[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 200 (Tuesday, October 16, 2012)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 63603-63668]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-24468]



[[Page 63603]]

Vol. 77

Tuesday,

No. 200

October 16, 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 Critical 
Habitat for the Cumberland Darter, Rush Darter, Yellowcheek Darter, 
Chucky Madtom, and Laurel Dace; Final Rule

Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 200 / Tuesday, October 16, 2012 / 
Rules and Regulations

[[Page 63604]]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[Docket No. FWS-R4-ES-2011-0074; 4500030114]
RIN 1018-AX76


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Designation of 
Critical Habitat for the Cumberland Darter, Rush Darter, Yellowcheek 
Darter, Chucky Madtom, and Laurel Dace

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, designate critical 
habitat for the Cumberland darter (Etheostoma susanae), rush darter 
(Etheostoma phytophilum), yellowcheek darter (Etheostoma moorei), 
Chucky madtom (Noturus crypticus), and laurel dace (Chrosomus saylori) 
under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. In total, 
approximately 86 river kilometers (rkm) (54 river miles (rmi)) are 
being designated as critical habitat for the Cumberland darter, 44 rkm 
(27 rmi) and 12 hectares (ha) (29 acres (ac)) for the rush darter, 164 
rkm (102 rmi) for the yellowcheek darter, 32 rkm (20 rmi) for the 
Chucky madtom, and 42 rkm (26 rmi) for the laurel dace. The effect of 
this regulation is to conserve the five species' habitat under the 
Endangered Species Act.

DATES: This rule becomes effective on November 15, 2012.

ADDRESSES: This final rule and the associated final economic analysis 
are available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov. Comments 
and materials received, as well as supporting documentation used in 
preparing this final rule, are available for public inspection, by 
appointment, during normal business hours, at the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Tennessee Ecological Services Field Office, 446 Neal 
Street, Cookeville, TN 38501; telephone 931-528-6481; facsimile 931-
528-7075.
    The coordinates or plot points or both from which the maps are 
generated are included in the administrative record for this critical 
habitat designation and are available at http://www.fws.gov/cookeville, 
http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-R4-ES-2011-0074, and at 
the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
CONTACT). Any additional tools or supporting information that we may 
develop for this critical habitat designation will also be available at 
the Fish and Wildlife Service Web site and Field Office set out above, 
and may also be included in the preamble and/or at http://www.regulations.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For information regarding the 
Cumberland darter, contact Lee Andrews, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Office, J.C. Watts Federal 
Building, 330 W. Broadway, Room 265, Frankfort, KY 40601; telephone 
502-695-0468; facsimile 502-695-1024. For information regarding the 
rush darter, contact Stephen Ricks, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Mississippi Fish and Wildlife Office, 6578 Dogwood 
View Parkway, Suite A, Jackson, MS 39213; telephone 601-965-4900; 
facsimile 601-965-4340 or Bill Pearson, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Alabama Fish and Wildlife Office, 1208-B Main Street, 
Daphne, AL 36526; telephone 251-441-5181; facsimile 251-441-6222. For 
information regarding the yellowcheek darter, contact Jim Boggs, Field 
Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Arkansas Fish and Wildlife 
Office, 110 South Amity Road, Suite 300, Conway, AR 72032; telephone 
501-513-4470; facsimile 501-513-4480. For information regarding the 
Chucky madtom or laurel dace, contact Mary Jennings, Field Supervisor, 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Office, 446 
Neal Street, Cookeville, TN 38501; telephone 931-525-4973; facsimile 
931-528-7075. 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. Under the Endangered Species Act, 
any species that is determined to be an endangered or threatened 
species requires critical habitat to be designated, to the maximum 
extent prudent and determinable. Designations and revisions of critical 
habitat can only be completed by issuing a rule.
    This rule will designate critical habitat for the Cumberland 
Darter, Rush Darter, Yellowcheek Darter, Chucky Madtom, and Laurel 
Dace. In total, approximately 86 river kilometers (rkm) (54 river miles 
(rmi)) are being designated as critical habitat for the Cumberland 
darter in McCreary and Whitley Counties, Kentucky, and Campbell and 
Scott Counties, Tennessee; 44 rkm (27 rmi) and 12 hectares (ha) (29 
acres (ac)) are being designated as critical habitat for the rush 
darter in Etowah, Jefferson, and Winston Counties, Alabama; 164 rkm 
(102 rmi) are being designated as critical habitat for the yellowcheek 
darter in Cleburne, Searcy, Stone, and Van Buren Counties, Arkansas; 32 
rkm (20 rmi) are being designated as critical habitat for the Chucky 
madtom in Greene County, Tennessee; and 42 rkm (26 rmi) are being 
designated as critical habitat for the laurel dace in Bledsoe, Rhea, 
and Sequatchie Counties, Tennessee.
    The basis for our action. The Act requires that the Service 
designate critical habitat at the time of listing to the extent prudent 
and determinable. We have determined that designation is prudent and 
critical habitat is determinable (see Critical Habitat section below).
    We prepared an economic analysis. To ensure that we consider the 
economic impacts, we prepared an economic analysis of the designation 
of critical habitat. We published an announcement and solicited public 
comments on the draft economic analysis. The analysis found that the 
present value of the total direct (administrative) incremental cost of 
critical habitat designation is $644,000 over the next 20 years 
assuming a seven percent discount rate. Primarily these costs are 
associated with consultation for water quality management activities, 
transportation; coal mining; oil and natural gas development; 
agriculture, ranching, and silviculture; dredging, channelization, 
impoundments, dams, and diversions; and recreation at $10,000 
(Industrial Economics, Inc. 2012).
    Peer review and public comment. We sought comments from independent 
specialists to ensure that our designation is based on scientifically 
sound data and analyses. We invited these peer reviewers to comment on 
our conclusions in the critical habitat proposal. We also considered 
all comments and information received during the comment period.

Background

    It is our intent to discuss in this final rule only those topics 
directly relevant to the development and designation of critical 
habitat for the Cumberland darter, rush darter, yellowcheek darter, 
Chucky madtom, and laurel dace under the Endangered Species Act of 
1973, as amended (Act; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). For more information on 
the biology and ecology of these five fishes, refer to the final 
listing rule published in the Federal Register on August 9, 2011 (76 FR 
48722). For information on the five fishes' critical habitat, refer to 
the

[[Page 63605]]

proposed rule to designate critical habitat published in the Federal 
Register on October 12, 2011 (76 FR 63360). Information on the 
associated draft economic analysis for the proposed rule was published 
in the Federal Register on May 24, 2012 (77 FR 30988).

Previous Federal Actions

    The Cumberland darter, rush darter, yellowcheek darter, Chucky 
madtom, and laurel dace were listed as endangered species under the Act 
on August 9, 2011 (76 FR 48722). For the full history of previous 
Federal actions regarding these five species, please refer to the final 
listing rule (76 FR 48722). In the June 24, 2010, proposed listing rule 
(75 FR 36035) we determined that designation of critical habitat was 
prudent for all five species. However, we found that critical habitat 
was not determinable at the time and set forth the steps we would 
undertake to obtain the information necessary to develop a proposed 
designation of critical habitat. The proposed rule to designate 
critical habitat for these fishes published in the Federal Register on 
October 12, 2011 (76 FR 63360). Information on the associated draft 
economic analysis for the proposed rule to designate critical habitat 
was published in the Federal Register on May 24, 2012 (77 FR 30988).

Species Information

Cumberland Darter

    The Cumberland darter (Etheostoma susanae) is a narrowly endemic 
fish species, occurring in sparse, fragmented, and isolated populations 
in the upper Cumberland River system of Kentucky and Tennessee. The 
species inhabits pools or shallow runs of low to moderate gradient 
sections of streams with stable sand, silt, or sand-covered bedrock 
substrates (O'Bara 1988, pp. 10-11; O'Bara 1991, p. 10; Thomas 2007, p. 
4). Thomas (2007, p. 4) did not encounter the species in high-gradient 
sections of streams or areas dominated by cobble or boulder substrates. 
Thomas (2007, p. 4) reported that streams inhabited by Cumberland 
darters were second to fourth order, with widths ranging from 4 to 9 
meters (m) (11 to 30 feet (ft)) and depths ranging from 20 to 76 
centimeters (cm) (8 to 30 inches (in)).
    The Cumberland darter's current distribution is limited to 13 
streams in McCreary and Whitley Counties, Kentucky, and Campbell and 
Scott Counties, Tennessee (Thomas 2007, pp. 11-12). Occurrences from 
these streams are thought to form six population clusters (Bunches 
Creek, Indian Creek, Marsh Creek, Jellico Creek, Wolf Creek, and Youngs 
Creek), which are geographically separated from one another by an 
average distance of 30.5 stream km (19 stream mi) (O'Bara 1988, p. 12; 
O'Bara 1991, p. 10; Thomas 2007, p. 3).
    The primary threat to the Cumberland darter is physical habitat 
destruction or modification resulting from a variety of human-induced 
impacts such as siltation, disturbance of riparian corridors, and 
changes in channel morphology (Waters 1995, pp. 2-3; Skelton 1997, pp. 
17, 19; Thomas 2007, p. 5). The most significant of these impacts is 
siltation (excess sediments suspended or deposited in a stream) caused 
by excessive releases of sediment from activities such as resource 
extraction (e.g., coal mining, silviculture, natural gas development), 
agriculture, road construction, and urban development (Waters 1995, pp. 
2-3; Skelton 1997, pp. 17, 19; KDOW 2006, pp. 178-185; Thomas 2007, p. 
5).

Rush Darter

    The rush darter (Etheostoma phytophilum) is a narrowly endemic, 
rare, and difficult to collect fish species in north-central Alabama. 
The rush darter occurs in sparse, fragmented, and isolated populations. 
The species is currently known from tributaries and associated spring 
systems of the Turkey Creek (Jefferson County), Clear Creek (Winston 
County), and Little Cove-Bristow Creek watersheds (Etowah County). Most 
of these tributaries contain sites with intact physical characteristics 
such as riffles, runs, pools, transition zones, and emergent 
vegetation. Rush darters prefer springs and spring-fed reaches of 
relatively low-gradient, small streams (Bart and Taylor 1999, p. 32; 
Johnston and Kleiner 2001, pp. 3-4; Stiles and Blanchard 2001, pp. 1-4; 
Bart 2002, p. 1; Fluker et al. 2007, p. 1; Stiles and Mills 2008, pp. 
1-4). Rush darters are also found in wetland pools and in some 
ephemeral tributaries of the aforementioned watersheds (Stiles and 
Mills 2008, pp. 2-3). This species also relies heavily on aquatic 
vegetation (Fluker et al. 2007, p. 1), including both small clumps and 
dense stands, and root masses of emergent vegetation along stream 
margins. These habitats tend to be shallow, clear, and cool, with 
moderate current and substrates composed of a combination of sand with 
silt, muck, gravel, or bedrock.
    The species is found in both urban and industrial zoned areas 
(Jefferson County) and rural settings (Winston and Etowah Counties). 
Within these areas, the rush darters' habitat has been degraded by 
alteration of stream banks and bottoms; channelization; inadequate 
storm water management; inappropriate placement of culverts, pipes, and 
bridges; road maintenance; inadequate protection of groundwater 
recharge zones and aquifers; and haphazard silvicultural and 
agricultural practices. The persistence of a constant flow of clean 
groundwater from various springs has somewhat offset the destruction of 
the species' habitat, water quality, and water quantity; however, the 
species' status still appears to be declining.

Yellowcheek Darter

    The yellowcheek darter (Etheostoma moorei) is endemic to the 
Devil's, Middle, South, and Archey forks of the Little Red River in 
Cleburne, Searcy, Stone, and Van Buren Counties in Arkansas (Robison 
and Buchanan 1988, p. 429). These streams are located primarily within 
the Boston Mountains subdivision of the Ozark Plateau. In 1962, the 
construction of a dam on the Little Red River to create Greers Ferry 
Reservoir impounded much of the range of this species, including the 
lower reaches of Devil's Fork, Middle Fork, South Fork, and portions of 
the main stem Little Red River, thus extirpating the species from these 
reaches. Cold tailwater releases below the dam preclude the yellowcheek 
darter from inhabiting the main stem Little Red River. The yellowcheek 
darter inhabits high-gradient headwater tributaries with clear water; 
permanent flow; moderate to strong riffles; and gravel, cobble, and 
boulder substrates (Robison and Buchanan 1988, p. 429). Prey items 
consumed by yellowcheek darters include blackfly larvae, stoneflies, 
and mayflies.
    Robison and Harp (1981, p. 5) estimated the range of the 
yellowcheek darter in the South Fork to extend from 2.9 km (1.8 mi) 
north northeast of Scotland, Arkansas, to U.S. Highway 65 in Clinton, 
Arkansas. The Middle Fork population was estimated to extend from just 
upstream of U.S. Highway 65 near Leslie, Arkansas, to 4.8 km (3.0 mi) 
west of Shirley, Arkansas. The Archey Fork population extended from its 
confluence with South Castleberry Creek to immediately downstream of 
U.S. Highway 65 in Clinton, Arkansas. The Devil's Fork population 
extended from 4.8 km (3.0 mi) north of Prim, Arkansas, to 6.1 km (3.8 
mi) east southeast of Woodrow, Arkansas.
    The yellowcheek darter is threatened primarily by factors 
associated with the present destruction, modification, or curtailment 
of its habitat or range. Threats include sedimentation and nutrient 
enrichment from impoundment, water diversion, gravel mining, 
channelization or channel

[[Page 63606]]

instability, and natural gas development.

Chucky Madtom

    The Chucky madtom (Noturus crypticus) is a rare catfish found in 
Greene County, Tennessee. Specimens collected in Little Chucky Creek 
have been found in stream runs with slow to moderate current over pea 
gravel, cobble, or slab-rock boulder substrates (Burr et al. 2005, p. 
797). These habitats are sparse in Little Chucky Creek, and the stream 
affords little loose, rocky cover suitable for madtoms (Shute et al. 
1997, p. 8). It is notable that intact riparian buffers are present in 
the locations where Chucky madtoms have been found (Shute et al. 1997, 
p. 9).
    Little is known about Chucky madtom life history and behavior; 
however, this information is available for other similar members of the 
Noturus group. Dinkins and Shute (1996, p. 50) found smoky madtoms (N. 
baileyi) underneath slab-rock boulders in swift to moderate current 
during May to early November. Habitat use shifted to shallow pools over 
the course of a 1-week period, coinciding with a drop in water 
temperature to 7 or 8 [deg]C (45 to 46 [deg]F), and persisted from 
early November to May. Eisenhour et al. (1996, p. 43) collected saddled 
madtoms (N. fasciatus) in gravel, cobble, and slab-rock boulders in 
riffle habitats with depths ranging from 0.1 to 0.3 m (0.3 to 1.0 ft). 
Based on their limited number of observations, Eisenhour et al. (1996, 
p. 43) hypothesized that saddled madtoms occupy riffles and runs in the 
daylight hours and then move to pools at night and during crepuscular 
hours (dawn and dusk) to feed.
    The current range of the Chucky madtom is restricted to an 
approximate 3-km (1.8-mi) reach of Little Chucky Creek in Greene 
County, Tennessee. Degradation from sedimentation, physical habitat 
disturbance, and contaminants threaten the habitat and water quality on 
which the Chucky madtom depends. Sedimentation could negatively affect 
the Chucky madtom by reducing growth rates, disease tolerance, and gill 
function; reducing spawning habitat, reproductive success, and egg, 
larval, and juvenile development; reducing food availability through 
reductions in prey; and reducing foraging efficiency. Contaminants 
associated with agriculture (e.g., fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, 
and animal waste) can cause degradation of water quality and habitats 
through instream oxygen deficiencies, excess nutrification, and 
excessive algal growths.

Laurel Dace

    The laurel dace (Chrosomus saylori) is endemic to seven streams on 
the Walden Ridge portion of the Cumberland Plateau (Bledsoe, Rhea, and 
Sequatchie Counties, Tennessee), where drainages generally meander 
eastward before dropping abruptly down the plateau escarpment and 
draining into the Tennessee River. Laurel dace are known historically 
from seven streams in three disjunct systems: Soddy Creek; three 
streams that are part of the Sale Creek system (the Horn and Laurel 
branch tributaries to Rock Creek, and the Cupp Creek tributary to 
Roaring Creek); and three streams that are part of the Piney River 
system (Youngs, Moccasin, and Bumbee Creeks). In 1991, and in four 
other surveys (two in 1995, one in 1996, and one in 2004), laurel dace 
were not collected in Laurel Branch, leading Skelton to the conclusion 
that laurel dace had been extirpated from the stream (Skelton 1997, p. 
13; Skelton 2001, p. 126; Skelton 2009, pers. comm.).
    The current distribution of laurel dace encompasses six of seven 
historical streams; the species is considered extirpated from Laurel 
Branch (see above). In these six streams, the species is known to 
occupy reaches ranging in length from 0.3 to 8.0 rkm (0.2 to 5 rmi). 
Laurel dace have been most often collected from pools or slow runs from 
undercut banks or beneath slab-rock boulders, typically in first or 
second order, clear, cool (maximum temperature 26 [deg]C or 78.8 
[deg]F) streams. Substrates in laurel dace streams typically consist of 
a mixture of cobble, rubble, and boulders, and the streams tend to have 
a dense riparian zone consisting largely of mountain laurel (Skelton 
2001, pp. 125-126).
    The primary threat to laurel dace throughout its range is excessive 
siltation resulting from agriculture and extensive silviculture, 
especially those involving inadequate riparian buffers in harvest areas 
and the failure to use best management practices (BMPs) during road 
construction. Severe degradation from sedimentation, physical habitat 
disturbance, and contaminants threatens the habitat and water quality 
on which the laurel dace depends. Sedimentation negatively affects the 
laurel dace by reducing growth rates, disease tolerance, and gill 
function; reducing spawning habitat, reproductive success, and egg, 
larvae, and juvenile development; reducing food availability through 
reductions in prey; and reducing foraging efficiency.

Summary of Comments and Recommendations

    We requested written comments from the public on the proposed 
designation of critical habitat for the Cumberland darter, rush darter, 
yellowcheek darter, Chucky madtom, and laurel dace during two comment 
periods. The first comment period associated with the publication of 
the proposed rule (76 FR 63360) opened on October 12, 2011, and closed 
on December 12, 2011. Based on a request made after the comment period 
had ended, we held a public informational meeting concerning the 
critical habitat designation for the yellowcheek darter on February 22, 
2012, in Clinton, Arkansas, where we took comments on the proposed rule 
and notified the public that we would also take public comments on the 
rule through the end of the comment period for a draft economic 
analysis. That comment period opened May 24, 2012, and closed on June 
25, 2012 (77 FR 30988). Based on a request received during the first 
comment period, we held a public hearing in Clinton, Arkansas, on June 
7, 2012. We also contacted appropriate Federal, State, and local 
agencies; scientific organizations; and other interested parties and 
invited them to comment on the proposed rule and draft economic 
analysis during these comment periods. We issued press releases and 
published legal notices in The Times Tribune, Lexington Herald-Leader, 
Greenville Sun, Knoxville News Sentinel, The Herald News, Chattanooga 
Times Free Press, Birmingham News, Sand Mountain Reporter, NW 
Alabamian, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Van Buren County Democrat, The 
Sun Times, The Stone County Leader, and the Marshall Mountain Wave. 
However, the Marshall Mountain Wave declined to publish a legal notice 
announcing the first public comment period.
    During the first comment period, we received 66 comment letters 
directly addressing the proposed critical habitat designation. During 
the February 22, 2012, public informational meeting, 11 individuals or 
organizations made comments on the designation of critical habitat for 
the yellowcheek darter. During the second comment period, we received 
54 comment letters addressing the proposed critical habitat designation 
or the draft economic analysis. During the June 7, 2012, public 
hearing, four individuals or organizations made comments on the 
designation of critical habitat for the yellowcheek darter. All 
substantive information provided during the comment periods has either 
been incorporated directly into this final

[[Page 63607]]

determination or is addressed below. Comments received were grouped 
into five general issues categories, and are addressed in the following 
summary and incorporated into the final rule as appropriate.

Peer Review

    In accordance with our peer review policy published on July 1, 1994 
(59 FR 34270), we solicited expert opinions from 15 knowledgeable 
individuals with scientific expertise that included familiarity with 
the five species and the geographic region in which the species occur. 
We received responses from three of the peer reviewers.
    We reviewed all comments received from the peer reviewers for 
substantive issues and new information regarding critical habitat for 
the five fishes. The peer reviewers generally concurred with our 
methods and conclusions, and provided additional information, 
clarifications, and suggestions to improve the final critical habitat 
rule. Peer reviewer comments are addressed in the following summary and 
incorporated into the final rule as appropriate.
    For the Cumberland darter, rush darter, and Chucky madtom, the peer 
reviewers agreed we relied on the best scientific information 
available, accurately described the species and its habitat 
requirements (primary constituent elements (PCEs)), accurately 
characterized the reasons for the species' decline and the threats to 
its habitat, and concurred with our critical habitat selection 
criteria. We did not receive any comments from peer reviewers related 
to the yellowcheek darter or laurel dace. We respond to all substantive 
comments below.

Peer Reviewer Comments

    (1) Comment: The Northern Beltline Corridor will cross and impact 
the proposed rush darter critical habitat throughout its range in 
Jefferson County, Alabama, and stimulate growth and development 
throughout the area.
    Our Response: The Northern Beltline Corridor has a Federal nexus 
through the Federal Highway Administration (FHA). The Service has 
provided official comment and evaluated the potential effects of the 
Beltline with respect to the vermilion darter (Etheostoma chermockii), 
watercress darter (Etheostoma nuchale), rush darter (Etheostoma 
phytophylum), and other trust resources in accordance with section 7 of 
the Act and the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act (16 U.S.C. 661 et 
seq.). Species surveys were conducted during the period of August 29-
30, 2011. No federally protected species were found during this survey. 
The rush darter is located in a few scattered tributaries that drain 
into the south side of Turkey Creek, which is a considerable distance 
from the proposed beltway impact areas. The corridor will not cross any 
rush darter habitat.
    The Service determined that the project would have minimal to no 
effect on the rush darter, which occurs in a drainage removed from the 
action area (Everson 2012, pers. comm.).
    (2) Comment: Predicted effects of climate change on the rush darter 
and its habitat should include protection of aquifers and recharge 
areas of groundwater input and corresponding higher water temperatures.
    Our Response: The information currently available on the effects of 
global climate change and increasing temperatures does not make 
sufficiently precise estimates of the location and magnitude of the 
effects. We are also not currently aware of any climate change 
information specific to the habitat of the rush darter related to 
temperatures of groundwater outflows and stormwater inflows that are or 
would become important to the species in the future. Therefore, we are 
unable to determine what additional threats and corresponding 
appropriate actions to include in the final critical habitat for the 
rush darter or the other fishes in this rule to address the effects of 
this aspect of climate change.
    (3) Comment: The critical habitat designated for the rush darter in 
the headwaters in Unit 2 should be expanded to adjacent areas and 
include the wetland on the western edge.
    Our Response: Comment has been noted and after further analysis of 
the information within Service files and that provided by the 
commenter, the wetland on the western edge of Unit 2 has been included 
in the final critical habitat designation for the rush darter. This 
area contains the physical and biological features essential to the 
conservation of the species (PCEs 1-3) and which may require special 
management and protection. As a result of these changes, critical 
habitat designation has increased by an additional 85.8 m (0.05 mi.) 
and 0.13 ha (0.32 ac) in Unit 2 for the rush darter.
    (4) Comment: One peer reviewer mentions that there are active strip 
mines in the area of the proposed rush darter critical habitat in Doe 
and Wildcat Branch, Winston County, Alabama. In the Energy Supply, 
Distribution, or Use determination, the Service only mentions that coal 
mining occurs or could occur in Cumberland darter units.
    Our Response: Historically, there was an abundance of coal mining 
in Winston County, Alabama. Recently, coal mining has accelerated south 
of the watershed containing critical habitat for the rush darter. 
However, there are no active mines that impact the surface water of the 
proposed critical habitat for the rush darter. The Poplar Springs Mine 
is active, but is outside the proposed critical habitat unit, and no 
impacts to the surface waters are believed to occur (Drennen 2011, 
pers. obs.). Although there are no obvious coal mining impacts to 
surface water, little is known about groundwater impacts within the 
aquifer. These types of effects are untimely in expressing themselves 
and may not be known for many years, if indeed they do occur.

Comments from States

    Section 4(i) of the Act states, ``the Secretary shall submit to the 
State agency a written justification for his failure to adopt 
regulations consistent with the agency's comments or petition.'' We 
received one comment from the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife 
Resources (KDFWR) related to road crossings and culverts acting as 
threats to the Cumberland darter. This comment was incorporated into 
this final rule. We did not receive any other substantive comments from 
the States (Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, or Tennessee) regarding the 
proposed rule. No official position was expressed by the States on the 
critical habitat designation.
    (5) Comment: The KDFWR commented that culverts and impassable road 
crossings (fords) could act as barriers to dispersal for Cumberland 
darters, thereby contributing to population fragmentation and reduced 
gene flow among and between populations.
    Our Response: We agree that impassable road crossings and culverts 
can limit or prevent natural dispersal of Cumberland darters, which can 
lead to population fragmentation and reduced gene flow. We discussed 
this potential threat (Factor E) in the final listing and proposed 
critical habitat rules, and we summarized our current knowledge of 
Cumberland darter dispersal behavior in the Physical and Biological 
Features section of this final critical habitat rule.

Public Comments

Landowner Rights
    (6) Comment: The proposed designation will harm private landowners 
in Arkansas through increased government regulation, and

[[Page 63608]]

will add unnecessary bureaucracy in the use of surface waters.
    Our Response: The designation of critical habitat will not increase 
government regulation of private land in Arkansas. The effects of 
private activities are not subject to the Act's section 7 consultation 
requirements unless they are connected to a Federal action. Federal 
activities conducted in or adjacent to areas designated as critical 
habitat are already subject to section 7 consultation requirements of 
the Act because of the presence of one or more species currently listed 
under the Act. Most normal operations for rearing of livestock, or for 
other land uses common to the upper Little Red River watershed in 
Arkansas, do not require Federal permits or actions. We do not 
anticipate that this designation will impose any additional direct 
regulatory burdens to private landowners in Arkansas.
    (7) Comment: The designation of critical habitat for the 
yellowcheek darter will involve establishment of streamside buffers, 
exclusion of cattle from designated critical habitat through 
installation of new fencing, or taking of private land by the Federal 
government.
    Our Response: The designation of critical habitat does not affect 
land ownership or establish a refuge, wilderness, reserve, preserve, or 
other conservation area. Critical habitat designation does not regulate 
private actions on private lands or confiscate private property. It 
does not affect individuals, organizations, States, local governments 
or other non-Federal entities that do not require Federal permits or 
funding. Such designation does not allow the government or public to 
access private lands.
    The designation of critical habitat does not create streamside 
buffers or impose requirements to fence livestock or other animals from 
streams. Waters of navigable streams, such as those designated as 
critical habitat for the yellowcheek darter, are considered public 
waters by the State of Arkansas. The designation includes river 
channels within the ordinary high water line, which would not include 
adjacent private properties.

Procedural and Legal Considerations

    (8) Comment: Landowners have not been contacted and given the 
opportunity to respond to the proposed designation. Most landowners (in 
the Little Red River watershed, Arkansas) and the people of Arkansas 
did not know of the comment deadline; therefore, the comment period 
should be extended and public hearings conducted.
    Our Response: When we issue a proposed rule, we want to ensure 
widespread knowledge and opportunity for the public to comment, 
particularly among those who may be potentially affected by the action. 
The proposed designation for yellowcheek darter covered portions of 
four Arkansas counties; therefore, it was impossible to personally 
contact all landowners in the area. However, we attempted to ensure 
that as many people as possible would be aware of the proposed 
designation through distribution of press releases to all major media 
in the affected area, including those in State capitols and major 
cities; publication of newspaper notices; and direct notification of 
affected State and Federal agencies, environmental groups, major 
industries, State Governors, Federal and State elected officials, and 
representatives associated with the National Championship Chuck Wagon 
Races (see Previous Federal Actions, above). We continued to accept all 
comments received after the initial public comment period ended to 
ensure that all interested parties would have the opportunity to 
comment on the proposed designation. Further, although the request for 
a public hearing was made after the deadline for such requests, we held 
a public information meeting on February 22, 2012, and a public hearing 
on June 7, 2012, following the publication that made available the 
draft economic analysis (77 FR 30988). In short, we have complied with 
or exceeded all of the notification requirements of the Act.

Economic Impacts and Economic Analysis

    (9) Comment: Multiple commenters state that designation of critical 
habitat for the yellowcheek darter would negatively affect the National 
Championship Chuck Wagon Races by preventing horses from crossing the 
river or by preventing the event from occurring in the future. 
Additional comments state that the draft economic analysis (DEA) fails 
to consider the impacts of designation on the local economy of Van 
Buren County, Arkansas, where the event takes place. The commenters 
state that if the event is cancelled, impacts would include loss of 
business for local restaurants, motels, grocery stores, gas stations, 
and feed stores, and corresponding losses in local and State tax 
revenues.
    Our Response: As stated in section 3.2.5 of the DEA, the Service 
anticipates that the landowner who hosts the 2012 National Championship 
Chuck Wagon Races could apply for a permit under section 404 of the 
Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.) to construct a dam for the 
races, and may develop a habitat conservation plan that would allow 
incidental taking of the species under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act. 
Both of these actions would lead to section 7 consultations with the 
Service. However, conservation measures that the Service would 
recommend to prevent adverse effects to the species would also most 
likely prevent adverse modification of critical habitat and would occur 
regardless of critical habitat designation. It is, therefore, unlikely 
that critical habitat designation itself would affect the races by 
preventing horses from crossing the river or preventing the event from 
occurring. Therefore critical habitat designation is not expected to 
affect the regional economy.
    (10) Comment: Multiple commenters state generally that the DEA does 
not adequately address the economic impacts of proposed critical 
habitat designation for the yellowcheek darter on cattle ranching, 
farming, silviculture, natural gas and oil exploration and development, 
and recreational activities. The commenters request that more studies 
be done on the economic impacts of the proposed designation. Multiple 
commenters suggest that the conservation measures that may result from 
the rule would put a significant burden on small ranching operations 
and other economic activities. Commenters specifically mention the 
following measures as being costly and potentially detrimental to their 
economic well-being: installation of fencing along the river to prevent 
access by livestock; prohibition of bank stabilization activities; and 
prohibition on using river water for irrigation purposes.
    Our Response: As described in section 2.3.2 and Appendix D of the 
DEA, the incremental impacts of critical habitat designation are 
expected to be limited to any additional administrative costs of 
section 7 consultations. Voluntary conservation measures suggested by 
the Service would be recommended regardless of critical habitat 
designation, in order to avoid adverse effects to the species. 
Therefore, it is unlikely that critical habitat designation itself 
would affect ranching, farming, silviculture, natural gas and oil 
exploration and development, or recreational activities through 
conservation recommendations such as installing fencing, bank 
stabilization, or prohibiting use of water for irrigation purposes.
    (11) Comment: One commenter expresses concern that designation of 
critical habitat would hamper local fire

[[Page 63609]]

department use of river water for rural fire fighting and pump testing.
    Our Response: The local fire departments' use of river water would 
be unlikely to result in adverse modification of critical habitat due 
to the small amounts of water used for such activities and the fact 
that no Federal permit is required for these actions. Because there is 
no Federal permit required, there is no Federal nexus and no section 7 
consultation required for these actions. Therefore, it is unlikely that 
critical habitat would generate recommendations that would hamper local 
fire departments' use of river water.
    (12) Comment: Multiple commenters express concern that their land 
values will be negatively impacted by the designation of critical 
habitat and that the DEA does not take into account the impact of 
critical habitat designation on livelihoods and property values.
    Our Response: The activities that may occur on a parcel of land are 
not expected to be limited by the designation of critical habitat 
because critical habitat is only designated below the ordinary high 
water mark of streams and most activities occurring on lands adjacent 
to streams do not require Federal actions that would require section 7 
consultation. Therefore, direct reductions in land value due to the 
designation are not expected. However, it is true that section 2.3.2 of 
the DEA describes the potential indirect regulatory uncertainty or 
stigma effect that the designation of critical habitat may have on 
property values. However, due to uncertainty surrounding the likelihood 
and extent of such indirect impacts, these potential effects are 
considered speculative. The uncertainty regarding the regulatory 
requirements associated with critical habitat may diminish as section 7 
consultations are completed and additional information becomes 
available on the effects of critical habitat on specific activities.
    (13) Comment: One commenter questioned how the DEA forecasts a 
value of $140,000 for impacts relating to the designation of critical 
habitat for the yellowcheek darter.
    Our Response: As noted in Exhibit ES-4 of the DEA, the present 
value of the total incremental costs of critical habitat designation 
for the yellowcheek darter is $134,000 over the next 20 years, assuming 
a 7 percent discount rate. These costs reflect additional 
administrative effort as part of future section 7 consultations in 
order to consider the potential for activities to result in adverse 
modification of critical habitat. No change in economic activity levels 
or the management of economic activities is expected to result from the 
critical habitat designation.
    (14) Comment: Multiple commenters express support for the 
designation of critical habitat for the laurel dace in Tennessee as 
they believe the designation would help prevent the development of new 
coal operations near Dayton, TN. Specifically, the comments state that 
proposed coal mining operations in the area, if initiated, would 
negatively affect the laurel dace and other species. One comment states 
that the area where the laurel dace is found is located very close to a 
``proposed coal processing plant location on Ogden Road, Dayton TN by 
Iron Properties.''
    Our Response: The DEA discusses known coal mining activity in 
Tennessee in section 3.2.2. Data from the Office of Surface Mining 
Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) indicate that there are two pending 
permits for coal mining activities in the Dayton area of Rhea County, 
TN. However, only one of these potential projects occurs within a 
watershed containing laurel dace critical habitat. As indicated in the 
DEA, this project is located in the watershed containing proposed 
critical habitat Unit 4 for the laurel dace. As indicated in Exhibit 3-
4 of the DEA, it is expected that the Service will consult on this 
project with OSMRE under the Local Interagency Working Agreement 
described in section 3.2.2 of the DEA. However, because conservation 
measures suggested by the Service would be recommended regardless of 
critical habitat, in order to avoid adverse effects to the species, it 
is unlikely that critical habitat will generate any additional 
recommendations that will prevent the development of new coal 
operations near Dayton, TN.
    (15) Comment: Multiple commenters elaborate on the potential 
benefits of the proposed designation. At least one of these commenters 
suggests that the long-term economic benefits of designation are not 
adequately addressed in the proposed rule and DEA. Commenters suggest 
the indirect benefits of critical habitat designation include: water 
quality and supply improvements, opportunities to generate additional 
recreation-based economic activities (park visits, hiking, biking, 
fishing, camping, boating, and service industry), regional small 
business growth (recreational equipment industry, lodging industry, 
food industry, gas stations, and other services), increased property 
values, and increased tax revenues.
    Our Response: As detailed in section 3.4 of the DEA, the analysis 
does not expect any changes in economic activity levels or the 
management of economic activities to result from critical habitat 
designation for the five fishes. Absent these changes, we do not expect 
the designation to result in any incremental economic benefits, such as 
water quality improvements, recreational opportunities, and increased 
property values. The DEA does, however, note that conservation for 
these species undertaken due to the listing (even absent the 
designation of critical habitat) may generate the types of benefits 
described in these comments.

