[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 73 (Tuesday, April 16, 2013)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 22625-22658]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-08364]



[[Page 22625]]

Vol. 78

Tuesday,

No. 73

April 16, 2013

Part II





Department of the Interior





-----------------------------------------------------------------------





Fish and Wildlife Service





-----------------------------------------------------------------------





50 CFR Part 17





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

Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 73 / Tuesday, April 16, 2013 / Rules 
and Regulations

[[Page 22626]]


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

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


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

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Final rule.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), designate 
critical habitat for Allium munzii (Munz's onion) under the Endangered 
Species Act. In total, approximately 98.4 acres (39.8 hectares) for A. 
munzii in Riverside County, California, fall within the boundaries of 
the critical habitat designation. We are not designating any critical 
habitat for Atriplex coronata var. notatior (San Jacinto Valley 
crownscale).

DATES: This rule becomes effective on May 16, 2013.

ADDRESSES: This final rule and the associated final economic analysis 
are available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov. Comments 
and materials received, as well as supporting documentation used in 
preparing this final rule, are available for public inspection, by 
appointment, during normal business hours, at the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, 6010 Hidden Valley 
Road, Suite 101, Carlsbad, CA 92011; telephone 760-431-9440; facsimile 
760-431-5901.
    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/carlsbad, 
http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2012-0008, and at 
the Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
CONTACT). Any additional tools or supporting information that we have 
developed for this critical habitat designation will also be available 
at the Fish and Wildlife Service Web site and Field Office, or at 
http://www.regulations.gov.

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Executive Summary

    Why we need to publish this rule. On April 17, 2012, we published 
in the Federal Register a combined proposed rule for revised critical 
habitat designations for Allium munzii and Atriplex coronata var. 
notatior. We are now issuing this final rule concerning the 
designations of critical habitat for those two endangered plants.
    The basis for our action. Under the Endangered Species Act, we are 
required to designate critical habitat for any endangered or threatened 
species. We must base our designation on the best available scientific 
data after taking into consideration economic, national security, and 
other relevant impacts. The Secretary may exclude an area from critical 
habitat if the benefits of exclusion outweigh the benefits of 
designation, unless the exclusion will result in the extinction of the 
species.
    This rule designates final critical habitat for Allium munzii only. 
We are designating approximately 98.4 acres (ac) (39.8 hectares (ha)) 
of critical habitat for A. munzii in Elsinore Peak Unit, which is 
located near Elsinore Peak in the Santa Ana Mountains of western 
Riverside County, California. This rule does not designate final 
critical habitat for Atriplex coronata var. notatior.
    The Secretary is exercising his discretion to exclude approximately 
790 ac (320 ha)) of previously proposed critical habitat for Allium 
munzii and 8,020 ac (3,246 ha) of previously proposed critical habitat 
for Atriplex coronata var. notatior. We have determined that the 
benefits of exclusion outweigh the benefits of inclusion for lands 
previously proposed as critical habitat within areas covered under the 
Western Riverside County Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan, 
the Rancho Bella Vista Habitat Conservation Plan, and the Southwestern 
Riverside Multi-species Reserve Cooperative Management Agreement.
    Peer reviewer and public comment. We sought comment from 
independent specialists to ensure that our designations are based on 
scientifically sound data and analyses. We invited these peer reviewers 
to comment on our conclusions in the proposed revised rule. We also 
considered all comments and information we received during the comment 
periods.

Background

    This is a final rule concerning the designations of critical 
habitat for Allium munzii and Atriplex coronata var. notatior. It is 
our intent to discuss in this final rule only those topics directly 
relevant to the development and designation of critical habitat for 
Allium munzii and Atriplex coronata var. notatior 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 A. munzii and A. c. var. 
notatior, refer to the final listing rule published in the Federal 
Register on October 13, 1998 (63 FR 54975). For information on A. 
munzii and A. c. var. notatior critical habitat, refer to the proposed 
rule to designate revised critical habitat for A. munzii and A. c. var. 
notatior published in the Federal Register on April 17, 2012 (77 FR 
23008). Information on the associated draft economic analysis (DEA) for 
the proposed rule to designate revised critical habitat was published 
in the Federal Register on September 11, 2012 (77 FR 55788).
    The document is structured to address the taxa separately under 
each of the sectional headings that follow, where appropriate.

Previous Federal Actions--Allium munzii

    The final listing rule for Allium munzii provides a description of 
previous Federal actions through October 13, 1998 (63 FR 54975). At the 
time of listing, we concluded that designation of critical habitat for 
A. munzii was not prudent because such designation would not benefit 
the species. On June 4, 2004, we published a proposed rule to designate 
227 ac (92 ha) of critical habitat for A. munzii on Federal land 
(Cleveland National Forest) in western Riverside County, California (69 
FR 31569). On June 7, 2005, we published a final rule designating 176 
ac (71 ha) of the proposed land as critical habitat for A. munzii (70 
FR 33015).
    On March 22, 2006, we announced the initiation of the 5-year review 
for Allium munzii and the opening of a 60-day public comment period to 
receive information (71 FR 14538). The A. munzii 5-year review was 
signed on June 17, 2009, and found that no change was warranted to the 
endangered status of A. munzii.
    On October 2, 2008, a complaint was filed against the Department of 
the Interior (DOI) and the Service by the Center for Biological 
Diversity (CBD v. Kempthorne, No. 08-CV-01348 (S.D.

[[Page 22627]]

Cal.)) challenging our final critical habitat designation for Allium 
munzii. In an order dated March 24, 2009, the U.S. District Court for 
the Central District of California, Eastern Division, adopted a 
stipulated settlement agreement that was entered into by all parties. 
The agreement stipulated that the Service would reconsider critical 
habitat designations for both A. munzii and Atriplex coronata var. 
notatior, and submit to the Federal Register proposed revised critical 
habitat determinations for both plants by October 7, 2011. An extension 
for the completion of the proposed and final determinations was granted 
on September 14, 2011, with the proposed revised rule then due to the 
Federal Register on or before April 6, 2012, and the final revised rule 
on or before April 6, 2013. The combined proposed revised rule was 
published on April 17, 2012 (77 FR 23008).
    On September 11, 2012, the document making available the DEA and 
reopening the public comment period for the combined proposed revised 
critical habitat designations for Allium munzii and Atriplex coronata 
var. notatior was published in the Federal Register (77 FR 55788). This 
final rule complies with the March 24, 2009, and September 14, 2011, 
court orders.

Previous Federal Actions--Atriplex coronata var. notatior

    The final listing rule for Atriplex coronata var. notatior provides 
a description of previous Federal actions through October 13, 1998 (63 
FR 54975), including proposed critical habitat in 1994 (59 FR 64812; 
December 15, 1994). At the time of the final listing rule in 1998, the 
Service withdrew the proposed critical habitat designation based on the 
taxon's continued decline and determined that designation of critical 
habitat was not prudent, indicating that no benefit over that provided 
by listing would result from such designation (63 FR 54991; October 13, 
1998).
    On October 6, 2004, we published a proposed rule to designate 
critical habitat for Atriplex coronata var. notatior and identified 
15,232 ac (6,167 ha) of habitat that met the definition of critical 
habitat (69 FR 59844). However, we concluded in the 2004 proposed rule 
under section 4(b)(2) of the Act that the benefits of excluding lands 
covered by the Western Riverside County Multiple Species Habitat 
Conservation Plan (Western Riverside County MSHCP) outweighed the 
benefits of including them as critical habitat. On October 13, 2005, we 
published a final critical habitat determination for A. c. var. 
notatior (70 FR 59952); there was no change from the proposed rule. We 
concluded that all 15,232 ac (6,137 ha) of habitat meeting the 
definition of critical habitat were located either within our estimate 
of the areas to be conserved and managed by the approved Western 
Riverside County MSHCP on existing Public/Quasi-Public (PQP) lands 
(preexisting natural and open space areas), or within areas where the 
plan would ensure that future projects would not adversely alter 
essential hydrological processes, and therefore all areas were excluded 
from critical habitat under section 4(b)(2) of the Act.
    On October 2, 2008, a complaint was filed against the DOI and the 
Service by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD v. Kempthorne, No. 
08-CV-01348 (S.D. Cal.)) challenging our final critical habitat 
determinations for Allium munzii and Atriplex coronata var. notatior 
(see Previous Federal Actions--Allium munzii section above for a 
detailed account of this lawsuit and settlement agreement). As noted 
above, an extension for the completion of the new proposed and final 
determinations was granted. The combined proposed rule for the two 
plants was published on April 17, 2012 (77 FR 23008).
    On May 25, 2011, we announced the initiation of the 5-year review 
for Atriplex coronata var. notatior and the opening of a 60-day public 
comment period to receive information (76 FR 30377). The 5-year review 
was signed on August 17, 2012, and found that no change was warranted 
to the endangered status of A. c. var. notatior (Service 2012b).
    On September 11, 2012, the document making available the DEA and 
reopening the public comment period for the combined proposed revised 
critical habitat designations for Allium munzii and Atriplex coronata 
var. notatior was published in the Federal Register (77 FR 55788). This 
final rule complies with the March 24, 2009, and September 14, 2011, 
court orders.

Summary of Changes from Proposed Rule

    (1) In our document that made available the DEA and reopened the 
comment period on the April 17, 2012, proposed rule (September 11, 
2012; 77 FR 55788), we revised our proposed designation of critical 
habitat for Allium munzii to clarify primary constituent elements 
(PCEs) (2)(i)(B) and (2)(ii) regarding elevations necessary for 
conservation of A. munzii. We stated in the proposed rule that A. 
munzii is found in Riverside County, California, generally between the 
elevations of 1,200 to 2,700 feet (ft) (366 to 823 meters (m)) above 
mean sea level. Allium munzii has been observed in Riverside County 
(Elsinore Peak Unit, identified in the proposed rule as Unit 3--
Elsinore Peak) at an elevation ranging from 3,200 to 3,500 ft (975 to 
1,067 m). The PCE (2)(i)(B) (numbered as ``1(b)'' in the Primary 
Constituent Elements section below) is now defined as ``Generally 
between the elevations of 1,200 to 3,500 ft (366 to 1,067 m) above mean 
sea level,'' and PCE (2)(ii) (numbered as ``2'' in the Primary 
Constituent Elements section below) is now defined as ``Outcrops of 
igneous rocks (pyroxenite) on rocky-sandy loam or clay soils within 
Riversidean sage scrub, generally between the elevations of 1,200 to 
3,500 ft (366 to 1,067 m) above mean sea level.'' This correction did 
not change this unit's critical habitat boundaries for A. munzii.
    (2) We reevaluated land management within proposed Subunit 1A for 
Allium munzii. A portion of this subunit (2.3 ac (0.9 ha)) is located 
within a Core Reserve established under the Stephens' Kangaroo Rat 
(SKR) Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) and is not within lands covered 
by the Lake Mathews Multispecies Habitat Conservation Plan, as was 
described in the proposed revised rule. Allium munzii is not a covered 
species under the SKR HCP in this Core Reserve. However, this portion 
of proposed Subunit 1A is found within the Lake Mathews-Estelle 
Mountain Reserve, which is considered PQP (Public-Quasi Public) lands 
in the Western Riverside County MSHCP (collectively, this reserve is 
part of the Western Riverside County MSHCP Existing Core ``C''). The 
management actions and conservation objectives for A. munzii 
established within the permitted Western Riverside County MSHCP provide 
for the conservation and management of A. munzii in the Lake Mathews-
Estelle Mountain Reserve (see Land and Resource Management Plans, 
Conservation Plans, or Agreements Based on Conservation Partnerships 
section below for additional details). The remainder of proposed 
Subunit 1A (0.5 ac (0.2 ha)) is located within the Western Riverside 
County MSHCP boundary and is subject to conservation measures 
established for A. munzii, including narrow endemic plant species 
survey requirements and the project review process (Dudek and 
Associates 2003, pp. 6-28-6-29) (see Land and Resource Management 
Plans, Conservation Plans, or Agreements Based on Conservation 
Partnerships section below). Thus, the entirety of proposed Subunit 1A 
is subject to the

[[Page 22628]]

conservation measures established for A. munzii under the Western 
Riverside County MSHCP.
    (3) We reevaluated the jurisdiction of HCPs for proposed Allium 
munzii Subunit 4B--Skunk Hollow, which we described in the proposed 
rule as 74.8 ac (30.3 ha). Approximately 67.1 ac (27.2 ha) of this 
proposed subunit lies within the boundaries of the Rancho Bella Vista 
HCP. The remaining 7.7 ac (3.1 ha) are found on lands covered by the 
Western Riverside MSHCP, with 7.3 ac (2.95 ha) designated as PQP lands 
and 0.4 ac (0.16 ha) as Additional Reserve Lands (see Land and Resource 
Management Plans, Conservation Plans, or Agreements Based on 
Conservation Partnerships section below for more details). The 
boundaries and total acreage for proposed Subunit 4B--Skunk Hollow have 
not changed from the proposed rule, but we revised the appropriate 
table to reflect the two different conservation plans for this proposed 
subunit.

Critical Habitat

Background

    Critical habitat is defined in section 3 of the Act as:
    (1) The specific areas within the geographical area occupied by the 
species, at the time it is listed in accordance with the Act, on which 
are found those physical or biological features
    (a) Essential to the conservation of the species and
    (b) Which may require special management considerations or 
protection; and
    (2) Specific areas outside the geographical area occupied by the 
species at the time it is listed, upon a determination that such areas 
are essential for the conservation of the species.
    Conservation, as defined under section 3 of the Act, means to use 
and the use of all methods and procedures that are necessary to bring 
an endangered or threatened species to the point at which the measures 
provided pursuant to the Act are no longer necessary. Such methods and 
procedures include, but are not limited to, all activities associated 
with scientific resources management such as research, census, law 
enforcement, habitat acquisition and maintenance, propagation, live 
trapping, and transplantation, and, in the extraordinary case where 
population pressures within a given ecosystem cannot be otherwise 
relieved, may include regulated taking.
    Critical habitat receives protection under section 7 of the Act 
through the requirement that Federal agencies ensure, in consultation 
with the Service, that any action they authorize, fund, or carry out is 
not likely to result in the destruction or adverse modification of 
critical habitat (collectively referred to as ``adverse 
modification''). The designation of critical habitat does not affect 
land ownership or establish a refuge, wilderness, reserve, preserve, or 
other conservation area. Such designation does not allow the government 
or public to access private lands. Such designation does not require 
implementation of restoration, recovery, or enhancement measures by 
non-Federal landowners. Where a landowner requests Federal agency 
funding or authorization for an action that may affect a listed species 
or critical habitat, the consultation requirements of section 7(a)(2) 
of the Act would apply, but even in the event of an 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 adverse 
modification of critical habitat.
    Under section 3(5)(A)(i) of the Act's definition of critical 
habitat, areas within the geographical area occupied by the species at 
the time it was listed are included in a critical habitat designation 
if they contain physical or biological features (1) which are essential 
to the conservation of the species and (2) which may require special 
management considerations or protection. For these areas, critical 
habitat designations identify, to the extent known using the best 
scientific and commercial data available, those physical or biological 
features that are essential to the conservation of the species (such as 
space, food, cover, and protected habitat). In identifying those 
physical or biological features within an area, we focus on the 
principal biological or physical constituent elements (primary 
constituent elements such as roost sites, nesting grounds, seasonal 
wetlands, water quality, tide, soil type) that provide for a species' 
life-history processes.
    Under section 3(5)(A)(ii) 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 within the geographical area occupied at the time of 
listing may be essential for the conservation of the species and may be 
included in the critical habitat designation. We designate critical 
habitat in areas outside the geographical area occupied by a species 
only when a designation limited to its range would be inadequate to 
ensure the conservation of the species.
    Section 4 of the Act requires that we designate critical habitat on 
the basis of the best scientific 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

[[Page 22629]]

affect the species. Federally funded or permitted projects affecting 
listed species outside their designated critical habitat areas may 
still result in jeopardy findings in some cases. These protections and 
conservation tools will continue to contribute to recovery of this 
species. Similarly, critical habitat designations made on the basis of 
the best available information at the time of designation will not 
control the direction and substance of future recovery plans, habitat 
conservation plans (HCPs), or other species conservation planning 
efforts if new information available at the time of these planning 
efforts calls for a different outcome.

Physical or Biological Features

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

Allium munzii

    We derive the specific physical or biological features essential to 
the conservation of Allium munzii from studies of this species' 
habitat, ecology, and life history as described in the Critical Habitat 
section of the proposed rule to revise critical habitat published in 
the Federal Register on April 17, 2012 (77 FR 23008), and in the 
information presented below. Additional information can be found in the 
final listing rule published in the Federal Register on October 13, 
1998 (63 FR 54975).
    We have determined that Allium munzii requires the following 
physical or biological features: (1) Native perennial and annual 
grassland communities, open coastal sage or Riversidean sage scrub, and 
occasionally cismontane juniper woodlands found on clay soils at 
locally wetter sites on level or slightly south- and north-facing 
sloping (10-20 degrees) areas at elevations from 1,200 to 3,500 ft (366 
to 1,067 m); (2) microhabitats within areas of suitable clay soils or 
areas of smaller discrete pockets of clay within other soil types that 
receive or retain more moisture than surrounding areas (due to factors 
such as exposure, slope, and subsurface geology); (3) sites for 
reproduction that contain clay or rocky loam soils; and (4) habitats 
found within native and, in some areas, nonnative plant communities 
that occur across the Riverside-Perris area (Perris Basin 
physiogeographic region) and within a portion of the southern Santa Ana 
Mountains (Elsinore Peak).

Atriplex coronata var. notatior

    We derive the specific physical or biological features essential to 
the conservation of Atriplex coronata var. notatior from studies of 
this taxon's habitat, ecology, and life history as described in the 
Critical Habitat section of the proposed rule to revise critical 
habitat published in the Federal Register on April 17, 2012 (77 FR 
23008), and in the information presented below. Additional information 
can be found in the final listing rule published in the Federal 
Register on October 13, 1998 (63 FR 54975).
    We have determined that Atriplex coronata var. notatior requires 
the following physical or biological features: (1) Alkali vernal pools 
and floodplains that receive seasonal inundation, (2) a hydrologic 
regime that includes seasonal and large-scale flooding in combination 
with slow drainage in alkaline soils with low nutrient loads, and (3) 
natural floodplain processes that provide conditions that stimulate the 
germination of A. c. var. notatior.
Primary Constituent Elements (PCEs)
    Under the Act and its implementing regulations, we are required to 
identify the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of Allium munzii and Atriplex coronata var. notatior in 
areas within the geographical area occupied at the time of listing, 
focusing on the features' primary constituent elements (PCEs). We 
consider PCEs to be the elements of physical or biological features 
that provide for a species' life-history process and, under the 
appropriate circumstances as described in the Criteria Used to Identify 
Critical Habitat section, below, are essential to the conservation of 
the species.

Allium munzii

    Based on our current knowledge of the physical or biological 
features and habitat characteristics required to sustain the species' 
life-history processes, we determine that the PCEs specific to Allium 
munzii are:
    (1) Clay soil series of sedimentary origin (for example, Altamont, 
Auld, Bosanko, Porterville), clay lenses (pockets of clay soils) of 
those series that may be found as unmapped inclusions in other soil 
series, or soil series of sedimentary or igneous origin with a clay 
subsoil (for example, Cajalco, Las Posas, Vallecitos):
    (a) Found on level or slightly sloping landscapes or terrace 
escarpments;
    (b) Generally between the elevations of 1,200 to 3,500 ft (366 to 
1,067 m) above mean sea level;
    (c) Within intact natural surface and subsurface structures that 
have been minimally altered or unaltered by ground-disturbing 
activities (for example, disked, graded, excavated, or recontoured);
    (d) Within microhabitats that receive or retain more moisture than 
surrounding areas, due in part to factors such as exposure, slope, and 
subsurface geology; and
    (e) Part of open native or nonnative grassland plant communities 
and clay soil flora, including southern needlegrass grassland, mixed 
grassland, and open coastal sage scrub, or occasionally in cismontane 
juniper woodlands; or
    (2) Outcrops of igneous rocks (pyroxenite) on rocky-sandy loam or 
clay soils within Riversidean sage scrub, generally between the 
elevations of 1,200 to 3,500 ft (366 to 1,067 m) above mean sea level.

Atriplex coronata var. notatior

    Based on our current knowledge of the physical or biological 
features and habitat characteristics required to sustain the taxon's 
life-history processes, we determine that the PCEs specific to Atriplex 
coronata var. notatior are:
    (1) Wetland habitat, including floodplains and vernal pools:
    (a) Associated with native vegetation communities, including alkali 
playa, alkali scrub, and alkali grasslands; and
    (b) Characterized by seasonal inundation or localized flooding, 
including infrequent large-scale flood events with low nutrient loads; 
and
    (2) Slow-draining alkali soils including the Willows, Domino, 
Traver, Waukena, and Chino soil series with:
    (a) Low permeability;
    (b) Low nutrient availability; and

[[Page 22630]]

    (c) Seasonal ponding and evaporation.

