[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 54 (Tuesday, March 20, 2012)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 16323-16424]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-5953]



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Vol. 77

Tuesday,

No. 54

March 20, 2012

Part II





Department of the Interior





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Fish and Wildlife Service





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50 CFR Part 17





Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Listing and Designation 
of Critical Habitat for the Chiricahua Leopard Frog; Final Rule

Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 54 / Tuesday, March 20, 2012 / Rules 
and Regulations

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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[Docket No. FWS-R2-ES-2010-0085;4500030114]
RIN 1018-AX12


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Listing and 
Designation of Critical Habitat for the Chiricahua Leopard Frog

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), are 
designating critical habitat for the Chiricahua leopard frog 
(Lithobates chiricahuensis) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, 
as amended (Act). In total, we are designating approximately 10,346 
acres (4,187 hectares) as critical habitat for the Chiricahua leopard 
frog in Apache, Cochise, Gila, Graham, Greenlee, Pima, Santa Cruz, and 
Yavapai Counties, Arizona; and Catron, Grant, Hidalgo, Sierra, and 
Socorro Counties, New Mexico. In addition, because of a taxonomic 
revision of the Chiricahua leopard frog, we reassessed the status of 
and threats to the currently described species Lithobates 
chiricahuensis and are listing the currently described species as 
threatened.

DATES: This rule is effective on April 19, 2012.

ADDRESSES: This final rule and the associated final economic analysis 
and final environmental assessment 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, Arizona Ecological 
Services Field Office, 2321 West Royal Palm Road, Suite 103, Phoenix, 
AZ 85021; telephone 602-242-0210; facsimile 602-242-2513.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Spangle, Field Supervisor, U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, Arizona Ecological Services Field Office, 
2321 West Royal Palm Road, Suite 103, Phoenix, AZ 85021; by telephone 
(602/242-0210); or by facsimile (602/242-2513). 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 in this final rule only those topics 
directly relevant to the listing and development and designation of 
critical habitat for the Chiricahua leopard frog under the Act (16 
U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). For more information on the biology and ecology 
of the Chiricahua leopard frog refer to the final listing rule (67 FR 
40790; June 13, 2002) or our April 2007 final recovery plan, which are 
available from the Arizona Ecological Services Field Office (see 
ADDRESSES section). For information on Chiricahua leopard frog critical 
habitat, refer to the proposed rule to reassess the listing status and 
propose critical habitat for the Chiricahua leopard frog published in 
the Federal Register on March 15, 2011 (76 FR 14126). Information on 
the associated draft economic analysis for the proposed rule to 
designate critical habitat was published in the Federal Register on 
September 21, 2011 (76 FR 58441).

Previous Federal Actions

    We published a proposed rule to list the Chiricahua leopard frog as 
threatened in the Federal Register on June 14, 2000 (65 FR 37343). We 
published a final rule listing the species as threatened on June 13, 
2002 (67 FR 40790). Included in the final rule was a special rule (see 
50 CFR 17.43(b)) to exempt operation and maintenance of livestock tanks 
on non-Federal lands from the section 9 take prohibitions of the Act. 
The special rule remains in place and is not affected by this final 
rule, except that we are making an editorial change to revise the 
heading of 50 CFR 17.43(b) to reflect the currently described species 
Lithobates chiricahuensis. For further information on actions 
associated with listing the species, please see the final listing rule 
(67 FR 40790; June 13, 2002).
    In a May 6, 2009, order from the Arizona District Court, the 
Secretary of the Interior was required to publish a critical habitat 
prudency determination for the Chiricahua leopard frog and, if found 
prudent, a proposed rule to designate critical habitat by December 8, 
2010. Because of unforeseen delays related to species taxonomic issues, 
which required an inclusion of a threats analysis, we requested a 3-
month extension to the court-ordered deadlines for both the proposed 
and final rules. On November 24, 2010, the extension was granted and 
new deadlines of March 8, 2011, for the proposed rule and March 8, 
2012, for the final rule were established for completing and submitting 
the critical habitat rules to the Federal Register.
    We published a proposed rule to reassess the listing status and 
propose critical habitat for the Chiricahua leopard frog in the Federal 
Register on March 15, 2011 (76 FR 14126) with a request for public 
comments. On September 21, 2011, we made available the draft 
environmental assessment and draft economic analysis for the proposed 
designation of critical habitat and reopened the public comment on the 
proposed rule (76 FR 58441).

Summary of Comments and Recommendations

    We requested written comments from the public on the reassessment 
of listing status and proposed designation of critical habitat for the 
Chiricahua leopard frog during two comment periods. The first comment 
period associated with the publication of the proposed rule (76 FR 
14126) opened on March 15, 2011, and closed on May 16, 2011. We also 
requested comments on the reassessment of listing status, proposed 
critical habitat designation, associated draft economic analysis, and 
associated draft environmental assessement during a comment period that 
opened September 21, 2011, and closed on October 21, 2011 (76 FR 
58441). We did not receive any requests for a public hearing. We also 
contacted appropriate Federal, Tribal, State, and local agencies; 
scientific organizations; and other interested parties and invited them 
to comment on the proposed rule, draft economic analysis, and draft 
environmental assessment during these comment periods.
    During the first comment period, we received 48 submissions from 
the public. During the second comment period, we received 14 
submissions. Most submissions addressed the proposed critical habitat 
designation, the draft environmental assessment, or the draft economic 
analysis, while others provided no substantive information useful to 
the development of this final rule. All substantive information 
provided during comment periods has either been incorporated directly 
into this final rule or is addressed below. Comments we received were 
grouped into six general issues specifically relating to the proposed 
critical habitat designation for the Chiricahua leopard frog, and 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

[[Page 16325]]

34270), we solicited expert opinions from four knowledgeable 
individuals with scientific expertise that included familiarity with 
the species or taxa, the geographic region in which the species occurs, 
and conservation biology principles. We received responses from one of 
the peer reviewers.
    We reviewed all comments we received from the peer reviewer for 
substantive issues and new information regarding critical habitat for 
the Chiricahua leopard frog. The peer reviewer generally concurred with 
our methods and conclusions, and provided additional suggestions to 
improve the final critical habitat rule. Peer reviewer comments are 
addressed in the following summary and incorporated into the final rule 
as appropriate.

Peer Reviewer Comments

    Comment 1: The peer reviewer suggested we provide clarification on 
the geographic range and distribution of the species by defining what 
is meant by the term ``major drainage'' and how their current and 
historical distribution regarding ``localities'' relate to these areas.
    Our Response: The term ``major drainage'' refers to rivers that are 
large and are perennial or were historically perennial. Examples of 
major drainages include the upper Gila, Verde, Salt, and San Pedro 
Rivers, etc. Because habitat for the Chiricahua leopard frog could 
include a variety of wetted environments, we use the term 
``localities'' to incorporate habitat including stock tanks, streams, 
cienegas, and other similar areas in a general sense so as to avoid an 
unnecessarily inclusive description of occupied or formerly occupied 
habitat. A more detailed account of the species' current and historical 
distribution can be found in the original listing of the species in 
2002 (67 FR 40790) and in the 2007 recovery plan (Service 2007).
    Comment 2: The peer reviewer and others suggested various editorial 
changes to the final rule.
    Our Response: We evaluated all of the suggested editorial changes, 
and we incorporated them, as appropriate, into this final rule.
    Comment 3: The peer reviewer stated that our discussion of 
dispersal habitat focuses on protection of areas to facilitate movement 
among local populations and asked how longer distance dispersal 
corridors will be protected (e.g., among populations in different 
habitat units) to maintain the species throughout its range.
    Our Response: We treated dispersal habitat within the context of 
our current knowledge of the species' natural history, and in 
particular, its dispersal capabilities. This rationale is provided in 
our discussion of the ``1-3-5 rule'' in the Dispersal section below.
    Comment 4: The peer reviewer stated that the rationale for each 
primary constituent element (PCE) is clear, but requiring critical 
habitat units to meet all of these relatively narrow criteria may be 
too restrictive. The peer reviewer also stated that other areas that 
contain most of the elements and have high restoration potential for 
``missing'' elements should also be considered.
    Our Response: We used the best scientific information available in 
determining the PCEs for the Chiricahua leopard frog. The PCEs are the 
elements of physical or biological features that together provide for a 
species' life-history processes and are essential to the conservation 
of the species. We amended the PCEs after the publication of the 
proposed rule, and included the amended PCEs in our September 21, 2011, 
publication (76 FR 58441). In designating critical habitat, we based 
our evaluation of areas on those that contain the physical or 
biological features essential to the conservation of the Chiricahua 
leopard frog and which may require special management. In this 
designation, we include only areas that contain one or more of the 
PCEs, and note within each unit description the special management 
actions needed for that unit.
    Comment 5: The peer reviewer stated that it appeared as though the 
recovery plan formed the basis for the proposed critical habitat units 
and suggested making this clear in the beginning of the section 
entitled ``Criteria Used To Identify Critical Habitat.''
    Our Response: In this final rule, we emphasize the use of the 
recovery plan in the designation of critical habitat.

Comments From States

    Section 4(i) of the Act states, ``the Secretary shall submit to the 
State agency a written justification for his failure to adopt 
regulations consistent with the agency's comments or petition.'' 
Comments received from the States regarding the proposal to designate 
critical habitat for the Chiricahua leopard frog are addressed below.
    Comment 6: In the discussion of climate change, it was stated that 
Chiricahua leopard frog ``can often withstand drying of stock tanks for 
30 days or more.'' Caution should be used in making this claim as it is 
an untested hypothesis. Chiricahua leopard frogs may appear during the 
rainy season at a site that has been dry for 30 days or fewer, but they 
may have recolonized the site from another occupied site within the 
metapopulation.
    Our Response: We exercised caution in expressing our understanding 
of the Chiricahua leopard frogs' ability to withstand drought by 
amending this passage to state, ``Because of their evolutionary 
history, southwestern leopard frogs may be able to withstand drying of 
stock tanks for a longer period of time than nonnative species that 
evolved in wetter climates in the eastern United States, which could 
provide southwestern leopard frog a selective advantage.''
    Comment 7: Under PCE 1(h), the absence of the organism 
Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (chytrid fungus) is impossible to know 
with certainty.
    Our Response: We amended the PCEs after the publication of the 
proposed rule and included the amended PCEs in our September 21, 2011, 
publication (76 FR 58441). The amended PCEs, while providing necessary 
specificity, are general enough to account for the inherent level of 
uncertainty that pertains to the presence or absence of 
Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. PCE 1(d) currently states, ``Absence of 
chytridiomycosis, or if present, then environmental, physiological, and 
genetic conditions are such that allow persistence of Chiricahua 
leopard frogs.'' This change applies the best scientific and commercial 
data available in addressing a known, serious threat to the Chiricahua 
leopard frog.
    Comment 8: We received a recommendation to state the level of 
uncertainty that exists regarding the current knowledge of how exactly 
the defined metapopulations function in reality, compared to how we 
describe metapopulations.
    Our Response: Our current understanding of metapopulations is an 
amalgamation of past field observations, the literature, and how 
unoccupied, but suitable, habitat can contribute to the metapopulation 
dynamic. Inevitably and over time, it is the species itself, in the 
wild, which will define the configuration of any given metapopulation, 
which may or may not comport with our current understanding of existing 
metapopulations. We have revised the language in this final rule to 
better describe our understanding of metapopulation function.
    Comment 9: One comment stated that Pe[ntilde]a Blanca Lake should 
not be included as critical habitat because the long-term persistence 
of Chiricahua leopard frogs there, in the wake of planned warm-water 
fish stockings, remains uncertain. Therefore, the lake is

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not essential to the conservation of the species.
    Our Response: Pe[ntilde]a Blanca Lake currently meets the 
definition of critical habitat as defined in section 3 of the Act 
because it occurs within the geographical area occupied by the species 
at the time it was listed, in accordance with the Act, and it has the 
features essential to the conservation of the species and which may 
require special management considerations or protection. Our rationale 
for retaining this unit's designation is provided below in the ``Final 
Critical Habitat Designation'' section.
    Comment 10: Trail Tank in the Crouch, Gentry, and Cherry Creeks, 
and Parallel Canyon Unit have had a history of bullfrog (Lithobates 
catesbeianis) occupation and no previous records of Chiricahua leopard 
frog. It should be excluded from critical habitat. Bullfrog eradication 
efforts in 2010 proved unsuccessful.
    Our Response: We view Trail Tank as an important component to 
critical habitat in the Crouch, Gentry, and Cherry Creeks, as well as 
Parallel Canyon Unit, because of their potential to support a robust 
population of Chiricahua leopard frogs in a unit where occupied sites 
tend to be of small size with small numbers of frogs. While we 
acknowledge that May 2010 bullfrog removal efforts were unsuccessful at 
Trail Tank, additional removal efforts occurred in May of 2011, and 
appear to have been successful. Our discussion of Trail Tank, in our 
rationale for designating the Crouch, Gentry, and Cherry Creeks, and 
Parallel Canyon Unit as critical habitat, is provided below under 
``Final Critical Habitat Designation.''

Public Comments

General Comments Issue 1: Expansion of Critical Habitat
    Comment 11: Expand designation of critical habitat to include 8 
miles of Cienega Creek north of the confluence of Cienega Creek and 
Empire Gulch, which is important flood plain habitat where ephemeral 
sinkholes and semi-permanent marshes exist.
    Our Response: In the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area Unit, 
we designated areas where the Chiricahua leopard frog maintained 
breeding populations, or was suspected to, at the time of listing or 
currently. Our records do not indicate the recommended area of 
expansion meets these predetermined criteria. Furthermore, should this 
area support breeding populations in the future, ongoing management of 
the area should be commensurate with their persistence.
    Comment 12: Designate critical habitat in springs, and intermittent 
or perennial (or both) streams, on a more landscape- or watershed-level 
to better address the risk of habitat fragmentation, offer more 
connectedness for metapopulation dynamics, protect habitat, and manage 
against nonnatives to achieve the necessary landscape-level opportunity 
to recover the Chiricahua leopard frog. One commenter suggested that we 
designate critical habitat for all sites that have been occupied since 
1990.
    Our Response: As required by section 4(b) of the Act, we used the 
best scientific and commercial data available in determining areas 
within the geographical area occupied at the time of listing that 
contain the features essential to the conservation of the Chiricahua 
leopard frog and may require special management considerations or 
protection, and areas outside of the geographical area occupied at the 
time of listing that are essential for the conservation of the species. 
We also relied heavily on the recovery criteria formulated in 
collaboration and outlined in the 2007 recovery plan for the Chiricahua 
leopard frog. The suggestions identified immediately above were not 
specifically commensurate with these criteria and were therefore not 
used in the designation process.
    Comment 13: A commenter requested expansion of critical habitat in 
the eastern slope of the Santa Rita Mountains and in the vicinity of 
the proposed Rosemont Mine to include California Tank, East Tank, and 
Upper Enzenberg, Box, Sycamore, Sawmill, and Gardner Canyons, because 
these sites were either occupied at the time of listing, are currently 
occupied, or may be essential to the conservation of the species.
    Our Response: We are not aware of any records that document 
breeding of the Chiricahua leopard frog at these sites. The lack of 
historical records that document breeding in these areas may 
demonstrate that, while they may be important for metapopulation 
dynamics as demonstrated by intermittent occupation over time, they may 
not be suitable as breeding habitat and therefore are not essential to 
the conservation of the species. Therefore, these sites are not 
included in our critical habitat designation because they do not meet 
the definition of critical habitat under the Act for the Chiricahua 
leopard frog.
    Comment 14: Expand critical habitat designation in the Left Prong 
of Dix Creek Unit within the Right and Left Prongs of Dix Creek to 
include the following tanks: Draw Tank, Bull Canyon Tank, Bobby Tank, 
Middle Tank, Rattlesnake Gap Tank, Rattlesnake Tank No. 1, Rattlesnake 
Tank No. 2, and Buckhorn Tank. Connect the designations along the 
drainages between the above tanks with extant populations from the 
Rattle Snake Gap Complex, then continue up Dix Creek Left Prong 
proposed critical habitat, and continue upstream through Bull Canyon 
and unnamed drainages to connect occupied or seasonal habitats or both. 
It is also recommended to include the short segment of Dix Creek Right 
Prong/Left Prong confluence up the Right Prong of Dix Creek to Sycamore 
Canyon. Further, it is recommended that the Service designate critical 
habitat from Highway 78 southward along Coal Creek to include habitat 
where frogs may retreat seasonally or during periods of low water 
availability. The commenter noted that both lowland leopard frogs 
(Lithobates yavapaiensis) and Chiricahua leopard frogs were identified 
in surveys, and not all observations of leopard frogs in this area were 
identified to species.
    Our Response: Please see our response to Comments 12.
    Comment 15: Expand critical habitat designation into the tributary 
adjacent to and west of Three Forks near the Campbell Blue and Coleman 
Creeks Unit.
    Our Response: Please see our response to Comments 12.
    Comment 16: Expand critical habitat designation in the Peloncillo 
Mountains Unit on the Diamond A Ranch, Western Division (Canoncito 
Ranch) to include more dispersal habitat.
    Our Response: The Diamond A Ranch, Western Division (Canoncito 
Ranch) in the Peloncillo Mountains Unit is excluded as designated 
critical habitat under section 4(b)(2) of the Act. Please review our 
rationale and analysis for this exclusion under the section 
``Exclusions'' below.
    Comment 17: Expand critical habitat designation in the following 
units: Garcia Tank, Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge Central 
Tanks, Bonita, Upper Turner, and Mojonera Tanks, Sycamore Canyon, and 
Pe[ntilde]a Blanca Lake and Spring and associated tanks to include the 
California Gulch, Ruby, Chimney Canyon, Arivaca Lake, and Airvaca 
Cienega to protect Chiricahua leopard frogs against nonnative 
predators.
    Our Response: Please see our response to Comments 12.

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General Comments Issue 2: Exclusion or Reduction of Critical Habitat
    Comment 18: The High Lonesome Well Unit does not provide any more 
conservation benefit than a zoo and should not be considered critical 
habitat.
    Our Response: We reevaluated the High Lonesome Well Unit and have 
determined that it does not meet the definition of critical habitat, 
because it does not have the physical or biological features that are 
essential for the conservation of the species. After further 
evaluation, the unit does not contain the terrestrial habitat that 
provides opportunities for foraging and basking, and that is 
immediately adjacent to or surrounding breeding aquatic and riparian 
habitat, which is a component of primary constituent element 1. 
Therefore, we have removed the High Lonesome Well Unit from this final 
critical habitat designation.
    Comment 19: The West Fork Gila River Unit is within the Gila 
Wilderness Area on the Gila National Forest, and designating it as 
critical habitat provides no further conservation value for the 
species. In addition, this population is known to have 
chytridiomycosis, and the most recent surveys in 2009 failed to detect 
any Chiricahua leopard frogs, therefore precluding this unit from 
meeting PCE (1).
    Our Response: We carefully reviewed the best available scientific 
and commercial data and concluded that the West Fork Gila River Unit 
both meets the definition of critical habitat described in the 
``Critical Habitat'' section below and meets the goals and objectives 
outlined in the final recovery plan for this species. In addition, the 
commenter provides no rationale to indicate the unit does not meet the 
definition of critical habitat or does meet exclusion criteria under 
section 4(b)(2) of the Act. Please review our rationale and analysis 
for designating this unit under the section ``Final Critical Habitat 
Designation'' below.
    Comment 20: The threat of chytridiomycosis in the Ash and Bolton 
Springs Unit makes it unsuitable as critical habitat.
    Our Response: The Ash and Bolton Springs Unit meets the definition 
of critical habitat under the Act for the Chiricahua leopard frog 
because it was occupied at the time of listing and contains the 
features essential to the conservation of the species and requires 
special management considerations or protection. Not all PCEs are 
currently present, or required to be present, for a given unit to meet 
the definition of critical habitat under the Act. The commenter 
provides no additional rationale to indicate the unit does not meet the 
definition of critical habitat or does meet exclusion criteria under 
section 4(b)(2) of the Act.
    Comment 21: The proposal speaks to a dry section of the West Fork 
dividing the proposed segment: ``the Upper West Fork is divided into 
two perennial segments by a 1.2-mi (2.0-km) long ephemeral reach 
between Turkeyfeather Creek and Whiskey Creek.'' Whiskey Creek is 
upstream of the proposed segment of stream, and this statement is not 
relevant to the proposal. In addition, Turkeyfeather Creek was not 
occupied at time of listing, and there are no historic records from the 
ephemeral stream. The only intermittent part of the stream is at the 
spring itself and extending approximately 0.10 mi downstream of the 
spring. The outflow from the spring is captured in a small cement 
spring box with a 1-inch pipe extending out of the box as an overflow. 
The flow from the spring seldom makes it to Turkeyfeather Creek itself. 
We do not believe that Turkeyfeather Creek is suitable habitat for the 
frog.
    Our Response: White Creek was mistakenly identified as Whiskey 
Creek in our proposed rule. This has been corrected in this final rule. 
Our records indicate that the area within this unit as described was 
occupied at the time of listing and has the features essential to the 
conservation of the species and which may require special management 
considerations or protection to minimize impacts to existing threats. 
No further justification as to why the unit does not meet the 
definition of critical habitat or does meet exclusion criteria under 
section 4(b)(2) of the Act was provided.
    Comment 22: Exclude from critical habitat designation all private 
lands (Ladder Ranch) in the Seco Creek, Cuchillo Negro Warm Springs and 
Creek, and South Fork Palomas Creek Units.
    Our Response: The Ladder Ranch is excluded from designated critical 
habitat under section 4(b)(2) of the Act. Please review our rationale 
and analysis for this exclusion under the section ``Exclusions'' below.
    Comment 23: North Tank and Rosewood Tank Unit should be excluded 
from critical habitat designation because including them represents 
adverse effects to the grazing operation on the Magoffin Ranch, and is 
a disincentive to promote conservation of endangered and threatened 
species within the ranching community.
    Our Response: The Magoffin Ranch (North Tank and Rosewood Tank 
Unit) is excluded as designated critical habitat under section 4(b)(2) 
of the Act. Please review our rationale and analysis for this exclusion 
under the section ``Exclusions'' below.
    Comment 24: All critical habitat should be excluded in Recovery 
Unit 1 (Tumacacori-Atascosa-Pajarito Mountains, Arizona and Mexico) and 
portions of Recovery Unit 2 (Santa Rita-Huachuca-Ajos Bavispe, Arizona 
and Mexico).
    Our Response: We carefully reviewed the best available scientific 
and commercial data and concluded that critical habitat we are 
designating within Recovery Units 1 and 2 both meets the definition of 
critical habitat described in the ``Critical Habitat'' section below 
and meets the goals and objectives outlined in the final recovery plan 
for this species. No further justification as to why these units do not 
meet the definition of critical habitat or do meet exclusion criteria 
under section 4(b)(2) of the Act was provided. Please review our 
rationale and analysis for designating these units under the section 
``Final Critical Habitat Designation'' below.
    Comment 25: The Concho Bill and Deer Creek Unit is not essential to 
the conservation of the Chiricahua leopard frog.
    Our Response: We carefully reviewed the best available scientific 
and commercial data and concluded that the Concho Bill and Deer Creek 
Unit both meets the definition of critical habitat described in 
``Critical Habitat'' section below and meets the goals and objectives 
outlined in the final recovery plan for this species. In addition, the 
commenter provided no rationale to indicate the unit does not meet the 
definition of critical habitat or does meet exclusion criteria under 
section 4(b)(2) of the Act. Please review our rationale and analysis 
for designating this unit under the section ``Final Critical Habitat 
Designation'' below.
General Comments Issue 3: Threats Analysis
    Comment 26: Chiricahua leopard frogs are sensitive to cadmium and 
copper above certain levels according to Little and Calfee (2008, pp. 
6-10). The Service should differentiate potential effects to the 
species from the footprint of the Rosemont Mine versus the general area 
of the mine. We are concerned that Eastern Slope of the Santa Rita 
Mountains and Las Cienegas National Conservation Area Units might be 
adversely affected by pollution from Rosemont Mine, once in operation.
    Our Response: We agree that Chiricahua leopard frogs are vulnerable 
to effects from contaminants associated

[[Page 16328]]

with mining operations and provide discussion on this issue under the 
section ``A. The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or 
Curtailment of Its Habitat or Range.'' If the Rosemont Mine begins 
operation, potential effects to, and legal protections, for the 
Chiricahua leopard frog will be evaluated, in accordance with 
applicable provisions under the Act, at that time, and are not 
constrained to the footprint of the proposed mine.
    Comment 27: In discussing chytrid presence in the Seco Creek Unit, 
it was stated that ``no frogs have tested positive since then (i.e., 
2001)''. More accurately, in June 2007, a single sample (out of 7) from 
Artesia Well and a single sample (out of 9) from LM Bar Well tested 
positive for chytrid. Both of these were considered ``weak positive'' 
by the laboratory and may have been false positives. Extensive testing 
since then has failed to produce additional positive tests.
    Our Response: We have updated our analysis and discussion of this 
unit to reflect this information.
    Comment 28: The proposed rule stated that within the West Fork Gila 
River Unit `` * * * nonnative predators are present, including fish, 
crayfish, and bullfrogs. Even though a cooperative restoration project 
between the Service, the U.S. Forest Service, and New Mexico Department 
of Game and Fish is underway to restore native fish and remove 
nonnative predatory fish in this unit, the frog population is currently 
threatened by nonnative predators and chytridiomycosis (Service 2009, 
pp. 15-16).'' This statement is incorrect; there are no nonnative 
predatory fish (Gila trout and speckled dace are the only fish 
present), there are no crayfish, and there are no bullfrogs in the 
unit.
    Our Response: We have updated our analysis and discussion of this 
unit to reflect this information.
    Comment 29: Periodic Chiricahua leopard frog die-offs resulting 
from chytridiomycosis have not been observed in the Las Cienegas 
National Conservation Area Unit. They probably do occur, and probably 
are a key factor, but it is also possible that other factors are 
responsible for the rarity of the Chiricahua leopard frog in the 
Cienega Creek bottomlands.
    Our Response: The final recovery plan notes the presence of 
chytridiomycosis in Cienega Creek (Service 2007, p. 61). We have 
amended our discussion of this unit to remove the statement regarding 
periodic die-offs.
    Comment 30: Effects of climate change are downplayed in the 
proposed rule, with significant effects predicted for winter 
precipitation. Warmer and dryer conditions will force more contact 
between Chiricahua leopard frogs and nonnative predators, to the 
detriment of Chiricahua leopard frogs.
    Our Response: We used the best available scientific and commercial 
data to inform our analysis of the effects of climate change on the 
Chiricahua leopard frog, including the inherent uncertainty that 
pertains to evaluating the effects of climate change. The effects of 
climate change are inextricably related to effects from other threats 
and are difficult to predict or interpret without more definitive data 
of higher resolution. This discussion was expanded upon in this final 
rule. Please review our analysis below of the potential effects of 
climate change under listing Factor E, ``Other Natural or Manmade 
Factors Affecting Its Continued Existence'' below.
    Comment 31: The Service falsely relied on Fleischner (1994), Belsky 
(1999), and Jones (2000) on describing the effects of livestock grazing 
on Chiricahua leopard frogs. These studies discuss uncontrolled grazing 
when grazing in endangered and threatened species' habitat is 
controlled.
    Our Response: These studies detail potential effects of grazing to 
habitat. We evaluated the effects of grazing on the Chiricahua leopard 
frog both historically and present day. We appreciate the conservation 
actions undertaken by the ranching community and those partnerships we 
have formed in furthering the goals and objectives of Chiricahua 
leopard frog conservation and recovery, and we recognize the intrinsic 
value of their continued participation in this effort.
    Comment 32: Regarding the Scotia Canyon, Beatty's Guest Ranch 
(excluded), and Carr Barn Pond Units, the copper mine in Cananea, 
Sonora, pumps 10,000 to 12,000 acre feet of groundwater and then 
redirects surplus water into the Rio Sonora basin which flows to 
Hermosillo, Sonora. This should be discussed.
    Our Response: We understand (although not specifically stated) the 
implication of groundwater pumping on potential effects to surface 
flows to the upper San Pedro River. However, these units do not rely on 
surface flow in the upper San Pedro River for their water supply and 
are, therefore, unaffected by groundwater pumping activities in Mexico.
    Comment 33: The Service should focus on the threat of (Chiricahua 
leopard frog) surveyors spreading the chytrid fungus.
    Our Response: Several precautions are listed in the final recovery 
plan (Service 2007, Appendix G), such as dedicating equipment, 
disinfecting equipment, etc., which are taught at annual survey 
training workshops, required as permit stipulations, and followed by 
surveyors to prevent the accidental spread of chytrid fungus. These 
precautions are also mandated as permit conditions for those with 
section 10(a)(1)(A) permits authorized by the Service. Whatever small 
risk may be associated with this form of disease transmission, it is 
countered by the important data collected by the surveys themselves, in 
helping meet the conservation and recovery goals for the species.
    Comment 34: The Service should clearly define what is meant by 
``poor'' livestock management.
    Our Response: We consider poor livestock management to mean grazing 
conducted in a manner not in accordance with approved allotment 
management plans or otherwise considered adverse to maintaining natural 
habitat characteristics. We have updated this discussion below in 
Factor A, ``The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or 
Curtailment of Its Habitat or Range'' of this final rule.
    Comment 35: If Chiricahua leopard frogs do not persist in water 
affected by livestock feces, what steps will be required by livestock 
producers with waters that support the species? What about elk feces?
    Our Response: We did not state that Chiricahua leopard frogs do not 
persist in water affected by livestock feces. We stated that Chiricahua 
leopard frogs likely do not persist in waters severely polluted with 
cattle feces (Service 2007, p. 34). We understand that in most 
circumstances where frogs occur in tanks actively used by livestock, 
livestock feces are likely present in the water, and frogs are not 
appreciably affected by their presence. We also acknowledge the 
potential that in tanks that have limited water and are subjected to 
intense livestock activity, adverse affects to the Chiricahua leopard 
frog are likely from concentrated amounts of livestock feces, which 
could limit a population's persistence. We are not aware of any 
Chiricahua leopard frog populations that are adversely affected as a 
result of elk feces, but presume similar adverse effects are likely 
under the same rationale. Furthermore, we are not requiring ranchers to 
manage their livestock tanks specifically with this factor in mind, but 
rather prefer to pursue opportunities to work with the ranching 
community to meet both the needs of the species and the needs of their 
livestock operations.

[[Page 16329]]

General Comments Issue 4: General Biology
    Comment 36: The Service must analyze whether Chiricahua leopard 
frogs along Mogollon Rim are a separate species.
    Our Response: We specifically discuss issues pertinent to 
Chiricahua leopard frog taxonomy under the ``Species Information'' 
section below. Since the publication of the proposed rule, Hekkala et 
al. (2011) published a phylogenetic analysis of the (considered 
extinct) Vegas Valley leopard frog (Lithobates fisheri) and other North 
American Ranidae (North American frogs of the same family) DNA and 
placed L. fisheri within Chiricahua leopard frog (Lithobates 
chiricahuensis) (using archival and contemporary nuclear and 
mitochondrial DNA). Hekkala et al. (2011) ascribed the northwestern-
most populations of L. chiricahuensis from the Mogollon Rim to L. 
fisheri, although specific populations were not identified. Populations 
of L. chiricahuensis outside this zone were not recommended for 
taxonomic revision. Data likely support ascribing all known populations 
of L. chiricahuensis to L. fisheri, although Hekkala et al. (2011) did 
not make that recommendation. The phylogenetic tree in Hekkala et al. 
(2011; Fig. 2b.) is a subset of a larger phylogenetic tree that is 
still under construction by genetic researchers. As a subset, the 
resolution of the data is not sufficient to support recognizing 
individual populations of L. chiricahuensis as L. fisheri at this time. 
Completion of ongoing rangewide research, with sufficient genetic 
resolution, of the more comprehensive phylogeny of western leopard 
frogs is expected to be available in 3 to 4 years and will provide 
additional information for analysis necessary to make informed 
management or listing decisions.
    Comment 37: The proposed rule states, `` * * * the maximum distance 
moved by a telemetered Chiricahua leopard frog in New Mexico was 2.2 mi 
(3.5 km) in one direction along a drainage.'' In a New Mexico State 
Wildlife Grant Report entitled, ``Distribution and Movement of 
Chiricahua leopard frog on the Ladder Ranch and adjacent National 
Forest Lands, Sierra County, New Mexico,'' authored by Carter Kruse and 
Bruce Christman in 2005, it was reported that a single frog moved at 
least 3.1 mi (5 km), one way during a 3-day rain event in the Seco 
drainage (page 18), which is substantially farther than discussed in 
the proposed rule.
    Our Response: We did not receive a copy of this report, and we 
therefore are unable to verify its findings. However, upon receipt of 
this reference, we will add this information to our current 
understanding of the species' dispersal capabilities. However, for this 
final critical habitat rule, no changes have been made based on this 
information.
    Comment 38: Specifically, on page 14151, the proposed rule states 
that ``Chiricahua leopard frogs are known to breed at all of the above 
mentioned wells except Sawmill and Johnson Wells * * * Frogs were 
extant at Davis Well, LM Bar Well, North Seco Well, Pague Well, and 
Sucker Ledge at the time of listing.'' We offer two corrections: 
Chiricahua leopard frog reproduction has been documented at Johnson 
Well each of the last 3 years, and Chiricahua leopard frogs were extant 
and breeding at Fish Well, in addition to the other sites listed, at 
the time of listing.
    Our Response: The sites noted by the commenter are on the Ladder 
Ranch which is excluded as critical habitat under section 4(b)(2) of 
the Act and discussed below under ``Exclusions.''
    Comment 39: Chiricahua leopard frogs in the Las Cienegas National 
Conservation Area Unit are less than 6 miles (10 km) from the nearest 
recently occupied site in the Eastern Slope of the Santa Rita Mountains 
Unit. In the 1970s, a key study site for the Chiricahua leopard frog 
was halfway between the nearest recently occupied sites. Thus, 35 years 
ago or less, there were likely metapopulation dynamics active between 
these units.
    Our Response: While, historically, such a metapopulation dynamic is 
feasible, we do not possess records to verify such a dynamic. 
Therefore, we consider the Eastern Slope of the Santa Rita Mountains 
Unit as a disjunct metapopulation and the Las Cienegas National 
Conservation Area Unit as an isolated population because of the 
distance between the nearest occupied sites between units is more than 
8.0 mi (13 km) straight-line distance away, which is not within a 
reasonable dispersal distance for the Chiricahua leopard frog.
    Comment 40: How do the 43 proposed units (39 designated units) 
correspond to the 85 percent reduction in occupied sites (in reference 
to statements made in the final listing rule and subsequent Service 
documents regarding rangewide reductions in occupied habitat), and how 
will the critical habitat designation achieve the recovery criteria in 
the recovery plan?
    Our Response: Under section 3(5)(A)(ii) of the Act, we have 
authority to designate specific areas outside the geographic areas 
occupied by the species at the time it is listed in accordance with the 
provisions of section 4 of the Act, upon a determination that such 
areas are essential for the conservation of the species. In this final 
designation, we have identified two units that were not known to be 
occupied at the time of listing, but which we consider essential for 
the conservation of the species. Also, the recovery criteria in the 
final recovery plan (Service 2007, p. 55) for the Chiricahua leopard 
frog was an important factor in our methodology used to designate 
critical habitat. In order to meet recovery criteria outlined in the 
recovery plan, we designated multiple critical habitat units in each 
recovery unit.
General Comments Issue 5: PBFs, PCEs, and Special Management
    Comment 41: The Service should reconsider whether the buffer zones 
proposed are to protect PCEs from effects caused by livestock grazing 
or from those posed by airborne pollution.
    Our Response: At this time, we feel that applying a buffer zone to 
protect against the effects of livestock grazing would be arbitrary, 
because we do not know how large to make the buffer to protect from 
those effects. However, in ponds designated as critical habitat, most 
of which are impoundments for watering cattle or other livestock, 
designated critical habitat extends for 20 ft (6.1 m) beyond the high 
water line or to the boundary of the riparian and upland vegetation 
edge, whichever is greatest. We used this 20-ft (6.1-m) extension 
because the frogs are commonly found foraging and basking within 20 
feet of the shoreline of tanks. In regards to effects posed by airborne 
pollution, no reasonable spatial distance is guaranteed to protect PCEs 
from airborne pollutants by the very nature of their movement vector. 
Therefore, we did not consider airborne pollution as a determinant in 
describing buffer areas.
    Comment 42: Regarding the PCE that requires, ``Emergent and or 
submerged vegetation, root masses, undercut banks, fractured rock 
substrates, or some combination thereof; but emergent vegetation does 
not completely cover the surface of water bodies,'' this PCE is not 
clearly essential in our experience, as sites with minimal vegetation 
cover can support substantial Chiricahua leopard frog populations. 
Under the PCE that requires, ``Absence of chytridiomycosis, or if 
chytridiomycosis is present, then conditions that allow persistence of 
Chiricahua leopard frogs with the disease (e.g., water temperatures 
that do not drop below 20 [deg]C (68 [deg]F), pH of greater than 8

[[Page 16330]]

during at least part of the year),'' the temperature conditions stated 
are vague and not clearly in line with observations, as we have 
populations where temperatures do drop below these values for several 
months per year.
    Our Response: According to our review of the best available 
scientific and commercial data and the opinion of species experts, the 
importance of available cover (i.e., emergent and or submerged 
vegetation, root masses, undercut banks, fractured rock substrates) for 
the Chiricahua leopard frog cannot be overstated. Available cover is a 
fundamental component in the defensive behavior of the species, 
provides varied thermoregulation opportunities, is an important 
consideration in maintaining an invertebrate prey base, and also serves 
as substrate for egg mass deposition. In the presence of nonnative 
species, adequate cover becomes even more critical to an individual 
frogs' survival. With respect to temperature conditions specified in 
the proposed rule, we eliminated temperature-specific conditions in an 
amended PCE as stated under the ``Primary Constituent Elements for the 
Chiricahua Leopard Frogs'' section below.
    Comment 43: The Service should focus on promoting disturbance in 
riparian habitat, such as controlled grazing, in order to accommodate 
the native species' advantage to a disturbance regime in riparian 
habitat.
    Our Response: In the context of evaluating the response of native 
species versus nonnative species to disturbance regimes in riparian 
habitat, we consider, in an evolutionary context, disturbance from 
natural hydrological processes (such as flooding). Native riparian 
species have evolved in the presence of dynamic hydrologic processes 
over millions of years, and it is these hydrological disturbance events 
that prepare seedbeds and provide conditions for germination for native 
riparian species. For purposes of this critical habitat designation, 
the concept of promoting disturbance in riparian habitat via controlled 
grazing in order to accommodate native species is not substantially 
useful information.
    Comment 44: The PBFs and PCEs should include considerations for a 
landscape of appropriate size free from known or likely populations of 
nonnative species highly deleterious to populations of the Chiricahua 
leopard frog.
    Our Response: We considered both the importance of space for 
individual and population growth and for normal behavior, and sites for 
breeding, reproduction, or rearing (or development) of offspring in our 
development of the PBFs 1 through 5 and PCEs 1 and 2. Special 
management that will result from critical habitat designation, such as 
nonnative species control, should promote these habitat characteristics 
on a local level, if not landscape level. Such landscape-level 
management against nonnatives has already proven successful in several 
areas within Recovery Units 1 and 2.
    Comment 45: Why did you change PCE (1)(a) to remove the minimum of 
6.0 foot in diameter and 20 inches in depth for breeding pools and 
ponds?
    Our Response: During periods of drought, or less than average 
rainfall, breeding sites may not hold water long enough for individuals 
to complete metamorphosis, but they would still be considered essential 
breeding habitat in non-drought years. Regardless of the effects of 
drought on any given breeding site, we are aware of pools that fall 
short of the 6.0 foot in diameter and 20 inches in depth criteria that 
have regularly contained breeding populations in most years, such as 
the West Prong Gentry Creek in Recovery Unit 5. These sites still 
provide important habitat for the species.
    Comment 46: If Chiricahua leopard frogs are to persist in 
Pe[ntilde]a Blanca Lake after stocking with predatory nonnative fish 
species, the vegetation should be controlled to prevent suitable 
habitat for bullfrogs.
    Our Response: We note that the designation of critical habitat for 
the Chiricahua leopard frog does not require this specific management, 
nor does any other critical habitat designation require management. 
Subsequent to draining and dredging Pe[ntilde]a Blanca Lake, a 
concerted effort began in 2008 to clear the area of bullfrogs. The 
effort appears to be successful, and Chiricahua leopard frogs have 
benefited. We agree that, if bullfrogs were to successfully recolonize 
Pe[ntilde]a Blanca Lake, shoreline habitat complexity would make their 
elimination difficult if not impossible without another draining and 
dredging effort. However, management of this area will continue to 
concentrate on preventing bullfrogs from recolonizing the area and 
eliminating those that do recolonize in habitat suitable for these 
efforts. Furthermore, in a May 2011, section 7 consultation for 
sportfish stocking of the lake, conservation measures were established 
that require shoreline habitat to be managed in a manner to retain its 
complexity, which will provide some level of protection to resident 
Chiricahua leopard frogs from potential predation from sportfish.
General Comments Issue 6: Legal/Policy/Economics
    Comment 47: Designating critical habitat might place a burden on 
ranching.
    Our Response: 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. Also, we 
conducted an economic analysis of this critical habitat designation, 
including analyzing the impacts to ranching. Even though there may be 
some incremental costs to livestock management entities, because of 
costs related to section 7 consultations in regards to grazing on 
Forest Service lands, we have found no significant economic impacts are 
likely to result from this designation (Industrial Economics 2012, pp. 
ES-5, A-3, A-7).
    Comment 48: The Service should consider the cumulative impact of 
listings and critical habitat designations in New Mexico on private 
agricultural producers.
    Our Response: For listing actions, the Act requires that we make 
determinations ``solely on the basis of the best available scientific 
and commercial data available'' (16 U.S.C. 1533(b)(1)(A). So, we do not 
conduct economic or environmental analyses or environmental assessments 
when making listing determinations. However, for critical habitat 
designations, including this one, we are required to prepare draft and 
final economic analyses and environmental assesessment rules. However, 
we are required and have prepared draft and final economic analysis and 
environmental assessment documents, which consider the impacts of 
critical habitat designation. Those documents consider impacts to 
private agricultural producers in Arizona and New Mexico and have 
generally found no significant economic or environmental impacts due to 
this critical habitat designation. The final economic analysis and 
final environmental assessment are available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov.