Best Scientific Information

    (16) Comment: Critical habitat designation for the yellowcheek 
darter was not based on reliable scientific data and not enough habitat 
area was surveyed.
    Our Response: The Act requires the Secretary of the Interior to use 
the best scientific and commercial data available when designating 
critical habitat for a species.
    In fulfilling this requirement, we received and used information on 
the biology, ecology, distribution, abundance, status, and trends of 
species from a wide variety of sources. These sources include status 
surveys, biological assessments, and other unpublished material (that 
is, ``gray literature'') from State natural resource agencies and 
natural heritage programs, Tribal governments, other Federal agencies, 
consulting firms, contractors, and individuals associated with 
professional organizations and higher educational institutions. We also 
use published articles from professional journals. Service biologists 
are required to gather, review, and evaluate information from these 
sources prior to undertaking listing, recovery, consultation, and 
permitting actions. Additionally, Service biologists surveyed most of 
the areas proposed as critical habitat for the yellowcheek darter as 
part of a 2004 threats assessment for the endangered speckled 
pocketbook mussel (Lampsilis streckeri) and yellowcheek darter 
(Davidson and Wine 2004).

Factors Affecting the Species

    (17) Comment: One commenter stated that the Cumberland darter is 
threatened by degradation of water quality from large surface coal 
mines in the northern coalfields of Scott and Campbell Counties, 
Tennessee. In addition to this general concern, the commenter was aware 
of selenium contamination within these same watersheds and was aware of 
several notices of violation from the Tennessee Department of 
Environment

[[Page 63610]]

and the OSMRE regarding degradation of water quality and impacts to 
aquatic species within these watersheds. The commenter feared that 
current mining activities and issuance of new permits would cause 
further degradation to fish and wildlife habitats in Campbell and Scott 
Counties.
    Our Response: We concur with the commenter that large surface coal 
mine operations in Campbell and Scott Counties, Tennessee, are a 
potential threat to the Cumberland darter, and have the potential to 
degrade water quality of Cumberland darter streams in these watersheds. 
Streams associated with surface coal mining and valley fills are 
typically characterized by elevated conductivity, elevated total 
dissolved solids, and increased concentrations of sulfate, bicarbonate 
ions, and metals such as manganese, iron, aluminum, and selenium. 
Increased levels of selenium have been shown to bioaccumulate in 
organisms, leading to deformities in larval fish and potentially 
harming birds that prey on fishes. The final listing rule (75 FR 36035) 
provided a more detailed analysis of these and other water quality 
threats to the Cumberland darter under Summary of Factors Affecting the 
Species (75 FR 36042).
    (18) Comment: Two commenters raised the possibility that perched 
culverts or impassable road crossings (fords) represent a threat to the 
Cumberland darter and suggested that this potential threat may require 
special management considerations or protection. The commenters 
explained that perched culverts are common within the upper Cumberland 
River system, and they often restrict fish movements, as evidenced by 
lower species diversity observed by the commenters upstream of these 
culverts. The commenters also suggested that connectivity of Cumberland 
darter streams could be affected by these barriers, leading to further 
isolation of these populations and preventing the free exchange of 
genetic material between populations.
    Our Response: We agree with the commenters that perched culverts 
represent a potential threat to the Cumberland darter. We, too, have 
observed perched culverts in the upper Cumberland River system, and we 
often observe lower species diversity in reaches upstream of these 
culverts. To address the potential threat posed by these barriers, we 
have included additional text in the Special Management Considerations 
or Protection section (below) that identifies the threat and lists 
potential management activities that could ameliorate the threat.
    (19) Comment: One commenter raised the possibility that 
agricultural practices pose a threat to the Chucky madtom by 
eliminating riparian buffers, warming stream temperatures, and 
introducing fertilizer into the water.
    Our Response: We agree with the commenter that agriculture can pose 
a threat to the Chucky madtom. We have included additional text in the 
Special Management Considerations or Protection section (below) that 
identifies the threat and lists potential management activities that 
could ameliorate the threat.
    (20) Comment: Two commenters raised the concern that coal 
exploration in the Rock Creek Lands Unsuitable for Mining area 
indicates a potential threat to the laurel dace from future coal mining 
in the southern coalfield areas of Tennessee.
    Our Response: We agree with the commenters that possible future 
coal mining in southern Tennessee represents a potential threat to the 
laurel dace. To address the potential threat posed by coal mining and 
acid mine drainage, we have included additional text in the Special 
Management Considerations or Protection section that identifies the 
threat and lists potential management activities that could ameliorate 
the threat.

Summary of Changes From Proposed Rule

    In preparing this final critical habitat designation for the 
Cumberland darter, rush darter, yellowcheek darter, Chucky madtom, and 
laurel dace, we reviewed and considered comments from the public on the 
proposed designation of critical habitat published on October 12, 2011 
(76 FR 63360) and our announcement of the availability of the DEA 
published on May 24, 2012 (77 FR 30988). We likewise reviewed and 
considered comments from a public informational meeting held on 
February 22, 2012, and a public hearing held on June 7, 2012, both in 
Clinton, Arkansas. As a result of public comments and peer review, we 
made changes to our designation of critical habitat for these five 
fishes. These changes are as follows:
    (1) We added additional threats information for the Cumberland 
darter, rush darter, Chucky madtom, and laurel dace.
    (2) We capitalized the common name of the Chucky madtom, to reflect 
the fact that it is named after Little Chucky Creek, and is therefore, 
a proper noun. We updated a reference for Chucky madtom habitat and 
threats, and clarified that Little Chucky Creek is the entire current 
range (but not the entire historic range) of the Chucky madtom in the 
Criteria Used to Identify Critical Habitat section.
    (3) We updated the total number of river kilometers for the 
Cumberland darter unit 1, and all four yellowcheek darter units, due to 
a change in mapping methodology. The beginning and ending points of 
critical habitat, as well as the unit descriptions (as described in the 
proposed critical habitat rule) remain the same. The change in mapping 
results from standardizing methods used to estimate the unit lengths 
designated as critical habitat for all five species. This methodology 
better follows the meander of the river channel and results in an 
additional 0.5 river kilometers (rkm) (0.3 river miles (rmi)) for the 
Cumberland darter, and an additional 6.6 rkm (4.1 rmi) for the 
yellowcheek darter.
    (4) We revised the ownership of one property for the yellowcheek 
darter critical habitat, resulting in a change of the total number of 
river kilometers in private ownership from 148 rkm (92 rmi) to 162.7 
rkm (101.1 rmi), as well as a corresponding downward revision in the 
other ownership types.
    (5) We revised the Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use--Executive 
Order 13211 section to state that coal mining could potentially occur 
in one of six critical habitat units for the laurel dace.
    (6) We added a spring run and associated wetlands to Unit 2 as 
critical habitat for the rush darter. This 0.13 ha (0.32 ac) spring 
associated wetland and 85.8 m (0.05 mi) spring run is adjacent to the 
headwaters of the Unnamed Tributary to Beaver Creek and is privately 
owned.
    (7) We corrected errors in calculating total length and area in 
Table 2 for the rush darter.

Critical Habitat

Background

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

[[Page 63611]]

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

Physical and 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 by the species at the time of listing to 
designate as critical habitat, we consider the physical or biological 
features essential to the conservation of the species and which may 
require special management considerations or protection. These include, 
but are not limited to:
    (1) Space for individual and population growth and for normal 
behavior;
    (2) Food, water, air, light, minerals, or other nutritional or 
physiological requirements;
    (3) Cover or shelter;

[[Page 63612]]

    (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 
distribution of a species.
    We derive the specific physical or biological features essential 
for the Cumberland darter, rush darter, yellowcheek darter, Chucky 
madtom, and laurel dace from studies of these species' habitats, 
ecology, and life history as described in the Critical Habitat section 
of the proposed rule to designate critical habitat published in the 
Federal Register on October 12, 2011 (76 FR 63360), and in the 
information presented below. Additional information can be found in the 
final listing rule published in the Federal Register on August 9, 2011 
(76 FR 48722). We have determined that these five species require the 
physical or biological features described below.

Space for Individual and Population Growth and for Normal Behavior

Cumberland Darter
    Little is known about the specific space requirements of the 
Cumberland darter; however, the species is typically found in low to 
moderate gradient, second- to fourth-order, geomorphically stable 
streams, where it occupies shallow pools or runs with gentle current 
over sand or sand-covered bedrock substrates with patches of gravel or 
debris (O'Bara 1991, p. 10; Thomas 2007, p. 4). Geomorphically stable 
streams transport sediment while maintaining their horizontal and 
vertical dimensions (width to depth ratio and cross-sectional area), 
pattern (sinuosity), and longitudinal profile (riffles, runs, and 
pools), thereby conserving the physical characteristics of the stream, 
including bottom features such as riffles, runs, and pools and the 
transition zones between these features. The protection and maintenance 
of these habitat features accommodate spawning, rearing, growth, 
migration, and other normal behaviors of the Cumberland darter.
    Limited information exists with regard to upstream or downstream 
movements of Cumberland darters; however, Winn (1958a, pp. 163-164) 
reported considerable pre-spawn movements for its closest relative, the 
Johnny darter. In Beer Creek, Monroe County, Michigan, Johnny darters 
migrated several miles between temporary stream habitats and permanent 
pools in downstream reaches. Recent capture data for tagged individuals 
in Cogur Fork, McCreary County, Kentucky, demonstrate that Cumberland 
darters may make similar movements (Thomas 2010, pers. comm.). 
Individuals tagged and released by the Kentucky Department of Fish and 
Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) and Conservation Fisheries, Inc. (CFI), 
traveled distances ranging from 0.4 to 0.7 rkm (0.2 to 0.4 rmi) between 
their release date of September 22, 2010, and their recapture date of 
November 9, 2010 (period of 48 days) (Thomas 2010, pers. comm.). Over 
longer periods, it is likely that Cumberland darters can utilize stream 
reaches longer than 0.7 rkm (0.4 rmi).
    The current range of the Cumberland darter has been reduced to 13 
streams (15 occurrences) due to destruction and fragmentation of 
habitat. Fragmentation of the species' habitat has subjected these 
small populations to genetic isolation, reduced space for rearing and 
reproduction, reduced adaptive capabilities, and an increased 
likelihood of local extinctions (Burkhead et al. 1997, pp. 397-399; 
Hallerman 2003, pp. 363-364). Genetic variation and diversity within a 
species are essential for recovery, adaptation to environmental change, 
and long-term viability (capability to live, reproduce, and develop) 
(Noss and Cooperrider 1994, pp. 282-297; Harris 1984, pp. 93-107; 
Fluker et al. 2007, p. 2). The long-term viability of a species is 
founded on the conservation of numerous local populations throughout 
its geographic range (Harris 1984, pp. 93-104). Connectivity of these 
habitats is essential in preventing further fragmentation and isolation 
of Cumberland darter populations and promoting species movement and 
genetic flow between populations.
    Therefore, based on the information above, we identify shallow 
pools and runs and associated stream segments of geomorphically stable, 
second- to fourth-order streams to be an essential physical or 
biological feature for the Cumberland darter. The connectivity of these 
habitats is essential in accommodating feeding, breeding, growth, and 
other normal behaviors of the Cumberland darter and in promoting gene 
flow within the species.
Rush Darter
    Little is known about the specific space requirements of the rush 
darter in the Turkey Creek, Little Cove-Bristow Creek, and Clear Creek 
systems (Boschung and Mayden 2004, p. 551); however, in general, 
darters depend on space within geomorphically stable streams with 
varying water quantities and flow. Specifically, rush darters appear to 
prefer springs and spring-fed reaches of relatively low-gradient, small 
streams (Bart and Taylor 1999, p. 32; Johnston and Kleiner 2001, pp. 3-
4; Stiles and Blanchard 2001, pp. 1-4; Bart 2002, p. 1; Fluker et al. 
2007, p. 1; Stiles and Mills 2008, pp. 1-4) and wetland pools (Stiles 
and Mills 2008, pp. 2-3). This species also relies heavily on aquatic 
vegetation (Fluker et al. 2007, p. 1) including: Root masses of 
emergent vegetation along the margins of spring-fed streams in very 
shallow, clear, cool, and flowing water; and both small clumps and 
dense stands of watercress (Nasturtium officinale), parrots feather 
(Myriophyllum sp.), rushes (Juncus spp.), sedges (Carex spp.), bur reed 
(Sparganium sp.), and coontail (Ceratophyllum sp.). The rush darter 
inhabits streams with substrates of silt, sand, sand and silt, muck and 
sand or some gravel with sand, and bedrock.
    Geomorphically stable streams transport sediment while maintaining 
their horizontal and vertical dimensions (width to depth ratio and 
cross-sectional area), pattern (sinuosity), and longitudinal profile 
(riffles, runs, and pools), thereby conserving the physical 
characteristics of the stream, including bottom features such as 
riffles, runs, and pools and the transition zones between these 
features that contain some silt, sand, and finer substrates. The 
riffles, runs, and pools not only provide space for the rush darter, 
but also provide space for emergent vegetation in shallow water along 
the margins of the small streams and springs for cover, and shelter 
necessary for breeding, reproduction, and growth of offspring.
    The current range of the rush darter within the entire Turkey 
Creek, Clear Creek, and Little Cove-Bristow Creek watersheds is reduced 
to localized sites due to fragmentation, separation, and destruction of 
rush darter habitats and populations. There are dispersal barriers 
(pipes and culverts for road crossings; channelized stream segments; 
and emergent aquatic plant control, which eliminates cover habitat for 
the species) and an increased amount of water extraction, which results 
in insufficient aquifer recharge zones that may contribute to the 
separation and isolation of rush darter populations and affect water 
quality. Fragmentation of the species' habitat has isolated populations 
and reduced available spaces for rearing and reproduction, thereby 
reducing adaptive capability and increasing the likelihood of local 
extinctions (Burkhead et al. 1997, pp. 397-399; Hallerman 2003, pp. 
363-364). Genetic variation and diversity within a species are 
essential for recovery, adaptation to environmental changes, and long-
term viability (capability to

[[Page 63613]]

live, reproduce, and develop) (Harris 1984, pp. 93-107; Noss and 
Cooperrider 1994, pp. 282-297; Fluker et al. 2007, p. 2). Long-term 
viability is founded on numerous interbreeding, local populations 
throughout the range (Harris 1984, pp. 93-107). Continuity of water 
flow between suitable habitats is essential in preventing further 
fragmentation of the species' habitat and populations, conserving the 
essential emergent vegetation in shallow water on the margins of small 
streams and springs, and promoting genetic flow throughout the 
populations. Continuity of habitat will maintain spawning, foraging, 
and resting sites, and allow for gene flow throughout the population. 
Connectivity of habitats, as a whole, also permits improvement in water 
quality and water quantity by allowing unobstructed water flow 
throughout the connected habitats.
    Therefore, based on the information above, we identify springs and 
spring-fed reaches of relatively low-gradient, geomorphically stable 
streams with emergent vegetation to be an essential physical or 
biological feature for the rush darter. The connectivity of these 
habitats is essential in accommodating feeding, breeding, growth, and 
other normal behaviors of the rush darter and in promoting gene flow 
within the species.
Yellowcheek Darter
    The yellowcheek darter is typically found in clear, high-gradient, 
second- to fifth-order, geomorphically stable streams that maintain 
permanent year-round flows (Robison and Buchanan 1988, p. 429). The 
species occupies riffles with moderate to fast current over gravel, 
cobble, and boulder substrates (Robison and Buchanan 1988, p. 429). 
Geomorphically stable streams transport sediment while maintaining 
their horizontal and vertical dimensions (width to depth ratio and 
cross-sectional area), pattern (sinuosity), and longitudinal profile 
(riffles, runs, and pools), thereby conserving the physical 
characteristics of the stream, including bottom features such as 
riffles, runs, and pools and the transition zones between these 
features. The protection and maintenance of these habitat features 
accommodate spawning, rearing, growth, migration, and other normal 
behaviors of the yellowcheek darter.
    In 1962, the construction of Little Red River Dam to create Greers 
Ferry Reservoir impounded much of the range of the yellowcheek darter, 
including the lower reaches of Devil's Fork, Middle Fork, South Fork, 
and portions of the main stem Little Red River, thus extirpating the 
species from these reaches. The yellowcheek darter was also extirpated 
from the Little Red River downstream of Greers Ferry Reservoir due to 
cold tailwater releases. The lake flooded optimal habitat for the 
species, and caused genetic isolation of populations (McDaniel 1984, p. 
1), with only the South and Archey forks of the Little Red River 
maintaining a non-inundated confluence.
    As stated earlier, of the four streams supporting the yellowcheek 
darter, only the South and Archey forks maintain a non-inundated 
confluence. Instream habitat at the confluence of the two streams is 
suboptimal due to previous channelization, but restoration could 
provide an opportunity for vital population interactions between 
streams to maintain genetic diversity. Fragmentation of the species' 
habitat has subjected these small populations to genetic isolation, 
reduced space for rearing and reproduction, reduced adaptive 
capabilities, and an increased likelihood of local extinctions 
(Burkhead et al. 1997, pp. 397-399; Hallerman 2003, pp. 363-364). 
Genetic variation and diversity within a species are essential for 
recovery, adaptation to environmental change, and long-term viability 
(capability to live, reproduce, and develop) (Harris 1984, pp. 93-107; 
Noss and Cooperrider 1994, pp. 282-297; Fluker et al. 2007, p. 2). The 
long-term viability of a species is founded on the conservation of 
numerous local populations throughout its geographic range (Harris 
1984, pp. 93-104). Connectivity of these habitats is essential to 
prevent further fragmentation and isolation of yellowcheek darter 
populations and to promote species movement and genetic flow between 
populations.
    Therefore, based on the information above, we identify riffles of 
geomorphically stable, second- to fifth-order streams to be an 
essential physical or biological feature for the yellowcheek darter. 
The connectivity of these habitats is essential to accommodate feeding, 
breeding, growth, and other normal behaviors of the yellowcheek darter 
and to promote gene flow within the species.
Chucky Madtom
    Little is known about the specific space requirements of the Chucky 
madtom; however, all of the specimens collected in Little Chucky Creek 
have been found in shallow pool and run habitats with slow to moderate 
current over pea gravel, cobble, or slab-rock boulder substrates (Burr 
et al. 2005, p. 797). Geomorphically stable streams transport sediment 
while maintaining their horizontal and vertical dimensions (width to 
depth ratio and cross-sectional area), pattern (sinuosity), and 
longitudinal profile (riffles, runs, and pools), thereby conserving the 
physical characteristics of the stream, including bottom features, such 
as riffles, runs, and pools and the transition zones between these 
features. The protection and maintenance of these habitat features 
accommodate spawning, rearing, growth, migration, and other normal 
behaviors of the Chucky madtom.
    The current range of the Chucky madtom has been reduced to only one 
stream due to fragmentation and destruction of habitat. Habitat 
fragmentation has subjected the small population to genetic isolation, 
reduced space for rearing and reproduction, reduced adaptive 
capabilities, and increased the likelihood of extinction (Burkhead et 
al. 1997, pp. 397-399; Hallerman 2003, pp. 363-364). Genetic variation 
and diversity within a species are essential for recovery, adaptation 
to environmental change, and long-term viability (capability to live, 
reproduce, and develop) (Harris 1984, pp. 93-107; Noss and Cooperrider 
1994, pp. 282-297; Fluker et al. 2007, p. 2). The long-term viability 
of a species is founded on the conservation of numerous local 
populations throughout its geographic range (Harris 1984, pp. 93-104). 
Connecting instream habitats is essential in preserving the genetic 
viability of the Chucky madtom in Little Chucky Creek.
    Therefore, based on the information above, we identify shallow 
pools and runs of geomorphically stable streams to be an essential 
physical or biological feature for the Chucky madtom. The connectivity 
of these habitats is essential to accommodate feeding, breeding, 
growth, and other normal behaviors of the Chucky madtom and to promote 
gene flow within the species.
Laurel Dace
    Little is known about the specific space requirements of the laurel 
dace; however, the species is typically found in low to moderate 
gradient, first- to second-order, geomorphically stable streams. The 
laurel dace occupies pools or slow runs beneath undercut banks or slab-
rock boulders in clear, cool (maximum temperature 26 [deg]C (78.8 
[deg]F)) streams. Substrates in streams where laurel dace are found 
typically consist of a mixture of cobble, rubble, and boulders, and the 
streams tend to have a dense riparian zone consisting largely of 
mountain laurel (Skelton 2001, pp. 125-126).
    Geomorphically stable streams transport sediment while maintaining

[[Page 63614]]

their horizontal and vertical dimensions (width to depth ratio and 
cross-sectional area), pattern (sinuosity), and longitudinal profile 
(riffles, runs, and pools), thereby conserving the physical 
characteristics of the stream, including bottom features such as 
riffles, runs, and pools and the transition zones between these 
features. The protection and maintenance of these habitat features 
accommodate spawning, rearing, growth, migration, and other normal 
behaviors of the laurel dace.
    Strange and Skelton (2005, p. 8) assessed the genetic structure 
within populations of laurel dace, and, based on distribution of 
genetic diversity among populations, they recognized two genetically 
distinct management units: (1) The southern populations in Sale and 
Soddy creeks, and (2) the northern population in the Piney River 
system.
    The current range of the laurel dace has been reduced to short 
reaches (approximately 0.3 to 8 rkm (0.2 to 5 rmi) in length) of six 
streams due to fragmentation and destruction of habitat. Fragmentation 
of the species' habitat has subjected these small populations to 
genetic isolation, reduced space for rearing and reproduction, reduced 
adaptive capabilities, and an increased likelihood of local extinctions 
(Burkhead et al. 1997, pp. 397-399; Hallerman 2003, pp. 363-364). 
Genetic variation and diversity within a species are essential for 
recovery, adaptation to environmental change, and long-term viability 
(capability to live, reproduce, and develop) (Harris 1984, pp. 93-107; 
Noss and Cooperrider 1994, pp. 282-297; Fluker et al. 2007, p. 2). The 
long-term viability of a species is founded on the conservation of 
numerous local populations throughout its geographic range (Harris 
1984, pp. 93-104). Connectivity of these habitats is essential in 
preventing further fragmentation and isolation of laurel dace 
populations.
    Therefore, based on the information above, we identify shallow 
pools and runs and associated stream segments of geomorphically stable, 
first- to second-order streams with riparian vegetation to be an 
essential physical or biological feature for the laurel dace. The 
connectivity of these habitats is essential in accommodating feeding, 
breeding, growth, and other normal behaviors of the laurel dace and in 
promoting gene flow within the species.

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

Cumberland Darter
    Feeding habits of the Cumberland darter are unknown but are likely 
similar to that of its sister species, the Johnny darter (Etheostoma 
nigrum Rafinesque). Johnny darters are diurnal sight feeders, with prey 
items consisting of midge larvae, mayfly nymphs, caddisfly larvae, and 
microcrustaceans (Kuehne and Barbour 1983, p. 104; Etnier and Starnes 
1993, p. 511). Similar to other darters, juvenile Cumberland darters 
likely feed on planktonic organisms or other small invertebrates.
    Like most other darters, the Cumberland darter depends on perennial 
stream flows that create suitable habitat conditions needed for 
successful completion of its life cycle. An ample supply of flowing 
water provides a means of transporting nutrients and food items, 
moderating water temperatures and dissolved oxygen levels, removing 
fine sediments that could damage spawning or foraging habitats, and 
diluting nonpoint source pollutants. Water withdrawals do not represent 
a significant threat to the species, but the species is faced with 
occasional low-flow conditions that occur during periods of drought. 
One such event occurred in the summer and fall of 2007, when recorded 
streamflows in the upper Cumberland River basin of Kentucky and 
Tennessee (USGS Station Number 03404000) were among the lowest monthly 
values of the last 67 years (Cinotto 2008, pers. comm.).
    Water quality is also important to the persistence of the 
Cumberland darter. The species requires relatively clean, cool, flowing 
water to successfully complete its life cycle, but specific water 
quality requirements (such as temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, and 
conductivity) that define suitable habitat conditions for the 
Cumberland darter have not been determined. In general, optimal water 
quality conditions for fishes and other aquatic organisms are 
characterized by moderate stream temperatures, acceptable dissolved 
oxygen concentrations, and the lack of harmful levels of pollutants, 
such as inorganic contaminants like iron, manganese, selenium, and 
cadmium; organic contaminants such as human and animal waste products; 
pesticides and herbicides; nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus 
fertilizers; and petroleum distillates.
    Sediment is the most common pollutant within the upper Cumberland 
River system (KDOW 1996, pp. 50-53, 71-75; 2002, pp. 39-40; 2006, pp. 
178-185), and the primary sources of sediment include resource 
extraction (e.g., coal mining, silviculture, natural gas development), 
agriculture, road construction, and urban development (Waters 1995, pp. 
2-3; Skelton 1997, pp. 17, 19; KDOW 2006, pp. 178-185; Thomas 2007, p. 
5). Siltation (excess sediments suspended or deposited in a stream) has 
been shown to abrade and suffocate bottom-dwelling organisms; reduce 
aquatic insect diversity and abundance; impair fish feeding behavior by 
altering prey base and reducing visibility of prey; impair reproduction 
due to burial of nests; and, ultimately, negatively impact fish growth, 
survival, and reproduction (Waters 1995, pp. 5-7, 55-62; Knight and 
Welch 2001, pp. 134-136). O'Bara (1991, p. 11) reported that Cumberland 
darter habitats are very susceptible to siltation because of the 
habitat's low to moderate gradient, low velocity, and shallow depth. 
O'Bara (1991, p. 11) concluded that siltation was the major limiting 
factor for the species' continued existence and its ability to colonize 
new stream systems.
    Cumberland darters are threatened by water quality degradation 
caused by a variety of nonpoint source pollutants. Coal mining 
represents a major source of nonpoint source pollutants (O'Bara 1991, 
p. 11; Thomas 2007, p. 5), because it has the potential to contribute 
high concentrations of dissolved metals and other solids that lower 
stream pH or lead to elevated levels of stream conductivity (Pond 2004, 
pp. 6-7, 38-41; Mattingly et al. 2005, p. 59). These impacts have been 
shown to negatively affect fish species, including listed species, in 
the Clear Fork system of the Cumberland basin (Weaver 1997, pp. 29; 
Hartowicz 2008, pers. comm.). The direct effect of elevated stream 
conductivity on fishes, including the Cumberland darter, is poorly 
understood, but some species, such as blackside dace (Chrosomus 
cumberlandensis), have shown declines in abundance over time as 
conductivity increased in streams affected by mining (Hartowicz 2008, 
pers. comm.). Other nonpoint source pollutants that affect the 
Cumberland darter include domestic sewage (through septic tank leakage 
or straight pipe discharges); agricultural pollutants such as 
fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and animal waste; and other 
chemicals associated with oil and gas development. Nonpoint source 
pollutants can cause excess nutrification (increased levels of nitrogen 
and phosphorus), excessive algal growth, instream oxygen deficiencies, 
increased acidity and conductivity, and other

