[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 95 (Wednesday, May 16, 2012)]
[Notices]
[Pages 28855-28857]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-11872]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XC008


Endangered and Threatened Species; Recovery Plans

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

ACTION: Notice of Availability; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: We, NMFS, announce that the Proposed Endangered Species Act 
(ESA) Recovery Plan for Lower Columbia River Chinook Salmon, Lower 
Columbia River Coho Salmon, Columbia River Chum Salmon, and Lower 
Columbia River Steelhead (Proposed Plan) is available for public review 
and comment. The Proposed Plan addresses the Lower Columbia River 
Chinook salmon (Oncoryhnchus tschawytscha), Lower Columbia coho salmon 
(O. kisutch), and Columbia River chum salmon (O. keta) evolutionarily 
significant units (ESUs) and the Lower Columbia River steelhead (O. 
mykiss) distinct population segment (DPS), all of which are listed as 
threatened under the ESA. The geographic area covered by the Proposed 
Plan is the Lower Columbia River mainstem and tributaries downstream of 
(and including) the White Salmon River in Washington and the Hood River 
in Oregon. As required by the ESA, the Proposed Plan contains 
objective, measurable delisting criteria, site-specific management 
actions necessary to achieve the Proposed Plan's goals, and estimates 
of the time and costs required to implement recovery actions. We are 
soliciting review and comment from the public and all interested 
parties on the Proposed Plan.

DATES: We will consider and address, as appropriate, all substantive 
comments received during the comment period. Comments must be received 
no later than 5 p.m. Pacific daylight time on July 16, 2012.

ADDRESSES: Please send written comments and materials to Patty 
Dornbusch, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1201 NE. Lloyd Boulevard, 
Suite 1100, Portland, OR 97232. Comments may also be submitted by email 
to: nmfs.nwr.lowercolumbiaplan@noaa.gov. Please include ``Comments on 
Lower Columbia Recovery Plan'' in the subject line of the email. 
Comments may be submitted via facsimile (fax) to (503) 230-5441. 
Electronic copies of the Proposed Plan are available on the NMFS Web 
site at http://www.nwr.noaa.gov/Salmon-Recovery-Planning/Recovery-Domains/Willamette-Lower-Columbia/LC/Plan.cfm. Persons wishing to 
obtain an electronic copy on CD ROM of the Proposed Plan may do so by 
calling Kelly Gallivan at (503) 736-4721 or by emailing a request to 
kelly.gallivan@noaa.gov with the subject line ``CD ROM Request for 
Lower Columbia Recovery Plan.''

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Patty Dornbusch, NMFS Lower Columbia 
Recovery Coordinator, at (503) 230-5430, or patty.dornbusch@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    We are responsible for developing and implementing recovery plans 
for Pacific salmon and steelhead listed under the ESA of 1973, as 
amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). Recovery means that the listed 
species and their ecosystems are sufficiently restored, and their 
future secured, to a point that the protections of the ESA are no 
longer necessary. Section 4(f)(1) of the ESA requires that recovery 
plans include, to the extent practicable: (1) Objective, measurable 
criteria which, when met, would result in a determination that the 
species is no longer threatened or endangered; (2) site-specific 
management actions necessary to achieve the plan's goals; and (3) 
estimates of the time required and costs to implement recovery actions.
    We believe it is essential to have local support of recovery plans 
by those whose activities directly affect the listed species and whose 
continued commitment and leadership will be needed to implement the 
necessary recovery actions. We therefore support and participate in 
locally led, collaborative efforts to develop salmon and steelhead 
recovery plans that involve state, tribal, and Federal entities, local 
communities, and other stakeholders. We review locally developed 
recovery plans to ensure that they satisfy the ESA requirements. We 
make the recovery plans, along with any additional plan elements needed 
to satisfy the ESA requirements, available for public review and 
comment before finalizing and formally adopting them as ESA recovery 
plans.
    In the Lower Columbia River, four salmon and steelhead species are 
listed as threatened: Lower Columbia River Chinook salmon, Lower 
Columbia River coho salmon, Columbia River chum salmon, and Lower 
Columbia River steelhead.
    Three geographically based, locally developed plans each address a 
different portion of these species' range. NMFS' science center and 
regional office staff were closely involved in the development of these 
local plans. We have reviewed the final versions of these local plans 
and have developed an ESU/DPS-level plan that synthesizes the local 
plans, incorporates them as appendices, and provides all additional 
material needed to meet the ESA requirements. We have determined that 
this Proposed ESA Recovery Plan for Lower Columbia River Chinook 
Salmon, Lower Columbia River Coho Salmon, Columbia River Chum Salmon, 
and Lower Columbia River Steelhead meets the statutory requirements for 
a recovery plan and are proposing to adopt it as the ESA recovery plan 
for these four threatened species. Section 4(f) of the ESA, as amended 
in 1988, requires that public notice and an opportunity for public 
review and comment be provided prior to final approval of a recovery 
plan. This notice solicits comments on this Proposed Plan.

