[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 74 (Tuesday, April 17, 2012)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 23007-23057]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-8664]



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Vol. 77

Tuesday,

No. 74

April 17, 2012

Part IV





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; Designation of Revised 
Critical Habitat for Allium munzii (Munz's onion) and Atriplex coronata 
var. notatior (San Jacinto Valley crownscale); Proposed Rule

Federal Register / Vol. 77 , No. 74 / Tuesday, April 17, 2012 / 
Proposed Rules

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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2012-0008; 4500030114]
RIN 1018-AX42


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Designation of 
Revised Critical Habitat for Allium munzii (Munz's onion) and Atriplex 
coronata var. notatior (San Jacinto Valley crownscale)

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), propose to 
revise critical habitat for Allium munzii (Munz's onion) and for 
Atriplex coronata var. notatior (San Jacinto Valley crownscale) under 
the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). In total, 
approximately 889 acres (360 hectares) are being proposed for 
designation as critical habitat for A. munzii and approximately 8,020 
acres (3,246 hectares) for A. c. var. notatior. All of the proposed 
revised critical habitat is located in Riverside County, California.

DATES: We will accept comments received or postmarked on or before June 
18, 2012. Comments submitted electronically using the Federal 
eRulemaking Portal (see ADDRESSES section, below) must be received by 
11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the closing date. We must receive requests 
for public hearings, in writing, at the address shown in FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT by June 1, 2012.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by one of the following methods:
    (1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter Docket No. FWS-R8-2012-
0008, which is the docket number for this rulemaking.
    (2) By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public 
Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R8-2012-0008; Division of Policy and 
Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax 
Drive, MS 2042-PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.
    We request that you send comments only by the methods described 
above. We will post all comments on http://www.regulations.gov. This 
generally means that we will post any personal information you provide 
us (see the Public Comments section below for more information).

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Executive Summary

    Why we need to publish a rule. This is a proposed rule to revise 
the designations of critical habitat for two endangered plant taxa, 
Munz's onion (Allium munzii) and San Jacinto Valley crownscale 
(Atriplex coronata var. notatior). Under the Endangered Species Act, 
any species that is determined to be threatened or endangered shall, to 
the maximum extent prudent and determinable, have habitat designated 
that is considered to be critical habitat. Designations and revisions 
of critical habitat can only be completed by issuing a rule.
    Critical habitat was designated for Munz's onion and San Jacinto 
Valley crownscale in 2005. We agreed to reconsider the critical habitat 
designations in a settlement agreement in response to a complaint filed 
in court, and are submitting a proposed revised critical habitat 
designation for both plants.
    We are proposing changes to the designation of critical habitat for 
Munz's onion and San Jacinto Valley crownscale.
     Our previous final critical habitat designation for Munz's 
onion in 2005 identified 176 acres (71 hectares) of U.S. Forest Service 
lands as critical habitat after excluding 1,068 acres (432 hectares) 
based upon Endangered Species Act exclusions. This proposed revised 
designation for Munz's onion includes five units in Riverside County, 
California, totaling 889 acres (360 hectares). We are considering 
excluding 790 acres (320 hectares) of lands from designation based on 
partnerships created with the establishment of permitted Habitat 
Conservation Plans or other Management Plans.
     No critical habitat was designated in the previous 2005 
final designation for San Jacinto Valley crownscale after 15,232 acres 
(6,164 hectares) were excluded. This proposed revised designation for 
San Jacinto Valley crownscale includes three units in Riverside County, 
California, totaling 8,020 acres (3,246 hectares). We are considering 
excluding all 8,020 acres (3,246 hectares) of lands from critical 
habitat designation based on partnerships created with the 
establishment of a permitted Habitat Conservation Plan.
    The basis for our action. Under the Endangered Species Act, any 
species that is determined to be threatened or endangered shall, to the 
maximum extent prudent and determinable, have habitat designated that 
is considered to be critical habitat. Section 4(b)(2) of the Endangered 
Species Act states that the Secretary shall designate and make 
revisions to critical habitat on the basis of the best available 
scientific data after taking into consideration the economic impact, 
national security impact, and any other relevant impact of specifying 
any particular area as critical habitat. The Secretary may exclude an 
area from critical habitat if he determines that the benefits of such 
exclusion outweigh the benefits of specifying such area as part of the 
critical habitat, unless he determines, based on the best scientific 
data available, that the failure to designate such area as critical 
habitat will result in the extinction of the species.
    We are preparing an economic analysis of the proposed revised 
designations of critical habitat. In order to consider economic 
impacts, we are preparing a new analysis of the economic impacts of the 
proposed revised critical habitat designations and related factors. We 
will announce the availability of the draft economic analysis as soon 
as it is completed, at which time we will seek additional public review 
and comment.
    We will seek peer review. We are seeking the expert opinions of 
appropriate and independent specialists regarding this proposed rule to 
ensure that our critical habitat designations are based on 
scientifically sound data, assumptions, and analyses. We have invited 
these peer reviewers to comment during the proposed rule's public 
comment period on our specific assumptions and conclusions in this 
proposed rule to revise the designations of critical habitat. We will 
consider all comments and information received during the comment 
period in our preparation of the final determinations. Accordingly, the 
final decisions may differ from this proposal.

Public Comments

    We intend that any final action resulting from this proposed rule 
will be based on the best scientific and commercial data available and 
be as accurate and as effective as possible. Therefore, we request 
comments or information from other concerned government agencies, the 
scientific community, industry, or any other

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interested party concerning this proposed rule. We particularly seek 
comments concerning:
    (1) The reasons why we should or should not designate habitat as 
``critical habitat'' under section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et 
seq.), including whether there are threats to the taxon (a group of 
individuals recognized as a formal unit at any taxonomic rank (for 
example, a family, genus, species, subspecies, or variety; Allium 
munzii is a species, Atriplex coronata var. notatior is a variety) from 
human activity, which can be expected to increase due to the 
designation, and whether that increase in threat outweighs the benefit 
of designation such that the designation of critical habitat may not be 
prudent.
    (2) Specific information on:
    (a) The amount and distribution of Allium munzii and Atriplex 
coronata var. notatior habitat,
    (b) Which areas within the geographical area occupied at the time 
of listing contain the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of the taxa and should be included in the designation and 
why,
    (c) Special management considerations or protection of essential 
physical or biological features that may be needed in critical habitat 
areas we are proposing, including managing for the potential effects of 
climate change, and
    (d) Which areas outside the geographical area occupied at the time 
of listing are essential for the conservation of the taxa and why.
    (3) Land use designations and current or planned activities in the 
subject areas and their possible impacts on proposed critical habitat.
    (4) Information on the projected and reasonably likely impacts of 
climate change on Allium munzii and Atriplex coronata var. notatior and 
proposed critical habitat.
    (5) Comments or information that may assist us in identifying or 
clarifying the primary constituent elements (PCEs) for the two taxa.
    (6) How the proposed revised critical habitat boundaries could be 
refined to more accurately circumscribe the areas meeting the 
definition of critical habitat.
    (7) Any probable economic, national security, or other relevant 
impacts of designating any area that may be included in the final 
designation; in particular, any impacts on small entities, families, or 
tribes, and the benefits of including or excluding areas that exhibit 
these impacts.
    (8) Which specific lands covered by the Western Riverside County 
Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan (Western Riverside County 
MSHCP) or other permitted HCPs and proposed for designation as critical 
habitat should be considered for exclusion under section 4(b)(2) of the 
Act and for those specific areas, how benefits of exclusion from the 
critical habitat designation would outweigh the benefits of inclusion 
in the designation. We are currently considering to exclude, under 
section 4(b)(2) of the Act, all lands covered by the Western Riverside 
County MSHCP or other permitted HCPs and Cooperative Agreements 
described in this proposed rule (see Exclusions Based on Other Relevant 
Impacts section below).
    (9) Whether we could improve or modify our approach to designating 
critical habitat in any way to provide for greater public participation 
and understanding, or to better accommodate public concerns and 
comments.
    You may submit your comments and materials concerning this proposed 
rule by one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. We request 
that you send comments only by the methods described in the ADDRESSES 
section.
    We will post your entire comment--including your personal 
identifying information--on http://www.regulations.gov. You may request 
at the top of your document that we withhold personal information such 
as your street address, phone number, or email address from public 
review; however, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.
    Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting 
documentation we used in preparing this proposed rule, will be 
available for public inspection on http://www.regulations.gov, or by 
appointment, during normal business hours, at the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT).

Background

    This is a proposed rule to revise the designations of critical 
habitat for two plant taxa, Allium munzii and Atriplex coronata var. 
notatior. The document is structured to address the taxa separately 
under each of the sectional headings that follow.

Allium munzii

    It is our intent to discuss only those topics directly relevant to 
the proposed revised designation of critical habitat for Allium munzii 
in this section of this proposed rule. For more information on A. 
munzii, please refer to the proposed listing rule published in the 
Federal Register on December 15, 1994 (59 FR 64812), and the final 
listing rule published in the Federal Register on October 13, 1998 (63 
FR 54975). Additional information on the biology of the species may be 
found in the first rule proposing critical habitat published in the 
Federal Register on June 4, 2004 (69 FR 31569), the subsequent final 
critical habitat rule published in the Federal Register on June 7, 2005 
(70 FR 33015), and the 5-year review for A. munzii signed on June 17, 
2009. These documents are available on our Web site at http://www.fws.gov/carlsbad/or http://www.fws.gov/endangered/under Allium 
munzii or Munz's onion.
    When we listed Allium munzii as endangered in 1998, the genus 
Allium was included in the large broadly defined family Liliaceae (lily 
family). The genus Allium is now segregated in the family Alliaceae 
(onion family), and is recognized as such in the recent revision of the 
Jepson Manual of Vascular Plants of California (McNeal 2012, pp. 1289-
1292). Upon review of available systematic and floristic literature and 
consultation with species experts, we are amending part 17, subchapter 
B of chapter I, title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations to reflect 
the transfer of Allium, including A. munzii, from Liliaceae to 
Alliaceae. This transfer does not alter the description, distribution, 
or listing status of A. munzii.
Description
    Allium munzii belongs to the A. fimbriatum complex, a group of 
seven species found primarily in California (McNeal 1992, p. 413). 
Allium munzii is a bulb-forming perennial herb that annually produces a 
single cylindrical leaf prior to flowering and, depending on rainfall 
and age of the plant, a scapose inflorescence (a leafless flower stalk 
that grows directly from the ground) 0.5 to 1.2 feet (ft) (15 to 35 
centimeters (cm)) tall. The inflorescence is umbellate (each individual 
flower stalk radiates from the same point of attachment), and consists 
of 10 to 35 flowers. Each flower has six white or white with red 
midvein perianth segments (outer part of flower), 0.2 to 0.3 inch (in) 
(6 to 8 millimeters (mm)) long, which become red with age. The ovary is 
crested with fine, irregularly dentate processes and the fruit is a 
three-lobed capsule (McNeal 1992, p. 413).
Biology and Life History
    Native Allium taxa typically require 3 to 5 years after seeds 
germinate for plants to reach maturity and produce flowers (Schmidt 
1980, p. 164). Allium plants are adapted to survive

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unfavorable seasons underground, as are all bulb-forming and corm-
forming plants (geophytes) (P[uuml]tz 1992, p. 1433). Seedlings achieve 
the appropriate depth in the soil by the action of specialized roots 
that pull the young plants down through the soil (P[uuml]tz 1992, p. 
1433). Allium munzii plants are dormant from mid-summer through autumn. 
The flowering period varies from year to year, but is generally between 
March and May (California Native Plant Society (CNPS) 2001, p. 67). 
After flowering and seed dispersal, the aboveground portions of A. 
munzii plants die back to the bulb. Following seed germination, at 
least 3 years are required for these bulb-forming plants to produce 
flowers (Wall 2012, pers. comm.).
    Allium munzii is adapted to seasonal (summer and fall) drought and 
variable annual rainfall. McNeal (1992, p. 413) observed that flowering 
in the A. fimbriatum complex appears to be correlated with rains in the 
late fall and early winter. As a result, A. munzii may occur in various 
states during a given growing season, including: (1) As dormant 
underground bulbs, (2) as seedlings and other pre-reproductive plants 
that only produce one leaf, (3) as adults with only one leaf that do 
not produce an inflorescence that year, (4) as adults that produce one 
leaf and an inflorescence, and (5) as seeds in a soil seedbank. When 
rainfall is heavier, most plants flower successfully (McNeal 1992, p. 
413); A. munzii often does not flower in very dry years (Boyd 1988, p. 
3), though most plants will sprout leaves and sometimes produce flower 
buds. In addition to sexual reproduction through seed production, A. 
munzii plants can reproduce asexually through vegetative division of 
the bulbs (Ellstrand 1993, p. 5; Ellstrand 1999, p. 1). We have no 
definitive information regarding pollinators of A. munzii, but it is 
likely that a number of insect species serve this function (Boyd 2007, 
pers. comm.). Small beetles of the family Anthicidae (ant-like flower 
beetles) were found on about one-third of the A. munzii inflorescences 
of a population in Temescal Canyon (The Environmental Trust 2002, p. 
16); however, their role as pollinators was not confirmed.
Habitat and Soil Preferences
    Allium munzii is a narrow endemic plant discontinuously distributed 
along the southern edge of the greater Riverside-Perris area (Perris 
Basin) in western Riverside County, between the elevations of 1,200 to 
2,700 ft (366 to 823 meters (m)) above mean sea level (AMSL), from 
Temescal Canyon southeast to the foothills of the San Jacinto Mountains 
(Boyd 1988, p. 2; Roberts et al. 2004, pp. 10, 130). Climate in this 
area is characterized by cool, moist winters and hot, dry summers (Boyd 
1988, p. 4). Allium munzii is found on level or slightly sloping areas 
or on terrace escarpments (California Natural Diversity Database 
(CNDDB) 2011a) and is strongly associated with mesic (wet) clay soils 
in western Riverside County (Boyd 1988, pp. 2, 4). Allium munzii occupy 
microhabitat sites created by the complex geology of the Perris Basin; 
these sites receive or retain more moisture than nearby or surrounding 
sites due to exposure, slope characteristics, hydrological 
characteristics, or topographic features (see, for example, the 
topography and geology discussion in Boyd (1983, pp. 10, 13-14, 18)).
    Many of the clay soil types where Allium munzii occurs typically 
support open native or nonnative grasslands. Specific designations 
include southern needlegrass grassland, mixed grassland, open coastal 
sage scrub or Riversidean sage scrub, or occasionally cismontane 
juniper woodlands (CNPS 2001, p. 67). The species is also considered a 
component of a ``clay soil flora'' that includes perennial herbs and a 
variety of annuals (Boyd 1988, p. 4). Plants are most frequently found 
in areas that are minimally disturbed and in areas where there is 
little competition and overcrowding from nonnative plants. In contrast, 
areas that consistently experience ground disturbance activities (such 
as disking for dryland farming) or are heavily infested with invasive, 
nonnative plants (particularly annual grasses) generally result in a 
decline in habitat quality and therefore declining A. munzii 
populations (Roberts 1998, pers. comm.; CNDDB 2011a).
    Known soil associations with Allium munzii include, but are not 
limited to: Altamont, Auld, Bosanko, and Porterville clays of 
sedimentary origin. These clay soils are scattered in a band several 
miles wide and extend south of Corona, California, through Temescal 
Canyon and along the Elsinore Fault zone to the southwestern foothills 
of the San Jacinto Mountains (Boyd 1988, p. 2). Some of these soils are 
small pockets of clay soil (for example Gavilan Hills) and are not 
identified on coarse-scale soil maps (Boyd 2011a, pers. comm.). Wet 
clay soils facilitate the formation of soil channels for movement of 
young bulbs (P[uuml]tz 1992, p. 1433), which is necessary for 
establishment and persistence of A. munzii plants. Allium munzii is 
also found in rocky-sandy loam soil within rocky outcrops (such as 
North Domenigoni Hills) (CNDDB 2011a, Element Occurrence (EO) 10). 
These soils may be of sedimentary or igneous origin with a clay subsoil 
(such as Cajalco, Las Posas, or Vallecitos) (Knecht 1971, pp. 2-3, 21, 
42, 62-64).
Spatial Distribution, Historical Range, and Population Size
    As noted above, Allium munzii is a narrow endemic species with a 
naturally discontinuous distribution in western Riverside County (Boyd 
1988, p. 2; Roberts et al. 2004, pp. 10, 130). Its historical 
distribution may have been within clay soils scattered throughout the 
entire Perris basin in western Riverside County, which exhibits a 
complex physical geography characterized by several distinct geologic 
events and subsequent erosional processes that have produced numerous 
soil or sediment types on the remaining land forms (Dudley 1936, pp. 
358-360, 376). Allium munzii shares its range and habitat with a 
portion of the range of the similar-appearing A. haematochiton (red-
skinned onion). The two species can occur within several feet of each 
other, but they do not interbreed (CDFG 1989, p. 2).
    In general, the distribution of plant taxa may be determined from a 
variety of sources including preserved herbarium specimens, survey 
reports, and various databases. Survey records typically contain 
information describing locations and numbers of plants, which can be 
called localities or groups of individual plants (up to several 
thousand in one location or only a few plants), or can be described as 
the actual number of individual plants. The precision of the location 
of survey sites varies from general area descriptions to road 
perimeters to more recent Global Positioning System (GPS) technology. 
The CNDDB, maintained by the California Department of Fish and Game 
(CDFG), is an ongoing effort to include herbarium records and survey 
reports for separate Element Occurrences (EOs) of all of the taxa 
tracked by the database. To constitute a separate EO, the site must be 
at least one-quarter mile from any other such site. Sequential surveys 
are accumulated in the EO report for the site. Because contribution to 
the database is not mandatory, some herbarium specimens and survey 
reports are not yet included in the database. In this proposed rule, 
our use of the term occurrence, often in relation to a critical habitat 
unit, may indicate an area that includes one or more point localities 
and EOs.
    Although 6 of the 18 CNDDB-defined EOs have been detected since 
listing, the species' geographic range (greater Perris Basin) has 
remained essentially

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the same since listing. We identified 13 populations of Allium munzii 
in our listing rule (63 FR 54975; October 13, 1998) that were primarily 
based on sites identified as CNDDB EOs and cited in the rule (EOs 2, 3, 
5, 7-16). Since then, six new EOs have been included in the CNDDB 
database (CNDDB 2011a, EOs 17, 18, 20, 21, 22, and 23), and during our 
2009 5-year review, we located another record (1994) that was unknown 
at the time of listing and that is not yet described in the CNDDB 
database (Service 2009, p. 38; proposed EO 24). At the time of our 2009 
5-year review, we assessed the status of six EOs as follows: two CNDDB-
defined EOs (EOs 1 and 8) are likely extirpated (locally extinct), 
three (EOs 20, 21, and 22) are vague locations or historical and of 
currently unknown condition, and one (EO 19) was likely based on a 
misidentified specimen and deleted by CNDDB (Service 2009, p. 9). In 
addition, the CNDDB has now combined EO 8 with EO 3 (CNDDB 2011a, EO3). 
We therefore concluded in our 5-year review that there were 18 extant 
(still in existence) EOs (EOs 2-7, 9-18, 23, and proposed EO 24) for A. 
munzii, all essentially within the same geographic range known at the 
time of listing. Because of the species' habitat requirements, we do 
not anticipate this geographic range will change significantly in the 
future, even if additional locations of plants are discovered.
    The number of individual plants of Allium munzii detected in any 
one area differs from year to year and is not an accurate reflection of 
the actual number of individuals present. This is primarily due to the 
variety of life-history phases represented in a given area (see 
description in the Biology and Life History section above). Some 
surveyors may only sample flowering individuals while others may be 
able to sample plants with only the vegetative single leaf present. 
Because of the difficulties of obtaining reliable survey results and 
the fact that the number of standing individuals is dependent upon 
adequate rainfall, any estimation of individuals at a given location 
may vary by several orders of magnitude in any given year.
    In the 1998 final listing rule we estimated that there were 20,000 
to 70,000 individuals of Allium munzii (63 FR 54975; October 13, 1998). 
The largest recorded location of plants was at Harford Springs County 
Park and adjacent private lands (EO 2), with over 50,000 individuals 
observed in 1995 (Ellstrand 1996, p. 4). In our 5-year review, we found 
that, prior to listing, 10 CNDDB-defined EOs have supported 1,000 or 
more individuals in at least one year (Service 2009, Appendix 1, p. 
33), while others support fewer individual plants (i.e., 500 or fewer 
plants).