[[Page 16331]]

    In regards to considering the cumulative impact of listings and 
critical habitat designations, in 2001, the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of 
Appeals instructed the Service to conduct a full analysis of all of the 
economic impacts of proposed critical habitat, regardless of whether 
those impacts are attributable co-extensively to other causes. Since 
that decision, however, courts in other cases have held that an 
incremental analysis of impacts stemming solely from the critical 
habitat rulemaking is proper. Most recently, in 2010, the U.S. Ninth 
Circuit Court of Appeals came to similar conclusions during its review 
of critical habitat designations. In order to address the divergent 
opinions of the courts and provide the most complete information to 
decision-makers, the economic analysis for this rule describes the 
baseline protections afforded the Chiricahua leopard frog absent 
critical habitat designation, and monetizes the potential incremental 
impacts precipitated specifically by the designation of critical 
habitat for the species.
    Comment 49: The Service should invite coordination with local 
governmental entities in affected counties relative to any further 
development of proposed rules.
    Our Response: We place a high priority on coordinating with local 
and State governments within the framework of relevant federal laws. 
However, we do not understand exactly what the commenter's expectations 
are regarding coordination with local governmental entities in affected 
counties relative to any further development of proposed rules. The Act 
does not delineate a unique role of coordination with counties. 
However, when proposed rules are developed, we invite and encourage 
comments from affected counties during the open public comment period.
    Comment 50: Designating critical habitat will incentivize 
landowners to allow bullfrogs to take over stock tanks or allow tanks 
to dry up when not in use to alleviate regulatory burden. Instead the 
Service should not designate critical habitat and allow landowners to 
move frogs around to tanks suitable for occupation.
    Our Response: The designation of critical habitat does not impose a 
legally binding duty on non-Federal Government entities or private 
parties. See our response to comments 47 and 53.
    Comment 51: In ponds proposed as critical habitat, most of which 
are impoundments for watering cattle or other livestock, proposed 
critical habitat extends for 20 ft (6.1 m) beyond the high water line 
or to the boundary of the riparian and upland vegetation edge, 
whichever is greatest. This definition of critical habitat, as it 
applies to private landowners, is vague and therefore unenforceable.
    Our Response: The designation of critical habitat does not impose a 
legally binding duty on non-Federal Government entities or private 
parties. See our response to comment 47.
    Comment 52: Please do not let critical habitat designation 
negatively affect the ongoing environmental education program at Brown 
Canyon Ranch.
    Our Response: One of the benefits to designating critical habitat 
is its value in educating the public on endangered and threatened 
species conservation. The designation of critical habitat in Brown 
Canyon will not impact the environmental education program at Brown 
Canyon Ranch. Alternatively, designating critical habitat may prove 
beneficial to these purposes, and the Service supports and promotes 
such positive endeavors.
    Comment 53: Control of nonnatives is difficult, if not impossible, 
in many circumstances, but working with private landowners could help 
further the goal if critical habitat were not designated.
    Our Response: As previously stated, the designation of critical 
habitat does not impose a legally binding duty on non-Federal 
Government entities or private parties. Also, critical habitat 
designation does not require property owners to undertake affirmative 
actions to promote the recovery of the species. However, the majority 
of Chiricahua leopard frog habitat and localities are on Federal lands, 
mostly lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service. We believe that 
building partnerships and promoting voluntary cooperation of landowners 
are essential to improving the status of species on non-Federal lands, 
and are necessary for implementing recovery actions, such as 
reestablishing listed species and restoring and protecting habitat.
    Comment 54: Designation of critical habitat could diminish private 
land value.
    Our Response: In this final critical habitat designation, only 26 
percent of the lands designated as critical habitat are private lands, 
and there is no evidence that designation of critical habitat in this 
case will diminish land values (Industrial Economics 2012, p. 2-17). We 
acknowledge that public attitudes about the limits or restrictions that 
critical habitat may impose can cause real economic effects to property 
owners, regardless of whether such limits are likely. Thus, there may 
be a stigma effect on a property that is designated as critical habitat 
due to perceived limitations or restrictions, which may result in a 
lower market value than an identical property that is not within the 
boundaries of critical habitat. However, we have no evidence that 
private land values will diminish with this designation. In fact, we 
believe that, because this designation may increase protection of 
scenic habitat, there may be aesthetic values resulting in increased 
properties values (Industrial Economics 2012, p. 2-17).
    Comment 55: We recommend the Service consider working with private 
landowners proactively in conservation and recovery versus enforcing 
restrictions, etc.
    Our Response: The Service has a long history of working proactively 
with private and public land managers to further conservation and 
recovery goals for this species while simultaneously accounting for 
their multiple-use and/or commercial needs of these lands. Examples of 
such relationships are numerous but perhaps none are more pertinent 
that those discussed in detail under the section ``Exclusions'' below.
    Comment 56: The proposed rule does not meet Data Quality Act 
standards, because it ignores the best scientific information available 
and bases many of its conclusions on supposition and speculation about 
the future.
    Our Response: In accordance with section 4 of the Act, we are 
required to use, and we used, the best available scientific and 
commercial information to make this critical habitat decision. Further, 
we followed the criteria, established procedures, and guidance from 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. As 
such, we relied upon primary and original sources of information in 
this designation of critical habitat.
    In order to meet these ``best available scientific and commercial 
information'' standards, we found information from many different 
sources, including the recovery plan, 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. 
Also, in accordance with our peer review policy published on July 1, 
1994 (59 FR

[[Page 16332]]

34270), we solicited expert opinions from knowledgeable individuals 
with scientific expertise that included familiarity with the species, 
the geographic region in which the species occurs, and conservation 
biology principles. Additionally, we requested comments or information 
from other concerned governmental agencies, Native American Tribes, the 
scientific community, industry, and any other interested parties 
concerning the proposed rule. Comments and information we received 
helped inform this final rule.
    In conclusion, we believe that we have used the best available 
scientific and commercial information for the listing and designation 
of critical habitat for the Chiricahua leopard frog.
    Comment 57: The Service stated that while Hermann et al. (2009, pp. 
12-17) indicates that Chiricahua leopard frogs do not currently suffer 
from a lack genetic variability, it does not preclude the possibility 
that individual populations may suffer from genetic or demographic 
problems. This speculation is a violation of the Data Quality Act.
    Our Response: The statement that ``* * * it does not preclude the 
possibility that individual populations may suffer from genetic or 
demographic problems'' pertains to the inherent level of uncertainty of 
how changes in the species' status and threats may influence population 
genetics in the foreseeable future. The Service's use of this 
information does not result in speculation by the Service.
    Comment 58: The Services' presumption that there are ``future'' 
threats clearly fails to pass Data Quality Act standards, because that 
presumption is based solely on speculation and surmise contradicted by 
the best scientific and commercial information available.
    Our Response: See our response to comment 56.
    Comment 59: The designation of 5,200 acres of land in Arizona may 
place an economic burden on the livestock and mining industries in 
Arizona and may also risk discouraging private partnerships that could 
further recovery of the species.
    Our Response: We discuss how the designation of critical habitat 
may or may not affect the responsibilities of land owners and managers 
under the ``Background'' under the section ``Critical Habitat'' heading 
below. We recommend review of this section for clarification of the 
actual, versus perceived, effects of critical habitat designation. 
Also, we conducted an economic analysis of this designation, and found 
that even though there may be some incremental costs to livestock 
management entities related to section 7 consultations, no significant 
economic impacts on livestock and mining industries are likely to 
result from this designation (Industrial Economics 2012, pp. ES-5, A-3, 
A-7).
    Comment 60: We are concerned that the conservation efforts for the 
Chiricahua leopard frog will become another Service action where new 
rules are put in place that limit or restrict ``multiple use'' of land 
and resources. Throughout Apache County, once productive private, 
State, or Federal land has become so encumbered with use restrictions, 
requirements, and liabilities that the natural resources they once 
provided are no longer economically available or contributing to the 
local economy.
    Our Response: 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.
    Comment 61: The Apache County Board of Supervisors requests we 
coordinate with them to discuss the consistencies, conflicts, 
opportunities for coordination, and coordinated monitoring associated 
with this rulemaking.
    Our Response: We accepted comments on the proposed rule, draft 
economic analysis, and draft environmental assessment during two 
comment periods for a total of 90 days. As such, we complied with all 
requirements for public participation in our rulemaking process, under 
the Act and the Administrative Procedures Act (5 U.S.C. Subchapter II).

Economic Analysis

    Comment 62: The Service should provide a detailed assessment about 
who will bear the costs in ``management changes, use reduction, or loss 
of property rights, such as depreciation of land values.'' The comment 
also suggested that the Service conduct a takings implication 
assessment to analyze the effects of critical habitat designation on 
land and water rights where appropriate.
    Response: The draft economic analysis (DEA) discusses potential 
direct and indirect impacts of the Chiricahua leopard frog critical 
habitat designation in Chapters 2 and 4. In Chapter 2, the analysis 
discusses the possibility that the designation might affect property 
values both positively and negatively. Because of the extensive 
conservation efforts already in place for the Chiricahua leopard frog, 
and because the Service is already excluding portions of 10 critical 
habitat units (due to existing leopard frog protections in these 
areas), neither direct nor indirect property value impacts are 
anticipated to result from the designation. The analysis finds that any 
impacts to property value or other property rights would occur 
regardless of critical habitat designation and are therefore not 
attributable to the Chiricahua leopard frog designation.
    Comment 63: One comment noted that the DEA erroneously stated that 
the Chiricahua leopard frog was listed as endangered rather than 
threatened in 2002.
    Response: This is corrected in the final economic analysis (FEA).
    Comment 64: The DEA states that the Service is considering portions 
of nine critical habitat units for exclusion, when in fact portions of 
10 critical habitat units are being considered. With the addition of 
Unit 43 (Palomas) to the proposed rule, the Ladder Ranch lands within 
this unit are also being considered for exclusion (as stated in the 
draft environmental assessment).
    Response: This is corrected in the FEA.
    Comment 65: The DEA did not adequately address potential impacts on 
local businesses. The analysis also focused almost exclusively on the 
administrative costs to the Federal agencies for consultation related 
to the designation of critical habitat, and did not examine the 
potential impact to local economies already struggling with high 
unemployment and widespread poverty. Finally, the DEA must analyze, 
fully disclose, and explain how the rule may impact local businesses.
    Response: Appendix A of the DEA considers potential impacts of the 
critical habitat designation on small entities and the energy industry. 
The DEA considers publicly available information in estimating the 
incremental costs of the proposed critical habitat designation on small 
entities, including any information about potential impacts to local 
communities.

[[Page 16333]]

Environmental Assessment

    Comment 66: The potential impacts of climate change are complicated 
and overly downplayed in the draft environmental assessment.
    Response: We have added a discussion of climate change in section 
1.8.1 of the final environmental assessment.
    Comment 67: A proposed open pit copper mine seriously threatens 
both units 8 and 9.
    Response: In September 2011, Coronado National Forest published a 
draft environmental impact statement (EIS) on the proposed mine. Using 
information from that EIS, we added section 3.11 Mining to the final 
environmental assessment to address potential impacts.
    Comment 68: One commenter felt that we should elevate the National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) analysis to 
the level of an EIS.
    Response: The level of impacts to the environment from this 
critical habitat designation do not rise to the level of significance 
to trigger the requirement to produce an EIS.
    Comment 69: One commenter quotes from the Service's Handbook on 
NEPA Policies and Responsibilities: ``We encourage public scoping for 
an Environmental Assessment, because it helps satisfy NEPA's purposes 
in section 101(b).''
    Response: In the proposed rule to designate critical habitat, dated 
March 15, 2011, and published in the Federal Register (76 FR 14126), we 
requested public review and comment on several aspects of the proposed 
designation, including a draft environmental assessment. Also, we 
conducted public outreach efforts, including posting information on the 
Service's National, Regional, and Field Office Web sites.
    Comment 70: One commenter suggested that the draft environmental 
assessment did not have sufficient information on the impacts of the 
proposed designation, and that the Secretary of the Interior should 
defer making a designation of critical habitat until such time as this 
information is available.
    Response: The commenter does not suggest what necessary information 
is lacking. The Act requires us to use the best available scientific 
and commercial data in making decisions. We believe this standard was 
met, and we are finalizing the critical habitat designation.
    Comment 71: One commenter suggested that the draft environmental 
assessment does not meet the requisite Data Quality Act of 2000 
standards. Instead it blatantly ignored scientific information and 
based many of its conclusions on supposition and speculation.
    Response: The commenter does not cite the ways the document 
violates the Data Quality Act, or the scientific information that has 
been ignored. We believe that the draft environmental assessment relied 
on the best available scientific and commercial information. It based 
its conclusions on a reasonable assessment of the likely frequency, 
nature, and outcomes of incremental section 7 consultations, and 
discussed these in chapters 3 through 5.
    Comment 72: The draft environmental assessment uses the term 
``unknown'' more than 18 times, yet page 96 of the draft environmental 
assessment concludes that ``The impacts do not pose any uncertain, 
unique, or unknown risks.'' With the number of unknown details listed 
throughout the draft environmental assessment and the overly general 
nature of this NEPA document, it is clear that there are unknown risks 
that the conclusion on page 96 of the draft environmental assessment 
fails to recognize.
    Response: The commenter's examples fall into two categories of 
unknowns: (1) The number of section 7 consultations likely to be 
conducted in the future affecting a given resource, agency, or activity 
(accounting for 9 of the 17 specific instances mentioned); and (2) the 
specific details and locations of such projects (accounting for 8 of 
the 17 specific instances mentioned). Given the consultation histories 
that are relevant (and cited throughout the draft environmental 
assessment), we do not believe that the frequency or nature of likely 
consultations will be such to cause significant impacts, regardless of 
whether or not the precise number and nature of those consultations can 
be predicted.
    Comment 73: The Service should correct the draft environmental 
assessment by including data that support analysis of the effects of 
implementing critical habitat. The analysis should focus on the effects 
of critical habitat on each proposed critical habitat unit.
    Response: The designation of critical habitat itself does not 
produce direct impacts on the natural environment, nor does it directly 
impose limits on land management activities on private property. Its 
impacts occur through consultations conducted with Federal agencies 
(and, rarely, non-Federal project proponents who request Federal 
funding or authorization) under section 7 of the Act. For this reason, 
we feel it is appropriate to focus the impact discussion on the effects 
that critical habitat designation will have on the number, types, and 
outcomes (including conservation measures, project modifications, 
costs, or delays) of consultations. Please see the final environmental 
assessment for more information.
    Comment 74: There is a lack of actual environmental consequence 
determinations for each of the proposed critical habitat units. Per 
NEPA, the definition of effects clearly considers the ecological 
component to be the backbone of effects determinations.
    Response: The designation of critical habitat is intended to 
provide for the protection of the physical or biological features 
essential to the conservation of a listed species. Impacts from 
critical habitat designation occur through the outcomes of new, re-
initiated, or expanded consultations under section 7 of the Act, rather 
than through direct physical impacts on the ground. For this reason, we 
feel it is appropriate to focus the impact discussion in the 
environmental assessment on the effects critical habitat designation 
will have on the number, types, and outcomes of consultations.
    Comment 75: One commenter suggested that the Service revise the 
environmental assessment to provide information about how the 
implementation of the proposed critical habitat will change the 
ecosystems that make up the proposed critical habitat areas. If it is 
determined that there will be no change in the environment conditions 
of the various proposed critical habitat areas due to the critical 
habitat designation, or that no true benefits will be realized from 
designating critical habitat, then the Service should select the ``No 
Action'' alternative and not burden the public with the cost of 
unnecessary Federal actions.
    Response: We do not believe that ecological impacts will occur 
because of this critical habitat designation. The benefits of critical 
habitat include public awareness of Chiricahua leopard frog presence 
and the importance of habitat protection, and in cases where a Federal 
nexus exists, increased habitat protection for Chiricahua leopard frogs 
due to the protection from adverse modification or destruction of 
critical habitat.

Summary of Changes From Proposed Rule

    In the March 15, 2011, proposed rule (76 FR 14126), we proposed to 
designate approximately 11,136 acres (4,510 hectares) in 40 units as 
critical habitat

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for the Chiricahua leopard frog. Then, in September 21, 2011 (76 FR 
58441), we proposed approximately 331 acres (133 hectares) in three 
additional units, and amended the PCEs to provide more clarification by 
making them more objective and measurable. In this final listing rule, 
we are designating approximately 10,386 acres (4,187 hectares) as 
critical habitat in 39 units for the Chiricahua leopard frog.
    We have fewer units in this final rule because we exclude the 
Pasture 9 Tank Unit, Beatty's Guest Ranch Unit, and Ramsey and Brown 
Canyons Unit under the provisions of section 4(b)(2) of the Act (see 
the unit descriptions under the Final Critical Habitat Designation 
section and the Exclusion section, below). Also, we reevaluated the 
High Lonesome Well Unit, and we have determined that it does not meet 
the definition of critical habitat (see our response to comment 18, 
above, and the unit description under the Final Critical Habitat 
Designation section, below). Therefore, we have removed the High 
Lonesome Well Unit from this final critical habitat designation.

Threatened Status for the Chiricahua Leopard Frog

Background
    Due to a taxonomic revision of the Chiricahua leopard frog, we 
reassessed the status of and threats to the currently described 
species. It is our intent to discuss below only those topics directly 
relevant to the listing of the Chiricahua leopard frog as threatened in 
this section of the final rule. For more information on the Chiricahua 
leopard frog, refer to the final listing rule published in the Federal 
Register on June 13, 2002 (67 FR 40790) and the species' recovery plan 
(Service 2007).

Species Information

Description
    When we listed the Chiricahua leopard frog as a threatened species 
on June 13, 2002 (67 FR 40790), we recognized the scientific name as 
Rana chiricahuensis. Since that time, the genus name Lithobates was 
proposed by Frost et al. (2006, p. 249) and adopted by the Society for 
the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles in their most recent listing of 
scientific and standard English names of North American amphibians and 
reptiles north of Mexico (Crother 2008, p. 7). With the publication of 
this final rule, we officially accept the new scientific name of the 
Chiricahua leopard frog as Lithobates chiricahuensis.
    In addition, the Ramsey Canyon leopard frog (Lithobates 
subaquavocalis), found on the eastern slopes of the Huachuca Mountains, 
Cochise County, Arizona, has recently been subsumed into L. 
chiricahuensis (Crother 2008, p. 7) and was noted by the Service as 
part of the listed entity in a 90-day finding on 192 species from a 
petition to list 475 species (74 FR 66866; December 16, 2009). Goldberg 
et al. (2004, pp. 313-319) examined the relationships between the 
Ramsey Canyon leopard frog (L. subaquavocalis) and the Chiricahua 
leopard frog (L. chiricahuensis). Genetic analysis showed no evidence 
that Ramsey Canyon leopard frog was a separate species from the 
Chiricahua leopard frog (Goldberg et al. 2004, p. 315). The Society for 
the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles later adopted these leopard frogs 
as the same species, L. chiricahuensis (Crother 2008, p. 7). Therefore, 
we no longer recognize the Ramsey Canyon leopard frog (L. 
subaquavocalis) as a distinct species and consider it to be synonymous 
with the Chiricahua leopard frog (L. chiricahuensis). In this final 
rule, we present our analysis of the threats to the species given this 
taxonomic revision to determine if it is appropriate to list the 
Chiricahua leopard frog as threatened throughout its range (see Summary 
of Factors Affecting the Species below).
    Northern populations of the Chiricahua leopard frog in the Mogollon 
Rim region of east-central Arizona east to the eastern bajada of the 
Black Range in New Mexico are physically separated from populations to 
the south. Previous work had suggested these two separate divisions 
might be distinct species (Platz and Grudzien 1999, p. 51). Goldberg et 
al. (2004, p. 315) demonstrated that frogs from these two regions 
showed a 2.4 percent average divergence in mitochondrial DNA sequences. 
However, more recent work using both mitochondrial DNA and nuclear 
microsatellites from frog tissues throughout the range of the species 
provides no evidence of multiple taxa within what we now consider to be 
the Chiricahua leopard frog (Herrman et al. 2009, p. 18).
    The Chiricahua leopard frog is distinguished from other members of 
the leopard frog complex by a combination of characters, including a 
distinctive pattern on the rear of the thigh consisting of small, 
raised, cream-colored spots or tubercles (wart-like projections) on a 
dark background; folds on the back and sides that, towards the rear, 
are interrupted and deflected towards the middle of the body; stocky 
body proportions; relatively rough skin on the back and sides; eyes 
that are positioned relatively high on the head; and often green 
coloration on the head and back (Platz and Mecham 1979, p. 347.1; 
Degenhardt et al. 1996, pp. 85-87). The species also has a distinctive 
call consisting of a relatively long snore of 1 to 2 seconds in 
duration (Platz and Mecham 1979, p. 347.1; Davidson 1996, tracks 58, 
59). Overall body lengths of adults range from approximately 2.1 inches 
(in) (5.3 centimeters (cm)) to 5.4 in (13.7 cm) (Platz and Mecham 1979, 
p. 347.1; Stebbins 2003, pp. 236-237).
Life History
    The life history of the Chiricahua leopard frog can be 
characterized as a complex life cycle, consisting of eggs and larvae 
that are entirely aquatic and adults who are primarily aquatic but may 
be terrestrial at times. Females attach spherical masses of fertilized 
eggs, ranging in number from 300 to 1,485 eggs, to submerged vegetation 
(Sredl and Jennings 2005, p. 547). Egg masses of Chiricahua leopard 
frogs have been reported in all months, but reports of egg laying 
(oviposition) in June and November through January are uncommon 
(Zweifel 1968, pp. 45-46; Frost and Bagnara 1977, p. 449; Frost and 
Platz 1983, p. 67; Scott and Jennings 1985, p. 16; Sredl and Jennings 
2005, p. 547). Frost and Platz (1983, p. 67) divided egg-laying 
activity into two distinct periods with respect to elevation. 
Populations at elevations below 5,900 feet (ft) (1,798 meters (m)) tend 
to lay eggs from spring through late summer, with most activity taking 
place before June. Populations above 5,900 ft (1,798 m) bred in June, 
July, and August. Scott and Jennings (1985, p. 16) found a similar 
seasonal pattern of reproductive activity in New Mexico (February 
through September), as did Frost and Platz (1983, p. 67), although they 
did not note elevational differences. Additionally, Scott and Jennings 
(1985, p. 16) noted reduced egg laying in May and June. Zweifel (1968, 
p. 45) noted that breeding in the early part of the year appeared to be 
limited to sites where water temperatures do not get too low, such as 
spring-fed sites. Chiricahua leopard frogs at warm springs may lay eggs 
year-round due to elevated water temperatures as compared to most 
breeding habitat (Scott and Jennings 1985, p. 16).
    Eggs hatch in approximately 8 to 14 days depending on temperature 
(Sredl and Jennings 2005, p. 547). After hatching, tadpoles remain in 
the water, where they feed and grow. Tadpoles turn into juvenile frogs 
in 3 to 9 months (Sredl and Jennings 2005, p. 547). Juvenile frogs are 
typically 1.4 to 1.6 in (35 to 40 millimeters (mm)) in overall body 
length. Males reach sexual

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maturity at 2.1 to 2.2 in (5.3 to 5.6 cm), a size they can attain in 
less than a year (Sredl and Jennings 2005, p. 548).
    The diet of the Chiricahua leopard frog includes primarily 
invertebrates such as beetles, true bugs, and flies, but fish and 
snails are also taken (Christman and Cummer 2006, pp. 9-18). An adult 
was documented eating a hummingbird in southeastern Arizona (Field et 
al. 2003, p. 235). Chiricahua leopard frogs can be found active both 
day and night, but adults tend to be active more at night than 
juveniles (Sredl and Jennings 2005, p. 547). Chiricahua leopard frogs 
presumably experience very high mortality (greater than 90 percent) in 
the egg and early tadpole stages, high mortality when the tadpole turns 
into a juvenile frog, and then relatively low mortality when the frogs 
are adults (Zug et al. 2001, p. 303; Service 2007, pp. C10-C12). Under 
ideal conditions, Chiricahua leopard frogs may live as long as 10 years 
in the wild (Platz et al. 1997, p. 553).
Geographical Range and Distribution
    The range of the Chiricahua leopard frog includes central and 
southeastern Arizona; west-central and southwestern New Mexico; and in 
Mexico, northeastern Sonora, the Sierra Madre Occidental of 
northwestern and west-central Chihuahua, and possibly as far south as 
northern Durango (Platz and Mecham 1984, p. 347.1; Degenhardt et al. 
1996, p. 87; Sredl and Jennings 2005, p. 546; Brennan and Holycross 
2006, p. 44; Lemos-Espinal and Smith 2007, pp. 287, 579; Rorabaugh 
2008, p. 32). The distribution of the species in Mexico is unclear due 
to limited survey work and the presence of closely related taxa 
(especially Lithobates lemosespinali (no common name)) in the southern 
part of the range of the Chiricahua leopard frog. Based on 2010 data, 
the species still occurs in most major drainages in Arizona and New 
Mexico where it occurred historically; the exception to this is the 
Little Colorado River drainage in Arizona. In Arizona and New Mexico, 
the species likely occurs at about 14 and 16 to 19 percent of its 
historical localities, respectively (Service 2007, p. 6).
Habitat
    Within its geographical range, breeding populations of this species 
historically inhabited a variety of aquatic habitats (Service 2007, p. 
3); however, the species is now limited primarily to headwater streams 
and springs, and livestock tanks into which nonnative fish, bullfrogs, 
crayfish (Orconectes virilis), and barred tiger salamanders (Ambystoma 
mavortium mavortium) have not yet invaded or been introduced, or where 
the numbers of nonnative predators are low and habitats are complex, 
allowing Chiricahua leopard frogs to coexist with these species 
(Service 2007, p. 15). The large valley-bottom cienegas (mid-elevation 
wetland communities typically surrounded by relatively arid 
environments), rivers, and lakes where the species occurred 
historically are populated with nonnative predators at densities with 
which the Chiricahua leopard frog cannot coexist.
Dispersal
    Although one of the most aquatic of southwestern leopard frogs 
(Degenhardt et al. 1996, p. 86), Chiricahua leopard frogs are known to 
move among aquatic sites, and such movements are crucial for conserving 
metapopulations. A metapopulation is a set of local populations that 
interact via individuals moving between local populations (Hanski and 
Gilpin 1991, p. 7). If local populations are extirpated through 
drought, disease, or other factors, the populations can be recolonized 
via dispersal from adjacent populations. Hence, the long-term viability 
of metapopulations may be enhanced over that of isolated populations, 
even though local populations experience periodic extirpations. To 
determine whether metapopulation structure exists in a specific group 
of local populations, the dispersal capabilities of the frog must be 
understood. Based on a review of available information, the recovery 
plan (Service 2007, pp. D-2, D-3, K-3) provides a rule of thumb on 
dispersal capabilities. Chiricahua leopard frogs are reasonably likely 
to disperse 1.0 mile (mi) (1.6 kilometers (km)) overland, 3.0 mi (4.8 
km) along ephemeral or intermittent drainages (water existing only 
briefly), and 5.0 mi (8.0 km) along perennial water courses (water 
present at all times of the year), or some combination thereof not to 
exceed 5.0 mi (8.0 km). This is often referred to as the ``1-3-5 rule'' 
of dispersal. It should be noted that inevitably and over time, it is 
the species itself, in the wild, which will define the configuration of 
any given metapopulation. Ultimately, the resultant configuration of 
persistent wild metapopulations may or may not comport with our current 
understanding of metapopulation dynamics. We will continue to examine 
metapopulation dynamics of wild populations and make management 
recommendations or modifications as required, over time.

Summary of Factors Affecting the Species

    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 (Lists). A species may 
be determined to be endangered or threatened 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; and (E) other natural or manmade 
factors affecting its continued existence. The final listing rule for 
the Chiricahua leopard frog (67 FR 40790; June 13, 2002) contained a 
discussion of these five factors, as did the proposed listing rule (65 
FR 37343; June 14, 2000). Threats discussed in the previous listing 
rules are still affecting the Chiricahua leopard frog today. Please 
refer to these rules or the Chiricahua leopard frog recovery plan 
(Service 2007, pp. 18-45) for a more detailed analysis of the threats 
affecting the species. Because we no longer recognize the Ramsey Canyon 
leopard frog as a distinct species and consider it to be synonymous 
with the Chiricahua leopard frog, we reanalyzed factors relevant to the 
entire listed entity below. However, because all the threats from the 
previous rules still apply, we provide a summary of those below.

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

    The recovery plan lists the following threats to habitat or range 
of the Chiricahua leopard frog: Mining, including mining-related 
contaminants; other contaminants; dams; diversions; stream 
channelization; groundwater pumping; woodcutting; urban and 
agricultural development; road construction; grazing by livestock and 
elk; climate change; and altered fire regimes (Service 2007, pp. 31-
37). Although these threats are widespread and varied, a threats 
assessment that was accomplished as part of the recovery plan showed 
chytridiomycosis and predation by nonnative species as consistently 
more important threats than these habitat-based factors (Service 2007, 
pp. 20-27).
    Chiricahua leopard frogs are fairly tolerant of variations in water 
quality, but likely do not persist in waters severely polluted with 
cattle feces

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(Service 2007, p. 34), or runoff from mine tailings or leach ponds 
(Rathbun 1969, pp. 1-3; U.S. Bureau of Land Management 1998, p. 26; 
Service 2007, p. 36). Furthermore, variation in pH, ultraviolet 
radiation, and temperature, as well as predation stress, can alter the 
potency of chemical effects (Akins and Wofford 1999, p. 107; Monson et 
al. 1999, pp. 309-311; Reylea 2004, pp. 1081-1084). Chemicals may also 
serve as a stressor that makes frogs more susceptible to disease, such 
as chytridiomycosis (see discussion under Factor C below) (Parris and 
Baud 2004, p. 344). The effects of pesticides and other chemicals on 
amphibians can be complex because of indirect effects on the amphibian 
environment, direct lethal and sublethal effects on individuals, and 
interactions between contaminants and other factors associated with 
amphibian decline (Sparling 2003, pp. 1101-1120; Reylea 2008, pp. 367-
374).
    A copper mine (the Rosemont Mine) has been proposed in the 
northeastern portion of the Santa Rita Mountains, Pima County, Arizona 
(Recovery Unit 2), the footprint of which includes several sites 
recently occupied by Chiricahua leopard frogs. Recent research 
indicates that Chiricahua leopard frog tadpoles are sensitive to 
cadmium and copper above certain levels (Little and Calfee 2008, pp. 6-
10), making the introduction of copper into Chiricahua leopard frog 
habitat a possible significant threat. A draft environmental impact 
statement was prepared by the U.S. Forest Service in September 2011, 
which confirmed that Chiricahua leopard frogs could be adversely 
affected by direct and indirect impacts of the mining operation, 
including effects from mercury, cadmium, and selenium contamination 
(U.S. Forest Service 2011, p. 396).
    The continued threat of wildfire has never been more visible than 
that represented by the 2011 fire season in Arizona. A minimum of five 
wildfires occurred in Arizona that adversely affected the status of the 
Chiricahua leopard frog. The largest wildfire in Arizona State history, 
the Wallow Fire, started in the White Mountains on May 28, 2011. The 
Wallow Fire consumed 538,049 acres (217,741 ha), including in the area 
around Cambell Blue and Coleman Creeks. The Horseshoe II Fire started 
on May 8, 2011, grew to 222,954 acres (90,226 ha), and affected the 
majority of land area in the Chiricahua Mountains. We are not certain 
how occupied habitat in Cave Canyon will respond to such a widespread 
fire and subsequent precipitation events. The Murphey Complex and 
Greaterville fires both occurred in the spring of 2011, potentially 
affecting designated critical habitat in the Santa Rita Mountains 
(Florida Canyon and Eastern Slope of the Santa Mountains Units) and 
Pajarito Mountains (Sycamore Canyon and Pe[ntilde]a Blanca Lake and 
Spring and Associated Tanks Units), respectively.
    On June 12, 2011, the Monument Fire started 4 miles east of 
Hereford, Arizona, ultimately consuming 30,526 acres (12,353 ha) and 
significantly affecting a portion of the Huachuca Mountains, including 
the Beatty Guest Ranch in Miller Canyon. On June 27, 2011, over 120 
adult and larvae Chiricahua leopard frogs were salvaged from the Beatty 
Guest Ranch in anticipation of destructive floods and sedimentation 
that occurred shortly thereafter, filling with sediment the ponds that 
formerly contained a robust population of Chiricahua leopard frogs. 
Chiricahua leopard frogs persist on Beatty Guest Ranch but only as a 
small fraction of their former numbers in habitat that has been 
severely adversely affected and faces an uncertain future.
    The Southwest Endangered Species Act Team (2008, pp. iii-IV-5) 
published ``Chiricahua leopard frog (Lithobates [Rana] chiricahuensis) 
considerations for making effects determinations and recommendations 
for reducing and avoiding adverse effects,'' which includes detailed 
descriptions of how many different types of projects, including fire 
management, construction, native fish recovery, and livestock 
management projects, may affect the frog and its habitat. This 
document, in addition to the recovery plan (Service 2007, pp. 31-37), 
can be referenced for more information about habitat-related threats. 
Habitat-related threats to the Chiricahua leopard frog, while not the 
most important factors threatening the species, currently affect and 
will continue to affect the species in the future.

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

    Even though the final listing rule (67 FR 40790; June 13, 2002) 
discussed over-collection for the pet trade as a possible threat, we 
have no information that leads us to believe that overutilization for 
commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes is 
currently a threat to the Chiricahua leopard frog, or will become a 
threat in the future.

C. Disease and Predation

    The threats assessment conducted during the preparation of the 
recovery plan (Service 2007, pp. 18-45) found that disease 
(chytridiomycosis) and predation by nonnative species (bullfrogs, 
crayfish, fish, and barred tiger salamanders) are the most significant 
threats to the Chiricahua leopard frog.
Disease
    In some areas, Chiricahua leopard frog populations are known to be 
seriously affected by chytridiomycosis. Chytridiomycosis is an 
introduced fungal skin disease caused by the organism Batrachochytrium 
dendrobatidis or ``Bd.'' Voyles et al. (2009) hypothesized that Bd 
disrupts normal regulatory functioning of frog skin, and evidence 
suggests that electrolyte depletion and osmotic imbalance that occur in 
amphibians with severe chytridiomycosis are sufficient to cause 
mortality. This disease has been associated with numerous population 
extirpations, particularly in New Mexico, and with major die-offs in 
other populations of Chiricahua leopard frogs (Service 2007, p. 26).
Predation
    Prior to the invasion of predatory, nonnative species (bullfrog, 
crayfish, fish species) into perennial waters, the Chiricahua leopard 
frog was historically found in a variety of aquatic habitat types. 
Today, leopard frogs in the southwestern United States are so strongly 
impacted by harmful nonnative species, which are most prevalent in 
perennial waters, that the leopard frogs' occupied niche is 
increasingly restricted to the uncommon environments that do not 
contain these nonnative predators, and these environments now tend to 
be ephemeral and unpredictable. Witte et al. (2008, p. 378) found that 
sites with disappearances of Chiricahua leopard frogs were 2.6 times 
more likely to have introduced crayfish than were control sites. 
Unfortunately, few sites with bullfrogs were included in the Witte et 
al. (2008, pp. 375-383) study, and at many sites, there was no 
identification of the species of fish present.
Summary of Factor C
    Overall, the Chiricahua leopard frog has made modest population 
gains in Arizona in spite of disease and predation, but is apparently 
declining in New Mexico because of these threats (Service 2011, pp. 25-
27). We consider disease, specifically chytridiomycosis, and predation 
by nonnative species to have significant impacts on Chiricahua leopard 
frog populations now, and we anticipate those impacts will continue in 
the future.

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D. Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    The Chiricahua leopard frog is currently listed as a threatened 
species (67 FR 40790; June 13, 2002) with a special rule (see 50 CFR 
17.43(b)) to exempt operation and maintenance of livestock tanks on 
non-Federal lands from the section 9 take prohibitions of the Act. Even 
with regulatory protections of the Act currently in place, nonnative 
species used for fishing baits in Chiricahua leopard frog habitats pose 
a significant threat to the Chiricahua leopard frog; use of these 
nonnative species as fishing baits presents a vehicle for the 
distribution of these often predatory or competitive bait species into 
frog habitat and for the dissemination of deadly diseases to the frog. 
Picco and Collins (2008, pp. 1585-1587) found tiger salamanders 
infected with chytridiomycosis in Arizona bait shops, and tiger 
salamanders infected with ranavirus (a genus of viruses known to effect 
amphibians and reptiles) in Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado bait 
shops. Furthermore, they found that 26 to 67 percent of anglers 
released tiger salamanders bought as bait into the waters where they 
fish, and 4 percent of bait shops released tiger salamanders into the 
wild after they were housed in shops with infected animals, despite the 
fact that release of live salamanders is prohibited by Arizona Revised 
Statute 17-371. This study shows how current wildlife laws and 
regulations fail to prevent the spread of amphibian diseases via the 
tiger salamander bait trade. Even though the Chiricahua leopard frog is 
currently listed under the Act as a threatened species, additional 
regulation or increased enforcement of existing regulations or both are 
needed to stem the spread of amphibian diseases via use of live 
salamanders as bait. Therefore, we consider the inadequacy of current 
regulatory mechanisms to prevent the spread of amphibian diseases via 
the bait trade to be a threat to the Chiricahua leopard frog now and in 
the future.

E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued Existence

Small Populations
    Among the potential threats in this category discussed in the 
Chiricahua leopard frog recovery plan (Service 2007, pp. i-M-17) and 
the final listing rule (67 FR 40790; June 13, 2002), are genetic and 
stochastic effects that manifest in small populations. Specifically, 
small populations are vulnerable to extirpation due to random 
variations in age structure and sex ratios, as well as from disease or 
other natural events that a larger population is more likely to 
survive. Inbreeding depression and loss of genetic diversity in small 
populations can also reduce the fitness of individuals and the ability 
of a population to adapt to change. The recent genetic study revealed 
no systemic lack of genetic diversity within the Chiricahua leopard 
frog as a species (Herrmann et al. 2009, pp. 12-17). In fact, 
populations were quite variable; up to 16 different genetic groupings 
were found. This does not preclude the possibility that individual 
populations may suffer from genetic or demographic problems, but the 
study shows the species retains good genetic variability.
Climate Change
    The Chiricahua leopard frog recovery plan (Service 2007, pp. 40-43) 
describes anticipated effects of climate change on the Chiricahua 
leopard frog. The plan cited literature indicating that temperatures 
rose in the 20th century and warming is predicted to continue over the 
21st century (Service 2007, pp. 40-43). Climate models are less certain 
about predicted trends in precipitation, but the southwestern United 
States is expected to become warmer and drier. Since the recovery plan 
was prepared, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 
(2007, pp. 1-8) published a report stating that global warming is 
occurring and that precipitation patterns are being affected.
    According to the IPCC report, global mean precipitation is 
anticipated to increase, but not uniformly (IPCC 2007, p. 8). In the 
American Southwest and elsewhere in the middle latitudes, precipitation 
is expected to decrease. There is also high confidence that many semi-
arid areas like the western United States will suffer a decrease in 
water resources due to climate change, as a result of less annual mean 
precipitation and reduced length of snow season and snow depth (IPCC 
2007, p. 8). Although most climate models predict a drying trend in the 
21st century in the southwestern United States, these predictions are 
less certain than predicted warming trends. The models do not predict 
summer precipitation well, and typically at least half of precipitation 
within the range of the Chiricahua leopard frog occurs in the summer 
months (Brown 1982, pp. 58-62; Guido 2008, p. 5). Furthermore, there 
have been no trends either in summer rainfall over the last 100 years 
in Arizona (Guido 2008, pp. 3-5), or since 1955 in annual precipitation 
in the western United States (van Mantgem et al. 2009, p. 523). On the 
other hand, all severe, multi-year droughts in the southwestern United 
States and northwestern Mexico have been associated with La Ni[ntilde]a 
events (Seager et al. 2007, p. 3), during which sea surface 
temperatures in the tropical Pacific decline. Climate models predict 
that drought driven by La Ni[ntilde]a events will be deeper and more 
profound than any during the last several hundred years (Seager et al. 
2007, p. 3).
    Drought has likely contributed to loss of Chiricahua leopard frog 
populations since the species was originally listed in 2002, and has 
likely affected the species historically. Drought conditions in the 
southwestern United States have arisen over time, and can range from 
short term to long term in duration. Stock tank populations are 
particularly vulnerable to loss, because they tend to dry out during 
periods of below normal precipitation. These trends are likely to 
continue, but the situation is complicated by interactions with other 
factors. For example, the effects of drought cannot be separated from 
the effects of nonnative species, because drought will affect those 
predators as well as populations of Chiricahua leopard frogs. The 
interaction between predators and drought resistance of frog habitats 
is often a delicate balance. Stock tanks are likely an important 
habitat for Chiricahua leopard frogs in part because these sites dry 
out periodically, which rids them of most aquatic predators. Because of 
their evolutionary history, southwestern leopard frogs may be able to 
withstand drying of stock tanks for a longer period of time than 
nonnative species that evolved in wetter climates in the eastern United 
States, which could provide southwestern leopard frogs a selective 
advantage. However, if stock tanks remain dry for extended periods of 
time, neither leopard frogs nor introduced predators may be capable of 
persisting. Drought will reduce habitats of both leopard frogs and 
introduced predators, but exactly how that will affect the Chiricahua 
leopard frog will probably be site-specific. Chiricahua leopard frogs 
can often withstand drying of stock tanks for short to moderate periods 
of time, whereas fish and bullfrogs may not (Service 2011; p. 29). At 
this time, it is difficult to predict how drought will impact the 
overall species' status, but Chiricahua leopard frog sites could be 
buffered from the effects of drought by occupying sites that have 
alternative supplies of water, such as wells. Even though drought may 
contribute to loss of site-specific populations, we do not consider 
short to moderate periods of drought that causes stock tanks to dry out 
to be a threat to the species or its

[[Page 16338]]

habitat. However, we consider prolonged drought that appreciably 
affects habitat on a regional scale to be a threat to the species.
    Additionally, the effects of chytridiomycosis on frogs are related 
to water temperature. Sites where Chiricahua leopard frogs coexist with 
the disease are typically at lower elevations and are warmer sites 
(Service 2007, p. 26). As a result, if temperatures increase as 
predicted, it is possible that more populations will be able to persist 
with the disease. Thus climate change, particularly in the form of 
increased water temperatures, may not pose an impact to the Chiricahua 
leopard frog into the future.
Summary of Factor E
    The Chiricahua leopard frog recovery plan (Service 2007) describes 
genetic and stochastic effects that manifest in small populations and 
the anticipated effects of climate change on the Chiricahua leopard 
frog as potential threats to the species. Herrmann et al.'s recent 
genetic study (2009, pp. 12-17), however, revealed no systemic lack of 
genetic diversity within Chiricahua leopard frog populations. Moreover, 
the effects of climate change are inextricably related to effects from 
other threats and are difficult to predict or interpret without more 
definitive data of higher resolution. Therefore, we are unable to 
conclusively state that climate change, in and of itself, will 
adversely affect the Chiricahua leopard frog in the foreseeable future. 
However, long-term periods of drought can be a factor affecting the 
species' continued existence that poses significant impacts to the 
Chiricahua leopard frog's habitat now and in the future.