Development of the Proposed Plan

    The initial technical foundation for this Proposed Plan was 
developed by the Willamette-Lower Columbia Technical Recovery Team. 
NMFS appointed Technical Recovery Teams to provide a solid scientific 
foundation for recovery plans. Scientists on these teams were nominated 
because of their geographic and species expertise. The Willamette-Lower 
Columbia Technical Recovery Team included biologists from NMFS, other 
federal agencies, states, tribes, academic institutions, and the 
private sector.
    A primary task for all the Technical Recovery Teams was to 
recommend criteria for determining when each component population with 
an ESU or DPS should be considered viable (i.e., when they have a low 
risk of extinction over a 100-year period) and when ESUs and DPSs have 
a risk of extinction consistent with no longer needing the protections 
of the ESA. All Technical Recovery Teams used the same biological 
principles for developing these recommendations; these principles are 
described in the NOAA technical memorandum Viable Salmonid Populations 
and the Recovery

[[Page 28856]]

of Evolutionarily Significant Units (McElhany et al., 2000).
    We also worked with state, tribal, local, and other federal 
entities to develop planning forums that built on ongoing locally led 
recovery efforts. We defined ``management units'' for these local 
efforts, based on jurisdictional boundaries as well as areas where 
discrete local planning efforts were under way. A recovery plan was 
developed for each management unit, either led by local groups with 
strong NMFS participation, or led by NMFS with extensive local 
participation. Management unit recovery planners adopted and built upon 
the work of the Technical Recovery Teams. The management unit plans for 
the Lower Columbia River Basin, which are incorporated as Appendices A 
through C of this Proposed Plan, are as follows:
    (1) Oregon Management Unit: The recovery plan for the Oregon 
management unit covers the portions of the Lower Columbia salmon ESUs 
and steelhead DPS that occur within Oregon. The Oregon Department of 
Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) led development of this plan in collaboration 
with NMFS and numerous stakeholders. The Lower Columbia River 
Conservation and Recovery Plan for Oregon Populations of Salmon and 
Steelhead (ODFW 2010) is incorporated into this Proposed Plan as 
Appendix A.
    (2) Washington Management Unit: The recovery plan for the 
Washington management unit covers the portions of the Lower Columbia 
salmon ESUs and steelhead DPS that occur in Washington within the 
planning area of the Lower Columbia Fish Recovery Board (LCFRB). The 
LCFRB was established by Washington State statute in 1998 to oversee 
and coordinate salmon and steelhead recovery efforts in the Lower 
Columbia region of Washington. The LCFRB led a collaborative process to 
develop the Washington Lower Columbia Salmon Recovery and Fish & 
Wildlife Subbasin Plan (LCFRB 2010). In February 2006 we approved the 
December 2004 version of the LCFRB plan as an interim regional recovery 
plan for the Washington management unit of the listed Lower Columbia 
River salmon ESUs and steelhead DPS. In May 2010, the LCFRB completed a 
revision of its earlier plan. That revised version is incorporated into 
this Proposed Plan as Appendix B.
    (3) White Salmon Management Unit: In the absence of an existing 
local planning forum for salmon recovery, we led the development of the 
White Salmon management unit plan in cooperation with local 
