annual monitoring reports 
demonstrate that the MSCP is functioning properly and that it provides 
appropriate protection for Monardella viminea. They also stated that 
the City would continue to implement the MSCP by acquiring habitat and 
ensuring that all projects conform to MSCP requirements.
    Our Response: We value our partnership with the City of San Diego 
and appreciate their efforts to protect Monardella viminea. With regard 
to the commenter's assertion that lands owned or under the jurisdiction 
of the City of San Diego Subarea Plan under the MSCP should be excluded 
because the HCP provides adequate protection for the species, the 
adequacy of an HCP to protect a species and its essential habitat is 
one consideration taken into account in our evaluation under section 
4(b)(2) of the Act. Exclusion of an area from critical habitat is based 
on our determination that the benefits of exclusion outweigh the 
benefits of inclusion, and that exclusion of an area will not result in 
extinction of a species, which is a more complex analysis process. We 
have examined the protections afforded to M. viminea by the City of San 
Diego Subarea Plan under the MSCP during our exclusion analysis in this 
critical habitat designation, and have determined that the benefits of 
excluding areas owned by or under the jurisdiction of the City of San 
Diego Subarea Plan under the MSCP outweigh the benefits of including 
these areas, including fostering our ongoing conservation partnership 
with the City of San Diego.
    (27) Comment: The County of San Diego requested an exclusion from 
critical habitat, given that the Sycamore Canyon Preserve adequately 
supports and manages Monardella viminea in accordance with the MSCP, 
and that the lands will be designated in perpetuity.
    Our Response: We value our partnership with the County of San Diego 
and appreciate their efforts to protect Monardella viminea. With regard 
to the commenter's assertion that lands owned or under the jurisdiction 
of the County of San Diego under the MSCP should be excluded because 
the HCP provides adequate protection for the species, the adequacy of 
an HCP to protect a species and its essential habitat is one 
consideration taken into account in our evaluation under section 
4(b)(2) of the Act. Exclusion of an area from critical habitat is based 
on our determination that the benefits of exclusion outweigh the 
benefits of inclusion, and that exclusion of an area will not result in 
extinction of a species, which is a more complex analysis process. We 
have examined the protections afforded to M. viminea by the County of 
San Diego Subarea Plan under the MSCP during our exclusion analysis in 
this critical habitat designation, and have determined that the 
benefits of excluding areas owned

[[Page 13436]]

by or under the jurisdiction of the County of San Diego under the MSCP 
outweigh the benefits of including these areas, including fostering our 
continuing conservation partnership with the County of San Diego.
    (28) Comment: One commenter stated that the proposed rule's Figure 
1, which shows the geographic location of Monardella viminea and M. 
stoneana, was not included in the proposed rule. The commenter 
requested that the figure be included in the final rule.
    Our Response: Figure 1 was published on page 33885 of the proposed 
rule (76 FR 33880, June 9, 2011). It is included in this final rule as 
well. However, we have altered the figure for clarity and ease of 
distinguishing the range of the two species.
    (29) Comment: The SDCWA expressed concern that the designation of 
critical habitat might interfere with maintenance of existing 
facilities and construction of new facilities that enable the delivery 
of water to San Diego County. SDCWA requested that ``provisions should 
be made in the designation to address existing activities and 
operations of the Water Authority to fulfill the mission to provide a 
safe and reliable water source.'' Specifically, the commenter requested 
exclusions or textual exemptions to address existing activities and 
operations of the SDCWA.
    Our Response: Sections 4(b)(2) and its implementing regulations (50 
CFR 424.12) govern exclusions under the Act. The Secretary may exclude 
an area--not activities--from critical habitat if he determines that 
the benefits of such exclusion outweigh the benefits of specifying such 
area as part of the critical habitat (see Exclusions section above). We 
do not exclude or exempt specific activities from critical habitat 
designation. Furthermore, SDCWA has prepared a Subregional Natural 
Community Conservation Plan/Habitat Conservation Plan (NCCP/HCP; Plan) 
in support of an application for an incidental take permit pursuant to 
section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act. We completed an intra-Service formal 
section 7 consultation for issuance of a section 10(a)(1)(B) incidental 
take permit under the Act for the Plan. In our ``Conference Opinion'' 
for the section 10(a)(1)(B) permit, we determined that the activities 
proposed by the SDCWA in their NCCP/HCP will not result in the 
destruction or adverse modification of proposed critical habitat for 
Monardella viminea (Service 2011, pp. 284-286). The NCCP/HCP was signed 
on December 20, 2011. Therefore, the designation should not impede the 
existing activities, operations, or the ability of the SDCWA to fulfill 
the mission to provide a safe and reliable water source.

Public Comments

    During the first comment period, we received two public comments 
submitted by species experts on Monardella viminea and M. stoneana. 
Overall, both commenters recommended endangered status and designation 
of critical habitat for M. stoneana. Both commenters also supported the 
recognition by the Service of the taxonomic split of M. linoides ssp. 
viminea. We have organized the comments into four sections: those 
regarding the taxonomic split, those regarding M. viminea, those 
regarding M. stoneana, and those pertaining to the critical habitat 
designation for M. viminea.
Comments Regarding the Taxonomic Split of Monardella linoides ssp. 
viminea
    (30) Comment: Two commenters referenced previous listing rules and 
candidate assessments where previously listed entities were split: the 
spotted frog (Rana pretiosa), the flatwoods salamander (Ambystoma 
cingulatum), and the Uinta Basin hookless cactus (Sclerocactus 
glaucus). In each case, all species were given the same status as the 
original listed entity as threatened, were uplisted to endangered 
status, or both recognized as candidate species. One commenter argued 
that, based on these precedents, the Service did not appear to be 
consistent in its treatment of split taxon.
    Our Response: We respectfully disagree that a decision not to list 
Monardella stoneana is inconsistent with previous rules. In our 
evaluation of the stressors impacting M. viminea and M. stoneana, we 
conducted a thorough review of all available scientific and commercial 
data. Section 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act requires us to make listing 
decisions for each species based solely on the best scientific and 
commercial data available, and not on previous actions taken by the 
Service. We believe our consistency comes from constantly upholding 
this standard as our method for determining listing status.
    In the case of Monardella viminea, we determined that listing as 
endangered was warranted, because we found that threats were likely to 
cause the species to become extinct in the foreseeable future. In 
contrast, we did not find that M. stoneana is currently endangered, and 
we did not find that it is likely to become endangered in the 
foreseeable future. Please see our Summary of Factors sections above 
for further details on the potential threats impacting each species, 
and Comment 37 below for a further analysis of our treatment of 
potential threats impacting each species.
Comments Regarding Monardella viminea
    (31) Comment: One commenter disagreed with our assessment that 
climate change is not threatening Monardella viminea or M. stoneana. 
The commenter stated that although the current reason for the decline 
of the two species is unknown, impacts associated with climate change 
would cause a future increase of altered hydrology and increasing fire 
risk. The commenter then requested an explanation of declining 
occurrences in drainages without development (for example, MCAS 
Miramar) if climate change is not occurring.
    Our Response: While we recognize that climate change is an 
important issue with potential effects to listed species and their 
habitats, we lack adequate information to make accurate projections 
regarding its effects to Monardella viminea or M. stoneana at this 
time.
    We acknowledge that the decline of Monardella viminea in 
undeveloped drainages is not well understood. However, as we stated in 
the Cumulative Impacts section above, based on our review of the best 
available scientific information, we believe that in the case of M. 
viminea there is strong evidence that the synergistic effects of 
increased fire frequency, megafire, and invasive grasses are causing 
the decline of the species, including on MCAS Miramar. We believe that 
section summarizes the best available scientific information, and that 
the threats strongly support the continued listing of M. viminea as 
endangered.
    With regard to Monardella stoneana, we do not believe that the best 
available scientific information shows a decline in species numbers 
across all or a significant portion of the range. Again, we do not have 
adequate information to determine the potential future impacts of 
climate change on M. stoneana. Further discussion of this issue can be 
found in the Factor E discussion of M. stoneana.
    (32) Comment: Two commenters provided new information related to 
Monardella viminea. One commenter submitted unpublished data from a 
recent survey for M. viminea in Spring Canyon and provided information 
about additional threats to the species there, including trampling and 
off-road vehicle use. Another commenter provided insight on lack of 
recruitment of M. viminea, and stated that seed germination has 
appeared to be good for