Listing Determination

    We have carefully assessed the best scientific and commercial 
information available regarding the past, present, and future threats 
to the Chiricahua leopard frog. In summary, the most significant 
threats to the Chiricahua leopard frog include the effects of the 
disease chytridiomycosis, which has been associated with major die-offs 
in some populations of Chiricahua leopard frogs (Service 2007, pp. B8-
B88), predation by nonnative species (Factor C), and drought (Factor 
E). According to the June 13, 2002, final listing rule (67 FR 40790) 
and 2007 recovery plan, additional factors affecting the species 
include degradation and loss of habitat as a result of water diversions 
and large-scale groundwater pumping, livestock management practices 
(such that grazing is not in accordance with approved allotment 
management plans or otherwise considered adverse to maintaining natural 
habitat characteristics), altered fire regimes due to fire suppression, 
mining, contaminants, agricultural development, and other human 
activities; and inadequate regulatory mechanisms regarding introduction 
of nonnative bait species (Factors A and D) (67 FR 40790, June 13, 
2002; Sredl and Jennings 2005, pp. 546-549; Service 2007, pp. B1-B88).
    Since the time of listing, the species has made modest population 
gains in Arizona as a result of cooperative head-starting (rearing 
frogs in captivity from eggs through metamorphosis) campaigns and 
active partnerships and cooperation in management of occupied habitat. 
However the Chiricahua leopard frog continues to decline in New Mexico. 
Overall in the United States, the status of the Chiricahua leopard frog 
is improving. The status and trends for the species are unknown in 
Mexico. A recovery program is underway in the United States, and 
reestablishment of populations, creation of refugial populations, and 
habitat enhancement and creation have helped stabilize or improve the 
status of the species in some areas (Service 2011, pp. 6-9). Although 
progress has been made to secure some existing populations and 
establish new populations (Service 2011, pp. 6-9), the status of the 
species continues to be affected by threats such that the species is 
likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future throughout 
all or a significant portion of its range. Due primarily to ongoing 
conservation measures and the existence of relatively robust 
populations and metapopulations, we have determined that the species is 
not in immediate danger of extinction (i.e., on the brink of 
extinction) (Service 2011, p. 30). However, because we believe that the 
present threats are likely to continue in the future (such as chytrid 
fungus and nonnative predators spreading and increasing in prevalence 
and range, and affecting more populations of the leopard frog, thus 
increasing the threats in the foreseeable future), we have determined 
that the Chiricahua leopard frog is likely to become endangered within 
the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its 
range. Therefore, we determine that the Chiricahua leopard frog meets 
the definition of a threatened species under the Act.

Special Rule Under Section 4(d) of the Act

    The June 13, 2002, final rule (67 FR 40790) listing the Chiricahua 
leopard frog as threatened included a special rule as defined under 
section 4(d) of the Act to ease the general take prohibitions for 
livestock use at or maintenance activities of livestock tanks located 
on private, State, or Tribal lands (see 50 CFR 17.43(b)). Under section 
4(d) of the Act, the Secretary may publish a special rule that modifies 
the standard protections for threatened species in the Service's 
regulations at 50 CFR 17.31, which implement section 9 of the Act, with 
special measures that are determined to be necessary and advisable to 
provide for the conservation of the species. Based on changes made to 
the listed entity, we reevaluated the existing 4(d) rule to see if its 
measures are still necessary and advisable to the conservation of the 
species and appropriate to apply in the expanded range of the species. 
We determined that the measures of the 4(d) rule are appropriate and 
should be applied to the whole range. Therefore, we are not changing 
any conditions of the June 13, 2002, special rule, and it shall remain 
in effect as identified in our regulations at 50 CFR 17.43(b). We are, 
however, making an editorial change to 50 CFR 17.43(b) to revise the 
paragraph's heading to reflect to currently described species 
Lithobates chiricahuensis.
    The special rule replaces the Act's general prohibitions against 
take of the Chiricahua leopard frog with special measures tailored to 
the conservation of the species on all non-Federal lands. Through the 
maintenance and operation of the stock tanks for cattle, habitat is 
provided for the leopard frogs; hence there is a conservation benefit 
to the species. Under the special rule, take of Chiricahua leopard frog 
caused by livestock use of or maintenance activities at livestock tanks 
located on private, State, or Tribal lands would be exempt from section 
9 of the Act. A livestock tank is defined as an existing or future 
impoundment in an ephemeral drainage or upland site constructed 
primarily as a watering site for livestock. The rule targets tanks on 
private, State, and Tribal lands to encourage landowners and ranchers 
to continue to maintain these tanks as they provide habitat for the 
frogs. Livestock use and maintenance of tanks on Federal lands will be 
addressed through the section 7 process. When a Federal action, such as 
permitting livestock grazing on Federal lands, may affect a listed 
species, consultation between us and the action agency is required 
under section 7 of the Act. The conclusion of consultation may include 
mandatory changes in livestock programs in the form of measures to 
minimize take of a

[[Page 16339]]

listed animal or to avoid jeopardizing the continued existence of a 
listed species.

Available Conservation Measures

    Conservation measures provided to species listed as endangered or 
threatened under the Act include recognition, recovery actions, 
requirements for Federal protection, and prohibitions against certain 
practices. Recognition through listing results in public awareness and 
conservation by Federal, State, and local agencies; private 
organizations; and individuals. The Act provides for possible 
cooperation with the States and requires that recovery actions be 
carried out for all listed species. The protection required of Federal 
agencies and the prohibitions against certain activities involving 
listed wildlife are discussed in Effects of Critical Habitat 
Designation and are further discussed, in part, below.
    Section 7(a) of the Act requires Federal agencies to evaluate their 
actions with respect to any species that is proposed or listed as 
endangered or threatened and with respect to its critical habitat, if 
any is being designated. Regulations implementing this interagency 
cooperation provision of the Act are codified at 50 CFR part 402. 
Section 7(a)(4) requires Federal agencies to confer with the Service on 
any action that is likely to jeopardize the continued existence of a 
species proposed for listing or result in destruction or adverse 
modification of proposed critical habitat. If a species is listed 
subsequently, section 7(a)(2) requires Federal agencies to ensure that 
activities they authorize, fund, or carry out are not likely to 
jeopardize the continued existence of the species or destroy or 
adversely modify its critical habitat. If a Federal action may affect a 
listed species or its critical habitat, the responsible Federal agency 
must enter into formal consultation with the Service.
    Federal agency actions within the species' habitat that may require 
conference or consultation or both as described in the preceding 
paragraph include management and any other landscape-altering 
activities on Federal lands administered by the Department of Defense, 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, and Bureau of Land 
Management; issuance of section 404 Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. 1251 et 
seq.) permits by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; and construction and 
maintenance of roads or highways by the Federal Highway Administration.
    The Act and its implementing regulations set forth a series of 
general prohibitions and exceptions that apply to all endangered 
wildlife. The prohibitions, codified at 50 CFR 17.21 for endangered 
wildlife and 50 CFR 17.31 for threatened wildlife, in part, make it 
illegal for any person subject to the jurisdiction of the United States 
to take (includes harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, 
capture, or collect; or to attempt any of these), import, export, ship 
in interstate commerce in the course of commercial activity, or sell or 
offer for sale in interstate or foreign commerce any listed species. It 
is also illegal to possess, sell, deliver, carry, transport, or ship 
any such wildlife that has been taken illegally. Certain exceptions 
apply to agents of the Service and State conservation agencies.
    We may issue permits to carry out otherwise prohibited activities 
involving endangered or threatened wildlife species under certain 
circumstances. Regulations governing permits are codified at 50 CFR 
17.22 for endangered species and 50 CFR 17.32 for threatened wildlife. 
You may obtain permits for scientific purposes, to enhance the 
propagation or survival of the species, and for incidental take in 
connection with otherwise lawful activities.
    It is our policy, as published in the Federal Register on July 1, 
1994 (59 FR 34272), to identify to the maximum extent practicable at 
the time a species is listed, those activities that will or will not 
constitute a violation of section 9 of the Act. The intent of this 
policy is to increase public awareness of the effect of a listing on 
proposed and ongoing activities within the range of the listed species. 
The following activities could potentially result in a violation of 
section 9 of the Act; this list is not comprehensive:
    (1) Unauthorized collecting, handling, possessing, selling, 
delivering, carrying, or transporting of the species, including import 
or export across State lines and international boundaries, except for 
properly documented antique specimens of these taxa at least 100 years 
old, as defined by section 10(h)(1) of the Act.
    (2) Unauthorized release of nonnative species that compete with or 
prey upon the Chiricahua leopard frog within the States of Arizona or 
New Mexico.
    (3) The unauthorized release of biological control agents that 
attack any life stage of this species.
    (4) Unauthorized modification of the channel or water flow of any 
stream or water body in which the Chiricahua leopard frog is known to 
occur.
    (5) Unauthorized activities that result in the introduction or 
spread of the chytrid fungus.
    (6) Unauthorized recreational activities.
    (7) Unauthorized livestock grazing.
    (8) Unauthorized construction and maintenance of roads and utility 
corridors or various types of development.
    (9) Unauthorized fire suppression, fuels management, or use of 
prescribed fire.
    Questions regarding whether specific activities would constitute a 
violation of section 9 of the Act should be directed to the Arizona 
Ecological Services Field Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). 
Requests for copies of the regulations concerning listed animals and 
general inquiries regarding prohibitions and permits may be addressed 
to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Endangered Species Permits, P.O. 
Box 1306, Albuquerque, NM 87103; telephone: 505-248-6633; facsimile: 
505-248-6788.

Critical Habitat

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
    (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 under 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

[[Page 16340]]

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 together provide for a 
species' life-history processes and 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 only when a designation limited 
to its range 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;
    (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 derived the specific physical or biological features (PBFs) 
required for the Chiricahua leopard frog from the studies of this 
species' habitat, ecology, and life history as described below. These 
needs are identified in the species' recovery plan (Service 2007), 
particularly in the Habitat Characteristics and Ecosystems section of 
Part 1: Background (pp. 15-18); in the Recovery Strategy in Part 11: 
Recovery (pp. 49-51); in Appendix C--Population and Habitat Viability 
Analysis (pp. C8-C35); and in Appendix D--Guidelines for Establishing 
and Augmenting Chiricahua Leopard Frog Populations, and for Refugia and 
Holding Facilities (pp. D2-D5). Additional insight is provided by 
Degenhardt et al. (1996, pp.

[[Page 16341]]

85-87), Sredl and Jennings (2005, pp. 546-549), and Witte et al. (2008, 
pp. 5-8). We have determined that Chiricahua leopard frogs require the 
physical or biological features described below.
Space for Individual and Population Growth and for Normal Behavior
    Generally, Chiricahua leopard frogs need aquatic breeding and 
overwintering sites, both in the context of metapopulations and as 
isolated populations. Based upon our understanding of the best 
available science, a metapopulation should consist of at least four 
local populations that exhibit regular recruitment, three of which are 
continually in existence. Local populations should be arranged in 
geographical space in such a way that no local population will be 
greater than 5.0 mi (8.0 km) from at least one other local population 
during some part of the year unless facilitated dispersal is planned 
(Service 2007, p. K-3). Movement of frogs among local populations is 
reasonably certain to occur if those populations are separated by no 
more than 1.0 mi (1.6 km) overland, 3.0 mi (4.8 km) along ephemeral or 
intermittent drainages, 5.0 mi (8.0 km) along perennial water courses, 
or some combination thereof not to exceed 5.0 mi (8.0 km) (the ``1-3-5 
rule'' of dispersal, see ``Dispersal'' in the Threatened Status for the 
Chiricahua Leopard Frog section above). Metapopulations should include 
at least one large, healthy subpopulation (e.g., at least 100 adults) 
in order to achieve an acceptable level of viability as a larger unit. 
If aquatic habitats can be managed for persistence through drought 
periods (e.g., supplying water via a pipeline or a well, lining a 
pond), overall metapopulation viability may be achievable with a 
smaller number of individuals per subpopulation (e.g., 40 to 50 adults) 
(Service 2007, p. K-3).
    Isolated breeding populations are also necessary for the 
conservation of the frog because they buffer against disease and 
disease organisms that can spread rapidly through a metapopulation as 
infected individuals move among aquatic sites. An isolated, but robust, 
breeding population should be beyond the reasonable dispersal distance 
(see ``Dispersal'' in the Threatened Status for the Chiricahua Leopard 
Frog section) from other Chiricahua leopard frog populations, contain 
at least 60 adults, and exhibit a diverse age class distribution that 
is relatively stable over time. A population of 40 to 50 adults can 
also be robust or strong if it resides in a drought-resistant habitat 
(Service 2007, p. K-5). At least two metapopulations and one isolated 
robust population are needed in each Recovery Unit to meet the recovery 
criteria in the recovery plan (Service 2007, p. 53).
Food, Water, Air, Light, Minerals, or Other Nutritional or 
Physiological Requirements
    Chiricahua leopard frogs are fairly tolerant of variations in water 
quality, but likely do not persist in waters severely polluted with 
cattle feces (Service 2007, p. 34) or runoff from mine tailings or 
leach ponds (Rathbun 1969, pp. 1-3; U.S. Bureau of Land Management 
1998, p. 26; Service 2007, p. 36). Furthermore, variation in pH, 
ultraviolet radiation, and temperature, as well as predation stress, 
can alter the potency of chemical effects (Akins and Wofford 1999, p. 
107; Monson et al. 1999, pp. 309-311; Reylea 2004a, pp. 1081-1084). 
Chemicals may also serve as a stressor that makes frogs more 
susceptible to disease, such as chytridiomycosis (Parris and Baud 2004, 
p. 344). The effects of pesticides and other chemicals on amphibians 
can be complex because of indirect effects on the amphibian 
environment, direct lethal and sublethal effects on individuals, and 
interactions between contaminants and other factors associated with 
amphibian decline (Sparling 2003, pp. 1101-1120; Reylea 2008, pp. 367-
374).
Cover or Shelter
    Chiricahua leopard frogs are most often encountered in or very near 
water, generally at breeding locations. Only rarely are they found very 
far from water. They can be found basking or foraging in riparian 
vegetation and on open banklines out to the edge of riparian 
vegetation. These upland areas provide essential foraging and basking 
sites. A combination of open ground and vegetation cover is desirable 
for basking and foraging, respectively. Vegetation in these areas 
provide habitat for prey species and protection from terrestrial 
predators (those living on dry land). In particular, Chiricahua leopard 
frogs use these upland areas during the summer rainy season.
Sites for Breeding, Reproduction, or Rearing (or Development) of 
Offspring
    Aquatic breeding habitat is essential for providing space, food, 
and cover necessary to sustain all life stages of Chiricahua leopard 
frogs. Suitable breeding habitat consists of permanent or nearly 
permanent aquatic habitats from about 3,200 to 8,900 ft (975 to 2,715 
m) elevation with deep (greater than 20 in (0.5 m)) pools in which 
nonnative predators are absent or occur at such low densities and in 
complex habitats to allow persistence of Chiricahua leopard frogs 
(Service 2007, pp. 15-18, D-3). Included are cienegas or springs, 
pools, livestock tanks, lakes, reservoirs, streams, and rivers. Sites 
as small as 6.0-ft (1.8-m) diameter steel troughs can serve as 
important breeding sites, particularly if that population is part of a 
metapopulation that can be recolonized from adjacent sites if 
extirpation occurs. Some of the most robust extant breeding populations 
are in earthen livestock watering tanks. Absence of the disease 
chytridiomycosis is crucial for population persistence in some regions, 
particularly in west-central New Mexico and at some other locales, as 
well. However, some populations persist with the disease (e.g., sites 
between Interstate 19 and the Baboquivari Mountains, Arizona) with few 
noticeable effects on demographics or survivorship. Persistence with 
disease is enhanced in warm springs and at lower elevations with warmer 
water (Service 2007, pp. 22-27, B67).
    To be considered essential breeding habitat, water must be 
persistent enough to support breeding, tadpole development to 
metamorphosis (change into a frog), and survival of frogs. Tadpole 
development lasts 3 to 9 months, and some tadpoles overwinter (Sredl 
and Jennings 2005, p. 547). Juvenile and adult frogs need moisture for 
survival, including sites for hibernation. Overwintering sites of 
Chiricahua leopard frogs have not been investigated; however, 
hibernacula (shelter occupied during winter by inactive animals) of 
related species include sites at the bottom of well-oxygenated ponds, 
burial in mud, or moist caves (Service 2007, p. 17). Given these 
requirements, sites that dry out for 1 month or more will not provide 
essential breeding or overwintering habitat. However, occasional drying 
for short periods (less than 1 month) may be beneficial in that the 
Chiricahua leopard frogs can survive, but nonnative predators, 
particularly fish, and in some cases, bullfrogs and barred tiger 
salamanders, may be eliminated during the dry period (Service 2007, p. 
D3). Water quality requirements at breeding sites include having a pH 
equal to or greater than 5.6 (Watkins-Colwell and Watkins-Colwell 1998, 
p. 64), salinities less than 5 parts per thousand (Ruibal 1959, pp. 
318-319), and very little chemical pollutants, including but not 
limited to heavy metals, pesticides, mine runoff, and fire retardants, 
where the pollutants do not exceed the tolerance of Chiricahua leopard 
frogs (Rathbun 1969, pp. 1-3; U.S. Bureau of

[[Page 16342]]

Land Management 1998, p. 26; Boone and Bridges 2003, pp. 152-167; 
Calfee and Little 2003, pp. 1527-1531; Sparling 2003, pp. 1109-1111; 
Relyea 2004b, pp. 1741-1746; Service 2007, p. 36; Little and Calfee 
2008, pp. 6-10). White (2004, pp. 53-54, 73-79, 136-140) provides 
specific pesticide use guidelines for minimizing impacts to the 
Chiricahua leopard frog.
    Essential aquatic breeding sites require some open water. 
Chiricahua leopard frogs can be eliminated from sites that become 
entirely overgrown with cattails (Typha sp.) or other emergent plants. 
At the same time, Chiricahua leopard frogs need some emergent or 
submerged vegetation, root masses, undercut banks, fractured rock 
substrates, or some combination thereof as refugia from predators and 
extreme climatic conditions (Sredl and Jennings 2005, p. 547). In 
essential breeding habitat, if nonnative crayfish, predatory fish, 
bullfrogs, or barred tiger salamanders are present, they occur only as 
rare dispersing individuals that do not breed, or are at low enough 
densities in habitats that are complex and with abundant escape cover 
(e.g., aquatic and emergent vegetation cover, diversity of moving and 
stationary water) that persistence of both Chiricahua leopard frogs and 
nonnative species can occur (Sredl and Howland 1995, pp. 383-384; 
Service 2007, pp. 20-22, D3; Witte et al. 2008, pp. 7-8).
Habitats That Are Protected From Disturbance or Are Representative of 
the Historical, Geographical, and Ecological Distribution of the 
Chiricahua Leopard Frog
    In some areas, Chiricahua leopard frog populations are known to be 
seriously affected by the fungal skin disease chytridiomycosis. This 
disease has been associated with numerous population extirpations, 
particularly in Recovery Unit 6 in New Mexico (Service 2007, pp. 5-6, 
24-27). The Chiricahua leopard frog appears to be less susceptible to 
mortality from the disease in warmer waters, which may occur at lower 
elevations. The precise temperature that affects survivorship in the 
presence of the fungus is unknown. Survivorship in the presence of Bd 
may depend on a variety of factors; however, at Cuchillo Negro Warm 
Springs, Sierra County, New Mexico, Chiricahua and plains leopard frogs 
(Lithobates blairi) become uncommon to nonexistent where winter water 
temperatures drop below about 20 degrees Celsius ( [deg]C) (68 degrees 
Fahrenheit ([deg]F)) (Christman 2006a, p. 8). A pH of greater than 8 
during at least part of the year may also limit the ability of the 
disease to be an effective pathogen (Service 2007, pp. 26-27). 
Furthermore, based on experience in Arizona, particularly the Huachuca 
Mountains, if Chiricahua leopard frogs are absent for a period of 
months or years, the disease may drop out of the system or become 
scarce enough that frogs can persist again if reestablished. Essential 
breeding habitats either lack chytridiomycosis or include conditions 
such as warmer waters or lower elevations that allow for persistence of 
Chiricahua leopard frogs with the disease.
Dispersal Habitat
    Dispersal habitat provides routes for connectivity and gene flow 
among local populations within a metapopulation, which enhances the 
likelihood of persistence and allows for recolonization of sites that 
are lost due to drought, disease, or other factors (Hanski and Gilpin 
1991, pp. 4-6; Service 2007, p. 50). Detailed studies of dispersal and 
metapopulation dynamics of Chiricahua leopard frogs have not been 
conducted; however, Jennings and Scott (1991, pp. 1-43) noted that 
maintenance of corridors used by dispersing juveniles and adults that 
connect separate populations may be critical to conserving populations 
of frogs. As a group, leopard frogs are surprisingly good at dispersal. 
In Michigan, young northern leopard frogs (Lithobates pipiens) commonly 
move up to 0.5 mi (0.8 km) from their birthplace, and three young males 
established residency up to 3.2 mi (5.2 km) away from where they were 
born (Dole 1971, p. 221). Movement may occur via dispersal of frogs or 
passive transport of tadpoles along stream courses. The maximum 
distance moved by a radio-telemetered Chiricahua leopard frog in New 
Mexico was 2.2 mi (3.5 km) in one direction along a drainage (Service 
2007, p. 18). In 1974, Frost and Bagnara (1977, p. 449) noted passive 
or active movement of Chiricahua and plains leopard frogs for 5 mi (8 
km) or more along East Turkey Creek in the Chiricahua Mountains, 
Arizona. In August 1996, Rosen and Schwalbe (1998, p. 188) found up to 
25 young adult and subadult (fully metamorphosed but not sexually 
mature) Chiricahua leopard frogs at a roadside puddle in the San 
Bernardino Valley, Arizona. They believed that the only possible origin 
of these frogs was a stock tank located 3.5 mi (5.5 km) away. In 
September 2009, 15 to 20 Chiricahua leopard frogs were found at 
Pe[ntilde]a Blanca Lake, west of Nogales. The nearest likely source 
population was Summit Reservoir, a straight line distance of 3.1 mi 
(4.9 km) overland or approximately 4.4 mi (7.0 km) along intermittent 
drainages (Service 2010b, pp. 7-8).
    Movements away from water do not appear to be random. Streams are 
important dispersal corridors for young northern leopard frogs (Seburn 
et al. 1997, pp. 68-70). Displaced northern leopard frogs will return 
to their place of origin, and may use olfactory, visual, or auditory 
cues, and possibly celestial orientation, as guides (Dole 1968, pp. 
395-398; 1972, pp. 275-276; Sinsch 1991, pp. 542-544). Based on this 
and other information (Service 2007, pp. 12-14) and as noted in the 
Dispersal section above, Chiricahua leopard frogs are reasonably likely 
to disperse 1.0 mi (1.6 km) overland, 3.0 mi (4.8 km) along ephemeral 
or intermittent drainages, 5.0 mi (8.0 km) along perennial (continuous) 
water courses, or some combination thereof not to exceed 5.0 mi (8.0 
km). Dispersal habitat must provide corridors through which Chiricahua 
leopard frogs can move among aquatic breeding sites in metapopulations. 
These dispersal habitats will often be drainages connecting aquatic 
breeding sites, and may include ephemeral, intermittent, and perennial 
waters that are not suitable for breeding. The most likely dispersal 
routes may include combinations of ephemeral, intermittent, and 
perennial drainages, as well as uplands. Some vegetation cover for 
protection from predators, and aquatic sites that can serve as buffers 
against desiccation (drying) and stop-overs for foraging (feeding), are 
desirable along dispersal routes. A lack of barriers that would block 
dispersal is critical. Features on the landscape likely to serve as 
partial or complete barriers to dispersal include cliff faces and urban 
areas (Service 2007, p. D-3), reservoirs 50 acres (ac) (20 hectares 
(ha)) or more in size that are stocked with nonnative fish or other 
nonnative predators, highways, major dams, walls, or other structures 
that physically block movement (Andrews et al. 2008, pp. 124-132; 
Eigenbrod et al. 2009, pp. 32-40; 75 FR 12818, March 17, 2010). The 
effects of highways on frog dispersal can be mitigated with frog 
fencing (barriers to movement that may redirect individuals to 
preferred passageways) and culverts (Service 2007, pp. I7-I8). Unlike 
some other species of leopard frogs, Chiricahua leopard frogs have only 
rarely been found in association with agricultural fields; hence, 
agriculture may also serve as a barrier to movement.

[[Page 16343]]

Primary Constituent Elements for the Chiricahua Leopard Frog

    Under the Act and its implementing regulations, we are required to 
identify the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of the Chiricahua leopard frog in areas occupied at the 
time of listing, focusing on the features' PCEs. We consider PCEs to be 
the elements of the physical or biological features that provide for a 
species' life-history processes, 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 primary constituent 
elements specific to the Chiricahua leopard frog are:
    (1) Aquatic breeding habitat and immediately adjacent uplands 
exhibiting the following characteristics:
    (a) Standing bodies of fresh water (with salinities less than 5 
parts per thousand, pH greater than or equal to 5.6, and pollutants 
absent or minimally present), including natural and manmade (e.g., 
stock) ponds, slow-moving streams or pools within streams, off-channel 
pools, and other ephemeral or permanent water bodies that typically 
hold water or rarely dry for more than a month. During periods of 
drought, or less than average rainfall, these breeding sites may not 
hold water long enough for individuals to complete metamorphosis, but 
they would still be considered essential breeding habitat in non-
drought years.
    (b) Emergent and/or submerged vegetation, root masses, undercut 
banks, fractured rock substrates, or some combination thereof, but 
emergent vegetation does not completely cover the surface of water 
bodies.
    (c) Nonnative predators (e.g., crayfish, bullfrogs, nonnative fish) 
absent or occurring at levels that do not preclude presence of the 
Chiricahua leopard frog.
    (d) Absence of chytridiomycosis, or if present, then environmental, 
physiological, and genetic conditions are such that allow persistence 
of Chiricahua leopard frogs.
    (e) Upland habitats that provide opportunities for foraging and 
basking that are immediately adjacent to or surrounding breeding 
aquatic and riparian habitat.
    (2) Dispersal and nonbreeding habitat, consisting of areas with 
ephemeral (present for only a short time), intermittent, or perennial 
water that are generally not suitable for breeding, and associated 
upland or riparian habitat that provides corridors (overland movement 
or along wetted drainages) for frogs among breeding sites in a 
metapopulation with the following characteristics:
    (a) Are not more than 1.0 mile (1.6 kilometers) overland, 3.0 miles 
(4.8 kilometers) along ephemeral or intermittent drainages, 5.0 miles 
(8.0 kilometers) along perennial drainages, or some combination thereof 
not to exceed 5.0 miles (8.0 kilometers).
    (b) In overland and nonwetted corridors, provide some vegetation 
cover or structural features (e.g., boulders, rocks, organic debris 
such as downed trees or logs, small mammal burrows, or leaf litter) for 
shelter, forage, and protection from predators; in wetted corridors, 
provide some ephemeral, intermittent, or perennial aquatic habitat.
    (c) Are free of barriers that block movement by Chiricahua leopard 
frogs, including, but not limited to, urban, industrial, or 
agricultural development; reservoirs that are 50 acres (20 hectares) or 
more in size and contain nonnative predatory fish, bullfrogs, or 
crayfish; highways that do not include frog fencing and culverts; and 
walls, major dams, or other structures that physically block movement.
    With the exception of impoundments, livestock tanks, and other 
constructed waters, 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.
    With this designation of critical habitat, we intend to identify 
the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of 
the species, through the identification of the elements of the 
features, the primary constituent elements, that support the life-
history processes of the species. Because not all life-history 
functions require both PCEs 1 and 2, not all areas designated as 
critical habitat will contain both PCEs. Each of the areas designated 
in this rule has been determined to contain one or both of the PCEs.
    Under our regulations, we are required to identify the PCEs within 
the geographical area occupied by the Chiricahua leopard frog at the 
time of listing that are essential to the conservation of the species 
and which may require special management considerations or protections. 
The PCEs are laid out in a specific spatial arrangement and quantity 
determined to be essential to the conservation of the species. All 
designated critical habitat units are within the species' historical 
geographical range in the United States and contain one or both PCEs to 
support life-history functions. In addition, all but one designated 
critical habitat unit, Carr Barn Pond, are currently occupied by 
Chiricahua leopard frogs. Carr Barn Pond was occupied at the time of 
listing and currently contains PCE 1 to support life-history functions 
essential for the conservation of the species. This unit is needed as a 
future site for frog colonization or reestablishment, and Chiricahua 
leopard frogs can persist in this unit with a reasonable level of 
effort to control nonnative predators.

Special Management Considerations or Protections

    When designating critical habitat, we assess the physical or 
biological features within the geographical area occupied by the 
species at the time of listing that contain features that are essential 
to the conservation of the species and which may require special 
management considerations or protection.
    All areas designated as critical habitat will require some level of 
management to address the current and future threats to the Chiricahua 
leopard frog and to maintain or restore the PCEs. Special management in 
aquatic breeding sites will be needed to ensure that these sites 
provide water quantity, quality, and permanence or near permanence; 
cover; and absence of extraordinary predation and disease that can 
affect population persistence. In dispersal habitat, special management 
will be needed to ensure frogs can move through those sites with 
reasonable success. The designation of critical habitat does not imply 
that lands outside of critical habitat do not play an important role in 
the conservation of the Chiricahua leopard frog. Federal activities 
that may affect areas outside of critical habitat are still subject to 
review under section 7 of the Act if they may affect the Chiricahua 
leopard frog because effects to the species and its critical habitat 
must be considered independently. The prohibitions of section 9 of the 
Act also continue to apply both inside and outside of designated 
critical habitat.
    A detailed discussion of activities influencing the Chiricahua 
leopard frog and its habitat can be found in the final listing rule (67 
FR 40790; June 13, 2002) and the recovery plan (Service 2007, pp. 18-
45). The recovery plan also contains recovery-unit-specific threat 
assessments (Service 2007, pp. B1-B88). Activities that may warrant 
special management of the physical or biological features that define 
essential habitat (appropriate quantity and distribution of PCEs) for 
the Chiricahua leopard frog include, but are not limited to, 
introduction of nonnative predators;

[[Page 16344]]

introduction or spread of chytridiomycosis; inappropriate livestock 
grazing; water diversions and development; construction and maintenance 
of roads and utility corridors; fire suppression, fuels management, and 
prescribed fire. These activities have the potential to affect the PCEs 
if they are conducted within or adjacent to designated units.

Criteria Used To Identify Critical Habitat

    As required by section 4(b) of the Act, we used the best scientific 
and commercial data available in determining areas within the 
geographical area occupied at the time of listing that contain the 
features essential to the conservation of the Chiricahua leopard frog 
and require special management considerations or protection, and 
specific areas outside of the geographical area occupied at the time of 
listing that are essential for the conservation of the species. We also 
relied heavily on the recovery criteria outlined in the 2007 recovery 
plan for the Chiricahua leopard frog (Service 2007, pp. 31-37). Areas 
occupied at the time of listing are identified and described in 
Rorabaugh (2010, pp. 7-17) and information cited therein for Arizona, 
and for New Mexico in Jennings (1995, pp. 10-21), Painter (2000, pp. 
10-21), and the final listing rule at 67 FR 40793 (June 13, 2002). We 
have also reviewed available information that pertains to the habitat 
requirements of this species. The following were particularly useful: 
Degenhardt et al. (1996, pp. 85-87), Sredl and Jennings (2005, pp. 546-
549), Service (2007, pp. 15-18, 47-48), and Witte et al. (2008, pp. 5-
8).
    Units occupied at the time of listing include the specific areas 
occupied by Chiricahua leopard frogs in June 2002, that contain 
sufficient PCEs to support life-history functions essential for the 
conservation of the species. Included are sites where the species was 
breeding as well as areas where dispersing individuals were present, 
and other sites for which the breeding status was unknown. If 
metapopulation structure was known or suspected, dispersal habitats 
connecting breeding populations within metapopulations are also 
designated.
    Sites not known to be occupied at the time of listing in June 2002 
are also designated as critical habitat if we have determined them to 
be essential to the conservation of the species. Specifically, we 
assessed whether they are needed to meet the following recovery 
criterion from the recovery plan: at least two metapopulations located 
in different drainages (defined here as USGS 10-digit Hydrologic Units) 
plus at least one isolated and robust population occurring in each 
Recovery Unit and exhibiting long-term persistence and stability (even 
though local populations may go extinct in metapopulations; Service 
2007, p. 53). If sites are needed to meet that criterion, they are 
designated as critical habitat in this rule. At the time of listing, 
one of the units being designated as critical habitat was unoccupied, 
and for 10 additional units, their occupancy status was unknown 
(discussed below under Final Critical Habitat Designation). For 
purposes of this designation of critical habitat, the 10 units with 
unknown occupancy at the time of listing are being considered 
unoccupied at the time of listing. However, all 11 of these units are 
currently occupied and contain one or both PCEs. The specific areas 
defined by these units, which were unoccupied or not known to be 
occupied at the time of listing, are being designated as critical 
habitat because they are considered to be essential to the conservation 
of the species, will help meet the population goals in the recovery 
criterion discussed above, contain the PCEs, and currently contain 
known breeding populations of Chiricahua leopard frogs, which are 
relatively scarce (33 populations in Arizona and 20 to 23 in New 
Mexico).
    Recovery planning is focused on these existing breeding populations 
and building on them with habitat rehabilitation and population 
reestablishments to construct metapopulations and isolated robust 
populations needed to meet the recovery criterion. Such work is 
underway in all Recovery Units, but is further along in some than 
others. In particular, Recovery Units 1 (Tumacacori-Atascosa-Pajarito 
Mountains, Arizona and Sonora), 2 (Santa Rita-Huachuca-Ajos Bavispe, 
Arizona and Sonora), 3 (Chiricahua Mountains-Malpai Borderlands-Sierra 
Madre), 4 (Pinale[ntilde]o-Galiuro-Dragoon Mountains, Arizona), 5 
(Mogollon Rim--Verde River, Arizona), and 8 (Black-Mimbres-Rio Grande, 
New Mexico) are moving towards meeting the above-cited recovery 
criterion, and metapopulations and isolated, robust populations have 
been or are being identified (Rorabaugh 2010, pp. 17-30; Service 2010a, 
pp. 2-7; 2010b, pp. 2-9). In these Recovery Units, unoccupied sites 
have sometimes been identified by the Service, in cooperation with the 
recovery team steering committees and local recovery groups, where 
population reestablishment is needed to complete a metapopulation or to 
establish an isolated, robust population (Rorabaugh 2010, pp. 17-30; 
Service 2010a, pp. 2-7; 2010b, pp. 2-9). As previously noted, the Carr 
Barn Pond unit is the only unoccupied site being designated as critical 
habitat.
    Identification of such recovery sites in Recovery Units 6 (White 
Mountains-Upper Gila, Arizona and New Mexico) and 7 (Upper Gila-Blue 
River, Arizona and New Mexico) is more difficult, because less progress 
in recovery has been made in these areas. The recovery plan identifies 
management areas, which are areas within Recovery Units with the 
greatest potential for successful recovery actions and threat 
alleviation (Service 2007, p. 49). Within Recovery Units 6 and 7, 
critical habitat is being designated at specific sites within 
management areas with the greatest potential for building 
metapopulations and isolated, robust populations. As in other Recovery 
Units, existing breeding populations were considered to be either 
subpopulations in metapopulations or isolated, robust populations. 
Metapopulations were identified with these existing breeding 
populations at sites occupied at the time of listing that contain PCEs 
sufficient to support life-history functions essential for the 
conservation of the species, and at an unoccupied site with one or more 
PCEs or the potential to support PCEs with a reasonable level of 
restoration work or special management. In metapopulations, all of 
these sites are within reasonable dispersal distance (the ``1-3-5 
rule'' described above) of each other. In Recovery Unit 7, enough sites 
could not be found that meet the definition of critical habitat to 
construct two metapopulations and one isolated, robust population. 
Similarly, in Recovery Unit 6, one metapopulation exists, plus several 
isolated populations, but we have not been able to find aquatic sites 
that meet the definition of critical habitat to build a second 
metapopulation. In particular, other aquatic sites, some of which were 
occupied at the time of listing, lack the PCEs sufficient to support 
life-history functions essential for the conservation of the species, 
primarily due to presence of chytridiomycosis, which is a very serious 
threat in Recovery Unit 6. This Recovery Unit will require further 
investigation, and habitat restoration or creation may be needed to 
provide additional habitat for breeding Chiricahua leopard frog 
populations that can contribute to meeting the population goals in the 
recovery criterion discussed above.
    Also, included in this critical habitat designation are dispersal 
corridors

[[Page 16345]]

between sites within a metapopulation. These corridors were selected as 
the most likely routes for dispersal of frogs among sites, based on 
reasonable dispersal distances along perennial and ephemeral or 
intermittent drainages, or via overland routes where PCE 2 is present. 
Our selection of routes assumes perennial drainages are better 
dispersal corridors than ephemeral or intermittent drainages, and the 
ephemeral or intermittent drainages are better dispersal corridors than 
overland routes. We also assume that, if all else is equal, the shorter 
the route the more likely Chiricahua leopard frogs will successfully 
disperse. In addition, we considered the presence of waterfalls, steep 
slopes, and other obstacles that may be difficult for a frog to 
negotiate.
    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 Chiricahua leopard 
frogs. The scale of the maps we prepared under the parameters for 
publication within 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 were occupied at the time of listing that require special 
management considerations or protection, and contain sufficient 
physical or biological features to support life-history processes 
essential for the conservation of the species. We are also designating 
lands outside of the geographical area occupied at the time of listing 
that we have determined are essential for the conservation of 
Chiricahua leopard frogs.
    Units are designated based on sufficient elements of physical or 
biological features being present to support Chiricahua leopard frog 
life processes. Some units contain all of the identified elements of 
physical or biological features and support multiple life processes. 
Some segments contain only some elements of the physical or biological 
features necessary to support the Chiricahua leopard frog's particular 
use of that habitat.

Final Critical Habitat Designation

    We are designating 39 units as critical habitat for the Chiricahua 
leopard frog. The critical habitat areas we describe below constitute 
our current best assessment of areas that meet the definition of 
critical habitat for the species. All 39 units we are designating as 
critical habitat are within the species' geographical range, including 
areas occupied at the time of listing and areas not known to be 
occupied at the time of listing but identified as essential for the 
conservation of the species (Platz and Mecham 1984, p. 347.1). Table 1 
below shows the specific occupancy status of each unit at the time of 
listing and currently, based on the most recent data available. The 
approximate area of each designated critical habitat unit is shown in 
Table 2. The 39 areas designated as critical habitat are grouped by 
Recovery Unit.

 Table 1--Occupancy of Chiricahua Leopard Frog by Critical Habitat Units
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                               Occupied at time of
    Critical habitat unit           listing?        Currently  occupied?
------------------------------------------------------------------------
  Recovery Unit 1 (Tumacacori-Atascosa-Pajarito Mountains, Arizona and
                                 Mexico)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Twin Tanks and Ox Frame Tank  No*.................  Yes.
 Unit.
Garcia Tank Unit............  Yes.................  Yes.
Buenos Aires NWR Central      Yes.................  Yes.
 Tanks Unit.
Bonita, Upper Turner, and     Yes.................  Yes.
 Mojonera Tanks Unit.
Sycamore Canyon Unit........  Yes.................  Yes.
Pe[ntilde]a Blanca Lake and   Yes.................  Yes.
 Spring and Associated Unit
 Tanks.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
 Recovery Unit 2 (Santa Rita-Huachuca-Ajos Bavispe, Arizona and Mexico)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Florida Canyon Unit.........  No*.................  Yes.
Eastern Slope of the Santa    No*.................  Yes.
 Rita Mountains Unit.
Las Cienegas National         Yes.................  Yes.
 Conservation Area Unit.
Scotia Canyon Unit..........  No..................  Yes.
Carr Barn Pond Unit.........  Yes.................  No.
Ramsey and Brown Canyons      Yes.................  Yes.
 Unit.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
 Recovery Unit 3 (Chiricahua Mountains-Malpai Borderlands-Sierra Madre,
                    Arizona, New Mexico, and Mexico)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Peloncillo Mountains Unit...  Yes.................  Yes.
Cave Creek Unit.............  Yes.................  Yes.
Leslie Creek Unit...........  Yes.................  Yes.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
  Recovery Unit 4 (Pi[ntilde]aleno-Galiuro-Dragoon Mountains, Arizona)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Deer Creek Unit.............  Yes.................  Yes.
Oak Spring and Oak Creek      No*.................  Yes.
 Unit.
Dragoon Mountains Unit......  Yes.................  Yes.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
           Recovery Unit 5 (Mogollon Rim-Verde River, Arizona)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Buckskin Hills Unit.........  Yes.................  Yes.
Crouch, Gentry, and Cherry    Yes.................  Yes.
 Creeks, and Parallel Canyon
 Unit.

[[Page 16346]]

 
Ellison and Lewis Creeks      No*.................  Yes.
 Unit.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
  Recovery Unit 6 (White Mountains-Upper Gila, Arizona and New Mexico)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Concho Bill and Deer Creek    No*.................  Yes.
 Unit.
Campbell Blue and Coleman     Yes.................  Yes.
 Creeks Unit.
Tularosa River Unit.........  Yes.................  Yes.
Deep Creek Divide Area Unit.  Yes.................  Yes.
Main Diamond Creek Unit.....  Yes.................  Yes.
Beaver Creek Unit...........  No*.................  Yes.
Kerr Canyon Unit............  Yes.................  Yes.
West Fork Gila River Unit...  Yes.................  Yes.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Recovery Unit 7 (Upper Gila-Blue River, Arizona and New Mexico)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Left Prong of Dix Creek Unit  No*.................  Yes.
Rattlesnake Pasture Tank and  No*.................  Yes.
 Associated Tanks Unit.
Coal Creek Unit.............  No*.................  Yes.
Blue Creek Unit.............  Yes.................  Yes.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
         Recovery Unit 8 (Black-Mimbres-Rio Grande, New Mexico)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Seco Creek Unit.............  Yes.................  Yes.
Alamosa Warm Springs Unit...  Yes.................  Yes.
Cuchillo Negro Warm Springs   Yes.................  Yes.
 and Creek Unit.
Ash and Bolton Springs Unit.  Yes.................  Yes.
Mimbres River Unit..........  Yes.................  Yes.
South Fork Palomas Creek      Yes.................  Yes.
 Unit.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
*Occupancy unknown at time of listing. However, for purposes of this
  designation of critical habitat, these units are classified as
  unoccupied at the time of listing.