stakeholders. The plan covers the portions of the Lower Columbia 
Chinook, coho, and chum salmon ESUs that occur in the White Salmon 
River subbasin (Washington). The Lower Columbia steelhead DPS does not 
occur in the White Salmon River subbasin. (However, the White Salmon 
management unit plan does cover a steelhead population that is part of 
the Middle Columbia River Steelhead DPS, which is addressed in NMFS' 
Middle Columbia River Steelhead Distinct Population Segment ESA 
Recovery Plan [2009]). The ESA Salmon Recovery Plan for the White 
Salmon River Subbasin (NMFS 2011a) is incorporated into this Proposed 
Plan as Appendix C.
    After the management unit plans were completed, we developed an 
ESU/DPS-level document that synthesizes material from the management 
unit plans to demonstrate that recovery needs are being addressed at 
the ESU and DPS levels. We also incorporated delisting criteria into 
the Proposed Plan. In addition, to address recovery needs in the Lower 
Columbia River mainstem and estuary, we developed and incorporated the 
Columbia River Estuary ESA Recovery Plan Module for Salmon and 
Steelhead (NMFS 2011b) as Appendix D of this Proposed Plan. To address 
recovery needs related to the Columbia River Hydropower System, we 
incorporated the Recovery Plan Module: Mainstem Columbia River 
Hydropower Projects (NMFS 2008) as Appendix E of this Proposed Plan.
    The Proposed Plan, including the component management unit plans 
and recovery plan modules, is now available for public review and 
comment.

Contents of Proposed Plan

    The ESU/DPS-level portion of the Proposed Plan contains background 
and contextual information that includes descriptions of the ESUs and 
DPS addressed, the planning area, and the context of the plan's 
development. It presents relevant information on ESU and DPS structure, 
guidelines for assessing salmonid population and ESU/DPS-level status, 
and brief summaries of the Willamette-Lower Columbia Technical Recovery 
Team's products. It also contains summaries of the management unit 
plans' recovery goals, presents NMFS' proposed delisting criteria for 
the ESUs and DPS, and describes the methods used in the management unit 
plans to develop the principal plan components.
    For each species addressed, the Proposed Plan also summarizes the 
results of the management unit plan analyses and presents specific 
information on the following: Population status; limiting factors and 
threats that have contributed to population declines; estimates of the 
impacts of six main categories of threats on population productivity; 
and a scenario of reductions in each of those threats that, if 
achieved, would likely improve the persistence probability of each 
population to a level consistent with recovery goals for the ESU or 
DPS.
    In addition, the Proposed Plan describes recovery strategies and 
actions for each ESU/DPS, critical uncertainties, and research, 
monitoring, and evaluation needs. It explains how management unit 
planners developed site-specific management actions and summarizes the 
time and costs required to implement those actions. It also describes 
how implementation, prioritization of actions, and adaptive management 
will proceed at both the ESU/DPS and management-unit scales. In 
addition to summary information presented in the Proposed Plan, readers 
are referred to specific sections of the management unit plans 
(Appendices A through C) and recovery plan modules (Appendices D and E) 
for more information on all these topics.