[[Page 13437]]

the species, but that seed head predation was occurring across the 
range of M. viminea.
    Our Response: We appreciate receiving these results. We have 
incorporated the survey reports into our database and added the 
information on threats to our five-factor analysis for Monardella 
viminea.
    (33) Comment: One commenter believed that a pollination study for 
Monardella viminea had been conducted by MCAS Miramar and recommended 
that we request it.
    Our Response: We contacted MCAS Miramar to inquire about the 
existence of such a report. A biologist at MCAS Miramar reported that, 
although data related to pollinators has been gathered throughout the 
years, no such study has been completed (Kassebaum 2011a, pers. comm.).
    (34) Comment: One commenter requested a discussion of lack of 
seedling recruitment, as very few seedlings are seen in the species' 
range and the reasons behind low seedling establishment are not well 
understood. The commenter requested that we evaluate this as a threat, 
stating that, ``The ability to reproduce in an ephemeral drainage 
subject to rapid water flow seems to be a critical factor given that 
this species occurs in braided channels.''
    Our Response: We agree that a strong understanding of factors 
influencing seedling establishment could be a crucial factor in the 
recovery of Monardella viminea and the continued persistence of M. 
stoneana. Based on information in the report submitted by MCAS Miramar 
during the second open comment period, we added details about seedling 
recruitment to the five-factor analysis. However, upon review of the 
report, we concluded that there was not enough information on seedling 
recruitment to discuss it as distinct from other effects, although we 
discussed the influence that other factors (such as nonnative grasses) 
could have on M. viminea or M. stoneana.
    We further acknowledge that seedlings are very rare in Monardella 
viminea. As discussed in the Summary of Changes from Proposed Rule 
section above, we received a study on seedling establishment from MCAS 
Miramar during the second open comment period and have added 
information from that report to this final rule.
    (35) Comment: One commenter noted that lack of recruitment in 
drainages may be due to nonnative plants taking up suitable habitat 
where seedlings might otherwise grow. The commenter further recommends 
managing nonnative species on a habitat-wide basis, rather than 
managing for individual plants.
    Our Response: We agree with the commenter's assertion, and have 
updated the Special Management Considerations and Protection section of 
this rule to reflect this idea.
Comments Regarding Monardella stoneana
    (36) Comment: Two commenters noted that it seems illogical to 
delist a portion of the original listed entity when Monardella linoides 
ssp. viminea was originally listed in part due to small population 
size, and when the 2008 5-Year Review stated that, ``In particular, 
small population size makes it difficult for this subspecies to persist 
while sustaining the impacts of fire, flooding, and competition with 
invasive plants. Because M. linoides subsp. viminea is found in small 
and declining populations, immediate action to conserve the subspecies 
may be inadequate as the extinction threshold (vortex) for the 
subspecies may already have been reached.''
    One commenter further noted that plants with both more occurrences 
and more individual plants are protected or federally endangered, and 
that it therefore does not make sense that Monardella stoneana does not 
warrant such protections.
    Our Response: As discussed in the Factor E analyses for both 
species, rarity is not in itself a threat, although we acknowledge that 
small population size can exacerbate other potential threats to a 
species. Further, as discussed in the Determination section for 
Monardella stoneana, the best available scientific information does not 
allow us to conclude that fire, flooding, or invasive plants are 
impacting M. stoneana and its habitat to the extent that the species is 
endangered now, or likely to become so in the foreseeable future. 
Therefore, the factors mentioned by the commenter that were believed at 
the time of the 5-year review to be exacerbating the small population 
size of M. linoides ssp. viminea are not present in the range of what 
is now M. stoneana. Further, in regard to the quoted text about the 
``extinction vortex,'' new information reviewed since the publication 
of that document has shown that this effect may not be applicable to M. 
stoneana. Specifically, although information exists on the possible 
effect of a declining spiral in population size on animals, no such 
empirical evidence exists for plant species (Matthies et al. 2004, p. 
482).
    With regard to the issue of other listed species that have more 
occurrences and more individuals than Monardella stoneana, as we 
discussed in comment 30 above, we make decisions on listing status 
based solely on the best scientific and commercial information 
available at the time. This listing is based on threats applicable to 
an individual species, and not made in comparison to other listed 
species. Therefore, the population size of other listed species is not 
relevant to the consideration of listing status for M. viminea or M. 
stoneana.
    (37) Comment: One commenter stated that the analysis of threats for 
Monardella viminea and M. stoneana was not consistent. For example, the 
commenter stated that altered hydrology also exists in the habitat for 
M. stoneana, caused by border security, road construction, higher local 
rainfall upslope, and excessive runoff following burns. The commenter 
pointed out that, as M. stoneana occurs in connected drainages, a 
strong rain event in one watershed could impact many occurrences 
downstream. Additionally, the commenter stated that nonnative plants 
are an equally strong threat to M. stoneana, especially due to type 
conversion after frequent fire (Factor A). The commenter also added 
that they believe that trampling is not a threat to the species.
    Our Response: We appreciate the commenter's insights and the 
information on the effects of trampling on Monardella stoneana. 
However, we respectfully disagree with the commenter that we were 
inconsistent in our treatment of threats for the two species. We used 
the best available scientific information, including published peer-
reviewed papers, survey reports, GIS data, and correspondence with 
species experts and land managers, to study the differences in the 
habitat and conditions of the two species. From that review, we found 
differing habitat conditions, regulatory mechanisms, urbanization, and 
fire history that impact the two species, all of which we used to 
analyze the way that threats impact the two species.
    In reference to our different determinations for altered 
hydrological regimes for the two species, we again highlight the 
different surrounding conditions for Monardella viminea and M. 
stoneana. Several M. viminea occurrences are found in areas that have 
been heavily urbanized for many years. Monardella stoneana is found 
almost entirely in wilderness areas or other public lands protected 
from development. We acknowledge that at the time the proposed rule was 
published we did not have any information on impacts to hydrology from 
activities due to Border Patrol and road construction. Based on the 
information submitted by the

[[Page 13438]]