                         Table 2--Critical Habitat Units for the Chiricahua Leopard Frog
 [Area estimates reflect all land within critical habitat unit boundaries. Note that grazing allotments are not
                                        considered in private ownership.]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                         Land ownership by type acres  (hectares)
    Critical habitat unit    ---------------------------------------------------------------   Size of unit in
                                    Federal               State               Private          acres (hectares)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                  Recovery Unit 1 (Tumacacori-Atascosa-Pajarito Mountains, Arizona and Mexico)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Twin Tanks and Ox Frame Tank                   0             1.3 (0.5)            0.4 (0.2)            1.7 (0.7)
 Unit.......................
Garcia Tank Unit............            0.7 (0.3)                   0                    0             0.7 (0.3)
Buenos Aires NWR Central              1,720 (696)                   0                    0           1,720 (696)
 Tanks Unit.................
Bonita, Upper Turner, and                201 (81)                   0                    0              201 (81)
 Mojonera Tanks Unit........
Sycamore Canyon Unit........            262 (106)                   0                 7 (3)            269 (109)
Pe[ntilde]a Blanca Lake and              202 (82)                   0                    0              202 (82)
 Spring and Associated Tanks
 Unit.......................
                             -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Recovery Unit 1 Total...      2,385.7 (965.3)            1.3 (0.5)            7.4 (3.2)      2,394.4 (969.0)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                     Recovery Unit 2 (Santa Rita-Huachuca-Ajos Bavispe, Arizona and Mexico)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Florida Canyon Unit.........                4 (2)                   0                    0                 4 (2)
Eastern Slope of the Santa               172 (70)                   0                14 (6)             186 (76)
 Rita Mountains Unit........
Las Cienegas National                 1,364 (552)             186 (75)                   0           1,550 (627)
 Conservation Area Unit.....
Scotia Canyon Unit..........              70 (29)                   0                    0               70 (29)
Carr Barn Pond Unit.........            0.6 (0.3)                   0                    0             0.6 (0.3)
Ramsey and Brown Canyons                  58 (24)                   0               44 (18)             102 (42)
 Unit.......................
                             -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Recovery Unit 2 Total...      1,668.6 (677.3)             186 (75)              58 (24)      1,912.6 (776.3)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Recovery Unit 3 (Chiricahua Mountains-Malpai Borderlands-Sierra Madre, Arizona, New Mexico, and Mexico)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Peloncillo Mountains Unit...            366 (148)                   0                    0             366 (148)
Cave Creek Unit.............             234 (95)                   0                    0              234 (95)
Leslie Creek Unit...........              26 (11)                   0                    0               26 (11)
                             -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Recovery Unit 3 Total...            626 (253)                   0                    0             626 (253)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 16347]]

 
                      Recovery Unit 4 (Pi[ntilde]aleno-Galiuro-Dragoon Mountains, Arizona)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Deer Creek Unit.............               17 (7)              69 (28)              34 (14)             120 (49)
Oak Spring and Oak Creek                  27 (11)                   0                    0               27 (11)
 Unit.......................
Dragoon Mountains Unit......              74 (30)                   0                    0               74 (30)
                             -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Recovery Unit 4 Total...             118 (48)              69 (28)              34 (14)             221 (89)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                               Recovery Unit 5 (Mogollon Rim-Verde River, Arizona)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Buckskin Hills Unit.........             232 (94)                   0                    0              232 (94)
Crouch, Gentry, and Cherry              334 (135)              64 (26)                6 (3)            404 (164)
 Creeks, and Parallel Canyon
 Unit.......................
Ellison and Lewis Creeks                  83 (34)                   0                15 (6)              98 (40)
 Unit.......................
                             -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Recovery Unit 5 Total...            649 (263)              64 (26)               21 (8)            734 (297)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                      Recovery Unit 6 (White Mountains-Upper Gila, Arizona and New Mexico)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Concho Bill and Deer Creek                 17 (7)                   0                    0                17 (7)
 Unit.......................
Campbell Blue and Coleman                174 (70)                   0                    0              174 (70)
 Creeks Unit................
Tularosa River Unit.........            335 (135)                   0           1,575 (637)          1,910 (772)
Deep Creek Divide Area Unit.            408 (165)                   0              102 (41)            510 (206)
Main Diamond Creek Unit.....              53 (21)                   0                 0 (0)              53 (21)
Beaver Creek Unit...........             132 (54)                   0               25 (10)             157 (64)
Kerr Canyon Unit............               19 (8)                   0                 6 (2)              25 (10)
West Fork Gila River Unit...             177 (72)                   0                    0              177 (72)
                             -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Recovery Unit 6 Total...          1,315 (532)                   0           1,708 (690)        3,023 (1,222)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                         Recovery Unit 7 (Upper Gila-Blue River, Arizona and New Mexico)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Left Prong of Dix Creek Unit               13 (5)                   0                    0                13 (5)
Rattlesnake Pasture Tank and              59 (24)                   0                    0               59 (24)
 Associated Tanks Unit......
Coal Creek Unit.............                7 (3)                   0                    0                 7 (3)
Blue Creek Unit.............              24 (10)                   0                12 (5)              36 (15)
                             -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Recovery Unit 7 Total...             103 (42)                   0                12 (5)             115 (47)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                             Recovery Unit 8 (Black-Mimbres-Rio Grande, New Mexico)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Seco Creek Unit.............              66 (27)                   0                    0               66 (27)
Alamosa Warm Springs Unit...            0.2 (0.1)              25 (10)              54 (22)          79.2 (32.1)
Cuchillo Negro Warm Springs                 3 (1)                3 (1)                   0                 6 (2)
 and Creek Unit.............
Ash and Bolton Springs Unit.                   0                    0               49 (20)              49 (20)
Mimbres River Unit..........                   0                    0           1,097 (444)          1,097 (444)
South Fork Palomas Creek                   23 (9)                   0                    0                23 (9)
 Unit.......................
                             -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Recovery Unit 8 Total...          92.2 (37.1)              28 (11)          1,200 (486)      1,320.2 (534.1)
                             -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Total...............        6,958 (2,816)            348 (141)        3,040 (1,230)       10,346 (4,187)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Note: Area sizes may not sum due to rounding.

    We present brief descriptions of all units below, and reasons why 
they meet the definition of critical habitat for the Chiricahua leopard 
frog. Unless indicated otherwise below, the physical or biological 
features of critical habitat in stream and riverine lotic (actively 
moving water) systems are contained within the riverine and riparian 
ecosystems formed by the wetted channel and adjacent floodplains within 
328 lateral ft (100 lateral m) on either side of bankfull stage. 
Bankfull stage is generally considered to be that level of stream 
discharge reached just before flows spill out onto the adjacent 
floodplain. The discharges that occur at bankfull stage, in combination 
with the range of flows that occur over a length of time, govern the 
shape and size of the river channel (Rosgen 1996, pp. 2-2 to 2-4; 
Leopold 1997, pp. 62-63, 66). The use of bankfull stage and 328 ft (100 
m) on either side recognizes the naturally dynamic nature of riverine 
systems and recognizes that floodplains are an integral part of the 
stream ecosystem.
    Ephemeral drainages (containing water for only brief periods) 
designated as critical habitat for dispersal corridors among breeding 
sites in metapopulations will, in some cases, be less distinct than the 
stream or river

[[Page 16348]]

reaches where Chiricahua leopard frogs breed. Nonetheless, these 
ephemeral drainages will still be defined by wetland plant species, 
denser or taller specimens of upland species, channel characteristics 
such as sandy or gravelly soils that contrast with upland soils, the 
presence of cut banks, or some combination of these. Where dispersal 
corridors cross uplands, designated critical habitat is 328 ft (100 m) 
wide, the centerline of which is the line delineated on our critical 
habitat maps and legal descriptions.
    In ponds designated as critical habitat, most of which are 
impoundments for watering cattle or other livestock, designated 
critical habitat extends for 20 ft (6.1 m) beyond the high water line 
or to the boundary of the riparian and upland vegetation edge, 
whichever is greatest. Chiricahua leopard frogs are commonly found 
foraging and basking within 20 feet of the shoreline of tanks. In 
addition, designated critical habitat extends upstream from ponds from 
the extent of the boundary for 328 ft (100 m) from the high water line. 
The designated critical habitat extends to 328 ft (100 m) upstream 
because there is often a riparian drainage coming into the tank, and 
Chiricahua leopard frogs are likely moving along those drainages. Also, 
the high water line is defined as that water level which, if exceeded, 
results in overflow of the pond. In most cases, this is the elevation 
of the spillway (dam) in livestock impoundments.

Recovery Unit 1 (Tumacacori-Atascosa-Pajarito Mountains, Arizona and 
Mexico)

Twin Tanks and Ox Frame Tank Unit
    This unit consists of 1.3 ac (0.5 ha) of lands owned by the Arizona 
State Land Department and 0.4 ac (0.2 ha) of private lands in the 
Sierrita Mountains, Pima County, Arizona. Twin Tanks is on lands owned 
and managed by the Arizona State Land Department and consists of two 
tanks in proximity to each other as well as a drainage running between 
them. Ox Frame Tank is on private lands.
    Occupancy of these livestock tanks at the time of listing is 
unknown, as they were not surveyed for frogs until 2007. We consider 
this unit to have been unoccupied at the time of listing for the 
purpose of this critical habitat designation. We have determined this 
unit to be essential to the conservation of the species because these 
sites are important breeding sites for recovery. Twin Tanks held more 
than 1,000 frogs in 2008, and is a robust breeding population. Ox Frame 
and Twin tanks are too far apart (4.3 mi (7.0 km) overland) across 
rugged terrain to expect frogs to move between these sites. Hence, 
these tanks serve as isolated populations. The Twin Tanks area is less 
than 0.5 mi (0.8 km) upslope of active mining at Freeport McMoRan's 
Sierrita Copper Mine and could be affected from expansion of mining 
activities, creation of aerial pollutants that could affect water 
chemistry or quality, and possible effects to the frog's prey base. 
Addtionally, this unit contains both PCEs 1 and 2.
    Both sites are also at risk of introduction of nonnative predators, 
such as bullfrogs and nonnative crayfish. Presence of chytridiomycosis 
at these tanks has not been investigated.
Garcia Tank Unit
    This unit consists of 0.7 ac (0.3 ha) of Federal land located on 
the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), Pima County, Arizona. 
It is a double tank; the southwest or downstream impoundment is more 
dependable at holding water than the upstream tank. However, both parts 
of the tank are designated as critical habitat. Garcia Tank is 
designated as critical habitat, because it was occupied at the time of 
listing and currently contains PCE 1 to support life-history functions 
essential for the conservation of the species.
    A breeding site, Garcia Tank was known to have been occupied in 
2002 and 2006. Leopard frogs were noted in 2010, but they were not 
identified to species (the lowland leopard frog is also known to occur 
in the area). It is about 3.6 mi (5.8 km) over land across dissected 
and hilly terrain to the next nearest population at Lower Carpenter 
Tank. The nearest known populations to the east are on the Coronado 
National Forest and are more than 9.0 mi (14 km) away. Hence, this site 
is isolated and is managed as an isolated, robust population. The 
features essential to the conservation of the species in this unit may 
require special management considerations or protection to ensure these 
characteristics persist over time. The greatest threats needing special 
management are introductions of or colonization by nonnative species, 
such as bullfrogs and crayfish, and drought that could greatly reduce 
or eliminate the aquatic habitat. If necessary, in the wake of 
sustained drought, alternative water supplies or interim measures may 
be necessary in the form of water hauling or a supply well.
Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) Central Tanks Unit
    This unit, consisting of 1,720 ac (696 ha) of Federal land within 
the Buenos Aires NWR, Pima County, Arizona, includes former cattle 
tanks and other waters used as breeding and dispersal sites, plus 
intervening and connecting drainages and uplands. This unit is 
designated as critical habitat because it was occupied at the time of 
listing and currently contains the features essential to the 
conservation of the species (PCEs 1 and 2 are present).
    Breeding sites at permanent or nearly permanent tanks (Carpenter, 
Rock, State, Triangle, and New Round Hill) support the most stable 
metapopulation known within the range of the species. Chongo Tank, 
where a population was established in 2009, may become a sixth breeding 
site. Seven other tanks support frogs periodically to regularly, and 
breeding and recruitment likely take place at these tanks in wet cycles 
(periods marked by successional precipitation events). Frogs occupied 
Carpenter, Rock, and Triangle Tanks in 2002, at or about the time of 
listing. Tanks designated for designation include Carpenter, Rock, 
State, Triangle, New Round Hill, Banado, Choffo, Barrel Cactus, 
Sufrido, Hito, Morley, McKay, and Chongo Tanks. McKay Tank is a cluster 
of three tanks, all of which are designated as critical habitat. Also 
designated as critical habitat are the intervening drainages, 
including: (1) Puertocito Wash from Triangle Tank north through and 
including Aguire Lake to New Round Hill Tank, then upstream to the 
confluence with Las Moras Wash, and upstream in Las Moras Wash to 
Chongo Tank; (2) an unnamed drainage from Puertocito Wash upstream to 
McKay Tank; (3) an unnamed drainage from Puertocito Wash upstream to 
Rock Tank, including Morley Tank, then upstream in an unnamed drainage 
to the top of that drainage, directly overland to an unnamed drainage, 
and then upstream to Hito Tank and downstream to McKay Tank; (4) from 
Sufrido Tank downstream in an unnamed drainage to its confluence with 
an unnamed drainage running between Rock and Morley tanks; (5) Lopez 
Wash from Carpenter Tank downstream to Aguire Lake; (6) an unnamed 
drainage from its confluence with Lopez Wash upstream to Choffo Tank; 
(7) an unnamed drainage from its confluence with Lopez Wash upstream to 
State Tank; (8) an unnamed drainage from Banado Tank downstream to its 
confluence with an unnamed drainage, then upstream in that drainage to 
Barrel Cactus Tank; and (9) an unnamed drainage from Banado Tank 
upstream to a saddle, then directly downslope to Lopez Wash.
    The features essential to the conservation of the species in this 
unit

[[Page 16349]]

may require special management considerations or protection to 
alleviate the threats from bullfrogs and disease. In this unit, 
bullfrogs remain a threat, but efforts are underway to eliminate the 
last known populations of bullfrogs in the Altar Valley (on the Santa 
Margarita Ranch to the south of Buenos Aires NWR). Frogs in this area 
have tested positive for chytridiomycosis, but the disease appears to 
have little effect on population persistence.
Bonita, Upper Turner, and Mojonera Tanks Unit
    This unit includes 201 ac (81 ha) of Federal lands in the Coronado 
National Forest in the Pajarito and Atascosa Mountains, Santa Cruz 
County, Arizona. This unit is designated as critical habitat because it 
was occupied at the time of listing and currently contains the features 
essential to the conservation of the species (both PCEs 1 and 2).
    Two breeding sites (Bonita Tank and Mojonera Tank), combined with a 
dispersal site or site where breeding and recruitment may occur in wet 
years (Upper Turner Tank), form the center of a future metapopulation. 
Three additional waters--Sierra Tank East, Sierra Tank West, and Sierra 
Well--require special management to increase breeding potential in 
these areas. Frogs currently occupy Bonita and Mojonera Tanks, and 
Bonita Tank was occupied at the time of listing. Frogs were last found 
at Upper Turner Tank in 2004. The occupancy status of Mojonera and 
Upper Turner Tanks at the time of listing is unknown. The designated 
critical habitat in this unit also includes intervening drainages, 
uplands, and ephemeral or intermittent waters as follows: (1) From 
Upper Turner Tank upstream in an unnamed drainage to its confluence 
with a minor drainage coming in from the east, then directly upslope in 
that drainage and east to a saddle, and directly downslope to Bonita 
Canyon, and upstream in Bonita Canyon to Bonita Tank; and (2) from 
Mojonera Tank downstream in Mojonera Canyon to a sharp bend where the 
drainage turns west-northwest, then southeast and upstream in an 
unnamed drainage to a saddle, downslope through an unnamed drainage to 
its confluence with another unnamed drainage, upstream in that unnamed 
drainage to a saddle, and then downstream in an unnamed drainage to 
Sierra Well, to include Sierra Tank West and Sierra Tank East, then 
directly overland to Upper Turner Tank.
    In this unit, special management is needed because bullfrogs are a 
continuing threat, and illegal border activity and associated law 
enforcement have resulted in watershed damage. A road on the berm of 
Upper Turner Tank is scheduled for improvement to access a surveillance 
tower operated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Special 
management is also needed because frogs in this region have tested 
positive for chytridiomycosis, but the disease appears to have little 
effect on population persistence.
Sycamore Canyon Unit
    This unit includes 262 ac (106 ha) of Federal lands in the Coronado 
National Forest and 7 ac (3 ha) of private lands along Atascosa Canyon 
through Bear Valley Ranch in the Pajarito and Atascosa Mountains, Santa 
Cruz County, Arizona. This unit is designated as critical habitat 
because it was occupied at the time of listing and currently contains 
the features essential to the conservation of the species (PCEs 1 and 
2).
    Sycamore Canyon is the only lotic (flowing water) site in Recovery 
Unit 1 capable of supporting breeding subpopulations of Chiricahua 
leopard frogs. Most other sites are livestock tanks or impounded 
springs. Sycamore Canyon, Bear Valley Ranch Tank, Rattlesnake Tank, and 
Atascosa Canyon downstream of Bear Valley Ranch were all occupied by 
Chiricahua leopard frogs at the time of listing. The occupancy status 
of the other sites at the time of listing is unknown. Sycamore Canyon, 
Yank Tank, North Mesa tank, South Mesa Tank, and Bear Valley Ranch Tank 
are currently occupied. The current occupancy status of Rattlesnake 
Tank and Atascosa Canyon downstream of Bear Valley Ranch Tank is 
unknown. Designated critical habitat includes approximately 6.35 mi 
(10.23 km) of Sycamore Canyon from Ruby Road to the international 
border, which supports frogs and breeding, although in the driest 
months (May and June) the stream dries to pools and tinajas (a term 
used in the American Southwest for water pockets formed in bedrock 
depressions that occur below waterfalls or are carved out by spring 
flow or seepage).
    A number of livestock tanks in the unit form a viable 
metapopulation with Sycamore Canyon. Designated critical habitat 
includes the following tanks and their connecting drainages: (1) From 
Yank Tank downstream in an unnamed drainage to Sycamore Canyon; (2) 
from North Mesa Tank downstream in Atascosa Canyon to its confluence 
with Pe[ntilde]asco Canyon, then from that confluence downstream in 
Pe[ntilde]asco Canyon to Sycamore Canyon; (3) from Horse Pasture Spring 
downstream to Pe[ntilde]asco Canyon; (4) from Bear Valley Ranch Tank 
downstream in an unnamed drainage to Atascosa Canyon; (5) from South 
Mesa Tank downstream in an unnamed drainage to Pe[ntilde]asco Canyon; 
and (6) from Rattlesnake Tank downstream in an unnamed canyon to its 
confluence with another unnamed drainage, then upstream in that 
drainage to South Mesa Tank.
    Special management is required in this unit because bullfrogs have 
been a continuing problem, although recent control efforts seem to have 
eliminated them from Sycamore Canyon. Nonnative green sunfish (Lepomis 
cyanellus) have occasionally been found in Sycamore Canyon as well, and 
they could prey on larval Chiricahua leopard frogs. Pools critical to 
survival of frogs and tadpoles through the dry season are sensitive to 
sedimentation and erosion upstream in the watershed of Sycamore Canyon. 
The earliest records of chytridiomycosis in Arizona are from Sycamore 
Canyon (1972). A robust population of Chiricahua leopard frogs persists 
at this site despite the disease and periodic die-offs. Illegal border 
activity and associated law enforcement have resulted in many trails 
and new vehicle routes in the area, as well as trampling in the canyon.
    Sycamore Canyon is designated a Research Natural Area by the 
Coronado National Forest and is closed to livestock grazing. Critical 
habitat is designated for the Sonora chub (Gila ditaenia) in Sycamore 
Canyon from Hank and Yank Spring (about 0.25 mi (0.40 km) downstream of 
the Ruby Road crossing) downstream to the international border, and in 
a 25-ft (7.6-m) strip on both sides of the creek (51 FR 16042; April 
30, 1986). Much of this unit also lies within the Pajarita Wilderness 
area. These designations provide some level of protection to Chiricahua 
leopard frog habitats in Sycamore Canyon because management for Sonora 
chub conservation is consistent with that for Chiricahua leopard frogs. 
However, the Chiricahua leopard frog may require additional measures.
Pe[ntilde]a Blanca Lake and Spring and Associated Tanks Unit
    This unit includes 202 ac (82 ha) of Federal lands in the Coronado 
National Forest, Santa Cruz County, Arizona. This area is designated as 
critical habitat because it was occupied at the time of listing and 
contains PCEs 1 and 2, which support the life-history functions 
essential for the conservation of the species.
    This unit is a metapopulation that includes Pe[ntilde]a Blanca 
Lake, Pe[ntilde]a Blanca Spring, Summit Reservoir, Tinker Tank, Thumb 
Butte Tank, and Coyote Tank.

[[Page 16350]]

These sites were all occupied in 2009. Chiricahua leopard frogs and 
tadpoles were found in Pe[ntilde]a Blanca Lake in 2009 and 2010, after 
the lake had been drained and then refilled, which eliminated the 
nonnative predators. However, early in 2010, rainbow trout 
(Oncorhynchus mykiss) were stocked back into the lake, and plans are 
underway to reestablish a variety of warm water, predatory fish (such 
as largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides)) in the spring of 2012. 
Despite the stocking of rainbow trout, Pe[ntilde]a Blanca Lake now 
contains a robust breeding population of Chiricahua leopard frogs, one 
of the largest single populations throughout its range. In April 2011, 
surveys of the lake confirmed that Chiricahua leopard frogs remained 
extant. In September 2011, surveys of the lake estimated the Chiricahua 
leopard frog population to number between 300 to 500 individuals, which 
is likely a low estimate, because only a single night survey was 
performed, and the shoreline habitat was complex, making observations 
difficult. During that survey, Chiricahua leopard frogs were calling, 
indicating that fall breeding may have been occurring.
    In 2002, Chiricahua leopard frogs were only known to occur at 
Pe[ntilde]a Blanca Spring. Occupancy status at the time of listing for 
the other sites is unknown. Designated critical habitat also includes: 
(1) From Summit Reservoir directly southeast to a saddle on Summit 
Motorway, then downslope to an unnamed drainage and downstream in that 
drainage to its confluence with Alamo Canyon, then downstream in Alamo 
Canyon to its confluence with Pe[ntilde]a Blanca Canyon, then 
downstream in Pe[ntilde]a Blanca Canyon to Pe[ntilde]a Blanca Lake, to 
include Pe[ntilde]a Blanca Spring; (2) from Thumb Butte Tank downstream 
in an unnamed drainage to its confluence with Alamo Canyon; (3) from 
Tinker Tank downstream in an unnamed drainage to its confluence with 
Alamo Canyon, then downstream in Alamo Canyon to the confluence with 
the drainage from Summit Reservoir; and (4) from Coyote Tank downstream 
in an unnamed drainage to its confluence with Alamo Canyon, and then 
downstream in Alamo Canyon to the confluence with the drainage from 
Tinker Tank, to include Alamo Spring.
    Special management is required in this unit because nonnative 
predators, particularly bullfrogs and sportfish, remain a serious 
threat. A concerted effort began in 2008 to clear the area of 
bullfrogs. The effort appears to be successful, and Chiricahua leopard 
frogs have clearly benefited because their population has grown 
exponentially in Pe[ntilde]a Blanca Lake. However, there is a 
continuing threat of recolonization or purposeful introduction of 
bullfrogs, and management of this area will continue to concentrate on 
preventing bullfrogs from recolonizing the area and eliminating those 
that do. As discussed, warmwater sportfish at Pe[ntilde]a Blanca Lake 
are scheduled to be stocked in the spring of 2012, which will affect 
the suitability of the lake as Chiricahua leopard frog habitat. 
However, in a May 2011, section 7 consultation for sportfish stocking 
of the lake, conservation measures were established that require 
shoreline habitat to be managed in a manner to retain its complexity, 
which will provide some level of protection to resident Chiricahua 
leopard frogs from potential predation from sportfish. In that 
consultation, we determined that, given the number of conservation 
measures (which included managing against bullfrogs and ensuring the 
persistence of dense shoreline vegetation), the proposed stocking of 
warmwater fish would not result in adverse modification of this 
critical habitat unit. Given the robust population of Chiricahua 
leopard frogs that currently occurs in the lake and protection offered 
by attributes of existing shoreline habitat, we recognize the value of 
Pe[ntilde]a Blanca Lake as essential for the conservation of Chiricahua 
leopard frogs, even with the presence of warmwater sportfish. 
Chiricahua leopard frogs in this region have tested positive for 
chytridiomycosis; however, the disease appears to have little effect on 
population persistence.

Recovery Unit 2 (Santa Rita-Huachuca-Ajos Bavispe, Arizona and Mexico)

Florida Canyon Unit
    Florida Canyon includes 4 ac (2 ha) of Federal lands in the 
Coronado National Forest in the Santa Rita Mountains, Pima County, 
Arizona.
    Chiricahua leopard frogs currently occupy this site; however, its 
occupancy status at the time of listing is unknown. We consider this 
unit to have been unoccupied at the time of listing for the purpose of 
this critical habitat designation. We have determined this unit to be 
essential to the conservation of the species because it can be managed 
as a breeding population to provide overall stability to the species' 
status. A single frog was found in 2008, which was augmented with frogs 
from elsewhere in the Santa Rita Mountains in 2009. The site is too far 
from other known breeding populations to be part of a metapopulation 
(the next nearest population is about a 5-mi (8-km) straight-line 
distance away in Unit 8; hence, it will be managed as an isolated 
population). PCE 1 is present and was enhanced in 2010, with the 
addition of a steel tank for breeding. Included in the designation is 
approximately 1,521 ft (463 m) of Florida Canyon from a silted-in dam 
to the downstream end of the Florida Workstation property.
    The major threat is scarcity of water, particularly during long 
periods of drought. Also, fire in the watershed could result in 
scouring and sedimentation in the pools important as habitat for the 
frog. The addition of a steel tank provides dependable water for 
breeding that is safe from erosion or sedimentation events. 
Chyridiomycosis and introduced predators are potential threats, but 
neither has been recorded at this site.
Eastern Slope of the Santa Rita Mountains Unit
    This unit includes 172 ac (70 ha) of Federal lands in the Coronado 
National Forest and 14 ac (6 ha) of private lands in the Greaterville 
area in Pima County, Arizona.
    Included in the critical habitat designation are two metal troughs 
in Louisiana Gulch, Greaterville Tank, Los Posos Gulch Tank, and the 
Granite Mountain Tank complex. The Granite Mountain Tank complex 
includes two impoundments and a well. All but Los Posos Gulch Tank are 
currently occupied breeding sites; however, the occupancy status at the 
time of listing for these sites is unknown. We consider this unit to 
have been unoccupied at the time of listing for the purpose of this 
critical habitat designation. We have determined this unit to be 
essential to the conservation of the species because it represents one 
of only two known occupied areas that support or likely support 
breeding activity for the Chiricahua leopard frog in the Santa Rita 
Mountains. More than 60 Chiricahua leopard frogs were observed at Los 
Posos Gulch Tank in 2008. It was once thought to be a robust breeding 
site; however, it dried, and Chiricahua leopard frogs disappeared in 
2009. These four sites collectively form a metapopulation. A number of 
other sites in this region have been found to support dispersing 
Chiricahua leopard frogs; however, only a few frogs and no breeding 
have been observed at these sites, so they are thought to represent 
dispersing frogs. The occupancy status of these other sites at the time 
of listing is also unknown. Designated critical habitat also includes 
intervening drainages as follows: (1) From Los Posos

[[Page 16351]]

Gulch upstream to a saddle, then downslope in an unnamed drainage to 
the confluence with another unnamed drainage, then upstream and south 
in that drainage to a saddle, and downslope through an unnamed drainage 
to its confluence with Ophir Gulch, then in Ophir Gulch to upper 
Granite Mountain Tank, to include an ephemeral tank near upper Granite 
Mountain Tank and a well; (2) from Greaterville Tank downstream in an 
unnamed drainage to Ophir Gulch; and (3) Louisiana Gulch from the metal 
tanks upstream to the headwaters of Louisiana Gulch then across a 
saddle and downslope through an unnamed drainage to its confluence with 
Ophir Gulch. Additionally, this unit has both PCEs 1 and 2.
    The major threat in this unit is limited surface water. The 
breeding habitat at Louisiana Gulch, although limited to two 6.0-ft 
(1.8-m) diameter steel tanks, is dependable because it is fed by a 
well. The other tanks are filled by runoff and susceptible to drying 
during drought. Nonnative predators and chytridiomycosis are not known 
to be imminent threats in this area.
Las Cienegas National Conservation Area Unit
    This unit is in Pima County, Arizona, and includes 1,364 ac (552 
ha) of Bureau of Land Management lands and 186 ac (75 ha) of Arizona 
State Land Department lands, including an approximate 4.33-mi (6.98-km) 
reach of Empire Gulch and 1.91 mi (3.08 km) of Cienega Creek, including 
the Cinco Ponds. This unit is designated as critical habitat because it 
was occupied at the time of listing and currently contains PCEs 1 and 2 
to support life-history functions essential for the conservation of the 
species. Close to 60 metamorphosed Chiricahua leopard frogs and 400 
tadpoles were released to Las Cienegas Natural Conservation Area during 
the fall of 2011.
    At the time of listing, Empire Gulch was occupied. However, the 
occupancy status of Cinco Ponds at that time is unknown. Currently, 
Chiricahua leopard frogs are extant at Empire Gulch and Cinco Ponds. 
Frogs breed in a reach of Empire Gulch near Empire Ranch. This reach 
includes: (1) Empire Gulch from a pipeline road crossing above the 
breeding site downstream to Cienega Creek; and (2) Cienega Creek from 
the Empire Gulch confluence upstream to the approximate end of the 
wetted reach and where the creek bends hard to the east, to include 
Cinco Ponds. An enclosed Chiricahua leopard frog facility exists along 
Empire Gulch and is used to headstart eggs and tadpoles for release to 
augment the wild population. Frogs may breed periodically at Cinco 
Ponds. These sites are too far (more than an 8.0-mi (13-km) straight-
line distance) from the next nearest population, which is in Eastern 
Slope of the Santa Rita Mountains; thus, the population(s) in this unit 
currently acts as an isolated population(s).
    Special management is required in this unit to improve habitat, 
control disease, and remove nonnative species. A collaborative, multi-
partner recovery program for the Chiricahua leopard frog is ongoing at 
Las Cienegas; the program is funded by a substantial grant from the 
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The program focuses on creating 
opportunities for Chiricahua leopard frog head-starting, improving 
habitat, and removing nonnative species. Significant progress has been 
made to eliminate bullfrogs from the area, but bullfrogs are still 
present and represent a persistent problem. Chiricahua leopard frogs 
suffer from chytridiomycosis in this unit; however, the Chiricahua 
leopard frogs are persisting with the disease. Crayfish occur within a 
few miles and pose a significant threat if they reach Cienega Creek or 
Empire Gulch.
    Empire Gulch and Cienega Creek downstream of its confluence with 
Empire Gulch is designated critical habitat for the federally 
endangered Gila chub (Gila intermedia) (70 FR 66663; November 2, 2005). 
The chub and the federally endangered Gila topminnow (Poeciliopsis 
occidentalis) (32 FR 4001; March 11, 1967) occur in Cienega Creek 
adjacent to Empire Gulch. The Gila topminnow also occurs in Empire 
Gulch. Neither species occurs in Cinco Ponds. Where these federally 
listed species occur with the Chiricahua leopard frog, some level of 
protection may be afforded to Chiricahua leopard frog habitat when a 
Federal nexus exists for projects that may affect one of these other 
federally listed species.
Pasture 9 Tank
    This was a proposed unit that includes 0.5 ac (0.2 ha), and is a 
former cattle pond entirely on private lands of the San Rafael Ranch, 
San Rafael Valley, Santa Cruz County, Arizona. For this final rule, we 
are excluding all 0.5 ac (0.2 ha) in this unit under section 4(b)(2) of 
the Act (see Application of Section 4(b)(2) of the Act, below). 
Therefore, this unit is not being designated as critical habitat in 
this final rule.
Scotia Canyon Unit
    This unit includes 70 ac (29 ha) in Scotia Canyon, Huachuca 
Mountain, Cochise County, Arizona, and is entirely on Federal lands in 
the Coronado National Forest. Chiricahua leopard frogs were 
reestablished in this canyon via a translocation in 2009; the last 
record of a Chiricahua leopard frog in the canyon before that was 1986. 
Scotia Canyon was not occupied at the time of listing. We consider this 
unit to be essential to the conservation of the Chiricahua leopard frog 
because of its potential to host a stable breeding population of 
Chiricahua leopard frogs in the future and the effort that has been 
dedicated to the area to mitigate threats posed by nonnative predators. 
Additionally, this unit has both PCEs 1 and 2.
    The unit encompasses an approximate 1.36-mi (2.19-km) reach of the 
canyon with perennial pools, as well as a perennial travertine (a form 
of limestone) seep; a spring-fed, perennial impoundment (Peterson Ranch 
Pond); and an ephemeral impoundment adjacent to Peterson Ranch Pond. 
There is also a perennial or nearly perennial impoundment in the 
channel downstream of the travertine seep. Breeding habitat occurs at 
Peterson Ranch Pond and possibly at other perennial or nearly perennial 
pools.
    Currently, this site is isolated from other populations. Hence this 
site is managed as an isolated population, but there is some potential 
for creating connectivity to the metapopulation in Ramsey and Brown 
Canyons via population reestablishment in Garden Canyon at Fort 
Huachuca. Scotia Canyon, with its pond and stream habitats, has the 
potential to host a robust population.
    Special management is required in this unit to remove nonnative 
predators and disease, protect from catastrophic wildlife, and improve 
aquatic habitat. Scotia Canyon, and sites around it, have been the 
subject of intensive bullfrog eradication and habitat enhancement work 
in preparation for the 2009 reestablishment of the Chiricahua leopard 
frog. However, bullfrog reinvasion is a significant, continuing threat, 
and other nonnative predators could potentially reach Scotia Canyon via 
natural or human-assisted releases. In addition, barred tiger 
salamanders from the Peterson Ranch Pond tested positive for 
chytridiomycosis in 2009; however, in 2010, the Chiricahua leopard 
frogs appeared to be persisting in that same pond. Arizona Game and 
Fish Department biologists and Coronado National Forest staff visited 
the site on April 5, 2011, and verified the continued presence of 
salamanders (2 mature brachiates were observed). Nonetheless, disease 
has resulted in extirpations elsewhere in the Huachuca

[[Page 16352]]

Mountains, and is considered a serious threat in Scotia Canyon. 
Further, heavy fuel loads could result in a catastrophic wildfire, 
which would have significant detrimental effects on the frog and its 
aquatic habitats. Finally, a road through the canyon is eroded in 
places and contributes sediment to the stream; it receives much use by 
recreationists and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
    The critical habitat designation for the Chiricahua leopard frog 
largely overlaps that of critical habitat for the endangered Lilaeopsis 
schaffneriana var. recurva (Huachuca water-umbel). The occurrence of 
critical habitat and listed species provide some level of protection to 
Chiricahua leopard frog habitat in this unit when a Federal nexus 
exists on a project that may affect the endangered plant Lilaeopsis 
schaffneriana var. recurva (Huachuca water-umbel). However, the 
Chiricahua leopard frog may require additional measures to facilitate 
conservation and recovery in these areas.
Beatty's Guest Ranch Unit
    This was a proposed unit that includes 10 ac (4.0 ha) of private 
lands in Miller Canyon on the east slope of the Huachuca Mountains, 
Cochise County, Arizona. For this final rule, we are excluding all 10 
ac (4.0 ha) in this unit under section 4(b)(2) of the Act (see 
Application of Section 4(b)(2) of the Act, below). Therefore, this unit 
is not being designated as critical habitat in this final rule.
Carr Barn Pond Unit
    This unit includes 0.6 ac (0.3 ha) of Federal lands in the Coronado 
National Forest in the Huachuca Mountains, Cochise County, Arizona. 
Carr Barn Pond is an impoundment with a small, lined pond with water 
provided from a well. During runoff events, the size of the pond 
expands considerably and then gradually shrinks back to the lined 
section.
    This unit is designated as critical habitat because it was occupied 
at the time of listing and currently contains PCE 1 to support life-
history functions essential for the conservation of the species.
    As with Beatty's Guest Ranch, Ramsey and Brown Canyons, this unit 
has been the subject of a conservation agreement and much intensive 
management for the Ramsey Canyon (= Chiricahua) leopard frog. The 
Coronado National Forest created and now maintains Carr Barn Pond 
consistent with the Ramsey Canyon (= Chiricahua) leopard frog 
conservation agreement, to which they are a signatory. This site was 
occupied at the time of listing and was occupied into 2009, but the 
population has since been eliminated, probably by chytridiomycosis. 
This site is too far away (3.4 mi (5.4 km) from Ramsey and Brown 
Canyons and about 3.0 mi (4.8 km) from Beatty's Guest Ranch by way of a 
straight-line distance over rugged terrain) to be part of a 
metapopulation; hence, it is currently considered isolated. There is 
some potential for connecting it to Scotia Canyon, and Ramsey and Brown 
Canyons (see discussion above), but additional habitat creation or 
enhancement and population reestablishment would be needed.
    The features essential to the conservation of the species in this 
unit may require special management considerations or protection to 
alleviate the threats from nonnative predators and disease. Disease is 
a serious threat that can be an impediment to viable frog populations. 
The population has been eliminated after chytridiomycosis die-offs 
three times. Twice the population has subsequently been reestablished 
through translocations. Largemouth bass have been introduced illegally 
into the pond and then removed, and bullfrogs periodically invade the 
site, but are promptly removed before they breed.
Ramsey and Brown Canyons Unit
    This unit includes 44 ac (18 ha) of private lands in Ramsey Canyon 
and 58 ac (24 ha) of Federal lands in the Coronado National Forest in 
Brown and Ramsey Canyons, Huachuca Mountains, Cochise County, Arizona. 
Ramsey Canyon was not occupied at the time of listing but Brown Canyon 
was; therefore, we treat this unit as occupied. The unit currently 
contains PCEs 1 and 2 to support life-history functions essential for 
the conservation of the species.
    This unit, along with Beatty's Guest Ranch and Carr Barn Pond, has 
been managed intensively for Ramsey Canyon (= Chiricahua) leopard frog 
conservation since 1995. This unit is managed as a metapopulation. 
Places where Chiricahua leopard frogs have bred and that still retain 
PCE 1 include Ramsey Canyon, and Trout and Meadow Ponds on private 
lands owned by The Nature Conservancy. These private lands are excluded 
from designation as critical habitat in the Ramsey Canyon Box. In Brown 
Canyon, the Wild Duck Pond, House Pond, and the Brown Canyon Box (on 
Coronado National Forest lands) are designated as critical habitat.
    In addition, this critical habitat unit also includes dispersal 
sites and corridors for connectivity among breeding ponds as follows: 
(1) From the eastern boundary of The Nature Conservancy's Bledsoe 
Parcel in the Ramsey Canyon Preserve downstream to a dirt road crossing 
of Ramsey Canyon at the mouth of the canyon, excluding The Nature 
Conservancy's University of Toronto Parcel in the Ramsey Canyon 
Preserve; (2) Brown Canyon from the Box downstream to the Wild Duck 
Pond and House Pond on the former Barchas Ranch; and (3) from the dirt 
road crossing of Ramsey Canyon directly overland to House Pond.
    The Ramsey Canyon portion of the unit was not occupied at the time 
of listing, but Brown Canyon was occupied. Both canyons are currently 
considered occupied. Chiricahua leopard frogs have bred at the Box in 
Brown Canyon, although the site is too small to support more than just 
a few frogs. Special management is required in this unit because recent 
die-offs associated with chytridiomycosis have significantly reduced 
populations in both canyons. The House and Wild Duck Ponds, as well as 
Ramsey Canyon, have a history of chytridiomycosis outbreaks. The Ramsey 
Canyon population has been eliminated twice and then reestablished; the 
House and Wild Duck Ponds have also undergone repeated disease-related 
declines and extirpations followed by reestablishments. The populations 
tend to persist for months or years after reestablishment only to 
experience chytridiomycosis outbreaks followed by declines or 
extirpation.
    Additional special management is required in this unit because 
nonnative species, drying, sedimentation, and fire threaten the frog. 
Nonnative predators threaten populations at the House and Wild Duck 
Ponds, where bullfrogs have been found periodically and goldfish 
(Carassius auratus auratus) were once introduced. Those two ponds are 
buffered against drought and drying by a pipeline from a spring and a 
windmill. However, the Box in Brown Canyon is subject to low water and 
drying during drought. That latter population depends upon immigration 
or active reestablishment for long-term persistence. The Trout and 
Meadow Ponds in Ramsey Canyon are fed by pipelines; thus the water 
supply is dependable. The Trout Pond could however be filled in with 
sediment during a flood. Further, a fire in the watershed could 
threaten aquatic breeding sites in both canyons.
    Lands owned by The Nature Conservancy in Ramsey Canyon are known as 
the Ramsey Canyon Preserve and are managed for preservation of natural 
features and species, including the Chiricahua leopard frog. The Ramsey 
Canyon Preserve is also

[[Page 16353]]

enrolled in the Arizona Game and Fish Department's Statewide Safe 
Harbor Agreement, effective July 2010. Under section 4(b)(2) of the 
Act, the Ramsey Canyon Preserve (16 ac (6.5 ha)) is being excluded from 
critical habitat designation (see Application of Section 4(b)(2) of the 
Act, below).