Atriplex coronata var. notatior

    It is our intent to discuss only those topics directly relevant to 
the proposed revised designation of critical habitat for Atriplex 
coronata var. notatior in this section of this proposed rule. For more 
information on A. c. var. notatior, please refer to the proposed 
listing rule published in the Federal Register on December 15, 1994 (59 
FR 64812) and the final listing rule published in the Federal Register 
on October 13, 1998 (63 FR 54975). Additional information on the 
biology of this taxon may be found in the rule proposing critical 
habitat published in the Federal Register on October 6, 2004 (69 FR 
59844), the subsequent final critical habitat designation published in 
the Federal Register on October 13, 2005 (70 FR 59952), and the 5-year 
review for A. coronata var. notatior signed on March 31, 2008. These 
documents are available on our Web site at http://www.fws.gov/carlsbad/ 
or http://www.fws.gov/endangered/ under Atriplex coronata var. notatior 
or San Jacinto Valley crownscale.
Description
    Atriplex coronata var. notatior is a bushy, erect, annual plant 
that has unisexual flowers on each plant. It is a member of the 
Chenopodiaceae (goosefoot family) (Munz 1974, p. 351). Plants are from 
4 to 12 in (10 to 30.5 cm) high and generally appear gray and scaly 
during the growing season, becoming glabrous and straw-colored as they 
mature (Taylor and Wilken 1993, p. 501). The grayish leaves are sessile 
(stalkless and attached directly at the base), alternate, 0.3 to 0.8 in 
(8 to 20 mm) long, and elliptic to ovate-triangular in outline. The 
flowers occur in mixed clusters (Munz 1974, p. 353; Taylor and Wilken 
1993, p. 501). The female flowers are obscure and develop spherical 
bracts in the fruiting phase. These bracts have dense tubercles 
(projections) that are roughly equal in number to the marginal teeth on 
the bracts (Munz 1974, p. 353; Taylor and Wilken 1993, p. 501). 
Atriplex coronata var. notatior can be distinguished from the more 
northern A. c. var. coronata by its erect stature, the spherical shape 
of the bracts together in fruiting stage, and the more numerous 
tubercles and marginal teeth on the bracts. The ranges of the two taxa 
do not overlap. Atriplex coronata var. notatior may co-occur with one 
or more of six native and one introduced Atriplex taxa within its range 
(Bramlet 1993b, p. 7-8) and can be distinguished from these taxa by a 
combination of characteristics, including life history, shape of the 
leaf, and size and form of the bract (Munz 1974, pp. 354-355; Taylor 
and Wilken 1993, p. 501).
Biology and Life History
    The persistence of Atriplex coronata var. notatior depends upon a 
hydrologic regime that includes seasonal and sporadic ponding or 
flooding in combination with slow drainage in alkaline soils and 
habitats. The duration and extent of ponding or flooding can be 
extremely variable from one year to the next depending on rainfall and 
local runoff conditions. Seasonal flooding is a necessary environmental 
process for A. c. var. notatior because it precludes invasion from 
upland plant species, restores disturbed alkali habitats, and helps to 
disperse seed. These elements form a dynamic physical and biological 
matrix that allows A. c. var. notatior to colonize favorable sites and 
retreat from less favorable sites in response to disturbance and 
variations in annual rainfall.
    Atriplex coronata var. notatior is reported to be a prolific seed 
producer (Ogden Environmental and Energy Services Corporation (OEESC) 
1993, p. 27). Seed viability is believed to be at least 5 years 
(Bramlet 2004, pers. comm.). The number of viable seeds lost to seed 
predators or through dispersal to unsuitable habitats is unknown. 
Atriplex coronata var. notatior produces fruits capable of floating 
that may be dispersed during seasonal flooding (Sanders 2004, pers. 
comm.), specifically by slow-moving water flows during winter and 
spring rainfall events. Seeds generally germinate in the spring as 
flows recede, flower in April and May, and set fruit by May or June 
(Bramlet 1992, pers. comm.). The flowering period may extend to August 
in years when the water recedes late in the spring season (Munz 1974, 
p. 355; CNPS 2001, p. 93). The number of A. c. var. notatior plants in 
a population varies in response to rainfall, extent of winter flooding, 
and temperature (Roberts 1993, p. 3). These factors also influence the 
distribution of plants from one year to the next (Bramlet 1996, p. 3). 
Hydrology, flooding, and precipitation all play a role in the 
germination, flowering, fruiting, and seed dispersal of A. c. var. 
notatior.
Habitat and Soil Preferences
    Atriplex coronata var. notatior is reliant on fixed landscape 
features that include: (1) Appropriate hydrology that allows for 
flooding and moist soil conditions during the winter and spring

[[Page 23012]]

months, and (2) alkali soils that drain slowly following the winter and 
spring rains. The ponding of water (but not prolonged inundation) that 
A. c. var. notatior needs for growth and reproduction requires these 
hydrologic conditions and underlying soils.
    Atriplex coronata var. notatior is found in alkali sink habitat, 
including alkali grassland and scrub (Bramlet 1996, p. 10). This 
includes the San Jacinto River and Mystic Lake floodplains, which 
represent dominant features of the dynamic San Jacinto River Watershed 
(Tetra Tech and WRIME 2007, p. 26), and smaller floodplains where the 
taxon resides such as Upper Salt Creek and Alberhill Creek. The San 
Jacinto River system is ephemeral, characterized by low flows except 
during and following rain events, whereas flow in the headwater 
tributaries of the watershed is perennial (Tetra Tech and WRIME 2007, 
p. 26). Mystic Lake is a natural sink in the San Jacinto Valley; runoff 
flows into the lake from the valley and, during large flow events, from 
the upper San Jacinto River (Tetra Tech and WRIME 2007, p. 28). The 
floodplain of the San Jacinto River occupied by A. c. var. notatior 
contains native vegetative communities including alkali sage scrub and 
Riversidean sage scrub.
    The Upper Salt Creek locations of Atriplex coronata var. notatior 
are contained in a natural depression of the old Salt Creek tributary 
within the Salt Creek watershed. Habitats occupied by A. c. var. 
notatior in this floodplain include alkaline vernal pools, alkaline 
grassland, and alkali sink scrub habitats (Regional Environmental 
Consultants (RECON) 1995 pp. 15, 17; CNDDB 2011b). Major flood control 
channels, local roads and road ditches, and agricultural drainage 
ditches currently disrupt historical drainage patterns in Upper Salt 
Creek, reducing the degree and duration of ponding during the wet 
season (RECON 1995, p. 18).
    Atriplex coronata var. notatior has also been observed in the 
floodplain of Alberhill Creek, which is a part of the larger Temescal 
Wash region of western Riverside County. This area drains the Gavilan 
Hills region and the northeastern slope of the Santa Ana Mountains 
(Boyd 1983, p. 13). The floodplain floods periodically, including 
seasonal overflow from Lake Elsinore; this produces scouring and 
ponding in the alkali playa habitat occupied by A. c. var. notatior.
    Within these three floodplains, Atriplex coronata var. notatior is 
restricted to highly alkaline, silty-clay soils in association with the 
Willows soil series and to a lesser extent, the Domino, Traver, 
Waukena, and Chino soils series (Knecht 1971, p. 23, Bramlet 1993a, p. 
4). Atriplex coronata var. notatior is adapted to grow in slow-draining 
alkaline-saline clay soils, which are usually found in floodplains or 
areas of seasonal ponding (Mitchell 1990, p. 1; Tierra Madre 
Consultants 1990, p. 2) with low permeability and low nutrient 
availability. In dry periods, these saline soils exhibit a white 
powdery surface (effloresce) of salts on their surface due to the 
evaporation of water (Mitchell 1990, p. 1). Within these soil types, A. 
c. var. notatior occupies seasonal and ephemeral wetlands, including 
floodplains and vernal pools that are seasonally inundated, and within 
areas dominated by alkali playas, alkali scrub, and alkali grassland 
(Bramlet 1992, pers. comm.); plants are generally found at the upper 
margin or on mounds within these wetlands (Bramlet 2004, pers. comm.). 
These habitats are dependent upon adjacent transitional wetlands, 
marginal wetlands, and upland areas within the watershed (59 FR 64821; 
December 15, 1994).
Spatial Distribution, Historical Range, and Population Size
    At the time of listing, Atriplex coronata var. notatior was 
reported to be limited to the San Jacinto, Perris, Menifee, and 
Elsinore Valleys in western Riverside County. The listing rule 
identified 11 groupings of individual plants associated with the San 
Jacinto River and Old Salt Creek tributary drainages with one 
additional small population (185 plants) found to the southwest near 
Lake Elsinore (Alberhill Creek) (63 FR 54976; October 13, 1998). In our 
5-year review, using data from range-wide surveys of the taxon 
completed from 1996 to 2001, we determined that A. c. var. notatior 
occupied the same general geographic range described at the time of its 
listing in 1998 (Service 2008, p. 5). Based on these survey data and 
the limited comprehensive surveys conducted since 2001, we currently 
believe that A. c. var. notatior continues to occupy the geographical 
areas described in our previous final critical habitat rule as 
occurrence complexes (70 FR 59952; October 13, 2005). These areas are 
defined by hydrologic processes (such as seasonal flooding) and alkali 
soil associations and include:
    (1) The floodplain of the San Jacinto River at the San Jacinto 
Wildlife Area, including Mystic Lake;
    (2) The floodplain of the San Jacinto River between the Ramona 
Expressway and Railroad Canyon Reservoir;
    (3) The Upper Salt Creek Vernal Pool Complex in the western Hemet 
area; and
    (4) The floodplain of Alberhill Creek north of Lake Elsinore (CNDDB 
2011b).
    The alkaline-saline soils associated with the taxon, primarily the 
Traver-Domino-Willows Association (Knecht 1971, p. 23), form a U-shaped 
band around the Lakeview Mountains within basins and valley floors of 
the greater Perris Valley basin (Tierra Madre Consultants 1990, p. 3) 
and encompass the San Jacinto River and Old Salt Creek drainages.
    Atriplex coronata var. notatior is subject to significant natural 
fluctuations in numbers of observed individuals in any given year, 
which varies in response to annual rainfall, extent and distribution of 
winter flooding, and temperature (Roberts 1993, p. 3; Bramlet and White 
2004, Table 2). Differences in survey methodologies and proportion of 
range surveyed may also contribute to differences in annual counts of 
individuals. In addition, a viable seed bank may exist in the soil at a 
site for several years (Bramlet 2004, pers. comm.) even if plants are 
removed or fail to germinate for a season or if the site is disturbed 
(OEESC 1993, p. 27).
    A status review and threat assessment for Atriplex coronata var. 
notatior, completed in October 1993 (prior to its listing in 1998), 
indicated that approximately 78,000 individuals were distributed 
throughout the ``populations'' defined by the CNDDB EOs (Roberts 1993, 
p. 3). At the time of listing, we estimated about 27,000 A. c. var. 
notatior individuals occupied about 145 acres (ac) (59 hectares (ha)) 
of habitat (63 FR 54976; October 13, 1998). We used population and 
habitat acreage estimates from Bramlet and White (2004, Table 2) in our 
final critical habitat rule (70 FR 59955; October 13, 2005); however, 
these were combined data from the 1990s for the four geographical areas 
listed above. In our 2008 5-year review, we indicated a rangewide 
population estimate of 106,000 individuals of Atriplex coronata var. 
notatior based on estimates from surveys conducted in the spring of 
2000 (Glenn Lukos Associates, Inc. 2000, p. 15). Approximately 84,000 
of these individuals were found on 236.5 ac (95.7 ha) along the San 
Jacinto River between the Ramona Expressway and the mouth of Railroad 
Canyon for a total of 61 localities (Glenn Lukos Associates, Inc. 2000, 
p. 16). This study found that approximately 58,000 of the estimated 
83,741 individual plants (or 69 percent) were located within farmed or 
otherwise altered areas impacted by regular disking and, in some areas, 
by

[[Page 23013]]

additional soil amendments. This report also noted that approximately 
7,470 individuals were located within the San Jacinto Wildlife Area to 
the north (Glenn Lukos Associates Inc. 2000, p. 15).
    Additional recent surveys of locations or localities (groups of 
individual plants) of Atriplex coronata var. notatior have been 
completed in portions of the middle and lower San Jacinto River 
floodplain as well as the Mystic Lake area in 2005, 2008, and 2009 
(Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden 2006, 2010; White 2009, pers. comm.). 
Individual numbers of plants ranged from 21 to 220 per site. The 
Western Riverside Regional Conservation Agency (RCA) has also conducted 
limited surveys in a portion of the San Jacinto Wildlife Area since 
2006 under the Western Riverside County MSHCP Rare Plant Survey 
program, finding fewer than 100 individuals for all 13 surveyed sites 
(Malisch, 2010, pers. comm.).
    Surveys for sensitive plant species were also conducted within the 
Upper Salt Creek area in 2005 and 2006 for a proposed highway 
realignment project (CH2M Hill 2010). These surveys documented over 
100,000 individual Atriplex coronata var. notatior plants within 555 
localities in alkali grassland, alkali playa, and vernal pool habitats 
(CH2M Hill 2010, pp. 5-69, Appendix F (p. 5), and Figure 5.3-11). The 
largest number of locations of plants (90 percent) and the largest 
number of individual plants (over 100,000 plants) were all found in one 
general region of the Upper Salt Creek area (north of the San Jacinto 
Branch Line, south of Devonshire Avenue, east of California Avenue, and 
west of Warren Road) (CH2M Hill 2010, p. 5-69).
    The results of these recent surveys (2005 through 2009), including 
some conducted during a wet year, indicate a more significant 
population of plants within the Upper Salt Creek area than was 
previously believed for the Upper Salt Creek location. These surveys do 
not represent a significant change in the distribution of Atriplex 
coronata var. notatior since the plant was listed. They do provide more 
precise locations for A. c. var. notatior within these two floodplains, 
and therefore an updated assessment of the distribution of the plant 
within the geographical area occupied at the time of listing.
    Atriplex coronata var. notatior is also found in the Alberhill 
Creek area. In 1997, 185 plants were observed on Willows soils in this 
floodplain within wetland habitat along Nichols Road, near the mouth of 
Walker Canyon (CNDDB 2011b, EO16). A survey in 2005 recorded 10 plants 
south of Nichols Road in nonnative grassland and alkali marsh habitat 
on Willows soil, within one-quarter mile (365 m) of the 1997 location 
(AMEC Earth and Environmental Inc., 2006b, p. 29).

Previous Federal Actions--Allium munzii

    Please see the final listing rule for Allium munzii for a 
description of previous Federal actions through October 13, 1998 (63 FR 
54975). At the time of listing, we concluded that designation of 
critical habitat for A. munzii was not prudent because such designation 
would not benefit the species. On June 4, 2004, we published a proposed 
rule to designate 227 ac (92 ha) of critical habitat for A. munzii on 
Federal land (Cleveland National Forest) in western Riverside County, 
California (69 FR 31569). On June 7, 2005, we published a final rule 
designating 176 ac (71 ha) of the proposed land as critical habitat for 
A. munzii (70 FR 33015).
    On March 22, 2006, we announced the initiation of the 5-year review 
for Allium munzii and opening of a 60-day public comment period to 
receive information (71 FR 14538). The A. munzii 5-year review was 
signed on June 17, 2009, and found that no change was warranted to the 
endangered status of A. munzii.
    On October 2, 2008, a complaint was filed against the Department of 
the Interior (DOI) and the Service by the Center for Biological 
Diversity (CBD v. Kempthorne, No. 08-CV-01348 (S.D. Cal.)) challenging 
our final critical habitat designation for Allium munzii. In an order 
dated March 24, 2009, the U.S. District Court for the Central District 
of California, Eastern Division, adopted a Stipulated Settlement 
Agreement that was entered into by all parties. The agreement 
stipulates that the Service will reconsider critical habitat 
designations for both A. munzii and Atriplex coronata var. notatior, 
and shall submit to the Federal Register proposed revised critical 
habitat determinations for both plants by October 7, 2011. An extension 
for the completion of the new proposed determinations was granted on 
September 14, 2011; the new submission date to the Federal Register is 
April 6, 2012. Until the effective date of the final determinations (to 
be submitted to the Federal Register on or before April 6, 2013), the 
existing final critical habitat designations for A. munzii and A. c. 
var. notatior remain in place. We are proposing revised critical 
habitat designations for both A. munzii and A. c. var. notatior in this 
combined proposed rule.

Previous Federal Actions--Atriplex coronata var. notatior

    Please see the final listing rule for Atriplex coronata var. 
notatior for a description of previous Federal actions through October 
13, 1998 (63 FR 54975), including proposed critical habitat in 1994 (59 
FR 64812; December 15, 1994). At the time of the final listing rule in 
1998, the Service withdrew the proposed critical habitat designation 
based on the taxon's continued decline and determined that designation 
of critical habitat was not prudent, indicating that no benefit over 
that provided by listing would result from such designation (63 FR 
54991; October 13, 1998).
    On October 6, 2004, we published a proposed rule to designate 
critical habitat for Atriplex coronata var. notatior and identified 
15,232 ac (6,164 ha) of habitat that met the definition of critical 
habitat (69 FR 59844). However, we concluded in the 2004 proposed rule 
under section 4(b)(2) of the Act that the benefits of excluding lands 
covered by the Western Riverside County MSHCP outweighed the benefits 
of including them as critical habitat and no lands were proposed for 
designation as critical habitat in the proposed rule. On October 13, 
2005, we published a final critical habitat determination for A. c. 
var. notatior (70 FR 59952); there was no change from the proposed 
rule. We concluded that all 15,232 ac (6,136 ha) of habitat meeting the 
definition of critical habitat were located either within our estimate 
of the areas to be conserved and managed by the approved Western 
Riverside County MSHCP on existing Public/Quasi-Public Lands, or within 
areas where the MSHCP would ensure that future projects would not 
adversely alter essential hydrological processes and therefore all 
areas were excluded from critical habitat under section 4(b)(2) of the 
Act.
    On March 22, 2006, we announced the initiation of the 5-year review 
for Atriplex coronata var. notatior and the opening of a 60-day public 
comment period to receive information (71 FR 14538). The 5-year review 
was signed on March 31, 2008, and found that no change was warranted to 
the endangered status of A. c. var. notatior.
    On October 2, 2008, a complaint was filed against the DOI and the 
Service by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD v. Kempthorne, No. 
08-CV-01348 (S.D. Cal.)) challenging our final critical habitat 
determinations for Allium munzii and Atriplex coronata var. notatior 
(see Previous Federal Actions--Allium Munzii section above for a

[[Page 23014]]

detailed account of this lawsuit and settlement agreement). We are 
proposing revised critical habitat designations for both A. munzii and 
A. c. var. notatior in this proposed rule.

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 that are
    (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 necessary to bring an 
endangered or threatened species to the point at which the measures 
provided pursuant to the Act are no longer necessary. Such methods and 
procedures include, but are not limited to, all activities associated 
with scientific resource management such as research, census, law 
enforcement, habitat acquisition and maintenance, propagation, live 
trapping, and transplantation, and, in the extraordinary case where 
population pressures within a given ecosystem cannot be otherwise 
relieved, may include regulated taking.
    Critical habitat receives protection under section 7 of the Act 
through the requirement that Federal agencies ensure, in consultation 
with the Service, that any action they authorize, fund, or carry out is 
not likely to result in the destruction or adverse modification of 
critical habitat. The designation of critical habitat does not affect 
land ownership or establish a refuge, wilderness, reserve, preserve, or 
other conservation area. Such designation does not allow the government 
or public to access private lands. Such designation does not require 
implementation of restoration, recovery, or enhancement measures by 
non-Federal landowners. Where a landowner seeks or 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) 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 section 3(5)(A)(i) of the Act, specific 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 the 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 (PCEs) (such as roost sites, nesting 
grounds, seasonal wetlands, water quality, tide, and soil type) that 
are essential to the conservation of the species.
    Under section 3(5)(A)(ii) of the Act, specific areas outside the 
geographical area occupied by the species at the time it is listed are 
included in a critical habitat designation 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 for 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 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 ensure 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 these taxa. 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, HCPs, or other species conservation planning 
efforts if new information available at the time of these planning 
efforts calls for a different outcome.
    In particular, we recognize that climate change may cause changes 
in the arrangement of occupied habitat and will be a particular 
challenge for biodiversity because the interaction of additional 
stressors associated with

[[Page 23015]]

climate change and current stressors may push species beyond their 
ability to survive (Lovejoy 2005, pp. 325-326). The synergistic 
implications of climate change and habitat fragmentation are the most 
threatening facet of climate change for biodiversity (Hannah and 
Lovejoy 2005, p. 4). Climate models are being generated to examine what 
will happen in localized regions such as southern California, and many 
scientists believe warmer, wetter winters and warmer, drier summers 
will occur within the next century as well as an increase in extreme 
temperature events (e.g., Field et al. 1999, pp. 2-3, 20; Christensen 
et al. 2007, p. 891). Climate-related changes in California have been 
documented (Croke et al. 1998, pp. 2128, 2130; Breashears et al. 2005, 
p. 15144; McMullen and Jabbour 2009, p. 41; Dominguez et al. 2010, p. 
500), and predictions for California indicate prolonged drought and 
other climate-related changes into the future (Field et al. 1999, pp. 
8-10; Lenihan et al. 2003, p. 1667; Hayhoe et al. 2004, p. 12422; 
Breashears et al. 2005, p. 15144; Seager et al. 2007, p. 1181; IPCC 
2007, p. 9).
    Regional climate change models project that the southwestern 
California ecoregion occupied by Allium munzii and Atriplex coronata 
var. notatior could experience a mean annual temperature increase of 
1.7 to 2.2 [deg]Celsius (C) (3.06 to 3.96 [deg]Fahrenheit (F)) by 2070 
(Point Reyes Bird Observatory (PRBO) Conservation Science 2011, p. 40). 
These models also project vegetation changes for southwestern 
California. For example, the area of chaparral or coastal scrub is 
projected to decrease by 38 to 44 percent by 2070, while grassland, 
which currently occupies 3 percent of this region, is projected to 
increase by 345 to 390 percent (PRBO Conservation Science 2011, p. 42). 
A recent study on the effects of climate change to grassland 
assemblages in California, as measured by trait differences between 
native and nonnative plant taxa, predicted an increase in dominance of 
nonnative taxa in grass assemblages with an increase in temperature 
(Sandel and Dangremond 2011, p. 11).
    The information currently available on the effects of global 
climate change and increasing temperatures does not adequately predict 
the location and magnitude of climate change effects to Allium munzii 
and Atriplex coronata var. notatior; therefore, we are unable to 
determine if any additional areas may be appropriate to include in this 
proposed revised critical habitat designation to address the effects of 
climate change. We specifically request information from the public on 
the currently predicted effects of climate change on A. munzii and A. 
c. var. notatior and their habitats (see Public Comments section 
above).