commenters, we have added an analysis of impacts to hydrology as 
pertaining to M. stoneana. However, as discussed in the summary for 
Factor A, we do not believe that impacts to hydrology stemming from 
occasional road construction and maintenance impact M. stoneana's 
habitat to the extent that it currently endangers the species or could 
cause the plant to become endangered within the foreseeable future. 
While road construction within the area of M. stoneana may have some 
temporary impacts on seasonal streamflows, we have no information that 
suggests that these flows are substantial enough to wash away the rocky 
terraces that support M. stoneana. Further, the altered hydrology in M. 
stoneana habitat is nowhere near the extent of streamflow changes that 
have resulted from permanent development and increased pavement cover 
that has occurred in canyons surrounding M. viminea. While the 
connected nature of the canyons does indeed mean that streamflow in one 
canyon could impact occurrences found downstream, we do not find that 
the hydrology of the canyons has been altered to the point that such a 
flow event is likely to occur.
    With regard to nonnative plants impacting Monardella stoneana, 
although we acknowledge that an invasion of nonnative plants could have 
a detrimental influence on M. stoneana and its habitat, we have been 
unable to find evidence that such an invasion exists, or will exist in 
the foreseeable future. Further, as discussed in the Factor A analysis, 
the chaparral vegetation that M. stoneana favors is less vulnerable to 
type conversion following frequent fire than the vegetation types that 
support M. viminea. Additionally, as discussed in the same section, 
those occurrences of M. stoneana that are currently monitored contain 
lower cover of nonnative vegetation than do occurrences of M. viminea.
    (38) Comment: One commenter asserted that CAL FIRE has, in the 
past, been unable to mitigate the impacts of large fire on Monardella 
viminea, especially the decline of plants after the 2003 Cedar Fire. 
Another commenter asked how type conversion of lands has been addressed 
by current protections. Another stated that CAL FIRE devotes all its 
resources to protecting homes, not plants, and that CAL FIRE is 
unlikely in the future to alter the dynamics of fire on Otay Mountain 
during Santa Ana conditions.
    Our Response: As discussed earlier in this rule, on land owned and 
managed by CDFG and BLM, which contain approximately 88 percent of all 
occurrences of Monardella stoneana, fire management is provided not 
only by CAL FIRE, but further protection of natural resources on 
Federal and State lands is provided by management conducted consistent 
with the Wilderness Act. Furthermore, the first step to preventing 
damage to homes and natural resources is suppression. It is not clear 
whether more could be done to protect natural resources once a wildfire 
becomes large, and the focus must be on human health and safety once 
the ability to control a wildfire is limited.
    Fire management activities occur on Otay Mountain (34 percent of 
all occurrences of Monardella stoneana) as part of the BLM's current 
(1994) SCRMP. Information provided by BLM summarizes these ongoing 
management actions: BLM Fire Management provides an initial attack 
dispatch and agency representative to ensure appropriate actions are 
taken on a fire incident; fire prevention and law enforcement patrols 
occur on Otay Mountain; and, on large incidents, several resource 
specialists may form a team to evaluate fire and fire suppression 
effects (Howe 2010, pers. comm.). If a determination is made to pursue 
fire restoration and repair, these specialists work with Burned Area 
Emergency Response (BAER) Teams to implement appropriate actions.
    BLM is further collaborating with the Service to revise the SCRMP, 
which covers the Otay Mountain Wilderness. In the current draft revised 
plan, Monardella stoneana is identified as a federally listed species 
and is given conservation priority (BLM 2009, pp. 3-23, 3-54, 4-175). 
As of this final rule, M. stoneana will no longer be considered an 
endangered species. However, the draft SCRMP also provides protection 
for BLM-identified sensitive species, which includes M. stoneana (BLM 
2009, p. 3-50; BLM 2010, pp. 29-30). All special status species are 
considered as a group for conservation measures (BLM 2010, p. 50), and 
thus the change in the listing status of M. stoneana status would not 
affect the protections afforded by the draft SCRMP. Moreover, one of 
BLM's primary objectives in the draft revised plan is improved fire 
management and collaboration with local communities and agencies to 
prevent wildfires. The draft revised plan specifically includes a goal 
of restoring fire frequency to 50 years through fire prevention or 
suppression and prescribed burns. When an area has not burned for 50 
years, the plan allows for annual prescribed burning of up to 500 ac 
(200 ha) in the Otay Mountain Wilderness (BLM 2009, pp. 4-171--4-172). 
Actions implemented under the revised plan, when final, will be 
designed to promote conservation of M. stoneana and its habitat.
    Furthermore, it is worth noting that CAL FIRE only has jurisdiction 
over 2 percent of lands containing Monardella viminea. The remainder of 
the area is managed by MCAS Miramar's fire division or by local fire 
agencies. Therefore, fire history impacting M. viminea does not provide 
a good comparison for how M. stoneana will be managed by CAL FIRE in 
the future.
    (39) Comment: One commenter asserted that the current status of 
Monardella stoneana is not known, as only the City of San Diego has 
surveyed for the species on its smaller piece of the range (two plants) 
and that, despite the existence of an HCP for these lands, BLM, CDFG, 
and the Service have not monitored or managed their populations. The 
commenter stated that ``the decline of the species from historic levels 
and the current lack of monitoring and management neglect argue for 
designating this range as Critical Habitat. This designation is needed 
to raise the status of these lands and to provide leverage for actual 
management.'' One commenter further asked how type conversion of lands 
with repeated fire has been addressed for habitat essential to M. 
stoneana.
    Our Response: We acknowledge throughout this final rule that 
monitoring data are lacking for most occurrences of Monardella 
stoneana. However, under section 4(b) of the Act, we are required to 
make determinations based on the best available scientific and 
commercial information. We invite any individual or agency with recent 
monitoring reports on occurrences of M. stoneana to submit them to our 
Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office (see the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
CONTACT section above).
    Furthermore, as we have determined that listing Monardella stoneana 
under the Act as endangered or threatened is not warranted, critical 
habitat cannot be designated, and a discussion of the potential impact 
that a hypothetical critical habitat designation would have on BLM or 
CDFG-owned lands is, therefore, not relevant. We also note that the 
City of San Diego in fact monitors two occurrences of M. stoneana. The 
first occurrence, Buschalaugh Cove (EO 4) contains one individual plant 
(City of San Diego 2011a, p. 229). The second occurrence, in Marron 
Valley, comprises approximately 95 plants (City of San Diego 2010a, p. 
238). No M. stoneana occurs on lands owned or managed by the Service.

[[Page 13439]]

    (40) Comment: One commenter asserted that, despite Monardella 
stoneana's protected status as a part of the original listed entity, in 
recent years Border Patrol and other activities on BLM land trump any 
State, County, or Federal environmental regulations. The commenter 
stated that because of this situation, the City of San Diego MSCP is 
unable to adequately protect M. stoneana. The commenter then concluded 
that the HCP could not be considered an adequate regulation if its 
protections were not fully implemented.
    Our Response: On April 3, 2008, the Secretary of Homeland Security 
published a determination in the Federal Register (73 FR 18294) and 
stated that, due to high amounts of illegal immigrant traffic, he was 
creating a waiver to allow the Department of Homeland Security to 
construct barriers to stem the high flow of illegal immigrant traffic. 
This waiver permitted construction of the border fence without need for 
consultation under the Act under the authorization of section 102 (c) 
of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 
1996 (Pub. L. 104-208).
    Before construction of the fence, the Border Patrol prepared an 
environmental stewardship plan (ESP) to examine impacts of construction 
of the border fence to listed and rare species and sensitive habitats. 
Prior to the start of the project, surveys were conducted to determine 
the presence or absence of rare species, including Monardella stoneana 
(Department of Homeland Security et al. 2008, p. 8-5). No individuals 
were found during the surveys, but as these surveys took place in fall 
when the plant was dormant, subsequent surveys were undertaken during 
construction of the fence to determine presence or absence of M. 
stoneana (Department of Homeland Security et al. 2008, pp. 8-30, 8-34). 
When plants were documented during the construction period, best 
management practices were implemented to avoid and minimize impacts to 
M. stoneana (e\2\M 2008, p. 1; e\2\M 2009, p. 1).
    Therefore, despite the waiver that mandated that border fence 
activities could carry on without environmental oversight, we have no 
available information suggesting that this project threatened the 
continued existence of Monardella stoneana. The San Diego MSCP 
continues to be adequately implemented and carried out.
    (41) Comment: Two commenters stated that Otay Mountain has 
undergone recent habitat degradation due to increased roads and trails, 
Border Patrol activities, road construction upstream from Monardella 
stoneana that has altered hydrology, and weeds that have invaded 
upslope of M. stoneana. One commenter stated that ``it is only a matter 
of time before weeds become a more serious issue on Otay Mountain. Road 
repair work has to be conducted on a more regular basis. Those factors 
could easily result in changes to the speed of water flow during peak 
rainfall periods creating an impact to M. stoneana.''
    Both commenters reported impacts to EO 7 and EO 8 from construction 
of an access road by the Department of Homeland Security. The 
commenters further reported that the roads ``were not revegetated'' in 
2010, despite the fact that the area is a Wilderness Area. The 
commenters reported that in the winter after construction, the road and 
fence were washed out and both had to be replaced. One commenter added 
that the effects of the construction are not well known due to lack of 
monitoring for Monardella stoneana.
    Our Response: The commenters did not provide information on the 
hydrology prior to the occurrence, or any data on altered terrain, to 
support their statements or to allow us to evaluate the extent of 
altered streamflows that might have directly impacted Monardella 
stoneana. While we acknowledge that any erosion can impact streamflows, 
we do not believe that construction of dirt roads can have the same 
level of impact on natural hydrology that occurs in the range of M. 
viminea, where some occurrences are surrounded by urbanized areas and 
high density of pavement on all sides, all of which result in 
substantial alterations to hydrology.
    Further, while we agree that a landscape with increased nonnative 
cover could negatively impact Monardella stoneana, the best available 
scientific and commercial information does not show that such an 
increase in cover is likely to occur in the future. We invite anyone 
with information on those occurrences or any changing cover of 
nonnative plants to submit this information to our Carlsbad Fish and 
Wildlife Office (see the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT above).
    (42) Comment: The commenter asserted that Monardella stoneana has 
experienced increased fire frequency due to nonnative plant invasion, 
which has resulted in weed invasion, habitat conversion, increased 
sheet runoff of rainfall, and erosion. The commenter further stated 
that fire was credited with having wiped out the occurrence at 
Buschalaugh Cove (CNDDB EO5) and caused the location at Otay Lakes to 
be reduced by 87 percent. Another commenter agreed, and stated that 
fire frequency could cause increased alteration of hydrology due to 
increased runoff from slopes that were devegetated by fire. The 
commenter stated that a task force was created with local agencies to 
address the fire frequency changes as the numbers of fires on the 
mountain had increased so dramatically over historical levels.
    Our Response: We have not found any evidence, nor did the commenter 
provide any evidence, that nonnative plants are invading occurrences of 
Monardella stoneana to the degree that they would pose a threat to the 
species. We are also not aware of any incidences of increased 
streamflow following fire events. Although we agree that it is possible 
that such changes could occur, in our Determination section for M. 
stoneana above, we did not find that these factors were currently 
threatening, or likely to threaten, M. stoneana in the future.
    It is worth noting that EO 5 consisted of only one plant when it 
was thought to be extirpated by fire. Since the first open comment 
period, as discussed above, this plant has now resprouted from the root 
(City of San Diego 2011a, p. 229).
    (43) Comment: The commenter highlighted the decrease in occurrences 
in a protected area monitored by the City of San Diego. The commenter 
stated that since monitoring began in accordance with the HCP, EO 6 has 
dropped from 120 plants to 95 plants.
    Our Response: We believe that in this case the commenter is 
suggesting that the protections afforded by the MSCP are inadequate to 
conserve the species. However, survey data are inconclusive due in 
large part to changing monitoring methods. Monardella stoneana often 
grows in clumps of one to four individual plants. The number of plants 
within a clump cannot be reliably distinguished without exposing the 
roots. In the first 3 years of surveys, clumps of M. stoneana were 
counted, rather than individual plants. In 2003, 113 plants were 
reported, then 192 in 2004, and 103 plants in 2010 (City of San Diego 
2010b, p. 2). Given the difficulty of determining individual plants 
from clumps of M. stoneana, we believe these counts are due to 
differing methods rather than population fluctuations. The City of San 
Diego acknowledged this in their 2006 survey report for Marron Valley, 
saying that ``It should be noted that implementation of the current 
monitoring method may have been inconsistent from season to season. 
Monitoring of this species is being analyzed and methods may be revised 
in order to provide more reliable