Special Management Considerations or Protection

    When designating critical habitat, we assess whether the specific 
areas within the geographical area occupied by the species at the time 
of listing contain physical or biological features that are essential 
to the conservation of the species and that may require special 
management considerations or protection.
Allium munzii
    A detailed discussion of threats to Allium munzii and its habitat 
can be found in the final listing rule (63 FR 54975; October 13, 1998), 
the previous proposed and final critical habitat designations (69 FR 
31569, June 4, 2004; 70 FR 33015, June 7, 2005), the A. munzii 5-year 
review signed on June 17, 2009 (Service 2009), and the proposed revised 
rule for designation of critical habitat (77 FR 23008; April 17, 2012). 
Actions and development that alter habitat suitable for the species or 
affect the natural hydrologic processes upon which the species depends 
could threaten the species.
    The physical or biological features essential to the conservation 
of Allium munzii all face ongoing threats that may require special 
management considerations or protection. Threats that may require 
special management considerations or protection of the physical or 
biological features include:
    (1) Loss or degradation of native plant communities, such as 
grassland, open coastal sage scrub, and cismontane juniper woodlands, 
due to urban development, agricultural activities, and clay mining 
(PCEs 1 and 2);
    (2) Disturbance of clay or other occupied soils by activities such 
as off-road vehicles (ORV) and fire management (PCEs 1 and 2);
    (3) Invasion of nonnative plant species (PCEs 1 and 2); and
    (4) Long-term threats including climatic variations such as 
extended periods of drought (PCE 1) (63 FR 54982-54986, October 13, 
1998; 69 FR 31571, June 4, 2004; 70 FR 33023, June 7, 2005; Service 
2009, pp. 10-22).
    Special management considerations or protection may be needed to 
ensure the long-term existence of clay soil integrity within habitats 
that support the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of Allium munzii. These include:
    (1) Protection of habitat from urban development or destruction to 
maintain integrity of clay soils,
    (2) Reduction of land conversion to agricultural uses and reduction 
of disking or dryland farming to maintain native habitats,
    (3) Management and control of invasive nonnative plants to provide 
open areas for growth and reproduction, and
    (4) Land acquisition or conservation easements for occurrences not 
already conserved to protect those populations within occupied 
habitats.
Atriplex coronata var. notatior
    A detailed discussion of threats to Atriplex coronata var. notatior 
and its habitat can be found in the final listing rule (63 FR 54975; 
October 13, 1998), the previous proposed and final critical habitat 
designations (69 FR 59844, October 6, 2004; 70 FR 59952, October 13, 
2005), the proposed revised rule for designation of critical habitat 
(77 FR 23008; April 17, 2012), and the A. c. var. notatior 5-year 
review signed on August 17, 2012 (Service 2012b). Actions and 
development that alter habitat suitable for A. c. var. notatior or 
affect the natural hydrological processes upon which it depends could 
threaten the taxon. The physical or biological features essential to 
the conservation of A. c. var. notatior may require special management 
considerations or protection to reduce or eliminate the following 
threats:
    (1) Loss of alkali vernal plain habitat (including alkali playa, 
alkali scrub, alkali vernal pool, alkali annual grassland) and 
fragmentation as a result of activities such as urban development, 
manure dumping, animal grazing, agricultural activities, ORV activity, 
weed abatement, and channelization (PCEs 1 and 2);
    (2) Indirect loss of habitat from the alteration of hydrology and 
floodplain dynamics (diversions, channelization, excessive flooding) 
(PCEs 1 and 2);
    (3) Competition from nonnative plants (PCE 1); and
    (4) Long-term threats, including water pollution, climatic 
variations, and changes in soil chemistry and nutrient availability 
(PCE 1) (63 FR 54983, October 13, 1998; 69 FR 59847, October 6, 2004; 
70 FR 59966, October 13, 2005; Service 2012b, pp. 15-30).
    Special management considerations or protection may be needed to 
ensure the long-term existence of alluvial soil integrity within 
habitats that support the physical or biological features essential to 
the conservation of Atriplex coronata var. notatior. These include:
    (1) Protection of habitat, including underlying soils and 
chemistry, from development or destruction;
    (2) Protection of floodplain processes to maintain natural, 
seasonal flooding regimes;
    (3) Reduction of land conversion to agricultural uses and reduction 
of disking and dryland farming to maintain native habitats;
    (4) Land acquisition or conservation easements for occurrences not 
already conserved to protect those populations within occupied 
habitats; and
    (5) Implementation of manure and sludge dumping ordinances to 
maintain soil chemistry.

Criteria Used To Identify Critical Habitat

    As required by section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we used the best 
scientific and commercial data available to designate critical habitat. 
We reviewed available information pertaining to the habitat 
requirements of these taxa. 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 taxa. We are not designating any areas outside the 
geographical area occupied by Allium munzii and Atriplex coronata var. 
notatior because we consider those areas to be of sufficient quality, 
extent, and distribution to provide for the conservation of these taxa. 
We believe that the present quality habitat has, by survey, the 
demonstrated capacity to support self-sustaining occurrences of these 
taxa and that these areas containing the physical or biological 
features essential to the conservation of the species are dispersed in 
its range in a manner that provides for the survival and recovery of 
these taxa. We have designated as critical habitat some specific areas 
within the geographical range currently occupied by A. munzii, but that 
were not known to be occupied at the time of listing. However, based on 
the best available scientific information, the life history of the 
plant (see Background section of proposed revised rule; 77 FR 23008, 
April 17, 2012), and the limited survey efforts prior to listing, we 
determined that these specific areas are within the geographical area 
occupied by the species at the time of listing.
    We reviewed the final critical habitat designations for Allium 
munzii and Atriplex coronata var. notatior (70 FR 33015, June 7, 2005; 
70 FR 59952, October 13, 2005, respectively), information from State, 
Federal, and local government agencies, and from academia and private 
organizations that have collected scientific data on the taxa. We also 
used the information provided in the 5-year reviews for A. munzii and 
A. c. var. notatior (Service

[[Page 22631]]

2009; Service 2012b). Other information we used for the final rule 
includes: California Natural Diversity Database (CNDDB) (CNDDB 2011a; 
CNDDB 2011b); reports submitted during consultations under section 7 of 
the Act; analyses for individual and regional HCPs where A. munzii and 
A. c. var. notatior are covered species; data collected from reports 
submitted by researchers holding recovery permits under section 
10(a)(1)(A) of the Act; information received from local species 
experts; published and unpublished papers, reports, academic theses, or 
surveys; Geographic Information System (GIS) data (such as species 
population and location data, soil data, land use, topography, aerial 
imagery, and ownership maps); and peer review comments and other 
correspondence with the Service from recognized experts. We analyzed 
this information to determine the specific areas within the 
geographical area occupied by the taxa at the time of listing that 
contain the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of A. munzii and A. c. var. notatior.
Allium munzii
    Allium munzii occurs in relatively small population sizes, has a 
narrow geographic range (western Riverside County), and exhibits high 
habitat specificity, all of which make it vulnerable to land use 
changes. According to the Western Riverside County MSHCP, A. munzii is 
considered a narrow endemic plant species, a plant species that is 
highly restricted by its habitat affinities, edaphic requirements, or 
other ecological factors (Dudek and Associates 2003, pp. Def/Acr-ix and 
6-28). Based on examination of soil maps for western Riverside County, 
Boyd (1988, p. 2) concluded that much of the scattered clay soil areas 
in the Riverside-Perris area were heavily disturbed and estimated up to 
an 80 to 90 percent loss of potential A. munzii habitat in 1988.
    We conducted a spatial analysis using a GIS-based approach to 
determine the percent of mapped clay soils (Altamont, Auld, Bosanko, 
Porterville) that were converted or lost to agricultural or urban land 
uses in the Riverside-Perris area (based on 2007 land use GIS data). 
This is a conservative approach given that smaller pockets of clay 
soils are not shown on coarse-scale soil maps and may have been lost 
since the completion of the Riverside County soil map in 1971. We 
estimated that approximately 32 percent of these clay soils remain 
within suitable Allium munzii habitats (or a 67 percent loss) due to 
urban and agricultural development on plant communities associated with 
A. munzii, which includes both known and unknown locations of A. munzii 
populations. Based on the narrow endemism of this species, its reliance 
on clay soil types that are limited in geographic range in western 
Riverside County, and our estimated loss of 67 percent of these soils 
to urban or agricultural development, we believe that all of the 
proposed units and subunits represent the entire current range for this 
species.
    The specific areas proposed as critical habitat include some areas 
within the present range of the species that had not yet been 
identified as occupied at the time of listing. We have determined that 
these areas are within the geographical area occupied by A. munzii at 
the time of listing based on the species life history and habitat 
requirements (see Background section in the proposed revised rule; 77 
FR 23008, April 17, 2012) and the following: (1) Locations of plants 
reported or detected since listing in 1998 are in close proximity (less 
than 1 mi (1.5 km)) to previously known locations, and (2) of the 10 
new Element Occurrences (EOs) found within the California Natural 
Diversity Database (CNDDB) (herbarium records and survey reports 
maintained by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife) reported 
since early 1980s surveys by Boyd (1988), 6 are within previous known 
occupied geographic regions of the greater Perris Basin (Temescal 
Canyon-Gavilan Hills/Plateau, Murrieta-Hot Springs areas) and the other 
4 locations were found after surveys in the early 1990s within the 
Elsinore Peak (Santa Ana Mountains) and Domenigoni Hills regions. 
Additionally, we believe this currently occupied habitat was occupied 
at the time of listing given the species' naturally discontinuous 
distribution and occupation of microhabitats; the difficulty of 
accurately surveying for individual plants given the dormant 
(underground) phase of its life cycle prior to detection; and its 
restriction to small areas of clay soils in western Riverside County 
within the proposed units and subunits.
    For defining critical habitat units, we looked at elevation (1,200 
to 3,500 ft (366 to 1,067 m) above mean sea level (AMSL)), soil types 
(primarily clay soils), spatial distribution of 17 CNDDB-defined EOs 
from CNDDB (CNDDB 2011a), 1 location identified by Ellstrand not 
included in the CNDDB database (Ellstrand 1993, 1994) (proposed EO 24, 
as mentioned in the Spatial Distribution, Historical Range, and 
Population Size section for Allium munzii in the proposed revised rule; 
77 FR 23008, April 17, 2012), rare plant monitoring survey results from 
Western Riverside County Regional Conservation Authority (RCA) (Western 
Riverside County RCA 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011), and other 
surveys.
    To identify several unit and subunit boundaries for the proposed 
revised critical habitat, we consulted a species expert with 
considerable field experience in surveying for Allium munzii. Given the 
difficulty in observing individual plants due to the timing of 
inflorescence, stage of growth, and large areal extent (as discussed in 
the Background section of the proposed revised rule; 77 FR 23008, April 
17, 2012), Boyd (2011a, pers. comm.) recommended expanding the area 
surrounding an observation of a location of plants (either a group or 
just a few individuals) to capture additional individual plants that 
might not have been observed. Based on extensive field experience 
(approximately 30 years) with A. munzii, Boyd (2011a, pers. comm.) 
recommended including a 100-m (328-ft) roughly circular area (or 50-m 
(164-ft) radius) to define the unit or subunit boundaries. Because A. 
munzii is strongly associated with clay soils (which are often found as 
pockets of small scattered (but discrete) clay lenses that are 
typically too small to be identified on coarse-soil soil maps (see the 
Habitat and Soil Preferences section for A. munzii in the proposed 
revised rule; 77 FR 23008, April 17, 2012)), we used Boyd's 
recommendation of expanding the boundaries of observed plant locations 
to capture unobserved individuals in defining critical habitat units 
and subunits. Specifically, we used the Soil Conservation Service (now 
Natural Resources Conservation Service) soil mapping unit (2.47 ac or 1 
ha) to refine Boyd's recommended radius of 164 to 183 ft (50 to 56 m). 
The 183-ft (56-m) radial distance translates into a 2.43-ac (0.98-ha) 
area, which is approximately equal to the soil mapping unit of 2.47 ac 
(1 ha). This methodology accounts for both potentially unobserved 
plants associated with CNDDB-defined EOs in areas of clay or rocky-
sandy loam soils as well as encompassing the unmapped pockets of clay 
soil. In conjunction with the reported EOs, survey reports, and aerial 
photographs, this approach represents the best available information 
regarding areas currently occupied by A. munzii that contain the 
physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the 
species and therefore accurately defines the unit and subunit polygons.
    The following sources were used to define microhabitats (i.e., 
depressional areas that retain moisture) for Allium munzii, which 
included using

[[Page 22632]]

underlying geology, slope, and aspect of hillsides within open areas of 
native and nonnative plant communities:
    (1) For evaluating microtopography, including slope, aspect, and 
elevation, we used: (a) Digital elevation model (DEM) data from U.S. 
Geological Survey's (USGS) EROS Data Center, and (b) USGS 1:24,000 
digital raster graphics (USGS topographic maps).
    (2) For evaluating vegetative communities, spatial arrangement of 
these communities, and presence of disturbance or development, we used: 
(a) U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agriculture Imagery 
Program (NAIP) aerial photography for 2010, and (b) ArcGIS online I3 
Imagery Prime World 2D, validating conclusions made from examining 
these two satellite imagery data layers using high resolution Google 
Earth imagery.
    (3) For subsurface geology, we used the USGS (2004) GIS layer of 
the Preliminary Digital Geologic Map of the Santa Ana, 1:100,000 
quadrangle.
    We acknowledge that the extent of the geographic areas surveyed and 
the survey methodologies may differ within and among the recorded plant 
locations from year to year (see discussion regarding the detectability 
of this species in the Background section of the proposed revised rule; 
77 FR 23008, April 17, 2012). Based on the above GIS analysis, the 5 
units, three of which we divided into 13 subunits, that we proposed as 
critical habitat for Allium munzii were the following: (1) Gavilan 
Hills (6 subunits), (2) Temescal Valley (4 subunits), (3) Elsinore 
Peak, (4) South Perris and Bachelor Mountain (3 subunits), and (5) 
North Domenigoni Hills (detailed descriptions for these proposed units 
and subunits can be found in the proposed revised rule; 77 FR 23008, 
April 17, 2012). All of the proposed units and subunits are within the 
present geographical range of the species and are currently occupied.
Atriplex coronata var. notatior
    Atriplex coronata var. notatior is endemic to the San Jacinto, 
Perris, Menifee, and Elsinore Valleys of western lowland Riverside 
County, and is restricted to highly alkaline, silty-clay soils (59 FR 
64813; December 15, 1994). At the time of listing, 12 populations of A. 
c. var. notatior were known (corresponding to the CNDDB EOs at the 
time), 11 of which were associated with two general locations (the San 
Jacinto and Old Salt Creek floodplains). We grouped the 12 CNDDB EOs 
and results from other surveys into four general locations and 
developed boundaries and proposed three critical habitat units based on 
the geographic locations of observed plants.
    All of the proposed units are within the geographical area occupied 
by Atriplex coronata var. notatior at the time of listing. These units 
contain the physical or biological features that are essential to the 
conservation of this taxon and may require special management 
considerations or protection.
    Atriplex coronata var. notatior was described in our 1998 listing 
rule within three geographical areas in western Riverside County (63 FR 
54975; October 13, 1998). All three proposed units are within the 
geographical area occupied by the taxon at the time of listing. This 
range includes records of 15 EOs now recorded in the CNDDB database 
(CNDDB 2011b) and other survey data. To define critical habitat units, 
we examined the following information:
    (1) Slow-draining alkali soils (Willows, Domino, Traver, Waukena, 
and Chino soil series) with low permeability.
    (2) Seasonal and large-scale flood events (or ponded water) and 
subsequent scouring to create bare soils, as illustrated in historical 
aerial photographs.
    (3) Spatial distribution of the EOs recorded in the CNDDB database 
(CNDDB 2011b).
    (4) Plant monitoring survey results from Western Riverside County 
RCA (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011) and other surveys.
    We recognize that the geographic extent surveyed and survey 
methodologies may differ within and among the locations of individual 
or groups of plants from year to year (see discussion regarding the 
detectability of this species in Background section in the proposed 
revised rule; 77 FR 23008, April 17, 2012). Based on the above analysis 
we defined the following three proposed units for Atriplex coronata 
var. notatior: (1) Floodplain of the San Jacinto River from the San 
Jacinto Wildlife Area (including Mystic Lake) to Railroad Canyon 
Reservoir, (2) Upper Salt Creek, and (3) Alberhill Creek (detailed 
descriptions for these proposed units can be found in the proposed 
revised rule; 77 FR 23008, April 17, 2012). All units are within the 
present geographical range of the taxon and are currently occupied.
Other Factors Involved With Delineating Critical Habitat
    When determining critical habitat boundaries within this final 
rule, we made every effort to avoid including developed areas such as 
lands covered by buildings, pavement, and other structures, including 
related infrastructure, because such lands lack physical or biological 
features for Allium munzii and Atriplex coronata var. notatior. The 
scale of the maps we prepared under the parameters for publication 
within the Code of Federal Regulations may not reflect the exclusion of 
such developed lands. Any such lands inadvertently left inside critical 
habitat boundaries shown on the maps of this final rule have been 
excluded by text in the rule and are not designated as critical 
habitat. Therefore, a Federal action involving these lands will not 
trigger section 7 consultation with respect to critical habitat and the 
requirement of no adverse modification unless the specific action would 
affect the physical or biological features in the adjacent critical 
habitat.
    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 Regulation Promulgation section. We include more 
detailed information on the boundaries of the critical habitat 
designation in the preamble of this rule. 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-R8-ES-2012-0008, 
on our Internet sites http://www.fws.gov/carlsbad/, and at the field 
office responsible for the designation (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
CONTACT, above).
    Because the Secretary is exercising his discretion to exclude all 
areas proposed as critical habitat for Atriplex coronata var. notatior, 
we are not designating critical habitat for that taxon. We are 
designating as critical habitat for Allium munzii lands that we have 
determined are within the geographical area occupied at the time of 
listing, are currently occupied, and contain the physical or biological 
features essential to the conservation of A. munzii that support the 
species' life-history processes and may require special management 
considerations or protection.
    The unit described below contains all of the identified elements of 
the physical or biological features and supports the life processes for 
Allium munzii.

Final Critical Habitat Designation

Allium munzii

    We are designating one unit as critical habitat for Allium munzii. 
This one unit is the Elsinore Peak Unit (identified as ``Unit 3--
Elsinore Peak'' in the proposed rule). The approximate area of

[[Page 22633]]

this critical habitat unit is shown in Table 1. As discussed below in 
the Exclusions Based on Other Relevant Impacts section, we have 
determined that, for the lands proposed as revised critical habitat in 
Unit 1--Gavilan Hills, Unit 2--Temescal Valley, Unit 4--South Perris 
and Bachelor Mountain, and Unit 5--North Domenigoni Hills and their 
subunits, the benefits of exclusion outweigh the benefits of inclusion 
within areas covered under the Western Riverside County MSHCP, the 
Rancho Bella Vista HCP, or the Southwestern Riverside Multi-species 
Reserve Cooperative Management Agreement.

                          Table 1--Designated Critical Habitat Units for Allium munzii
                   [Area estimates reflect all land within critical habitat unit boundaries.]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                        Land ownership in acres (hectares)
    Critical habitat unit    --------------------------------------------------------    Size of unit in acres
                                        Federal                      State                    (hectares)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Elsinore Peak Unit..........  63.1 ac (25.5 ha).........  35.3 ac (14.3 ha).........  98.4 ac (39.8 ha)
                             -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total...................                     98.4 ac (39.8 ha)                    98.4 ac (39.8 ha)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    We present a brief description of this unit and the reasons why it 
meets the definition of critical habitat for Allium munzii below.

