[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 78 (Tuesday, April 23, 2013)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 24007-24032]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-09404]



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Vol. 78

Tuesday,

No. 78

April 23, 2013

Part III





 Department of the Interior





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 Fish and Wildlife Service





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50 CFR Part 17





 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Designation of Critical 
Habitat for Eriogonum codium (Umtanum Desert Buckwheat) and Physaria 
douglasii subsp. tuplashensis (White Bluffs Bladderpod); Final Rule

Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 78 / Tuesday, April 23, 2013 / Rules 
and Regulations

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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[Docket No. FWS-R1-ES-2013-0012; 4500030113]
RIN 1018-AZ54


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Designation of 
Critical Habitat for Eriogonum codium (Umtanum Desert Buckwheat) and 
Physaria douglasii subsp. tuplashensis (White Bluffs Bladderpod)

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, designate critical 
habitat for Umtanum desert buckwheat (Erigonum codium) and White Bluffs 
bladderpod (Physaria douglasii subsp. tuplashensis) under the Act. In 
total, approximately 344 acres (139 hectares) are designated as 
critical habitat for Eriogonum codium in Benton County, Washington, and 
approximately 2,861 acres (1,158 hectares) are designated as critical 
habitat for Physaria douglasii subsp. tuplashensis in Franklin County, 
Washington. The effect of this regulation is to conserve both species' 
habitat under the Endangered Species Act.

DATES: This rule becomes effective on May 23, 2013.

ADDRESSES: This final rule is available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov and at http://www.fws.gov/wafwo/HanfordPlants. 
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 U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, Washington Fish and Wildlife Office, 510 Desmond Drive SE., 
Suite 102, Lacey, WA 98503-1263; (360) 753-9440 (telephone); (360) 753-
9008 (facsimile).
    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/wafwo/Hanford_Plants/FLFCH.html), www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-R1-
ES-2013-0012, and at the (Washington Fish and Wildlife Office) (see FOR 
FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Any additional tools or supporting 
information that we may develop for this critical habitat designation 
will also be available at the Fish and Wildlife Service Web site and 
Field Office set out above, and may also be included in the preamble 
and/or at www.regulations.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ken Berg, Manager, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Washington Fish and Wildlife Office, 510 Desmond 
Drive, Suite 102, Lacey, Washington 98503-1263, by telephone (360) 753-
9440, or by facsimile (360) 753-9405. Persons who use a 
telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal 
Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Executive Summary

    Why we need to publish a rule. This is a final rule to designate 
critical habitat for Umtanum desert buckwheat and White Bluffs 
bladderpod. Under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 
U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) (Act), any species that is determined to be an 
endangered or threatened species requires that critical habitat be 
designated, to the maximum extent prudent and determinable. 
Designations and revisions of critical habitat can only be completed by 
issuing a rule.
    Elsewhere in today's Federal Register, we, the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, list Umtanum desert buckwheat and White Bluffs 
bladderpod as threatened species. On May 15, 2012, we published in the 
Federal Register a proposed listing and critical habitat designation 
for both species. Section 4(b)(2) of the Act states that the Secretary 
shall designate 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 critical habitat areas we are designating in this rule 
constitute our current best assessment of the areas that meet the 
definition of critical habitat for Umtanum desert buckwheat and White 
Bluffs bladderpod. Here we are designating approximately 2,744 acres of 
Federal land, 42 acres of State land, and 419 acres of private land as 
critical habitat for both species.
    We have prepared an economic analysis of the designation of 
critical habitat. In order to consider economic impacts, we have 
prepared an analysis of the economic impacts of the critical habitat 
designations and related factors. We announced the availability of the 
draft economic analysis (DEA) in the May 15, 2012, proposed rule (77 FR 
28704), allowing the public to provide comments on our analysis. No 
comments were received in response to the DEA.
    Peer review and public comment. We sought comments from independent 
specialists to ensure that our designation is based on scientifically 
sound data, assumptions, and analyses. We obtained opinions from four 
knowledgeable individuals with scientific expertise to review our 
technical assumptions, analysis, and whether or not we had used the 
best available information. These peer reviewers generally concurred 
with our methods and conclusions and provided additional information, 
clarifications, and suggestions to improve this final rule. Information 
we received from peer review is incorporated in this final designation. 
We did not receive any comments from the public regarding the proposed 
critical habitat designation or the draft economic analysis.

Previous Federal Actions

    Candidate History: Umtanum desert buckwheat (Eriogonum codium) and 
White Bluffs bladderpod (formerly Lesquerella tuplashensis, now 
Physaria douglasii subsp. tuplashensis) (see ``Taxonomy'' section 
below), were identified as candidates for possible addition to the 
Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants in our Annual 
Candidate Notice of Review, published in the Federal Register on 
October 25, 1999 (64 FR 57542). We refer to both species by their 
common names throughout this rule. Both species were given a Listing 
Priority Number (LPN) of 5 at that time; the LPN is assigned to a 
species based on the immediacy and magnitude of threats and the 
species' taxonomic status. In 1999, threats to both species were 
considered to be of high magnitude, but not imminent. However, in 2002, 
the LPN for Umtanum desert buckwheat was revised to LPN 2, which is 
assigned when threats to a species are of high magnitude and imminence 
(67 FR 40663; June 13, 2002), based on new information revealing low 
reproduction for the species. The LPN for White Bluffs bladderpod was 
revised to LPN 9 in 2009 (74 FR 57810; November 9, 2009), to reflect 
new information indicating threats were now moderate to low in 
magnitude and imminence. In 2009, the Service completed a Spotlight 
Species Action Plan for White Bluffs bladderpod to set conservation 
targets and identify actions to achieve those targets for the next 5 
years. This plan can be found on the Service's Web site at: http://www.fws.gov/ecos/ajax/docs/action_plans/doc3090.pdf. The 2011 Notice 
of Review, published October 26, 2011 (76 FR 66370), included Umtanum

[[Page 24009]]

desert buckwheat and White Bluffs bladderpod; both species have been 
maintained as candidates since 1999.
    Petition History: A petition requesting that Umtanum desert 
buckwheat, White Bluffs bladderpod, and several other species be listed 
as endangered under the Act was received on May 4, 2004 (Center for 
Biological Diversity et al. [CBD] 2004, pp. 49, 100). On July 12, 2011, 
the Service filed a multiyear work plan as part of a settlement 
agreement with the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and others in 
a consolidated case in the U.S. District Court for the District of 
Columbia. The settlement agreement was approved by the court on 
September 9, 2011, and will enable the Service to systematically review 
and address the conservation needs of more than 250 species, over a 
period of 6 years, including Umtanum desert buckwheat and White Bluffs 
bladderpod.
    We proposed listing Umtanum desert buckwheat and White Bluffs 
bladderpod as threatened under the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) with 
critical habitat (77 FR 28704) on May 15, 2012, and announced the 
availability of a draft economic analysis. Proposed critical habitat 
included shrub steppe habitats within Benton County, Washington, for 
Umtanum desert buckwheat, and White Bluffs bladderpod within Franklin 
County, Washington. The final listing rule published elsewhere in 
today's Federal Register.

Background

    It is our intent to discuss only those topics directly relevant to 
the listing and critical habitat designations for Umtanum desert 
buckwheat and White Bluffs bladderpod in this final rule. A summary of 
topics relevant to this final rule is provided below. Additional 
information on both species may be found in the Candidate Notice of 
Review, which was published October 26, 2011 (76 FR 66370).

Geography, Climate, and Landscape Setting

    Umtanum desert buckwheat and White Bluffs bladderpod are found only 
on the Hanford Reach of the Columbia River, the last free-flowing 
stretch of the Columbia River within U.S. borders. The Hanford Reach 
lies within the semi-arid shrub steppe Pasco Basin of the Columbia 
Plateau in south-central Washington State. The region's climate is 
influenced by the Pacific Ocean, the Cascade Mountain Range to the 
west, and other mountain ranges located to the north and east. The 
Pacific Ocean moderates temperatures throughout the Pacific Northwest, 
and the Cascade Range generates a rain shadow that limits rain and 
snowfall in the eastern half of Washington State. The Cascade Range 
also serves as a source of cold air, which has a considerable effect on 
the wind regime on the Hanford reach. Daily maximum temperatures vary 
from an average of 1.7 [deg]Celsius (C) (35[emsp14][deg]F (F)) in late 
December and early January, to 36 [deg]C (96[emsp14][deg]F) in late 
July. The Hanford Reach is generally quite arid, with an average annual 
precipitation of 16 centimeters (cm) (6.3 inches (in)). The relative 
humidity at the Hanford Reach is highest during the winter months, 
averaging about 76 percent, and lowest during the summer, averaging 
about 36 percent. Average snowfall ranges from 0.25 cm (0.1 in) in 
October to a maximum of 13.2 cm (5.2 in) in December, decreasing to 1.3 
cm (0.5 in) in March. Snowfall accounts for about 38 percent of all 
precipitation from December through February (USFWS 2008, pp. 3.8-
3.10).
    The Hanford Reach National Monument (Monument), which includes 
approximately 78,780 hectares (ha) (195,000 acres (ac)), contains much 
of the Hanford Reach of the Columbia River. All of the land is owned by 
the DOE and was formerly part of the 145,440-ha (360,000-ac) Hanford 
installation. The Hanford installation was established by the U.S. 
Government in 1943 as a national security area for the production of 
weapons grade plutonium and purification facilities. For more than 40 
years, the primary mission at Hanford was associated with the 
production of nuclear materials for national defense. However, large 
tracts of land were used as protective buffer zones for safety and 
security purposes and remained relatively undisturbed.
    The Monument was established by Presidential Proclamation in June 
2000, to connect these tracts of land, protecting the river reach and 
the largest remnant of the shrub steppe ecosystem in the Columbia River 
Basin. The Hanford Reach National Monument Proclamation identifies 
several nationally significant resources, including a diversity of rare 
native plant and animal species, such as Umtanum desert buckwheat and 
White Bluffs bladderpod (USFWS 2008, p. 1-4). The Proclamation also 
sets forth specific management actions and mechanisms that are to be 
followed: (1) Federal lands are withdrawn from disposition under public 
land laws, including all interests in these lands, such as future 
mining claims; (2) off-road vehicle use is prohibited; (3) the ability 
to apply for water rights is established; (4) grazing is prohibited; 
(5) the Service and DOE (subject to certain provisions) are established 
as managers of the Monument; (6) a land management transfer mechanism 
from the DOE to the Service is established; (7) cleanup and restoration 
activities are assured; and (8) existing rights, including tribal 
rights, are protected.
    All lands included in the Hanford Reach National Monument are 
Federal lands under the primary jurisdiction of the DOE. Approximately 
66,660 ha (165,000 ac) of these acres are currently managed as an 
overlay refuge by the Service through agreements with the DOE. Overlay 
refuges exist where the Service manages lands for the benefit of fish 
and wildlife resources, but is not the primary holder in fee title of 
lands forming the refuge (USFWS 2008, p. 1-7). Because the Monument is 
administered as a component of the National Wildlife Refuge System, the 
legal mandates and policies that apply to any national wildlife refuge 
apply to the Monument. The Proclamation directs the DOE and the Service 
to protect and conserve the area's native plant communities, 
specifically recognizing the area's biologically diverse shrub steppe 
ecosystem (USFWS 2008, pp. 1.21, 3.5). The DOE manages approximately 
11,716 ha (29,000 ac) of land within the Monument and retains land 
surface ownership or control on all Monument acreage. Thus, the Service 
and DOE have joint management responsibility for the Monument.
    The parcel of land where Umtanum desert buckwheat occurs is on part 
of what was historically called the McGee Ranch, a historical homestead 
of more than 364 ha (900 ac) within the greater Hanford installation. 
Management of this parcel has been retained by DOE due to unresolved 
issues related to contaminants. This situation is expected to be 
resolved over time, and management conveyed to the Monument, since this 
area is not essential to the operation of the Hanford facility. Umtanum 
desert buckwheat and White Bluffs bladderpod both occur in narrow, 
linear bands on bluffs above and on opposite sides of the Columbia 
River. The populations are approximately 15 kilometers (km) (9 miles 
(mi)) apart, and although relatively near to each other, their habitat 
has a widely disparate geologic history and subsequent soil 
development. These conditions create unique habitats and substrates 
that support these and other rare endemic plants (see Species 
Information sections) within the Hanford Reach.