How NMFS and Others Expect To Use the Plan

    With approval of the final Plan, we will commit to implement the 
actions in the Plan for which we have authority and funding; encourage 
other federal and state agencies and tribal governments to implement 
plan actions for which they have responsibility, authority, and 
funding; and work cooperatively with the public and local stakeholders 
on implementation of other actions. We expect the plan to guide us and 
other federal agencies in evaluating federal actions under ESA section 
7, as well as in implementing other provisions of the ESA and other 
statutes. For example, the plan will provide greater biological context 
for evaluating the effects that a proposed action may have on a species 
by providing delisting criteria, information on priority areas for 
addressing specific limiting factors, and information on how 
populations within the ESUs and DPS can tolerate varying levels of 
risk.
    When we are considering a species for delisting, the agency will 
examine whether the section 4(a)(1) listing factors have been 
addressed. To assist in this examination, we will use the delisting 
criteria described in Section 3.2 of the Proposed Plan, which include 
both biological criteria and criteria addressing each of the ESA 
section 4(a)(1) listing factors, as well as any other relevant data and 
policy considerations.

[[Page 28857]]

    At the management unit level, the LCFRB, ODFW, and the Washington 
Gorge Implementation Team, working with us, will develop implementation 
schedules that provide greater specificity for recovery actions to be 
implemented over three- to five-year periods. These entities also will 
coordinate the implementation of the recovery actions identified in the 
management unit plans and subsequent implementation schedules, and will 
track and report on implementation progress. Management unit planners 
and NMFS staff will work together to coordinate the implementation of 
recovery actions among federal, state, local, and tribal entities and 
stakeholders.

Conclusion

    Section 4(f)(1)(B) of the ESA requires that recovery plans 
incorporate, to the extent practicable, (1) objective, measurable 
criteria which, when met, would result in a determination that the 
species is no longer threatened or endangered; (2) site-specific 
management actions necessary to achieve the plan's goals; and (3) 
estimates of the time required and costs to implement recovery actions. 
We conclude that the Proposed Plan meets the requirements of ESA 
section 4(f) and is proposing to adopt it as the ESA Recovery Plan for 
Lower Columbia River Chinook Salmon, Lower Columbia River Coho Salmon, 
Columbia River Chum Salmon, and Lower Columbia River Steelhead.

Public Comments Solicited

    We are soliciting written comments on the Proposed Plan. All 
substantive comments received by the date specified above will be 
considered and incorporated, as appropriate, prior to our decision 
whether to approve the plan. We will issue a news release announcing 
the adoption and availability of a final plan. We will post on the 
Northwest Region Web site (www.nwr.noaa.gov) a summary of, and 
responses to, the comments received, along with electronic copies of 
the final plan and its appendices.

Literature Cited

Lower Columbia Fish Recovery Board (LCFRB). 2010. Washington Lower 
Columbia Salmon Recovery and Fish & Wildlife Subbasin Plan. Lower 
Columbia Fish Recovery Board, Washington. May 28, 2010.
McElhany, P., M.H. Ruckelshaus, M.J. Ford, T.C. Wainwright, and E.P. 
Bjorkstedt. 2000. Viable salmon populations and the recovery of 
evolutionarily significant units. U.S. Dept. of Commerce, NOAA Tech. 
Memo., NMFS NWFSC 42, 156 p.
National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). 2009. Middle Columbia 
River Steelhead Distinct Population Segment ESA Recovery Plan. 
Northwest Region. November 30, 2009.
National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). 2011a. Draft ESA Recovery 
Plan for the White Salmon River Subbasin. Northwest Region. December 
2011.
National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). 2011b. Columbia River 
Estuary ESA Recovery Plan Module for Salmon and Steelhead. Northwest 
Region. Prepared for NMFS by the Lower Columbia River Estuary 
Partnership (contractor) and PC Trask & Associates, Inc. 
(subcontractor). January 2011.
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. 2010. Lower Columbia River 
Conservation and Recovery Plan for Oregon Populations of Salmon and 
Steelhead. August 6, 2010.

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.

    Dated: May 10, 2012.
Dwayne Meadows,
Acting Chief, Endangered Species Division, Office of Protected 
Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2012-11872 Filed 5-15-12; 8:45 am]
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