Elsinore Peak Unit

    Elsinore Peak Unit consists of 98.4 ac (39.8 ha). About two-thirds 
(63.1 ac (25.5 ha)) of the Elsinore Peak unit is contained within the 
Cleveland National Forest, and one-third is a 35.3-ac (14.3-ha) 
inholding under State of California (State Lands Commission) ownership 
within the Western Riverside County MSHCP Conservation Area. The 
Elsinore Peak Unit represents the most southwestern extent of the range 
of Allium munzii and is the highest recorded elevation (3,300 to 3,500 
ft (1,006 to 1,067 m)) for this species (Boyd and Mistretta 1991, p. 
3). Many of the locations of A. munzii found on the Cleveland National 
Forest portion of this unit have been described as the least disturbed 
of known locations (Boyd and Mistretta 1991, p. 3), and are also 
unusual in that they are found on cobble deposits with thinner Bosanko 
clay soils (PCE 2) (Boyd and Mistretta 1991, p. 3). In 1991, Boyd and 
Mistretta (1991, p. 2) reported three stands of A. munzii at Elsinore 
Peak, each with more than 1,000 individual plants, the largest 
estimated at 5,000 plants. Nine localities were observed in a 2008 
survey, with populations ranging from 5 to 100 plants (K. Drennen 2011, 
pers. comm.). A 2010 survey at Elsinore Peak was conducted by Boyd 
(2011b, pers. comm.) with approximately 23 general point localities 
recorded on lands owned and managed by both the U.S. Forest Service and 
the State Lands Commission. The Elsinore Peak Unit is within the 
geographical area occupied at the time of listing. The subsurface and 
surface elements that define this subunit, including clay soils, 
sloping hillsides, and microhabitats, provide the physical or 
biological features essential to the conservation of A. munzii.
    The U.S. Forest Service and the State Lands Commission are not 
permittees under the Western Riverside County MSHCP. As only 
discretionary actions under the control of a permittee are covered 
activities under the Western Riverside County MSHCP, land use 
activities implemented by these two entities are not considered covered 
activities under the plan. In addition, the lands owned and managed by 
the State Lands Commission within this critical habitat unit are not 
included as part of the conceptual reserve design of the Western 
Riverside County MSHCP, nor are these considered PQP lands.
    As outlined in the Special Management Considerations or Protection 
section above, several threats have been identified for Allium munzii. 
For A. munzii populations within Elsinore Peak Unit, threats identified 
at the time of listing included road grading, ORV activity, and 
nonnative annual grasses (63 FR 54987; October 13, 1998). Recreational 
activity and invasive species were identified as the two main threats 
to A. munzii on U.S. Forest Service land in the 2005 Final 
Environmental Impact Statement prepared for the Cleveland National 
Forest Land Management Plan (U.S. Forest Service (USFS) 2005, p. 160). 
A species management guide for A. munzii, completed in 1992, identified 
a number of management actions to help alleviate these threats, 
including construction of fencing and barriers to protect populations 
from ORV activity (Winter 1992, p. 10). Fencing, including a gate, was 
installed to protect plant populations, and boulders were placed along 
the roadway leading to Elsinore Peak to restrict ORV activity and other 
traffic (hikers and mountain bikers) in sensitive areas. This has 
reduced, but not eliminated, the impacts from ORV and other 
recreational activities to the population of A. munzii plants located 
on U.S. Forest Service land within this critical habitat unit (M. 
Thomas 2011, pers. comm.). In addition to the above activities, 
wildfire protection, including the use of fire retardant, may also 
impact the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of A. munzii. Therefore, the essential physical or 
biological features on the Forest Service lands within this unit may 
require special management considerations or protection. For the 
portion of the unit located on lands managed by the State Lands 
Commission, the essential physical or biological features may require 
special management considerations or protection to address threats to 
A. munzii resulting from ORV activity or invasive, nonnative annual 
grasses (CNDDB 2011a, p. 14). We are unaware of any current 
conservation actions being implemented for the benefit of A. munzii 
populations found on lands owned and managed by the State Lands 
Commission within this critical habitat unit.

Atriplex coronata var. notatior

    We are not designating any critical habitat for Atriplex coronata 
var. notatior. All areas proposed as revised critical habitat in Unit 
1--San Jacinto River, Unit 2--Upper Salt Creek, and Unit 3--Alberhill 
Creek (8,020 ac (3,246 ha)) are being excluded from designation. As 
discussed below in the Exclusions Based on Other Relevant Impacts 
section, we have determined that, for these lands, the benefits of 
exclusion outweigh the benefits of inclusion within areas covered under 
the Western Riverside County MSHCP.

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,

[[Page 22634]]

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

Application of the ``Adverse Modification'' Standard

    The key factor related to the adverse modification determination is 
whether, with implementation of the proposed Federal action, the 
affected critical habitat would continue to serve its intended 
conservation role for the species. Activities that may adversely modify 
critical habitat include those that alter the physical or biological 
features to an extent that appreciably reduces the conservation value 
of critical habitat for Allium munzii. As discussed above, the role of 
critical habitat is to support life-history needs of the species and 
provide for the conservation of the species.
    Section 4(b)(8) of the Act requires us to briefly evaluate and 
describe, in any proposed or final regulation that designates critical 
habitat, activities involving a Federal action that may 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 Allium munzii. These activities include, but are not 
limited to:
    (1) Actions that would disturb or alter clay soils. Such activities 
could include, but are not limited to, recreational or other ORV use; 
fire management, including clearing of vegetation for fuel management; 
and fire retardant use on U.S. Forest Service lands. These actions 
could degrade or reduce habitat necessary for the growth and 
reproduction of Allium munzii.
    (2) Actions that would result in the loss of clay soils. Such 
activities could include, but are not limited to, development, 
including structures and related infrastructure (such as roads), that 
require a permit under section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA; 33 
U.S.C. 1251 et seq.). These actions could reduce or eliminate habitat 
necessary for the growth and reproduction of Allium munzii.
    (3) Actions that would significantly alter water movement within 
microhabitats of clay or rocky-sandy loam soils. Such activities could 
include, but are not limited to, federally funded road construction 
that results in channelization or impoundment of water. These actions 
may lead to changes in water flows that could degrade or eliminate 
habitat necessary for the growth and reproduction of Allium munzii.

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:

[[Page 22635]]

    (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 are no Department of Defense lands with a completed INRMP 
within the proposed revised critical habitat designations. Therefore, 
we are not exempting lands from this final designation of critical 
habitat for Allium munzii and Atriplex coronata var. notatior pursuant 
to 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, are clear that the Secretary has broad 
discretion regarding which factor(s) to use and how much weight to give 
to any factor.
    In considering whether to exclude a particular area from the 
designation, we identify the benefits of including the area in the 
designation, identify the benefits of excluding the area from the 
designation, and evaluate whether the benefits of exclusion outweigh 
the benefits of inclusion. If the analysis indicates that the benefits 
of exclusion outweigh the benefits of inclusion, the Secretary may 
exercise his discretion to exclude the area only if such exclusion 
would not result in the extinction of the species.
    When identifying the benefits of inclusion for an area, we consider 
the additional regulatory benefits that area would receive from the 
protection from adverse modification as a result of actions with a 
Federal nexus, the educational benefits of mapping essential habitat 
for recovery of the listed species, and any benefits that may result 
from a designation due to State or Federal laws that may apply to 
critical habitat.
    When identifying the benefits of exclusion, we consider, among 
other things, whether exclusion of a specific area is likely to result 
in conservation; the continuation, strengthening, or encouragement of 
partnerships; or implementation of a management plan that provides 
equal to or more conservation than a critical habitat designation would 
provide.
    In the case of Allium munzii and Atriplex coronata var. notatior, 
the benefits of critical habitat include public awareness of the two 
taxa's presence and the importance of habitat protection, and in cases 
where a Federal nexus exists, increased habitat protection for A. 
munzii and A. c. var. notatior due to the protection from adverse 
modification of critical habitat. In practice, a Federal nexus exists 
only on Federal land or for projects undertaken, funded, or requiring 
authorization by a Federal agency. For these two taxa, the most likely 
Federal nexus would be the issuance of a section 404 permit under the 
CWA.
    When we evaluate the existence of a conservation plan when 
considering the benefits of exclusion, we consider a variety of 
factors, including but not limited to, whether the plan is finalized, 
how the plan provides for the conservation of the essential physical or 
biological features, whether there is a reasonable expectation that the 
conservation management strategies and actions contained in a 
management plan will be implemented into the future, whether the 
conservation strategies in the plan are likely to be effective, and 
whether the plan contains a monitoring program or adaptive management 
to ensure that the conservation measures are effective and can be 
adapted in the future in response to new information.
    After identifying the benefits of inclusion and the benefits of 
exclusion, we carefully weigh the two sides to evaluate whether the 
benefits of exclusion outweigh those of inclusion. If our analysis 
indicates that the benefits of exclusion outweigh the benefits of 
inclusion, we then determine whether exclusion would result in 
extinction. If exclusion of an area from critical habitat will result 
in extinction, the Secretary will not exclude it from the designation.

Allium munzii

    Based on the information provided by entities seeking exclusion, as 
well as any additional public comments we received, we evaluated 
whether certain lands in the proposed critical habitat units (Unit 1--
Gavilan Hills, Unit 2--Temescal Valley, Unit 3--Elsinore Peak, Unit 4--
South Perris and Bachelor Mountain, and Unit 5--North Domenigoni Hills) 
and their subunits were appropriate for exclusion from this final 
designation pursuant to section 4(b)(2) of the Act. The Secretary is 
exercising his discretion to exclude the following areas from critical 
habitat designation for Allium munzii: Unit 1--Gavilan Hills, Unit 2--
Temescal Valley, Unit 4--South Perris and Bachelor Mountain, and Unit 
5-- North Domenigoni Hills. Table 2 below provides approximate areas 
(ac, ha) of lands that meet the definition of critical habitat and 
those that are being excluded under section 4(b)(2) of the Act from the 
final critical habitat rule.

[[Page 22636]]



    TABLE 2--Areas Meeting the Definition of Critical Habitat, and Areas Excluded From Allium munzii Critical
                                     Habitat Designation by Unit and Subunit
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                            Areas meeting the
                                                                              definition of      Areas excluded
              Unit and subunit                 Applicable partnership or    critical habitat,    from critical
                                                   conservation plan             in acres      habitat, in acres
                                                                                (hectares)         (hectares)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Unit 1. Gavilan Hills......................  .............................           114.7 ac           114.7 ac
                                                                                    (46.4 ha)          (46.4 ha)
1A. Estelle Mountain.......................  Western Riverside County                  2.8 ac             2.8 ac
                                              MSHCP.                                 (1.1 ha)           (1.1 ha)
1B. Dawson Canyon..........................  Western Riverside County                  4.8 ac             4.8 ac
                                              MSHCP.                                 (1.9 ha)           (1.9 ha)
1C. Gavilan Plateau........................  Western Riverside County                 42.2 ac            42.2 ac
                                              MSHCP.                                (17.1 ha)          (17.1 ha)
1D. Ida-Leona..............................  Western Riverside County                  4.5 ac             4.5 ac
                                              MSHCP.                                 (1.8 ha)           (1.8 ha)
1E. Northeast Alberhill....................  Western Riverside County                   58 ac              58 ac
                                              MSHCP.                                (23.5 ha)          (23.5 ha)
1F. North Peak.............................  Western Riverside County                  2.4 ac             2.4 ac
                                              MSHCP.                                 (1.0 ha)           (1.0 ha)
Unit 2. Temescal Valley....................  .............................             481 ac             481 ac
                                                                                     (195 ha)           (195 ha)
2A. Sycamore Creek.........................  Western Riverside County                 12.3 ac            12.3 ac
                                              MSHCP.                                 (5.0 ha)           (5.0 ha)
2B. De Palma Road..........................  Western Riverside County                 12.8 ac            12.8 ac
                                              MSHCP.                                 (5.2 ha)           (5.2 ha)
2C. Alberhill Mountain.....................  Western Riverside County                300.5 ac           300.5 ac
                                              MSHCP.                               (121.5 ha)         (121.5 ha)
2D. Alberhill Creek........................  Western Riverside County                155.4 ac           155.4 ac
                                              MSHCP.                                (62.8 ha)          (62.8 ha)
Unit 3. Elsinore Peak......................  .............................            98.4 ac
                                                                                    (39.8 ha)
Unit 4. South Perris and Bachelor Mountain.  .............................           186.8 ac           186.8 ac
                                                                                    (75.6 ha)          (75.6 ha)
4A. Scott Road.............................  Western Riverside County                 32.6 ac            32.6 ac
                                              MSHCP.                                (13.3 ha)          (13.3 ha)
4B. Skunk Hollow...........................  Rancho Bella Vista HCP;......            67.1 ac            67.1 ac
                                                                                    (27.2 ha)          (27.2 ha)
                                             Western Riverside County               7.7 acres             7.7 ac
                                              MSHCP.                                 (3.1 ha)           (3.1 ha)
4C. Bachelor Mountain......................  Southwestern Riverside County            79.3 ac            79.3 ac
                                              Multi-species Reserve.                (32.1 ha)          (32.1 ha)
Unit 5. North Domenigoni Hills.............  Southwestern Riverside County             8.2 ac             8.2 ac
                                              Multi-species Reserve.                 (3.3 ha)           (3.3 ha)
                                                                           -------------------------------------
    Total..................................                                            889 ac             790 ac
                                                                                     (360 ha)           (320 ha)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Note: Area sizes may not sum due to rounding.

Atriplex coronata var. notatior

    Based on the information provided by entities seeking exclusion, as 
well as any additional public comments we received, we evaluated 
whether certain lands in the proposed critical habitat units, Unit 1--
San Jacinto River, Unit 2--Upper Salt Creek, and Unit 3--Alberhill 
Creek, were appropriate for exclusion from this final designation 
pursuant to section 4(b)(2) of the Act. The Secretary is exercising his 
discretion to exclude the following areas from critical habitat 
designation for Atriplex coronata var. notatior: Unit 1--San Jacinto 
River, Unit 2--Upper Salt Creek, and Unit 3--Alberhill Creek. Table 3 
below provides approximate areas (ac, ha) of lands that meet the 
definition of critical habitat but are being excluded under section 
4(b)(2) of the Act from the final critical habitat rule.

   Table 3--Areas Meeting the Definition of Critical Habitat and Excluded From Atriplex coronata var. notatior
                                      Critical Habitat Designation by Unit
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                            Areas meeting the
                                                                              definition of      Areas excluded
                    Unit                       Applicable partnership or    critical habitat,    from critical
                                                   conservation plan             in acres      habitat, in acres
                                                                                (hectares)         (hectares)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Unit 1. San Jacinto River..................  Western Riverside County                7,039 ac           7,039 ac
                                              MSHCP.                               (2,849 ha)         (2,849 ha)
Unit 2. Upper Salt Creek...................  Western Riverside County                  874 ac             874 ac
                                              MSHCP.                                 (354 ha)           (354 ha)

[[Page 22637]]

 
Unit 3. Alberhill Creek....................  Western Riverside County                  107 ac             107 ac
                                              MSHCP.                                  (43 ha)            (43 ha)
                                                                           -------------------------------------
    Total..................................  .............................           8,020 ac           8,020 ac
                                                                                   (3,246 ha)         (3,246 ha)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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 DEA of the proposed critical 
habitat designation (Industrial Economics, Incorporated [IEC] 2012a). 
The draft analysis, dated August 3, 2012, was made available for public 
review from September 11, 2012, through October 11, 2012 (77 FR 55788; 
September 11, 2012). Following the close of the comment period, a final 
analysis (dated December 12, 2012) of the potential economic effects of 
the designation was developed taking into consideration the public 
comments and any new information (IEC 2012b).
    The intent of the final economic analysis (FEA) is to evaluate the 
potential economic impacts associated with the designation of critical 
habitat for Allium munzii and Atriplex coronata var. notatior. 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 taxa (for example, under the Federal listing 
and other Federal, State, and local regulations). The baseline, 
therefore, represents the costs incurred regardless of whether critical 
habitat is designated. The ``with critical habitat'' scenario describes 
the incremental impacts associated specifically with the designation of 
critical habitat for the taxa. The incremental conservation efforts and 
associated impacts are those not expected to occur absent the 
designation of critical habitat for the taxa. In other words, the 
incremental costs are those attributable solely to the designation of 
critical habitat above and beyond the baseline costs; these are the 
costs we consider in the final designation of critical habitat. The 
analysis looks retrospectively at baseline impacts incurred since these 
taxa were listed, and forecasts both baseline and incremental impacts 
likely to occur with the designation of critical habitat.
    The FEA also addresses how potential economic impacts are likely to 
be distributed, including an assessment of any local or regional 
impacts of habitat conservation and the potential effects of 
conservation activities on government agencies, private businesses, and 
individuals. The FEA measures lost economic efficiency associated with 
residential and commercial development and public projects and 
activities, such as economic impacts on water management and 
transportation projects, Federal lands, small entities, and the energy 
industry. Decision-makers can use this information to assess whether 
the effects of the designation might unduly burden a particular group 
or economic sector. Finally, the FEA looks retrospectively at costs 
that have been incurred since 1998 (63 FR 54975; October 13, 1998), 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 this time frame includes 
activities that are currently authorized, permitted, or funded, or for 
which proposed plans are currently available to the public. The FEA 
quantifies and evaluates the incremental economic impacts of Allium 
munzii and Atriplex coronata var. notatior conservation efforts 
associated with the following categories of activity: (1) Development, 
(2) agricultural operations, (3) transportation, (4) fire management, 
(5) mining, (6) recreational activities, (7) flood control, and (8) 
utilities.
    Total present value impacts anticipated to result from the 
designation of all areas proposed as critical habitat for Allium munzii 
are $75,000 over the first 20 years following the designation, assuming 
a 7 percent discount rate ($81,000 assuming a 3 percent discount rate). 
The total present value impacts anticipated to result from the 
designation of the Elsinore Peak Unit (Unit 3 in the proposed rule) are 
estimated to be $25,000 assuming a 7 percent discount rate ($28,000 
assuming a 3 percent discount rate). For the areas being excluded from 
critical habitat for A. munzii, present value impacts are $51,000 
assuming a 7 percent discount rate ($53,000 assuming a 3 percent 
discount rate) (IEC 2012b, ES-9).
    Total present value incremental impacts in those areas being 
excluded from critical habitat for Atriplex coronata var. notatior are 
estimated to be $74,000, assuming a 7 percent discount rate ($97,000 
assuming a 3 percent discount rate (IEC 2012b, p. ES-9). For both 
plants, all incremental costs are administrative in nature and result 
from the consideration of adverse modification in section 7 
consultations and re-initiation of consultations for existing 
management plans (IEC 2012b, p. 4-2).
    No areas are being excluded based on economic impacts. A copy of 
the FEA with supporting documents may be obtained by contacting the 
Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES) or by downloading 
from the Internet at http://www.fws.gov/carlsbad or http://www.regulations.gov.
Exclusions Based on National Security Impacts
    Under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we consider whether there are 
lands owned or managed by the Department of Defense (DOD) where a 
national security impact might exist. In preparing this final rule, we 
have determined that the lands within the designation of critical 
habitat for Allium munzii and Atriplex coronata var. notatior are not 
owned or managed by the Department of Defense, and, therefore, we 
anticipate no impact on national security. Consequently, the Secretary 
is not exercising his discretion to exclude any areas from this final 
designation based on impacts on national security.
Exclusions Based on Other Relevant Impacts
    Under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we consider any other relevant 
impacts, in addition to economic impacts and

[[Page 22638]]

impacts on national security. We consider a number of factors including 
whether the landowners have developed any HCPs or other management 
plans for the area, or whether there are conservation partnerships that 
would be encouraged by designation of, or exclusion from, critical 
habitat. In addition, we look at any tribal issues, and consider the 
government-to-government relationship of the United States with tribal 
entities. We also consider any social impacts that might occur because 
of the designation.

Land and Resource Management Plans, Conservation Plans, or Agreements 
Based on Conservation Partnerships

    As described below, we have evaluated the management and protection 
provided by the Western Riverside County MSHCP, the Rancho Bella Vista 
HCP, and the Southwestern Riverside County Multi-species Reserve 
Cooperative Management Agreement. These plans:
    (1) Are complete and provide the same or better level of protection 
from adverse modification of Allium munzii and Atriplex coronata var. 
notatior habitat than that provided through a consultation under 
section 7 of the Act;
    (2) Support a reasonable expectation that the conservation 
management strategies and actions will be implemented for the 
foreseeable future, based on past practices, written guidance, or 
regulations; and
    (3) Provide conservation strategies and measures consistent with 
currently accepted principles of conservation biology.
    The Secretary is exercising his discretion to exclude all 
permittee-owned or controlled lands proposed as critical habitat for 
the two taxa that fall within the boundaries of the Western Riverside 
County MSHCP and the Rancho Bella Vista HCP, and all non-Federal lands 
proposed as critical habitat for Allium munzii that are in the 
Southwestern Riverside County Multi-species Reserve and covered by the 
Cooperative Management Agreement (see the Rancho Bella Vista Habitat 
Conservation Plan and Southwestern Riverside County Multi-species 
Reserve Cooperative Management Agreement sections below).