[[Page 63615]]

changes in water chemistry that can negatively impact aquatic species 
(KDOW 1996, pp. 48-50; 2006, pp. 70-73).
    Therefore, based on the information above, we identify aquatic 
macroinvertebrate prey items; permanent surface flows, as measured 
during average rainfall years; and adequate water quality with 
substrates that are relatively silt-free to be an essential physical or 
biological feature for the Cumberland darter. Relatively silt-free is 
defined for the purpose of this rule as silt or fine sand within 
interstitial spaces of substrates in amounts low enough to have minimal 
impact to the species.
Rush Darter
    Feeding habits of the rush darter are unknown but are likely 
similar to that of its sister species, the goldstripe darter 
(Etheostoma parvipinne). The goldstripe darter is a benthic (bottom) 
insectivore and is known to consume midge larvae, mayfly nymphs, 
blackfly larvae, beetles, and microcrustaceans (Mettee et al. 1996, p. 
655). Extremes in variations in instream flows maintain the stream 
bottom substrates, providing oxygen and other attributes to various 
invertebrate life stages. Sedimentation has been shown to wear away and 
suffocate periphyton (organisms that live attached to objects 
underwater), disrupt aquatic insect communities (Waters 1995, pp. 53-
86; Knight and Welch 2001, pp. 132-135), and reduce photosynthesis in 
aquatic vegetation. In addition, nutrification promotes heavy algal 
growth that covers and eliminates the clean rock, gravel, and 
vegetative habitats necessary for rush darter feeding. Thus, a decrease 
in water quality and instream flow would correspondingly cause a 
decline in the major food species for the rush darter. On the other 
hand, excessive instream flow can also damage and uproot aquatic 
vegetation necessary for foraging and feeding habitat.
    Much of the cool, clean water provided to the Turkey Creek system 
(Beaver Creek, Unnamed Tributary to Beaver Creek, Tapawingo or Penny 
Springs and the Highway 79 site; Jefferson County) and Cove Spring run 
of Little Cove Creek (Etowah County) comes from consistent and steady 
groundwater sources (springs and seeps). Clear, flowing water provides 
a means for transporting nutrients and food items, moderating water 
temperatures and dissolved oxygen levels, and diluting nonpoint and 
point source pollution. Without clean water sources, water quality and 
water quantity would be considerably lower and would significantly 
impair the normal life stages and behavior of the rush darter.
    Favorable water quantity for the rush darter includes moderate 
water velocity in riffles and no flow or low flow in pools (Stiles and 
Mills 2008, pp. 1-4), a continuous daily discharge that allows for 
longitudinal connectivity within the species' habitat (Instream Flow 
Council 2004, p. 117), and discharge from both surface water runoff and 
groundwater sources (springs and seepages). Along with the continuous 
daily discharge, both minimum and flushing flows are necessary to 
remove fine sediments and dilute other pollutants (Moffett and Moser 
1978, pp. 20-21; Gilbert et al., eds. 1994, pp. 505-522; Instream Flow 
Council 2004, pp. 103-104; Drennen 2009, pers. obs.). At some sites, 
water depth ranges from 3.0 to 50 cm (0.1 to 1.6 ft). Groundwater 
provides a constant source of flows to dilute pollutants and maintain 
water quality for the persistence of the rush darter.
    Factors that can potentially alter water quality include: Droughts 
and periods of low seasonal flow, precipitation events, nonpoint source 
runoff, human activities within the watershed, random spills, 
unregulated stormwater discharge events (Instream Flow Council 2004, 
pp. 29-50), and water extraction. Instream pooling may also affect 
water quality by reducing water flow, altering temperatures, 
concentrating pollutants (Blanco and Mayden 1999, pp. 5-6, 36), and 
retarding aquatic and emergent vegetation growth.
    Fishes require acceptable levels of dissolved oxygen. Generally, 
among fishes, the young life forms require more dissolved oxygen and 
are the most sensitive. The amount of dissolved oxygen that is present 
in the water (the saturation level) depends upon water temperature. As 
water temperature increases, the saturated dissolved oxygen level 
decreases. The more oxygen there is in the water, the greater the 
assimilative capacity (ability to consume organic wastes with minimal 
impact) of that water; lower water flows have a reduced assimilative 
capacity (Pitt 2000, pp. 6-7). Low-flow conditions affect the chemical 
environment occupied by fishes; extended low-flow conditions coupled 
with higher pollutant levels could likely result in behavioral changes 
within all life stages, which could be particularly detrimental to 
early life stages (e.g., embryo, larvae, and juvenile).
    Optimal water quality lacks harmful levels of pollutants, such as 
inorganic contaminants like copper, arsenic, mercury, and cadmium; 
organic contaminants such as human and animal waste products; 
endocrine-disrupting chemicals; pesticides; nitrogen, potassium, and 
phosphorous fertilizers; and petroleum distillates (Alabama Department 
of Environmental Management (ADEM) 1996, pp. 13-15). Sediment is the 
most abundant pollutant produced in the Mobile River Basin (ADEM 1996, 
pp. 13-15). Siltation (excess sediments suspended or deposited in a 
stream) contributes to turbidity of the water and has been shown to 
reduce photosynthesis in aquatic plants, suffocate aquatic insects, 
smother fish eggs, clog fish gills, and may fill in essential 
interstitial spaces (spaces between stream substrates) used by aquatic 
organisms for spawning and foraging; therefore, excessive siltation 
negatively impacts fish growth, physiology, behavior, reproduction, and 
survival. Nutrification (excessive nutrients present, such as nitrogen 
and phosphorous) promotes heavy algal growth that covers and eliminates 
clean rock or gravel habitats and aquatic and emergent vegetation, 
which are necessary for rush darter feeding and spawning. Generally, 
early life stages of fishes are less tolerant of environmental 
contamination than adults or juveniles (Little et al. 1993, p. 67). 
Appropriate water quality and quantity are necessary to dilute impacts 
from stormwater and other unnatural effluents. Harmful levels of 
pollutants impair critical behavior processes in fishes, as reflected 
in population-level responses (reduced population size, biomass, year 
class success, etc.). However, excessive water quantity in the form of 
substantial stormwater runoff may destabilize and move bottom and 
bankside substrates and increase instream sedimentation.
    Essential water quality attributes for darters and other fish 
species in fast to medium water flow streams include the following: 
Dissolved oxygen levels greater than 6 parts per million (ppm), 
temperatures between 7 and 26.7 [deg]C (45 and 80 [deg]F) with spring 
egg incubation temperatures from 12.2 to 18.3 [deg]C (54 to 65 [deg]F), 
a specific conductance (ability of water to conduct an electric 
current, based on dissolved solids in the water) of less than 
approximately 225 micro Siemens per cm at 26.7 [deg]C (80 [deg]F), and 
low concentrations of free or suspended solids (organic and inorganic 
sediments) less than 10 Nephelometric Turbidity Units (NTU; units used 
to measure sediment discharge) and 15 milligrams/Liter (mg/L) total 
suspended solids (TSS; measured as mg/L of sediment in water) (Teels et 
al. 1975, pp. 8-9; Ultschet et al. 1978, pp. 99-101; Ingersoll et al. 
1984, pp. 131-138;

[[Page 63616]]

Kundell and Rasmussen 1995, pp. 211-212; Henley et al. 2000, pp. 125-
139; Meyer and Sutherland 2005, pp. 43-64).
    Therefore, based on the information above, we identify cool, clean, 
flowing water; shallow depths; moderate water velocity in riffles and 
low flow in pools; aquatic macroinvertebrate prey items; aquatic 
vegetation; and adequate water quality to be an essential physical or 
biological feature for the rush darter.
Yellowcheek Darter
    Adult and juvenile yellowcheek darters' prey items include blackfly 
larvae, stonefly larvae, mayfly nymphs, and caddisfly larvae among 
other stream insects (McDaniel 1984, p. 56). McDaniel (1984, p. 37) 
noted a strong selectivity by yellowcheek darters for fly larvae year 
round, while other prey taxa were consumed proportionally depending on 
seasonal availability. Larval stages of yellowcheek darters have not 
been studied in the field but are assumed to feed on planktonic 
organisms based on laboratory rearing efforts and known larval fish 
dietary habits.
    Drought conditions and low water levels have been identified as 
contributing factors in the decline of the yellowcheek darter (Wine et 
al. 2000, p. 11). Expanding natural gas development activities that 
began in the upper Little Red River watershed in 2005 require large 
quantities of water and pose a threat to the continued existence of the 
yellowcheek darter (75 FR 36045, June 24, 2010). Water diversion from 
the Middle and South forks has increased in recent years due to large-
scale extraction of natural gas in the Fayetteville Shale (which 
encompasses nearly all of the upper Little Red River drainage). Natural 
gas development is imminent in the Archey and Devil's forks as well and 
is predicted to affect numerous tributaries in all four watersheds. 
Because the yellowcheek darter requires permanent flows with moderate 
to strong current (Robison and Buchanan 1988, p. 429), seasonal 
fluctuations in stream flows exacerbated by water diversion for natural 
gas, agricultural, municipal, or other land uses represent a serious 
threat to the species.
    In addition to water quantity, water quality is also important to 
the persistence of the yellowcheek darter. Although the Middle Fork is 
designated as an Extraordinary Resource Water, it is listed as impaired 
along a 33.5-km (20.8-mi) reach due to fecal coliform bacteria 
contamination according to the Arkansas Department of Environmental 
Quality (ADEQ) List of Impaired Waterbodies. This same report listed a 
3.2-km (2.0-mi) stretch of the South Fork as impaired due to elevated 
mercury levels (ADEQ 2010, p. 22). Boston Mountain streams that support 
the yellowcheek darter are typically characterized by adequate water 
quality; however, increasing activity within the watersheds related to 
resource extraction, urban development, and other human-related 
activities is reason for concern regarding the recovery potential of 
the yellowcheek darter.
    Therefore, based on the information above, we identify aquatic 
macroinvertebrate prey items; permanent surface flows, as measured 
during average rainfall years; moderate to strong water velocity in 
riffles; and adequate water quality to be an essential physical or 
biological feature for the yellowcheek darter.
Chucky Madtom
    The Chucky madtom's prey items are unknown; however, least madtom 
(Noturus hildebrandi) prey items include midge larvae, caddisfly 
larvae, stonefly larvae, and mayfly nymphs (Mayden and Walsh 1984, p. 
339). In smoky madtoms, mayfly nymphs comprised 70.7 percent of stomach 
contents analyzed, followed by fly, mosquito, midge, and gnat larvae 
(2.4 percent); caddisfly larvae (4.4 percent); and stonefly larvae (1.0 
percent) (Dinkins and Shute 1996, p. 61). Significant daytime feeding 
was observed in smoky madtoms.
    The TVA Index of Biological Integrity results indicate that Little 
Chucky Creek is biologically impaired (Middle Nolichucky Watershed 
Alliance 2006, p. 13). Given the predominantly agricultural land use 
within the Little Chucky Creek watershed, nonpoint source sediment and 
agrochemical discharges may pose a threat to the Chucky madtom by 
altering the physical characteristics of its habitat, thus potentially 
impeding its ability to feed, seek shelter from predators, and 
successfully reproduce. The City of Greeneville also discharges 
sediments and contaminants into the creek, thereby threatening the 
Chucky madtom. Wood and Armitage (1997, pp. 211-212) identify at least 
five impacts of sedimentation on fish, including: (1) Reduction of 
growth rate, disease tolerance, and gill function; (2) reduction of 
spawning habitat and egg, larvae, and juvenile development; (3) 
modification of migration patterns; (4) reduction of food availability 
through the blockage of primary production; and (5) reduction of 
foraging efficiency.
    Water quality is important to the persistence of the Chucky madtom. 
The species requires relatively clean, cool, flowing water to 
successfully complete its life cycle, but specific water quality 
requirements (such as temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, and 
conductivity) that define suitable habitat conditions for the Chucky 
madtom have not been determined. In general, optimal water quality 
conditions for fishes and other aquatic organisms are characterized by 
moderate stream temperatures and acceptable dissolved oxygen 
concentrations, and they lack harmful levels of pollutants, such as 
inorganic contaminants like iron, manganese, selenium, and cadmium; 
organic contaminants such as human and animal waste products; 
pesticides and herbicides; nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus 
fertilizers; and petroleum distillates.
    As relatively sedentary animals, madtoms must tolerate the full 
range of such parameters that occur naturally within the streams where 
they persist. Both the amount of water (flow) and its physical and 
chemical conditions (water quality) vary widely according to seasonal 
precipitation events and seasonal human activities within the 
watershed. In general, the species survives in areas where the 
magnitude, frequency, duration, and seasonality of water flow is 
adequate to remove fine particles and sediments (silt-free) without 
causing degradation, and where water quality is adequate for year-round 
survival (for example, moderate to high levels of dissolved oxygen, low 
to moderate input of nutrients, and relatively unpolluted water and 
sediments). Relatively silt-free is defined for the purpose of this 
rule as silt or fine sand within interstitial spaces of substrates in 
amounts low enough to have minimal impact to the species.
    Therefore, based on the information above, we identify aquatic 
macroinvertebrate prey items; cool, clean, flowing water; shallow 
depths; permanent surface flows, as measured during average rainfall 
years; and adequate water quality with substrates that are relatively 
silt-free to be an essential physical or biological feature for the 
Chucky madtom.
Laurel Dace
    The laurel dace's preferred prey items include fly larvae, stonefly 
larvae, and caddisfly larvae (Skelton 2001, p. 126). Skelton observed 
that the morphological feeding traits of laurel dace, including a large 
mouth, short digestive tract, reduced number of pharyngeal (located 
within the throat) teeth, and primitively shaped basioccipital bone 
(bone that articulates the vertebra), are consistent with a diet 
consisting largely of animal material.

[[Page 63617]]

    Strange and Skelton (2005, p. 7 and Appendix 2) identified 
siltation as a threat in all of the occupied Piney River tributaries 
(Youngs, Moccasin, and Bumbee Creeks). The Bumbee Creek type locality 
for the laurel dace is located within industrial forest that has been 
subjected to extensive clear-cutting and road construction in close 
proximity to the stream. Strange and Skelton (2005, p. 7) noted a heavy 
sediment load at this locality and commented that conditions there in 
2005 had deteriorated since the site was visited by Skelton in 2002. In 
general, the species occupies areas that are relatively silt-free. 
Relatively silt-free is defined for the purpose of this rule as silt or 
fine sand within interstitial spaces of substrates in amounts low 
enough to have minimal impact to the species.
    Strange and Skelton (2005, pp. 7 and 8 and Appendix 2) also 
commented on excessive siltation in localities they sampled on Youngs 
and Moccasin creeks, and observed localized removal of riparian 
vegetation around residences in the headwaters of each of these 
streams. They considered the removal of riparian vegetation problematic 
not only for the potential for increased siltation, but also for the 
potential thermal alteration of these small headwater streams. Skelton 
(2001, p. 125) reported that laurel dace occupy cool streams with a 
maximum recorded temperature of 26 [deg]C (78.8 [deg]F). The removal of 
riparian vegetation could potentially increase temperatures above the 
laurel dace's maximum tolerable limit.
    Water quality is important to the persistence of the laurel dace. 
The species requires relatively clean, cool, flowing water to 
successfully complete its life cycle, but specific water quality 
requirements (such as temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, and 
conductivity) that define suitable habitat conditions for the laurel 
dace have not been determined. In general, optimal water quality 
conditions for fishes and other aquatic organisms are characterized by 
moderate stream temperatures and acceptable dissolved oxygen 
concentrations, and they lack harmful levels of pollutants, such as 
inorganic contaminants like iron, manganese, selenium, and cadmium; 
organic contaminants such as human and animal waste products; 
pesticides and herbicides; nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus 
fertilizers; and petroleum distillates.
    Other factors that can potentially alter water quality and quantity 
are droughts and periods of low flow, nonpoint source run-off from 
adjacent land surfaces (for example, excessive amounts of nutrients, 
pesticides, and sediment), and random spills or unregulated discharge 
events. Run-off or discharges could be particularly harmful during 
drought conditions when flows are depressed and pollutants are more 
concentrated. Adequate water quality is essential for normal behavior, 
growth, and viability during all life stages of the laurel dace. 
Adequate water quantity and flow and good to optimal water quality are 
essential for normal behavior, growth, and viability during all life 
stages. Culverts, pipes, and bridge or road maintenance sites within 
the watersheds serve as dispersal barriers and have altered stream 
flows from natural conditions.
    Other nonpoint source pollutants that affect the laurel dace 
include domestic sewage (through septic tank leakage or straight pipe 
discharges) and agricultural pollutants such as fertilizers, 
pesticides, herbicides, and animal waste. There are no active coal 
mines within the range of the laurel dace; however, coal mining 
represents a potential threat to the species in the foreseeable future. 
Coal mining represents a major source of nonpoint source pollutants 
because it has the potential to contribute high concentrations of 
dissolved metals and other solids that lower stream pH or lead to 
elevated levels of stream conductivity (Pond 2004, pp. 6-7, 38-41; 
Mattingly et al. 2005, p. 59). The direct effect of elevated stream 
conductivity on fishes, including the laurel dace, is poorly 
understood, but some species, such as blackside dace, have shown 
declines in abundance over time as conductivity increased in streams 
affected by mining (Hartowicz 2008, pers. comm.).
    Water temperature may also be a limiting factor in the distribution 
of this species (Skelton 1997, pp. 17, 19). Canopy cover of laurel dace 
streams often consists of eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), mixed 
hardwoods, pines (Pinus sp.), and mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia). 
The hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae) is a nonnative insect that 
infests hemlocks, causing damage or death to trees. The hemlock woolly 
adelgid was recently found in Hamilton County, Tennessee, and could 
impact eastern hemlock in floodplains and riparian buffers along laurel 
dace streams in the future (Simmons 2008, pers. comm.). Riparian 
buffers filter sediment and nutrients from overland runoff, allow water 
to soak into the ground, protect stream banks and lakeshores, and 
provide shade for streams. Because eastern hemlock is primarily found 
in riparian areas, the loss of this species adjacent to laurel dace 
streams would be detrimental to fish habitat.
    Therefore, based on the information above, we identify aquatic 
macroinvertebrate prey items; cool, clean, flowing water; shallow 
depths; permanent surface flows, as measured during average rainfall 
years; and adequate water quality with substrates that are relatively 
silt-free to be an essential physical or biological feature for the 
laurel dace.

Cover or Shelter

Cumberland Darter
    Cumberland darters depend on specific habitats and bottom 
substrates for normal life processes such as spawning, rearing, 
resting, and foraging. As described above, the species' preferred 
habitats (shallow pools and runs) are dominated by sand or sand-covered 
bedrock with patches of gravel or debris (Thomas 2007, p. 4). 
Individuals were observed by O'Bara (1991, p. 10) and Thomas (2007, p. 
4) in gently flowing runs or pools at depths ranging from 20 to 76 cm 
(average 36.2 cm) (3.9 to 30 in, average 14.3 in). Most of these 
habitats contain isolated boulders and large cobble that the species 
likely uses as cover. According to O'Bara (1991, p. 11), areas used by 
the Cumberland darter for cover and shelter are very susceptible to the 
effects of siltation, and the presence of relatively silt-free 
substrates is the major limiting factor for both the species' continued 
existence and its ability to colonize new habitats. Relatively silt-
free is defined for the purpose of this rule as silt or fine sand 
within interstitial spaces of substrates in amounts low enough to have 
minimal impact to the species.
    Therefore, based on the information above, we identify stable, 
shallow pools and runs with relatively silt-free sand, sand-covered 
bedrock substrates, and isolated boulders and large cobble substrates 
to be an essential physical or biological feature for the Cumberland 
darter.
Rush Darter
    Rush darters depend on specific stream substrates and stream 
margins consisting of aquatic vegetation for normal and robust life 
processes such as spawning, rearing, protection of young, protection of 
adults when threatened, foraging, and feeding. Preferred substrates are 
dominated by fine gravel, with lesser amounts of sand, fine silt, 
coarse gravel, cobble, and bedrock (Blanco and Mayden 1999, pp. 24-26; 
Drennen 2009, pers. obs.). In addition to these preferred substrates, 
rush darters

[[Page 63618]]

generally prefer aquatic emergent vegetation such as watercress 
(Nasturtium officinale), parrots feather (Myriophyllum sp.), rushes 
(Juncus spp.), sedges (Carex spp.), burr reed (Sparganium sp.), and 
coontail (Ceratophyllum sp.). This emergent vegetation is utilized by 
the rush darter, especially in the quiet water along stream margins and 
in ephemeral pools and tributaries (Boschung and Mayden 2004, p. 552; 
Stiles 2011, pers. comm.).
    Excessive siltation of gravel substrates removes foraging and 
feeding sites for the rush darter (Sylte and Fischenich 2002, pp. 1-
25), and eliminates conditions necessary for some aquatic plant species 
to flourish. Similarly, excessive nutrients promote dense filamentous 
algae growth on the substrate and within the water column (Drennen 
2007, pers. obs.; Stiles 2011, pers. comm.), which may restrict rush 
darter habitat for foraging and spawning (Stiles 2011, pers. comm.).
    Stormwater flows may result in scouring and erosion of important 
cover, breeding, and sheltering sites for the rush darter. Conversely, 
drought conditions render the darter populations vulnerable to higher 
water temperatures and restricted habitat, especially during the 
breeding season when they concentrate in wetland pools and shallow 
pools of headwater streams (Fluker et al. 2007, p. 10).
    Therefore, based on the information above, we identify quiet water 
along stream margins and in shallow ephemeral pools and headwater 
tributaries; aquatic emergent vegetation; a combination of silt, sand, 
and gravel substrates; and seasonal stream flows sufficient to provide 
connectivity and to remove excessive sediment covering the vegetation 
and stream bottom substrates to be an essential physical or biological 
feature for the rush darter.
Yellowcheek Darter
    Summertime habitat selected by the yellowcheek darter includes 
high-velocity (greater than 0.4 meters per second or 1.3 feet per 
second) water over 8 to 128 millimeters (mm) (0.3 to 5.0 in) gravel and 
cobble substrate at depths of 11 to 30 cm (4.3 to 11.8 in) (Brophy and 
Stoeckel 2006, p. 42), which lends evidence to the suggestion by other 
researchers that it is a ``riffle-obligate'' species and is unlikely to 
occupy pool or run habitats when riffles are available. Preferred water 
depths for yellowcheek darters ranged between 11 and 30 cm (4.3 and 
11.8 in), but yellowcheek darters have been found in shallower water, 
when greater depths with suitable velocities were scarce. Gravel and 
cobble from 8 to 128 mm (0.3 to 5.0 in) median diameter appears to be 
the important substrate type for yellowcheek darter (Brophy and 
Stoeckel 2006, p. 42). Larger boulder substrates are important during 
spring spawning periods (McDaniel 1984, p. 82). Siltation (excess 
sediments suspended or deposited in a stream) contributes to turbidity 
of the water and has been shown to suffocate aquatic insects, smother 
fish eggs, clog fish gills, and may fill in essential interstitial 
spaces (spaces between stream substrates) used by aquatic organisms for 
spawning and foraging; therefore, excessive siltation negatively 
impacts fish growth, physiology, behavior, reproduction, and survival. 
In general, the species occupies areas that are relatively silt-free. 
Relatively silt-free is defined for the purpose of this rule as silt or 
fine sand within interstitial spaces of substrates in amounts low 
enough to have minimal impact to the species.
    Therefore, based on the information above, we identify high-quality 
riffle substrates that are relatively silt-free and contain a mixture 
of gravel, cobble, and boulder substrates to be an essential physical 
or biological feature for the yellowcheek darter.
Chucky Madtom
    While nothing is known specifically about Chucky madtom habitat 
preferences, available information for other similar members of the 
Noturus group is known. Both smoky and elegant madtoms (N. elegans) 
were found to nest under flat rocks (slab-rock boulders) at or near the 
head of riffles (Burr and Dimmick 1981, p. 116; Dinkins and Shute 1996, 
p. 56). Smoky madtoms have also been observed using shallow pools and 
to select rocks of larger dimension for nesting than were used for 
shelter during other times of year (Dinkins and Shute 1996, p. 56). 
Siltation (excess sediments suspended or deposited in a stream) 
contributes to turbidity of the water and has been shown to smother 
fish eggs, clog fish gills, and may fill in essential interstitial 
spaces (spaces between stream substrates) used by aquatic organisms for 
spawning and foraging; therefore, excessive siltation negatively 
impacts fish growth, physiology, behavior, reproduction, and survival.
    Dinkins and Shute (1996, p. 50) found smoky madtoms underneath 
slab-rock boulders in swift to moderate current during May to early 
November. Habitat use shifted to shallow pools over the course of a 1-
week period, coinciding with a drop in water temperature to 7 or 8 
[deg]C (45 to 46 [deg]F), and persisted from early November to May. 
Eisenhour et al. (1996, p. 43) collected saddled madtoms in gravel, 
cobble, and slab-rock boulder substrates in riffle habitats with depths 
ranging from 0.1 to 0.3 m (0.33 to 0.98 ft). Based on their limited 
number of observations, Eisenhour et al. (1996, p. 43) hypothesized 
that saddled madtoms occupy riffles and runs in the daylight hours and 
then move to pools at night and during crepuscular hours (dawn and 
dusk) to feed.
    Therefore, based on the information above, we identify gently 
flowing runs and pools with relatively silt-free flat gravel, cobble, 
and slab-rock boulder substrates to be an essential physical or 
biological feature for the Chucky madtom.
Laurel Dace
    Laurel dace have been most often collected from pools or slow runs 
from undercut banks or beneath slab-rock boulders, typically in first- 
or second- order, clear, cool (maximum recorded temperature 26 [deg]C 
or 78.8 [deg]F) streams. Substrates in streams where laurel dace are 
found typically consist of a mixture of cobble, rubble, and boulder, 
and the streams tend to have a dense riparian zone consisting largely 
of mountain laurel (Skelton 2001, pp. 125-126). Siltation (excess 
sediments suspended or deposited in a stream) contributes to turbidity 
of the water and has been shown to smother fish eggs, clog fish gills, 
and may fill in essential interstitial spaces (spaces between stream 
substrates) used by aquatic organisms for spawning and foraging; 
therefore, excessive siltation negatively impacts fish growth, 
physiology, behavior, reproduction, and survival.
    Water temperature may be a limiting factor in the distribution of 
this species (Skelton 1997, pp. 17, 19). Canopy cover of laurel dace 
streams often consists of eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), mixed 
hardwoods, pines (Pinus spp.), and mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia). 
Riparian buffers filter sediment and nutrients from overland runoff, 
allow water to soak into the ground, protect stream banks and 
lakeshores, and provide shade for streams. The hemlock woolly adelgid 
is a nonnative insect that infests hemlocks, causing damage or death to 
trees. The woolly adelgid was recently found in Hamilton County, 
Tennessee, and could impact eastern hemlock in floodplains and riparian 
buffers along laurel dace streams in the future (Simmons 2008, pers. 
comm.). Because eastern hemlock is primarily found in riparian areas, 
the loss of this species adjacent to laurel dace streams would be 
detrimental to fish habitat.
    Habitat destruction and modification also stem from existing or 
proposed

[[Page 63619]]

infrastructure development in association with silvicultural 
activities. The presence of culverts at one or more road crossings in 
most of the streams inhabited by laurel dace may disrupt upstream 
dispersal within those systems (Chance 2008, pers. obs.). Such 
dispersal barriers could prevent re-establishment of laurel dace 
populations in reaches where they suffer localized extinctions due to 
natural or human-caused events.
    Therefore, based on the information above, we identify stream 
connectivity, gently flowing runs and pools with relatively silt-free 
cobble and slab-rock boulder substrates with undercut banks, and canopy 
cover to be an essential physical or biological feature for the laurel 
dace.

Sites for Breeding, Reproduction, or Rearing (or Development) of 
Offspring

Cumberland Darter
    Little is known regarding the reproductive habits of the Cumberland 
darter. Thomas (2007, p. 4) reported the collection of male Cumberland 
darters in breeding condition in April and May, with water temperatures 
ranging from 15 to 18 [deg]C (59 to 64 [deg]F). Extensive searches by 
Thomas (2007, p. 4) produced no evidence of nests or eggs at these 
sites. Reproductive habits of its closest relative, the Johnny darter, 
have been well studied by Winn (1958a, pp. 163-183; 1958b, pp. 205-
207), Speare (1965, pp. 308-314), and Bart and Page (1991, pp. 80-86). 
Spawning occurs from April to June, with males migrating to spawning 
areas prior to females and establishing territories at selected 
spawning sites. Males establish a nest under a submerged object 
(boulder or woody debris) by using fin movements to remove silt and 
fine debris. Females enter the nests, the spawning pair inverts, and 
females deposit between 40 and 200 adhesive eggs on the underside of 
the nest object. Males care for the nest by periodically fanning the 
area to remove silt. The eggs hatch in about 6 to 16 days, depending on 
water temperature. Hatchlings are about 5 mm (0.2 in) and reach 29 to 
38 mm (1.1 to 1.5 in) at age 1. Given these specialized reproductive 
behaviors, it is apparent that the Cumberland darter requires second- 
to fourth-order streams containing gently flowing run and pool habitats 
with sand and bedrock substrates, boulders, woody debris, or other 
cover and that are relatively silt-free. It is essential to maintain 
the connectivity of these sites, to accommodate breeding, growth, and 
other normal behaviors of the Cumberland darter and to promote gene 
flow within the species.
    Therefore, based on the information above, we identify stable, 
second- to fourth-order streams containing gently flowing run and pool 
habitats with sand and bedrock substrates, boulders, large cobble, 
woody debris, or other cover and that are relatively silt-free and 
stream connectivity to be an essential physical or biological feature 
for the Cumberland darter.
Rush Darter
    Rush darters depend on bottom substrates dominated by sand, fine 
silt, fine gravel and some coarse gravel, and that have significant 
amounts of emergent aquatic and overhanging terrestrial vegetation 
(Drennen 2009, pers. obs.).
    In July 2008, rush darter young-of-the-year were collected within 
areas of very little water in the headwaters of an unnamed tributary in 
Jefferson County (Kuhajda 2008, pers. comm.), and in January 2008, the 
same tributary was dry. In previous years, this area was a spawning and 
nursery site for rush darters (Kuhajda 2008, pers. comm.). During May 
and June, rush darters spawned at this site even though the area had 
been dewatered occasionally in the summer, fall, and winter (Kuhajda 
2008, pers. comm.). Adult rush darters are present in headwater areas 
for spawning during May and June, and may leave these sites or become 
trapped in ephemeral pools during the summer. Adults may be migrating 
upstream from watered areas, or juveniles and adults may be moving 
downstream from the spring-fed wetland that constitutes the headwaters 
of the unnamed tributary (Kuhajda 2008, pers. comm.).
    Therefore, based on the information above, we identify permanent 
and ephemeral shallow streams with quiet water along stream margins and 
in shallow ephemeral pools and headwater tributaries, along with 
seasonal stream flows sufficient to provide connectivity and refugia to 
promote the emergent aquatic vegetation necessary for spawning and 
rearing of young, to be an essential physical or biological feature for 
the rush darter.
Yellowcheek Darter
    Yellowcheek darter spawning occurs from late May through June in 
the swift to moderately swift portions of riffles, often around or 
under the largest rocks (McDaniel 1984, p. 82), although brooding 
females have been found at the head of riffles in smaller gravel 
substrate (Wine et al. 2000, p. 3). During non-spawning months, there 
is a general movement to portions of the riffle with smaller substrate, 
such as gravel or cobble, and less turbulence (Robison and Harp 1981, 
p. 3). Weston and Johnson (2005, p. 24) observed that the yellowcheek 
darter moved very little during a 1-year migration study, with 19 of 22 
recaptured darters found within 9 m (29.5 ft) of their original capture 
position after periods of several months.
    A number of life-history characteristics, including courtship 
patterns, specific spawning behaviors, egg deposition sites, number of 
eggs per nest, degree of nest protection by males, and degree of 
territoriality, are unknown at this time; however, researchers suggest 
that yellowcheek darters deposit eggs on the undersides of larger 
rubble in swift water (McDaniel 1984, p. 82). Wine and Blumenshine 
(2002, p. 10) noted that during laboratory spawning, yellowcheek darter 
females bury themselves in fine gravel or sand substrates (often behind 
large, fist-sized cobble) with only their heads and caudal fin exposed. 
A yellowcheek darter male will then position himself upstream of the 
buried female and fertilize her eggs. Clutch size and nest defense 
behavior were not observed. Given these specialized reproductive 
behaviors, the importance of riffle habitats that are characterized by 
good water quality and sufficient substrates that are relatively silt-
free is apparent.
    Therefore, based on the information above, we identify swift to 
moderately swift riffles with gravel, cobble, and boulder substrates 
that are characterized by good water quality and are relatively silt-
free to be an essential physical or biological feature for the 
yellowcheek darter.
Chucky Madtom
    Little is known regarding the reproductive habits of the Chucky 
madtom; however, both smoky and elegant madtoms were found to nest 
under flat slab-rock boulders at or near the head of riffles (Burr and 
Dimmick 1981, p. 116; Dinkins and Shute 1996, p. 56). Shallow pools 
were also used by the smoky madtom. Smoky madtoms selected larger rocks 
for nesting than were used for shelter during other times of year 
(Dinkins and Shute 1996, p. 56). A single male madtom guards the nest 
in the cases of smoky, elegant, Ozark (Noturus albater), and least 
madtoms (Mayden et al. 1980, p. 337; Burr and Dimmick 1981, p. 116; 
Mayden and Walsh 1984, p. 357; Dinkins and Shute 1996, p. 56). While 
guarding the nest, many were found to have empty stomachs suggesting 
that they do not feed during nest guarding, which can last as long as 3 
weeks.

[[Page 63620]]

    Siltation (excess sediments suspended or deposited in a stream) 
contributes to turbidity of the water and has been shown to smother 
fish eggs, clog fish gills, and may fill in essential interstitial 
spaces (spaces between stream substrates) used by aquatic organisms for 
spawning and foraging; therefore, excessive siltation negatively 
impacts fish growth, physiology, behavior, reproduction, and survival.
    Therefore, based on the information above, we identify streams 
containing gently flowing run and pool habitats with flat or slab-rock 
boulder substrates that are relatively silt-free to be an essential 
physical or biological feature for the Chucky madtom.
Laurel Dace
    Little is known regarding the reproductive habits of the laurel 
dace. Skelton (2001, p. 126) reported having collected nuptial 
individuals from late March until mid-June, although Call (2004, pers. 
obs.) observed males in waning nuptial color during surveys on July 22, 
2004. Laurel dace may be a spawning nest associate with nest-building 
minnow species, as has been documented in blackside dace (Starnes and 
Starnes 1981, p. 366). Soddy Creek is the only location in which 
Skelton (2001, p. 126) collected a nest-building minnow with laurel 
dace. Skelton (2001, p. 127) observed laurel dace burying their noses 
in the gravel of largescale stoneroller (Campostoma oligolepis) nests. 
The nests used by blackside dace had moderate flow and consisted of 
gravel substrate at depths of 20 cm (7.9 in) (Starnes and Starnes 1981, 
p. 366). These nests were noted to be approximately 0.7 m (2.3 ft) from 
undercut banks (Starnes and Starnes 1981, p. 366).
    Siltation (excess sediments suspended or deposited in a stream) 
contributes to turbidity of the water and has been shown to smother 
fish eggs, clog fish gills, and may fill in essential interstitial 
spaces (spaces between stream substrates) used by aquatic organisms for 
spawning and foraging; therefore, excessive siltation negatively 
impacts fish growth, physiology, behavior, reproduction, and survival.
    Therefore, based on the information above, we identify headwater 
streams containing moderately flowing run and pool habitats with gravel 
substrates, containing undercut banks, and that are relatively silt-
free to be an essential physical or biological feature for the laurel 
dace.