Physical or Biological Features

    In accordance with sections 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 at the time of listing to propose as revised 
critical habitat, we consider those physical or biological features 
that are 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.
Allium munzii
    We derive the specific physical or biological features for Allium 
munzii from characteristics of the species' habitat, ecology, and life 
history as described in the Background section of this proposed rule, 
the previous critical habitat rule (70 FR 33015; June 7, 2005), the 
proposed listing rule (59 FR 64812: December 15, 1994), and the final 
listing rule (63 FR 54975; October 13, 1998). We have based our 
determination of the physical or biological features for A. munzii on 
the following:

Space for Individual and Population Growth and for Normal Behavior

    Allium munzii is a narrow endemic plant that is generally 
associated with mesic clay soils in western Riverside County, 
California, along the southern edge of the Perris Basin. Because of the 
physical geology in this part of the County, clay soils are scattered 
in a band, several miles wide, extending 40 miles (mi) (64 kilometers 
(km)) from Gavilan Hills to west of Temescal Canyon and Lake Elsinore 
at the eastern foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains, and along the 
Elsinore Fault Zone to the southwestern foothills of the San Jacinto 
Mountains near Lake Skinner and Diamond Valley Lake. These clay soils 
often exist as areas of smaller discrete pockets (clay lenses) that are 
often not identified on coarse-scale soil maps. Allium munzii is also 
found within other soil types. These include soil series of sedimentary 
or igneous origin within a clay subsoil, or rocky-sandy loam soils that 
fall between the finer-textured sandy clay loam and the coarser-
textured loamy sands and have sufficient silt or clay components to 
provide coherence (stickiness) to the soil (Brown 2003, p. 3). Clay 
soils must be deep enough (at least 3 in (7.6 cm)) and remain wet long 
enough to expand during the rainy season in order to pull the seedling 
bulb down into the soil so the plant will survive until spring (Wallace 
2011, pers. comm.). Allium munzii most frequently appears within intact 
habitats in which the soils and subsoils have been minimally altered or 
unaltered by ground-disturbing activities (such as disking, grading, 
excavating, or recontouring) and in more open areas where there is 
little competition and overcrowding from nonnative plants.
    Allium munzii is commonly restricted to locally wetter sites (Boyd 
1988, p. 2) on level or slightly sloping (10-20 degrees) areas at 
elevations from 1,200 ft (366 m) AMSL (Skunk Hollow) to 2,700 ft (823 
m) AMSL (Estelle Mountain) (Boyd 1988, p. 4). It is found on both 
south- and north-facing slopes (L&L Environmental Inc. 2003, p. 26; 
CNDDB 2011a). The native perennial and annual grassland communities, 
open coastal sage or Riversidean sage scrub, and occasionally 
cismontane juniper woodlands found on clay soils in Riverside County 
provide supporting habitat for A. munzii. Coupled with aspect and 
elevation, these plant communities in western Riverside County provide 
space for individual and population growth for A. munzii and are 
identified as a physical or biological feature for this species.

Food, Water, Air, Light, Minerals, or Other Nutritional or 
Physiological Requirements

    Clay soil associations for Allium munzii include, but are not 
limited to: Altamont, Auld, Bosanko, and Porterville clays (70 FR 
33022; June 7, 2005) or soil series of sedimentary or igneous origin 
(rocky-sandy loam) with a clay subsoil (such as Cajalco, Las Posas, and 
Vallecitos). Two populations of A. munzii are associated with these 
rocky or sandy loam soils on igneous rocky outcrops (Greene 1999, pers. 
comm.; CNDDB 2011a, EO 23). Most populations are associated with clay 
soils, which have a sticky adobe consistency when wet and large cracks 
when dry, and with rounded cobbles and boulders embedded within the 
soil (Boyd 1988, p. 4). Clay soils have

[[Page 23016]]

unique physical and chemical properties such as fine grain size, small 
pore space, and an expansive nature that often result in a hardpan 
layer that inhibits percolation and root penetration (Donahue et al. 
1977, p. 50). Clay soils are also rich in mineral nutrients such as 
calcium, magnesium, and potassium that are held tightly as positively 
charged ions (cations) and are absorbed by plant roots through cation 
exchange (Donahue et al. 1977, pp. 10, 50, 106, 113, 121).
    Allium munzii is adapted to seasonal (summer and fall) drought and 
variable annual rainfall. Within areas of suitable clay soils or areas 
of smaller discrete pockets of clay within other soil types, 
microhabitats that receive or retain more moisture than surrounding 
areas (due to factors such as exposure, slope, and subsurface geology) 
are very important in determining where A. munzii is found (Boyd 2011b, 
pers. comm.) and are identified as physical or biological features for 
this species.

Sites for Reproduction

    Sites for Allium munzii reproduction are coincident with those for 
individual and population growth. Allium munzii is generally restricted 
to clay soils but is also found on rocky loam soils (such as North 
Domenigoni Hills). The sites of these soils in western Riverside County 
are identified as a physical or biological feature for this species.
    We have little information on pollinators or their habitat 
requirements for this taxon other than anecdotal observations of 
beetles on Allium munzii inflorescences in one population at Temescal 
Canyon (The Environmental Trust 2002, p. 16). Wind dispersal is the 
likely mechanism for seed distribution; however, no estimates of 
dispersal distances are available.

Habitats Protected From Disturbance or Representative of the 
Historical, Geographical, and Ecological Distributions of the Species

    Allium munzii is found in association with several plant 
communities, including southern needlegrass grassland, mixed grassland, 
open coastal sage scrub and Riversidean sage scrub, or occasionally 
cismontane juniper woodlands (CNPS 2001, p. 67). A characteristic clay 
soil flora, comprised of herbaceous annuals and perennials, is often 
associated with the small pockets of clay soils (see Habitat and Soil 
Preferences section above for Allium munzii) in southwestern Riverside 
County occupied by A. munzii (Boyd 1988, p. 4). In some instances, the 
observed differences in plant communities that occupy clay versus 
nonclay soils can be very different as is the case for the terraces in 
Temescal Canyon (Boyd 1988, p. 4). At other locations, such as 
Alberhill Mountain and the Gavilan Hills region, the grasslands form a 
mosaic with the surrounding scrub-type vegetation (Boyd 1988, p. 4); A. 
munzii is often found in open areas within these grassland communities.
    Allium munzii is also associated with nonnative plants, primarily 
invasive annuals (CDFG 1989, p. 2). However, nonnative plants have been 
identified as a threat to several populations of A. munzii (CNDDB 
2011a, EOs 5, 6, 7, 10, 12, and 16). Activities that promote the spread 
of invasive weedy grasses, such as disking and grading, can suppress 
the inflorescence of A. munzii (Boyd 1988, p. 3). These activities can 
also kill plants and destroy hydrological characteristics of the site.
    Native and, in some areas, nonnative plant communities found along 
the southern edge of the greater Riverside-Perris area are identified 
as a physical or biological feature for this taxon.
Atriplex coronata var. notatior
    We derive the specific physical or biological features for Atriplex 
coronata var. notatior from studies of this taxon's habitat, ecology, 
and life history as described in the Background section of this 
proposed rule, the previous critical habitat rule (70 FR 59952; October 
13, 2005), and the final listing rule (63 FR 54975; October 13, 1998). 
We have based our determination of the physical or biological features 
for A. c. var. notatior on the following:

Space for Individual and Population Growth and for Normal Behavior

    Atriplex coronata var. notatior occupies seasonal wetlands, 
including vernal pools and floodplains that receive seasonal inundation 
(Bramlet 1993a, p. 1). The taxon occurs within alkali playas, alkali 
scrub, alkali vernal pools, and alkali grasslands, where these habitats 
occur in association with slow-draining alkaline soils, particularly 
the Willows soil series, and to a lesser extent, the Domino, Traver, 
Waukena, and Chino soil series (Knecht 1971, p. 23 and accompanying 
map; Bramlet 1992 pers. comm.; Bramlet 1993a, p. 1;). Atriplex coronata 
var. notatior is therefore found adjacent to and dependent on 
floodplains, transitional wetlands, marginal wetlands, and scrub 
habitat within the watershed (59 FR 64812; December 15, 1994, p. 
64821).
    The four general geographical areas where Atriplex coronata var. 
notatior is known to occur are no longer pristine and have been 
particularly impacted by agricultural activities (Service 2008, p. 8). 
Dryland or irrigated farming activities in the San Jacinto River and 
Old Salt Creek floodplains have been occurring over the past 100 years. 
Most populations of plants within these locations are on privately 
owned undeveloped land that is disked frequently or has undergone 
intensive manure dumping (Roberts 1993, pp. 2-3; Roberts and McMillan 
1997, pp. 1-5; Roberts 2004, pers. comm.; CNDDB 2011b). Habitats that 
support A. c. var. notatior can recover from disturbance from disking 
or dryland farming if left fallow and undisturbed (Roberts 1993, pp. 2-
3). In the past, disking was intermittent, allowing for recovery 
periods for A. c. var. notatior (Roberts 1999, pers. comm.). 
Additionally, Atriplex coronata var. notatior can persist in the seed 
bank within lands that experience short-term disturbances and can 
germinate with the return of proper conditions (Roberts 1993, pp. 2-3). 
Thus, in those areas where elements of annual communities persist, 
disturbed annual grassland and alkali playa habitats can recover with 
the return of hydrological conditions to support A. c. var. notatior 
and therefore provide the physical or biological features for the 
taxon. However, once the seed bank is removed through activities such 
as laser leveling for agriculture development or significant 
alternation of soil chemistry, plants are unlikely to reestablish 
without extensive soil restoration (Bramlet 2010, pers. comm.). We have 
determined that alkali vernal pools and floodplains that receive 
seasonal inundation, including alkali playas, alkali scrub, alkali 
vernal pools, and alkali grasslands habitats, are a physical or 
biological feature for A. c. var. notatior.

Food, Water, Air, Light, Minerals, or Other Nutritional or 
Physiological Requirements

    Atriplex coronata var. notatior requires a hydrologic regime that 
includes seasonal and large-scale flooding in combination with alkaline 
soils that exhibit low permeability and low nutrient availability. The 
plants occur along floodplains defined by seasonal ponding or flooding 
in the San Jacinto River and Upper Salt Creek drainages and within the 
Alberhill Creek floodplain in soils where mineral nutrients are tightly 
bound to silt and clay particles (Roberts 2004, pers. comm.). Depending 
on the amount of precipitation, the duration and extent of flooding or 
inundation can be extremely variable year to year. Seasonal flooding 
(typically over the winter and early spring) is an important process 
that

[[Page 23017]]

creates suitable alkali habitat for A. c. var. notatior, stimulates 
germination, prevents invasion from flood-intolerant plant species, 
restores disturbed areas, and helps disperse seed (Roberts 2004, pers. 
comm.). Additionally, large-scale flooding events, such as 10-, 50-, or 
100-year floods, can restore or reset alkali habitat that has been 
colonized by upland species or disturbed by agricultural activities 
(Bramlet 1992, pers. comm.). The frequency, duration, and extent of 
seasonal ponding or flooding creates a dynamic matrix of habitat that 
allows A. c. var. notatior to colonize favorable sites and retreat from 
less favorable sites in response to disturbance and variations in 
annual rainfall. Irreversible actions (such as paving, redirection of 
sheet flow, or year-round flooding) that alter the hydrology of the 
seasonal wetlands and upland watersheds, or infringe upon the wetlands, 
may threaten the survival of A. c. var. notatior.
    The presence of Atriplex coronata var. notatior in floodplains 
depends on seasonal or large-scale flooding within valley drainages, as 
well as precipitation and runoff from the surrounding hillsides. The 
watershed and the upland areas that provide water to these floodplains 
are important for retaining the flooding regime. While some runoff 
originates from undeveloped hillsides, much of the watershed where A. 
c. var. notatior occurs has been developed, and the flows traveling to 
the ponded habitats can include urban runoff (RECON 1995, pp. 18, 21). 
Unless captured and routed to storm water detention (desilting) basins, 
this runoff can transport a variety of pollutants that can be 
detrimental to native plant communities, particularly the unique soil 
and vegetation characteristics of vernal pool and alkali playa habitats 
and the species that occupy them (Clark et al. 1998, p. 251; Cahill et 
al. 2001, p. 820; Battaglin et al. 2009, p. 303). Therefore, a 
hydrologic regime that includes seasonal and large-scale flooding in 
combination with slow drainage in alkaline soils with low nutrient 
loads is identified as a physical or biological feature for this taxon.

Sites for Reproduction

    Flooding or ponding of water during the rainy season, as indicated 
above, is important for the reproduction, germination, and seed 
dispersal of Atriplex coronata var. notatior. Two types of flood events 
are important for A. c. var. notatior, and they occur at two distinct 
scales: local, seasonal flooding and large-scale flooding (Roberts 
2004, pers. comm.). Seasonal flooding determines the area of 
germination and affects local distribution of individual plants, while 
large-scale flooding (generally 20- to 50-year events) disrupts entire 
habitats with slow-moving water that can be present for weeks or months 
and rework the structure of the vegetative communities (Roberts 2004, 
pers. comm.). Together, these natural processes prevent invasion from 
upland vegetation, restore disturbed alkali habitats, and help 
distribute seed throughout the habitat. Natural alkali playa flood 
events therefore promote the colonization of A. c. var. notatior 
colonization within favorable sites, as well as the retreat from less 
favorable sites, in response to disturbance and variations in annual 
rainfall, thus creating conditions in which population abundance shifts 
annually through a mosaic of habitat and flooding (Bramlet 1996, p. 2-
3). Relatedly, A. c. var. notatior is known to produce floating seeds 
that are likely dispersed during seasonal flooding by slow-moving flows 
within the floodplains and vernal pools where the plant occurs (Sanders 
2004, pers. comm.). Therefore, flooding provides the conditions that 
stimulate the germination of A. c. var. notatior and controls the 
distribution of plants in the surrounding semi-arid environment both 
year-to-year and over decades. These natural floodplain processes are 
integral to the life history of A. c. var. notatior and are considered 
to be a physical or biological feature necessary to maintain a healthy 
population.

Primary Constituent Elements

    Under the Act and its implementing regulations, we are required to 
identify the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of Allium munzii and Atriplex coronata var. notatior 
within the geographical area occupied at the time of listing, focusing 
on the features' primary constituent elements (PCEs). We consider PCEs 
to be the elements of physical or biological features that provide for 
a species' life-history processes and, under the appropriate 
conditions, are essential to the conservation of the species.
Allium munzii
    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 PCEs specific to Allium 
munzii are:
    (1) Clay soil series of sedimentary origin (for example, Altamont, 
Auld, Bosanko, Porterville), clay lenses (pockets of clay soils) of 
those series that may be found as unmapped inclusions in other soil 
series, or soil series of sedimentary or igneous origin with a clay 
subsoil (for example, Cajalco, Las Posas, Vallecitos):
    (a) Found on level or slightly sloping landscapes or terrace 
escarpments;
    (b) Generally between the elevations of 1,200 to 2,700 ft (366 to 
823 m) above mean sea level;
    (c) Within intact natural surface and subsurface structures that 
have been minimally altered or unaltered by ground-disturbing 
activities (for example, disked, graded, excavated, or recontoured);
    (d) Within microhabitats that receive or retain more moisture than 
surrounding areas, due in part to factors such as exposure, slope, and 
subsurface geology; and
    (e) Part of open native or nonnative grassland plant communities 
and clay soil flora, including southern needlegrass grassland, mixed 
grassland, and open coastal sage scrub or occasionally in cismontane 
juniper woodlands; or
    (2) Outcrops of igneous rocks (pyroxenite) on rocky-sandy loam or 
clay soils within Riversidean sage scrub, generally between the 
elevations of 1,200 to 2,700 ft (366 to 823 m) above mean sea level.
    With this proposed revised designation of critical habitat, we 
intend to identify the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of the species. All units and subunits proposed to be 
designated as critical habitat are currently occupied by Allium munzii 
and are within the geographical areas occupied at the time of listing.
Atriplex coronata var. notatior
    Based on our current knowledge of the physical or biological 
features and habitat characteristics required to sustain the taxon's 
life-history processes, we determine that the PCEs specific to Atriplex 
coronata var. notatior are:
    (1) Wetland habitat including floodplains and vernal pools:
    (a) Associated with native vegetation communities, including alkali 
playa, alkali scrub, and alkali grasslands; and
    (b) Characterized by seasonal inundation or localized flooding, 
including infrequent large-scale flood events with low nutrient loads; 
and
    (2) Slow-draining alkali soils including the Willows, Domino, 
Traver, Waukena, and Chino soil series with:
    (a) Low permeability;
    (b) Low nutrient availability; and
    (c) Seasonal ponding and evaporation.
    With this proposed revised designation of critical habitat, we 
intend to identify the physical or biological

[[Page 23018]]

features essential to the conservation of the species. All units and 
subunits proposed to be designated as critical habitat are currently 
occupied by Atriplex coronata var. notatior and are within the 
geographical areas occupied at the time of listing.

Special Management Considerations or Protection

    When designating critical habitat, we assess whether the specific 
areas within the geographical area occupied by the species at the time 
of listing contain physical or biological features which are essential 
to the conservation of the species and which may require special 
management considerations or protection. In all units or subunits, 
special management considerations or protection of the essential 
features may be required to provide for the growth, reproduction, and 
sustained function of the habitat on which Allium munzii and Atriplex 
coronata var. notatior depend.
Allium munzii
    A detailed discussion of threats to Allium munzii and its habitat 
can be found in the final listing rule (63 FR 54975; October 13, 1998), 
the previous proposed and final critical habitat designations (69 FR 
31569, June 4, 2004; 70 FR 33015, June 7, 2005), and the A. munzii 5-
year review signed on June 17, 2009 (Service 2009). Actions and 
development that alter habitat suitable for the species or affect the 
natural hydrologic processes upon which the species depends could 
threaten the species.
    The physical or biological features essential to the conservation 
of Allium munzii all face ongoing threats that may require special 
management considerations or protection. Threats that may require 
special management considerations or protection of the physical or 
biological features include:
    (1) Loss or degradation of native plant communities, such as 
grassland, open coastal sage scrub, and cismontane juniper woodlands, 
due to urban development, agricultural activities, and clay mining 
(PCEs 1 and 2);
    (2) Disturbance of clay or other occupied soils by activities such 
as off-road vehicles (ORV) and fire management (PCEs 1 and 2);
    (3) Invasion of nonnative plant species (PCEs 1 and 2); and
    (4) Long-term threats including climatic variations such as 
extended periods of drought (PCE 1) (63 FR 54982-54986, October 13, 
1998; 69 FR 31571, June 4, 2004; 70 FR 33023, October 13, 2005; Service 
2009, pp. 10-22).
    Further discussion of specific threats facing individual proposed 
revised critical habitat units or subunits for Allium munzii is 
provided in the unit descriptions under the Proposed Revised Critical 
Habitat Designation section below. In these proposed revised critical 
habitat units, special management considerations or protection may be 
needed to ensure the long-term existence of clay and alluvial soil 
integrity within habitats that support the physical or biological 
features essential to the conservation of A. munzii.
    Special management considerations or protection for areas occupied 
by Allium munzii include:
    (1) Protection of habitat from urban development or destruction to 
maintain integrity of clay soils;
    (2) Reduction of land conversion to agricultural uses and reduction 
of disking or dryland farming to maintain native habitats;
    (3) Management and control of invasive nonnative plants to provide 
open areas for growth and reproduction; and
    (4) Land acquisition or conservation easements for occurrences not 
already conserved to protect those populations within occupied 
habitats.
Atriplex coronata var. notatior
    A detailed discussion of threats to Atriplex coronata var. notatior 
and its habitat can be found in the final listing rule (63 FR 54975; 
October 13, 1998), the previous proposed and final critical habitat 
designations (69 FR 59844, October 6, 2004; 70 FR 59952, October 13, 
2005), and the A. c. var. notatior 5-year review signed on March 31, 
2008 (Service 2008). Actions and development that alter habitat 
suitable for A. c. var. notatior or affect the natural hydrologic 
processes upon which it depends could threaten the taxon. The physical 
or biological features essential to the conservation of A. c. var. 
notatior may require special management considerations or protection to 
reduce or eliminate the following threats:
    (1) Loss of alkali vernal plain habitat (i.e., alkali playa, alkali 
scrub, alkali vernal pool, alkali annual grassland) and fragmentation 
as a result of activities such as urban development, manure dumping, 
animal grazing, agricultural activities, ORV activity, weed abatement, 
and channelization (PCEs 1 and 2);
    (2) Indirect loss of habitat from the alteration of hydrology and 
floodplain dynamics (diversions, channelization, excessive flooding) 
(PCEs 1 and 2);
    (3) Competition from nonnative plants (PCE 1); and
    (4) Long-term threats including water pollution, climatic 
variations, and changes in soil chemistry and nutrient availability 
(PCE 1) (63 FR 54983, October 13, 1998; 69 FR 59847, October 6, 2004; 
70 FR 59966, October 13, 2005; Service 2008, pp. 8-17).
    Further discussion of specific threats facing individual units is 
provided in the unit descriptions under the Proposed Revised Critical 
Habitat Designation section below. Special management considerations or 
protection for Atriplex coronata var. notatior include:
    (1) Protection of habitat, including underlying soils and 
chemistry, from development or destruction;
    (2) Protection of floodplain processes to maintain natural, 
seasonal flooding regimes;
    (3) Reduction of land conversion to agricultural uses and reduction 
of disking and dryland farming to maintain native habitats;
    (4) Land acquisition or conservation easements for occurrences not 
already conserved to protect those populations within occupied 
habitats; and
    (5) Implementation of manure and sludge dumping ordinances to 
maintain soil chemistry.