[[Page 13440]]

data'' (City of San Diego 2006, p. 67). It is worth noting that in all 
subsequent reports the number of plants has held steady at 95 clumps 
(City of San Diego 2010b, p. 2). Therefore, the best available 
scientific information does not allow us to conclude that this 
occurrence has declined in size since monitoring began.
    (44) Comment: One commenter asked how lighting associated with a 
fencing project constructed by the Border Patrol had impacted the 
insects needed to pollinate Monardella stoneana.
    Our Response: Surveys conducted prior to the construction of the 
border fence found no known occurrences of Monardella stoneana within 
the impact corridor of the project, although known occurrences are 
located in proximity to the construction sites (Department of Homeland 
Security et al. 2008, p. 8-30). Therefore, we do not believe that 
lighting associated with the construction of the border fence would 
have affected pollinators. As for future impacts, even though road 
maintenance is ongoing, road construction typically does not occur 
during night hours (Ford 2011, pers. comm.)
Critical Habitat for Monardella viminea
    (45) Comment: Two commenters believed that Lopez, Carroll, and 
Cemetery Canyons should be designated as critical habitat. One 
commenter further stated that ``Circular logic seems to being [sic] 
used to state that those two canyons that are supporting plants cannot 
support the species due to changed hydrology'' and that ``we do agree 
that the hydrology of both systems has changed but there are still 
plenty of lands within the braided system that could support plants if 
they did not support such a large weed load.''
    Our Response: We respectfully disagree with the commenters' 
assertion that areas within Carroll and Lopez Canyons meet the 
definition of critical habitat. We do agree, however, with the 
commenter's assertion that Lopez Canyon could support more plants if 
there were not such a high density of nonnative species. However, as 
described in the Summary of Changes from Previously Designated Critical 
Habitat section in the proposed rule (76 FR 33880), our primary reason 
for not designating those areas was the lack of a natural hydrological 
regime (all components of the PCE), and not the presence of nonnative 
species. Thus, the best available scientific information does not lead 
us to conclude that these two canyons are essential to the conservation 
of Monardella viminea, and, due to the lack of physical and biological 
features essential to the species, these areas indeed do not meet the 
definition of critical habitat. We believe the areas identified as 
essential are sufficient for recovery of the taxon.
    In response to the commenter's assertion that we used ``circular 
logic'' in our determination of critical habitat, we note that section 
3(5)(A) of the Act defines critical habitat, in part, as those areas 
with physical or biological features that are essential to the 
``conservation'' of the species. Regulations at 50 CFR 424.02 define 
conservation as ``the use of all methods and procedures that are 
necessary to bring any endangered or threatened species to the point at 
which the measures provided pursuant to the Act are no longer 
necessary.'' With the language in the Act and its supporting 
regulations focusing on conservation rather than survival, we are bound 
to identify those areas with the physical or biological features 
necessary to achieve species conservation. We also note that features 
needed for conservation are not necessarily the same as those needed 
for survival. Therefore, it is not contradictory that Monardella 
viminea clumps can occur in areas without the physical and biological 
features identified in this rule.
    We recognize that critical habitat designated at a particular point 
in time may not include all of the habitat areas that we may later 
determine are necessary for the recovery of the species. For this 
reason, a critical habitat designation does not signal that habitat 
outside the designated area is unimportant or may not be required for 
recovery of the species. We also note that, in addition to protections 
afforded by the MSCP, occupied habitat outside the final revised 
critical habitat designation will continue to be subject to 
conservation actions implemented under section 7(a)(1) of the Act, 
regulatory protections afforded by the section 7(a)(2) jeopardy 
standard, and the prohibitions of section 9 of the Act.
    We also note that under section 4(a)(3)(A) of the Act and 
regulations at 50 CFR 424.12(g), we may revise critical habitat 
designations as appropriate and as new data become available. We 
encourage all members of the public to submit such information to our 
Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office (see the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
CONTACT section above).
    (46) Comment: One commenter asserted that Cemetery Canyon should be 
designated as critical habitat, as it has the attributes that support 
Monardella viminea and was occupied at the time of listing.
    Our Response: In identifying areas that meet the definition of 
critical habitat, we first identified areas currently occupied and 
occupied at the time of listing. We acknowledge that Cemetery Canyon 
was occupied by Monardella viminea at the time of listing. However, we 
respectfully disagree with the commenter that Cemetery Canyon still 
contains the physical and biological features necessary for the 
conservation of the species. As discussed in our response to comment 45 
above, we found that Cemetery Canyon lacks a natural hydrological 
regime (all components of the PCE), and therefore does not meet the 
definition of critical habitat (see the Criteria Used to Identify 
Critical Habitat section above for more details).
    (47) Comment: Two commenters stated that the proposed rule argues 
that INRMPs and HCPs afford equal protection to critical habitat, and 
the commenters disagree with that idea.
    Our Response: The City of San Diego and County of San Diego Subarea 
Plans under the MSCP provide ongoing protection and monitoring for 
Monardella viminea that will benefit the long-term conservation of the 
species. These protections extend to private lands that otherwise lack 
a Federal nexus under which consultation could be triggered. The INRMP 
for MCAS Miramar further provides for management and research into the 
life history and threats impacting M. viminea. Both plans provide 
monitoring and management of conserved lands important to the survival 
and recovery of M. viminea. These conservation measures provided by the 
INRMP and the HCPs are typically not addressed through a critical 
habitat designation, that is, through application of the statutory 
prohibition on destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat. 
Therefore, we find that in this case the INRMP and the HCPs provide 
clear benefits to M. viminea.
    (48) Comment: One commenter stated that it was difficult to 
understand exclusions for the City of San Diego when management is not 
occurring, threats from nonnative plants and altered hydrology are 
increasing, plant numbers are declining, and lands in Spring Canyon 
have not yet been acquired. Another commenter argued that critical 
habitat designation is needed to raise the status of these lands and to 
provide leverage for actual management. Both commenters asserted that 
exclusions should not be made for the City of San Diego until 
management begins and species numbers are increasing, and one commenter 
added, ``the species is continuing to decline partially due to lack of 
management and that behavior should not be rewarded by