Western Riverside County Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan

    The Western Riverside County MSHCP is a regional, multi-
jurisdictional HCP encompassing approximately 1.26 million ac (510,000 
ha) of land in western Riverside County. The Western Riverside County 
MSHCP is a multispecies conservation program designed to minimize and 
mitigate the expected loss of habitat and associated incidental take of 
covered species resulting from covered development activities in the 
plan area. The Western Riverside County MSHCP addresses 146 listed and 
unlisted ``covered species,'' including Allium munzii and Atriplex 
coronata var. notatior, which are further considered as ``Covered 
Species Adequately Conserved''; that is, those where the species 
objectives are met and are provided take authorization through the 
Natural Community Conservation Planning (NCCP) Permit (Dudek and 
Associates 2003, Section 9.2 and Table 9-3). On June 22, 2004, the 
Service issued a single incidental take permit under section 
10(a)(1)(B) of the Act to 22 permittees under the Western Riverside 
County MSHCP to be in effect for a period of 75 years (Service 2004). 
In accordance with the procedure described in the Western Riverside 
County MSHCP Implementing Agreement (IA), the permit has been amended 
to add two newly incorporated cities (Jurupa Valley and Eastvale) 
within the Western Riverside County MSCHP boundary, for a current total 
of 24 permittees.
    The Western Riverside County MSHCP, when fully implemented, will 
establish approximately 153,000 ac (61,917 ha) of new conservation 
lands (Additional Reserve Lands (ARL)) to complement the approximate 
347,000 ac (140,426 ha) of preexisting natural and open space areas 
(PQP lands) in the plan area. These PQP lands include those under the 
ownership of public agencies, primarily the U.S. Forest Service and the 
Bureau of Land Management (BLM), as well as permittee-owned or 
controlled open-space areas managed by the State of California and 
Riverside County. Collectively, the ARL and PQP lands form the overall 
Western Riverside County MSHCP Conservation Area. The configuration of 
the 153,000 ac (61,916 ha) of the ARL is not mapped or precisely 
delineated (hard-lined) in the Western Riverside County MSHCP. Instead, 
the configuration and composition of the ARL are described in text 
within the bounds of the approximately 310,000-ac (125,453-ha) Criteria 
Area. The ARL lands are being acquired and conserved as part of the 
ongoing implementation of the Western Riverside County MSHCP.
    Section 5.2 of the Western Riverside County MSHCP defines 
management activities to be implemented by reserve managers and a 
reserve management oversight committee (with priorities identified by 
those entities) to carry out species objectives and provide for 
biological values identified in section 3.2 of the plan (Dudek and 
Associates 2003, p. 5-3). Management actions are defined at two levels 
within the Western Riverside County MSHCP--habitat- or landscape-based 
management activities and species-specific management activities (Dudek 
and Associates 2003, p. 5-3). Species-specific management activities 
defined for Allium munzii state that reserve managers are to manage 
known and future occurrences of this species to reduce threats related 
to competition with nonnative plant species, clay mining, off-road 
vehicle use, and discing activities (Dudek and Associates 2003, p. 5-
31). For Atriplex coronata var. notatior, the Western Riverside County 
MSHCP management actions include: (1) General Management Measure 4 
(maintenance and management of wetland habitat (Dudek and Associates 
2003, p. 5-5)) and (2) a requirement for reserve managers to ensure 
that habitat supports [conservation] functions within the Western 
Riverside County MSHCP Conservation Area by maintaining and enhancing 
the floodplain processes of the San Jacinto River, Mystic Lake, and 
upper Salt Creek, including intermittent flooding and periodic pooling, 
with particular emphasis to preventing alteration of hydrology and 
floodplain dynamics, farming, fire and fire suppression activities, 
off-road vehicle use, and competition from nonnative plant species 
(Dudek and Associates 2003, p. 5-32).
    Species-specific conservation objectives are defined for Allium 
munzii and Atriplex coronata var. notatior in the Western Riverside 
County MSHCP. Conservation objectives for A. munzii include:
    (1) Conserve at least 21,260 ac (8,603 ha) of suitable habitat to 
include at least 2,070 ac (838 ha) of clay soils;
    (2) Conserve at least 13 localities (populations within Elemental 
Occurrences (EOs) as defined in the California Natural Diversity Data 
Base (CNDDB)) within the Temescal Valley and the southwestern portion 
of the plan area; and
    (3) Conduct Narrow Endemic Plan Species surveys as discussed below 
(Dudek and Associates 2003, pp. 9-126-9-127).
    Conservation objectives identified in the Western Riverside County 
MSHCP for Atriplex coronata var. notatior include:
    (1) Conserve at least 6,900 ac (2,792 ha) of suitable habitat 
including grasslands, playas, and vernal pools;
    (2) Conserve the Alberhill Creek locality and three core areas 
located

[[Page 22639]]

along the San Jacinto River and in the upper Salt Creek drainage;
    (3) Conduct surveys as discussed below;
    (4) Conserve the floodplain along the San Jacinto River consistent 
with objective 1, including maintaining floodplain processes; and
    (5) Conserve the floodplain along Salt Creek, generally in its 
existing condition, including maintaining floodplain processes (Dudek 
and Associates 2003, pp. 9-137-9-138).
Allium munzii
    In our analysis of the effects to Allium munzii of the issuance of 
the Western Riverside County MSHCP permit, we acknowledged that 
specific conservation objectives would be provided in the Western 
Riverside County MSHCP to ensure that suitable habitat and known 
populations of A. munzii would persist (Service 2004, p. 326). To this 
effect, for narrow endemic species such as A. munzii, the Western 
Riverside County MSHCP states:

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

    The Western Riverside County MSHCP defines Allium munzii as a 
narrow endemic plant species and requires surveys for this species as 
part of the review process for public and private projects in certain 
areas where one or more permittees have discretionary authority for 
project approval (Dudek and Associates 2003, pp. 6-28-6-29). These 
surveys are required for all public and private projects where 
appropriate habitat is present (Dudek and Associates 2003, Figure 6-1, 
pp. 6-29-6-30) and include seven proposed critical habitat units or 
subunits, and portions of five other proposed critical habitat subunits 
for A. munzii. Where survey results are positive, project proposals 
with the potential to affect a narrow endemic plant species are subject 
to avoidance, minimization, and mitigation strategies (Dudek and 
Associates 2003, p. 6-29). In addition, the Western Riverside County 
MSHCP indicates that, for narrow endemic plant species populations 
identified as part of this survey process (including A. munzii), 
impacts to 90 percent of those portions of the property that provide 
for long-term conservation value for these species will be avoided 
until it is demonstrated that conservation objectives (discussed above) 
are met (Dudek and Associates 2003, p. 6-38). The information from 
these surveys is to be used to prioritize areas for acquisition into 
the Western Riverside County MSHCP (Service 2004, p. 28). Surveys 
conducted from 2005 through 2011 have confirmed nine extant populations 
within 13 CNDDB-defined EOs (Western Riverside County Regional 
Conservation Authority 2011, p. 31). These 9 populations are part of 
the 13 populations (localities) identified for conservation under 
management activities and species-specific conservation objectives 
within the Western Riverside County MSHCP (Dudek and Associates 2003, 
pp. 9-126-9-127), as noted above.
    We stated in our biological opinion (analysis of effects) of the 
Western Riverside County MSHCP that:
    (1) All 16 known localities (or CNDDB-defined EOs) would be 
included in the Conservation Area;
    (2) We anticipated that occurrences determined to be important to 
the overall conservation of the species will be considered for 
inclusion in the Additional Reserve Lands; and
    (3) At least some of the avoided areas may be maintained as open 
space habitat (Service 2004, p. 327).
    In addition, the Western Riverside County MSHCP identified two 
CNDDB-defined EOs partially within the Conservation Area (EOs 2 and 9) 
and two that are currently located outside the Conservation Area (EOs 5 
and 16) that will be added to the Conservation Area. Finally, as noted 
above, the Western Riverside County MSHCP provides flexibility for 
criteria refinement, such that if an area is currently outside the 
reserve design defined by the Western Riverside County MSHCP, but is 
later determined to be important for conservation, then it could be 
added to the reserve as ARL or Acquisition Lands.
Atriplex coronata var. notatior
    In addition to the management actions and conservation objectives 
listed above, which apply within the approximately 8,020 ac (3,246 ha) 
proposed as critical habitat for Atriplex coronata var. notatior, 
surveys are also required for A. c. var. notatior in conjunction with 
the Western Riverside County MSHCP implementation (Dudek and Associates 
2003, p. 6-63). For A. c. var. notatior, these additional surveys are 
required within suitable habitat in areas defined by the boundaries of 
the Criteria Area (Dudek and Associates 2003, Figure 6-2, p. 6-64). Of 
the approximately 8,020 ac (3,246 ha) proposed as critical habitat, 
approximately 7,620 ac (3,084 ha) are within this Criteria Area and 
subject to the additional survey requirements. As with narrow endemic 
plant species, in locations with positive survey results, 90 percent of 
those portions of the property that provide long-term conservation 
value for the identified species will be avoided until the species-
specific conservation objectives for these species are met (Dudek and 
Associates 2003, p. 6-65). We stated in our analysis of the effects of 
the Western Riverside County MSHCP that this provides the flexibility 
to include those locations that contain large numbers of individuals or 
are determined to be important to the conservation of A. c. var. 
notatior in the ARL (Dudek and Associates 2003, p. 6-70; Service 2004, 
p. 353).
    Under the Western Riverside County MSHCP, surveys for Atriplex 
coronata var. notatior are required every 8 years to verify occupancy 
for at least 75 percent of known locations. If a decline in 
distribution below this threshold is observed, management activities 
are triggered, as appropriate, to meet the species-specific objectives 
identified in the plan (Dudek and Associates 2003, Table 9.2; Service 
2004, p. 355). Surveys conducted by the Western Riverside County 
Regional Conservation Authority (RCA) from 2006 to 2010 confirmed two 
of four CNDDB-defined EOs within the three proposed critical habitat 
units (Units 1--San Jacinto River, Unit 2--Upper Salt Creek, and Unit 
3--Alberhill Creek) (Western Riverside County RCA 2011, p. 33). These 
two locations are two of the three core areas located along the San 
Jacinto River and the upper Salt Creek drainage that were identified 
for conservation under management activities and species-specific 
conservation objectives within the Western Riverside County MSHCP 
(Dudek and Associates 2003, pp. 9-137-9-138), as noted above. The 
Alberhill Creek locality has not yet been surveyed.
    In the 1998 final listing rule for Allium munzii and Atriplex 
coronata var. notatior, the present or threatened destruction, 
modification, or curtailment of their habitat or range, including urban 
development, agriculture, and clay mining for A. munzii, and 
agriculture, urban

[[Page 22640]]

development, alteration of hydrology for A. c. var. notatior, were 
identified as the primary threats to these taxa (63 FR 54982, October 
13, 1998; Service 2009, 2012b). The Western Riverside County MSHCP 
helps to address these threats to A. munzii and A. c. var. notatior 
through a regional planning effort, and outlines species-specific 
objectives and criteria for the conservation of these taxa (Dudek and 
Associates 2003, pp. 9-126-9-127, 9-137-9-138).
    In summary, the Western Riverside County MSHCP provides a 
comprehensive habitat-based approach to the protection of covered 
species, including Allium munzii and Atriplex coronata var. notatior, 
by focusing on lands identified as important for the long-term 
conservation of its covered species and through the implementation of 
management actions for conserving those lands, as outlined in the 
management actions and conservation objectives listed above (Western 
Riverside County RCA et al. 2003, p. 51).
The Benefits of Inclusion--Western Riverside County MSHCP
    The primary effect of designating any particular area as critical 
habitat is the requirement for Federal agencies to consult with us 
under section 7 of the Act to ensure actions they carry out, authorize, 
or fund do not adversely modify designated critical habitat. Absent 
critical habitat designation in occupied areas, Federal agencies remain 
obligated under section 7 of the Act to consult with us on actions that 
may affect a federally listed species to ensure such actions do not 
jeopardize the species' continued existence.
    The analysis of effects to critical habitat is a separate and 
different analysis from that of the effects to the species. Therefore, 
the difference in outcomes of these two analyses represents the 
regulatory benefit of critical habitat. The regulatory standard is 
different, as the jeopardy analysis investigates the action's impact on 
the survival and recovery of the species, while the adverse 
modification analysis focuses on the action's effects on the designated 
habitat's contribution to conservation. This will, in many instances, 
lead to different results and different regulatory requirements. Thus, 
critical habitat designations may provide greater benefits to the 
recovery of a species than would listing alone.
    Critical habitat designation can also result in ancillary 
conservation benefits to Allium munzii and Atriplex coronata var. 
notatior by triggering additional review and conservation through other 
Federal laws. Review of Federal actions affecting designated critical 
habitat units would consider the importance of this habitat to the two 
plants and the protections required for the taxa and their habitats.
    Federal laws other than the Act that are most likely to afford 
protection to designated critical habitat for Allium munzii include the 
National Forest Management Act (NFMA; 16 U.S.C. 1600 et seq.) and, to a 
lesser degree, the CWA. Projects requiring a review under the NFMA or 
the CWA that are located within critical habitat or are likely to 
affect critical habitat would create a Federal nexus and trigger 
section 7 consultation under the Act. The NFMA requires the U.S. Forest 
Service to incorporate provisions to support and manage plant and 
animal communities for diversity and long-term rangewide viability of 
native species into its Land and Resource Management Plans. 
Consultation with the U.S. Forest Service would likely be triggered by 
any revision to the Land and Resource Management Plan for the Cleveland 
National Forest, where A. munzii is found. Examples of potential 
projects that could trigger consultation as a result of CWA include 
projects that require a section 404 CWA permit in areas near the washes 
or on terraces within washes or drainages occupied by A. munzii. 
However, a jurisdictional delineation would likely be required to 
evaluate the regulatory involvement of the U.S. Army Corps of 
Engineers.
    Similarly, Federal laws other than the Act most likely to afford 
protection to designated critical habitat for Atriplex coronata var. 
notatior include the CWA. Projects requiring a review under the CWA 
that are located within critical habitat or are likely to affect 
critical habitat would create a Federal nexus and trigger section 7 
consultation under the Act. Examples of potential projects that could 
trigger consultation as a result of CWA include activities that require 
a section 404 CWA permit within floodplains associated with wetland 
habitats, which may also require a jurisdictional delineation to 
evaluate the regulatory involvement of the U.S. Army Corps of 
Engineers.
    Another important benefit of including lands in a critical habitat 
designation is that the designation can serve to educate landowners and 
the public regarding the potential conservation value of an area, and 
may help focus conservation efforts on areas of high conservation value 
for certain species.
Benefits of Exclusion--Western Riverside County MSHCP
    The benefits of excluding from designated critical habitat the 
approximately 636 ac (257.4 ha) of proposed critical habitat for Allium 
munzii and 8,020 ac (3,246 ha) of proposed critical habitat for 
Atriplex coronata var. notatior that are within the boundaries of the 
Western Riverside County MSHCP are significant and include: (1) 
Continued and strengthened effective working relationships with all 
Western Riverside County MSHCP jurisdictions and stakeholders in 
implementing the conservation management objectives for these taxa and 
their habitats identified in the Western Riverside County MSHCP, 
described above, and promoting the conservation of these taxa and their 
habitats; (2) encouragement of other entities within the range of A. 
munzii and A. c. var. notatior to complete HCPs; and (3) encouragement 
of additional HCP and other conservation plan development in the future 
on other private lands for other federally listed species.
    Implementation of the Western Riverside County MSHCP has resulted 
in the acquisition of 487 ac (197 ha) of land within the Upper and 
Lower San Jacinto River and Upper Salt Creek geographical locations of 
Atriplex coronata var. notatior, which are located within proposed 
critical habitat (Unit 1--San Jacinto River and Unit 2--Upper Salt 
Creek). These areas were added to the existing conserved lands and are 
now incorporated into the Western Riverside County MSHCP Reserve 
(Service 2012a; Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, GIS Analysis). Two 
of these parcels were recently purchased with HCP Land Acquisition 
Grant Program funds authorized under section 6 of the Act (M. Woulfe 
2011a and 2011b, pers. comm.). Since 2004, only 10 ac (4 ha) of habitat 
in the Upper Salt Creek areas have been lost (Service 2012a; Carlsbad 
Fish and Wildlife Office, GIS Analysis). These actions provide support 
for the effectiveness of the Western Riverside County MSHCP in reducing 
the threats to A. c. var. notatior and in addressing the special 
management considerations or protections necessary to ensure the long-
term existence of the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of this taxon.
    In the case of plants such as Allium munzii and Atriplex coronata 
var. notatior, we also consider that including conservation measures to 
protect listed plants and their habitats in an HCP or other 
conservation plan is voluntary. In

[[Page 22641]]

contrast to listed wildlife species, the Act does not prohibit take of 
listed plants, and an incidental take permit under section 10 of the 
Act is not required to authorize impacts to listed plants. For this 
reason, we actively support and encourage the voluntary inclusion of 
measures to protect listed plants and their habitats in an HCP or other 
conservation plan by plan proponents. The prospect of potentially 
avoiding a designation of critical habitat for a plant provides a 
meaningful incentive to plan proponents to extend protections for 
plants and their habitat under a conservation plan. Achieving 
comprehensive, landscape-level protection for plant species, including: 
(1) Narrow endemic plant species, such as A. munzii; and (2) those with 
limited geographic distribution and specialized habitat and management 
requirements, such as A. c. var. notatior, through their inclusion in 
regional conservation plans, provides a key conservation benefit for 
these taxa. Our consideration of the Western Riverside County MSHCP 
under section 4(b)(2) of the Act acknowledges the voluntary, proactive 
conservation measures undertaken by Riverside County to protect A. 
munzii and A. c. var. notatior under this plan.
    Excluding lands within the Western Riverside County MSHCP from the 
critical habitat designation will also sustain and enhance the working 
relationship between the Service and Riverside County. The willingness 
of the county and its partners to work with the Service on innovative 
ways to manage federally listed species will continue to reinforce 
those conservation efforts and our partnership, both of which 
contribute significantly toward achieving recovery of Allium munzii and 
Atriplex coronata var. notatior.
    By excluding approximately 8,656 ac (3,503 ha) of land within the 
boundaries of the Western Riverside County MSHCP from critical habitat 
designation, we are encouraging new partnerships with other landowners 
and jurisdictions to protect Allium munzii and Atriplex coronata var. 
notatior as well as other listed species. Our ongoing partnerships with 
Riverside County, the larger regional Western Riverside County MSHCP 
participants, and the landscape-level multiple species conservation 
planning efforts they promote are essential to achieve long-term 
conservation of A. munzii and A. c. var. notatior. We consider this 
voluntary partnership in conservation vital to our understanding of the 
status of species on non-Federal lands and necessary for us to 
implement recovery actions such as habitat protection and restoration, 
and beneficial management actions for species.
Benefits of Exclusion Outweigh the Benefits of Inclusion--Western 
Riverside County MSHCP
    We have reviewed and evaluated the exclusion of approximately 8,656 
ac (3,503 ha) of land within the boundaries of the Western Riverside 
County MSHCP. We have created close partnerships with Riverside County 
and other stakeholders through the development of the Western Riverside 
County MSHCP, which incorporates protections and management objectives 
(described above) for Allium munzii and Atriplex coronata var. notatior 
and the habitats upon which the taxa depend for growth and 
reproduction. The conservation strategy identified in the Western 
Riverside County MSHCP, along with our close coordination with 
Riverside County and other stakeholders, addresses the identified 
threats to A. munzii and A. c. var. notatior and the geographical areas 
that contain the physical or biological features essential to their 
conservation. Our partnership with Riverside County helps ensure 
implementation of the protections and management actions identified 
within the Western Riverside County MSHCP. Therefore, the relative 
benefits to either Allium munzii or Atriplex coronata var. notatior of 
including these lands in the designation are small because the 
regulatory and ancillary benefits that would result from critical 
habitat designation are almost entirely redundant with the conservation 
benefits already afforded through the Western Riverside County MSHCP 
and State and Federal laws. The Western Riverside County MSHCP provides 
for significant conservation and management of the geographical areas 
that contain the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of A. munzii and A. c. var. notatior, and that help 
achieve recovery of these taxa through the objectives as described 
above.
    We also conclude that the educational benefits of designating 
critical habitat within the Western Riverside County MSHCP boundaries 
would be negligible because there have been several opportunities for 
public education and outreach related to Allium munzii and Atriplex 
coronata var. notatior. The framework for the regional Western 
Riverside County MSHCP was developed over a 6-year period and has been 
in place since 2004. The Western Riverside County MSHCP requires the 
implementing agency, the Western Riverside County RCA, to prepare and 
submit a report of its annual activities. These annual reports include 
an overview of the plan, a summary of habitat gains, and a review of 
the management activities of the Western Riverside RCA, management of 
property, and management of the reserves. The activities of the 
biological monitoring program are also included in this annual report. 
The reporting for these activities is available to the public on the 
Internet at: http://www.wrc-rca.org/. In addition, the previous 
rulemaking for these taxa has provided the opportunity for public 
review and comment on documents that provided information on the 
biology and habitat requirements of A. munzii and A. c. var. notatior, 
and the location of areas containing the physical or biological 
features essential to the conservation of these taxa.
    Within the Lake Mathews-Estelle Mountain Reserve, Riverside County 
is implementing other outreach and educational activities. For example, 
``Endangered Species Act Day'' is sponsored by the Riverside County 
Habitat Conservation Agency, and the Service has been an active 
participant and partial funder for this event. These actions, 
collectively, provide additional opportunities to educate the public 
about the location of, and efforts to conserve, the physical or 
biological features essential to the conservation of Allium munzii, as 
well as other efforts to conserve endangered plants (including A. 
munzii) and wildlife, within the Lake Mathews-Estelle Mountain Reserve.
    Exclusion of these lands from both Allium munzii and Atriplex 
coronata var. notatior critical habitat will help preserve the 
partnerships we have developed with local jurisdictions and project 
proponents through the development and ongoing implementation of the 
Western Riverside County MSHCP. These partnerships are focused on 
conservation of multiple species, including A. munzii and A. c. var. 
notatior, and secure conservation benefits for the taxa that will 
contribute to the species' recovery, as described above, beyond those 
that could be required under a critical habitat designation. 
Furthermore, these partnerships help foster future partnerships for the 
benefit of listed species, the majority of which do not occur on 
Federal lands. We have determined that these benefits are significant.
    After consideration of the relevant impact of designating areas 
covered by the Western Riverside County MSHCP as critical habitat and 
balancing the benefits of excluding those areas from

[[Page 22642]]

critical habitat against the benefits of including them, we have 
determined that the significant benefits of exclusion outweigh the 
benefits of critical habitat designation in these areas.
Exclusion Will Not Result in Extinction of the Species--Western 
Riverside County MSHCP
    We have determined that the exclusion of approximately 636 ac 
(257.4 ha) of land from the final designation of critical habitat for 
Allium munzii and the entire 8,020 ac (3,246 ha) of land proposed as 
critical habitat for Atriplex coronata var. notatior within lands 
covered under the permitted Western Riverside County MSHCP will not 
result in the extinction of A. munzii or A. c. var. notatior. 
Management actions and species-specific conservation objectives 
identified in the Western Riverside County MSHCP for the two taxa and 
their habitats provide significant benefits to the geographical areas 
containing the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of these taxa. In our 2004 biological opinion, the Service 
determined that implementation of the Western Riverside County MSHCP is 
not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of A. munzii or A. c. 
var. notatior (Service 2004, pp. 327, 356).
    Based on the above discussion, the Secretary is exercising his 
discretion under section 4(b)(2) of the Act to exclude from this final 
critical habitat designation the following proposed units or subunits:
     For Allium munzii, Unit 1--Gavilan Hills, including all 
subunits (1A-1F) (114.7 ac (46.4 ha)); Unit 2--Temescal Valley 
including all subunits (2A-2D) (481 ac (194.5 ha)); Subunit 4A (32.6 ac 
(13.3 ha)) of Unit 4--South Perris and Bachelor Mountain; and a portion 
of Subunit 4B (7.7 ac (3.1 ha)) of Unit 4--South Perris and Bachelor 
Mountain.
     For Atriplex coronata var. notatior, all land within Unit 
1--San Jacinto River, Unit 2--Upper Salt Creek, and Unit 3--Alberhill 
Creek (8,020 ac (3,246 ha)).
    All of these proposed units or subunits are encompassed within 
lands covered under the Western Riverside County MSHCP.