Criteria Used To Identify Critical Habitat

    As required by section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we use the best 
scientific data available to designate critical habitat. We review 
available information pertaining to the habitat requirement of the 
species. In accordance with the Act and its implementing regulation at 
50 CFR 424.12(e), we consider whether designating additional areas--
outside those currently occupied as well as those occupied at the time 
of listing--are necessary to ensure the conservation of the species. We 
are not currently proposing to designate any areas outside the 
geographical areas currently occupied by Allium munzii or Atriplex 
coronata var. notatior because we consider those areas to be of 
sufficient quality, extent, and distribution to provide for the 
conservation of these taxa. We believe that the present quality habitat 
has, by survey, the demonstrated capacity to support self-sustaining 
occurrences of these taxa and that these areas containing the physical 
or biological features essential to the conservation of the species are 
dispersed in its range in a manner that provides for the survival and 
recovery of these taxa. We are proposing to designate as critical 
habitat some specific areas within the geographical

[[Page 23019]]

range currently occupied by A. munzii, but that were not known to be 
occupied at the time of listing. However, based on the best available 
scientific information, the life history of the plant (see Background 
section), and the limited survey efforts prior to listing, we believe 
that these specific areas are within the geographical area occupied by 
the species at the time of listing.
    We reviewed the final critical habitat designations for Allium 
munzii and Atriplex coronata var. notatior (70 FR 33015, June 7, 2005; 
70 FR 59952, October 13, 2005, respectively), information from State, 
Federal, and local government agencies, and from academia and private 
organizations that have collected scientific data on the species. We 
also used the information provided in the 5-year reviews for A. munzii 
and A. c. var. notatior (Service 2008; Service 2009). Other information 
we used for this proposed rule includes: CNDDB (CNDDB 2011a; CNDDB 
2011b); reports submitted during consultations under section 7 of the 
Act; analyses for individual and regional HCPs where A. munzii and A. 
c. var. notatior are covered species; data collected from reports 
submitted by researchers holding recovery permits under section 
10(a)(1)(A) of the Act; information received from local species 
experts; published and unpublished papers, reports, academic theses, or 
surveys; Geographic Information System (GIS) data (such as species 
population and location data, soil data, land use, topography, aerial 
imagery, and ownership maps); and correspondence with the Service from 
recognized experts. We analyzed this information to determine the 
specific areas within the geographical area occupied by the taxa at the 
time of listing that contain the physical or biological features 
essential to the conservation of A. munzii and A. c. var. notatior.
Allium munzii
    Allium munzii occurs in relatively small population sizes, has a 
narrow geographic range (western Riverside County), and exhibits high 
habitat specificity, all of which make it vulnerable to land use 
changes. According to the Western Riverside County MSHCP, A. munzii is 
considered a narrow endemic plant species, a plant species that is 
highly restricted by its habitat affinities, edaphic requirements, or 
other ecological factors (Dudek and Associates 2003, pp. Def/Acr-ix and 
6-28). Based on examination of soil maps for western Riverside County, 
Boyd (1988, p. 2) concluded that much of the scattered clay soil areas 
in the Perris Basin were heavily disturbed and estimated up to an 80 to 
90 percent loss of potential A. munzii habitat in 1988.
    We conducted a spatial analysis using a GIS-based approach to 
determine the percent of mapped clay soils (Altamont, Auld, Bosanko, 
Porterville) that were converted or lost to agricultural or urban land 
uses in the Perris Basin (based on 2007 land use GIS data). This is a 
conservative approach given that smaller pockets of clay soils are not 
shown on coarse-scale soil maps and may have been lost since the 
completion of the Riverside County soil map in 1971. We estimated that 
approximately 32 percent of these clay soils remain within suitable 
Allium munzii habitats (or a 67 percent loss) due to urban and 
agricultural development on plant communities associated with A. 
munzii, and includes both known and unknown locations of A. munzii 
populations. Based on the narrow endemism of this species, its reliance 
on clay soil types that are limited in geographic range in western 
Riverside County, and our estimated loss of 67 percent of these soils 
to urban or agricultural development, we believe that all of the units 
and subunits (as defined below and in the Summary of Changes from 
Previously Designated Critical Habitat section of this proposed rule) 
represent the present geographical area containing the physical or 
biological features essential to the conservation of this species which 
may require special management considerations or protection. This 
designation includes 17 of the CNDDB's EOs described in the Background 
section above.
    We are proposing to designate as critical habitat specific areas 
within the geographical area occupied by Allium munzii at the time of 
listing in 1998. These specific areas include some areas within the 
present range of the species that had not yet been identified as 
occupied at the time of listing. We have determined that these areas 
are within the geographical area occupied by A. munzii at the time of 
listing based on the species life history and habitat requirements (see 
Background section above) and the following: (1) Locations of plants 
reported or detected since listing in 1998 are in close proximity (less 
than 1 mi (1.5 km)) to previously known locations and, (2) of the 10 
new CNDDB-defined EOs reported since early 1980s surveys by Boyd 
(1988), 6 are within previous known occupied geographic regions of the 
greater Perris Basin (Temescal Canyon-Gavilan Hills/Plateau, Murrieta-
Hot Springs areas) and the other 4 locations were found after surveys 
in the early 1990s within the Elsinore Peak (Santa Ana Mountains) and 
Domenigoni Hills regions. Additionally, we believe this currently 
occupied habitat was occupied at the time of listing given the species' 
naturally discontinuous distribution and occupation of microhabitats; 
the difficulty of accurately surveying for individual plants given the 
dormant (underground) phase of its life cycle prior to detection; and 
its restriction to small areas of clay soils in western Riverside 
County within the designated units and subunits.
    For defining critical habitat units, we looked at elevation (1,200 
to 2,700 ft (366 to 823 m) AMSL), soil types (primarily clay soils), 
spatial distribution of 17 CNDDB-defined EOs from CNDDB (CNDDB 2011a), 
1 location identified by Ellstrand not included in the CNDDB database 
(Ellstrand 1993, 1994) (proposed EO 24, as mentioned in the Spatial 
Distribution, Historical Range, and Population Size section for Allium 
munzii), rare plant monitoring survey results from Western Riverside 
County Regional Conservation Authority (RCA) (Western Riverside County 
RCA 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011), and other surveys.
    To identify several unit and subunit boundaries for this proposed 
revised critical habitat, we consulted a species expert with 
considerable field experience in surveying for Allium munzii. Given the 
difficulty in observing individual plants due to the timing of 
inflorescence, stage of growth, and large areal extent (as discussed in 
the Background section), Boyd (2011b, pers. comm.) recommended 
expanding the area surrounding an observation of a location of plants 
(either a group or just a few individuals) to capture additional 
individual plants that might not have been observed. Based on extensive 
field experience (approximately 30 years) with A. munzii, Boyd (2011b, 
pers. comm.) recommended including a 100-m (328-ft) roughly circular 
area (or 50-m (164-ft) radius) to define the unit or subunit 
boundaries. Because A. munzii is strongly associated with clay soils 
(which are often found as pockets of small scattered (but discrete) 
clay lenses that are typically too small to be identified on coarse-
soil soil maps (see the Habitat and Soil Preferences section for A. 
munzii above)), we used Boyd's recommendation of expanding the 
boundaries of observed plant locations to capture unobserved 
individuals in defining critical habitat units and subunits. 
Specifically, we used the Soil Conservation Service (now Natural 
Resources Conservation Service) soil mapping unit (2.47 ac or 1 ha) to 
refine Boyd's recommended radius of 164 to

[[Page 23020]]

183 ft (50 to 56 m). The 183-ft (56-m) radial distance translates into 
a 2.43-ac (0.98-ha) area, which is approximately equal to the soil 
mapping unit of 2.47 ac (1 ha). This methodology accounts for both 
potentially unobserved plants associated with CNDDB-defined EOs in 
areas of clay or rocky-sandy loam soils as well as encompassing the 
unmapped pockets of clay soil. In conjunction with the reported EOs, 
survey reports, and aerial photographs, this approach represents the 
best available information regarding areas currently occupied by A. 
munzii and that contain the physical or biological features essential 
to the conservation of the species and therefore accurately defines the 
unit and subunit polygons.
    The following sources were used to define microhabitats (i.e., 
depressional areas that retain moisture) for Allium munzii, which 
included using underlying geology, slope, and aspect of hillsides 
within open areas of native and nonnative plant communities:
    (1) For evaluating microtopography, including slope, aspect, and 
elevation, we used: (a) Digital elevation model (DEM) data from U.S. 
Geological Survey's (USGS) EROS Data Center, and (b) USGS 1:24,000 
digital raster graphics (USGS topographic maps).
    (2) For evaluating vegetative communities, spatial arrangement of 
these communities, and presence of disturbance or development, we used: 
(1) U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agriculture Imagery 
Program (NAIP) aerial photography for 2010, and (b) ArcGIS online I3 
Imagery Prime World 2D), validating conclusions made from examining 
these two satellite imagery data layers using high resolution Google 
Earth imagery.
    (3) For subsurface geology, we used the USGS GIS layer of the 
Preliminary Digital Geologic Map of the Santa Ana, 1:100,000 quadrangle 
(USGS 2004).
    We acknowledge that the extent of the geographic areas surveyed and 
the survey methodologies may differ within and among the recorded plant 
locations from year to year (see discussion regarding the detectability 
of this species in the Background section above). Based on our GIS 
analysis, the 5 units, further divided into 13 subunits, we propose as 
critical habitat are as follows: (1) Gavilan Hills (6 subunits), (2) 
Temescal Valley (4 subunits), (3) Elsinore Peak, (4) South Perris-
Bachelor Mountain (3 subunits), and (5) North Domenigoni Hills. All 
units and subunits are within the present geographical range of the 
species and are currently occupied.
Atriplex coronata var. notatior
    Atriplex coronata var. notatior is endemic to the San Jacinto, 
Perris, Menifee, and Elsinore Valleys of western lowland Riverside 
County, and is restricted to highly alkaline, silty-clay soils (59 FR 
64813; December 15, 1994). At the time of listing, 12 populations of A. 
c. var. notatior were known (corresponding to the CNDDB EOs at the 
time), 11 of which were associated with two general locations (the San 
Jacinto and Old Salt Creek floodplains). We have grouped the 12 CNDDB 
EOs and results from other surveys into four general locations 
(described below) and developed boundaries for three critical habitat 
units based on the geographic locations of observed plants.
    All of the units (as defined below and in the Summary of Changes 
from Previously Designated Critical Habitat section) are within the 
geographical area occupied by Atriplex coronata var. notatior at the 
time of listing. These units contain the physical or biological 
features that are essential to the conservation of this taxon and may 
require special management considerations or protection.
    Atriplex coronata var. notatior is known from four general 
locations in western Riverside County, as previously identified in the 
2004 proposed critical habitat rule (69 FR 59844; October 6, 2004). All 
three units proposed as critical habitat encompass these four areas and 
are within the geographical area occupied by the taxon at the time of 
listing. This range includes records of 15 EOs now recorded in the 
CNDDB database (CNDDB 2011b) and other survey data. To define critical 
habitat units, we examined the following information:
    (1) Slow-draining alkali soils (Willows, Domino, Traver, Waukena, 
and Chino soil series) with low permeability.
    (2) Seasonal and large-scale flood events (or ponded water) and 
subsequent scouring to create bare soils, as illustrated in historical 
aerial photographs.
    (3) Spatial distribution of the EOs recorded in the CNDDB database 
(CNDDB 2011b), and
    (4) Plant monitoring survey results from Western Riverside County 
RCA (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011) and other surveys.
    We recognize that the geographic extent surveyed and survey 
methodologies may differ within and among the locations of individual 
or groups of plants from year to year (see discussion regarding the 
detectability of this species in Background section above). Based on 
this analysis we defined the following three units: (1) Floodplain of 
the San Jacinto River from the San Jacinto Wildlife Area (including 
Mystic Lake) to Railroad Canyon Reservoir, (2) Upper Salt Creek, and 
(3) Alberhill Creek. All units are within the present geographical 
range of the taxon and are currently occupied.
Other Factors Involved With Delineating Critical Habitat
    When determining proposed revised critical habitat boundaries, we 
made every effort to avoid including developed areas such as lands 
covered by buildings, pavement, and other structures because these 
lands lack physical or biological features necessary for Allium munzii 
and Atriplex coronata var. notatior. 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 proposed rule have been excluded by text in the 
proposed rule and are not proposed for designation as critical habitat. 
Therefore, if the critical habitat is finalized as proposed, a Federal 
action involving these lands would not trigger section 7 consultation 
with respect to critical habitat and the requirement of no adverse 
modification unless the specific action may affect the adjacent 
critical habitat.
    We are proposing for designation of critical habitat lands that we 
have determined are within the geographical areas occupied by these 
taxa at the time of listing and contain sufficient elements of physical 
or biological features to support life-history processes essential for 
the conservation of the taxa. For Allium munzii, our proposed revision 
includes extant locations of plants not known at the time of listing, 
but that are within the geographical area occupied at the time of 
listing. All units contain the physical or biological features that are 
essential to the conservation of these taxa and may require special 
management considerations or protection.

Summary of Changes From Previously Designated Critical Habitat

Allium munzii

    The areas identified in this proposed rule constitute a proposed 
revision to the critical habitat rule for Allium munzii published on 
June 7, 2005 (70 FR 33015) based on the following principles:
    (1) We refined our method identifying the locations of Allium 
munzii and the

[[Page 23021]]

PCEs within those locations to more accurately reflect the physical or 
biological features that are essential to the conservation of A. 
munzii. We consolidated the PCEs to identify the primary element and 
then listed the related supporting components of that element. 
Specifically, we reviewed the CNDDB EO reports and other survey reports 
to define PCEs that reflect the physical and ecological characteristics 
found within the range of the CNDDB-defined EOs. This resulted in 
removing the previous PCE listed as alluvial soil series and 
reclassifying the locations of plants (with one exception) into their 
appropriate clay soil associations.
    (2) We improved our mapping methodology to more accurately define 
the critical habitat boundaries and to better represent those areas 
that possess the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of Allium munzii using soils, elevation, and spatial 
configuration known from the most recent occurrence information. In 
this rule, we have grouped locations of A. munzii plants into critical 
habitat units and subunits and labeled each grouping as an occurrence; 
this is different than the term ``Element Occurrence'' used by CNDDB. 
As noted earlier, not all survey reports are included in the CNDDB 
database, particularly recent surveys, nor are the boundaries defined 
by CNDDB precise in location (some were recorded prior to Global 
Positioning System (GPS) technology or with older and less accurate GPS 
units); thus, for the purposes of defining units and subunits in this 
proposed rule, the polygons and point locations defined by CNDDB may 
not encompass all of the physical or biological features essential to 
the conservation of the species.
    The areas identified in this proposed rule constitute a proposed 
revision to the critical habitat units designated for Allium munzii 
published on June 7, 2005 (70 FR 33015). The differences in these areas 
resulted from using the following methods:
    (1) We combined the EO data recorded in the CNDDB database (CNDDB 
2011a) with 2005 to 2011 survey results from the Western Riverside 
County Resource Conservation Agency (RCA) (Western Riverside County RCA 
2005, 2008) and Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Garden (Boyd 2011c, pers. 
comm.). Using the 183-ft (56-m) radius discussed above, we delineated 
units and subunits.
    (2) We combined one or both of the CNDDB EO spatial datasets with 
GIS-based maps of Porterville clay soils or other clay soil types to 
create the units and subunits using the 183-ft (56-m) boundary, and we 
incorporated recent survey data.
    (3) For a few of the smaller subunits defined by point locations of 
small numbers of individual plants, we used CNDDB's previously defined 
262-ft (80-m) radius polygon to determine the subunit boundary (CNDDB 
2011a).
    (4) We also identified several areas we are considering for 
exclusion from the final revised critical habitat designation under 
section 4(b)(2) of the Act. Exclusions in our upcoming final rule may 
differ from the exclusions we made in the 2005 final critical habitat 
designation.
Atriplex coronata var. notatior
    The areas identified in this proposed rule constitute a proposed 
revision to the critical habitat designated for Atriplex coronata var. 
notatior published on October 13, 2005 (70 FR 59952). The differences 
are as follows:
    (1) We refined the PCEs to more accurately describe the physical or 
biological features essential to the conservation of Atriplex coronata 
var. notatior. We consolidated the PCEs to identify the primary element 
and relevant factors to that element based on review of the CNDDB 
database and recorded EOs.
    (2) We improved our mapping methodology to more accurately define 
the critical habitat boundaries and to better represent those areas 
that possess the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of Atriplex coronata var. notatior using soils, elevation, 
and spatial configuration based on updated plant location information. 
We delineated boundaries using an intersection of seasonal ponding or 
flooding (and resulting bare soils), as observed in historical and 
recent aerial photographs (Riverside County Flood Control District 
photos from 1962, 1974, 1978, 1980, and 2010), with A. coronata var. 
notatior soil preferences (soil maps from Knecht 1971). In doing so, we 
also removed areas of urban or otherwise developed lands in all these 
areas. In addition, areas identified as ``Right-of-Way'' in the most 
current parcel database available from the Riverside County Assessor's 
Office were classified as either local land or State land depending on 
whether they were located adjacent to local roadways or Federal 
highways under State control.
    (3) We identified several areas we are considering for exclusion 
from the final revised critical habitat designation under section 
4(b)(2) of the Act. Exclusions in our upcoming final revised critical 
habitat designation may differ from the exclusions we made in the 2005 
final critical habitat designation.
    (4) We revised the previous critical habitat units based on 
surveyed locations (or localities) of Atriplex coronata var. notatior 
as described above. As discussed above, we have grouped locations of A. 
coronata var. notatior plants into four general geographical areas and 
delineated these as our three critical habitat units. This delineation 
includes the EOs defined by CNDDB and locations of individual plants 
reported from other surveys.