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Species Information

Umtanum Desert Buckwheat
    Umtanum desert buckwheat is a long-lived, woody perennial plant 
that forms low mats. Individual plants may exceed 100 years of age, 
based on counts of annual growth rings on cross sections of the main 
stems of recently dead plants. Growth rates are also extremely slow, 
with stem diameters increasing an average of only 0.17 millimeters (mm) 
(0.007 in) per year (The Nature Conservancy (TNC) 1998, p. 9; Dunwiddie 
et al. 2001, p. 62). A detailed description of the identifying 
characteristics of Umtanum desert buckwheat is found in Reveal et al. 
(1995, pp. 350-351). Umtanum desert buckwheat is State-listed as 
Endangered, with a G1 (i.e., critically imperiled worldwide, and 
particularly vulnerable to extinction) global ranking and an S1 (i.e., 
critically imperiled Statewide, and particularly vulnerable to 
extinction) State ranking (WDNR 2011a, p. 5).
Taxonomy
    In 1995, Florence Caplow and Kathryn Beck resumed large-scale rare 
plant surveys on the Hanford Site that were initiated in 1994 by TNC 
and the DOE, as part of the Hanford Biodiversity Project. Two 
previously undescribed plant taxa were discovered, including Umtanum 
desert buckwheat (Caplow and Beck 1996, p. 5). The species was fully 
described in Reveal et al. (1995), and the current nomenclature has 
been unchallenged since that time. Umtanum desert buckwheat is 
recognized as a distinct species, and there is no known controversy 
concerning its taxonomy.
Habitat/Life History
    Umtanum desert buckwheat was discovered in 1995 during a botanical 
survey of the Hanford installation (Reveal et al. 1995, p. 353), and is 
found exclusively on soils over exposed basalt from the Lolo Flow of 
the Wanapum Basalt Formation. As the basalt of the Lolo Flow weathers, 
a rocky soil type is formed that is classified as lithosol, a term 
describing the well-drained, shallow, generally stony soils over 
bedrock (Franklin and Dyrness 1973, p. 347), and talus slopes 
associated with eroding outcrops and cliffs. These cliffs (scarps) and 
loose rock at the base of cliffs or on slopes (defined as scree) are 
found along the crests and slopes of local hills and ridges, including 
east Umtanum Ridge, where Umtanum desert buckwheat occurs. This type of 
landform in the Columbia Basin is determined by the underlying basalts, 
which may be exposed above the soil on ridge tops or where wind and 
water erode the fine soils away (Sackschewski and Downs 2001, p. 
2.1.1).
    The Lolo Flow contains higher levels of titanium dioxide and lower 
levels of iron oxide than the neighboring Rosalia Flow, also of the 
Priest Rapids Member. The flow top material commonly has a high 
porosity and permeability and has weathered to pebble and gravel-sized 
pieces of vesicular basalt (Reveal et al. 1995, p. 354). This basalt 
typically contains small (<5 mm (0.2 in)) crystals of the mineral 
olivine and rare clusters of plagioclase crystals (Reidel and Fecht 
1981, pp. 3-13). It is unknown if the close association of Umtanum 
desert buckwheat with the lithosols of the Lolo Flow is related to the 
chemical composition or physical characteristics of the bedrock on 
which it is found, or a combination of factors not currently understood 
(Reveal et al. 1995, p. 354).
    Preliminary counts indicate that seed set occurs in approximately 
10 percent of flowers observed, potentially limiting reproductive 
capacity. Based on a pollinator exclusion study (Beck 1999, pp. 25-27), 
the species is probably capable of at least limited amounts of self-
pollination, although the percentage of seed set in the absence of 
pollinators appears to be low. A variety of insect pollinators were 
observed on Umtanum desert buckwheat flowers, including ants, beetles, 
flies, spiders, moths and butterflies (TNC 1998, p. 8). Wasps from the 
families Vespidae and Typhiidae and a wasp from the species Criosciolia 
have been observed in the vicinity of Umtanum desert buckwheat, but not 
on the plant itself. A bumble bee, Bombus centralis, has been observed 
by Washington Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) specialists 
utilizing flowers of Umtanum desert buckwheat plants (Arnett 2011b, 
pers. comm.).
    Common perennial plant associates of Umtanum desert buckwheat 
include Artemisia tridentata (big sagebrush), Grayia spinosa (spiny 
hopsage), Krascheninnikovia lanata (winterfat), Eriogonum 
sphaerocephalum (rock buckwheat), Salvia dorrii (purple sage), 
Hesperostipa comata (needle and thread), Pseudoroegneria spicata 
(bluebunch wheatgrass), Poa secunda (Sandberg's bluegrass), Sphaeralcea 
munroana (Munro's globemallow), Astragalus caricinus (buckwheat 
milkvetch), and Balsamorhiza careyana (Carey's balsamroot). Common 
annual associates include Bromus tectorum (cheatgrass), Sisymbrium 
altissimum (tumblemustard), Phacelia linearis (threadleaf phacelia), 
Aliciella leptomeria (sand gilia), Aliciella sinuata (shy gilia), 
Camissonia minor (small evening primrose), and Cryptantha pterocarya 
(wingnut cryptantha).
Historical Range/Distribution
    The only known population of Umtanum desert buckwheat occurs along 
the top edges of the steep slopes on Umtanum Ridge, a wide mountain 
ridge in Benton County, Washington, where it has a discontinuous 
distribution along a narrow (25-150 m (82-492 ft) wide by 1.6 km (1 mi) 
long) portion of the ridge (Dunwiddie et al. 2001, p. 59). The species 
was discovered in 1995 (Reveal et al. 1995, p. 354), and there are no 
verified records of any collections prior to that year.
Current Range/Distribution
    It is unknown if the historic distribution of Umtanum desert 
buckwheat was different than the species' current distribution, but it 
is likely the species has been confined to this location during at 
least the last 150 years, as annual growth ring counts from fire-killed 
plants revealed individual ages in excess of 100 years. Individual 
plants with greater stem diameters (and, therefore, presumably older) 
are present, which supports the 150-year minimum locality occupation 
estimate.
Population Estimates/Status
    The only known population of Umtanum desert buckwheat was fully 
censused (an accounting of the number of all individuals in a 
population) in 1995, 1997, 2005, and 2011 (see Table 1). In 1995, 
researchers counted 4,917 living individual plants, and in 1997, 
researchers counted 5,228 individuals (Dunwiddie et al. 2001, p. 61). 
The 1995 census was ``roughly counted'' (Beck 1999, p. 3) (i.e., there 
was a greater degree of estimation), while the 1997 count was more 
precise. In addition, the 1995 count may have overlooked an isolated 
patch with 79 plants to the east that was discovered in 2011. It is not 
uncommon for estimated population counts to be substantially lower than 
precise counts (Arnett 2011a, pers. comm.).

      Table 1--Umtanum Desert Buckwheat Population Counts 1995-2011
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                           Total plants
                       Census year                            counted
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1995....................................................           4,917
1997....................................................           5,228
2005....................................................           4,408
2011....................................................           5,169
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    After a wildfire in 1997 burned through a portion of the 
population, a

[[Page 24011]]

subsequent count found 5,228 living and 813 dead individual plants. A 
minimum of 75 percent of the 813 dead individual plants died as a 
direct result of the fire (Dunwiddie et al. 2001, p. 61). No survival 
or resprouting was noted in fire-killed plants in following years. 
Because a more accurate count was used to derive the number of dead 
individual plants (Beck 1999, p. 3), this total represents a fairly 
precise measure of the impact of the 1997 wildfire on Umtanum desert 
buckwheat (Arnett 2011a, pers. comm.), although it is likely some 
plants were totally consumed by the fire and, therefore, 
unidentifiable.
    In 2005, researchers reported 4,408 living plants (Caplow 2005, p. 
1), which represents a 15 percent decline in the population over an 8-
year period. However, this result likely reflects some variability in 
how the census was performed over the years since the species was 
discovered in 1995. On July 12, 2011, a complete population census was 
conducted, which recorded 5,169 living individuals. This count was 
somewhat higher than average, which could be attributable to a more 
thorough census, the identification of plant clusters not previously 
documented, and the recording of larger clumps as containing more than 
one individual plant. These clumps were likely counted as individual 
plants in previous counts (Arnett 2011a, pers. comm.).
    Demographic monitoring of the largest subpopulation within the main 
population commenced in 1997, and demonstrated an average 2 percent 
annual mortality of adult flowering plants. During the 9 years of 
monitoring, only 4 or 5 seedlings have been observed to survive beyond 
the year of their germination (Kaye 2007, p. 5). Since 2007, the 
demographic monitoring plots continue to reflect population declines 
and minimal recruitment (Arnett 2011b, pers. comm.). Dunwiddie et al. 
(2001, p. 67) documented a lack of plants in the smallest size classes 
and the absence of any seed survival over 1 year. Their data did not 
indicate any spikes or gaps in the size distribution of plants that 
might reflect years of unusually high or low recruitment of plants, 
although evidence of such could have been obscured by the variable 
growth rates of the plants. Populations of long-lived species with low 
adult mortality can survive with relatively low recruitment rates 
(Harper 1977 in Dunwiddie et al. 2001, p. 67). Further, the survival of 
a few seedlings each year may be sufficient to replace the occasional 
adult that dies, or alternatively, an occasional bumper crop of 
seedlings surviving to maturity during several favorable years may 
ensure the long-term survival of the population (Dunwiddie et al. 2001, 
p. 67). However, no demographic data supported either of these 
scenarios for this species (Dunwiddie et al. 2001, p. 67).
    An unpublished draft population viability analysis (PVA) was 
completed in 2007 by Thomas Kaye (2007, p. 5), based on 9 years of 
demographic data. A PVA is a quantitative analysis of population 
dynamics, with the goal of assessing the risk of extinction of a 
species. The 2007 study, which took into account observed environmental 
variability, determined there was little or no risk of a 90 percent 
population decline within the next 100 years; an approximate 13 percent 
chance of a decline of 50 percent of the population over the next 50 
years; and a 72 percent chance of a 50 percent decline within the next 
100 years. The PVA concluded the decline is gradual, consistent with 
the decline noted by Caplow (2005, p. 1) between 1997 and 2005, and 
will likely take several decades to impact the population (Kaye 2007, 
p. 7). Although census data indicates more individuals in 2011 compared 
to the number of individuals in 1995 and 2005, this increase likely 
reflects some variability in how the census was performed. The 
inflorescence for Umtanum desert buckwheat consists of a cluster of 
flowers arranged on a main stem or branch. As stated earlier, the fact 
that the 2011 census was somewhat higher than previous plant counts may 
be attributable to the identification of plant clusters not previously 
documented, or individually counting plants present in plant clusters 
(rather than counting the cluster itself as one plant) (Arnett 2011a, 
pers. comm.). Since 1995, numerous surveys have been conducted at other 
locations within the lower Columbia River Basin, within every habitat 
type that appears to be suitable for Umtanum desert buckwheat. However 
no other populations or individuals have been found to date.

Species Information

White Bluffs Bladderpod
    White Bluffs bladderpod is a low-growing, herbaceous, perennial 
plant with a sturdy tap root and a dense rosette of broad gray-green 
pubescent (having any kind of hairs) leaves (WDNR 2010). The subspecies 
produces showy yellow flowers on relatively short stems in May, June, 
and July. The subspecies inhabits dry, steep upper zone and top 
exposures of the White Bluffs area of the Hanford Reach at the lower 
edge of the Wahluke Slope. Along these bluffs, a layer of highly 
alkaline, fossilized cemented calcium carbonate (caliche) soil has been 
exposed (Rollins et al. 1996, pp. 203-205). A detailed description of 
the identifying physical characteristics of White Bluffs bladderpod is 
in Rollins et al. (1996, pp. 203-205) and Al-Shehbaz and O'Kane (2002, 
pp. 319-320). White Bluffs bladderpod is State-listed as Threatened, 
with a G2 (i.e., imperiled world-wide, vulnerable to extinction) global 
ranking and an S2 (i.e., vulnerable to extirpation) State ranking (WDNR 
2011).
Taxonomy
    Although specimens of this taxon were originally collected from a 
population in 1883, the plant material was in poor condition, no 
definitive identification could be made, and the plant was not 
recognized as a species at that time. The population was rediscovered 
in 1994, and was described and published as a species, Lesquerella 
tuplashensis, by Rollins et al. (1996, pp. 319-322). A petition 
requesting that L. tuplashensis be listed as endangered under the Act 
stated that its status as a valid species is uncontroversial (Center 
for Biological Diversity et al. [CBD] 2004, pp. 49,100). Since then, 
the nomenclature and taxonomy of the species has been investigated.
    In a general paper on the taxonomy of Physaria and Lesquerella, 
O'Kane and Al-Shehbaz (2002, p. 321) combined the genera Lesquerella 
and Physaria and reduced the species Lesquerella tuplashensis to 
Physaria douglasii subsp. tuplashensis (O'Kane and Al-Shehbaz (2002, p. 
322)), providing strong molecular, morphological, distributional, and 
ecological data to support the union of the two genera.
    Rollins and Shaw (1973, entire), took a wide view of the degree of 
differentiation between species and subspecies (or varieties) of 
Lesquerella, although many species of Lesquerella are differentiated by 
only one or two stable characters. The research of Rollins et al. 
(1996, pp. 205-206) recognized that, although L. tuplashensis and L. 
douglasii were quite similar, they differed sufficiently in morphology 
and phenological traits to warrant recognition as two distinct species. 
Simmons (2000, p. 75) suggested in a Ph.D. thesis that L. tuplashensis 
may be an ecotype of the more common L. douglasii. Caplow et al. (2006, 
pp. 8-10) later argued that L. tuplashensis was sufficiently different 
from douglasii to warrant a species rank because it: (1) Was 
morphologically distinct, differed in stipe (a supporting stalk or 
stemlike structure) length and

[[Page 24012]]

length-to-width ratio of stem leaves, and had statistically significant 
differences in all other measured characters; (2) was reproductively 
isolated from L. douglasii by nonoverlapping habitat and differences in 
phenology for virtually all L. tuplashensis plants; and (3) had clear 
differences in the ecological niche between the two taxa.
    Based on molecular, morphological, phenological, reproductive, and 
ecological data, the conclusions in Al-Shehbaz and O'Kane (2002, p. 
322) and Caplow et al. (2006, pp. 8-10) combining the genera 
Lesquerella and Physaria and reducing the species Lesquerella 
tuplashensis to Physaria douglasii subsp. tuplashensis, provide the 
most consistent and compelling information available to date. 
Therefore, we consider the White Bluffs bladderpod a subspecies of the 
species Physaria douglasii, with the scientific name Physaria douglasii 
subspecies tuplashensis.
Habitat/Life History
    The only known population of White Bluffs bladderpod is found 
primarily on near-vertical exposures of weathered, cemented, alkaline, 
calcium carbonate paleosol (ancient, buried soil whose composition may 
reflect a climate significantly different from the climate now 
prevalent in the area) (http://www.alcwin.org/Dictionary_Of_Geology_Description-84-P.htm). The hardened carbonate paleosol caps several 
hundred feet of alkaline, easily eroded, lacustrine sediments of the 
Ringold Formation, a sedimentary formation made up of soft Pleistocene 
deposits of clay, gravel, sand, and silt (Newcomb 1958, p. 328). The 
uppermost part of the Ringold Formation is a heavily calcified and 
silicified cap layer to a depth of at least 4.6 m (15 ft). This layer 
is commonly called ``caliche'' although in this case, it lacks the 
nitrate constituents found in true caliche. The ``caliche'' layer is a 
resistant caprock underlying the approximately 274-304 m (900-1,000 ft) 
elevation (above sea level) plateau extending north and east from the 
White Bluffs (Newcomb 1958, p. 330). The White Bluffs bladderpod may be 
an obligate calciphile, as are many of the endemic Lesquerella (now 
Physaria) (Caplow 2006, pp. 2-12). The habitat of White Bluffs 
bladderpod is arid, and vegetative cover is sparse (Rollins et al. 
1996, p. 206).
    Common associated plant species include: Artemisia tridentata (big 
sagebrush), Poa secunda (Sandberg's bluegrass), Bromus tectorum 
(cheatgrass), Astragalus caricinus (buckwheat milk-vetch), Eriogonum 
microthecum (slender buckwheat), Achnatherum hymenoides (Indian 
ricegrass), and Cryptantha spiculifera (Snake River cryptantha). 
Occasionally, White Bluffs bladderpod is numerous enough at some 
locations to be subdominant.
    Because of its recent discovery and limited range, little is known 
of the subspecies' life-history requirements. In a presentation of 
preliminary life-history studies, Dunwiddie et al. (2002, p. 7) 
reported that most individuals reach reproductive condition in their 
first or second year, most adult plants flower every year, and the 
lifespan of this short-lived subspecies is probably 4 to 5 years. The 
population size appears to vary from year to year (see Table 2), and 
the survival of seedlings and adults appears to be highly variable 
(Dunwiddie et al. 2002, p. 8); however, more monitoring is needed to 
determine the magnitude and frequency of high- and low-number years, as 
well as to obtain an understanding of the causes of these annual 
fluctuations (Evans et al. 2003, p. 64). Monitoring by Monument staff 
(Newsome 2011, p. 5) suggests that the annual population fluctuations 
appear to be tied to environmental conditions, such as seasonal 
precipitation and temperature.
Historical Range/Distribution
    In 1996, White Bluffs bladderpod was only known from a single 
population that occurred along the upper edge of the White Bluffs of 
the Columbia River in Franklin County, Washington. The population was 
described to occur intermittently in a narrow band (usually less than 
10 m (33 ft) wide) along an approximately 17-km (10.6-mi) stretch of 
the river bluffs (Rollins et al. 1996, p. 205).
Current Range/Distribution
    White Bluffs bladderpod is still known only from the single 
population that occurs along the upper edge of the White Bluffs of the 
Columbia River, Franklin County, Washington, although the full extent 
of the subspecies' occurrence has now been described. Most of the 
subspecies distribution (85 percent) is within lands owned by the 
Department of Energy (DOE) and once managed by the Washington 
Department of Fish and Wildlife as the Wahluke Wildlife Area (USFWS 
2008, p. 1-3). This land remains under DOE ownership, and is managed by 
the Hanford Reach National Monument/Saddle Mountain National Wildlife 
Refuge (Monument). The remainder of the subspecies' distribution is on 
private land (Newsome 2011, pers. comm.) and WDNR land (Arnett 2012, 
pers. comm.).
Population Estimates/Status
    The size of the population varies considerably between years. 
Censuses in the late 1990s estimated more than 50,000 flowering plants 
in high population years (Evans et al. 2003, p. 3-2) (see Table 2). 
Since 1997 to 1998 when the monitoring transects currently used were 
selected, the population ranged between an estimated low of 9,650 
plants in 2010 to an estimated high of 58,887 plants in 2011 (see Table 
2). Following the monitoring period in 2007, a large wildfire burned 
through the northern portion of the population within the monitoring 
transects. Annual monitoring was conducted through 2011 to attempt to 
determine the effects of fire on White Bluffs bladderpod. The 
monitoring results indicated that, when burned and unburned transects 
were compared, plants in burned transects appear to have rebounded to 
some extent (Newsome 2011, p. 5), although the data have too much 
variability to discern that difference. However, the burned transects 
appeared to have a mean of 24 percent fewer plants than in the unburned 
transects.