Recovery Unit 3 (Chiricahua Mountains-Malpai Borderlands-Sierra Madre, 
Arizona, New Mexico, and Mexico)

High Lonesome Well Unit
    This previously proposed unit includes 0.4 ac (0.2 ha) of privately 
owned lands in the Playas Valley, Hidalgo County, New Mexico. This unit 
consists of an elevated concrete tank into which Chiricahua leopard 
frogs were introduced prior to listing (Painter 2000, p. 15). The tank 
is supplied with water from a windmill and provides water for 
livestock. The site supports a robust breeding population, but is much 
too far from other populations to be part of a metapopulation (the 
nearest population is in Unit 17, 25.4 mi (40.6 km) to the west). 
Furthermore, although frogs can exit the tank, they cannot get back 
into the tank.
    We reevaluated the High Lonesome Well Unit and have determined that 
it does not meet the definition of critical habitat, because it does 
not have the physical or biological features that are essential for the 
conservation of the species. The unit does not contain the terrestrial 
habitat that provides opportunities for foraging and basking, and that 
is immediately adjacent to or surrounding breeding aquatic and riparian 
habitat, which is a component of PCE 1. Therefore, we have removed the 
High Lonesome Well Unit from this final critical habitat designation.
Peloncillo Mountains Unit
    This unit includes 366 ac (148 ha) of Federal lands in the Coronado 
National Forest in Hidalgo County, New Mexico. This unit is designated 
as critical habitat because it was occupied at the time of listing and 
currently contains PCEs 1 and 2 to support life-history functions 
essential for the conservation of the species.
    Aquatic habitats in this unit include Geronimo, Javelina, State 
Line Tanks; Maverick Spring; and pools or ponds in the Cloverdale 
Cienega and along Cloverdale Creek below Canoncito Ranch Tank. Breeding 
has occurred in State Line Tank, and possibly other aquatic sites in 
this unit. Geronimo Tank was occupied at the time of listing. The 
occupancy status of the other sites at that time is unknown. These 
tanks and Maverick Spring have recent records of frogs (2007 to the 
present) and are considered currently occupied, with the exception of 
State Line Tank. State Line Tank was reported dry in 2011, with no 
available habitat or refuge for Chiricahua leopard frogs and no frogs 
observed. It is not known whether the tank incurred damage or drought 
caused it to dry. However, because Chiricahua leopard frogs disperse 
from Canoncito Ranch Tank into Cloverdale Cienega, Cloverdale Creek, 
and surrounding tanks when water is present, State Line Tank still 
contains PCE 2. This unit is managed as a metapopulation.
    Also included in this unit are intervening drainages and uplands 
needed for connectivity among these aquatic sites, including: (1) 
Cloverdale Creek from Canoncito Ranch Tank downstream, including 
Cloverdale Cienega, and excluding portions of Cloverdale Creek and the 
cienega within private lands of Canoncito Ranch; (2) from Geronimo Tank 
downstream in an unnamed drainage to its confluence with Clanton Draw, 
then upstream to the confluence with an unnamed drainage, and upstream 
in that drainage to its headwaters, across a mesa to the headwaters of 
an unnamed drainage, then downslope through that drainage to State Line 
Tank; (3) from State Line Tank upstream in an unnamed drainage to a 
mesa, then directly overland to the headwaters of Cloverdale Creek, and 
then downstream in Cloverdale Creek to Javelina Tank; and (4) from 
Javelina Tank downstream in Cloverdale Creek to the Canoncito Ranch 
Tank, to include Maverick Spring.
    Special management is required in this unit because periodic 
drought dries most of the aquatic sites completely or to small pools, 
which limits population growth potential. Nonnative sportfish are 
present at Geronimo Tank and may preclude successful recruitment. 
Occurrence of chytridiomycosis in this area has not been investigated, 
but may also be a limiting factor.
    Sky Island Alliance is working with partners to restore the 
Cloverdale Cienega, which should improve aquatic habitats for 
Chiricahua leopard frogs. The owner of the Canoncito Ranch has signed 
onto a safe harbor agreement for the Chiricahua leopard frog. Under 
section 4(b)(2) of the Act, the private lands in this unit (289 ac (117 
ha)) are excluded from the final rule for critical habitat (see 
Application of Section 4(b)(2) of the Act, below).
Cave Creek Unit
    This unit includes 234 ac (95 ha) of Federal lands in the Coronado 
National Forest in the Chiricahua Mountains, Cochise County, Arizona. 
This unit was occupied at the time of listing, is currently occupied, 
and currently contains both PCEs 1 and 2 to support life-history 
functions essential for the conservation of the species. Chiricahua 
leopard frogs and tadpoles were released during the fall of 2011, into 
a pond on the Southwestern Research Station, where they were initially 
reared in an onsite ranarium. Released frogs are expected to distribute 
themselves throughout Cave Canyon during ensuing years.
    Included in this unit is an approximate 4.76-mi (7.66-km) reach of 
Cave Creek and associated ponds in or near the channel, from Herb 
Martyr Pond downstream to the eastern U.S. Forest Service boundary. 
PCEs 1 and 2 are present. This site will be managed as a 
metapopulation.
    Herb Martyr Pond is the type locality for the Chiricahua leopard 
frog; however, no frogs have been observed at the site since 1977. This 
pond requires special management because the pool behind the dam is 
entirely silted in, and pools at the base of the dam are probably not 
adequate for Chiricahua leopard frog survival or reproduction. With 
restoration, this site could support a breeding population of 
Chiricahua leopard frogs. The pond below the dam at John Hands appears 
suitable for occupancy, but Chiricahua leopard frogs have not been 
recorded there since 1966. Chiricahua leopard frogs were occasionally 
seen in Cave Creek through 2002.
    Special management is required in this unit because scarcity of 
water can occur in drought years, and bullfrogs occur to the east but 
have never been recorded in the unit. The current status and past 
history of chytridiomycosis in this unit are unknown. Rainbow trout 
were present and occurred concurrently with Chiricahua leopard frogs at 
Herb Martyr Pond, but no trout are currently known in the unit.
    The Southwestern Research Station, owned by the American Museum of 
Natural History, maintains habitat occupied by the Chiricahua leopard 
frog, has signed a safe harbor agreement for the Chiricahua leopard 
frog, and is an active participant in recovery. The Service and Arizona 
Game and Fish Department (AGFD) are working with additional private 
landowners downstream of the designated critical habitat to bring them 
into the safe harbor agreement. Under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, the 
American Museum of Natural History lands (92 ac (37 ha)) are being 
excluded from critical habitat designation (see Application of Section 
4(b)(2) of the Act, below).

[[Page 16354]]

Leslie Creek Unit
    The unit consists of 26 ac (11 ha) of National Wildlife Refuge 
(NWR) (Federal) lands on Leslie Canyon NWR, Cochise County, Arizona. 
This unit is designated as critical habitat because it was occupied at 
the time of listing and currently contains PCE 1 to support life-
history functions essential for the conservation of the species.
    This unit is a stream system with intermittent pools and two small 
impoundments. The upstream boundary is the Leslie Canyon NWR, and its 
downstream limit is the crossing of Leslie Canyon Road, an approximate 
stream distance of 4,094 ft (1,248 m).
    Chiricahua leopard frogs were present in this unit at the time of 
listing and are currently extant. This population is too far (24.8 mi 
(36.7 km)) from the next nearest breeding site, North Tank, to be part 
of a metapopulation. Hence it is managed as an isolated population.
    Special management is required in this unit because drought and 
lack of pools are limiting factors in this unit. Also, Chiricahua 
leopard frogs are positive for chytridiomycosis at this site, and 
although they are persisting with the disease, the population is not 
robust, and the effects of the disease may be responsible in part. 
Bullfrogs occur in ponds to the east, but have never been recorded in 
Leslie Creek.
    The endangered plant Lilaeopsis schaffneriana var. recurva 
(Huachuca water-umbel), endangered Yaqui chub (Gila purpurea), and 
endangered Yaqui topminnow (Poeciliopsis occidentalis sonoriensis) all 
occur in Leslie Creek, and the area is managed to conserve the aquatic 
and riparian habitats of the canyon. While current management 
prescriptions for the Yaqui fishes will benefit the Chiricahua leopard 
frog in this area, additional actions may be necessary to conserve and 
recover the Chiricahua leopard frog in this area. A landowner adjacent 
to the the refuge has signed a safe harbor agreement for the Chiricahua 
leopard frog and other species. With future habitat renovations and 
population reestablishments, there is some potential for developing 
additional populations of Chiricahua leopard frogs in this area, which 
could form a metapopulation with the Leslie Canyon population.
Rosewood and North Tanks Unit
    This was a proposed unit that includes 19 ac (8 ha) of private land 
and 78 ac (31 ha) of land owned by the Arizona State Land Department in 
the San Bernardino Valley, Cochise County, Arizona. For this final 
rule, we are excluding all 97 ac (39 ha) of this unit under section 
4(b)(2) of the Act (see Application of Section 4(b)(2) of the Act, 
below). Therefore, this unit is not being designated as critical 
habitat in this final rule.

Recovery Unit 4 (Pi[ntilde]aleno-Galiuro-Dragoon Mountains, Arizona)

Deer Creek Unit
    This unit consists of 17 ac (7 ha) of Federal lands in the Coronado 
National Forest, 69 ac (28 ha) of Arizona State Land Department lands, 
and 34 ac (14 ha) of private lands in the Galiuro Mountains, Graham 
County, Arizona. This unit was occupied at the time of listing and 
contains the features essential to the conservation of the species 
(PCEs 1 and 2).
    Included in designated critical habitat are Home Ranch, Clifford's, 
Vermont, and Middle Tanks, a series of 10 impoundments on the Penney 
Mine lease, and intervening drainages, primarily Deer Creek, and 
associated uplands and ephemeral tanks that provide corridors for 
movement among these tanks. Breeding has been confirmed on Deer Creek 
above Clifford's Tank, and in Home Ranch and Vermont Tanks, and is 
suspected in the other three sites named above when water is present 
long enough for tadpoles to metamorphose into adults (3 to 9 months). 
Home Ranch Tank supports a large population of Chiricahua leopard 
frogs. This unit functions as a metapopulation. Intervening drainages 
include: (1) Deer Creek from a point where it exits a canyon and turns 
abruptly to the east, upstream to its confluence with an unnamed 
drainage, upstream in that drainage to a confluence with four other 
drainages, upstream from that confluence in the western drainage to 
Clifford's Tank, upstream from that confluence in the west-central 
drainage to an unnamed tank, then directly overland southeast to 
another unnamed tank, then downstream from that tank in an unnamed 
drainage to the aforementioned confluence and upstream in that unnamed 
drainage to a saddle, and downstream from that saddle in an unnamed 
drainage to its confluence with an unnamed tributary to Gardner Canyon, 
and upstream in that unnamed tributary to Home Ranch Tank; (2) from the 
largest of the Penney Mine Tanks directly overland and southwest to an 
unnamed tank, and downstream from that tank in an unnamed drainage to 
the aforementioned confluence, to include another unnamed tank situated 
in that drainage; (3) from Vermont Tank directly overland and east to 
Deer Creek; and (4) from Middle Tank upstream in an unnamed drainage to 
a saddle, and then directly downslope to Deer Creek.
    Special management is required in this unit to alleviate periodic 
drought, which results in breeding sites drying. During a severe 
drought in 2002, all but one of the waters in the unit dried. Frogs 
reportedly died for unknown reasons in the 1980s (Goforth 2005, p. 2), 
possibly indicative of chytridiomycosis; however, no Chiricahua leopard 
frogs have tested positive for the disease from this unit. The only 
nonnative aquatic predator recorded in this unit is the barred tiger 
salamander.
    Recovery work has occurred in this unit, including head-starting of 
egg masses and reestablishment and augmentation of populations. The 
Service, AGFD, Arizona State Land Department, and an agate miner 
(Penney Mine Tanks) have drafted a conservation plan for managing 
habitats on the mine lease, but funds are lacking to implement that 
plan.
Oak Spring and Oak Creek Unit
    This unit consists of 27 ac (11 ha) of Federal lands in the 
Coronado National Forestin the Galiuro Mountains, Graham County, 
Arizona.
    Occupancy status at the time of listing was unknown. We consider 
this unit to have been unoccupied at the time of listing for the 
purpose of this critical habitat designation. We have determined this 
unit to be essential to the conservation of the species because this 
unit contains important breeding sites necessary for recovery. It is 
just north of Deer Creek, but is too far (about 1.6 mi (2.6 km)) 
overland (via straight-line distance) from the nearest aquatic sites 
(Home Ranch and Clifford's Tanks) in that unit. Connectivity is further 
complicated by a ridgeline between Oak Spring and Home Ranch Tank. 
Hence, this unit is managed as an isolated population. Additionally, 
both PCEs 1 and 2 are present in this unit.
    This unit is currently occupied; however, the site does not support 
enough Chiricahua leopard frogs to be considered a robust population. 
This unit is an approximate 1.06-mi (1.71-km) intermittent reach of an 
incised canyon punctuated by pools of varying permanence, from Oak 
Spring downstream in Oak Creek to where a hiking trail intersects the 
creek. The largest pool, Cattail Pool, typically contains water and 
supports several breeding Chiricahua leopard frogs. The stream reach 
designated for critical habitat includes the area where Chiricahua 
leopard frogs occur.

[[Page 16355]]

    The primary threat in this unit is extended periods of drought, 
which have caused all the pools to be subject to reduction or drying. 
Cattail Pool is spring-fed, and is likely the last pool to dry. Oak 
Spring is also used for water developments, which may limit the 
capability of the site to support frogs. Chiricahua leopard frogs have 
been headstarted and released at this site to augment the population.
Dragoon Mountains Unit
    This unit includes 74 ac (30 ha) of Federal lands in the Coronado 
National Forest in Cochise County, Arizona. This unit is designated as 
critical habitat because it was occupied at the time of listing and 
currently contains PCEs 1 and 2 to support life-history functions 
essential for the conservation of the species.
    Shaw Tank and Tunnel Spring in Middlemarch Canyon are designated as 
critical habitat in this unit and are currently occupied breeding 
sites. The latter is a robust population that was occupied at the time 
of listing. Shaw Tank is a reestablishment site that was not known to 
be occupied in 2002.
    Also included in the designated critical habitat is Halfmoon Tank, 
which supported a robust population of Chiricahua leopard frogs until 
2002. It is unknown whether this tank supported Chiricahua leopard 
frogs at the time of listing. PCE 1 at Halfmoon Tank has been 
compromised by siltation and recent drought, which affects the amount 
and persistence of water. The tank is in need of renovation so that it 
may again dependably hold water and support breeding.
    Special management is required in this unit because currently not 
enough breeding sites exist to comprise a metapopulation (four are 
necessary) in this unit. However, with additional habitat creation or 
renovation, a metapopulation may be possible, which is needed for this 
Recovery Unit (the only other metapopulation in this Recovery Unit is 
in Deer Creek).
    Also included in this critical habitat designation are intervening 
drainages for connectivity, including Stronghold Canyon from Halfmoon 
Tank to Cochise Spring, then upstream in an unnamed canyon to Shaw 
Tank, and continuing upstream to the headwaters of that canyon, across 
a saddle and downstream in Middlemarch Canyon to Tunnel Spring.
    Special management is also required in this unit because of 
scarcity of suitable breeding habitat and loss of that habitat during 
drought. Tunnel Spring is spring-fed and thus buffered against drought; 
however, Shaw and Halfmoon Tanks are filled with runoff. Neither 
nonnative predators nor chytridiomycosis has been noted in these 
populations and habitats, although if introduced either would 
constitute an additional threat.
    Recovery work, including headstarting of eggs collected from Tunnel 
Spring and establishment of a new population at Shaw Tank with reared 
tadpoles and frogs, has been accomplished in this unit, and the U.S. 
Forest Service's livestock permittee has been a participant in those 
recovery activities.

Recovery Unit 5 (Mogollon Rim-Verde River, Arizona)

Buckskin Hills Unit
    This unit includes 232 ac (94 ha) of Federal lands in the Coconino 
National Forest in Yavapai County, Arizona. This unit is designated as 
critical habitat because it was occupied at the time of listing and has 
the features essential to the conservation of the species (PCEs 1 and 
2).
    Included in this designated critical habitat unit are six tanks 
occupied at the time of listing (Sycamore Basin, Middle, Walt's, 
Partnership, Black, and Buckskin) that form a metapopulation. Frogs 
currently occur at Middle and Walt's Tanks. Also included in the 
critical habitat designation are two tanks occupied in 2001 that 
probably dried during a drought in 2002: Doren's Defeat and Needed 
Tanks. The former holds water well in years with average precipitation 
and is about 0.5 mi (0.8 km) from Partnership Tank and 0.67 mi (1.07 
km) from Walt's Tank. Needed Tank may not hold water long enough for 
breeding, but it provides a habitat for dispersing frogs.
    This designated critical habitat also includes drainages and 
uplands likely used as dispersal corridors among these tanks, 
including: (1) From Middle Tank downstream in Boulder Canyon to its 
confluence with an unnamed drainage that comes in from the northwest, 
to include Black Tank, then upstream in that unnamed drainage to a 
saddle, to include Needed Tank, downstream from the saddle in an 
unnamed drainage to its confluence with another unnamed drainage, 
downstream in that drainage to the confluence with an unnamed drainage, 
to include Walt's Tank, and upstream in that unnamed drainage to 
Partnership Tank; (2) from Doren's Defeat Tank upstream in an unnamed 
drainage to Partnership Tank; (3) from the confluence of an unnamed 
drainage with Boulder Canyon west to a point where the drainage turns 
southwest, then directly overland to the top of Sycamore Canyon, and 
then downstream in Sycamore Canyon to Sycamore Basin Tank; and (4) from 
Buckskin Tank upstream in an unnamed drainage to the top of that 
drainage, then directly overland to an unnamed drainage that contains 
Walt's Tank.
    Special management is required in this unit because of nonnative 
species and drought. Divide Tank, which is adjacent to Highway 260, has 
supported nonnatives in the past and is a likely place for future 
illegal stockings of nonnative predatory fish or bullfrogs. If 
established, nonnatives could spread to sites designated in this rule 
as critical habitat. All of the tanks designated as critical habitat 
are filled by runoff; hence, they are vulnerable to drying during 
drought. When the species was proposed for listing, the populations in 
the Buckskin Hills were unknown; however, during 2000-2001, frogs were 
found at 11 sites. After a severe drought in 2002, frogs only remained 
at Sycamore Basin and Walt's Tanks. Because the tanks depend on runoff, 
and as most tanks went dry in 2002, protecting more than the minimum 
four breeding sites needed for a metapopulation is warranted. 
Chytridiomycosis has not been found in any frogs in the Buckskin Hills; 
however, the disease occurs in Arizona treefrogs (Hyla wrightorum) and 
western chorus frogs (Pseudacris triseriata) less than 10 mi (16 km) to 
the east, and frogs collected from Walt's Tank subsequently tested 
positive for the disease in captivity. It is unknown whether they 
contracted the disease in the wild or while captive.
    Much recovery work has been accomplished in this unit, including 
captive rearing, population reestablishments, tank renovations, erosion 
control, fencing, and elimination of nonnative predators such as 
nonnative fish and crayfish.
Crouch, Gentry, and Cherry Creeks, and Parallel Canyon Unit
    This unit includes 334 ac (135 ha) of Federal lands in the Tonto 
National Forest, 64 ac (26 ha) of AGFD lands, and 6 ac (3 ha) of 
private lands in Gila County, Arizona. This unit is designated as 
critical habitat because it was occupied at the time of listing and 
currently contains PCEs 1 and 2 to support life-history functions 
essential for the conservation of the species.
    Included as designated critical habitat are Trail Tank, HY Tank, 
Carroll Spring, West Prong of Gentry Creek, Pine Spring, and portions 
of Cherry and Crouch Creeks, all of which provide breeding or potential 
breeding habitat. Also included are intervening drainages

[[Page 16356]]

and uplands needed for connectivity among breeding sites, including: 
(1) Cherry Creek from Rock Spring upstream to its confluence with an 
unnamed drainage, upstream in that drainage and across a saddle, then 
downstream in an unnamed drainage to Trail Tank; (2) Crouch Creek from 
its headwaters just south of Highway 288 downstream to an unnamed 
drainage leading to Pine Spring, to include Cunningham Spring and 
Carroll Spring, then upstream in that unnamed drainage from Crouch 
Creek to Pine Spring; (3) from HY Tank downstream in an unnamed 
drainage to Cherry Creek, to include Bottle Spring; (4) from Cunningham 
Spring east across a low saddle to West Prong of Gentry Creek where the 
creek turns southwest; and (5) from Bottle Spring south over a low 
saddle to the headwaters of Crouch Creek.
    At the time of listing, Chiricahua leopard frogs occurred in Crouch 
Creek, Carroll Spring, HY Tank, Bottle Spring, and West Prong of Gentry 
Creek. Trail Tank has nearly permanent water and is in the Parallel 
Canyon drainage, but close to the divide with Cherry Creek. In May 
2010, it was renovated to remove a breeding population of bullfrogs and 
green sunfish. Additional follow-up removal of bullfrogs occurred in 
July 2010 and again in May 2011, after bullfrog tadpoles were 
rediscovered in Trail Tank in the fall of 2010. Bullfrogs at the nearby 
ephemeral unnamed 102 Roadside Tank were also eliminated in 2010. 
Special management is required in this unit because of bullfrogs. Once 
bullfrogs are confirmed absent, plans will move forward to translocate 
Chiricahua leopard frogs to Trail Tank.
    Chiricahua leopard frogs were moved to Pine Spring in 2006, and 
habitat work was accomplished there to improve pool habitats. However, 
no frogs were observed during a site visit in May 2010. The 
connectivity of Pine Spring to Cunningham Spring and other sites 
upstream in Crouch Creek is complicated by a waterfall below Cunningham 
Spring; however, an overland route of less than a mile provides access 
around the waterfall.
    Chiricahua leopard frogs were first noted in Cherry Creek in 2008, 
just before additional frogs were released into that site. Reproduction 
has been noted, and Chiricahua leopard frogs were observed in Cherry 
Creek in 2010.
    Special management is required in this unit because of predation by 
nonnative species, including bullfrogs, crayfish, and sportfish; 
chytridiomycosis, which was found in a Cherry Creek frog in 2009; and 
scarcity of water. None of the populations are robust due to the small 
size of breeding habitats. We believe that Trail Tank may provide 
enough aquatic habitat for a robust population.
Ellison and Lewis Creeks Unit
    This unit includes 83 ac (34) of Federal lands in the Tonto 
National Forest and 15 ac (6 ha) of private lands in Gila County, 
Arizona.
    Occupancy status at the time of listing was unknown. We consider 
this unit to have been unoccupied at the time of listing for the 
purpose of this critical habitat designation. We have determined this 
unit to be essential to the conservation of the species because it 
contains important breeding habitat needed for recovery. Chiricahua 
leopard frogs have occasionally been found in Ellison Creek. In 1998, 
small numbers of frogs were observed, but were not seen again until 
2006. Despite intensive surveys, no frogs were found in 2007 or 2008. 
In 2009, egg masses from Crouch Creek were headstarted, and tadpoles 
and subadult frogs were stocked at the four sites listed above as 
potential breeding sites. Frogs from those releases appeared to be 
persisting at all four sites in 2010. Additional releases of Crouch 
Creek frogs occurred in July 2010. Additionally, this unit contains 
both PCEs 1 and 2.
    Included in this critical habitat proposal are potential breeding 
sites at Moore Saddle Tank 2, Ellison Creek just east of Pyle 
Ranch, Lewis Creek downstream of Pyle Ranch, and Low Tank. Intervening 
drainages that provide connectivity among the latter three sites are 
also designated as critical habitat as follows: (1) Unnamed tributary 
to Ellison Creek from its confluence with an unnamed drainage 
downstream to Ellison Creek; (2) then directly west across the Ellison 
Creek floodplain and over a low saddle to Lewis Creek below Pyle Ranch; 
(3) then downstream in Lewis Creek to its confluence with an unnamed 
drainage; and (4) then upstream in that unnamed drainage to Low Tank.
    Moore Saddle Tank 2 is about 0.8 mi (1.3 km) overland from 
Low Tank. Hence, it is within the one-mile overland distance for 
reasonable dispersal likelihood. However, there are four drainages that 
bisect that route, and it is likely that any Chiricahua leopard frogs 
traversing those uplands would move down or upstream in one of those 
drainages rather than crossing them. As a result, Moore Saddle Tank 
2 will be managed as an isolated and potentially robust 
population, leaving the other sites one short of the four needed to 
form a metapopulation. However, no other sites in the area are known 
that contain the PCEs or have the potential for developing the PCEs. 
Additional exploration of the area, and likely some habitat renovation, 
will be needed to secure a fourth site.

Recovery Unit 6 (White Mountains-Upper Gila, Arizona and New Mexico)

Concho Bill and Deer Creek Unit
    This unit includes 17 ac (7 ha) of Federal lands in the Apache-
Sitgreaves National Forest in Apache County, Arizona.
    Occupancy status at the time of listing was unknown. We consider 
this unit to have been unoccupied at the time of listing for the 
purpose of this critical habitat designation. We have determined this 
unit to be essential to the conservation of the species because it 
contains important breeding habitat necessary for recovery. This is an 
isolated population that was established through captive breeding and 
translocation of stock from Three Forks, which is also in Recovery Unit 
6 in Arizona. Frogs were first released at the spring pool in 2000; 
subsequent releases have augmented the population. Whether or not the 
frogs persisted after that initial release until the time of listing is 
unknown. The population is small, and generally only a few frogs if any 
are detected during surveys.
    Included in this critical habitat designation is a spring at Concho 
Bill and a meadow-ephemeral stream reach extending for approximately 
2,667 ft (813 m) below the spring. Additionally, PCE 1 is present in 
this unit.
    The primary threat is the limited pool habitat for breeding and 
overwintering, which thus far has limited the size of the population. 
Small populations are subject to extirpation from random variations in 
demographics of age structure and sex ratio, and from disease and 
natural events (Service 2007, p. 38). In addition, crayfish are nearby 
in the Black River and could invade this site.
Campbell Blue and Coleman Creeks Unit
    The unit includes 174 ac (70 ha) of Federal lands in the Apache-
Sitgreaves National Forest in Greenlee County, Arizona. This unit is 
designated as critical habitat because it was occupied at the time of 
listing and currently contains PCE 1 to support life-history functions 
essential for the conservation of the species.
    Included as critical habitat is an approximate 2.04-mi (3.28-km) 
reach of Campbell Blue Creek from the western boundary of Luce Ranch 
upstream to the Coleman Creek confluence, and Coleman Creek from its 
confluence with

[[Page 16357]]

Campbell Blue Creek upstream to its confluence with Canyon Creek, an 
approximate stream distance of 1.04 mi (1.68 km).
    This unit is too far from other known Chiricahua leopard frog 
populations to be considered part of a metapopulation. The nearest 
population is about 12.2 mi (19.6 km) to the northwest in the Concho 
Bill and Deer Creek Unit. Frogs were observed in Campbell Blue and 
Coleman Creeks in 2002, and then again in 2010. No more than a few 
frogs were seen during surveys (e.g., two were observed in 2010); 
however, the site is difficult to survey with its complex habitat 
characteristics, and frogs may easily elude observation.
    Special management is required in this unit because crayfish and 
rainbow trout are present throughout this stream system, which likely 
limit recruitment of frogs. In 2010, the creeks had numerous beaver 
(Castor canadensis) ponds and vegetation cover that are probably 
important as protection from predators. Off-channel pools provide 
better habitat than swiftly moving, shallow creeks. The presence of 
chytridiomycosis has not been investigated in this unit.
Tularosa River Unit
    This unit contains 335 ac (135 ha) of Federal lands in the Gila 
National Forest and 1,575 ac (637 ha) of private lands in Catron 
County, New Mexico. This unit is designated as critical habitat because 
it was occupied at the time of listing and currently contains both PCEs 
1 and 2 to support life-history functions essential for the 
conservation of the species.
    This unit is an approximate 19.3-mi (31.1-km) reach of the Tularosa 
River from Tularosa Spring downstream to the entrance to the canyon 
below Hell Hole. Frogs were observed in this reach in 2002, at the time 
of listing, and continue to persist. This unit is isolated from other 
populations, but is a large system potentially capable of supporting a 
robust population.
    Special management is required in this unit because in 2009, small 
numbers of frogs were found at two sites in the unit. The frogs may 
occur throughout this reach of the river, but breeding is likely 
limited to isolated localities where nonnative predators are rare or 
absent. Crayfish and rainbow trout are present, and bullfrogs have 
recently been found downstream of the Apache Creek confluence and just 
below Hell Hole. Both bullfrogs and crayfish are relatively recent 
arrivals to this system. Chytridiomycosis is also present. The first 
Chiricahua leopard frogs to test positive for the disease in New Mexico 
(1985) were found at Tularosa Spring. The frogs were found at that site 
through 2005, but none have been observed since. A robust population 
was also present nearby at a pond in a tributary to Kerr Canyon, in 
Kerr Canyon, and at Kerr Spring, but experienced a die-off from 
chytridiomycosis in 2009; it is unknown if frogs persist in those areas 
today. Chytridiomycosis is considered a serious threat in this unit.
    The designated critical habitat extends just below Hell Hole, but 
not farther, because Chiricahua leopard frogs have not persisted below 
Hell Hole since the 1980s, likely because the area lacks the physical 
or biological features to support life-history functions.
Deep Creek Divide Area Unit
    This unit consists of 408 ac (165 ha) of Federal lands in the Gila 
National Forest and 102 ac (41 ha) of private lands in Catron County, 
New Mexico. This unit is designated as critical habitat because it was 
occupied at the time of listing and currently contains both PCEs 1 and 
2 to support life-history functions essential for the conservation of 
the species.
    Included as designated critical habitat are three livestock tanks 
(Long Mesa, Cullum, and Burro Tanks) in the Deep Creek Divide area and 
connecting reaches of North and South Fork of Negrito Creek above their 
confluence. Long Mesa Tank is currently occupied; surveys in 2010 did 
not find frogs at Cullum Tanks or the North Fork of Negrito Creek, 
although Chiricahua leopard frogs occupied these sites in 2009. Frogs 
were last found in South Fork of Negrito Creek in 2006, and at Burro 
Tank in 2002. Four impoundments on private lands along South Fork of 
Negrito Creek have not been surveyed for frogs; however, it is presumed 
they serve or once served as habitat for Chiricahua leopard frogs. Long 
Mesa, Cullum, and Burro Tanks, and the South Fork of Negrito Creek, 
were occupied at the time of listing.
    Also included in this designated critical habitat are intervening 
drainages and uplands for movement among these breeding sites as 
follows: (1) From Burro Tank downstream in Burro Canyon to Negrito 
Creek, then upstream in Negrito Creek to the confluence of South Fork 
and North Fork of Negrito Creek; (2) from Long Mesa Tank overland and 
east to Shotgun Canyon, then downstream in that canyon to Cullum Tank; 
and (3) from Cullum Tank downstream in Shotgun and Bull Basin Canyons 
to an unnamed drainage, then upstream in that drainage to its 
confluence with a minor drainage coming off Rainy Mesa from the east-
northeast, then upstream in that drainage and across Rainy Mesa to 
Burro Tank.
    Special management is required in this unit because populations 
have suffered from chytridiomycosis. A complex of tanks, springs, and 
streams in the Deep Creek Divide area was once a stronghold for the 
Chiricahua leopard frog on the Gila National Forest. However, most of 
those populations contracted the disease, suffered die-offs, and 
disappeared. Chiricahua leopard frogs on the North Fork of Negrito 
Creek were few in number and appeared sick in 2008. Their possible 
absence in 2010 may be a result of a disease-related die-off.
Main Diamond Creek Unit
    This unit consists of 53 ac (21 ha) of Federal lands in the Gila 
National Forest and along Main Diamond Creek downstream of Links Ranch, 
Catron County, New Mexico. This unit is designated as critical habitat 
because it was occupied at the time of listing and currently contains 
PCE 1 to support life-history functions essential for the conservation 
of the species.
    This site currently supports a robust population. Chiricahua 
leopard frogs may occur periodically or regularly at an impoundment at 
Links Ranch, but that impoundment also contains bullfrogs and may have 
sportfish. This designated critical habitat includes an approximate 
3,980-ft (1,213-m), perennial or nearly perennial reach of Main Diamond 
Creek from the downstream (western) boundary of Links Ranch downstream 
through a meadow to the confluence of a drainage that comes in from the 
south, which is also where the creek enters a canyon. This population 
is about a 4.6-mi (7.4-km), straight-line distance over rugged terrain 
to the next nearest population at Beaver Creek. As a result, it is 
managed as an isolated, robust population.
    Special management is required in this unit because bullfrogs at 
the impoundment likely prey upon Chiricahua leopard frogs. Also, 
chytridiomycosis has not been found in this population, but is a 
potential threat. The creek is primarily privately owned, and the 
landowner's future plans regarding land management in the area are 
unknown.
Beaver Creek Unit
    This unit consists of 132 ac (54 ha) of Federal lands in the Gila 
National Forest and 25 ac (10 ha) of private lands near Wall Lake, 
Catron County, New Mexico. This unit is an approximate 5.59-mi (8.89-
km) portion of Beaver Creek beginning at a warm spring and running

[[Page 16358]]

downstream to its confluence with Taylor Creek. Below that confluence, 
the stream is known as the East Fork of the Gila River.
    Occupancy status at the time of listing was unknown. We consider 
this unit to have been unoccupied at the time of listing for the 
purpose of this critical habitat designation. We have determined this 
unit to be essential to the conservation of the species because Beaver 
Creek could support a robust population as it contains important 
breeding sites necessary for recovery. The nearest known population of 
Chiricahua leopard frogs is at Main Diamond Creek, approximately a 4.6-
mi (7.4-km), straight-line distance away over rugged terrain. As a 
result, this site is managed as an isolated population. Additionally, 
PCE 1 is present in this unit.
    Chiricahua leopard frogs are currently present; however, the 
population is not well studied. The main threat in this unit is 
nonnative predators. Rainbow trout, bass (Micropterus sp.), and 
bullfrogs reportedly occur along Beaver Creek with Chiricahua leopard 
frogs, although trout are limited to the cooler waters near the 
confluence with Taylor Creek (Johnson and Smorynski 1998, pp. 44-45). 
The mechanisms by which Chiricahua leopard frogs coexist with these 
nonnative predators are unknown. However, habitat complexity and 
adequate cover are likely important features that may need special 
management. Also, if chytridiomycosis is present in this unit, the 
spring at the upstream end of the unit is a warm spring, which may help 
frogs survive with the disease (Johnson and Smorynski 1998, p. 45; 
Service 2007, p. 26).
Kerr Canyon Unit
    This unit contains 19 ac (8 ha) of Federal lands in the Gila 
National Forest land and 6 ac (2 ha) of private land in Catron County, 
New Mexico. The 1.0-mi (1.6-km) reach extends from Kerr Spring, located 
on the Gila National Forest, through an intermittent drainage to Kerr 
Canyon Pond (sometimes referred to as the Kerr Canyon Trick Tank) to 
include the adjacent private property in Kerr Canyon. This unit is 
designated as critical habitat because it was occupied at the time of 
listing and currently contains PCE 1 to support life-history functions 
essential for the conservation of the species.
    Our records indicate that this area contained a robust breeding 
population of Chiricahua leopard frogs from 2002 through 2007 (Service 
2008, pp. 1-2). However, during surveys conducted in 2008 and 2009, few 
individuals were observed (Service 2009a, p. 2). We believe the 
population experienced a mass mortality event or die-off from 
chytridiomycosis (Service 2009a, p. 2; Service 2009b, p. 1; Service 
2009c, p. 1). Tiger salamanders have also recently been found in Kerr 
Canyon Pond (Service 2009a, p. 2); however, the abundance of these 
Chiricahua leopard frog predators is currently unknown. Partial surveys 
of Kerr Canyon Creek and Pond were conducted in 2010 and 2011, with no 
Chiricahua leopard frogs observed; however, the area is still 
considered potentially occupied until more complete surveys can be 
conducted to determine whether Chiricahua leopard frogs persist in the 
area.
    Kerr Canyon will be managed as an isolated population, as it is 
currently separated from other populations in Tularosa Creek that are 
at least 6.5 mi (10.4 km) away. As recently as 2007, Kerr Canyon 
supported a robust breeding population (Service 2007a, p. 2). However, 
the current population status is greatly reduced from 2007 numbers, or 
may possibly be extirpated. We suspect that observed declines in 
Chiricahua leopard frog abundance can be attributed to chytridiomycosis 
or predation. Because of the disease and competition with nonnative 
species, we find that the essential features in this area may require 
special management considerations or protection.
West Fork Gila River Unit
    This unit contains 177 ac (72 ha) of Federal lands in the Gila 
National Forest in Catron County, New Mexico. This 7.0-mi (11.2-km) 
reach runs from Turkeyfeather Spring, through an intermittent drainage 
to the confluence with the West Fork Gila River, then downstream in the 
West Fork Gila River to confluence with White Creek. Within this unit, 
the Upper West Fork is divided into two perennial segments by a 1.2-mi 
(2.0-km) long, ephemeral reach between Turkeyfeather Creek and White 
Creek. The area within this unit was occupied at the time of listing 
and currently contains PCE 1 to support life-history functions 
essential for the conservation of the species.
    The West Fork Gila River unit was occupied at the time of listing, 
and Chiricahua leopard frogs are currently present. The species has 
been observed in West Fork Gila River since 1995, with reproduction 
observed in 2001 (Blue Earth Ecological Consultants 2002, pp. 16-17; 
Service 2007, pp. B-64; Service 2009, p. 15). The population is not 
well studied; however, this section of the West Fork Gila River is long 
enough that it could support a robust population. This unit will be 
managed as an isolated population because it is likely occupied by low 
numbers of frogs and the nearest known, robust breeding population 
occurs in the Main Diamond Creek Unit, which is more than 5 mi (8 km) 
away along a perennial water course. Special management is required in 
this unit because there may be some potential for linking these 
populations if aquatic habitat between the units could be identified, 
renovated as needed, and populations of frogs established. However, 
potential sites and the presence or absence of PCE 2 in these 
connecting areas have not been investigated in any detail.
    Also, special management is required because chytridiomycosis has 
been found on Chiricahua leopard frogs within this unit. The Gila 
National Forest considers this unit to be free of nonnative predators.

Recovery Unit 7 (Upper Gila-Blue River, Arizona and New Mexico)

Left Prong of Dix Creek Unit
    This unit contains 13 ac (5 ha) of Federal lands in the Apache-
Sitgreaves National Forest in Greenlee County, Arizona.
    Occupancy status at the time of listing was unknown. We consider 
this unit to have been unoccupied at the time of listing for the 
purpose of this critical habitat designation. We have determined this 
unit to be essential to the conservation of the species because it 
contains breeding habitat necessary for recovery. Additionally, this 
unit contains PCE 1.
    This reach runs from a warm spring above ``The Hole'' and continues 
to the confluence with the Right Prong of Dix Creek, an approximate 
stream distance of 4,248 ft (1,296 m). This population was discovered 
in 2003; Chiricahua leopard frogs were observed again in 2005. In 2010, 
the warm spring was not surveyed because a large boulder has lodged 
itself in the canyon, blocking access to the spring. In 2003, 
Chiricahua leopard frogs were also reported from below a warm spring in 
the Right Prong of Dix Creek. However, surveys in 2010 only found 
lowland leopard frogs. Currently, the population in the Left Prong is 
isolated.
    The next nearest known Chiricahua leopard frog population is at 
Rattlesnake Pasture Tank, about a 6.0-mi (9.6-km), straight-line 
distance over rough terrain. A number of stock tanks have potential to 
connect these two sites and form a metapopulation; however, they have 
not been investigated in enough detail to understand whether PCEs are 
present or have the potential to be developed. No

[[Page 16359]]

Chiricahua leopard frogs have ever been found in these tanks.
    This designated critical habitat overlaps that of critical habitat 
for Gila chub, which provides a level of protection for this unit. A 
healthy population of Gila chub, as well as other native fish, occurs 
in the Left Prong of Dix Creek. A natural rock barrier about a mile 
below the confluence of the Right and Left Prongs serves as a barrier 
to upstream movement of nonnative fish from the San Francisco River. 
The warm waters of the spring may allow persistence of Chiricahua 
leopard frogs if chytridiomycosis is present or if it colonizes this 
area in the future. A rough dirt road crosses the left prong of Dix 
Creek in the designated critical habitat unit. The major related threat 
is likely sediment flowing into the stream.
Rattlesnake Pasture Tank and Associated Tanks Unit
    This unit contains 59 ac (24 ha) of Federal lands in the Apache-
Sitgreaves National Forest in Greenlee County, Arizona.
    Occupancy status at the time of listing was unknown. We consider 
this unit to have been unoccupied at the time of listing for the 
purpose of this critical habitat designation. We have determined this 
unit to be essential to the conservation of the species because it 
contains three tanks, along with dispersal corridors, that could help 
support a metapopulation. Additionally, both PCEs 1 and 2 are present 
in this unit.
    Included in the designated critical habitat are three stock tanks: 
Rattlesnake Pasture, Rattlesnake Gap, and Buckhorn. Also included are 
intervening drainages and uplands for connectivity, including: (1) From 
Rattlesnake Pasture Tank downstream in an unnamed drainage to Red Tank 
Canyon (including Buckhorn Tank), then upstream in Red Tank Canyon to 
Rattlesnake Gap Tank; and (2) from Rattlesnake Gap Tank upstream in an 
unnamed drainage to its confluence with a minor drainage, then upslope 
to a saddle, and across that saddle and directly downslope to 
Rattlesnake Pasture Tank.
    Chiricahua leopard frogs were discovered at Rattlesnake Pasture 
Tank in 2003, and are currently extant. The species has not been found 
at Rattlesnake Gap or Buckhorn Tanks; however, all three tanks are well 
connected via drainages to allow movement of frogs from Rattlesnake 
Pasture Tank to the other tanks. Rattlesnake Gap and Buckhorn Tanks 
have historically contained water. Other tanks in the area, including 
Cold Spring Mountain Tank and Rattlesnake Tanks 1 and 2, do 
not hold water for a long enough period to support a breeding 
population of frogs, and Chiricahua leopard frogs have not been found 
at these other tanks. The three tanks designated could help support a 
metapopulation; however, habitat work that secures water availability 
will be needed to achieve the fourth breeding site of the 
metapopulation.
    The major threat in this unit is nonnative predators, such as tiger 
salamanders, that occur in all three tanks and likely prey upon 
Chiricahua leopard frogs. However, a healthy population of Chiricahua 
leopard frogs occurs with native Arizona tiger salamanders at 
Rattlesnake Pasture Tank. Three juvenile to small adult bullfrogs, 
which were likely immigrants from another site, were found at 
Rattlesnake Gap Tank in June 2010. There is potential for bullfrogs to 
become established at Rattlesnake Gap Tank. These tanks are filled by 
rainfall, but Rattlesnake Pasture Tank may be spring-fed as well. 
Nonetheless, there is some risk that these tanks, particularly Buckhorn 
Tank, could dry during an extended drought.
Coal Creek Unit
    This unit consists of 7 ac (3 ha) of Federal lands in the Apache-
Sitgreaves National Forest in Greenlee County, Arizona. This is an 
approximate 3,447-ft (1,051-m) reach of Coal Creek from Highway 78 
downstream to the confluence with an unnamed drainage.
    Occupancy status at the time of listing was unknown. We consider 
this unit to have been unoccupied at the time of listing for the 
purpose of this critical habitat designation. We have determined this 
unit to be essential to the conservation of the species because it 
contains important breeding habitat necessary for recovery. This creek 
dries to isolated pools, without the effect of snowmelt and summer 
precipitation, where Chiricahua leopard frogs take refuge. However, 
during the spring and summer, Coal Creek typically carries water, and 
the Chiricahua leopard frogs distribute themselves throughout this 
reach. Additionally, this unit contains PCE 1.
    This population was discovered in 2003, and is still considered 
extant. This unit is isolated from other Chiricahua leopard frog 
populations; the nearest is Rattlesnake Pasture Tank, which is 5.1 mi 
(8.2 km) to the west over rugged terrain.
    Neither chytridiomycosis nor nonnative predators is known to be a 
problem in this unit. However, one major threat in this unit is the 
potential for wildfires that could result in ash flow, sedimentation, 
and erosion in Coal Creek, which would degrade or eliminate habitat for 
Chiricahua leopard frogs. Another primary threat is extended drought, 
during which the aquatic habitats of the frog could be severely limited 
or could dry out completely, resulting in extirpation of this isolated 
population.
Blue Creek Unit
    This unit includes 24 ac (10 ha) of Bureau of Land Management land 
and 12 ac (5 ha) of private lands in Grant County, New Mexico. This 
unit is designated as critical habitat because it was occupied at the 
time of listing and currently contains PCE 1 to support life-history 
functions essential for the conservation of the species.
    Included in this unit is an approximate 2.37-mi (3.81-km) reach of 
Blue Creek from adjacent to a corral on private lands downstream to the 
confluence of a drainage that comes in from the east. This is an area 
where Chiricahua leopard frogs currently breed. Additional habitat may 
occur upstream on private or State lands. However, the private reach 
immediately above the designated critical habitat lacks breeding pools, 
and no Chiricahua leopard frogs have been observed (Barnitz 2010, p. 
1). The lands upstream of the private land have not been surveyed.
    The nearest Chiricahua leopard frog population is at Coal Creek 
more than a 22 mi (35 km), straight-line distance, which is too great a 
distance to be considered part of a metapopulation.
    Special management is required because the primary limiting factors 
in this unit are lack of perennial flow and periodic scouring flash 
flooding during the summer that likely wash tadpoles downstream. In 
some years, the entire reach goes dry in June; however, in other years 
with normal to above normal precipitation, frogs breed throughout this 
reach. Nonnative aquatic predators are absent. Although a Chiricahua 
leopard frog tested positive for chytridiomycosis in 2009, no die-offs 
have been noted. Also, special management is required because wildfire 
could result in ash flow, sedimentation, and erosion in Blue Creek, 
which would degrade or eliminate habitat for Chiricahua leopard frogs.