Proposed Revised Critical Habitat Designation

Allium munzii

    We are proposing approximately 889 ac (360 ha) in 5 units 
containing 13 subunits as critical habitat for Allium munzii. The areas 
we describe below constitute our current best assessment of areas that 
meet the definition of critical habitat for A. munzii. The units and 
subunits we propose as critical habitat are: (1) Gavilan Hills (Unit 1; 
6 subunits), (2) Temescal Valley (Unit 2; 4 subunits), (3) Elsinore 
Peak (Unit 3), (4) South Perris and Bachelor Mountain (Unit 4; 3 
subunits), and (5) North Domenigoni Hills (Unit 5). The approximate 
area of proposed revised critical habitat and land ownership within the 
units and subunits is shown in Table 1 below.
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P

[[Page 23022]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP17AP12.022

BILLING CODE 4310-55-C
Unit 1: Gavilan Hills
    Unit 1 consists of 114.7 ac (46.4 ha). The Gavilan Hills Unit is 
located at the northwestern edge of the Perris Basin, northeast of the 
Santa Ana Mountains in western Riverside County. This unit

[[Page 23023]]

includes six occupied subunits within upland areas west of State 
Highway 74, south of Cajalco Road, and northeast of Interstate 15, all 
of which are within the geographical area occupied at the time of 
listing and which contain the physical or biological features essential 
to the conservation of the species. The Gavilan Hills region is 
geologically and topographically diverse with many soil types. Clay 
soil series occupied by Allium munzii in the Gavilan Hills Unit include 
Bosanko, Altamont, and Porterville; however, small pockets of clay 
(less than 2.47 ac (1 ha)) are often not indicated on soil maps (Boyd 
1983, p. 19). The elevational range of the five subunits is 1,547 ft 
(472 m) to 2,632 ft (802 m) AMSL. Vegetation of the Gavilan Hills 
region is a complex association of scrub, woodland, and grass 
communities, including annual grasslands characterized by invasive 
nonnative plants in those areas where native communities have been 
heavily disturbed (Boyd 1983, pp. 32-33). Threats identified for the 
Gavilan Hills Unit include invasive nonnative plants, road construction 
and urban development, grazing, ORV activity, illegal dumping, and 
mowing for fire abatement. Therefore, the features essential to the 
conservation of the species in this unit may require special management 
considerations or protection to minimize impacts resulting from these 
threats (see Special Management Considerations or Protection section 
above).
    Within the Gavilan Hills Unit, we are considering excluding all 
subunits within the planning area of the Western Riverside County MSHCP 
and the Lake Mathews MSHCP under section 4(b)(2) of the Act (see 
Exclusions section).
Subunit 1A: Estelle Mountain
    The Estelle Mountain subunit (2.8 ac (1.1 ha)) is located within 
native and nonnative grassland habitat within the Lake Mathews/Estelle 
Mountain Reserve (2.3 ac (0.9 ha)) and on private land (0.48 ac (0.2 
ha)). The Lake Mathews Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan/
Natural Communities Conservation Plan (Lake Mathews MSHCP) assisted in 
establishing this multi-jurisdictional reserve encompassing over 12,000 
ac (4,856 ha) and managed for multiple species use, including Allium 
munzii, in western Riverside County. The combined reserve is composed 
of a Multiple Species Reserve that consists of the existing State 
Ecological Reserve and the Lake Mathews HCP Mitigation Bank, Lake 
Mathews/Estelle Mountain Core Stephens' Kangaroo Rat Reserve, the 
Estelle Mountain Ecological Reserve owned by CDFG, and land owned by 
the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) located within the Riverside County 
Habitat Conservation Agency's Stephens' Kangaroo Rat Core Reserve. 
Collectively, these lands comprise the existing Lake Mathews/Estelle 
Mountain Existing Core ``C'' area of the Western Riverside County MSHCP 
(Service 2004, p. 65). Management of the reserve focuses largely on the 
Stephens' kangaroo rat (Dipodomys stephensi) and coastal California 
gnatcatcher (Polioptila californica californica). The reserve is not 
open to the public for recreational use, but is subject to grazing, 
illegal dumping, and ORVs.
    This subunit contains clay soils (not illustrated on coarse-scale 
soils map) on cobble deposits in a small drainage, which creates the 
space and microhabitat (PCE 1) that meets the habitat needs for Allium 
munzii and comprises the physical or biological features essential to 
the conservation of the species.
Subunit 1B: Dawson Canyon
    The Dawson Canyon subunit (4.8 ac (1.9 ha)) is located on private 
land to the east of Estelle Mountain. This occurrence, with a 
significant number of plants (more than 1,000) seen in 1986, has been 
described as scattered stands of Allium munzii within grassy flats and 
slopes containing clay soils on cobble deposits (CNDDB 2011a, EO 5). 
This subunit contains clay soils, sloping topography, and subsurface 
geology (PCE 1) that provide substrate and conditions suitable for the 
persistence of A. munzii and comprise the physical or biological 
features essential to the conservation of the species. This subunit is 
subject to threats related to road development and invasive, nonnative 
plants (CNDDB 2011a).
Subunit 1C: Gavilan Plateau
    The Gavilan Plateau subunit (42.2 ac (17 ha)), bisected by a road, 
is located within Harford Springs County Park (north of Ida-Leona Road) 
and on private land (south of Ida-Leona Road) in grassy openings on 
clay soils. Populations of Allium munzii exceeded 5,000 plants at both 
locations in the early 1990s (CNDDB 2011a, EO 2). The private land 
portion of this subunit has been disked in the past and is threatened 
by urban development (CNDDB 2011a). Several locations of A. munzii, 
with small numbers of individual plants, were found on clay soils 
within the County Park in surveys conducted by Western Riverside County 
RCA in 2005 and 2008 (Drennen 2011, pers. comm.). The southern portion 
of this subunit has not been surveyed since 1998 (CNDDB 2011a). 
Mineral-rich clay soils within grassland and other native vegetative 
communities (PCE 1) in this subunit provide the physical or biological 
features that are essential to the conservation of this species.
Subunit 1D: Ida-Leona
    The Ida-Leona subunit (4.5 acres (1.8 ha)) is located about 0.5 mi 
(0.8 km) east of the Ida-Leona mine on land occupied by a private 
residence. In 1999, one year after listing, a total of 12 plants were 
recorded from 2 locations at an elevation of 2,223 ft (677 m) within a 
coastal sage scrub-nonnative grass plant association (Greene 1999, 
pers. comm.). Although this subunit was not known to be occupied at the 
time of listing in 1998, we believe it was occupied in 1998 because, as 
discussed in Background section, it takes at least 3 years after seed 
germination for this bulb-forming plant to produce flowers (Wall 2012, 
pers. comm.). This location was surveyed specifically for A. munzii by 
a qualified botanist in April 1999, less than 1 year after listing; 12 
flowering plants were found in 2 locations (Greene 1999, pers. comm.); 
thus, based on its biology (growth timeframe) as described above, 
plants would have been present in 1998. Additionally, as discussed in 
the Background section, Allium munzii is often difficult to observe in 
the field (e.g., plants are dormant from mid-summer through autumn) and 
is easily overlooked without site-specific surveys during ideal 
conditions for its life history.
    The populations of A. munzii at this location are on the north-
facing slope of a hillside, range in elevation between 1,200 to 2,700 
ft (366 to 823 m) AMSL, and in a small drainage (mesic microhabitat) 
within native (sage scrub) and nonnative (grasses) habitat. The 
surveyed population was reported to be approximately 600 ft (183 m) 
from the nearest residence. Although the owners at the time of the 
survey indicated that they did not intend to develop the drainage where 
the species was located (Greene 1999, pers. comm.), potential threats 
for this subunit include nonnative grasses and mowing for fire 
abatement. The location is mapped as Lodo rocky loam, a weathered, 
medium-textured soil, at 8 to 25 percent slope, consisting of a 
relatively even mixture of sand, silt, and clay, with rock outcrops 
(PCE 2) (Knecht 1971, p. 43). This subunit contains the physical or 
biological features essential to the conservation of this species 
including substrate components and conditions suitable for growth.

[[Page 23024]]

Subunit 1E: Northeast Alberhill
    The Northeast Alberhill subunit (58 ac (23.5 ha)) is found on open 
grassland, upslope of previously proposed developments and clay mining 
operations (CNDDB 2011a, EO 16). Several colonies were mapped in 
surveys in 1993 and 2003, with about 3,000 plants observed in 2003 
(CNDDB 2011a EO 16). This occurrence was surveyed again in April 2011 
and 25-100 plants were found; however, the population may have been 
larger than reported as the buds were difficult to detect due to the 
early timing of the survey (Drennen 2011, pers. comm.). Potential 
threats to this subunit include nonnative grasses and road construction 
(CNDDB 2011a EO 16). The physical components of this location (i.e., 
elevation range 1,706 ft to 2,325 ft (520 to 709 m) AMSL, sloping 
hillside) within spaces of open grassland (microhabitat) on clay soils 
(PCE 1) provide the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of Allium munzii.
Subunit 1F: North Peak
    The North Peak subunit (2.4 ac (1.0 ha)) is located at the southern 
end of the Gavilan Hills unit within the North Peak Conservation Bank. 
Several thousand Allium munzii plants were found in coastal sage scrub 
habitat in 1993 (CNDDB 2011a, EO 15). In 1995, an estimated 6,800 
plants were located at the base of a north-facing slope above a 
drainage area (Michael Brandman Associates 1995, p. 3). A survey 
conducted in the spring of 2008 recorded an estimated 400 plants 
growing on a north-facing slope, just upslope (approximately 328 ft 
(100 m)) from the drainage area (Drennen 2011, pers. comm.). These 
physical or biological features, space and substrate for growth and 
local microhabitat (slope and location within a drainage area) (PCE 2), 
provide habitat features essential to the conservation of A. munzii. 
Nonnative grasses are considered a threat to A. munzii at this 
location; individual plants in this subunit were found to be more 
abundant in areas with less nonnative grasses (Drennen 2011, pers. 
comm.).
Unit 2: Temescal Valley
    Unit 2 consists of 481 ac (195 ha) located within the geographical 
area occupied at the time of listing and all subunits contain the 
features essential to the conservation of the species. The Temescal 
Valley Unit is located along Interstate 15 at the base of the Gavilan 
Hills in western Riverside County. The Temescal Valley unit contains 
the Temescal Wash, which drains the Gavilan Hills region and the 
northeastern slope of the Santa Ana Mountains (Boyd 1983, p. 13). This 
unit contains unique physical geographic features, including 
escarpments (canyons), found along the Temescal Wash. These escarpments 
are formed through erosional processes and the progressive elevation of 
the Santa Ana Mountains; thus, they represent one of several distinct 
land forms within the Perris Basin, which has a complex geological 
history (reviewed by Dudley 1936). The so-called Alberhill clays where 
Allium munzii is found in the Temescal Valley Unit are considered one 
of the earliest sediments in the Perris Basin and are found on sloping 
surfaces of an ancient valley wall (Dudley 1936, p. 377). Threats 
identified for the Temescal Valley Unit include nonnative plants, urban 
development and related infrastructure, and grazing. Therefore, the 
features essential to the conservation of the species in this unit may 
require special management considerations or protection to minimize 
impacts resulting from these threats (see Special Management 
Considerations or Protection section above).
    Within the Temescal Valley Unit, we are considering excluding all 
subunits contained within the Western Riverside County MSHCP planning 
area under section 4(b)(2) of the Act (see Exclusions section).
Subunit 2A: Sycamore Creek
    The Sycamore Creek Subunit (also known as Indian Truck Trail, north 
and south) is 12.3 ac (5 ha) in area, and was historically associated 
with Allium munzii populations located on a terrace escarpment, within 
grassland habitat on clay soil overlying cobbles (Boyd 1988, p. 4; 
CNDDB 2011a, EO 3). This location is believed to have contained the 
type locality collected by Munz in 1922 (CNDDB 2011a).
    This subunit previously contained CNDDB EO 8, which was extirpated 
when Allium munzii bulbs were removed from areas proposed for 
development of a residential complex (Sycamore Creek Project), and is 
now combined with EO 3 (CNDDB 2011a). A portion of the original 
population of A. munzii was preserved onsite and was placed within a 
conservation easement; additional clay soils were relocated to this 
easement area and another planning area for the purpose of restoring A. 
munzii habitat within Riversidean sage scrub habitat (Service 2001a, p. 
10; Helix Environmental Planning 2010, p. 2). Allium munzii bulbs 
removed from areas proposed for development were later transplanted to 
three areas that are contained within this subunit. Transplantations 
were conducted in 2004, 2008, and 2009 with over 525 bulbs installed in 
the conservation areas (Helix Environmental Planning 2010, pp. 3-5). In 
November 2010, 310 additional bulbs were installed in four new plots 
bringing the transplant total to 820 bulbs for this site (Helix 
Environmental Planning 2010, pp. 5, 13). In the spring of 2011, 678 
plants (83 percent) produced leaves, 533 (65 percent) produced flowers, 
and 205 (25 percent) produced seeds (Helix Environmental Planning 2011, 
p. 13).
    The Army Corps of Engineers Clean Water Act section 404 permit 
conditions and conservation measures established in the Service's 
biological opinion for the Sycamore Creek Project (Service 2001a, p. 
10) also require maintenance and monitoring of the transplant areas and 
restoration of Riversidean sage scrub habitat supporting A. munzii; 
these are included as part of the Habitat Mitigation and Monitoring 
Plan for the Sycamore Creek Specific Plan (The Planning Associates 
2002). Nonnative plants represent a threat at this subunit. In 2011, 
invasive plant control (weeding, spot spraying) was conducted as part 
of required maintenance activities (Helix Environmental Planning 2011, 
p. 10). The subsurface geology, clay soils, and native habitat (PCE 1) 
within the onsite conservation areas comprise the physical or 
biological features essential to the conservation of A. munzii.
Subunit 2B: De Palma Road
    The De Palma Road subunit (12.8 ac (5.2 ha)) is located about 1 mi 
(1.6 km) southeast of the Sycamore Creek subunit along Temescal Wash. 
This occurrence of Allium munzii is found on Altamont clay soils with 
15 to 25 percent slopes within nonnative grasses and sage scrub 
vegetation (Dudek 2011, p. 2). Grazing, displacement by nonnative 
invasive plants, and development pressures have been previously 
described (CNDDB 2011a, EO 7) as threats to this population given its 
close proximity to Interstate 15. As a result of proposed grading 
improvements to De Palma Road and a proposed Saddleback Estates 
residential development, a salvage and relocation operation was 
implemented in December 2007 for locations of A. munzii to be impacted 
by the grading footprint of the project (Dudek 2011, p. v). The 
proposed conservation area (containing three separate preserves) was 
designed to encompass most of the existing A. munzii plants, while 
individual plants outside the preserve areas were translocated onto a 
portion of

[[Page 23025]]

the preserve not known to support this taxon (Dudek 2011, p. 2). 
Subsequent to translocation, a maintenance and monitoring program was 
initiated. The 2010 survey found a total of 1,195 flowering individuals 
within the translocation area, and maintenance activities were 
conducted including weed and rodent control (Dudek 2011, pp. v-vi). A 
conservation easement was to be placed over the proposed preserve 
areas; however, the proposed development did not go forward and 
Riverside County is currently managing the area until the disposition 
of the parcel is finalized.
    This subunit includes Altamont clay soils within the terrace 
escarpments on the west side of Temescal Wash. This physiographic 
setting containing the substrate components (Altamont clay soils) and 
suitable conditions (vegetation and microhabitat) (PCE 1) for the 
growth of Allium munzii provides the physical or biological features 
essential to the conservation of this species.
Subunit 2C: Alberhill Mountain
    The Alberhill Mountain subunit is 300.5 ac (121.6 ha) of private 
land. Allium munzii occurs on clay soils in coastal sage scrub 
vegetation on the south slope directly adjacent to open pit clay mines 
(CNDDB 2011a, EO 6). Extensive mining of clay in the early 1980s 
resulted in the loss of two locations of plants (CNDDB 2011a), and Boyd 
(Boyd 1988, p. 2) speculated that the plant population in this area was 
once much larger. Surveys conducted by Western Riverside County RCA in 
2008 recorded 9 localities ranging from 10 to 150 plants (Drennen 2011, 
pers. comm.). Threats to this subunit include a planned electrical 
subtransmission line and related infrastructure (power poles, 
equipment, construction impacts) (State of California Public Utilities 
Commission 2010). Potential impacts will vary depending on the exact 
route selected (AMEC Earth and Environmental Inc. 2006a, p. 2).
    This subunit contains Altamont clay soils (PCE 1) necessary for the 
growth of Allium munzii. The minerals and unique properties of this 
clay soil provide the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of the species.
    Although this subunit was not known to be occupied at the time of 
listing in 1998, we believe it was occupied in 1998 because, as 
discussed in Background section, it takes at least 3 years after seed 
germination for this bulb-forming plant to produce flowers (Wall 2012, 
pers. comm.). This location was surveyed specifically for A. munzii by 
a qualified botanist in April 1999, less than 1 year after listing; 12 
flowering plants were found in 2 locations (Greene 1999, pers. comm.); 
thus, based on its biology (growth timeframe) as described above, 
plants would have been present in 1998. Additionally, as discussed in 
the Background section, Allium munzii is often difficult to observe in 
the field (e.g., plants are dormant from mid-summer through autumn) and 
is easily overlooked without site-specific surveys during ideal 
conditions for its life history.
Subunit 2D: Alberhill Creek
    The Alberhill Creek (Alberhill Marsh) subunit (155.3 ac (62.8 ha)) 
is located on private land in a grassland (native and nonnative) 
community on a low hill adjacent to a channel of the Temescal Wash 
(CNDDB 2011a, EO 18). The CNDDB EO was discovered on clay soils in 
2000; however, we believe it was occupied at the time of listing given: 
(1) The proximity and identical clay soil association with the larger 
Subunit 2C, which is located less than 1 mi (1.6 km) to the northwest, 
and (2) as discussed in the Background section, this bulb-forming plant 
requires at least 3 years to produce flowers from seed. Thus, for 
flowering plants to be observed 2 years after listing, we believe that 
plants in the form of bulbs were present in this subunit at the time of 
listing. In addition, all of the lands within this subunit are located 
on the clay soils to which this species is restricted in western 
Riverside County. As described above (Subunit 2C), a segment of an 
electrical subtransmission line is proposed for this location. Other 
threats to this subunit have not been documented, but its proximity to 
Interstate 15 and associated development indicates some degree of 
threat from urbanization and nonnative grasses.
    Subunit 2D is part of the same terrace formation as the Alberhill 
Mountain subunit, and contains the mineral-rich clay soils, subsurface 
geology and surface hydrology, and topography components (PCE 1) that 
provide the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of this species.
Unit 3: Elsinore Peak
    Unit 3 consists of 98.4 ac (39.8 ha). This unit location is 
unchanged from our previous proposed critical habitat rule (69 FR 
31569; June 4, 2004) and was occupied at the time of listing; however, 
we have redefined the boundary of this unit to better match the 
underlying clay soils and plant populations observed since the final 
rule (70 FR 33015; June 7, 2005). About two-thirds (63.1 ac (25.5 ha)) 
of the Elsinore Peak unit is contained within the Cleveland National 
Forest, and 35.3 ac (14.3 ha) is under State of California (State Lands 
Commission) ownership within the Western Riverside County MSHCP 
Conservation Area. The unit was surveyed by Western Riverside RCA in 
2005 and 2008 (Drennen 2011, pers. comm.) and more comprehensively by 
Boyd in 2010 (Boyd 2011c, pers. comm.).
    The Elsinore Peak unit represents the southwesternmost extent of 
the range of Allium munzii. Many of the occurrences found on the 
Cleveland National Forest within this unit are considered to be the 
least disturbed and the highest recorded elevation (3,300 to 3,500 ft 
(1 to 1.07 km)) for this species (Boyd and Mistretta 1991, p. 3). The 
plant populations within this unit are also unusual in that they are 
found on cobble deposits with thinner Bosanko clay soils (PCE 2) (Boyd 
and Mistretta 1991, p. 3). In 1991, Boyd and Mistretta (1991, p. 2) 
reported three stands of A. munzii at Elsinore Peak of more than 1,000 
individual plants, with the largest an estimated 5,000 plants. Nine 
localities were observed in a 2008 survey, with populations ranging 
from 5 to 100 plants (Drennen 2011, pers. comm.). A 2010 survey at 
Elsinore Peak was conducted by Boyd with approximately 23 general point 
localities recorded on both U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and State lands 
(Boyd 2011c, pers. comm.). The subsurface and surface elements that 
define this subunit, including clay soils, sloping hillsides, and 
microhabitats, provide the physical or biological features essential to 
the conservation of A. munzii.
    Several threats to Allium munzii populations within this unit were 
identified at the time of listing, including road grading, ORV 
activity, and nonnative annual grasses; recreational activity and 
invasive species were identified as the two main threats to occurrences 
on USFS land in the 2005 Final Environmental Impact Statement prepared 
for the Cleveland National Forest Land Management Plan (USFS 2005, p. 
160). A species management guide for A. munzii was prepared in 1992 
that identified a number of management actions to help alleviate these 
threats, including construction of fencing and barriers to protect 
populations from ORV activity (Winter 1992, p. 10). Fencing, including 
a gate, was installed to protect plant populations, and boulders were 
placed along the roadway leading to Elsinore Peak to restrict ORV 
activity and other traffic (hikers and mountain bikers) in