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 the Cumberland darter, rush darter, yellowcheek darter, 
Chucky madtom, and laurel dace in areas occupied at the time of 
listing, focusing on the features' primary constituent elements. 
Primary constituent elements are those specific elements of the 
physical or biological features that provide for a species' life-
history processes and are essential to the conservation of the species.
    Based on our current knowledge of the physical or biological 
features and habitat characteristics required to sustain the five 
species' life history processes, we determine that the primary 
constituent elements specific to these five fishes are:

Cumberland Darter

    (1) Primary Constituent Element 1--Shallow pools and gently flowing 
runs of geomorphically stable, second- to fourth-order streams with 
connectivity between spawning, foraging, and resting sites to promote 
gene flow throughout the species' range.
    (2) Primary Constituent Element 2--Stable bottom substrates 
composed of relatively silt-free sand and sand-covered bedrock, 
boulders, large cobble, woody debris, or other cover.
    (3) Primary Constituent Element 3--An instream flow regime 
(magnitude, frequency, duration, and seasonality of discharge over 
time) sufficient to provide permanent surface flows, as measured during 
years with average rainfall, and to maintain benthic habitats utilized 
by the species.
    (4) Primary Constituent Element 4--Adequate water quality 
characterized by moderate stream temperatures, acceptable dissolved 
oxygen concentrations, moderate pH, and low levels of pollutants. 
Adequate water quality is defined for the purpose of this rule as the 
quality necessary for normal behavior, growth, and viability of all 
life stages of the Cumberland darter.
    (5) Primary Constituent Element 5--Prey base of aquatic 
macroinvertebrates, including midge larvae, mayfly nymphs, caddisfly 
larvae, and microcrustaceans.

Rush Darter

    (1) Primary Constituent Element 1--Springs and spring-fed reaches 
of geomorphically stable, relatively low-gradient, headwater streams 
with appropriate habitat (bottom substrates) to maintain essential 
riffles, runs, and pools; emergent vegetation in shallow water and on 
the margins of small streams and spring runs; cool, clean, flowing 
water; and connectivity between spawning, foraging, and resting sites 
to promote gene flow throughout the species' range.
    (2) Primary Constituent Element 2--Stable bottom substrates 
consisting of a combination of sand with silt, muck, gravel, or bedrock 
and adequate emergent vegetation in shallow water on the margins of 
small permanent and ephemeral streams and spring runs.
    (3) Primary Constituent Element 3--Instream flow with moderate 
velocity and a continuous daily discharge that allows for a 
longitudinal connectivity regime inclusive of both surface runoff and 
groundwater sources (springs and seepages) and exclusive of flushing 
flows caused by stormwater runoff.
    (4) Primary Constituent Element 4--Water quality with temperature 
not exceeding 26.7 [deg]C (80 [deg]F), dissolved oxygen 6.0 milligrams 
or greater per liter (mg/L), turbidity of an average monthly reading of 
10 Nephelometric Turbidity Units (NTU; units used to measure sediment 
discharge) and 15mg/L total suspended solids (TSS; measured as mg/L of 
sediment in water) or less; and a specific conductance (ability of 
water to conduct an electric current, based on dissolved solids in the 
water) of no greater than 225 micro Siemens per centimeter at 26.7 
[deg]C (80 [deg]F).
    (5) Primary Constituent Element 5--Prey base of aquatic 
macroinvertebrates, including midge larvae, mayfly nymphs, blackfly 
larvae, beetles, and microcrustaceans.

Yellowcheek Darter

    (1) Primary Constituent Element 1--Geomorphically stable, second- 
to fifth-order streams with riffle habitats, and connectivity between 
spawning, foraging, and resting sites to promote gene flow within the 
species' range where possible.
    (2) Primary Constituent Element 2--Stable bottom composed of 
relatively silt-free, moderate to strong velocity riffles with gravel, 
cobble, and boulder substrates.
    (3) Primary Constituent Element 3--An instream flow regime 
(magnitude, frequency, duration, and seasonality of discharge over 
time) sufficient to provide permanent surface flows, as measured during 
years with average rainfall, and to maintain benthic habitats utilized 
by the species.
    (4) Primary Constituent Element 4--Adequate water quality 
characterized by moderate stream temperatures, acceptable dissolved 
oxygen concentrations, moderate pH, and low levels of pollutants. 
Adequate water quality is defined for the purpose of this rule as the 
quality necessary for normal behavior, growth, and viability of all 
life stages of the yellowcheek darter.

[[Page 63621]]

    (5) Primary Constituent Element 5--Prey base of aquatic 
macroinvertebrates, including blackfly larvae, stonefly larvae, mayfly 
nymphs, and caddisfly larvae.

Chucky Madtom

    (1) Primary Constituent Element 1--Gently flowing run and pool 
reaches of geomorphically stable streams with cool, clean, flowing 
water; shallow depths; and connectivity between spawning, foraging, and 
resting sites to promote gene flow throughout the species' range.
    (2) Primary Constituent Element 2--Stable bottom substrates 
composed of relatively silt-free, flat gravel, cobble, and slab-rock 
boulders.
    (3) Primary Constituent Element 3--An instream flow regime 
(magnitude, frequency, duration, and seasonality of discharge over 
time) sufficient to provide permanent surface flows, as measured during 
years with average rainfall, and to maintain benthic habitats utilized 
by the species.
    (4) Primary Constituent Element 4--Adequate water quality 
characterized by moderate stream temperatures, acceptable dissolved 
oxygen concentrations, moderate pH, and low levels of pollutants. 
Adequate water quality is defined for the purpose of this rule as the 
quality necessary for normal behavior, growth, and viability of all 
life stages of the Chucky madtom.
    (5) Primary Constituent Element 5--Prey base of aquatic 
macroinvertebrates, including midge larvae, mayfly nymphs, caddisfly 
larvae, and stonefly larvae.

Laurel Dace

    (1) Primary Constituent Element 1--Pool and run habitats of 
geomorphically stable, first- to second-order streams with riparian 
vegetation; cool, clean, flowing water; shallow depths; and 
connectivity between spawning, foraging, and resting sites to promote 
gene flow throughout the species' range.
    (2) Primary Constituent Element 2--Stable bottom substrates 
composed of relatively silt-free gravel, cobble, and slab-rock boulder 
substrates with undercut banks and canopy cover.
    (3) Primary Constituent Element 3--An instream flow regime 
(magnitude, frequency, duration, and seasonality of discharge over 
time) sufficient to provide permanent surface flows, as measured during 
years with average rainfall, and to maintain benthic habitats utilized 
by the species.
    (4) Primary Constituent Element 4--Adequate water quality 
characterized by moderate stream temperatures, acceptable dissolved 
oxygen concentrations, moderate pH, and low levels of pollutants. 
Adequate water quality is defined for the purpose of this rule as the 
quality necessary for normal behavior, growth, and viability of all 
life stages of the laurel dace.
    (5) Primary Constituent Element 5--Prey base of aquatic 
macroinvertebrates, including midge larvae, caddisfly larvae, and 
stonefly larvae.
    With this designation of critical habitat, we intend to identify 
the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of 
these five species, through the identification of the features' primary 
constituent elements sufficient to support life-history processes of 
these species.

Special Management Considerations or Protection

    When designating critical habitat, we assess whether the areas 
within the geographical area occupied by the species at the time of 
listing contain features that are essential to the conservation of the 
species and which may require special management considerations or 
protection.
Cumberland Darter
    The 15 units we are designating as critical habitat for the 
Cumberland darter will require some level of management to address the 
current and future threats to the physical and biological features of 
the species. Due to their location on the Daniel Boone National Forest 
(DBNF), at least a portion of 13 of the 15 critical habitat units are 
being managed and protected under DBNF's Land and Resource Management 
Plan (LRMP) (United States Forest Service (USFS) 2004, pp. 1-14). The 
LRMP is implemented through a series of project-level decisions based 
on appropriate site-specific analysis and disclosure. It does not 
contain a commitment to select any specific project; rather, it sets up 
a framework of desired future conditions with goals, objectives, and 
standards to guide project proposals. Projects are proposed to solve 
resource management problems, move the forest environment toward 
desired future conditions, and supply goods and services to the public 
(USFS 2004, pp. 1-14). The LRMP contains a number of protective 
standards that in general are designed to avoid and minimize potential 
adverse effects to the Cumberland darter and other federally listed 
species; however, the DBNF will continue to conduct project-specific 
section 7 consultation under the Act when their activities may 
adversely affect streams supporting Cumberland darters.
    Two of the 15 critical habitat units are located entirely on 
private property and are not presently under the special management or 
protection provided by a legally operative plan or agreement for the 
conservation of the species. Activities in or adjacent to these 15 
critical habitat areas may affect one or more of the physical and 
biological features essential to the Cumberland darter. For example, 
features in this critical habitat designation may require special 
management due to threats posed by resource extraction (coal surface 
mining, silviculture, natural gas and oil exploration activities), 
agricultural activities (livestock), lack of adequate riparian buffers, 
presence of perched road culverts or impassable road crossings that 
restrict fish movement, construction and maintenance of State and 
county roads, nonpoint source pollution arising from stormwater runoff, 
and canopy loss caused by infestations of the hemlock woolly adelgid. 
These threats are in addition to adverse effects of drought, floods, or 
other natural phenomena. Other activities that may affect physical and 
biological features in the critical habitat units include those listed 
in the Effects of Critical Habitat Designation section below.
    Management activities that could ameliorate these threats include, 
but are not limited to: Use of BMPs designed to reduce sedimentation, 
erosion, and bank side destruction; moderation of surface and ground 
water withdrawals to maintain natural flow regimes; increase of 
stormwater management and reduction of stormwater flows into the 
systems; preservation of headwater springs and streams; regulation of 
off-road vehicle use; removal or replacement of perched culverts or 
fords that can restrict darter movements and reduce genetic exchange 
between populations; and reduction of other watershed and floodplain 
disturbances that release sediments, pollutants, or nutrients into the 
water.
    In summary, we find that the areas we are designating as critical 
habitat for the Cumberland darter contain the physical or biological 
features for the species, and that these features may require special 
management considerations or protection. Special management 
consideration or protection may be required to eliminate, or to reduce 
to negligible levels, the threats affecting the physical or biological 
features of each unit.
Rush Darter
    The eight units we are designating as critical habitat for the rush 
darter will require some level of management to address the current and 
future threats to the physical and biological features of

[[Page 63622]]

the rush darter. None of the critical habitat units (or their 
corresponding aquifer recharge zones, which are not designated as 
critical habitat) are presently under special management or protection 
provided by a legally operative plan or agreement for the conservation 
of the rush darter. However, 4.7 rkm (2.9 rmi) of the Turkey Creek 
watershed (Jefferson County) is designated critical habitat for the 
vermilion darter (Etheostoma chermocki) (75 FR 75913, December 7, 2010) 
which includes a portion of rush darter unit 2. Various activities in 
or adjacent to the critical habitat units described in this final rule 
may affect one or more of the physical and biological features. For 
example, features in the critical habitat designation may require 
special management due to threats posed by the following activities or 
disturbances: Urbanization activities and inadequate stormwater 
management (such as stream channel modification for flood control or 
gravel extraction) that could cause an increase in bank erosion; 
significant changes in the existing flow regime within the streams due 
to water diversion or withdrawal; significant alteration of water 
quality; significant alteration in the quantity of groundwater, 
prevention of water from percolating into the aquifer recharge zone, 
and alteration of spring discharge sites; significant changes in stream 
bed material composition and quality due to construction projects and 
maintenance activities; off-road vehicle use; sewer, gas, and water 
easements; bridge construction; culvert and pipe installation; and 
other watershed and floodplain disturbances that release sediments or 
nutrients into the water. Other activities that may affect physical and 
biological features in the critical habitat units include those listed 
in the Effects of Critical Habitat Designation section below.
    Management activities that could ameliorate these threats include, 
but are not limited to: Use of BMPs designed to reduce sedimentation, 
erosion, and bank side destruction; moderation of surface and ground 
water withdrawals to maintain natural flow regimes; increase of 
stormwater management and reduction of stormwater flows into the 
systems; preservation of headwater springs, spring runs, and ephemeral 
rivulets; regulation of off-road vehicle use; and reduction of other 
watershed and floodplain disturbances that release sediments, 
pollutants, or nutrients into the water.
    In summary, we find that the areas we are designating as critical 
habitat for the rush darter contain the physical or biological features 
for the species, and that these features may require special management 
considerations or protection. Special management consideration or 
protection may be required to eliminate, or to reduce to negligible 
levels, the threats affecting the physical or biological features of 
each unit.
Yellowcheek Darter
    The four units we are designating as critical habitat for the 
yellowcheek darter will require some level of management to address the 
current and future threats to the physical and biological features of 
the species. The yellowcheek darter is currently covered under a 
candidate conservation agreement with assurances (CCAA) in the upper 
Little Red River watershed in Arkansas, along with the endangered 
speckled pocketbook mussel, which does not have critical habitat 
designated. Of the 205,761 hectares (ha) (508,446 acres (ac)) within 
the upper Little Red River watershed known to support the yellowcheek 
darter, approximately 35,208 ha (87,000 ac) are owned by private 
parties (Service 2007, p. 4). To date, multiple landowners have 
enrolled 4,672 ha (11,544 ac) in the program since its inception in 
mid-2007, and 10 more landowners with approximately 20,234 ha (50,000 
ac) have pending draft agreements. Lands enrolled in these conservation 
programs include areas within the critical habitat as well as riparian 
and upland areas that are outside of the critical habitat boundary. 
Various activities in or adjacent to critical habitat may affect one or 
more of the physical and biological features. For example, features in 
this critical habitat designation may require special management due to 
threats posed by natural gas extraction; timber harvest; gravel mining; 
unrestricted cattle access into streams; water diversion for 
agriculture, industry, municipalities, or other purposes; lack of 
adequate riparian buffers; construction and maintenance of county and 
State roads; and nonpoint source pollution arising from development and 
a broad array of human activities. These threats are in addition to 
random effects of drought, floods, or other natural phenomena. Other 
activities that may affect physical and biological features in the 
critical habitat units include those listed in the Effects of Critical 
Habitat Designation section below.
    Management activities that could ameliorate these threats include, 
but are not limited to: Use of BMPs designed to reduce sedimentation, 
erosion, and bank side destruction; moderation of surface and ground 
water withdrawals to maintain natural flow regimes; increase of 
stormwater management and reduction of stormwater flows into the 
systems; preservation of headwater springs and streams; regulation of 
off-road vehicle use; and reduction of other watershed and floodplain 
disturbances that release sediments, pollutants, or nutrients into the 
water.
    In summary, we find that the areas we are designating as critical 
habitat for the yellowcheek darter contain the physical or biological 
features for the species, and that these features may require special 
management considerations or protection. Special management 
consideration or protection may be required to eliminate, or to reduce 
to negligible levels, the threats affecting the physical or biological 
features of each unit.
Chucky Madtom
    The single unit we are designating as critical habitat for the 
Chucky madtom will require some level of management to address the 
current and future threats to the physical and biological features of 
the species. The critical habitat unit is located on private property 
and is not presently under the special management or protection 
provided by a legally operative plan or agreement for the conservation 
of the species. Various activities in or adjacent to the critical 
habitat unit described in this rule may affect one or more of the 
physical and biological features. For example, features in this 
critical habitat designation may require special management due to 
threats posed by agricultural activities (e.g., row crops and 
livestock), lack of adequate riparian buffers, construction and 
maintenance of State and county roads, gravel mining, and nonpoint 
source pollution (e.g., agrochemicals, sediment) arising from a wide 
variety of human activities. These threats are in addition to random 
effects of drought, floods, or other natural phenomena. Other 
activities that may affect physical and biological features in the 
critical habitat unit include those listed in the Effects of Critical 
Habitat Designation section below.
    Management activities that could ameliorate these threats include, 
but are not limited to: Use of BMPs designed to reduce sedimentation, 
erosion, and bank side destruction; moderate application of 
agrochemicals; moderation of surface and ground water withdrawals to 
maintain natural flow regimes; increase of stormwater management and 
reduction of stormwater flows into the systems; preservation of 
headwater streams; and reduction of other

[[Page 63623]]

watershed and floodplain disturbances that release sediments, 
pollutants, or nutrients into the water.
    In summary, we find that the area we are designating as critical 
habitat for the Chucky madtom contains the physical or biological 
features for the species, and that these features may require special 
management considerations or protection. Special management 
consideration or protection may be required to eliminate, or to reduce 
to negligible levels, the threats affecting the physical or biological 
features of the unit.
Laurel Dace
    The six units we are designating as critical habitat will require 
some level of management to address the current and future threats to 
the physical and biological features of the laurel dace. These units 
are located on private property and are not presently under the special 
management or protection provided by a legally operative plan or 
agreement for the conservation of the species. Various activities in or 
adjacent to these areas of critical habitat may affect one or more of 
the physical and biological features. For example, features in this 
critical habitat designation may require special management due to 
threats posed by resource extraction (coal and gravel mining, 
silviculture, natural gas and oil exploration activities), agricultural 
activities (row crops and livestock), lack of adequate riparian 
buffers, construction and maintenance of State and county roads, 
nonpoint source pollution arising from a wide variety of human 
activities, and canopy loss caused by infestations of the hemlock 
woolly adelgid. These threats are in addition to random effects of 
drought, floods, or other natural phenomena. Other activities that may 
affect physical and biological features in the critical habitat units 
include those listed in the Effects of Critical Habitat Designation 
section below.
    Management activities that could ameliorate these threats include, 
but are not limited to: Use of BMPs designed to reduce sedimentation, 
erosion, and bank side destruction; moderation of surface and ground 
water withdrawals to maintain natural flow regimes; increase of 
stormwater management and reduction of stormwater flows into the 
systems; preservation of headwater streams; regulation of off-road 
vehicle use; and reduction of other watershed and floodplain 
disturbances that release sediments, acid mine drainage, pollutants, or 
nutrients into the water.
    In summary, we find that the areas we are designating as critical 
habitat for the laurel dace contain the physical or biological features 
for the species, and that these features may require special management 
considerations or protection. Special management consideration or 
protection may be required to eliminate, or to reduce to negligible 
levels, the threats affecting the physical or biological features of 
each unit.

Criteria Used To Identify Critical Habitat

    As required by section 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act, we used the best 
scientific and commercial data available to designate critical habitat. 
We reviewed available information pertaining to the habitat 
requirements of the species. In accordance with the Act and its 
implementing regulation at 50 CFR 424.12(e), we considered 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 designating critical habitat in 
areas within the geographical area occupied by the species at the time 
of listing in 2011. We also are designating specific areas outside the 
geographical area occupied by the Cumberland darter at the time of 
listing that are within the historical range of the species, but 
currently unoccupied, because we have determined that such areas are 
essential for the conservation of the species. Below is a discussion of 
the criteria used to identify critical habitat for each of the five 
species.
Cumberland Darter
    We are designating critical habitat in areas within the 
geographical area occupied by the Cumberland darter at the time of 
listing in 2011. We also are designating specific areas outside the 
geographical area occupied by the species at the time of listing that 
were historically occupied but are presently unoccupied, because we 
have determined that: (1) Such areas are essential for the conservation 
of the species; and (2) designation of only occupied habitats is not 
sufficient to conserve this species. Unoccupied habitats provide 
additional habitat for population expansion and promote greater genetic 
diversity, which will decrease the risk of extinction for the species.
    We used information from surveys and reports prepared by the 
Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, Kentucky Division 
of Water, and Service records to identify specific locations occupied 
by the Cumberland darter. Delineations were based on the best available 
scientific information indicating portions of streams containing 
necessary physical or biological features to support the Cumberland 
darter. We set the upstream and downstream limits of each critical 
habitat unit by identifying landmarks (bridges, confluences, road 
crossings, dams) above and below the upper and lowermost reported 
locations of the Cumberland darter in each stream reach to ensure 
incorporation of all potential sites of occurrence.
    We used ARCGIS to delineate the specific stream segments occupied 
by the Cumberland darter at the time of listing, and those locations 
outside the geographical area occupied by the species at the time it 
was listed that were determined to be essential for the conservation of 
the species. Areas designated as critical habitat for the Cumberland 
darter include only stream channels within the ordinary high water line 
and do not contain any developed areas or structures.
    We are designating as critical habitat all stream reaches in 
occupied habitat. These stream reaches comprise the entire known range 
of the species. As discussed above, currently occupied habitat for the 
Cumberland darter is limited to 13 streams in McCreary and Whitley 
Counties, Kentucky, and Campbell and Scott Counties, Tennessee. All 
currently occupied areas contain the physical or biological features of 
the species.
    To identify essential areas outside of the geographical area 
occupied at the time of listing, we identified areas historically 
occupied (currently unoccupied) in the upper Cumberland River basin in 
Kentucky (McCreary and Whitley Counties) and Tennessee (Campbell and 
Scott Counties). We then assessed the critical life-history components 
of the Cumberland darter, as they relate to the physical or biological 
features. We determined the appropriate length of stream segments by 
identifying the upstream and downstream limits of unoccupied sections 
necessary for the conservation of the Cumberland darter.
    In addition, we are designating as critical habitat reaches that 
were not occupied by the Cumberland darter at the time of listing, but 
that are located within the historical range of the species. During our 
evaluation of unoccupied stream reaches, we considered the availability 
of potential habitat throughout the historical range that may be 
essential to the survival and conservation of the species. We 
eliminated from consideration streams with degraded habitat and water 
quality conditions, and other streams with

[[Page 63624]]

potentially suitable habitat but that are separated from basins with 
occupied habitats. This screening process produced two unoccupied 
stream reaches (Indian Creek and Kilburn Fork), which we are 
designating as critical habitat. These reaches are adjacent to 
currently occupied areas where there is potential for natural dispersal 
and reoccupation by the species.
    Currently occupied habitats of the Cumberland darter are highly 
localized and fragmented, with populations separated from one another 
by an average distance of 30.5 stream km (19 stream mi). As explained 
above, this fragmentation and isolation of populations reduces the 
amount of space for rearing and reproduction, reduces the connectivity 
between populations, and decreases genetic diversity. Long-term 
viability is founded on the conservation of numerous local populations 
that can move freely between habitats and exchange genetic information. 
These reaches are essential to the Cumberland darter because they 
provide additional habitat for population expansion and will promote 
connectivity and genetic exchange between populations; in addition, 
both streams support diverse fish assemblages, including federally 
listed and at-risk species.
    We are designating as critical habitat 13 units that we determined 
were occupied at the time of listing. These units are designated 
because sufficient elements of physical or biological features are 
present to support Cumberland darter life-history processes. Two 
additional units outside the geographical area occupied by the species 
at the time of listing are designated because we consider them to be 
essential to the conservation of the species.
Rush Darter
    We are designating critical habitat in areas within the 
geographical area occupied by the rush darter at the time of listing in 
2011. We are not designating any areas outside the geographical area 
occupied by the rush darter because occupied areas are sufficient for 
the conservation of the species.
    We used information from surveys and reports prepared by the 
Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Alabama 
Geological Survey, Samford University, University of Alabama, the U.S. 
Forest Service, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the 
Service to identify the specific locations occupied by the rush darter. 
Currently, occupied habitat for the species is limited and isolated. 
The species is currently located within tributaries of three watersheds 
in three counties in Alabama: the Turkey Creek watershed (Jefferson 
County) (Drennen 2008, pers. obs.); the Clear Creek watershed (Winston 
County); and the Little Cove-Bristow Creek watershed (Etowah County). 
In the Turkey Creek watershed, the species is found in four tributaries 
including Beaver Creek, an unnamed tributary to Beaver Creek and 
associated springs and wetland, the Highway 79 site, and Tapawingo or 
Penny Springs. In the Clear Creek watershed, it is found in Wildcat 
Branch, Doe Branch, and Mill Creek. In the Little Cove-Bristow Creek 
watershed, it is found in Little Cove Creek, Cove Spring and spring 
run, and Bristow Creek.
    Following the identification of the specific locations occupied by 
the rush darter, we determined the appropriate length of stream 
segments by identifying the upstream and downstream limits of these 
occupied sections necessary for the conservation of the rush darter. 
Because populations of rush darters are isolated due to dispersal 
barriers, to set the upstream and downstream limits of each critical 
habitat unit, we identified landmarks (bridges, confluences, road 
crossings, and dams), and in some instances latitude and longitude 
coordinates and section lines above and below the upper and lowermost 
reported locations of the rush darter, in each stream reach to ensure 
incorporation of all potential sites of occurrence. In addition, within 
the Cove Spring run and Tapawingo or Penny Spring run, the total area 
of water that is pooled, and is rush darter habitat, was calculated in 
hectares (acres). The critical habitat areas were then mapped using 
ARCGIS to produce the critical habitat map.
    We are designating as critical habitat all stream and spring 
reaches in occupied habitat. These stream reaches comprise the entire 
known range of the rush darter. We are not designating any areas 
outside the occupied range of the species because occupied areas are 
sufficient for the conservation of the species, and because the 
historical range of the rush darter, beyond currently occupied areas, 
is unknown and dispersal beyond the current range is not likely due to 
dispersal barriers. Areas designated for critical habitat for the rush 
darter below include only stream channels within the ordinary high 
water line and spring pool areas and do not contain any developed areas 
or structures.
    We are designating as critical habitat eight units that we have 
determined were occupied at the time of listing and contain sufficient 
elements of physical or biological features to support life-history 
processes essential to the conservation of rush darter. Some units 
contain all of the identified elements of physical or biological 
features and support multiple life-history processes. Some units 
contain only some elements of the physical or biological features 
necessary to support the rush darter's particular use of that habitat.
Yellowcheek Darter
    We are designating critical habitat in areas within the 
geographical area occupied by the yellowcheek darter at the time of 
listing in 2011. We are not designating any areas outside the 
geographical area occupied by the yellowcheek darter because occupied 
areas are sufficient for the conservation of the species.
    We used information from surveys and reports prepared by Arkansas 
State University, Arkansas Tech University, Arkansas Game and Fish 
Commission, Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, and the 
Service to identify the specific locations occupied by the yellowcheek 
darter. We identified those areas for designation as critical habitat, 
within the geographical area occupied by the species at the time of 
listing, that contain the physical or biological features of the 
yellowcheek darter and which may require special management 
consideration or protection. All of the areas we are designating are 
currently part of ongoing recovery initiatives for this species and are 
targeted for special management considerations.
    We used ARCGIS to delineate the specific stream segments occupied 
by the yellowcheek darter at the time of listing, which contain the 
physical or biological features essential to the species. We assessed 
the critical life-history components of the yellowcheek darter, as they 
relate to habitat. Delineations were based on the best available 
scientific information indicating portions of streams containing 
necessary physical or biological features necessary to support the 
yellowcheek darter. We set the upstream and downstream limits of each 
critical habitat unit by identifying landmarks (bridges, confluences, 
road crossings, dams, reservoir inundation elevations) above and below 
the upper and lowermost reported locations of the yellowcheek darter in 
each stream reach to ensure incorporation of all potential sites of 
occurrence. Areas designated as yellowcheek darter critical habitat 
include only stream channels within the ordinary high water line and do 
not

[[Page 63625]]

contain any developed areas or structures.
    We are designating as critical habitat four units that we have 
determined were occupied at the time of listing and contain sufficient 
elements of physical or biological features to support life-history 
processes essential to the conservation of the yellowcheek darter. All 
units contain all of the identified elements of physical or biological 
features and support multiple life-history processes.
Chucky Madtom
    We are designating critical habitat in areas within the 
geographical area occupied by the Chucky madtom at the time of listing 
in 2011. We are not designating any areas outside the geographical 
areas occupied by the Chucky madtom at the time of listing because the 
historical range, beyond currently occupied areas, is not well known.
    We used information from surveys and reports prepared by 
Conservation Fisheries, Inc., and the Tennessee Valley Authority to 
identify the specific locations occupied by the Chucky madtom. 
Currently, occupied habitat for the species is limited and isolated. At 
the time of listing, the current range of the Chucky madtom was 
restricted to an approximately 3-km (1.8-mi) reach of Little Chucky 
Creek in Greene County, Tennessee.
    Following the identification of the specific locations occupied by 
the Chucky madtom, we determined the appropriate length of stream 
segments by identifying the upstream and downstream limits of these 
occupied sections necessary for the conservation of the species. To set 
the upstream and downstream limits of the single critical habitat unit, 
we identified landmarks (bridges, confluences, and road crossings) 
above and below the upper and lowermost reported locations of the 
Chucky madtom in Little Chucky Creek to ensure incorporation of all 
potential sites of occurrence. The critical habitat areas were then 
mapped using ARCGIS to produce the critical habitat unit map.
    We are designating as critical habitat a single stream reach in 
Little Chucky Creek, which is occupied habitat. This stream reach 
comprises the entire current known range of the Chucky madtom. The unit 
contains one or more of the physical or biological features in the 
appropriate quantity and spatial arrangement essential to the 
conservation of this species and supports multiple life-history 
processes for the Chucky madtom. The area designated for critical 
habitat for the Chucky madtom includes only the stream channel within 
the ordinary high water line and does not contain any developed areas 
or structures.
Laurel Dace
    We are designating critical habitat in areas within the 
geographical area occupied by the laurel dace at the time of listing in 
2011. We are not designating any areas outside the geographical area 
occupied by the laurel dace because occupied areas are sufficient for 
the conservation of the species.
    We used information from surveys and reports prepared by the 
Tennessee Valley Authority, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, 
University of Tennessee, and the Service to identify the specific 
locations occupied by the laurel dace. Currently, occupied habitat for 
the species is limited and isolated. The species is currently located 
in three independent systems: Soddy Creek, the Sale Creek system, and 
the Piney River system. Following the identification of the specific 
locations occupied by the laurel dace, we determined the appropriate 
length of stream segments by identifying the upstream and downstream 
limits of these occupied sections necessary for the conservation of the 
laurel dace. Because populations of laurel dace are isolated due to 
dispersal barriers, to set the upstream and downstream limits of each 
critical habitat unit, we identified landmarks (bridges, confluences, 
and road crossings), and in some instances latitude and longitude 
coordinates and section lines above and below the upper and lowermost 
reported locations of the laurel dace, in each stream reach to ensure 
incorporation of all potential sites of occurrence. The designated 
critical habitat areas were then mapped using ARCGIS to produce the 
critical habitat unit maps.
    We are designating as critical habitat all stream reaches in 
occupied habitat. We have defined occupied habitat as those stream 
reaches occupied at the time of listing and still known to be occupied 
by the laurel dace; these stream reaches comprise the entire known 
range of the laurel dace. Areas designated as critical habitat for the 
laurel dace include only stream channels within the ordinary high water 
line and do not contain any developed areas or structures.
    We are designating as critical habitat six units that we determined 
were occupied at the time of listing and contain all of the identified 
elements of physical or biological features to support life-history 
processes essential to the conservation of the laurel dace. Six units 
are designated based on sufficient elements of physical or biological 
features present to support laurel dace life-history processes. All 
units contain all of the identified elements of physical or biological 
features and support multiple life-history processes.
    When determining critical habitat boundaries, we made every effort 
to avoid including developed areas such as lands covered by buildings, 
pavement, and other structures because such lands usually lack physical 
and biological features for the listed species. The scale of the maps 
we prepared under the parameters for publication within the Code of 
Federal Regulations may not reflect the exclusion of such developed 
lands. Any such lands inadvertently left inside critical habitat 
boundaries shown on the maps of this final rule have been excluded by 
text in the rule and are not designated as critical habitat. Therefore, 
a Federal action involving these lands would not trigger section 7 
consultation with respect to critical habitat and the requirement of no 
adverse modification unless the specific action would affect the 
physical and biological features in the adjacent critical habitat. The 
designation of critical habitat does not imply that lands outside of 
critical habitat do not play an important role in the conservation of 
the species.
    The critical habitat designation is defined by the map or maps, as 
modified by any accompanying regulatory text, presented at the end of 
this document in the rule portion. We include more detailed information 
on the boundaries of the critical habitat designation in the preamble 
of this document. We will make the coordinates or plot points or both 
on which each map is based available to the public on http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-R4-ES-2011-0074, on our Internet 
sites at http://www.fws.gov/cookeville/, and at the field office 
responsible for the designation (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT 
above).
    We are designating as critical habitat lands that we have 
determined are occupied at the time of listing and contain sufficient 
physical or biological features to support life-history processes 
essential for the conservation of these five species, and lands outside 
of the geographical area occupied at the time of listing that we have 
determined are essential for the conservation of the Cumberland darter.
    Units are designated based on sufficient elements of physical or 
biological features being present to support the Cumberland darter, 
rush darter, yellowcheck darter, Chucky madtom, and laurel dace life 
processes.