[[Page 13441]]

granting exclusions due to purported benefits.'' The commenters further 
asserted that designation of critical habitat within City of San Diego 
MSCP lands would greatly increase protections for Monardella viminea, 
spur more active management and protection, and prevent development of 
lands containing M. viminea.
    Our Response: We reiterate that conservation measures provided by 
the INRMP and the HCPs are separate from the prohibition on destruction 
or adverse modification provided by a critical habitat designation. 
Critical habitat does not create a requirement for management or 
monitoring. The primary benefit of a critical habitat designation is 
that it creates a Federal nexus through which Federal agencies consult 
with the Service under section 7(a)(2) of the Act. In other words, the 
Federal agencies are required to not fund, authorize, or carry out 
actions on designated lands that adversely modify or destroy critical 
habitat.
    We also note that exclusions are not based on the difference 
between protection measures provided by critical habitat designation or 
HCPs in isolation, but on how the redundancy of protections provided by 
an HCP with those provided by critical habitat designation minimizes 
the overall conservation value of designation, and how the remaining 
benefits of designation may be negated by the benefits of exclusion 
(maintaining partnerships and fostering future HCPs). Conservation 
benefits provided by existing HCPs are not considered a benefit of 
exclusion because they would remain in place regardless of critical 
habitat designation; however, they do minimize the benefits of 
inclusion to the extent that they are redundant with protection 
measures that would be provided by critical habitat designation.
    We assume that the commenters mean that designation of critical 
habitat would pressure the City to increase management. Again, critical 
habitat does not create a requirement for management or monitoring, and 
there is no regulatory mechanism in place that would guarantee such 
measures. Further, critical habitat does not create a preserve or a 
refuge. In fact, designating critical habitat within the City's HCP 
could have a detrimental effect on our conservation partnerships (see 
Exclusions section above).
    Based on the conservation benefits provided by the City of San 
Diego and County of San Diego Subarea Plans under the MSCP, we believe 
the additional protection provided to Monardella viminea's essential 
habitat by critical habitat designation would be minimal and are 
outweighed by the benefits of excluding the habitat. Therefore, we are 
excluding lands within the plan areas of these HCPs based on the 
benefits of maintaining our conservation partnerships.
    (49) Comment: One commenter disagreed with our statement that 
almost all occurrences in the City of San Diego MSCP Subarea Plan have 
been protected in MSCP reserves and are annually monitored. The 
commenter cited large populations of Spring Canyon that are neither 
monitored nor protected, and lands in Carroll Canyon that are not 
monitored by the City (although the commenter acknowledged that they 
are monitored by contractors), transplants in Lopez Canyon that are not 
monitored, and Sycamore Canyon lands associated with Rancho Encantata 
that are not monitored.
    Our Response: We have updated this rule with the information 
submitted by the commenter.
    (50) Comment: Two commenters expressed concern about lands in 
Spring Canyon being purchased for conservation, as outlined in the 
MSCP. The commenter claims that the City of San Diego gave up the right 
to eminent domain in creating the MSCP, and pointed out that lands 
designated for possible open space acquisition under the City's MSCP 
retain 25 percent development rights. Finally, the commenter claimed 
that previous attempts by the City to purchase the Spring Canyon 
parcels have been unsuccessful. One commenter noted that development 
would be on the least sensitive parts of the acreage, but that the 
development would still impact Monardella viminea through altered 
hydrology.
    Our Response: We appreciate the commenter's concerns regarding 
adequate protection of Monardella viminea under the City of San Diego 
Subarea Plan for the MSCP. In the biological opinion issued by the 
Service, we concluded that the City's Subarea Plan provides a benefit 
to M. viminea because the plan provides for conservation of all major 
occurrences (Service 1997, p. 83), including all areas we have 
identified in this rule as essential habitat as well as other occupied 
areas such as Lopez Canyon. Development within M. viminea habitat is 
restricted to a maximum of 20 percent of the habitat, and, should 
development occur, in-kind mitigation would be required at a 1:1 to 3:1 
ratio, in addition to the protections for riparian habitat, which 
require no net loss of wetland acreage or function (Service 1997, p. 
83).
    Additionally, the commenter provided no evidence regarding the 
failure of the City of San Diego to acquire the parcel of private 
lands. We invite any individual or agency with information regarding 
conservation of Monardella viminea within the MSCP to submit it to our 
Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office (see the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
CONTACT section above).
    (51) Comment: One commenter stated that the Sycamore Estates 
occurrence of Monardella viminea should be designated as critical 
habitat. Specifically, the commenter stated that development of this 
project was stopped due to the economy and bankruptcy, leaving the 
status of the project uncertain. In addition, the commenter stated that 
the status of M. viminea on the planned open space was also uncertain. 
Finally, the commenter stated that management of the naturally 
occurring plants and transplants were put on hold.
    Our Response: See our response to comment 48 above. Sycamore 
Estates falls within the boundaries of the City of San Diego Subarea 
Plan under the MSCP and, thus, we have decided to exclude it under 
section 4(b)(2) of the Act (also see Exclusions section above).
    (52) Comment: Two commenters reported that they were unaware of any 
management or monitoring actions conducted by the County of San Diego, 
whose lands host one population of 14 plants at the southern end of the 
Sycamore Canyon Preserve (corresponding to the southern portion of EO 
9). Based on their monitoring efforts, the commenters reported that the 
occurrence was subject to a high density of nonnative species. They 
further reported that this occurrence was down to one live plant and a 
number of dead standing Monardella viminea in 2007, and that no live 
plants were present in 2008. The commenters did not report the date of 
their most recent survey on County lands, but stated that they 
considered this occurrence to be extirpated. The commenters stressed 
that existing conservation measures on County lands were inadequate to 
protect the species, and that designation of lands would increase the 
likelihood of management.
    Our Response: We appreciate the information submitted by the 
commenters. Despite the decline of plants on lands within the 
boundaries of the County of San Diego Subarea Plan, we have decided to 
exclude lands under the jurisdiction of the County of San Diego Subarea 
Plan under the MSCP. As discussed in Exclusions section, we found that 
exclusion of these lands from critical habitat will help preserve the

[[Page 13442]]