     Table 2--Estimated* Population Size of White Bluffs Bladderpod
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                10-Transect  20-Transect
                     Year                          sample       sample
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1997..........................................       14,034          N/A
1998..........................................       31,013       32,603
1999..........................................       20,354       21,699
2002..........................................       11,884       12,038
2007..........................................       29,334       28,618
2008..........................................       16,928       18,400
2009..........................................       16,569       20,028
2010..........................................        9,650        9,949
2011..........................................       47,593       58,887
------------------------------------------------------------------------
* Mean number of plants per transect x total number of transects along
  permanent 100-m (328-ft) monitoring transects (from Newsome 2011, p.
  3). An additional 20-transect sample was added to monitoring after
  1997 to increase statistical confidence.

    The high variability in estimated population numbers was confirmed 
by the 2011 data, which documented the highest population estimate 
since monitoring began in 1997, even though it immediately followed the 
year representing the lowest estimate (2010). May 2011 was identified 
by the Hanford Meteorological Station (http://www.hanford.gov/page.cfm/HMS) as the fifth coolest and seventh wettest month of May recorded on 
the installation since its establishment in 1944 (Newsome 2011, p. 2). 
This environment likely provided ideal conditions for germination, 
growth, and flowering for this year's population following a rather 
moist fall and mild winter season. (Autumn 2010

[[Page 24013]]

precipitation was 4.6 cm (21.8 inches) above average; winter 2011 
precipitation was 0.6 cm (0.24 inches) below average.) (http://www.hanford.gov/page.cfm/hms/products/seaprcp).

Summary of Comments and Recommendations

    We requested written comments from the public on the proposed 
designation of critical habitat for the Umtanum desert buckwheat and 
White Bluffs bladderpod and the associated draft economic analysis. The 
comment period associated with the publication of the proposed rule (77 
FR 28704) opened on May 15, 2012, and closed on July 16, 2012. We did 
not receive any requests for a public hearing. We also contacted 
appropriate Federal, State, and local agencies; scientific 
organizations; and other interested parties and invited them to comment 
on the proposed rule and draft economic analysis during the comment 
period.
    During the comment period, we received two public comment letters 
addressing the proposed listing for both species. We did not receive 
any public comments on the proposed critical habitat designation or 
draft economic analysis. All substantive information provided during 
the comment period has either been incorporated directly into this 
final determination or is addressed below. Comments are addressed in 
the following summary and incorporated into the final rule as 
appropriate.

Peer Review

    In accordance with our peer review policy published on July 1, 1994 
(59 FR 34270), we solicited expert opinions from five knowledgeable 
individuals with scientific expertise that included familiarity with 
the species, regional botanical knowledge, the geographical region in 
which the species occur, and conservation biology principles. We 
received responses from four of the peer reviewers.
    We reviewed all comments received from peer reviewers for 
substantive issues and new information regarding the listing and 
designation of critical habitat for the two plant species. The peer 
reviewers generally concurred with our methods and conclusions, and 
provided editorial comments, taxonomic clarifications, additional 
citations, and information on species distribution, arid lands ecology, 
geology, and habitat associations to improve the final rule. These 
comments have been incorporated into the final rule, but have not been 
individually addressed below. The substantial peer reviewer comments 
are addressed in the following summary and have been incorporated into 
the final rule as appropriate.

Peer Reviewer Comments

    (1) Comment: One peer reviewer commented that delineating critical 
habitat for Umtanum desert buckwheat based on the presumed range of 
pollinators was questionable, as there is little evidence regarding the 
relative importance of pollinators for this species in comparison with 
any other critical aspect of its natural history. The reviewer 
recommended that the boundary be revised to include a several-thousand-
acre polygon around the population, with focused actions to make the 
area less fire-prone (e.g., establishing firebreaks and controlling 
cheatgrass). Another peer reviewer commented that the proposed critical 
habitat would adequately provide for the needs of the species and 
potential pollinators as long as funds are allocated to minimize 
invasive species and increase the native flora that may have been 
reduced by invasive species.
    Our Response: We acknowledge that the risk of wildfire poses a 
significant threat to Umtanum desert buckwheat. The larger landscape 
where this species occurs is within a conservation status, is federally 
owned, and has restricted public access. Threats, including wildfires, 
invasive species, and management actions will continue in the larger 
landscape regardless of whether the area is designated as critical 
habitat. The critical habitat designation for Umtanum desert buckwheat 
is based on the best available scientific information regarding the 
biological needs of the species. We used data regarding flight 
distances of generalist pollinators to delineate a critical habitat 
polygon that is large enough to support the existing population and 
ensure its survival and recovery. Areas designated as critical habitat 
must be essential to the conservation of a species under section 
3(5)(A) of the Act. We are unaware of any scientific information that 
would support an argument that a several-thousand-acre polygon around 
each of the populations is essential to the conservation of either 
Umtanum desert buckwheat or White Bluffs bladderpod. As previously 
stated, management actions to improve habitat and reduce the threat of 
wildfire will be identified and incorporated within the recovery 
planning process, as required under section 4(f) of the Act. That 
process will consider each of the threats to the species, and develop 
recovery tasks necessary to address wildfire, invasive species, 
pollinator habitat, and the other factors impacting the population.
    (2) Comment: For White Bluffs bladderpod, one peer reviewer stated 
that it seems illogical to define critical habitat using presumed 
pollinator movement ranges (see Comment 1), but not address adjacent 
croplands where agricultural activities (e.g., conversion of shrub 
steppe to cropland, use of herbicides and pesticides, etc.) may be 
detrimental to pollinators of the species. Another peer reviewer stated 
it would seem more prudent to define critical habitat in ways that 
address the most critical potential threats (i.e., slope failure and 
landslides), and questioned the rationale used to support a conclusion 
that ``lands that are under agricultural use are not included in the 
proposed critical habitat designation.''
    Our Response: We appreciate the comments. However, in accordance 
with section 3(5)(A) of the Act, critical habitat can only be 
designated for: (1) Specific areas within the geographic area occupied 
by the species at the time of listing that contain the physical or 
biological features essential to the species' conservation, and which 
may require special management considerations or protections; and (2) 
specific areas outside the geographical area occupied by the species at 
the time of listing that are essential to its conservation. Lands that 
are under agricultural use do not satisfy either of these definitions, 
since they do not function as habitat for White Bluffs bladderpod or 
pollinators, as a result of land conversion, irrigation, loss of the 
soil horizon, and presence of agricultural chemicals. Each of the 
threats that have been identified for both species will be considered 
during the recovery planning process under section 4(f)(1) of the Act, 
and section 7 consultations with Federal agencies under section 
7(a)(2).

Critical Habitat Designation for Umtanum Desert Buckwheat and White 
Bluffs Bladderpod

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 and biological features
    (a) Essential to the conservation of the species; and
    (b) Which may require special management considerations or 
protection; and

[[Page 24014]]

    (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 prohibition against Federal agencies carrying out, funding, 
or authorizing the destruction or adverse modification of critical 
habitat. Section 7(a)(2) requires consultation on Federal actions that 
may affect critical habitat. The designation of critical habitat does 
not affect land ownership or establish a refuge, wilderness, reserve, 
preserve, or other conservation area. Such designation does not allow 
the government or public to access private lands. Such designation does 
not require implementation of restoration, recovery, or enhancement 
measures by non-Federal landowners. Where a landowner seeks or requests 
Federal agency funding or authorization for an action that may affect a 
listed species or critical habitat, the consultation requirements of 
section 7(a)(2) of the Act would apply, but even in the event of a 
destruction or adverse modification finding, the Federal action 
agency's and the applicant's obligation is not to restore or recover 
the species, but to implement reasonable and prudent alternatives to 
avoid destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat.
    Under the first prong of the Act's definition of critical habitat, 
areas within the geographical area occupied by the species at the time 
it was listed are included in a critical habitat designation if they 
contain physical or biological features (1) which are essential to the 
conservation of the species, and (2) which may require special 
management considerations or protection. For these areas, critical 
habitat designations identify, to the extent known using the best 
scientific and commercial data available, those physical or biological 
features that are essential to the conservation of the species (such as 
space, food, cover, and protected habitat). In identifying those 
physical or biological features within an area, we focus on the 
principal biological or physical constituent elements (primary 
constituent elements such as roost sites, nesting grounds, seasonal 
wetlands, water quality, tide, soil type) that when combined compose 
the features essential to the conservation of the species.
    Under the second prong of the Act's definition of critical habitat, 
we can designate critical habitat in areas outside the geographical 
area occupied by the species at the time it is listed, upon a 
determination that such areas are essential for the conservation of the 
species. For example, an area currently occupied by the species but 
that was not occupied at the time of listing may be essential to the 
conservation of the species and may be included in the critical habitat 
designation. We designate critical habitat in areas outside the 
geographical area occupied by a species only when a designation limited 
to its current range would be inadequate to ensure the conservation of 
the species.
    Section 4 of the Act requires that we designate critical habitat on 
the basis of the best scientific data available. Further, our Policy on 
Information Standards Under the Endangered Species Act (published in 
the Federal Register on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 34271)), the Information 
Quality Act (section 515 of the Treasury and General Government 
Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2001 (Pub. L. 106-554; H.R. 5658)), 
and our associated Information Quality Guidelines, provide criteria, 
establish procedures, and provide guidance to ensure that our decisions 
are based on the best scientific data available. They require our 
biologists, to the extent consistent with the Act and with the use of 
the best scientific data available, to use primary and original sources 
of information as the basis for recommendations to designate critical 
habitat.
    When we are determining which areas should be designated as 
critical habitat, our primary source of information is generally the 
information developed during the listing process for the species. 
Additional information sources may include the recovery plan for the 
species, articles in peer-reviewed journals, conservation plans 
developed by States and counties, scientific status surveys and 
studies, biological assessments, or other unpublished materials and 
expert opinion 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 
required for recovery of the species. Areas that are important to the 
conservation of the species, but are outside the critical habitat 
designation, will continue to be subject to: (1) Conservation actions 
we implement under section 7(a)(1) of the Act, (2) regulatory 
protections afforded by the requirement in section 7(a)(2) of the Act 
for Federal agencies to ensure their actions are not likely to 
jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered or threatened 
species, and (3) the prohibitions of section 9 of the Act if certain 
actions occurring in these areas may affect the species. Federally 
funded or permitted projects affecting listed species outside their 
designated critical habitat areas may still result in jeopardy findings 
in some cases. These protections and conservation tools will continue 
to contribute to recovery of this species. Similarly, critical habitat 
designations made on the basis of the best available information at the 
time of designation will not control the direction and substance of 
future recovery plans, habitat conservation plans (HCPs), or other 
species conservation planning efforts if new information available at 
the time of these planning efforts warrants otherwise.

Physical or Biological Features

    In accordance with sections 3(5)(A)(i) and 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act 
and the regulations at 50 CFR 424.12, in determining which areas within 
the geographical area occupied at the time of listing to designate as 
critical habitat, we consider the physical and biological features 
(PBF's) essential to the conservation of the species that may require 
special management considerations or protection. These may 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

[[Page 24015]]

    (5) Habitats that are protected from disturbance or are 
representative of the historical, geographical, and ecological 
distributions of a species.
    We derive the specific PBFs required for Umtanum desert buckwheat 
and White Bluffs bladderpod from studies of each species' habitat, 
ecology, and life history as described above in the final listing rule. 
We have determined that the PBFs described below are essential for 
these species. The criteria used to identify the geographical location 
of the designated critical habitat areas for both species are described 
following the Final Critical Habitat Designation sections below (see 
Criteria Used To Identify Critical Habitat).

Criteria Used To Identify Critical Habitat

    As required by section 4(b)(2) of the Act, in developing this final 
rule we used the best scientific data available to designate critical 
habitat for both Umtanum desert buckwheat and White Bluffs bladderpod. 
We reviewed available information that pertains to the habitat 
requirements of these species. In accordance with the Act and its 
implementing regulations at 50 CFR 424.12(e), we also consider whether 
designating additional areas outside those currently occupied as well 
as those occupied at the time of listing is necessary to ensure the 
conservation of the species. These sources of information included, but 
were not limited to:
    1. Data used to prepare the final rule to list the species;
    2. Information from biological surveys;
    3. Peer-reviewed articles, various agency reports and databases 
from the Washington Department of Natural Resources Natural Heritage 
Program and the Hanford National Monument/Saddle Mountain National 
Wildlife Refuge;
    4. Information from the U.S. Department of Energy and other 
governmental cooperators;
    5. Information from species experts;
    6. Data and information presented in academic research theses; and
    7. Regional Geographic Information System (GIS) data (such as 
species occurrence data, land use, topography, aerial imagery, soil 
data, and land ownership maps) for area calculations and mapping.
    The long-term survival and recovery of Umtanum desert buckwheat and 
White Bluffs bladderpod is dependent upon protecting existing 
populations by maintaining ecological function within these sites, 
including preserving the integrity of the unique soils and connectivity 
between occurrences to facilitate pollinator activity. It is also 
dependent on maintaining these areas free of habitat-disturbing 
activities, including trampling, the exclusion of invasive, nonnative 
plant species, and managing the risk of wildfire. Because the areas of 
unique soils cover a relatively small area within the larger shrub 
steppe matrix, we did not restrict the designation to individual 
occupied patches, but included adequate adjacent shrub steppe habitat 
to provide for ecosystem function. This contiguous habitat provides the 
requisite physical or biological features for both Umtanum desert 
buckwheat and White Bluffs bladderpod, including diverse native 
flowering plants and habitat to support pollinators, and provides the 
essential feature of habitat free from disturbances, such as invasive 
species and recreational trampling. We used the following criteria to 
select areas for inclusion in critical habitat: (a) The geographical 
areas containing the entire distribution of habitat occupied by Umtanum 
desert buckwheat and White Bluffs bladderpod at the time of listing, 
because they are each found in only single populations and our goal is 
to maintain the current species extent and genetic variability; (b) 
areas that provide the physical and biological features necessary to 
support the species' life-history requirements; and (c) areas that 
provide connectivity within and between habitat for each species, and 
adjacent shrub steppe habitat that provides for pollinator life-history 
needs.
    The first step in delineating critical habitat units was to 
identify all areas that contained Umtanum desert buckwheat or White 
Bluffs bladderpod populations, which was accomplished during the summer 
of 2011. We are designating critical habitat within and around all 
occurrences of both populations to conserve genetic variability. These 
areas are representative of the entire known historical geographic 
distribution of the species. We then analyzed areas outside the 
populations to identify unoccupied habitat areas essential for the 
conservation of the species. The designations take into account those 
features that are essential to Umtanum desert buckwheat or White Bluffs 
bladderpod and the condition of the surrounding landscape features 
necessary to support pollination.
    We do not know if the lack of pollinators is a limiting factor, but 
in the absence of other information and knowing that both species are 
largely insect-pollinated, we believe it is prudent to identify an area 
adjacent to the occupied areas as unoccupied critical habitat to 
support pollinator species. The outer boundary of the critical habitat 
designation was primarily determined based on the flight distances of 
insect pollinators, which are essential to the conservation of both 
species. Using GIS, we included an area of native shrub steppe 
vegetation approximately 300 m (980 ft) around the population to 
provide habitat of sufficient quantity and quality to support Umtanum 
desert buckwheat and White Bluffs bladderpod. This boundary was 
selected because we believe it provides the minimum area needed to 
sustain an active pollinator community for both species, based on the 
best available scientific information (see Arnett 2011b; Evans pers. 
comm., 2001, discussed below). This distance does not include all 
surrounding habitat potentially used by pollinators, but provides 
sufficient habitat for those pollinators that nest, feed, and reproduce 
in areas adjacent to the occupied critical habitat areas.
    Although Umtanum desert buckwheat and White Bluffs bladderpod are 
visited by a variety of likely pollinators, only one insect pollinator 
species has been verified to date; the bumblebee (Bombus centralis) has 
been confirmed as a pollinator for Umtanum desert buckwheat (Arnett 
2011b, pers. comm.). As stated earlier, Bombus did not appear to be an 
appropriate surrogate to determine pollinator distance for either 
Umtanum desert buckwheat or White Bluffs bladderpod because of their 
relatively long-distance foraging capabilities. Instead, we delineated 
an effective pollinator use area based on the flight distances of 
solitary bees, a group of important noncolonial pollinators with a 
relatively limited flight distance. Research literature on flight 
distances was available for this group (Gathmann and Tscharntke (2002, 
p. 758), of which numerous representatives of the genera Chelostoma, 
Megachile, and Osmia are found in shrub steppe habitat in the Hanford 
Reach area. Species within other solitary bee genera such as Andrena, 
Anthophora, Habropoda, Hoplitis, and Lasioglossum have also been 
identified on the Hanford Installation (Evans 2011, pers. comm.). This 
methodology assumes that potential pollinators with long-range flight 
capabilities would be able to use this proximal habitat as well (see 
Physical and Biological Features section).
    Because the population occurrences of Umtanum desert buckwheat and 
White Bluffs bladderpod are linear in arrangement, we established the 
occupied critical habitat areas by