Rancho Bella Vista Habitat Conservation Plan

    A portion of proposed Subunit 4B--Skunk Hollow for Allium munzii is 
found within a smaller, individual HCP, the Rancho Bella Vista HCP, 
which was approved prior to the Western Riverside County MSHCP through 
a separate section 10(a)(1)(B) permit and authorized Pacific Bay 
Properties to develop the 798-ac (323-ha) site that included 102.3 ac 
(41.4 ha) of native habitat (Service 2004, p. 66). Within this subunit, 
67.1 ac (27.2 ha) of the proposed 74.8 ac (30.3 ha) in Subunit 4B-Skunk 
Hollow are located within the conserved lands defined by the Rancho 
Bella Vista HCP and are designated as natural open space or conserved 
habitat (Service 2000). The remaining areas of proposed Subunit 4B-
Skunk Hollow are identified as PQP (7.3 acre (2.95 ha) and ARL (0.4 ac 
(0.16 ha)) lands within the Western Riverside County MSHCP. Those areas 
are addressed in the Western Riverside County Multiple Species Habitat 
Conservation Plan section above.
    Long-term management of the Rancho Bella Vista HCP conservation 
lands includes the following activities:
    (1) Control access and, where necessary, limit access by people, 
vehicles, and domestic pets to conserved habitats and preclude access 
to highly sensitive resources.
    (2) Monitor target species, including Allium munzii, and provide 
species management of all covered species.
    (3) Identify and rank, in order of priority, opportunities for 
habitat restoration and enhancement within the conserved habitats.
    (4) Monitor conserved lands for the occurrence of nonnative 
invasive plants and animals and provide the prompt control of such 
species.
    (5) Map the locations of nonnative plant species within and 
immediately adjacent to conserved habitats and schedule for removal, 
monitoring, or control as necessary.
    (6) Develop a fire management program in consultation with the 
County of Riverside Fire Marshal and wildlife agencies to minimize 
impacts to conserved habitats from fire management programs and 
adjacent land uses.
    (7) Develop public information materials and programs including:
    (a) A brochure that describes the natural resources, areas of 
special interest, and prohibited activities within conserved habitats;
    (b) A landscape and fuel break planning brochure for homeowners and 
homeowner associations located adjacent to conserved habitats; and
    (c) Nature trails along or through portions of conserved habitats 
(provided impacts are avoided or mitigated) (Service 2000, pp. 4-5).
Benefits of Inclusion--Rancho Bella Vista HCP
    The primary effect of designating any particular area as critical 
habitat is the requirement for Federal agencies to consult with us 
under section 7 of the Act to ensure actions they carry out, authorize, 
or fund do not adversely modify designated critical habitat. Absent 
critical habitat designation in occupied areas, Federal agencies remain 
obligated under section 7 of the Act to consult with us on actions that 
may affect a federally listed species to ensure such actions do not 
jeopardize the species' continued existence.
    The analysis of effects to critical habitat is a separate and 
different analysis from that of the effects to the species. Therefore, 
the difference in outcomes of these two analyses represents the 
regulatory benefit of critical habitat. The regulatory standard is 
different, as the jeopardy analysis investigates the action's impact on 
the survival and recovery of the species, while the adverse 
modification analysis focuses on the action's effects on the designated 
habitat's contribution to conservation. This will, in many instances, 
lead to different results and different regulatory requirements. Thus, 
critical habitat designations may provide greater benefits to the 
recovery of a species than would listing alone.
    Critical habitat designation can also result in ancillary 
conservation benefits to Allium munzii by triggering additional review 
and conservation through other Federal laws. Review of Federal actions 
affecting designated critical habitat units would consider the 
importance of this habitat to A. munzii and the protections required 
for the species and its habitat.
    Another important benefit of including lands in a critical habitat 
designation is that the designation can serve to educate landowners and 
the public regarding the potential conservation value of an area, and 
may help focus conservation efforts on areas of high conservation value 
for certain species.
Benefits of Exclusion--Rancho Bella Vista HCP
    The benefits of excluding from designated critical habitat the 67.1 
ac (27.2 ha) of proposed critical habitat for Allium munzii that are 
within the boundaries of the Rancho Bella Vista HCP are significant and 
include: (1) Continued and strengthened effective working relationship 
with the Rancho Bella Vista HCP permittee in implementing the 
conservation management objectives for A. munzii and its habitat 
identified in the Rancho Bella Vista HCP, described above, and 
promoting the conservation of this species and its habitat; (2) 
encouragement of other entities within

[[Page 22643]]

the range of A. munzii to complete HCPs; and (3) encouragement of 
additional HCP and other conservation plan development in the future on 
other private lands for other federally listed species. In addition, 
because the lands that comprise the Rancho Bella Vista HCP are now 
encompassed within the boundaries of the Western Riverside County 
MSHCP, we see the continued and strengthened effective working 
relationships with the larger Western Riverside County MSHCP and its 
jurisdictions and stakeholders in promoting the conservation of A. 
munzii and its habitat as an important benefit of exclusion of this 
portion of proposed Subunit 4B--Skunk Hollow.
Benefits of Exclusion Outweigh the Benefits of Inclusion--Rancho Bella 
Vista HCP
    We have reviewed and evaluated the exclusion of approximately 67.1 
ac (27.2 ha) of land within the boundaries of the Rancho Bella Vista 
HCP for Allium munzii. The benefits of including these lands in the 
designation are small because the regulatory and ancillary benefits 
that would result from critical habitat designation are almost entirely 
redundant with the conservation benefits already afforded through the 
Rancho Bella Vista HCP and under the Act. The Rancho Bella Vista HCP 
provides for significant conservation and management of the 
geographical areas that contain the physical or biological features 
essential to the conservation of A. munzii and help achieve recovery of 
this species through the objectives as described above.
    We also conclude that the educational benefits of designating 
critical habitat within the Rancho Bella Vista HCP boundaries would be 
negligible because there have been several opportunities for public 
education and outreach related to Allium munzii. As an example, the 
Rancho Bella Vista Park, which includes both active and passive uses of 
the area, includes a nature trail through portions of conserved 
habitats and an interpretive, educational display for the larger Skunk 
Hollow area. These actions provide additional opportunities to educate 
the public about the location of, and efforts to conserve, the physical 
or biological features essential to the conservation of A. munzii, as 
well as other efforts to conserve endangered plants (including A. 
munzii) and wildlife, within the Rancho Bella Vista HCP. In addition, 
the previous rulemaking for this species has provided the opportunity 
for public review and comment on documents that provided information on 
the biology and habitat requirements of A. munzii and the location of 
areas containing the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of the species.
    In the case of plants such as Allium munzii, we also consider that 
including conservation measures to protect listed plants and their 
habitats in an HCP or other conservation plan is voluntary. In contrast 
to listed wildlife species, the Act does not prohibit take of listed 
plants, and an incidental take permit under section 10 of the Act is 
not required to authorize impacts to listed plants. For this reason, we 
actively support and encourage the voluntary inclusion of measures to 
protect listed plants and their habitats in an HCP or other 
conservation plan by plan proponents. The prospect of potentially 
avoiding a designation of critical habitat for a plant provides a 
meaningful incentive to plan proponents to extend protections for 
plants and their habitat under a conservation plan. Achieving 
comprehensive, landscape-level protection for plant species, including 
narrow endemic plant species such as A. munzii, through their inclusion 
in regional conservation plans, provides a key conservation benefit for 
these taxa. Our consideration of the Rancho Bella Vista HCP under 
section 4(b)(2) of the Act acknowledges the voluntary, proactive 
conservation measures undertaken by the permitttee to protect A. munzii 
under this plan.
    Exclusion of these lands from critical habitat will help preserve 
the partnerships we have developed with local jurisdictions and project 
proponents through the development and ongoing implementation of the 
Rancho Bella Vista HCP. These partnerships are focused on conservation 
of multiple species, including Allium munzii, and secure conservation 
benefits for the taxa that will contribute to the species' recovery, as 
described above, beyond those that could be required under a critical 
habitat designation. Furthermore, these partnerships aid in fostering 
future partnerships for the benefit of listed species, the majority of 
which do not occur on Federal lands. We have determined that these 
benefits are significant.
    After consideration of the relevant impact of specifying areas 
covered by the Rancho Bella Vista HCP as critical habitat and balancing 
the benefits of excluding these areas from critical habitat against the 
benefits of including them, we have determined that the significant 
benefits of exclusion outweigh the benefits of critical habitat 
designation in these areas.
Exclusion Will Not Result in Extinction of the Species--Rancho Bella 
Vista HCP
    We have determined that the exclusion of 67.1 ac (27.2 ha) within 
lands covered under the permitted Rancho Bella HCP from the final 
designation of critical habitat for Allium munzii will not result in 
the extinction of A. munzii. Conservation measures identified in the 
Rancho Bella Vista HCP for A. munzii and its habitat provide 
significant benefits to the geographical areas containing the physical 
or biological features essential to the conservation of A. munzii. In 
our 2000 biological opinion, the Service determined that implementation 
of the Rancho Bella Vista HCP would not likely jeopardize the continued 
existence of A. munzii (Service 2000, p. 41).
    Based on the above discussion, the Secretary is exercising his 
discretion under section 4(b)(2) of the Act to exclude from this final 
critical habitat designation for Allium munzii the portion of proposed 
Subunit 4B--Skunk Hollow (67.1 ac (27.2 ha)), which is encompassed 
within lands covered under the Rancho Bella Vista HCP.

Southwestern Riverside County Multi-Species Reserve Cooperative 
Management Agreement

    Subunit 4C--Bachelor Mountain (79.3 ac (32.1 ha)) and Unit 5--North 
Domenigoni Hills (8.2 ac (3.3 ha)) proposed as critical habitat for 
Allium munzii are contained within the Southwestern Riverside County 
Multi-species Reserve (Reserve), which was created in 1992, prior to 
the listing of A. munzii, as a mitigation measure for impacts resulting 
from the Diamond Valley Lake Reservoir. The Reserve comprises about 
13,000 ac (5,261 ha), approximately 9,400 ac (3,804 ha) of which are 
owned by the Metropolitan Water District, 2,500 ac (1,012 ha) by the 
Riverside County Habitat Conservation Agency, 360 ac (146 ha) by the 
Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and 600 ac (243 ha) by the Riverside 
County Parks and Open Space District (Service 2004, p. 61), which 
manages the Reserve. The Reserve is located within the area north of 
Lake Skinner and south of Diamond Valley Lake, and includes the 
Domenigoni Mountains and South Hills (Service 2004, p. 61).
    The Reserve is managed through a cooperative management agreement; 
the Service is a party to this agreement and a member of the five-
member committee that makes management decisions (Monroe et al. 1992, 
Appendix B). Management strategies defined for the entire Reserve 
include:

[[Page 22644]]

    (1) Protection of habitat from human disturbance through fencing, 
construction of fire breaks, and patrols to prevent unauthorized 
access;
    (2) Activities to promote the recovery of native plant and animal 
communities by managing fire and controlling grazing; and
    (3) Management for biodiversity, including maintaining a mosaic of 
different-aged habitats to meet the needs of many species (Monroe et 
al. 1992, pp. ES-5-ES-6).
    The 2008 Southwestern Riverside County Multi-species Reserve 
Management Plan (Moen 2008, Appendix 10), developed in order to meet 
management goals for the Reserve, identifies specific enhancement and 
monitoring goals, objectives, and strategies for Allium munzii. These 
include: (1) Estimating area occupied by A. munzii within the Reserve 
by mapping each occupied area annually, (2) estimating individual 
plants within the known populations, and (3) enhancing habitat 
suitability within occupied areas by annually removing thatch and 
biomass from nonnative vegetation and determining the efficacy of each 
treatment (Moen 2008, Appendix 10, pp. 1-2).
Benefits of Inclusion--Southwestern Riverside County Multi-Species 
Reserve Cooperative Management Agreement
    The primary effect of designating any particular area as critical 
habitat is the requirement for Federal agencies to consult with us 
under section 7 of the Act to ensure actions they carry out, authorize, 
or fund do not adversely modify designated critical habitat. Absent 
critical habitat designation in occupied areas, Federal agencies remain 
obligated under section 7 of the Act to consult with us on actions that 
may affect a federally listed species to ensure such actions do not 
jeopardize the species' continued existence.
    The analysis of effects to critical habitat is a separate and 
different analysis from that of the effects to the species. Therefore, 
the difference in outcomes of these two analyses represents the 
regulatory benefit of critical habitat. The regulatory standard is 
different, as the jeopardy analysis investigates the action's impact on 
the survival and recovery of the species, while the adverse 
modification analysis focuses on the action's effects on the designated 
habitat's contribution to conservation. This will, in many instances, 
lead to different results and different regulatory requirements. Thus, 
critical habitat designations may provide greater benefits to the 
recovery of a species than would listing alone.
    Critical habitat designation can also result in ancillary 
conservation benefits to Allium munzii by triggering additional review 
and conservation through other Federal laws. Review of Federal actions 
affecting designated critical habitat units would consider the 
importance of this habitat to A. munzii and the protections required 
for the species and its habitat.
    Another important benefit of including lands in a critical habitat 
designation is that the designation can serve to educate landowners and 
the public regarding the potential conservation value of an area, and 
may help focus conservation efforts on areas of high conservation value 
for certain species.
Benefits of Exclusion--Southwestern Riverside County Multi-Species 
Reserve Cooperative Management Agreement
    The benefits of excluding from designated critical habitat the 87.5 
ac (35.4 ha) of proposed critical habitat for Allium munzii within the 
Reserve are significant and include:
    (1) Continued and strengthened effective working relationships with 
the signatories to the Southwestern Riverside County Multi-species 
Reserve Cooperative Management Agreement and other interested 
stakeholders in implementing the conservation management objectives for 
A. munzii and its habitat identified in the Southwestern Riverside 
County Multi-species Reserve Management Plan (Moen 2008, Appendix 10), 
described above, and promoting the conservation of this species and its 
habitat; (2) encouragement of other entities within the range of A. 
munzii to complete cooperative management agreements; and (3) 
encouragement of additional conservation plan development in the future 
on other private lands for other federally listed species. In addition, 
because the lands that comprise the Reserve are encompassed within the 
boundaries of the Western Riverside County MSHCP as PQP lands, we see 
the continued and strengthened effective working relationships with the 
larger Western Riverside County MSHCP and its jurisdictions and 
stakeholders in promoting the conservation of A. munzii and its habitat 
as an important benefit of exclusion of proposed Subunit 4C--Bachelor 
Mountain and Unit 5--North Domenigoni Hills.
Benefits of Exclusion Outweigh the Benefits of Inclusion--Southwestern 
Riverside County Multi-Species Reserve Cooperative Management Agreement
    We have reviewed and evaluated the exclusion of approximately 87.5 
ac (35.4 ha) of proposed critical habitat for Allium munzii that are 
within the boundaries of the Reserve established through the 
Southwestern Riverside County Reserve Cooperative Management Agreement. 
The benefits of including these lands in the designation are small 
because the regulatory and ancillary benefits that would result from 
critical habitat designation are almost entirely redundant with the 
conservation benefits already afforded through the Southwestern 
Riverside County Multi-species Reserve Cooperative Management Agreement 
and under the Act. The Southwestern Riverside County Multi-species 
Reserve Cooperative Management Agreement provides for significant 
conservation and management of the geographical areas that contain the 
physical or biological features essential to the conservation of A. 
munzii and help achieve recovery of this species through the objectives 
as described above.
    We also conclude that the educational benefits of designating 
critical habitat within the Reserve boundaries would be negligible 
because there have been several opportunities for public education and 
outreach related to Allium munzii. Although the majority of the Reserve 
is not open to the public, three trails are available during certain 
times of the year for hiking and horseback riding activities. These 
trails provide additional opportunities to educate the public about the 
location of, and efforts to conserve, the physical or biological 
features essential to the conservation of A. munzii, as well as other 
efforts to conserve endangered plants (including A. munzii) and 
wildlife, within the Reserve. In addition, the previous rulemaking for 
this species has provided the opportunity for public review and comment 
on documents that provided information on the biology and habitat 
requirements of A. munzii and the location of areas containing the 
physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the 
species.
    Exclusion of these lands from critical habitat will help preserve 
the partnerships we have developed with local jurisdictions and project 
proponents through the development and ongoing implementation of the 
Southwestern Riverside County Multi-species Reserve Cooperative 
Management Agreement. These

[[Page 22645]]

partnerships are focused on conservation of multiple species, including 
Allium munzii, and secure conservation benefits for the species that 
will lead to recovery, as described above, beyond those that could be 
required under a critical habitat designation. Furthermore, these 
partnerships aid in fostering future partnerships for the benefit of 
listed species, the majority of which do not occur on Federal lands. We 
have determined that these benefits are significant.
    After consideration of the relevant impact of specifying areas 
within the Reserve as critical habitat and balancing the benefits of 
excluding these areas from critical habitat against the benefits of 
including them, we have determined that the significant benefits of 
exclusion outweigh the benefits of critical habitat designation in 
these areas.
Exclusion Will Not Result in Extinction of the Species--Southwestern 
Riverside County Multi-Species Reserve Cooperative Management Agreement
    We have determined that the exclusion of 87.5 ac (35.4 ha) of lands 
managed under the Southwestern Riverside County Multi-species Reserve 
Cooperative Management Agreement from the final designation of critical 
habitat for Allium munzii will not result in the extinction of A. 
munzii. Conservation measures identified in the Southwestern Riverside 
County Multi-species Reserve Cooperative Management Agreement (Monroe 
et al. 1992, Appendix B) and the 2008 Southwestern Riverside County 
Multi-species Reserve Management Plan (Moen 2008, Appendix 10, pp. 1-2) 
for A. munzii and its habitat provide significant benefits to the 
geographical areas containing the physical or biological features 
essential to the conservation of A. munzii.
    Based on the above discussion, the Secretary is exercising his 
discretion under section 4(b)(2) of the Act to exclude from this final 
critical habitat designation for Allium munzii proposed Subunit 4C--
Bachelor Mountain (79.3 ac (32.1 ha)) and Unit 5--North Domenigoni 
Hills (8.2 ac (3.3 ha)), which are encompassed within lands managed 
under the Southwestern Riverside County Multi-species Reserve 
Cooperative Management Agreement.