partnerships we developed with the County and project proponents in the 
development of the MSCP. Conservation plans such as the County of San 
Diego Subarea Plan provide landscape-level conservation that can better 
address threats to Monardella viminea habitat, as opposed to the 
piecemeal conservation approach that could result should private 
landowners complete individual section 7 consultations.
    Comparison of regulatory benefits provided by critical habitat to 
conservation benefits provided by implementation of HCPs is not 
straightforward. However, we point out that critical habitat does not 
create a requirement for management or monitoring, and that the County 
of San Diego has recently completed a management plan for preserve 
lands supporting M. viminea that includes removal of nonnative 
vegetation, habitat restoration, and implementation of a managed fire 
regime with a priority of protecting biological resources including M. 
viminea (DPR 2009, pp. 71, 76-77). We believe that the County of San 
Diego Subarea Plan under the MSCP provides equivalent or superior 
benefits to M. viminea and its habitat than would result from critical 
habitat designation.
    (53) Comment: The commenter listed multiple incidences where MCAS 
Miramar had previously turned over land to other agencies or private 
landowners, thus losing protected habitat for the species and degrading 
drainages and vernal pool habitat for other listed species. One parcel 
proposed for sale, the Stowe Trail, would connect lands occupied by 
Monardella viminea to the Sycamore Canyon Preserve. The commenter 
believes critical habitat should be designated in the area to protect 
it from future development.
    Our Response: The most recent information we have received from 
MCAS Miramar indicates that the station currently has no intent of 
selling or transferring the property (Kassebaum 2011b, pers. comm.). 
Therefore, it appears that the land will remain under the ownership of 
MCAS Miramar and the conservation of the INRMP, and that critical 
habitat designation is not appropriate.
    (54) Comment: The commenter noted that critical habitat has 
previously been designated for military lands, specifically for the 
critical habitat designation for the southwest Alaska distinct 
population segment (DPS) of the northern sea otter (Enhydra lutris 
kenyoni), which published October 8, 2009 (74 FR 51988).
    Our Response: Critical habitat for the southwest Alaska DPS of the 
northern sea otter is almost entirely aquatic, consisting of nearshore 
waters to the mean high tide line. Therefore, this rule did not, in 
fact, designate critical habitat on military lands. Specifically, we 
state in that rule that ``there are no Department of Defense lands with 
a complete INRMP within the critical habitat designation'' (p. 52005, 
74 FR 51988, October 8, 2009). Additionally, as stated in our response 
to comment 30, section 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act requires us to make 
determinations for each species based solely on the best scientific and 
commercial data available, and not on previous actions taken by the 
Service. We determined the INRMP for MCAS Miramar (Gene Stout and 
Associates et al. 2011) provides a benefit to Monardella viminea, and, 
therefore, we have determined that lands on MCAS Miramar are exempt 
from critical habitat under section 4(a)(3)(B) of the Act.
    (55) Comment: One commenter referenced a proposed development on 
MCAS Miramar of a U.S. Army Reserve Center upstream from a drainage 
with Monardella viminea. Although a condition was placed on the project 
that it not change the hydrology, the commenter had little confidence 
that could be achieved.
    Our Response: Previous projects upstream from Monardella viminea 
occurrences have not impacted M. viminea individuals or habitat. 
Surveys reported no negative effects after the 2007 construction of a 
rifle range in close proximity to M. viminea in San Clemente Canyon 
(Tierra Data 2011, p. 3). As described in the Factor D analysis for M. 
viminea above, the INRMP for MCAS Miramar provides conservation 
measures for all riparian areas on the base. Therefore, the Service has 
confidence that conservation measures will continue to be put in place 
as demonstrated by previous occasions.
    (56) Comment: One commenter stated that exemption cannot occur if 
it will result in the extinction of the species. The commenter noted 
the large percentage of the population on MCAS Miramar, and the recent 
decline of the species on the base, and noted that the Act provides a 
mechanism for dealing with emergencies that would require expedited 
consultation ``under 50 CFR 40205 [sic].''
    Our Response: The regulation and the language within the Act that 
the commenter refers to is the process of determining exclusions from 
critical habitat, not exemptions. The commenter is correct in that 
section 4(b)(2) states that exclusions cannot be granted if the 
Secretary of the Interior determines, ``that the failure to designate 
such area as critical habitat will result in the extinction of the 
species concerned.'' There is no regulation 50 CFR 40205, but 50 CFR 
402.05 sets forth regulations that concern expedited consultation in 
the event of emergency circumstances that mandate that need. Further, 
50 CFR 424.19 states that exclusion cannot occur if it will result in 
the extinction of a species.
    Section 4(a)(3)(B)(i) of the Act describes exemptions from critical 
habitat applying to Department of Defense land. The Secretary has 
determined that the INRMP for MCAS Miramar provides a benefit to this 
species and that the lands it covers are therefore exempt from critical 
habitat designation. Sections 4(a)(3)(B)(ii) and (iii) also note that 
agencies granted an exemption must still consult under section 7(a)(2) 
of the Act, and that the Department of Defense must comply with section 
9, ``including the prohibition preventing extinction and taking of 
endangered species and threatened species.'' Thus, although military 
bases can be exempt from critical habitat, the Act has mechanisms in 
place to prevent extinction.
    As discussed in our response to comment 14 above, the reason for 
the decline of Monardella viminea on MCAS Miramar is poorly understood. 
However, despite that lack of knowledge, we believe that MCAS Miramar 
is providing conservation measures and protections that are working to 
prevent extinction of M. viminea.

Required Determinations

Regulatory Planning and Review--Executive Order 12866

    The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has determined that this 
rule is not significant and has not reviewed this rule under Executive 
Order 12866. OMB bases its determination upon the following four 
criteria:
    (1) Whether the rule will have an annual effect of $100 million or 
more on the economy or adversely affect an economic sector, 
productivity, jobs, the environment, or other units of the government.
    (2) Whether the rule will create inconsistencies with other Federal 
agencies' actions.
    (3) Whether the rule will materially affect entitlements, grants, 
user fees, loan programs or the rights and obligations of their 
recipients.
    (4) Whether the rule raises novel legal or policy issues.

[[Page 13443]]

Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.)

    Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA; 5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.), 
as amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act 
(SBREFA) of 1996 (5 U.S.C 801 et seq.), whenever an agency must publish 
a notice of rulemaking for any proposed or final rule, it must prepare 
and make available for public comment a regulatory flexibility analysis 
that describes the effects of the rule on small entities (small 
businesses, small organizations, and small government jurisdictions). 
However, no regulatory flexibility analysis is required if the head of 
an agency certifies the rule will not have a significant economic 
impact on a substantial number of small entities. The SBREFA amended 
the RFA to require Federal agencies to provide a certification 
statement of the factual basis for certifying that the rule will not 
have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. In this final rule, we certify that the critical habitat 
designation for Monardella viminea will not have a significant economic 
impact on a substantial number of small entities. The following 
discussion explains our rationale.
    According to the Small Business Administration, small entities 
include small organizations, such as independent nonprofit 
organizations; small governmental jurisdictions, including school 
boards and city and town governments that serve fewer than 50,000 
residents; as well as small businesses. Small businesses include 
manufacturing and mining concerns with fewer than 500 employees, 
wholesale trade entities with fewer than 100 employees, retail and 
service businesses with less than $5 million in annual sales, general 
and heavy construction businesses with less than $27.5 million in 
annual business, special trade contractors doing less than $11.5 
million in annual business, and agricultural businesses with annual 
sales less than $750,000. To determine if potential economic impacts on 
these small entities are significant, we consider the types of 
activities that might trigger regulatory impacts under this rule, as 
well as the types of project modifications that may result. In general, 
the term ``significant economic impact'' is meant to apply to a typical 
small business firm's business operations.
    To determine if the rule could significantly affect a substantial 
number of small entities, we consider the number of small entities 
affected within particular types of economic activities (e.g., 
transportation and construction). We apply the ``substantial number'' 
test individually to each industry to determine if certification is 
appropriate. However, the SBREFA does not explicitly define 
``substantial number'' or ``significant economic impact.'' 
Consequently, to assess whether a ``substantial number'' of small 
entities is affected by this designation, this analysis considers the 
relative number of small entities likely to be impacted in an area. In 
some circumstances, especially with critical habitat designations of 
limited extent, we may aggregate across all industries and consider 
whether the total number of small entities affected is substantial. In 
estimating the number of small entities potentially affected, we also 
consider whether their activities have any Federal involvement.
    Designation of critical habitat only affects activities authorized, 
funded, or carried out by Federal agencies. Some kinds of activities 
are unlikely to have any Federal involvement and so will not be 
affected by critical habitat designation. In areas where the species is 
present, Federal agencies already are required to consult with us under 
section 7 of the Act on activities they authorize, fund, or carry out 
that may affect Monardella viminea. Federal agencies also must consult 
with us if their activities may affect critical habitat. Designation of 
critical habitat, therefore, could result in an additional economic 
impact on small entities due to the requirement to reinitiate 
consultation for ongoing Federal activities (see Application of the 
``Adverse Modification'' Standard section).
    In our final economic analysis of the critical habitat designation, 
we evaluated the potential economic effects on small business entities 
resulting from conservation actions related to the listing of 
Monardella viminea and the designation of critical habitat. The 
analysis is based on the estimated impacts associated with the 
rulemaking as described in Chapters 3 through 5 and Appendix A of the 
analysis and evaluates the potential for economic impacts related to 
transportation and construction.
    The final economic analysis for Monardella viminea found that there 
are no businesses operating within critical habitat that meet the 
definition of small entities (Industrial Economics Inc. 2012, p. A-2). 
Therefore, the final economic analysis found that no small entities 
will be affected by the designation of critical habitat for M. viminea.
    In summary, we considered whether this designation will result in a 
significant economic effect on a substantial number of small entities. 
Based on the above reasoning and currently available information, we 
conclude that this rule will not result in a significant economic 
impact on a substantial number of small entities. Therefore, we certify 
that the designation of critical habitat for Monardella viminea will 
not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities, and a regulatory flexibility analysis is not required.

Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (5 U.S.C 801 et 
seq.)