[[Page 24016]]

connecting the known coordinates for occurrences, using GIS. The mean 
width for the occupied areas was estimated based on monitoring and 
transect data compiled by species experts. The estimated mean width for 
Umtanum desert buckwheat was determined to be 30 m (100 ft), and 50 m 
(165 ft) for White Bluffs bladderpod. We then established a 300-m (980-
ft) unoccupied critical habitat polygon surrounding the mean occupied 
habitat width to identify insect pollinator habitat that is essential 
for the conservation of both species. We then mapped the critical 
habitat unit boundaries for each of the two species based on the above 
criteria, using aerial imagery, 7.5 minute topographic maps, contour 
data, WDNR Wildlife Natural Heritage Program and Washington Department 
of Transportation data to depict the critical habitat designation, 
gather ownership, and acreage information.
    When determining critical habitat boundaries, we made every effort 
to avoid including developed areas such as lands covered by buildings, 
pavement, other structures, tilled farm lands and orchards on private 
property, because such lands lack physical or biological features for 
Umtanum desert buckwheat and White Bluffs bladderpod. 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. Therefore, once the critical habitat designation is finalized, a 
Federal action involving such developed lands would not trigger section 
7 consultation with respect to critical habitat and the requirement of 
no adverse modification, unless the specific action would affect the 
physical and biological features in the adjacent critical habitat.
Umtanum Desert Buckwheat
Space for Individual Population Growth and for Normal Behavior
    Umtanum desert buckwheat is highly restricted in its distribution. 
The only known population occurs at elevations ranging between 340-400 
m (1,115-1,310 ft) on flat to gently sloping substrate at the top edge 
of a steep, north-facing basalt cliff of Umtanum Ridge overlooking the 
Columbia River. Approximately 5,000 plants occur in a narrow band 1.6 
km (1 mi) in length and generally less than 30 m (100 ft) wide (Reveal 
et al. 1995, p. 353). However, individual plants have been found up to 
150 m (490 ft) above the cliff breaks (Arnett 2011b, pers. comm.), and 
scattered plants occur on the steep cliff-face below the breaks 
(Dunwiddie et al. 2001, p. 60).
    Umtanum desert buckwheat is found exclusively on soils over exposed 
basalt from the Lolo Flow of the Wanapum Basalt Formation at the far 
southeastern end of Umtanum Ridge in Benton County, Washington. This 
type of landform in the lower Columbia Basin is determined by the 
underlying basalts, which may be exposed above the soil on ridge tops 
or where wind and water erode the fine soils away (Sackschewski and 
Downs 2001, p. 2.1.1). The Lolo flow surface material commonly has a 
high porosity and permeability. The cliff area has weathered to pebble- 
and gravel-sized pieces of vesicular basalt (basalt that contains tiny 
holes formed due to gas bubbles in lava or magma) and is sparsely 
vegetated where the species is found. It is unknown if the close 
association of Umtanum desert buckwheat with the lithosols of the Lolo 
Flow is related to the chemical composition or physical characteristics 
of the particular parent bedrock on which it is found, or other factors 
(Reveal et al. 1995, p. 354); however, that particular mineralogy is 
not known from any other location.
    Therefore, based on the information above, we identify weathered 
Wanapum basalt cliffs, and adjacent outcrops, cliff breaks, and flat or 
gently sloping cliff tops with exposed pebble and gravel soils as a 
physical or biological feature essential to the conservation for 
Umtanum desert buckwheat.
Food, Water, Air, Light, Minerals, or Other Nutritional or 
Physiological Requirements
    The presence of unique soil structure and/or chemistry may 
determine where a rare plant species exists. Umtanum desert buckwheat 
is found exclusively on pebbly lithosol soils over exposed basalt from 
the Lolo Flow of the Priest Rapids Member of the Wanapum Basalt 
Formation. The flow surface material commonly has a high porosity and 
permeability and typically contains small (<5 mm, (0.2 in)) crystals of 
the mineral olivine and rare (occasional) clusters of plagioclase 
crystals, and differs from the other members of the Wanapum Formation. 
Basalts of the Lolo Flow contain higher levels of titanium dioxide and 
lower levels of iron oxide than the neighboring Rosalia Flow, also of 
the Priest Rapids Member (Reidel and Fecht 1981, p. 3-13).
    It is unknown if the distribution of Umtanum desert buckwheat prior 
to European settlement was different from the species' current 
distribution, but it is likely that the species has been confined to 
this location during at least the last 150 years, which indicates an 
isolated soil exposure, unique within the broader Columbia Basin 
landscape. The physiological and soil nutritional needs of Umtanum 
desert buckwheat are not known at this time. Other locations containing 
apparently suitable habitat have been intensively searched since the 
species' discovery in 1995, and no additional individuals or 
populations have been found to date. The factors limiting the species' 
distribution are unknown, but could be related to microsite differences 
(such as nutrient availability, soil microflora, soil texture, or 
moisture). Additional research is needed to determine the specific 
nutritional and physiological requirements for Umtanum desert 
buckwheat.
    Therefore, based on the information above, we identify the pebbly 
lithosol talus soils derived from surface weathering of the Lolo Flow 
of the Priest Rapids Member of the Wanapum Basalt Formation as a 
physical and biological feature essential to the conservation for 
Umtanum desert buckwheat. These areas are sparsely vegetated, with less 
than 10 percent estimated total cover (including Umtanum desert 
buckwheat) within the population and less than 5 percent cover by 
species other than Umtanum desert buckwheat, and less than 1 percent 
nonnative or invasive plants (Arnett 2001, pers. comm.). Areas of 
sparse vegetation are required to minimize nonnative plant competition, 
minimize conditions that promote the accumulation of fuels, and provide 
for the recovery of the species.
Sites for Breeding, Reproduction, or Rearing (or Development) of 
Offspring
    The availability of insect pollinators is essential to conserve 
Umtanum desert buckwheat. Based on the results of a pollinator 
exclusion study, the species is probably capable of at least limited 
amounts of self-pollination, although the percentage of seedset in the 
absence of pollinators appears to be low (TNC 1998, p. 8; Reveal et al. 
1995, p. 355). A variety of potential insect pollinators has been 
observed on Umtanum desert buckwheat flowers, including ants, beetles, 
flies, spiders, moths, and butterflies (TNC 1998, p. 8). Wasps from the 
families Vespidae and Typhiidae and from the species Criosciolia have 
been observed near, but not on, the species. A bumble bee species, 
Bombus centralis (no common name), has also been observed utilizing the 
flowers of Umtanum desert buckwheat (Arnett 2011b, pers. comm.). Insect 
collection and identification efforts by Washington State University on 
the Hanford Reach

[[Page 24017]]

documented approximately 2,500 different species of invertebrates, 42 
of which were new to science (WNPS 2004, p. 3).
    Since pollination is essential to the conservation of Umtanum 
desert buckwheat, we evaluated alternatives for determining the 
effective pollinator distance for this species. Since specific known 
pollinators are mostly unknown for the species and the species is 
likely frequented by several pollinators, we investigated delineating 
an effective pollinator distance based on foraging distances of the 
species' only known pollinator, the bumble bee (Bombus spp.). Bumble 
bee species are internally guided to use a plant species as long as 
flowers are rewarding and nearby, but will otherwise change to 
different species (Chittka et al. 1997, p. 248). Foraging ranges for 
Bombus are greater and consistent within species; however, there are 
substantial differences between species in foraging ranges and the size 
of the areas they utilize. Knight et al. (2005, p. 1,816) observed a 
maximum foraging distance between 450-760 m (1,475-2,500 ft), and 
foraging ranges between 62-180 ha (150-450 ac), based on studies of 
four Bombus species. Because of these conspecific differences, we 
concluded that bumble bee foraging distances may not be representative 
of the suite of pollinators that may be available to Umtanum desert 
buckwheat. Based on the limited distribution of Umtanum desert 
buckwheat and the lack of foraging data for Bombus centralis, we 
determined that generalized Bombus foraging range data may not be an 
appropriate surrogate for determining Umtanum desert buckwheat 
pollinator distance requirements.
    We next considered using the flight distances of solitary bees 
(individual, noncolonial bees) to determine the effective pollinator 
distance for the species. Numerous Families of this Order (Hymenoptera) 
have been observed in shrub steppe habitats within the Hanford Reach, 
including the Genera Andrena, Anthophora, Chelostoma, Habropoda, 
Hoplitis, Lasioglossum, Megachile, and Osmia, among others (Evans 2011, 
pers. comm.) and are likely to be among the pollinators of Umtanum 
desert buckwheat.
    Solitary bees have fairly short foraging distances within similar 
habitat types, which is suggested as being between 150-600 m (495-1,970 
ft) (Gathmann and Tscharntke (2002, pp. 760-762)). Three genera are 
found in common with those studied in Gathmann and Tscharntke (2002) in 
the Hanford Reach; Chelostoma, Megachile, and Osmia. Although the 
specific insect pollinator species and their foraging distances are not 
known, we believe 300 m (980 ft) represents a reasonable mid-range 
estimate of the area needed around the Umtanum desert buckwheat 
population to provide sufficient habitat for the pollinator community. 
As noted above, many other insects likely contribute to the pollination 
of this species, and some may travel greater distances than solitary 
bees. However, these pollinators may also forage, nest, overwinter, or 
reproduce within 300 m (980 ft) of Umtanum desert buckwheat plants. As 
a result, we limited the Umtanum desert buckwheat pollinator support 
area to 300 m (980 ft) around the population, based on the rationale 
that pollinators using habitat farther away may not be as likely to 
contribute to the conservation and recovery of this species.
    Vegetation cover in the vicinity of Umtanum desert buckwheat is low 
when compared with other shrub steppe sites, which may be related to 
substrate chemistry. Common perennial associates and habitat for the 
pollinators listed above include Artemisia tridentata (Wyoming big 
sagebrush), Grayia spinosa (spiny hopsage), Krascheninnikovia lanata 
(winterfat), Eriogonum sphaerocephalum (round-headed desert buckwheat), 
Salvia dorrii (purple sage), Hesperostipa comata (needle and thread 
grass), Pseudoroegneria spicata (bluebunch wheatgrass), Poa secunda 
(Sandberg's bluegrass), Sphaeralcea munroana (Munro's globemallow), 
Astragalus caricinus (buckwheat milkvetch), and Balsamorhiza careyana 
(Carey's balsamroot). Common annual associates include Bromus tectorum 
(cheatgrass), Sisymbrium altissimum (tumblemustard), Phacelia linearis 
(threadleaf phacelia), Aliciella leptomeria (great basin gilia), 
Aliciella sinuata (rosy gilia), Camissonia minor (small evening 
primrose), Mentzelia albicaulis (whitestem blazingstar), and Cryptantha 
pterocarya (wing-nut cryptantha) (Reveal et al. 1995, p. 354; Caplow 
and Beck 1996, p. 40, Beck 2012, pers. comm.). Although percent 
vegetative cover is low in close proximity to E. codium, species 
diversity within the adjacent plant community is fairly high. Nearby 
vegetative patches with more dense vegetative cover offer increased 
vertical habitat structure and plant species diversity within the 
foraging distances of potential pollinators.
    In order for Umtanum desert buckwheat genetic exchange to occur, 
pollinators must be able to move freely between plants. Additional 
pollen and nectar sources (other plant species within the surrounding 
sagebrush vegetation) are also needed to support pollinators when the 
species is not flowering. This surrounding and adjacent habitat will 
protect soils and pollinators from disturbance, slow the invasion of 
the site by nonnative species, and provide a diversity of habitats 
needed by Umtanum desert buckwheat and its pollinators. Therefore, 
based on the information above, we identify the presence of insect 
pollinators as a physical and biological feature essential to the 
conservation for Umtanum desert buckwheat. Insect pollinators require a 
diversity of native plants, whose blooming times overlap to provide 
sufficient flowers for foraging throughout the seasons, nesting and 
egg-laying sites, appropriate nesting materials, and sheltered, 
undisturbed places for hibernation and overwintering.
Habitats Protected From Disturbance or Representing Historical, 
Geographical, and Ecological Distributions
    The Umtanum desert buckwheat population has a discontinuous 
distribution along a narrow, 1.6-km (1-mi) long portion of Umtanum 
Ridge (Dunwiddie et al. 2001, p. 59). The entire known population 
exists within a narrow corridor at the top edge of the steep, north-
facing basalt cliffs where human traffic could be expected to 
concentrate. The plants respond negatively to trampling or crushing and 
are extremely sensitive following such damage. In one instance, within 
2 days of being run over by trespassing dirt bikes, portions of damaged 
plants showed signs of further decline, and in some cases mortality, as 
evidenced by damaged plants that later died (TNC 1998, p. 62).
    Fire appears to readily kill the slow-growing Umtanum desert 
buckwheat plants, especially in areas with higher fuel levels. Because 
of the rocky talus soils and a relatively low fire frequency, the 
species is confined to a few meters of upper cliff slope, cliff breaks, 
and tops. Fires increase the risk of invasion of nonnative or invasive 
species, particularly cheatgrass, which competes with Umtanum desert 
buckwheat for space and moisture. In turn, the establishment and growth 
of highly flammable and often continuous cheatgrass increases the 
likelihood of fire, potentially elevating the risk of impacting the 
Umtanum desert buckwheat population in the future. The substrate that 
supports Umtanum desert buckwheat likely had a lower vegetation cover 
prior to the introduction of cheatgrass in the 1800s. Fire is a primary 
threat to Umtanum desert