Summary of Comments and Recommendations

    We requested written comments from the public on the proposed 
revised designations of critical habitat for Allium munzii and Atriplex 
coronata var. notatior during two comment periods. The first comment 
period associated with the publication of the proposed rule (77 FR 
23008; April 17, 2012) opened on April 17, 2012, and closed on June 18, 
2012. We also requested comments on the proposed revised critical 
habitat designations and associated DEA for the two taxa during a 
comment period that opened September 11, 2012, and closed on October 
11, 2012 (77 FR 55788; September 11, 2012). We did not receive any 
requests for a public hearing during these comment periods. 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 DEA during these comment periods.
    During the first comment period, we received seven comment letters, 
three from peer reviewers, three from State and local agencies (one of 
these letters was a duplicate), and one from the public directly 
addressing the proposed revised critical habitat designations. During 
the second comment period, we received three agency comment letters 
(again, one of these letters was a duplicate) addressing the proposed 
revised critical habitat designations or the DEA. No public comments 
were received during the second comment period. All substantive 
information provided during comment periods has either been 
incorporated directly into the final determinations for both taxa or 
addressed below. Comments we received are grouped into general issues 
specifically relating to the proposed revised critical habitat 
designations for Allium munzii and Atriplex coronata var. notatior.

Peer Review

    In accordance with our peer review policy published on July 1, 1994 
(59 FR 34270), we solicited expert opinions from three knowledgeable 
individuals with scientific expertise that included familiarity with 
Allium munzii and Atriplex coronata var. notatior, the geographic 
region in which the two plants occur, and conservation biology 
principles relevant to the two plants. We received responses from all 
three peer reviewers.
    We reviewed all comments we received from the peer reviewers for 
substantive issues and new information regarding critical habitat for 
Allium munzii and Atriplex coronata var. notatior. The peer reviewers 
provided additional information, clarifications, and suggestions to 
improve the final critical habitat rule as discussed in more detail 
below. Peer reviewer comments are addressed in the following summary 
and incorporated into the final rule as appropriate.

Peer Reviewer Comments

    (1) Comment: We received comments from two peer reviewers regarding 
our exclusion process under section 4(b)(2) of the Act. One reviewer 
recommended that the Service weigh the benefits of inclusion versus 
exclusion by thoroughly analyzing the implementation and conservation 
success of the relevant HCPs and make a determination whether or not to 
exclude based on specific conditions applicable to that unit or 
subunit. A second reviewer stated that species exclusions should be 
made on a case-by-case basis and the proposed rule needs to outline a 
stronger case for exclusion.
    Our Response: The Secretary's decision regarding whether to 
exercise his discretion to exclude areas from critical habitat is not 
made in the proposed rule, but in the final rule. In the proposed rule, 
we provided the then available information regarding potential 
exclusions to allow the peer reviewers and the public an opportunity to 
comment. Section 4(b)(2) of the Act requires the Secretary to designate 
critical habitat after taking into consideration the economic impacts, 
national security impacts, and any other relevant impacts of specifying 
any particular area as critical habitat. An area may be excluded from 
critical habitat if it is determined that the benefits of exclusion 
outweigh the benefits of designating a particular area as critical 
habitat, unless the failure to designate will result in the extinction 
of the species. Before the Secretary exercises his discretion to 
exclude any area from critical habitat, he carefully weighs the 
benefits of exclusion of an area from critical habitat versus the 
benefits of inclusion of an area in critical habitat.
    In the Land and Resource Management Plans, Conservation Plans, or 
Agreements Based on Conservation Partnerships section of this final 
rule, we provide additional discussion of the implementation of the 
Western Riverside County MSHCP and other conservation plans and 
partnerships and why we believe, for the areas excluded from final 
designation, these plans adequately provide for the conservation of 
Allium munzii and Atriplex coronata var. notatior, and their habitats. 
This section also fully discusses the benefits of inclusion and 
exclusion for these areas and the reasons why the Secretary is 
exercising his discretion to exclude the areas from final critical 
habitat designation.

[[Page 22646]]

    (2) Comment: Two peer reviewers provided recommendations on how the 
proposed revised critical habitat units should be defined in order to 
address essential habitat. Specific comments were provided by one peer 
reviewer regarding our proposed designation of critical habitat for 
Subunits 2D--Alberhill Creek and 4C--Bachelor Mountain for Allium 
munzii, who also recommended a detailed review of proposed subunits 
within Estelle Mountain and Temescal Wash, stating that the expansion 
of urban development and other activities in this region warrant 
additional evaluation of all areas that might be potentially essential 
habitat for this species.
    Our Response: We reviewed our methods for determining subunit 
boundaries, occupancy, and the presence of the physical or biological 
features essential to the conservation of the two plants. As described 
above in the Criteria Used to Identify Critical Habitat section for 
Allium munzii, we conducted a spatial analysis using a GIS-based 
approach to determine the percent of mapped clay soils (Altamont, Auld, 
Bosanko, and Porterville) that were converted or lost to agricultural 
or urban land uses in the Riverside-Perris area (based on 2007 land use 
GIS data). Based on the narrow endemism of this species, its reliance 
on clay soil types that are limited in geographic range in western 
Riverside County, and our estimated loss of 67 percent of these soils 
to urban or agricultural development, we determined that all of the 
proposed units and subunits represent the present geographical area 
containing the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of this species that may require special management 
considerations or protection. For Atriplex coronata var. notatior, we 
improved our mapping methodology from previous delineations to more 
accurately define the critical habitat boundaries that better represent 
those areas that possess the physical or biological features essential 
to the conservation of this taxon using soils, elevation, and spatial 
configuration based on updated plant location information. Thus, we 
delineated boundaries using an intersection of seasonal ponding or 
flooding (and resulting bare soils), as observed in historical and 
recent aerial photographs (Riverside County Flood Control District 
photos from 1962, 1974, 1978, 1980, and 2010), with A. c. var. notatior 
soil preferences (using soil maps from Knecht 1971). This delineation 
also includes the CNDDB-defined EOs and locations of individual plants 
reported from other surveys.
    In addition, we note that the areas proposed as critical habitat in 
the proposed revised rule may not include all of the habitat that may 
eventually be determined as necessary for the recovery of Allium munzii 
(or Atriplex coronata var. notatior), and critical habitat designations 
do not signal that habitat outside the designation is unimportant or 
may not contribute to recovery of the species. Areas outside the final 
revised critical habitat designation will continue to be subject to 
conservation actions implemented under section 7(a)(1) of the Act, 
regulatory protections afforded by the section 7(a)(2) jeopardy 
standard, and the prohibitions of section 9 of the Act. These 
protections and conservation tools will continue to contribute to 
recovery of both taxa.
    Per the peer reviewer's specific comments on Subunits 2D--Alberhill 
Creek and 4C--Bachelor Mountain for Allium munzii, we confirmed that 
Subunit 2D--Alberhill Creek as defined in the proposed rule contains 
Altamont cobbly clay soil (PCE 1), and not alkaline soils. We also 
reevaluated proposed Subunit 4C--Bachelor Mountain and concluded that 
the subunit boundaries were created appropriately using the defined 
PCEs for this species.
    (3) Comment: All three peer reviewers provided editorial comments, 
corrections, and recommendations for changes to the Background section 
(description, biology and life history, habitat and soil preferences, 
spatial distribution, historical range, and population size) of the 
proposed rule.
    Our Response: We appreciate the suggestions and clarifying 
information provided by the peer reviewers and the opportunity to 
incorporate the best available scientific information into the final 
rule. We provide a summary of these clarifications below based on the 
peer review comments. However, this information has not altered our 
determinations or delineation of critical habitat units for Allium 
munzii or Atriplex coronata var. notatior. In addition, the information 
provided by the peer reviewers is related to a section of the proposed 
revised rule that is not repeated in this final rule. However, we have 
made use of this information in other sections of this final rule, 
where appropriate, and will similarly use this information in future 
actions related to the two taxa.
     The references used in the description heading of our 
Background section in the proposed rule for both A. munzii and A. c. 
var. notatior have been updated with the 2012 publication of The Jepson 
Manual: Vascular Plants of California, second edition (University of 
California Press, Berkeley, California). The proposed rule cited both 
the McNeal (2012) for the treatment of the family Alliaceae, which 
includes A. munzii, described within pages 1289-1297 of the second 
edition, but we also cited an earlier published review of this species 
(McNeal 1992). The Taylor and Wilken (1993) citations for A. c. var. 
notatior are now Zacharias (2012) for the treatment of the family 
Chenopodiaceae, which includes A. c. var. notatior, described within 
pages 629-638 of the second edition.
     In our Habitat and Soil Preferences section for A. munzii, 
we received a clarification from one peer reviewer of our reference to 
the mesic (wet) clay soils in which this species is found. As noted by 
this reviewer, these soils are subject to hot dry summers that are 
characteristic of Mediterranean climate found in southern California 
and are dry much of the year.
     As noted by one peer reviewer, the geographical 
description of the range of A. munzii in Riverside County is better 
described as a narrow endemic plant that is discontinuously distributed 
across the Riverside-Perris area (Perris Basin physiogeographic region) 
and within a portion of the southern Santa Ana Mountains (Elsinore 
Peak). We have incorporated this description into this final rule, as 
appropriate.
     Two peer reviewers indicated that the term Upper Salt 
Creek should be used in place of Old Salt Creek in the Background or 
other sections where it occurs in the proposed rule; the latter 
geographic name is apparently an outdated term used to describe early 
locations of A. c. var. notatior.
     One peer reviewer recommended that we discuss the 
importance of clonal populations for A. munzii. We note that all known 
bulb- and corm-forming plant taxa are expected to exhibit a clonal 
population structure derived from the vegetative reproduction of the 
bulbs or corms. However, we did not consider it necessary to discuss 
this in the Background section of the proposed rule as it does not 
change our criteria or methodology for designating critical habitat.
     Based on peer review comment we received on the Background 
section of the proposed rule regarding our habitat description for A. 
c. var. notatior, we are providing the following information due to 
confusion in terms that have been used to describe the habitats and 
locations where this taxon is found. Atriplex coronata var. notatior is 
found in several herbaceous vegetation

[[Page 22647]]

alliances and associations (Klein and Evens 2005, pp. 60-62; Sawyer et 
al. 2009, pp. 871-872, 939-940), as well as shrubland alliances (Klein 
and Evens 2005, p. 237) of western Riverside County. Alliances are 
considered generic units of vegetation based on a dominate or 
diagnostic species presence, whereas associations are subdivisions of 
alliances based on characteristic understory or associated taxa (Klein 
and Evens 2005, p. 9). Atriplex coronata var. notatior is associated 
with herbaceous vegetation identified as: Centromadia (as Hemizonia) 
pungens subsp. laevis Unique Stands, Hordeum depressum Alliance, 
Lasthenia californica Alliance, Plagiobothrys leptocladus Unique 
Stands, and Vernal Alkali Plain, Vernal Alkali Playa, and Vernal Pool 
Habitats (Klein and Evens 2005, pp. 254, 256, 260, 267, 274). It is 
also associated with the shrubland alliance Suaeda nigra (as moquinii) 
Alliance (Klein and Evens 2005, p. 238). Sawyer et al. describes 
vegetation on a State-wide basis and, unlike Klein and Evens, these 
descriptions are not based directly on survey results. Sawyer et al. 
(2009, pp. 850, 871, 940) recognize some of these vegetation types as 
Centromadia (pungens) Herbaceous Alliance, Deinandra fasciculata 
Herbaceous Alliance, and Lasthenia californica-Plantago erecta-Festuca 
(as Vulpia) microstachys Herbaceous Alliance. The two references cited 
above accommodate the known habitats associated with A. c. var. 
notatior, such as alkali plain, alkali playa, and vernal pool habitats, 
as described in the proposed rule, but generally do not include sage 
scrub. However, the nomenclature for habitat descriptions may differ 
between these two references and previously cited references.
    (4) Comment: We received a comment from one peer reviewer on our 
discussion in the Background section for Atriplex coronata var. 
notatior in the proposed revised rule regarding surveys for this taxon 
along the San Jacinto River in 2000. The commenter stated that soil 
amendments in this area since those surveys have impacted A. c. var. 
notatior; therefore, these earlier surveys do not accurately represent 
the current population status of this taxon.
    Our Response: We acknowledge the comment and the information 
provided as to activities that may have impacted populations of 
Atriplex coronata var. notatior in proposed Unit 1-San Jacinto River. 
As noted in the proposed rule, there have been no other comprehensive 
surveys for this taxon since the time of listing to estimate current 
population status. We used the best available information when 
determining the areas that meet the definition of critical habitat. We 
used a number of sources of information to define the boundaries for 
proposed Unit 1-San Jacinto River based on the physical or biological 
features essential to the conservation of this taxon, including, but 
not limited to, the results from the survey conducted in 2000.
    (5) Comment: Two peer reviewers provided comments regarding our 
discussion in the Background section for Atriplex coronata var. 
notatior in the proposed revised rule clarifying other co-occurring 
native and nonnative Atriplex taxa as well as the seed viability of A. 
c. var. notatior.
    Our Response: We appreciate the information provided by the peer 
reviewers regarding other Atriplex taxa and seed viability. As 
appropriate, we have incorporated this information into sections of 
this rule, and will similarly use this information in future actions 
related to this taxon.
    (6) Comment: One peer reviewer indicated that the PCEs for Atriplex 
coronata var. notatior appeared to be accurately described.
    Our Response: We appreciate the comment on this section of the 
rule, which was revised from the previous proposed rule (2004) to 
better reflect the PCEs for this taxon.
    (7) Comment: Two peer reviewers provided comments on the Special 
Management Considerations or Protection section of the proposed rule. 
One reviewer indicated that the manure dumping along the San Jacinto 
River should be more thoroughly discussed in the proposed rule, stating 
that this activity is the greatest threat to Atriplex coronata var. 
notatior. The second peer reviewer indicated that a more thorough 
analysis of management considerations for both taxa should have been 
included in this section, and that the critical habitat unit and 
subunit descriptions should include more detail in order to evaluate 
management issues within the units and subunits.
    Our Response: We appreciate the concerns of the peer reviewers 
relative to impacts to Atriplex coronata var. notatior from soil 
amendment activities along the San Jacinto River. The issue of soil 
amendments, including manure dumping, was discussed in the proposed 
rule (Unit 1--San Jacinto River, 77 FR 23027-23028; April 17, 2012) and 
in our 2008 and 2012 5-year reviews for A. c. var. notatior (Service 
2008, pp. 6-10, 16; Service 2012b, pp. 17, 19). In our proposed rule, 
we also provided a discussion of the specific threats for proposed 
critical habitat units for A. c. var. notatior in our Proposed Revised 
Critical Habitat Designation section (77 FR 23027--23029; September 11, 
2012). A summary of these threats was provided in the Special 
Management Considerations or Protection section of the proposed rule 
(77 FR 23018; September 11, 2012). The peer reviewer's comment has also 
been provided to Service biologists overseeing implementation of 
conservation measures for A. c. var. notatior that are identified in 
the Western Riverside County MSHCP.
    (8) Comment: We received one comment on the Summary of Changes 
section. The commenter noted our discussion of the transplantation of 
some populations of Allium munzii within the proposed Subunit 2A-
Sycamore Creek and requested that the proposed designation describe 
policies and procedures for allowing transplantation or reseeding of 
both taxa and how they would meet the criteria for conserving both 
these species and their habitats.
    Our Response: In our proposed critical habitat rules, we generally 
do not provide specifics on State laws or conservation measures 
implemented for endangered plants as a result of previous section 7 
consultations. A discussion of existing Federal and State regulatory 
mechanisms for both taxa can be found in our final listing rule (63 FR 
54975; October 13, 1998).
    (9) Comment: Two peer reviewers commented on the maps included in 
the proposed rule identifying the units and subunits of critical 
habitat. Both reviewers recommended that the Service provide to the 
peer reviewers more detailed overlays that better describe the proposed 
revised critical habitat boundaries in order to better evaluate the 
proposed areas.
    Our Response: The maps in the proposed rule were prepared for 
publication in the Federal Register, and were prepared in accordance 
with Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) (at 50 CFR 17.94(b), 424.12(c), 
and 424.16(b) and (c)(1)(ii)) for publishing textual and mapping 
descriptions of proposed critical habitat boundaries in the Federal 
Register. However, detailed spatial data for the critical habitat units 
for these taxa and other endangered or threatened species within the 
jurisdiction of the Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office are available to 
the public in number of ways: (1) Through a zip file that can be 
downloaded at our Web site, (2) by visiting the Field Office directly, 
or (3) through a CD mailed directly to the requester. In the future, we 
will notify peer reviewers of the locations of this more detailed 
spatial

[[Page 22648]]

data during our peer review request process.
    (10) Comment: Two peer reviewers provided comments expressing their 
disappointment in the areas identified in the proposed rule for 
consideration of exclusion within the Western Riverside County MSHCP 
area as critical habitat, for both Allium munzii and Atriplex coronata 
var. notatior. One peer reviewer stated that, as of 2012, 8 years after 
the Western Riverside County MSHCP was signed, there was little real on 
the ground conservation, protection, or management for A. c. var. 
notatior. Another peer reviewer stated that the proposed designation 
does not document how these plans would conserve or manage these 
proposed critical habitat areas and does not address the issue of the 
long-term viability of these proposed subunits, including maintaining 
hydrological processes.
    Our Response: As noted in our response to Comment 1 above, the 
Secretary has the discretion to exclude an area from critical habitat 
under section 4(b)(2) of the Act after taking into consideration the 
economic impact, the impact on national security, and any other 
relevant impacts if he determines that the benefits of such exclusion 
outweigh the benefits of designating such area as critical habitat, 
unless he determines that the exclusion would result in the extinction 
of the species concerned. We concluded that the benefits of exclusion 
outweigh the benefits of inclusion for lands covered under the Western 
Riverside County MSHCP, the Rancho Bella Vista HCP, and the 
Southwestern Riverside Multi-species Reserve Cooperative Management 
Agreement. A detailed discussion for this determination is provided in 
the Land and Resource Management Plans, Conservation Plans, or 
Agreements Based on Conservation Partnerships section above. 
Specifically, we noted in that section that three parcels of lands 
within the proposed critical habitat designation for A. c. var. 
notatior have been purchased since 2004, and have been incorporated 
into the Western Riverside County MSHCP Reserve and, since 2004, only 
10 ac (4 ha) of habitat in the Upper Salt Creek areas have been lost 
(Service 2012a; Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, GIS Analysis). These 
actions provide support for the effectiveness of the Western Riverside 
County MSHCP in reducing the threats to A. c. var. notatior and in 
addressing the special management considerations or protections 
necessary to ensure the long-term existence of the physical or 
biological features essential to the conservation of this taxon.
    In the case of plants such as Allium munzii and Atriplex coronata 
var. notatior, we also consider that including conservation measures to 
protect listed plants and their habitats in an HCP or other 
conservation plan (where no Federal nexus exists) is voluntary. In 
contrast to listed wildlife species, the Act does not prohibit take of 
listed plants, and an incidental take permit under section 10 of the 
Act is not required to authorize impacts to listed plants. For this 
reason, we actively support and encourage the voluntary inclusion of 
measures to protect listed plants and their habitats in an HCP or other 
conservation plan by plan proponents. The prospect of potentially 
avoiding a designation of critical habitat for a plant provides a 
meaningful incentive to plan proponents to extend protections for 
plants and their habitat under a conservation plan. Achieving 
comprehensive, landscape-level protection for plant species, including 
(1) narrow endemic plant species, such as A. munzii, and (2) those with 
limited geographic distribution and specialized habitat and management 
requirements, such as A. c. var. notatior, through their inclusion in 
regional conservation plans, provides a key conservation benefit for 
these taxa. Our consideration of the Western Riverside County MSHCP 
under section 4(b)(2) of the Act acknowledges the voluntary, proactive 
conservation measures undertaken by Riverside County to protect A. 
munzii and A. c. var. notatior under this plan.
    Also included in the Land and Resource Management Plans, 
Conservation Plans, or Agreements Based on Conservation Partnerships 
section above is a summary of the management actions defined in the 
Western Riverside County MSHCP to be implemented for the two taxa that 
provide for conservation of the physical or biological features 
essential to the conservation of the taxa, including maintaining and 
enhancing the floodplain processes of the San Jacinto River, Mystic 
Lake and upper Salt Creek hydrological processes located within Unit 
1--San Jacinto River and Unit 2--Upper Salt Creek for A. c. var. 
notatior.
    (11) Comment: One peer reviewer recommended that the proposed rule 
should have provided greater consideration of populations of Atriplex 
coronata var. notatior along the San Jacinto River floodplain that 
occupy intact alkali habitat because of concerns regarding changes in 
land uses in certain areas along the San Jacinto River. More 
specifically, the populations that occur within the San Jacinto 
Wildlife Area on these soils may provide an important seed source for 
the lower portions of the San Jacinto River.
    Our Response: We appreciate the comment and the recommendation for 
proposed Unit 1--San Jacinto River. In defining the proposed critical 
habitat boundaries for Unit 1--San Jacinto River unit, including the 
area contained within the San Jacinto Wildlife Area, we evaluated the 
physical or biological features essential to the conservation of 
Atriplex coronata var. notatior, including PCE 2, the alkaline soils 
(primarily the Willows soil series) that are found in this region, and 
PCE 1, wetland habitat including floodplains and vernal pools. We 
determined that Unit 1--San Jacinto River provides habitat and 
hydrological conditions (PCE1b) that can serve as a potential seed 
source for areas downstream from the San Jacinto Wildlife Areas. As 
noted in our response to Comment 2 above, the identification of the 
areas meeting the definition of critical habitat in the proposed 
revised rule may not include all of the habitat that may eventually be 
determined to be necessary for the recovery of A. c. var. notatior, and 
critical habitat designations do not signal that habitat outside the 
designation is unimportant or may not contribute to recovery of the 
species. Areas outside the final revised critical habitat designation 
will continue to be subject to conservation actions implemented under 
section 7(a)(1) of the Act, regulatory protections afforded by the 
section 7(a)(2) jeopardy standard, and the prohibitions of section 9 of 
the Act.
    (12) Comment: One peer reviewer stated that the [draft] economic 
analysis of the proposed revised critical habitat designation should 
have been provided concurrently with the publication of the proposed 
rule.
    Our Response: We published our proposed critical habitat rule in 
accordance with regulations in effect at the time of publication (50 
CFR 424.19). On August 24, 2012, Service and the National Marine 
Fisheries Service published in the Federal Register a proposed rule to 
amend our implementing regulations at 50 CFR 424.19 to clarify the 
instructions for making information available to the public, 
considering the impacts of critical habitat designations, and 
considering exclusions from critical habitat (77 FR 51503). These 
changes are being proposed as directed by the President's February 28, 
2012, memorandum, which directed the Secretary of the Interior to 
revise the regulations implementing the Act to provide that a DEA be 
completed and

[[Page 22649]]

made available for public comment at the time of publication of a 
proposed rule to designate critical habitat. That August 24, 2012, 
proposed rule accepted public comments for 60 days, ending October 23, 
2012. The comment period on the August 24, 2012, proposed rule was then 
reopened from November 8, 2012, to February 6, 2013 (77 FR 66946; 
November 8, 2012), to allow all interested parties additional time to 
review and comment on that proposed rule. The proposed revised critical 
habitat designation was developed prior to the publication of this 
proposed amendment to our implementing regulations, and the proposed 
amendment has not been finalized; therefore, we followed the past 
practice of making available the DEA after the proposed designation of 
critical habitat had published.