[[Page 23026]]

sensitive areas. This has reduced the level of impact from these 
threats to the population of A. munzii plants located on USFS land in 
this unit (Thomas 2011, pers. comm.).
Unit 4: South Perris and Bachelor Mountain
    Unit 4 consists of 186.8 ac (75.6 ha) and is defined by occurrences 
of Allium munzii found in the southern end of the Perris Basin, 
including Bachelor Mountain north of Lake Skinner. We are proposing 
three subunits within this unit based on their general proximity to one 
another in southwestern Riverside County. All subunits within this unit 
are within the geographical area occupied at the time of listing and 
occupy clay soils at elevations ranging from 1,420 to 2,300 ft (432 to 
701 m) AMSL (Ellstrand 1996, p. 4; CNDDB 2011a, EOs 4, 11, 12, and 14) 
and contain the physical or biological features that are essential to 
the conservation of the species and may require special management 
considerations or protection to minimize impacts from threats described 
below for each subunit.
    We are considering excluding subunits of the South Perris and 
Bachelor Mountain Unit that are within the planning areas of the 
Western Riverside County MSHCP, the Rancho Bella Vista HCP, or the 
Southwestern Riverside County Multi-species Reserve from the final 
designation of Allium munzii critical habitat under section 4(b)(2) of 
the Act (see Exclusions section).
Subunit 4A: Scott Road
    The Scott Road subunit (32.6 ac (13.2 ha)) is in the Paloma Valley 
of the South Perris Basin, between Sun City and Murrieta, east of 
Interstate 215 at an elevation of about 1,500 ft (457 m) AMSL. The 
habitat for this occurrence was described in 1992 as a low knoll in 
rocky clay soil within native grassland and patches of coastal sage 
scrub (CNDDB 2011a, EO 14). This occurrence (also called McElhinney-
Stimmel) was surveyed in 2008 and 2011 by Western Riverside RCA with 
five localities reported in 2008 and one in 2011 (Drennen 2011, pers. 
comm.). In 2008, Allium munzii was observed growing in openings of 
dense stands of invasive grass (Avena sp.) alongside native grassland 
and coastal sage scrub (Drennen 2011, pers. comm.). Nonnative plants 
are considered a potential threat to this subunit. This subunit 
contains the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of A. munzii including clay soils and open patches of 
native habitat at the appropriate elevation range (PCE 1) that provide 
substrate and conditions suitable for growth of this species.
    The subunit is currently located partially on land purchased by the 
Western Riverside County RCA as a result of a conservation measure for 
a subdivision development (Service 2002, p. 2) and partially within an 
off-site preservation area resulting from a gas pipeline project 
(Service 2001b, p. 35).
Subunit 4B: Skunk Hollow
    The Skunk Hollow Subunit is 74.8 ac (30.3 ha) and is located east 
of Murrieta Hot Springs at the southern end of the Perris Basin, just 
south of Tucalota Creek. This occurrence is located on north-facing 
slopes with clay soils, within grassy openings in coastal sage scrub 
(CNDDB 2011a, EO 4) at approximately 1,420 ft (433 m) AMSL (PCE 1). 
These substrate conditions, suitable for growth and development, 
comprise the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of this species.
    A 1995 survey recorded a population of about 250 plants prior to 
the construction of an adjacent residential development (McCollum 
Associates et al. 1995, p. 21). The area occupied by Allium munzii is 
currently conserved, with long-term management provided under the 
Rancho Bella Vista HCP within a conservation area (Service 2000, pp. 4, 
36).
Subunit 4C: Bachelor Mountain
    The Bachelor Mountain subunit (79.3 ac (32.1 ha)) consists of three 
occurrences (EOs 11, 12, and proposed EO 24) of Allium munzii located 
north of Lake Skinner, which includes two occurrences known at the time 
of listing and one occurrence not known at listing (and not yet 
assigned an EO number by CNDDB) but described in surveys conducted 
prior to listing that were not known to the Service at the time of 
listing (69 plants in 1994 and 835 plants in 1995) (Ellstrand 1994, pp. 
3-4; Ellstrand 1996, pp. 3-4). Therefore, all of Subunit 4C is within 
the geographical area occupied at the time of listing. The three 
occurrences are located on clay soils ranging in elevation from 1,476 
to 2292 ft (450 to 699 m) AMSL, on sloping hills that, collectively, 
represent one of several distinct physio-geographic features found in 
the Perris Basin. Surveys in the southern part of this subunit were 
conducted in 2008 and 2010. Plants were found primarily on north-facing 
slopes in both native and nonnative grassland communities (Drennen 
2011, pers. comm.). Threats to this subunit include thatch build-up 
from herbaceous plants including Avena spp. and Brassica spp. (CNDDB 
2011a EO 11). The substrate components and mineral-rich soils, 
conditions suitable for the growth of A. munzii (PCE 1), comprise the 
physical or biological features essential to the conservation of this 
species.
    All three of the CNDDB EOs located within this subunit are within 
the Southwestern Riverside County Multiple Species Reserve (Reserve), a 
Public/Quasi Public land designation of the Western Riverside County 
MSHCP, managed by Riverside County Parks. The Reserve encompasses 
coastal sage scrub, chaparral, grassland, oak woodland, and riparian 
forest vegetative communities between Lake Skinner and Diamond Valley 
Lake (Monroe et al. 1992, p. ES-5).
Unit 5: North Domenigoni Hills
    Unit 5 consists of 8.2 ac (3.3 ha) and is occupied by Allium munzii 
north of Diamond Valley Lake, in the southeastern corner of the Perris 
Basin. This population is located on rocky loam soils on the northeast-
facing slope of a large prominent peak (2,160 ft (658 m)) of igneous 
rocks (CNDDB 2011a, EO 10). Previously described threats for this unit 
(CNDDB 2011a) include mining activities (the 1991 mapped populations 
were located adjacent to an old quarry). The most recent survey result 
for this occurrence is from 2008, which described the populations of A. 
munzii as ``locally uncommon'' in openings of coastal sage scrub 
(Drennan 2011, pers. comm.). The underlying geology, soils, and 
elevation (PCE 2) provide elements suitable for the growth of A. munzii 
and physical or biological features essential to the conservation of 
this species. These features may require special management 
considerations or protection to minimize impacts resulting from 
potential threats such as invasive nonnative species.
    The North Domenigoni Hills Unit occurs within the planning area of 
the Southwestern Riverside County Multi-species Reserve and is managed 
by Riverside County Parks. We are considering excluding this unit under 
section 4(b)(2) of the Act (see Exclusions section).

Atriplex coronata var. notatior

    We are proposing three units as critical habitat for Atriplex 
coronata var. notatior. The areas we describe below constitute our 
current best assessment of areas that meet the definition of critical 
habitat for A. c. var. notatior. The units we propose as critical 
habitat are: (1) San Jacinto River (Unit 1), (2) Upper Salt Creek (Unit 
2), and (3) Alberhill Creek (Unit 3). The approximate area of

[[Page 23027]]

proposed revised critical habitat and land ownership within these units 
is shown in Table 2 below.
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP17AP12.023

Unit 1: San Jacinto River
    Unit 1 includes the locations of Atriplex coronata var. notatior 
within the floodplain of the San Jacinto River at the San Jacinto 
Wildlife Area (including Mystic Lake) and the floodplain of the San 
Jacinto River between the Ramona Expressway and Railroad Canyon 
Reservoir, which total 7,039 ac (2,849 ha). Of this total, 4,096 ac 
(1,658 ha) are privately owned and 2,396 ac (970 ha) are owned by CDFG 
as part of the San Jacinto Wildlife Area, which is managed primarily 
for the purpose of waterfowl conservation. The remaining is other State 
or local land as shown in Table 2.
    The hydrological conditions of this unit are defined by 
precipitation events resulting from winter storms, summer storms, and 
local thunderstorms, with major flood events for the San Jacinto River 
occurring almost exclusively during winter storms (Bryant 1975, pp. 13, 
15; Tetra Tech and WRIME 2007, pp. 30-31; Riverside County Flood 
Control and Water Conservation District History 2011). Runoff flows 
into Mystic Lake from the valley and, during large flow events, from 
the upper San Jacinto River (Tetra Tech and WRIME 2007, p. 28). 
Overland flows across active agricultural lands into Mystic Lake can 
transport sediments containing nutrients into the lake; this has 
increased in recent years as smaller flow events have caused failure of 
the Diversion Channel levees and flooding of agricultural lands in the 
San Jacinto Gap region (Tetra Tech and WRIME 2007, Appendix A, p. 1). 
During extreme rainfall events the storage capacity of the lake can be 
exceeded, causing overflow back into the San Jacinto River and 
subsequent transport of nutrient-laden water into the floodplain of the 
river (Tetra Tech and WRIME 2007, p. 28). Proposed water quality 
projects in this portion of the San Jacinto River are being considered 
in an effort to convey water directly to Mystic Lake to help reduce the 
nutrient loading during certain storm events (Tetra Tech and WRIME 
2007, p. F-97) into the San Jacinto River and the surrounding 
floodplain habitat where Atriplex coronata var. notatior occurs.
    The Atriplex coronata var. notatior localities (locations of 
plants) that occupy the northern portion of the San Jacinto Unit (San 
Jacinto Wildlife Area including Mystic Lake) are primarily found within 
alkali sink habitat, including alkali grassland and scrub (Bramlet 
1996, p. 10). This native habitat is threatened by reduced water 
quality, invasive and weedy plant species introduced as food sources 
for waterfowl, and alteration of habitat for duck ponds (Roberts and 
McMillan 1997, p. 2). This upper portion of the unit is within the 
geographical area occupied at the time of listing, and the physical or 
biological features essential to the conservation of the taxon may 
require special management considerations or protection to minimize 
impacts from the threats listed above. The most recent survey results 
for A. c. var. notatior in the northern portion of the unit, from 2007 
to 2010, identified 6 point locations ranging from 1 to 60 individual 
plants (Western Riverside County RCA 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011; Malisch 
2010, pers. comm.).
    Downstream from Mystic Lake, the San Jacinto River forms a wide 
fluvial plain. This floodplain is often dry due to groundwater 
infiltration enhanced by low groundwater levels from excessive pumping 
and limited recharge (Tetra Tech and WRIME 2007, p. 28), which alter 
the seasonal flooding cycle. The lower portion of this unit, the 
floodplain of the San Jacinto River between the Ramona Expressway and 
Railroad Canyon Reservoir, is also within the geographical area 
occupied at the time of listing. This portion of the San Jacinto 
floodplain (soils and hydrologic conditions) provide the features that 
are essential to the conservation of the taxon and may require special 
management considerations and protection to minimize impacts from 
threats including activities identified at the time of listing 
(invasive weedy plant

[[Page 23028]]

species and nonagriculture-related clearing, agricultural activity) 
(Bramlet 1996, p. 14, Roberts and McMillan 1997, p. 3-4; White 2009, 
pers. comm.; Roberts 2010b, pers. comm.). Much of the area has been 
converted to agriculture or impacted by the addition of soil amendments 
(primarily manure dumping), which alters the alkaline properties of the 
soil and creates conditions that increase competition from other 
plants, including nonnative plants such as Brassica nigra (black 
mustard) and Salsola tragus (Russian thistle) (Roberts 2010a, pers. 
comm.). There are also indications that sheep grazing has affected A. 
c. var. notatior habitat in the Ramona Expressway to Railroad Canyon 
portion of this unit (CNDDB 2011b, EO 7).
    The localities of Atriplex coronata var. notatior found within the 
San Jacinto Unit (including the San Jacinto Wildlife Area) depend upon 
the San Jacinto River for supporting hydrological conditions as 
described above. Seasonal ponding or flooding within the floodplain of 
the river inundates the alkali sink habitat, and creates a slow-moving 
flow of water that provides appropriate hydrological growth and 
survival conditions and allows for seed dispersal (PCE 1 and 2). These 
elements provide the physical or biological features that are essential 
to the conservation of A. c. var. notatior.
    Within the San Jacinto River Unit, we are considering excluding 
lands contained within the Western Riverside County MSHCP planning area 
under section 4(b)(2) of the Act (see Exclusions section).
Unit 2: Upper Salt Creek
    Unit 2 includes the Upper Salt Creek localities of Atriplex 
coronata var. notatior and comprises 874 ac (354 ha), 603 ac (244 ha) 
of which is privately owned and 271 ac (110 ha) is local land. This 
unit is within the geographical area occupied at the time of listing 
and is located in a natural depression within the old Salt Creek 
tributary within the Salt Creek watershed. Salt Creek, which drains 
westward toward Winchester, rejoins the San Jacinto River at Railroad 
Canyon and represents one of the major tributaries to Canyon Lake 
(Tetra Tech and WRIME 2007, p. 29). Historically, winter storm events 
created surface runoff producing intense peak flow events and scouring 
along the water supply channel; this can be seen in historical aerial 
photos (such as April 1980 following severe flood events in February 
1980). Currently, rainfall collects within pools on slow-drainage 
alkaline soils, which contain remnants of an alkali vernal floodplain 
complex with similarly adapted plants and wildlife. Much of the area is 
still subject to flooding during modest flood events (RECON 1995, p. 
34). The Upper Salt Creek Unit is bisected north to south by the San 
Diego Aqueduct Canal and currently includes open fields and cow 
pastures within the remaining alkaline vernal pool, alkaline grassland, 
and alkali sink scrub habitats (RECON 1995, pp. 15, 17; CNDDB 2011b, EO 
9). Additionally, historical drainage patterns in the Upper Salt Creek 
Unit are disrupted by local roads, road ditches, and agricultural 
drainage ditches that reduce the degree and duration of ponding during 
the wet season (RECON 1995, p. 18).
    Atriplex coronata var. notatior habitat within the Upper Salt Creek 
Unit is threatened by agricultural activities, including dryland 
farming, sheep grazing, invasion of nonnative plant species, alteration 
of hydrology, fragmentation, and fire management practices (Bramlet 
1992, pers. comm.; Roberts 2005, pers. comm.; Roberts and McMillan 
1997, p. 4-5; CH2M Hill 2010, Appendix B pp. 2-4; CNDDB 2011b, EOs 9 
and 10). A proposed right-of-way for the realignment of State Route 79 
is located just outside the boundaries of this unit (Riverside County 
Transportation Commission 2011).
    Surveys conducted prior to listing include a 1995 report on the 
distribution of wetlands and sensitive species within a large (1,400 ac 
(567 ha)) portion of the Upper Salt Creek drainage system, which 
summarized existing records, aerial photography, and direct 
observations (RECON 1995). Approximately 33 localities of Atriplex 
coronata var. notatior were reported ranging from less than 100 to 
approximately 9,000 for a total of approximately 31,400 plants (RECON 
1995, p. 25, Figure 6). As an illustration of the variability in 
observed individual plants in this location, a final report for focused 
surveys within 45 ac (18.21 ha) of mitigation land (Metropolitan Water 
District of Southern California) located within the Upper Salt Creek 
floodplain indicated a range of 16,500 individuals of A. c. var. 
notatior in 1996 and an estimated 136,948 individuals in 2001, with an 
aerial extent ranging from 9.7 acres (3.93 ha) to 12.66 ac (5.12 ha) 
during the same time period (AMEC Earth and Environmental Inc. 2001, p. 
3).
    Comprehensive sensitive plant surveys related to this proposed 
project were also conducted in the Upper Salt Creek area in 2005 and 
2006 with over 100,000 individual Atriplex coronata var. notatior 
plants recorded within 555 localities within this unit (CH2M Hill 2010, 
p. 5-59). A less comprehensive survey in May 2009 recorded 
approximately 246 individual plants in four locations within this unit 
(Malisch 2010, pers. comm.).
    This unit contains the physical or biological features essential to 
the conservation of Atriplex coronata var. notatior including Willows-
Traver-Chino soils, alkali grassland and alkaline playa habitats, and 
periodic ponding or flooding (PCE 1 and 2), which provide substrate and 
conditions suitable for growth of this taxon. These physical or 
biological features may require special management considerations or 
protection to minimize impacts resulting from the threats as defined 
above.
    Within the Upper Salt Creek Unit, we are considering excluding 
lands contained within the Western Riverside County MSHCP planning area 
under section 4(b)(2) of the Act (see Exclusions section).
Unit 3: Alberhill Creek
    The Alberhill Creek Unit comprises 107 ac (43 ha), of which 33 ac 
(13.5 ha) are privately owned and 74 ac (30 ha) under local land 
ownership (see Table 4). The unit occurs within the floodplain of 
Alberhill Creek within an alkali playa that is dependent on the creek 
for its hydrology and seasonal flooding. Alberhill Creek is part of the 
larger Temescal Wash region of western Riverside County, which drains 
the Gavilan Hills region and the northeastern slope of the Santa Ana 
Mountains (Boyd 1983, p. 13). This floodplain is subject to periodic 
flooding, which produces ponding and scouring (as observed in aerial 
photos from 1980 and 2010), including seasonal overflow of water from 
Lake Elsinore. These hydrologic elements, along with Willows-Travers-
Chino soils and alkali floodplain habitat in Alberhill Creek (PCE 1 and 
2), comprise the physical or biological features that are essential to 
the conservation of Atriplex coronata var. notatior.
    Two locations of Atriplex coronata var. notatior are known to exist 
in this unit (AMEC Earth and Environmental 2006b, p. 26; CNDDB 2011b, 
EO16). The locality at the Nichols Road wetland (near the mouth of 
Walker Canyon), which contains alkali marsh and alkali playa habitat on 
Willows soils, consisted of 185 plants in 1987 (CNDDB 2011b, EO 16). 
The second locality of A. c. var. notatior, also on Willows soils, 
comprises nonnative grassland and alkali marsh habitat where 10 plants 
were discovered in 2006 adjacent to Baker Road, just south of Nichols 
Road

[[Page 23029]]

(AMEC Earth and Environmental Inc. 2006b, p. 29). The Alberhill Creek 
Unit is located in an increasingly urbanized area and is subject to the 
threat of human-caused disturbance, including impacts related to a 
proposed subtransmission line associated with a recently completed 
electrical power substation (State of California Public Utilities 
Commission 2007; State of California Public Utilities Commission 2010).
    As noted above (see Background section--Spatial Distribution, 
Historical Range, and Population Size), there is significant natural 
variability in numbers of observed individuals of Atriplex coronata 
var. notatior in response to annual rainfall, extent and distribution 
of flooding, and temperature. Differences in survey methodologies and 
proportion of range surveyed may also contribute to differences in 
annual counts of individuals and therefore reporting of locations of A. 
c. var. notatior; however, both locations of A. c. var. notatior within 
this subunit are found on the Willows soils of the Temescal floodplain 
and are within one-quarter mile (365 meters) of each other. All of Unit 
3 is therefore within the geographical area occupied at the time of 
listing, and the unit provides the physical or biological features that 
are essential to the conservation of this taxon and may require special 
management considerations and protection.
    Within the Alberhill Creek Unit, we are considering excluding lands 
contained within the Western Riverside County MSHCP planning area under 
section 4(b)(2) of the Act (see Exclusions section).

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, and 
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 Allium munzii and Atriplex 
coronata var. notatior. As discussed above, the role of critical 
habitat is to support life-history needs of these taxa and provide for 
the conservation of these taxa.
    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.

[[Page 23030]]

    Activities that may affect critical habitat, when carried out, 
funded, or authorized by a Federal agency, should result in 
consultation for Allium munzii and Atriplex coronata var. notatior. 
These activities include, but are not limited to, the following for 
each of the taxa:
Allium munzii
    Actions that alter the physical characteristics of mesic clay and 
rocky-sandy loamy soils (within rock outcrops) and microhabitats of 
these soils, or that create conditions that facilitate the spread of 
invasive nonnative plants, especially nonnative annual grasses, into 
these habitats would adversely affect the proposed critical habitat. 
Such activities could include (but are not limited to): Grading or 
disking for dryland farming, clay mining, urban and related 
infrastructure development, ORV activity, animal grazing, fire 
management, and alteration of hydrology (such as impoundment or 
channelization). These activities could eliminate or reduce the amount 
of habitat necessary to support Allium munzii, a narrow endemic taxon 
restricted to clay and rocky-sandy loamy soils within localized 
microhabitats.
Atriplex coronata var. notatior
    Actions that alter the physical characteristics of alkali playa, 
alkali scrub, and alkali grassland habitats or fragment these areas, 
including reduction of water quality, alteration of the hydrology and 
floodplain dynamics, or an increase in the occurrence of nonnative 
plant species in these habitats would adversely affect the proposed 
critical habitat. Such activities could include (but are not limited 
to): urban development, manure dumping, animal grazing, grading or 
disking for agriculture, ORV activity, alteration of hydrology (such as 
impoundment or channelization), and soil chemistry. These activities 
could eliminate or fragment habitats that provide essential soil and 
hydrological characteristics to support Atriplex coronata var. 
notatior.

Exemptions

Application of Section 4(a)(3)(B) 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 resource management plan (INRMP) by 
November 17, 2001. An INRMP integrates implementation of the military 
mission of the installation with stewardship of the natural resources 
found on the base. Each INRMP includes:
    (1) An assessment of the ecological needs on the installation, 
including the need to provide for the conservation of listed species;
    (2) A statement of goals and priorities;
    (3) A detailed description of management actions to be implemented 
to provide for these ecological needs; and
    (4) A monitoring and adaptive management plan.
    Among other things, each INRMP must, to the extent appropriate and 
applicable, provide for fish and wildlife management; fish and wildlife 
habitat enhancement or modification; wetland protection, enhancement, 
and restoration where necessary to support fish and wildlife; and 
enforcement of applicable natural resource laws.
    The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004 (Pub. 
L. 108-136) amended the Act to limit areas eligible for designation as 
critical habitat. Specifically, section 4(a)(3)(B)(i) of the Act (16 
U.S.C. 1533(a)(3)(B)(i)) now provides: ``The Secretary shall not 
designate as critical habitat any lands or other geographic 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 that meet the definition 
of critical habitat for Allium munzii or Atriplex coronata var. 
notatior and, as a result, no lands are being exempted under section 
4(a)(3)(B) of the Act.