[[Page 24018]]

buckwheat, and will likely become a greater threat if the frequency or 
severity of fires increases (TNC 1998 p. 9; Dunwiddie et al. 2001, pp. 
59, 62, 66).
    Therefore, based on the information above, we identify the stable 
cliff and soil structure that is protected from human-caused trampling 
and at a low risk of wildfire as a physical and biological feature 
essential to the conservation for Umtanum desert buckwheat. This 
habitat contains little or no surface disturbance and is surrounded by 
diverse native pollinator habitat.
Primary Constituent Elements for Umtanum Desert Buckwheat
    Under the Act and its implementing regulations, we are required to 
identify the physical and biological features essential to the 
conservation of Umtanum desert buckwheat, focusing on the features' 
primary constituent elements. We consider primary constituent elements 
to be the specific compositional elements of physical and biological 
features that are essential to the conservation of the species.
    Based on our current knowledge of the physical or biological 
features and the habitat characteristics required to sustain the 
species' life-history process, we have determined that the primary 
constituent elements specific to Umtanum desert buckwheat are:
    1. Primary Constituent Element 1--North to northeast facing, 
weathered basalt cliffs of the Wanapum Formation at the eastern end of 
Umtanum Ridge in Benton County that contain outcrops, cliff breaks, 
slopes, and flat or gently sloping cliff tops with exposed pebble and 
gravel soils;
    2. Primary Constituent Element 2--Pebbly lithosol talus soils 
derived from surface weathering of the top of the Lolo Flow of the 
Priest Rapids Member of the Wanapum Formation;
    3. Primary Constituent Element 3--Sparsely vegetated habitat (less 
than 10 percent total cover), containing low amounts of nonnative or 
invasive plant species (less than 1 percent cover);
    4. Primary Constituent Element 4--The presence of insect pollinator 
species; and
    5. Primary Constituent Element 5--The presence of native shrub 
steppe habitat within the effective pollinator distance (300 m 
(approximately 980 ft)) around the population.
    Umtanum desert buckwheat occurs only as a single population located 
within a single site. With this designation of critical habitat, we 
intend to identify the physical and biological features essential to 
the conservation of the species, through the identification of the 
features' primary constituent elements sufficient to support the life-
history processes of the species.

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 features that are essential to the conservation of 
the species and that may require special management considerations or 
protection. All areas designated as critical habitat as described below 
may require some level of management to address the current and future 
threats to the physical and biological features essential to the 
conservation of Umtanum desert buckwheat. In all of the described 
units, special management may be required to ensure that the habitat is 
able to provide for the biological needs of the species.
    Further studies leading to an enhancement or reintroduction plan 
may be necessary to increase population size and prepare for recovery 
post-wildfire. More research is needed to determine habitats most 
suitable for expansion of the current population. In summary, special 
management considerations or protections should address activities that 
would be most likely to result in the loss of Umtanum desert buckwheat 
plants or the disturbance, compaction, or other negative impacts to the 
species' habitat. These activities could include, but are not limited 
to, recreational activities and associated infrastructure, off-road 
vehicle activity, dispersed recreation, wildfire, and wildfire 
suppression activities.
    Special management considerations or protection will conserve the 
primary constituent elements for the species. Management activities 
that could ameliorate these threats include, but are not limited to, 
the fire management plan that has been completed for the Hanford 
installation (DOE 2011, p. 93) and recently revised to incorporate more 
detailed management objectives and standards. Though not intended to 
specifically address Umtanum desert buckwheat, implementation of this 
plan will contribute to the protection of the primary constituent 
elements (and physical or biological features) by: (1) Using a map of 
``sensitive resources'' on the site during implementation, including 
the location of Umtanum desert buckwheat habitat; (2) requiring a 
biologist to assist the command staff in protecting these environments 
during wildfire suppression efforts; and (3) restricting public access 
to the entire Umtanum desert buckwheat site, including the pollinator 
use area. Public access without security clearance is currently 
prohibited at the Umtanum desert buckwheat site, reducing the risk of 
trampling or crushing the plants by ORV use. Special management to 
protect the designated critical habitat areas and the features 
essential to the conservation of Umtanum desert buckwheat from the 
effects of the current wildfire regime may include preventing or 
restricting the establishment of invasive, nonnative plant species, 
post-wildfire restoration with native plant species, and reducing the 
likelihood of wildfires affecting the population and nearby plant 
community components. These actions may be achieved by detailed fire 
management planning by the DOE, including rapid response and mutual 
support agreements between the DOE, the Monument, the U.S. Department 
of the Army, Bureau of Land Management, and the Washington Department 
of Fish and Wildlife for wildfire control. These agreements should 
contain sufficient detail to identify actions by all partners necessary 
to protect habitat for Umtanum desert buckwheat from fire escaping from 
other ownerships.

Final Critical Habitat Designation

    We are designating one unit as critical habitat for the Umtanum 
desert buckwheat population. The critical habitat area described below 
constitutes our best assessment of areas that meet the definition of 
critical habitat for Umtanum desert buckwheat. Within this unit, no 
subunits have been identified.
    The approximate size and ownership of the designated Umtanum Ridge 
critical habitat unit is identified in Table 3 below. The single unit 
contains currently occupied critical habitat and unoccupied habitat 
surrounding it.

[[Page 24019]]



                                         Table 3--Designated Critical Habitat Unit for Umtanum Desert Buckwheat
                 [Area estimates reflect all land within the critical habitat unit boundaries; values are rounded to the nearest tenth]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                          Occupied        Unoccupied
                                                                                          critical         critical
                    Unit name                               Land ownership              habitat  in      habitat  in       Percent by     Total hectares
                                                                                          hectares         hectares        ownership         (acres)
                                                                                          (acres)          (acres)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Umtanum Ridge, WA...............................  Federal...........................       5.7 (14.2)    133.5 (329.9)              100    139.3 (344.1)
                                                  State.............................                0                0                0                0
                                                  Private...........................                0                0                0                0
                                                                                     -------------------------------------------------------------------
    Unit Total..................................  ..................................       5.7 (14.2)    135.5 (329.9)              100    139.3 (344.1)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

White Bluffs Bladderpod

Physical and Biological Features

Space for Individual and Population Growth and for Normal Behavior
    White Bluffs bladderpod is only known from a single population that 
occurs in a narrow band approximately 10 m (33 ft) wide by 17 km (10.6 
mi) long, at the upper edge of the White Bluffs of the Hanford Reach. 
The subspecies only occurs at the upper surface areas of a near-
vertical exposure of paleosol (ancient, buried soil whose composition 
may reflect a climate significantly different from the climate now 
prevalent in an area). This surface material overlies several hundred 
feet of easily eroded sediments of the Ringold Geologic Formation, a 
sedimentary formation made up of soft Pleistocene lacustrine deposits 
of clay, gravel, sand, and silt (Newcomb 1958, p. 328).
    The upper part of the Ringold Formation is a heavily calcified and 
silicified cap layer that exists to a depth of at least 4.6 m (15 ft). 
This layer is geologically referred to as ``caliche,'' although it 
lacks the nitrate constituents found in true caliche. The caliche-like 
layer is a resistant caprock underlying a 275-305 m (900-1,000 ft) 
plateau extending north and east from the White Bluffs (Newcomb 1958, 
p. 330).
    The entire population of White Bluffs bladderpod is down-slope of 
irrigated agricultural land, and is being impacted to differing degrees 
by landslides induced by water-seepage (see Factor A). The potential 
for landslide is greatest in the southern portion of the subspecies' 
distribution where irrigated lands are closer to, or directly adjacent 
to, the bluffs (Lindsey 1997, p. 12). In addition, field investigations 
have determined that Lesquerella (now Physaria) plants can be 
outcompeted by nonnative, weedy plant species associated with 
irrigation projects and other disturbance (TNC 1998, p. 5).
    Therefore, based on the information above, we identify the 
weathered cliffs at approximately 210-275 m (700-900 ft) above sea 
level of the White Bluffs of the Ringold Formation exposed by natural 
erosion as a physical and biological feature essential to the 
conservation for White Bluffs bladderpod. The habitat includes the 
adjacent cliff breaks, moderate to gentle slopes (<100 percent slope) 
to the toe of slope, and flat or gently sloping cliff tops with exposed 
alkaline paleosols. This habitat is stable with a minimal amount of 
landslide occurrence.
Food, Water, Air, Light, Minerals, or Other Nutritional or 
Physiological Requirements
    The White Bluffs area was submerged during the larger ice-age 
floods until about 3 million years ago and was protected from high flow 
events by the Saddle Mountains to the north. As a result, the area 
experienced little or no erosion. A thin layer of ancient slackwater 
flood deposits overlay the older paleosols and resistant cap deposits 
(Bjornstad and Fecht 2002, p. 15). White Bluffs bladderpod occurs only 
on or near exposed, weathered, highly alkaline, calcium carbonate cap 
deposits and may be an obligate calciphile (a plant which grows well on 
chalky or alkaline soils), as are many of the endemic Lesquerella (now 
Physaria) species (Caplow 2006, p. 3).
    White Bluffs bladderpod plants are found on several different types 
of soil substrates, (e.g., paleosol, volcanic tuff, caliche, and 
ancient flood deposits), each of which presumably have a relatively 
high percentage of calcium carbonate (TNC 1998, p. 5). The subspecies 
is occasionally observed on the lower slopes of the White Bluffs, which 
may be related to ancient landslide zones or weathering and disturbance 
factors that deposit alkaline soils down slope (Caplow and Beck 1996, 
p. 42). Although there are scattered small exposures of similar caliche 
substrate in coulees (i.e., deep ravines or gulches that are usually 
dry, although formed by water) to the north, surveys have failed to 
detect the subspecies in those areas (Rollins et al. 1996, p. 206). The 
physiological relationship between White Bluffs bladderpod and the 
high-calcium carbonate soils of the White Bluffs is uncertain; however, 
the particular combination of exposed soil types where the subspecies 
occurs is not known from any other location.
    Therefore, based on the information above, we identify the 
weathered alkaline paleosols and mixed soils of the Ringold Formation 
that occur in a narrow band within and around the exposed caliche-like 
cap containing a high percentage of calcium carbonate as a physical and 
biological feature essential to the conservation of White Bluffs 
bladderpod. This habitat is associated with the White Bluffs, and 
occurs between 210-275 m (700-900 ft) in elevation.
Sites for Reproduction
    Washington State University researchers on the Hanford Reach have 
identified approximately 2,500 different species of invertebrates, 42 
of which are new to science (WNPS 2004, p. 3). Larvae of a species of 
Cecidomyiid fly have been observed infesting and destroying flowering 
buds of White Bluffs bladderpod, and another unidentified insect 
species has been observed boring small holes in young seed capsules and 
feeding on developing ovules, although the overall positive or negative 
effects of these insect species to the plant are unknown. White Bluffs 
bladderpod appears to be served by several pollinators, including 
butterflies, flies, wasps, bumblebees, moths, beetles, and ant species. 
The presence of nearby habitat for pollinators is essential to 
conserving White Bluffs bladderpod, although little is currently known 
about the reproductive biology of the subspecies. The effective 
pollinator distance for this subspecies was determined by applying 
research on known flight distances of solitary bees (individual, 
noncolonial bees), which are known to pollinate native species and 
commonly observed in shrub steppe habitat within the Hanford Reach. 
Research suggests that

[[Page 24020]]

different species of solitary bees have fairly short foraging distances 
within similar habitat types (Gathmann and Tscharntke 2002, p. 762); we 
assume other pollinating insects with longer-range flight capabilities 
would also utilize this habitat.
    Solitary bees foraging distances within similar habitat types is 
suggested as being between 150-600 m (495-1,970 ft) (Gathmann and 
Tscharntke (2002, pp. 760-762)). Absent specific data, we believe 300 m 
(980 ft) represents a reasonable mid-range estimate of the area needed 
around the White Bluffs bladderpod population to provide sufficient 
habitat for solitary bees and other pollinators. As noted above, many 
other insects likely contribute to the pollination of White Bluffs 
bladderpod, some may travel greater distances than solitary bees, and 
some likely use habitat within the 300-m (980-ft) pollinator area 
described above. However, we limited the White Bluffs bladderpod 
pollinator support habitat to 300 m (980 ft) around the population, 
based on the rationale that pollinators using habitat farther away may 
not be as likely to contribute to the conservation/recovery of this 
species.
    Common plant species associated with White Bluffs bladderpod 
include: Artemisia tridentata (big sagebrush), Poa secunda (Sandberg's 
bluegrass), Astragalus caricinus (buckwheat milk-vetch), Eriogonum 
microthecum (slender buckwheat), and Achnatherum hymenoides (Indian 
ricegrass). Occasionally White Bluffs bladderpod is numerous enough at 
some locations to be subdominant.
    Species diversity within the surrounding plant community is quite 
high, and the presence of increased vegetative cover nearby offers more 
habitat structure and plant species diversity within the presumed 
effective flight distances of potential pollinators. In order for 
genetic exchange to occur between White Bluffs bladderpod individuals, 
pollinators must be able to move freely between plants. Additional 
pollen and nectar sources (other plant species within the surrounding 
sagebrush vegetation) are also needed to support pollinators during 
times when White Bluffs bladderpod is not flowering. This surrounding 
and adjacent habitat will protect soils and pollinators from 
disturbance, slow the invasion of the site by nonnative species, and 
provide a diversity of habitats needed by White Bluffs bladderpod and 
its pollinators.
    Therefore, based on the information above, we identify insect 
pollinators as a physical and biological feature essential to the 
conservation for White Bluffs bladderpod. Insect pollinators require a 
diversity of native plants, surrounding and adjacent to White Bluffs 
bladderpod, whose blooming times overlap to provide them with 
sufficient flowers for foraging throughout the seasons and to provide 
nesting and egg-laying sites, appropriate nesting materials, and 
sheltered, undisturbed places for hibernation and overwintering of 
pollinator species.
Habitats Protected From Disturbance or Representing Historical, 
Geographical, and Ecological Distributions
    White Bluffs bladderpod grows exclusively on the upper edge and 
upper face of the White Bluffs adjacent to the Columbia River, where 
human use can be high. The majority of the population occurs within the 
Wahluke Unit of the Hanford Reach National Monument/Saddle Mountain 
National Wildlife Refuge. The Wahluke Unit is open for public access in 
some form in its entirety (USFWS 2008, p. 2-4). The habitat is arid, 
and vegetation is sparse within the population (Rollins et al. 1996, p. 
206). The area supporting the population has approximately 10-15 
percent total vegetative cover. Species other than White Bluffs 
bladderpod comprise less than 5 percent cover, and nonnative or 
invasive plant species comprise less than 1 percent cover (Arnett 
2011c, pers. comm.). Much of this area (85 percent) is on public land 
that is managed as an overlay national wildlife refuge on the Monument, 
and accessible by vehicle from a nearby State highway. Off-road vehicle 
(ORV) use can impact the subspecies by crushing plants, destabilizing 
the soil, and spreading seeds of invasive plants. Within White Bluffs 
bladderpod habitat, ORV activity is prohibited on the Hanford Reach 
National Monument lands, intermittent on other Federal lands, and is 
most common on private lands. ORV use increases soil disturbance and 
erosion, and has been observed to destroy White Bluffs bladderpod 
individuals since this activity more often takes place on the more 
moderate slopes where the subspecies occurs (Caplow and Beck 1996, p. 
42).
    Fire threatens White Bluffs bladderpod by directly burning plants 
and opening new areas to the establishment of invasive species. A large 
wildfire burned through the northern portion of the population in July 
2007. The observed decline in the number of plants counted after the 
2007 fire was within a natural range of variability (between highest 
and lowest counts) determined during survey transects. The 2008-2011 
monitoring indicated the negative impacts of the burn were less than 
expected, since 76 percent of the previous population numbers were 
observed the following year. However, large-scale wildfires continue to 
be a threat to the existing population (Newsome 2008, pers. comm.; 
Goldie 2008, pers. comm.) by destroying pollinator habitat and 
facilitating competition with nonnative and invasive plant species that 
become established in openings created by wildfires.
    Therefore, based on the information above, we identify stable bluff 
formations and caliche-like alkaline soils as a physical and biological 
feature essential to the conservation for White Bluffs bladderpod. 
These areas (1) are at a low risk of wildfire, (2) are not open to 
motorized recreational use, (3) are protected from human-caused 
trampling, (4) have little or no surface disturbance, (5) are sparsely 
vegetated (i.e., have 10 to 15 percent total vegetation cover), and (6) 
are surrounded by native pollinator habitat.
Primary Constituent Elements for White Bluffs Bladderpod
    Under the Act and its implementing regulations, we are required to 
identify the physical and biological features essential to the 
conservation of White Bluffs bladderpod in areas occupied at the time 
of listing, focusing on the features' primary constituent elements. We 
consider primary constituent elements to be the specific compositional 
elements of physical and biological features that are essential to the 
conservation of the subspecies.
    Based on our current knowledge of the physical or biological 
features and the habitat characteristics required to sustain the 
subspecies' life-history process, we have determined that the primary 
constituent elements specific to White Bluffs bladderpod are:
    1. Primary Constituent Element 1--Weathered alkaline paleosols and 
mixed soils overlying the Ringold Formation. These soils occur within 
and around the exposed caliche-like cap deposits associated with the 
White Bluffs of the Ringold Formation, which contain a high percentage 
of calcium carbonate. These features occur between 210-275 m (700-900 
ft) in elevation.
    2. Primary Constituent Element 2--Sparsely vegetated habitat (less 
than 10-15 percent total cover), containing low amounts of nonnative or 
invasive plant species (less than 1 percent cover).
    3. Primary Constituent Element 3--The presence of insect pollinator 
species.
    4. Primary Constituent Element 4--The presence of native shrub 
steppe