[[Page 63626]]

Some units contain all of the identified elements of physical or 
biological features and support multiple life processes. Some units 
contain only some elements of the physical or biological features 
necessary to support the five species' particular use of that habitat.

Final Critical Habitat Designation

Cumberland Darter

    We are designating 15 units as critical habitat for the Cumberland 
darter. These units, which constitute our current best assessment of 
areas that meet the definition of critical habitat for the Cumberland 
darter, are: (1) Bunches Creek, (2) Calf Pen Fork, (3) Youngs Creek, 
(4) Barren Fork, (5) Indian Creek, (6) Cogur Fork, (7) Kilburn Fork, 
(8) Laurel Fork, (9) Laurel Creek, (10) Elisha Branch, (11) Jenneys 
Branch, (12) Wolf Creek, (13) Jellico Creek, (14) Rock Creek, and (15) 
Capuchin Creek. Table 1 shows the occupancy of the units and ownership 
of the designated areas for the Cumberland darter.

       Table 1--Occupancy and Ownership of the Designated Critical Habitat Units for the Cumberland Darter
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                     Federal,
                                                                      Private     state, county,   Total length
             Unit                  Location          Occupied      ownership rkm  city ownership     rkm (rmi)
                                                                       (rmi)         rkm (rmi)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1............................  Bunches Creek...  Yes............               0       5.8 (3.6)       5.8 (3.6)
2............................  Calf Pen Fork...  Yes............               0       2.9 (1.8)       2.9 (1.8)
3............................  Youngs Creek....  Yes............       7.4 (4.6)               0       7.4 (4.6)
4............................  Barren Fork.....  Yes............               0       6.3 (3.9)       6.3 (3.9)
5............................  Indian Creek....  No.............               0       4.0 (2.5)       4.0 (2.5)
6............................  Cogur Fork......  Yes............       2.7 (1.7)       5.9 (3.7)       8.6 (5.4)
7............................  Kilburn Fork....  No.............       0.9 (0.6)       3.7 (2.3)       4.6 (2.9)
8............................  Laurel Fork.....  Yes............       1.3 (0.8)       2.2 (1.4)       3.5 (2.2)
9............................  Laurel Creek....  Yes............       0.6 (0.4)       8.8 (5.5)       9.4 (5.9)
10...........................  Elisha Branch...  Yes............               0       2.1 (1.3)       2.1 (1.3)
11...........................  Jenneys Branch..  Yes............               0       3.1 (1.9)       3.1 (1.9)
12...........................  Wolf Creek......  Yes............       6.3 (3.9)               0       6.3 (3.9)
13...........................  Jellico Creek...  Yes............       8.2 (5.1)       3.3 (2.1)      11.5 (7.2)
14...........................  Rock Creek......  Yes............       3.9 (2.4)       2.2 (1.4)       6.1 (3.8)
15...........................  Capuchin Creek..  Yes............       3.4 (2.1)       0.8 (0.5)       4.2 (2.6)
                              ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total....................  ................  ...............  ..............  ..............     85.8 (53.5)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    We present brief descriptions of all units and reasons why they 
meet the definition of critical habitat for the Cumberland darter. The 
designated critical habitat units include the stream channels of the 
creek within the ordinary high water line. As defined in 33 CFR 329.11, 
the ordinary high water mark on nontidal rivers is the line on the 
shore established by the fluctuations of water and indicated by 
physical characteristics, such as a clear, natural line impressed on 
the bank; shelving; changes in the character of soil; destruction of 
terrestrial vegetation; the presence of litter and debris; or other 
appropriate means that consider the characteristics of the surrounding 
areas. Critical habitat units are either in private ownership or public 
ownership. In Kentucky and Tennessee, the owners of adjacent land also 
own the land under non-navigable streams (e.g., the stream channel or 
bottom), but the water is under State jurisdiction. Portions of the 
public-to-private boundary for units 6, 7, 8, 9, and 13 were located 
along the mid-line of the stream channel; lengths for these segments 
were divided equally between public and private ownership.
Unit 1: Bunches Creek, Whitley County, Kentucky
    This unit is located between Kentucky Highway 90 (KY 90) and the 
Cumberland River and includes 5.8 rkm (3.6 rmi) of Bunches Creek from 
the confluence of Seminary Branch and Amos Falls Branch downstream to 
its confluence with the Cumberland River. Live Cumberland darters have 
been captured at two sites within Unit 1 (Thomas 2007, pp. 11-12), 
specifically at the mouth of Bunches Creek and just below its 
confluence with Calf Pen Fork. This unit was included in the 
geographical area occupied by the species at the time of listing and 
contains elements of essential physical or biological features. This 
unit is located entirely on Federal lands within the DBNF. Land and 
resource management decisions and activities within the DBNF are guided 
by DBNF's LRMP (USFS 2004, pp. 1-14). The lower portion of Bunches 
Creek (stream rkm 0 to 0.3 (rmi 0 to 0.1)) flows through a designated 
Kentucky Wild River corridor (KRS 146.200 to 146.360) that extends 
along an approximately 25.7 km (16 mi) reach of the Cumberland River. 
This Wild River corridor extends from Summer Shoals downstream to the 
backwaters of Lake Cumberland (KRS 146.241). The Bunches Creek-
Cumberland River confluence is located approximately 3.0 km (1.9 mi) 
upstream of Cumberland Falls. The Bunches Creek watershed is relatively 
undisturbed, and access is limited (no road crossings). The channel 
within Unit 1 is relatively stable, with excellent instream habitat 
(PCE 1). There is an abundance of pool and run habitats (PCE 1), with 
relatively silt-free sand and bedrock substrates (PCE 2) and adequate 
instream flows (PCE 3). Water quality is good to excellent (PCE 4), as 
evidenced by diverse fish and macroinvertebrate communities (PCE 5).
    Within Unit 1, the Cumberland darter and its habitat may require 
special management considerations or protection to address potential 
adverse effects associated with silviculture-related activities, 
natural gas and oil exploration activities in headwater reaches, 
illegal off-road vehicle use and other recreational activities, 
nonpoint source pollution originating in headwater reaches, and canopy 
loss caused by infestations of the hemlock woolly adelgid.
Unit 2: Calf Pen Fork, Whitley County, Kentucky
    This unit includes 2.9 rkm (1.8 rmi) of Calf Pen Fork, a tributary 
of Bunches

[[Page 63627]]

Creek, from its confluence with Polly Hollow downstream to its 
confluence with Bunches Creek. Live Cumberland darters have been 
captured in Calf Pen Fork just above its confluence with Bunches Creek 
(Thomas 2007, pp. 11-12). This unit was included in the geographical 
area occupied by the species at the time of listing and contains 
elements of essential physical or biological features. This unit is 
located entirely on Federal lands within the DBNF. Land and resource 
management decisions and activities within the DBNF are guided by 
DBNF's LRMP (USFS 2004, pp. 1-14). Similar to the watershed of Unit 1, 
the Calf Pen Fork watershed is relatively undisturbed, and access is 
limited (no road crossings). Within Unit 2, the channel is relatively 
stable, with excellent instream habitat (PCE 1), an abundance of run 
and pool habitats (PCE 1), relatively silt-free sand and bedrock 
substrates (PCE 2), and adequate instream flows (PCE 3). Water quality 
is good to excellent (PCE 4), with diverse fish and macroinvertebrate 
communities (PCE 5).
    Within Unit 2, the Cumberland darter and its habitat may require 
special management considerations or protection to address potential 
adverse effects associated with silviculture-related activities, 
natural gas and oil exploration activities, illegal off-road vehicle 
use and other recreational activities, nonpoint source pollution 
arising from headwater reaches, and canopy loss caused by infestations 
of the hemlock woolly adelgid.
Unit 3: Youngs Creek, Whitley County, Kentucky
    Unit 3 includes 7.4 rkm (4.6 rmi) of Youngs Creek from Brays Chapel 
Road downstream to its confluence with the Cumberland River. Live 
Cumberland darters have been captured within Unit 3 (Thomas 2007, pp. 
11-12), specifically at the KY 204 bridge crossing. This unit was 
included in the geographical area occupied by the species at the time 
of listing and contains elements of essential physical or biological 
features. This unit is located entirely on private land. The watershed 
of Youngs Creek is less forested than Units 1 and 2, with scattered 
residences and small farms. The channel is relatively stable (PCE 1), 
but activities associated with agriculture, silviculture, and 
residential development have contributed to a more open riparian zone, 
increased bank erosion, and some siltation of instream habitats. 
Despite these impacts, Unit 3 continues to provide pool and run 
habitats with suitable sand and bedrock substrates for Cumberland 
darters to use in spawning, foraging, and other behaviors (PCEs 1 and 
2). Flow is adequate as measured during years with average rainfall 
(PCE 3), water quality is adequate (PCE 4), and macroinvertebrate prey 
items are present (PCE 5).
    Within this unit, the Cumberland darter and its habitat may require 
special management considerations or protection to address potential 
adverse effects caused by resource extraction (mining, silviculture, 
natural gas and oil exploration activities), agricultural activities 
(livestock), lack of adequate riparian buffers, perched road culverts 
or impassable road crossings (fords), construction and maintenance of 
State and county roads, illegal off-road vehicle use, nonpoint source 
pollution arising from a wide variety of human activities, and canopy 
loss caused by infestations of the hemlock woolly adelgid.
Unit 4: Barren Fork, McCreary County, Kentucky
    Unit 4 includes 6.3 rkm (3.9 rmi) of Barren Fork from its 
confluence with an unnamed tributary downstream to its confluence with 
Indian Creek. Based on survey results by Thomas (2007, pp. 11-12) and 
Stephens (2009, pp. 10-23), Barren Fork supports the most robust 
population of Cumberland darters within the species' range. Over the 
past 4 years, over 75 Cumberland darters have been observed within this 
unit (Thomas 2007, pp. 11-12; Stephens 2009, pp. 10-23). This unit was 
included in the geographical area occupied by the species at the time 
of listing and contains elements of essential physical or biological 
features. This unit is located entirely on Federal lands within the 
DBNF. Land and resource management decisions and activities within the 
DBNF are guided by DBNF's LRMP (USFS 2004, pp. 1-14). In the summer and 
fall of 2008, the Barren Fork watershed was adversely affected by 
several large sedimentation events originating from a county park 
construction site in the headwaters of the basin. Inadequate site 
planning and poor BMP implementation allowed significant quantities of 
sediment to leave the construction site and enter headwater tributaries 
of Barren Fork. The sediment was carried downstream into the mainstem 
of Barren Fork, eventually affecting the entire reach of Unit 4. Until 
the construction site was stabilized in 2009, important spawning and 
foraging habitats for the Cumberland darter were degraded.
    Despite these significant adverse effects, habitat conditions have 
improved since 2008, and are now similar to those described for Units 1 
and 2. The watershed is mostly forested, with relatively stable 
channels (PCE 1), abundant pool and run habitats (PCE 1), relatively 
silt-free sand and bedrock substrates (PCE 2), adequate flow (PCE 3), 
adequate water quality (PCE 4), and a diverse macroinvertebrate 
community (PCE 5).
    Within this unit, the Cumberland darter and its habitat may require 
special management considerations or protection to address potential 
adverse effects caused by resource extraction (mining, silviculture, 
natural gas and oil exploration activities), lack of adequate riparian 
buffers, construction and maintenance of county roads, illegal off-road 
vehicle use, nonpoint source pollution arising from a wide variety of 
human activities, and canopy loss caused by infestations of the hemlock 
woolly adelgid.
Unit 5: Indian Creek, McCreary County, Kentucky
    Unit 5 includes 4.0 rkm (2.5 rmi) of Indian Creek from its 
confluence with Strunk Branch, downstream to its confluence with Barren 
Fork. Live Cumberland darters have not been captured within Unit 5. 
This unit was not included in the geographical area occupied by the 
species at the time of listing, and it is not currently occupied by the 
species.
    This unit is located entirely on Federal lands within the DBNF. 
Land and resource management decisions and activities within the DBNF 
are guided by DBNF's LRMP (USFS 2004, pp. 1-14).
    This unit is located within the historical range of the species, 
and is adjacent to currently occupied areas where there is potential 
for natural dispersal and reoccupation by the Cumberland darter. This 
unit is essential for the conservation of the Cumberland darter because 
it provides additional habitat for population expansion and will 
promote connectivity and genetic exchange between adjacent units to the 
south (Unit 4, Barren Fork) and to the north (Unit 6, Cogur Fork).
Unit 6: Cogur Fork, McCreary County, Kentucky
    Unit 6 includes 8.6 rkm (5.4 rmi) of Cogur Fork from its confluence 
with an unnamed tributary downstream to its confluence with Indian 
Creek. Live Cumberland darters have been captured at several locations 
within an approximately 1-km (0.62-mi) reach upstream of the KY 1045 
road crossing (Thomas 2010, pers. comm.). This unit was included in the 
geographical area occupied by the species at the time of

[[Page 63628]]

listing and contains elements of essential physical or biological 
features. The majority of this unit (5.9 rkm (3.7 rmi)) is in public 
ownership (DBNF), with the remainder of the unit (2.7 rkm (1.7 rmi)) in 
private ownership. Land and resource management decisions and 
activities within the DBNF are guided by DBNF's LRMP (USFS 2004, pp. 1-
14).
    Cumberland darters have been captured within Unit 6, but the 
population is considered to be small (Thomas 2010, pers. comm.). From 
2008 to present, the fauna has been bolstered through propagation and 
augmentation efforts by KDFWR, Conservation Fisheries, Inc. (CFI), and 
the Service (Thomas et al. 2010, p. 107). Initial brood stock were 
collected in 2008, with subsequent releases of propagated darters in 
2009 (60 individuals (inds)) and 2010 (335 inds). Both tagged 
(propagated, 50 inds) and non-tagged (native, 4 inds) darters were 
observed during recent surveys in November 2010. Individuals tagged and 
released by KDFWR and CFI traveled distances ranging from 0.4 to 0.7 
rkm (0.2 to 0.4 rmi) between their release date of September 22, 2010, 
and their recapture date of November 9, 2010 (period of 48 days) 
(Thomas 2010, pers. comm.).
    Similar to other units located entirely or predominately on the 
DBNF (Units 1, 2, 4, and 5), this unit has relatively stable channels 
(PCE 1), abundant pool and run habitats (PCE 1), relatively silt-free 
sand and bedrock substrates (PCE 2), adequate flow (PCE 3), adequate 
water quality (PCE 4), and a diverse macroinvertebrate community (PCE 
5).
    Within this unit, the Cumberland darter and its habitat may require 
special management considerations or protection to address potential 
adverse effects caused by resource extraction (mining, silviculture, 
natural gas and oil exploration activities), lack of adequate riparian 
buffers, construction and maintenance of county roads, illegal off-road 
vehicle use, nonpoint source pollution arising from a wide variety of 
human activities, and canopy loss caused by infestations of the hemlock 
woolly adelgid.
Unit 7: Kilburn Fork, McCreary County, Kentucky
    Unit 7 includes 4.6 rkm (2.9 rmi) of Kilburn Fork from its 
confluence with an unnamed tributary downstream to its confluence with 
Laurel Fork. Live Cumberland darters have not been captured within Unit 
7 over the last 15 years (Thomas 2007, pp. 11-12). This unit was not 
included in the geographical area occupied by the species at the time 
of listing, and it is not currently occupied by the species.
    The majority of this unit (3.7 rkm (2.3 rmi)) is in public 
ownership (DBNF), with the remainder of the unit (0.9 rkm (0.6 rmi)) in 
private ownership. Land and resource management decisions and 
activities within the DBNF are guided by DBNF's LRMP (USFS 2004, pp. 1-
14).
    This unit is located within the historical range of the species, 
and is adjacent to currently occupied areas where there is potential 
for natural dispersal and reoccupation by the Cumberland darter. This 
unit is essential for the conservation of the Cumberland darter because 
it provides additional habitat for population expansion and will 
promote connectivity and genetic exchange between adjacent units to the 
south (Unit 6, Cogur Fork) and to the north (Unit 8, Laurel Fork).
Unit 8: Laurel Fork, McCreary County, Kentucky
    Unit 8 includes 3.5 rkm (2.2 rmi) of Laurel Fork from its 
confluence with Tom Fork downstream to its confluence with Indian 
Creek. Live Cumberland darters have been captured within Unit 8 (Thomas 
2007, pp. 11-12), specifically just upstream of its confluence with 
Kilburn Fork. This unit was included in the geographical area occupied 
by the species at the time of listing and contains elements of 
essential physical or biological features.
    The majority of this unit (2.2 rkm (1.4 rmi)) is in public 
ownership (DBNF), with the remainder of the unit (1.3 rkm (0.8 rmi)) in 
private ownership. Land and resource management decisions and 
activities within the DBNF are guided by DBNF's LRMP (USFS 2004, pp. 1-
14).
    Similar to other streams with major portions of their basins in the 
DBNF, the watershed of Laurel Fork is relatively intact, and access is 
limited (limited roads and residential development). The channel within 
Unit 8 is relatively stable (PCE 1), with suitable instream habitat to 
support the life-history functions of the Cumberland darter. There is 
an abundance of pool and run habitats (PCE 1), with relatively silt-
free sand and bedrock substrates (PCE 2) and adequate flows (PCE 3). 
Water quality is good to excellent (PCE 4), as evidenced by diverse 
fish and macroinvertebrate communities (PCE 5).
    Within this unit, the Cumberland darter and its habitat may require 
special management considerations or protection to address potential 
adverse effects caused by resource extraction (mining, silviculture, 
natural gas and oil exploration activities), lack of adequate riparian 
buffers, construction and maintenance of county roads, illegal off-road 
vehicle use, nonpoint source pollution arising from a wide variety of 
human activities, and canopy loss caused by infestations of the hemlock 
woolly adelgid.
Unit 9: Laurel Creek, McCreary County, Kentucky
    Unit 9 includes 9.4 rkm (5.9 rmi) of Laurel Fork Creek from Laurel 
Fork Reservoir downstream to its confluence with Jenneys Branch. Live 
Cumberland darters have been captured within Unit 9 (Thomas 2007, pp. 
11-12), specifically just upstream of its confluence with Elisha Branch 
and at the KY 478 bridge crossing. This unit was included in the 
geographical area occupied by the species at the time of listing and 
contains elements of essential physical or biological features. The 
majority of this unit (8.8 rkm (5.5 rmi)) is in public ownership 
(DBNF), with the remainder of the unit (0.6 rkm (0.4 rmi)) in private 
ownership. Land and resource management decisions and activities within 
the DBNF are guided by DBNF's LRMP (USFS 2004, pp. 1-14).
    The watershed of Laurel Creek is relatively intact, with extensive 
forest cover and few roads. The channel within Unit 9 is relatively 
stable (PCE 1), with suitable instream habitat to support the life-
history functions of the Cumberland darter. There is an abundance of 
pool and run habitats (PCE 1), with relatively silt-free sand and 
bedrock substrates (PCE 2) and adequate instream flows (PCE 3). Water 
quality is good to excellent (PCE 4), with a diverse macroinvertebrate 
community (PCE 5).
    Within this unit, the Cumberland darter and its habitat may require 
special management considerations or protection to address potential 
adverse effects caused by resource extraction (mining, silviculture, 
natural gas and oil exploration activities), lack of adequate riparian 
buffers, construction and maintenance of county roads, illegal off-road 
vehicle use, nonpoint source pollution arising from a wide variety of 
human activities, and canopy loss caused by infestations of the hemlock 
woolly adelgid.
Unit 10: Elisha Branch, McCreary County, Kentucky
    Unit 10 includes 2.1 rkm (1.3 rmi) of Elisha Branch from its 
confluence with an unnamed tributary (36.70132, -84.40843) downstream 
to its confluence with Laurel Creek. Live Cumberland darters have been 
captured within Unit 10 (Thomas 2007, pp. 11-

[[Page 63629]]

12), specifically just upstream of its confluence with Laurel Creek. 
This unit was included in the geographical area occupied by the species 
at the time of listing and contains elements of essential physical or 
biological features. This unit is located entirely on public lands 
within the DBNF. Land and resource management decisions and activities 
within the DBNF are guided by DBNF's LRMP (USFS 2004, pp. 1-14).
    The watershed of Elisha Branch is relatively intact, with extensive 
forest cover and no road crossings. Within Unit 10, the channel is 
relatively stable, with excellent instream habitat (PCE 1), an 
abundance of run and pool habitats (PCE 1), relatively silt-free sand 
and bedrock substrates (PCE 2), and adequate flows (PCE 3). Water 
quality is good to excellent (PCE 4), with diverse fish and 
macroinvertebrate communities (PCE 5).
    Within this unit, the Cumberland darter and its habitat may require 
special management considerations or protection to address potential 
adverse effects caused by resource extraction (mining, silviculture, 
natural gas and oil exploration activities), lack of adequate riparian 
buffers, illegal off-road vehicle use, nonpoint source pollution 
arising from a wide variety of human activities, and canopy loss caused 
by infestations of the hemlock woolly adelgid.
Unit 11: Jenneys Branch, McCreary County, Kentucky
    Unit 11 includes 3.1 rkm (1.9 rmi) of Jenneys Branch from its 
confluence with an unnamed tributary (36.73680, -84.42420) downstream 
to its confluence with Laurel Creek. Live Cumberland darters have been 
captured within Unit 11 (Thomas 2007, pp. 11-12), specifically just 
upstream of its confluence with Laurel Creek. This unit was included in 
the geographical area occupied by the species at the time of listing 
and contains elements of essential physical or biological features. 
This unit is located entirely on public lands within the DBNF. Land and 
resource management decisions and activities within the DBNF are guided 
by DBNF's LRMP (USFS 2004, pp. 1-14).
    The watershed of Jenneys Branch is relatively intact and remote, 
with extensive forest cover and only one road crossing in its 
headwaters. Within Unit 11, the stream channel is relatively stable, 
with excellent instream habitat (PCE 1), an abundance of run and pool 
habitats (PCE 1), relatively silt-free sand and bedrock substrates (PCE 
2), and adequate instream flows (PCE 3). Water quality is good to 
excellent (PCE 4), with diverse fish and macroinvertebrate communities 
(PCE 5).
    Within this unit, the Cumberland darter and its habitat may require 
special management considerations or protection to address potential 
adverse effects caused by resource extraction (mining, silviculture, 
natural gas and oil exploration activities), lack of adequate riparian 
buffers, illegal off-road vehicle use, nonpoint source pollution 
arising from a wide variety of human activities, and canopy loss caused 
by infestations of the hemlock woolly adelgid.
Unit 12: Wolf Creek, Whitley County, Kentucky
    Unit 12 includes 6.3 rkm (3.9 rmi) of Wolf Creek from its 
confluence with Sheep Creek downstream to Wolf Creek River Road. Live 
Cumberland darters have been captured within Unit 12 just downstream of 
the Little Wolf Creek River Road bridge crossing (Thomas 2007, pp. 11-
12). This unit was included in the geographical area occupied by the 
species at the time of listing and contains elements of essential 
physical or biological features.
    This unit is located entirely on private land. Land use within the 
watershed of Wolf Creek is similar to Unit 3, and Unit 12 is less 
forested than units within the DBNF. The channel is relatively stable 
(PCE 1), but activities associated with agriculture, silviculture, and 
residential development have contributed to a more open riparian zone, 
increased bank erosion, and some siltation of instream habitats. 
Despite these impacts, Unit 12 continues to provide pool and run 
habitats with suitable sand and bedrock substrates for Cumberland 
darters to use in spawning, foraging, and other behaviors (PCEs 1 and 
2). Flow is adequate as measured during years with average rainfall 
(PCE 3), water quality is adequate (PCE 4), and macroinvertebrate prey 
items are present (PCE 5).
    Within this unit, the Cumberland darter and its habitat may require 
special management considerations or protection to address potential 
adverse effects caused by resource extraction (mining, silviculture, 
natural gas and oil exploration activities), agricultural activities 
(livestock), lack of adequate riparian buffers, perched road culverts 
or impassable road crossings (fords), construction and maintenance of 
State and county roads, illegal off-road vehicle use, and nonpoint 
source pollution arising from a wide variety of human activities.
Unit 13: Jellico Creek, McCreary County, Kentucky, and Scott County, 
Tennessee
    Unit 13 includes 11.5 rkm (7.2 rmi) of Jellico Creek from its 
confluence with Scott Branch, Scott County, Tennessee, downstream to 
its confluence with Capuchin Creek, McCreary County, Kentucky. Live 
Cumberland darters have been captured within Unit 13 at the Jellico 
Creek and Shut-In Branch confluence and at the Gum Fork and Jellico 
Creek confluence (O'Bara 1988, p. 12; Thomas 2007, pp. 11-12). This 
unit was included in the geographical area occupied by the species at 
the time of listing and contains elements of essential physical or 
biological features. A portion of this unit in Kentucky (3.3 rkm (2.1 
rmi)) is in public ownership (DBNF), with the remainder of the unit 
(8.2 rkm (5.1 rmi)) in private ownership. Land and resource management 
decisions and activities within the DBNF are guided by DBNF's LRMP 
(USFS 2004, pp. 1-14).
    Land use within the watershed of Jellico Creek is predominately 
forest, with scattered residences and small farms (cattle and hay 
production). The channel in Unit 13 is relatively stable (PCE 1), but 
activities associated with agriculture, silviculture, and residential 
development have contributed to a more open riparian zone, increased 
bank erosion, and some siltation of instream habitats. Despite these 
impacts, Unit 13 continues to provide pool and run habitats with 
suitable sand and bedrock substrates for Cumberland darters to use in 
spawning, foraging, and other behaviors (PCEs 1 and 2). Flow is 
adequate as measured during years with average rainfall (PCE 3), water 
quality is adequate (PCE 4), and macroinvertebrate prey items are 
present (PCE 5).
    Within this unit, the Cumberland darter and its habitat may require 
special management considerations or protection to address potential 
adverse effects caused by resource extraction (mining, silviculture, 
natural gas and oil exploration activities), agricultural activities 
(livestock), lack of adequate riparian buffers, perched road culverts 
or impassable road crossings (fords), construction and maintenance of 
State and county roads, illegal off-road vehicle use, and nonpoint 
source pollution arising from a wide variety of human activities.
Unit 14: Rock Creek, McCreary County, Kentucky
    Unit 14 includes 6.1 rkm (3.8 rmi) of Rock Creek from its 
confluence with Sid Anderson Branch downstream to its confluence with 
Jellico Creek. Live Cumberland darters have been captured within Unit 
14 just above the mouth of Rock Creek at its confluence with Jellico 
Creek (Thomas 2007, pp. 11-12). This unit was included in the 
geographical area occupied by the species at the time

[[Page 63630]]

of listing and contains elements of essential physical or biological 
features. A portion of this unit (2.2 rkm (1.4 rmi)) is in public 
ownership (DBNF), but the majority (3.9 rkm (2.4 rmi)) is in private 
ownership. Land and resource management decisions and activities within 
the DBNF are guided by DBNF's LRMP (USFS 2004, pp. 1-14).
    Most of the watershed is forested (especially along the ridge 
tops), but the valley floor has several open fields and is easily 
accessible via Little Rock Creek Road. Portions of the channel in Unit 
14 have been modified by beaver (with some ponding), but it continues 
to be relatively stable, with excellent instream habitat (PCE 1), an 
abundance of run and pool habitats (PCE 1), relatively silt-free sand 
and bedrock substrates (PCE 2), and adequate instream flows (PCE 3). 
Water quality is good to excellent (PCE 4), with diverse fish and 
macroinvertebrate communities (PCE 5).
    Within this unit, the Cumberland darter and its habitat may require 
special management considerations or protection to address potential 
adverse effects caused by resource extraction (mining, silviculture, 
natural gas and oil exploration activities), agricultural activities 
(livestock), lack of adequate riparian buffers, perched road culverts 
or impassable road crossings (fords), construction and maintenance of 
State and county roads, illegal off-road vehicle use, nonpoint source 
pollution arising from a wide variety of human activities, and canopy 
loss caused by infestations of the hemlock woolly adelgid.
Unit 15: Capuchin Creek, McCreary and Whitley Counties, Kentucky, and 
Campbell County, Tennessee
    Unit 15 includes 4.2 rkm (2.6 rmi) of Capuchin Creek from its 
confluence with Hatfield Creek downstream to its confluence with 
Jellico Creek. Live Cumberland darters have been captured within Unit 
15 at the Kentucky-Tennessee State line (Thomas 2007, pp. 11-12). This 
unit was included in the geographical area occupied by the species at 
the time of listing and contains elements of essential physical or 
biological features. A portion of this unit in Kentucky (0.8 rkm (0.5 
rmi)) is in public ownership (DBNF); the remainder in Kentucky and 
Tennessee (3.4 rkm (2.1 rmi)) is in private ownership. Land and 
resource management decisions and activities within the DBNF are guided 
by DBNF's LRMP (USFS 2004, pp. 1-14).
    Land use within the watershed of Capuchin Creek is predominately 
forest, with scattered residences and small farms (cattle and hay 
production). The channel in Unit 15 is relatively stable (PCE 1), but 
activities associated with agriculture, silviculture, and residential 
development have contributed to a more open riparian zone, increased 
bank erosion, and some siltation of instream habitats. Despite these 
impacts, Unit 15 continues to provide pool and run habitats with 
suitable sand and bedrock substrates for Cumberland darters to use in 
spawning, foraging, and other behaviors (PCEs 1 and 2). Flow is 
adequate as measured during years with average rainfall (PCE 3), water 
quality is adequate (PCE 4), and macroinvertebrate prey items are 
present (PCE 5).
    Within this unit, the Cumberland darter and its habitat may require 
special management considerations or protection to address potential 
adverse effects caused by resource extraction (mining, silviculture, 
natural gas and oil exploration activities), agricultural activities 
(livestock), lack of adequate riparian buffers, perched road culverts 
or impassable road crossings (fords), construction and maintenance of 
State and county roads, illegal off-road vehicle use, and nonpoint 
source pollution arising from a wide variety of human activities.

Rush Darter

    We are designating eight units as critical habitat for the rush 
darter. The below units, which constitute our current best assessment 
of areas that meet the definition of critical habitat for the rush 
darter, are: (1) Beaver Creek, (2) Unnamed Tributary to Beaver Creek 
and Highway 79 Spring Site, (3) Tapawingo or Penny Spring and Spring 
Run, (4) Wildcat Branch, (5) Mill Creek, (6) Doe Branch, (7) Little 
Cove Creek, Cove Spring Site, and (8) Bristow Creek. Table 2 shows the 
occupancy of the units and ownership of the designated areas for the 
rush darter.

                              Table 2--Occupancy and Ownership of the Designated Critical Habitat Units for the Rush Darter
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                           Private                                 Total        Total
                Unit                          Location                Occupied         ownership  rkm    State, county, city    length  rkm   area**  ha
                                                                                            (rmi)        ownership  rkm (rmi)      (rmi)         (ac)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1...................................  Beaver Creek...........  Yes...................       0.9 (0.6)  <0.1 (<0.1)                1.0 (0.6)  ...........
2...................................  Unnamed Tributary to     Yes...................       3.7 (2.3)  0.7 (0.4)                  4.4 (2.7)    0.1 (0.3)
                                       Beaver Creek and
                                       Highway 79 Spring Site.
3...................................  Tapawingo or Penny       Yes...................       0.6 (0.4)  <0.1 (<0.06)               0.6 (0.4)   6.7 (16.5)
                                       Spring and Spring Run.
4...................................  Wildcat Branch.........  Yes...................       6.6 (4.1)  <0.1 (<0.06)               6.6 (4.1)  ...........
5...................................  Mill Creek.............  Yes...................       5.9 (3.7)  <0.1 (<0.06)               5.9 (3.7)  ...........
6...................................  Doe Branch.............  Yes...................       4.3 (2.7)  <0.1 (<0.06)               4.3 (2.7)  ...........
7...................................  Little Cove Creek, Cove  Yes...................      11.2 (6.1)  <0.1 (<0.06)              11.2 (6.1)   5.1 (12.7)
                                       Spring, Spring Run.
8...................................  Bristow Creek..........  Yes...................      10.2 (6.3)  <0.1 (<0.06)              10.2 (6.3)  ...........
                                     -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total*..........................  .......................  ......................  ..............  .......................  44.2 (26.6)  11.9 (29.5)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* Totals may not sum due to rounding.
** Total area in ha (ac) are in private ownership.