Recovery Unit 8 (Black-Mimbres-Rio Grande, New Mexico)

Seco Creek Unit
    This unit includes 66 ac (27 ha) of Federal lands in the Gila 
National Forest in Sierra County, New Mexico. This area

[[Page 16360]]

was occupied at the time of listing and currently contains both PCEs 1 
and 2 to support life-history functions essential for the conservation 
of the species.
    The designated critical habitat includes the North Fork of Seco 
Creek from Sawmill Well downstream to its confluence with Middle Seco 
Creek, to include Sucker Ledge, but excludes the portion of North Seco 
Creek on private lands. This amounts to an approximate drainage 
distance of 3.32 miles (5.34 km).
    Breeding of Chiricahua leopard frogs has not been observed at 
Sawmill or Sucker Ledge, but has been observed at Davis Well. At the 
time of listing, Chiricahua leopard frogs were extant at Sucker Ledge 
and Davis Well, and the status at Sawmill Well at that time was 
unknown. The North Fork of Seco Creek, including Sawmill Well, Sucker 
Ledge, and Davis Well, is currently occupied. PCEs 1 and 2 are present 
in the unit.
    This unit contributes to a metapopulation, and Chiricahua leopard 
frogs move among these sites and sites on the Ladder Ranch using the 
intervening creeks. This unit with the areas on the Ladder Ranch 
comprises the most stable metapopulation in New Mexico.
    Special management is required in this unit because 
chytridiomycosis has caused extirpations in this region, and in 2001, 
four tadpoles from Seco Creek appeared to show signs of the disease. In 
June 2007, a single sample (out of seven samples) from Artesia Well and 
a single sample (out of nine samples) from LM Bar Well tested positive 
for chytridiomycosis. Both of these were considered ``weak positive'' 
by the laboratory and may have been false positives. Extensive testing 
since then has failed to produce additional positive tests. Bullfrogs 
have been found occasionally on adjacent private lands, but the Ladder 
Ranch has made efforts to remove and control them to the best of their 
ability. Barred tiger salamanders occur in most waters in the area and 
likely prey upon Chiricahua leopard frog tadpoles and small adults, but 
do not appear to threaten the Chiricahua leopard frog population as a 
whole.
    Turner Endangered Species Fund, Turner Enterprises, and the Ladder 
Ranch have over a 10-year record of implementing recovery and 
conservation measures for the Chiricahua leopard frog on the Ladder 
Ranch. The 156,439-acre Ladder Ranch is owned by Turner Enterprises and 
is managed for its biodiversity. The Ladder Ranch has been an active 
participant in the conservation of a number of rare and listed species, 
including the Mexican wolf (Canis lupus baileyi), Bolson tortoise 
(Gopherus flavomarginatus), Chiricahua leopard frog, black-tailed 
prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus), American bison (Bison bison), and 
Rio Grande cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki virginalis). Recovery 
actions for the Chiricahua leopard frog have included fencing some of 
the waters from the bison, monitoring and researching Chiricahua 
leopard frog populations and habitat, maintaining perennial water for 
frogs, improving habitat for Chiricahua leopard frogs, removing and 
controlling bullfrogs, using steel rim tanks for refugia populations, 
and most recently constructing a captive breeding facility to rear 
Chiricahua leopard frogs for population augmentation and 
reestablishment to contribute to the range-wide recovery of the 
Chiricahua leopard frog. The Service has provided funding for the 
captive-breeding program under the Partners for Fish and Wildlife 
Program and other granting authorities. The Ladder Ranch maintains 
captive-propagation facilities for the Chiricahua leopard frog under a 
section 10(a)(1)(A) enhancement of survival permit from the Service. 
Under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, private lands on the Ladder Ranch in 
this unit (310 ac (247 ha)) are excluded from critical habitat 
designation (see Application of Section 4(b)(2) of the Act, below).
Alamosa Warm Springs Unit
    This unit consists of 54 ac (22 ha) of private, 25 ac (10 ha) of 
New Mexico State, and 0.2 ac (0.1 ha) of Bureau of Land Management 
lands at the headwaters of Alamosa Creek, Socorro County, New Mexico. 
This unit is designated as critical habitat because it was occupied at 
the time of listing and currently contains PCE 1 to support life-
history functions essential for the conservation of the species.
    Designated critical habitat includes an approximate 4,974-ft 
(1,516-m) spring run from the confluence of Wildhorse Canyon and 
Alamosa Creek downstream to the confluence with a drainage that comes 
in from the north, which is below the gauging station in Monticello 
Box. This reach includes areas where frogs have been found as recent as 
2006 (Christman 2006b, p. 11).
    At its source, waters at Alamosa Warm Springs range from 77 to 85 
[deg]F (25.0 to 29.3 [deg]C) (Christman 2006b, p. 3). Chytridiomycosis 
is present in this population, but the Chiricahua leopard frogs 
persist, presumably aided by the warm waters.
    This is a robust breeding population, but it is too far removed 
from other Chiricahua leopard frogs to be part of a metapopulation. The 
nearest population is Unit 38, 20.3 mi (32.5 km) to the south-
southeast. As a result, this site is managed as an isolated, robust 
population.
    Alamosa Warm Springs is at the northeastern edge of the 
distribution of the Chiricahua leopard frog. This site is drought-
resistant because of perennial spring flow. Nonnative aquatic predators 
are unknown at this site, but if introduced, they could pose a serious 
threat to the population. Special management is required in this unit 
because heavy livestock grazing on the site and in the watershed, and a 
dirt road through the canyon, have degraded the habitat for Chiricahua 
leopard frogs, and flooding likely flushes tadpoles out of the unit 
periodically (Christman 2006b, pp. 5-6).
    The endangered Alamosa springsnail (Tryonia alamosae) occurs at 
Alamosa Warm Springs; its presence may provide some additional level of 
protection to Chiricahua leopard frog. The future land management plans 
of the landowners are unknown.
Cuchillo Negro Warm Springs and Creek Unit
    This unit consists of 3 ac (1 ha) of Bureau of Land Management and 
3 ac (1 ha) of New Mexico State lands in Sierra County, New Mexico. 
This unit was occupied at the time of listing and currently contains 
both PCEs 1 and 2 to support life-history functions essential for the 
conservation of the species.
    Two springs on Bureau of Land Management land are the source of 
stream that runs for about 6.0 mi (9.6 km) down Cuchillo Negro Creek; 
however, Chiricahua leopard frogs are rarely found more than 1.2 mi 
(2.0 km) downstream of the warm springs (Christman 2006a, p. 8). 
Critical habitat begins at the upper of the two springs and follows 
Cuchillo Negro Creek downstream to the confluence with an unnamed 
drainage that comes in from the snorth, excluding the portion of 
Cuchillo Negro Creek on privately owned lands, for an approximate 
stream distance of 2,518 feet (768 meters).
    Special management is required in this unit because 
chytridiomycosis is present in this population, and it is likely that 
Chiricahua leopard frogs persist where the water is warm, but succumb 
to the disease in the cooler waters downstream. Chiricahua leopard 
frogs currently persist in very low numbers in this unit.
    PCE 1 is present in this unit; however, this site is too far from 
other Chiricahua leopard frog populations to be considered part of a 
metapopulation. The nearest population is Seco Creek,

[[Page 16361]]

about 12.7 mi (20.3 km) to the south-southwest. Hence, this population 
is managed as an isolated population.
    Chiricahua leopard frogs coexist with plains leopard frogs at this 
site, and it is likely the plains leopard frogs occasionally prey upon 
Chiricahua leopard frog tadpoles and small frogs. Plains leopard frogs, 
however, probably do not threaten the Chiricahua leopard frog. 
Bullfrogs have been recorded in Cuchillo Negro Creek, but only rarely, 
and do not appear to breed or persist in the reach with the leopard 
frogs (Christman 2006a, p. 9).
    Special management is required in this unit because the primary 
threats in this unit are cleaning out of the channel by the Cuchillo 
Acequia Association, periodic flooding that flushes tadpoles downstream 
and results in silts in pools, and chytridiomycosis. The springs 
located on Bureau of Land Management land are the source of downstream 
irrigation water, and the Cuchillo Acequia Association has maintained 
two trenches through the springs reportedly to improve flow, although 
that flow resulted in extensive damage to the springs, stream, and 
riparian vegetation (67 FR 40802; June 13, 2002).
    The private landowner downstream is the Ladder Ranch, and as 
described above, the ranch is an active participant in Chiricahua 
leopard frog recovery. Under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, the private 
lands in this unit (23 ac (9 ha)) are excluded from critical habitat 
designation (see Application of Section 4(b)(2) of the Act, below).
Ash and Bolton Springs Unit
    This unit consists of 49 ac (20 ha) of private lands east of Hurley 
in Grant County, New Mexico. This unit was occupied at the time of 
listing and currently contains both PCEs 1 and 2 to support life-
history functions essential for the conservation of the species.
    Included in this unit are Ash and Bolton Springs, and ephemeral or 
intermittent drainages and uplands needed for movement of frogs among 
these two breeding sites as follows: (1) From the spring box at Ash 
Spring downstream in a drainage to a dirt road crossing; and (2) west 
and overland from the ruins of an old house below Ash Spring to a low 
saddle, then downslope into an unnamed drainage, and downstream in that 
drainage to its confluence with another unnamed drainage, downstream in 
that unnamed drainage its confluence with another unnamed drainage, 
then upstream in that unnamed drainage to the top of that drainage and 
directly downslope and west to another unnamed drainage, downstream in 
that unnamed drainage to its confluence with Bolton Canyon, and 
upstream in Bolton Canyon to the locally known Bolton Springs.
    Populations of Chiricahua leopard frogs at Ash and Bolton Springs 
were present at the time of listing and currently persist. These sites 
were once part of a metapopulation, but all other sites have been 
extirpated. There may be potential in the future to rebuild a 
metapopulation through natural recolonization or population 
reestablishments, if threats can be managed.
    The lands are owned by Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold 
Subsidiaries as part of the Chino Copper Mine, which is based in nearby 
Santa Rita and Hurley. In December 2008, Freeport-McMoRan announced 
plans to suspend mining and milling activities at Chino. The majority 
of the work force was laid off in 2009. To our knowledge, no current 
plans exist to expand the mine into the area designated for critical 
habitat, and Freeport-McMoRan and its predecessor, Phelps-Dodge, have 
been cooperative in conservation of the Chiricahua leopard frog.
    Special management is required in this unit because 
chytridiomycosis is a threat. Large numbers of dead frogs were found at 
Ash Spring in 2007. However, the frogs at Bolton Springs have shown no 
signs of disease. Both populations exist in small aquatic sites that 
cannot sustain large populations; hence, they are also vulnerable to 
variations in environmental conditions and population demographics.
Mimbres River Unit
    This unit consists of 1,097 ac (444 ha) of private lands in Grant 
County, New Mexico. The unit was occupied at the time of listing and 
currently contains PCE 1 to support life-history functions essential 
for the conservation of the species.
    The unit is divided into two disjunct reaches of the Mimbres River 
that are separated by a 6.6-mi (10.6-km), intermittent reach. However, 
the two reaches may be too far apart to reasonably expect frogs to move 
between the two sites, and the next nearest Chiricahua leopard frog 
population is in the Ash and Bolton Springs Unit, more than 10 mi (16 
km) away from the lower Mimbres River reach across rugged terrain.
    Critical habitat in the upper Mimbres River includes an approximate 
2.42-mi (3.89-km) reach that begins where the river flows into The 
Nature Conservancy's property and continues downstream to the 
confluence with Bear Canyon. The approximate 5.82-mi (9.36-km) lower 
critical habitat reach begins at the bridge over the Mimbres River just 
west of San Lorenzo and continues downstream to where it exits the The 
Nature Conservancy's Disert parcel near Faywood. The two critical 
habitat reaches are largely perennial, although portions of the river 
dry out during drought. Chiricahua leopard frogs are currently present 
in both reaches of the Mimbres River.
    The best breeding site in the upper reach is Moreno Spring, which 
harbors a relatively stable population of Chiricahua leopard frogs. In 
the upper reach, Chiricahua leopard frogs have been observed to breed 
in the river and at off-channel pools on nearby private property. 
Breeding occurs in the lower river reach as well, where an additional 
robust population is present near San Juan.
    Special management is required in this unit because 
chytridiomycosis is present in this unit. However, frogs are persisting 
with the disease. Moreno Spring is a warm spring that likely provides 
some buffer against the effects of the chytridiomycosis. Special 
management is also required in this unit because agricultural and rural 
development, water diversions, groundwater pumping, and leveeing and 
bankline work to protect properties from flooding are threats. Periodic 
flooding probably washes some tadpoles out of the system and results in 
silts in pools used for breeding. No bullfrogs or crayfish have been 
found in this unit; if introduced, they could pose a significant 
threat.
    The threatened Chihuahua chub (Gila nigrescens) occurs in the upper 
reach, and rainbow trout, a nonnative species, occur throughout the 
areas where there is water. Both trout and chub likely prey upon 
Chiricahua leopard frog tadpoles. Bear Canyon Reservoir in Bear Canyon 
near the town of Mimbres reportedly supports populations of channel 
catfish (Ictalurus punctatus), black crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus), 
largemouth bass, and bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus), and rainbow trout 
(Johnson and Smorynski 1998, p. 132). These species may escape from the 
reservoir periodically into the Mimbres River.
    Presence of the Chihuahua chub may provide some level of protection 
to the upper reach. In addition, The Nature Conservancy owns the 
majority of the river in the upper reach (510 ac (206 ha)) (not 
including Moreno Spring or Milagros Ranch (formerly known as Emory Oak 
Ranch)) and significant parcels in the lower reach. These lands, known 
as The Mimbres River Preseve, are managed for the benefit of the 
Chihuahua chub, Chiricahua leopard

[[Page 16362]]

frog, and other riparian and aquatic resources, although no formal 
conservation plan has been developed for this area or its resources. 
Therefore, under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, private lands owned by The 
Nature Conservancy in this unit (510 ac (206 ha)) are not excluded from 
critical habitat designation (see Application of Section 4(b)(2) of the 
Act, below).
South Fork Palomas Creek Unit
    This unit consists of 23 ac (9 ha) of Federal lands in the Gila 
National Forest land in Sierra County, New Mexico. This 4.5-mi (7.3-km) 
reach of South Fork Palomas Creek runs downstream from Wagonbed Canyon 
to the boundary with the Ladder Ranch. This unit was occupied at the 
time of listing, is currently occupied, and contains both PCEs 1 and 2 
to support life-history functions essential for the conservation of the 
species. Special management is required in this unit to control 
bullfrogs.
    Under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, 106 ac (43 ha) of private lands 
in this unit, which are part of the Ladder Ranch, are excluded from 
critical habitat designation (see Application of Section 4(b)(2) of the 
Act, below). Management for the Chiricahua leopard frog on the Ladder 
Ranch included fencing the ranch's waters from bison that graze the 
area, reestablishing of populations using wild-to-wild translocations, 
maintaining of wells and tanks, and controlling bullfrogs. The Ladder 
Ranch also monitors the Chiricahua leopard frogs and habitats, and has 
recently initiated a captive-breeding facility and program to rear 
frogs for population augmentation and reestablishment.

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 
proposed 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 Chiricahua leopard frogs. 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, when carried out, funded, or authorized by a 
Federal agency, may affect critical habitat and therefore should result 
in consultation

[[Page 16363]]

for the Chiricahua leopard frog include, but are not limited to:
    (1) Actions that would significantly increase sediment deposition 
or scouring within the stream channel or pond that acts as a breeding 
site or a movement corridor among breeding sites in a metapopulation. 
Such activities could include, but are not limited to: Excessive 
sedimentation from livestock grazing; road construction; commercial or 
urban development; channel alteration; timber harvest; prescribed 
fires; off-road vehicle or recreational use; and other alterations of 
watersheds and floodplains. These activities could adversely affect the 
potential for frogs to survive or breed at a breeding site, and reduce 
the likelihood that frogs could move among subpopulations in a 
metapopulation, which in turn would decrease the viability of the 
metapopulation and its component local populations.
    (2) Actions that would alter water chemistry beyond the tolerance 
limits of the Chiricahua leopard frog (see discussion above, Primary 
Constituent Elements for the Chiricahua Leopard Frog). Such activities 
could include, but are not limited to: Release of chemicals, biological 
pollutants, or effluents into the surface water or into connected 
groundwater at a point source or by dispersed release (non-point 
source); livestock grazing that results in waters heavily polluted by 
feces; runoff from agricultural fields; roadside use of salts; aerial 
persticide overspray; runoff from mine tailings or other mining 
activities; and ash flow and fire retardants from fires and fire 
suppression. These actions could adversely affect the ability of the 
habitat to support survival and reproduction of Chiricahua leopard 
frogs at breeding sites. Variances in water chemistry or temperature 
could also affect the frog's ability to survive with chytridiomycosis.
    (3) Actions that would alter the water quantity or permanence of a 
breeding site or dispersal corridor. If the permanence of an aquatic 
system declines so that it regularly dries up for more than 1 month 
each year, it will lose its ability to support breeding Chiricahua 
leopard frogs. If the quantity of water declines, it may reduce the 
likelihood that the site will support a population of Chiricahua 
leopard frogs that is robust enough to be viable over time. Similarly, 
ephemeral, intermittent, or perennial ponds can be important stop-over 
points for Chiricahua leopard frogs moving among breeding sites in a 
metapopulation. Reducing the permanence of these sites may reduce their 
ability to facilitate frog movements. However, in some cases, 
increasing permanence can be detrimental as well, in that it could 
create favorable habitat for predatory fish, bullfrogs, tiger 
salamanders, or crayfish that otherwise could not exist in the system. 
Such activities that could cause these effects include, but are not 
limited to, water diversions, groundwater pumping, watershed 
degredation, construction or destruction of dams or impoundments, 
developments or `improvements' at a spring, channelization, dredging, 
road and bridge construction, and destruction of riparian or wetland 
vegetation.
    (4) Actions that would directly or indirectly result in 
introduction of nonnative predators, increase the abundance of extant 
predators, or introduce disease (particularly chytridiomycosis). 
Possible actions could include, but are not limited to: Introduction or 
stocking of fish, bullfrogs, crayfish, tiger salamanders, or other 
predators on the Chiricahua leopard frog; creating or sustaining a 
sport fishery that encourages use of live fish, crayfish, tiger 
salamanders, or frogs as bait; water diversions, canals, or other water 
conveyance that move water from one place to another and through which 
inadvertent transport of predators into Chiricahua leopard frog habitat 
may occur; and movement of water, mud, wet equipment, or vehicles from 
one aquatic site to another, through which inadvertent transport of 
chytridiomycosis may occur.
    (5) Actions and structures that would physically block movement 
among breeding sites in a metapopulation. Such actions and structures 
include, but are not limited to: Urban, industrial, or agricultural 
development; reservoirs that are 50 ac (20 ha) or more in size and 
stocked with predatory fish, bullfrogs, or crayfish; highways that do 
not include frog fencing and culverts; and walls, dams, fences, canals, 
or other structures that physically block movement. These actions and 
structures could reduce or eliminate immigration and emigration among 
breeding sites in a metapopulation, reducing the viability of the 
metapopulation and its subpopulations.
    (6) Actions that would remove or block access to riparian 
vegetation and banklines within 20 ft (6.1 m) of the high water line of 
breeding ponds or to the upland edge of the wetland and riparian 
vegetation community lining breeding sites, whichever is greatest, or 
that would reduce vegetation in movement corridors among breeding sites 
in a metapopulation. Such activities could include, but are not limited 
to: Clearing of riparian or wetland vegetation; saltcedar (Tamarix sp.) 
control; road, bridge, or canal construction; urban development; 
conversion of river bottomlands to agriculture; stream or drainage 
channelization; and levee or dike construction. In some cases, thinning 
of very dense vegetation, such as cattails, which can completely take 
over an aquatic site, can be beneficial to the frog and its habitat. 
However, in most cases, vegetation clearing or removal, or blocking 
access to uplands adjacent to breeding sites, will reduce the quality 
of foraging and basking habitat, and may increase the likelihood of 
successful predation because cover has been removed.
    We note that the above activities may adversely affect critical 
habitat. As stated previously, an activity adversely affecting critical 
habitat must be of a severity or intensity that the PCEs are 
compromised to the extent that the critical habitat can no longer meet 
its intended conservation function before a destruction or adverse 
modification determination is reached. Within the context of the goals 
and purposes of the recovery strategy in the species' recovery plan, an 
activity that compromises the PCEs to the point that one or more of the 
recovery criteria could not be achieved or would be very difficult to 
achieve in one or more Recovery Units would deteriorate the value of 
critical habitat to the point that its conservation function could not 
be met.

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.

[[Page 16364]]

    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.''
    There are no Department of Defense lands with a completed INRMP 
within the critical habitat designation. Therefore, we are not 
exempting lands from this final designation of critical habitat for the 
Chiricahua leopard frog under section 4(a)(3)(B)(i) of the Act.

Exclusions

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

    Section 4(b)(2) of the Act states that the Secretary must designate 
and revise 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 legislative history is 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 must identify the benefits of including the area in the 
designation, identify the benefits of excluding the area from the 
designation, and determine 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 result 
in conservation; the continuation, strengthening, or encouragement of 
partnerships; implementation of a management plan that provides equal 
to or more conservation than a critical habitat designation would 
provide; or a combination of these.
    In the case of the Chiricahua leopard frog, the benefits of 
critical habitat include public awareness of Chiricahua leopard frog 
presence and the importance of habitat protection, and in cases where a 
Federal nexus exists, increased habitat protection for Chiricahua 
leopard frogs due to the protection from adverse modification or 
destruction of critical habitat. The majority of Chiricahua leopard 
frog habitat and localities are on Federal lands, mostly lands managed 
by the U.S. Forest Service; however, key aquatic sites are sometimes on 
non-Federal lands.
    Building partnerships and promoting voluntary cooperation of 
landowners are essential to understanding the status of species on non-
Federal lands, and necessary for implementing recovery actions, such as 
reestablishing listed species and restoring and protecting habitat. 
Many non-Federal landowners derive satisfaction from contributing to 
endangered species recovery. We strive to promote these private-sector 
efforts through the Department of the Interior's Cooperative 
Conservation philosophy. Conservation agreements with non-Federal 
landowners (HCPs, safe harbor agreements, other conservation 
agreements, easements, and State and local regulations) enhance species 
conservation by extending species protections beyond those available 
through section 7(a)(2) consultations. In the past decade and a half, 
we have encouraged non-Federal landowners to enter into conservation 
agreements, based on our philosophy that voluntary conservation can 
benefit both landowners and wildlife, and that we can achieve greater 
species conservation on non-Federal land through such partnerships than 
we can through regulatory methods (61 FR 63854; December 2, 1996). For 
the Chiricahua leopard frog, we have often used the Service's Partners 
for Fish and Wildlife grant program to work with non-Federal partners 
on recovery projects for this species. This grant program requires a 
commitment from the participating landowner to maintain the 
improvements funded by the program for 10 years. We have also worked 
with private landowners on Chiricahua leopard frog conservation via 
safe harbor Agreements in Arizona and southwestern New Mexico, a 
conservation agreement for the Ramsey Canyon (= Chiricahua) leopard 
frog that protects frogs and their habitats on private and public lands 
in the Huachuca Mountains of Arizona, and an HCP in southeastern 
Arizona and southwestern New Mexico.
    When we evaluate the existence of a conservation plan when 
considering the benefits of exclusion, we consider a variety of 
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 evaluating the benefits of inclusion and the benefits of 
exclusion, we carefully weigh the two sides to determine whether the 
benefits of exclusion outweigh those of inclusion. If we determine that 
they do, 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 that area from the designation.
    Based on the information provided by entities seeking exclusion, as 
well as any additional public comments we received, we evaluated 
whether certain lands in the proposed critical habitat were appropriate 
for exclusion from this final designation under section 4(b)(2) of the 
Act. We are excluding the following areas from critical habitat 
designation for the Chiricahua leopard frog. Table 3 below provides 
approximate areas (ac, ha) of lands that

[[Page 16365]]

meet the definition of critical habitat but are being excluded under 
section 4(b)(2) of the Act from the final critical habitat rule.

               Table 3--Areas Excluded From Critical Habitat Designation by Critical Habitat Unit
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                           Area meeting the
                                                                             definition of
                 Unit                     Specific area to be excluded     critical habitat      Exclusion  in
                                                                          in the unit (acres   acres  (hectares)
                                                                              (hectares))
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pasture 9 Tank Unit..................  Entire Pasture 9 Tank Unit.......           0.5 (0.2)           0.5 (0.2)
Beatty's Guest Ranch Unit............  Entire Beatty's Guest Ranch......              10 (4)              10 (4)
Ramsey and Brown Canyons Unit........  Ramsey Canyon Preserve...........            123 (50)              16 (6)
Peloncillo Mountains Unit............  Canoncito Ranch..................           655 (265)           289 (117)
Cave Creek Unit......................  Southwestern Research Station....           326 (132)             92 (37)
Rosewood and North Tanks Unit........  Entire Rosewood and North Tanks..             97 (39)             97 (39)
Seco Creek Unit......................  Ladder Ranch.....................           676 (274)           610 (247)
Cuchillo Negro Warm Springs and Creek  Ladder Ranch.....................             29 (11)              23 (9)
 Unit.
South Fork Palomas Creek Unit........  Ladder Ranch.....................            129 (52)            106 (43)
                                                                         ---------------------------------------
    Totals...........................  .................................         1,916 (775)         1,243 (503)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    We are excluding these areas because we believe that:
    (1) Their value for conservation will be preserved for the 
foreseeable future by existing protective actions, or
    (2) They are appropriate for exclusion under the ``other relevant 
factor'' provisions of section 4(b)(2) of the Act.
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 2011). The draft analysis, dated September 15, 2011, was made 
available for public review and comment from September 21, 2011, 
through October 21, 2011 (76 FR 58441). Following the close of the 
comment period, a final analysis (dated December 9, 2011) of the 
potential economic effects of the designation was developed taking into 
consideration the public comments and any new information (Industrial 
Economics 2011).
    The intent of the final economic analysis (FEA) is to quantify the 
economic impacts of all potential conservation efforts for the 
Chiricahua leopard frog; some of these costs will likely be incurred 
regardless of whether or not 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 habitat'' scenario 
represents the baseline for the analysis, considering protections 
already in place for the species (e.g., under the Federal listing and 
other Federal, State, and local regulations). The baseline, therefore, 
represents the costs incurred regardless of whether or not critical 
habitat is designated. The ``with critical habitat'' scenario describes 
the incremental impacts associated specifically 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. Decision-makers can use this information to assess whether 
the effects of the designation might unduly burden a particular group 
or economic sector. Finally, the FEA considers economic impacts to 
activities from 2012 (expected year of final critical habitat 
designation) through 2031 (Industrial Economics 2011, p. 2-18). The FEA 
quantifies economic impacts of Chiricahua leopard frog conservation 
efforts associated with the following categories of activity:
    (1) Livestock grazing: Includes draining stock tanks, damage to 
shoreline habitat, disease transmission, and changes to water quality 
due to intense livestock use.
    (2) Mining: Includes mining operations and associated mining-
related contaminants and runoff.
    (3) Water diversion and management: Includes groundwater pumping 
(lowering of the water table), agricultural development, and operations 
of dams and diversions.
    (4) Residential and commercial development and transportation: 
Includes sedimentation and runoff associated with construction, as well 
as stream channelization and loss of riparian or wetland vegetation.
    (5) Fires and fire suppression activities: Includes ash flow and 
fire retardants from fires and fire suppression activities.
    (6) Nonnative native species introductions and disease: Includes 
saltcedar control, stocking of nonnative fish, bullfrogs, or crayfish; 
and disease transmission.
    The FEA estimates that no significant economic impacts are likely 
to result from the designation of critical habitat. Incremental costs 
are limited to administrative efforts of new and reinitiated 
consultations to consider adverse modification of critical habitat for 
the Chiricahua leopard frog. A significant level of baseline protection 
exists for the Chiricahua leopard frog, addressing a broad range of 
habitat threats. Nearly all units have some level of conservation, with 
59 percent of proposed critical habitat on federally owned land and a 
number of conservation easements and safe harbor agreements on 
privately owned land.

[[Page 16366]]

However, the FEA does foresee additional administrative costs 
associated with the designation of critical habitat. In total, 
incremental administrative efforts are estimated at $1,300,000, or 
$115,000 on an annualized basis (discounted at 7 percent).
    In conclusion, no significant economic impacts are likely to result 
from the designation of critical habitat, and incremental costs are 
limited to administrative efforts of new and reinitiated consultations 
to consider adverse modification of critical habitat. As a result, no 
areas are being excluded from the final designation based on a 
disproportionate economic impact to any entity or sector. A copy of the 
FEA with supporting documents may be obtained by contacting the Arizona 
Ecological Services Field 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 (DOD) where a 
national security impact might exist. In preparing this rule, we have 
determined that the lands within the designation of critical habitat 
for the Chiricahua leopard frog are not owned or managed by DOD, and we 
therefore anticipate no impact to national security. We are not 
excluding any lands based on impacts to 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 to 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
    We consider a current plan or agreement to provide adequate 
management or protection if it meets the following criteria:
    (1) The plan is finalized, complete, and provides the same or 
better level of protection from adverse modification or destruction 
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 effective and implemented for 
the foreseeable future, based on past practices, written guidance, or 
regulations;
    (3) The plan provides conservation strategies and measures 
consistent with currently accepted principles of conservation biology 
that provide for the conservation of the essential physical or 
biological features of habitat; and
    (4) 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.
    We believe that the Malpai Borderlands HCP, Malpai Borderlands Safe 
Harbor Agreement, AGFD Safe Harbor Agreement, and our partnership with 
the Laddder Ranch fulfill the above criteria, and we are excluding non-
Federal lands managed in accordance with these tenants that provide for 
the conservation of the Chiricahua leopard frog.
    Two umbrella safe harbor agreements, the Malpai Borderlands Safe 
Harbor Agreement and the AGFD Safe Harbor Agreement, under which 
individual landowners can enroll their lands by signing a Certificate 
of Inclusion, have been completed for Arizona and southwestern New 
Mexico. Under the Certificates of Inclusion, landowners commit to 
certain conservation actions. These agreements have, in some cases, 
facilitated habitat improvements and translocations of Chiricahua 
leopard frogs to private lands to establish new populations. Under 
section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we assessed the appropriateness of 
exclusions from critical habitat for non-Federal lands in designated 
critical habitat units that are enrolled under either the AGFD Safe 
Harbor Agreement or the Malpai Borderlands Safe Harbor Agreement. We 
believe that these agreements fulfill the above criteria, and are 
excluding non-Federal lands managed in accordance with these tenants 
that provide for the conservation of the Chiricahua leopard frog. We 
also considered exclusions for non-Federal lands that are protected by 
conservation easements, conservation agreements, or other forms of 
protective management that benefit the Chiricahua leopard frog and its 
habitats. Specific units excluded from this critical habitat 
designation are discussed and described below.

Malpai Borderlands Safe Harbor Agreement

    The Malpai Borderlands Safe Harbor Agreement specifies the primary 
biological objective of establishing and managing metapopulations of 
Chiricahua leopard frogs on enrolled properties that currently include 
289 ac (117 ha) of lands on the Canoncito Ranch and 97 ac (39 ha) on 
the Magoffin Ranch in southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico. 
The Malpai Borderlands Safe Harbor Agreement provides for management 
for existing populations of Chiricahua leopard frogs and establishment 
of new populations through reestablishment and translocations, which 
are expected to increase the distribution and numbers of Chiricahua 
leopard frogs on private lands. The metapopulations created and managed 
under the Malpai Borderlands Safe Harbor Agreement will be based on 
``primary sites'' (sites that reliably hold surface water or retain 
moisture year-round in all years) and ``secondary sites'' that 
facilitate the metapopulation dynamic, but may dry one out of every 2 
years on average. The Malpai Borderlands Safe Harbor Agreement also 
calls for special management of regional dispersal habitat between 
potentially occupied habitats on neighboring land, such as the San 
Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge.
    There are several management actions that provide direct or 
indirect conservation benefit to Chiricahau leopard frogs under the 
Malpai Borderlands Safe Harbor Agreement. Examples include: (1) 
Specific considerations for stock tank construction and maintainance 
that benefit the Chiricahua leopard frog (construction of double-tanks, 
refugia sites at single tank systems, fencing, deepening, well 
drilling, installing pipelines, etc.); (2) managing livestock 
operations in a manner that specifically minimizes potential adverse 
effects to Chiricahua leopard frog populations to the maximum extent 
practicable; (3) avoiding intentional or accidental release of 
nonnative species to enrolled lands, as well as maintaining vigilance 
against third parties releasing nonnatives, reporting observations of 
nonnatives, and controlling nonnatives; and (4) implementing measures 
to ensure that prescribed fire, herbicide treatments, and other land 
treatments are conducted in a manner that promotes the long-term 
maintenance of habitat characteristics essential to Chiricahua leopard 
frog populations. For specific details of conservation activities 
implemented under the Malpai Borderlands Safe Harbor

[[Page 16367]]

Agreement, please see Malpai Borderlands Group (2004, pp. 10-24).
Benefits of Inclusion--Malpai Borderlands Safe Harbor Agreement
    The principle benefit of including an area in a critical habitat 
designation is the requirement of Federal agencies to ensure that 
actions that they fund, authorize, or carry out are not likely to 
result in the destruction or adverse modification of any designated 
critical habitat, which is the regulatory standard of section 7(a)(2) 
of the Act under which consultation is completed. Federal agencies must 
consult with the Service on actions that may affect critical habitat 
and must avoid destroying, or adversely modifying, critical habitat. 
Federal agencies must also 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 analysis of 
effects to critical habitat is a separate and different analysis from 
that of the effects to the species. Therefore, the difference in 
outcomes of these two analyses represents the regulatory benefit of 
critical habitat. For some species (including the Chiricahua leopard 
frog), 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. However, the regulatory standard is different, as the 
jeopardy analysis investigates the action's impact to survival and 
recovery of the species, while the adverse modification analysis 
investigates the action's effects to the designated habitat's 
contribution to conservation. This will, in many instances, lead to 
different results and different regulatory requirements. Thus, critical 
habitat designations may provide greater benefits to the recovery of a 
species than would listing alone. Critical habitat may provide a 
regulatory benefit for the Chiricahua leopard frog when there is a 
Federal nexus present for a project that might adversely modify 
critical habitat.
    The consultation provisions under section 7(a) of the Act 
constitute the regulatory benefits of designating lands as critical 
habitat. As discussed above, Federal agencies must consult with us on 
actions that may affect critical habitat and must avoid destroying or 
adversely modifying critical habitat. Critical habitat may provide a 
regulatory benefit for the Chiricahua leopard frog when there is a 
Federal nexus present for a project that might adversely modify 
critical habitat. With respect to the Malpai Borderlands Safe Harbor 
Agreement, we expect any projects that occur on private lands, and that 
have a Federal nexus and may affect critical habitat, would undergo 
consultation. Such a project might be a section 404 permit under the 
Clean Water Act from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, for example. In 
such instances, critical habitat designation on these private lands 
would provide an additional regulatory benefit to the conservation of 
the Chiricahua leopard frog by prohibiting adverse modification of 
habitat essential for the conservation of this species.
    Another possible benefit of including lands in critical habitat is 
public education regarding the potential conservation value of an area 
that may help focus conservation efforts on areas of high conservation 
value for certain species. Any information about the Chiricahua leopard 
frog and its habitat that reaches a wide audience, including parties 
engaged in conservation activities, is valuable. The inclusion of lands 
in the Chiricahua leopard frog critical habitat designation that are 
managed under the tenets of the Malpai Borderlands Safe Harbor 
Agreement could be beneficial to the species because the critical 
habitat designation specifically identifies lands essential to the 
conservation of the species and special management considerations or 
protection. The process of proposing critical habitat provided an 
opportunity for peer review and public comment on habitat we determined 
meets the definition of critical habitat. This process is valuable to 
landowners and managers in prioritizing conservation and management of 
identified areas. Information on the Chiricahua leopard frog and its 
habitat has also been provided to the public in the past through 
meetings; educational materials and outreach provided by the local, 
State, and Federal jurisdictions; and general partnerships, 
coordination, and collaboration with stakeholders in implementing 
Chiricahua leopard frog recovery programs. In general, we believe the 
designation of critical habitat for the Chiricahua leopard frog will 
provide additional information for the public concerning the importance 
of essential habitat that has not already been available.
    In summary, we believe that educational benefits are likely 
realized when any information about the Chiricahua leopard frog and its 
habitat reaches a wide audience. The educational benefits of critical 
habitat designation on lands managed under the tenets of the Malpai 
Borderlands Safe Harbor Agreement may not be significant due to 
extensive past outreach, ongoing conservation efforts, the listing of 
Chiricahua leopard frog as threatened in 2002, the development and 
implementation of the final recovery plan in 2007, and other 
interactions concerning Chiricahua leopard frog conservation and 
recovery.
Benefits of Exclusion--Malpai Borderlands Safe Harbor Agreement
    We believe the following benefits would be realized by forgoing 
designation of critical habitat for the Chiricahua leopard frog on 
lands managed under the tenets of the Malpai Borderlands Safe Harbor 
Agreement. These benefits chiefly include allowing for continued 
meaningful collaboration and effective working partnerships with 
private landowners to promote conservation of the Chiricahua leopard 
frog and its habitat.
    We have detailed above a history of proactive collaboration and 
partnerships in the conservation and recovery of the Chiricahua leopard 
frog with numerous private partners since the species' listing in 2002, 
and in some examples, several years prior. These partners include the 
Nature Conservancy, the Ladder Ranch, the Magoffin Ranch, the Beatty 
Guest Ranch, the Southwestern Research Station, the San Rafael Ranch, 
and the Canoncito Ranch. These partners have demonstrated, as evidenced 
by a detailed list of specific activities above, a commitment to 
Chiricahua leopard frog conservation and recovery on their private 
lands. Indirectly and in addition, these private landowners serve as 
ambassadors for Chiricahua leopard frog conservation and recovery in 
their respective communities or areas, a valuable asset in today's 
often controversial challenge of listed species conservation and 
recovery.
    Therefore, excluding these lands from critical habitat provides the 
significant benefit of maintaining and strengthening our existing 
conservation partnership and fostering new Federal-private 
partnerships. Through management under the Malpai Borderlands Safe 
Harbor Agreement, private landowners who are enrolled are committed to 
management and provide specific protection for the Chiricahua leopard 
frog and for the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of the species. In most respects, these management 
prescriptions are equal to or better than what the designation of 
critical habitat would provide. Exclusion of these private lands from 
critical habitat will help preserve these important partnerships and 
will also foster future partnerships and conservation of the Chiricahua 
leopard frog.