[[Page 24021]]

habitat within the effective pollinator distance (300 m (approximately 
980 ft)).
    5. Primary Constituent Element 5--The presence of stable bluff 
formations with minimal landslide occurrence.
    White Bluffs bladderpod occurs only as a single population found 
within a single location. With this designation of critical habitat, we 
intend to identify the physical and biological features essential to 
the conservation of the subspecies, through the identification of the 
appropriate quantity and spatial arrangement of the primary constituent 
elements sufficient to support the life-history processes of the 
subspecies and the geographic areas outside of the range of the species 
that provide habitat for pollinators and are essential to conservation 
of the subspecies.

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 features that are essential to the conservation of 
the species and that may require special management considerations or 
protection. Because the public can access the White Bluffs bladderpod 
population, there is increased risk for plants being trampled and the 
spread of nonnative or invasive plants. To address this concern, the 
Hanford National Monument may develop a management plan on lands within 
its jurisdiction to protect the areas designated as critical habitat 
for White Bluffs bladderpod, while continuing to allow the public to 
enjoy the area. Recreational access may be managed and controlled by 
directing foot traffic away from the subspecies, installing fencing, 
and establishing appropriate signage for pedestrians and ORV traffic 
across unprotected boundaries with private and State land.
    Special management to protect the designated critical habitat areas 
from irrigation-induced landslides could include working with 
landowners through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (Natural 
Resources Conservation Service) to support water conservation practices 
to reduce excessive groundwater charging. This program could be 
designed to increase water efficiency as a savings and benefit to 
agricultural producers as well. Management considerations could include 
coordination with the Bureau of Reclamation to make water delivery to 
its customers more efficient and route wastewater return such that it 
reduces groundwater infiltration. Special management to protect the 
designated critical habitat area from the effects of wildfire may 
include preventing or restricting the establishment of invasive, 
nonnative plant species, post-wildfire restoration with native plant 
species, and reducing the likelihood of wildfires affecting the nearby 
plant community components. Many of these actions are already in place, 
and need only refinement through detailed fire management planning to 
protect designated critical habitat by the Monument.
    In summary, special management considerations or protections should 
address activities that would be most likely to result in the loss of 
White Bluffs bladderpod plants or the disturbance, compaction, or other 
negative impacts to the subspecies' habitat through landslides or other 
means. These activities could include, but are not limited to, 
dispersed recreation, off-road vehicle activity, wildfire, and wildfire 
suppression activities.

Existing Conservation Measures

    The Service has completed a comprehensive conservation plan for the 
Hanford National Monument that provides a strategy and general 
conservation measures for rare plants that may benefit White Bluffs 
bladderpod. This strategy includes support for monitoring, invasive 
species control, fire prevention, propagation, reintroduction and GIS 
support (USFWS 2008, pp. 2-64--2-65). The conservation of White Bluffs 
bladderpod is addressed by acknowledging that protection is needed, and 
that the plant is required to be addressed in any management action 
(USFWS 2008, p. 3-95).

Final Critical Habitat Designation

    We are designating one unit as critical habitat for the White 
Bluffs bladderpod population. The critical habitat area described below 
constitutes our best assessment of that portion of the landscape that 
meets the definition of critical habitat for this population. Within 
this unit, no subunits have been identified. The approximate size and 
ownership of the White Bluffs critical habitat unit is identified in 
Table 4. The unit includes both occupied and unoccupied habitat.

                                          Table 4--Designated Critical Habitat Area for White Bluffs Bladderpod
                   [Area estimates reflect all land within critical habitat unit boundaries; values are rounded to the nearest tenth]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                          Occupied        Unoccupied
                                                                                          critical         critical
                    Unit name                               Land ownership              habitat  in      habitat  in       Percent by     Total hectares
                                                                                          hectares         hectares        ownership         (acres)
                                                                                          (acres)          (acres)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
White Bluffs....................................  Federal...........................         87 (216)      884 (2,184)               84      971 (2,400)
                                                  State.............................            2 (6)          14 (36)                2          17 (42)
                                                  Private...........................          19 (47)        151 (372)               15        170 (419)
                                                                                     -------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total.......................................  ..................................        109 (269)    1,049 (2,592)              100    1,158 (2,861)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Effects of Critical Habitat Designation

Section 7 Consultation

    Section 7(a)(2) of the Act requires Federal agencies, including the 
Service, to ensure that any action they fund, authorize, or carry out 
is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered 
or threatened species, or result in the destruction or adverse 
modification of designated critical habitat of such species. In 
addition, section 7(a)(4) of the Act requires Federal agencies to 
confer with the Service on any action which is likely to jeopardize the 
continued existence of any species listed under the Act or result in 
the destruction or adverse modification of designated critical habitat.
    Decisions by the Fifth and Ninth 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, 442F (5th Cir 
2001)), and we do not rely

[[Page 24022]]

on this regulatory definition when analyzing whether an action is 
likely to destroy or adversely modify critical habitat. Under the 
statutory provisions of the Act, the key factor in determining whether 
an action will destroy or adversely modify critical habitat is 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 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 Natural Resources 
Conservation Service or the Bureau of Reclamation). Federal actions not 
affecting listed species or critical habitat, and actions on State, 
tribal, local, or private lands that are not federally funded or 
authorized, do not require section 7 consultation.
    As a result of section 7 consultation, we document compliance with 
the requirements of section 7(a)(2) through our issuance of:
    (1) A concurrence letter for Federal actions that may affect, but 
are not likely to adversely affect, listed species or critical habitat; 
or
    (2) A biological opinion for Federal actions that may affect, or 
are likely to adversely affect, listed species or critical habitat.
    When we issue a biological opinion concluding that a project is 
likely to jeopardize the continued existence of a listed species or 
destroy or adversely modify critical habitat, we provide reasonable and 
prudent alternatives to the project, if any are identifiable. We define 
``reasonable and prudent alternatives'' (at 50 CFR 402.02) as 
alternative actions identified during consultation that:
    (1) Can be implemented in a manner consistent with the intended 
purpose of the action;
    (2) Can be implemented consistent with the scope of the Federal 
agency's legal authority and jurisdiction;
    (3) Are economically and technologically feasible; and
    (4) Would, in the Director's opinion, avoid the likelihood of 
jeopardizing the continued existence of the listed species or avoid the 
likelihood of destroying or adversely modifying critical habitat.
    Reasonable and prudent alternatives can vary from slight project 
modifications to extensive redesign or relocation of the project. Costs 
associated with implementing a reasonable and prudent alternative are 
similarly variable.
    Regulations at 50 CFR 402.16 require Federal agencies to reinitiate 
consultation on previously reviewed actions in instances where we have 
listed a new species or subsequently designated critical habitat that 
may be affected and the Federal agency has retained discretionary 
involvement or control over the action (or the agency's discretionary 
involvement or control is authorized by law). Consequently, Federal 
agencies sometimes may need to request reinitiation of consultation 
with us on actions for which formal consultation has been completed, if 
those actions with discretionary involvement or control may affect 
subsequently listed species or designated critical habitat.

Application of the Jeopardy and Adverse Modification Standards

Jeopardy Standard

    The jeopardy analysis usually expresses the survival and recovery 
needs of the species in a qualitative fashion without making 
distinctions between what is necessary for survival and what is 
necessary for recovery. Generally, the jeopardy analysis would focus on 
the rangewide status of Umtanum desert buckwheat or White Bluffs 
bladderpod, the factors responsible for those conditions, and what is 
necessary for the species to survive and recover. An emphasis would 
also be placed on characterizing the conditions of these species and 
their habitat in the area that would be affected by a proposed Federal 
action, and the role of affected populations in the survival and 
recovery of either Umtanum desert buckwheat or White Bluffs bladderpod. 
That context would then be used to determine the significance of the 
adverse and beneficial effects of the proposed Federal action, and any 
cumulative effects for purposes of making the jeopardy determination.

Application of the ``Adverse Modification'' Standard

    The key factor related to the adverse modification determination is 
whether, with implementation of the proposed Federal action, the 
affected critical habitat would continue to serve its intended 
conservation role for the species. Activities that may destroy or 
adversely modify critical habitat are those that alter the physical or 
biological features to an extent that appreciably reduces the 
conservation value of the critical habitat for Umtanum desert buckwheat 
or White Bluffs bladderpod. As discussed above, the role of critical 
habitat is to support the various life-history needs and provide for 
the conservation of both species.
    Section 4(b)(8) of the Act requires us to briefly evaluate and 
describe in any proposed or final regulation that designates critical 
habitat, activities involving a Federal action that may destroy or 
adversely modify such habitat, or that may be affected by such 
designation.
    Activities that may affect critical habitat, when carried out, 
funded, or authorized by a Federal agency, should result in 
consultation for Umtanum desert buckwheat or White Bluffs bladderpod. 
These activities include, but are not limited to:
    (1) Actions within or near designated critical habitat areas that 
would result in the loss, disturbance, or compaction of unique soils at 
cliff breaks, slopes, and flat to gently sloping upper surface areas. 
Such activities could include, but are not limited to:
     Recreational activities and associated infrastructure;
     Off-road vehicle activity;
     Dispersed recreation;
     New road construction or widening or existing road 
maintenance;
     New energy transmission lines, or expansion of existing 
energy transmission lines;
     Maintenance of existing energy transmission line 
corridors;
     Wildfire suppression and post-wildfire rehabilitation 
activities;
     Activities that result in the burial of seeds such that 
germinants do not successfully reach the soil surface to flower and set 
seed;
     Activities that result in compaction that smoothes the 
surface, causing seeds to be carried away by wind or water due to the 
lack of rough surface textures to capture seed;
     Activities that result in changes in soil composition 
leading to changes in the vegetation composition, such as an increase 
in invasive, nonnative plant cover within and adjacent to cliff break 
microsites, resulting in decreased density or vigor of individual 
Umtanum desert buckwheat or White Bluffs bladderpod plants; and
     Activities that result in changes in soil permeability and 
increased runoff that degrades, reduces, or eliminates habitat 
necessary for growth and reproduction of either species.

[[Page 24023]]

    (2) Actions within or near designated critical habitat areas that 
would result in the significant alteration of intact, native, 
sagebrush-steppe habitat within the range of Umtanum desert buckwheat 
or White Bluffs bladderpod. Such activities could include:
     ORV activities and dispersed recreation;
     New road construction or widening or existing road 
maintenance;
     New energy transmission lines or expansion of existing 
energy transmission lines;
     Maintenance of existing energy transmission line 
corridors;
     Fuels management projects such as prescribed burning; and
     Rehabilitation or restoration activities using plant 
species that may compete with Umtanum desert buckwheat or White Bluffs 
bladderpod, or not adequately address habitat requirements for insect 
pollinators.
    These activities could result in the replacement or fragmentation 
of sagebrush-steppe habitat through the degradation or loss of native 
shrubs, grasses, and forbs in a manner that promotes increased wildfire 
frequency and intensity, and an increase in the cover of invasive, 
nonnative plant species that would compete for soil matrix components 
and moisture necessary to support the growth and reproduction of either 
species.
    (3) Actions within or near designated critical habitat that would 
significantly reduce pollination or seed set (reproduction). Such 
activities could include, but are not limited to:
     Recreational development and associated infrastructure; 
and
     Use of pesticides, mowing, fuels management projects such 
as prescribed burning, and post-wildfire rehabilitation activities 
using plant species that may compete with Umtanum desert buckwheat or 
White Bluffs bladderpod.
    These activities could prevent or reduce successful reproduction by 
removal or destruction of reproductive plant parts and could impact the 
habitat needs of generalist insect pollinators through habitat 
degradation and fragmentation, reducing the availability of insect 
pollinators for either species.
    The occupied areas designated as critical habitat contain the 
physical and biological features essential to the conservation of 
Umtanum desert buckwheat and White Bluffs bladderpod, and are within 
the geographic area occupied by the species at the time of listing 
under the Act. The unoccupied areas are essential to the conservation 
of the species because they provide adjacent habitats needed by insect 
pollinators. Federal agencies would need to consult with us if a 
proposed action may affect a listed species and/or designated critical 
habitat, to ensure that their actions do not jeopardize the continued 
existence of the species, or destroy or adversely modify designated 
critical habitat.