    We present brief descriptions of each unit and reasons why they 
meet the definition of critical habitat below. The designated critical 
habitat units include the stream channels of the creek within the 
ordinary high water line, and the flooded spring pool in the case of 
Tapawingo or Penny Springs (Jefferson County), Unnamed Tributary to 
Beaver Creek (Jefferson County), and Cove Springs (Etowah County). As 
defined in 33 CFR 329.11, the ordinary high water line on nontidal 
rivers is the line on the shore established by the fluctuations of 
water and indicated by physical characteristics such as a clear, 
natural water line impressed on the bank; shelving; changes in the 
character of

[[Page 63631]]

soil; destruction of terrestrial vegetation; the presence of litter and 
debris; or other appropriate means that consider the characteristics of 
the surrounding areas. In Alabama, the riparian landowner owns the 
stream to the middle of the channel for non-navigable streams and 
rivers. For the spring pools, the area was determined and delineated by 
the presence of emergent vegetation patterns as noted on aerial 
photographs.
Unit 1: Beaver Creek, Jefferson County, Alabama
    Unit 1 includes 1.0 rkm (0.6 rmi) of Beaver Creek from the 
confluence with Dry Creek, downstream to the confluence with Turkey 
Creek. This unit was included in the geographical area occupied by the 
species at the time of listing and contains elements of essential 
physical or biological features. Almost 0.9 rkm (0.6 rmi), or 94 
percent of this area is privately owned. The remaining 0.1 rkm (< 0.1 
rmi), or 6 percent, is publicly owned by the City of Pinson or 
Jefferson County in the form of bridge crossings and road easements.
    Beaver Creek contains adequate bottom substrate and emergent 
vegetation for rush darters to use in spawning, foraging, and other 
life processes (PCE 2). Beaver Creek makes available additional habitat 
and spawning sites, and offers connectivity with other rush darter 
populations within the Highway 79 Spring System site and the Unnamed 
Tributary to Beaver Creek (PCE 1).
    Beaver Creek provides habitat for the rush darters with adequate 
number of pools, riffles, runs (PCE 1), and emergent vegetation (PCE 
2). These geomorphic structures provide the species with spawning, 
foraging, and resting areas (PCE 1), along with good water quality, 
quantity, and flow, which support the normal life stages and behavior 
of the rush darter (PCEs 3 and 4), the species' prey sources (PCE 5), 
and associated aquatic vegetation.
    Threats to the rush darter and its habitat at Beaver Creek that may 
require special management of the PBFs include the potential of: 
Urbanization activities (such as channel modification for flood 
control, construction of impoundments, and gravel extraction) that 
could result in increased bank erosion; significant changes in the 
existing flow regime due to inadequate stormwater management, water 
diversion, or water withdrawal; significant alteration of water 
quality; and significant changes in stream bed material composition and 
quality as a result of construction projects and maintenance 
activities, destruction of emergent vegetation, off-road vehicle use, 
sewer, gas and water easements, bridge and road construction and 
maintenance, culvert and pipe installation, and other watershed and 
floodplain disturbances that release sediments or nutrients into the 
water.
    There are three road crossings over Beaver Creek (Pinson Valley 
Parkway, Old Bradford Road, and Spring Street) that at times may limit 
the overall connectivity and movement of the species within this unit. 
Movement might be limited due to changes in flow regime and habitat, 
including emergent vegetation, water quality, water quantity, and 
stochastic events such as drought. Populations of rush darters are 
small and isolated within specific habitat sites of Beaver Creek.
Unit 2: Unnamed Tributary to Beaver Creek and Highway 79 Spring Site, 
Jefferson County, Alabama
    Unit 2 includes 4.4 rkm (2.7 rmi) of the Unnamed Tributary of 
Beaver Creek and two spring runs. The site begins at the Section 1 and 
2 (T16S, R2W) line, as taken from the U.S. Geological Survey 7.5 
topographical map (Pinson quadrangle), downstream to its confluence 
with Dry Creek, and includes a spring run beginning at the springhead 
(33.67449, -86.69300) just northwest of Old Pinson Road and 
intersecting with the Unnamed Tributary to Beaver Creek on the west 
side of Highway 79, and a spring associated wetland (0.1 ha, 0.33 ac) 
within the headwaters, south of Pinson Heights Road, flowing 0.9 km 
(0.05 mi) from the northwest (33.668173, -86.708577) and adjoining to 
the Unnamed Tributary (33.667344,-86.707429). This unit was included in 
the geographical area occupied by the species at the time of listing 
and contains elements of essential physical or biological features.
    Almost 3.7 rkm (2.3 rmi), or 85 percent, of this area is privately 
owned. The remaining 0.7 rkm (0.4 rmi), or 15 percent, is publicly 
owned by the City of Pinson or Jefferson County in the form of bridge 
crossings and road easements.
    The Unnamed Tributary to Beaver Creek supports populations of rush 
darters and is a feeder stream to Beaver Creek (PCEs 1 and 2). The 
Unnamed Tributary to Beaver Creek has been intensely geomorphically 
changed by man over the last 100 years. The majority of this reach has 
been channelized for flood control, as it runs parallel to Highway 79. 
There are several bridge crossings and culverts that interfere with 
connectivity, and the reach has a history of industrial uses along the 
bank. However, owing to the groundwater that constantly supplies this 
reach with clean and flowing water (PCEs 3 and 4), the reach has been 
able to support significant emergent vegetation in shallow water on the 
margins to support several rush darter populations. The headwaters of 
the Unnamed Tributary to Beaver Creek is characterized by natural flows 
that are attributed to an abundance of spring groundwater discharges 
contributing adequate water quality, water quantity, emergent 
vegetation and appropriate substrates (PCEs 1, 2, 3, and 4). The 0.13 
ha (0.33 ac) spring run and associated wetlands is characterized by 
adequate spring water flow and associated vegetation (PCEs 1 and 2). 
Increasing the connectivity of the rush darter populations (PCE 1) 
throughout the reaches of this tributary is an essential conservation 
requirement as it would decrease the vulnerability of these populations 
to stochastic threats. The Highway 79 Spring Site is the type locality 
for the species (Bart 2004, p. 194), supporting populations of rush 
darters and providing supplemental water quantity to the Unnamed 
Tributary to Beaver Creek (PCEs 1 and 3). The reach contains adequate 
bottom substrate and emergent vegetation for rush darters to use in 
spawning, foraging, and other life processes (PCE 2). The Highway 79 
Spring site provides habitat and spawning sites, and offers 
connectivity with rush darter populations in the Unnamed Tributary to 
Beaver Creek (PCE 1).
    Threats to the rush darter and its habitat that may require special 
management and protection of PBFs are: Urbanization activities (such as 
channel modification for flood control, and gravel extraction) that 
could result in increased bank erosion; significant changes in the 
existing flow regime due to inadequate stormwater management and 
impoundment construction, water diversion, or water withdrawal; 
significant alteration of water quality; and significant changes in 
stream bed material composition and quality as a result of construction 
projects and road maintenance activities, off-road vehicle use, sewer, 
gas and water easements, bridge construction, culvert and pipe 
installation, and other watershed and floodplain disturbances that 
release sediments or nutrients into the water.
Unit 3: Tapawingo or Penny Spring and Spring Run, Jefferson County, 
Alabama
    Unit 3 includes 0.6 rkm (0.4 rmi) of spring run, historically 
called Tapawingo Plunge, along with 6.7 ha (16.5 ac) of flooded spring 
basin making up Penny Springs. Unit 3 is located south of Turkey Creek, 
north of Bud

[[Page 63632]]

Holmes Road, and just east of Tapawingo Trail Road. The east boundary 
is at (33.69903, -86.66528): 1.0 km (0.6 mi) west of Section Line 28 to 
29 (T15S, R1W) (U.S. Geological Survey 7.5 topographical map (Pinson 
quadrangle)). This unit was included in the geographical area occupied 
by the species at the time of listing and contains elements of 
essential physical or biological features. All 0.6 rkm (0.4 rmi) and 
6.7 ha (16.5 ac) of Unit 3 is privately owned except for that small 
amount that is publicly owned in the form of bridge crossings and road 
easements.
    The Tapawingo or Penny Spring complex consists of an abundance of 
springs that drain directly into Turkey Creek by means of a large 
spring run at the old railroad crossing and Tapawingo Springs Road 
(PCEs 1 and 2). The historical spring run discharge ranges from 0.03 to 
2.4 cubic meters per second (m\3\/s) (500 to 38,800 gallons per minute 
(gal/min)) (Chandler and Moore 1987, p. 49), and there is an abundance 
of emergent vegetation (PCEs 1, 2, and 3). Historically small numbers 
of rush darter have been collected in the spring area.
    Threats to the rush darter and its habitat that may require special 
management and protection of physical and biological features are: 
Urbanization activities (such as channel modification for flood 
control, vegetation management, and gravel extraction) that could 
result in increased bank erosion; significant changes in the existing 
flow regime due to inadequate stormwater management and impoundment 
construction, water diversion, or water withdrawal; significant 
alteration of water quality; introduced species; significant alteration 
or destruction of aquatic and emergent vegetation; and significant 
changes in stream bed material composition and quality as a result of 
construction projects and maintenance activities, off-road vehicle use, 
sewer, gas and water easements, bridge construction, culvert and pipe 
installation, and other watershed and floodplain disturbances that 
release sediments or nutrients into the water.
Unit 4: Wildcat Branch, Winston County, Alabama
    Unit 4 includes 6.6 rkm (4.1 rmi) of Wildcat Branch from the 
streams headwaters just east of Winston County Road 29 to the 
confluence with Clear Creek. This unit was included in the geographical 
area occupied by the species at the time of listing and contains 
elements of essential physical or biological features. Almost 6.6 rkm 
(4.1 rmi), or 100 percent, of this area is privately owned except for 
that small amount that is publicly owned by Winston County in the form 
of bridge crossings and road easements.
    Wildcat Branch provides habitat for rush darters with a network of 
small pools and spring runs, along with an abundance of emergent 
vegetation (PCE 1 and 2). These geomorphic structures provide the 
species with spawning, foraging, and resting areas (PCE 1), along with 
good water quality, quantity, and flow (PCEs 3 and 4), which support 
the normal life stages and behavior of the rush darter and the species' 
prey sources (PCE 5). Rush darters are consistently collected in 
Wildcat Branch, but not in large numbers.
    Threats that may require special management and protection of 
physical and biological features include: Poor silviculture and 
agriculture practices; road and roadside maintenance; local residential 
development and urbanization activities (such as channel modification 
for flood control and gravel extraction) that could result in increased 
bank erosion; significant changes in the existing flow regime due to 
inadequate stormwater management and impoundment construction, water 
diversion, or water withdrawal; significant alteration of water 
quality; significant alteration or destruction of aquatic and emergent 
vegetation; and significant changes in stream bed material composition 
and quality as a result of construction projects and maintenance 
activities, off-road vehicle use, sewer, gas and water easements, 
bridge construction, culvert and pipe installation, and other watershed 
and floodplain disturbances that release sediments or nutrients into 
the water.
Unit 5: Mill Creek, Winston County, Alabama
    Unit 5 includes 5.9 rkm (3.7 rmi) of Mill Creek from the stream 
headwaters just east of Winston County Road 195 to the confluence with 
Clear Creek. This unit was included in the geographical area occupied 
by the species at the time of listing and contains elements of 
essential physical or biological features. Almost 5.9 rkm (3.7 rmi), or 
100 percent, of this area is privately owned except for that small 
amount that is publicly owned by Winston County in the form of bridge 
crossings and road easements.
    Mill Creek provides habitat for the rush darter with a network of 
small pools, and spring runs, along with an abundance of emergent 
vegetation (PCE 1 and 2). These geomorphic structures provide the 
species with spawning, foraging, and resting areas (PCE 1), along with 
good water quality, quantity, and flow (PCEs 3 and 4), which support 
the normal life stages and behavior of the rush darter and the species' 
prey sources (PCE 5). Rush darters are consistently collected in Mill 
Creek.
    Threats that may require special management and protection of PBFs 
include: Poor silviculture and agriculture practices; road and roadside 
maintenance; local residential development and urbanization activities 
(such as channel modification for flood control and gravel extraction) 
that could result in increased bank erosion; significant changes in the 
existing flow regime due to inadequate stormwater management and 
impoundment construction, water diversion, or water withdrawal; 
significant alteration of water quality; significant alteration or 
destruction of aquatic and emergent vegetation; and significant changes 
in stream bed material composition and quality as a result of 
construction projects and maintenance activities, off-road vehicle use, 
sewer, gas and water easements, bridge construction, culvert and pipe 
installation, and other watershed and floodplain disturbances that 
release sediments or nutrients into the water.
Unit 6: Doe Branch, Winston County, Alabama
    Unit 6 includes 4.3 rkm (2.7 rmi) of Doe Branch from the stream 
headwaters north and west of Section Line 23 and 14 (R9W, T11S; Popular 
Springs Quadrangle) to the confluence with Wildcat Branch. This unit 
was included in the geographical area occupied by the species at the 
time of listing and contains elements of essential physical or 
biological features. Almost 4.3 rkm (2.7 rmi), or 100 percent, of this 
area is privately owned except for that small amount that is publicly 
owned by Winston County in the form of bridge crossings and road 
easements.
    Doe Branch provides habitat for the rush darter with a small 
network of small pools, and spring runs, along with adequate emergent 
vegetation (PCE 1 and 2). These geomorphic structures provide the 
species with spawning, foraging, and resting areas (PCE 1), along with 
good water quality, quantity, and flow (PCEs 3 and 4), which support 
the normal life stages and behavior of the rush darter and the species' 
prey sources (PCE 5). Although the species is considered rare in Doe 
Branch, there have been few collection attempts in the stream with a 
few darters captured (Mettee et al. 1989, p. 61). Doe Branch contains 
habitat for the species and is considered occupied. The stream joins 
Wildcat Branch before flowing into Clear Creek.

[[Page 63633]]

    Threats that may require special management and protection of 
physical and biological features include: Poor silviculture and 
agriculture practices; road and roadside maintenance; local residential 
development and urbanization activities (such as channel modification 
for flood control and gravel extraction) that could result in increased 
bank erosion; significant changes in the existing flow regime due to 
inadequate stormwater management and impoundment construction, water 
diversion, or water withdrawal; significant alteration of water 
quality; significant alteration or destruction of aquatic and emergent 
vegetation; and significant changes in stream bed material composition 
and quality as a result of construction projects and maintenance 
activities, off-road vehicle use, sewer, gas and water easements, 
bridge construction, culvert and pipe installation, and other watershed 
and floodplain disturbances that release sediments or nutrients into 
the water.
Unit 7: Little Cove Creek, Cove Spring and Spring Run, Etowah County, 
Alabama
    Unit 7 includes 11.2 rkm (6.1 rmi) of Little Cove Creek and the 
Cove Spring run system along with 5.1 ha (12.7 ac) of the spring run 
floodplain. Specifically, the Little Cove Creek section (11.0 rkm (6.0 
rmi)) is from the intersection of Etowah County Road 179 near the creek 
headwaters, downstream to its confluence with the Locust Fork River. 
The Cove Spring and spring run section includes 0.2 rkm (0.1 rmi) of 
the spring run from the springhead at the West Etowah Water and Fire 
Authority pumping station on Cove Spring Road to the confluence with 
Little Cove Creek and includes 5.1 ha (12.7 ac) of the spring run 
floodplain due south of the pumping facility. This unit was included in 
the geographical area occupied by the species at the time of listing 
and contains elements of essential physical or biological features. All 
11.2 rkm (6.1 rmi) of Unit 7 is privately owned except for that small 
amount that is publicly owned by Etowah County in the form of bridge 
crossings and road easements.
    Little Cove Creek provides habitat for the rush darter with a 
network of small pools, and spring runs, along with an abundance of 
emergent aquatic vegetation (PCE 1 and 2). These geomorphic structures 
provide the species with spawning, foraging, and resting areas (PCE 1), 
along with good water quality, quantity, and flow (PCEs 3 and 4), which 
support the normal life stages and behavior of the rush darter and the 
species' prey sources (PCE 5). Rush darters are collected in Little 
Cove Creek, but not in large numbers. The Cove Spring and Spring Run 
site supports small populations of rush darters and provides 
supplemental water quantity to Little Cove Creek (PCEs 1 and 3). Water 
quantity from the spring averages 0.2 m\3\/s (3,000 gal/min) (Snead 
2011, pers. comm.) (PCE 4). The spring contains an abundance of gravel 
and silt along with significant emergent vegetation for rush darters to 
use in spawning, foraging, and other life processes (PCE 2). The Cove 
Spring and Spring Run site provides habitat and spawning sites, and 
offers connectivity with rush darter populations to Little Cove Creek 
(PCE 1).
    Threats that may require special management and protection of 
physical and biological features include: Road and roadside 
maintenance; agricultural and silviculture activities that could result 
in increased bank erosion; significant changes in the existing flow 
regime due to inadequate stormwater management; impoundment 
construction, water diversion, or water withdrawal for livestock and 
irrigation; significant alteration or destruction of aquatic and 
emergent vegetation; significant alteration of water quality due to 
release of chlorinated water and other chemicals into the Cove Spring 
run or Little Cove Creek by the water pumping facility or other 
sources; and off-road vehicle use, sewer, gas and water easements, 
bridge construction, culvert and pipe installation, and other watershed 
and floodplain disturbances that release sediments or nutrients into 
the water.
Unit 8: Bristow Creek, Etowah County, Alabama
    Unit 8 includes 10.2 rkm (6.3 rmi) of Bristow Creek beginning from 
its intersection with Fairview Cove Road, downstream to the confluence 
with the Locust Fork River. This unit was included in the geographical 
area occupied by the species at the time of listing and contains 
elements of essential physical or biological features. All 10.2 rkm 
(6.3 rmi) of Bristow Creek, beginning at the bridge at Fairview Road, 
downstream to the confluence with the Locust Fork River is privately 
owned except for that small amount that is publicly owned by Etowah 
County in the form of bridge crossings and road easements.
    Bristow Creek, although channelized in some locations, provides 
habitat and connectivity for the rush darters (PCE 1). Locations within 
the creek have the necessary stream attributes of some small pools, and 
spring runs (PCE 1) along with emergent vegetation (PCE 2). These 
geomorphic structures provide the species with spawning, foraging, and 
resting areas (PCE 1), along with supplemental water quantity and flow 
(PCE 3), which support the normal life stages and behavior of the rush 
darter and the species' prey sources (PCE 5). The rush darter is 
considered rare in Bristow Creek, but sampling has been limited.
    Threats that may require special management and protection of 
physical and biological features include: Road and roadside 
maintenance; agricultural and silviculture activities that could result 
in increased bank erosion; significant changes in the existing flow 
regime due to inadequate stormwater management; significant alteration 
or destruction of aquatic and emergent vegetation; impoundment 
construction, water diversion, or water withdrawal for livestock and 
irrigation; and off-road vehicle use, sewer, gas and water easements, 
septic tank drain fields, bridge construction and maintenance, culvert 
and pipe installation, and other watershed and floodplain disturbances 
that release sediments or nutrients into the water.

Yellowcheek Darter

    We are designating four units as critical habitat for the 
yellowcheek darter. These units, all of which are on the Little Red 
River, constitute our current best assessment of areas that meet the 
definition of critical habitat for the yellowcheek darter and are as 
follows: (1) Middle Fork, (2) South Fork, (3) Archey Fork, and (4) 
Devil's Fork (includes Turkey Creek and Beech Fork). Table 3 shows the 
occupancy of the units and ownership of the designated areas for the 
yellowcheek darter.

[[Page 63634]]



      TABLE 3--Occupancy and Ownership of the Designated Critical Habitat Units for the Yellowcheek Darter
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                  State, county,
                                                                      Private           city       Total length
             Unit                  Location          Occupied     ownership  rkm  ownership  rkm     rkm (rmi)
                                                                       (rmi)           (rmi)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1............................  Middle Fork       Yes............     73.2 (45.5)               0     73.2 (45.5)
                                Little Red
                                River.
2............................  South Fork        Yes............     33.3 (20.7)       0.5 (0.3)     33.8 (21.0)
                                Little Red
                                River.
3............................  Archey Fork       Yes............     28.2 (17.5)       0.3 (0.2)     28.5 (17.7)
                                Little Red
                                River.
4............................  Devil's Fork      Yes............     28.0 (17.4)               0     28.0 (17.4)
                                Little Red
                                River.
                              ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total....................  ................  ...............   162.7 (101.1)       0.8 (0.5)   163.5 (101.6)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    We present brief descriptions of all units and reasons why they 
meet the definition of critical habitat for the yellowcheek darter. The 
designated critical habitat units include the river channels within the 
ordinary high water line. As defined in 33 CFR 329.11, the ordinary 
high water mark on nontidal rivers is the line on the shore established 
by the fluctuations of water and indicated by physical characteristics, 
such as a clear, natural line impressed on the bank; shelving; changes 
in the character of soil; destruction of terrestrial vegetation; the 
presence of litter and debris; or other appropriate means that consider 
the characteristics of the surrounding areas. In Arkansas, the state 
owns the stream channel within the ordinary high water lines for 
navigable streams and rivers, including all streams within the critical 
habitat designation for yellowcheek darter. For each stream reach 
designated as a critical habitat unit, the upstream and downstream 
boundaries are described generally below.
Unit 1: Middle Fork of the Little Red River, Searcy, Stone, and Van 
Buren Counties, Arkansas
    Unit 1 includes 73.2 rkm (45.5 rmi) of the Middle Fork of the 
Little Red River from Searcy County Road 167 approximately 3.4 km (2.1 
mi) southwest of Leslie, Arkansas, to a point on the stream 7.7 rkm 
(4.8 rmi) downstream (35.66515, -92.25942) of the Arkansas Highway 9 
crossing of the Middle Fork near Shirley, Arkansas. The lower boundary 
coincides with the 140.5-m (461-ft) elevation of the conservation pool 
for Greers Ferry Lake where suitable habitat becomes inundated by 
Greers Ferry Lake and no longer supports the yellowcheek darter. Live 
yellowcheek darters have been collected from four sites within Unit 1. 
The uppermost site is immediately below the Hwy 65 Bridge near Leslie, 
Arkansas, and the lowermost site is immediately below the Hwy 9 Bridge 
in Shirley, Arkansas (Wine and Blumenshine 2002, p. 18). This unit was 
included in the geographical area occupied by the species at the time 
of listing and contains elements of essential physical or biological 
features. Approximately 100 percent of Unit 1 is privately owned. 
County and State road crossings exist in all three counties and account 
for less than one percent of total Unit 1 ownership.
    This unit contains stable riffle areas of moderate to swift 
velocity (PCE 1) that are relatively silt-free (PCE 2) and maintain 
surface flows year round (PCE 3). Such characteristics are necessary 
for reproductive and sheltering requirements of yellowcheek darters. 
Water quality within this unit is also characterized by moderate 
temperatures, relatively high dissolved oxygen concentrations, moderate 
pH, and low levels of pollutants (PCE 4), which support abundant 
populations of aquatic macroinvertebrates that serve as prey items for 
yellowcheek darters (PCE 5).
    Threats that may require special management and protection of 
physical and biological features include: Changes in the existing 
stream ecology due to activities associated with natural gas 
development, livestock grazing, county road maintenance, timber 
harvest, water diversion, gravel mining, and rock harvesting 
operations. Alteration of water quality and changes in streambed 
material composition from any other activities that would release 
sediments, nutrients, or toxins into the water also act as threats to 
the yellowcheek darter.
Unit 2: South Fork of the Little Red River, Van Buren County, Arkansas
    Unit 2 includes 33.8 rkm (21.0 rmi) of the South Fork of the Little 
Red River from Van Buren County Road 9 three miles north of Scotland, 
Arkansas, to a point on the stream (35.57364, -92.42718) approximately 
5.5 rkm (3.4 rmi) downstream of U.S. Highway 65 in Clinton, Arkansas, 
where suitable habitat becomes inundated by Greers Ferry Lake and no 
longer supports the yellowcheek darter. Live yellowcheek darters have 
been collected from four sites along the South Fork Little Red River, 
including the uppermost boundary at the County Road 9 Bridge and just 
above the Hwy 65 Bridge in Clinton, Arkansas. This unit was included in 
the geographical area occupied by the species at the time of listing 
and contains elements of essential physical or biological features. 
Approximately 33.3 rkm (20.7 rmi), or >99 percent, of Unit 2 is 
privately owned, and 0.5 rkm (0.3 rmi) is within the boundary of 
property owned by the city of Clinton, Arkansas. County and State road 
crossings account for less than one percent of total Unit 2 ownership.
    This unit contains stable riffle areas of moderate to swift 
velocity (PCE 1) that are relatively silt-free (PCE 2) and maintain 
surface flows year round (PCE 3). Such characteristics are necessary 
for reproductive and sheltering requirements of yellowcheek darters. 
Water quality within this unit is also characterized by moderate 
temperatures, relatively high dissolved oxygen concentrations, moderate 
pH, and low levels of pollutants (PCE 4), which support abundant 
populations of aquatic macroinvertebrates that serve as prey items for 
yellowcheek darters (PCE 5).
    Threats that may require special management and protection of 
physical and biological features include: Changes in the existing 
stream ecology due to activities associated with natural gas 
development, livestock grazing, county road maintenance, timber 
harvest, water diversion, and gravel mining. Alteration of water 
quality and changes in streambed material composition from any other 
activities that would release sediments, nutrients, or toxins into the 
water also act as threats to the yellowcheek darter.
Unit 3: Archey Fork of the Little Red River, Van Buren County, Arkansas
    Unit 3 includes 28.5 rkm (17.7 rmi) of the Archey Fork of the 
Little Red River from its junction with South Castleberry Creek to its 
confluence with the South Fork of the Little Red River near Clinton, 
Arkansas. Live yellowcheek darters have been collected just above the 
confluence of the Archey and South Forks (Wine et al. 2000, p. 10) and 
at a

[[Page 63635]]

point 15.3 rkm (9.5 rmi) above the confluence (Brophy and Stoeckel 
2006, p. 3). This unit was included in the geographical area occupied 
by the species at the time of listing and contains elements of 
essential physical or biological features. Unit 3 is nearly 100 percent 
privately owned with the exception of a small city park in Clinton, 
Arkansas. County and State road crossings and portions within the city 
of Clinton, Arkansas, account for less than one percent of total Unit 3 
ownership.
    This unit contains stable riffle areas of moderate to swift 
velocity (PCE 1) that are relatively silt-free (PCE 2) and maintain 
surface flows year round (PCE 3). Such characteristics are necessary 
for reproductive and sheltering requirements of yellowcheek darters. 
Water quality within this unit is also characterized by moderate 
temperatures, relatively high dissolved oxygen concentrations, moderate 
pH, and low levels of pollutants (PCE 4), which support abundant 
populations of aquatic macroinvertebrates that serve as prey items for 
yellowcheek darters (PCE 5).
    Threats that may require special management and protection of 
physical and biological features include: Changes in the existing 
stream ecology due to activities associated with natural gas 
development, livestock grazing, county road maintenance, timber 
harvest, water diversion, and gravel mining. Alteration of water 
quality and changes in streambed material composition from any other 
activities that would release sediments, nutrients, or toxins into the 
water also act as threats to the yellowcheek darter.
Unit 4: Devil's Fork of the Little Red River (including Turkey Creek 
and Beech Fork), Stone and Cleburne Counties, Arkansas
    Unit 4 includes 28.0 rkm (17.4 rmi) of stream from Stone County 
Road 21 approximately 3 miles north of Prim, Arkansas, to a point 
(35.63556, -92.03400) on the Devil's Fork approximately 5.1 km (3.2 mi) 
southeast of Woodrow, Arkansas, where suitable habitat becomes 
inundated by Greers Ferry Lake and no longer supports the yellowcheek 
darter. Live yellowcheek darters have not been collected at the 
uppermost site (Turkey Creek) since 1999 (Mitchell et al. 2002, p. 
131). However, Wine and Blumenshine (2002, p. 11) did detect 
yellowcheek darters in the Beech Fork, and it is likely that the 
species persists in very low numbers within the upper portions of the 
watershed during normal flow years. This unit was included in the 
geographical area occupied by the species at the time of listing and 
contains elements of essential physical or biological features. 
Approximately 100 percent of Unit 4 is privately owned. County road 
crossings exist in both counties and account for less than one percent 
of total Unit 4 ownership.
    This unit contains stable riffle areas of moderate to swift 
velocity (PCE 1) that are relatively silt-free (PCE 2) and maintain 
surface flows year round (PCE 3). Such characteristics are necessary 
for reproductive and sheltering requirements of yellowcheek darters. 
Water quality within this unit is also characterized by moderate 
temperatures, relatively high dissolved oxygen concentrations, moderate 
pH, and low levels of pollutants (PCE 4), which support abundant 
populations of aquatic macroinvertebrates that serve as prey items for 
yellowcheek darters (PCE 5).
    Threats that may require special management and protection of 
physical and biological features include: Changes in the existing 
stream ecology due to activities associated with natural gas 
development, livestock grazing, county road maintenance, timber 
harvest, water diversion, and gravel mining. Alteration of water 
quality and changes in streambed material composition from any other 
activities that would release sediments, nutrients, or toxins into the 
water also act as threats to the yellowcheek darter.

Chucky Madtom

    We are designating one unit as critical habitat for the Chucky 
madtom. The unit, which constitutes our current best assessment of the 
area that meets the definition of critical habitat for the Chucky 
madtom, is Little Chucky Creek, which was occupied at the time of 
listing. Table 4 shows the occupancy of the unit and ownership of the 
designated unit for the Chucky madtom.

         Table 4--Occupancy and Ownership of the Designated Critical Habitat Unit for the Chucky Madtom
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                  State, county,
                                                                      Private           city       Total length
             Unit                  Location          Occupied     ownership  rkm  ownership  rkm     rkm (rmi)
                                                                       (rmi)           (rmi)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                               Little Chucky     Yes............     31.8 (19.7)    <0.1 (<0.06)     31.9 (19.8)
                                Creek.
                              ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total....................  ................  ...............  ..............  ..............     31.9 (19.8)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    We present a brief description of the unit and reasons why it meets 
the definition of critical habitat for the Chucky madtom. The critical 
habitat unit includes the river channel within the ordinary high water 
line. As defined in 33 CFR 329.11, the ordinary high water mark on 
nontidal rivers is the line on the shore established by the 
fluctuations of water and indicated by physical characteristics, such 
as a clear, natural line impressed on the bank; shelving; changes in 
the character of soil; destruction of terrestrial vegetation; the 
presence of litter and debris; or other appropriate means that consider 
the characteristics of the surrounding areas. Lands in the critical 
habitat unit are either in private ownership or public ownership 
(Greene County road easements). In Tennessee, landowners own the land 
under non-navigable streams (e.g., the stream channel or bottom), but 
the water is under State jurisdiction.
Unit 1: Little Chucky Creek, Greene County, Tennessee
    This unit includes 31.9 rkm (19.8 rmi) of Little Chucky Creek from 
its confluence with an unnamed tributary, downstream to its confluence 
with the Nolichucky River, at the Greene and Cocke County line, 
Tennessee. Although the Chucky madtom has not been observed since 2004, 
we still consider it to exist in Little Chucky Creek. Observations of 
the species have always been sporadic, and it is a cryptic species that 
is hard to locate. This unit was included in the geographical area 
occupied by the species at the time of listing and contains elements of 
essential physical or biological features. Almost 31.9 rkm (19.8 rmi), 
or 100 percent, of this area is privately owned except for that small 
amount that is publicly owned by Greene County in the form of bridge 
crossings and road easements.

[[Page 63636]]

    This unit contains stable riffle and run areas of moderate to swift 
velocity (PCE 1); flat gravel, cobble, and slab-rock boulders that are 
relatively silt-free (PCE 2); and surface flows that are maintained 
year round (PCE 3). Such characteristics are necessary for reproductive 
and sheltering requirements of Chucky madtoms. Water quality within 
this unit is also characterized by moderate temperatures, relatively 
high dissolved oxygen concentrations, moderate pH, and low levels of 
pollutants (PCE 4), which support abundant populations of aquatic 
macroinvertebrates that serve as prey items for the Chucky madtom (PCE 
5).
    This critical habitat unit is almost entirely located on private 
property and is not presently under the special management or 
protection provided by a legally operative plan or agreement for the 
conservation of the species. Various activities in or adjacent to the 
critical habitat unit described in this rule may affect one or more of 
the PBFs. Features in this critical habitat designation that may 
require special management are due to threats posed by agricultural 
activities (e.g., row crops and livestock), lack of adequate riparian 
buffers, construction and maintenance of State and county roads, gravel 
mining, and nonpoint source pollution arising from a wide variety of 
human activities.