Exclusions

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

    Section 4(b)(2) of the Act states that the Secretary shall 
designate and make revisions to critical habitat on the basis of the 
best available scientific data after taking into consideration the 
economic impact, national security impact, and any other relevant 
impact of specifying any particular area as critical habitat. The 
Secretary may exclude an area from critical habitat if he determines 
that the benefits of such exclusion outweigh the benefits of specifying 
such area as part of the critical habitat, unless he determines, based 
on the best scientific data available, that the failure to designate 
such area as critical habitat will result in the extinction of the 
species. In making that determination, the statute on its face, as well 
as the legislative history are clear that the Secretary has broad 
discretion regarding which factor(s) to use and how much weight to give 
to any factor.
    In considering whether to exclude a particular area from the 
designation, we identify the benefits of including the area in the 
designation, identify the benefits of excluding the area from the 
designation, and evaluate whether the benefits of exclusion outweigh 
the benefits of inclusion. If the analysis indicates that the benefits 
of exclusion outweigh the benefits of inclusion, the Secretary may 
exercise his discretion to exclude the area only if such exclusion 
would not result in the extinction of the species.
    When identifying the benefits of inclusion for an area, we consider 
the additional regulatory benefits that area would receive from the 
protection from adverse modification or destruction as a result of 
actions with a Federal nexus; the educational benefits of mapping 
essential habitat for recovery of the listed species; and any benefits 
that may result from a designation due to State or Federal laws that 
may apply to critical habitat.
    When identifying the benefits of exclusion, we consider, among 
other things, whether exclusion of a specific area is likely to result 
in conservation; the continuation, strengthening, or encouragement of 
partnerships; or implementation of a management plan that provides 
equal or greater conservation benefits than a critical habitat 
designation would provide. For example, we consider our continued 
ability to seek new partnerships with future plan participants, 
including the State, counties, local jurisdictions, conservation 
organizations, and private landowners, which together can implement 
conservation actions that we would be unable to accomplish otherwise. 
If lands within approved management plan areas are designated as 
critical habitat, there would likely be a negative effect on our 
existing partnerships and our ability to establish new partnerships to 
develop and implement these plans, particularly plans that address 
landscape-level conservation of species and habitats. By excluding 
these lands, we preserve our current partnerships, promote future 
partnerships, and encourage additional conservation actions in the 
future.
    In the case of Allium munzii and Atriplex coronata var. notatior, 
the benefits of critical habitat include public awareness of A. munzii 
and A. c. var. notatior presence and the importance of habitat 
protection, and in cases where a Federal nexus exists,

[[Page 23031]]

increased habitat protection for A. munzii and A. c. var. notatior due 
to the protection from adverse modification or destruction of critical 
habitat.
    When we evaluate the existence of a conservation plan, 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 identifying 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 our analysis 
indicates that the benefits of exclusion outweigh the benefits of 
inclusion, we then determine whether exclusion would result in 
extinction. If exclusion of an area from critical habitat will result 
in extinction, we will not exclude it from the designation.
    Based on the information provided by entities seeking exclusion, as 
well as any additional public comments we receive, we will evaluate 
whether certain lands in the proposed revised critical habitat are 
appropriate for exclusion from the final designation pursuant to 
section 4(b)(2) of the Act. If the analysis indicates that the benefits 
of excluding lands from the final designation outweigh the benefits of 
designating those lands as critical habitat, then the Secretary may 
exercise his discretion to exclude the lands from the final 
designation.
    We specifically solicit comments on the inclusion or exclusion of 
such areas (see Public Comments section above). A detailed analysis of 
our consideration to exclude these lands under section 4(b)(2) of the 
Act is provided below under the Exclusions Based on Other Relevant 
Impacts section.
Allium munzii
    We are currently considering excluding the following 790 ac (320 
ha) from the critical habitat designation for Allium munzii under 
section 4(b)(2) of the Act. Table 3 below provides approximate areas 
(ac, ha) of lands that meet the definition of critical habitat that we 
intend to exclude under section 4(b)(2) of the Act from the final 
critical habitat rule.
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P

[[Page 23032]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP17AP12.024


[[Page 23033]]


[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP17AP12.025

Atriplex coronata var. notatior
    We are considering excluding all of the following areas from the 
critical habitat designation for Atriplex coronata var. notatior under 
section 4(b)(2) of the Act. Table 4 below provides approximate areas 
(ac, ha) of lands that meet the definition of critical habitat that we 
intend to exclude under section 4(b)(2) of the Act from the final 
critical habitat rule.
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP17AP12.026

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 are preparing an analysis of the economic 
impacts of the proposed revised critical habitat designation and 
related factors.
    We prepared and finalized an analysis of the economic impacts for 
the previous proposed critical habitat designation for Allium munzii 
(Economic & Planning Systems, Inc. 2005). Only USFS lands at Elsinore 
Peak within the Cleveland National Forest were proposed as critical 
habitat in the 2004 proposed rule (69 FR 31569; June 4, 2004). The 
economic analysis determined retrospective costs (costs since listing, 
1998 to 2004) to the USFS of $9,938 and total prospective costs (from 
2005 to 2025) of $33,849. No lands were excluded from critical habitat 
in our final designation based on economic impact under section 4(b)(2) 
of the Act (70 FR 33015; June 7, 2005).
    We prepared and finalized an analysis of the economic impacts for 
the previous proposed critical habitat designation for Atriplex 
coronata var. notatior (Northwest Economic Associates 2005). Because no 
lands were proposed for designation of critical habitat in the previous 
proposed rule (69 FR 59844; October 6, 2004), we determined there was 
no economic impact to landowners or agencies (70 FR 59952; October 13, 
2005).
    The prior economic analyses for Allium munzii and Atriplex coronata 
var. notatior included costs coextensive with the listing of both 
plants (in other words, costs attributable to listing the species as 
well as costs attributable to the designation of critical habitat). 
Because the Act directs the Secretary to consider the economic impacts 
of specifying any particular area as critical habitat, we believe the 
appropriate framework for analysis is to compare the costs associated 
with actions in a world with critical habitat to those costs likely to 
be incurred in the absence of critical habitat designation. Our new 
analysis will therefore focus on the specific costs attributable to 
designating the areas proposed in this rule as critical habitat.
    We will announce the availability of a new draft economic analysis 
on this proposed revised designation of critical habitat for Allium 
munzii and Atriplex coronata var. notatior as soon as it is completed, 
at which time we will seek public review and comment. At that time, 
copies of the draft economic

[[Page 23034]]

analysis will be available for downloading from the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov, or by contacting the Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife 
Office directly (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section). During 
the development of a final designation, we will consider economic 
impacts, public comments, and other new information, and areas may be 
excluded from the final critical habitat designation under section 
4(b)(2) of the Act and our implementing regulations at 50 CFR 424.19.

Exclusions Based on National Security Impacts

    Under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we consider whether there are 
lands owned or managed by the Department of Defense where a national 
security impact might exist. In preparing this proposal, we have 
determined that the lands within the proposed revised designation of 
critical habitat for Allium munzii and Atriplex coronata var. notatior 
are not owned or managed by the Department of Defense, and, therefore, 
we anticipate no impact on national security. Consequently, the 
Secretary is not currently considering exercising his discretion to 
exclude any areas from the final designation based on impacts on 
national security.

Exclusions Based on Other Relevant Impacts

    Under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we consider any other relevant 
impacts in addition to economic impacts and impacts on national 
security. We consider a number of factors, including whether the 
landowners have developed any HCPs or other management plans for the 
area, or whether there are conservation partnerships that would be 
encouraged by designation of, or exclusion from, critical habitat. In 
addition, we look at any tribal issues, and consider the government-to-
government relationship of the United States with tribal entities. We 
also consider any social impacts that might occur because of the 
designation.
Land and Resource Management Plans, Conservation Plans, or Agreements 
Based on Conservation Partnerships
    When evaluating a current land management or conservation plan 
(HCPs as well as other types of plans) and the habitat management or 
protection it provides, we consider a number of factors including, but 
not limited to, the following:
    (1) Whether the plan is complete and provides an equivalent or 
higher level of protection from adverse modification or destruction 
than that provided through a consultation under section 7 of the Act;
    (2) Whether there is a reasonable expectation that the conservation 
management strategies and actions will be implemented into the 
foreseeable future, based on past practices, written guidance, or 
regulations; and
    (3) Whether the plan provides conservation strategies and measures 
consistent with currently accepted principles of conservation biology.
    Portions of the proposed revised critical habitat units for Allium 
munzii and all of the proposed revised critical habitat units for 
Atriplex coronata var. notatior may warrant exclusion from the 
designation of critical habitat under section 4(b)(2) of the Act based 
on the partnerships, management, and protection afforded under these 
approved and legally operative HCPs that are equal to or more 
protective than the benefits provided by, critical habitat designation.
    We believe that the Western Riverside County MSHCP, the Lake 
Mathews MSHCP, and the Rancho Bella Vista HCP described below fulfill 
the above criteria, and are considering excluding non-Federal lands 
covered by these HCPs that provide for the conservation of Allium 
munzii and Atriplex coronata var. notatior. All permittee-owned or 
controlled lands that fall within the boundaries of the Western 
Riverside County MSHCP or other HCPs described herein are being 
considered for exclusion (see Other Habitat Conservation Plans section 
below).
    We believe that the Southwestern Riverside County Multi-species 
Reserve Cooperative Management Agreement also meets the criteria listed 
above; thus we are considering excluding non-Federal lands proposed as 
critical habitat for Allium munzii that are in the Reserve covered by 
this agreement (see discussion below).
    In this proposed revised rule, we are seeking input from the 
Western Riverside County MSHCP, other HCP stakeholders (Rancho Bella 
Vista HCP and Lake Mathews MSHCP), the parties to the Southwestern 
Riverside County Multi-Species Reserve Cooperative Management 
Agreement, and the public (see Public Comments section) as to reasons 
supporting whether or not the Secretary should exercise his discretion 
to exclude these areas from the final critical habitat designation.

Western Riverside County Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan 
(Western Riverside County MSHCP)

    The Western Riverside County MSHCP is a regional, multi-
jurisdictional HCP encompassing approximately 1.26 million ac (510,000 
ha) of land in western Riverside County. The Western Riverside County 
MSHCP is a multispecies conservation program designed to minimize and 
mitigate the expected loss of habitat and associated incidental take of 
covered species resulting from covered development activities in the 
plan area. The Western Riverside County MSHCP addresses 146 listed and 
unlisted ``covered species,'' including Allium munzii and Atriplex 
coronata var. notatior, which are further considered as ``Covered 
Species Adequately Conserved;'' that is, those where the species 
objectives are met and that are provided take authorization through the 
Natural Community Conservation Planning (NCCP) Permit (Dudek and 
Associates 2003, Section 9.2 and Table 9-3). On June 22, 2004, the 
Service issued a single incidental take permit under section 
10(a)(1)(B) of the Act to 22 permittees under the Western Riverside 
County MSHCP to be in effect for a period of 75 years (Service 2004).
    The Western Riverside County MSHCP, when fully implemented, will 
establish approximately 153,000 ac (61,917 ha) of new conservation 
lands (Additional Reserve Lands (ARL)) to complement the approximate 
347,000 ac (140,426 ha) of preexisting natural and open space areas 
(Public/Quasi-Public (PQP) lands) in the plan area. These PQP lands 
include those under the ownership of public agencies, primarily the 
USFS and BLM, as well as permittee-owned or controlled open-space areas 
managed by the State of California and Riverside County. Collectively, 
the ARL and PQP lands form the overall Western Riverside County MSHCP 
Conservation Area. The configuration of the 153,000 ac (61,916 ha) of 
ARL is not mapped or precisely delineated (hard-lined) in the Western 
Riverside County MSHCP. Instead, the configuration and composition of 
the ARL are described in text within the bounds of the approximately 
310,000-ac (125,453-ha) Criteria Area. The ARL lands are being acquired 
and conserved as part of the ongoing implementation of the Western 
Riverside County MSHCP.
    Species-specific conservation objectives are included in the 
Western Riverside County MSHCP for Allium munzii and Atriplex coronata 
var. notatior and are described in detail below. Conservation 
objectives for A. munzii include:
    (1) Conserve at least 21,260 ac (8,603 ha) of suitable habitat to 
include at least 2,070 ac (838 ha) of clay soils;
    (2) Conserve at least 13 localities (populations within EOs) within 
the Temescal Valley and the southwestern portion of the plan area; and

[[Page 23035]]

    (3) Conduct Narrow Endemic Plan Species surveys as discussed below 
(Dudek and Associates 2003, pp. 9-126-9-127).
    Conservation objectives identified in the Western Riverside County 
MSHCP for Atriplex coronata var. notatior include:
    (1) Conserve at least 6,900 ac (2,792 ha) of suitable habitat 
including grasslands, playas, and vernal pools;
    (2) Conserve the Alberhill Creek locality and three core areas 
located along the San Jacinto River and in the upper Salt Creek 
drainage;
    (3) Conduct surveys as discussed below;
    (4) Conserve the floodplain along the San Jacinto River consistent 
with objective 1, including maintaining floodplain processes; and
    (5) Conserve the floodplain along Salt Creek, generally in its 
existing condition, including maintaining floodplain processes (Dudek 
and Associates 2003, pp. 9-137-9-138).
Allium munzii
    In our analysis of the effects to Allium munzii for the issuance of 
the Western Riverside County MSHCP permit, we acknowledged that 
specific conservation objectives would be provided in the Western 
Riverside County MSHCP to ensure that suitable habitat and known 
populations of A. munzii would persist (Service 2004, p. 326). To this 
effect, for narrow endemic species such as A. munzii, the Western 
Riverside County MSHCP states:

    ``The MSHCP is a Criteria-based plan, focused on preserving 
individual species through Conservation. Conservation is based on 
the particular habitat requirements of each species as well as the 
known distribution data for each species. The existing MSHCP 
database does not, however, provide the level of detail sufficient 
to determine the extent of the presence or distribution of Narrow 
Endemic Plant Species within the MSHCP Plan Area. Since Conservation 
planning decisions for these species will have a substantial effect 
on the status of these species, additional information regarding the 
presence of these species must be gathered during the long-term 
implementation of the MSHCP to ensure that appropriate Conservation 
of these species occurs'' (Dudek and Associates 2003, p. 6-28).

    The Western Riverside County MSHCP defines Allium munzii as a 
Narrow Endemic Plant Species and requires surveys for this taxon as 
part of the review process for public and private projects in certain 
areas where one or more permittees have discretionary authority for 
project approval (Dudek and Associates 2003, pp. 6-28-6-29). These 
surveys are required where projects are proposed in suitable habitat 
within defined boundaries of the Criteria Area (Dudek and Associates 
2003, Figure 6-1, p. 6-30). Where survey results are positive, project 
proposals with the potential to affect a Narrow Endemic Plant Species 
are subject to avoidance, minimization, and mitigation strategies 
(Dudek and Associates 2003, p. 6-29). In addition, the Western 
Riverside County MSHCP indicates that, for Narrow Endemic Plant Species 
populations identified as part of this survey process (including A. 
munzii), impacts to 90 percent of those portions of the property that 
provide for long-term conservation value for these species will be 
avoided until it is demonstrated that conservation objectives 
(discussed below) are met (Dudek and Associates 2003, p. 6-38). The 
information from these surveys is to be used to prioritize areas for 
acquisition into the Western Riverside County MSHCP (Service 2004, p. 
28). Surveys conducted from 2005 through 2011 have confirmed 9 extant 
populations within 13 CNDDB-defined EOs (Western Riverside County RCA 
2011, p. 31).
    We stated in our biological opinion (analysis of effects) of the 
Western Riverside County MSHCP that:
    (1) All 16 known localities (or CNDDB-defined EOs) would be 
included in the Conservation Area;
    (2) We anticipated that occurrences determined to be important to 
the overall conservation of the species will be considered for 
inclusion in the Additional Reserve Lands; and
    (3) At least some of the avoided areas may be maintained as open 
space habitat (Service 2004, p. 327).
    In addition, the Western Riverside County MSHCP identified two 
CNDDB-defined EOs partially within the Conservation Area (EOs 2 and 9) 
and two that are currently located outside the Conservation Area (EOs 5 
and 16) that will be added to the Conservation Area. Finally, as noted 
above, the Western Riverside County MSHCP provides flexibility for 
criteria refinement, such that if an area is currently outside the 
reserve design defined by the Western Riverside County MSHCP, but is 
later determined to be important for conservation, then it could be 
added to the reserve as Additional Reserve Lands or Acquisition Lands.
Atriplex coronata var. notatior
    Surveys are also required for Atriplex coronata var. notatior in 
conjunction with the Western Riverside County MSHCP implementation in 
order to meet the permit issuance criteria for the HCP (Dudek and 
Associates 2003, p. 6-63). For A. c. var. notatior, surveys are 
required within defined boundaries of the Criteria Area (Dudek and 
Associates 2003, Figure 6-2, p. 6-64). As with Narrow Endemic Plant 
Species, in locations with positive survey results, 90 percent of those 
portions of the property that provide long-term conservation value for 
the identified species will be avoided until the species-specific 
conservation objectives for these species are met (Dudek and Associates 
2003, p. 6-65). We stated in our analysis of the effects of the Western 
Riverside County MSHCP that it provides the flexibility to include 
those locations that contain large numbers of individuals or are 
determined to be important to the conservation of A. c. var. notatior 
in the Additional Reserve Lands (Dudek and Associates 2003, p. 6-70; 
Service 2004, p. 353).
    Under the Western Riverside County MSHCP, surveys for Atriplex 
coronata var. notatior are required every 8 years to verify occupancy 
for at least 75 percent of known locations. If a decline in 
distribution below this threshold is observed, management activities 
are triggered, as appropriate, to meet the species-specific objectives 
identified in the plan (Dudek and Associates 2003, Table 9.2; Service 
2004, p. 355). Surveys conducted by the Western Riverside County RCA 
from 2006 to 2010 confirmed 2 of 4 CNDDB-defined EOs within the three 
critical habitat units (Units 1, 2, and 3) (Western Riverside County 
RCA 2011, p. 33).
    The Western Riverside County MSHCP provides a comprehensive 
habitat-based approach to the protection of covered species, including 
Allium munzii and Atriplex coronata var. notatior, by focusing on lands 
essential for the long-term conservation of the covered species and 
appropriate management of those lands (Western Riverside County 
Regional Conservation Authority et al. 2003, p. 51).
    The Secretary is considering exercising his discretion to exclude 
626 ac (253 ha) that meet the definition of critical habitat for Allium 
munzii in Units 1 through 5, and 8,020 ac (3,246 ha) that meet the 
definition of critical habitat for Atriplex coronata var. notatior in 
Units 1 through 3. The lands being considered for exclusion are 
permittee-owned or -controlled lands within the Western Riverside 
County MSHCP.
    In the 1998 final listing rule for Allium munzii and Atriplex 
coronata var. notatior, the present or threatened destruction, 
modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range including urban 
development, agriculture, and clay mining for A.

[[Page 23036]]

munzii, and agriculture, urban development, alteration of hydrology for 
A. c var. notatior, were identified as the primary threats to these 
taxa (63 FR 54982; October 13, 1998). The Western Riverside County 
MSHCP helps to address these threats to A. munzii and A. c. var. 
notatior (Service 2008; Service 2009) through a regional planning 
effort, and outlines species-specific objectives and criteria for the 
conservation of these taxa (Dudek and Associates 2003, pp. 9-126-9-127; 
pp. 9-137-9-138). We are considering excluding areas covered by the 
Western Riverside County MSHCP based on the protections provided 
through our partnerships, to the extent consistent with the 
requirements of section 4(b)(2) of the Act. We encourage any public 
comment regarding our consideration to exclude these areas in the final 
critical habitat designation (see Public Comments section above).