Exemptions

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

    The Sikes Act Improvement Act of 1997 (Sikes Act) (16 U.S.C. 670a) 
required each military installation that includes land and water 
suitable for the conservation and management of natural resources to 
complete an integrated natural resources management plan (INRMP) by 
November 17, 2001. An INRMP integrates implementation of the military 
mission of the installation with stewardship of the natural resources 
found on the base. Each INRMP includes:
    (1) An assessment of the ecological needs on the installation, 
including the need to provide for the conservation of listed species;
    (2) A statement of goals and priorities;
    (3) A detailed description of management actions to be implemented 
to provide for these ecological needs; and
    (4) A monitoring and adaptive management plan.
    Among other things, each INRMP must, to the extent appropriate and 
applicable, provide for fish and wildlife management; fish and wildlife 
habitat enhancement or modification; wetland protection, enhancement, 
and restoration where necessary to support fish and wildlife; and 
enforcement of applicable natural resource laws.
    The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004 (Pub. 
L. 108-136) amended the Act to limit areas eligible for designation as 
critical habitat. Specifically, section 4(a)(3)(B)(i) of the Act (16 
U.S.C. 1533(a)(3)(B)(i)) now provides: ``The Secretary shall not 
designate as critical habitat any lands or other geographical areas 
owned or controlled by the Department of Defense (DOD), 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 DOD lands with a completed INRMP within the proposed 
critical habitat designation. Therefore, we are not exempting lands 
from this final designation of critical habitat for Umtanum desert 
buckwheat or White Bluffs bladderpod 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 must designate 
and revise critical habitat on the basis of the best available 
scientific data after taking into consideration the economic impact, 
national security impact, and any other relevant impact of specifying 
any particular area as critical habitat. The Secretary may exclude an 
area from critical habitat if he determines that the benefits of such 
exclusion outweigh the benefits of specifying such area as part of the 
critical habitat, unless he determines, based on the best scientific 
data available, that the failure to designate will result in the 
extinction of the species. The statute on its face, as well as the 
legislative history, is clear that the Secretary has broad discretion 
regarding which factor(s) to use and how much weight to give to any 
factor in making that determination.
    Under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, the Secretary may exclude an area 
from designated critical habitat based on economic impacts, impacts on 
national security, or any other relevant impacts. In considering 
whether to exclude a particular area from the designation, we identify 
the benefits of including the area in the designation, identify the 
benefits of excluding the area from the designation, and evaluate 
whether the benefits of exclusion outweigh the benefits of inclusion. 
If the analysis indicates that the benefits of exclusion outweigh the 
benefits of inclusion, the Secretary may exercise his discretion to 
exclude the area only if such exclusion would not result in the 
extinction of the species.
Exclusions Based on Economic Impacts
    Under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we consider the economic impacts 
of specifying any particular area as critical habitat. In order to 
consider economic impacts, we prepared a draft economic analysis of the 
proposed critical habitat designation and related factors (USFWS 2011). 
The draft analysis was made available for public review from May 15 
through July 16, 2012 (77 FR 28704). Following the close of the comment 
period, a final analysis of the potential economic effects of the 
designation was developed, taking into consideration the public 
comments and any new information (USFWS 2012). The final economic 
analysis is summarized below, and is available at http://www.regulations.gov, or upon request from the Manager, Washington Fish 
and

[[Page 24024]]

Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section).
    The intent of the final economic analysis (FEA) is to quantify the 
economic impacts of all potential conservation efforts for Umtanum 
desert buckwheat and White Bluffs bladderpod; some of these costs will 
likely be incurred regardless of whether we designate critical habitat 
(baseline). The economic impact of the final critical habitat 
designation is analyzed by comparing scenarios both ``with critical 
habitat'' and ``without critical habitat.'' The ``without critical 
habitat'' scenario represents the baseline for the analysis, 
considering protections already in place for the species (e.g., under 
the Federal listing and other Federal, State, and local regulations). 
The baseline, therefore, represents the costs incurred regardless of 
whether critical habitat is designated. The ``with critical habitat'' 
scenario describes the incremental impacts associated specifically with 
the designation of critical habitat for the species. The incremental 
conservation efforts and associated impacts are those not expected to 
occur absent the designation of critical habitat for the species. In 
other words, the incremental costs are those attributable solely to the 
designation of critical habitat above and beyond the baseline costs; 
these are the costs we consider in the final designation of critical 
habitat. The analysis looks retrospectively at baseline impacts 
incurred since the species was listed, and forecasts both baseline and 
incremental impacts likely to occur with the designation of critical 
habitat.
    The FEA also addresses how potential economic impacts are likely to 
be distributed, including an assessment of any local or regional 
impacts of habitat conservation and the potential effects of 
conservation activities on government agencies, private businesses, and 
individuals. Decision-makers can use this information to assess whether 
the effects of the designation might unduly burden a particular group 
or economic sector. The FEA quantifies economic impacts of Umtanum 
desert buckwheat and White Bluffs bladderpod conservation efforts 
related to section 7 consultation for the following categories of 
activity: (1) DOE permitting for livestock relocation activities; (2) 
recreational activities on the Monument; (3) Natural Resources 
Conservation Service (NRCS) technical and financial assistance programs 
to landowners to address water management issues; (4) implementation of 
habitat improvement actions by the Service; and (5) Bureau of 
Reclamation irrigation water management programs. A final analysis of 
the economic impacts of this designation of critical habitat (FEA) 
(USFWS 2012), is available as supporting information for the critical 
habitat designation.
    The FEA evaluates potential economic impacts of the designation, 
considering land ownership, reasonably foreseeable land use activities, 
potential Federal agency actions within the area and section 7 
consultation requirements, baseline conservation measures (i.e., 
measures that would be implemented regardless of the critical habitat 
designation), and incremental conservation measures (i.e., measures 
that would be attributed exclusively to the critical habitat 
designation).
    The FEA concludes that incremental economic impacts are unlikely, 
given the species' narrow geographic range and the fact that any 
economic impacts related to conservation efforts to avoid adverse 
modification or destruction of critical habitat would be, for the most 
part, indistinguishable from those that would be required because of 
the listing of the species under the Act. Although unoccupied critical 
habitat areas are typically where incremental effects would be 
expected, in this case unoccupied critical habitat areas that support 
insect pollinators are immediately adjacent to occupied critical 
habitat. We anticipate that, in most cases, conservation measures or 
conservation recommendations would be identical, regardless of the 
critical habitat type. The FEA concludes that any incremental costs 
would be limited to additional administrative costs that would be borne 
by Federal agencies associated with section 7 consultations. During the 
development of the final designation, we will consider economic 
impacts, public comments, and other new information. Certain areas may 
be excluded from the final critical habitat designation under section 
4(b)(2) of the Act and or implementing regulations at 50 CFR 424.19.
    Our economic analysis did not identify any disproportionate costs 
that are likely to result from the designation, and we did not receive 
any comments in response to our assessment of the potential economic 
impacts of the proposed critical habitat designation. Consequently, the 
Secretary is not exerting his discretion to exclude any areas from this 
designation of critical habitat for Umtanum desert buckwheat or White 
Bluffs bladderpod based on economic impacts.
Exclusions Based on National Security Impacts
    Under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we consider whether there are 
lands owned or managed by the Department of Defense where a national 
security impact might exist. In preparing this final rule, we have 
determined that the lands within the designation of critical habitat 
for Umtanum desert buckwheat and White Bluffs bladderpod are not owned 
or managed by the Department of Defense and, therefore, we anticipate 
no impact to national security. Consequently, the Secretary is not 
exerting his discretion to exclude any areas from the final designation 
based on impacts on national security.
Exclusions Based on Other Relevant Impacts
    Under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we consider any other relevant 
impacts, in addition to economic impacts and impacts on national 
security. We consider a number of factors including whether the 
landowners have developed any Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs) or 
other management plans for the area, or whether there are conservation 
partnerships that would be encouraged by designation of, or exclusion 
from, critical habitat. In addition, we look at any Tribal issues, and 
consider the government-to-government relationship of the United States 
with Tribal entities. We also consider any social impacts that might 
occur because of the designation.
    In preparing this final rule, we have determined that there are 
currently no HCPs or other management plans that specifically address 
management needs for Umtanum desert buckwheat or White Bluffs 
bladderpod, and the final designation does not include any tribal lands 
or trust resources. We anticipate no impact to tribal lands, 
partnerships, or HCPs from this critical habitat designation. 
Accordingly, the Secretary is not exercising his discretion to exclude 
any areas from the final designation based on other relevant impacts.

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. OIRA has 
determined that this rule is not significant.
    Executive Order 13563 reaffirms the principles of E.O. 12866 while 
calling for improvements in the nation's regulatory system to promote 
predictability, to reduce uncertainty, and to use the best, most 
innovative,

[[Page 24025]]

and least burdensome tools for achieving regulatory ends. The executive 
order directs agencies to consider regulatory approaches that reduce 
burdens and maintain flexibility and freedom of choice for the public 
where these approaches are relevant, feasible, and consistent with 
regulatory objectives. E.O. 13563 emphasizes further that regulations 
must be based on the best available science and that the rulemaking 
process must allow for public participation and an open exchange of 
ideas. We have developed this rule in a manner consistent with these 
requirements.

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

    Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA; 5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.), 
as amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act 
(SBREFA) of 1996, whenever an agency must publish a notice of 
rulemaking for any proposed or final rule, it must prepare and make 
available for public comment a regulatory flexibility analysis that 
describes the effects of the rule on small entities (small businesses, 
small organizations, and small government jurisdictions). However, no 
regulatory flexibility analysis is required if the head of the agency 
certifies the rule will not have a significant economic impact on a 
substantial number of small entities. The SBREFA amended the RFA to 
require Federal agencies to provide a certification statement of the 
factual basis for certifying that the rule will not have a significant 
economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. In this 
final rule, we are certifying that the critical habitat designation for 
White Bluffs bladderpod will not have a significant economic impact on 
a substantial number of small entities (an analysis is not relevant to 
Umtanum desert buckwheat, since this species occurs exclusively on 
Federal land). The following discussion explains our rationale.
    According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), small 
entities include small organizations, such as independent nonprofit 
organizations; small governmental jurisdictions, including school 
boards and city and town governments that serve fewer than 50,000 
residents; as well as small businesses (13 CFR 121.201). 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 to 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 affect a substantial number of small 
entities, we consider the number of small entities affected within 
particular types of economic activities most likely to be affected. We 
apply the ``substantial number'' test individually to each industry to 
determine if certification is appropriate. However, the SBREFA does not 
explicitly define ``substantial number'' or ``significant economic 
impact.'' Consequently, to assess whether a ``substantial number'' of 
small entities is affected by this designation, this analysis considers 
the relative number of small entities likely to be impacted in an area. 
In some circumstances, especially with critical habitat designations of 
limited extent, we may aggregate across all industries and consider 
whether the total number of small entities affected is substantial. In 
estimating the number of small entities potentially affected, we also 
consider whether their activities have any Federal involvement.
    Designation of critical habitat only affects activities authorized, 
funded, or carried out by Federal agencies. Some kinds of activities 
are unlikely to have any Federal involvement and so will not be 
affected by critical habitat designation. In areas where the species is 
present, Federal agencies already are required to consult with us under 
section 7 of the Act on activities they authorize, fund, or carry out 
that may affect Umtanum desert buckwheat or White Bluffs bladderpod. 
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 final economic analysis of the critical habitat designation, 
we evaluated the potential economic effects on small business entities 
resulting from conservation actions related to the listing of White 
Bluffs bladderpod and the designation of critical habitat. In 
estimating the numbers of small entities potentially affected, we also 
considered whether their activities have any Federal involvement. Since 
the predominant private land use that could be impacted by the critical 
habitat designation for White Bluffs bladderpod appears to be irrigated 
agriculture, we focused our RFA and SBREFA analyses to that particular 
activity. The designation is focused on Federal, State, and private 
lands that contain occupied habitat and the adjacent areas with native 
shrub steppe vegetation that provides nearby habitat for insect 
pollinators. Lands that are under agricultural use are not included in 
the critical habitat designation.
    In 2007, Franklin County, Washington, had 891 farms, which 
encompassed 246,664 ha (609,046 ac) and had an average farm size of 277 
ha (684 ac), (http://www.co.franklin.wa.us/assessor/demo_countywide.html ). The Franklin County data indicates that 393,025 
acres were in irrigated agriculture. The market value of agricultural 
products sold was $467 million, and the net cash return from 
agricultural sales was $116.8 million. For purposes of this analysis, 
we assumed the entire critical habitat designation on private lands 
(170 ha (419 ac)) could be used for irrigated agriculture, to determine 
the scope of maximum impact for the designation on small entities 
(i.e., the worst-case scenario). Although the FEA does not 
differentiate between the acreage most likely suitable for agricultural 
use and the acreage not suitable for such use, much of the 170 ha (419 
ac) is steep, and contains numerous cliffs, high gradient draws, and 
areas of active and dormant soil fracturing and sloughing. Accordingly, 
the FEA represents an upper bound, and likely overstates the potential 
economic impacts to small entities.
    Based on Franklin County, Washington, 2007 agricultural data, the 
designation would overlay approximately \1/10\ of 1 percent of the 
total irrigated acres (159,175 ha (393,025 ac)) in the county. 
Approximately 65 percent of the total land in farms (609,046 acres) 
consists of irrigated acreage (393,025 acres). The 2007 irrigated-acres 
value would proportionally represent approximately $304 million of the 
total market value of all agricultural products sold ($467 million). 
Each irrigated acre, therefore, proportionally represents approximately 
$724 in value/year, based on the 2007 data. Based on this calculation, 
the maximum economic impact for the entire 419 acres of private land

[[Page 24026]]

designated as critical habitat would be $303,559 if all acreage were 
conducive to and planned for irrigation agricultural use. However, 
since much of this acreage is not suitable for agriculture based on 
topography, the actual economic impact would likely be considerably 
less. Based on this analysis (see Table 5), the designation of critical 
habitat within the 419 acres of private property would not have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. 
Since the average size of a farm in Franklin County, Washington, is 277 
ha (684 ac), 170 ha (419 ac) represents approximately 61 percent of the 
size of one average farm; there are 891 farms in the County. Each 
private property acre within the critical habitat designation 
potentially represents approximately $724 in annual value based on 2007 
data, although a substantial percentage of this acreage is not 
conducive to agricultural use because of steep topography and erosion 
potential. In addition, the designation of critical habitat would not 
affect private property unless a proposed development activity required 
Federal authorization or involved Federal funding, which consideration 
is uncertain.

  Table 5--Potential Upper Bound Economic Impact to Private Land of the
       Critical Habitat Designation for White Bluffs Bladderpod *
------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Description                    Variable            Value
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1. Total land in farms (acres).....  (a)................         609,046
2. Lands in irrigated farms (acres)  (b)................         393,025
3. Market value agricultural         (c)................    $467,014,000
 products sold.
4. Net cash return from              (d)................    $116,803,000
 agricultural sales.
5. Designated critical habitat       (e)................             419
 acres.
6. Percent of (a) represented by     (f)................             65%
 (b): [(b) / (a)].
7. Proportional (d) represented by   (g)................    $303,559,100
 (b): [(b) x 0.65].
8. Percentage of (b) represented by  (h)................          0.001%
 (e): [(e) / (b)].
9. Proportional value of (g)         (i)................        $303,559
 represented by (e): [(g) x (h)].
10. Proportional value (i) per acre  (j)................            $724
 (e): [(i) / (e)].
------------------------------------------------------------------------
* Based on 2007 Franklin County tax assessor data.