    Under SBREFA, this rule is not a major rule. Our detailed 
assessment of the economic effects of this designation is described in 
the final economic analysis. Based on the effects identified in the 
economic analysis, we believe that this rule will not have an annual 
effect on the economy of $100 million or more, will not cause a major 
increase in costs or prices for consumers, and will not have 
significant adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, 
productivity, innovation, or the ability of U.S.-based enterprises to 
compete with foreign-based enterprises. Refer to the final economic 
analysis for a discussion of the effects of this determination.

Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use--Executive Order 13211

    Executive Order 13211 (Actions Concerning Regulations That 
Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use) requires 
agencies to prepare Statements of Energy Effects when undertaking 
certain actions. OMB has provided guidance for implementing this 
Executive Order that outlines nine outcomes that may constitute ``a 
significant adverse effect'' when compared to not taking the regulatory 
action under consideration.
    The economic analysis finds that none of these criteria are 
relevant to this analysis and that no modifications to future economic 
activities are anticipated to result from the designation of critical 
habitat. Thus, based on information in the economic analysis, energy-
related impacts associated with Monardella viminea conservation 
activities within critical habitat are not expected. As such, the 
designation of critical habitat is not expected to significantly affect 
energy supplies, distribution, or use. Therefore, this action is not a 
significant energy action, and no Statement of Energy Effects is 
required.

[[Page 13444]]

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (2 U.S.C. 1501 et seq.)

    In accordance with the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (2 U.S.C. 1501 
et seq.), we make the following findings:
    (1) This rule will not produce a Federal mandate. In general, a 
Federal mandate is a provision in legislation, statute, or regulation 
that would impose an enforceable duty upon State, local, or tribal 
governments, or the private sector, and includes both ``Federal 
intergovernmental mandates'' and ``Federal private sector mandates.'' 
These terms are defined in 2 U.S.C. 658(5)-(7). ``Federal 
intergovernmental mandate'' includes a regulation that ``would impose 
an enforceable duty upon State, local, or tribal governments'' with two 
exceptions. It excludes ``a condition of Federal assistance.'' It also 
excludes ``a duty arising from participation in a voluntary Federal 
program,'' unless the regulation ``relates to a then-existing Federal 
program under which $500,000,000 or more is provided annually to State, 
local, and tribal governments under entitlement authority,'' if the 
provision would ``increase the stringency of conditions of assistance'' 
or ``place caps upon, or otherwise decrease, the Federal Government's 
responsibility to provide funding,'' and the State, local, or tribal 
governments ``lack authority'' to adjust accordingly. At the time of 
enactment, these entitlement programs were: Medicaid; Aid to Families 
with Dependent Children work programs; Child Nutrition; Food Stamps; 
Social Services Block Grants; Vocational Rehabilitation State Grants; 
Foster Care, Adoption Assistance, and Independent Living; Family 
Support Welfare Services; and Child Support Enforcement. ``Federal 
private sector mandate'' includes a regulation that ``would impose an 
enforceable duty upon the private sector, except (i) a condition of 
Federal assistance or (ii) a duty arising from participation in a 
voluntary Federal program.''
    The designation of critical habitat does not impose a legally 
binding duty on non-Federal Government entities or private parties. 
Under the Act, the only regulatory effect is that Federal agencies must 
ensure that their actions do not destroy or adversely modify critical 
habitat under section 7. While non-Federal entities that receive 
Federal funding, assistance, or permits, or that otherwise require 
approval or authorization from a Federal agency for an action, may be 
indirectly impacted by the designation of critical habitat, the legally 
binding duty to avoid destruction or adverse modification of critical 
habitat rests squarely on the Federal agency. Furthermore, to the 
extent that non-Federal entities are indirectly impacted because they 
receive Federal assistance or participate in a voluntary Federal aid 
program, the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act would not apply, nor would 
critical habitat shift the costs of the large entitlement programs 
listed above onto State governments.
    (2) We do not believe that this rule will significantly or uniquely 
affect small governments because it will not produce a federal mandate 
of $100 million or greater in any year; that is, it is not a 
``significant regulatory action'' under the Unfunded Mandates Reform 
Act. Further, the lands we are designating as critical habitat are 
owned by private individuals, Padre Dam Municipal Water District, the 
California Department of Transportation. None of these fit the 
definition of ``small governmental jurisdiction.'' Therefore, a Small 
Government Agency Plan is not required.

Takings--Executive Order 12630

    In accordance with Executive Order 12630 (Government Actions and 
Interference with Constitutionally Protected Private Property Rights), 
we have analyzed the potential takings implications of designating 
critical habitat for Monardella viminea in a takings implications 
assessment. As discussed above, the designation of critical habitat 
affects only Federal actions. Although private parties that receive 
Federal funding, assistance, or require approval or authorization from 
a Federal agency for an action may be indirectly impacted by the 
designation of critical habitat, the legally binding duty to avoid 
destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat rests squarely 
on the Federal agency. The takings implications assessment concludes 
that this designation of critical habitat for M. viminea does not pose 
significant takings implications for lands within or affected by the 
designation.

Federalism--Executive Order 13132

    In accordance with Executive Order 13132 (Federalism), this rule 
does not have significant Federalism effects. A federalism impact 
summary statement is not required. In keeping with Department of the 
Interior and Department of Commerce policy, we requested information 
from, and coordinated development of, this critical habitat designation 
with appropriate State resource agencies in California. We did not 
receive any comments from any State resource agencies during the two 
open comment periods. The designation of critical habitat in areas 
currently occupied by Monardella viminea imposes no additional 
restrictions to those currently in place and, therefore, has little 
incremental impact on State and local governments and their activities. 
The designation may have some benefit to these governments in that the 
areas that contain the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of the species are more clearly defined, and the elements 
of the features of the habitat necessary to the conservation of the 
species are specifically identified. This information does not alter 
where and what federally sponsored activities may occur. However, it 
may assist local governments in long-range planning (rather than having 
them wait for case-by-case section 7 consultations to occur).
    Where State and local governments require approval or authorization 
from a Federal agency for actions that may affect critical habitat, 
consultation under section 7(a)(2) will be required. While non-Federal 
entities that receive Federal funding, assistance, or permits, or that 
otherwise require approval or authorization from a Federal agency for 
an action, may be indirectly impacted by the designation of critical 
habitat, the legally binding duty to avoid destruction or adverse 
modification of critical habitat rests squarely on the Federal agency.

Civil Justice Reform--Executive Order 12988

    In accordance with Executive Order 12988 (Civil Justice Reform), 
the Office of the Solicitor has determined that the rule does not 
unduly burden the judicial system and that it meets the applicable 
standards set forth in sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of the Order. We are 
designating critical habitat in accordance with the provisions of the 
Act. This final rule uses standard property descriptions and identifies 
the elements of physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of Monardella viminea within the designated areas to 
assist the public in understanding the habitat needs of the species.

Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.)

    This rule does not contain any new collections of information that 
require approval by OMB under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 
U.S.C. 3501 et seq.). This rule will not impose recordkeeping or 
reporting requirements on State or local governments, individuals, 
businesses, or organizations. An agency may not

[[Page 13445]]

conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, a 
collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB 
control number.

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

    It is our position that, outside the jurisdiction of the U.S. Court 
of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, we do not need to prepare 
environmental analyses pursuant to the National Environmental Policy 
Act (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) in connection with designating 
critical habitat under the Act. We published a notice outlining our 
reasons for this determination in the Federal Register on October 25, 
1983 (48 FR 49244). This position was upheld by the U.S. Court of 
Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Douglas County v. Babbitt, 48 F.3d 1495 
(9th Cir. 1995), cert. denied 516 U.S. 1042 (1996)).

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 determined that there are no tribal lands occupied by Monardella 
viminea at the time of listing that contain the features essential for 
conservation of the species, and no tribal lands unoccupied by M. 
viminea that are essential for the conservation of the species. 
Therefore, we are not designating critical habitat for M. viminea on 
tribal lands.

References Cited

    A complete list of all references cited is available on the 
Internet at http://www.regulations.gov and upon request from the 
Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
CONTACT).

Authors

    The primary authors of this rulemaking are the staff members of the 
Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

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

Regulation Promulgation

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

PART 17--[AMENDED]

0
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.


0
2. Amend Sec.  17.12(h) by revising the entry for ``Monardella linoides 
ssp. viminea'' under ``FLOWERING PLANTS'' in the List of Endangered and 
Threatened Plants to read as follows:


Sec.  17.12  Endangered and threatened plants.