Laurel Dace

    We are designating six units as critical habitat for the laurel 
dace. The units, which constitute our current best assessment of areas 
that meet the definition of critical habitat for the laurel dace, are: 
(1) Bumbee Creek, (2) Youngs Creek, (3) Moccasin Creek, (4) Cupp Creek, 
(5) Horn Branch, and (6) Soddy Creek. Table 5 shows the occupancy of 
the units and ownership of the designated areas for the laurel dace.

          Table 5--Occupancy and Ownership of the Designated Critical Habitat Units for the Laurel Dace
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                  State, county,
                                                                      Private           city       Total length
             Unit                  Location          Occupied     ownership  rkm  ownership  rkm     rkm (rmi)
                                                                       (rmi)           (rmi)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1............................  Bumbee Creek....  Yes............       7.7 (4.7)    <0.1 (<0.06)       7.8 (4.8)
2............................  Youngs Creek....  Yes............       7.8 (4.8)    <0.1 (<0.06)       7.9 (4.9)
3............................  Moccasin Creek..  Yes............       8.9 (5.5)    <0.1 (<0.06)       9.0 (5.6)
4............................  Cupp Creek......  Yes............       4.9 (3.0)    <0.1 (<0.06)       5.0 (3.1)
5............................  Horn Branch.....  Yes............       3.9 (2.4)    <0.1 (<0.06)       4.0 (2.5)
6............................  Soddy Creek.....  Yes............       8.3 (5.1)    <0.1 (<0.06)       8.4 (5.2)
                              ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total....................  ................  ...............  ..............  ..............     42.2 (26.2)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    We present brief descriptions of all units and reasons why they 
meet the definition of critical habitat for the laurel dace. The 
designated critical habitat units include the river channels within the 
ordinary high water line. As defined in 33 CFR 329.11, the ordinary 
high water mark on nontidal rivers is the line on the shore established 
by the fluctuations of water and indicated by physical characteristics, 
such as a clear, natural line impressed on the bank; shelving; changes 
in the character of soil; destruction of terrestrial vegetation; the 
presence of litter and debris; or other appropriate means that consider 
the characteristics of the surrounding areas. Lands in critical habitat 
units are either in private ownership or public ownership (county road 
easements). In Tennessee, landowners own the land under non-navigable 
streams (e.g., the stream channel or bottom), but the water is under 
State jurisdiction.
Unit 1: Bumbee Creek, Bledsoe and Rhea Counties, Tennessee
    Unit 1 includes 7.8 rkm (4.8 rmi) of Bumbee Creek from its 
headwaters in Bledsoe County, downstream to its confluence with 
Mapleslush Branch in Rhea County, Tennessee. This unit was included in 
the geographical area occupied by the species at the time of listing 
and contains elements of essential physical or biological features. 
Almost 7.7 rkm (4.7 rmi), or 100 percent, of this area is privately 
owned except for that small amount that is publicly owned by Bledsoe 
and Rhea Counties in the form of bridge crossings and road easements.
    This unit contains stable headwater streams (PCE 1) that are 
relatively silt-free, contain cobble and slab-rock boulder substrates 
with canopy cover (PCE 2), and have surface flows that are maintained 
year round (PCE 3). Such characteristics are necessary for reproductive 
and sheltering requirements of laurel dace. Water quality within this 
unit is also characterized by moderate temperatures, relatively high 
dissolved oxygen concentrations, moderate pH, and low levels of 
pollutants (PCE 4), which support abundant populations of aquatic 
macroinvertebrates that serve as prey items for laurel dace (PCE 5).
    Various activities in or adjacent to these areas of critical 
habitat may affect one or more of the physical and biological features. 
Features in this critical habitat designation that may require special 
management are due to threats posed by resource extraction (coal and 
gravel mining, silviculture, natural gas and oil exploration 
activities), agricultural activities (row crops and livestock), lack of 
adequate riparian buffers, construction and maintenance of State and 
county roads, nonpoint source pollution arising from a wide variety of 
human activities, and canopy loss caused by infestations of the hemlock 
woolly adelgid.
Unit 2: Youngs Creek, Bledsoe and Rhea Counties, Tennessee
    Unit 2 includes 7.9 rkm (4.9 rmi) of Youngs Creek from its 
headwaters in Bledsoe County, downstream to its confluence with 
Moccasin Creek in Rhea County, Tennessee. This unit was included in the 
geographical area occupied by the species at the time of listing and 
contains elements of essential physical or biological features. Almost 
7.8 rkm (4.8 rmi), or 100 percent, of this area is privately owned 
except for that small amount that is publicly owned by Bledsoe and Rhea 
Counties in the form of bridge crossings and road easements.
    This unit contains stable headwater streams (PCE 1) that are 
relatively silt-free, contain cobble and slab-rock boulder substrates 
with canopy cover (PCE 2), and have surface flows that are maintained 
year round (PCE 3). Such characteristics are necessary for reproductive 
and sheltering requirements of laurel dace. Water quality within this 
unit is also characterized by moderate temperatures, relatively high 
dissolved oxygen concentrations, moderate pH, and low levels of 
pollutants (PCE 4), which

[[Page 63637]]

support abundant populations of aquatic macroinvertebrates that serve 
as prey items for laurel dace (PCE 5).
    Various activities in or adjacent to these areas of critical 
habitat may affect one or more of the physical and biological features. 
Features in this critical habitat designation that may require special 
management are due to threats posed by resource extraction (coal and 
gravel mining, silviculture, natural gas and oil exploration 
activities), agricultural activities (row crops and livestock), lack of 
adequate riparian buffers, construction and maintenance of State and 
county roads, nonpoint source pollution arising from a wide variety of 
human activities, and canopy loss caused by infestations of the hemlock 
woolly adelgid.
Unit 3: Moccasin Creek, Bledsoe County, Tennessee
    Unit 3 includes 9.0 rkm (5.6 rmi) of Moccasin Creek from its 
headwaters downstream to 0.1 rkm (0.6 rmi) below its confluence with 
Lick Creek in Bledsoe County, Tennessee. This unit was included in the 
geographical area occupied by the species at the time of listing and 
contains elements of essential physical or biological features. Almost 
8.9 rkm (5.5 rmi), or 100 percent, of this area is privately owned 
except for that small amount that is publicly owned by Bledsoe County 
in the form of bridge crossings and road easements.
    This unit contains stable headwater streams (PCE 1) that are 
relatively silt-free, contain cobble and slab-rock boulder substrates 
with canopy cover (PCE 2), and have surface flows that are maintained 
year round (PCE 3). Such characteristics are necessary for reproductive 
and sheltering requirements of laurel dace. Water quality within this 
unit is also characterized by moderate temperatures, relatively high 
dissolved oxygen concentrations, moderate pH, and low levels of 
pollutants (PCE 4), which support abundant populations of aquatic 
macroinvertebrates that serve as prey items for laurel dace (PCE 5).
    Various activities in or adjacent to these areas of critical 
habitat may affect one or more of the physical and biological features. 
Features in this critical habitat designation that may require special 
management are due to threats posed by resource extraction (coal and 
gravel mining, silviculture, natural gas and oil exploration 
activities), agricultural activities (row crops and livestock), lack of 
adequate riparian buffers, construction and maintenance of State and 
county roads, nonpoint source pollution arising from a wide variety of 
human activities, and canopy loss caused by infestations of the hemlock 
woolly adelgid.
Unit 4: Cupp Creek, Bledsoe County, Tennessee
    Unit 4 includes 5.0 rkm (3.1 rmi) of Cupp Creek from its headwaters 
downstream to its confluence with an unnamed tributary in Bledsoe 
County, Tennessee. This unit was included in the geographical area 
occupied by the species at the time of listing and contains elements of 
essential physical or biological features. Almost 4.9 rkm (3.0 rmi), or 
100 percent, of this area is privately owned except for that small 
amount that is publicly owned by Bledsoe County in the form of bridge 
crossings and road easements.
    This unit contains stable headwater streams (PCE 1) that are 
relatively silt-free; contain cobble and slab-rock boulder substrates 
with canopy cover (PCE 2), and have surface flows that are maintained 
year round (PCE 3). Such characteristics are necessary for reproductive 
and sheltering requirements of laurel dace. Water quality within this 
unit is also characterized by moderate temperatures, relatively high 
dissolved oxygen concentrations, moderate pH, and low levels of 
pollutants (PCE 4), which support abundant populations of aquatic 
macroinvertebrates that serve as prey items for laurel dace (PCE 5).
    Various activities in or adjacent to these areas of critical 
habitat may affect one or more of the physical and biological features. 
Features in this critical habitat designation that may require special 
management are due to threats posed by resource extraction (coal and 
gravel mining, silviculture, natural gas and oil exploration 
activities), agricultural activities (row crops and livestock), lack of 
adequate riparian buffers, construction and maintenance of State and 
county roads, nonpoint source pollution arising from a wide variety of 
human activities, and canopy loss caused by infestations of the hemlock 
woolly adelgid.
Unit 5: Horn Branch, Bledsoe County, Tennessee
    Unit 5 includes 4.0 rkm (2.5 rmi) of Horn Branch from its 
headwaters downstream to its confluence with Rock Creek in Bledsoe 
County, Tennessee. This unit was included in the geographical area 
occupied by the species at the time of listing and contains elements of 
essential physical or biological features. Almost 3.9 rkm (2.4 rmi), or 
100 percent, of this area is privately owned except for that small 
amount that is publicly owned by Bledsoe County in the form of bridge 
crossings and road easements.
    This unit contains stable headwater streams (PCE 1) that are 
relatively silt-free, contain cobble and slab-rock boulder substrates 
with canopy cover (PCE 2), and have surface flows that are maintained 
year round (PCE 3). Such characteristics are necessary for reproductive 
and sheltering requirements of laurel dace. Water quality within this 
unit is also characterized by moderate temperatures, relatively high 
dissolved oxygen concentrations, moderate pH, and low levels of 
pollutants (PCE 4), which support abundant populations of aquatic 
macroinvertebrates that serve as prey items for laurel dace (PCE 5).
    Various activities in or adjacent to these areas of critical 
habitat may affect one or more of the physical and biological features. 
Features in this critical habitat designation that may require special 
management are due to threats posed by resource extraction (coal and 
gravel mining, silviculture, natural gas and oil exploration 
activities), agricultural activities (row crops and livestock), lack of 
adequate riparian buffers, construction and maintenance of State and 
county roads, nonpoint source pollution arising from a wide variety of 
human activities, and canopy loss caused by infestations of the hemlock 
woolly adelgid.
Unit 6: Soddy Creek, Sequatchie and Bledsoe Counties, Tennessee
    Unit 6 includes 8.4 rkm (5.2 rmi) of Soddy Creek from its 
headwaters in Sequatchie County, downstream to its confluence with 
Harvey Creek in Sequatchie County, Tennessee. This unit was included in 
the geographical area occupied by the species at the time of listing 
and contains elements of essential physical or biological features. 
Almost 8.3 rkm (5.1 rmi), or 100 percent, of this area is privately 
owned except for a small amount that is publicly owned by Sequatchie 
and Bledsoe Counties in the form of bridge crossings and road 
easements.
    This unit contains stable headwater streams (PCE 1) that are 
relatively silt-free, contain cobble and slab-rock boulder substrates 
with canopy cover (PCE 2), and have surface flows that are maintained 
year round (PCE 3). Such characteristics are necessary for reproductive 
and sheltering requirements of laurel dace. Water quality within this 
unit is also characterized by moderate temperatures, relatively high 
dissolved oxygen concentrations, moderate pH, and low levels of 
pollutants (PCE 4), which support abundant populations of

[[Page 63638]]

aquatic macroinvertebrates that serve as prey items for laurel dace 
(PCE 5).
    Various activities in or adjacent to these areas of critical 
habitat may affect one or more of the physical and biological features. 
Features in this critical habitat designation that may require special 
management are due to threats posed by resource extraction (coal and 
gravel mining, silviculture, natural gas and oil exploration 
activities), agricultural activities (row crops and livestock), lack of 
adequate riparian buffers, construction and maintenance of State and 
county roads, nonpoint source pollution arising from a wide variety of 
human activities, and canopy loss caused by infestations of the hemlock 
woolly adelgid.

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 Circuits Court of Appeals have 
invalidated our regulatory definition of ``destruction or adverse 
modification'' (50 CFR 402.02) (see Gifford Pinchot Task Force v. U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, 378 F.3d 1059 (9th Cir. 2004) and Sierra 
Club v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service et al., 245 F.3d 434, 442 (5th 
Cir. 2001)), and we do not rely on this regulatory definition when 
analyzing whether an action is likely to destroy or adversely modify 
critical habitat. Under the statutory provisions of the Act, we 
determine destruction or adverse modification on the basis of whether, 
with implementation of the proposed Federal action, the affected 
critical habitat would continue to serve its intended conservation role 
for the species.
    If a Federal action may affect a listed species or its critical 
habitat, the responsible Federal agency (action agency) must enter into 
consultation with us. Examples of actions that are subject to the 
section 7 consultation process are actions on State, tribal, local, or 
private lands that require a Federal permit (such as a permit from the 
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers under section 404 of the Clean Water Act 
(33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.) or a permit from the Service under section 10 
of the Act) or that involve some other Federal action (such as funding 
from the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Aviation 
Administration, or the Federal Emergency Management Agency). Federal 
actions not affecting listed species or critical habitat, and actions 
on State, tribal, local, or private lands that are not Federally funded 
or authorized do not require section 7 consultation.
    As a result of section 7 consultation, we document compliance with 
the requirements of section 7(a)(2) through our issuance of:
    (1) A concurrence letter for Federal actions that may affect, but 
are not likely to adversely affect, listed species or critical habitat; 
or
    (2) A biological opinion for Federal actions that may affect, or 
are likely to adversely affect, listed species or critical habitat.
    When we issue a biological opinion concluding that a project is 
likely to jeopardize the continued existence of a listed species 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 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 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 these species. Activities that may destroy or 
adversely modify critical habitat are those that alter the physical and 
biological features to an extent that appreciably reduces the 
conservation value of critical habitat for these species. As discussed 
above, the role of critical habitat is to support life-history needs of 
these species and provide for the conservation of these species.
    Section 4(b)(8) of the Act requires us to briefly evaluate and 
describe, in any proposed or final regulation that designates critical 
habitat, activities involving a Federal action that may destroy or 
adversely modify such habitat, or that may be affected by such 
designation.
    Activities that may affect critical habitat, when carried out, 
funded, or authorized by a Federal agency, should result in 
consultation for the Cumberland darter, rush darter, yellowcheek 
darter, Chucky madtom, and laurel dace. These activities include, but 
are not limited to:
    (1) Actions that would alter the geomorphology of stream habitats. 
Such activities could include, but are not limited to, instream 
excavation or dredging, impoundment, channelization, road and bridge 
construction, mining, and discharge of fill materials. These activities 
could cause aggradation or degradation of the channel bed elevation or 
significant bank erosion, result in entrainment or burial of these 
fishes, and cause other direct or cumulative adverse effects to these 
species.
    (2) Actions that would significantly alter the existing flow regime 
or water quantity. Such activities could include, but are not limited 
to, impoundment, water diversion, water withdrawal, and hydropower 
generation. These activities could eliminate or reduce the habitat 
necessary for growth and reproduction of these fishes.

[[Page 63639]]

    (3) Actions that would significantly alter water quantity or water 
quality (for example, temperature, pH, contaminants, and excess 
nutrients). Such activities could include, but are not limited to, 
hydropower discharges, or the release of chemicals, biological 
pollutants, or heated effluents into surface water or connected 
groundwater at a point source or by dispersed release (nonpoint 
source). These activities could alter water conditions that are beyond 
the tolerances of these fishes and result in direct or cumulative 
adverse effects to these species.
    (4) Actions that would significantly alter stream bed material 
composition and quality by increasing sediment deposition or 
filamentous algal growth. Such activities could include, but are not 
limited to, construction projects, livestock grazing, timber harvest, 
off-road vehicle use, and other watershed and floodplain disturbances 
that release sediments or nutrients into the water. These activities 
could eliminate or reduce habitats necessary for the growth and 
reproduction of these fishes by causing excessive sedimentation or 
nutrification.

Exemptions

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

    The Sikes Act Improvement Act of 1997 (Sikes Act) (16 U.S.C. 670a) 
required each military installation that includes land and water 
suitable for the conservation and management of natural resources to 
complete an integrated natural resources management plan (INRMP) by 
November 17, 2001. An INRMP integrates implementation of the military 
mission of the installation with stewardship of the natural resources 
found on the base. Each INRMP includes:
    (1) An assessment of the ecological needs on the installation, 
including the need to provide for the conservation of listed species;
    (2) A statement of goals and priorities;
    (3) A detailed description of management actions to be implemented 
to provide for these ecological needs; and
    (4) A monitoring and adaptive management plan.
    Among other things, each INRMP must, to the extent appropriate and 
applicable, provide for fish and wildlife management; fish and wildlife 
habitat enhancement or modification; wetland protection, enhancement, 
and restoration where necessary to support fish and wildlife; and 
enforcement of applicable natural resource laws.
    The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004 (Pub. 
L. 108-136) amended the Act to limit areas eligible for designation as 
critical habitat. Specifically, section 4(a)(3)(B)(i) of the Act (16 
U.S.C. 1533(a)(3)(B)(i)) now provides: ``The Secretary shall not 
designate as critical habitat any lands or other geographical areas 
owned or controlled by the Department of Defense, or designated for its 
use, that are subject to an integrated natural resources management 
plan prepared under section 101 of the Sikes Act (16 U.S.C. 670a), if 
the Secretary determines in writing that such plan provides a benefit 
to the species for which critical habitat is proposed for 
designation.''
    There were no Department of Defense lands with a completed INRMP 
within the proposed critical habitat designation. Therefore, we are not 
exempting lands from this final designation of critical habitat for the 
Cumberland darter, rush darter, yellowcheek darter, Chucky madtom, or 
laurel dace under section 4(a)(3)(B)(i) of the Act.

Exclusions

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

    Section 4(b)(2) of the Act states that the Secretary 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, is clear that the Secretary has broad 
discretion regarding which factor(s) to use and how much weight to give 
to any factor.
    In considering whether to exclude a particular area from the 
designation, we 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.
Exclusions Based on Economic Impacts
    Under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we consider the economic impacts 
of specifying any particular area as critical habitat. In order to 
consider economic impacts, we prepared a draft economic analysis of the 
proposed critical habitat designation and related factors (Industrial 
Economics, Incorporated 2012). The draft analysis, dated May 1, 2012, 
was made available for public review from May 24, 2012, through June 
25, 2012 (77 FR 30988). Following the close of the comment period, a 
final analysis (dated July 31, 2012) of the potential economic effects 
of the designation was developed taking into consideration the public 
comments and any new information (Industrial Economics, Incorporated 
2012).
    The intent of the final economic analysis (FEA) is to identify and 
analyze the potential economic impacts associated with the critical 
habitat designation for these five species. The final economic analysis 
describes the economic impacts of all potential conservation efforts 
for the these five fishes; some of these costs will likely be incurred 
regardless of whether we designate critical habitat. The economic 
impact of the final critical habitat designation is analyzed by 
comparing scenarios both ``with critical habitat'' and ``without 
critical habitat.'' The ``without critical habitat'' scenario 
represents the baseline for the analysis, considering protections 
already in place for the species (e.g., under the Federal listing and 
other Federal, State, and local regulations). The baseline, therefore, 
represents the costs incurred regardless of whether critical habitat is 
designated. The ``with critical habitat'' scenario describes the 
incremental impacts associated specifically with the designation of 
critical habitat for the species. The incremental conservation efforts 
and associated impacts are those not expected to occur absent the 
designation of critical habitat for these species. In other words, the 
incremental costs are those attributable solely to the designation of 
critical habitat above and beyond the baseline costs; these are the 
costs we consider in the final designation of critical habitat when 
evaluating the benefits of excluding particular areas under section 
4(b)(2) of the Act. The analysis looks retrospectively at baseline 
impacts incurred since these species were listed, and forecasts both 
baseline and incremental impacts likely to occur with the designation 
of critical habitat. For a further description of the methodology of 
the analysis, see the ``Framework for

[[Page 63640]]

the Analysis'' section of the final economic analysis.
    The FEA also addresses how potential economic impacts are likely to 
be distributed, including an assessment of any local or regional 
impacts of habitat conservation and the potential effects of 
conservation activities on government agencies, private businesses, and 
individuals. The FEA measures lost economic efficiency associated with 
residential and commercial development and public projects and 
activities, such as economic impacts on water management and 
transportation projects, Federal lands, small entities, and the energy 
industry. Decision-makers can use this information to assess whether 
the effects of the designation might unduly burden a particular group 
or economic sector. Finally, the FEA looks retrospectively at costs 
that have been incurred since 2011 (year of these species' listing) (76 
FR 48722), and considers those costs that may occur in the 20 years 
following the designation of critical habitat, which was determined to 
be the appropriate period for analysis because limited planning 
information was available for most activities to forecast activity 
levels for projects beyond a 20-year timeframe. The FEA quantifies 
economic impacts of the five fishes conservation efforts associated 
with the following categories of activity: coal mining; oil and natural 
gas development; agriculture, ranching, and silviculture; recreational 
uses; dredging, channelization, impoundments, dams, and diversions; 
transportation (roads, highways, bridges); and residential and 
commercial development.
    The FEA concluded that the types of conservation efforts requested 
by the Service during section 7 consultation regarding the five fishes 
were not expected to change due to critical habitat designation. The 
Service believes that results of consultation under the adverse 
modification and jeopardy standards are likely to be similar because: 
(1) The physical and biological features that define critical habitat 
are also essential for the survival of the five fishes; (2) the five 
fishes are limited or severely limited in their respective ranges; and 
(3) numbers of individuals in the surviving populations are small or 
very small. In addition, although two of the critical habitat units for 
the Cumberland darter are unoccupied, incremental impacts of the 
critical habitat designations will be limited for the following 
reasons: (1) Both units are currently occupied by the federally 
threatened blackside dace, Chrosomus cumberlandensis (listed as 
Phoxinus cumberlandensis); (2) both units are situated at least 
partially within the DBNF, which is managed according to a land and 
resource management plan that includes specific measures to protect 
sensitive species; and (3) both unoccupied units are located within the 
same hydrologic unit as three other occupied critical habitat units 
(Cumberland darter units 4, 6, and 8).
    The FEA concludes that incremental impacts of critical habitat 
designation are limited to additional administrative costs of 
consultations and that indirect incremental impacts are unlikely to 
result from the designation of critical habitat for the five fishes. 
The present value of the total direct (administrative) incremental cost 
of critical habitat designation is $644,000 over the next 20 years 
assuming a 7 percent discount rate, or $56,800 on an annualized basis. 
Water quality management activities are likely to be subject to the 
greatest incremental impacts at $273,000 over the next 20 years, 
followed by transportation at $161,000; coal mining at $79,000; oil and 
natural gas development at $73,700; agriculture, ranching, and 
silviculture at $36,100; dredging, channelization, impoundments, dams, 
and diversions at $10,700; and recreation at $10,000 (Industrial 
Economics, Inc. 2012).
    In short, the FEA did not identify any disproportionate costs that 
are likely to result from the designation. Consequently, the Secretary 
is not exerting his discretion to exclude any areas from this 
designation of critical habitat for the five fishes based on economic 
impacts.
    A copy of the FEA with supporting documents may be obtained by 
contacting the Tennessee Ecological Services Field Office (see 
ADDRESSES) or by downloading from the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov.
Exclusions Based on National Security Impacts
    Under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we consider whether there are 
lands owned or managed by the Department of Defense where a national 
security impact might exist. In preparing this final rule, we have 
determined that the lands within the designation of critical habitat 
for the Cumberland darter, rush darter, yellowcheek darter, Chucky 
madtom, and laurel dace are not owned or managed by the Department of 
Defense, and, therefore, we anticipate no impact on national security. 
Consequently, the Secretary is not exerting his discretion to exclude 
any areas from this final designation based on impacts on national 
security.
Exclusions Based on Other Relevant Impacts
    Under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we consider any other relevant 
impacts, in addition to economic impacts and impacts on national 
security. We consider a number of factors, including whether the 
landowners have developed any HCPs or other management plans for the 
area, or whether there are conservation partnerships that would be 
encouraged by designation of, or exclusion from, critical habitat. In 
addition, we look at any tribal issues, and consider the government-to-
government relationship of the United States with tribal entities. We 
also consider any social impacts that might occur because of the 
designation.
    In preparing this final rule, we have determined that the 
yellowcheek darter is currently covered under a joint safe harbor 
agreement (SHA) and candidate conservation agreement with assurances 
(CCAA) in the upper Little Red River watershed in Arkansas along with 
the endangered speckled pocketbook mussel. The CCAA will convert to a 
SHA, as a result of the endangered status of the yellowcheek darter, 
and will be covered by an enhancement of survival permit, which expires 
January 1, 2044. The SHA is strictly voluntary on the part of 
participating private landowners, who can opt out of the agreement at 
any time. This agreement provides added benefits for the recovery of 
the yellowcheek darter, but does not guarantee long-term protection of 
habitat. The properties enrolled in the SHA are not technically 
included in the critical habitat designation, which includes only the 
stream channel within the ordinary high water line. Because these 
waters are technically state owned, we cannot exclude them from the 
designation. The CCAA provides assurances to enrolled landowners that 
if additional conservation measures are necessary to respond to changed 
circumstances, we will not require such measures in addition to those 
provided for in the agreement without the consent of the landowner if 
the species becomes listed. However like the SHA, the properties 
enrolled in the CCAA are not technically included in the critical 
habitat designation, which includes only the stream channel within the 
ordinary high water line. Because these waters are technically state 
owned, we cannot exclude them from the designation.
    There are currently no HCPs or other management plans for the 
Cumberland darter, rush darter, yellowcheek darter, Chucky madtom, or 
laurel dace, and the final designation does not include any

[[Page 63641]]

tribal lands or trust resources. We anticipate no impact on tribal 
lands, partnerships, or HCPs from this critical habitat designation.
    Accordingly, the Secretary is not exercising his discretion to 
exclude any areas from this final designation based on other relevant 
impacts.

Required Determinations

Regulatory Planning and Review--Executive Order 12866 and 13563

    Executive Order 12866 provides that the Office of Information and 
Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) will review all significant rules. The Office 
of Information and Regulatory Affairs has determined that this rule is 
not significant.
    Executive Order 13563 reaffirms the principles of E.O. 12866 while 
calling for improvements in the nation's regulatory system to promote 
predictability, to reduce uncertainty, and to use the best, most 
innovative, and least burdensome tools for achieving regulatory ends. 
The executive order directs agencies to consider regulatory approaches 
that reduce burdens and maintain flexibility and freedom of choice for 
the public where these approaches are relevant, feasible, and 
consistent with regulatory objectives. E.O. 13563 emphasizes further 
that regulations must be based on the best available science and that 
the rulemaking process must allow for public participation and an open 
exchange of ideas. We have developed this rule in a manner consistent 
with these requirements.

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

    Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA; 5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) as 
amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act 
(SBREFA) of 1996 (5 U.S.C. 801 et seq.), whenever an agency must 
publish a notice of rulemaking for any proposed or final rule, it must 
prepare and make available for public comment a regulatory flexibility 
analysis that describes the effects of the rule on small entities 
(small businesses, small organizations, and small government 
jurisdictions). However, no regulatory flexibility analysis is required 
if the head of the agency certifies the rule will not have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. 
The SBREFA amended RFA to require Federal agencies to provide a 
certification statement of the factual basis for certifying that the 
rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial 
number of small entities. In this final rule, we are certifying that 
the critical habitat designation for these five fishes will not have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. 
The following discussion explains our rationale.
    According to the Small Business Administration, small entities 
include small organizations, such as independent nonprofit 
organizations; small governmental jurisdictions, including school 
boards and city and town governments that serve fewer than 50,000 
residents; as well as small businesses. Small businesses include 
manufacturing and mining concerns with fewer than 500 employees, 
wholesale trade entities with fewer than 100 employees, retail and 
service businesses with less than $5 million in annual sales, general 
and heavy construction businesses with less than $27.5 million in 
annual business, special trade contractors doing less than $11.5 
million in annual business, and agricultural businesses with annual 
sales less than $750,000. To determine if potential economic impacts on 
these small entities are significant, we consider the types of 
activities that might trigger regulatory impacts under this rule, as 
well as the types of project modifications that may result. In general, 
the term ``significant economic impact'' is meant to apply to a typical 
small business firm's business operations.
    To determine if the rule could significantly affect a substantial 
number of small entities, we consider the number of small entities 
affected within particular types of economic activities (e.g., coal 
mining; agriculture, ranching, and silviculture; oil and natural gas 
development; recreational uses; dredging, channelization, impoundments, 
dams, and diversions; and transportation (roads, highways, bridges)). 
We apply the ``substantial number'' test individually to each industry 
to determine if certification is appropriate. However, the SBREFA does 
not explicitly define ``substantial number'' or ``significant economic 
impact.'' Consequently, to assess whether a ``substantial number'' of 
small entities is affected by this designation, this analysis considers 
the relative number of small entities likely to be impacted in an area. 
In some circumstances, especially with critical habitat designations of 
limited extent, we may aggregate across all industries and consider 
whether the total number of small entities affected is substantial. In 
estimating the number of small entities potentially affected, we also 
consider whether their activities have any Federal involvement.
    Designation of critical habitat only affects activities authorized, 
funded, or carried out by Federal agencies. Some kinds of activities 
are unlikely to have any Federal involvement and so will not be 
affected by critical habitat designation. In areas where the five 
fishes are present, Federal agencies already are required to consult 
with us under section 7 of the Act on activities they authorize, fund, 
or carry out that may affect the five fishes. Federal agencies also 
must consult with us if their activities may affect critical habitat. 
Designation of critical habitat, therefore, could result in an 
additional economic impact on small entities due to the requirement to 
reinitiate consultation for ongoing Federal activities (see Application 
of the ``Adverse Modification'' Standard section).
    In our FEA of the critical habitat designation (see ``Exclusions 
Based on Economic Impacts'' above) we evaluated the potential economic 
effects on small business entities resulting from conservation actions 
related to the designation of critical habitat of the five fishes. The 
analysis is based on the estimated impacts associated with the 
rulemaking as described in Appendix A of the FEA and evaluates the 
potential for economic impacts related to: Coal mining; oil and natural 
gas development; recreation; dredging, channelization, impoundments, 
dams, and diversions; and transportation (roads, highways, bridges).
    For activities related to coal mining, we anticipate that 10 small 
entities could be affected in a single year at a cost of $875 each, 
representing less than 3 percent of annual revenues. For oil and 
natural gas development, we estimate that two small entities could be 
affected within a single year at a cost of $875 each, representing less 
than 3 percent of annual revenues. For recreation activities, it is 
estimated that one small entity could be affected within a single year 
at a cost of $4,150. This cost to this entity is estimated to be 29 
percent of the entity's annual revenue from cattle sales; however, the 
entity has other revenues, and this percentage is likely overstated. 
For activities relating to by dredging, channelization, impoundments, 
dams, and diversions, one small entity could be affected within a 
single year, at a cost of $2,630, representing less than 1 percent of 
annual revenues. For transportation activities, one small entity could 
be affected within a single year, at a cost of $1,750, representing 
less than 1 percent of annual revenues. Please refer to the FEA of the 
critical habitat designation for a more detailed

[[Page 63642]]

discussion of potential economic impacts.
    In summary, we considered whether this designation will result in a 
significant economic effect on a substantial number of small entities. 
Based on the above reasoning and currently available information, we 
concluded that this rule will not result in a significant economic 
impact on a substantial number of small entities. Therefore, we are 
certifying that the designation of critical habitat for the Cumberland 
darter, rush darter, yellowcheek darter, Chucky madtom, and laurel dace 
will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of 
small entities, and a regulatory flexibility analysis is not required.