Other Habitat Conservation Plans

    Some units and subunits proposed as critical habitat for Allium 
munzii are within smaller, individual HCPs that were approved prior to 
the Western Riverside County MSHCP. These include the Lake Mathews 
MSHCP (part of Subunit 1A) and the Rancho Bella Vista HCP (Subunit 4B). 
In addition, parts of Subunit 4C and Unit 5 are contained within the 
Southwestern Riverside County Multi-species Reserve. These lands are 
within the boundaries of the Western Riverside County MSHCP but their 
conservation and management actions are authorized through separate 
section 10(a)(1)(B) permits or section 7(b)(4) and section 7(o)(2) of 
the Act.
Lake Mathews Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan (Lake Mathews 
MSHCP)
    The Lake Mathews MSHCP established a 2,544-ac (1,029-ha) mitigation 
bank adjacent to the existing 2,565-ac (1,038-ha) State Ecological 
Reserve (Service 2004, p. 60). These lands, encompassing over 12,000 ac 
(4,856 ha), all contribute to the establishment of a reserve for 
multiple species, including Allium munzii, in western Riverside County. 
The reserve encompasses over 12,000 ac (4,856 ha) and consists of the 
State Ecological Reserve and the Lake Mathews HCP Mitigation Bank, Lake 
Mathews/Estelle Mountain Core Stephens' Kangaroo Rat Reserve, the 
Estelle Mountain Ecological Reserve owned by CDFG, and land owned by 
BLM within the Riverside County Habitat Conservation Agency's Stephens' 
Kangaroo Rat Core Reserve (Service 2004, p. 60). Collectively, these 
lands comprise the Lake Mathews/Estelle Mountain Existing Core ``C'' 
area of the Western Riverside County MSHCP. We are considering 
excluding 2.3 ac (approximately 1 ha) of Subunit 1A located within the 
Lake Mathews MSHCP.
    The Riverside County Habitat Conservation Agency manages the Lake 
Mathews/Estelle Mountain Reserve. The Service is an active partner with 
this agency and has developed and is implementing Partners for Fish and 
Wildlife Program projects within this reserve, primarily to control and 
manage nonnative plants.
Rancho Bella Vista Habitat Conservation Plan (Rancho Bella Vista HCP)
    The Rancho Bella Vista HCP boundary occurs within the Western 
Riverside County MSHCP area boundary and contains Subunit 4B (74.8 ac 
(30.3 ha)). The section 10(a)(1)(B) permit associated with the Rancho 
Bella Vista HCP authorized Pacific Bay Properties to develop the 798-ac 
(323-ha) site that included 102.3 ac (41.4 ha) of habitat (Service 
2004, p. 66). The Rancho Bella Vista HCP conservation actions relevant 
to Allium munzii habitat include preserving 86 ac (35 ha) of 
Riversidean sage scrub and 28.8 ac (11.6 ha) of disturbed Riversidean 
sage scrub, 6.2 ac (2.5 ha) of riparian and wetland habitats, and 41 ac 
(16.6 ha) of nonnative grassland (Service 2004, p. 67).
    Long-term management of the Rancho Bella Vista HCP conservation 
lands includes the following types of activities:
    (1) Control access and, where necessary, limit access by people, 
vehicles, and domestic pets to conserved habitats and preclude access 
to highly sensitive resources;
    (2) Monitor target species, including Allium munzii, and provide 
species management of all covered species;
    (3) Identify and rank, in order of priority, opportunities for 
habitat restoration and enhancement within the conserved habitats;
    (4) Monitor conserved lands for the occurrence of alien invasive 
plants and animals and provide the prompt control of such species;
    (5) Map the locations of nonnative plant species within and 
immediately adjacent to conserved habitats and schedule for removal, 
monitoring, or control as necessary;
    (6) Develop a fire management program in consultation with the 
County of Riverside Fire Marshal and wildlife agencies to minimize 
impacts to conserved habitats from fire management programs and 
adjacent land uses; and
    (7) Develop public information materials and programs including:
    (a) A brochure that describes the natural resources, areas of 
special interest, and prohibited activities within conserved habitats;
    (b) A landscape and fuel break planning brochure for homeowners and 
homeowner associations located adjacent to conserved habitats; and
    (c) Nature trails along or through portions of conserved habitats 
(provided impacts are avoided or mitigated) (Service 2000, p. 4-5).
Southwestern Riverside County Multi-species Reserve
    Subunit 4C (79.3 ac (32.1 ha)) and Unit 5 (8.2 ac (3.3 ha)) are 
contained within the Southwestern Riverside County Multi-species 
Reserve (Reserve). This Reserve was created in 1992, prior to the 
listing of Allium munzii, as a mitigation measure for impacts resulting 
from the Diamond Valley Lake Reservoir. The Reserve comprises about 
13,000 ac (5,261 ha), approximately 9,400 ac (3,804 ha) of which are 
owned by the Metropolitan Water District, 2,500 ac (1,012 ha) by the 
Riverside County Habitat Conservation Agency, 360 ac (146 ha) by BLM, 
and 600 ac (243 ha) by the Riverside County Parks and Open Space 
District (Service 2004, p.61), which manages the reserve. The 
Southwestern Riverside County Multi-species Reserve is largely located 
within the area north of Lake Skinner and south of Diamond Valley Lake 
and includes the Domenigoni Mountains and South Hills (Service 2004, p. 
61).
    The Southwestern Riverside County Multi-species Reserve is managed 
through a Cooperative Management Agreement; the Service is a party to 
this agreement and a member of the five-member committee that makes 
management decisions (Monroe et al. 1992, Appendix B). Management 
strategies defined for the entire Reserve include:
    (1) Protection of habitat from human disturbance through fencing, 
construction of fire breaks, and patrols to prevent unauthorized 
access;
    (2) Activities to promote the recovery of native plant and animal 
communities by managing fire and controlling grazing; and
    (3) Management for biodiversity including maintaining a mosaic of 
different-aged habitats to meet the needs of many species (Monroe 1992, 
pp. ES-5-ES-6).
    The 2008 Multi-species Reserve Management Plan (Moen 2008, Appendix 
10) identifies enhancement and monitoring goals, objectives, and 
strategies for Allium munzii. These

[[Page 23037]]

include: (1) Estimating area occupied by A. munzii within the reserve 
by mapping each occupied area annually, (2) estimating individual 
plants within the known populations, and (3) enhancing habitat 
suitability within occupied areas by annually removing thatch and 
biomass from nonnative vegetation and determining the efficacy of each 
treatment (Moen 2008, Appendix 10, pp. 1-2).

Peer Review

    In accordance with our joint policy on peer review published in the 
Federal Register on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 34270), we will seek the expert 
opinions of at least three appropriate and independent specialists 
regarding this proposed rule. The purpose of peer review is to ensure 
that our critical habitat designation is based on scientifically sound 
data, assumptions, and analyses. We have invited these peer reviewers 
to comment during this public comment period on our specific 
assumptions and conclusions in this proposed revised designation of 
critical habitat.
    We will consider all comments and information received during this 
comment period on this proposed rule during our preparation of a final 
determination. Accordingly, the final decision may differ from this 
proposal.

Public Hearings

    Section 4(b)(5) of the Act provides for one or more public hearings 
on this proposal, if requested. Requests must be received within 45 
days after the date of publication of this proposed rule in the Federal 
Register. Such requests must be sent to the address shown in the FOR 
FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section. We will schedule public hearings 
on this proposal, if any are requested, and announce the dates, times, 
and places of those hearings, as well as how to obtain reasonable 
accommodations, in the Federal Register and local newspapers at least 
15 days before the hearing.

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 proposed 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 is required 
to 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 the 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.
    At this time, we lack the available economic information necessary 
to provide an adequate factual basis for the required RFA finding. 
Therefore, we defer the RFA finding until completion of the new draft 
economic analysis prepared under section 4(b)(2) of the Act and 
Executive Order 12866. This new draft economic analysis will provide 
the required factual basis for the RFA finding. Upon completion of the 
new draft economic analysis, we will announce availability of the draft 
economic analysis of the proposed designation in the Federal Register 
and reopen the public comment period for the proposed designation. We 
will include with this announcement, as appropriate, an initial 
regulatory flexibility analysis or a certification that the rule will 
not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities accompanied by the factual basis for that determination.
    We have concluded that deferring the RFA finding until completion 
of the new draft economic analysis is necessary to meet the purposes 
and requirements of the RFA. Deferring the RFA finding in this manner 
will ensure that we make a sufficiently informed determination based on 
adequate economic information and provide the necessary opportunity for 
public comment.

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 construction of an electrical subtransmission line 
and substation project (Southern California Edison Valley-Ivyglen 
Subtransmission Line and Fogarty Substation) is underway in the greater 
Perris basin (Worthy 2011, pers. comm.). However, we do not expect the 
designation of this proposed revised critical habitat for Allium munzii 
and Atriplex coronata var. notatior to significantly affect this 
project based on the components described in the Mitigation and 
Monitoring Plan for this project, which include siting permanent 
project elements (i.e., roads and poles) away from known locations of 
special-status species and communities, identifying environmentally 
sensitive areas such as rare plant populations, monitoring of known 
locations of special-status plant populations prior to or during the 
construction period, to include monitoring during construction and for 
1 year following construction to assess the effectiveness of protection 
measures, and limiting removal of native vegetation communities (State 
of California Public Utilities Commission 2010, pp. 6-2-6-4). The 
project is being constructed by Southern California Edison, which is a 
Participating Special Entity (or PSE) under the Western Riverside 
County MSHCP, and which has agreed to consult with CDFG, the Service, 
and the Western Riverside County RCA and follow the provisions set 
forth in the Western Riverside County MSHCP if direct or indirect 
impacts to special-status plants cannot be avoided (State of California 
Public Utilities Commission 2010, p. 6-5). Therefore, this action is 
not a significant energy action, and no Statement of Energy Effects is 
required. However, we will further evaluate this issue as we conduct 
our economic analysis, and review and revise this assessment as 
warranted.

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

    In accordance with the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (2 U.S.C. 1501 
et seq.), we make the following findings:
    (1) This rule will not produce a Federal mandate. In general, a 
Federal

[[Page 23038]]

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. Small governments would be affected only to 
the extent that any programs having Federal funds, permits, or other 
authorized activities must ensure that their actions would not 
adversely affect the critical habitat. Therefore, a Small Government 
Agency Plan is not required. However, we will further evaluate this 
issue as we conduct our economic analysis, and review and revise this 
assessment if appropriate.

Takings--Executive Order 12630

    In accordance with Executive Order 12630 (``Government Actions and 
Interference with Constitutionally Protected Private Property 
Rights''), this rule is not anticipated to have significant takings 
implications. 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. Due to current public knowledge of the species' 
protections under the Act both within and outside of the proposed 
areas, we do not anticipate that property values will be affected by 
the critical habitat designation. However, we have not yet completed 
the new economic analysis for this proposed revised rule. Once the 
economic analysis is available, we will review and revise this 
preliminary assessment as warranted, and prepare a Takings Implication 
Assessment.

Federalism--Executive Order 13132

    In accordance with Executive Order 13132 (Federalism), this 
proposed rule does not have significant Federalism effects. A 
Federalism summary impact 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 
proposed critical habitat designation with appropriate State resource 
agencies in California. The designation of critical habitat in areas 
currently occupied by Allium munzii or Atriplex coronata var. notatior 
may impose nominal additional regulatory restrictions to those 
currently in place and, therefore, is likely to have little incremental 
impact on State and local governments and their activities. The 
designation may have some benefit to these governments because 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 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) would 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 requirements of 
sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of the Order. We have proposed designating 
critical habitat in accordance with the provisions of the Act. This 
proposed rule uses standard property descriptions and identifies the 
elements of physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of Allium munzii and Atriplex coronata var. notatior 
within the designated areas to assist the public in understanding the 
habitat needs of these taxa.

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.

[[Page 23039]]

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)).]

Clarity of the Rule

    We are required by Executive Orders 12866 and 12988 and by the 
Presidential Memorandum of June 1, 1998, to write all rules in plain 
language. This means that each rule we publish must:
    (1) Be logically organized;
    (2) Use the active voice to address readers directly;
    (3) Use clear language rather than jargon;
    (4) Be divided into short sections and sentences; and
    (5) Use lists and tables wherever possible.
    If you feel that we have not met these requirements, send us 
comments by one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. To 
better help us revise the rule, your comments should be as specific as 
possible. For example, you should tell us the numbers of the sections 
or paragraphs that are unclearly written, which sections or sentences 
are too long, the sections where you feel lists or tables would be 
useful, etc.

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 within the 
geographical area occupied by Allium munzii or Atriplex coronata var. 
notatior at the time of listing that contain the features essential to 
the conservation of these taxa, and no tribal lands outside the 
geographical area occupied by A. munzii or A. c. var. notatior at the 
time of listing that are essential for the conservation of these taxa. 
Therefore, we are not proposing to designate critical habitat for A. 
munzii and A. c. var. notatior on tribal lands.

References Cited

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

Authors

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

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

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

Proposed Regulation Promulgation

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

PART 17--ENDANGERED AND THREATENED WILDLIFE AND PLANTS

    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.

    2. Amend Sec.  17.12(h) by revising the entry for ``Allium munzii 
(Munz's onion)'' under Flowering Plants on the List of Endangered and 
Threatened Plants to read as follows:


Sec.  17.12  Endangered and threatened plants.

* * * * *
    (h) * * *

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                        Species
--------------------------------------------------------    Historic range           Family            Status      When listed    Critical     Special
         Scientific name                Common name                                                                               habitat       rules
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
         Flowering Plants
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
Allium munzii....................  Munz's onion........  U.S.A. (CA)........  Alliaceae..........  E                       650           NA           NA
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     2. Amend Sec.  17.96(a) as follows:
    a. Under Family Liliaceae, remove the designation of critical 
habitat for ``Allium munzii (Munz's onion)'';
    b. Under Family Alliaceae, add a designation of critical habitat 
for ``Allium munzii (Munz's onion)'' to read as set forth below; and
    c. Under Family Chenopodiaceae, revise the designation of critical 
habitat for ``Atriplex coronata var. notiatior (San Jacinto Valley 
crownscale)'' to read as set forth below:


Sec.  17.96  Critical habitat--plants.

    (a) Flowering plants.
* * * * *
Family Alliaceae: Allium munzii (Munz's onion)
    (1) Critical habitat units are depicted for Riverside County, 
California, on the maps below.
    (2) Within these areas, the primary constituent elements of the 
physical or biological features essential to the conservation of Allium 
munzii consist of one of the following two components:
    (i) Clay soil series of sedimentary origin (e.g., Altamont, Auld, 
Bosanko, Porterville), or clay lenses (pockets of clay soils) of such 
that may be found as unmapped inclusions in other soil series, or soil 
series of sedimentary or

[[Page 23040]]

igneous origin with a clay subsoil (e.g., Cajalco, Las Posas, 
Vallecitos):
    (A) Found on level or slightly sloping landscapes or terrace 
escarpments;
    (B) Generally between the elevations of 1,200 to 2,700 ft (366 to 
823 m) above mean sea level;
    (C) Within intact natural surface and subsurface structures that 
have been minimally altered or unaltered by ground-disturbing 
activities (for example, disked, graded, excavated, or recontoured);
    (D) Within microhabitats that receive or retain more moisture than 
surrounding areas, due in part to factors such as exposure, slope, and 
subsurface geology; and
    (E) Part of open native or nonnative grassland plant communities 
and clay soil flora, including southern needlegrass grassland, mixed 
grassland, and open coastal sage scrub or occasionally in cismontane 
juniper woodlands.
    (ii) Outcrops of igneous rocks (pyroxenite) on rocky-sandy loam or 
clay soils within Riversidean sage scrub, generally between the 
elevations of 1,200 to 2,700 ft (366 to 823 m) above mean sea level.
    (3) Critical habitat does not include manmade structures (such as 
buildings, aqueducts, runways, roads, and other paved areas) and the 
land on which they are located existing within the legal boundaries on 
the effective date of this rule.
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P
    (4) Note: Index Map for Allium munzii follows:

[[Page 23041]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP17AP12.027


[[Page 23042]]


    (5) Subunit 1A, Estelle Mountain and Subunit 1B, Dawson Canyon: 
Critical habitat for Allium munzii (Munz's onion), Riverside County, 
California.
    (i) [Reserved for textual description of Subunit 1A and Subunit 
1B.]
    (ii) Note: Map of Subunit 1A and 1B follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP17AP12.028
    

[[Page 23043]]


    (6) Subunit 1C, Gavilan Plateau and Subunit 1D, Ida-Leona: Critical 
habitat for Allium munzii (Munz's onion), Riverside County, California.
    (i) [Reserved for textual description of Subunit 1C and Subunit 
1D.]
    (ii) Note: Map of Subunit 1C and 1D follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP17AP12.029
    

[[Page 23044]]


    (7) Subunit 1E, Northeast Alberhill: Critical habitat for Allium 
munzii (Munz's onion), Riverside County, California.
    (i) [Reserved for textual description of Subunit 1E.]
    (ii) Note: Map of Subunit 1E follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP17AP12.030
    

[[Page 23045]]


    (8) Subunit 1F, North Peak: Critical habitat for Allium munzii 
(Munz's onion), Riverside County, California.
    (i) [Reserved for textual description of Subunit 1F.]
    (ii) Note: Map of Subunit 1F follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP17AP12.031
    

[[Page 23046]]


    (9) Subunit 2A, Sycamore Creek and Subunit 2B, De Palma Road: 
Critical habitat for Allium munzii (Munz's onion), Riverside County, 
California.
    (i) [Reserved for textual description of Subunit 2A and Subunit 
2B.]
    (ii) Note: Map of Subunit 2A and Subunit 2B follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP17AP12.032
    

[[Page 23047]]


    (10) Subunit 2C, Alberhill Mountain: Critical habitat for Allium 
munzii (Munz's onion), Riverside County, California.
    (i) [Reserved for textual description of Subunit 2C.]
    (ii) Note: Map of Subunit 2C follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP17AP12.033
    

[[Page 23048]]


    (11) Subunit 2D, Alberhill Creek: Critical habitat for Allium 
munzii (Munz's onion), Riverside County, California.
    (i) [Reserved for textual description of Subunit 2D.]
    (ii) Note: Map of Subunit 2D follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP17AP12.034
    

[[Page 23049]]


    (12) Unit 3, Elsinore Peak: Critical habitat for Allium munzii 
(Munz's onion), Riverside County, California.
    (i) [Reserved for textual description of Unit 3.]
    (ii) Note: Map of Unit 3 follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP17AP12.035
    

[[Page 23050]]


    (13) Subunit 4A, Scott Road: Critical habitat for Allium munzii 
(Munz's onion), Riverside County, California.
    (i) [Reserved for textual description of Subunit 4A.]
    (ii) Note: Map of Subunit 4A follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP17AP12.036
    

[[Page 23051]]


    (14) Subunit 4B, Skunk Hollow: Critical habitat for Allium munzii 
(Munz's onion), Riverside County, California.
    (i) [Reserved for textual description of Subunit 4B.]
    (ii) Note: Map of Subunit 4B follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP17AP12.037
    

[[Page 23052]]


    (15) Subunit 4C, Bachelor Mountain: Critical habitat for Allium 
munzii (Munz's onion), Riverside County, California.
    (i) [Reserved for textual description of Subunit 4C.]
    (ii) Note: Map of Subunit 4C follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP17AP12.038
    

[[Page 23053]]


    (16) Unit 5, North Domenigoni Hills: Critical habitat for Allium 
munzii (Munz's onion), Riverside County, California.
    (i) [Reserved for textual description of Unit 5.]
    (ii) Note: Map of Unit 5 follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP17AP12.039
    
* * * * *

Family Chenopodiaceae: Atriplex coronata var. notatior (San Jacinto 
Valley crownscale)

    (1) Critical habitat units are depicted for Riverside County, 
California, on the maps below.
    (2) Within these areas, the primary constituent elements of the 
physical or biological features essential to the conservation of 
Atriplex coronata var. notatior consist of two components:
    (i) Wetland habitat including floodplains and vernal pools:
    (A) Associated with native vegetation communities, including alkali 
playa, alkali scrub, and alkali grasslands, and
    (B) Characterized by seasonal inundation or localized flooding, 
including infrequent, large-scale flood events, with low pollutant 
loads; and
    (ii) Slow-draining alkali soils including the Willows, Domino, 
Traver, Waukena, and Chino soil series with:
    (A) Low permeability,
    (B) Low nutrient availability, and
    (C) Seasonal ponding and evaporation.
    (3) Critical habitat does not include manmade structures (such as 
buildings, aqueducts, runways, roads, and other paved areas) and the 
land on which they are located existing within the legal

[[Page 23054]]

boundaries on the effective date of this rule.
    (4) Note: Index Map for Atriplex coronata var. notatior follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP17AP12.040
    

[[Page 23055]]


    (5) Unit 1, San Jacinto River: Critical habitat for Atriplex 
coronata var. notatior (San Jacinto Valley crownscale), Riverside 
County, California.
    (i) [Reserved for textual description of Unit 1.]
    (ii) Note: Map of Unit 1 follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP17AP12.041
    

[[Page 23056]]


    (6) Unit 2, Upper Salt Creek: Critical habitat for Atriplex 
coronata var. notatior (San Jacinto Valley crownscale), Riverside 
County, California.
    (i) [Reserved for textual description of Unit 2.]
    (ii) Note: Map of Unit 2 follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP17AP12.042
    

[[Page 23057]]


    (7) Unit 3, Alberhill Creek: Critical habitat for Atriplex coronata 
var. notatior (San Jacinto Valley crownscale), Riverside County, 
California.
    (i) [Reserved for textual description of Unit 3.]
    (ii) Note: Map of Unit 3 follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP17AP12.043
    
* * * * *

    Dated: April 3, 2012.
Eilleen Sobek,
Acting Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
[FR Doc. 2012-8664 Filed 4-16-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-C