* * * * *
    (h) * * *

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                        Species
-------------------------------------------------------    Historic range           Family           Status      When listed    Critical       Special
         Scientific name               Common name                                                                               habitat        rules
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
         Flowering Plants
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
Monardella viminea...............  Willowy monardella.  U.S.A. (CA), Mexico  Lamiaceae..........  E                     649      17.96(a)            NA
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


0
3. In Sec.  17.96, amend paragraph (a) by revising the critical habitat 
entry for Monardella linoides ssp. viminea (willowy monardella) under 
Family Lamiaceae to read as follows:


Sec.  17.96  Critical habitat--plants.

    (a) Flowering plants.
* * * * *

Family Lamiaceae: Monardella viminea (willowy monardella)

    (1) Critical habitat units are depicted for San Diego County, 
California, on the map below.
    (2) Within these areas, the primary constituent element of the 
physical and biological features essential to the conservation of 
Monardella viminea is riparian channels with ephemeral drainages and 
adjacent floodplains:
    (i) With a natural hydrological regime, in which:
    (A) Water flows only after peak seasonal rainstorms;
    (B) High runoff events periodically scour riparian vegetation and 
redistribute alluvial material to create new stream channels, benches, 
and sandbars; and
    (C) Water flows for usually less than 48 hours after a rain event, 
without long-term standing water;
    (ii) With surrounding vegetation that provides semi-open, foliar 
cover with:
    (A) Little or no herbaceous understory;
    (B) Little to no canopy cover;
    (C) Open ground cover, less than half of which is herbaceous 
vegetation cover;
    (D) Some shrub cover; and
    (E) An association of other plants, including Eriogonum 
fasciculatum (California buckwheat) and Baccharis sarothroides (broom 
baccharis);
    (iii) That contain ephemeral drainages that:
    (B) Are made up of coarse, rocky, or sandy alluvium; and
    (C) Contain terraced floodplains, terraced secondary benches, 
stabilized sandbars, channel banks, or sandy washes; and
    (iv) That have soil with high sand content, typically characterized 
by sediment and cobble deposits, and further characterized by a high 
content of coarse, sandy grains and low content of silt and clay.
    (3) Critical habitat does not include manmade structures (such as 
buildings, aqueducts, runways, roads, and other paved areas) and the 
land on which they are located existing within the legal boundaries on 
the effective date of this rule.
    (4) Critical habitat map units. Data layers defining map units were 
created

[[Page 13446]]

using a base of U.S. Geological Survey 7.5' quadrangle maps. Critical 
habitat units were then mapped using Universal Transverse Mercator 
(UTM) zone 11, North American Datum (NAD) 1983 coordinates.
    (5) Unit 1: Sycamore Canyon, and Unit 2, West Sycamore Canyon, San 
Diego County, California.
    (i) Unit 1 for Monardella viminea, Sycamore Canyon Unit, San Diego 
County, California. From USGS 1:24,000 quadrangle San Vicente 
Reservoir, lands bounded by the following UTM NAD83 coordinates (E,N): 
501600,3640272; 501581,3640252; 501696,3640253; 501856,3640274; 
501861,3640213; 502006,3640245; 502010,3640246; 502330,3640316; 
502335,3640312; 502342,3640307; 502348,3640300; 502354,3640294; 
502359,3640287; 502363,3640279; 502367,3640271; 502370,3640263; 
502372,3640254; 502373,3640246; 502374,3640237; 502374,3640228; 
502373,3640220; 502372,3640211; 502370,3640203; 502367,3640195; 
502363,3640187; 502359,3640179; 502353,3640172; 502348,3640165; 
502342,3640159; 502335,3640154; 502328,3640149; 502320,3640144; 
502312,3640141; 502304,3640138; 502296,3640135; 502050,3640081; 
502046,3640080; 502030,3640079; 501886,3640076; 501716,3640054; 
501704,3640053; 501578,3640052; 501517,3640051; 501460,3640051; 
501451,3640051; 501442,3640052; 501433,3640054; 501425,3640057; 
501417,3640060; 501409,3640064; 501401,3640069; 501331,3640008; 
501315,3639997; 501236,3639953; 501222,3639947; 501215,3639945; 
501144,3639925; 501134,3639922; 501123,3639921; 500982,3639912; 
500957,3639910; 500973,3639924; 501031,3639974; 501128,3640057; 
501149,3640075; 501161,3640078; 501162,3640078; 501242,3640095; 
501298,3640107; 501360,3640120; 501388,3640126; 501408,3640130; 
501410,3640131; 501407,3640359; 501447,3640402; 501469,3640439; 
501495,3640483; 501499,3640490; 501504,3640496; 501509,3640502; 
501514,3640507; 501521,3640512; 501527,3640517; 501549,3640531; 
501556,3640539; 501603,3640540; 501608,3640540; 501614,3640540; 
501792,3640541; 501787,3640534; 501758,3640495; 501737,3640451; 
501734,3640444; 501725,3640431; 501695,3640393; 501689,3640387; 
501684,3640381; 501677,3640376; 501670,3640371; 501655,3640361; 
501614,3640291; 501604,3640277; thence returning to 501600,3640272. 
Lands bounded by the following UTM NAD83 coordinates (E,N): 
500470,3638670; 500462,3638669; 500453,3638669; 500444,3638670; 
500436,3638671; 500427,3638673; 500419,3638677; 500411,3638680; 
500404,3638685; 500397,3638690; 500390,3638695; 500384,3638701; 
500378,3638708; 500373,3638715; 500369,3638723; 500365,3638730; 
500365,3638731; 500362,3638739; 500360,3638747; 500360,3638748; 
500372,3638771; 500373,3638772; 500409,3638842; 500433,3638889; 
500468,3638955; 500498,3639034; 500506,3639052; 500518,3639066; 
500534,3639092; 500561,3639193; 500562,3639197; 500607,3639314; 
500623,3639355; 500637,3639479; 500646,3639555; 500648,3639573; 
500655,3639637; 500657,3639654; 500712,3639701; 500753,3639736; 
500764,3639745; 500871,3639837; 500896,3639859; 500881,3639827; 
500858,3639781; 500855,3639775; 500845,3639760; 500815,3639724; 
500784,3639649; 500790,3639577; 500792,3639546; 500792,3639533; 
500792,3639514; 500787,3639424; 500787,3639418; 500759,3639164; 
500756,3639148; 500723,3639026; 500721,3639020; 500719,3639013; 
500716,3639007; 500712,3639000; 500684,3638955; 500675,3638943; 
500674,3638941; 500606,3638863; 500595,3638843; 500583,3638783; 
500581,3638776; 500578,3638769; 500576,3638762; 500572,3638755; 
500568,3638749; 500564,3638742; 500537,3638708; 500531,3638701; 
500525,3638695; 500518,3638689; 500511,3638684; 500504,3638680; 
500496,3638676; 500487,3638673; 500482,3638672; 500479,3638671; thence 
returning to 500470,3638670.
    (ii) Unit 2 for Monardella viminea, West Sycamore Canyon Unit, San 
Diego County, California. From USGS 1:24,000 quadrangles Poway and La 
Mesa, lands bounded by the following UTM NAD83 coordinates (E,N): 
499542,3637385; 499559,3637384; 499579,3637426; 499609,3637489; 
499642,3637558; 499667,3637544; 499661,3637527; 499661,3637513; 
499748,3637481; 499750,3637476; 499754,3637468; 499756,3637459; 
499758,3637451; 499759,3637447; 499743,3637451; 499714,3637454; 
499703,3637441; 499666,3637441; 499651,3637432; 499620,3637409; 
499603,3637382; 499589,3637348; 499572,3637318; 499559,3637293; 
499556,3637288; 499554,3637292; 499551,3637300; 499548,3637308; 
499546,3637317; 499544,3637325; 499544,3637334; 499544,3637343; 
499545,3637351; 499546,3637360; 499549,3637368; 499552,3637379; thence 
returning to 499542,3637385.
    (iii) Note: Map of Unit 1 and Unit 2, Sycamore Canyon and West 
Sycamore Canyon, follows:
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P

[[Page 13447]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR06MR12.001

* * * * *

    Dated: February 8, 2012.
Rachel Jacobson,
Acting Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
[FR Doc. 2012-3903 Filed 3-5-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-C