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

    Executive Order 13211 (Actions Concerning Regulations That 
Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use) requires 
agencies to prepare Statements of Energy Effects when undertaking 
certain actions. We do not expect this designation to significantly 
affect energy supplies, distribution, or use. Natural gas and oil 
exploration and development activities occur or could potentially occur 
within the Cumberland darter (13 of 15 critical habitat units) and 
yellowcheek darter (4 of 4 critical habitat units) critical habitat 
units. However, compliance with State regulatory requirements or 
voluntary BMPs would be expected to minimize impacts of natural gas and 
oil exploration and development in the areas of designated critical 
habitat for both species. The measures for natural gas and oil 
exploration and development are generally not considered a substantial 
cost compared to overall project costs and are already being 
implemented by oil and gas companies.
    Coal mining occurs or could potentially occur in 11 of the 15 
proposed critical habitat units for the Cumberland darter, and coal 
mining could potentially occur in 1 of the 6 critical habitat units for 
the laurel dace. Incidental take for listed species associated with 
surface coal mining activities is currently covered under a 
programmatic, non-jeopardy biological opinion between the Office of 
Surface Mining and the Service completed in 1996 (Service 1996, 
entire). The biological opinion covers existing, proposed, and future 
endangered and threatened species that may be affected by the 
implementation and administration of surface coal mining programs under 
the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (30 U.S.C. 1201 
et seq.). Through its analysis, the Service concluded that the proposed 
action (surface coal mining and reclamation activities) was not likely 
to jeopardize the continued existence of any threatened, endangered, or 
proposed species or result in adverse modification of designated or 
proposed critical habitat.
    OMB has provided guidance for implementing this Executive Order 
that outlines nine outcomes that may constitute ``a significant adverse 
effect'' when compared to not taking the regulatory action under 
consideration. The potential effects of this designation on oil and gas 
development were considered in the economic analysis. The FEA finds 
that impacts to oil and gas development activities will be anticipated, 
but they will be limited to the administrative costs of consultation. 
Therefore, reductions in oil and gas production are not anticipated, 
and consultation costs are not anticipated to increase the cost of 
energy production or distribution in the United States in excess of 1 
percent. Thus, none of the nine outcome thresholds of impacts is 
exceeded. The economic analysis finds that none of these criteria is 
relevant to this analysis. Thus, based on information in the economic 
analysis, energy-related impacts associated with these five fishes' 
conservation activities within critical habitat are not expected. As 
such, the designation of critical habitat is not expected to 
significantly affect energy supplies, distribution, or use. Therefore, 
this action is not a significant energy action, and no Statement of 
Energy Effects is required.

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

    In accordance with the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (2 U.S.C. 1501 
et seq.), we make the following findings:
    (1) This rule will not produce a Federal mandate. In general, a 
Federal mandate is a provision in legislation, statute, or regulation 
that would impose an enforceable duty upon State, local, 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. The lands with Cumberland darter critical 
habitat designation are owned by the DBNF and private landowners. The 
lands with rush darter critical habitat designation are mostly owned by 
private landowners; a small portion of the City of Pinson; and road 
easements in Etowah, Jefferson, and Winston Counties, Alabama. The 
lands designated as critical habitat for the yellowcheek darter are 
mostly owned by private landowners and road easements

[[Page 63643]]

in Cleburne, Searcy, Stone, and Van Buren Counties, Arkansas. Most of 
the lands designated as critical habitat for the Chucky madtom are 
private, except for a small portion consisting of road easements in 
Greene County, Tennessee. Most of the lands designated as critical 
habitat for the laurel dace are located on private lands, except for a 
small portion consisting of road easements in Bledsoe, Rhea, and 
Sequatchie Counties, Tennessee. Consequently, we do not believe that 
the critical habitat designation would significantly or uniquely affect 
small government entities. As such, a Small Government Agency Plan is 
not required.

Takings--Executive Order 12630

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

Federalism--Executive Order 13132

    In accordance with Executive Order 13132 (Federalism), this rule 
does not have significant Federalism effects. A federalism impact 
summary statement is not required. In keeping with Department of the 
Interior and Department of Commerce policy, we requested information 
from, and coordinated development of, this critical habitat designation 
with appropriate State resource agencies in Kentucky, Alabama, 
Arkansas, and Tennessee. We received one comment from the Kentucky 
Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources related to road crossings and 
culverts acting as threats to the Cumberland darter. This comment was 
incorporated into this final rule. We did not receive any other 
comments from the four affected States. The designation of critical 
habitat in areas currently occupied by these five fishes may impose 
nominal additional regulatory restrictions to those currently in place 
and, therefore, may have little incremental impact on State and local 
governments and their activities. The designation may have some benefit 
to these governments because the areas that contain the physical and 
biological features essential to the conservation of the species are 
more clearly defined, and the elements of the features of the habitat 
necessary to the conservation of these species are specifically 
identified. This information does not alter where and what Federally 
sponsored activities may occur. However, it may assist these 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 are designating critical 
habitat in accordance with the provisions of the Act. This final rule 
uses standard property descriptions and identifies the elements of 
physical and biological features essential to the conservation of the 
Cumberland darter, rush darter, yellowcheek darter, Chucky madtom, and 
laurel dace within the designated areas to assist the public in 
understanding the habitat needs of these species.

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

    This rule does not contain any new collections of information that 
require approval by OMB under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 
U.S.C. 3501 et seq.). This rule will not impose recordkeeping or 
reporting requirements on State or local governments, individuals, 
businesses, or organizations. An agency may not conduct or sponsor, and 
a person is not required to respond to, a collection of information 
unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number.

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

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

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 
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 that were occupied by 
the Cumberland darter, rush darter, yellowcheek darter, Chucky madtom, 
or laurel dace at the time of listing that contain the features 
essential for conservation of these species, and no tribal lands 
unoccupied by these five species that are essential for the 
conservation of these species. Therefore, we are not designating 
critical habitat for these five species on tribal lands.

References Cited

    A complete list of references cited is available on the Internet at 
http://www.regulations.gov and upon request

[[Page 63644]]

from the Tennessee Ecological Services Field Office (see ADDRESSES).

Authors

    The primary authors of this package are the staff members of the 
Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee Ecological Services 
Field Offices.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

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

Regulation Promulgation

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

PART 17--[AMENDED]

0
1. The authority citation for part 17 continues to read as follows:

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

0
2. Amend Sec.  17.11(h) by revising the entries for ``Dace, laurel,'' 
``Darter, Cumberland,'' ``Darter, rush,'' ``Darter, yellowcheek,'' and 
``Madtom, chucky'' under FISHES in the List of Endangered and 
Threatened Wildlife to read as follows:


Sec.  17.11  Endangered and threatened wildlife.

* * * * *
    (h) * * *

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                        Species                                                     Vertebrate
--------------------------------------------------------                         population where                                 Critical     Special
                                                            Historic range         endangered or        Status     When listed    habitat       rules
           Common name                Scientific name                               threatened
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
Fishes
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
Dace, laurel.....................  Chrosomus saylori...  U.S.A. (TN).........  Entire..............  E                     791     17.95(e)           NA
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
Darter, Cumberland...............  Etheostoma susanae..  U.S.A. (KY, TN).....  Entire..............  E                     791     17.95(e)           NA
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
Darter, rush.....................  Etheostoma            U.S.A. (AL).........  Entire..............  E                     791     17.95(e)           NA
                                    phytophilum.
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
Darter, yellowcheek..............  Etheostoma moorei...  U.S.A. (AR).........  Entire..............  E                     791     17.95(e)           NA
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
Madtom, Chucky...................  Noturus crypticus...  U.S.A. (TN).........  Entire..............  E                     791     17.95(e)           NA
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


0
3. In Sec.  17.95, amend paragraph (e) by adding entries for ``Laurel 
Dace (Chrosomus saylori)'', ``Cumberland Darter (Etheostoma susanae)'', 
``Rush Darter (Etheostoma phytophilum)'', ``Yellowcheek Darter 
(Etheostoma moorei)'', and ``Chucky Madtom (Noturus crypticus)'' in the 
same order that those species appear in the table at Sec.  17.11(h), to 
read as follows:


Sec.  17.95  Critical habitat--fish and wildlife.

* * * * *
    (e) Fishes.
* * * * *
Laurel Dace (Chrosomus saylori)
    (1) Critical habitat units are depicted for Bledsoe, Rhea, and 
Sequatchie Counties, Tennessee, on the maps below.
    (2) Within these areas, the primary constituent elements of the 
physical and biological features essential to the conservation of the 
laurel dace consist of five components:
    (i) Pool and run habitats of geomorphically stable, first- to 
second-order streams with riparian vegetation; cool, clean, flowing 
water; shallow depths; and connectivity between spawning, foraging, and 
resting sites to promote gene flow throughout the species' range.
    (ii) Stable bottom substrates composed of relatively silt-free 
gravel, cobble, and slab-rock boulder substrates with undercut banks 
and canopy cover. Relatively silt-free is defined for the purpose of 
this rule as silt or fine sand within interstitial spaces of substrates 
in amounts low enough to have minimal impact to the species.
    (iii) An instream flow regime (magnitude, frequency, duration, and 
seasonality of discharge over time) sufficient to provide permanent 
surface flows, as measured during years with average rainfall, and to 
maintain benthic habitats utilized by the species.
    (iv) Adequate water quality characterized by moderate stream 
temperatures, acceptable dissolved oxygen concentrations, moderate pH, 
and low levels of pollutants. Adequate water quality is defined for the 
purpose of this rule as the quality necessary for normal behavior, 
growth, and viability of all life stages of the laurel dace.
    (v) Prey base of aquatic macroinvertebrates, including midge 
larvae, caddisfly larvae, and stonefly larvae.
    (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 
November 15, 2012.
    (4) Critical habitat unit maps. Data layers defining map units were 
created on a base of USGS digital ortho-photo quarter-quadrangles, and 
critical habitat units were then mapped using Tennessee State Plane, 
Lambert Conformal Conic Projection, units feet. Upstream and downstream 
limits were then identified by longitude and latitude using decimal 
degrees and projected in WGS 1984. The maps in this entry, as modified 
by any accompanying regulatory text, establish the boundaries of the 
critical habitat designation. The coordinates or plot points or both on 
which each map is based are available to the public at the

[[Page 63645]]

field office Internet site (http://www.fws.gov/cookeville), http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-R4-ES-2011-0074, and at the 
Service's Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Office. You may obtain field 
office location information by contacting one of the Service regional 
offices, the addresses of which are listed at 50 CFR 2.2.
    (5) Index map follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR16OC12.045
    

[[Page 63646]]


    (6) Units 1, 2, and 3: Bumbee Creek and Youngs Creek, Bledsoe and 
Rhea Counties, Tennessee; and Moccasin Creek, Bledsoe County, 
Tennessee.
    (i) Unit 1 includes 7.8 river kilometers (rkm) (4.8 river miles 
(rmi)) of Bumbee Creek from its headwaters in Bledsoe County, 
downstream to its confluence with Mapleslush Branch in Rhea County, 
Tennessee.
    (ii) Unit 2 includes 7.9 rkm (4.9 rmi) of Youngs Creek from its 
headwaters in Bledsoe County, downstream to its confluence with 
Moccasin Creek in Rhea County, Tennessee.
    (iii) Unit 3 includes 9.0 rkm (5.6 rmi) of Moccasin Creek from its 
headwaters downstream to 0.1 rkm (0.6 rmi) below its confluence with 
Lick Creek in Bledsoe County, Tennessee.
    (iv) Map of Units 1, 2, and 3 of critical habitat for the laurel 
dace follows:
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR16OC12.046


[[Page 63647]]


    (7) Unit 4: Cupp Creek, Bledsoe County, Tennessee.
    (i) Unit 4 includes 5.0 rkm (3.1 rmi) of Cupp Creek from its 
headwaters downstream to its confluence with an unnamed tributary in 
Bledsoe County, Tennessee.
    (ii) Map of Unit 4 of critical habitat for the laurel dace follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR16OC12.047
    

[[Page 63648]]


    (8) Unit 5: Horn Branch, Bledsoe County, Tennessee.
    (i) Unit 5 includes 4.0 rkm (2.5 rmi) of Horn Branch from its 
headwaters downstream to its confluence with Rock Creek, Bledsoe 
County, Tennessee.
    (ii) Map of Unit 5 of critical habitat for the laurel dace follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR16OC12.048
    

[[Page 63649]]


    (9) Unit 6: Soddy Creek, Sequatchie and Bledsoe Counties, 
Tennessee.
    (i) Unit 6 includes 8.4 rkm (5.2 rmi) of Soddy Creek from its 
headwaters in Sequatchie County, downstream to its confluence with 
Harvey Creek in Sequatchie County, Tennessee.
    (ii) Map of Unit 6 of critical habitat for the laurel dace follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR16OC12.049
    
* * * * *
Cumberland Darter (Etheostoma susanae)
    (1) Critical habitat units are depicted for McCreary and Whitley 
Counties, Kentucky, and Campbell and Scott Counties, Tennessee, on the 
maps below.
    (2) Within these areas, the primary constituent elements of the 
physical and biological features essential to the conservation of the 
Cumberland darter consist of five components:
    (i) Shallow pools and gently flowing runs of geomorphically stable, 
second- to fourth-order streams with connectivity between spawning,

[[Page 63650]]

foraging, and resting sites to promote gene flow throughout the 
species' range.
    (ii) Stable bottom substrates composed of relatively silt-free sand 
and sand-covered bedrock, boulders, large cobble, woody debris, or 
other cover.
    (iii) An instream flow regime (magnitude, frequency, duration, and 
seasonality of discharge over time) sufficient to provide permanent 
surface flows, as measured during years with average rainfall, and to 
maintain benthic habitats utilized by the species.
    (iv) Adequate water quality characterized by moderate stream 
temperatures, acceptable dissolved oxygen concentrations, moderate pH, 
and low levels of pollutants. Adequate water quality is defined for the 
purpose of this rule as the quality necessary for normal behavior, 
growth, and viability of all life stages of the Cumberland darter.
    (v) Prey base of aquatic macroinvertebrates, including midge 
larvae, mayfly nymphs, caddisfly larvae, and microcrustaceans.
    (3) Critical habitat does not include manmade structures (such as 
buildings, aqueducts, bridges, runways, roads, and other paved areas) 
and the land on which they are located existing within the legal 
boundaries on November 15, 2012.
    (4) Critical habitat map units. Data layers defining map units were 
created on a base of USGS digital ortho-photo quarter-quadrangles, and 
critical habitat units were then mapped using Tennessee State Plane, 
Lambert Conformal Conic Projection, units feet. Upstream and downstream 
limits were then identified by longitude and latitude using decimal 
degrees and projected in WGS 1984. The maps in this entry, as modified 
by any accompanying regulatory text, establish the boundaries of the 
critical habitat designation. The coordinates or plot points or both on 
which each map is based are available to the public at the field office 
Internet site (http://www.fws.gov/cookeville), http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-R4-ES-2011-0074, and at the 
Service's Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Office. You may obtain field 
office location information by contacting one of the Service regional 
offices, the addresses of which are listed at 50 CFR 2.2.

[[Page 63651]]

    (5) Index map follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR16OC12.050
    
    (6) Units 1 and 2: Bunches Creek and Calf Pen Fork, Whitley County, 
Kentucky.
    (i) Unit 1 includes 5.8 river kilometers (rkm) (3.6 river miles 
(rmi)) of Bunches Creek from the Seminary Branch and Amos Falls Branch 
confluence downstream to its confluence with the Cumberland River.
    (ii) Unit 2 includes 2.9 rkm (1.8 rmi) of Calf Pen Fork from its 
confluence with Polly Branch downstream to its confluence with Bunches 
Creek.

[[Page 63652]]

    (iii) Map of Units 1 and 2 of critical habitat for the Cumberland 
darter follows:
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR16OC12.051


[[Page 63653]]


    (7) Unit 3: Youngs Creek, Whitley County, Kentucky.
    (i) Unit 3 includes 7.4 rkm (4.6 rmi) of Youngs Creek from Brays 
Chapel Road downstream to its confluence with the Cumberland River.
    (ii) Map of Unit 3 of critical habitat for the Cumberland darter 
follows:
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR16OC12.052

    (8) Units 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8: Barren Fork, Indian Creek, Cogur Fork, 
Kilburn Fork, and Laurel Fork, McCreary County, Kentucky.
    (i) Unit 4 includes 6.3 rkm (3.9 rmi) of Barren Fork from its 
confluence with an unnamed tributary downstream to its confluence with 
Indian Creek.
    (ii) Unit 5 includes 4.0 rkm (2.5 rmi) of Indian Creek from its 
confluence with an unnamed tributary downstream to its confluence with 
Barren Fork.
    (iii) Unit 6 includes 8.6 rkm (5.4 rmi) of Cogur Fork from its 
confluence with Strunk Branch downstream to its confluence with Indian 
Creek.
    (iv) Unit 7 includes 4.6 rkm (2.9 rmi) of Kilburn Fork from its 
confluence with an unnamed tributary downstream to its confluence with 
Laurel Fork.
    (v) Unit 8 includes 3.5 rkm (2.2 rmi) of Laurel Fork from its 
confluence with Toms Fork downstream to its confluence with Indian 
Creek.

[[Page 63654]]

    (vi) Map of Units 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 of critical habitat for the 
Cumberland darter follows:
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR16OC12.053


[[Page 63655]]


    (9) Units 9, 10, and 11: Laurel Creek, Elisha Branch, and Jenneys 
Branch, McCreary County, Kentucky.
    (i) Unit 9 includes 9.4 rkm (5.9 rmi) of Laurel Creek from Laurel 
Creek Reservoir downstream to its confluence with Jenneys Branch.
    (ii) Unit 10 includes 2.1 rkm (1.3 rmi) of Elisha Branch from its 
confluence with an unnamed tributary downstream to its confluence with 
Laurel Creek.
    (iii) Unit 11 includes 3.1 rkm (1.9 rmi) of Jenneys Branch from its 
confluence with an unnamed tributary downstream to its confluence with 
Laurel Creek.
    (iv) Map of Units 9, 10, and 11 of critical habitat for the 
Cumberland darter follows:
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR16OC12.054


[[Page 63656]]


    (10) Unit 12: Wolf Creek, Whitley County, Kentucky.
    (i) Unit 12 includes 6.3 rkm (3.9 rmi) of Wolf Creek from its 
confluence with Sheep Creek downstream to its intersection with Wolf 
Creek River Road.
    (ii) Map of Unit 12 of critical habitat for the Cumberland darter 
follows:
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR16OC12.055

    (11) Units 13, 14, and 15: Jellico Creek, Rock Creek, and Capuchin 
Creek, McCreary and Whitley Counties, Kentucky, and Campbell and Scott 
Counties, Tennessee.
    (i) Unit 13 includes 11.5 rkm (7.2 rmi) of Jellico Creek from its 
confluence with Scott Branch, Scott County, Tennessee, downstream to 
its confluence with Capuchin Creek, McCreary County, Kentucky.
    (ii) Unit 14 includes 6.1 rkm (3.8 rmi) of Rock Creek from its 
confluence with Sid Anderson Branch downstream to its confluence with 
Jellico Creek.
    (iii) Unit 15 includes 4.2 rkm (2.6 rmi) of Capuchin Creek from its 
confluence with Hatfield Creek downstream to its confluence with 
Jellico Creek.

[[Page 63657]]

    (iv) Map of Units 13, 14, and 15 of critical habitat for the 
Cumberland darter follows:
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR16OC12.056

* * * * *
Rush Darter (Etheostoma phytophilum)
    (1) The critical habitat units are depicted for Jefferson, Winston, 
and Etowah Counties in Alabama, on the maps below.
    (2) Within these areas, the primary constituent elements of the 
physical and biological features essential to the conservation of the 
rush darter consist of five components:
    (i) Springs and spring-fed reaches of geomorphically stable, 
relatively low-gradient, headwater streams with appropriate habitat 
(bottom substrates) to maintain essential riffles, runs, and pools; 
emergent vegetation in shallow water and on the margins of small 
streams and spring runs; cool, clean, flowing water; and connectivity 
between spawning, foraging, and resting sites to promote gene flow 
throughout the species' range.
    (ii) Stable bottom substrates consisting of a combination of sand 
with silt, muck, gravel, or bedrock and adequate emergent vegetation in 
shallow water on the margins of small permanent and ephemeral streams 
and spring runs.
    (iii) Instream flow with moderate velocity and a continuous daily 
discharge that allows for a longitudinal connectivity regime inclusive 
of both surface runoff and groundwater sources (springs and seepages) 
and exclusive of flushing flows caused by stormwater runoff.
    (iv) Water quality with temperature not exceeding 26.7 [deg]C (80 
[deg]F), dissolved oxygen 6.0 milligrams or greater per liter (mg/L), 
turbidity of an average monthly reading of 10 Nephelometric Turbidity 
Units (NTU; units used to measure sediment discharge) and 15 mg/L total 
suspended solids (TSS; measured as mg/L of sediment in water) or less; 
and a specific conductance (ability of water to conduct an electric 
current, based on dissolved solids in the water) of no greater than 225 
micro Siemens per centimeter at 26.7 [deg]C (80 [deg]F).
    (v) Prey base of aquatic macroinvertebrates, including midge 
larvae, mayfly nymphs, blackfly larvae, beetles, and microcrustaceans.
    (3) Critical habitat does not include manmade structures (such as 
buildings, aqueducts, runways, roads, and other paved areas) and the 
land on which they

[[Page 63658]]

are located existing within the legal boundaries on November 15, 2012.
    (4) Critical habitat map units. Data layers defining map units were 
created on a base of USGS digital ortho-photo quarter-quadrangles, and 
critical habitat units were then mapped using Universal Transverse 
Mercator (UTM) Zone 16N, NAD1983, coordinates. Upstream and downstream 
limits were then identified by longitude and latitude using decimal 
degrees and projected in WGS 1984. The maps in this entry, as modified 
by any accompanying regulatory text, establish the boundaries of the 
critical habitat designation. The coordinates or plot points or both on 
which each map is based are available to the public at the field office 
Internet site (http://www.fws.gov/cookeville), http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-R4-ES-2011-0074, and at the 
Service's Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Office. You may obtain field 
office location information by contacting one of the Service regional 
offices, the addresses of which are listed at 50 CFR 2.2.
    (5) Index map follows:
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR16OC12.057


[[Page 63659]]


    (6) Units 1, 2, and 3: Beaver Creek, Unnamed Tributary to Beaver 
Creek and Highway 79 Spring Site, and Tapawingo or Penny Spring and 
Spring Run, Jefferson County, Alabama.
    (i) Unit 1 includes 1.0 river kilometers (rkm) (0.6 river miles 
(rmi)) of Beaver Creek from the confluence with an unnamed tributary to 
Beaver Creek, downstream to the confluence with Turkey Creek.
    (ii) Unit 2 includes 4.4 rkm (2.7 rmi) of an unnamed tributary of 
Beaver Creek and two spring runs. The site begins at the section 1 and 
2 (T16S, R2W) line, as taken from the U.S. Geological Survey 7.5 
topographical map (Pinson quadrangle), downstream to its confluence 
with Dry Creek, and includes a spring run beginning at the springhead 
just northwest of Old Pinson Road and intersecting with an unnamed 
tributary to Beaver Creek on the west side of Highway 79, and a spring 
associated wetland (0.13 ha, 0.33 ac) within the headwaters, south of 
Pinson Heights Road, flowing 0.9 km (0.05 mi) from the northwest 
(33.668173, -86.708577) and adjoining to the Unnamed Tributary 
(33.667344, -86.707429).
    (iii) Unit 3 includes 0.6 rkm (0.4 rmi) of spring run, historically 
called Tapawingo Plunge, along with 6.7 ha (16.5 ac) of flooded spring 
basin making up Penny Springs, located south of Turkey Creek, north of 
Bud Holmes Road, east of Tapawingo Trail Road. The east boundary is at 
latitude 33[deg] 41' 56.50'' N and longitude 86[deg] 39' 55.01'' W: 1.0 
km (0.6 mi) west of section line 28 and 29 (T15S, R1W) (U.S. Geological 
Survey 7.5 topographical map (Pinson quadrangle)).
    (iv) Map of Units 1, 2, and 3 of critical habitat for the rush 
darter follows:
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR16OC12.058


[[Page 63660]]


    (7) Units 4, 5, and 6: Wildcat Branch, Mill Creek, and Doe Branch, 
Winston County, Alabama.
    (i) Unit 4 includes 6.6 rkm (4.1 rmi) of Wildcat Branch from the 
streams headwaters just east of Winston County Road 29 to the 
confluence with Clear Creek.
    (ii) Unit 5 includes 5.9 rkm (3.7 rmi) of Mill Creek from the 
streams headwaters just east of Winston County Road 195 to the 
confluence with Clear Creek.
    (iii) Unit 6 includes 4.3 rkm (2.7 rmi) of Doe Branch from the 
streams headwaters north and west of section line 23 and 14 (R9W, T11S; 
Popular Springs Quadrangle) to the confluence with Wildcat Branch.
    (iv) Map of Units 4, 5, and 6 of critical habitat for the rush 
darter follows:
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR16OC12.059


[[Page 63661]]


    (8) Units 7 and 8: Little Cove Creek, Cove Spring and Spring Run; 
and Bristow Creek, Etowah County, Alabama.
    (i) Unit 7 includes 11.2 rkm (6.1 rmi) of Little Cove Creek and the 
Cove Spring run system along with 5.1 ha (12.7 ac) of the spring run 
floodplain. Specifically, the Little Cove Creek section (11.0 rkm (6.0 
rmi)) is from the intersection of Etowah County Road 179 near the creek 
headwaters, downstream to its confluence with the Locust Fork River. 
The Cove Spring and spring run section includes 0.2 rkm (0.1 rmi) of 
the spring run from the springhead at the West Etowah Water and Fire 
Authority pumping station on Cove Spring Road to the confluence with 
Little Cove Creek and includes 5.1 ha (12.7 acres) of the spring run 
floodplain due south of the pumping facility.
    (ii) Unit 8 includes 10.2 rkm (6.3 rmi) of Bristow Creek beginning 
from the bridge at Fairview Cove Road, downstream to the confluence 
with the Locust Fork River.
    (iii) Map of Units 7 and 8 of critical habitat for the rush darter 
follows:
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR16OC12.060

* * * * *
Yellowcheek darter (Etheostoma moorei)
    (1) Critical habitat units are depicted for Cleburne, Searcy, 
Stone, and Van Buren Counties, Arkansas, on the maps below.
    (2) Within these areas, the primary constituent elements of the 
physical and biological features essential to the conservation of the 
yellowcheek darter consist of five components:
    (i) Geomorphically stable, second- to fifth-order streams with 
riffle habitats, and connectivity between spawning, foraging, and 
resting sites to promote gene flow within the species' range where 
possible.
    (ii) Stable bottom composed of relatively silt-free, moderate to 
strong velocity riffles with gravel, cobble, and boulder substrates.
    (iii) An instream flow regime (magnitude, frequency, duration, and 
seasonality of discharge over time) sufficient to provide permanent 
surface flows, as measured during years with average rainfall, and to 
maintain benthic habitats utilized by the species.
    (iv) Adequate water quality characterized by moderate stream 
temperatures, acceptable dissolved oxygen concentrations, moderate pH, 
and low levels of pollutants. Adequate

[[Page 63662]]

water quality is defined for the purpose of this rule as the quality 
necessary for normal behavior, growth, and viability of all life stages 
of the yellowcheek darter.
    (v) Prey base of aquatic macroinvertebrates, including blackfly 
larvae, stonefly larvae, mayfly nymphs, and caddisfly larvae.
    (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 
November 15, 2012.
    (4) Critical habitat unit maps. Data layers defining map units were 
created on a base of USGS digital ortho-photo quarter-quadrangles, and 
critical habitat units were then mapped using Universal Transverse 
Mercator (UTM) Zone 15N, NAD1983, coordinates. Upstream and downstream 
limits were then identified by longitude and latitude using decimal 
degrees and projected in WGS 1984. The maps in this entry, as modified 
by any accompanying regulatory text, establish the boundaries of the 
critical habitat designation. The coordinates or plot points or both on 
which each map is based are available to the public at the field office 
Internet site (http://www.fws.gov/cookeville), http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-R4-ES-2011-0074, and at the 
Service's Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Office. You may obtain field 
office location information by contacting one of the Service regional 
offices, the addresses of which are listed at 50 CFR 2.2.
    (5) Index map follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR16OC12.061
    

[[Page 63663]]


    (6) Unit 1: Middle Fork Little Red River; Searcy, Stone and Van 
Buren Counties, Arkansas.
    (i) Unit 1 includes 73.2 river kilometers (rkm) (45.5 river miles 
(rmi)) of the Middle Fork of the Little Red River from Searcy County 
Road 167 approximately 3.4 rkm (2.1 rmi) southwest of Leslie, Arkansas, 
to a point on the stream 7.7 rkm (4.8 rmi) downstream of the Arkansas 
Highway 9 crossing of the Middle Fork near Shirley, Arkansas.
    (ii) Map of Unit 1 of critical habitat for the yellowcheek darter 
follows:
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR16OC12.062


[[Page 63664]]


    (7) Unit 2: South Fork Little Red River; Van Buren County, 
Arkansas.
    (i) Unit 2 includes 33.8 rkm (21.0 rmi) of the South Fork of the 
Little Red River from Van Buren County Road 9 three miles north of 
Scotland, Arkansas, to a point on the stream approximately 5.5 rkm (3.4 
rmi) downstream of U.S. Highway 65 in Clinton, Arkansas, where it 
becomes inundated by Greers Ferry Lake.
    (ii) Map of Unit 2 of critical habitat for the yellowcheek darter 
follows:
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR16OC12.063


[[Page 63665]]


    (8) Unit 3: Archey Fork Little Red River; Van Buren County, 
Arkansas.
    (i) Unit 3 includes 28.5 rkm (17.7 rmi) of the Archey Fork of the 
Little Red River from its confluence with South Castleberry Creek to 
its confluence with the South Fork of the Little Red River near 
Clinton, Arkansas.
    (ii) Map of Unit 3 of critical habitat for the yellowcheek darter 
follows:
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR16OC12.064


[[Page 63666]]


    (9) Unit 4: Devil's Fork Little Red River (including Turkey Creek 
and Beech Fork); Cleburne and Stone Counties, Arkansas.
    (i) Unit 4 includes 28.0 rkm (17.4 rmi) of stream from Stone County 
Road 21 approximately 3 miles north of Prim, Arkansas, to a point on 
the Devil's Fork approximately 5.1 km (3.2 mi) southeast of Woodrow, 
Arkansas, at the point of inundation by Greers Ferry Lake.
    (ii) Map of Unit 4 of critical habitat for the yellowcheek darter 
follows:
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR16OC12.065

* * * * *
Chucky Madtom (Noturus crypticus)
    (1) The critical habitat unit is depicted for Greene County, 
Tennessee, on the maps below.
    (2) Within this area, the primary constituent elements of the 
physical and biological features essential to the conservation of the 
Chucky madtom consist of five components:
    (i) Gently flowing run and pool reaches of geomorphically stable 
streams with cool, clean, flowing water; shallow depths; and 
connectivity between spawning, foraging, and resting sites to promote 
gene flow throughout the species' range.
    (ii) Stable bottom substrates composed of relatively silt-free, 
flat gravel, cobble, and slab-rock boulders.
    (iii) An instream flow regime (magnitude, frequency, duration, and 
seasonality of discharge over time) sufficient to provide permanent 
surface flows, as measured during years with average rainfall, and to 
maintain benthic habitats utilized by the species.
    (iv) Adequate water quality characterized by moderate stream 
temperatures, acceptable dissolved oxygen concentrations, moderate pH, 
and low levels of pollutants. Adequate water quality is defined for the 
purpose of this rule as the quality necessary for normal behavior, 
growth, and viability of all life stages of the Chucky madtom.
    (v) Prey base of aquatic macroinvertebrates, including midge 
larvae, mayfly nymphs, caddisfly larvae, and stonefly larvae.
    (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 
November 15, 2012.
    (4) Critical habitat unit maps. Data layers defining map units were 
created on a base of USGS digital ortho-photo

[[Page 63667]]

quarter-quadrangles, and critical habitat units were then mapped using 
Tennessee State Plane, Lambert Conformal Conic Projection, units feet. 
Upstream and downstream limits were then identified by longitude and 
latitude using decimal degrees and projected in WGS 1984. The maps in 
this entry, as modified by any accompanying regulatory text, establish 
the boundaries of the critical habitat designation. The coordinates or 
plot points or both on which each map is based are available to the 
public at the field office Internet site (http://www.fws.gov/cookeville), http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-R4-ES-2011-
0074, and at the Service's Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Office. You may 
obtain field office location information by contacting one of the 
Service regional offices, the addresses of which are listed at 50 CFR 
2.2.
    (5) Index map follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR16OC12.066
    

[[Page 63668]]


    (6) Little Chucky Creek Unit, Greene County, Tennessee.
    (i) Little Chucky Creek Unit includes 31.9 river kilometers (19.8 
river miles) of Little Chucky Creek from its confluence with an unnamed 
tributary, downstream to its confluence with the Nolichucky River, at 
the Greene and Cocke County line, Tennessee.
    (ii) Map of Little Chucky Creek Unit of critical habitat for the 
Chucky madtom follows:
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR16OC12.067

* * * * *

    Dated: September 25, 2012.
Rachel Jacobson,
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
[FR Doc. 2012-24468 Filed 10-15-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P