Public Comments

    (13) Comment: We received one public comment during the first 
comment period supporting the exclusion of lands from the critical 
habitat designations on the basis of operative HCPs described in the 
proposed rule as long as the plans are functioning properly and are 
designed to achieve recovery goals, but the commenter noted that non-
permittees should not have this benefit. In addition, this commenter 
suggested that the Service, in our exclusion analysis, should evaluate 
whether a non-permittee can ``interfere'' with a permittee's ability to 
achieve the HCP's conservation goals and objectives for Allium munzii 
and Atriplex coronata var. notatior, asking whether the Service can 
foresee any non-participating entities in the plan area with such 
potential for interference. Further, the commenter suggested that our 
exclusion determinations for these HCPs under section 4(b)(2) of the 
Act should not focus on the Western Riverside County MSHCP Implementing 
Agreement (which the commenter stated required the Federal Government 
to exclude its covered areas from critical habitat designation), but 
rather on an analysis that accounts for interfering actions of non-
permittees that holds permittees ``harmless'' against any additional 
funding or mitigation for future critical habitat designations beyond 
those already contained within the HCP.
    Our Response: We appreciate the comment supporting our 
consideration of exclusions under section 4(b)(2) of the Act based on 
implementation of the Western Riverside County MSHCP and other 
conservation plans and partnerships. In the Exclusions Based on Other 
Relevant Impacts section of this rule, we discuss implementation of the 
Western Riverside County MSHCP and other conservation plans and 
partnerships, and the provisions in these plans that provide 
significant benefits for the conservation of Allium munzii and Atriplex 
coronata var. notatior and their habitats.
    However, our analysis did not focus on the IA for the Western 
Riverside County MSHCP, and we note that the IA, as described in the 
public comment, does not require the Federal Government to exclude from 
critical habitat those areas managed and controlled under this HCP. 
Moreover, we cannot anticipate non-participating entities nor 
reasonably conduct a specific analysis that accounts for potential 
interfering actions of non-permittees and their non-covered activities 
relative to implementation of the Western Riverside County MSHCP or 
other HCPs that are described in the proposed rule. Under the IA, the 
implementation responsibility of the Western Riverside County MSHCP is 
held by the Western Riverside County Regional Conservation Authority 
and the other permittees. In addition, the Service's Biological and 
Conference Opinion for the issuance of the Western Riverside County 
MSHCP permit under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act contains a provision 
for reinitiation of consultation if, for example, new information 
reveals effects of the agency action that may affect listed species or 
critical habitat in a manner or to an extent not considered in the 
opinion (Service 2004).

Comments From Local Agencies

    (14) Comment: Two local agencies provided comment letters in the 
first public comment period supporting our exclusion under section 
4(b)(2) of the Act of all permittee-owned or controlled lands that fall 
within the boundaries of the Western Riverside County MSHCP. 
Specifically, one commenter supports the exclusions of lands within the 
Western Riverside County MSHCP because it fosters important and 
beneficial relationships for creating future HCPs for conserving 
species habitat.
    Our Response: We appreciate the comment supporting our 
consideration of exclusions under section 4(b)(2) of the Act. The 
Secretary may exercise his discretion to exclude an area from critical 
habitat designation under section 4(b)(2) of the Act if he concludes 
that the benefits of excluding an area outweigh the benefits of 
designation. Areas are not excluded based solely on the existence of 
management plans or other conservation measures; however, we 
acknowledge the existence of a plan may reduce the benefits of 
including an area in the critical habitat designation to the extent 
that the protections provided under the plan may be comparable with 
conservation benefits of the critical habitat designation. Moreover, in 
some cases the benefits of exclusion in the form of sustaining and 
encouraging partnerships that result in on the ground conservation of 
listed species may outweigh the incremental benefits of inclusion. In 
this case, we agree with the commenter that excluding areas covered by 
the Western Riverside County MSHCP will foster our partnership. We have 
weighed the benefits of exclusion against the benefits of inclusion for 
lands covered by the Western Riverside County MSHCP, the Rancho Bella 
Vista HCP, and the Southwestern Riverside County Multi-species Reserve 
Cooperative Management Agreement, and the Secretary is exercising his 
discretion to exclude these areas from final critical habitat 
designation.
    (15) Comment: One local agency stated that existing or proposed 
drainage facilities operated and maintained by the Riverside County 
Flood Control and Water Conservation District within permittee-owned or 
-controlled lands within the boundaries of the Western Riverside County 
MSHCP would be negatively impacted if included in the critical habitat 
designation, and recommended that existing and proposed flood control 
facilities should be clearly excluded as proposed critical habitat. The 
commenter also stated that the existing manmade drainage features and 
structures do not contain some or all of the PCEs essential to the 
conservation of Allium munzii or Atriplex coronata var. notatior.
    Our Response: As described above in the Criteria Used to Identify 
Critical Habitat section, when determining critical habitat boundaries, 
we made every effort to avoid including developed areas and related 
infrastructure because these lands lack the physical or biological 
features necessary for the conservation of Allium munzii and Atriplex 
coronata var. notatior. To identify existing flood control features, 
proposed critical habitat unit boundaries were determined at an 
appropriate scale (1:4000 or less) using 2010 U.S. Department of 
Agriculture (USDA) National Agriculture Imagery Program aerial 
photography. No existing artificial canals are located within proposed 
critical habitat units or subunits for A. munzii. For A. c. var. 
notatior, we removed existing artificial canals when mapping proposed 
critical habitat, to the extent practicable. Any such lands

[[Page 22650]]

that are inadvertently left inside the critical habitat boundaries due 
to the scale of mapping required for publication in the Code of Federal 
Regulations have been excluded by text in the proposed and final rules 
and are not designated critical habitat. However, we are not 
designating critical habitat for A. c. var. notatior. We did not 
receive a map from this commenting agency identifying specific 
locations of proposed flood control facilities.
    (16) Comment: One local agency, a permittee of the Western 
Riverside County MSHCP, stated that the plan provides several species-
specific, regional objectives to ensure the long-term conservation of 
Allium munzii or Atriplex coronata var. notatior. In addition, the 
commenter stated that because they and other permittees are subject to 
applicable provisions of the plan, including the requirement to 
contribute mitigation funding to help accomplish the regional 
conservation objectives, they and other permittees will ensure that the 
two plant taxa will be conserved on a regional basis as intended when 
the Service authorized the final Western Riverside County MSHCP.
    Our Response: As discussed in the Land and Resource Management 
Plans, Conservation Plans, or Agreements Based on Conservation 
Partnerships section of both the proposed revised rule and this final 
revised rule, the Western Riverside County MSHCP provides a 
comprehensive, habitat-based approach to the protection of covered 
species, including Allium munzii and Atriplex coronata var. notatior, 
by focusing on lands essential to the long-term conservation of the 
covered species and appropriate management of those lands (Western 
Riverside County Regional Conservation Authority et al. 2003, p. 51). 
In addition, the Western Riverside County MSHCP includes management 
actions and specific conservation objectives for both A. munzii and A. 
c. var. notatior. We agree with the commenter's conclusion that these 
objectives were based on a landscape-level approach to conservation and 
management, and provide ongoing protection and monitoring to these taxa 
and their habitats that benefit their long-term conservation. We have 
determined that the benefits of exclusion outweigh the benefits of 
inclusion for permittee-owned or -controlled lands within the Western 
Riverside County MSHCP boundaries, and the Secretary is exercising his 
discretion to exclude lands these areas from final critical habitat 
designation.
    (17) Comment: Two local agencies stated that designating new 
critical habitat within the Western Riverside County MSHCP boundaries 
for Allium munzii or Atriplex coronata var. notatior would create 
duplicative regulatory efforts or redundant regulation with negligible, 
if any, benefits to the two taxa. Further, one of these commenters 
indicated that designating critical habitat for A. munzii or A. c. var. 
notatior within the Western Riverside County MSHCP area would undermine 
future support of this HCP, while excluding these lands fosters 
important and beneficial relationships for creating and implementing 
HCPs that conserve species and their habitats.
    Our Response: We appreciate the comments and have considered them 
in our analysis under section 4(b)(2) of the Act of the areas covered 
by the Western Riverside County MSHCP. In this final rule, we have 
determined that the benefits of exclusion outweigh the benefits of 
inclusion for lands covered by the Western Riverside County MSHCP, the 
Rancho Bella Vista HCP, and the Southwestern Riverside County Multi-
species Reserve Cooperative Management Agreement, and the Secretary is 
exercising his discretion to exclude these areas from final critical 
habitat designation. Please see the discussion in the Exclusions Based 
on Other Relevant Impacts section.
    (18) Comment: Two local agencies provided comments specific to the 
IA for the Western Riverside County MSHCP. One commenter cited section 
14.10 of the IA, which states, in part, that ``The USFWS agrees that, 
to the maximum extent allowable after public review and comment, in the 
event that a Critical Habitat determination is made for any Covered 
Species Adequately Covered, and unless the USFWS finds that the MSHCP 
is not being implemented, lands within the boundaries of the MSHCP will 
not be designated as Critical Habitat.'' The other commenter stated the 
IA prohibits the Service from changing its position, and changed 
conditions do not exist nor have any changed conditions been cited by 
the Service since 2005 that would necessitate or allow the Service to 
now designate critical habitat for the two taxa on Western Riverside 
County MSHCP lands.
    Our Response: The IA does not preclude critical habitat designation 
within the plan area (Dudek 2003, p. 6-109; Western Riverside County 
RCA et al. 2003, p. 51). Consistent with our commitment under the IA, 
and after public review and comment on the proposed revised rule to 
designate critical habitat for Allium munzii and Atriplex coronata var. 
notatior, we performed a balancing analysis for the areas covered by 
the Western Riverside County MSHCP under section 4(b)(2) of the Act. We 
determined through our analysis that the benefits of excluding lands 
owned and controlled by permittees under the Western Riverside County 
MSHCP outweigh the benefits of designating these areas, and the 
Secretary is exercising his discretion to exclude these areas from 
critical habitat designation. (See the discussion in Land and Resource 
Management Plans, Conservation Plans, or Agreements Based on 
Conservation Partnerships section above for a detailed discussion of 
this exclusion analysis).
    (19) Comment: One local agency commented that if new critical 
habitat was designated in Riverside County, the final rule should 
provide clear guidance related to section 7 consultations that provides 
written documentation of compliance with the Western Riverside County 
MSHCP from a permittee so as to allow the Service to either make a ``no 
effect'' determination or consult informally and in streamlined manner 
with the permittee. The commenter added that additional mitigation 
beyond that required by the Western Riverside County MSHCP should not 
be required.
    Our Response: In this final rule, we have designated revised 
critical habitat in Riverside County only for Allium munzii, Elsinore 
Peak Unit, which is within the general boundaries of the previous 
designation at this location (70 FR 33015; June 7, 2005). As noted in 
the Final Critical Habitat Designation section above, 35.3 ac (14.3 ha) 
of the Elsinore Peak Unit, or about 36 percent, are owned and managed 
by the California State Lands Commission. The remaining 63.1 ac (25.5 
ha) are owned and managed by the U.S. Forest Service. Neither of these 
agencies are permittees of the Western Riverside County MSHCP. As noted 
in our FEA, any future section 7 consultations would likely only apply 
to activities on Federal lands (IEC 2012, pp. 4-5 (Exhibit 4-3), 4-9--
4-10, 4-11).
    (20) Comment: One local agency urged the Service to exclude all 
areas covered by the Western Riverside County MSHCP from designation of 
critical habitat for Allium munzii and Atriplex coronata var. notatior 
based on protections afforded the two taxa and their habitat by 
provisions contained within the Western Riverside County MSHCP. The 
commenter submitted text from the Western Riverside County MSHCP 
summarizing the landscape-level conservation, site-specific 
considerations for known locations of these species, and species-
specific

[[Page 22651]]

management considerations for other locations in support of the plan's 
ability to provide superior and comprehensive protections for A. munzii 
or A. c. var. notatior and their habitats.
    Our Response: See our response to Comments 10 and 14 above.
    (21) Comment: One local agency stated that they agree with the 
Service's prior assessments of exclusion of critical habitat for the 
two taxa (proposed and final critical habitat rules) noting that the 
Service has already found that the Western Riverside County MSHCP is 
sufficient for the conservation and recovery of the two taxa in these 
assessments, and that excluding the Western Riverside County MSHCP area 
is consistent with these prior exclusions of areas within the MSHCP for 
numerous other species' critical habitat designations.
    Our Response: Section 4(b)(2) of the Act requires us to make 
critical habitat decisions on the basis of the best available 
scientific and commercial information at the time the rule is made. 
Therefore, when designating critical habitat, if the Secretary 
exercises his discretion to conduct a weighing analyses under section 
4(b)(2) of the Act, it is based on the best scientific and commercial 
information then available, not on decisions made in previous critical 
habitat rules. As described in our Criteria Used to Identify Critical 
Habitat section above, in determining which areas meet the definition 
of critical habitat, we considered information provided in our 5-year 
reviews for Allium munzii and Atriplex coronata var. notatior; CNDDB 
records; reports submitted during consultations under section 7 of the 
Act; analyses for individual and regional HCPs where A. munzii and A. 
c. var. notatior are covered species; data collected from reports 
submitted by researchers holding recovery permits under section 
10(a)(1)(A) of the Act; information received from local species 
experts; published and unpublished papers, reports, academic theses, or 
surveys; GIS data (such as species population and location data, soil 
data, land use, topography, aerial imagery, and ownership maps); and 
previous peer review comments and other correspondence with the Service 
from recognized experts, some of which has have been published since 
the 2005 critical habitat designations.
    (22) Comment: One local agency referenced a letter from the Pacific 
Southwest Regional Director (dated May 21, 2011) to the Western 
Riverside County RCA, quoting from the letter that ``no critical 
habitat will be designated within the MSHCP unless there are compelling 
reasons . . .'' The commenter states that there is no compelling reason 
for designating critical habitat for Allium munzii or Atriplex coronata 
var. notatior within the boundaries of the Western Riverside County 
MSHCP because the plan and its IA are being implemented and provide 
protections for the species and their habitat within the plan area.
    Our Response: The Western Riverside County MSHCP and its IA 
indicate that exclusion of permittee-owned and -controlled lands from 
critical habitat is likely, but these are not guaranteed assurances. As 
described in a recent court decision (Bear Valley Mutual Water Co. et 
al. v. Salazar et al., SACV 11-01263 (C.D. Cal., decided October 17, 
2012)), if these assurances were construed to be so rigid, then they 
might be beyond the Service's authority because this interpretation 
would excuse the Service's congressionally mandated duty under section 
4 of the Act. Regardless, we have weighed the benefits of exclusion 
against the benefits of inclusion for lands covered by the Western 
Riverside County MSHCP, and, based on the discussion of the Western 
Riverside County MSHCP under the Land and Resource Management Plans, 
Conservation Plans, or Agreements Based on Conservation Partnerships, 
the Secretary is exercising his discretion to exclude lands covered by 
the Western Riverside County MSHCP from final critical habitat 
designation.
    (23) Comment: One local agency stated that if areas in Riverside 
County are included in the final revised critical habitat rule, an 
economic analysis should evaluate both tangible and intangible economic 
costs associated with the conflicts between the final rule and approved 
Western Riverside County MSHCP.
    Our Response: As described in the Final Critical Habitat 
Designation section of this final rule, we are designating critical 
habitat only for Allium munzii on lands that are owned and managed by 
non-permittees of the Western Riverside County MSHCP. In addition, we 
determined in our FEA (IEC 2012b) that any economic costs for critical 
habitat designations for either taxon would be restricted to 
administrative costs for any new or reinitiated consultations.
    (24) Comment: One local agency that maintains and operates a 
supplemental public water supply system for the southern California 
coastal plain expressed concern over our proposed designation and 
likely effects to its operation of water transmission and storage 
facilities on or adjacent to areas proposed as critical habitat for 
Allium munzii and Atriplex coronata var. notatior. The commenter stated 
that the repair and maintenance of these facilities will require access 
to areas identified in the proposed critical habitat designation in 
order to maintain safe and efficient operation of the system. 
Therefore, the agency requested that we exclude all lands covered by 
the Western Riverside County MSHCP, the Southwestern Riverside County 
MSHCP, and the Lake Mathews MSHCP/NCCP within the following unit and 
subunits: Subunit 4B--Skunk Hollow, Subunit 4C--Bachelor Mountain, and 
Unit 5--North Domenigoni Hills for A. munzii, and Unit 1--San Jacinto 
River and Unit 2--Upper Salt Creek for A. c. var. notatior.
    Our Response: We appreciate the information provided by the agency 
regarding its mission and need for access to maintain and operate this 
public water supply system. In this final rule, we have weighed the 
benefits of exclusion against the benefits of inclusion for lands 
covered by the Western Riverside County MSHCP and the Southwestern 
Riverside County Multi-species Reserve Cooperative Management 
Agreement, and the Secretary is exercising his discretion to exclude 
lands within these areas from final critical habitat designation (see 
our analysis in the Land and Resource Management Plans, Conservation 
Plans, or Agreements Based on Conservation Partnerships section of this 
rule). This exclusion includes all of the proposed critical habitat 
units and subunits for Allium munzii and Atriplex coronata var. 
notatior identified in the agency's comment.
    (25) Comment: One local agency requested that we exempt all of a 
public agency's operational rights-of-way from our critical habitat 
designation process based on their need to maintain and operate a 
public water supply system.
    Our Response: Under the Act, exemptions from critical habitat are 
provided only under section 4(a)(3). Specifically, 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. 
Section 4(a)(3)(B)(i) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533(a)(3)(B)(i)) 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

[[Page 22652]]

habitat is proposed for designation.'' The lands requested for 
exemption do not fall within this definition. However, the rights-of-
way areas identified by the public agency are within areas that are 
being excluded (not exempted) from final critical habitat designation 
(see our response to Comment 24).
    (26) Comment: One local agency commented on the September 11, 2012, 
publication (77 FR 55788) regarding our correction in elevation for 
PCEs 2(i)(B) and (2)(ii) for Allium munzii, particularly its 
relationship to our proposed critical habitat designation of Elsinore 
Peak Unit (Unit 3--Elsinore Peak of the proposed rule). The agency 
stated that the September 11, 2012, publication (77 FR 55788) revised 
the previously reported boundaries for the unit, and requested that 
these ``newly identified lands'' be considered for exclusion based on 
previous comments provided for the April 17, 2012, proposed rule (77 FR 
23008).
    Our Response: The September 11, 2012, publication did not revise 
the boundaries of any proposed critical habitat units or subunits for 
Allium munzii (77 FR 55790). The proposed revision only provided a 
correction to the textual description of the upper elevation for these 
two PCEs. The proposed Elsinore Peak Unit (Unit 3) boundary did not 
change as a result of this correction. As to the comment requesting 
consideration for exclusion of the Elsinore Peak Unit (based on 
comments previously submitted by this commenter regarding the Western 
Riverside County MSHCP, see Comments 14, 17, and 20 above), we 
indicated in our proposed rule that Elsinore Peak Unit (Unit 3) 
contains lands owned and managed by the U.S. Forest Service or the 
California State Lands Commission. As discussed in the Final Critical 
Habitat Designation section (for A. munzii) of this final rule, the 
U.S. Forest Service and the State Lands Commission are not permittees 
under the Western Riverside County MSHCP; therefore, land use 
activities implemented by these entities are not considered covered 
activities under the plan. Only discretionary actions under the control 
of a permittee are covered activities under the Western Riverside 
County MSHCP. In addition, the lands owned and managed by the State 
Lands Commission within this critical habitat unit are not included as 
part of the conceptual reserve design of the Western Riverside County 
MSHCP. In this final rule, we have not excluded areas within Elsinore 
Peak Unit from critical habitat designation under section 4(b)(2) of 
the Act.