    Other than the above 170 ha (419 ac), the remainder of the areas 
designated as critical habitat for White Bluffs bladderpod are either 
on State or Federal lands. Federal and State governments are not 
considered small entities for purposes of our RFA analysis.
    Based on the best available scientific and commercial data, we have 
not identified a significant number of small entities that may be 
impacted by the critical habitat designation, based on land ownership 
information. Small entities are consequently anticipated to bear a 
relatively low-cost impact as a result of the designation of critical 
habitat for White Bluffs bladderpod. We did not receive any comments 
expressing disagreement, interest, or concern regarding our assessment 
of the potential economic impacts of the critical habitat designation. 
In summary, we considered whether this designation would result in a 
significant economic effect on a substantial number of small entities. 
Based on the above reasoning and currently available information, we 
concluded that this rule would not result in a significant economic 
impact on a substantial number of small entities. Therefore, we are 
certifying that the designation of critical habitat for White Bluffs 
bladderpod 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.
    Seventeen high-voltage transmission lines cross the Monument 
boundaries, 11 of which cross the Hanford Reach. There are also two 
electric substations and several microwave towers located within the 
Monument boundaries. Periodic patrols and 24-hour access for emergency 
replacement of failed equipment are required for these facilities, and 
lines are patrolled by helicopter usually three times each year to 
assess potential problem areas. Helicopters may also be used in lieu of 
ground vehicles for maintenance or repairs (FWS 2008, p. 3-168). Other 
than an existing Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) overhead 
transmission line near the Umtanum desert buckwheat population on lands 
administered by the Department of Energy (DOE), there are no energy 
facilities within the footprint of the designated critical habitat 
boundaries. The BPA has existing agreements with the DOE (the agency 
managing the land where the Umtanum desert buckwheat population occurs) 
for management of transmission line rights-of-way, access roads, 
microwave tower lines-of-sight, electric power substations, and other 
sites. The BPA will likely need to expand its existing transmission 
system in the vicinity of the Monument to meet future needs for moving 
electricity from generation sources in Montana, northern Idaho, and 
northeastern Washington to load centers in the Pacific Northwest.
    Any activities related to transmission system expansion would first 
require study and analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act 
and coordination with the DOE and FWS to ensure protection of the 
Monument's natural and cultural resources (USFWS 2008, p. 3-169). This 
analysis would be required regardless of the designation of critical 
habitat for Umtanum desert buckwheat or White Bluffs bladderpod. 
However, we have no information indicating that new energy projects are 
planned for areas within the boundaries of the designated critical 
habitat units, or that any of the maintenance activities described 
above would affect either the Umtanum desert buckwheat or White Bluffs 
bladderpod populations. Accordingly, we do not expect the designation 
of this critical habitat to significantly affect energy supplies, 
distribution, or use.
    The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has provided guidance for 
implementing this Executive Order 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,

[[Page 24027]]

which include: (1) Reductions in crude oil supply in excess of 10,000 
barrels per day; (2) reductions in fuel production in excess of 4,000 
barrels per day; (3) reductions in coal production in excess of 5 
million tons per year; (4) reductions in natural gas production in 
excess of 25 million cubic feet per year; (5) reductions in electricity 
production in excess of 1 billion kilowatts hours per year or in excess 
of 500 megawatts of installed capacity; (6) increases in energy use 
required by the regulatory action that exceed thresholds (1) through 
(6) above; (7) increases in the cost of energy production in excess of 
one percent; (8) increases in the cost of energy distribution in excess 
of one percent; and (9) other similarly adverse outcomes. None of these 
criteria are relevant to this analysis. Thus, based on information in 
the economic analysis, energy-related impacts associated with Umtanum 
desert buckwheat and White Bluffs bladderpod conservation activities 
within critical habitat are not expected. As such, the designation of 
critical habitat is not expected to significantly affect energy 
supplies, distribution, or use. Therefore, this action is not a 
significant energy action, and no Statement of Energy Effects is 
required.

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

    In accordance with the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (2 U.S.C. 1501 
et seq.), we make the following findings:
    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 [T]ribal 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 [T]ribal governments under entitlement 
authority,'' if the provision would ``increase the stringency of 
conditions of assistance'' or ``place caps upon, or otherwise decrease, 
the Federal Government's responsibility to provide funding,'' and the 
State, local, or Tribal governments ``lack authority'' to adjust 
accordingly. At the time of enactment, these entitlement programs were: 
Medicaid; Aid to Families with Dependent Children work programs; Child 
Nutrition; Food Stamps; Social Services Block Grants; Vocational 
Rehabilitation State Grants; Foster Care, Adoption Assistance, and 
Independent Living; Family Support Welfare Services; and Child Support 
Enforcement. ``Federal private sector mandate'' includes a regulation 
that ``would impose an enforceable duty upon the private sector, except 
(i) a condition of Federal assistance or (ii) a duty arising from 
participation in a voluntary Federal program.''
    The designation of critical habitat does not impose a legally 
binding duty on non-Federal government entities or private parties. 
Under the Act, the only regulatory effect is that Federal agencies must 
ensure that their actions do not destroy or adversely modify critical 
habitat under section 7. While non-Federal entities that receive 
Federal funding, assistance, or permits, or that otherwise require 
approval or authorization from a Federal agency for an action, may be 
indirectly impacted by the designation of critical habitat, the legally 
binding duty to avoid destruction or adverse modification of critical 
habitat rests squarely on the Federal agency. Furthermore, to the 
extent that non-Federal entities are indirectly impacted because they 
receive Federal assistance or participate in a voluntary Federal aid 
program, the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act would not apply, nor would 
critical habitat shift the costs of the large entitlement programs 
listed above onto State governments.
    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 final economic analysis concludes that, for Federal agencies, 
section 7 consultation costs under the section 7(a)(2) jeopardy 
standard for an informal consultation with third party involvement are 
estimated to be $7,200. Adding a critical habitat component to the 
section 7 consultation would increase that cost to $7,920. The section 
7 consultation costs under the section 7(a)2 jeopardy standard for a 
formal consultation with third party involvement was estimated to be 
$15,000, and adding a critical habitat component to the section 7 
consultation would increase that cost to $16,500. The lands within this 
critical habitat designation are predominantly owned by the Department 
of Energy and the Department of the Interior. By definition, Federal 
agencies are not considered small entities, although the activities 
they fund or permit may be proposed or carried out by small entities. 
Given the limited incremental costs and the predominant Federal 
ownership of lands affected by the critical habitat designation, we do 
not believe that the critical habitat would significantly or uniquely 
affect small government entities. As such, a Small Government Agency 
Plan is not required.

Takings--Executive Order 12630

    In accordance with Executive Order 12630 (Government Actions and 
Interference with Constitutionally Protected Private Property Rights), 
this rule is not anticipated to have significant takings implications. 
As discussed above, the designation of critical habitat affects only 
Federal actions. Although private parties that receive Federal funding, 
assistance, or require approval or authorization from a Federal agency 
for an action may be indirectly impacted by the designation of critical 
habitat, the legally binding duty to avoid destruction or adverse 
modification of critical habitat rests squarely on the Federal agency. 
Because of the relationship between occupied and unoccupied critical 
habitat and the status of the species, the draft economic analysis 
predicted an adverse modification determination would in most cases 
result in a jeopardy finding for the same action. In addition, we 
concluded in the final economic analysis that this rule would not 
result in a significant economic impact on a substantial number of 
small entities. Therefore, the designation of critical habitat for 
White Bluffs bladderpod will not have a significant economic impact. No 
comments were received on the draft economic analysis, and no 
additional information is available regarding its conclusion regarding 
incremental effects. We therefore believe the conclusions regarding 
incremental effects of the designation are valid. Any incremental 
regulatory burdens attributed to the designation of critical habitat 
would be expected to be minimal and predominantly associated with 
additional administrative costs related to section 7 consultations. The 
takings implications assessment concludes that the designation of 
critical habitat for Umtanum desert buckwheat and White Bluffs 
bladderpod does not pose a significant takings implication for lands 
within or affected by the designation.

[[Page 24028]]

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 policy, we requested information from, and coordinated 
development of, this critical habitat designation with the appropriate 
State resource agencies in Washington. We did not receive comments from 
any State of Washington government agencies. The designation of 
critical habitat in areas currently occupied by Umtanum desert 
buckwheat and White Bluffs bladderpod may impose no additional 
regulatory restrictions to those currently in place and, therefore, has 
little incremental impact on State and local governments and their 
activities. The designation may have some benefit to these governments 
because the areas that contain the physical or biological features 
essential to the conservation of the species are more clearly defined, 
and the elements of the features of the habitat necessary to the 
conservation of the species are specifically identified. This 
information does not alter where and what federally sponsored 
activities may occur. However, it may assist local governments in long-
range planning (rather than having them wait for case-by-case section 7 
consultations to occur).
    Where State and local governments require approval or authorization 
from a Federal agency for actions that may affect critical habitat, 
consultation under section 7(a)(2) would be required. While non-Federal 
entities that receive Federal funding, assistance, or permits, or that 
otherwise require approval or authorization from a Federal agency for 
an action, may be indirectly impacted by the designation of critical 
habitat, the legally binding duty to avoid destruction or adverse 
modification of critical habitat rests squarely on the Federal agency.

Civil Justice Reform--Executive Order 12988

    In accordance with Executive Order 12988 (Civil Justice Reform), 
the Office of the Solicitor has determined that the rule does not 
unduly burden the judicial system and that it meets the requirements of 
sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of the Executive Order. We are designating 
critical habitat in accordance with the provisions of the Act. This 
final rule identifies the elements of physical and biological features 
essential to the conservation of Umtanum desert buckwheat and White 
Bluffs bladderpod 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 the Office of Management and Budget (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 (NEPA) (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 as defined by 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, 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 Native American Indian 
culture, and to make information available to Tribes. We determined 
that there are no tribal lands that are either occupied by Umtanum 
desert buckwheat or White Bluffs bladderpod at the time of listing that 
contain the features essential for conservation of the species, or 
unoccupied by these species and essential to their conservation. 
Therefore, we are not designating any Tribal lands as critical habitat 
for either Umtanum desert buckwheat or White Bluffs bladderpod. The 
Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakima Nation indicated they have 
interest in protecting and managing resources occurring in the Ceded 
Territories designated under the Treaty of 1855. The Tribe submitted a 
letter stating they are supportive of the ``Federal special status 
listing'' of Umtanum desert buckwheat and White Bluffs bladderpod.

References Cited

    A complete list of all references cited in this final rule is 
available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov, or upon 
request from the Manager, Washington Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR 
FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section).

Author(s)

    The primary authors of this final rule are the staff members of the 
Central Washington Field Office.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

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

Regulation Promulgation

    Accordingly, we hereby 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; 4201-4245, unless 
otherwise noted.

0
2. In Sec.  17.96, amend paragraph (a) by adding an entry for 
``Physaria douglasii subsp. tuplashensis (White Bluffs bladderpod)'' in 
alphabetical order under Family Brassicaceae and an entry for 
``Eriogonum codium (Umtanum desert buckwheat)'' in alphabetical order 
under Family Polygonaceae to read as follows:


Sec.  17.96  Critical habitat--plants.

    (a) Flowering plants.
* * * * *

[[Page 24029]]

Family Brassicaceae: Physaria douglasii subsp. tuplashensis (White 
Bluffs bladderpod)
    (1) The critical habitat unit is depicted for Franklin County, 
Washington, on the map at paragraph (5) of this entry.
    (2) The primary constituent elements of the physical and biological 
features essential to the conservation of critical habitat for Physaria 
douglasii subsp. tuplashensis are the following:
    (i) Weathered alkaline paleosols and mixed soils overlying the 
Ringold Formation. These soils occur within and around the exposed 
caliche-like cap deposits associated with the White Bluffs of the 
Ringold Formation, which contain a high percentage of calcium 
carbonate. These features occur between 210-275 m (700-900 ft) in 
elevation.
    (ii) Sparsely vegetated habitat (less than 10-15 percent total 
cover), containing low amounts of nonnative or invasive plant species 
(less than 1 percent cover).
    (iii) The presence of insect pollinator species.
    (iv) The presence of native shrub steppe habitat within the 
effective pollinator distance (300 m (approximately 980 ft)).
    (v) The presence of stable bluff formations with minimal landslide 
occurrence.
    (3) Critical habitat does not include irrigated private lands or 
manmade structures (such as buildings, pavement, or other structures) 
and the land on which they are located existing within the legal 
boundaries on the effective date of this rule.
    (4) This critical habitat unit was mapped using Universal 
Transverse Mercator, Zone 11, North American Datum 1983 (UTM NAD 83) 
coordinates. These coordinates establish the vertices of the unit 
boundaries. The map in this entry, as modified by any accompanying 
regulatory text, establish the boundaries of the critical habitat 
designation. The coordinates or plot points or both on which the map is 
based are available to the public at the field office internet site 
(http://www.fws.gov/wafwo/HanfordPlants/FLFCH.html), http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-R1-ES-2013-0012, and at the 
Service's Washington Fish and Wildlife Office. You may obtain field 
office location information by contacting one of the Service regional 
offices, the addresses of which are listed at 50 CFR 2.2.
    (5) Note: Map of critical habitat for Physaria douglasii subsp. 
tuplashensis (White Bluffs bladderpod) follows:
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P

[[Page 24030]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR23AP13.000

* * * * *
Family Polygonaceae: Eriogonum codium (Umtanum desert buckwheat)
    (1) The critical habitat unit is depicted for Benton County, 
Washington, on the map at paragraph (5) of this entry.
    (2) The primary constituent elements of the physical and biological 
features essential to the conservation of Eriogonum codium are the 
following:
    (i) North- to northeast-facing, weathered basalt cliffs of the 
Wanapum Formation at the eastern end of Umtanum Ridge in Benton County 
that contain outcrops, cliff breaks, slopes, and flat or gently sloping 
cliff tops with exposed pebble and gravel soils.
    (ii) Pebbly lithosol talus soils derived from surface weathering of 
the top of the Lolo Flow of the Priest Rapids Member of the Wanapum 
Formation.
    (iii) Sparsely vegetated habitat (less than 10 percent total 
cover), containing low amounts of nonnative or invasive plant species 
(less than 1 percent cover).
    (iv) The presence of insect pollinator species.
    (v) The presence of native shrub steppe habitat within the 
effective pollinator distance (300 m (approximately 980 ft)) around the 
population.

[[Page 24031]]

    (3) Critical habitat does not include manmade structures (such as 
buildings, pavement, or other structures) and the land on which they 
are located existing within the legal boundaries on the effective date 
of this rule.
    (4) This critical habitat unit was mapped using Universal 
Transverse Mercator, Zone 11, North American Datum 1983 (UTM NAD 83) 
coordinates. These coordinates establish the vertices of the unit 
boundaries. The maps in this entry, as modified by any accompanying 
regulatory text, establish the boundaries of the critical habitat 
designation. The coordinates or plot points or both on which the map is 
based are available to the public at the field office Internet site 
(http://www.fws.gov/wafwo/HanfordPlants/FLFCH.html), http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-R1-ES-2013-0012, and at the 
Service's Washington Fish and Wildlife Office. You may obtain field 
office location information by contacting one of the Service regional 
offices, the addresses of which are listed at 50 CFR 2.2.
    (5) Note: Map of critical habitat for Eriogonum codium (Umtanum 
desert buckwheat) follows:
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR23AP13.001


[[Page 24032]]


* * * * *

    Dated: April 12, 2013.
Rachel Jacobson,
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
[FR Doc. 2013-09404 Filed 4-22-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-C