[[Page 16368]]

Benefits of Exclusion Outweigh the Benefits of Inclusion--Malpai 
Borderlands Safe Harbor Agreement
    The benefits of excluding these private lands from critical habitat 
outweigh the benefits of inclusion, based on the conservation-based 
management tenets under the Malpai Borderlands Safe Harbor Agreement, 
which have facilitated the specific projects summarized above. 
Activities on these lands will follow the mitigation strategy or 
promote site-specific conservation goals and objectives (whichever is 
applicable) and will be managed into the future for the benefit of the 
Chiricahua leopard frog.
    We reviewed and evaluated the benefits of inclusion and the 
benefits of exclusion of lands identified for exclusion that are 
managed under the tenets of the Malpai Borderlands Safe Harbor 
Agreement as critical habitat for the Chiricahua leopard frog. 
Including these private lands in the critical habitat designation for 
the Chiricahua leopard frog will provide little additional regulatory 
protection under section 7(a) of the Act when there is a Federal nexus, 
and educational benefits of designation will be redundant with those 
achieved through listing and our cooperative efforts working with these 
private landowners to conserve the Chiricahua leopard frog and the 
physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the 
species. We recognize there may be some ancillary benefit from other 
laws such as NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.)resulting from designating 
these areas as critical habitat; however, we consider these possible 
benefits to be marginal considering the potential adverse impact that 
critical habitat designation could have on our partnership with these 
private landowners. We believe past and future coordination with these 
private landowners will continue to provide sufficient education 
regarding the Chiricahua leopard frog habitat conservation needs on 
their lands, and therefore educational benefits for these areas are 
small.
    The benefits of excluding these private lands from critical habitat 
are significant. Exclusion of these lands from critical habitat will 
help preserve the partnership we have developed and reinforce those we 
are building with other private landowners, and foster future 
partnerships and development of management plans. We received numerous 
comments during the public comment period emphasizing that designation 
of critical habitat on these lands should not occur. We are committed 
to fostering working relationships with the conservation community, 
including these private landowners, to further the conservation of the 
Chiricahua leopard frog and other endangered and threatened species. 
Therefore, in consideration of the relevant impact to our relationship 
with these private landowners and other current and future conservation 
partnerships, we determined the benefits of exclusion outweigh the 
benefits of inclusion in critical habitat designation for these lands.
Exclusion Will Not Result in Extinction of the Species--Malpai 
Borderlands Safe Harbor Agreement
    We determined that the exclusion of approximately 386 ac (156 ha) 
of habitat from this final designation of critical habitat for the 
Chiricahua leopard frog under the Malpai Borderlands Safe Harbor 
Agreement will not result in extinction of the species. Lands managed 
under the tenets of the Malpai Borderlands Safe Harbor Agreement 
provide protection and long-term management of lands that meet the 
definition of critical habitat for the Chiricahua leopard frog through 
site-specific habitat management and improvement projects. 
Additionally, the jeopardy standard of section 7 of the Act for the 
Chiricahua leopard frog provides assurances that the species will not 
go extinct as a result of exclusion from critical habitat designation. 
The consultation requirements of section 7(a)(2) and the attendant 
requirement to avoid jeopardy to the Chiricahua leopard frog for 
projects with a Federal nexus will provide significant protection to 
the species. Therefore, based on the above discussion, the Secretary is 
exercising his discretion to exclude approximately 289 ac (117 ha) of 
habitat in the Peloncillo Mountains Unit and the entire 97 ac (39 ha) 
in the Rosewood and North Tanks Unit from this final critical habitat 
designation.

AGFD Safe Harbor Agreement

    The AGFD (Statewide) Safe Harbor Agreement was finalized in 2006. 
The purpose of the AGFD's Safe Harbor Agreement is to (1) to establish 
a program for the conservation of the Chiricahua leopard frog (Rana 
chiricahuensis) on private and other non-Federal lands in Arizona; (2) 
to provide regulatory assurances to voluntary participants that their 
conservation efforts will not result in required or imposed additional 
conservation measures or additional land, water or resource use 
restrictions beyond those agreed to at the time of enrollment and in 
the original Agreement; and (3) to provide similar assurances to 
landowners who do not participate directly in the conservation program 
established under this Agreement, but may desire regulatory assurances 
due to their proximity to program participants or other lands harboring 
Chiricahua leopard frogs (AGFD 2006, p. 1). The Pasture 9 Tank, 
Beatty's Guest Ranch, Ramsey and Brown Canyons, and Cave Creek Units 
discussed in the proposed rule (76 FR 14126) are all managed under AGFD 
Safe Harbor Agreement.
    The AGFD Safe harbor Agreement requires several required 
conservation measures for enrollees, including special instructions and 
precautions for: (1) Constructing or maintaining stock tanks; (2) 
managing livestock operations in a manner that specifically minimizes 
potential adverse effects to Chiricahua leopard frog populations to the 
maximum extent practicable; (3) committing to avoid intentionally or 
accidentally releasing nonnative species to enrolled lands, as well as 
maintaining vigilance against third parties releasing nonnatives, 
reporting observations of nonnatives, and controlling nonnatives; and 
(4) implementing measures to ensure that prescribed fire, herbicide 
treatments, and other land treatments are conducted in a manner that 
promotes the long-term maintenance of habitat characteristics essential 
to Chiricahua leopard frog populations that are extant in enrolled 
properties. Numerous conservation activities are suggested, although 
not mandatory, in the AGFD Safe Harbor Agreement including Chiricahua 
leopard frog translocation, construction of a double tank system, 
construction of small refugia sites at single tank systems, fencing, 
deepening of pools, well drilling, pipelines, removal of nonnative 
aquatic predators from otherwise suitable sites, maintenance of 
existing habitat conditions, enhancement of dispersal corridors, 
enhancement of stream and cienega habitats, and vegetation enhancement. 
For specific details of conservation activities implemented under the 
AGFD Safe Harbor Agreement, please see AGFD (2006, pp. 16-18, 22-24).
Benefits of Inclusion--AGFD Safe Harbor Agreement
    The principle benefit of including an area in a critical habitat 
designation is the requirement of Federal agencies to ensure that 
actions that they fund, authorize, or carry out are not likely to 
result in the destruction or adverse modification of any designated 
critical habitat, which is the regulatory standard of section 7(a)(2) 
of the Act under which consultation is completed. Federal

[[Page 16369]]

agencies must consult with the Service on actions that may affect 
critical habitat and must avoid destroying, or adversely modifying, 
critical habitat. Federal agencies must also 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 analysis of effects to critical habitat is a separate and different 
analysis from that of the effects to the species. Therefore, the 
difference in outcomes of these two analyses represents the regulatory 
benefit of critical habitat. For some species (including the Chiricahua 
leopard frog), 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. However, the regulatory standard is different, 
as the jeopardy analysis investigates the action's impact to survival 
and recovery of the species, while the adverse modification analysis 
investigates the action's effects to the designated habitat's 
contribution to conservation. This will, in many instances, lead to 
different results and different regulatory requirements. Thus, critical 
habitat designations may provide greater benefits to the recovery of a 
species than would listing alone. Critical habitat may provide a 
regulatory benefit for the Chiricahua leopard frog when there is a 
Federal nexus present for a project that might adversely modify 
critical habitat.
    The consultation provisions under section 7(a) of the Act 
constitute the regulatory benefits of designating lands as critical 
habitat. As discussed above, Federal agencies must consult with us on 
actions that may affect critical habitat and must avoid destroying or 
adversely modifying critical habitat. Critical habitat may provide a 
regulatory benefit for the Chiricahua leopard frog when there is a 
Federal nexus present for a project that might adversely modify 
critical habitat. With respect to the AGFD Safe Harbor Agreement, we 
expect any projects that occur on private lands, have a Federal nexus, 
and may affect critical habitat would undergo consultation. Such a 
project might be a section 404 permit under the Clean Water Act from 
the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, for example. In such instances, 
critical habitat designation on these private lands would provide an 
additional regulatory benefit to the conservation of the Chiricahua 
leopard frog by prohibiting adverse modification of habitat essential 
for the conservation of this species.
    Another possible benefit of including lands in critical habitat is 
public education regarding the potential conservation value of an area 
that may help focus conservation efforts on areas of high conservation 
value for certain species. Any information about the Chiricahua leopard 
frog and its habitat that reaches a wide audience, including parties 
engaged in conservation activities, is valuable. The inclusion of lands 
in the Chiricahua leopard frog critical habitat designation that are 
managed under the tenets of the AGFD Safe Harbor Agreement could be 
beneficial to the species because the critical habitat designation 
specifically identifies lands essential to the conservation of the 
species and special management considerations or protection. The 
process of proposing critical habitat provided an opportunity for peer 
review and public comment on habitat we determined meets the definition 
of critical habitat. This process is valuable to landowners and 
managers in prioritizing conservation and management of identified 
areas. Information on the Chiricahua leopard frog and its habitat has 
also been provided to the public in the past through meetings; 
educational materials and outreach provided by the local, State, and 
Federal jurisdictions; and through general partnerships, coordination, 
and collaboration with stakeholders in implementing Chiricahua leopard 
frog recovery programs. In general, we believe the designation of 
critical habitat for the Chiricahua leopard frog will provide 
additional information for the public concerning the importance of 
essential habitat that has not already been available.
    In summary, we believe that educational benefits are likely 
realized when any information about the Chiricahua leopard frog and its 
habitat reaches a wide audience. The educational benefits of critical 
habitat designation on lands managed under the tenets of the AGFD Safe 
Harbor Agreement may not be significant due to extensive past outreach, 
ongoing conservation efforts, the listing of Chiricahua leopard frog as 
threatened in 2002, the development and implementation of the final 
recovery plan in 2007, and other interactions concerning Chiricahua 
leopard frog conservation and recovery.
Benefits of Exclusion--AGFD Safe Harbor Agreement
    We believe the following benefits would be realized by forgoing 
designation of critical habitat for the Chiricahua leopard frog on 
lands managed under the tenets of the AGFD Safe Harbor Agreement. These 
benefits chiefly include allowing for continued meaningful 
collaboration and effective working partnerships with private 
landowners to promote conservation of the Chiricahua leopard frog and 
its habitat.
    We have detailed above a history of proactive collaboration and 
partnerships in the conservation and recovery of the Chiricahua leopard 
frog with numerous private partners since the species' listing in 2002, 
and in some examples, several years prior. These partners include the 
Nature Conservancy, the Ladder Ranch, the Magoffin Ranch, the Beatty 
Guest Ranch, the Southwestern Research Station, the San Rafael Ranch, 
and the Canoncito Ranch. These partners have demonstrated, as evidenced 
by a detailed list of specific activities above, a commitment to 
Chiricahua leopard frog conservation and recovery on their private 
lands. Indirectly and in addition, these private landowners serve as 
ambassadors for Chiricahua leopard frog conservation and recovery in 
their respective communities or areas, a valuable asset in today's 
often controversial challenge of listed species conservation and 
recovery.
    Therefore, excluding these lands from critical habitat provides the 
significant benefit of maintaining and strengthening our existing 
conservation partnership and fostering new Federal-private 
partnerships. Through management under the AGFD Safe Harbor Agreement, 
these private landowners are committed to management that provides 
specific protection for the Chiricahua leopard frog and for the 
physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the 
species. In most respects, these management prescriptions are equal to 
or better than what the designation of critical habitat will provide. 
Exclusion of these private lands from critical habitat would help 
preserve these important partnerships and will also foster future 
partnerships and conservation of the Chiricahua leopard frog.
Benefits of Exclusion Outweigh the Benefits of Inclusion--AGFD Safe 
Harbor Agreement
    The benefits of excluding these private lands from critical habitat 
outweigh the benefits of inclusion, based on the conservation-based 
management tenets under the AGFD Safe Harbor Agreement which have 
facilitated the specific projects summarized above. Activities on these 
lands will follow the mitigation strategy or promote site-specific 
conservation goals and objectives (whichever is applicable) and will be 
managed into

[[Page 16370]]

the future for the benefit of the Chiricahua leopard frog.
    We reviewed and evaluated the benefits of inclusion and the 
benefits of exclusion of lands identified for exclusion that are 
managed under the tenets of the AGFD Safe Harbor Agreement as critical 
habitat for the Chiricahua leopard frog. Including these private lands 
in the critical habitat designation for the Chiricahua leopard frog 
will provide little additional regulatory protection under section 7(a) 
of the Act when there is a Federal nexus, and educational benefits of 
designation will be redundant with those achieved through listing and 
our cooperative efforts working with these private landowners to 
conserve the Chiricahua leopard frog and the physical or biological 
features essential to the conservation of the species. We recognize 
there may be some ancillary benefit from other laws such as NEPA 
resulting from designating these areas as critical habitat; however, we 
consider these possible benefits to be marginal considering the 
potential adverse impact that critical habitat designation could have 
on our partnership with these private landowners. We believe past and 
future coordination with these private landowners will continue to 
provide sufficient education regarding the Chiricahua leopard frog 
habitat conservation needs on their lands, and therefore educational 
benefits for these areas are small.
    The benefits of excluding these private lands from critical habitat 
are significant. Exclusion of these lands from critical habitat will 
help preserve the partnership we have developed and reinforce those we 
are building with other private landowners, and foster future 
partnerships and development of management plans. We received numerous 
comments during the public comment period emphasizing that designation 
of critical habitat on these lands should not occur. We are committed 
to fostering working relationships with the conservation community, 
including these private landowners, to further the conservation of the 
Chiricahua leopard frog and other endangered and threatened species. 
Therefore, in consideration of the relevant impact to our relationship 
with these private landowners and other current and future conservation 
partnerships, we determined the benefits of exclusion outweigh the 
benefits of inclusion in critical habitat designation for these lands.
Exclusion Will Not Result in Extinction of the Species--AGFD Safe 
Harbor Agreement
    We determined that the exclusion of approximately 118 ac (48 ha) of 
habitat from this final designation of critical habitat for the 
Chiricahua leopard frog under the AGFD Safe Harbor Agreement will not 
result in extinction of the species. Lands managed under the tenets of 
the AGFD Safe Harbor Agreement provide protection and long-term 
management of lands that meet the definition of critical habitat for 
the Chiricahua leopard frog through site-specific habitat management 
and improvement projects. Additionally, the jeopardy standard of 
section 7 of the Act for the Chiricahua leopard frog provides 
assurances that the species will not go extinct as a result of 
exclusion from critical habitat designation. The consultation 
requirements of section 7(a)(2) and the attendant requirement to avoid 
jeopardy to the Chiricahua leopard frog for projects with a Federal 
nexus will provide significant protection to the species. Therefore, 
based on the above discussion, the Secretary is exercising his 
discretion to exclude approximately 118 ac (48 ha) of habitat in the 
Pasture 9 Tank, Beatty's Guest Ranch, Ramsey and Brown Canyons, and 
Cave Creek Units from this final critical habitat designation.

Ladder Ranch Chiricahua Leopard Frog Conservation Partnership

    The Ladder Ranch Chiricahua Leopard Frog Conservation Partnership 
includes staff from the Turner Endangered Species Fund, Turner Ranch 
Properties, and the Ladder Ranch Biodiversity Division in partnership 
with the Service and the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. The 
Ladder Ranch is a 155,553-ac (62,950-ha) private ranch in Sierra 
County, New Mexico, whose management incorporates the Seco Creek, 
Cuchillo Negro Warm Springs and Creek, and the South Fork Palomas Creek 
critical habitat units. The Ladder Ranch provides conservation for the 
Chiricahua leopard frog based on the tenets of the recovery plan with 
four main objectives: (1) Maintain wild Chiricahua leopard frog 
populations on the Ladder Ranch; (2) develop applied research that will 
inform conservation management; (3) maintain a captive refugia system 
for Chiricahua leopard frog populations located elsewhere, off-ranch; 
and (4) use captive breeding to contribute towards rangewide recovery 
of the species.
    The strategy underlying the Ladder Ranch's conservation for the 
Chiricahua leopard frog is built on the foundation of a robust wild 
population that inhabits the Seco Creek drainage on the Ladder Ranch, 
which is the largest Chiricahua leopard frog population in New Mexico. 
This metapopulation's persistence depends not only on natural 
intermittent and ephemeral stream habitat and steel and earthen stock 
tanks within the drainage, but also on dedicated water management by 
the ranch. The Ladder Ranch staff have implemented several conservation 
actions that have assisted in securing the Seco Creek metapopulation, 
including maintaining and improving pond habitat, erecting livestock 
and wildlife exclosure fences to prevent trampling and overgrazing at 
earthen ponds, and installing permanent fencing at Johnson, Fish, LM 
Bar, Pague, and North Seco Wells.
    The Ladder Ranch has already conducted much conservation work for 
the Chiricahua leopard frog, such as habitat improvements, securing 
permanent water sources for occupied habitat, captive propagation-
headstarting-release, radio telemetry research, disease testing, and 
annual monitoring of both captive and wild populations. A captive 
facility (ranarium) was also built to house frogs from both on- and 
off-ranch populations for the purposes of captive breeding for 
augmentation and restoring offspring to the wild. The Ladder Ranch 
staff has modified several steel water tanks that are part of the stock 
water infrastructure to serve as secure captive refugia sites for 
Chiricahua leopard frogs.
    As part of the Ladder Ranch's conservation strategy for the 
Chiricahua leopard frog, they hope to restore robust populations in 
unoccupied drainages that contain suitable habitat. To accomplish this 
goal, the Ladder Ranch will: (1) Protect remaining populations of 
Chiricahua leopard frogs on the ranch; (2) identify, protect, restore, 
or create as needed, currently unoccupied recovery sites necessary to 
support viable populations and metapopulations of Chiricahua leopard 
frogs; (3) establish new or re-establish former populations at selected 
recovery sites; (4) augment populations on the ranch as needed to 
increase persistence; (5) monitor Chiricahua leopard frog populations 
and their habitats and the implementation activities on-site outlined 
the recovery plan; (6) implement research needed to support recovery 
actions and adaptive management; (7) develop cooperative conservation 
projects, such as a Safe Harbor Agreement; (8) develop and amend 
management planning on the ranch as needed to implement recovery 
actions; and (9) practice adaptive

[[Page 16371]]

management in which recovery tasks are revised by the Service in 
coordination with the Chiricahua Leopard Frog Recovery Team as 
pertinent new information becomes available.
Benefits of Inclusion--Ladder Ranch Chiricahua Leopard Frog 
Conservation Partnership
    The principle benefit of including an area in a critical habitat 
designation is the requirement of Federal agencies to ensure that 
actions that they fund, authorize, or carry out are not likely to 
result in the destruction or adverse modification of any designated 
critical habitat, which is the regulatory standard of section 7(a)(2) 
of the Act under which consultation is completed. Federal agencies must 
consult with the Service on actions that may affect critical habitat 
and must avoid destroying, or adversely modifying, critical habitat. 
Federal agencies must also 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 analysis of 
effects to critical habitat is a separate and different analysis from 
that of the effects to the species. Therefore, the difference in 
outcomes of these two analyses represents the regulatory benefit of 
critical habitat. For some species (including the Chiricahua leopard 
frog), 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. However, the regulatory standard is different, as the 
jeopardy analysis investigates the action's impact to survival and 
recovery of the species, while the adverse modification analysis 
investigates the action's effects to the designated habitat's 
contribution to conservation. This will, in many instances, lead to 
different results and different regulatory requirements. Thus, critical 
habitat designations may provide greater benefits to the recovery of a 
species than would listing alone. Critical habitat may provide a 
regulatory benefit for the Chiricahua leopard frog when there is a 
Federal nexus present for a project that might adversely modify 
critical habitat.
    The consultation provisions under section 7(a) of the Act 
constitute the regulatory benefits of designating lands as critical 
habitat. As discussed above, Federal agencies must consult with us on 
actions that may affect critical habitat and must avoid destroying or 
adversely modifying critical habitat. Critical habitat may provide a 
regulatory benefit for the Chiricahua leopard frog when there is a 
Federal nexus present for a project that might adversely modify 
critical habitat. With respect to the Service's partnership with the 
Ladder Ranch, we expect any projects that occur on the ranch that have 
a Federal nexus and may affect critical habitat would undergo 
consultation. Such a project might be a section 404 permit under the 
Clean Water Act from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, for example. In 
such instances, critical habitat designation on the ranch would provide 
an additional regulatory benefit to the conservation of the Chiricahua 
leopard frog by prohibiting adverse modification of habitat essential 
for the conservation of this species.
    Another possible benefit of including lands in critical habitat is 
public education regarding the potential conservation value of an area 
that may help focus conservation efforts on areas of high conservation 
value for certain species. Any information about the Chiricahua leopard 
frog and its habitat that reaches a wide audience, including parties 
engaged in conservation activities, is valuable. The inclusion of lands 
in the Chiricahua leopard frog critical habitat designation that are 
managed under the Ladder Ranch could be beneficial to the species 
because the critical habitat designation specifically identifies lands 
essential to the conservation of the species and special management 
considerations or protection. The process of proposing critical habitat 
provided an opportunity for peer review and public comment on habitat 
we determined meets the definition of critical habitat. This process is 
valuable to landowners and managers in prioritizing conservation and 
management of identified areas. Information on the Chiricahua leopard 
frog and its habitat has also been provided to the public in the past 
through meetings; educational materials and outreach provided by the 
local, State, and Federal jurisdictions; and general partnerships, 
coordination, and collaboration with stakeholders in implementing 
Chiricahua leopard frog recovery programs. In general, we believe the 
designation of critical habitat for the Chiricahua leopard frog will 
provide additional information for the public concerning the importance 
of essential habitat that has not already been available.
    In summary, we believe that educational benefits are likely 
realized when any information about the Chiricahua leopard frog and its 
habitat reaches a wide audience. The educational benefits of critical 
habitat designation on the Ladder Ranch may not be significant due to 
extensive past outreach, ongoing conservation efforts by the ranch, the 
listing of Chiricahua leopard frog as threatened in 2002, the 
development and implementation of the final recovery plan in 2007, and 
other interactions concerning Chiricahua leopard frog conservation and 
recovery.
Benefits of Exclusion--Ladder Ranch Chiricahua Leopard Frog 
Conservation Partnership
    We believe the following benefits would be realized by forgoing 
designation of critical habitat for the Chiricahua leopard frog on the 
Ladder Ranch. The primary benefit includes allowing for continued 
collaboration and effective working partnership between the Service and 
the Ladder Ranch to promote conservation of the Chiricahua leopard frog 
and its habitat.
    Based on our partnership with the Ladder Ranch and the number of 
conservation activities the ranch has implemented for the conservation 
of the Chiricahua leopard frog, excluding land on the ranch from 
critical habitat provides the significant benefit of maintaining and 
strengthening our existing conservation partnership and fostering new 
Federal-private partnerships with other landowners. The Ladder Ranch is 
committed to providing protection for the Chiricahua leopard frog. In 
most respects, the management activities conducted by the Ladder Ranch 
are equal to or better than what the designation of critical habitat 
would provide. Exclusion of this private land from critical habitat 
would help preserve this important partnership and will also foster 
future partnerships and conservation of the Chiricahua leopard frog.
Benefits of Exclusion Outweigh the Benefits of Inclusion--Ladder Ranch 
Chiricahua Leopard Frog Conservation Partnership
    The benefits of excluding lands owned and managed by the Ladder 
Ranch from critical habitat outweigh the benefits of inclusion, based 
on our conservation-based partnership with the ranch. Our partnership 
with the Ladder Ranch promotes site-specific conservation goals and 
objectives for the benefit of the Chiricahua leopard frog.
    We reviewed and evaluated the benefits of inclusion and the 
benefits of exclusion of lands identified for exclusion on the Ladder 
Ranch. Including this private land in the critical habitat designation 
for the Chiricahua leopard frog will provide little additional 
regulatory protection under section 7(a) of the Act when there is a 
Federal nexus, and educational benefits of designation will be 
redundant with those achieved through listing and our cooperative 
efforts

[[Page 16372]]

working with this private landowner to conserve the Chiricahua leopard 
frog and the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of the species. We consider the possible benefits of 
including the Ladder Ranch in critical habitat designation to be 
marginal considering the potential adverse impact that critical habitat 
designation could have on our partnership with the private landowner. 
We believe past and future coordination with this private landowner 
will continue to provide sufficient education regarding the Chiricahua 
leopard frog habitat conservation needs on their lands, and therefore 
educational benefits for these areas are small.
    The benefits of excluding the Ladder Ranch from critical habitat 
based on our conservation partnership are significant. Exclusion of the 
ranch from critical habitat will help preserve the partnership we have 
developed and reinforce those we are building with other private 
landowners, and foster future partnerships and development of 
management plans. During the public comment period, we received a 
letter from the Ladder Ranch strongly emphasizing the ranch's desire 
not to have critical habitat designated on their land. We are committed 
to fostering working relationships with the conservation community, 
including the Ladder Ranch, to further the conservation of the 
Chiricahua leopard frog and other endangered and threatened species. 
Therefore, in consideration of the relevant impact to our relationship 
with the Ladder Ranch and other potential private landowners, we 
determined the benefits of exclusion outweigh the benefits of inclusion 
in critical habitat designation for these lands.
Exclusion Will Not Result in Extinction of the Species--Ladder Ranch 
Chiricahua Leopard Frog Conservation Partnership
    We determined that the exclusion of approximately 739 ac (299 ha) 
of habitat from this final designation of critical habitat for the 
Chiricahua leopard frog based on our conservation partnership with the 
Ladder Ranch will not result in extinction of the species. Lands 
managed by the Ladder Ranch for the Chiricahua leopard frog provide 
protection for the frog through site-specific habitat management and 
improvement projects. Therefore, the Secretary is exercising his 
discretion to exclude approximately 739 ac (299 ha) of habitat in the 
Seco Creek, Cuchillo Negro Warm Springs and Creek, and South Fork 
Palomas Creek Units from this final critical habitat designation.

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 (Regulatory Planning and Review). 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.

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 are certifying that the critical 
habitat designation for Chiricahua leopard frog 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 (SBA), 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., 
livestock management, water management, transportation, and 
development). 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 the Chiricahua leopard frog. 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

[[Page 16373]]

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 the 
Chiricahua leopard frog and the designation of critical habitat. The 
analysis is based on the estimated impacts associated with the 
rulemaking as described in Chapters 3 through 4 and Appendix A of the 
analysis and evaluates the potential for economic impacts related to 
livestock management, water management, transportation, and 
development.
    Of the four sectors identified having small entities, the FEA 
estimates that up to 171 small entities may be affected by section 7 
consultations stemming from this rule. Annualized incremental economic 
impacts to small businesses range from $254 per year for transportation 
and residential and commercial development to $8,390 per year for 
livestock management (Industrial Economics 2011, pp. A-2 --A-7). A 
detailed analysis of each sector is presented below.
    The FEA estimates that within this designation of critical habitat, 
the development sector has a total of 3,718 entities, of which 3,542 
are small entities. Of these small entities, up to 9 may be impacted by 
this designation of critical habitat. Stated another way, 0.25 percent 
of the small entities in the development sector may be impacted by this 
designation of critical habitat at the regional scale of this analysis. 
At the national scale, this percentage is much less. The FEA estimates 
total annualized impacts for the 9 entities to range from $28 to $254. 
Relative to the SBA's small entity size standard for this sector ($7 
million or $33.5 million annual revenues), this forecasted impact would 
not have a significant economic impact.
    The FEA estimates that within this designation of critical habitat, 
the transportation sector has a total of 165 entities, of which 154 are 
small entities. Of these small entities, up to 9 may be impacted by 
this designation of critical habitat. Stated another way, approximately 
6 percent of the small entities may be impacted by this designation of 
critical habitat at the regional scale of this analysis. At the 
national scale, this percentage is much less. The total annualized 
incremental impact is estimated to be $254 and relative to the SBA's 
small entity size standard for this sector ($33.5 million), this would 
not represent a significant economic impact.
    The FEA estimates that within this designation of critical habitat 
there are 120 entities that engage in water management, and of these 
entities 104 are small. Of these, up to 18 of these small entities may 
be impacted by this designation of critical habitat. Stated another 
way, 17 percent of the small entities engaged in water management may 
be impacted at the regional scale of this analysis. At the national 
scale, this percentage is much less. The total annualized impact is 
estimated to be up to $508 for all entities; relative to SBA's small 
entity size standard for this sector ($7 million), this would not 
represent a significant economic impact.
    The FEA estimates that within this designation of critical habitat 
there are a total of 162 entities engaged in livestock management 
activities; of these 135 are small entities. The FEA estimates that all 
of the small entities may be affected by this designation of critical 
habitat at the regional scale of this analysis. However, at the 
national scale, the percentage of affected small entities is much less. 
The total annualized incremental impact due to the designation of 
critical habiat is estimated to be $8,390. Although the highest 
annualized impact of $8,390 per year for livestock management may 
represent a significant impact if those costs are borne by only a few 
small ranchers with annual revenues that are considerably lower than 
the small entity revenue size standard of $750,000 per year; this is an 
unlikely outcome. In the extreme case where a single ranch participates 
in all 135 consultations, annualized impacts to that single entity 
would be $8,390; however, in the other extreme, if 135 small ranches 
each participate in a single consultation, annualized impacts to each 
entity would be approximately $62. If 68 small ranches participate 
(i.e., the midpoint between 1 and 135), the annualized impacts would be 
$123 per entity. If only a few did participate, it is unlikely that 
these entities would be small businesses. Given that the consultations 
on livestock management activities are projected to occur on U.S. 
Forest Service allotments and other federally managed areas that are 
spread over large parts of Arizona and New Mexico, it is unlikely that 
only a few ranchers would participate in all 135 of the projected 
consultations. The analysis does not have access to average annual 
revenues for small entities in the critical habitat units, and thus, 
cannot estimate annualized impacts as a percent of annual revenues. 
However, even though there is potential for 135 entities in this sector 
to be affected by this designation, we anticipate the limited potential 
impacts to entities in this sector will not be significant. Our 
determination is based on the fact that any impact to small businesses 
are indirect and that under the RFA we are only required to evaluate 
direct impacts resulting from the designation of critical habitat; and 
as such direct costs are borne by the Federal action agency.
    In summary, we considered whether this designation would result in 
a significant economic effect on a substantial number of small 
entities. Based on the above reasoning and currently available 
information, we concluded that this rule will not result in a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. 
Therefore, we are certifying that the designation of critical habitat 
for Chiricahua leopard frog will not have a significant economic impact 
on a substantial number of small entities, and a regulatory flexibility 
analysis is not required.

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. The Office of Management and Budget (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. As 
none of the outcomes that may constitute ``a significant adverse 
effect'' are relevant to this analysis, energy-related impacts within 
the critical habitat designation are not anticipated. The economic 
analysis finds that extraction, energy production, and distribution are 
not expected to be affected (Industrial Economics 2011, p. A-8). Thus, 
based on information in the economic analysis, energy-related impacts 
associated with Chiricahua leopard frog 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.

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:

[[Page 16374]]

    (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 the designation of critical habitat 
imposes no obligations on State or local governments. By definition, 
Federal agencies are not considered small entities, although the 
activities they fund or permit may be proposed or carried out by small 
entities. Consequently, we do not believe that the critical habitat 
designation would significantly or uniquely affect small government 
entities. As such, 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 the Chiricahua leopard frog 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 economic analysis found that 
no significant ecomonic impacts are likely to result from the 
designation of critical habitat for the Chiricahua leopard frog. A 
significant level of baseline protection already exists for the frog, 
which addresses a broad range of habitat threats. The majority of 
Chiricahua leopard frog habitat and localities are on Federal lands, 
and a number of conservation easements, habitat conservation plans, and 
safe harbor agreements provide protections on privately owned lands. 
Based on information contained in the final economic analysis 
assessment and described within this document, it is not likely that 
economic impacts to a property owner would be of a sufficient magnitude 
to support a takings action. Therefore, the takings implications 
assessment concludes that this designation of critical habitat for the 
Chiricahua leopard frog 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 Arizona and New Mexico. We 
received comments from the Arizona Game and Fish Department and the New 
Mexico Department of Game and Fish and have addressed them in the 
Summary of Comments and Recommendations section of this rule. The 
designation of critical habitat in areas currently occupied by the 
Chiricahua leopard frog may pose nominal additional restrictions to 
those currently in place and, therefore, may have 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

[[Page 16375]]

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 the Chiricahua leopard frog 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 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)). However, when the 
range of the species includes States within the Tenth Circuit, such as 
that of Chiricahua leopard frog, under the Tenth Circuit ruling in 
Catron County Board of Commissioners v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 
75 F.3d 1429 (10th Cir. 1996), we prepare an environmental assessment. 
We prepared a draft environmental assessment for critical habitat 
designation and notified the public of its availability in the Federal 
Register on September 21, 2011 (76 FR 58441).

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 the Chiricahua leopard frog at the time of listing 
that contain the features essential for conservation of the species, 
and no Tribal lands unoccupied by the Chiricahua leopard frog that are 
essential for the conservation of the species. Therefore, we are not 
designating critical habitat for the Chiricahua leopard frog 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 
Arizona Ecological Services Field Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
CONTACT).

Author

    The primary authors of this rulemaking are the staff members of the 
Arizona Ecological Services Field 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.  17.11(h) by revising the entry for ``Frog, Chiricahua 
leopard'' under ``Amphibians'' in the List of Endangered and Threatened 
Wildlife to read as follows:


Sec.  17.11  Endangered and threatened wildlife.

* * * * *
    (h) * * *

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                        Species                                                    Vertebrate
--------------------------------------------------------                        population where                                  Critical     Special
                                                            Historic range       endangered or         Status      When listed    habitat       rules
           Common name                Scientific name                              threatened
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
            Amphibians
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
Frog, Chiricahua leopard.........  Lithobates            U.S.A (AZ, NM),      Entire.............  T                       726     17.95(d)     17.43(b)
                                    chiricahuensis.       Mexico.
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sec.  17.43-[Amended]  

0
3. Amend Sec.  17.43(b) by removing the word ``Rana'' in the paragraph 
heading and adding in its place the word ``Lithobates''.

0
4. In Sec.  17.95, amend paragraph (d) by adding an entry for 
``Chiricahua Leopard Frog (Lithobates chiricahuensis),'' in the same 
alphabetical order that the species appears in the table at Sec.  
17.11(h), to read as follows:


Sec.  17.95  Critical habitat--fish and wildlife.

* * * * *
    (d) * * *


Chiricahua Leopard Frog (Lithobates chiricahuensis)

[[Page 16376]]

    (1) Critical habitat units are depicted for Apache, Cochise, Gila, 
Graham, Greenlee, Pima, Santa Cruz, and Yavapai Counties, Arizona; and 
Catron, Grant, Hidalgo, Sierra, and Socorro Counties, New Mexico, on 
the maps below.
    (2) Within these areas, the primary constituent elements of the 
physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the 
Chiricahua leopard frog are:
    (i) Aquatic breeding habitat and immediately adjacent uplands 
exhibiting the following characteristics:
    (A) Standing bodies of fresh water (with salinities less than 5 
parts per thousand, pH greater than or equal to 5.6, and pollutants 
absent or minimally present), including natural and manmade (e.g., 
stock) ponds, slow-moving streams or pools within streams, off-channel 
pools, and other ephemeral or permanent water bodies that typically 
hold water or rarely dry for more than a month. During periods of 
drought, or less than average rainfall, these breeding sites may not 
hold water long enough for individuals to complete metamorphosis, but 
they would still be considered essential breeding habitat in non-
drought years.
    (B) Emergent and or submerged vegetation, root masses, undercut 
banks, fractured rock substrates, or some combination thereof, but 
emergent vegetation does not completely cover the surface of water 
bodies.
    (C) Nonnative predators (e.g., crayfish (Orconectes virilis), 
bullfrogs (Lithobates catesbeianus), nonnative predatory fish) absent 
or occurring at levels that do not preclude presence of the Chiricahua 
leopard frog.
    (D) Absence of chytridiomycosis, or if present, then environmental, 
physiological, and genetic conditions are such that allow persistence 
of Chiricahua leopard frogs.
    (E) Upland habitats that provide opportunities for foraging and 
basking that are immediately adjacent to or surrounding breeding 
aquatic and riparian habitat.
    (ii) Dispersal and nonbreeding habitat, consisting of areas with 
ephemeral (present for only a short time), intermittent, or perennial 
water that are generally not suitable for breeding, and associated 
upland or riparian habitat that provides corridors (overland movement 
or along wetted drainages) for frogs among breeding sites in a 
metapopulation with the following characteristics:
    (A) Are not more than 1.0 mile (1.6 kilometers) overland, 3.0 miles 
(4.8 kilometers) along ephemeral or intermittent drainages, 5.0 miles 
(8.0 kilometers) along perennial drainages, or some combination thereof 
not to exceed 5.0 miles (8.0 kilometers).
    (B) In overland and nonwetted corridors, provide some vegetation 
cover or structural features (e.g., boulders, rocks, organic debris 
such as downed trees or logs, small mammal burrows, or leaf litter) for 
shelter, forage, and protection from predators; in wetted corridors, 
provide some ephemeral, intermittent, or perennial aquatic habitat.
    (C) Are free of barriers that block movement by Chiricahua leopard 
frogs, including, but not limited to, urban, industrial, or 
agricultural development; reservoirs that are 50 acres (20 hectares) or 
more in size and contain predatory nonnative fish, bullfrogs, or 
crayfish; highways that do not include frog fencing and culverts; and 
walls, major dams, or other structures that physically block movement.
    (3) With the exception of impoundments, livestock tanks and other 
constructed waters, 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 on a base of USGS 7.5' quadrangles, the Service's online Lands 
Mapper, the U.S. Geological Survey National Hydrography Dataset, and 
imagery from Google Earth. Lentic water bodies were digitized from 
Google Earth imagery. Point locations for lentic water bodies (still or 
non-flowing water bodies) were calculated as the geographic centroids 
of the digitized polygons defining the critical habitat boundaries. 
Line locations for lotic streams (flowing water) and drainages are 
depicted as the ``Flowline'' feature class from the National 
Hydrography Dataset geodatabase. Overland connections were digitized 
from Google Earth imagery. Administrative boundaries for Arizona and 
New Mexico were obtained from the Arizona Land Resource Information 
Service and New Mexico Resource Geographic Information System, 
respectively. This includes the most current (as of the effective date 
of this rule) geospatial data available for land ownership, counties, 
States, and streets. Locations depicting critical habitat are expressed 
as decimal degree latitude and longitude in the World Geographic 
Coordinate System projection using the 1984 datum (WGS84). Information 
on Chiricahua leopard frog localities was derived from survey forms, 
reports, publications, field notes, and other sources, all of which 
reside in our files at the Arizona Ecological Services Field Office, 
2321 West Royal Palm Road, Suite 103, Phoenix, AZ 85021. Coordinates 
given for tanks are the approximate center points of those tanks.
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P

[[Page 16377]]

    (5) Note: Index,map of critical habitat units for the Chiricahua 
leopard frog follows:
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR20MR12.000


[[Page 16378]]


    (6) Twin Tanks and Ox Frame Tank Unit, Pima County, Arizona.
    (i) Twin Tanks, including the north tank (31.838230 N, 111.149875 
W) and south tank (31.836031 N 111.149102 W), and the drainage running 
between them, a drainage distance of 979 feet (299 meters).
    (ii) Ox Frame Tank (31.881882 N, 111.200318 W).
    (iii) Note: Map of Twin Tanks and Ox Frame Tank Unit follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR20MR12.001
    

[[Page 16379]]


    (7) Garcia Tank Unit, Pima County, Arizona.
    (i) Garcia Tank (31.477060 N, 111.454114 W).
    (ii) Note: Map of Garcia Tank Unit follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR20MR12.002
    
BILLING CODE 4310-55-C

[[Page 16380]]

    (8) Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge Central Tanks Unit, Pima 
County, Arizona.
    (i) Carpenter Tank (31.528748 N, 111.454642 W).
    (ii) Rock Tank (31.583905 N, 111.462366 W).
    (iii) State Tank (31.569254 N, 111.477114 W).
    (iv) Triangle Tank (31.576105 N, 111.510909 W).
    (v) New Round Hill Tank (31.613784 N, 111.489390 W).
    (vi) Banado Tank (31.532759 N, 111.474729 W).
    (vii) Choffo Tank (31.544627 N, 111.463126 W).
    (viii) Barrel Cactus Tank (31.545284 N, 111.490310 W).
    (ix) Sufrido Tank (31.566364 N, 111.445892 W).
    (x) Hito Tank (31.579462 N, 111.446984 W).
    (xi) Morley Tank (31.599057 N, 111.489088 W).
    (xii) McKay Tank (31.605788 N, 111.474188 W).
    (xiii) Chongo Tank (31.64002 N, 111.50435 W).
    (xiv) Arroyo del Compartidero from Triangle Tank (31.576105 N, 
111.510909 W) downstream through and including Aguire Lake to an 
unnamed drainage (31.594035 N, 111.504265 W); then downstream in that 
unnamed drainage to its confluence with Bailey Wash (31.596674 N, 
111.501912 W); then downstream in Bailey Wash to its confluence with 
Puertocito Wash (31.604618 N, 111.494127 W); then downstream in 
Puertocito Wash to its confluence with Las Moras Wash (31.636031 N, 
111.471749 W), including New Round Hill Tank (31.613784 N, 111.489390 
W); and upstream in Las Moras Wash to Chongo Tank (31.64002 N, 
111.50435 W), a distance of approximately 8.52 drainage miles (13.70 
kilometers).
    (xv) An unnamed drainage from its confluence with Puertocito Wash 
(31.619650 N, 111.483551 W) upstream to McKay Tank (31.605788 N, 
111.474188 W, which is a cluster of three tanks), a distance of 
approximately 1.55 drainage miles (2.50 kilometers).
    (xvi) Puertocito Wash from its confluence with Bailey Wash 
(31.604618 N, 111.494127 W) upstream to Sufrido Tank (31.566364 N, 
111.445892 W), including Morley Tank (31.599057 N, 111.489088 W), a 
distance of approximately 4.60 drainage miles (7.40 kilometers).
    (xvii) An innamed drainage from its confluence with Puertocito Wash 
upstream to Rock Tank (31.583905 N, 111.462366 W), then upstream in an 
unnamed drainage to the top of that drainage (31.582637 N, 111.456882 
W) and directly overland to an unnamed drainage (31.583818 N, 
111.455223 W), and then upstream to Hito Tank (31.579462 N, 111.446984 
W) and downstream to McKay Tank (31.605788 N, 111.474188 W), a distance 
of approximately 3.80 drainage miles (6.11 kilometers) and 580 feet 
(177 meters) overland.
    (xviii) Lopez Wash from Carpenter Tank (31.528748 N, 111.454642 W) 
downstream to its confluence with Aguire Lake (31.590582 N, 111.499589 
W), a distance of approximately 6.75 drainage miles (10.87 kilometers).
    (xix) An unnamed drainage from its confluence with Lopez Wash 
(31.542605 N, 111.466699 W) upstream to Choffo Tank (31.544627 N, 
111.463126 W), a distance of approximately 1,549 drainage feet (472 
meters).
    (xx) An unnamed drainage from its confluence with Lopez Wash 
(31.569735 N, 111.482058 W) upstream to State Tank (31.569254 N, 
111.477114 W), a distance of approximately 1,613 drainage feet (492 
meters).
    (xxi) An unnamed drainage from Banado Tank (31.532759 N, 111.474729 
W) downstream to the confluence with an unnamed drainage (31.545399 N, 
111.496152 W), and then upstream in that drainage to Barrel Cactus Tank 
(31.545284 N, 111.490310 W), a distance of approximately 2.21 drainage 
miles (3.56 kilometers).
    (xxii) An unnamed drainage from Banado Tank (31.532759 N, 
111.474729 W) upstream to a saddle (31.530907 N, 111.463162 W), then 
directly downslope to Lopez Wash (31.532093 N, 111.462159 W), a 
distance of approximately 3,831 drainage feet (1,168 meters) and 808 
feet (246 meters) overland.
    (xxiii) Note: Map of Buenos Aires NWR Central Tanks Unit follows:

[[Page 16381]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR20MR12.003


[[Page 16382]]


    (9) Bonita, Upper Turner, and Mojonera Tanks Unit, Santa Cruz 
County, Arizona.
    (i) Bonita Tank (31.43525 N, 111.305505 W).
    (ii) Upper Turner Tank (31.429690 N, 111.318332 W).
    (iii) Mojonera Tank (31.464250 N, 111.320203 W).
    (iv) From Upper Turner Tank (31.429690 N, 111.318332 W) upstream in 
an unnamed drainage to its confluence with a minor drainage coming in 
from the east (31.431029 N, 111.315846 W), then directly upslope in 
that drainage and east to a saddle (31.431015 N, 111.314770), and 
directly downslope through an unnamed drainage to Bonita Canyon 
(31.429806 N, 111.310325 W), and upstream in Bonita Canyon to Bonita 
Tank, a distance of approximately 1.29 drainage miles (2.08 kilometers) 
and 150 feet (46 meters) overland.
    (v) From Mojonera Tank (31.464250 N, 111.320203 W) downstream in 
Mojonera Canyon to a sharp bend where the drainage turns west-northwest 
(31.445989 N, 111.343181 W); then southeast and upstream in an unnamed 
drainage to a saddle (31.443358 N, 111.340675 W) and downslope through 
an unnamed drainage to its confluence with another unnamed drainage 
(31.438637 N, 111.341044 W); then upstream in that unnamed drainage to 
a saddle (31.438497 N, 111.337639 W); then downstream in an unnamed 
drainage to Sierra Well (31.433012 N, 111.334709 W), to include Sierra 
Tank East (31.435488 N, 111.334736 W) and Sierra Tank West (31.435361 
N, 111.336103 W); then directly overland to Upper Turner Tank 
(31.429690 N, 111.318332 W), a distance of approximately 3.45 drainage 
miles (5.56 kilometers) and 5,270 feet (1,606 meters) overland.
    (vi) Note: Map of Bonita, Upper Turner, and Mojonera Tanks Unit 
follows:

[[Page 16383]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR20MR12.004


[[Page 16384]]


    (10) Sycamore Canyon Unit, Santa Cruz County, Arizona.
    (i) Sycamore Canyon from the Ruby Road bridge (31.434030 N, 
111.186537 W) south to the International Boundary (31.379952 N, 
111.222937 W), a distance of 6.35 stream miles (10.23 kilometers).
    (ii) Yank Tank (31.425426 N, 111.183289 W).
    (iii) North Mesa Tank (31.415697 N, 111.167584 W).
    (iv) Horse Pasture Spring (31.406812 N, 111.184717 W).
    (v) Bear Valley Ranch Tank (31.413617 N, 111.176818 W).
    (vi) South Mesa Tank (31.406832 N, 111.164505 W).
    (vii) Rattlesnake Tank (31.400654 N, 111.163470 W).
    (viii) Yanks Canyon from Yank Tank (31.425426N, 111.183289W) 
downstream to its confluence with Sycamore Canyon (31.428987 N, 
111.190679 W), a distance of approximately 2,822 drainage feet (860 
meters).
    (ix) From North Mesa Tank (31.415697 N, 111.167584 W) downstream in 
Atascosa Canyon to its confluence with Pe[ntilde]asco Canyon (31.402594 
N, 111.186647 W), then from that confluence downstream in 
Pe[ntilde]asco Canyon to its confluence with Sycamore Canyon (31.407395 
N, 111.195820 W), a distance of approximately 2.91 drainage miles (4.69 
kilometers).
    (x) From Horse Pasture Spring (31.406812 N, 111.184717 W) 
downstream to Pe[ntilde]asco Canyon, a drainage distance of 
approximately 1,759 feet (536 meters).
    (xi) From Bear Valley Ranch Tank (31.413617 N, 111.176818 W) 
downstream in an unnamed drainage to its confluence with Atascosa 
Canyon (31.402583 N, 111.186593 W), a drainage distance of 
approximately 611 stream feet (186 meters).
    (xii) From South Mesa Tank (31.406832 N, 111.164505 W) downstream 
in unnamed drainage to its confluence with another unnamed drainage 
(31.403615 N, 111.169213 W), then downstream in that unnamed drainage 
to its confluence with Pe[ntilde]asco Canyon (31.399519 N, 111.177701 
W), then downstream in Pe[ntilde]asco Canyon to its confluence with 
Atascosa Canyon (31.402594 N, 111.186647 W), a drainage distance of 
approximately 2.05 miles (3.30 kilometers).
    (xiii) From Rattlesnake Tank (31.400654 N, 111.163470 W) downstream 
in an unnamed drainage to its confluence with another unnamed drainage 
(31.403615 N, 111.169213 W), a drainage distance of approximately 2,274 
feet (693 meters).
    (xiv) Note: Map of Sycamore Canyon Unit follows:

[[Page 16385]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR20MR12.005


[[Page 16386]]


    (11) Pe[ntilde]a Blanca Lake and Spring and Associated Tanks Unit, 
Santa Cruz County, Arizona.
    (i) Pe[ntilde]a Blanca Lake (31.409091 N, 111.084971 W at the dam).
    (ii) Pe[ntilde]a Blanca Spring (31.388895 N, 111.092297 W).
    (iii) Summit Reservoir (31.396565 N, 111.141347 W).
    (iv) Tinker Tank (31.380107 N, 111.136359 W).
    (v) Coyote Tank (31.369894 N, 111.150751 W).
    (vi) Thumb Butte Tank (31.388426 N, 111.118105 W).
    (vii) From Summit Reservoir directly southeast to a saddle on 
Summit Motorway (31.395580 N, 111.140552 W), then directly downslope to 
an unnamed drainage at (31.394133 N, 111.139450 W) and downstream in 
that drainage to its confluence with Alamo Canyon (31.384521 N, 
111.121496 W), then downstream in Alamo Canyon to its confluence with 
Pe[ntilde]a Blanca Canyon (31.388301 N, 111.093728 W), then downstream 
in Pe[ntilde]a Blanca Canyon to Pe[ntilde]a Blanca Lake (31.409091 N, 
111.084971 W at the dam) to include Pe[ntilde]a Blanca Spring 
(31.388895 N, 111.092297 W), a distance of approximately 4.44 drainage 
miles (7.10 kilometers) and 1,040 feet (317 meters) overland.
    (viii) From Thumb Butte Tank (31.388426 N, 111.118105 W) downstream 
in an unnamed drainage to its confluence with Alamo Canyon (31.385228 
N, 111.112132 W), a distance of approximately 2,494 drainage feet (760 
meters).
    (ix) From Tinker Tank (31.380107 N, 111.136359 W) downstream in an 
unnamed drainage to its confluence with Alamo Canyon (31.379693 N, 
111.126053 W), then downstream in Alamo Canyon to the confluence with 
the drainage from Summit Reservoir (31.384521 N, 111.121496 W), a 
distance of approximately 1.55 drainage miles (2.50 kilometers).
    (x) From Coyote Tank (31.369894 N, 111.150751 W) downstream in an 
unnamed drainage to its confluence with Alamo Canyon (31.365839 N, 
111.138388 W); then downstream in Alamo Canyon to the confluence with 
the drainage from Tinker Tank (31.379693 N, 111.126053 W), to include 
Alamo Spring (31.365993 N, 111.137171 W), a distance of approximately 
3.09 drainage miles (4.97 kilometers).
    (xi) Note: Map of Pe[ntilde]a Blanca Lake and Spring and Associated 
Tanks Unit follows:

[[Page 16387]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR20MR12.006


[[Page 16388]]


    (12) Florida Canyon Unit, Pima County, Arizona.
    (i) Florida Canyon from a silted-in dam (31.759444 N, 110.844095 W) 
downstream to just east of the Florida Workstation entrance gate 
(31.763186 N, 110.845511 W), a distance of approximately 1,521 stream 
feet (463 meters).
    (ii) Note: Map of Florida Canyon Unit follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR20MR12.007
    

[[Page 16389]]


    (13) Eastern Slope of the Santa Rita Mountains Unit, Pima County, 
Arizona.
    (i) Two galvanized metal tanks in Louisiana Gulch (31.74865 N, 
110.72839 W).
    (ii) Greaterville Tank (31.767186 N, 110.759818 W).
    (iii) Los Posos Gulch Tank (31.768587 N, 110.731583 W).
    (iv) Upper Granite Mountain Tank (31.760914 N, 110.760186 W).
    (v) From Los Posos Gulch Tank (31.768587 N, 110.731583 W) upstream 
to a saddle (31.771463 N, 110.748676 W); then downslope in an unnamed 
drainage to the confluence with another unnamed drainage (31.772830 N, 
110.752727 W); then upstream and south in that drainage to a saddle 
(31.768245 N, 110.752891 W); then downslope in an unnamed drainage to 
its confluence with Ophir Gulch (31.763978 N, 110.751312 W); then 
upstream in Ophir Gulch to Upper Granite Mountain Tank (31.760914 N, 
110.760186 W), to include an ephemeral tank (31.761388 N, 110.759184 W) 
and a well (31.761584 N, 110.758169 W), a distance of approximately 
2.59 drainage miles (4.17 kilometers) and 984 feet (300 meters) 
overland.
    (vi) From Greaterville Tank (31.767186 N, 110.759818 W) downstream 
in an unnamed drainage to its confluence with Ophir Gulch (31.763978 N, 
110.751312 W), a distance of approximately 3,446 drainage feet (1,050 
meters).
    (vii) Louisiana Gulch from the metal tanks (31.74865 N, 110.72839 
W) upstream to the confluence with an unnamed drainage (31.756493 N, 
110.744175 W), then upstream in that drainage to its headwaters and 
across a saddle (31.759879 N, 110.748733 W) and downslope through an 
unnamed drainage to its confluence with Ophir Gulch (31.762953 N, 
110.749329 W), then upstream in Ophir Gulch to the confluence with an 
unnamed drainage (31.763978 N, 110.751312 W), a distance of 
approximately 1.98 drainage miles (3.19 kilometers) and 327 feet (100 
meters) overland.
    (viii) Note: Map of Eastern Slope of the Santa Rita Mountains Unit 
follows:

[[Page 16390]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR20MR12.008


[[Page 16391]]


    (14) Las Cienegas National Conservation Area Unit, Pima County, 
Arizona.
    (i) Empire Gulch near Empire Ranch, beginning at a pipeline access 
road crossing (31.787054 N, 110.648665 W) and continuing downstream to 
its confluence with Cienega Creek (31.808988 N, 110.589795 W), a 
distance of approximately 5.08 stream miles (8.18 kilometers).
    (ii) Cienega Creek from the Empire Gulch confluence (31.808988 N, 
110.589795 W) upstream to the approximate end of the wetted reach and 
where the creek bends hard to the east (31.776478 N, 110.590382 W), to 
include Cinco Ponds (31.793066 N, 110.584422 W upstream to 31.788559 N, 
110.584114 W), a distance of approximately 1.91 stream miles (3.08 
kilometers).
    (iii) Note: Map of Las Cienegas National Conservation Area Unit 
follows:
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR20MR12.009


[[Page 16392]]


    (15) Scotia Canyon Unit, Cochise County, Arizona.
    (i) Peterson Ranch Pond (31.457016 N, 110.397724 W).
    (ii) Travertine Seep (31.453466 N, 110.399386 W).
    (iii) Creek in Scotia Canyon from just east of Peterson Ranch Pond 
(31.455723 N, 110.396124 W) downstream to the confluence of an unnamed 
drainage and a sharp bend in the canyon to the south (31.447598 N, 
110.409884 W), a distance of approximately 1.36 stream miles (2.19 
kilometers).
    (iv) Overland from Peterson Ranch Pond (31.457016 N, 110.397724 W) 
to the upper end of the Scotia Creek segment (31.455723 N, 110.396124 
W), to include an ephemeral pond (31.456929 N, 110.397120 W), an 
overland distance of approximately 671 feet (205 meters).
    (v) Overland from the Travertine Seep (31.453466 N, 110.399386 W) 
directly southeast to Scotia Creek (31.452720 N, 110.398117 W), an 
overland distance of approximately 348 feet (106 meters).
    (vi) Note: Map of Scotia Canyon Unit follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR20MR12.010
    

[[Page 16393]]


    (16) Carr Barn Pond Unit, Cochise County, Arizona.
    (i) Carr Barn Pond (31.452461 N, 110.250355 W).
    (ii) Note: Map of Carr Barn Pond Unit follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR20MR12.011
    

[[Page 16394]]


    (17) Ramsey and Brown Canyons Unit, Cochise County, Arizona.
    (i) Ramsey Canyon from the eastern boundary of The Nature 
Conservancy's Bledsoe Parcel in the Ramsey Canyon Preserve (31.448160 
N, 110.306993 W) downstream to a dirt road crossing at the mouth of 
Ramsey Canyon (31.462315 N, 110.291248 W), excluding The Nature 
Conservancy's University of Toronto Parcel in the Ramsey Canyon 
Preserve, an approximate stream distance of 1.29 miles (2.08 
kilometers).
    (ii) Brown Canyon from The Box (31.456016 N, 110.323853 W) 
downstream to the Wild Duck Pond (31.475355 N, 110.297592 W) and House 
Pond (31.474068 N, 110.297565 W) on the former Barchas Ranch, an 
approximate drainage distance of 2.26 miles (3.64 kilometers).
    (iii) From the dirt road crossing at the mouth of Ramsey Canyon 
(31.462315 N, 110.291248 W) directly overland to House Pond (31.474068 
N, 110.297565 W) on the former Barchas Ranch, a distance of 
approximately 4,594 feet (1,400 meters).
    (iv) Note: Map of Ramsey and Brown Canyons Unit follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR20MR12.012
    

[[Page 16395]]


    (18) Peloncillo Mountains Tanks Unit, Hidalgo County, New Mexico.
    (i) Geronimo Tank (31.520685 N, 109.016775 W).
    (ii) State Line Tank (31.498451 N, 109.044940 W).
    (iii) Javelina Tank (31.484995 N, 109.024970 W).
    (iv) Canoncito Ranch Tank (31.449553 N, 109.986836 W).
    (v) Maverick Spring (31.469376 N, 109.011142 W).
    (vi) Cloverdale Creek from the Canoncito Ranch Tank (31.449553 N, 
109.986836 W) downstream, including the cienega, to rock pools 
(31.432972 N, 108.966535 W) about 630 feet downstream of the Cloverdale 
road crossing of Cloverdale Creek, excluding portions of Cloverdale 
Creek and the cienega within private lands of Canoncito Ranch, an 
approximate stream distance of 3,711 feet (1,131 meters).
    (vii) From Geronimo Tank (31.520685 N, 109.016775 W) downstream in 
an unnamed drainage to its confluence with Clanton Draw (31.520590 N, 
109.012263 W), then upstream to the confluence with an unnamed drainage 
(31.515818 N, 109.018117 W), and upstream in that drainage to its 
headwaters (31.501854 N, 109.031898 W), across a mesa to the headwaters 
of an unnamed drainage (31.502220 N, 109.033839 W), then downslope 
through that drainage to State Line Tank (31.498451 N, 109.044940 W), 
an approximate drainage distance of 3.07 miles (4.94 kilometers) and 
775 feet (236 meters) overland.
    (viii) From State Line Tank upstream in an unnamed drainage to a 
mesa (31.488563 N, 109.036527 W), then directly overland to the 
headwaters of Cloverdale Creek (31.487477 N, 109.028002 W), and then 
downstream in Cloverdale Creek to Javelina Tank (31.484995 N, 
109.024970 W), an approximate drainage distance of 1.40 miles (2.26 
kilometers) and 2,245 feet (684 meters) overland.
    (ix) From Javelina Tank (31.484995 N, 109.024970 W) downstream in 
Cloverdale Creek to the Canoncito Ranch Tank (31.449553 N, 109.986836 
W), to include Maverick Spring (31.469376 N, 109.011142 W), and 
excluding portions of Cloverdale Creek within private lands of 
Canoncito Ranch, an approximate stream distance of 3.12 miles (5.02 
kilometers).
    (x) Note: Map of Peloncillo Mountains Unit follows:

[[Page 16396]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR20MR12.013


[[Page 16397]]


    (19) Cave Creek Unit, Cochise County, Arizona.
    (i) Herb Martyr Pond (31.87243 N, 109.23418 W).
    (ii) John Hands Pond below the dam (31.87868 N, 109.20470 W).
    (iii) Cave Creek from Herb Martyr Pond (31.87243 N, 109.23418 W) 
downstream to the U.S. Forest Service boundary (31.899659 N, 109.159987 
W), to include John Hands Pond (31.87868 N, 109.20470 W), an 
approximate stream distance of 4.76 miles (7.67 kilometers).
    (iv) Note: Map of Cave Creek Unit follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR20MR12.014
    

[[Page 16398]]


    (20) Leslie Creek Unit, Cochise County, Arizona.
    (i) Leslie Creek from the upstream National Wildlife Refuge 
boundary (31.591072 N, 109.505311 W) downstream to the Leslie Canyon 
Road crossing (31.588510 N, 109.511598 W), an approximate stream 
distance of 4,094 feet (1,248 meters).
    (ii) Note: Map of Leslie Creek Unit follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR20MR12.015
    

[[Page 16399]]


    (21) Deer Creek Unit, Graham County, Arizona.
    (i) Home Ranch Tank (32.656879 N, 110.274556 W).
    (ii) Penney Mine Tanks, which includes a series of 10 small 
impoundments in a drainage from approximately 32.668795 N, 110.257763 W 
downstream to 32.670055 N, 110.257310 W.
    (iii) Clifford Tank (32.67130 N, 110.264877 W).
    (iv) Vermont Tank (32.676883 N, 110.262404 W).
    (v) Middle Tank (32.679691 N, 110.252180 W).
    (vi) Deer Creek from a point where it exits a canyon and turns 
abruptly to the east (32.683937 N, 110.255290 W) upstream to its 
confluence with an unnamed drainage (32.673318 N, 110.262748 W); then 
upstream in that drainage to a confluence with four other drainages 
(32.671318 N, 110.262600 W); then upstream from that confluence in the 
western drainage to Clifford Tank (32.67130 N, 110.264877 W); then 
upstream from that confluence in the west-central drainage to an 
unnamed tank (32.666108 N, 110.269204 W); then directly overland 
southeast to another unnamed tank (32.665124 N, 110.265580 W); then 
downstream from that tank in an unnamed drainage to the aforementioned 
confluence (32.671318 N, 110.262600 W), and upstream in that unnamed 
drainage to a saddle (32.662529 N, 110.265717 W); then downstream from 
that saddle in an unnamed drainage to its confluence with an unnamed 
tributary to Gardner Creek (32.660409 N, 110.265303 W); and upstream in 
that unnamed tributary to Home Ranch Tank (32.656879 N, 110.274556 W), 
a distance of approximately 3.28 drainage miles (5.27 kilometers) and 
1,216 feet (371 meters) overland.
    (vii) From the largest of the Penney Mine Tanks (32.669696 N, 
110.257652 W) directly overland to an unnamed tank (32.688150 N, 
110.260309 W), and downstream in an unnamed drainage to the 
aforementioned confluence (32.671318 N, 110.262600 W), including 
another unnamed tank (32.669324 N, 110.261672 W) situated in that 
drainage, a distance of approximately 948 drainage feet (289 meters) 
and 1,051 feet (320 meters) overland.
    (viii) From Vermont Tank (32.676883 N, 110.262404 W) directly 
overland for approximately 468 feet (143 meters) to Deer Creek 
(32.677037 N, 110.260815 W).
    (ix) From Middle Tank (32.679691 N, 110.252180 W) upstream in an 
unnamed drainage to a saddle (32.677989 N, 110.256915 W), then directly 
downslope to Deer Creek (32.678307 N, 110.258257 W), an approximate 
drainage distance of 1,530 feet (466 meters) and 436 feet (133 meters) 
overland.
    (x) Note: Map of Deer Creek Unit follows:

[[Page 16400]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR20MR12.016


[[Page 16401]]


    (22) Oak Spring and Oak Creek Unit, Graham County, Arizona.
    (i) Oak Creek from Oak Spring (32.673538 N, 110.293214 W) 
downstream to where a hiking trail intersects the creek (32.682618 N, 
110.283915 W), an approximate stream distance of 1.06 miles (1.71 
kilometers).
    (ii) Note: Map of Oak Spring and Oak Creek Unit follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR20MR12.017
    

[[Page 16402]]


    (23) Dragoon Mountains Unit, Cochise County, Arizona.
    (i) Shaw Tank (31.906230 N, 109.958350 W).
    (ii) Tunnel Spring (31.881018 N, 109.948182 W).
    (iii) Halfmoon Tank (31.912453 N, 109.977963 W).
    (iv) Stronghold Canyon from Halfmoon Tank (31.912453 N, 109.977963 
W) downstream to Cochise Spring (31.912026 N, 109.963266 W), then 
upstream in an unnamed canyon to Shaw Tank (31.906230 N, 109.958350 W), 
and continuing upstream to the headwaters of that unnamed canyon 
(31.898491 N, 109.956589 W), then across a saddle and directly 
downslope to Middlemarch Canyon (31.894591 N, 109.956429 W), downstream 
in Middlemarch Canyon to its confluence with an unnamed drainage 
(31.883322 N, 109.949925 W), then upstream in that drainage to Tunnel 
Spring (31.881018 N, 109.948182 W), an approximate distance of 3.71 
drainage miles (5.97 kilometers) and 1,300 feet (396 meters) overland.
    (v) Note: Map of Dragoon Mountains Unit follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR20MR12.018
    
    (24) Buckskin Hills Unit, Yavapai County, Arizona.
    (i) Sycamore Basin Tank (34.481619 N, 111.641676 W).
    (ii) Middle Tank (34.473076 N, 111.624488 W).
    (iii) Walt's Tank (34.455959 N, 111.638497 W).
    (iv) Partnership Tank (34.452241 N, 111.646271 W).
    (v) Black Tank (34.462968 N, 111.623554 W).

[[Page 16403]]

    (vi) Buckskin Tank (34.472660 N, 111.652468 W).
    (vii) Doren's Defeat Tank (34.446271 N, 111.641269 W).
    (viii) Needed Tank (34.461023 N, 111.631271 W).
    (ix) From Middle Tank (34.473076 N, 111.624488 W) downstream in 
Boulder Canyon to its confluence with an unnamed drainage that comes in 
from the northwest (34.455688 N, 111.625895 W), to include Black Tank 
(34.462968 N, 111.623554 W); then upstream in that unnamed drainage to 
a saddle (34.464120 N, 111.633633 W), to include Needed Tank (34.461023 
N, 111.631271 W); then downstream from the saddle in an unnamed 
drainage to its confluence with another unnamed drainage (34.466209 N, 
111.636096); then downstream in that drainage to the confluence with an 
unnamed drainage (34.450688 N, 111.638111 W), to include Walt's Tank 
(34.455959 N, 111.638497 W), and upstream in that unnamed drainage to 
Partnership Tank (34.452241 N, 111.646271 W); then upstream from the 
aforementioned confluence (34.466209 N, 111.636096) in the unnamed 
drainage that includes Walt's Tank to a point where the drainage turns 
east towards Boulder Canyon (34.469911 N, 111.630080 W), an approximate 
distance of 3.65 drainage miles (5.87 kilometers) and 425 feet (130 
meters) overland.
    (x) From Doren's Defeat Tank (34.446271 N, 111.641269 W) upstream 
in an unnamed drainage to Partnership Tank (34.452241 N, 111.646271 W), 
an approximate drainage distance of 3,310 feet (1,009 meters).
    (xi) From the confluence of an unnamed drainage with Boulder Canyon 
(34.469515 N, 111.624979 W) west to a point where the drainage turns 
southwest (34.469911 N, 111.630080 W), then directly overland to the 
top of Sycamore Basin (34.473970 N, 111.633584 W), and then downstream 
in Sycamore Basin to Sycamore Basin Tank (34.481619 N, 111.641676 W), 
an approximate distance of 4,658 drainage feet (1,420 meters) and 1,827 
feet (557 meters) overland.
    (xii) From Buckskin Tank upstream in an unnamed drainage to the top 
of that drainage (34.465121 N, 111.641428 W), then directly overland to 
an unnamed drainage (34.462851 N, 111.637797 W) that contains Walt's 
Tank, an approximate distance of 1,109 drainage feet (338 meters) and 
1,429 feet (435 meters) overland.
    (xiii) Note: Map of Buckskin Hills Unit follows:

[[Page 16404]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR20MR12.019

    (25) Crouch, Gentry, and Cherry Creeks, and Parallel Canyon Unit, 
Gila County, Arizona.
    (i) Trail Tank (34.176747 N, 110.812383 W).
    (ii) HY Tank (34.148580 N, 110.831331 W).
    (iii) Carroll Spring (34.133090 N, 110.838673 W).
    (iv) West Prong of Gentry Creek from the confluence with an unnamed 
drainage (34.133243 N, 110.827755 W) downstream to a point (34.123475 
N, 110.827872 W) where the creek turns southwest and is directly east 
of a saddle, then west overland across that saddle to Cunningham Spring 
(34.121883 N, 110.841424 W), an approximate distance of 3,837 drainage 
feet (1,169 meters) and 1,883 feet (574 meters) overland.
    (v) Pine Spring (34.148580 N, 110.831331 W).
    (vi) Bottle Spring (34.145180 N, 110.837515 W).
    (vii) Cherry Creek from Rock Spring (34.155505 N, 110.852478 W) 
upstream to its confluence with an unnamed drainage (34.166956 N, 
110.815587 W), then upstream in that drainage and across a saddle 
(34.176129 N, 110.808920 W), then downstream in an unnamed drainage to 
Trail Tank (34.176747 N, 110.812383 W), an approximate distance of 3.77 
drainage miles (6.07 kilometers) and 975 feet (297 meters) overland.
    (viii) Crouch Creek from its headwaters just south of Highway 288 
(34.143151 N, 110.836876 W) downstream to an unnamed drainage leading 
to Pine Spring (34.102235 N, 110.864341 W), to include Cunningham 
Spring and Carroll Spring; then upstream in that unnamed drainage from 
Crouch Creek to Pine Spring (34.148580 N, 110.831331 W), an

[[Page 16405]]

approximate drainage distance of 5.48 miles (8.82 kilometers).
    (ix) From HY Tank (34.176747 N, 110.812383 W) downstream in an 
unnamed drainage to its confluence with Cherry Creek (34.154309 N, 
110.85077 W), to include Bottle Spring (34.145180 N, 110.837515 W), an 
approximate stream distance of 1.66 miles (2.67 kilometers).
    (x) From Bottle Spring (34.145180 N, 110.837515 W) south over a low 
saddle to the headwaters of Crouch Creek (34.143151 N, 110.836876 W), 
an approximate distance of 762 feet (232 meters) overland.
    (xi) Note: Map of Crouch, Gentry, and Cherry Creeks, and Parallel 
Canyon Unit follows:
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR20MR12.020

    (26) Ellison and Lewis Creeks Unit, Gila County, Arizona.
    (i) Moore Saddle Tank 2 (34.374063 N, 111.205040 W).
    (ii) Low Tank (34.36768 N, 111.19347 W).
    (iii) Unnamed tributary to Ellison Creek from its confluence with 
an unnamed drainage (34.371458 N, 111.169111 W) downstream to Ellison 
Creek below Pyle Ranch (34.364667 N, 111.179966 W), then directly west 
across the Ellison Creek floodplain and over a low saddle to Lewis 
Creek below Pyle Ranch (34.364391 N, 111.186742 W), then downstream in 
Lewis Creek to its confluence with an unnamed drainage (34.354912 N, 
111.192547 W), and then upstream in that unnamed drainage to Low Tank 
(34.36768 N,

[[Page 16406]]

111.19347 W), an approximate distance of 2.52 drainage miles (4.05 
kilometers) and 1,070 feet (326 meters) overland.
    (iv) Note: Map of Ellison and Lewis Creeks Unit follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR20MR12.021
    

[[Page 16407]]


    (27) Concho Bill and Deer Creek Unit, Apache County, Arizona.
    (i) From Concho Bill Spring (33.830088 N, 109.366540 W) downstream 
in Deer Creek to its confluence with an unnamed drainage (33.827115 N, 
109.359495 W), an approximate drainage distance of 2,667 feet (813 
meters).
    (ii) Note: Map of Concho Bill and Deer Creek Unit follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR20MR12.022
    

[[Page 16408]]


    (28) Campbell Blue and Coleman Creeks Unit, Greenlee County, 
Arizona.
    (i) Campbell Blue Creek from the upstream boundary of Luce Ranch 
(33.735956 N, 109.127746 W) upstream to its confluence with Coalman 
Creek (33.738560 N, 109158679 W), an approximate stream distance of 
2.04 miles (3.28 kilometers).
    (ii) Coleman Creek from its confluence with Campbell Blue Creek 
(33.738560 N, 109158679 W) upstream to its confluence with Canyon Creek 
(33.750139 N, 109.168850 W), an approximate stream distance of 1.04 
miles (1.68 kilometers).
    (iii) Note: Map of Campbell Blue and Coleman Creeks Unit follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR20MR12.023
    

[[Page 16409]]


    (29) Kerr Canyon Unit, Catron County, New Mexico.
    (i) From Kerr Spring (33.900561 N, 108.664732 W) downstream in 
unnamed drainage in Kerr Canyon to Kerr Canyon Pond (33.649088 N, 
108.517011 W), a distance of approximately 0.98 drainage miles (1.58 
km).
    (ii) Note: Map of Kerr Canyon Unit follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR20MR12.024
    

[[Page 16410]]


    (30) Tularosa River Unit, Catron County, New Mexico.
    (i) Tularosa River from the upper end of Tularosa Spring (33.903798 
N, 108.501926 W) downstream to the entrance to the canyon downstream of 
Hell Hole (33.762737 N, 108.681551 W), an approximate river distance of 
19.31 miles (31.08 kilometers).
    (ii) Note: Map of Tularosa River Unit follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR20MR12.025
    
    (31) Deep Creek Divide Area Unit, Catron County, New Mexico.
    (i) Long Mesa Tank (33.551664 N, 108.686841 W).
    (ii) Cullum Tank (33.554864 N, 108.676961 W).
    (iii) Burro Tank (33.571146 N, 108.638682 W).
    (iv) North Fork of Negrito Creek from its confluence with South 
Fork of Negrito Creek (33.607082 N, 108.631340 W) upstream to its 
confluence with an unnamed drainage (33.612529 N, 108.614731 W), an 
approximate stream distance of 1.37 miles (2.20 kilometers).
    (v) South Fork of Negrito Creek from its confluence with North Fork 
of Negrito Creek (33.607082 N, 108.631340 E) upstream to an impoundment 
(33.599047 N, 108.621300 W), including three other impoundments along 
the channel (33.601890 N, 108.622227 W; 33.602845 N, 108.622764 W; and 
33.603810 N, 108.623971 W), an approximate stream distance of 4,821 
feet (1,469 meters).
    (vi) From Burro Tank (33.571146 N, 108.638682 W) downstream in 
Burro Canyon to Negrito Creek (22.609589 N, 108.638448 W), then 
upstream in

[[Page 16411]]

Negrito Creek to the confluence of North and South Forks of Negrito 
Creeks (33.607082 N, 108.631340 W), an approximate stream distance of 
3.80 miles (6.12 kilometers).
    (vii) From Long Mesa Tank (33.551664 N, 108.686841 W) directly 
overland and east to Shotgun Canyon (33.550816 N, 108.681110 W), then 
downstream in that canyon to Cullum Tank (33.554864 N, 108.676961 W), 
an approximate distance of 2,003 drainage feet (610 meters) and 1,801 
feet (549 meters) overland.
    (viii) From Cullum Tank (33.554864 N, 108.676961 W) downstream in 
Shotgun and Bull Basin Canyons to a confluence with an unnamed drainage 
(33.581626 N, 108.663624 W), then upstream in that drainage to the 
confluence with a minor drainage leading off Rainy Mesa from the east-
northeast (33.567121 N, 108.646776 W), then upstream in that drainage 
and directly east-northeast across Rainy Mesa to Burro Tank (33.571146 
N, 108.638682 W), an approximate distance of 3.88 drainage miles (6.24 
kilometers) and 1,863 feet (568 meters) overland.
    (ix) Note: Map of Deep Creek Divide Area Unit follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR20MR12.026
    

[[Page 16412]]


    (32) West Fork Gila River Unit, Catron County, New Mexico.
    (i) From Turkeyfeather Spring (33.337486 N, 108.528607 W) 
downstream in Turkeyfeather Creek to its confluence with West Fork Gila 
River (33.32593 N, 108.517011 W), then downstream and southeast in West 
Fork Gila River to its confluence with White Creek (33.3274675 N, 
108.4925 W), a distance of approximately 6.97 drainage miles (11.22 
km).
    (ii) Note: Map of West Fork Gila River Unit follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR20MR12.027
    

[[Page 16413]]


    (33) Main Diamond Creek Unit, Catron County, New Mexico.
    (i) Main Diamond Creek, from the downstream boundary of Links Ranch 
(33.269512 N, 108.105542 W) downstream to the confluence with an 
unnamed drainage that comes in from the south, which is also where Main 
Diamond Creek enters a canyon (33.264514 N, 108.116019 W), an 
approximate stream distance of 3,980 feet (1,213 meters).
    (ii) Note: Map of Main Diamond Creek Unit follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR20MR12.028
    

[[Page 16414]]


    (34) Beaver Creek Unit, Catron County, New Mexico.
    (i) Beaver Creek from an unnamed warm spring (33.380952 N, 
108.111761 W) downstream to its confluence with Taylor Creek (33.334694 
N, 108.101543 W), an approximate stream distance of 5.59 miles (8.89 
kilometers).
    (ii) Note: Map of Beaver Creek Unit follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR20MR12.029
    

[[Page 16415]]


    (35) Left Prong of Dix Creek Unit, Greenlee County, Arizona.
    (i) Left prong of Dix Creek from an unnamed warm spring (33.179413 
N, 109.149176 W) above ``The Hole'' downstream to its confluence with 
the right prong of Dix Creek (33.186657 N, 109.157754 W), an 
approximate stream distance of 4,248 feet (1,295 meters).
    (ii) Note: Map of Left Prong of Dix Creek Unit follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR20MR12.030
    

[[Page 16416]]


    (36) Rattlesnake Pasture Tank and Associated Tanks Unit, Greenlee 
County, Arizona.
    (i) Rattlesnake Pasture Tank (33.093987 N, 109.151714 W).
    (ii) Rattlesnake Gap Tank (33.098497 N, 109.162152 W).
    (iii) Buckhorn Tank (33.105613 N, 109.155506 W).
    (iv) From Rattlesnake Pasture Tank (33.093987 N, 109.151714 W) 
downstream in an unnamed drainage to its confluence with Red Tank 
Canyon (33.109603 N, 109.155549 W), to include Buckhorn Tank (33.105613 
N, 109.155506 W); then upstream in Red Tank Canyon to Rattlesnake Gap 
Tank (33.098497 N, 109.162152 W), an approximate drainage distance of 
2.27 miles (3.65 kilometers).
    (v) From Rattlesnake Gap Tank (33.098497 N, 109.162152 W) upstream 
in an unnamed drainage to its confluence with a minor drainage 
(33.090898 N, 109.155386 W), then directly upslope to a saddle 
(33.091771 N, 109.152380), and across that saddle and directly 
downslope to Rattlesnake Pasture Tank (33.093987 N, 109.151714 W), an 
approximate distance of 3,722 drainage feet (1,134 meters) and 1,645 
feet (501 meters) overland.
    (vi) Note: Map of Rattlesnake Pasture Tank and Associated Tanks 
Unit follows:
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR20MR12.031


[[Page 16417]]


    (37) Coal Creek Unit, Greenlee County, Arizona.
    (i) Coal Creek from the Highway 78 crossing (33.103667 N, 
109.062458 W) downstream to the confluence with an unnamed drainage 
(33.110025 N, 109.065847 W), an approximate stream distance of 3,447 
feet (1,051 meters).
    (ii) Note: Map of Coal Creek Unit follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR20MR12.032
    

[[Page 16418]]


    (38) Blue Creek Unit, Grant County, New Mexico.
    (i) Blue Creek from just east of a corral on private lands 
(32.848702 N, 108.835761 W) downstream to its confluence with an 
unnamed drainage that comes in from the east (32.825785 N, 108.824742 
W), an approximate stream distance of 2.37 miles (3.81 kilometers).
    (ii) Note: Map of Blue Creek Unit follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR20MR12.033
    

[[Page 16419]]


    (39) South Fork Palomas Creek Unit, Sierra County, New Mexico.
    (i) From the confluence of an unnamed tributary in Wagonbed Canyon 
and South Fork Palomas Creek (33.164592 N, 107.723155 W), downstream in 
South Fork Palomas Creek to its confluence with an unnamed tributary in 
Dark Canyon (33.167074 N, 107.68853 W), excluding the portions of South 
Fork Palomas Creek on privately owned lands of the Ladder Ranch, a 
distance of approximately 2.32 drainage miles (3.73 km).
    (ii) Note: Map of South Fork Palomas Creek Unit follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR20MR12.034
    

[[Page 16420]]


    (40) Seco Creek Unit, Sierra County, New Mexico.
    (i) North Seco Creek from Sawmill Well (33.112052 N, 107.760165 W) 
downstream to the private land boundary of the Ladder Ranch (33.112689 
N, 107.709554 W), to include Sawmill Well (33.112052 N, 107.760165 W), 
Sucker Ledge (33.113545 N, 107.747370 W), and Davis Well (33.112421 N 
107.728650 W), an approximate drainage distance of 3.32 miles (5.35 
kilometers).
    (ii) Note: Map of Seco Creek Unit follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR20MR12.035
    

[[Page 16421]]


    (41) Alamosa Warm Springs Unit, Socorro County, New Mexico.
    (i) From the confluence of Wildhorse Canyon and Alamosa Creek 
(33.570315 N, 107.608474 W) downstream in Alamosa Creek to the 
confluence with an unnamed drainage that comes in from the north 
(33.569199 N, 107.577137 W), to include Alamosa Warm Springs (33.572365 
N, 107.600153 W), an approximate stream distance of 4,974 feet (1,516 
meters).
    (ii) Note: Map of Alamosa Warm Springs Unit follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR20MR12.036
    

[[Page 16422]]


    (42) Cuchillo Negro Warm Springs and Creek Unit, Sierra County, New 
Mexico.
    (i) From the upper of the two Cuchillo Negro Warm Springs 
(33.268403 N, 107.563619 W) downstream in Cuchillo Negro Creek to its 
confluence with an unnamed drainage that comes in from the north 
(33.271386 N, 107.557843 W), excluding the portions of Cuchillo Negro 
Creek on privately owned lands, an approximate stream distance of 2,518 
feet (768 meters).
    (ii) Note: Map of Cuchillo Negro Warm Springs and Creek Unit 
follows:
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR20MR12.037


[[Page 16423]]


    (43) Ash and Bolton Springs Unit, Grant County, New Mexico.
    (i) Ash Spring (32.715625 N, 108.071980 W).
    (ii) Unnamed spring in Bolton Canyon locally known as Bolton 
Springs (32.713419 N, 108.099679 W).
    (iii) From the spring box at Ash Spring (32.715625 N, 108.071980 W) 
downstream to a dirt road crossing of the drainage (32.708769 N, 
108.073579 W), an approximate stream distance of 2,830 feet (863 
meters).
    (iv) From the the ruins of a house in the Ash Spring drainage 
(32.714562 N, 108.072542 W) west to a low saddle (32.714373 N, 
108.075263 W) and directly downslope into an unnamed drainage 
(32.713983 N, 108.076665 W), then downstream in that drainage to its 
confluence with another unnamed drainage (32.712829 N, 108.078131 W), 
then downstream in that unnamed drainage to its confluence with another 
unnamed drainage (32.708210 N, 108.086360 W), then upstream in that 
unnamed drainage to the top of that drainage (32.715476 N, 108.087719 
W) and directly downslope and west to another unnamed drainage 
(32.715207 N, 108.092094 W), then downstream in that unnamed drainage 
to its confluence with Bolton Canyon (32.707844 N, 108.099267 W), and 
then upstream in Bolton Canyon to the locally known Bolton Springs 
(32.713419 N, 108.099679 W), an approximate distance of 2.41 drainage 
miles (3.87 kilometers) and 2,650 feet (808 meters) overland.
    (v) Note: Map of Ash and Bolton Springs Unit follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR20MR12.038
    

[[Page 16424]]


    (44) Mimbres River Unit, Grant County, New Mexico.
    (i) The Mimbres River from the northern boundary of The Nature 
Conservancy's Mimbres River Preserve property (32.912474 N, 108.004529 
W) downstream to its confluence with Bear Canyon (32.883926 N, 
107.988252 W), to include Moreno Spring (32.887107 N, 107.989492 W) and 
ponds at Milagros Ranch, an approximate river distance of 2.42 miles 
(3.89 kilometers).
    (ii) The Mimbres River from the bridge just west of the town of San 
Lorenzo (32.808190 N, 107.924589 W) downstream to its intersection with 
the southern boundary of The Nature Conservancy's Disert property near 
Faywood (32.743884 N, 107.880297 W), an approximate river distance of 
5.82 miles (9.36 kilometers).
    (iii) Note: Map of Mimbres River Unit follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR20MR12.039
    
* * * * *

    Dated: March 5, 2012.
 Rachel Jacobson,
Acting Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
[FR Doc. 2012-5953 Filed 3-19-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-C