Public Comments on the Draft Economic Analysis

    (27) Comment: One local agency commented on our discussion of clay 
mining activities and protections afforded to Allium munzii under the 
Western Riverside County MSHCP (see DEA (IEC 2012a, pp. 3-5-3-6, 4-1) 
and 77 FR 55791, September 11, 2012). The commenter disagreed with our 
determination that there is some dispute as to whether local permittees 
have jurisdiction over clay mining for the plan as described in our 
DEA. The commenter stated that clay mining in new areas not subject to 
vested rights is covered by the Western Riverside County MSHCP through 
the local jurisdictions' discretionary authority for reviewing those 
mining activities.
    Our Response: As described in section 3.3 of the DEA, the analysis 
assumes mining activities will be covered under the Western Riverside 
County MSHCP in cases where local jurisdictions within the plan area 
require land use permits. This is consistent with the statement 
provided in the comment. Any new mining operation proposed within lands 
covered by the Western Riverside County MSHCP would be required to go 
through Riverside County's review process and would be subject to the 
provisions of the Western Riverside County MSHCP. However, entities who 
have existing permits are considered exempt from the requirements of 
the Western Riverside County MSHCP. It is our understanding that 
Riverside County will make the determination as to the appropriate 
category for a mining operation. Regardless, the DEA finds that future 
mining activity is unlikely to occur within proposed critical habitat 
and does not estimate any incremental impacts to mining activities as a 
result of critical habitat designation. The FEA includes a note in 
response to this comment indicating that, in most cases, clay mining is 
expected to be a covered activity under the Western Riverside County 
MSHCP (IEC 2012b, p. 3-6).
    (28) Comment: One local agency stated that the final rule should 
consider our determination in the DEA that critical habitat designation 
in Elsinore Peak Unit (proposed Unit 3--Elsinore Peak) (which the 
commenter stated contains some Federal lands and California State Land 
Commission lands outside the jurisdiction of the Western Riverside 
County MSHCP) would not change the outcome of anticipated consultations 
for ORV regulation or U.S. Forest Service land management plans. The 
commenter stated that the Service should find that there is no benefit 
to designating lands within Elsinore Peak Unit as critical habitat for 
Allium munzii.
    Our Response: As a point of clarification to this comment, all 
lands within the Elsinore Peak Unit are owned and managed by either the 
U.S. Forest Service or the State Lands Commission. As for our 
determination of critical habitat designation for Elsinore Peak Unit, 
please see our response to Comment 26 and discussion in this final rule 
under the Final Critical Habitat Designation section.
    (29) Comment: One local agency commented on our determination of 
administrative costs for future section 7 consultations within areas 
covered by the Western Riverside County MSHCP. Specifically, the 
commenter cited our discussions in the DEA regarding the need for 
reinitiation of our biological opinion for the Western Riverside County 
MSHCP, our costs for this reinitiation, and our factoring of these 
costs into the incremental costs for the proposed critical habitat 
designations. The commenter stated that these monetary costs add 
needless red tape and waste where an existing plan (that is, the 
Western Riverside County MSHCP) already conserves habitat in the same 
manner provided under section 7 consultations, and therefore adequately 
protects Allium munzii and Atriplex coronata var. notatior.
    Our Response: The commenter is correct that the DEA estimates 
solely administrative impacts associated with the designation of 
proposed revised critical habitat for both taxa. The DEA notes in 
section 3.3 that lands subject to the Western Riverside County MSHCP 
were then being considered for exclusion as a result of the baseline 
protections afforded the plants. See our responses to Comments 10 and 
14 above regarding our exclusion analysis for the Western Riverside 
County MSHCP.
    (30) Comment: One local agency commented specifically on the DEA 
discussion of section 7 consultation requirements (Appendix C). The 
commenter stated that designating critical habitat will essentially 
result in no change to the consultation process in the proposed 
critical habitat units because all units are considered occupied and 
because Federal agencies and project proponents are already required to 
consult with the Service to ensure actions ``authorized, funded, or 
carried out will not jeopardize the continued existence of'' Allium 
munzii and Atriplex coronata var. notatior.
    Our Response: The commenter is correct that conservation measures 
requested by the Service following the designation of critical habitat 
are, in most cases, likely to be substantially the

[[Page 22653]]

same as those requested under the baseline (IEC 2012a, p. 4-2). 
However, the DEA states that a conservative approach was taken to 
capture a small level of uncertainty in future consultations where a 
more extensive effort may be necessary to ensure that a project avoids 
adverse modification of critical habitat (IEC 2012a, p. ES-8). This 
would result in an overestimation of these costs (IEC 2012a, p. 4-19). 
Nevertheless, the DEA (IEC 2012a, p. 4-8) states that the assumption 
was made that the outcome of a section 7 consultation is unlikely to be 
affected by the presence of critical habitat, and that direct 
incremental impacts are likely to be limited to minor administrative 
costs associated with addressing adverse modification in section 7 
consultations.
    (31) Comment: One local agency commented on our determination of 
actions that might trigger an analysis of adverse modification versus 
those that might be required as ``additional conservation measures'' in 
a section 7 consultation. The commenter stated that our identification 
of these potential adverse modification actions should be more than 
speculation. Further, the commenter stated that the identified 
conservation measures are already being implemented under the 
requirements of the Western Riverside County MSHCP. The commenter 
therefore believes that the final rule should indicate that there is no 
benefit to designating critical habitat in the Western Riverside County 
MSHCP area and that the Western Riverside County MSHCP area should be 
excluded from the critical habitat designations for both Allium munzii 
and Atriplex coronata var. notatior.
    Our Response: Our determination of actions that may require an 
adverse modification analysis under section 7(a)(2) of the Act are not 
speculative. We evaluated threats that may require special management 
considerations or protection of the physical or biological features for 
both taxa (see the Critical Habitat section above) to identify these 
activities.
    Section 3.3 of the DEA lists general conservation efforts 
undertaken for activities covered by the Western Riverside County 
MSHCP, including those described in the comment. The overlap in 
conservation efforts required by the Western Riverside County MSHCP and 
those potentially recommended to avoid adverse modification of critical 
habitat leads to the conclusion in the DEA that critical habitat will 
have a limited incremental impact on activities covered by the Western 
Riverside County MSHCP.
    We have weighed the benefits of exclusion against the benefits of 
inclusion for lands covered by the Western Riverside County MSHCP. 
Based on the discussion of the Western Riverside County MSHCP under the 
Land and Resource Management Plans, Conservation Plans, or Agreements 
Based on Conservation Partnerships section of this rule, the Secretary 
is exercising his discretion to exclude lands covered by the Western 
Riverside County MSHCP from final critical habitat designation.

Required Determinations

Regulatory Planning and Review--Executive Orders 12866 and 13563

    Executive Order 12866 provides that the Office of Information and 
Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) will review all significant rules. The OIRA 
has determined that this rule is not significant.
    Executive Order 13563 reaffirms the principles of Executive Order 
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. Executive Order 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 
an agency certifies the rule will not have a significant economic 
impact on a substantial number of small entities. The SBREFA amended 
the RFA to require Federal agencies to provide a certification 
statement of the factual basis for certifying that the rule will not 
have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. Because no critical habitat is being designated for Atriplex 
coronata var. notatior, we are certifying that the final critical 
habitat determination for that taxon will not have a significant 
economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. 
Additionally, in this final rule, we are certifying that the critical 
habitat designation for Allium munzii 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 (for example, 
development, agricultural operations, transportation, fire management, 
mining, recreational activities, flood control, and utilities). 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

[[Page 22654]]

designations of limited extent, we may aggregate across all industries 
and consider whether the total number of small entities affected is 
substantial. In estimating the number of small entities potentially 
affected, we also consider whether their activities have any Federal 
involvement.
    Designation of critical habitat only affects activities authorized, 
funded, or carried out by Federal agencies. Some kinds of activities 
are unlikely to have any Federal involvement and so will not be 
affected by critical habitat designation. In areas where the species is 
present, Federal agencies already are required to consult with us under 
section 7 of the Act on activities they authorize, fund, or carry out 
that may affect Allium munzii and Atriplex coronata var. notatior. 
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, we evaluated the 
potential economic effects on small business entities resulting from 
conservation actions related to the incremental impacts of the 
designation of critical habitat for Allium munzii. The analysis is 
based on the estimated incremental impacts associated with the 
rulemaking as described in Chapters 1 through 4 and Appendix A of the 
analysis and evaluates the potential for economic impacts related to: 
(1) Development, (2) agricultural operations, (3) transportation, (4) 
fire management, (5) mining, and (6) recreational activities.
    For Allium munzii, our FEA estimated incremental administrative 
costs for section 7 consultations to review projects covered by 
existing conservation plans; re-initiated programmatic consultations 
for all existing conservation plans and agreements; one new formal 
consultation with the U.S. Forest Service; and one programmatic 
consultation for revisions to the Cleveland National Forest Land 
Management Plan Strategy (IEC 2012b, p. A-4). The FEA determined that 
the following activities are not expected to affect small entities: (1) 
Review of projects covered by existing conservation plans, (2) re-
initiations of three existing conservation plans and agreements, and 
(3) section 7 consultations involving the U.S. Forest Service (IEC 
2012, p. A-4-A-6). However, incremental impacts associated with the 
remaining re-initiation of section 7 consultation for the Western 
Riverside County MSHCP may be borne by small entities, and thus were 
the focus of the FEA threshold analysis.
    The FEA presented information on both the number of small entities 
that may be affected and the magnitude of the expected impacts. Total 
third-party costs to the 24 permittees of the Western Riverside County 
MSHCP for re-initiating the consultation of the Western Riverside 
County MSHCP were estimated at $6,900 (IEC 2012b, p. ES-18). If those 
costs are spread across all 24 permittees, the per-entity one-time 
impact is $270 (IEC 2012b, p. A-8). This is not anticipated to present 
a significant impact to any of the seven small jurisdictions. Even if 
we applied the most conservative assumption that all of the third-party 
costs are borne by a single small entity, the one-time impact is 0.2 
percent of reported annual revenues (IEC 2012b, p. A-8).
    In summary, we considered whether this designation would result in 
a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. Based on the above reasoning and information in the economic 
analysis, we are certifying that the designation of critical habitat 
for Allium munzii 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. 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. Our FEA states that the designation of 
critical habitat for Allium munzii is anticipated to result in minor 
third-party administrative costs of $875 to Southern California Edison 
(IEC 2012b, p. A-10). This impact is unlikely to increase the cost of 
energy distribution in excess of one percent.
    Thus, based on information in the economic analysis, energy-related 
impacts associated with Allium munzii conservation activities within 
critical habitat are not expected. As such, the designation of critical 
habitat for this species is not expected to significantly affect energy 
supplies, distribution, or use. Because we are not designating any 
critical habitat for Atriplex coronata var. notatior, the final 
critical habitat determination for this taxon will not 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, or tribal 
governments, or the private sector, and includes both ``Federal 
intergovernmental mandates'' and ``Federal private sector mandates.'' 
These terms are defined in 2 U.S.C. 658(5)-(7). ``Federal 
intergovernmental mandate'' includes a regulation that ``would impose 
an enforceable duty upon State, local, or tribal governments'' with two 
exceptions. It excludes ``a condition of Federal assistance.'' It also 
excludes ``a duty arising from participation in a voluntary Federal 
program,'' unless the regulation ``relates to a then-existing Federal 
program under which $500,000,000 or more is provided annually to State, 
local, and tribal governments under entitlement authority,'' if the 
provision would ``increase the stringency of conditions of assistance'' 
or ``place caps upon, or otherwise decrease, the Federal Government's 
responsibility to provide funding,'' and the State, local, or tribal 
governments ``lack authority'' to adjust accordingly. At the time of 
enactment, these entitlement programs were: Medicaid; Aid to Families 
with Dependent Children work programs; Child Nutrition; Food Stamps; 
Social Services Block Grants; Vocational Rehabilitation State Grants; 
Foster Care, Adoption Assistance, and Independent Living; Family 
Support Welfare Services; and Child Support Enforcement. ``Federal 
private sector mandate'' includes a regulation that ``would impose an 
enforceable duty upon the private sector, except (i) a condition of 
Federal assistance or (ii) a duty arising from participation in a 
voluntary Federal program.''
    The designation of critical habitat does not impose a legally 
binding duty on non-Federal Government entities or private parties. 
Under the Act, the only regulatory effect is that Federal agencies must 
ensure that their actions do not adversely modify critical habitat 
under section 7. While non-Federal entities

[[Page 22655]]

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 adverse modification of critical habitat 
rests squarely on the Federal agency. Furthermore, to the extent that 
non-Federal entities are indirectly impacted because they receive 
Federal assistance or participate in a voluntary Federal aid program, 
the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act would not apply, nor would critical 
habitat shift the costs of the large entitlement programs listed above 
onto State governments.
    (2) We do not believe that this rule will significantly or uniquely 
affect small governments because it would not produce a Federal mandate 
of $100 million or greater in any year; that is, it is not a 
``significant regulatory action'' under the Unfunded Mandates Reform 
Act. The FEA concludes incremental impacts may occur due to 
administrative costs of section 7 consultations for development, 
transportation, and flood control projects; however, none of the 
entities potentially affected are considered to be small governments. 
Consequently, we do not believe that the critical habitat designation 
will 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 Allium munzii in a takings implications 
assessment. Because we are not designating critical habitat in this 
final rule for Atriplex coronata var. notatior, we did not include an 
analysis for this taxon in the 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 adverse modification of 
critical habitat rests squarely on the Federal agency. The takings 
implications assessment concludes that this designation of critical 
habitat for A. munzii does not pose significant takings implications 
for lands within or affected by the designation.

Federalism--Executive Order 13132

    In accordance with Executive Order 13132 (Federalism), this rule 
does not have significant Federalism effects. A federalism impact 
summary statement is not required. In keeping with Department of the 
Interior and Department of Commerce policy, we requested information 
from, and coordinated development of, this critical habitat designation 
with appropriate State resource agencies in California. We did not 
receive any comments from these agencies. Because we are not 
designating critical habitat in this final rule for Atriplex coronata 
var. notatior, the final critical habitat determination for this taxon 
will not impose any restrictions additional to those currently in 
place. The designation of critical habitat in areas currently occupied 
by Allium munzii is not expected to impose additional restrictions to 
those currently in place and, therefore, has little incremental impact 
on State and local governments and their activities. The designation of 
critical habitat for A. munzii may have some benefit to these 
governments in that the areas that contain the physical or biological 
features essential to the conservation of the species are more clearly 
defined, and the elements of the features of the habitat necessary to 
the conservation of the species are specifically identified. This 
information does not alter where and what federally sponsored 
activities may occur. However, it may assist local governments in long-
range planning.
    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 adverse modification of 
critical habitat rests squarely on the Federal agency.

Civil Justice Reform--Executive Order 12988

    In accordance with Executive Order 12988 (Civil Justice Reform), 
the Office of the Solicitor has determined that the rule does not 
unduly burden the judicial system and that it meets the applicable 
standards set forth in sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of the Order. We are 
designating critical habitat in accordance with the provisions of the 
Act. The final critical habitat designation for Allium munzii is 
defined by the map or maps, as modified by any accompanying regulatory 
text, and identifies the elements of physical or biological features 
essential to the conservation of A. munzii within the designated areas 
to assist the public in understanding the habitat needs of the species.

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

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

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

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

Government-to-Government Relationship With Tribes

    In accordance with the President's memorandum of April 29, 1994 
(Government-to-Government Relations with Native American Tribal 
Governments; 59 FR 22951), Executive Order 13175 (Consultation and 
Coordination With Indian Tribal Governments), and the Department of the 
Interior's manual at 512 DM 2, we readily acknowledge our 
responsibility to communicate meaningfully with recognized Federal 
Tribes on a government-to-government basis. In accordance with 
Secretarial Order 3206 of June 5, 1997 (American Indian Tribal Rights, 
Federal-Tribal Trust Responsibilities, and the Endangered Species Act), 
we readily acknowledge our responsibilities to work directly with 
tribes in developing programs for healthy ecosystems, to acknowledge 
that tribal lands are not subject to the same controls as Federal 
public lands, to remain sensitive to Indian culture, and

[[Page 22656]]

to make information available to tribes. We determined that there are 
no tribal lands within the geographical area occupied by Allium munzii 
or Atriplex coronata var. notatior at the time of listing that contain 
the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of 
the taxa, and no tribal lands outside the geographical area occupied by 
A. munzii and A. c. var. notatior at the time of listing that are 
essential for the conservation of the two taxa. Therefore, we are not 
designating critical habitat for A. munzii on tribal lands. No critical 
habitat is designated for A. c. var. notatior in this final rule.

References Cited

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

Authors

    The primary authors of this rulemaking are the staff members of the 
Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, Pacific Southwest Region, U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service.

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, 1531-1544, and 4201-4245; Pub. 
L. 99-625, 100 Stat. 3500; unless otherwise noted.

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


Sec.  17.12  Endangered and threatened plants.

* * * * *
    (h) * * *

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                       Species
------------------------------------------------------   Historic range           Family           Status     When  listed      Critical       Special
         Scientific name              Common name                                                                                habitat        rules
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
FLOWERING PLANTS
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
Allium munzii...................  Munz's onion.......  U.S.A. (CA).......  Alliaceae..........  E..........             650       17.96 (a)           NA
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

0
3. Amend Sec.  17.96(a) as follows:
0
a. Under Family Liliaceae, remove the designation of critical habitat 
for ``Allium munzii (Munz's onion)''; and
0
b. Add Family Alliaceae and a designation of critical habitat for 
``Allium munzii (Munz's onion)''.
    The addition reads as follows:


Sec.  17.96  Critical habitat--plants.

    (a) * * *
Family Alliaceae: Allium munzii (Munz's onion)
    (1) Critical habitat units are depicted for Riverside County, 
California, on the maps below.
    (2) Within these areas, the primary constituent elements of the 
physical or biological features essential to the conservation of Allium 
munzii consist of two components:
    (i) Clay soil series of sedimentary origin (for example, Altamont, 
Auld, Bosanko, Porterville), clay lenses (pockets of clay soils) of 
those series that may be found as unmapped inclusions in other soil 
series, or soil series of sedimentary or igneous origin with a clay 
subsoil (for example, Cajalco, Las Posas, Vallecitos):
    (A) Found on level or slightly sloping landscapes or terrace 
escarpments;
    (B) Generally between the elevations of 1,200 to 3,500 ft (366 to 
1,067 m) above mean sea level;
    (C) Within intact natural surface and subsurface structures that 
have been minimally altered or unaltered by ground-disturbing 
activities (for example, disked, graded, excavated, or recontoured);
    (D) Within microhabitats that receive or retain more moisture than 
surrounding areas, due in part to factors such as exposure, slope, and 
subsurface geology; and
    (E) Part of open native or nonnative grassland plant communities 
and clay soil flora, including southern needlegrass grassland, mixed 
grassland, and open coastal sage scrub or occasionally in cismontane 
juniper woodlands; or
    (ii) Outcrops of igneous rocks (pyroxenite) on rocky-sandy loam or 
clay soils within Riversidean sage scrub, generally between the 
elevations of 1,200 to 3,500 ft (366 to 1,067 m) above mean sea level.
    (3) Critical habitat does not include manmade structures (such as 
buildings, aqueducts, runways, roads, and other paved areas) and 
related infrastructure, and the land on which they are located existing 
within the legal boundaries on May 16, 2013.
    (4) Critical habitat map units. Data layers defining map units were 
created using a base of USDA digital ortho-photos of Riverside County, 
California. Critical habitat units were then defined using Universal 
Transverse Mercator (UTM) Zone 11, North American Datum (NAD) 1983 
coordinates.
    (5) Index map follows:
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P

[[Page 22657]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR16AP13.000

    (6) Elsinore Peak Unit, Riverside County, California. Map of 
Elsinore Peak Unit, follows:

[[Page 22658]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR16AP13.001

* * * * *

    Dated: March 28, 2013.
Rachel Jacobsen,
Principal Deputy, Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
[FR Doc. 2013-08364 Filed 4-15-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-C